Should we have video games in classrooms?

Should we have video games in classrooms?

I stumbled across this interesting, informative in one of courses this semester at USU. The producer of the video covers a concept of transferability or the ability for knowledge to transfer from on activity to another. This is important in the world of gaming where lessons can be learned and where there may be potential for learners to transfer new knowledge to areas outside of games. 

Here's the video:

ATD 2015 - Orlando Florida

ATD 2015 - Orlando Florida

I'm at the conference center, getting organized

I'm here at the Association for Talent Development (ATD) Conference in Orlando this week. I'm looking forward to learning a lot about instructional design, learning science, and human performance improvement in healthcare – my fields of practice. 

Picking out the perfect track

This international conference is huge. With more than 10,000 attendees and a conference center the size of two football fields, It's important to plan out one's experience as carefully as possible. 

There's an app for that

ATD developed an app accessible on iTunes and Google play attendees can download and schedule out their conference events. It has push-notification capabilities and will help participants maximize their experience. 

My individualized track

I'll be taking a blended approach to the conference. Here's my plan:

Sunday, May 17 

  • 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. | Design Thinking for the Instructional Designer
  • 3 - 4 p.m. | A Strategy for High-Impact Corporate MOOCs
  • 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. | When Instructional Design Met Performance Consulting

Monday, May 18

  • 8 – 9:30 a.m. | General Session
  • 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. | Tearing Down the Porch
  • 11:30 – 12:30 p.m. | Developing Talent in Today's Changing Healthcare Environment
  • 1 – 2:15 p.m. | Wearables: Just a Fad or the Future of Talent Development? 
  • 3 – 4 p.m. | 6 Psychological Tricks That Make Learning Stick
  • 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. | Leadership: The Critical Factor for Creating Customer Service in Healthcare

Tuesday, May 19

  • 8 – 9:30 a.m. | General Session
  • 10 – 11:15 a.m. | 12 Rules of Respect: The Neuroscience of Employee Engagement
  • 12 – 1 p.m. | Instant Insights
  • 1 – 2 p.m. | Sink, Swim, or Set Up for Success? Preparing First-Time Leaders
  • 2 – 3 p.m. | Exhibitor Experiential Sessions
  • 3 – 4 p.m. | The New Social Learning
  • 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. | How to Engage Every Participant Without Really Trying
  • 5:30 – 7 p.m. | Student Day Career Networking Social

wednesDAY, MAY 19

  • 8:15 – 9:15 a.m. | Surviving C-Suite Presentations
  • 10 – 11 a.m. | Leveraging Emotional Intelligence Skills to Effectively Develop Leaders
  • 1:30 – 2:45 p.m. | Visual Storytelling: Engaging Learners Using Pictures
  • 3 – 4 p.m. | General Session

Follow the event using #ATD2015

There are a number of attendees who are contributing their thoughts and experiences on the conference and conference sessions using hashtag #ATD2015. 

Design Thinking for Instructional Designers

Design Thinking for Instructional Designers

So what is design thinking, anyway? 

Willemien Visser defined design thinking as "design-specific cognitive activities that designers apply during the process of designing." Angel Green with Allen Interactions presented on how this approach to design can help make our instruction more engaging, relevant, and impactful. 

Instructional designers have a problem

First, we spend a lot of money on design...

...yet we have a lot of dissatisfied learners

Green suggested that a simple twitter search on "I hate training" will highlight many of the concerns most learners have with instruction. 

How can we solve the negative sentiment problem?

We participated in a number of design thinking activities to help us as instructional designers identify ways to improve learning. Instructional Designers can:

  • employ design thinking techniques to instructional design
  • involve the learners in design
  • continuously make improvements to design based on learner feedback
  • help students better manage their time by providing them with clearly identified learning tasks 

Angel suggests that prototyping can help us gain feedback and increase or creativity in our design.

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. 

Learn by doing

Learn by doing

The theory

Learning scientist Roger Schank has been a big proponent of the learn-by-doing approach to instruction. This theory proposes that learning is best achieved in the context of doing real, relevant tasks that matter. Learners don't have issues with transfer because they are exposed to problems in authentic environments. Learners who are learning by doing don't have troubles answering the question, "when or how can I use this knowledge?" Understanding the significance of the skill or knowledge learners are trying to acquire is evident in the context of the task they are attempting to perform. Here's more on the subject.

Do something you care about

This outstanding video by a YouTube vlogger Cheers, Kevin addresses the question of how one can learn to code. Like many technical skills, developing proficiency in any coding language is hard. In the video below, Kevin does an admiral job of providing recommendations to people interested in learning to code. His advice is pretty relevant for most skills. Do you have a hard skill you're interested in developing? Kevin's advice for learning the skill is spot on. Start with identifying something you are intensely interested in.

