Digital nomad technology

On my learning plan for this year I’m experimenting with becoming a digital nomad and will be vlogging my experience. Here I am preparing and deciding what technology to take with me.

I’ll also be taking my Voip headset for international and Skype calls.

Wish me luck on my journey and I’ll share what happens on the other side in Vietnam.

Development and learning plan 2017


As promised in my previous post Taking charge of your own learning I’ve drafted my development plan for the next 6 months or so.

This year I’m completing a career experiment so a lot of my development plan centres around this. I will be basing myself remotely for half the year in Vietnam. I figure I’m frequently designing and developing learning solutions for people who are working and learning remotely, so why not put myself in their shoes by experiencing working totally remotely too! That and I like a challenge and to be scared out of my comfort zone!

Some things that are important to me whilst working overseas are to maintain regular easy contact with my clients and social network, to avoid getting professionally isolated, and further develop my technical skills.

You will see from my development plan that a lot of my learning will be supported by research, curated content, social networks, reflecting and putting what I learn into practice. Most of it’s free and accessible, learning does not need to rely on a professional development budget or attending face-to-face courses. These are the sort of things you can do to develop without needing permission from your manager. I will be  working out loud as I develop these skills and work through my development plan.

This plan is a map for my intended development and there could be diversions as opportunities come up. I am open to your suggestions if you see anything that may be useful. Also if you have skills in the areas I’m looking to develop and are willing to share your experience please contact me.

Lorraine Minister’s Development Plan

Do you have a professional development plan? How do you take charge of your own learning?

Monthly inspiration – Clive Sheppard

Clive Sheppard’s more than blended learning model

Clive Sheppards more than blended learning model

As part of Bloom’s International Learning Leaders webinar series I attended a webinar last month from Clive Sheppard about blended learning.

Here are some takeaways and reflections I got from this webinar:

Learning occurs over time and that’s why blended approaches are needed
In learning solutions build in plenty of opportunities for practice, feedback and reflection. Most learning solutions in organisations do not do this well and operate on delivering events (online or facilitated) rather than a complete learning journey.  Learning occurs over time and with practice.

Clive explained if no opportunities for practice and reinforcement are given then performance and confidence can even be damaged by one off training events. In the below slide, Clive shows how a typical corporate blend wouldn’t move staff beyond the conscious incompetence stage to improved performance:

Clive Sheppard unconscious incompetence

There is no specific formula for blends and they must include lots of practice
The blended solution will depend on the content and the environment. There is no one particular blend that is better than others. You can and should go beyond traditional blends such as an elearning course followed by a facilitated session. Remember to use simple solutions as part of your blends as well, such as, job aids, manager discussions, on the job assignments, peer sharing.

I’ve built myself a job aid that has a multitude of learning solutions that could be used during different phases of learning. This reminds me of how many different options there are to practice and reinforce learning. Why not build yourself something similar so you can see the huge variety in blends open to you and you could add to it from time to time with new solutions you’ve utilised.

Look at blends from different angles e.g. delivery and social blends

I particularly like that Clive encourages looking at blends from different angles. Often it’s easy to think of blended learning in terms of the delivery method only. Clive’s model and approach to blended learning encourages us to look at different parts of blends, such as, what will happen on the learning journey and when. The type of media that will be used. And importantly the type of social interaction that will occur during different parts of the learning journey.

In the slide below Clive shared a hypothetical blend for learning how to salsa dance. Notice how the blend is made up from different angles and not just delivery methods:

Clive Sheppard.png

Want to know more about Clive Sheppard’s blended learning approach:

Clive Sheppard’s blended learning model –

Clive on learning –

Want to know about more professional development opportunities like this:

Bloom Learning Solutions regularly puts on professional development events for the Learning and Development community. Keep an eye on their events and blogs and I’m sure you’ll find something of interest. The next webinar I’m attending is Augmented Reality (25th May 2016) and then one of my favourite International Learning Leaders Nigel Paine is taking a webinar on Leadership development and why it doesn’t work.

A – Z of my work place learning

People Hands Holding Red Word Never Stop Learning

Continuous learning is critical in modern work places. Jane Hart’s Modern Workplace Learning book and blog describes a multitude of valuable ways to learn going way beyond typical training courses. As part of the 2016 L&D Challenge run by Jane Hart we were given the challenge to reflect on how we learn in the workplace. Below is an A – Z of how I manage my personal work place learning. This reflection is awesome for learning professionals, I also think it is valuable for any professional to look at their methods for continuous learning.


ATD membership – reading blogs and magazines to identify trends coming out in the industry


Blogging – both reading and writing. Helps me reflect on and refine my practice.


