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 ( - you can download it from android market at

Step-by-step instructions on how to create visual documents can be found at


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.

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

            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

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 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 and contact me via LinkedIn or SL (AHG Hallard)
(if tinyURL does not work, here it is in the full form:

Here is also a full description of the Collaborative Knowledge Management: 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  




January 06, 2009

Bench Me, Coach

TrainingCartoon010709 That old John Fogerty song, Centerfield, never resonated with me. Begging a coach to put me in centerfield as opposed to comfortably (and safely) on the bench or off to the side isn’t anything I can imagine doing—unless it was the only alternative to being fired or not getting a much-needed raise.  Before you warn me not to bring this up in future job interviews, don’t worry.  I generally keep it to myself anyway, and the only reason I’m telling you is to illustrate how hard a case some of us (reliable, competent workers nonetheless) present to corporate coaches.

[Image courtesy of Grantland Cartoons ]

It isn’t that I, and many of my current and past co-workers, don’t like to contribute and be “part of the game.” It’s just that we don’t like to think of ourselves in our professional environment under the thumb of a “coach” of any kind.  We also don’t like the sports or competitive connotation of being “coached” to perform our jobs. It makes the relatively straightforward, sedentary process of dragging oneself every morning to work, and concentrating in a cubicle to complete often-dry assignments, more aggressive and intimidating than it really is. Business competitors aside, I never (or at least usually don’t) think of my cubicle as a boxing ring, tennis court, or stage. I question the aggressive enthusiasm of the term “coach,” and wonder about the mentality of office workers who like it. Instead of likable, productive over-achievers who ask to be placed in “centerfield” to honestly contribute, I’m reminded of the faux achiever who wants to be in “centerfield” and considered a central “part of the game,” and has a lot to say about what needs to be done, but in the end, has no ability to deliver on his ambitions. He may have initially intended to make good, and simply became overwhelmed by the scope of his plans; or this person knew all along it’s good to sound ambitious and beg for centerfield, but not so good having to worry about repeatedly running for and catching the ball.

When you bring a corporate coach into your company, how do you avoid this outside consultant getting monopolized and controlled by these “centerfielders?”  Employees over-enthusiastic to the work of the coach are bound to sign their own, and other innocent bystander work groups, up for unwieldy assignments. Even if they only sign up themselves for realization of unrealistic plans, isn’t there a good chance they’ll drag down others with their all-but-inevitable failure?  Stagnation isn’t a good thing, but if I have to choose between a stagnating, though workable, group of employees, and one that, under the guidance of a coach, sets dynamic, though disruptive, goals, I think I prefer just staying put—especially when there’s no money to spare for mistakes. Of course, if your company is flush with cash, that’s another story. I guess that’s the one caveat to my feelings about coaches with quixotic ideas. Trial and error, and changing your company’s work process into a lab for innovative experiments, is a lot of fun, and possibly very promising, as long as you can afford the error part. How many of you can currently afford setbacks in your work process in the name of professional growth and dynamism?  Other than Heiresses Incorporated, I can’t think of too many companies with that kind of financial freedom for experimentation.

Corporate coaches worry me because if they happen to generate a mess instead of the hoped for mess of cash, it’s you and your employees who have to clean it up. The coach by that time will have received payment for her work, and just may be drinking her third Pina Colada on the beach in Puerto Rico while you’re chugging expressos at midnight in a frantic push to finish all the “deliverables” this brilliant coach encouraged you to sign up for.     

Instead of bringing in a corporate coach from the outside to push your workers and company to greatness, consider peer coaching. Being asked to set objectives and benchmarks for improvement by those your employees work with everyday and are accountable to (especially when their failure causes these colleagues extra work) increases the chances they’ll set realistic, relevant goals.  If you’re not doing it already, add a peer coaching workshop or two to your 360-feedback regimen. Many of you already are asking employees to comment on the performance of co-workers, so why not take it to the next level, and ask them to help these co-workers make improvements in response to the critiques they’ve just delivered to them?  They’ll need a quick tutorial beforehand on the art of constructive criticism, but once that precaution is dispensed with, I don’t see many downsides to having the people who know them best coach your employees and vice versa.  If the peer coach gives thoughtless advice, he or she, as part of the coachee’s work group, will have to live with the results.

Believe me, centerfield is overrated. There’s glory to the centerfield position, but one of those balls you fail to catch could hit you in the head, and then think how worse off you’ll be?

Has your company implemented peer coaching yet?  Do you agree it’s much better than bringing in a corporate coach from outside the company?  What tips can you offer other companies on effective employee and company-wide coaching?

November 06, 2008

Effective training in 3D learning worlds – doing more with less.

