Update on 10 Tools Progress, Upcoming Reviews

Some months ago, I was inspired to take up Jane Hart’s 10 Tools Challenge. So, how’s it going? I’m probably no different than most who took up the challenge: a well-intended list, but much of it not completed due to competing priorities. Often in life, we find ourselves too busy driving to fill up with gas.  I did make some progress, and made some adjustments due to some great opportunities. [list style=”arrow” color=”blue”]

  • Microsoft Excel – The most important thing to share?: LEARN EXCEL. Seriously, do it. It is a great entry point to learning analytics, which will distinguish you in the industry. Despite all the “big data” frenzy, most of the analysis performed in training is structured data, and manageable with Excel. Excel was my top development priority and I learned quite a bit more on Excel’s data, filtering, and graphics capabilities. I created a decision-support matrix for an organization selecting a learning portal. The matrix documented and prioritized requirements and weighed vendor submissions against requirements. It calculated weighted values, filtered data, and generated graphs to visualize key decision points. I used several resources to learn Excel, most recently “Head First Excel” by Michael Milton. To learn Excel, your best source is probably your library; it is actually astounding how many resources you can find at the library for Excel development. I continue a deeper dive into developing my Excel skills- I will share any gems I find.
  • Infographics – I experimented a bit with Infographics, which can be a very powerful, engaging way to provide a lot of information in a format that most enjoy to read. For example, I condensed 9 screens of sales training into a one-page visually pleasing infographic. It was perhaps my best execution of the wise advice from Joe Harless ““Inside every fat course there’s a thin Job Aid crying to get out,” (“Performance Technology and Other Popular Myths” July 1985). My one key tip? Infographics is more about smart design than specific tools. I had to develop in a tool that other team members could work with, so I built infographics in Powerpoint.
  • TinCanAPI and LRSs – I am just now starting to truly experiment with TinCanAPI. Most prior examples I did were done through tools that essentially replicated SCORM with TinCanAPI. This doesn’t showcase the true potential of TinCanAPI. The clients I work with have been very apprehensive about moving from SCORM. Even conceptually understanding the merits of what could be done with TinCanAPI hasn’t been enough for them to change from the familiar. So, I determined something very important: I can’t wait for permission. I have to SHOW the advantages, give them things they haven’t even thought to ask for, and just do what I know is right as an L&D professional.
  • Badges – The achievement-based curriculum redesign (see Khan Academy, below) is a perfect case for implementing a badging system. We are early in the process, but badges is a component that we have committed to and will implement.  It’s just a bit early to speak to it in a concrete manner.
  • WordPress – I’ve done some backend updating on the site, and applied an updated theme to be more mobile compatible (which was more of a learning experience than anticipated: heed all backup warnings!). I have not yet had the opportunity to explore LearnDash, but I am impressed with the speed at which they continue to upgrade the product. So, I will continue exploring and expanding WordPress (even a lot of things you don’t see), and I certainly will be getting into LearnDash by year-end.
  • Articulate Storyline – This week, I was approved to begin a enormous project with Storyline as the primary development tool. So, I know the next few months of this 10 tools challenge put Storyline to the front of the line.
  • Here are things I didn’t get to!
    • Kahn Academy – Unfortunately, no true progress with Kahn Academy, but I referenced it’s design to promote redesigning a program from the traditional “progress through content on a timeline” to an achievement-based progression with content playing a supporting role.
    • YouTube – Video-based training is the future. Unfortunately, it isn’t in any of client’s foreseeable future. Backburner for a bit.
    • Google+ – Google+ is perhaps my biggest missed opportunity.
    • Domiknow Claro – Just as I didn’t get to Storyline until very recently, I didn’t get the opportunity to concretely work with Claro.
[/list] My missed development were counterbalanced with new opportunities.The timeline of my lack of blogging and my lapse in participating in #lrnchat and LinkedIn groups shows a distinct pattern: something pretty big went down between February and September this year. I assisted a local company in selecting a learning platform to transform their learning function. Over 50 options were reviewed and I discovered some very unique new tools and trends in our industry. I will certainly blog about the project, the tools used, and several of the platforms reviewed. Here are a few that I learned about, and will certainly be reviewing in detail in the future (listed in alphabetical order): [list style=”arrow” color=”blue”]
  • Axonify – Don’t know about Axonify? Give it a look. It is one of the more unique platforms available for learning and development. It offers interval-spaced, personalized training, gaming options with great controls, and perhaps the best reporting interface I have seen on a platform. I have much to say about this platform. Be on the lookout for a detailed review in the future. This one is really something special.
  • docebo – A very powerful, affordable, and well-designed LMS. Go to docebo’s site, to learn of it’s benefits and it’s transparent pricing. The one benefit I’d highlight? It’s App ecosystem. docebo has integration with many applications such as Google (mail, analytics, google apps), WordPress, Webcasting platforms (Connect, WebEx, BigBlueButton), LiveHelp applications, and more. The power of being able to extend the functionality of your learning platform, and the flexibility of options (many LMSs limit options) is something that distinguishes this platform from many LMS players.
  • Growth Engineering – Growth Engineering Academy LMS was a platform I had not heard of prior to this project. They are a vendor based in the UK, offering a very powerful, easy-to-use, game-focused LMS system featuring badges, leaderboards, very good communication tools, and solid reporting. This was one of those platforms that we don’t hear about here in the US, but should. I was very impressed with the platform and was pleased to see shortly after I reviewed it, that  Craig Weiss rated it one of the Top 10 LMS Systems on his eLearning 24/7 blog.
  • Totara – Totara is essentially a corporate version of Moodle, the most popular LMS system in the world (and powerhouse in the education market).  Totara offers the same deep ecosystem of plugins as Moodle, but addresses Moodle’s biggest shortcoming through it’s partnership network. Partners help configure Totara with the right plugin components to provide the functionality your organization needs, develops a theme to make your site as usable and aesthetically pleasing as it is functional.
[/list] A bit more to go this year. Much more to come!