Prototyping, Distance Learning, Habits, & Mentoring


Integrating Prototyping Into Your Design Process - Boxes and Arrows

When aimed well, a prototype can answer design questions and communicate design ideas. A prototype's fidelity has the most influence over its effectiveness. Fidelity simply refers to how realistic the prototype is.

How-To: Engage the Managers of Distance Learning - Training Magazine

One of the drawbacks to distance learning is it easily can result in the learner's manager becoming disengaged from the learner's training, yet we know a manager's participation in employee training improves results. While there are several ways to address this issue, one of the most effective is through your Learning Management System (LMS).

How Long to Form a Habit? - PsyBlog

Although the average was 66 days, there was marked variation in how long habits took to form, anywhere from 18 days up to 254 days in the habits examined in this study. As you'd imagine, drinking a daily glass of water became automatic very quickly but doing 50 sit-ups before breakfast required more dedication (above, dotted lines). The researchers also noted that:

  • Missing a single day did not reduce the chance of forming a habit.
  • A sub-group took much longer than the others to form their habits, perhaps suggesting some people are 'habit-resistant'.
  • Other types of habits may well take much longer.

Online Mentoring Programs - eLearn Magazine

In general, face-to-face mentoring often translate well to the online environment. Many of the same basic principles utilized during in-person meetings apply online, too.

Mentoring Is Overrated. Try Tutoring Instead - Business Week

Three participants - each from different companies - got together during the break to teach themselves (and each other) how to marry the software to the statistics. Intriguingly, this ad hoc group had synergistic skills: One knew the software but had a shaky understanding of the statistics; another understood stats but had only a casual acquaintance with the software; and the third had a problem he thought the software could solve. Fifteen minutes of explanatory give-and-take around the keyboard later, everyone had clearly "learned" more about their own skill and competence by attempting to "teach" their colleagues. The software jockey gained greater fluency with the package as he demo-ed how to integrate the problem with the statistics. The stats geek got a better sense of the math in the course of helping translate the problem into the software. The guy with the problem better understood its underlying challenges in the course of defining it for the statistician and the software.


Internet, eLearning, Connectivism, UI Flows, Writing, & Data

Bento Box (  or ? )

Is the Internet melting our brains? - Salon

No! The author of "A Better Pencil" explains why such hysterical hand-wringing is as old as communication itself

What does a real life e-learning strategy look like? - e-bites

An elearning strategy from real life that has the following aims:

  • Give my L&D team direction in terms of what we were going to do in re to e-learning
  • Give the wider HR department a roadmap of what we were going to do and how
  • Tie in with the organisation's people goals and demonstrate how the my L&D department was going to contribute – essentially making the line of sight clearer.

CCK09: Connectivism and Constructivism - Christy Tucker

A framework for comparing four learning theories - behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism, and connectivism:

  • How does learning occur?
  • What factors influence learning?
  • What is the role of memory?
  • How does transfer occur?
  • What types of learning are best explained by this theory?

A shorthand for designing UI flows - Signal vs. Noise

Flows are hard to communicate during the design process. Drawing out every state of a flow is too time-consuming. And drawings become instantly outdated as screens change. On the other hand, flows written down into stories or paragraphs are hard to reference and they don't easily decompose into checklists for design and review.

The Pen May Be Mightier Than The Keyboard - Science Daily

Second, fourth and sixth grade children with and without handwriting disabilities were able to write more and faster when using a pen than a keyboard to compose essays, according to new research

"People think language is a single thing. But it's not," said Berninger. "It has multiple levels like a tall building with a different floor plan for each story."

Visions of data - New Scientist

As new ways of analysing the world around us are developed, new ways to visualise that information are needed. The recent Eurographics Symposium, held in Berlin, brought together international researchers with new ideas about how to make data easier to interpret and act on.


Idioms, Doodling, ID, Employee Benefits, Mentoring, & Critical Thinking

The Crowd at Folklife

Figures Of Speech: Understanding Idioms Requires Both Sides Of The Brain - Science Daily

...though the interpretation of language involves widespread activation bilaterally, the right hemisphere has a special role in the comprehension of idiomatic meaning.

