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The value of a checklist for your work

The value of a checklist for your work

Actively using a standardized checklist to guide your work can help you stay organized.

Practical Usage of Social Media for Formal Learning

Practical Usage of Social Media for Formal Learning

Social media isn't for everyone, or is it?

I'm here at the 2015 Association for Talent Development international conference. This conference is presenting information for professionals in the instructional design and professional development space. Dan Steer believes social media is an important subject nearly everyone should be versed in. Steer shared a few reasons why someone would want to be active on social media, even if she or he isn't interested in participating in inherently self-promotional content. Social media can help people in the instructional design space:

  • Improve learning
  • Increase their professional longevity
  • Encourage more sociability
  • Enhance their student reach
  • Create engagement

Formal learning

Anything that is structured and intentional can be classified as formal learning. Dan encouraged people (instructors and content developers) to consider how we can use social media before, during, and after instruction. Here are a few of the ideas Dan and others came up with:


  • Create a pre-instruction video preparing students for instruction and setting expectations
    • Review learning objectives
  • Send out links to "pre-reading" videos
  • Consider LinkedIn groups
  • Consider YouTube playlists
  • Take a look at implementing inklewriter to combine many forms of content together


  • In-lecture instructional videos
    • Be sure to make sure private content is kept private. Check privacy settings to verify that they are appropriate for the content being shared
  • GinkoApp – group note taking
  • Socrative - class real-time feedback
  • GoogleDrive - file sharing
  • ChatterPix - an iOS application that allows you to combine short soundbites with a talking image. Dan suggests prompting students to record what they learned and then pairing it with a relevant photo. He then suggests sharing the created videos with students at a later time. 


  • Video summary of training for review (keep it short)
    • Space out the delivery of followup content over time
  • Utilize Aramsma. The technology allows you to overlay virtual reality on pictures of reality. 

Notes on tools

The conference session had several hundred attendees. Dan used a useful, free tool called Socrative and encouraged people to respond to prompts during the session. The tool was seamless, easy for participants to access, and required no annoying username and password combo.  

Other tips

  • When sharing content on multiple platforms, ensure each platform has links to related and important content on all other platforms. 
  • Padlet – collecting content

Lily Camera Drone

Lily Camera Drone

The $499 personal drone

Producers of the new Lily Camera recently released a video that highlights what this cool little camera does. This personal drone follows the subject around with a GPS system she or he wears. It's like a little waterproof, loyal friend who captures your every move in 1080p60. It'll be interesting to watch this company and see what startup does in the future. I'd love to see this technology be combined with support for more professional-grade cameras.

You can pre-order the camera for $499 between now and June 15, here.

Here's Lily

The da Vinci Surgical Robot

The da Vinci Surgical Robot

Robotic surgery and instructional design

James R. Porter, M.D., is the medical director of robotic surgery at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. This video below shows how precise and advanced robotic surgery has become. Swedish's First Hall campus has developed a special operating room which has two surgery consoles where two surgeons can participate in the surgery. This structure allows for instructional apprenticeship in training surgeons in realtime on the proper use of the robotic equipment. The dual-console structure also allows surgeons to trade of operating duties and seamlessly take periodic breaks from the surgical procedure.  

Get a look at Swedish's da Vinci Robotic Surgery Suite

See the da Vinci Surgical Robot sew a grape

The precision with which the da Vinci Surgical Robot operates is impressive. To get an idea of what is possible, take a look at how well a surgeon is able to stitch a grape back together. What does this mean for patients? Surgeries can become less invasive with less damage to tissue and improved recovery times. 

What's geo-fencing?

What's geo-fencing?

Per the definition in Techopedia, geo-fencing is: "a technology that defines a virtual boundary around a real-world geographical area. In doing so, a radius of interest is established that can trigger an action in a geo-enabled phone or other portable electronic device."

Hi-tech coupons

NBC's affiliate in Utah, KSL News, produced this video on geo-fencing. It shows some of the new techniques marketers can use to advertise certain products with opt-in smartphone apps. 

The importance of mobile-friendly content

The importance of mobile-friendly content

It's more important than ever before to design content that is mobile-friendly instruction. The number of adult learners who have access to mobile devices grows daily. Although there is certainly still a digital divide between those who have a mobile device and those who don't, the mobile-device gap between the two camps appears to be shrinking.

Going mobile stats 

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) recently shared this relevant infographic full of stats that emphasize the importance of understanding the changing environment in which learners interact with instruction. 

Facebook encourages advertisers to use video

Facebook encourages advertisers to use video

Video ad advice from Facebook for Business

On February 17, I received an email from "Facebook for Business" directed to me. I've done paid placements for Facebook video ads in the past and was given a number of tips from Facebook for Business on how to make those videos more effective. Here are a number of the tips Facebook shared:

  • "Directly upload your videos to Facebook to provide a better experience for people than videos linked from other websites"
  • "Use the video views objective to show your video to people most likely to view it on Facebook"
  • "Use our video metrics in Page Insights and Ads Reporting to see which parts of your video are most and least engaging to people"

It's clear Facebook is making huge efforts in taking a larger piece of the video pie in 2015. To see additional tips Facebook has provided for its video ads, click here

Brands using the word "bae"

Brands using the word "bae"

What's bae, anyway? 

