About Tom Bishop

Audiobooks, music, moviemaking, outdoor sports, fitness, tech, and original stories, too! Tom writes and tells his stories of family, mystery, and drama, and lives in New England with his family. At MyLeftOne, Tom writes about being with his wife and their two children well as whitewater kayaking, skiing, sailing, running, mountain biking, tennis, stunt kites, marketing, stunt bowling, caber tossing, 3-D rationalizing, egg-timing, correlation principle hyperventilating, derogatory term coining, collapsible membrane stereotyping, potato taco mesmerizing, inflatable rock rafting, surf jumping, and fly fishing.

The Spirit Of Edison: Advancing Online Content Technology

The Spirit Of Edison: Advancing Online Content Technology | KnowledgeVisionWhy do we communicate?

With so many advanced tools out there, it’s easy to think of communications technology as something we’ve always had. We wake up in the morning, and there’s yet another social media platform to learn about.

Books are written to show us why we should use them, and how we can best use them for… sharing content, making money, spreading knowledge, promoting music and making people laugh with clever pictures of cats.

It should be amazing.

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E-Learning Goes Mainstream: How To Upgrade Your Strategy

E-Learning Goes Mainstream: How To Upgrade Your Strategy | KnowledgeVisionRecently, e-Learning has been covered in numerous high-profile articles in mainstream media outlets, such as the New York Times and Forbes Magazine.

It was a topic of discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos. It’s even been the topic of a Thomas Friedman column.

What does this mean?

Is e-Learning mainstream? Does the guy in accounting who still uses a Palm Pilot know about it yet? He probably does, and his aunt Gertrude told him (Thanks, Gert!).

e-Learning At A Crossroads

It’s a funny thing, being part of a trend. You feel like the guy at the wedding who starts a new dance routine, and some of the cool people join in. Then when everybody else picks it up you head back to your table. It’s not cool anymore. There’s a sweet spot you need to be in: not the first one to try something; but the one who observes, learns the weaknesses, and improves upon it.

“Oh, I see, let’s tie the bungee cord to the bridge this time.”

This is where e-Learning, including organizations like edX, Coursera, Blackboard, Skillsoft, Udacity, lynda.com and nearly a hundred others choose a path to become tomorrow’s Googles and Apples (or DECs).

Did you know that college enrollment fell for the first time in 15 years, while enrollment in online courses rose for the 9th straight year? The numbers are of course incomparable, but the trends are telling. So is the fact that enrollment in accredited online courses is rising more than 10% each year.

How To Choose Your Next Platform

Whether you’re part of a university, or a company building its own training courses, you should probably think not just about making e-Learning technology part of your programs, but centering your strategy around e-Learning tools. Beyond the standard features like ease of use, LMS integration, SCORM compliance, test management, and internal communications tools, the capabilities you should demand are:

  • Mobile-Readiness: These days, trainees and students are going to use all sorts of devices for online learning, and mobile tablets are likely to become a primary tool for them. Unfortunately, mobile devices come in several different sizes and run on two or three major operating systems that don’t use the same technologies for dynamic media. The ability to display your training content in Flash, Javascript and HTML5, as well as the ability to detect mobile devices are all potential requirements for any learning platform.
  • Rich Media Compatibility: How are you going to interface with your trainees? Are you going to use video, Flash, audio, Podcasts, PowerPoint slides, PDFs, high-resolution graphics? No matter what you want to use, your e-Learning platform should be capable of integrating all of it into the learning interface. It should also be possible for end users to select the method that works best for them and control the playback.
  • Social Integration: It’s possible to use social tools as a major avenue of communications for your online training programs. If you choose a learning platform that can integrate social media into the user interface, you’ll be better able to create a community around your courses and communicate in a way that students and trainees have become used to.
  • Cloud Hosting: There is little need to store all of your materials in your own servers any longer. Unless your IT department requires a high measure of security, using cloud storage makes it easier for students to take part in your courses anywhere, anytime, without using a VPN or specialized software applications. Cloud hosting also alleviates your responsibility for the immense storage and memory requirements of an e-Learning program.
  • Personalization: Trainees and students interface with your organization and its brand, not the learning platform’s brand. Why should they be forced to jump from the experience you wish to provide to a different one dictated by someone else’s design? An e-Learning platform should be configurable to match your look and feel, and beyond that, it should be possible for the trainees to define their own experience.
  • Accessibility: This can’t be stressed enough. Trainees will have different learning preferences and may have trouble dealing with one method or another. Your chosen e-Learning platform should be capable of making courses accessible to people with hearing or vision impairments by using captioning, selectable text sizes, audio controls, and specialized downloadable materials.

