Techsmith Screenchamp 2012 Winner – Best In Category

winnerBest In Category: “Wildcard” Is…

(Ahem.) Yours truly. ¬† ūüėé

The thing I liked particularly about the Techsmith/Screenchamp Best In Category contest is the fact that the winning videos were chosen by a panel of non-Techsmith affiliated judges. ¬†And,¬†I have to admit that it’s pretty gratifying to be recognized by a body of my peers for something I did professionally. ¬†(Usually I’m just getting yelled at about something I did UN-professionally.¬† :mrgreen: )

Click here to watch the entire show on Techsmith

Screenchamp 2012 Judges

This year’s judges included:

Rushton HurleyRushton Hurly (@RushtonH).  The lead speaker and trainer for Next Vista for Learning.  Among other distinguished accomplishments, Rushton is also the founder and executive director of Next Vista for Learning, which houses a free library of videos by and for teachers and students at

Steve Garfield


Steve Garfield (@SteveGarfield). ¬†A videographer and video blogger based in Boston, Massachussetts. ¬†He is lauded as one of the internet’s first video bloggers, having launched his own video blog in January 2004. ¬†Steve is also the author of Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building Your Business.

Scott SkibellScott Skibell (@ScottSkibell).  A professional screencaster, Scott is the founder of through which he helps individuals and organizations create videos, screencasts and eLearning.


Okay, with all that said…

My having won one of Techsmith’s Screenchamp Best In Category awards isn’t the reason I continue to champion Techsmith’s products. ¬†Rather, it’s the fact that they listen — and aren’t afraid to listen to criticism if it means feedback that will help improve the product line.

In fact, if you take a gander at my video entry then you’ll recognize it is one in a series of reviews about various screencasting softwares. ¬†And, this one was actually a bit critical (though constructively so) of Techsmith’s Camtasia Studio (version 7) product.

But, to their credit, this didn’t stop Techsmith from trumpeting it as loud as any of the other category winners. ¬†In fact, especially poignant to me wasn’t really¬†the fact that this video was selected as a Best In Category winner, but rather it was The Forge host Matt Pierce’s (@PierceMr) statement at about the 09:44 point in the video above where, in response to a judge’s observation that my video’s content was actually quite critical of Techsmith, Matt in turn says,

“…(T)here’s something really refreshing about having that honesty… And I know as an organization that makes it so much easier to respond to that…”

(Of note: ¬†It’s worth pointing out that, since having published that video review, Techsmith soon rolled out Camtasia Studio version 8 — which included upgrades that directly nullified each of the points about which I criticized version 7.)

It’s yet more evidence of the culture of listening that makes me gush about the Techsmith gals and guys. ¬†(*Sniff* *Sniff*) See why I’m such a fan?

(Smiley courtesy of:

[Off-topic for Veteran’s Day] Veterans: A Closet Full of Guns and Ammo?

proud-veteran-usnVeterans are people, too, my friends

Like you, as a citizen of this great country I’m grateful for the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. ¬†And, as a veteran myself, I’d like to express our¬†appreciation of your willingness to honor us on a day such as today. ¬†But, I’d also like to challenge you.

You see, from my vantage point, far too many of us don’t always see our veterans for what they are: ¬†people and world diplomats. ¬†The fact is, some — not all, but enough — of us occasionally fall into that hole where veterans are objectified as “…a closet full of guns (and) ammo…¬†As if to be pulled out like a lawnmower whenever the grass gets too unruly. ¬†But in fact, a key differentiator of our military is their capacity to think, help shape strategy and even carry diplomatic relations on the world stage. ¬†Consider the diplomatic roles of esteemed veterans such as Collin Powell, David Petraeus (recent events notwithstanding and which shouldn’t diminish his great contributions), or Army Special Forces Major James Gravrilis. ¬†Far from being a closet full of guns and ammo, our veterans perform brilliantly as¬†military diplomats¬†who have independent will¬†and a moral compass that guide their capacity for critical analysis.