Neuroscience and human electrophysiology

Neuroscience and human electrophysiology

Greg Gage: How to control someone else's arm with your brain

Is it possible to control someone else's movements with your brain? It is with a DIY neuroscience kit from Backyard Brains -- a company Greg Gage started to make neuroscience equipment more accessible for interested students. Here's a chance to see how this equipment works:

How listening to your learners can improve your work

How listening to your learners can improve your work

Cotton bags, sewing, and listening

Frugal and savvy homemakers during the 1940s were good at saving money and managing resources. Innovative ways to re-use and re-purpose household materials helped families make ends meet. Since the 1800s, flour and other feed was packaged in fabric sacks. The packaging for flour was delivered in soft, sturdy cotton which held up under shipping and storing conditions. Household seamstresses began re-purposing the cotton fabric flour bags  into clothing for kids at some point. Wise folks in the flour industry noticed this trend and used it as a way to provide additional value to their customers. Companies provided value by printing patterns on the bags which seamstresses could then use to sew clothing. This image below shows how this activity was encouraged (photo courtesy of Vavoom Vintage.

Listening to learners

The fabric clothing trend of the '40s happened naturally. The flour companies' responses to the trend were generated as a result of someone listening and observing. Such interaction with the flour customers would have been hard to predict or produce without careful listening.

Learner preferences and trends are often non-intuitive and challenging to predict. It's important to take advantage of opportunities to gather feedback on learner preferences. By gathering and considering feedback, instructional designers can improve instruction and foster relationships of trust with learners. 

Trends in screen technology

Trends in screen technology

UHD: 4K & 5K

Higher and higher resolution delivery of video is an on going trend. 1920x1080 HD video is a baseline standard for design. Most modern computer monitors have full HD capabilities; higher end monitors have 2K capabilities, and Apple's iMac has a 5K display. 


Curved screens

  Samsung Curved LED TV. Photo by Nan Palmero.

Samsung Curved LED TV. Photo by Nan Palmero.

Curved screens are starting to show up in retailers. The curved surface widens the viewer's field of view and enhances the viewing experience. Instructional designers don't need to make adjustments for this type of screen. 



Capturing devices

Full HD 1080p DSLRs have been the go-to cameras of choice for many instructional designers since the late 2000s. Until recently, 1080p was the highest resolution these cameras would film in. Many (relatively) affordable cameras have been released that now shoot in 4K including the

Many 6K cameras pricing begins at $10,000 and goes well upward of $10K.


So what's the difference between these resolutions? This image below, courtesy of Reddit, helps communicate the differences in scale.

Audit your online presence for a job search

Audit your online presence for a job search

My latest Udemy course

I recently teamed up with my friend Clarence Ames to create a Udemy course designed to help people prepare for a job search. This will be my second Udemy class. This course is short and developed in an effort to give learners a quick overview of what they need to do to identify potentially troubling content that can be found on:

  • Google search results
  • Facebook

We spend a bit of time talking about strategy to clean this content up, identify one's personal brand, and proactively build that brand out on professional social networks including LinkedIn and Twitter. 

The course is free. If you'd like to sign up to take it, click here

Can technology change education?

Can technology change education?

A TEDx talk worth listening to

Raj Dhingra gave this presentation at TEDxBend in 2012. Dhingra talks about the fact that although the potential availability of technology in the learning environment has exploded, many instructors are primarily using old world techniques of instructionism. This outdated  technique where the instructor stands on the stage – the sage of the stage rather than the guy on the side – should be replaced with blended learning techniques. Dhingra is also a proponent of increasing access to technology using innovative methods. 

Brain games and learning

Brain games and learning

Learning how we learn

I'm not a big fan of TV. In fact, I haven't ever paid for cable nor have I ever had a TV in my house connected to anything other than a BluRay player and the internet. With that said, there are endless outstanding documentaries and science-based shows one can access through platforms like Netflix that I enjoy watching on occasion. One such program is Brain Games produced by National Geographic. The show uses creative experiences to highlight how our brain interfaces with and processes information from our environments.

Brian Games

Here is a full episode of Brain Games on language. Watch this episode to get a taste of what the show is like. Maybe you'll get hooked. For those in the instructional design space, understanding how humans process information is critical to designing high-quality instruction.

Creating effective learning objectives the Mager way

Creating effective learning objectives the Mager way

Why learning objectives?

Learning objectives are an important part of planning instruction. They help the instructional designer break down the learning goal into manageable chunks and helps her or him identify the purpose of instruction. Learning objectives help answer the "why" to instruction.

