Category Archives: learning

Just Google It: How Google Has Changed Research for Grad Students [INFOGRAPHIC]

Google It

Cite this article:
Silva E (2014-01-29 09:56:24). Just Google It: How Google Has Changed Research for Grad Students [INFOGRAPHIC]. Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 17, 2014, from

Simplifying Complexity: What Learning Does NOT Look Like

Learning is a complex process.

It is a never-ending and evolving process, experimentation, classroom, peer-to-peer, on-the-job, formal curricula, tacit and informal experiences, reflection, failing foward, change management… the jargon, theories, buzzwords come and go… Learning IS complex. It IS a process, not a finite event.

Metaphor for Complexity - Author Unknown

Metaphor for Complexity – Author Unknown

The complexity above, however, is NOT what learning experiences (as designed by professional Instructional Designers) should look like. We have to make the complex simple, we have to make learning seamless, transparent to the learner… perhaps even something they don’t recognize at “learning” sometimes but that vcan help them accomplish real-world tasks in the context they live/work in…

What Learning professionals design should look like this:

Simple, Not Simplistic

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”  - Albert Einstein

Cite this article:
Silva E (2013-12-03 12:36:15). Simplifying Complexity: What Learning Does NOT Look Like. Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 17, 2014, from

Wanna be the Number One in Learning?

SuccessFactors’ Cloud Talent Success organization led by Jenny Dearborn has just been recognized as the #1 learning and development organization of 2013 by the Elearning! Media Group  in the Performance Excellence category.

Read the article here to find out more about what it takes to be amongst the top learning and development organizations in the world!

Also, congratulations to U.S. Defense Acquisition University for the #1 spot in the Collaboration Excellence award.

#1 baby!

#1 baby!

I am  proud to be part of this organization!

Top Learning Organization 2013 Meme

Cite this article:
Silva E (2013-08-27 12:37:37). Wanna be the Number One in Learning?. Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 17, 2014, from

What’s with the (Virtual Class)Room Setup?

Dr. Jenny Dearborn, the CLO at SuccessFactors, an SAP company, recently posted her point of view on an often neglected aspect of instructor-led training: the room arrangement. After all, the environment has a big part to play in how people learn in the classroom.

Now, how about virtual instructor-led training or even completely self-paced eLearning experiences?

How do you design learning from an environment perspective for virtual classrooms or eLearning? When you can’t physically arrange chairs, place computer monitors, mobile devices in strategic places to foster discovery and conversations, what do YOU do as an instructional designer and instructor?

Please comment below!


Cite this article:
Silva E (2013-06-21 09:52:05). What's with the (Virtual Class)Room Setup?. Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 17, 2014, from

Optimizing Content for Mobile Devices – Or Why Can’t My Learner Access This Content Anywhere?

The question in the title of this post should guide most (if not all) decisions we make when authoring content for our audiences, this doesn’t just apply to Education, but is extremely important as the technological frameworks that permeate it are constantly evolving. In the fields of Marketing and Entertainment, it’s constantly stressed as an emerging trend that a user can start accessing content (e.g. a movie) on a SmartTV and continue where s/he left off on a mobile device, without breaking the flow of the experience.

The same should be true for learning experiences we design. We, designers and developers of learning experiences, should always ask ourselves “why shouldn’t my learner be able to start experiencing this content on one device and continue where s/he left off on another device?”

A couple of years ago, when HTML5 and other technologies offered alternative ways to provide rich content to audiences that were used to the omnipresent Flash technology were a little cumbersome to learn and glitchy to play with. Now, there is n lack of “mobile-friendly-content-spitting” authoring tools that are as friendly as those that previously authored Flash-only content.

Captivate 6+, Articulate Storyline, Articulate Studio ’13 (just to mention the most well-known ones) all offer ways to convert old content and create new content in mobile-friendly frameworks. No excuses. We should at least “investigate” the possibility of offering seamless and/or second screen experiences to our learners, yesterday.

It’s not a choice.

I’m not discussing the creation of native apps and content that take advantage of mobile-platforms unique features like location-awareness, gyroscopes, etc. Nothing ground-breaking and uncomfortable. That’s topic for another discussion. I’m simply emphasizing the need to offer what you currently have restricted to a “desktop experience” in ways that are accessible from any* platform.

Free your learner. Now…

Do you face any challenges when trying to seamlessly offer content anytime, anywhere?


* “any” is a dangerous word, perhaps better replaced by “most widespread”


A Few Infographics on “Mobile Learning”

Source: via Enzo on Pinterest

Source: via Enzo on Pinterest

Value of Humor And Play – Max Levin

Need I say more about how important it is to bring humor and play into Education?

