Is Technology Making Us Dumb?

I’m a technology girl! An early adopter! I don’t buy technology for technology-sake but when I see something that I know I’ll use, I’ll go for it!

I think that’s probably why my specialization in instructional design is for online learning—because I love the technology! I love the challenge! The pace! I even love the nay-sayers: “You can’t teach that online!”

But where my love for technology stops is when it fails and the human just shuts down. Not a fan of that!

The other week, I was notified that I had shopped at a vendor who had been hacked while using my debit card. While my account had no illegal activity on it, as a precaution they wanted to cancel the existing card and issue a new one. Okay, better safe than sorry, but that also meant being without my debit card for five to seven business days including a holiday.

You know what means, don’t ya? That means c-a-s-h! That means having to write a c-h-e-c-k.

So, I went to the bank to cash a check for the weekend. But because my debit card had been discontinued, I couldn’t swipe it at the counter for the teller to access my account.

I could see the panic in her eyes. She had no idea what to do! She couldn’t tell if I was a customer (even though the bank’s name was on the check). She didn’t know how to access my account on her computer without my swipe. She finally asked for my driver’s license, and after a while, I got my money.

After that, I started thinking about their learning and development programs. I know companies spend lots of money on teaching systems, etc., but do they teach process? Are employees learning how to problem solve and to think critically about a situation so they can adapt to any situation?

OR…are they teaching the tool all-the-while assuming they’re teaching all of the above?

As always, I’m interested in your opinions!

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Training is a ‘Titanic’ Undertaking

As the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic on its maiden voyage approaches, I’m watching all the fascinating documentaries with new images of the ship. One of the contributing factors to the sinking was the use of iron rivets; and not just any iron–iron with imperfections that weakened the structural integrity of the ship.

1,500 People lost their lives that night. The lack of lifeboats was a factor, but also not every lifeboat was filled to capacility. Why was that? Some reasons include people were still below decks or didn’t take the loading seriously.

Of course, there could be all sorts of implications for this tragedy but in reality I think a lot of lives could have been saved if training had taken a bigger part. The crew was trained to sail and operate the ship, I’m sure, but this was the largest liner in the world at the time. There were people of all classes and colors, from different countries–and some didn’t speak or couldn’t read English. Imagine if you were from Italy, trying to read English signs…

I’m curious though, on this 100th anniversary, what training solutions you think could have been adapted, back then, that would have helped save more lives.

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Excited about Learning!

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, I believe it’s important as an instructional designer to keep a learner’s perspective. And the best way to do that is to be, well…a learner.

I’m enrolled in a Graduate Certificate program at Full Sail University. I choose to enroll in a certificate because I wanted to: 1) ensure what I think I know is still relevant, 2) learn about new technologies that are available for learners…and designers.

Tonight we had a synchronous session that introduced us to assignments and oriented us to the program. What I discovered–and just in this one session–that keeping up with technology and its applications is almost a full-time job now. Collaboration with peers and associations is not only beneficial but essential if one wants to stay marketable and on top of their game!

I’m interested in learning more about what methods and resources you use to stay current. How often do you check these resources and how much time do you think you spend a month researching?

I look forward to your thoughts!

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Life-long Learner–Do ISDs Ever Stop Learning?

I have a situation that I haven’t had in a while: my current employer–and I work in a training department–actually believes in learning and development for its employees. As budget cuts happen, training is usually the first to get cut so training for L&D, well…let’s just roll credits!

Regardless, as an ISD, you have to keep up with the industry and technology. And also it’s important to keep that learner perspective, especially as technology changes so quickly. If you lose that perspective, you can’t design courses as well.

With that, I’m looking forward to starting a graduate certificate at Full Sail University. From what I’ve seen, they have a variety delivery mechanisms utilizing technology in synchronous and asynchronous ways.

So, we’re almost a month into the new year! What development opportunities are you considering for 2012? How important do you think your development is to your abilities as a designer, and what are the most important aspects?