Doodling 'may help memory recall' - BBC

Doodling may look messy, but it could be a sign of an alert mind — Doodlers performed 29% better in remembering facts. The theory is daydreaming distracts from a boring task, which results in poor performance, but a simple task, like doodling, may be sufficient to stop daydreaming without affecting performance on the main task.

Citation: "What does doodling do?" By Jackie Andrade. Applied Cognitive Psychology, Vol. 23, No. 3, Feb. 26, 2009. Also see Wired.

Related closely to the Yerkes-Dodson Law.

The role of theory in instructional design - Janet Clarey in A Brandon Hall Research Blog

One of the themes of the research — participant desire to use theory and report that they often do, but decisions are often made on the basis of intuitive judgment and practical wisdom developed over time.

I would add that the theories we learn help to build our Schemata — a mental model of a person, object or situation. This includes cognitive maps (mental representations of familiar parts of one's world), images, concept schema (categories of objects, events, or ideas with common properties), event scripts (schema about familiar sequences of events or activities), and mental models (clusters of relationships between objects or processes). For more information see: Learning and Declarative Knowledge and Capability Model.

Employee Benefits

A poll released by MetLife found that 89 percent of employees will look to either increase or maintain their level of employer benefits in 2010 despite economic hardship - Employee Benefits Top of Mind in 2010

However, another survey reports 66 percent of Americans are unsatisfied with pay.

Shifting the Shape of Mentoring - ASTD

In 2007, Rockwell Collins' mentees were asked to rate the ways mentoring allowed them to contribute to the success of the company. They identified three top areas:

  • receiving or providing encouragement, motivation, or support
  • helping me understand a different point of view
  • gaining or providing valuable knowledge, skills, or experience from another person.

When asked the same question in 2009, mentees rated the top three areas as

  • gaining or providing valuable knowledge, skills, or experience from another person
  • building or expanding my network
  • helping me understand a different point of view.

Critical thinking? You need knowledge - Boston Globe

We have neglected to teach them that one cannot think critically without quite a lot of knowledge to think about. Thinking critically involves comparing and contrasting and synthesizing what one has learned. And a great deal of knowledge is necessary before one can begin to reflect on its meaning and look for alternative explanations.
Proponents of 21st-Century Skills might wish it was otherwise, but we do not restart the world anew with each generation. We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. What matters most in the use of our brains is our capacity to make generalizations, to see beyond our own immediate experience. The intelligent person, the one who truly is a practitioner of critical thinking, has the capacity to understand the lessons of history, to grasp the inner logic of science and mathematics, and to realize the meaning of philosophical debates by studying them.


Camtasia for Mac, Education, Blogging, and Brain Cells


Review: Camtasia for Mac - eQuixotic

Ultimately Camtasia for Mac is a beautiful piece of software that is intuitive and enjoyable to use - and bargain-priced at one third the cost of its admittedly more features-rich (but ugly and clunky) Windows comrade. Does it suffer from the typical version 1.0 rough edges? Yes, but not as many as I expected. TechSmith did a fantastic job with this initial release.

After Years Of Toil, Sustaining Change In Education Still A Vexing Problem - Science Daily

"What really is an effective practice?" Century asked. "Just because something works in a particular setting or context, does that mean it's effective?" Century has doubts. "When you're talking about replicating best practices, the research tells us that that doesn't happen. It's a fallacy," she said. Educators instead need to think about how practices inevitably change as they move from place to place, Century said.

At Your Fingers, an Oxford Don - New York Times

The Department of Education recently announced that it was developing a new National Educational Technology Plan to provide a "vision of how information and communications technologies can help transform American education." The plan, the agency said, will include "concrete goals," with a draft expected early next year.

The long tail of blogging is dying - Guardian

Facebook's success is built on the ease of doing everything in one place. (Search tools can't index it to see who's talking about what, which may be a benefit or a failing.) Twitter offers instant content and reaction. Writing a blog post is a lot harder than posting a status update, putting a funny link on someone's Wall, or tweeting. People are still reading blogs, and other content. But for the creation of amateur content, their heyday for the wider population has, I think, already passed.

