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)

DevLearn Day 2 Keynote – Alison Levine – Leadership Lessons From the Edge

We all deal with challenges, right?  Alison Levine’s story about overcoming challenges is inspiring.  She has survived sub-zero temperatures, hurricane force winds, sudden avalanches.  Surprisingly, Alison was born with a life threatening heart condition.  As a teenager her health was so unstable that she wasn’t allowed to do basic activities as drive a car or walk upstairs.  But, thirteen years after her initial diagnosis, she had surgery that changed her life.  Climbing stairs soon gave way to climbing mountains.  This passion soon led to her climbing some of the highest peaks… including Mount Everest.  


  • It’s always going to be easy for somebody to say “no” than to help you find a solution.  So you have to be persistent with asking the right questions.
  • It doesn’t do you any good to be up on Mt. Everest with the very best climbers if they don’t care about the team.  
  • Fear is okay… complacency is what kills you.  
  • It’s important to build relationships before the point of need.  Her team often comments about her being so social with other team members.  But, there’s also a strategic piece to it:  when you’re on Mt. Everest (as with business) and something goes wrong (God forbid), those relationships can be your lifeline.
  • Judgment.  It doesn’t matter the amount of your blood, sweat and tears.  If the conditions aren’t right… you turn around, cut your losses and walk away.  You live to fight another day.  It’s not a loss… the experiences gained are added for new projects, new challenges.  At the end of it, your resilience and capacity is much greater than it was before you started.
  • Ultimately… getting to the summit was… no. big. deal.  At the end of the day, making the summit isn’t where the value is.  The value is in the experiences gained, the lessons learned AND what you do with those experiences moving forward.  And, remember, nobody gets to the summit of Mt. Everest by themselves.  That’s part of climbing, that’s part of business, that’s part of life.

DevLearn Keynote – Bian Brushwood How to Scam Your Way to Success


Book - Influence The Psychology Of Persuasion

Brian’s closing keynote yesterday was both entertaining and informative.  As with other keynoters here at DevLearn, this one was a power hour.  So, get a drink and hit the play button above. 

An interesting tidbit here is Brian’s mention of Robert Cialdini’s book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”  If you’re a regular here then you’ll recognize Mr. Cialdini’s book as one of those on my recommended reading list.  I referenced it in this rant (6 Factors of Social Influence – Why You Should Fight For Them) and in this reflection (6 Things That Helps You To Influence Me).

Have you read the book?  Would you recommend it to others?

DevLearn Keynote – Jon Landau Speaking With eLearning Professionals?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jon Landau Keynoter at DevLearn

Day 1 at DevLearn kicked off with keynoter Jon Landau.  In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade or so, Mr. Landau is an Academy Award-Winning movie producer.  Most notably: Avatar and the Titanic.  But, what’s a movie producer doing at the DevLearn conference talking to a bunch of eLearning professionals?

Well, as it turns out, he was here talking about innovation, telling stories, communicating messages and developing education content for audiences without regard for what’s possible, technologically speaking.  (??)  Yeah, you heard me right, “without regard for what’s possible.”   

Some of the highlights:

  • What does a movie producer have in common with eLearning professionals?
    • We have similar challenges with change management each time we each start a new project
    • We’re both producers of media with intent of communicating messages and teaching lessons within the themes of a story
  • We’re continually searching for new ways to innovate… it should be the goal of any product to evoke emotional response.  It’s out of that feeling that people get more and develop brand loyalty
  • In the same way that movie professionals (the big ones anyway) innovate in their industry, eLearning professionals also have the opportunity to push the envelope and innovate and tell stories in a similar way he uses to engage audiences
  • The movie industry needs people who aren’t afraid to push the boundaries of technology and are not afraid to innovate… each project they tackle find them seeking to separate themselves… being not afraid to try something new.
  • We have to believe we an do the impossible… Jim (Cameron) writes his scripts without regard to what’s possible. 
  • Don’t wait for the technology… if you can come up with the ideas and be ahead of the wave of technology you’ll be on for a long and successful ride
  • Think: What would the best eLearning be?  Then go find the people that would make your dream… your vision possible.  (Of note:  Jim Cameron wrote Avatar in 1996… but had to wait a while for technology to catch up.)
  • The technologies we put to use on Avatar are now being used across the industry.  And the people who worked on the first project are now industry leaders in their field.
  • What we do is create creative content, we don’t create technology.
  • Re: new technology adoption… you’re always presented with a new problem to solve… and when that problem is solved it’s then available for everyone else in the industry to follow.
  • There has to be a symbiotic relationship between dreams and innovation…

Sound off!

