Posts Tagged ‘eLearning’

The potential of Google Glass as an e-learning device (guest blogger – John Laskaris)

October 27, 2014 1 comment

A first today – a guest blog from John Laskaris, eLearning Specialist, Instructional Designer, TalentLMS and eFront Evangelist. Many thanks to John for his insightful look into the future in terms of linking Google Glass and eLearning.

Google Glass

Technology, from the mighty computer to the lowly lever, has always been about expanding our powers and capabilities. As the famed sociologist Marshall McLuan observed “all technologies are extensions of our physical and nervous systems to increase power and speed”. For the most part of history, though, this expansion had the form of tools that we made use of. It was only in the 20th century that the concept of technology as a hybrid between man and machine finally emerged as a shared dream of science fiction and science alike.

We might still be some ways off from fully realizing that dream, but we’re getting quite close, with inventions covering the whole gamut of human abilities, from the humble hearing aid to intelligent prosthetic limbs and prototype brain-machine interfaces. And with advances in miniature mobile CPUs and wearables, those kinds of tools are slowly but steadily entering the consumer market. In this post we’re going to cover such a mass market offering in the area of augmented reality, Google’s much publicized Google Glasses, and its potential for e-learning.

Google Glass

Essentially a pair of glasses with a fast processor with wi-fi and GPS connectivity, a camera and a heads-up display (HUD) attached, the Google Glass made quite a few waves when it was first announced a couple of years ago. Some of the publicity the Glass got was about the negative reactions to its built-in point-of-view camera, but most focused on the possibilities such a device offers, as it’s essentially putting augmented reality in the hands of mass market consumers for the very first time. As this mass market also includes learners and educators, we, as most e-learning professionals, were understandingly intrigued.

Google Glass, still in its early iterations, is nevertheless an ideal platform for augmented reality applications and experimentation. For some e-learning applications what’s included as standard (camera, HUD and wi-fi connectivity) will be enough, whereas more ambitious projects can take advantage of the Google Glass API (a set of programming specifications allowing developers to create custom applications leveraging the Glass’s hardware).

In most promotional material, reviews and user experience posts, the POV camera seems to be the most used feature of the device. It’s something which is not unique to Glass, as it can also be found in cheaper products, but combined with the wi-fi connectivity and full blown OS and API the Glass provides, it allows for some quite innovative uses.

Learning Potential

While Google itself doesn’t promote the Glass as a learning tool per se, they do feature a couple of “user stories” in their Glass website that hint on its e-learning potential. The first shows how Andrew Heuvel, an e-learning educator specializing in physics, used the Glass in combination with Google’s Hangouts (video-conference service) to take his students on a virtual tour of CERN. His students back in the Michigan were able to see what he saw (through Glass’s point-of-view camera), ask questions, and guide him in exploring parts of CERN and the Large Cauldron Collider they wanted to learn more of. The second story is of See professional tennis player Bethanie, who used Glass to record, study and analyze her moves as she prepared for Wimbledon.

Most e-learning uses of Google Glass up to date fall into these two general patterns, of analyzing recorded material and providing a kind of virtual “field trip”. The University of Alaska, for example, uses Google Glass similarly to the way Heuvel used it, to “send the live feed [of professors on site in remote Alaska locations] to students located around the world”.

In an educational setting Google Glass would be great for having a team of students follow a teacher in real time, seeing what he sees and being able to listen to his lecture or have a live Q&A session – and it’s something that can be done on the cheap, as it only takes a pair of Google Glasses for the teacher and a wi-fi (or 4G) connection. In the absence of the latter, the Glass could also be used as a simple POV camera for recording e-learning video material (virtual tours, etc), though of course there are cheaper options for this, such as the GoPro camera.

Google Glass2

For a more evolved (and expensive at the moment) setting, the students could be equipped with Google Glasses themselves, and the virtual class could participate in some kind of distributed knowledge-gathering exercise or a large scale experiment involving several locations.

It would also be useful in student-to-teacher video conferences,  for e-learning subject involving physical manipulation of objects (e.g anything from woodwork to piano playing and surgery), enabling the teacher to see and comment on the student’s actions.

Of course those uses are only the tip of the iceberg concerning the potential that Google Glass has as an educational tool. More intelligent (and novel) uses would have to use the Google Glass development API. Google, it has to be said, provides a great set of resources to get started with this, from the Glass API itself, to detailed documentation, code samples, development tooling and even Google-blessed community resources (Stack Overflow, etc). And should you want to distribute or sell your e-learning Glass-based app (or Glassware, in Google’s terms), there’s the aptly named MyGlass app and marketplace,  allowing users to discover and install Glassware applications.

Google Glass applications, or “Glassware”, offer the possibility of extending Google Glass beyond the basic point-of-view tele-conference realm, into full blown augmented reality applications, providing contextual and supporting material to all kinds of e-learning content, on and off the field.

As consumers embrace it, prices drop, and processing power increases, Google Glass has the potential to become an indispensable tool for e-learning. And with 20 million devices  expected to be in users’ hands by 2018, this future might come sooner rather than later. For now we suggest to any e-learning professional to get his hands on one and explore the ways it can help spice up his content and classes.

Bio – John Laskaris,  eLearning Specialist, Instructional Designer, TalentLMS and eFront Evangelist.. Interested in new technologies and ideas that help education and improve training processes. Always looking for new ways to help engage learners and bring better results.

Image credits

  1. Ted Eytan, Flickr
  2. Ted Eytan, Flickr

Micro eLearning – from Pecha Kucha to Vines

October 18, 2014 Leave a comment

So – people often say that eLearning is “too long”, or “not the same as my real/social media life” – how many people are prepared to MATCH the social media world in the way they produce learning?

