Monthly Archives: January 2011

Scan this….

I’m all excited. I’ve discovered QR codes.

Well, I haven’t just discovered QR codes. I have been aware of them for some time and have ‘played’ with them using an App on my iPhone. What I meant to say was I’ve just discovered how to use them for something tangible and very useful.

It’s been a very busy couple of days planning for Learning Technologies next week where the training company I work for has a stand and we were tasked with designing brand new posters for the event advertising our eLearning courses. Well, needless to say, I was in my element. My creative ideas were going wild and my two worlds started to collide. Technology and art.

I also have more than a little interest in marketing. It’s not a professional interest you understand but I am fascinated by it. Bearing in mind that I love simplicity in my designs, I was trying to think of an effective way of providing extra information without covering the posters in text – a big mistake a lot of people make, confusing the reader. Then I had a brainwave. What about using QR codes to link to contextually specific information from our website. And what a perfect venue for the trial. A conference where technology is the heart of everything.

I couldn’t wait to try it out and the first idea was to create a label with a QR code to stick to the back of my business cards. When scanned, this code will take my networking connections straight to my LinkedIn profile.

So now we have four posters, each with a barcode unobtrusively on the bottom corner and high-tech (well nearly) business cards.

I used Kaywa to create my QR codes as recommended by Phil Vincent from Sheffield University (thanks Phil). Phil also uses Goo.gl but I’ve not tried this yet.

The Apps I have are Bakodo and QR Code Reader from ShopSavvy

I will be very interested to hear other creative uses for QR codes you have. I can already think of some for learning but I will share these another time.

Another good read ahead

I’m very excited….. I’ve just received Clive Shepherd’s new book The New Learning Architect which is now available from Lulu and on the Kindle.

I’m going to be digesting Clive’s work over the next week or so and will post my own humble thoughts on it. In the meantime though, I thought it would be a good opportunity to re-introduce you to Clive’s Blended Learning Cookbook.

With the need to do more for less in this current economic climate businesses are increasingly coming under more and more pressure to continue to equip their workforce with the knowledge and skills to perform in difficult circumstances. Clive Shepherd’s book is an excellent place to start if you need some practical advice to provide more efficient learning and development solutions but at the same time, maintaining effective learning to take place.

The book is a refreshingly clear explanation that cuts through the fog by determining exactly what blended learning really is. It is written with an unbiased view of media which so many others fail to do. It will open up a whole new range of opportunities to organisations that is beyond what we might call traditional training methods. Afterall, it’s about blended LEARNING not blended TRAINING.

What it doesn’t do, and rightly so, is insist that a blended solution HAS to include specific delivery methods to be a true blend; for example, blended learning isn’t just combining classroom and e-learning which is a common misconception.

What makes this book the most valuable asset to anyone involved in providing learning solutions, whether classroom designers, e-learning designers, trainers, managers, senior managers or freelancers is take you back to basics and keeps you focussed on the learning rather than the media. Quality learning has too often taken a back seat in the struggle to find cheaper, quicker ways of delivering training. This book shows you how to keep the balance.

The reason it is a ‘cook book’ is that it gives a rich collection of real blended examples – or recipes to follow. There are plenty and I’m guessing there will be one that will be close to the situation you are currently facing. Even when we eventually rise out of the current downturn, The Blended Learning Cookbook will prove a useful, well-thumbed reference for its recipes.

Without having read Clive’s new book The New Learning Architect yet apart from the back cover and Clive’s own blog posts about it, I’m anticipating that it will take blended learning beyond formal training solutions to a more appropriate and integrated approach to development that reflects how we live and work today.

Learning cup-cakes

A modern recipe for today’s learning

Just before Christmas I was running a course about blended learning and out of the blue came up with this analogy which I’d like to share with you.

Traditional learning programmes are like a rich traditional wedding cake. Several tiers of a deliciously rich mixture of fruits. The chef would have taken time and care and started months before the wedding date. The cakes would have stood and ‘matured’ over a number of weeks. They would be carefully covered in smooth icing and decorated with fine sugar flowers and patterns. The traditional wedding cake is a perfect balance of flavours and ingredients and very appropriate for a traditional wedding but a costly and and intricate process.

Blended learning solutions are like modern wedding cakes made up of lots of cup-cakes created to different recipies, flavours and colours that would be more palatable to more people and more appropriate for the individual guests. They cup-cakes are small, bite-sized portions which can be baked quickly. They can be mixed and matched or in their own wrapping. Easier to handle and distribute and to add to. Put together in a clever and creative way, they make dazzling displays displays and very versatile.

They type of cake you bake will depend on the type of event you are catering for and the guests attending.

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Photo courtesy of www.garrisonphoto.org/sxc

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