Star-shaped Cells In Brain Help With Learning - Science Daily

In order to learn something, i.e. to process new information, nerve cells grow new connections or strengthen existing contact points. At such contact points, the synapses, information is passed from one cell to the next. Once a synapse is created, new information has a means to be passed on and the information is learned. Enhancing an acquired skill through practice is then accomplished by strengthening the synapses involved. Incoming information elicits a much stronger response in the downstream nerve cell when passing through a strengthened synapse, as compared to a "normal" synapse.


Color Design, Training, ISD & ADDIE, & Learning

On the Patio

Color Basics: Dos and Dont's - Colour Lovers

Colour and Typography remain to be the two most important elements in design. When you harmoniously combine them all you attract a quicker attention to the subject, reinforce impact and recognition, help in establishing powerful identities and brand, set a mood. Today we examine the DOs and DON'Ts in designing with colour.

Ice breakers are harmful to the learning process - examiner

In 1912, an unsinkable ship, the Titanic, sank when it hit an iceberg. In 2008 learning situations, unwitting trainers, sink training programs when they begin by announcing, "We're gonna' start with an ice breaker."

ADDIE is dead! Long live ADDIE! - gram consulting

For me ADDIE has become a useful heuristic, not even a process really, but a framework for thinking, coaching instructional designers, and managing learning and e-learning projects. Many e-learning designers these days are not formally trained in Instructional Design and initially think of it as instructional "writing" more than the holistic and systemic approach at the heart of ADDIE. Likewise customers and subject matter experts are much easier to work with once they understand the broad project process that ADDIE represents. For these two purposes alone I am thankful for ADDIE as a framework . ADDIE has staying power because of it's simplicity. Purists will say it has been watered down too much but in many ways that's what keeps it alive.

Design, processes, and ADDIE Clark Quinn in Learnlets

...the processes we learn are scaffolds for performance. ADDIE is a guide to help ensure hitting all the important points. It's no guarantee of a good design. It takes understanding the nuances (see Broken ID), and some creativity.

Win fans by dropping the potato pancake - Signal vs. Noise

What made Julia Child so popular - The only way you learn to flip things is just to flip them:

"When you flip anything, you just have to have the courage of your convictions," she declares, clearly a tad nervous at the prospect, and then gives the big pancake a flip. On the way down, half of it catches the lip of the pan and splats onto the stovetop. Undaunted, Julia scoops the thing up and roughly patches the pancake back together, explaining: "When I flipped it, I didn't have the courage to do it the way I should have. You can always pick it up." And then, looking right through the camera as if taking us into her confidence, she utters the line that did so much to lift the fear of failure from my mother and her contemporaries: "If you're alone in the kitchen, WHOOOO" - the pronoun is sung - "is going to see?" For a generation of women eager to transcend their mothers' recipe box (and perhaps, too, their mothers' social standing), Julia's little kitchen catastrophe was a liberation and a lesson: "The only way you learn to flip things is just to flip them!"


Learning, Net Generation, Mind Mapping, Brain Training, & SharePoint

Red & Purple Flowers

Harvesting Learning's Fruit: A Downstream Training Investment - Living in Learning

A graphic illustration for a sense of what harvesting means and when we accomplish it.

  • Prepare - to create readiness in our learners prior to formal training
  • Deploy - delivery of formal training in a variety of blends
  • Reinforce - post-training implementation intended to sustain capability

International research project studies impact of new technology on teaching and learning - Update

The results of this study contradicted the prevailing view of Net Generation learners as being technologically - savvy multitaskers who live and breathe digital technology and favor teamwork and collaboration. (Definitions of the Net Generation - also known as Generation Y, or the Millenials - vary but generally the term refers to people born after 1982, which is the date this study used.) The study found that, for the most part, there were no significant differences between Net Generation and non-Net Generation learners at BCIT in terms of their preferences and use of technology and their learning characteristics.

Freeplane: Free Mind Mapping Software - Freeplane

Freeplane is free mind mapping software based on FreeMind. Uses include knowledge and project management; writing theses, essays and books; creating simple web pages (like this one); note taking; brainstorming - and many others. Avalable for both Mac and PC.

Does brain training really work? - BBC

There are five main problems with current research:


As John Grohol notes in his post:

Just another article reminding you that engaging in regular exercise and engaging in simple pencil and paper tasks (like Sudoku or the crossword puzzle) - both of which have good research support - are likely cheaper and more effective than most brain training programs.

