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Article Title: Develop Yourself in Addition to Training

Publication: Integrated Learnings: eLearning

Summary: Though instructional designers make a living by helping organizations develop their people, many struggle to find opportunities to develop themselves. This article describes five sources of professional development opportunities, including specific examples and resources for getting started.

Online networks offer an outlet for following industry trends and generating discussion around your areas of interest. Get links to recent articles from training professionals and organizations on Twitter. Participate in #lrnchat on Twitter on Thursdays for a lively exchange of ideas with others engaged in the field. Pose questions on relevant LinkedIn discussion groups to get advice for your training projects.

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Article Title: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Instructional Designers

Publication: Integrated Learnings: eLearning

Summary: This article applies Stephen Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people to the craft of instructional design. It includes reflections on the profession’s best practices such as anticipating business needs, conducting cause analyses, closing performance gaps, and working with subject matter experts.

This habit seems to capture the spirit of teamwork that is critical to instructional design. Instructional design is more than taking a pile of content and figuring out how to teach it. Depending on the role of the designer in an organization, the process is largely consulting-oriented and requires input from people in a variety of roles and at a variety of levels in the organization – often from executive-level project sponsors to the frontline employees impacted by the training. For us, this habit is about being able to work with people across organization levels and functions, and possibly with varying agendas, to produce effective training.

Click here to read the full article.

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Article Title: Use Scenarios to Make Quiz Questions Relevant to the Job

Publication: Integrated Learnings: eLearning blog

Comments: My co-workers and I are always brainstorming ways we can make training more engaging – especially e-learning. A recent theme in our conversations is storytelling.

Instead of just presenting information in training and then prompting learners to apply it afterward, why not make an entire lesson into a story? Introduce new concepts in the context of the story…instead of introducing concepts in a decontextualized way and bringing examples in later.

I’ve made a concerted effort design this way over the past several months, and I feel like it has really brought the content to life. If only I had the time to go back to previous projects and apply the same principle!

This type of thing can work with quizzes too. The story might not be as fluid and involved in a quiz, but even using basic scenarios seems to make quiz questions more relevant. And learning theories out there support this approach. I used my latest contribution to the Integrated Learnings: eLearning blog to describe my application of scenarios to quizzes.

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Signs crowded with flashing lights, a light layer of snow on the ground, men with cowboy hats and handlebar mustaches, women in cowboy hats and ruffled skirts, music, poetry, and a semi-cleanish room at the Motel 6.

You’ve just gotten a glimpse into my weekend at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV.

Prior to heading out to the Poetry Gathering, I blogged about five reasons I was looking forward to the event. For the sake of symmetry, here’s a list of five highlights from the weekend.

  1. Cowboy reading poetry at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NVCowboy wit. Nearly all the poetry readings we attended were lighthearted and included an element of comedy. While many of the poems and stories were heartfelt and personal, the poets’ wit kept the atmosphere lively.
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  2. Zydeco music. On Saturday night we danced the night away to a Zydeco band from Louisiana. Well…we danced to a few of the songs anyway. Or at least attempted to. But wow, could the folks there dance! And I agree with my husband’s theory that other couples were trying to dance-herd us off the floor (just like when we were run off the Polka dance floor at the Viennese Ball in Eau Claire a few years ago)!
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  3. Mustache mug. This was in the gift shop at the Elko Convention Center. At first it Mug for drinking with a mustachewasn’t obvious to me why the mug had the inset drinking slit. I eventually realized that it was to help keep your moustache dry when drinking. Clever.
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  4. Music and drinks at the Stray Dog. A cozy downtown pub with good food and a good band, the Stray Dog offered my husband and me an enjoyable first night in Elko that got us in the mood for some cowboy fun.
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  5. Lazy evenings. Sure, I can have lazy evenings at home too…but there’s something more enjoyable about a lazy evening away from home. The scheduling gap between the afternoon readings and nighttime entertainment gave my husband and me time relax, debrief, and be inspired.

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My husband offers an entertaining perspective on the event on our personal blog. He’s written two posts – click here and here if you’re curious.

Overall, the weekend was fun, relaxing, and inspirational. I’ll definitely consider going again next year.

Photo Credit: Shelley A. Gable

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I recently learned about the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering from a friend. From what I’ve pieced together, it sounds like a one-week event in which real cowboys from all over the country gather to share their love of poetry, music, dance, and perhaps other forms of expression.

What Is It?

It’s a week of poetry readings, shows, and educational events. And, it’s an exciting opportunity for someone like me, who has an appreciation for the arts but is relatively clueless about this segment of American culture, to get a glimpse into another perspective and way of life. I CAN’T WAIT!!!

Well, that’s my take anyway. If you’re interested in a more official description, you should probably visit the 26th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering website.

Now on to the List

Because we people love lists, here’s a list of five reasons why (in no particular order) I’m looking forward to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

  1. It’ll be fun to meet people that I’d otherwise be unlikely to cross paths with. We’re hoping to spend a day volunteering at the event, so that should help. And we have plans to meet up with some local folks we found on couchsurfing.org.
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  2. I love learning about group culture. Whether it’s national culture, regional culture, organizational culture, or another category entirely. It’s all interesting to me. Bring on the cowboy and ranching culture!
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  3. I love hearing writers read their work. Audiobooks read by the author. Poetry readings. Artists performing their own music. It really brings a piece to life.
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  4. It’s an excuse to get out of town and go somewhere new. Who doesn’t enjoy a weekend getaway? I’ve never been to Nevada.
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  5. Inspiration. An event like this must be oozing with inspiration! As a budding writer, I’ll take all the inspiration I can get!
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Well, there you have it. If I wanted to think about this a while longer, I could probably expand this into a list of ten. But for the sake of getting back to what this distracted me from, I’m willing to be satisfied with five.

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Practical Tips for Using Online Learning Technologies is the second in a series of articles written for the InternetCE blog. The purpose of this series is to offer readers suggestions on how to get the most from online learning courses. Click here to access the article directly.

Writing Reflections

The article provides tips on how to use an online course from a basic technical perspective. To write it, I reflected on the online courses I’ve taken through various organizations and made a list of the features that most of them shared. Besides moving forward and back, what navigational options were available? What tricks have I employed to move through a course more quickly? And as usual, I collected ideas from training peers as well.

At first, I wasn’t going to include a section on navigational tips in the article…I thought it was too basic. But after talking with a few friends about their eLearning experiences, I was surprised to find that some were unaware that you can do more than just move forward and back. I guess it’s easier to catch on to these tricks when you design this stuff for a living.

The Gig

For some basic info about InternetCE and this particular writing gig, read what I posted after writing my first article for them.

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