Committee member (just became one) of New Zealand Association for Training & Development – NZATD. This will make me actively connected to local people who share their talent and expertise. I always learn something new from the speakers. If you’re in Wellington NZ check out the next event.


Daring to do new things


Elearning Guild – reading reports to help embed my practice in theory or research. Also watching webinars while exercising on my cross trainer to broaden my knowledge on different learning techniques and strategies


Follow thought leaders – checking in on both Twitter and their blogs. I often pick up new ideas which then I research further and look for opportunities to implement. Blogs are perfect for me as being a mum of young ones and having my own business I don’t read much books because of the time commitment, they are an easily digestable way to keep up with trends.


Government learning group (local group) – networking and finding out what other people are doing in the learning field in the government agencies. Very valuable for sharing ideas. And of course Google comes under G too…


Help – being able to ask for it when needed and knowing where to find it, and being grateful in return– no-one is an island 😉


Inspiration from other industries e.g. movies, marketing, gaming, IT etc… looking at blogs or just taking ideas in when I’m not working – everything is inspiration!


Jane Hart – top of mind of course! Reading the MWL book by Jane Hart, blogs and participating in this L & D challenge experience


Kids – playing and watching the kids gives me insights into so many things


LinkedIn and – means I don’t have to remember how to use different tools I can just jump into a video for the specific thing I need to do. I use it as a performance tool.


Mentoring others new to L & D, keeps me fresh and thinking about my practice. Great for consolidating my learning and keeping fresh.


Networking – both with learning social groups and outside of learning groups e.g. talking with another parent from my daughter’s playgroup I found out he has a games analytics job and we talked about the commonalities and differences between our professions


Online learning courses e.g. Udemy, Moocs,, Elearning guild


Personal learning network – I can call friends in my learning network to ask advice or talk and bounce about strategies and they do the same with me. I find this really useful for reality checking


Questions, questions, questions – spending effort in learning how to ask good questions ( so I get quality information back both with collaborating with others such as SMEs and with learning professionals. In fact one year I set this as my main professional development focus.


Reflective practice both during projects and after it has finished


Sharing – when sharing my learning I often find that those I’m sharing with have extra gems to add and therefore enhance my learning even more and expand my view.


Twitter – I find it hard to get to many conferences with family commitments so around conference time I search the hashtags to find out what’s new and what’s being talked about. I’ve also implemented it as a learning tool for a University course I was the Educational Designer for.


Udemy – taking some online course such as UX design and also helping a friend with developing her content for her own Udemy course


Virtual classroom – attending an Elearning Guild online course.


WordPress feed – where I can read both learning related and also non-learning related blogs.


Xperience – I know a bit of cheating ;). I find it useful to directly experience a method before implementing it myself if I can. For example, learning about virtual classrooms during a virtual classroom course by elearning guild.


Youtube – When learning to use new tools such as using a new sound recorder. I search Youtube and find someone else has already put a succinct video up and this helps reduce my learning time. Thank you world!


Zen – for me it’s important to take time out from learning and thinking to relax and just be – I often find this a valuable time and when insights come afterwards

Learning resources from content curation


Want to work smarter, how about repurposing already existing content? I love curating and repurposing content, check out my post – Second hand shopping for elearning.

So how can you curate content and use it for your learning resources? Here’s an example of how I’m doing it now.

I’m working on a customer service project. At first glance it looks mammoth with the huge amount of possible content, and also the need to contextualise the content for different audiences. But I’ve found ways to make this project smaller and more work efficient. The most critical factor is reducing the amount of development of “new” resources and to instead use existing content/resources in a smart way.

You may balk and think you can’t do this as your customer service needs are specific so you’ll need your own tailored content – and you’re right, your needs are specific. Learning will still need to be targeted, have context, and be meaningful to your people. However you can provide context and meaning without having to develop everything from scratch. Context and meaning can be provided through activities and questions surrounding the content, allowing you to use already existing content that you’re curated from the internet or youtube. You can also use existing resources curated from within the organisation you are working with.

Here’s a taster of how curated content could be used:

Example: Empathy and customer service

  • Start with a poll e.g. ‘how important is empathy for providing customer service?’.
  • Ask thought provoking questions about empathy and how it is related to their work role.

From this we can see context is provided through the poll and, questions – not through creating new resources. Then we can use already existing resources to create a deeper meaning of empathy. There are some excellent videos around empathy that could be linked to, here’s an example of one:


  • Questions or activities could be provided around any of the learning resources. You can also increase social learning by suggesting questions are discussed with their team, manager or peers.

There are a multitude of activities that could be designed around curated content, the only limitation is your imagination. Think reflective learning, social learning, problem solving and learner sourced content. How about an activity recognising empathy blockers or a challenge where the learners are the agony aunt and have to provide responses?