e-Learning has hit the big-time, but it’s still only the beginning. You should definitely evaluate as many of the latest tools as you have the patience for, but beyond picking a platform, it’s your strategy that is most important. It should combine the latest technologies, communications tools, and storage capabilities, to stay ahead of the curve.

Originally published on The KnowledgeVision Fresh Ideas Blog.

How To Maximize The Micro-Learning Phenomenon

How To Maximize The Micro-Learning Phenomenon | KnowledgeVisionIn the online training world, numerous software platforms and applications have made it possible to build very specific course topics. The phenomenon is called micro-learning, and it’s driving a revolutionary shift in corporate and academic e-learning. How can you build your own courses using these new tools and techniques?

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Online Presentations: The Content Swiss Army Knife

If you only have one tool…

Online Presentations: The Content Swiss Army Knife | KnowledgeVisionWhenever I trek into the backcountry, I always have my Leatherman multi-tool (It’s one of my ten essentials).

We all pretty much know what these are: it’s basically a folding knife with a bunch of other handy little items folded into the housing.

Mine has a serrated knife, a file, screwdrivers, needlenose pliers, a flint, bottle opener, scissors, and the housing itself is a ruler. It includes a leather sheath with a belt-strap, although I tend to carry it in the pack.

It comes in handy in almost any situation, like when I need to cut up some kindling, rig up a bear bag, or repair a torn backpack. I’ve used it for those things and more. All of these tools separately would weigh a ton, but together they weigh less than a pound. It’s a very effective little device.

It got me wondering: Continue reading

Content Marketing Has A Reputation: Can It Be Fixed?

Content Marketing Has A Reputation: Can It Be Fixed? | KnowledgeVision BlogIt’s sort of like watching your little league team get an award at Fenway Park.

For a few minutes, the kids wave, the crowd cheers, and parents beam. Then the pros take the field, the announcer says “wasn’t that nice”, and the people at home see more beer ads.

For several months, the townspeople talk about it in the barber shops, then everything goes back to the way it was.

That’s how I felt reading An Apology to Content Marketers by Shel Israel over at Forbes Magazine. For a few minutes, it felt like content marketing was getting some respect in front of a wider audience.

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Google Course Builder: Implications For The Learning Community

Google Course Builder: Implications For The Learning Community | KnowledgeVisionGoogle. They do everything, don’t they?

They’ve got desktop document tools, a social media site, a video hosting service, a mobile device platform, a creepily in-depth global mapping tool, and will probably deliver the first flying car before long.

Back here on Earth, we’re seeing some incredible advances in learning technology, with online course providers and MOOCs popping up, as well as specialized software for building, delivering, and storing online course materials.

And Google has jammed its colorful thumb deep into that pie, too, with Google Course Builder.

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What Real Running Looks Like: 700 Miles For A Cause

What Real Running Looks Like: 700 Miles For A Cause | MyLeftOneI’ve been on the summit of Cadillac Mountain in Maine’s Acadia National Park. I even hiked it. It’s just over four miles up and back.

I’ve also been to Washington, DC, and did plenty of walking around. Probably 3 whole miles.

What I’ve never done is run the 700+ miles between these two places. If I were to try, I’d give myself a few months, maybe a year.

Gary Allen will run that whole distance in two weeks. Starting on January 7, he will leave the summit of Cadillac Mountain at 6AM. He will cover 50 miles a day, until reaching Washington, DC just in time for the Presidential inauguration on the 21st.

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