“A Closet Full of Guns and Ammo”

A couple of months ago, on the heels of the embassy attack at Benghazi, one of my professional acquaintances publicly expressed his frustrations about that attack in a post on one of the popular social networks. ¬†In that rant, he described his home-spun foreign policy of “Overreaction.” ¬†And he demanded (in rant-wise fashion) that our elected leaders adopt it. ¬†In one paragraph he expressed the following in apparent reference to the citizens of non-American countries (bold highlights are mine for emphasis relevant to this discussion):

“…if we’re gonna be just friends, you need to know something about us. ¬†We’re going to overreact. ¬†A lot. ¬†In ways that you’ll find very extreme. So if you or some of your more excitable lads kill an American, we might go totally overboard and drop a few thousand bombs on your capitol. ¬†If that American is an ambassador, we might roll tanks through your cities and start executing anyone wearing your military’s uniform. Then, of course, we’ll leave. We’re dangerous, ignorant Americans after all. We just wanna be left alone, and if not left alone, then we might be really, really unpredictable. And we really might not care that various other countries “condemn” our actions, or pass UN resolutions…

He goes on like that for a few more paragraphs and closes his rant this way:

“Just think of us as that crazy neighbor…that quiet, keeps-to-himself neighbor with a closet full of guns, ammo by the thousands, and who-knows-what-else. ¬†And he might be a little bit unstable from his war experience…

Incredibly, many of his readers (though not all, but sadly many) actually applauded this “policy.”

Military Diplomats

Contrary to how easily some would classify our veterans as a “…closet full of guns (and) ammo…”, the fact is, our veterans are not trained to be the “John Wayne” or “Rambo” stereotype who stoically obeys orders without question.

In fact, a unique differentiator of our military citizens is their ability to ask relevant questions and critically analyze local events as they carry out those orders. ¬†In many (most?) cases, they’ll actually shape the orders themselves.

Don’t get me wrong. ¬†I share my acquaintance’s frustrations about our American citizens being attacked any where in the world. ¬†I may even applaud the flag-waving nature of his rant. ¬†But characterizing our veterans as executors of a policy of “Overreaction” doesn’t honor them.

My hope for today, and on all days after Veterans Day, is that when you see rants such as that above, that you show gratitude for the true contributions of our veterans by reminding such authors — and their readers — that typically when “we” say “we” will “drop a few thousand bombs on (another nation’s) capitol…” and “…roll tanks through (their) cities and start executing (their citizens)…” and “…test some of the thermonuclear ‘stuff’ in our inventory…,” that you remind them that¬†blindly carrying out the wishes of a “crazy neighbor” is not the mission of our service members.

Being¬†belligerent is easy. ¬†The hard part — the part for which we should truly thank our veterans — is their capacity for being the human¬†filter behind the trigger. ¬†They are the heroes who exercise restraint in their use of force, while critically analyzing and adapting to events¬†even as arm-chair quarterbacks — and their followers — spout ill-conceived home-spun policies of “Overreaction” at all cost.

Part 4: The Tin Can API – What the Presidential Election and the Tin Can API Have In Common

DevLearn12 Q&A Panel – Everything You Need to Know About Tin Can

>> Previous articles in this series:  Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 <<

As I publish this post (Part 4 — the last — in this Tin Can API audio interview series), the 2012 presidential election will have been well underway. ¬†And, just as the eventual outcome of the presidential campaigns have yet to be decided, so too does the landscape have yet to emerge for eLearning solutions based on Tin Can. ¬†But, it can also be said that just as the presidential campaigns are (both!) off to a strong start, so too is Tin Can rolling with strong momentum.

Big News!

I mean, consider that the AICC (Aviation Industry CBT [computer based training] Committee) announced just last week that they’ll be adopting the Tin Can API as the underlying technology for the next generation of their CMI 5 (Computer Managed Instruction) specification. ¬†(Ref. “Really Big News” and “ADL and AICC Collaborate On the Experience API“.) ¬†That’s significantly huge news.

Also, since having gone public with the Tin Can API last (June-ish?), there are already some 30-ish vendors who have already adopted Tin Can for their service offerings; more are on the way. ¬†Finally, if the standing room only crowd for the DevLearn Q&A Panel (“Everything You Need to Know About Tin Can“) is any indication of the interest eLearning developers, service providers and software vendors have in it, then it’s definitely a campaign to watch.

