Absorb LMS Blog Digest: June 2012

My June 2012 posts on the Absorb LMS Blog:

We Have Art! (And it Isn’t `Dogs Playing Poker’)
You know you’ve settled into a new home when art starts appearing on the walls. The presence of art indicates that other parts of the move, like getting lights-electricity-doors-network-a kitchen-boardrooms-etc. are likely resolved: More >

In Praise of Beautiful Work Environments
My youngest daughter’s bedroom looks like a war zone. She’s presently in her final exam week in high school and so her floor is covered in papers, clothes, dishes, and detritus—hopefully inorganic—that I can’t identify. More >

A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Learning Management System (Part 8)
STEP 8: Create Enrollment Rules or Course Assignments
When dot coms start clashing with dot nets (ok, you’re on to me. I’m not a programmer), Absorb LMS team members regroup and recharge by blowing virtual things up in the new Blatant Media games room. More >

A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Learning Management System (Part 9)
STEP 9: Add Learners
In some systems, your LMS will be “live” as soon learners are added to the system. Learners will be automatically informed of their login information as soon as their learner accounts are created: More >

A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Learning Management System (Part 10)
STEP 10: Create Reports
Congratulations! We’re at the last step of the process. The reason we’ve left the this step to the end is that it’s easier to create the reports you need when you have actual activity data in the system. So, you could potentially take a break after adding learners to the system, allowing them time to interact with the content. More >


Absorb LMS Blog Digest: May 2012

My May 2012 posts on the Absorb LMS Blog:

A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Learning Management System (Part 2)
STEP 2: Perform a Content Inventory Audit
One of the greatest strengths of a LMS is that it acts as a central repository for much of the formal content you’ll make available to learners. This content can be in many formats to support different learning modalities, including: More >

A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Learning Management System (Part 3)
STEP 3: Establish Who Needs What Content
It may have seemed like a pain to create your content inventory audit, especially if you have a large amount of content. You’ll now, however, begin to reap the benefits of the work you’ve done. It’s time to connect the learners with the content. More >

Where We’ll Be if Aliens or Zombies Attack
When dot coms start clashing with dot nets (ok, you’re on to me. I’m not a programmer), Absorb LMS team members regroup and recharge by blowing virtual things up in the new Blatant Media games room. More >

A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Learning Management System (Part 4)
STEP 4: Define Administrative Roles and Create Admin Accounts
Chances are you won’t be alone logging into the administrative control panel of your LMS. Others may require access as well. These people might include: More >

A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Learning Management System (Part 5)
STEP 5: Create Learner Groups and Placeholders for Identifiers
The day you tackle this step, you’ll be going home from work feeling smug and productive. Even if you have a large number of user groups, creating departments or groups for them in your LMS should be fairly fast and straightforward. More >

At Last, a “Blatant Media” Google Alert Worth Reading
Most of the Google Alerts I receive for the words “Blatant Media” are for Blog posts by enraged political activists who feel that there’s a conspiracy by the media to defame their preferred candidate. These posts can be entertaining at first (lots of exclamation points) but after a while, they become repetitive and predictable. More >

A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Learning Management System (Part 6)
STEP 6: Import, Configure, and Test Content
If you have a large amount of content, this will be the most time-consuming part of your new LMS implementation. More >

What’s the Kardashian Rating of Your Learning Content?
A few months ago, I wrote a blog post titled “`No Pain, No Gain’ Belongs in the Gym, Not in Learning and Development Departments.” This has become one of our most popular posts. More >

A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Learning Management System (Part 7)
STEP 7: Create Curricula/Learning Paths
If you’re only making individual courses available to learners, then you’ll be able to skip this step altogether. If, on the other hand, you plan to make curricula/learning paths available, you’ll need to create those course groupings. More >


Absorb LMS Blog Digest: April 2012

My April 2012 posts on the Absorb LMS Blog:

How to Name a Course to Encourage Enrollment

You may create the best, most engaging content in the world. Unfortunately, if you name the course something like “Establishing Guidelines and Policies for Inter-Departmental Budgetary Reporting,” you’ll have created the courseware equivalent of the kid we knew at school who ate lunch alone. More >

Regarding the `LMS is Here to Stay’ Versus the `LMS Will Go Away’ Debate

Last week, Tony Bates wrote a Blog post titled “Why learning management systems are not going away.” He cited the following reasons for his conviction that LMS are likely here to stay. More >

Check Out Our New Home!