SharePoint is not enterprise 2.0 [a zen moment] - mrmerlot

That's right. No bolding. No ALL CAPS. Just a simple statement of fact: SharePoint is not enterprise 2.0. I reached this zen moment and it only took the first six hours of SharePoint Site Content Administrator (SCA) training for me to get there. At hour six, I realized two things:
  • The structure of SharePoint is based on the fact that people within an organization inherently do not trust one another.
  • SharePoint plays by the Vegas mantra: What goes on in SharePoint stays in SharePoint.


Worked Examples, Presentations, Red, Processes, & Tetris

Up, Up, and Away

Ruth and Richard on worked examples - Dave's Whiteboard

A worked example is a step-by-step demonstration of how to perform a task or solve a problem. That means that in some cases, a worked example can look a lot like a job aid. Especially for procedural tasks (those you perform the same way each time), worked examples are natural ways to show specifically how to accomplish some task.

It Used to Take Three Highly-Trained Professionals to Make a Presentation - Duarte

In the old days presentations were made with careful planning and close collaboration between the communicator, the graphic analyst, and the draftsman because that would yield the best results. However, anyone who builds presentations today has all three of these roles folded into one, yet we're not officially trained in any of these skills.

Winners wear red: How colour twists your mind - New Scientist

Most researchers believe that red directly affects how you perceive the wearer of that colour. In nature, red is often used to signal dominance and aggression, and in humans this is reinforced by cultural symbols such as warning signs and stop signals. Red is clearly context specific. In achievement situations red means danger, which leads to avoidance, but in romance situations red means sexual availability or romance and that leads to approach behaviour

We don't need no stinkin' process - Energized Work

Another thing is ... we don't need no stinkin' process. I reckon it's because our team is small, has only generalising specialists who have worked together for ages, we trust one another implicitly, and our environment is extremely collaborative and fun-packed. Ok, it's not entirely accurate that we have no process. I just wanted to use the Blazing Saddles clip. There is some semblance of a process but, honestly, it really, really doesn't feel like it. It just feels like the natural flow a conversation takes. Perhaps it's that the interactions are so second nature to us it just seems like everything is a conversation triggered by something that's happened or has been discovered

Is Tetris Good For The Brain? - Science Daily

The girls who practiced showed greater brain efficiency, consistent with earlier studies. Compared to controls, the girls that practiced also had a thicker cortex, but not in the same brain areas where efficiency occurred.

However, cnet reports the study was funded by "Blue Planet Software (BPS), Inc., the company holding exclusive licensing rights to Tetris".


Extending ISD Through Plug and Play

In a previous post I wrote about the dynamics of ISD in response to Ellen Wagner's blog in which she noted that the biggest complaint about ADDIE is that it is too linear. In her post Ellen states that ADDIE is a process model, not a learning model. That's quite true, but now we have to ask what is the purpose of that process? And it is not instruction, but rather learning. That is, instruction is the means but learning is the real goal.

While some may think this is just a way to give ADDIE a new makeover, it is actually an older concept than the dynamic evolution of ADDIE for Bèla Bànàthy, an instructional system design pioneer, wrote about this in 1968. In his book, Instructional Systems, Bànàthy noted that in such a system instruction is part of the process while learning is the main purpose (to gain knowledge and skills). He also noted, "The effectiveness of an instructional system, therefore, can be measured by assessing the degree to which it provides for the learner a system for learning. An instructional system serves its purpose to the extent to which it brings about in the environment of the learner all the possible interactions that result in the attainment of the desired performance."

Since learning is the true purpose of ISD or ADDIE, then it has to be even more robust. However, we must first make a distinction between two terms — Instructional System Design (ISD), which includes ADDIE, and Instructional Design (ID). And for that we can thank Jerome van Merriënboer who discusses the two terms in his book, Training Complex Cognitive Skills.