“If play were not pleasurable,
kíttens would never chase each other’s tails, and so would lack
practice in the motor skills needed for survival. If there were no
pleasure in the appreciation of the absurd, if there were no fun
in playing with ideas, putting them together in various combinations and seeing what makes sense or nonsense—in brief, if there were not such a thing as humor—children would lack
practice in the art of thinking, the most complex and most
powerful survival tool of all.” – Max Levin

Thank you for a great career

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the United States. It seems all the most appropriate that I acknowledge those that kick-started my career in Instructional Design (in corporate America).

Soon after moving to the US (2006 – after a month working at Chick-Fil-A, which was my pleasure), I met Steve Brandau and Larry Howick who were marketing a revolutionary Technology-Assisted Language Learning program (appropriately named TALL) especially in the APAC market. My initial task was to write up a report (after a lot of research) on how their recently released program compared to others in the market (such as that one named after the famous tablet). It didn’t take long for them to recognize (some sort of) potential in me and I was hired as a trainer and instructional designer for their company. I got to design. develop, deliver training around the world. An amazing experience. Coming from a poor family in Brazil, I never thought I’d see Hawaii or climb the Great Wall of China, which I only saw on my 14-inch screen TV growing up.

Then came the ASTD conference in Atlanta in the summer of 2007. Karla Brandau, Steve’s wife, couldn’t attend the last day. I borrowed her badge then (not sure it was against the rules). In any case, I only had time to attend one last session that day: Charles Beckham, Karie Willyerd, and Kelly Palmer from Sun Microsystems (which I had heard of because of Java but didn’t know how big it was, coming from Brazil). Their session was titled “The Power of The People: Learning Revolution 2.0“, and in it, they described the paradigm shift social media and collective intelligence brought to the Web in the mid-2000s.

If you don’t believe in God, you have to at least admit that something special, a miracle, happened that day as the four of us met. I think God had a purpose for that day. I’m thankful for having met these human beings.

I came to the event with no intentions (sorry guys: not knowing who you were then – having come late, as a typical Brazilian, to the session, I missed the intro), enjoyed seeing them talk about my passion (social media – Charles was demoing Ning then)… I’ll never forget coming up to them and telling them about a lot of other websites I came to use throughout the years and how useful they could be for learning…

Then, a couple of weeks later, I came across a blog post by Charles… I was flattered by the title and its contents: “A Brazilian’s Take on Web 2.0“. I didn’t consider that Charles would remember me, let alone the list I gave him at the end of the session.

Then, months later, a call from Brandon Carson… he wanted me to fly into Denver, CO for an interview. That was around January of 2008 or so. MONTHS later, Charles, Karie, and Kelly had remembered me and told Brandon, the hiring manager (who then became my mentor) to interview me.

The story goes on. But to summarize it, in a few words: I feel so blessed to have met you all, worked with you over these years, having been giving a chance to further my career. You inspire me to give back to the Learning community and to the world in ways that I’ve been embraced by you.

… you gave me a chance to have the BEST JOB I’ve ever had…


Karie Willyerd Charles Beckham Kelly Palmer Brandon Carson


Happy Thanksgiving!


Getting Creative with Videos and Presentations for Learning (birthday parties too)

Death by PowerPoint is a myth. The true fatal diagnosis to millions of audience members that die daily in seats at training events, classrooms, conferences, and webinars world wide is the epidemic of poor design boredom.

With a little bit of creativity and just the right tool (and that includes PowerPoint), you can design simple yet effective visual presentations for concepts that are hard to visualize, or that you’d simply like to make more engaging, fun, eye-catching.

Here are a few tools I’ve used in the past that let you create live presentations and/or videos that won’t kill your audience and will keep their attention for longer than 5 seconds… oh, but again, the best tool is a creative brain that is not afraid to experiment, have fun, make mistakes… as much as we designers like to say humor isn’t universal, it is. Why not have fun and entertain your audience while they learn. Airlines have caught up to that idea


Sparkol / Video Scribe – While Sparkol is a presentation tool while Video Scribe is an animated, well, video scribing tool. I’ve always enjoyed seeing those videos that have artists draw on the screen concepts that are being explained in real-time, as the narrative progresses. This is exactly what Video Scribe lets you achieve without having to draw a single image. It recognizes lines in vector graphics (readily and freely available on websites like OpenClipart) to generate an illusion of a hand drawing the images progressively on the screen. Videos can be exported into various formats available (including direct publication to Youtube).

