I had to leave a little early from this year's show, but I was honored to speak about my new "up and coming" piece of software: Adobe Edge Animate CC. It's like Flash, but it writes to HTML 5 as opposed to creating a SWF. Now, if you know anything at all about me, you know I love my SWFs. I've made my living creating them for many years. I'm also not too happy about how HTML5 is being forced down our throats. Yes, I said FORCED. I feel like an elearning duck being prepped for foie gras. It's still not ready for prime time elearning development. Enough on that...I'll have another post about it soon.
This year's conference was interesting - topics about copyright and raw technology were replaced by general social media and case studies. The creation stations were all awesome (and hands on), but the show still caters to the intro-medium level user. I'm a "do-er-ist" rather than a "theorist", so the lean towards theory was not my cup of tea.
However, as always, ASTD put on a great show. Thanks everyone! See you next year.
Now...onto that article...Patti Shank...I'm calling you next week. I've figured out a title and subject for our research article...
With the new Apple releases of the iPhone 5S and 5C, I'm starting to get concerned with the idea of Apple and Apple technology leading us into the future of technology. See, I'm still kind of ticked off that Apple pushed us into HTML5 way too soon and way too early.
Now, the company that made Flash a dirty word can't seem to get it into gear. This latest round of "updates" fell short - where is the innovation? The new technology? The release dates for the new round of MacPro and MacBook Pros? The "one more thing" we used to wait for?
Let me rewind a second - A few years back Steve Jobs wrote a mean and spiteful essay on why Flash was the devil and why we should fall in love with HTML5. "It's the open source future" and should be embraced NOW. Well, fast forward to NOW, I'm still not convinced.
Oh, don't get me wrong - HTML5 and combined technologies is the next iteration of web design, that's for sure. It's fun and easy to build in and with Adobe's series of Edge releases specifically for creating in HTML 5, it is an awesome environment and fun to boot! But, it is not ready for interactive elearning, especially in the way we are dealing it out now.
"Shut up Thomas! You are an old fart and stuck in the old ways of doing things" you may be thinking to yourself. And, you may be right. However, if we are going to switch technologies to build on a mobile platform, we need a few basic things to work right:
1) Audio playing automatically without user action (we can fake it, but its not perfect)
2) Most importantly - audio synching to the animation
Once HTML5 figures out how to do these things, then I will consider HTML5 a valid replacement of my other elearning tools and technologies. If you want me to build you a new web page, HTML5 it is. If you want me to build you an interactive elearning project, I'm sticking with Flash. If you want me to build an elearning project to run on an iPad, I'm not going to use audio, thereby discounting one of the three primary learning styles and reverting back to an age of audio-less elearning.
Many friends and peers have commented that I am on an anti-Apple rant recently and upon reflection, it's true. I'm mad that I don't have a MacPro on my desk. I'm mad that Apple pushed HTML5 down our throats years before it was ready, all because of a CEO schoolyard spat. I'm mad that we have seen no innovation in either the iPhone or iPad lines in years. I'm disappointed in a company that I raved about and drooled about and smugged about. That company is gone.
I'm turning into a grumpy old ex-mac fan boy and I don't like it.
We are about a month away from my Essentials of Adobe Flash for E-Learning Designers online workshop series for ASTD. We are already getting good enrollment, but I wanted to give my readers a "head's up". The biggest page views on this blog are Flash related, and most of the questions I get from my readers are Flash related, so I figured I'd drop a note.
Here are some key points that you may want to know before enrolling:
If you are already an ASTD member, then the price is 1/2 off. It's going to be a blast! I hope you can make it:
ASTD Essentials of Adobe Flash for Elearning Designers
June 9, 16, 23
1:30 - 3:00 EST
Online Workshop format using Cisco WebEx
I wanted to take the time to write you this note today because I think that you may be unintentionally killing off one of my critical software development platforms: Flash. Now, you may just be thinking that by omitting the Flash player from the iPad and iPhone removes the user's ability to see video streaming on the web, but it does much more. For me, it has the potential to kill my future eLearning business prospects.