As always, I look forward to your thoughts!

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Learning Styles: Are They or Aren’t They?

There’s a fairly old story from NPR’s Morning Edition–from last August–that introduces the idea that there are no scientifically credible studies regarding learning styles and until there is, we shouldn’t consider them when designing courses.

I find it amazing that there are no controlled studies regarding learning styles. I mean, what are these doctoral candidates about these days!?! Regardless of whether there are actual learning styles or whether these are learning preferences, I would find it difficult just to drop them. Considering how content is presented and taught is the meat of an instructional designer’s meal.

What I did find rather interesting is in the last paragraph: “And recent studies find that our brains retain information better when we spread learning over a longer period of time, say months or even a year, versus cramming it into a few days or weeks.” How does this play into elearning? Much consideration has been devoted to the idea that the shorter, the better. Even commercials have decreased in duration from approximately 45 seconds to 15 seconds.

So, from the generation who screams at their microwaves, do we have it wrong when it comes to elearning? Should we continue to pare down the content into teachable moments and sound bites or does the learner deserve something less abrasive?

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To Publish or Not to Publish

A new post on ASTD’s Blog caught my eye today. Apple Takes a Bite at Learning by Ann Pace discusses a new app, called iBook Author, which will allows basically anyone to create their own textbook.

This type of self-publishing offers a great opportunity because of the audio/visual components available to the author in creating an electronic textbook. However, whenever I hear about self-publishing I am concerned about quality assurance. Should everyone and anyone be allowed to publish a textbook, which is designed to facilitate learning?

So how do we in the industry proceed? Should self-publishing authors have peer-reviews just as done with studies? Is it possible to balance the excitement of this great new app and the content that will be produced with it and the production of quality content that will be used to add and enhance the current body of knowledge?

I’m interested in your thoughts…

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Learning Towards Heaven

Recently I saw a television program where Heaven was a different place for each person. It was like a bubble bath, each bubble a whole world of ideal memories and moments for that one person. Sometimes the bubbles would join and you were able to see what others’ Heavens were and how you fit into them. It was an interesting concept in that the two people, who were siblings, learned more about one another through their Heavens than they did during life.

I started thinking: What would my Heaven be like?

I don’t necessarily believe that Heaven is in the atmosphere somewhere, existing on clouds. While that may be someone’s Heaven, it’s not mine. Obviously, I don’t know that for sure. No one knows except those who have slipped behind the veil and they’re not talking. If I pictured an ethereal Heaven though, it would be a peaceful state with colors, kind of like lying on the floor in the middle of a planetarium. My other imaginations of Heaven, however, are a bit more earthy.

I can picture Heaven as climbing apple trees with my cousin or running barefoot through tobacco fields. It could be catching fireflies in the evenings or the smell of bacon cooking in the morning. I also can picture it as eating watermelon during a summer evening after a bath, watching The Carol Burnett Show.

Heaven also could steal memories out of sadness: like the last time I spoke to my parents. It could be lying in bed with my mother on the day she died, holding her hand. Those last moments, which ultimately are some of the most trying of my life, also are the most precious. I can picture Heaven as watching my child’s heart beat, even though I suffered a miscarriage just weeks later. Those periods of time looped–no beginning, no ending–yeah, I could do eternity.

But maybe Heaven’s not a memory but a feeling, like the gratitude you owe a friend for “being there” or the comfort you get from your parent’s embrace after skinning your knee. Maybe it’s the moment after a hot shower when you feel “human” again, or the feeling of warm clothes out of the dryer.

In thinking about Heaven and what it would be for me, I realized the threads people have woven into my life, and how rich and strong it is because of those moments. The fact that I could take a painful moment like the deaths of my parents and turn that into Heaven tells me I’ve taken more away from the experience than just the pain.

So, my question to you is: what learning in life’s journey can you picture as Heaven?

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