May 31, 2011

How to Create Visual Step-by-Step Instructions, E-learning Modules, Knowledge Base Articles With an Android Smartphone

Business users drown in text.  We read and write manuals, knowledge base articles and blogs, use wikis and participate in forums to exchange information. Smartphones can be used to reduces amount and volume of text documents and increase clarity and quality of communication, be it workplace instructions, e-learning or technical support.

The built-in ability to take images, video and install applications allows users to create step-by-step visual instructions on the spot using an Android smartphone or tablet, share them, upload to the cloud and publish to corporate wiki / knowledge base / LMS. In order to create visual documentation you need to install AHG Cloud Note (https://www.cloudnote.net/) - you can download it from android market at https://market.android.com/details?id=com.ahg.cloudnote

Step-by-step instructions on how to create visual documents can be found at https://businessmobileapps.blogspot.com/2011/05/how-to-create-visual-step-by-step.html

 

May 18, 2011

When we say "M-Learning" do we mean only one side of the equation?

Let's start with the basics. Wikipedia says that mobile learning is distinct "in its focus on learning across contexts and learning with mobile devices," and then quotes definition of mobile learning from mobilearn: "Any sort of learning that happens when the learner is not at a fixed, predetermined location, or learning that happens when the learner takes advantage of the learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies."

I think that where we learn is only one side of the equation.  The second, no least important, side is where and how do we create materials used in learning.  Creating flash cartoons or using Captivate might work (and does work) well in many cases. It is probably not be the best way to document a real-life process.  Take, for eaxmple a task as simple as clearing a paper jam in a copier. Suppose you need to create a lesson teaching users how perform this task. Now, let's say that you don't have a copier (or that particular model) in your office. It's somewhere "in the field," but you still need to create this lesson asap. And it should be good. You probably think about a team of video and audio techs you need to assemble, about scheduling editing time and so on.  How about you grab your phone and get out of the door, get to wherever that piece of equipment is located and document all the necessary steps employee would need to take to fix the problem. Take a picture, add text, add another picture or shoot a video, add more text ...  Create step-by-step guide right on your phone, edit it,  upload to the cloud (or to your company's server),  share, publish to your knowledge base, web site, FAQ section or e-learning module, use it as information exchange module with clients or students, enhance your tech support, publish to your facebook page. You can do it today with AHG Cloud Note.

At the same time, using  AHG Cloud Note we are getting closer to informal or semi-informal, peer-to-peer learning, where immediate help is as close, as your smartphone.  The good news is that these informal training sessions do not disappear. They continue life in your searchable knowledge base, FAQ section, or tech support section of your web site or intranet.

October 05, 2010

Absolutely! Enterprise Wiki Live Demo

By now everybody knows that wiki and social media foster collaboration.  The sad truth is that these tools also lack framework and structure needed in the corporate world. They also lack motivation to stay the course and NOT to turn work- and learning-related communication channel into a virtual water cooler spot.  At the same time, traditional knowledge management software is great for organizing, preserving and distributing knowledge, but lacks incentives to contribute and collaborate.  

Can we have the best of both worlds?  Absolutely!

I want to invite you to take advantage of a free trial / live demo offer of Absolutely! --  a new type of software that combines benefits of enterprise wiki and KMS. I think it is great for today’s business environment and would appreciate your comments.

Absolutely! Enterprise Wiki Live Demo

September 02, 2010

Knowledge Management Using Enterprise Wiki, Collaboration And Social Media? Absolutely!

 

Few people would argue that to be effective knowledge management must involve collaboration and engagement techniques. Using enterprise wiki, social media and other already existing tools might be an effective way to win over employees and build a reliable knowledge management environment. However, there are problems with using popular social networking and collaboration tools, be it TypePad, Twitter, YouTube, Zimbra or another “general purpose / general audience” software in a corporate environment.  These tools were never intended to work here and might actually hinder productivity by allowing discussion veer away from the work topic.  They often lack structure and user control, as well as granular security and privilege control essential in business. At the same time, traditional knowledge management software provides little incentive for employees to share knowledge, collaborate, provide peer feedback and advice.

Recently we ran into a situation in my company and for a lack of an existing solution had to create our own “dog food” that we now can share with the world at large. The problem was inside our production department. The company that services rather complex electronic machinery to my surprise had no KM system to speak of outside cell-phones with push-to-talk capability. Whenever something rare or unexpected happened, a more experienced technician had to be located and walk his less experienced colleague through a procedure. One day, when it turned out that the more experienced technician had retired three years prior, it became apparent that
1. This “KM system” is unsustainable; and
2. The situation is not unique in the business world.

That day we started developing a knowledge management system that would allow organizations to create structured knowledge base, at the same time providing opportunity for workforce collaboration. Given mobility of todays’ workforce, it is imperative that such a system could be accessed from a mobile phone, as well as a computer. Today this system is working and as one of the first users I am fairly satisfied with the result.