A little bit about me: I am an eLearning developer. I use Adobe Flash as my primary development tool. All of my eLearning is either developed directly in Flash, or uses a tool that exports to .swf format to embed in the browser. This way, my clients and their users can get around messy plug-ins and media components and just experience my projects in a browser window. I have been doing this for years, improving my eLearning design skills with each new iteration of Flash.
I switched to Mac in 2004 and have never looked back. I've purchased five Mac Pros, several Mac Books, a Mac Book Pro, about 15 iPods for my family and friends, an iPhone and just this weekend, the glorious iPad. I bleed Mac. But, your anger with Adobe and the Flash platform is starting to shake my confidence that my future is going to be OK.
I've been a big proponent of mobile learning - writing eLearning programs that run on mobile devices. As far as I'm concerned, the iPhone is the ultimate mobile device, and now the iPad has knocked it off the hill. I see every student and professional carrying around an iPad as a replacement for their day planners, their laptops, their heavy text books and training material.
This is why I am a little scared for the future of the thousands of Flash-based eLearning projects out there: None of them will work on the iPad. None. Zero. Zip. Entire organizations will have to deal with outdated learning software that won't run on the iPad and other Apple devices. Not that change and growth is bad, but it is one thing to adjust the settings and another to completely reboot.
Again, I understand your anger with Adobe - most, if not all, of the software problems I experience on my Macs happens when I am running Adobe software. I crash. I hang. I have weird font bugs. I have things that frustrate the heck out of me. However, I feed my kids and support my family with Adobe software running on Macs. My entire business produces Flash based eLearning programs that run using the Flash plug-in in any browser. It may not be perfect, but I'm happy to stick with Adobe and will tolerate the little bugs that crop up from time to time.
Some have said that HTML 5 will replace Flash video and Flash will evolve or just go away. I don't think so. The problem is that in the educational world, there is so much Flash content helping kids and adults learn, it is a shame to just have to throw all that away or force them to find an iPad-like device that will allow the learner to run their eLearning content.
I think that the iPad is going to change mobile computing. I also think that it has the potential to change the educational arena as well: for younger kids, the college crowd and adult learners. I see a future with this device. However, this fighting with Adobe must stop. Either iPad sales will stagnate because students and educators won't buy them en masse because the device can't access their current Flash content, or Flash will die and the iPad will take over and set new standards. Until one or the other takes place, can't you just let Safari on the iPad have the Flash plug-in?
Think about it Mr. Jobs : Flash is here. It has an immense install base. It is a relatively stable platform for distributing video files and is the premier platform for developing interactive multimedia projects. In my case, those interactive multimedia projects pay my bills.
Safari on the Mac already has the Flash plug-in, and all works fine. Why not just insert it into the Safari browser on the iPad? What is wrong with tipping your hat to current technology while simultaneously roaring forward to change the world? Can't we all win?
Thank you for your time.
dWeb Studios, Inc. & The Catapult Training Group
There have been reports leaking to the web that hint of an April release date for the Adobe CS5 suite of software. Although Adobe goes out of their way to keep these release dates a secret, reports keep coming out. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I've had lots of buggy situations with Flash CS4 and with Dreamweaver CS4 on my Mac, so I'm hoping that in addition to those new features which are coming, Adobe has taken the time to clean up the code a bit.
And, because I cannot wait, here are some CS5 Videos and a dedicated CS5 website that should keep you enticed:
GREAT CS5 Site: http://cs5.org/
I'm proud to say that I've witnessed a couple changes in the conference this year...all for the best.
1) Free Wireless - FINALLY, after 10 years of squawking, ASTD heard the masses and are providing free wireless throughout the conference center. As you may or may not know, many of us were tweeting non-stop about this last year. Its good to hear that someone was listening.
2) Expo is PACKED with vendors - 61 to be exact. That's the largest Expo we've ever had. In 2003 and 2004, we were struggling to get 20. So nice to see.
3) Seeing lots of people from previous conferences - does this mean that TK 2010 is turning into a repeatable conference? Data showed that for most folks attending this conference, it was their FIRST educational technology conference. Maybe not anymore! This is my 10th conference as a speaker, 11 total. I feel so old...someone called me an old timer yesterday...Hmm....
