Category Archives: readings

Brain Research on use of Smartphones

I came across this interesting article on the Toronto Star this morning.  Participants who used smartphones and more traditional mobile phones were compared using EEG (electroencephalogram).  The results were interesting, but researchers say that it’s far too early to tell if the changes observed are good or bad for us in the long run.

I wonder what the implications are for L&D and whether or not we should harness the changes without knowing the longer-term effects?

Enjoy the read!


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.

Badges! Badges? Yes, we need some stinkin’ Badges!

In typical “me” fashion, I balance out my early adoption and exploration with a relatively late-to-the-table professional development activity: Badges.

I get the basic concept, but a well-timed email from the folks at my upcoming OLDS MOOC got me thinking a little more seriously about learning more about the process. In relatively short order I found myself reading about the Mozilla Open Badges Initiative, and then earning my first badges!

Well, once I get my teeth into something, I’m keen to keep going. I am now signed up in the P2PU Open Badges 101 self-directed “course” to provide me with a little practical experience in the area of badges and related info. I’m definitely intrigued by the possibilities, even if its not something that I can apply at CFSATE, I like the potential for future opportunities. I also see some very interesting ideas at the corporate level, too…

My next task is to do some mapping out of what a badge program would look like, even at a conceptual level, so I can submit it to P2PU for their consideration.

Wish me luck!

Article Commentary – Graphics for Rapid eLearning (Lectora Blog)

I caught wind of an article about “Graphics for Rapid eLearning“, thanks to a link provided by Jennifer Brick. Given that this the visuals associated with learning are an interest of mine, reviewing the article was a no-brainer.

However, I saw a few things that didn’t quite sit right, so….

Read the rest of this entry

My first (deliberate) Sketchnotes – from “Gamification in Education”

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…

View original post 151 more words

Pinterest: It took a while, but I get it. Finally.

Pinterest LogoIn many respects (for those who subscribe to such things), I am a typical Taurus, and stubborn as hell. I admit that there are times when I will resist trying new things until I know I can see the benefits for me. Once I “get it”, however, I’m unstoppable.

That paragraph accurately sums up my experience with Twitter. While initially skeptical, I have now – as most of you know – embraced the tool enthusiastically because I see the value from a personal and professional point of view. A secondary benefit is, of course, the entertainment value.

And then came Pinterest…

Read the rest of this entry

Thoughts on Atrixware’s recent post on Destructive Trends in Learning

I follow a number of vendors through my Facebook presence and this post from Atrixware caught my eye. The title certainly had some drawing power because L&D professionals are frequently (and often unwittingly) engaged in destructive behaviour. Not for themselves, of course, but in terms of learning outputs and impact. Let’s face it: we’ve all been there.

The major thread of the article is that the e-learning community is akin to the Lemming, following leaders or new ideas in droves. I suppose there’s some anecdotal truth to that assertion, in much the same way people become enchanted with the zeitgeist of the day in their work or social circles.

While the general guidance is OK at a basic level for L&D, I struggle somewhat with their points, so here are my thoughts. Read the rest of this entry

Simplifying Learning – From Jane Hart

This Mind map is from Jane’s June 4 chat about simplifying learning. Very interesting to explore and look at the things I’m already aware of as well as the ones that I need to take a much closer look at.

Sadly, I can’t get the map to embed properly, so the link will have to suffice.

3 Aspects of Deep Learning …

3 Aspects of Deep Learning ….

I love what John E. Smith (@StratLearner) has to say about this topic.  It’s closely related to a previously-mentioned post of mine that’s still in the works.  As L&D professionals, we need to be aiming for “deep learning” but it seems that our efforts often wind up only getting to a more superficial level; an issue that speaks more to overall implementation and adoption issues, rather than a specific ID fault.

What’s most telling for me is the opening quote. Read it, and you’ll see why.