It’s been more than a month since we moved into our new bigger offices in the trendy Inglewood area of Calgary.

Before you head off to check out our new location on Google Maps, let us assure you that our developers aren’t currently attempting to code new Absorb LMS features outdoors in a construction pit. Google is long overdue to revisit our neighbourhood and include photos or our new home, the fabulous $80-million, LEED-Certified, Atlantic Avenue Art Block. More >

Absorb LMS Blog Digest: March 2012

My March 2012 posts on the Absorb LMS Blog:

Video: How Jennifer Automates the Management of an Extended Enterprise Learning Initiative

If you’re a regular reader of this Blog, you’ve read about how learning management systems can be configured to automate many of the activities required to manage a learning and development initiative. You may have read this, but you may not have SEEN it. ;-) So here’s a short video showing how this is done within Absorb LMSMore >

A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Learning Management System (Part 1)

A new learning management system (LMS) is like a blank canvas. You can proceed with setting the system up two ways: More >

How to Provide Learning to People Outside Your Organization

Increasingly, organizations are expanding their internal learning programs to now include partners, suppliers, contractors, association members, and customers, among others. We’ve just written a case study describing one such scenario. More >

“Can’t We Just Manage Learning Using Email and a Survey Tool?”

My home is filled—evidently—with a visual history of using the wrong tool for the job. Unable to find nails, artwork has been hung with screws that were hammered into walls. Once the frame has crashed to the ground, I’ve filled the hole with toothpaste for lack of having drywall filler. Invariably, these workarounds have eventually caused greater problems and expenses. I now believe in using the right tool for the job. More >


Absorb LMS Blog Digest: February 2012

My February 2012 posts on the Absorb LMS Blog:

What Do Learners Really Think of Their Learning Environments?

Luana Vargas, Educational Development Manager at International Society of Arboriculture, recently posted a great question on a LinkedIn discussion group: “Do you directly sell courses to your e-learning end-users? If you do, how are you evaluating (reaction) the courses or the platform in which they are offered?” First of all, kudos to Luana to care about learner reaction and satisfaction. As a commercial content provider, it’s critical that her learners see the value in her courses. What I especially like about Luana’s question is that she hasn’t restricted feedback to the course content. More >

Should You Block Access to Your Learning Management System?

Two commercial courseware providers asked me the same question this week: “In the event that a customer does not renew a subscription to my courseware, how do I block their access to the learning management system?” Great question! More >

Absorb LMS Blog Digest: January 2012

My January 2012 posts on the Absorb LMS Blog:

The Year Ahead

The start of a new year always holds so much promise.  Our “type A” friends have their list of resolutions neatly typed up, ready to conquered. Our “live-in-the-moment” friends avoid resolutions but, when pressed, admit that they intend to live even more in the moment in the new year than in the last. More >

Learning Management Practices that Sabotage Scalability 

Organizations that move from managing training manually using spreadsheets or pen and paper to using a learning management system (LMS) invariably see improved efficiency and cost savings. Thrilled with the gains achieved, these organizations often stop short of any further optimization. More >

64 Per Cent Rate Effort Required to Administer Learning “High”

I had a great time this week presenting a session titled “How to Manage Large Scale Learning Initiatives Painlessly” for HR.com’s Technology Enabled Learning virtual conference. Thank you HR.com for putting on a great event. To get a sense of who was in attendance, I began the session with a few poll questions. More >

More Learning and Development Myths

As a follow up to my post of last December titled “The Biggest Myths in Learning and Development,” I asked the following  question within various LinkedIn discussion groups: “What other learning and development beliefs do we hold to be true but probably aren’t?” Here are some of the replies: More >


A Significantly Abridged List of My Goals for 2012

Each year, family members and friends attending our annual January 1st dinner party are asked to describe the most memorable thing they did the previous year and to share their goals for the following year. It’s fantastic to hear of people’s gratitude for what they experienced and their sense of optimism for what lies ahead.

The evening proceeds swimmingly until my turn arrives. The pace then slows significantly and a sense of dread descends upon guests who have previously experienced one of my marathon goal listing sessions. For some in attendance, I suspect this feels like listening to someone reading from a very large phone book.