Three elements of effective learning objectives

Training and performance improvement researcher Robert F. Mager emphasized the identification and use of learning objectives in planning instruction. Mager's book, Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development of Effective Instruction, highlights the following three parts of effective learning objectives:

#1 - Conditions

Conditions describe the tools and resources a learner will need to complete the objective.

For example: 

"Using Google Chrome, a learner will be able to locate and save the website as a bookmark titling it 'YouTube.' The learner will correctly spell "YouTube" as the bookmark's name."

In this example, "Using Google Chrome" is the condition under which the learner must perform. 

#2 - Behavior

The learning objective should include actions, concepts, and content a student must display. These behaviors should be observable. 

For example: 

"Using Google Chrome, a learner will be able to locate and save the website as a bookmark titling it 'YouTube.' The learner will correctly spell "YouTube" as the bookmark's name."

In this example, "locate and save the website as a bookmark titling it 'YouTube.'" is the behavior required to complete the learning objective.

#3 - Criteria

Criteria included in a learning objective describes what acceptable performance of a skill looks like. It is explicit and outlines parameters for performance. 

For example: 

"Using Google Chrome, a learner will be able to locate and save the website as a bookmark titling it 'YouTube.' The learner will correctly spell 'YouTube' as the bookmark's name."

In this example, "The learner will correctly spell 'YouTube' as the bookmark's name," is the criterion required to complete the learning objective.

Mager's elements of learning objectives add clarity

When the presence of conditions, behavior, and criteria are all packaged together in a learning objective, it becomes very clear whether or not a learner as achieved the learning objective. This clarity helps remove potential ambiguity from the instructors responsibility to evaluate performance; conditions, behaviors, and criteria also help a student to know when she or he has performed the objective at an adequate level of proficiency. 

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. 

The power of images in instructional Design

The power of images in instructional Design

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

John Medina's Brain Rules is a fantastic resource to learn more about how the brain works; Medina's book is research-based and shares helpful information that can help of understand and care for our brain. Additional, Medina shares many hints that can help inform instructional designers on methods they can employee to be more effective instructional designers. One of my favorite principles or rules from the book was that of vision. 

Rule 10 - Vision trumps every other sense

John Medina says it best from the following excerpts I found on the Brain Rules website:

  • "We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you'll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you'll remember 65%."
  • "Pictures beat text as well, in part because reading is so inefficient for us. Our brain sees words as lots of tiny pictures, and we have to identify certain features in the letters to be able to read them. That takes time."
  • "Why is vision such a big deal to us? Perhaps because it's how we've always apprehended major threats, food supplies and reproductive opportunity."
  • "Toss your PowerPoint presentations. It’s text-based (nearly 40 words per slide), with six hierarchical levels of chapters and subheads—all words. Professionals everywhere need to know about the incredible inefficiency of text-based information and the incredible effects of images. Burn your current PowerPoint presentations and make new ones."

Employing vision in design

I gave what I learned in Brain Rules a try. I incorporated a number of images into my latest LinkedIn Pulse post entitled, "Master Latin abbreviations in your writing, e.g., i.e., et al., etc." Have a look at the post to see how I tied in examples with relevant imagery. 

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.

eLearning infographics for 2015

eLearning infographics for 2015

Top 10 e-Learning statistics for 2015

After browsing around the internet for interesting infographics on online learning, I ran into this outstanding website that has mounds of relevant infographics designed on the subject of eLearning. I have included one of my favorite which highlights 10 facts around eLearning in 2015.

The Top eLearning Stats and Facts For 2015 Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

The most in-demand skills for instructional designers

The most in-demand skills for instructional designers

So you want an instructional design job? 

Professionals in the instructional technology and instructional design space need to be skilled in a number of areas to be eligible for current job openings. I have recently become curious on what current tools and skills recruiters are frequently listing in job postings for this field. To be marketable and eligible for a job as an instructional designer, it would make sense for one to be aware of this skill and tool-set, increase one's proficiency in areas she or he feels s/he is lacking, and monitor changes in the field to stay relevant. 

Popular skills: tools and technology

Job listings list requirements for basic competency in standard office equipment including computers, photocopiers, scanners, etc. As you can image, proficiency in a number of software applications is essential to most instructional design jobs. Some of the most common software tools I've seen listed include:

  • Adobe Captivate
  • Adobe FrameMaker
  • Adobe Dreamweaver
  • Blackboard Learn
  • Microsoft Publisher
  • Performance Technology Associates DocuTools
  • Trivantis CourseMill
  • Worldwide Instructional Design System
  • Adobe Flash (I believe flash is being rapidly phased out and replaced with tablet-compatible technologies)
  • Adobe Creative Cloud design tools – Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign
  • Adobe Creative Cloud video editing tools – Premier, Audition, etc. 
  • Snagit
  • Camtasia

Popular skills: interpersonal workplace attributes

A number of interpersonal skills consistently show up in job postings. These include:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Instructing
  • Learning strategies
  • Writing
  • Critical thinking
  • Active listening
  • Judgement and decision making
  • Monitoring
  • Speaking
  • Active learning

But wait, there's more

I found a cool list of instructional designers' tasks, tools, technology, knowledge, skills, abilities, work activities, educational requirements, and other data that commonly shows up in job postings on Here's more information for those interested.  