It's that time of the year again, when Vegas calls the educational technologists out from their dark work rooms, and when instructional designers and facilitators alike decide to figure out this eLearning stuff and come out to Las Vegas for the ASTD TechKnowledge Conference.
This is going to be another great year with ASTD, and I wanted to let everyone know that I will be presenting three separate sessions regarding Flash CS4.
I'll be presenting a "Getting Started with Flash" pre-conference session on 1/26/10! Its a fun primer to get you up and running using Flash, but is targeted towards the eLearning professional. It's for the new learners, but will be a full day of Flash related fun. (Can you say "Flash Related Fun" ten times fast?)
Also, I will have two Creation Stations on Flash called "Flash Animation: Basics of Making Things Move" on Wednesday the 27th and Friday the 29th of January. This is a 90 minute hands-on session where you will learn the basics of symbols and tweening in Flash CS4. Yes, it's pretty basic, but will be a blast, especially if you are brand new to Flash CS4.
I'll be blogging and podcasting from the General Sessions and sometimes from the concurrent sessions I'll be attending.
I am coming into Vegas on Monday night and leaving on Friday afternoon, and I am usually walking the floor or expo when I'm not in session. Feel free to say "hello" if you see me wandering around! Also, I will be attending the "Meet to Eat"sessions in the evenings, so if you want to connect with me ~ I'd love to talk tech!
I have been hunting for a way to test my SCORM packages before sending them to my customers for review, and with the help of one of my clients, I found an excellent resource.
SCORM.com has an excellent tool called Test Track. It allows you to upload your SCORM .zip file into a working/testing location that gives you everything you need to evaluate and debug your SCORM packages. The link is:
I always get so freaked out when sending SCORM packages to clients without testing...the debug process can be a pain. This tool, which is FREE, found a silly "&" in my .xml which I was able to fix before sending the final versions to clients.
Did you catch that this tool is FREE!??!
SCORM scares and frustrates me, but this is an awesome tool from Rustici Software that made my life so much easier today. I set up my free account and will be living here as I develop eLearning for my clients. Thanks scorm.com!
I wanted to announce that I just installed the Flash 10.0.2 update for Flash CS4 and my bugs are fixed! I have been crabbing about it for months, and after downloading the patch, all the slowdowns, errors, font issues and interface bugs are no longer there!
Thank you Adobe for letting me fall in love with Flash again. Maybe now I can uninstall Flash CS3...
Download the patch here: http://www.adobe.com/support/flash/downloads.html
I've been on the road this year teaching for an amazing client. The content I'm teaching isn't eLearning related, but leadership and management related. I do quite a bit of work in the leadership arena and speak often on topics of performance, people management and change.
During class, I reference books and materials that augment the particular topic I'm working with, and during last week's class, several students asked to see that list. As I do get quite a bit of non-tech visitors here, I thought I would share the list with my eLearning audience as well.
Leadership Books I Recommend
The Leadership Pipeline
Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter and James Noel
This book describes the phases of leadership and describes them as separate, interlocking “pipelines”. The author speaks about the varied responsibilities necessary at each “level” of management.
The Oz Principle
Roger Connnors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman
Primarily focusing on business ethics and personal responsibility, this book introduces the concept of “above the line/below the line” when taking personal responsibility in the workplace.
The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team
This book tells a tale of a dysfunctional team and the steps the new president takes to unite her team. It’s a good business parable with some tools at the end of the chapter that can be directly applied to a dysfunctional team.
John Maxwell is a leadership guru, and this book is a series of his most important leadership lessons. The concept of “ducks” and “eagles” comes from this book. I also recommend reading any of John Maxwell’s extensive library of leadership books. He is amazing.
Way of the Peaceful Warrior
A parable about a student who’s life intersects with an interesting mentor. The concept of “No ordinary moments” comes from this book.
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
Similar to the Leadership Pipeline, this books look at the specific skill sets necessary to move up the ladder, based on the premise that the behaviors that made you successful in one job, won’t help you be successful as you move up the ladder.
