What is the best eLearning software?

The right answer is? The best software that allows you to deliver your learning objectives using the desired instructional strategy. However, that is not the answer I usually hear not the answer people usually want. Instead I hear Articulate, Captivate, Flash, Lectora, etc etc. The truth is that there is not one tool that does it all…well actually there is, its called programming but that is usually the least cost effective way to go so we do not do it. One of the big issues I am seeing in our field is that people are only familiar with a few tools and really believe that those few tools can do everything. The problem is that many of those tools are very limited. For instance, if an instructional designer cannot tell me why I would choose Flash over Articulate or vice versa, I would be concerned that they do not understand some of the basic authoring tools that are available because there are situations when I would choose one of those over another. They each have distinct advantages over one another.

Another big issue I see is that designers are many times playing the role of a developer so they can only use simple development tools because they are not programmers. So the training is limited to a drag and drop development tool. If you have an instructional design team, you need a developer. You need someone dedicated to development…otherwise you are a very small company and you are not going to be competitive with the big boys because they have developers that can develop full simulation environments. If I see a company/person saying they can develop effective training using X tool without seeing my needs, objectives, etc. then I get very concerned with quality and ability to deliver effective training. You choose your tool that best fits the design. You do not make your design fit a tool. A good instructional design company will be able to use any tool that fits your needs, whether it be simple like PPT or Articulate or advanced like Unity 3D game engine.

So what are the problems with all of this? The biggest in my opinion is boring training, training that is not effective, and/or instructional strategies that are limited by software. The two big issues I hear from executives are that training is not effective or its boring. And I believe poor use of technology is one of the causes.

Pixlr O Matic: Add instagram like effects to photos from your computer

Pixlr is a free photo editing website that I have been using for years to edit photos as its very similar to photoshop. I have been showing it to my classes and really like the tool. Now they have a program called Pixlr O Matic which allows you to create instagram like effects to photos from your home computer. They also have created an android and ios app that is very similar to instagram, better in my opinion. Here is a link to their website: http://pixlr.com/

Here is a video that demonstrates this tool:

What is Pinterest?

For those that do not know and for those that do, this video is great and I just had to post it. And I am doing a workshop on web 2.0 later this week and will show this:

It appears that ATT and Verizon are ripping (some of ) us off…

This is from a blog on CNET. This is something they have argued for years but now it seems like that tables need to be turned in favor of the customer given certain circumstances. Essentially what has happened is that carriers charge more for their cell plans so that customers can get a cheaper phone – so what happens when a customer buys a phone at full price or uses a phone they had previously? shouldnt they get a discounted plan?

“…regarding the price of your monthly service even though you have had to pay for a phone at full price.

When the FCC questioned wireless carriers in 2009 and 2010 about their early termination fees, which customers must pay if they terminate their contracts before the term is up, the wireless carriers argued the fee existed because it offset the cost of the phone during that contract period. They explained that a portion of the fee that customers pay each month for their service was going toward paying off the cost of the subsidy that the customer got when he bought a new phone on the network.

In other words, the $200 a customer pays to get the phone is only a fraction of the total cost of owning that device. The carrier picks up the other $400 or so on that device. And the carrier claims it recovers the rest of the cost over the life of the two-year contract.

But what happens when you buy the phone at full price? Or what about when your contract ends? Does the cost of your monthly service get reduced because you’ve finished paying off your device? The answer to this question under most carrier plans is no. (T-Mobile is the only major U.S. carrier that reduces your monthly service charge once your phone subsidy is paid off.)

I’d argue that if carriers are subsidizing phones and arguing that they must charge ETFs (early termination fees) to cover the cost of phones when customers cancel their service early, then they should reduce the cost of the service once the phone is paid off. And they should offer a discount on the service if you bring your own phone.” – Source

Are Alexa site statistics accurate and reliable?

No, in fact, they are a terrible indicator of how good or bad a sites traffic is. I would even go so far as to say they are made up (that how unreliable they are). Just yesterday I had someone tell me they saw my site stats on Alexa. I had to explain how those stats were not real and should be used for nothing…unless of course your goal is to have rank on Alexa. Most of us in the SEO world would laugh at these stats but there are those that are not familiar with the process so I figured I would explain. So here is why (and this is a direct quote from Alexa):

“The traffic data are based on the set of toolbars that use Alexa data, which may not be a representative sample of the global Internet population. To the extent that our sample of users differs from the set of all Internet users, our traffic estimates may over- or under-estimate the actual traffic to any particular site…Generally, traffic rankings of 100,000 and above should be regarded as not reliable. Conversely, the closer a site gets to #1, the more reliable its traffic ranking becomes.” Source

So what does that mean? It means that Alexa can only track websites data from people who are using the Alexa toolbar on their browser. Do you use the toolbar? I know I never have. You have to manually install it, it does not come with your browser and its just bloatware. Alexa reminds me of the app on facebook that tells me who has viewed my profile. That app can only track people who also have the app installed – making it useless because no one installs those apps just like no one installs the Alexa toolbar. So who does install the Alexa toolbar? Internet marketers, that’s who. They install it and then visit their sites many times from different ip addresses which then increases their rank. And in order to track mobile stats users again need to download/install the toolbar.

So is there a way to get accurate website data? Yes, but it involves having access to your own server and installing software on it. That way you are tracking data directly from your server, usually via CGI, not some toolbar that you hope others have on their web browser. One example is AWstats.

Try to a SEO experts… If your business is searching for a proven, boutique and specialist SMG Melbourne Agency small enough to care, and one that represents growth motivated small to medium businesses

Anyway, thats my rant on these types of stats, for more info visit:

Alexa

wikipedia on Alexa

Here is a test of Alexa vs real stats

An article about why these stats are useless

Spotify Review

Here are my thoughts on spotify….

What is spotify?

It is a music service that you can use on your computer, mobile phone, or tablet. There are two main features. One is a radio. The second is a playlist where you choose any song and then you can play that song. The service is free on your computer. The radio service is free on your phone/tablet but you need to pay $10 a month to have access to your playlist and offline listening.

Radio service thoughts.

The radio is fine, but it is just like Pandora. I think Pandora has the market cornered here so I could really care less for this service. If you are looking for an alternative to Pandora then this service is great I guess. And this service is free on all devices, but then again so is pandora.

Playlist service thoughts.

The playlist idea is pretty cool. I like that its free on my PC. I do not like that you have to pay for it on your phone/tablet though, even if you are using wifi. I figured out that if I just bought all the songs I like from like amazon or itunes, I would actually spend less than the $10 a month spotify fee and actually own the mp3s. So why pay the $10? Well I wont. Like myself, I would imagine that most people already have most of their favorite songs on their computer, so that 1 new song I like every few months is not worth paying the spotify fee for.

How do I think spotify could improve and move forward?

The only way spotify is going to survive is if they make that playlist feature free. I personally am probably only going to use spotify on my PC. For phone/tablet radio I already use Pandora. I would switch to spotify if it were free. Essentially spotify would make money from me if they had ads on their free playlist service. Instead I will hardly be using the service. There is just too much competition from similar playlist services like Google and Apple which dominate the mobile market for spotify unless their service becomes free.