Absolutely! is entirely new enterprise wiki style knowledge management software which combines benefits of a traditional knowledge management system (structured categorized framework for entering and finding information) with the collaboration and engagement features of wiki and social networks. Authorized users can contribute information, discuss it, collaborate with the peers, seek and give advice and feedback.  It works on top of Google Apps, which turned out to be very convenient – users can select, mix and match existing information from various documents / web pages without the need to re-enter it again. If information is changed in Google Docs, it changes in Absolutely! automatically, making information maintenance much easier. And, mobile access comes very handy.

 

January 26, 2010

Launch of Training and Collaboration with Virtual Worlds

            Training and Collaboration with Virtual Worlds(McGraw-Hill Professional; January, 2010) is unique in many regards.  For the first time it provides detailed data, including financial and technical information, on how some of the world’s most recognizable global brands are using virtual worlds technology as their business platform, and how your business can use it, too -- for training, collaboration, team-building, marketing, branding and much more.

            Previous books on Second Life and virtual worlds concentrated on entertainment value and use by hobbyists.  Not this one.  In Training and Collaboration with Virtual Worlds the authors make an experience-based case for, and describe best practices of Second Life as an effective tool for business survival and growth.  The book is written for management-level decision makers to learn how virtual worlds can add significant value to your bottom line.

            Nothing could be a better venue for launching a book on using virtual worlds, then a virtual world itself.  On Friday, February 26th, at 1 pm Eastern Time (10 am PST aka "SL time") authors will present their new book during a special launch event to be held in Second Life.  For those who will not be able to join us in Second Life, the event will be streamed live on the web. The launch will cover what you could learn from the book plus new developments that happened after the book was submitted to the publisher.

            In order to access live book launch in SL or on the web, you need to register at https://www.ahg.com/launch_register.htm.  Access is limited, so please register promptly.  If you register and find out you are unable to attend, please, do let us know so that another person has an opportunity to be there.

More information: https://www.ahg.com/launch.htm

Registration: https://www.ahg.com/launch_register.htm

Visit the book site -- www.TheVirtualWorldsBook.com-- to find detailed description and materials that will help business and training professionals stay abreast of new virtual worlds developments.

January 08, 2010

Virtual Worlds Development Trend

            As virtual worlds are making inroads into enterprise programs, their use is shifting from relatively simple programs, accompanied by multiple announcements, blog discussions, and other media buzz to more sophisticated, internal, more productive and unannounced programs.  The first generation of virtual worlds' adopters was eager to share their experience with the world.  The second generation is putting this experience to use creating more targeted and sophisticated programs.

            This trend is accompanied and helped by the creation of new generation of tools.  The buildings for corporate meetings give way to instruments that allow you to conduct the meetings effectively and receive tangible results.  Lectures and conversations with students near a virtual campfire give way to simulations that facilitate learning by doing - something that you cannot achieve by other e-learning methods.  Excitement about 3D-world gives way to 3D models helping trainees to understand complex concepts, processes and procedures.  Some of most interesting tools are listed at https://work.secondlife.com/en-US/worksolutions/

            One of these new productivity tools is Collaborative Knowledge Management (cKM).  It is built to facilitate synchronous collaborative work with any type of information by visualization and providing shared team access. Using cKM, a team of employees can create and/or review flow or deployment chart, mind map, and just about any diagram of a business processes, procedure, or structure.

            Unique technology allows employees to access cKM both in Second Life and on the web. Both interfaces are completely compatible. Second Life part works best for synchronous collaborative work. This effect cannot be achieved by using competing entirely web-based knowledge management and collaborative software and platforms. At the same time, web interface can be used by individuals without Second Life access to review information and make quick updates.

            More information and real life examples of cKM use can be found at https://www.ahg.com/Second_Life/knowledge_management/Enterprise_Knowledge_Management_and_Collaboration_Solution.htm

January 05, 2010

Training and Collaboration with Virtual Worlds

    Training and Collaboration with Virtual Worlds: How to Create Cost-Saving, Efficient and Engaging Programs (published by McGraw-Hill) is now available in the bookstores and online.

            If you have read on virtual worlds, you will find this book to be quite different.  There is no hyper-excitement about the new and "cool" media, discussions on how to change your clothing, appearance, or how to build corporate campus.  There are no suggestions to rush in and "establish presence" until it is too late -- something that still dominates "positive" articles and presentations on virtual worlds.  At the same time, you will not find angry outbursts about complete worthlessness of virtual worlds for corporate use -- something that dominates the "negative" end of the spectrum -- either.

            Instead, you will find objective material and hard data that will help you understand the new media.  You will learn in what areas virtual worlds can add significant value and where the use of virtual worlds can be counterproductive, how to start your corporate program, what do you need to make your project a success.

