CS Odessa to Host Free ConceptDraw Office Webinar

CS Odessa will be holding a seminar on ConceptDraw Office on March 4th, 2010 at 10 am PST. The primary focus will be ConceptDraw MINDMAP, but also addressed is how ConceptDraw Office works together in an integrated manner.

Getting a Visual Overview with Wordle

Every once in awhile I like to use Wordle to get an overview of what I have been writing about on my blog. Wordle creates a great visual poster and lets me instantly see what topics I have covered in the past couple of months. So here it is!

Doing a Quick PaperShow Webinar

With the right tools it is easy to quickly do an impromptu webinar with good results. Today I had a chance to do a screensharing session with my friend and colleague Karen Janowski showing her the capabilities of PaperShow. For those of us in the field of assistive technology we are always looking for new tools that can be used to support students in the classroom. For those students who have in their Individualized Education Program that they are to be provided by their teachers with classroom notes, PaperShow can be a god send. In today's classrooms, teachers generally have access to a computer and data projector and with the addition of PaperShow they can simply write their notes on the PaperShow Flipchart paper for all of the students to see. Just plug in the PaperShow USB key and you are ready to get started- you see no software installation is needed, everything runs off the USB key. When they are done with the class they can save the notes as a PDF file and email it to the students or post it to the schools web site for easy retrieval. Now back to the impromptu screen sharing session.

Karen and I have been using Skype for some time and we regularly talk with each other about assistive technology and whats new. Today we started chatting and then called each other to talk about PaperShow. Using Glance for the screen sharing I started a session and I sent Karen a link in Skype that she could click on. Within seconds we were up and running. Glance still remains one of the easiest screen sharing tools out there. With a simple click you are up an running in no time. One last detail- I wanted to to be able to show Karen some of the controls on the PaperShow Flipchart paper and so I connected the iPevo Point 2 View camera so that I could show her how I was using the PaperShow pen and paper. With all my technology humming, I was able to show Karen both my computer screen and what I was writing as if she was looking over my shoulder. Karen was intrigued with the possibilities as I am with how we can support students in the mainstream that may need to have notes supplied by the teacher. Using PaperShow in the classroom is definitely the way to go as an accommodation for students who need to have notes provided to them.

Context Organizer is now Integrated with Comapping

Ok I will admit it- when I was in high school I would occasionally use CliffNotes to get some of my reading assignments done. I'm sure each and everyone of you has occasionally cut some corners in order to get your work done and be able to carry your load. But why did I choose to use the CliffNotes? CliffNotes, while certainly not as good as reading the whole book, was great for summarizing the material and giving me a good handle on the text even though I didn't read every single word. In the same vein, Context Organizer is a similar tool- it lets me summarize URL's, Word and PDF files and gives me the gist of the information that I am interested in.

Context Organizer is fast and efficient and allows me to determine the context of the information and provides me with keyword phrases. I have been working closely with Henry for the past couple of months as I watched our team integrate Context Organizer with Comapping. This venture was especially exciting in that Henry and his team were able to run the Context Organizer engine from the cloud. By setting up Context Organizer in the cloud we could now send information directly to Comapping and watch as it generated a map from the information. In this instance, Context Organizer can instantly create a map from URL's, Word, and PDF files attached to a branch. I guess the real "aha" moment is the creation of a knowledge map with a couple of clicks of the mouse. So you can go from a blank screen to an knowledge map within seconds. You will find it very easy to use Contexct Organizer with Comapping and if you like you can sign up for a trial of Comapping and give Context Organizer a try-you will be glad you did. The example below was created using Comapping and Context Organizer.

So when you need to get to the heart of the matter and you don't have time to read every word take a look at the combination of Comapping and Context Organizer a real dynamic duo!

Back from MacWorld 2010

Well I made it back from MacWorld 2010 where we had a great time launching PaperShow for the Mac. All of us from PaperShow were really excited to share this new and innovative application and in the process we won the MacWorld Best of Show Award. To say the least our booth was packed with interested Mac users who wanted to get a first look at PaperShow, a very unique presentation tool. PaperShow allows anyone with a Mac and a projector to come into a classroom or training room and have access to a digital whiteboard that they can write on using the PaperShow flipchart paper. Just write your ideas down using the digital pen and everything that you write in real time is seen on your computer screen. After you are done with your session you can email your notes to your colleagues in a PDF or PPT format. Think of all the possibilities with this tool, especially if you are involved in teaching , training or doing webinars. If you need a digital whiteboard when you are doing webinars then this is the perfect tool for sharing your notes.

If you tend to use PowerPoint or Keynote to craft your presentations then you can easily import your slides into the PaperShow application, print them out on a color inkjet or laser printer onto the 8 1/2 x 11 PaperShow paper and then annotate right on top of them when you are presenting. Again when your presentation is done you can save it as a PDF or PPT and email to your participants. So if you haven't taken a look at PaperShow please take the time to do so-especially if you are looking for a unique presentation tool that you can add to your bag of tricks.

