Monday, January 27, 2014

Creating digital ASTD TechKnowledge!

There are those rare moments in life when the stars align and everything comes together just right. I experienced one of those moments last week while hosting a workshop at the 2014 ASTD TechKnowledge Conference. Now, some of you may be scratching your heads asking yourselves, "That's great Ken, but what does it have to do with Wish and a Prayer Studios(sm)?" Well, it just so happens my workshop, titled How to Engage Learners with Digital Stories Using Free Tools (FR209CS), was all about using free video/animation production tools to create elements and sometimes whole chunks of learning content.

I have been in the business of video, animation and learning for over twenty-seven years. Back when I first started, everything we produced was interactive video based content. Then came eLearning and video came to a screeching halt. For almost two decades I (and many of you) have waited patiently for the return of video, and more importantly, the return of telling complete stories to support learning, not just chopping information up so it conveniently fits on a PowerPoint slide. The past four years I have been promoting storytelling in my blogs, social networks and making presentations at conferences like the one this past week. This year looks to be the year of the story. Elliot Masie is on board, TED talks set the standard, many corporations have adopted them as part of their marketing strategy, and learning organizations world-wide have recognized the importance of what stories bring to education. In my workshop, I emphasized that stories provide context for learning and in our global markets allow for cost effective creation of progressive, diverse and inclusive narratives using libraries of characters, styles, sets, and multiple languages. All this leads to a need for course developers to be aware of the tools available to bring their own stories to life.

With a packed room of roughly 60 participants, doubled-up on the available workstations, we spent 90 minutes (some are asking for more time next year based on feedback) together. The first third of the session, I introduced a variety of examples of how Celtx (script writing tool), Audacity (audio production tool), PowerPoint, and Muvizu (lip synchronized, character animation tool) can be used together to tell engaging stories for learners of all ages. The second half was all about making the magic happen. Special thanks to all who attended. I walked around after everyone left and saw creativity gone wild on the workstations. Many of you took my brief intro to the tools and really enjoyed playing with the possibilities.

Examples shown during the Workshop:
Introducing Operating Leverage (English) (Chinese) - multilingual
Introducing Operating Leverage (Comic Book version) - reuse of content for low bandwidth audiences

For anyone who missed the conference or are just interested in what I am talking about, here are links to the docs that accompanied the workshop.

Conference Materials:
Workbook and Job Aids

Celtx (script writing tool - download the desktop version for free)
Audacity (audio production tool - opensource)
Muvizu (lip synchronized, character animation tool - free watermark version)
VLC Video Player (video player and single frame capture tool - opensource)

I hope you enjoy using these tools for your own projects. There are other blog entries on this site displaying examples of other uses for these tools. Get creative, make a movie for yourself, with your kids, or for your organization. Most importantly, have fun!

- Ken