Elearning Awards adds Social Media Category

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Elearning Awards dinner in London, having been a judge in a couple of the categories.

During the after awards drinks, Jane Hart and I were discussing the lack of any awards that encouraged the use of social learning tools.

Well, earlier this week I was a participant in a meeting between the eLN and Bizmedia, and I’m pleased to be able to say that as a result of that there will be a new category introduced for the 2010 Awards – “The best use of social media for learning”.

The official launch will take place at Learning Technologies in January.

The Advance of Social Media


Back in the summer I wrote an article for Saffron Interactive titled ‘The Advance of Social Media’. Its key message is that social media is now a mainstream activity and that organisations that attempt to ignore it, do so at their own risk.

If you’d like to read the full article, it is available to download here in PDF format, along with a number of other great articles in Saffron’s Advance series.

Is Twitter Really Not Right For Business?

Earlier this week, The Times ran a story titled “Twitter may not be right for business“.

Despite the title, the article seems to be more about the shortcomings of companies, and why that makes them unsuitable as users of microblogging. To quote the article “Nevertheless, I think there are several fundamental reasons why companies are unsuited to microblogging,…”.

The article goes on to list 5 reasons why companies are not suitable;

  1. Companies are incapable of dealing with things in real time
  2. Companies are incapable of brevity
  3. Companies are not open
  4. Companies are neither altruistic or reciprocal
  5. Companies do not have distinct voices or personalities

I don’t think I’m alone in being relieved I don’t work in a company that behaves as described in the article. One which is probably not fit to deal with its customers, is certainly not fit to manage and develop its employees and is unlikely to have a very bright (or long) future.

The biggest problem with the article, is of course that all five of the statements are wrong. Many companies are very good at dealing with things in real time, and can be both brief and open. Altruism and reciprocity are not unknown qualities in the world of business. Virgin, Disney and Nike are just a few examples of companies with a distinct voice and personality.

If you actually read the story, you’ll find the tone is clearly tongue in cheek, but that won’t stop some people attempting to use this as evidence that Twitter has no place in business.

21st Century LMS

On the 25th September, the eLearning Network held its Next Generation Learning Management event at Holborn Bars in London.

As part of the event, Matt Brewer of Chubb Insurance and I ran a collaborative session to identify what eLN members wanted to see in an LMS that was fit for use in 21st Century organisations. I’m really pleased to say that we have taken the output of that session and produced a report that can be freely downloaded from the eLearning Network website.

Download: 21st Century LMS

It’s released under a Creative Commons licence, so please do share and remix it.

Free ebook – Live Online Learning

*Disclaimer – I am a partner in Onlignment.


Over on the Onlignment website, we have just launched a free e-book download, a facilitator’s guide to live online learning. In 55 pages it covers:

  • Whys and wherefores
  • Planning your session
  • Communicating with voice and live video
  • Communicating using images and text
  • Sharing resources
  • Building in interactivity
  • Building up to the session
  • Facilitating the session
  • Following up

The e-book is issued under a Creative Commons license.

You can download the book here (we do ask you to sign up for our mailing list).

Poetry Heroes

Today in the UK it is National Poetry Day and the subject is heroes and heroines, so I thought I would take the opportunity to post one of my favourite poems, written to honour the pilots who flew in the Battle of Britain.

Fighter Pilot

He was no Galahad, no knight sans peur et sans reproche.
Sans peur? Fear was the second enemy to beat.
He was a common, unconsidered man, who, for a moment of eternity,
held the whole future of mankind in his two sweating hands.
And did not let it go.
Remember him, not as he is portrayed, but as the man he was.
To him you owe the most of what you have and love today.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris

Different is Memorable

Whether for holidays or business, flying is one of those things that has become so common that we rarely give it any thought. In particular, most people give the appearance of ignoring the pre flight safety briefing. So if you want people to pay attention and learn, it makes sense that you should do something uncommon.

That’s exactly what Thomson have done, and on a flight with them last week, I would estimate that 90% of the people on the plane paid attention to the whole thing.

Want to know why? Watch the video.