Here's one of Urban Dictionary's many definitions of the word bae:

Brands using bae

Several brands have been spotted using the word "bae." I'm not sure what to think about this. It's fun to observe. The Twitter handle @BrandsSayingBae has captured some of these tweets over the past few months. 

Sonic drive-in

Dairy Queen



Mountain Dew®

What instructional designers can learn from a funny SlideShare presentation

What instructional designers can learn from a funny SlideShare presentation

You Suck at PowerPoint!

Jesse Desjardins shared this excellent presentation, embedded below, on SlideShare in 2008. Since it was released, it's seen more than 1.8 million views and is full of keen advice on communicating. A few points that stood out to me include:

  1. Avoid sharing too much info at once
  2. Only share information that is needed, that is relevant
  3. Keep a consistent look and feel in materials
  4. Implement a color scheme that is used consistently. I discovered from his presentation.

The art of watchmaking the F.P. Journe way

The art of watchmaking the F.P. Journe way

The F.P. Journe 

In the world of watches, F.P. Journe has a reputation of making some of the most complicated, innovative, (and expensive) watches on the market. Founder and inventor François-Paul Journe makes nearly every part of the watch in his Swiss shop and demands perfection from his timepieces. The dials of his watches, for example, have only a 30 percent success rate of making it entirely through the production process without being scraped. 

See how they're made

I ran across this well-produced video on Vimeo produced by Hodinkee. Enjoy!

Here's an excellent summary of what LinkedIn is

Here's an excellent summary of what LinkedIn is

The LinkedIn Potion

I stumbled upon this simple, yet fantastic, infographic of LinkedIn and how it differs from many other social networks. It's spooky theme can be attributed to the fact that it was initially shared on Halloween, October 31, 2013.

Key points that stand out to me include the fact that LinkedIn:

  • Is the largest professional network in the world
  • Is a place where professionals invest time – rather than spend time – building relationships with other professionals
  • Is a online place nearly any professional would benefit from investing time in. Whether or not she or he is an extrovert, LinkedIn's focus is not so much on one's social network as it is on conversations surrounding one's profession. 

Let's connect on LinkedIn

If we're not connected on LinkedIn yet, please click here and connect with me. See you on LinkedIn.

Top 10 Super Bowl commercials for 2015

Top 10 Super Bowl commercials for 2015

Spoiler alert: The YouTube channel 10Everything put together their Top 10 list for 2015 Super Bowl 49 commercials. It's a fun peek at some of the commercials you can expect to see if you plan to watch Super Bowl XLIX.

Ranking Utah's ski resorts on social media, then and now

Ranking Utah's ski resorts on social media, then and now

January, 2011 – baseline

I published this piece on The Hungry Hive in January, 2011. At the time most Utah ski resorts were testing the waters of social media with a few showing some established initial followers. Snowbird was named the 2011 top Utah ski resort on social media in the rankings. A new ski resort has taken Snowbird's place in the 2015 rankings.

Lots has changed in four years!

Nordic Valley and Cherry Peak didn't exist in January, 2011. Neither did Google Plus. Instagram was just two months old at the time of the 2011 report. Given all the changes, I made adjustments to the ranking methodology to better measure each ski resort's ability to connect with its community. I've included a methodology section toward the bottom of this post for those interested. Now, without further ado, here are the rankings: 

2015 Utah Ski Resort Social Media Rankings (and social media directory)

#1 – Park City Mountain Resort


#2 – Snowbird 


#3 – Canyons Resort


#4 – Deer Valley Resort

***Most Improved***


#5 – Alta


#5 – Solitude Resort


#7 – Brighton Resort


#7 – Snowbasin


#9 – Sundance Mountain Resort


#10 – Powder Mountain


#11 – Brian Head Resort


#12 – Eagle Point


#13 – Nordic Valley

***Up and coming Award***


#14 – Beaver Mountain

***biggest drop from 2011***


#15 – Cherry Peak



I had to use different methods to rank the resorts in 2015 than I used four years ago. Four years ago, I simply added up total Facebook likes and Twitter followers for each ski resort, ranked them on those two data points, and produced overall rankings. To summarize the 2015 rankings, I looked at every social media outlet Utah's 16 ski resorts are on. I collected a single metric for each ski resort for each social media outlet that does the best job representing how large that organization's reach is on said outlet; I then ranked each ski resort on each social media network; finally, I summed all rankings for each ski resort across all social networks to compare each ski resorts' aggregate ranking with each other. The result is the 2015 rankings. 

Ello Beta is up and running

Ello Beta is up and running

Video and Music on Ello

It appears that those who have requested to join Ello Beta are beginning to get invitations to set up profiles now. Ello is also announced the ability to share videos and music in its feed this week, but many writers believe Ello took to long allowing others to join. 