To make this tradition less painful this year, and because some of you may have made plans for the rest of the day, I present below about 10 per cent of my goals for 2012.  Goals related to my family, specific friendships, among others, have been omitted.

Psychological Well-being:

  • To abandon mentally, once and for all, the ridiculous concept of retirement. Whoever suggested that we should work hard until we can afford to stop working, thus freeing us to be bored out of your skulls, was a sadist. The idea of retirement creates stress, misery, and often diminishing health. We watch our investments flounder from whatever crisis is currently roiling the world and fret that we’ll be eating noodles with butter once per day when we retire. Screw that. I’m never retiring and I’ll never work at jobs I hate. The focus from now on will be to do work I love, forever.
  • Every day, write down one thing for which I’m grateful.


  • Directly generate twice my income in year one in my new role as a member of the Blatant Media team
  • Actively contribute daily to the positive, supportive culture that presently exists at Blatant Media. (Haven’t figured out how to make this measurable yet. Any ideas?)
  • Publish no fewer than one blog post per week at absorblms.wordpress.com, and one post every two weeks to richardnantel.com
  • Present no fewer than six original Webinars related to learning management technology

Art and Music:

  • Adopt a structured approach to practicing guitar where 50 per cent of my time is spent improving technique, and 50 per cent is spent maintaining a current repertoire.
  • Post to YouTube a minimum of 12 musical performances, either as a soloist or accompanist; two of which must be original compositions.
  • Become adept at sound recording by reading a minimum of two books on the subject and applying their techniques. If books are confusing, call my colleague Dan Medakovic, who’s a talented musician and sound engineer, for his wisdom.
  • Inspired by David Hockney’s stunning digital art, create a minimum of one completed painting per month on my iPad, posted to Flickr.

Health and fitness:

  • Successfully recycle old fly fishing gear into a new, smaller road bike. (My current bike’s a bit too big for my not-so-flexible frame.)
    NOTE: My wife has asked that I specify that my fly fishing gear includes more than 100 really fantastic books, currently in boxes on the floor of the TV room.
  • Complete a minimum of four 100+ km rides.
  • Structure six day per week workouts as follows: 50 per cent strength training, and 50 per cent aerobic training, with one workout per week being high intensity interval training
  • Start every weekday morning with a 3 km walk, regardless of the weather.
  • One massage per month; guilty indulgence

How to Make Money Selling Training Content

A large number of the prospective customers I’m speaking to in my role as Vice President, Enterprise Learning Solutions at Blatant Media | Absorb LMS are content creators who are presently—or soon hope to be—commercial learning content providers to organizations and individuals. I’m thrilled to see so many people in learning and development starting businesses. And, I’m elated that some of them are becoming very successful. In support of these entrepreneurs,  I’m publishing a three-part series on the Absorb LMS Blog titled “How to Start a Successful Training Company.”

Part one, published on October 27, 2011, was an introduction to selling learning content to individuals and organizations. Part two, published today, November 3rd, 2011, examines the most important learning management system requirements to support the sale of training. Part three, to be published next week, will show how Absorb LMS can support the needs of commercial course providers.

Creating Sticky Memories

Over dinner with a dear friend, Tanja, and her family last Sunday, she mentioned that she had recently come across a collection of her parents’ vinyl musical LPs. Listening to these old recordings, she was surprised to discover that she remembered all the lyrics to songs she hadn’t heard in decades. Tanja likely heard her parents’ musical recordings many times while she was a child. The repetition forged strong neural bonds that made these memories stick over time.

I’m a bit envious of people like Tanja. Clearly, she has a great verbal memory. Mine is poor but improving through practice.

Neuroscientific research indicates that the human brain is highly adaptable. Stress your brain to do new things, such as learning a new language, and it will soon adapt. Learning a third language will be easier than learning the second. Stressing your brain with these demands is apparently healthy.

A recent CBC news story reported that bilingualism may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

I wrote a post this week on the Absorb LMS blog about a memorization technique called spaced repetition. You can read it here. If you’re cramming for an exam, learning a new language, starting to play a musical instrument, or just looking for ways to keep your brain nimble, consider structured memorization techniques.