The Speed of Trust
Stephen M.R. Covey
This book identifies 13 specific behaviors that managers can use to improve trust on their teams.
The Tipping Point
Three great books that make you think about “normal” things differently.
Egonomics: What Makes Ego Our Greatest Asset (or Most Expensive Liability)
David Marcum and Steven Smith
This book is a powerful examination of ego in the workplace – its positive and negative aspects as a manager.
Quick Note: If you liked my Podcast interview with Roger Courville, then you will love his new book: The Virtual Presenter's Handbook. The book just got released and is available for you to purchase.
If you are looking to improve your ability as an online facilitator, or if your company is considering bringing synchronous learning to the firm, this book is fantastic.
A full table of contents is available here!
You can get more info and order the book by clicking here!
As I've spoken about in the past, almost all of my eLearning is programmed by hand using the Adobe suite of products and creating interfaces, buttons and eLearning elements from scratch.
As I get ready to roll out my new business venture (Catapult Training Group...YAY), I'm debating about whether I should advertise on the new web site and in my promotional materials that I use/have used/can use the off the shelf eLearning development tools like Unison, Lectora, Articulate and Captivate. As an eLearning developer, I've always prided myself on the fact that I write from the source and do not use these tools when developing. Several of my clients have asked me to use these tools and help them to learn these tools, however should I be advertising that these tools are within my capability?
Does it diminish my reputation as a developer to talk about my company using these tools? Even though most of these tools are great, they have serious limitations when it comes to high degrees of complex interactivity. I feel that I shouldn't want it featured that I sometimes use them on behalf of clients...am I right to feel that way?
On the other side of the coin, some of my current clients are using them and I've been able to offer my assistance to those folks and make a little money to boot. In fact, one of my clients ONLY uses these tools and has required me to design within the confines of these applications. Is that a value to other companies? Should I advertise it?
I'm seriously interested in knowing your opinion! Please comment or shoot me an email to let me know your opinion. Thank you in advance!
I was reading this article in Wired Magazine The Netbook Effect: How Cheap Little Laptops Hit the Big Time and started to think about all the traveling I am going to do over the summer. I'm not concerned about being able to work from a hotel room, as I've outfit my MacBook Pro with a fully licensed version of the Adobe CS4 suite. Yes, its expensive to have such a nice laptop AND such nice software just to work remotely, and the idea of a Netbook and that article got me thinking about the potential of taking my online learning development completely, well, online. Through a browser. With NO installed software. Could it be done?
And so begins my quest...over the next few days, I'm going to attempt to find online software solutions that do everything I need to build eLearning programs so I can buy a Netbook and just go. Here is the types of software I will need to find:
That's the major functionality I will be looking for in online applications. I want to get a Netbook purely because its new and cool (and I have a problem with wanted all the tech I can get my hands on), but if I can validate it by finding these online solutions, well, then its a purchase worth making! I know...who am I kidding...
I'll keep you posted all week with what I find.
I am so excited that the Kindle 2 has been released! I am completely in love with anything tech and anything new. I haven't ordered mine yet...something about the $359 price tag that is making me hold off. I did get to spend lots of time with the previous iteration as a colleague had one and he left me alone with it for a while.
I buy LOTS of books...they are all over my house. My wife calls them "droppings", as in "Thomas, you've got book droppings all over the bonus room." For me, the $359 price tag isn't worth it yet - even though I spend that much (and more) in books every year, most of my purchases are web based, tech books (ActionScript 3.0 guides and Michael Allen eLearning books). Kindle doesn't have any of those yet...and, do I want to have a reference guide on the Kindle?
So what does this have to do with eLearning? I starting thinking about the possibilities for this kind of tool in the training world. I would love to be able to use something like this to shoot course materials over to my learners, give them prep work or use this as a part of my hybrid solutions. Instead of "Download this PDF, print it out and use it as we work through the online program", it could be "Download this document to your Kindle and use it to work through the program."
I'm building lots of programs where the learner downloads and reads a PDF file and then answers questions in the eLearning so that they are stored in the LMS. Imagine being able to push this to a Kindle-like device and the learner doesn't have to print it out.
