Browse Tag by technologies
Interviews

Behind the scenes of ‘The Learning Architect’ video

Image by Robert Lischka from Pixabay

Preparing for interview

In a previous post I shared with you my accidental learning – quite literally – when travelling down to Brighton to interview Clive Shepherd on his recent book The New Learning Architect.

Here I carry on the tale and summarise with some tips for preparing for interview.

I woke up bright and early, excited and looking forward to the day. I was all prepared and armed with a Google map and directions, I set out in plenty of time to find the studio which apparently was a 5 minute walk from the hotel. That is it would have been a 5 minute walk if I could match the streets with the map! My plans had been to arrive the day before at a reasonable time in the evening to wander around and find the venue but the unexpected incident at the service station had put pay to that. Nevertheless, I had, after all, given myself ample time that morning so wasn’t unduly worried.

This was my first trip to Brighton and it was a superb warm sunny morning the day before Good Friday. As I wandered through the little streets following my map I was teased with the rich smell of coffee and pastries from the abundance of little cafes. If I closed my eyes I could have been wandering through the streets of Italy. No time for a coffee and pastry for me though.

Even at that early morning, the sun was hot and I began to wish I’d travelled a little lighter but even with some retracing of my steps finding the studio, I was still in plenty of time and found a shady spot to catch my breath and ring home for best of luck wishes.

The studio was small but very light and airy. There were two chairs positioned almost opposite each other just off-set a little. There was a very large piece of board, white on one side which was used to reflect the natural light from the window back onto Clive and me during the interview process.

There was one large camera on a tripod and what looked like an over-sized hand-held microphone.

Before the interview began, there were a few tests to do.

  • A little footage was taken to test the light
  • where best to position us
  • checking camera angles
  • checking sound levels

Because there was only one camera and one microphone used, this meant we had to film various shots out of sequence. The idea being to cut and edit the filming for a smooth final viewing.

First we recorded Clive answering my questions. This was the easy bit for me. Because the camera was on Clive, I could read my questions. The microphone was held close to Clive so my voice became almost a whisper when being filmed but this would be edited out later.

Then we recorded my questions. This time, I couldn’t read these out but had the benefit of checking them before each cut. It was still difficult though because I need reading glasses so needed to pop these on and off. Oh how I wished I had memorised the questions a little more. Either that or be less vain and keep my varifocals on! Although I would have still needed to take a quick check before each question.

Then we recorded what I call the ‘noddies’. This is where you film the people involved nodding whilst listening intently to the other person at different distances and angles for variety of shot. This is done all without sound as the idea is to edit these in over the talking so the interview has some visual variety.

Finally, we recorded me introducing Clive.

It was all a very interesting but odd process and seemed very disjointed but you’d never guess from the final edit.

The advantage of filming this way is that you only need one camera and microphone. In this instance, a quality camera was used, but it is feasible you could do a great job with a more affordable camera with a tripod and good quality external microphone. You’ll need some editing software too and there are some great affordable if not free tools out there that do a great job which I’ll explore another time.

The disadvantage from my experience here is the natural flow of the interview can be affected. For example, after asking my question, I was listening intently to Clive’s answers and was able to add little improvised comments. Unless you’ve got an excellent memory (not one of my strong points), this natural conversation style is very difficult and often lost when having to record all these as separate sequences.

If we had more time, perhaps we could have listened back to Clive’s previous question before recording my next questions thereby allowing me to provide a more natural link without it being too controlled. But as with anything, we have to work within the constraints we have and we had little time and would have needed something to play this back with.

With all the filming complete the next job was to turn that raw footage into a polished product.

It will be great to hear any of your experiences when creating video.

Miscellaneous

How the iPad saved the day

Part 2 of The Power of Technology

 

 

 

Previously I set the scene for my repressed paranoia about keeping hard copies of everything and filing them away just in case. I admit I’m a horder and take after my father who, no matter what you might need in a crisis, seems to be able to lay his hands on it. Well, here I carry on with the tale of how the iPad saved the day in a (mini) crisis.

Where we live, we get the occasional power blip. They’re never usually more than a blip and if the power goes off it is usually only for 30 minutes at the most. We this time it’s been over two hours and could be longer. This has brought home to me how reliant we have all become on electricity in our everyday lives. So much so that I’ve made a plan to go through all my contacts on my mobile phone and write them up in a little black book. [actually its a very large book with a dog on it.]