There’s NOTHING to stop people creating GREAT courses in the style of Pecha Kucha, (20 images, 20 seconds each). I built a travel safety course in this style once, and it was HUGELY rewarding (if not hard work!) to pare the content down.

So how far could this be taken?

Could Vines, (6-second video snippets) be used within “traditional” corporate eLearning. Maybe people are doing this already?

Any thoughts…?

Categories: Freelancers Tags: , ,

Focusing on the experience rather than the “product” – so why do IDs focus on “training” all the time?

October 10, 2014 4 comments

Steve Jobs focused on the Apple “experience” rather than the product – you can see a GREAT YouTube video here that shows this.

In the same vein – why do Instructional Designers seem to focus so much on the “course”, and the “training” – rather than the REASON we spend all our hours producing all of this content?

I had a discussion earlier this week on “An Ebola Course”. But for me it was not “…an ebola course”, it would be online content that saved lives. This is a mind-switch.

I would LOVE to see a forum or group of IDs have “No Training Words Week“, where – just for a week, just 7 days, we NEVER used words like “training”, “course”, “authoring”, “quiz”, “test” or ANY of the other “learning’y” words.

Could we/they do it?

Could we get through ONE working week with nothing but discussions on VALUE, or workflow, or profit/loss, or process re-engineering, or risk, or profit, or production or technique or re-financing, or loss, or problem-solving, or creativity.

Is it really too hard? Those are the words our customers and clients use in THEIR daily lives.

Try to talk the same language your customer/prospect/client uses – do you even know what language they DO speak?

Freelancer Instructional Designers – take a risk, sometimes it guarantees success rather than putting the next invoice at risk! Take up that flag of professionalism, but become a “business pro”, not just a “training pro(vider)”. It makes sense doesn’t it?

That mind-switch can be hard, and sometimes, your prospect, customer or client does not want it – but that is no reason not to TRY it. You owe it to yourself don’t you? If nothing else you certainly owe it to your profession.

Just wanted to say “THANKS!”

October 10, 2014 1 comment

Somehow, based on “Social Appeal”, this little blog reached #2 in the rankings at

So – I just wanted to say THANK YOU to anyone and everyone that might have looked, circulated, retweeted or any other social thing. Hugely appreciated.

I’ll try and keep useful and provocative (?) thoughts coming.


Using Articulate Storyline branching to break down corporate silos.

September 4, 2014 Leave a comment

I have a 17-year old teenage daughter. She is currently making sure that our family is aware of her new found sense of “independence” 🙂

In fact, as we get older, in some ways we become independent, but more so we need to become INTER-DEPENDANT. As adults, we need to fit into more and more social groups. We have to work within those groups, and only then will the group give us respect and a real sense of “belonging”. Just at the time we think we are breaking the bonds, in fact we need to make some of those bonds stronger.

It’s very similar to corporate life. So many departments get entrenched in silos, and forget how they affect other groups, and how other groups rely on them.

Articulate Storyline makes branching easy, so how about this…

If you are creating a process course, or even compliance, create buttons that trigger loops/breakout sections where you explain how changes and requirements affect, or are linked to the OTHER departments in a company. Thee might be departments that the learner seldom, if EVER comes into contact with, but it can place their life in a bigger framework.

Branching image

Try and get the content from the perspective of the SMEs in the other departments.

As Instructional Designers, we are always “make content real”, and “make it matter” to the learner, and this can help bring the smaller tactical picture into the larger strategic one.

Why not suggest it to your clients?

You might just find that it benefits them too, and they see your added strategic value – always a good way to get repeat business.

Articulate Challenge – Audio Setup and Tips

August 5, 2014 Leave a comment

Quick post – my entry for this weeks Articulate Elearning Challenge – audio tips and tricks.

A really GREAT thread appearing on the Challenges page, superb hints and tips for anyone wanting to try voiceover on an eLearning course.

It does not have to be deadly dull…

June 16, 2014 2 comments

I am having a lot of fun creating eLearning at the moment…yes…fun.

Just because eLearning is deadly serious that does not mean that it has to be deadly dull.

I’m developing a course on corporate Fraud – it has loads of little animations built to represent cheating partners and annoyed stationery-stealing staff, built using PowToon and Sparkol Videoscribe.


You see – “animation” does not necessarily mean “funny”, or “disrespectful”.

All it means is that – animated.

Google “define animated” and the first entry is:

full of life or excitement; lively

Isn’t that what we are all trying to do in (most) eLearning? 

I am developing one course on the Hospitality Industry. I just use PowToon to bring in 3 images of what different grades of hotel look like, but because they come in with a “Pop” effect, (like a PowerPoint “Grow” but with a pronounced bounce), on a brightly coloured template, they do not LOOK like PowerPoint.


They just provide a breather, a change of tempo for a few seconds, and the visuals (instead of text), provide an increased change of learning. It’s like a change of tempo in a musical piece, or the “middle 8” of some jazz – the same, but different. I’m still using the Corporate Articulate Storyline template, so it’s all OK from a brand perspective, but having a consistent brand/style does NOT mean everything has to ALWAYS look the same.


Humour is all around us. I have just seen a Driving School car labelled with their logo and brand “AcciDON’T”. I think that’s funny!


Sainsburys supermarket in the UK are selling a “Basics” version of their twin garlic baguettes – on the pack it says “Made with margarine not butter – but it still takes your breath away”. I think that’s brilliant!


So be brave, suggest humour, or even better, just create some, and place it into your courses. Certainly my clients seem to LOVE it, and I suspect, (when used appropriately), yours will too.


Have a fun time!

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