Did you attend Jon’s keynote at DevLearn?  What topics jumped out at you the most in terms of innovating your own eLearning projects?

Day 1 – eLearningGuild DevLearn Conference

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

DevLearn 2012

Good morning!  If you had to suffer through Sandy’s “Frankenstorm” wrath, I hope you arrived safely and relatively uneventfully.  If, regrettably, you had to turn back and miss out on this year’s conference (reputedly the largest DevLearn conference to date!), then I hope you arrive safely at your home destination.

If you’re one of my many readers, new friends and colleagues who can’t make it to the conference this year, then you may be pleased to know that you can actually follow some of the highlights via the Twitter #DevLearn hashtag.  For my part, I’ll also be posting summaries of keynotes and sessions I attend.  I plan on also posting audio and/or video where possible.  (Should be able to at least get audio.)  So, check back here regularly during the week for highlights and updates.  You can also sign up for my newsletter and I’ll notify you when new updates are posted.

Drop By Session 210 – Seven Stages For Launching An Enterprise Social Network

And, if you’re actually in attendance here at DevLearn, then you’ll want to drop by my session today, October 31, 2012 at 1:15 p.m. – It’s Session #210- The Seven Stages For Launching An Enterprise Social Network.  That’s where I’ll be walking attendees through a case study of the social enterprise network we implemented over at Kareo.  It’s working wonderfully… but, even I have to admit, it was touch and go in the beginning.  So, I’ll definitely be lifting the veil on what some of those barriers were to adoption and how we were able to navigate them.  The idea is for you to ping me with questions and also learn about the hurdles we made so you can be on the lookout for them when you tap social media for implementation as a closed network social network for your organization or for one of your clients.   (Hint:  Suffice to say, “build it and they will come” is definitely not an implementation methodology.)  😉

Professionals Connect!

Finally, if you attend one of my sessions or if we at least have the wonderful opportunity to connect here and shake hands, I’d love to extend the opportunity to stay in touch long after this week.  So, let’s connect!  You can find out more on the About page above or you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

What Are the Best Microphones to Record Narration?

The question below came up in the Articulate Storyline forum.

Question - best mics

It’s a question I get a lot — many of you have asked the same question, as well.  So, I thought I’d share my answer with you below.  Make sure to see the reference links at the bottom.  There’s also a pretty useful primer produced by Andre Costa about getting good audio quality.  I think you’ll find it useful.

The Answer

Hi Luis,

I’ve used the Samson condenser mic you referenced.  It’s good. I’ve also used Blue’s Yeti microphone.  Both are very good.  If I had my druthers — and assuming your recording environment is relatively “clean” of ambient sounds — I’d opt for Blue’s Yeti, with the pop filter you mentioned.

The thing is, they’re so good that they will also record any ambient sounds in your recording environment. In fact, I now only use the condenser mics when I’m recording from my home office where my environment is better controlled than my business office — where there are a/c vents and non-padded / hollow walls.   It’s very noticeable.

Interestingly, when I record audio from my business office, I get better audio quality when I record using a plain ‘ol Plantronics headset with a boom mic and then follow that up with a little noise and bass filter processing using Audacity software (free). (Related reference:  How to Remove Background Noise From Your Screencast Audio.)

The Bottom Line

If you’re environment is clean of ambient sounds, I’d go with either of the condenser mics mentioned above. (Depending on your budget.) But, if you have limited control over your audio environment, I’d opt instead for a good headset / boom mic.  

“The Boom” headset mic is one I’m shopping for now.  It’s a bit pricey, but seems to be getting good reviews and is one a friend has recommended.

Also, I thought you might also find this funny, yet informative tutorial that was produced by Andre Costa about sound quality and microphone selection.