I'm on Ello

I'm still not going to give up on Ello. Its interface is so esthetically pleasing, and its minimalistic approach to functionality is intriguing enough for me, that I plan to play around with the platform for the next few months and see how people's use of the social network evolves in 2015. 

Sterling R. Morris' Ello profile

Let's connect

If you're on Ello, connect with me at @SterlingRMorris

NordicTrack's #makefunhappen treadmill dance video explodes

NordicTrack's #makefunhappen treadmill dance video explodes

A community approach to producing a viral video

This treadmill video, released on January 5, has done fantastically well in less than two weeks seeing more than 2.5 million views and averaging a high of 8,500 views per hour. 

The video's description links viewers to NordicTrack's website where visitors can get 15% or more off treadmills. 

One in the Chamber did a fantastic job putting this production together. The whole production, as you can see, does a great job highlighting high-quality treadmills, shows all types of people having fun, is catchy, high-quality, and fast-moving. This video was very well thought out out and pulled in a a whole community to produce including:

One in the Chamber smartly contacted a ton of YouTubers and Viners who have built their own unique audiences to participate in the film, all of whom promoted the film when it was released. 

Providing credit and the story behind the story

One of my favorite elements of this spot is the fact that NordicTrack did such a detailed job sharing information about the video for those who are interested in learning more about the treadmills and the process of producing the spot. Categories include "Burn Calories 5x Faster with Incline," "Touchscreen and iFit® Technology," "About the video," and "Credits." providing a lot of information for the video consumer opens up the video to a broader audience who will find different elements of the video interesting. 

Powder Surfing: binding-free snowboarding

Powder Surfing: binding-free snowboarding

I had the chance to go to the screening of "White Waves: A Powerdersurfing Documentary" a few weeks ago. Jeremy Jensen of Grassroots Powdersurfing did a fantastic job documenting a movement he's played a key role creating. Snowboarders, skiers, and outdoor enthusiasts are ditching their bindings in growing numbers and surfing down a mountainside with nothing more than a board and snow clothing. I highly recommend checking out this documentary if you're interested to see what all these people are up to. Here's a teaser:

The Christmas Truce of 1914

The Christmas Truce of 1914

The story behind the truce

100 years ago on Christmas Eve, 1914, the Britain and Germany were at war. The british empire was a part of the Allied Powers that was fighting against the Central Powers with which Germany was affiliated. It was during this time of war that there was a unofficial ceasefire along the Western Front. British and German soldiers their trenches and met opposing forces, played football, sung Christmas carols together, and experienced peace for a small moment in the extended time of World War I. 

Here's an excellent feature on the truce produced by

Sainsbury's Christmas Ad - Celebrating a 100-year anniversary

Sainsbury produced this thoughtful ad that tells the story in a cinematic way. Well done, Sainsbury! 

Banner image credit: London News's illustration of the Christmas Truce: "British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches". Originally published in The Illustrated London News, January 9, 1915.

A kickstarter campaign for a hashtag keyboard

A kickstarter campaign for a hashtag keyboard

The hashtag key

A friend recently shared this Kickstarter campaign with me. HashKey is in its final days of its Kickstarter campaign. If you've ever wanted to have a go-to key for your hashtaging needs, look no further than the HashKey. No longer will you need to tediously hold down the shift key while looking for the hash sign somewhere there up in the hinterland area of the keyboard. Now, everything a socially connected computer users needs could literally be at her finger tips. This funny video looks like there's still a chance that it gets funded. You can reserve your key for about $27, here. Here's the video:


#UrbanSelfie and customer engagement

#UrbanSelfie and customer engagement

Engaging customers

This time last year a little clothing store located in South Africa was running an outstandingly creative customer engagement social media campaign. Urban Degree gave store customers an $8 in-store credit if they would try on clothing from the retailer and take a selfie, share the image online, and include the hashtag #UrbanSelfie

Broad application

There's a lot of opportunity for other industries to do this. Why can't restaurants provide a $1 discount for guests who take and share a photo of their food? When you provide small incentives for your customers to promote your products and services, they will. 

Photo credit: "People in motion" by Götz Keller is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Crowdsourcing fire recovery research with a hashtag

Crowdsourcing fire recovery research with a hashtag

An innovative use of a hashtag

The mountains on the edge of Morgan, Utah, caught fire in the fall of 2013. After the fire eventually burned out, ecologists wanted to track the damage and recovery of the charred mountainside. Hikers who visit the area might encounter the sign below which encourages those with smartphones to take a photo and share it to the #MorganFire02 hashtag. 


The #MorganFire02 caught like wild fire (excuse the pun). If you visit its live Twitter feed, you'll see one, two, or more images posted per week from the sign location. This concept is so smart. Think of the saved trips ecologists have spared themselves in launching this package. Think of the added awareness the presence of this feed provides giving onlookers unique insight on the healing processes nature goes through following a fire.

The concept of crowdsourcing documentation via smartphones and through the outlet of hashtags is not limited to forest fire recover observations. There's certainly myriad other options for this concept.