In summary

Using curated content means that the majority of your effort is used finding high quality resources rather than creating. It’s much more time efficient – how long would it have taken you to make an animated video about empathy? You could make a story out of your curated resources so they have flow. Bring the learner in by designing activities around the curated resources that give context and the opportunity for staggered practice and mastery.

How have you used curated content for learning? – share your thoughts in the comments and we can all learn more together!

Going beyond blending delivery to ….

Blended delivery has been around for years and the term is often banded around in Learning and Development circles. Essentially what it means is that training content is delivered by a variety of delivery methods. Some parts might be facilitated, some online and some parts other delivery methods such as on-the-job learning or coaching. With blended delivery the mode of delivery is usually fixed. There will be set delivery methods for each part of content. For example a blended training solution might consist of a pre-requisite online module, a facilitated (or virtual classroom) session, work place assignments and coaching sessions.

The content within blended delivery does not usually easily translate to different delivery methods without requiring a significant amount of rework and adapting. Usually the facilitated parts of your content will only be suited to facilitated delivery, the online content will only be suited to online delivery. How many times have you heard someone say they are going to change a facilitated course into an online course? If you’ve experienced designing eLearning you’ll know there is a significant amount of rework changing facilitated content into online content. Extra thought is needed for how to make the content work effectively in a new delivery mode.

Well what happens when blended delivery isn’t enough to cater for your business in the future?

This is the challenge I’ve had. The business I’m working with can (and has before) changed rapidly as a result of natural disasters. There could be a slow trickle of people who need training from attrition or a sudden large amount of people who need training when a medium or large natural disaster occurs. The audience who need training at any one time could be dispersed over the country and could range from just one person to groups of up to 20 or more in quick succession. Not only that, but I also don’t know what will the Learning and Development team would look like in the future. Would there even be the team resources to deliver facilitated sessions or manage complex training solutions?

What if we start off with learning resources that can be delivered in a variety of ways – adapting to the changing needs of a business?

Rather than deciding how content is going to be delivered, why not start with making sure the content could be delivered in a variety of ways to a variety of audiences. This way the content would not have to be reworked and redesigned for each new situation or audience and can bend and flex with the business’s needs.

In my solution to this challenge the learning resources respond rapidly to change in a way that is not dependent on location or number of audience. It’s parts rather than a whole solution – pick and mix. The parts can be utilised in different delivery methods – face-to-face sessions, online, flipped classroom, catch up sessions or in a blended manner – without having to be adapted or reworked. The delivery approach and make-up can be selected based on the circumstance and audience rather than the content.

What is this approach called?

What do we call learning resources that can be put together like different ingredients to suit different audiences and delivery methods? I think it’s more than blended delivery… What do you think? I’d love to see your comment.

Designing Twitter activities




Using Twitter as a learning tool – part 3

In my other posts I introduced using Twitter as a learning tool and how you can do this. In this post I’ll share some ideas of learning activities you could design in Twitter.

When designing Twitter activities keep in mind they should be able to be completed while your learners are on the go and therefore need to be short and simple to complete. As a guide it should take no longer than 5 minutes to complete a Twitter activity and no more than a couple of sentences of text (remember the tweet limit is 144 characters).

Research and share activities

In a previous course I designed the majority of the Twitter activities as research and share activities. These were activities where  students were asked a question and then to find examples supporting the question and tweet these.

For example a course that examines social media use in society and the advantages and disadvantages of this could pose a question such as: What situations can you find where a community has used Twitter as their primary source of information? Tweet your example using the course hash tag #……

In research and share activities it is important to remind learners to use a common hashtag so they can search and read other peoples tweets and examples as well.

If a full answer to a research question requires more than a brief sentence or two, then change the activity from a Twitter activity to something else more suitable such as a forum post.

Share opinions and thoughts

Again this type of activity starts with a question and invites learners to share their view on a question. Here’s an example below:

This technique could be used as a motivator to introduce a topic or to explore different views.

You could also tweet link to another website such as a polling website so learners can anonymously share their opinion/vote.

Interact through a mock Twitter account

Tom Kulhmann from the Rapid elearning blog gives an awesome example of how Twitter could be used by setting up mock Twitter accounts with personas from the past. It’s an old blog post but has great ideas that are still relevant now.

Follow the thought leaders

Following thought leaders is an excellent way to learn from the best. It’s primarily what I use Twitter for.

You can set up opportunities in your learning content that encourage your participants to seek and follow thought leaders in their field. This may include inviting the learners to follow a subject matter expert or lecturer of a course. It could include giving learners a list of thought leaders in the area of learning/content they are interested in or even some common hashtags that are used in their field on Twitter.