What use is backing up these contacts to iTunes when there’s no power? Not only had the power cut prevented me searching for images to add to slides for an online session I’m currently planning but I had no cellular connection neither. No-one could contact me and I could contact no-one. I felt terribly isolated. Can you imagine it. Me – someone who looks for caravan sites with wifi and gets the jitters if she’s left her mobile phone in the house while she pops to the shops. This was truely a nightmare of huge proportions. The panic was short-lived.

I soon found the isolation quite liberating. It meant that no one interrupted me with e-mails, I was able to concentrate on the main points of my new session without becoming side-tracked by searching for that ‘perfect’ image and the ‘that looks interesting too, I’ll have a quick look’ seduction of the WWW.

I had no telephone or skype interruptions or little e-mail alerts popping up. I really did more work in that two hours than usual just purely without the usual interruptions. I felt strangely able to breathe instead of drowining in a sea of information and connectivity.

So how did the iPad save the day?

Well, as I mentioned before, it’s my husband who has the iPad and whereas I have a supersized battery for my laptop, his laptop battery isn’t too hot these days. Not only that, the work he does means that the processor takes quite a hit and the battery is sucked dry in no time so it wasn’t long before it became impossible to work.

Enter the iPad.

With a longer battery life and a good selection of apps to allow him to work on spreadsheets, create outlines and write notes it meant Dean could continue to work without resorting to pen and paper only to have to type it up again later. It is unusual that the cell coverage crashed at the same time on this occasion but with our trusty smart phones and tablets it would have been feasible to carry on communicating too.

I was never in the girl guides but my inner administrator’s ‘be prepared’ strategies kicked into action. Here are some tips from me should you ever find yourself in a similar situation.

1. Try and make sure you laptop has extra long battery life
2. Always work with laptop plugged into mains
3. Back your files up everyday
4. Keep your mobile phones regularly charged and synchronised with your contacts
5. Keep a basic telephone handy so you can at least make emergency calls
6. Keep a traditional telephone book up to date
7. Keep your iPad or Android tablet charged
8. Invest in some office applications for your mobile device (they only need to be basic)
9. If you work over a VPN to access files on a remote server, work locally and regularly synchronise
10.Take the opportunity to work the old-fashioned way – with pen, paper and good old peace and quiet.

Technologies

Are you using a hammer to crack a nut?

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Or do you really need the right tool for the job?

As some of you may have guessed, I’m a really big fan of social media.  I think it’s the best thing invented since sliced bread.  Now for the uninitiated, when I mention social media and in particular Twitter, the initial reaction is either  ‘oh no here we go again’ or ‘I can’t see the point in hearing what everyone had for breakfast’.  But social media is so versatile.  It’s just another conversation tool – just like the telephone.

What’s the betting that when telephones started to be installed in more homes, people just rang each other up to find out what they had done that day.  It’s a novelty thing. It’s a ” We just gotta try it out but I can’t think of anything profound so I’ll just say the first thing that comes into my head” sort of thing.  In fact, my mum still does that.  I’m not going to tell you my age but I think you’ll guess I’m not a kid any more but I still have to telephone ‘home’ every night when I travel anywhere.  There’s usually no new amazing news to hear so I just get “have you had your tea?  What did you have?”.

But of course we also use the telephone for some of the most important of calls as well as keeping in touch with our loved ones.  The same goes for e-mail.  I remember when e-mail was first introduced where I worked.  There were e-mails being sent all over the building just saying saying “hello, how was your weekend” even when we were just in the next office (or even in the same office).  It was a novelty.  Then came the policies on how to use e-mail responsibly, how to communicate correctly and all was good with the world.

What I’m seeing now though is e-mail being misused in as much as it is becoming a conversation tool.  Yes, I know it IS a conversation tool in a way but we’re seeing it being used for chit-chat again even if that chit-chat is work related.  Yet there are many more appropriate tools we can use for this type of conversation within a work environment:

Skype for example.  Here people can have real time business conversations either on a one to one basis or group.

If it’s more about collaborating on a project, what about using Google Docs and Google Buzz.

If we need to share research, discuss ideas, view and review little videos we’re planning, what about creating a Facebook Group for your team.

We are so blessed nowadays with a variety of different tools that do different things can we really look back at our current practices and say we are working efficiently?  Of course, we need time for a bit of research but sometimes, we just have to give it a go.