Catch me live here being interviewed at the PaperShow Booth

Canson to Launch PaperShow for Mac at MacWorld 2010

For the past year I have been using PaperShow extensively when I teach, do presentations, and for webinars. It has been a really indispensable tool and I carry PaperShow in my bag wherever I go. Because of PaperShow's ease of use and portability I can walk into any room and within seconds have a digital flipchart ready to go, to share and capture ideas. I have written about my experiences with PaperShow on this blog for the past year and from day one have asked Canson "when will we see PaperShow for the Mac?" Well that day is finally coming and I am happy to share with you that Canson will launch PaperShow for Mac this week at the MacWorld 2010 Conference to be held in San Francisco.

I have worked closely with Canson during this past year and I will be going to MacWorld 2010 to help them launch their new product. I have been working with PaperShow for Mac for the past couple of weeks and in some ways it is even easier to use than the Windows version. With all of the functionality of the Windows version and the ease of use of the Mac this is a real winner. So if you plan on attending MacWorld 2010, stop by the PaperShow Booth in the Exhibitor Hall-Booth 746 and say hello. I will also be doing a presentation on Friday February 12th, a Product Spotlight Session: Make Your Presentations Come to Life with PAPERSHOW for the Mac from 1:30 PM - 2:00 PM. So stop by the booth or come and learn more about PaperShow for the Mac at my presentation.

An Interview with Audrey Dalton from CodeBaby Part 2

Part 2 of Interview with Audrey Dalton

BSF: Can you share some examples for us as to how eLearning Designers are taking advantage of CodeBaby for their services or products?


We offer a very generous support policy for 18% of your final single license price.
✓ 1 year of free updates including major version changes
✓ Priority phone and email support + 12 hours of application assistance on customer projects

Lots of designers take advantage of custom services through clothing changes, character changes, and even completely new characters. We have clients that ask for doctors, nurses, specific uniforms, hats, etc.

Additionally, in the very near future, we're gearing up to provide a more extensive lineup of training services, from self-service tutorials to webinars to onsite training. We currently provide this training, but we're looking forward to extending the offerings.

And at this point, since we're a very personalized organization that's still growing, we offer a very human connection when you're dealing with us. We provide unique solutions for each client.

Telstra, the largest internet provider, trains 40,000 employees on the best practices of social media engagement featuring character "Lily". They do this by integrating Lily into an interactive flash comic book.

The Medical School at McMaster University raised public awareness of asthma symptoms on behalf of the Asthma Society of Canada, in honor of World Asthma Day. They publicly launched the module “Taking Control of Your Asthma” on May 9, 2009.

ASTD Best Winner, global accounting firm, Grant Thornton, uses CodeBaby characters in multiple languages across the globe this is due to the language independent lip synching. Learners achieved an average of a 11% higher score than the national average for their most recent tax training.

The University of Illinois uses a specific mad scientist custom characters in its science eLearning modules.

I could go on, but the list is extensive.

BSF: What eLearning applications can you integrate CodeBaby into?

AD: Anything that accepts a swf, avi or flv file, for example Articulate, Captivate, PowerPoint, Lectora, Rapid Intake, and, etc. I'm not recommending specific tools, but the point is that this works with most everything. The only restriction we have is that you are using the CodeBaby characters for internal learning uses and you're not trying to sell eLearning that includes the CodeBaby character, unless you have a specific agreement with us.

BSF: What is the learning curve for integrating CodeBaby into your current projects?

AD: Extremely fast. If you're an eLearning developer, with one or two tutorials and perhaps a webinar, you'll be able to create a two character interaction almost immediately. I'm fairly tech savvy but nowhere near the skill level of some of our eLearning partners, and I can now create custom animated one character interaction, and I learned that in one day. We have one client, Wendy Phillips with Big Pond in Australia, that learned the program and developed an award-winning flash comic book eLearning program on employee orientation all in a matter of two weeks - from start to finish.

BSF: Could you walk us briefly through the steps to develop an eLearning solution using the CodeBay Production Studio?

AD: Yes, first things first. After you decide to use characters to simulate role plays or specific people, define that character's persona. Run a contest to name and describe your persona and get people familiar with your chosen character. Second, write dialogue script and scene instructions. How will the character walk in? What will they say? What's the location/background? You're creating a rich story before opening Studio. This way, you have outlined your props and backgrounds, character personalities and scene instructions.

Then for a very straightforward interaction, you drag and drop selected character. Drag and drop selected background (there's another step if you use your own or when exporting, it can be a transparent export which then will overlay any background in your learning output).
Import audio and allow the default for auto animation and lip syncing. Hit play and adjust gestures as necessary by dropping and dragging any number of the 400 animations. Export as flv or swf, and you're done with your first animation! As time goes on, you'll learn to use the camera changes, tweening and multiple scene and stage development.

BSF: What services does CodeBaby offer for those professionals who may be interestested in out sourcing the development?

AD: If the client provides the storyboard, we'll develop the animation. They provide their own audio or we'll source professional voice talent for them. We also create props, minor to major modifications such as glasses, aging, new clothes all the way to face wraps which means creating a character likeness of a real person, and we also develop new characters based on the client's developed persona.