Tweet Psych

Just ran myself through Tweet Psych. Not entirely sure what this says about me, but here are the results;

Cognitive Content

  1. Present tense
  2. Positive emotions
  3. Tentative
  4. Future tense
  5. Upward motion
  6. Insight
  7. Senses
  8. Past tense
  9. Cognitive processes
  10. Space
  11. Occupation & work
  12. Motion

Primordial, Conceptual and Emotional Content

  1. Abstract thought
  2. Social behavior
  3. Constructive behaviors
  4. Concreteness
  5. Glory
  6. Restraint
  7. Anxiety
  8. Visual sensations
  9. Order
  10. Positive affect

Why not give it a try?

9 Free Tools That Help Mac Users Build Better E-Learning

Over on the Rapid E-Learning Blog, Tom Kuhlman has come up with a list of his 9 Free Tools That Help Me Build Better E-Learning. Bearing in mind that Articulate is a Windows based tool, it’s not surprising that the tool listed are for that platform. So here is my list of 9 equivalent tools for Mac users.

1. DigitalColor Meter

This hand little app is installed on all Macs, and can be found in the Utilities folder.

2. ColourLovers

As this is web based, it’s not strictly Mac only, but then Tom’s choices were web based too. I really like ColourLovers for its community contributed colour schemes. There’s a nice post here about using DigitalColor Meter together with ColourLovers.

3. Paintbrush

If you want a simple bitmap editor for the Mac, you need look no further than the open source Paintbrush.

4. Preview

One of the little known tricks in OSX is that you can use the built in Preview app for resizing individual images or batch resizing multiple images. Just head for the Tools/Adjust Size option.

5. Garageband

All new macs come with iLife installed, which include GarageBand, an incredibly easy to use audio editing app. Of course, you could go with Tom’s choice of Audacity, as that also runs on Macs.

6. iMovie

Another great tool in the iLife suite is iMovie, which gives you simple drag and drop movie making.

7. Prism

Prism is a commercial tool that offers a free version, which will convert between the most common file formats.

8 and 9. SWF and FLV Player

Another great free tool, as its name suggests you can use it with both SWF and FLV. Alternatively, for FLV support you can do a lot worse that VLC, which is a good general purpose replacement for QuickTime player and supports many video formats.

Open Source LMS – 10 Alternatives to Moodle

Since the economic downturn began I’ve noticed much more interest in open source Learning Management Systems (LMS), and it’s no surprise that when people ask what the options are, the answer is usually Moodle. Now, there’s nothing wrong with Moodle, but it certainly isn’t the only open source LMS out there.

Because there is no licensing cost involved with open source solutions, its easy for organisations to just jump in and set up the first solution that comes along. There is however a cost to installation and support, either financial or time related. Anyone setting up an LMS has a responsibility to research and choose the solution that is right for the learners and the organisation.

As a starting point here are 10 open source alternatives to Moodle. These are deliberately brief descriptions, and I would encourage you to visit these sites and explore each solution in some detail.

Docebo In use in corporate and higher education settings. Offers support for a number of different learning models and is compatible with SCORM 1.2 and 2004. It offers interfaces to external systems such as video conferencing and HR systems.

eFront The base install is quite minimalist, but this is easily extended with modules available from the site. Commercial versions with additional features are also available.

Dokeos A very well featured LMS that also offers content authoring and video conferencing tools. Supports converting Office documents into Learning Paths. Offers user synchronisation with HR management systems such as Oracle and SAP.

Claroline Aimed more at the educational than corporate arena, this system is based around specific pedagogical principles (as is Moodle). Supports SCORM content as well as a built in Wiki and other online content tools.

ATutor Actually an LCMS, ATutor also offers tools for the management of learning. The “A” stands for Accessible and it has excellent support for key accessibility standards as well as support for SCORM, IMS etc.

ILIAS Provides testing and assessment tools as well as collaboration tools such as chat and forums, and distribution technologies like RSS and podcasts.

OLAT A well featured system in its tenth year of development. Recently the winner of the “IMS Learning Impact ‘Leadership Award’ 2009 for best open source learning platform”.

Sakai Aimed at Universities, this project has a clear roadmap and has seem considerable development in the last few years. Backed by the Sakai Foundation which manages relationships with educational and commercial supporters.

.LRN Originally developed at MIT, .LRN claims to be the most widely adopted enterprise class open source LMS solution.

openelms Marketed specifically as a business solution, and claims a diverse customer base that ranges from Merrill Lynch to Queens Park Rangers football club.

Ganesha This LMS developed by Anema, has been around since 2001 and is in use in several large organisations. The site, and the LMS itself, are in French but it can be translated.