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I'm a geek working as a distance learning specialist for a large corporation.

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NO! I am not talking about the insipid, rodent-filled name-stealer. [caption id="attachment_1224" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Why?! Why did they do it?!"][/caption] Similar to Lee's story in the blog entry that I'm blatantly rippingG-Force ROCKS!

Facebook is a place where absolutely nothing of importance happens. But you do get to see some funny, or at least interesting, posts from time to time. Here are someFound on Facebook

This is just too perfect. I actually laughed out loud at a couple. Super-Social Networking: Superhero Facebook Status Updates My favorites are by far Spider-Man's and Green Lantern's. They need one forSuper status updates

I mentioned in a previous post that I was experimenting with [tag]Podcasting[/tag] for [tag]training[/tag] purposes at work. I thought it might be nice to share what I've learned so far,Podcasting for corporate training example - how I did it

Other heroes may be dark, brooding and intelligent, or invincible super-nice guys, but no one is as fun to watch as Spider-Man. More than most other super-heroes, he seems likeRadioactive Spider Blood - Tuesday TubeWatch

Computer-Generated Image Looks Exactly Like a Beautiful Woman - Gizmodo Click the link above to see a completely CG image of a real Korean actress. Those of you with keen eyesIs she, or isn't she?

[update: I've since started using the Anarchy plugin, which also makes standard hyperlinks playable, and though I'm on the fence about which technology I like better for audio (I gotMaking MP3s playable on a website, the easy way

Free business cards! That's pretty cool. Via the excellent Parent Hacks site (see below) I've now found two online printing companies that will print business cards for free. You have"Free" business cards

Hmm.... how do I do this without giving away spoilers? This was simultaneously the coolest and weakest of the three X-men movies. It earns coolest because it had some excellent battleReview: X-Men 3: The Last Stand

There is nothing more perfect than the punch line of this Dilbert strip. Who among us cannot relate? I actually considered making that my new theme on this site. There areWhat futility doesn't feel like

In the last month or so, it seems like Murphy is camped on my front step. Computer - dead. Motherboard, presumably, is fried, based on research. Car inspection - over $500 moreUnexpected costs, things that have broken lately, and lessons learned

Hana Gittleman's "covert" site This site gives you the chance to join in on the Heroes storyline and become a part of the story. There are links to other websites fromHeroes Viral Marketing

“Journeyman” Creator Quells Cancellation Rumors - Slice of SciFi A couple posts ago I mentioned that "Journeyman" may not air all of its produced episodes this year. Well, it turns outGood-ish news for “Journeyman”

Lee has his weekly Top 5 list up over at Quit Your Day Job. This time it's the "Five songs that have left their footprint in my life." That's aFive songs that altered my perceptions

Nothing mind blowing today. This is pretty much going to be a stream of conciousness post. We'll see if it's even vaguely interesting by the time it's over. Just found Grooveshark.Utter randomness

Oprah’s Online Training – experience review

I’m currently watching the recorded version of Oprah’s first session of her “class” on A New Earth, which is about “new spirituality”. For the purposes of this post, however, the topic is irrelevant. What I’m interested in is how it’s being pulled off as an example of a massive, live, online facilitated event.

This is, I believe, the single largest event of its kind (Oprah says there are over 700,000 people connected to the course), and it’s being run by people who undoubtedly have the resources to pull it off, so it will be interesting to see how it goes.

I had to download a proprietary player, which isn’t unusual for this kind of event. When I tried to get into the event (late, because I had some other commitments) for the live broadcast, everything launched, except the video/audio. Later I found out that was a common issue, because they ran into issues with so many people simultaneously trying to access the ‘class’. Nice to know the huge boys (not just the big boys) have the same problems we all do.

So I gave up.

Now I’ve gone back and am watching the recorded version in preparation for part 2, which begins tonight. I’m actually glad I got blocked out, because now I get to contrast the live vs recorded experience. As for the recorded experience:

The good

  • I’m getting no problems with the video or audio. Very smooth. Very clean. (I’m running through a cable modem, and the player reports I’m getting 706kpbs.)
  • The integration of Skype video phones is nice, and done very cleanly. (There’s a whole production staff making that integration happen, I’m sure, but the technology is out there and available.)
  • The presentation style is obviously interview, call-in show style, which is pretty engaging, though it’s still a presentation and not an interactive format (well, there are punctuations of interactivity for individuals, but not group-wide interaction). Still, I can understand doing that for an initial session. It doesn’t hurt that the presenter is an extremely talented and experienced interviewer (Oprah).
  • Nice integration of the callers’ inputs – Skype phone, phone, and email (though it’s funny that there was apparently a problem with getting an email to Oprah’s private screen at one point).
  • Extra-session activities: this is where the whole thing really gets exciting. Behind the “Talk with Others” link on the player, you get to a page that points you to discussion boards, a course-focused blog, and a way to find local reading groups. There are even links to specific discussions (Favorite Quotes, and Aha! Moments, specifically) to really focus your involvement for those who aren’t comfortable just browsing through aimlessly. This is such an important part of the experience – this is where the interaction and personal investment pays off, and likely where the most actual learning occurs. Providing these tiered ways to get involved (watching, reading, commenting, discussing) is what is going to make this a success.
  • Workbooks and exercises: Questions are presented, suggestions for ways to apply the concepts are given, and there is a place for you to respond and record your thoughts privately, in addition to the public outlets. It’s a directed study-guide. So important.

The bad

  • Commercials. Don’t put commercials in my classes. It makes it feel even more like a TV show.
  • Lack of audio control (or consistency of audio) for the commercials. I have my computer’s audio turned up because of some other audio programs I use. I turned the volume down on the course player to an acceptable level. When the commercials come on, there are no controls, and the audio jumps back to default levels. The first time that happened it almost blew my ears off.
  • Not mentioning the “extra session” materials during the session (except for one off-handed mention of the discussion boards). An orientation to the overall structure of the course, not just the presentation, would have been a great add to the first session. That’s a lost opportunity that could have helped involve those who are a little less internet savvy. Tell me how to get involved and make the most of the experience!
  • Along the same lines – the lack of an agenda hurt as well. I’d like to see an agenda for the overall class (i.e., topics for each of the 10 sessions), as well as an agenda for each session. How long is the setup/intro? How long are we going to have for Q&A?
  • The lack of live interactive moments: polls, for example, would have been of tremendous use in this session. There may be ways to get more interactivity that aren’t obvious in the recorded session (back-room chats, for example), but I’ll have to wait to see if they do that tonight.

Those are my thoughts on the recorded experience. We’ll see how it differs from the live experience I (hopefully) have tonight.

[tags]Oprah, A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle, distance learning, e-learning, online[/tags]

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