            The book sums up best practices and recommendations from real life corporate experiences in virtual worlds. Experts from Cisco, EMC, IBM, Intel, Michelin, Microsoft, TMP Worldwide, University of Kansas Medical Center, World Bank, and CEO of Linden Labs hold nothing back frankly discussing their corporate Second Life projects, methodology, financials, timelines, and results.  The authors pay special attention to security issues and concerns, as well as real-life implementations and use of simulations to achieve competitive advantage and high ROI.

          Finally, you will find a lot of practical information: which virtual world to use, available entry options, recommendations on contents creation, existing tools, and programs.

            Virtual worlds develop fast. They change corporate training and HR even faster. The book site and wiki at https://www.TheVirtualWorldsBook.com/wiki will help business and training professionals stay abreast of new virtual worlds developments.

November 03, 2009

Do you collaborate?

We are assembling a group of companies with existing active Second Life programs interested in collaborative training / collaborative applications of SL.
If you have an interesting project in one of the following areas:

    * company's knowledge base
    * development of e-learning modules
    * personnel reviews and testing
    * new hire orientation program (organization's structure and possible career paths)
    * brainstorming meetings (collaborative thinking and mind mapping)
    * project management
    * and, perhaps, other interesting applications

that will benefit from collaborative work and availability of graphical interactive representations of a concept, procedure, process, or structure you may qualify for
evaluation program of the new Collaborative Knowledge Management tool.
Please, see details at https://tinyurl.com/collaborate-in-SL and contact me via LinkedIn or SL (AHG Hallard)
(if tinyURL does not work, here it is in the full form: https://second-life-training.ahg.com/knowledge_management/Enterprise_Knowledge_Management_and_Collaboration_Solution_evaluation.htm

Here is also a full description of the Collaborative Knowledge Management:  https://second-life-training.ahg.com/knowledge_management/Enterprise_Knowledge_Management_and_Collaboration_Solution.htm The best thing about cKM in my not-so-humble opinion :-) is that it is accessible both from Second Life and the regular web interface)

October 22, 2009

Corporate Training and Collaboration

I just completed a video trailer for a mine and Gary Woodill's book. We, at AHG, do a lot of simulations and general Second Life projects (including shooting video in Second Life!), but when it comes to editing video I will not pretend to be a pro. Hope, you still enjoy the show! More info on www.TheVirtualWorldsBook.com  

 

 

 

July 28, 2009

Training and Collaboration with Virtual Worlds - a new book targeted towards enterprise

As of the end of July, searching amazon.com for terms "Second Life" +corporate (https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=%22Second+Life%22+%2B%22corporate%22&x=0&y=0)  produces 43 results starting from The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life: Making Money in the Metaverse by Daniel Terdiman, to Handbook of Research on Virtual Workplaces and the New Nature of Business Practices by Pavel Zemliansky and Kirk St. Amant.  None of these books, unfortunately is really targeted towards a corporate user of virtual worlds in general and Second Life in particular. 

More narrow search for "Second Life" +"corporate training," (https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=%22Second+Life%22+%2B%22corporate+training%22&x=0&y=0) leaves you with only three results left.  These books, however, mention training only in passing, if at all.

There are great books on the subject of virtual worlds and Second Life, but they are concentrated on entertainment value, use by hobbyists or small businesses catering to those hobbyists.  Moreover, many of the available articles and reports on the use of Second Life in corporate environment emphasize secondary, worthless, or even directly counterproductive aspects such as ability to create a three dimensional conference room or a copy of your corporate campus. They miss really important business-related features such as:

    * Expense avoidance

    * Highly effective procedural training, collaboration and support sessions

    * Great opportunities for effective collaborative work, unavailable by using other technologies

    * Expanding brand by building self-managing communities of loyal customers and outside developers

    * Increasing ROI by connecting training simulations with already existing training programs and Learning Management Systems

That is why when I was approached by McGraw-Hill with a suggestion to write a book on corporate use of virtual worlds, especially in training, I jumped on the opportunity.  Luckily, Gary Woodill of Brandon Hall Research agreed to co-author and share his expertise in emerging learning technologies.  Today I received a copyedited manuscript (that I am now reviewing for accuracy) and by December you should be able to pick Training and Collaboration with Virtual Worlds: How to Create Cost-Saving, Efficient and Engaging Programs on amazon.com, in Barnes and Noble, or another book store. 

Gary and I started with a mutual understanding that in business there is nothing more valuable than experience. We were extremely lucky in that we received unprecedented access to virtual world pioneers from the corporate community who, for the first time, candidly shared both the successes they had and the problems they faced, financial outlays, as well as best practices and recommendations drawn from real life experience in virtual worlds.  Then we proceed to discuss everything you need to learn about the business uses of virtual worlds, with an emphasis on Second Life: what it is, what you need to start a successful program in Second Life or other virtual worlds, what to expect, and how these innovative environments are used by a variety of well-respected corporate players. We pay special attention to security issues and concerns, as well as real-life implementations and use of simulations to achieve competitive advantage and high ROI.

There is more information on the book's web site (table of contents, excerpt, list of contributors, etc.) https://www.TheVirtualWorldsBook.com.