And that’s just what I’m just about to do now.  I’m going to create a team Facebook Group for collaborative working projects and see how it goes.  How about you?

Blended Learning

Content v Technology

Since the Learning Technologies Conference and Exhibition, there have been some great blog posts pondering on the results and looking to the future. I was also interested in the short Voxpops interviews (Voxpop1, Voxpop2) with a selected few from the event. The question posed to interviewees was “What changes would YOU like to see in L&D for 2011?” I was going to do a short review of what people said in their interviews but instead thought I’d just capture the main points in the Wordle you can see above.

It’s interesting that the advice for L&D is to focus on the learning, the learners, the business goals, performance based.  Surely that shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone and it’s a shame that we needed reminding.  There was a lot of references to the learning being effective.  Quality certainly should be at the heart of developing our staff.  In order to produce quality learning we need to make sure the learning is relevant, learner-centred, bite-sized with plenty of practical application and which can be assessed in a more realistic method that handing out quiz questions no matter how you dress them up.  It’s our responsibility to help people learn to do their jobs well which has a direct effect on the bottom line.  We shouldn’t be teaching them how to pass tests – where’s the learning in that?  Give them work-based projects instead.  Help them feel they are contributing.

At the same time as calling for more effective learning, there was also a call for it to be more efficient and to make use of more online learning.  The danger of taking our effective courses online is we may leave out what makes it effective in the first place.  That’s all the learner-centred stuff.  The conversations, the group work, the feedback, the questioning, the collaboration.  Where will that all go?  So they become efficient but now their ineffective.  Efficient without efficacy actually leads to more inefficiency.  Without good quality learning, people won’t learn well (or at all in some cases).  So what happens?  They make more mistakes in their work and/or have to retrain.  If they retrain using the same ineffective materials as before, what’s going to happen?  Yep – a never ending circle.

What’s encouraging is the recognition that training – the formal stuff – is only  a small part of the development of individuals in the workforce but it’s what happens after they’ve had the formal training that really embeds the learning.  We’ve heard a lot about formal training accounting for only 20% of our knowledge on the job. The rest being attributed to informal learning.  However, there’s a little more to it than that as Clive Shepherd points out in his ‘The New Learning Architect’ but performance support will be the cement that makes the learning stick after the formal events have long past.

What I also found interesting from the Voxpops (considering we were at a the Learning technologies) conference was the low key references to using technology for learning.  Oh yes, there was a whole floor at least dedicated to technology but when speaking to the L&D people not the vendors, there was little emphasis on using new media or more technology in their solutions.  James Clay’s post ‘Focus on the technology or not’ puts it brilliantly.  He says:

… it is vital that practitioners are aware of the potential and availability of technology. When they know what is available and importantly what it is capable of then they can apply technological solutions to their learning problems.

L&D should more than capable of designing an effective solution that meets adult learners’ needs but a more efficient delivery means the more likely it has to include new technologies thus creating a huge skills gap. It’s no longer about content versus technology but about content AND technology. In this media filled world where people are always connected and will find it very difficult to avoid using technology to communicate, work, rest and play we can no longer separate the two. We need to think of the technology as the enabler. L&D really need to become more tech savvy and keep up to date with research. They need to try things out and exercise their creation and innovation muscle. Think about using technology not normally considered a learning tool for a learning activity (see Milo). I know we shouldn’t try and shoe-horn a particular piece of technology into a learning solution just for the sake of it but if people are already using the technology in their working or personal time, isn’t it about time we can help them continue to use them for learning.

To quote again to James’s post:

you have to start from somewhere and by explaining the potential that learning technologies offer, you are starting from a good place that will open minds to future potential and possibilities

Overall, the message I got from listening to the VoxPops was that following a logical blended approach to designing learning solutions in organisations is definitely the way L&D can become more than just the ‘training department’.  L&D can become the cement that holds the organisation together by becoming more cultivators of learning.  Helping learners learn for themselves and providing more performance support.  By increasing their knowledge, understanding and skills in using new media tools for more efficient delivery of learning, L&D will ensure their longevity in the organisation by becoming an integral part of the bricks and mortar.  Organisations will pay a high price if they don’t invest more in their L&D professionals.

Blended Learning, Learning design, Performance support

Taking a SatNav approach to learning!

Photo by Samuel Foster on Unsplash

 

In Donald Clarks recent post, 7 tactics for training in a recession, I found myself agreeing with many of his thoughts.