Video / Audio Panel Q&A

The video above is primarily an audio file. ¬†It’s a recording of the DevLearn Q&A panel session about Tin Can. ¬†It was held on the last day of DevLearn12 and commanded a standing room only crowd. ¬†I overlayed headshots of the panelists to make it easier to keep of track of who had the floor at any given moment. ¬† The panelists included:

mike rustici

Aaron Silvers

Clark Quinn

Julie Dirksen

Stephanie Daul

Take a listen. ¬†It’s well worth the time to pay attention especially if you’re an eLearning industry professional. ¬†Between this panel session, and the previous three interviews in this series, I think you should have a pretty good head start about Tin Can (Experience API) and the implications for your projects and/or service offerings in the future.

If you have colleagues who don’t yet know about Tin Can, feel free to pass this article along.

Part 3: The Tin Can API – The Compelling And Practical Use Cases You’ve Been Waiting To Hear

vTrainingRoom“Help me understand a use case for Tin Can. ¬†And, can you tell me how your company is using Tin Can in its services?”

Having just wrapped up two prior interviews with one of the guys over at DevLearn’s “Tin Can Alley,” (see Part 1 here) and with the guys over at the Callidous Cloud booth (see Part 2 here), I then stopped over at the exhibitor booth for VTrainingRoom. ¬†They were “Tin Can Adopters” (a prominently displayed badge identified them as such). ¬†There I spoke with Managing Partner Michael Roberts where I posed to him the questions above. ¬†Refreshingly, Michael was up to the challenge.

If the previous two interviews did a great job of giving us a high-level picture of the Tin Can API data flow, then vTrainingRoom’s Michael Roberts was stellar in his ability to articulate a couple of compelling and practical use cases.

learning record store


During our interview, Mr. Roberts deftly walked me through a scenario using the plausible example of an instructor led CPR course, with a subsequent hands-on lab, followed by actual usage information transmitted from an automated electronic defibrillator (AED).   Now think about it; what if you can gain insight from information transmitted from each of those modalities, and do it all from one information repository?

Listen Closely

Take a careful listen as he describes this scenario in the interview.  It occurred to me during our interview that what he described was precisely the kind of visual that many of us  relatively non-techie eLearning course developers and instructional designers were pining for as we struggled to wrap our collective heads around what Tin Can can ultimately offer.

Below is the audio of my interview with Mr. Roberts of vTrainingRoom. ¬†You’ll remember how noisy the exhibitor hall was. ¬†So, set your expectations appropriately as you listen in on the interview below. ¬†However, to make it easier for you, I also took the liberty of transcribing the interview immediately below the audio file. ¬†Accordingly, I recommend you click “Play,” then scroll along as you follow the audio via the transcript.

I think you’ll find that, after having listened to the playback, you’ll have a better grasp of the value proposition for Tin Can. ¬†Armed with that, you should have an easier go of it as you build a case back at home base for conducting a pilot of the Tin Can API.

(Minor plug here for this helpful DevLearn sponsor…) Consider, too, that companies such as Mr. Roberts’ vTrainingRoom stand ready to help you in that endeavor. ¬†And, of particular note is the LRS (Learning Record Store) product they’ve already established called vTrainingTracker. ¬†(We talk about a free version of it during the interview.)

Finally, if this article helps you, then please share it with your colleagues. ¬†And, I’d be interested in hearing from you via the comments below if you plan on implementing any type of a pilot of Tin Can in the next 6 months.

Audio Interview:  Michael Roberts, Managing Partner, VTrainingRoom

Part 2: The Tin Can API ‚Äď A Learning Management System Vendor’s Perspective [w/ audio]

How Can You Use The Tin Can API In Your Informal Learning Networks?

calidus tincan api

In part 1 of this series (ref The Tin Can API – Why Should eLearning Professionals Care?) I shared with you an audio recording of the interview I conducted with one of the contributors to the Tin Can API consortium. ¬†In that interview, Ali Shahrazad from Saltbox Services helped us gel with the basic relationship of the Tin Can API (a.k.a. “Experience API”) to a central data repository called a Learning Record Store (LRS).