BSF: What features are current users of CodeBay Production Studio asking for at this point in time?

These features will eventually be available in upcoming new versions. The most asked for new features are more character with different body sizes and additional gestures that allow for more character movement. I won't go into detail on these yet, but with our new releases, we will be satisfying these requests.

BSF: In closing- please summarize for us why eLearning Specialists should consider using CodeBaby for their projects?

AD: If you want to create amazing learning that truly helps learners retain information while enjoying the development process as you create engaging scenes and interactions, CodeBaby is the solution. Contact us for a trial to experience this for yourself!

An Interview with Audrey Dalton from CodeBaby Part 1

I had the pleasure of meeting Audrey Dalton, Product Marketing Director at CodeBaby during the DevLearn 09 Conference and had a chance to sit down and talk to her about her role and the CodeBaby platform for eLearning.

BSF: Hello Audrey, can you share with us your position and tell us a little background information about CodeBaby and the company?

AD: Responsible for all product marketing functions for the eLearning product line: Product Release Planning and Marketing, Demand generation, MarCom, Tradeshow & Event Planning, Online Community Relations, Curriculum Design, and Corporate Marketing Activities. Essentially, I'm the jack of all trades for the eLearning product marketing line and additionally have oversight for the education sector. Since we're a growing company, I'm taking on a multitude of roles at this time. Most importantly, I enjoy working with clients, our eLearning developer partners and reseller in Australia, Symmetree, to showcase and promote new uses and ideas for using CodeBaby characters in eLearning programs. In this role, I leverage my prior eLearning project management experience to facilitate their success stories and understand the customer perspective when marketing and gathering research for future product releases.

CodeBaby's history is quite interesting. CodeBaby began as a incubation project within Bioware, a Canadian company based in Edmonton, Alberta. In creating memorable 3D characters for their story-driven games, Bioware founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk noticed that those interactive characters created a powerful digital engagement and emotional response with players. In 2001, CodeBaby officially spun off as a completely separate entity. Our web product consists of digital character-driven "Conversations" that are directed at engaging customers, while driving specific objectives such as lead capture, click-to-buy, up/cross-sell, and customer self service. This product is sold on a SaaS / monthly subscription model, and integrates with a customer's site via a single line of code.

The product that I'm responsible for is the eLearning product - CodeBaby Production Studio.
CodeBaby makes the creation of animated, 3D digital characters accessible to a variety of companies who want to make their training content come to life. CodeBaby Production Studio is a timeline-based, drag-and-drop production environment that puts the capabilities of a highly skilled, 3D artist in the hands of a eLearning/training content developer. Studio comes with a library of 20+ standard characters, and 400+ animation sequences. Lip synch to recorded audio files is driven programmatically by the software, condensing hundreds of hours of animation work into only about an hour per minute of finished content.

BSF: With the shift to eLearning happening in all kinds of markets how does CodeBaby fit into this move to online learning?

AD: Good question, CodeBaby Production Studio is a natural fit for online learning, informal learning, and easily exports into any cloud-based product. Since Production Studio exports your CodeBaby scenes as swf, flv and avi files, these can be used in virtually any learning delivery. If you want the CodeBaby character to introduce classroom instruction delivered from your cloud-based presentation tool, that's easily done. If you want to create up to the minute communication announcements for your company or school, just export the CodeBaby as a swf and export to your learning portal. If you want to create more complex scenario based scenes and export into a traditional rapid eLearning or authoring tool, it's perfectly suited. As long as the medium has to do with learning, and it's for internal use, CodeBaby interactive characters are a highly effective addition to any learning program.

BSF: What do you see are the benefits of developers using CodeBaby for their eLearning projects?

AD: Are you speaking from a technical aspect or instructional design aspect? If from a technical aspect, Studio is very rich in development possibilities. For a creative, experienced developer, they'll truly enjoy playing with the 400 animations and 24 stock characters, ability to create multiple scenes and stages and the capability of producing bulk renders and exports. We have developer options to create new outfits for the characters if they use graphics programs like Maya or 3ds Max. Just the other day, one of our eLearning partners said that they've explored the program so much and have extensively studied and utilized the gestures and animations that they are now incorporating neurolinguistic programming theory into the movements in order to enhance the learning transmission. Additionally, he said that he's really looking forward to the additional animations that will available in upcoming versions.

From an instructional design perspective, we have found from our own research, from customer experience, and from Byron Reeves at Stanford from his paper the "The Benefits of Interactive Online Characters", that character interfaces bring social intelligence to online interactions. Social intelligence determines engagement, attention in learning, and persistence in relationships. Compelling social interactions are as important in online transactions as they are to teachers in real life. Bottom line, socially intelligent, interactive characters foster learning and adoption of new information and behavioral skills. We consistently hear from customers that performance improved, attention increased and they saved money when comparing online instruction with CodeBaby characters to instructor-led training or using video production. Essentially, there are no limits with how CodeBaby characters are used: as peer instructors, experts, multiple character role plays in which students learn in a non-threatening environment, in immersive simulations, sales training, customer service training, organizational change, employee orientation, best practices, compliance training, etc.

To be continued.....