DIY Bar-Style Trivia Game

A delicious little game-based learning, sorry, beer and wings sold separately! 🙂 I submitted this as one talk proposal for the 2015 Lectora User Conference, hopefully it gets accepted and I can share with the community how I created this trivia game.


Training Professionals: Put this Article in Your Pocket

If you are involved in workplace training at all, you should read this: The Science of Training and Development in Organizations: What Matters in Practice. I saw this article recommended on LinkedIn via Will Thalheimer’s blog, Will at Work Learning. There is so much relevant information in this 28 page–really 22 page if you ignore the references–review article that it’s hard to summarize it in a short post. Also, I don’t want you to read my summary, I want you to read the actual article because it’s that good. It is an academic paper, but it takes a practical approach to the research and provides checklists to help you implement the recommendations they make based on the research and theory.

I’ll just leave you with a few quotes that I found most interesting and repeat my humble request to go read this amazing article!

“Leaders often send the signal to training developers, either directly or inadvertently, that there is no time or need to diagnose training needs. This leads to suboptimal training.”


“One should be careful not to oversell or create false expectations when communicating about forthcoming training programs. Trainees should understand how the training is relevant to successful job performance but should receive realistic previews of what and how content will be covered.”


“What happens in training is not the only thing that matters—a focus on what happens before and after training can be as important. Steps should be taken to ensure that trainees perceive support from the organization, are motivated to learn the material, and anticipate the opportunity to use their skills once on (or back on) the job.”


“As we will note later, what supervisors do and say about training affects the trainee. Smith-Jentsch et al. (2001) found that one misdirected comment by a team leader can wipe out the full effects of a training program.”


“Arthur, Bennett, Stanush, and McNelly (1998) conducted a metaanalysis of skill decay studies and reported that the day after training, trainees exhibit little to no skill decay, but 1 year after training, trainees have lost over 90% of what they learned.”

I’m a gamification skeptic

I am an avid gamer, and have easily accumulated more than 10,000 hours playing games so I feel that I can talk about them with some expertise.  Gamification gets mentioned in almost every elearning article, blog post, conference talk, or tweet I see. I’m enthusiastic about the use of games in learning, but I’m skeptical of gamification. It seems in the earnestness to utilize the learning benefits of games, that gamification uses just the trimmings of gameplay and as such is just a stupid fad.

Gamification fails when you slap badges and points on an already finished lesson and call it a game. A good game has to be intentionally designed, not an afterthought. As a gamer I see it as a lack of respect for the medium itself. It’s similar to someone recording audio over a PowerPoint presentation, adding some next and previous buttons, and calling it elearning. If you want to design a good learning game, you should follow these serious tips, learn how to provide an environment where it’s safe for the learner to fail, and understand that not all gamers are motivated by the same things. In fact, in the same way that there are different learning styles, there are different gamer personalities as famously described by the Bartle test.


The test is focused on MMORPGs (take the quiz yourself) and describes the different motivations of gamers. I’m an Explorer, I like to discover new things, gain a deep understanding of the game lore and mechanics, and then share that knowledge with others. I’m not motivated strictly by earning points or badges, so slapping those on a lesson doesn’t do much for me.

All in all, the point I’m trying to make is that a good learning game takes a lot of thought and design and can’t be created as an afterthought. I look forward to learning more about game design and helping the field grow. Extra Credits is an excellent YouTube show talking about game design and it provides a lot of good advice for aspiring designs. What do you think about #gamification? Is it a fad or elearning’s future?

Office Mix: PowerPoint to online lesson

I don’t have Office 2013 to try it out, but it sounds like this free plug-in has a lot of potential to easily create elearning content. I’m not sure how interactive it would actual be, or if it’s just a glorified webcast. Still I’m cautiously optimistic. It’s marketed toward the K-12 demographic, but I’ll be interested to see if it’s picked up by the broader elearning coterie. P.S. It even has limited support for iOS devices and they claim that the full interactive experience will be available soon.

Giving back to Open

Giving back to Open

I often use public domain and creative commons licensed images and audio in my work. I really like the idea that high quality media is available for free to the public and that you can create something amazing without infringing on copyright. For businesses and professionals to function they can’t give everything away, but it’s nice to share what you can. With that in mind, I’ve recently posted several of the agriculture and GPS illustrations I created for work on Openclipart. I think that it’s time that I gave back to the OCAL community since I’ve definitely used dozens of graphics from other artists. You can see all of my illustrations on my tmjbeary OCAL profile, but here are a couple of my favorites:

How trilateration works to determine GPS position.

How trilateration works to determine GPS position.

Combine harvester with grain platform.

Combine harvester with grain platform.

Do you have any suggestions for illustrations I could create? I’ll also take requests for custom illustrations, with the stipulation that I’ll release it to the public domain on OCAL.

Animated GIFs: Not just for dancing hamsters

Animated GIFs: Not just for dancing hamsters

While working on eLearnings, I realized that animated GIFs are wonderful for demonstrating simple concepts. They can explain a concept more concisely than a still image with a paragraph long caption and they work across all browsers and platforms, unlike flash or even video. I’ve been working on a course about GPS and steering for precision agriculture, and below are some of the animations I’ve created.

Multipath GPS errors occur when the GPS signal bounces off a nearby structure and the receiver can't differentiate which is the "real" signal.

Multipath GPS errors occur when the GPS signal bounces off a nearby structure and the receiver can’t differentiate which is the “real” signal.

I drew the graphics in Inkscape and animated them using the Gimp. It works like a flip book, in that you have to create each individual frame of the animation. In the eLearning courses only one animation would appear per page, so it’s less distracting. So what do you think? Do they help demonstrate the concepts? Hopefully even without a lot of context you understand the gist of it.