Category Archives: Innovation

Weapon Of Mass Instruction: Artist Creates A Tank That Delivers Free Books

Weapon Of Mass Instruction: Artist Creates A Tank That Delivers Free Books

Raul Lemesoff, an eccentric artist in Buenos Aires, Argentina, has created a bizarre tank-like ‘Weapon Of Mass Instruction’ (Arma de Instruccion Masiva) that he intends to use to battle ignorance and spread knowledge.

Lemesoff converted a 1979 Ford Falcon into a bizarre tank-like vehicle complete with a swiveling turret, a non-functioning gun, and space to store about 900 books – inside and outside of the vehicle.

via Weapon Of Mass Instruction: Artist Creates A Tank That Delivers Free Books | Bored Panda.

My take: While I could have proposed other visuals than the current “armament” (a pen, perhaps??) I absolutely love this concept.  It’s in the same vein as the Tiny Libraries that crop up in small, distributed communities. It’s unfortunate that the “fun police” or the “totally makes sense police” will find some way to stifle efforts such as this one.  Here’s my question to you: what could you do to create a WMI experience within your organization? How unique and through-provoking could you get? with your efforts?

Flexible working is smart working –

Flexible working is currently causing a lot of debate. The introduction of our unlimited leave policy got the world talking. Opinions have been divided – some people are staunchly against it, others don’t understand how it can be implemented, while Virgin’s careers inbox has never been fuller.

via Flexible working is smart working –


My take: Sir Richard Branson has never been one to do things in a conventional fashion and this initiative certainly ranks with one of his more unorthodox moves.  However, it seems to be paying some dividends and will likely form the basis of future research in organizational development.

A shout-out to Working out Loud!

Lots of changes and lots of updates, but the short version is that I’ve moved on from my engagement with the RCAF and I’m now working very close to home for a really great people services firm, Northern Lights Canada.

My big win this week was getting the OK from the CEO to engage in some #workoutloud and #showyourwork activities, so I can actively share some of the work I have going on. Leading and stewarding the transformation of Learning & Development is my major focus right now so I’m genuinely excited to shed some light on this work.

Watch this space for updates and examples of what’s going on behind the scenes on the first project: revamping the onboarding program for new hires.

How I Work

Following in some distinguished footsteps, I now share some insights and a sneak-peek into How I Work.

Without further ado….

Mark's headshot.

Hi, I’m Mark Sheppard. This is How I Work.
Don’t I look Professional?


Just outside The Big Smoke (a.k.a. Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Current Gig:

Instructional Development Officer at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering. (On long-term contract)

Current mobile device:

A remarkably resilient but slowly failing iPhone 4

Current computer:
(Work 1) A standard Defence Wide Area Network configuration PC, somewhat slow but very secure.

(Work 2) A more recent laptop on a separate, secondary wireless network enabling me freer but not insecure access to the broader Internet and, of course, the PLN.

(Home) I usually just share the iPad or my wife’s Mac, or just use my PlayBook. There is a crummy Acer Netbook that sometimes deigns to allow me to use iTunes, as long as I’m not in a huge hurry to sync my phone. Or do anything else, for that matter.

One word that describes how you work:

Chaos (controlled)

Why didn’t you just use one word there, Mark?

Because I hate artificial/arbitrary boundaries. Don’t judge me.

What apps/tools/gadgets can you simply not live without?

  1. My phone. It is my link to the outside world

    A process sketch from work

    Process/Workflow Sketch

  2. Twitter
  3. Evernote
  4. Pencils (sometimes you just can’t beat the venerable graphite when you need to sketch out ideas. This is a tribute to my graphic design training)
  5. I should also include the growing love for my Livescribe SmartPen
  6. Red pens (invariably used to mark-up hard copy documents when I’m in editing mode and need to think outside the comment function)
  7. Audiobooks/audio dramas/educational podcasts
  8. Flipchart-sized Post-Its.

What’s your workspace like?

Well, you could charitably call the state of my desk “random”, but it is controlled chaos. I believe a clean desk is a sign of a sick mind. For all my love of tech, sometimes I need to lay my hands on paper…particularly because most bureaucracies love their hard copies of stuff and the military is no different.

Mark's Workspace

My desk is in the back corner by the bike
(click to enlarge)

I share an office with 4 other people and on the chaos scale, I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle.

What’s your best time saving trick?

Use the right tool for the job. e.g. don’t follow a linear process (“ADDIE, you’re on!”) for interactive online learning.

Oh, and template everything.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

It’s a toss-up.  1) Packing suitcases. In my Army days I learned very quickly that if you were going to carry your house on your back, you had better have it packed well, and suitably organized. 2) Navigating. I spent years doing Reconnaissance in the Army, and it’s a skill that got honed quite well. That doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally take wrong turns, but it does mean I can find my way back out, and that’s the harder trick.

What do you listen to while you work?

I tend not to listen to much while I’m working, other than the white noise from the ductwork and the amusing commentary from my teammates (our pun-fests are not to be missed). However, because I have a insane long commute to/from work, I have lots of time to listen to a variety of aural amusements.  So, my driving soundtrack usually doesn’t bother with a lot of radio (although I did find a good Jazz station as a nice diversion) and I listen to a broad range of audiobooks, full-cast audio dramas (usually British, sci-fi, etc.), audio comedies, sci-fi fan fiction, and some educational or through-provoking podcasts related to L&D.  In the event that I need to tune out at work, I will switch to classical, jazz, or prog rock.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?

If you ask me, I’m an introvert. If you ask people I have met professionally, they consider me an extrovert.  I can’t rationalize the dichotomy so I don’t even try.  This is me.  Enjoy the ride.