Prezi – Prezi has been around for a while. It allows you to create zoom in/zoom out presentations and videos on what they call an infinite canvas. Sequences created in Prezi don’t necessarily have to follow the linear nature of most PowerPoint presentations, and can be quite stunning. Prezi also lets you collaborate with your teammates in real time.

Spicynodes – This tool allows you to create non-linear and interactive mindmap presentations that can better represent your thought process or sequence.

Cite this article:
Silva E (2012-11-14 16:30:37). Getting Creative with Videos and Presentations for Learning (birthday parties too). Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 17, 2014, from

Learn Anything in Real Courses – For Free Or For a Fee

I’m always looking at/for new ways to learn things or for a flexible way to learn things my way. One thing I am always looking out for is informal learning opportunities, be it in the form of a Youtube video, a Pin on Pinterest, talking to a friend on Facebook/Twitter/Linkedin (the big 3), finding a useful document on, the list goes on.

Also very interesting, however, is the rise of curated and organized “class” experiences on the Web that are open to anyone (it seems some of my not-so-crazy predictions for 2012 were correct after all). You may know from this post that I have a bit of a disappointed attitude (to put it politely) with universities claiming they have “open content” out there for anyone to take, when all they do is put up a lecture in formats like podcast, PowerPoint files or videos. Top-down approach at its best with no participation. It’s a step in the right direction but not the “best” way (disclaimer: what’s “best” for me might not be “best” for you, take this comment with a grain or two of salt).

That’s why I get really excited when I see opportunities to learn “with/from” others and share what I know as well in “class” experiences on the Web.

I recently took a Gamification course on Coursera, delivered by Prof. Werbach from the University of Pennsylvania. The class was setup as a series of short asynchronous video lectures, interactive quizzes, and peer-reviewed written assignments. A university-level course with a lot of interaction with peers and the professor, open, free of charge.

There are many opportunities for professional development out there these days, and not all of them mean “I’m sitting alone at home watching a boring lecture on Youtube” (no offense – those have their place too).

As forward thinking individuals and companies, let’s take advantage of these opportunities and learn, spread knowledge. Let’s DELIVER classes and share with the world what we know (a call for myself too). Let’s support employee professional development by encouraging our employees to take full advantage of learning opportunities online and offline.

Recently, Laura, a colleague put it in her professional development plan to take a course to improve specific skills. The company fully supported her in doing so. This is the type of forward thinking organizations need to have nowadays, in the 2020 Workplace!

Here are a few of the 1000s of places where you can learn something in a structured course, online, for a fee or for free… openly. Go learn something new today!

Coursera: Instructor-led and peer-reviewed University courses available for free, providing certificates of completion! Watch videos, participate in discussions, submit written assignments, respond to quizzes. According to the Coursera team: “We hope to give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available only to a select few. We want to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.”

Udemy: Curated and instructor-led courses online. Some are free others are not (but well worth paying for)!

General Assembly : “A global network of campuses for individuals seeking opportunity and education in technology, business, and design.”

Class Central: A curated list of several free online courses offered by universities on various platforms.

Udacity: Video lectures for free accompanied by problems/questions and answers, and exams. Udacity also offers certificates of completion!

SkillShare: A catalog of hybrid and local classes offered by experienced instructors.

CodeCademy: A gamified and fun way to learn code and programming with friends online!


More similar sites here. Explore, learn, teach, have fun!

Skype in the Classroom

Skype has changed the way I communicate with my family (who lives in Brazil). When I was dating my wife long-distance, in between international trips to see each other, we communicated via instant messaging (Yahoo! Messenger), email, and expensive phone cards. That was mid-2000s, video chat wasn’t available, let alone video chat via mobile devices! Fast forward to 2010, and now Skype offers video calls on the iPhone: and since I’ve been living in the U.S. for years, I can not only talk to my family in Brazil for free but also show them where I live!

Now Skype aims at changing the way the classroom sees the world and interacts with it too.

Skype in the Classroom is a project that wants to connect teachers and students with professionals out there for live video conferencing sessions. It provides an online community that allows teachers to share projects and find people that want to contribute to them. Skype has also partnered with organizations to provide expertise, be it in the form of a quick Q&A with an expert at a certain field, tagging along a professional doing their job, or having an author perform a book reading for students.

Skype in the Classroom also has a Resources section where teachers can share materials and articles to support lessons in a variety of topics. Content, can be searched and filtered by Age Group, Language, Country, and  Category.

Projects can be searched and filtered by age group, language, type of expertise, and category.

This is a great idea to expand the students’ world beyond the walls of the classroom by using a free tool!

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