Monday, March 9, 2009

Articulate Live Recap - Part 1

It was a long day with a lot of information. Some of it general to elearning and some of it specific to Articulate. My brain is pretty well saturated and I think some of the info is still seeping in, but here is an overview of what I got out of the day.

Big Picture

The theme that kept coming up over and over is throwing out the conventional (I hesitate to call it) wisdom with PowerPoint for a more direct, emotional approach. In other words, replace the bullet points with a story. This came out explicitly from the very start in Cliff Atkinson's keynote and others, as well as implicitly in the style of the work that was shown throughout the day. There were plenty of other ideas that kept surfacing; ideas that you'd expect to hear at a conference about a tools like the Articulate tools, in times like these. Things like: speed, ease of use, ROI. But what we seemed to come back to over and over was storytelling. The theme of the conference was "Be an elearning Hero" but it really should have been "Tell an elearning Story."

Keynote - Cliff Atkinson:Beyond Bullet Points

Key points:
  • Story not information
  • Make it personal
  • Working memory only holds small bits
  • Change the metaphor from paper to film
  • Chunk information
  • Use visuals
Although I have not read Cliff's book, I am very familiar his ideas and his web site. Again, this was all about using the medium to tell a good story. Not letting PPT's built in structures and the usual way of doing things lock us into creating ineffective training.
He talked about the way memory works. The way working memory, which is only capable of holding 4 items, thoughts, facts at a time (used to be 7, i guess Google is making us stoopit), so setting a learner in front of 40 slides, all crammed with information is just pointless. The vast majority of that information will simply slip out of working memory and never be committed to long term memory, resulting in fragmented learning.
Then he walked us through his method with an example course using his story template and other tools and techniques. Sort of a course makeover.
All in all it, was a great talk and very engaging. Cliff is a good speaker and obviously a very skilled presenter. Lots of thought-provoking ideas about presentation design. Couple thing bothere me a bit. It felt to me that this was his standard spiel shoehorned into an learning context. That's not a huge dig, because is standard spiel is so good. But I would have liked a little more shift in focus to learning. Also, the course makeover was just OK. It wasn't very dramatic or revelatory, but did serve to underscore the points and ideas in his main talk, but I could have used less of it.

Additional stuff:
Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning - Richard Mayer (pricey!)

Cliff didn't mention these, but they are in a similar vein:
Slide:ology - Nancy Duarte
Presentation Zen - Garr Reynolds
Also see part 2 for Cathy Moore

Anything else?

End Part 1

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