If you are thinking of how you and your team will survive current downturn, you are not alone.  Over the last couple of months this became a theme of many conversations I heard and for a good reason.  Training is not going to be immune to this round of belt tightening.  Regardless of the level of your optimism, budget slashing seem to be the inevitable next item on the agenda, or perhaps it already affected you and your organization.  This is exactly the reason why AHG created a new training tool that allows you to cut budget without jeopardizing your work and future growth.  Trying to preserve budgets in current environment is a loosing battle. The better strategy is to concentrate on a solution that saves significant resources while improving training results – KPI’s, time to ready and durability.  Immersive Communication Training System (ICTS) can create uniquely-effective training solutions in 3D learning worlds, such as Second Life.  But this is only half of the story.  The second half is that you do need to hire or involve inside or outside programmers and training designers do not need to have technical background.  You create training simulations using intuitive Graphic User Interface.  If you are capable of using computer mouse to move color rectangles on a screen, clicking them to interconnect rectangles with arrows, then you can create a training simulation as simple as short sales call, or as complex as equipment handling lesson.

Prior to the age of personal computers, professionals would hand-write their notes and then have them typed by typists.  Similar situation still exists in training where instructional professionals design training and have programmers implement it using computer technologies.  It certainly looks like a silver lining of this downturn might be in the 3D learning environments (i.e. Second Life), and technologies, such as ICTS, to get rid of intermediaries.  Doing this might just be the key to preserve and position your team for better future in the times of slashed budgets.

You will find more information on (click on the Immersive Communication Training System button, or click on the direct URL:


July 17, 2008

Second Life Corporate Training Roundtable Audio Record

Late June, Linden Lab celebrated the fifth anniversary of
Second Life.  The whole week, starting  June 30 was devoted
exclusively to business uses of Second Life.  AHG, Inc. was
asked to run a round-table discussion "Starting Corporate
Training Program in Second Life: Best Practices, Security
Concerns and Future Developments".

An hour and fifteen minutes - long roundtable discussion
was full of insightful information from people who have
implemented Second Life projects on an enterprise level
and now have unique prospective on both advantages and
deficiencies of Second Life and virtual worlds in general.

Panelists included Chief IT Architect of Michelin and
Business Director of Linden Lab,  Senior Analysts from
ThinkBalm and O'Reilly, Accenture Internet Channel Lead
and Business Director of Royal Philips Electronics, computer
and behavioral scientists.  We discussed security issues,
corporate use and growth patterns,  world-wide recruiting
project,  ways Second Life helps in enterprise mission,
and other issues of importance.

The audio record of the event  is now available for
download. If you are interested, you can request audio at
the following page:

April 28, 2008

Second Life: best practices.

It is characteristic of a paradigm shift that significant differences and disagreements on implementation strategies exist during early adoption stage.  As a result, I was not surprised finding myself in the middle of such disagreement past Friday, April 25th.  That day I was privileged to be on the Corporate training in Second Life panel of the vBusiness Expo ( [An important note: Congratulations to Clever Zebra ( for great organization – rarely have I seen an event run so smoothly in any life – real or otherwise.] The discussion highlighted two opposing approaches in using Second Life in corporate environment.  Champions of the first approach first and foremost see Second Life as a social tool best suited to facilitate communication within the enterprise. Indeed, few people would argue that Second Life is a great communication platform.  What I would argue, however, that social networking is the most obvious, but not the strongest side of virtual worlds in general and Second Life in particular.  Indeed, you can find other tools that allow your team to remotely communicate, often using wider possibilities, such as use of whiteboard, VOIP, streaming video, etc.  In many cases your team will even feel more comfortable using remote conferencing tools, so if conferencing is the only reason you consider Second Life, you will be better off googling “remote conferencing software”.  My search produced 2,750,000 results for this term.  Not surprisingly, though, search on double-term “remote conferencing software”+”Second Life” produced no (as in “zero”, “null”) results, in its own way proving that Second Life is not a remote conferencing software. 

You might be surprised to hear that from such as committed supporter of Second Life corporate use, but I agree – if anything, conferencing is only tangential, at best, use of Second Life in the enterprise.  Second Life is unmatched in corporate training where it allows you to create experiential, immersive environment.  Even more importantly, it has tools to create training simulations in distinctly different areas, such as teamwork and leadership, communications, project management, technical training and others (see Second Life training simulations). Remote conference does not benefit much if every team member is represented by a three-dimensional avatar.  However, ability to run your three-dimensional avatar through a sales simulation in an environment closely resembling the real thing, or ability to assemble/disassemble piece of machinery in 3D before doing it in real life, or training tag-out/lock-out or other OSHA requirements, or training managers in giving meaningful annual reviews, or dealing with difficult people – these and other areas where companies spend a bulk of training budget and time – all benefit from the inherently strong experiential and 3D qualities of  Second Life.

Up until recently wider acceptance of Second life in corporate training was blocked by necessity to conduct training in a synchronous mode with instructor leading training at all times.  Indeed, in e-learning we expect trainees to be able to learn and practice on their own and instructor serve as a figure of authority and a safety net.  With the introduction of specialized e-learning smart robots (see Second Life robotic avatars) Second Life training can be switched to asynchronous mode.  Smart robots look and act as if they represent real people, but in fact are operated by computer software.  Every time a trainee logs in to complete assigned task the system logs the process for future assessment by trainee and instructor.  Detailed reports on specific tasks and progress reports are available.  Since robotic avatar software and training-related data are located on a corporate network outside Second Life data security is drastically improved.  This raises the whole issue of data protection and security in Second Life – too far from the topic of this post, but I hope I will have a chance to return to it next time I get to this blog.