Monthly Archives: August 2010

The 4 R’s of Brainstorming New Ideas

In his free eBook “Designing for the Web”, Mark Boulton suggests a 4R approach to brainstorming ideas for a project. While the eBook is geared toward Web Design, those working as Instructional Designers and educators can also benefit from these tips as creative professionals.

Here are the 4 R’s as presented by Mark.

Revolution is turning an idea on its head. Taking assumptions and reversing or removing them. E.g. A pub has four walls and a roof. What if it didn’t have walls, but still had a roof?

Re–express the idea in a different way or point of view. E.g. What if you were five years old and your parents were buying a booster seat for you. What makes a cool booster seat in your eyes?

Related Worlds:
Think of a related world and use ideas from that world. E.g. Cooking and Gardening. What elements of gardening could be used to sell more recipe books?

Random Links:
Forcing a connection with a random object. E.g. A social networking website and a cactus. Random links often generate ideas which are off brief, but that doesn’t matter. Sometimes, the most truly innovative ideas can come with random links. I’m sure Citroén designers were using Random Links when they decided to make the 2CV look like a snail.”

I would add yet two more R’s of my own:

Sometimes going back to an old concept, a note, a diagram or even just letting an idea sit for while and then reconnecting with it, exploring it further, can produce good results.

When an idea seems to be going south: stop devoting energy to it. Start again from a fresh, new perspective. Go work on another project (if you’re of the multitasking kind) and then come back to the initial point of this project: what is the problem I’m trying to solve?

The ebook can be accessed here:

Unsuck-It, a Glossary for Business Jargon

“We must leverage the power of crowdsourcing to create robust and engaging solutions that meet the needs of our clients as we work collaboratively with SMEs and stakeholders…”

This is not an unrealistic example of typical meeting conversations one can have in the business world…

Some meetings are just foreign language for many people…

When communication needs to be clear within a team but also in communicating ideas out of the team to other people involved in a project, Unsuck It comes to the rescue with a nice searchable glossary that finds good replacements and explanations for common overused jargons.

Next time a jargon pops up in your head as you are writing a document, make it an “action item” to avoid repetition and empty words by consulting resources like Unsuck It and a good ol’ dictionary…

Handylight Tethering iPhone App is Back

The Handylight app is available again.
Don’t get so excited: it is not THE Handylight (the original one had been yanked from the App Store a few days ago).
It still costs $0.99 bur the hidden tethering option doesn’t work. If you follow the instructions correctly you will, however, get a *useful* purple flashlight right on your iPhone! ;)

Is Apple not monitoring their store closely enough? Why do they block certain content but not apps that are clearly a scheme (in this case profiting from a previous popular app)?
Are they trying to teach people a lesson (thou shalt not tether unless we approve it)!?

Isolating eLearning

The term “social” has become quite popular amongst those involved in Web development, marketing, journalism, and many other fields. Education isn’t immune to that trend. “Social media” seems to now have claimed the title of overused term from “Web 2.0.”

However, these technologies that allow sharing of information, more importantly, coordination of efforts and co-authoring of knowledge, do in fact play an important role in society and Education.

Technologies like micro-blogging, wikis, blogs, social bookmarking, and many others are commonplace in any Educational Technology blog these days.

But why is it that corporations and institutions seem to to keep focusing mostly on the mass production of self-contained, self-paced, self-service learning experiences canned in Learning Management Systems (LMS) that only care about reporting page clicks and final scores in formats friendly to our famous Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM)?

Whenever social media is implemented in the workplace or at school, it seems more like an attempt to “do what everyone else is doing so we’re not behind” but everyone struggles to understand the real value of doing it. It’s almost like it social media is secondary to our traditional forms of learning support.

With the current state of eLearning, we are creating isolated and isolating, lonely, mechanical learning experiences and blaming it on “autonomy”, on “self-pacedness…”

The focus needs to be shifted to the value in creating networks of learners to support informal, life-long learning that takes place in “communities of practice” that offer real life learner-to-learner support and empathy. eLearning as it is now, “courses” encapsulated in Flash and HTML, needs to become the secondary learning experience… or at least be just a support knowledge repository, a place learners go to only to start understanding concepts before diving into discussions with their peers in their communities. In the least, we need to allow learners to go build discussions around the existing courses. Experiences similar to what technologies like VoiceThread allow us to.

The issue is, perhaps, that institutions don’t know how to track real learning. They know how to tally number of page clicks and quiz scores, but not life-long, real learning…

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