Donald’s 7 tactics are:
1. Dump daft duplication
2. Last century courses
3. Courses too long
4. Tyranny of time & location
5. Crap evaluation
6. Non-scalable
7. It’s the technology stupid

He says:

“Achieve more with less to optimise limited budgets and time. The world has changed and we can be reactive and get dumped upon, or take it upon ourselves to reshape our own learning landscape. Fast access to learning needs to be available 24×7 at point of need. This is the norm in the real word and it should be the norm in learning. We need to provide Satnav help for learning journeys, not big, thick, fixed atlases. Flexible responses to your organisation’s needs, not fixed, repeated, timetabled courses. Focus on productivity and promise impact, not happy sheets and course passes. Reduce carbon footprint, reduce travel & meeting costs and above all scale – EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY.”

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last few years, it has been abundantly clear that learning and development HAS to change. The way we work and live has changed. We are constantly having to do more with less; find different and creative ways of delivering (and I don’t mean training here). If we need to know something what do we do? We ‘Google’ it – we ask a question from our wider networks via Twitter, we share our likes, our opinions, our expertise through blogs and harvest from RSS feed readers.

When are we likely to do this? At home, on the train, the bus but rarely at work. Why? Because we’re not allowed to. Or, if we are allowed to – we haven’t got a clue how we could harness this collaborative technology. Perhaps it’s because we don’t really understand their value. It doesn’t help when the media, in order to sell stories, write misleading (and even fabricated) headlines leading to businesses banning their use.

After all, do we start banning cars because the idiots behind the wheel are irresponsible? No! We all have to learn to drive safely. We take tests to prove we are capable. We know rules and the consequences if we break them.

This analogy brings me nicely back to Donald Clark’s SatNav help for learning. Perhaps we should start thinking about how we can help learners continue to learn, and support them in their roles. But before we can do that, we need to learn how to drive this new technology properly ourselves. Until we know what they can do, we will never be able to understand how they can be used for learning and collaboration in the workplace. I think this is where L&D can really become indispensable.

Trainers need to be more than trainers concerned only about single events and tick-box exercises to appease the gods and become learning consultants helping others navigate their own learning journeys. Before they can help others they need to help themselves to reduce their own skills gap, open up their minds and try these tools out for themselves – take control of their own development and experiment. I realised very quickly, if I was to survive in the world of learning I would have to embrace new technology.

OK – I’ve always had more than a little interest in how technology could make my working life easier having moved from manual typewriters, to electronic then to the clunky early PCs (oops – giving my age away there!) but I would never describe myself as a techy geek. I guess this continued interest in technological progress helped and I acknowledge that there may be others who are totally disinterested. But just like it’s now almost essential to be able to drive to widen our employability, it will be essential to learn to use these tools to the same end.

There are plenty of resources available out there. Jane Bozarth’s book ‘Social Media for Trainers‘ is one great resource to start with. Keep visiting for a review as well as some extra tips for using new learning technologies. In the meantime – go on – dip your toe into that water – there are plenty of learning technology lifeguards out there to help you (me included).

Miscellaneous

Seeing Double? No – 3DTV

It looks like 3DTV is closer than we think. As soon as this month – according to news reports today. Samsung’s sets maybe a little out of reach to us everyday mortals at £1,300 for a 32” LED and as much as £5000 for a 65”. Now that’s big – and I thought our 42” flat-screen we bought a year ago was BIG.

I’m sure we would get used to 65” very quickly. At least, that’s what my husband will say as a persuasion tactic as he did for our 42”!!! The down side is that the expense doesn’t stop there. You will also require a special Blu-ray DVD player and at least one pair of very sophisticated electronic glasses. How easy will these be for those of us who already wear glasses? And how harmful will they be for our already dwindling eyesight due to constant staring at LCD laptops and close proximity to 42” LCD TV screens?

Despite claims of already seeing “a lot of demand” for these new TV sets, I think I would still prefer the all-round experience of 3D at a cinema, munching popcorn and coffee. In fact, I’m looking forward to Alice in Wonderland with the chameleonesque Johnny Depp and donning those 3D specs very soon. (I’m actually going with my husband – Johnny was busy!) We would eventually see 3DTV in our learning environments in the near future? If so, they are likely to be used to become immersed in some serious gaming scenario programmes. Time will tell.