No it is not online.
No it is not being done in virtual reality or augmented reality.
The Online Learning Conference is a conference for those of us who build, design, instruct, and assess learning and training via online tools.
This is my 4th time attending. Third as a presenter. This year, I am presenting twice. First on Augmented Reality in delivering just-in-time training. Second on using Adobe’s Character Animator to deliver live training and/or recorded self paced training using an animated cartoon!
The first presentation is tomorrow, Tuesday, 9:30a. The session is being co-presented with a team out of Hungary who is also exploring the power and possibilities of augmented reality (AR) in providing training and learning content. My portion revolves around the content I have presented at the Realities360 conference and the Training Conference earlier this year about the potential use of AR safety glasses to provide just-in-time training and content to manufacturing workers. Much like what was been discussed in the Wired Magazine article regarding the pivot of Google and their Glass wearable. My case study is based on work being done at Plex Systems and some of their manufacturing customers.
My second presentation is on Wednesday. It is a two and half hour session because it is a “hands-on” workshop. Originally, this workshop was to be on building an app. I have facilitated this session about 5 times for the Training Magazine and their conferences. They asked me to run it once more. I relented and said ok, even though I was thinking the topic had reached its saturation point even though the sessions do fill up every time. Then a few weeks back, as I started to review my presentation for any updates, I discovered some massively impactful news – Microsoft was sunsetting the program!
To teach the attendees on how to develop an app during a two to three hour session I use a program called Windows App Studio. The web based program was fairly simple and straightforward means of creating a Windows based app. Granted, Windows apps are far from the most desired apps around. Nonetheless, it still taught someone how an app could be made and kept true to the promise made in the session title: “Have an app ready to publish by the end of this session.” But with Microsoft discontinuing the program, I had to scramble for another presentation topic and quick!
I floated a few ideas with the conference organizers. We needed something that would not conflict or duplicate sessions are ready scheduled for the conference. That eliminated my desire to facilitate my really fun Project Management Awareness Fail to Succeed session. I always have so much fun hosting that session. But alas, there was already another project management session on project charters already scheduled.
The new topic also had to be hands on. After all, that is the name of the session blocks. That eliminated any topic that I could essentially just speak about. The topic had to be something the attendees could do AND fill up close to 2.5 hours! That limited things. If I was going to do anything with computers, I had to use a free program or at least one that can be trialed. It had to be cross platform. It had to have a learning curve that was not overwhelming. And of course, it had to be something of use and interest to learning and development professionals.
I offered the tips and tricks of Camtasia – a video editing program widely used by learning and development teams. There was no other session on the tool I also offered. I also suggested the use of Sway to create presentations and online material. Both would be useful for L & D professionals, but I was not exactly sure if I would be able to fill 2-3 hours on the topics.
In the end, we settled on Character Animator from Adobe. This is an animation tool that allows you to use your webcam and microphone to animate an Illustrator or Photoshop image in real time. I would show you a quick demo below of how I have used it, but I have not paid for the full version of Word Press and it denied me the ability to share. I will upload it to YouTube and link or embed it later.
Anyway, the Character Animator is a really cool tool that allows creators to animate without having to be full time cartoonists. For trainers, we can use this when we are presenting and don’t want our own faces to be the on screen visuals. Many of us are delivering online training from homes or offices that do not have expensive setups rigged with the latest green screens and lighting. Instead of dealing with all that hassle and expense, we could have a character do our presenting. Almost like an avatar rather that a human video feed.
Beyond the live feed presenting, Character Animator also enables us trainers to insert characters that match a motif or brand or mascot into pre-recorded online training content. For instance, if my company The Crowd Training had a client requesting sexual harassment training, we could offer them an online self paced elearning course that featured an instructor or guide that fit the company’s image and/or was purposely nondenominational or fitting any particular category. We could have an on screen presenter that was of no set ethnicity or not even human at all. That would remove the fear of featuring certain situations that might cause unease or inadvertent discrimination. Not to mention, many people prefer to see fun relatable characters over a disconnected human.
Looking forward to running these sessions. Shall post again later this week to let you know how they went. Until then, I am going to enjoy some of New Orleans and the 90 degree heat and humidity! Ok, maybe not so much the latter.