Desk Shot

A few inspirations and silliness

What’s your sleep routine like?

I try to get to bed early because I’m up very early to try and beat the traffic (when the one-way trek is 140km, this is essential).  I occasionally grapple with the snooze bar. I’m ahead on points over the career match-up, but only just.  I usually fall asleep to audio of some kind. My wife doesn’t get how I do that, particularly if it’s an interesting story, but there are some audiobook narrators that are soothing enough that I can fall asleep. Many’s the tale I’ve had to forcibly listen to in the daytime because I’ve never gotten past the prologue. I have a strange, occasional habit of waking up around 3AM. Nobody is sure why. Oh, and if I do wake up, I can’t look at the time, otherwise I’m too ‘anchored’. It’s better if I just go back to sleep, rather than ponder just how little time I have left until I really have to get up.

Best Piece of Advice you’ve ever received?

“Don’t be afraid to screw up.” Wise words from a Captain I once worked for when I was a young, keen Corporal in the Reserves. I admit I sometimes lose sight of this guidance when I get run over by my own enthusiasm, but I try to keep it as a reminder to take risks once in a while, and not to worry about the consequences.

Fill in the blank. I’d love to see ______ answer these same questions.

Getting the whole PLN to play along would be nice, but as unlikely as it is, I’d love to see Harold Jarche answer these questions, with Jane Bozarth being a close second.

Leaving ADDIE for SAM. With a Crossbow?

I got a chuckle out of the reaction from some of my valued PLN members when I shared a photo of a (nerf) Crossbow training aid from today’s “Leaving ADDIE for SAM” workshop. *

I was laughing at myself because, in hindsight, I probably should have added a little context to the image. Read the rest of this entry

Stanford MOOC Assignments and Disconnects

I had a chance exchange via Twitter with someone I have followed for a while, Joyce Seitzinger. She’s well-respected in Moodle circles, and is also an active participant in DNLE and regularly contributes through the Twitter #DNLE hashtag.

She was expressing some frustration with the nature of assignments and their (relative) lack of instructional/learning design.  I have to say, I agree with her.  Read the rest of this entry

An Inspiring Podcast from an Unusual Source


Visit for more information.

I’m distracting myself from a little “student remorse” from my hack job on (Stanford MOOC) DNLE Assignment 4 by sharing a recent find.

While I’m a latecomer to the whole podcast thing, I am making up for lost time and I try to balance out my entertainment (e.g. serialized podcast dramas) with some educational listenings.

This morning I listened to the initial episodes of “99% Invisible“, a podcast out of San Francisco that describes itself as:

A tiny radio show about design, architecture & the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world

I like the concept for a couple of reasons. First, it speaks about design; a fundamental discipline that transcends physical and virtual boundaries. After all, you can have great ideas, but without a solid design to make them happen, they will remain ideas only.

Second, the format. This podcast is a positioned as a radio segment with a very limited time allotment. Therefore, the host and producer have a small window in which to get across their idea or subject.

Finally, it also speaks about the things we don’t normally pay attention to and the thinking behind them.

This podcast has relevance to what we do as educators. First, we have to be aware of the little things, and all of the prep work that goes into a learning solution (e.g. good analysis). Second, solutions don’t have to be big to be effective and meaningful. Finally, design, design, design. Design it, refine it, try it out, refine some more, and let the design evolve. Just because you start with one particular vision doesn’t mean it can’t adapt as you learn more about what recipients “need” instead of what you think they “want”.

Enjoy your Monday!

Welcome to the new Hitch Hiker’s Guide!!

Greetings, welcome, and – hopefully – welcome back!

After some deep consideration, I decided on a small exercise in re-branding. While my ‘elearningguy’ handle represented a lot of what I was doing when I created it, it’s not reflective of all my activities, nor is it completely indicative of who I am as a Learning & Development professional.

I will leave the other site available as a redirect page for a while and allow direct followers to change/update bookmarks.

Thanks for following me as I take the next leg of the journey.

Sketchnoting Thoughts

Following my re-blog of Jackie Gerstein’s compilation of Visual Note Taking resources, I took some time today to do a little in-depth exploration of some of the concepts and thought-leaders in that area. Having previously seen Sunni Brown’s TEDTalk on the power of Doodling, I’m enjoying a growing fascination with these ideas.

I’m like many people who wound up taking text notes on lined paper, and years of tacit compliance with the social norms in formal education are proving difficult to re-work.  A number of the people engaged in this process note that this may well be the hardest thing for many to overcome.  One thing that does (should? might? possibly?) work to my advantage is my diploma in Graphic Design. Couple that with a love of drawing and sketching, and I might have the foundation for a (personal) informational revolution. Read the rest of this entry

Visual Note-Taking

While I haven’t digested this article in its entirety, I’m seeing more and more of these kinds of approaches to note-taking and information mapping. I’ll add some comments later, but this was simply too fantastic a post NOT to reblog. Thanks, Jackie!

User Generated Education

As should be the case, there is ongoing discussion among educators about the skills that should be taught to their learners.  One such skill is note-taking.  Note-taking is typically classified as a study skill and taught as it has been through the history of institutionalized education – the outline.

When I started researching brain-compatible learning (see neuroscientist John Medina’s Vision Trumps All Other Senses),  I was exposed to the mind-map as a tool for organization, comprehension, and note-taking.  Mind-maps have several benefits:

. . .  and according to Giulia Forsythe:

As Temple Grandin says, “the world needs all kinds of minds.” and some of those minds “think in pictures”. Doodling is a form of external thought that allows you to visualize the connections you are making while thinking. In the conscious mind, doodling can assist concentration and focus but even in the unconscious mind, while doodling and day…

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