We learned that Tin Can is a new API (application program interface) standard that lets you, me and other vendors (of, say, LMSs, eLearning authoring tools, CRMs, websites, custom applications, etc.) send information about activities by our users within those various platforms to a Learning Record Storage (LRS) database. ¬†Once in such an LRS (which itself can be a hosted service or an otherwise proprietary toolset including the LRS with reporting, visualization or other analytics tools built on top of it), we can then analyze that information to get more robust insights of activity-type information about how users use (Tin Can developers like to say “experience,”) those various platforms.

In this second part of the 4-part series, I’m including the audio interview I conducted with representatives from Callidus Cloud — the company that creates, among other things, the hosted LMS platform I’m currently using with one of the companies I work with.

The audio’s a little hard to decipher in a number of spots. ¬†So I included a transcript of the interview immediately below the audio file.

This interview reinforces the concept of Tin Can being primarily a conduit (think: plumbing) via which to send/receive user activity information from various Tin Can-enabled software.  (Those software become enabled by developers integrating Tin Can API code with the basic workings of the software.)

Interesting, too, is the observation by the folks I spoke with at Callidous Cloud that Tin Can is¬†just another form of SCORM. ¬†I thought that statement would probably make the Tin Can consortium folks bristle. ¬†But, I also didn’t think it was a description that was too far off base. ¬†Yes, yes, Tin Can is different code than SCORM. ¬†And yes, it’s designed to work with a wider set of platforms than LMSs. ¬†But, I see their point: ¬†like SCORM, Tin Can is essentially a standard code set that all developers of eLearning-type software (and I’m using that term loosely as such software can include social networks, CRMs, and such) can use to send and receive information about user activity to another thing. ¬†Also, just as SCORM information is essentially useless¬†without an LMS, so too is Tin Can information essentially useless without an LRS.

But, take a listen.  And then share your own thoughts:  What do you think?  Is Tin Can, indeed, just SCORM on steroids, as some might say?

Audio and Transcript With Callidus Cloud About The Tin Can API

Part 1: The Tin Can API – Why Should eLearning Professionals Care? [w/ audio]

If you’re at all even remotely associated with support for the eLearning industry (i.e., instructional designer, training developer, software developer, LMS vendor, social networking host provider, CRM provider, etc.) then you’ll be interested in this series.

At last year’s DevLearn conference (DevLearn11), the anticipated release of Articulate’s Storyline authoring tool was all the rage. ¬†This year (DevLearn12), the buzz was all about Tin Can (a.k.a. the “Experience API”, a.k.a. Tin Can API). ¬†In¬†fact, so buzzy was it that I actually heard the “R” word¬†used several times throughout the conference. ¬†And…AND, if you can believe it, the “P” word¬†(*gasp!*) was actually used by one of the guests in a panel session.

eLearning Professionals Are Confused

The thing is, in the months leading up to DevLearn, and extending to the days following DevLearn’s opening keynote, I asked a bunch of you, my professional eLearning colleagues and friends, ¬†if you could explain to me what Tin Can was about and how it differs from SCORM. ¬†Not surprisingly, the answers the lot of you gave were all over the board; they were speculative at best. ¬†Hell, I wasn’t immune. ¬†I read the discussions on the TinCanAPI consortium website and, by DevLearn’s kickoff day, I still couldn’t wrap my head around it enough to be able to articulate a value proposition.

Audio Interview (Part 1): What is Tin Can? What can it do that SCORM can’t?

DevLearn Day 3 Keynote – My Cameo With Keynoter Dayna Steele – 101 Ways to Rock Your World For Success [audio]

In this keynote, Dayna Steele gave the conference attendees a few tips of parting wisdom from her book, 101 Ways to Rock Your World.  


  1. Passion – gives you the courage to try things and to make it okay to fail.
  2. Do your homework.
  3. Do things for other people without expecting anything in return.
  4. Be brave. ¬†Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  5. Appreciation. ¬†Take time to say, “thank you.”

How I Actually Co-presented a Portion of This Keynote Presentation With Dayna Steele (sort of)