Of course, Amazon would need to do a few things to the device to make me really happy, so here is my wish list for Amazon:
That's my wish list for Amazon regarding the Kindle. Laptops and the new Netbooks offer our learners portable access to our online modules, but something as thin and sleek as the Kindle can really be a future eLearning device. Maybe the device isn't as good as the PDFs we are using now? Maybe I should be happy to view PDFs on the Kindle..Maybe Amazon doesn't ever want to open it up to users and developers and keep the books, the connection and the content locked down?
Am I asking too much? Is it designed to be a book replacement and that's it? I hope not. I think it would be very cool to deploy eLearning on a device as elegant as the Kindle. Once I get my hands on one (soon, oh yes...so very soon) I'll tell you what I really think!
People have mixed reviews: Read them here.
David Pogue Video Review: View it!
I wanted to give a heads up that I am interviewing another amazing expert for the Trainers Talk Tech podcast tomorrow morning. If you've ever wondered about the secrets of good synchronous learning, this is the podcast for you! Tips, tricks and secrets to maximizing your synchronous learning experience as an instructional designer and facilitator will all be discussed. It's going to be great!
If you want to subscribe to the podcast feed, use this link:
I'm conducting the interview in the morning and after production, it should be up before noon MST. Be sure to subscribe or come back to this site to hear the podcast.
If you missed the first edition covering online social networking with Jenna Papakalos, you can read about it and listen to it here.
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, with whom ASTD and I have an ongoing copublishing relationship and who recently helped ASTD develop the digital version of the Handbook, will be publishing all of the chapters of the ASTD Handbook for Workplace Learning Professionals as stand-alone digital whitepapers as part of a series they’re calling Fast Fundamentals. I'm Chapter 23: Authoring Techniques and Rapid eLearning!
The Fast Fundamentals series will have a dedicated page on the Berrett-Koehler web site, the centerpiece of which will be a unique search engine that will allow readers to find a digital whitepaper on a specific workplace challenge. This page is currently in beta-testing - take a few minutes to try it out!
After you click on the link and the home page opens, choose a Topic from the menu. A list of Challenges will pop up. Click on a Challenge, and a Solution—a list of whitepapers—will appear. Click on one of whitepaper options, and the first page of the whitepaper is revealed with an option to purchase the content. To try out this unique whitepaper concept click here !
Berrett-Koehler will be adding explanatory text and the ability to search by author name and by title of the whitepaper soon. The scheduled launch date for this service is February 19th.
The Fast Fundamentals whitepapers will sell for $3.95 to $9.95 depending on length, but for the first week—from February 19th to February 27th—Berrett-Koehler will be selling them all for the special introductory price of $.99 each. The book is huge - it retails $139.00 and has 49 chapters... but look - if you want to buy the entire book via this introductory price it could save you some serious money. The book has less than 50 chapters...that means for this 99 cent special, you can get the whole shebang for less than $50.
If you want to save some trees, this could be a great opportunity to pick up the whole book at a substantial discount. Here is the link again.
If this is your first time reading a web page, then let me introduce you to the upcoming generation that is causing everyone, everywhere to pause a moment and reflect. The generation is called Gen Y, or Millennials, and anyone born between 1981 and 2000 falls into that category.
Gen Y have been described as:
Leo Lucas is an eLearning consultant who has made a series of SCORM templates that are inexpensive and easy to implement. I talked about his site at ASTD TK all last week, and I wanted to link to his site from here. I spent about $500 here and it has saved me hours and hours of work around simple SCORM implementation.
Thank you Leo!
Visit the software section for Flash, HTML and developer toolkits which make SCORM less painful to implement.
As always, ASTD put on a great show in Vegas. I am looking forward to following up with all the new people I met and learned with. I cannot wait until '10!
