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Slides that Rock!

SlideShare: where we can learn from others

Concert crowdI’ve just read an interesting article from a SlideShare subscription alert. It was interesting on a number of levels. The article ‘Slides that Rock’ describes 5 ways SlideShare has helped them ‘rock’:

1. providing a platform where they can learn
2. building a better network
3. enabling a global presence
4. providing a marketing platform
5. adding credibility

I loved viewing their accompanying SlideShare presentation too which has some excellent learning points many of us can take away. It does have a SlideShare promotional feel to it and is considering SlideShare more from a marketing tool point of view but, nontheless, all their points are valid and I started to relate it back to eLearning (as is my tendency) and learning in general.

Presentations are a very passive way of sending a message but can play an important part in workplace learning or as part of a formal blended/eLearning solution. Reading copious amounts of text can have a detrimental effect on our levels of engagement and often visuals play a vital role in our comprehension of the material as well as motivating us to ‘stick with it’. “A picture paints a thousand words” as the saying goes is useful to bear in mind. We can learn to change that by taking ideas from these types of presentations such as ‘Slides that rock’.

Of course, we don’t have to stop at changing how our presentations look. We can apply the same principles to our eLearning tutorial slides too not to mention our classroom slides. And just think of the difference you can make to your conference presentations!

When people on my eLearning design workshops fear they haven’t the creative skills to produce dynamic and appealing slides I point them to two of the names mentioned in this article, Nancy Duarte (her Slideology book) and Garr Reynolds (particularly his Presentation Zen Design book).

Two further publication I always recommend are (i) ‘The non-designer’s design book‘ by Robin Williams (covers in layman’s terms the basic principles of graphic design – contrast, repitition, alignment and proximity) and (ii) ‘Visual Language for Designers‘ by Connie Malamed. I’m looking forward to checking out the work of David Crandall and Jesse Desjarnins to whom the article refers.

We could also do well to remember as learning designers though is that we too are marketeers. When we produce a piece of learning, whether it’s designed to be a formal course or ad-hoc, just in time chunks to help with workplace learning, we are producing a product to ‘sell’. The visual design ideas we see here could also be transferred to our marketing material such as posters and leaflets.

On a final note…. the main points that stuck with me from this article however were that SlideShare gave them a platform from where they could learn and it allowed them to build a better network.

We learn from sharing and collaborating with others. We just sometimes need a little help in knowing where to look which is where the role of trainers becoming curators and consultants comes in.

Out with old, in with the new

2012Well the first week of a shiny new year has flown by and I thought I’d reflect on my last year’s goals. I didn’t do too badly considering…

My plan to get back into my archery unfortunately didn’t materialise which also meant my plans for a more work/life balance wasn’t quite achieved. However, considering my blogging and professional development are all done in my own time, I’m fairly happy with my achievement. OK’ I didn’t always make my plan of a weekly post but I’ve averaged 3.5 posts a month which isn’t bad.

The last three months of 2011 saw me completely drop off the social media planet. I really can’t put my finger on why. I think I just burnt myself out with the social media scene. My official professional work became more hectic than usual and seeped into my own time (probably a familiar story to others out there) that I found myself abandoning my extra curricular investigations in the world of online learning and learning technologies. My iPhone became a tool for making calls, checking e-mails and taking photos of my beautiful new niece. My iPad started to gather dust on the coffee table. Its only outing a trip to Thailand where it was as invaluable as a Swiss army knife (but that’s another story entirely).I start 2012 with renewed motivation. I’ve made a promise to myself to get back on track and continue with those resolutions I made last year. But in addition I’ve made a promise to myself to make time just for me. After all, as the saying goes, ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. And that’s exactly how I felt when I saw out 2011.

With a new year it’s time for a new and more positive outlook professionally too . What changes would I like to see in the year ahead in my profession? I’d like to see more emphasis on how people really learn and less about counting those bums on seats – virtual or otherwise. I’d like to see more acceptance of social tools for learning and working. I’d like to see more effort being put into what makes effective learning online. I’d like to see more asynchronous learning being the norm. I’d like to see more use of learning and collaborating in live online environments when live discussion is considered valuable. I’d like to see face to face interaction used efficiently and when most appropriate and I’d like to see more Learning and Development professionals grab the virtual bull by the horns and start adding to their skills to ensure learning online is as effective as learning in well designed classroom events. Am I expecting too much? It might be easier than you think.

Here’s to a successful 2012.

This new-fangled technology

I just had to share this presentation I came across the other day. Normally, I would just instantly share with Twitter but I still get frustrated with the 140 character limit (you’d think I’d be used to it by now).

The Slideshare presentation reminded me of a blog post I wrote some time ago about educating people in using these new tools and SatNav learning.

It also reminds me of regular conversations I have with people on my courses on banning collaborative tools in the workplace where I make a very similar analogy. Enjoy.