2015 CES Report – wearable technology

2015 CES Report – wearable technology

I've been following reports from the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. Two wearable pieces of technology caught my attention.

Sensoria Fitness

Runners can improve their efficiency by running with the right cadence and by attempting to land mid- to fore-foot. It often takes a surprising amount of concentration, time, and coaching to develop good running form. Sensoria Fitness seeks to aid runners in improving their form through the wearable smart socks that have built in sensors which send feedback on your running to an app that runners can download to their smart phones. Sensoria also builds heart-rate monitors to provide an even clearer picture for runners who want to monitor and potentially improve their activity.

Here's a look at Sensoria Fitness' technology in action


What happens if someone needs information about you but you are unable to share it? It's good practice for runners, cyclists, and other outdoor enthusiasts to have a form of ID on their persons in the event that they are found in need of help and unresponsive. IDs often include the person's name, allergies, and emergency contact information. EPIC-id has released a wristband that includes basic identifying information on the band. As you can see in the video below, the band opens exposing a USB port respondents can use to access additional information about the person. 

See more on the EPIC-id, here

USU Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences Brag

USU Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences Brag

Wearable technology released at CES

Last week, I mentioned that I would write about any wearable technology that got released at CES this week. I'm going to bump that post back a week to next week because of some big news that was recently released by U.S. News and World Report. 

USU #13 in nation for online programs

U.S. News and World Report released its annual online college rankings. USU's online bachelor and graduate programs were ranked #13 in the nation. Although I am a residential student – not an online student – the program I study in has trained a lot of the faculty and professors who participate in online courses. This makes me proud. Utah State University's position in Utah is that of a land grant institution. It's charged with educating students throughout the state including those who live in remote, rural locations. This land-grant charge has driven USU to innovate and experiment in the distance education space for decades. It was among the first universities in the nation to offer free online courses along with MIT, UC Berkeley, and Carnegie Mellon. 

Congrats, USU; I'm a proud alumnus and student.

Photo credit: "USU Old Main" by Cami Gee is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The need for data literacy and how wearable technology can help

The need for data literacy and how wearable technology can help

Data literacy is increasingly important

Tracking, gathering, and storing data has become easier; buzz words like "big data" have been around for a few years and areas where data analytics are of value continue to be seen in the marketplace. From providing insights on what the public at large is searching for on Google to predicting how people like their coffee, data has exponentially growing use in the world. Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business nicely illustrated how Target, for example, has generated a ton of sales by smartly targeting customers with customized ads. Target does this by applying data algorithms to massive amounts of consumer behavior data to discover consumer patters – both intuitive and non-intuitive. (Click here to learn more about how Target was able to figure out that a teen girl was pregnant before her father did).

Wearable technologies are a growing source for data curation and provide opportunities for learning

Dr. Victor Lee of Utah State University has been conducting research on how elementary school-aged kids have been advancing their data knowledge through wearing and gathering personal activity data from wearable technologies. Dr. Lee recently presented some of his research at USU. He pointed out the potential benefits and learning opportunities young science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students could be exposed to through interacting with these new devices. 

A number of points stood out to me from Dr. Lee's presentation

  • The current approaches for teaching data in STEM are insufficient
  • Working with data is challenging – it requires specific tools
  • We have the opportunity to do better at teaching STEM with emerging wearable technologies 
  • One young student who had access to wearable technology in her class self directed research on whether a Fitbit was more accurate than an iPhone app. She concluded that the FItbit was more accurate at tracking physical activity. 
  • Elementary students discovered that adult resting heart rate increases as adults age by conducting their own research and monitoring various teachers' heart rates

Using Health Tracking Devices to Improve Data Literacy

If you've got a few minutes, take some time to watch Dr. Lee's presentation to learn more about his research. 

The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is scheduled for January 6 - 9

Very much related to the field of wearable technologies, the annual Consumer Electronics Show starts tomorrow through Friday, January 6 through 9. There will no doubt be a lot of wearable technology with data tracking abilities displayed for the first time at this international show. I'll be watching what comes out and highlight a few technologies of note right here on Instructional Technology this time next week.