18 September 2014

Online Forum on Visual Design for Learning

This November, the ELearning Guild is putting visual design in the spotlight.  The Online Forum "Making Learning Memorable with Graphics and Visual Design"will be held November 13-14th and feature 12 speakers from across the industry.  Attendance is virtual (via Adobe Connect) so come as you are.

I have been invited to do the closing session at the forum and will present:  "Bringing It All Together: Optimizing the Graphic Interface for Memory, Engagement, and Learning, ". 
Check it out on the Elearning Guild Forums website.

05 September 2014

Happiness, the MOOC

Join me and 100,000 others in Berkeley's new online course on the "The Science of Happiness".

Taught by world leaders in positive psychology from Berkley's Greater good Science Center, there will be Q&A session with the likes of Dacher Keltner, Sonja Lyobimursky, and Barbara Fredrickson.  This free MOOC is a unique opportunity to learn the fundamentals of positive psychology to inform your work with technology (and life).

 I've been invited to lead the Positive Computing "dojo" with Dr. Rafael Calvo (my colleague at the Positive Computing Lab in Sydney) and Dr. Anna Pohlmeyer (Delft Institute of Positive Design in the Netherlands). This special interest group will bring together those interested in applying wellbeing psychology to the development of technology.  

Design for resilience

Sometimes learning requires attitude change or even personal development.   In a recent article for ACM's Interactions magazine, I translate the research on empathy vs. compassion and what this reveals about how we might design for digital experiences that foster resilience.

A handful of trailblazers are already designing technology for resilience and compassion including: SuperBetter Labs, Hope Lab, a large number of Games for Change inclusions and UX for Good (also see Facebook’s Compassion Research Day or Microsoft’s Entendre project).

19 June 2014

Trello's Innovative Approach to the Newbie Learning Experience

The project management program Trello is simple, powerful, free and highly recommended.  One of the secrets to their masterful design for both the user experience and the learning experience, is the fun and creative approach they take to progressive disclosure.  The idea of progressive disclosure it that you release information or features gradually rather than all at once so as not to overwhelm the user or learner.

In order to keep the experience of finding your feet in the program fun and simple, Trello shows great respect (and support) for cognitive load by removing some of its features for the first-time user.  As you gain proficiency rapidly by playing around with the features that are available, small contextualized hints begin to appear to suggest there's more to this program than you thought at first glance.  Click to add a due date, for example, and the calendar reads "enable the calendar power-up to see your project in calendar mode".  

Holding back on the calendar feature not only keeps it out of the way, thus allowing new users  to focus on the basics first, but also, positioning it as a "power-up" bestows the extra value of an exciting bonus feature. The game reference is also a nod to the user's progress in mastering the program since in games, power-ups become available with mastery.

Kudos to Trello for the creative mix of progressive disclosure and game style for a great newbie learning experience. 

05 May 2014

Learn Design from Don Norman

Don Norman, author of the classic The Design of Everyday Things and my personal favorite,  Emotional Design: Why we Love (or Hate) Everyday Things (among many other books), has made his MOOC debut on Udacity.  You can now learn from a short and accessible intro to his ideas in the form of a free online course made up of videos,  reflection exercises, and design challenges...

01 May 2014

Learn Strategies for Better Interface Design for Learning

Eminent eLearning Coach, Connie Malamed is also a master of graphic design in the eLearning context. I had the honor of being invited onto her podcast to talk about how interface designs impact learning. Her show is a gift to the industry offering a wealth of insight from experts in a broad range of areas.

In my interview, we cover the user interface, video, social learning and community building, how to cut cognitive load in graphics,  how to support visual perception effectively, and the surprising findings about emotions and learning.

Subscribe to her podcast or head direct to the episode 16: Strategies that Improve the Interface to Learning.

image source: WebIconSet.com

07 February 2014

Real Learning gains with iPads in Primary School

Photo from the onebillion project.
Three cheers for the onebillion project and EuroTalk Software whose carefully crafted math programs for students in Malawi  have shown to triple math knowledge in 8 weeks compared to standard practice.  Attention to instructional and interface design tailored to local needs has no doubt played a critical role.  The University of Nottingham's Randomized Controlled Trial is a useful example of a thorough evaluation process for eLearning.

I asked the project team how they charge the iPads which can, of course, be a prohibitive issue for many without reliable sources of electricity.  For the test school, they created a charging station for 25 tablets in the one office with electricity. Now they're setting up solar charging stations with panels on the roof which will have the capacity to charge 25 iPads overnight.  Where there's a will and creativity, there's a way.

The onebillion project has created math learning apps available in many different languages including an English language 3-5 maths app.

Read more about the program and the onebillion project.

27 January 2014

ThoughtLeaders Webinar - Interface Design for Learning

If you're curious about the book, I'll be doing a ThoughtLeaders Webinar with the eLearning Guild this February 12 (Feb 13 in Australia).  It's online and registration is free!  See the event page for more info.

The webinar video is available for free download with E-Learning Guild membership (also free!) at: tinyurl.com/n8nl9j5

The webinar slides are now on slideshare at:

30 November 2013

Life-saving eLearning now online

The folks at Thare Machi Education, a non-profit that makes life-saving eLearning available in dozens of the world's languages to bring health information to those who need it most, has just begun to transfer their DVD content online.
Check it out:  http://www.tme.org.uk

TME is a case in extreme accessibility since their users are illiterate, speak multiple languages, and have no computer experience.  The DVDs are played in health clinics, street children's societies, on buses and other community venues.  To find out more, read my post "Extreme Accessibility - How to Save lives with eLearning".

19 November 2013

Visual Storytelling

In Chapter 5 of my book, Interface Design for Learning, I look at the art of communicating visually and allude to the glorious cartoon - an art form that can convey worlds of meaning and emotion in the simplest of lines.  I have recently come across a number of web tools for creating visual narratives that I wanted to share - all of which can be used for free (some completely, some up to a point).

  • Pixton - Allows you to create comics and includes impressive controls for detailed character and limb positioning. I came across this when a colleague, Dewa Wardak, cleverly used it to illustrate her research.
  • PowToon - Allows you to create cartoons. I saw it used to great effect to illustrate a software product created for a student project.
  • GoAnimate - Allows you to create cartoons and targets the corporate market.
  • Scratch - Allows kids of all ages to create their own interactive animations and computer programs.
  • Toontastic - An excellent app that allows younger children to get their hands into narrative structure and create their own animated stories from an iPad.
With all these tools available, what's stopping you from making your story?
Know of any others? Do share!