I had three sessions I conducted: Two Creation Stations and a Tech Intensive. I have to say that the Tech Intensive was a blast. I had about 80 people in the room, and we talked at length about the Adobe CS4 Web Suite. 90% of it went well, but I had one SoundBooth snafu and one Flash ActionScript 3.0 snafu. Before the session, I said to myself that I'd create an interaction using ActionScript 2.0 because I know that cold, but then reminded myself that I made a pact to only program in ActionScript 3.0. I know how to get things built, but some of the calls are still new to me. I forgot to add the
to my function call. Grr...Oh well. We laughed and got it working when I finally relaxed enough to think clearly. Building a site in the privacy of your office is much different than building in front of a room of learners!
Here are links to my materials from the sessions. If you were not able to attend, I understand! Here are the materials in PDF format:
Flash CS4: Get a Taste of ActionScript 3.0 Hands On! : PDF File
Also, if you attended my Tech Intensive, you remember that we built a "New Hire Orientation" online guide for Tommy Gun's Garage, a dinner theater and "speakeasy" out of Chicago. I thought you might like to see what I built for the client.
Its just the prototype in a flat Photoshop file, but you can see what a little time and attention can do for good web design.
Thanks for talking with me, laughing with (at) me and having a great time in Vegas at the ASTD TK show.
Now, go build something cool!
P.S. I haven't forgotten to put the David Pogue Web 2.0 list up from the first day of the conference...It will be up soon...
Our first Trainers Talk Tech podcast is here! The topic for this first podcast is online social networking. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jenna Papakalos, President of JRMP Enterprises, an expert on the topic of social networking. During this session we talk about Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter, and how the HR or Training professional can start creating an online network of people.
Listen to it here:
Subscribe to the Trainers Talk Tech podcast here:
During the podcast, Jenna and I talk about various books and websites. Below are links to everything we discussed:
Please enjoy the podcast, and if you like it, then please subscribe. I plan on interviewing movers and shakers in the eLearning industry, as well as create solo broadcasts.
Thank you for reading...I hope you enjoy the podcast, and thank you Jenna for sharing your expertise!
I'm very excited about ASTD TK 09 this year. I'm looking for some new ideas and new ways of thinking and programming, and I hope that you will tune into my daily reporting from the conference. I plan on writing each day, providing you with "on the scene" details, information and opinions.
Also, I am happy to be presenting on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning. I will be sharing my presentation notes and materials on this site. I have a fun ActionScript 3.0 primer and an analysis and demonstration of the Adobe Creative Suite 4, specifically Flash, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Fireworks and Soundbooth. I know...the eLearning Suite just came out...why don't I feature that? Two reasons:
More news: Tomorrow morning, I am recording the first edition of the Trainers Talk Tech's Podcast. I'm interviewing an expert in the area of electronic social networking. I'm interested in her opinions about the trend and the methods and implications for the eLearning developer. Look for links to the podcast links soon.
If you haven't seen it yet, Adobe has created an eLearning Suite and bundled my favorite software together. It's a really sweet suite:
So...my only question...where is Fireworks in the suite? Photoshop rules, but for web distribution, Fireworks has tools that could help the eLearning developer rapidly develop interfaces, convert to PDF and perform lots of cool navigation and button effects. The price point is a little steep ($1799) but worth it if you want to do be able to do everything (no seriously...everything eLearning!) The upgrade price is great ($599) if you have purchased any other suite. I have to say that, overall, I like it quite a bit. There is a lot of software here that can create anything you, the eLearning developer, can think up. However, if you have an extra $299.00 laying around, I'd pick up Fireworks too!
Now...if I can just convince Adobe to fix the Mac bugs in Flash CS4 and give me a version of Captivate for the Mac, I would go back to raving non-stop about their software. I'll rave about everything but Flash CS4, but really, really want to! If Adobe fixes the Flash CS4 bugs, I'll be their biggest evangelist yet! I'll keep running Captivate in Parallels, but it's not the same.
I will be presenting at the ASTD TechKnowledge Conference in Vegas this year. This will be my 9th year presenting. My first presentations were in October 2001. Yeah...one month after the world blew up. Needless to say, the conference was much smaller than expected but was still fantastic.
Very few people are creating technology exclusively for the online learning developer, so this site attempts to fill that gap. Whether you want ideas on how to use web technologies in your eLearning, or have questions about the what's and how's, this site is for you.
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