ISD has a broad scope and typically divides the instructional process into five phases:

  • analysis
  • design
  • development or production
  • implementation or delivery
  • evaluation

ISD models provide guidelines and directions for performing the activities in each of the five phases. The activities in the phases are normally similar to this:

ISD Concept Map
Click image to enlarge

ID models on the other hand are less broad in scope and typically focus on the first two phases of ISD — analysis & design. They concentrate on the job and task analysis and the conversion into a learning strategy & a blueprint ready for production. Having less scope they can go into greater detail. Examples of ID are Merrill's Component Display Theory and Reigeluth's Elaboration Theory

The broad scope and heuristic method of ISD has often been criticized by others because it tells learning designers what to do, but not how to do it. Yet it is this broad and sketchy nature of ISD that gives it such great robustness. Merriënboer writes, "the phases may be listed in a linear order, but in fact are highly interrelated and typically not performed in a linear but in an iterative and cyclic fashion." He further notes that other ID and learning models can be used in conjunction with ISD.

Thus, ISD basically becomes plug and play — you add other components to it on an as-needed-basis. For example, the ISD model below has Action Mapping, 4C/ID, and Prototyping plugged into it for designing a robust learning environment for training complex skills:

Robust and Dymanic ISD Model
Click image to enlarge

The ISD model uses the additional components to extend its capabilities:

  • Action Mapping is used for the task analysis and to help pinpoint the learning objectives
  • 4C/ID is used to design the instruction for complex cognitive skills
  • Prototyping is used to test the instruction and for rapid design
  • The ISD model helps to ensure all essential requirements are performed

Taking full advantage of the full evolutionary growth of ISD provides a dynamic and extendable model that provides a process for creating a viable learning process. How have you extended the capabilities of ISD?


Banathy, B. (1968). Instructional Systems. Palo Alto, California: Fearon Publishers.

van Merrienboer, J.J.G. (1997). Training Complex Cognitive Skills: A Four-Component Instructional Design Model for Technical Training. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Educational Technology Publications.


Wikipedia, Groups, Complexity, Training, & Work

Chinese Marching Band

Wikipedia to Color Code Untrustworthy Text - Wired

Starting this fall, you'll have a new reason to trust the information you find on Wikipedia: An optional feature called "WikiTrust" will color code every word of the encyclopedia based on the reliability of its author and the length of time it has persisted on the page.
Trial by consensus sounds sketchy, but majority opinion has nearly always dictated society's definition of truth. A 15th century encyclopedia would have insisted that the sun revolves around the earth. The 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica asserted that bacteria causes the flu, since viruses hadn't been discovered yet. So perhaps it's not a question of whether to trust consensus. Rather, whose consensus do you want to trust: a handful of experts, or thousands of anonymous internet users and a clever computer algorithm?

Group Polarization: The Trend to Extreme Decisions - Psyblog

We tend to think that group decisions average out the preferences of participants so they would come up with something closer to the Ford Focus. But the psychological research doesn't support this conclusion. In fact group discussions tend to polarize groups so that, rather than people's views always being averaged, their initial preferences can become exaggerated and their final position is often more extreme than it was initially.

Chess to Go - Cognitive Edge

Go uses a 19 by 19 Grid, 181 black stones and 180 white stones. While the average number of legal moves in chess at any point is 37, in Go it's between 150 and 250 and rarely falls below 50. The most powerful computer around today would require 5 days to calculate all possible combinations of the next 8 moves (5.12 x 10 combinations). While computers can defeat the best human players, in Go they only manage an intermediate amateur level. The different values of chess pieces make it easier to calculate position, in Go it is far more difficult; the placement of one stone early in the game has an impact on play 100s of moves later. Chess is complicated, Go is complex and the differences give us a way of understanding the different strategies on of robustness and resilience which I raised yesterday.

Real trainers don't do Twitter - The Recession-Proof Trainer

The title of this post is deliberately provocative. It can be taken in two ways. I do not in any way suggest that real trainers should or should not tweet. The meaning of the title is simply that, apparently, not many real trainers do tweet. There are many training and performance gurus that I admire - few seem to have Twitter accounts. Those that do, do not tweet often; or gave up after one month. On the other hand, many "social learning" advocates are very active of Twitter.

The Four-Day Workweek Is Winning Fans - Times

A year ago, the Beehive State became the first in the U.S. to mandate a four-day workweek for most state employees, closing offices on Fridays in an effort to reduce energy costs. The move is different from a furlough in that salaries were not cut; nor was the total amount of time employees work. They pack in 40 hours by starting earlier and staying later four days a week. But on that fifth (glorious) day, they don't have to commute, and their offices don't need to be heated, cooled or lit.