Follow-up questions after class (face-to-face or virtual class)

As well as using Twitter to motivate learners at the beginning of a topic or getting them to explore and interact with content, why not use Twitter to help reflective learning as well? Pose questions and ask for sharing after they have attended class – keep what they’ve learnt fresh in their minds. If they attended a training event you could even ask them to commit what first action they’re going to put in to place when they’re back on the job.

A school teacher told me that she regularly used Twitter to get her students to share something new they learned that day – what a great way to get students to reflect on their learning!

These are only the tip of the iceberg for the types of activities that can be done in Twitter. I’d love to hear your ideas for other types of learning activities in Twitter.

If you enjoyed this post please follow me or share it forward.

How to use Twitter as a learning tool

Ostersund, Sweden - April 13, 2014: Twitter website under a magn

Using Twitter as a learning tool – part 2

First it’s important to mention Twitter is easy to incorporate as a learning tool. In fact the hardest part was going through and getting faculty approval. Actually incorporating it into the course design as one of the learning tools was easy, low effort, no cost, and intuitive (Using Twitter as a learning tool – part 1).

Here are three steps to complete before designing Twitter activities in a course:

1. Get familiar with Twitter yourself

If you aren’t a regular user of Twitter do some background research to understand how the tool works. Here I’ve tweeted a website that I found particularly useful:

2. Inform students you’re using Twitter

Tell students that Twitter will be used to complete some of the learning activities. You do not need to teach students how to use Twitter just source some beginning starter videos and website links so they can get themselves familiar with it. There are lots of videos about Twitter on Youtube, here’s an example of one:


3. Explain the Twitter conditions specific to the course

There are two important conditions students needed to know to participate in Twitter activities successfully.

  1. The first was how to identify the course teacher’s tweets and receive current news and examples from the teacher. To meet this first condition we opened a Twitter account for faculty to use specifically for this course. We chose a relevant username/twitter handle so the teacher could be easily identified. For example, “@universitycoursename” – not a teacher’s personal name. By not having the teacher’s name it also meant that other faculty members could tweet under the same twitter handle in the future if desired. The students were advised to follow the teacher’s twitter handle to receive course updates and current examples related to course content.
  2. The second condition was how the students could allow the teacher and other students to find their tweets. For this condition we asked students to include a course and cohort specific hashtag in each of their tweets, for example, “#unicourse2014”. This meant that their tweets could be searched by either course lecturers or their peers. In each Twitter activity students were reminded to use the course specific hashtag.

Once you have completed these three steps then it’s time to start looking at how Twitter activities can be regularly incorporated within the course content. My next post in this series will describe how I incorporated Twitter into the course activities and other possibilities for using Twitter in activities. You can read my previous Twitter post here or follow me on to get notified when new posts are available (approximately 2/3 times per month).

You may also find these posts interesting:

Monthly inspiration – Brain Rules 

Using digital stories in elearning

Secondhand shopping for elearning

Using Twitter as a learning tool

Brussels - March 03: Twitter Hit By Hackers.

Twitter is a powerful social media tool used for micro-blogging and social networking. Google the stats of Twitter use and you will see numbers in the millions and billions. Twitter is hugely successful as it enables users to disseminate information quickly and easily through Tweets. It also makes searching for content easy through user generated #hashtags.

Twitter is easy to access, simple to use and it is a powerful tool to include in your elearning toolkit. In fact it may come as no surprise that Twitter has been voted the top learning tool for 5 years running by Jane Hart’s Top 100 Tools for learning.

So why might you want to use Twitter as a learning tool?

Let me share 5 reasons why I chose to implement Twitter in a distance university course I was recently involved in:

1. Relevance to the content

The course I was tasked with designing included the impacts of social media as one of it’s key topic areas. Therefore it made sense to actually utilise Social Media within the instructional design of the course – walking the talk.

2. Bring current events into the content 

The subject matter of this particular course was rapidly developing where reference to current events and new technology developments were important. Twitter research activities provided an avenue in which I could pull very current events and technology developments into the course content without having to constantly rewrite the content each year or two.

Twitter is great for linking to current events or examples within a subject.

3. Access and mobility

Twitter phone

Twitter is extremely mobile meaning that students can utilise Twitter on their smartphones and complete activities while on the go. This meant the Twitter learning activities could go to where the students are – mobile learning – rather than forcing them to access the learning through a static computer.

4. Bite sized efforts

All Twitter activities were designed to be completed rapidly within 5 – 10 minutes max. This meant that these activities could be completed in small bite sized efforts and provided an interesting alternative to posting in a forum or other activities. It also invited students to engage with content in a different manner.

5. Curation of content

By using a unique #hashtag for each student cohort, students could potentially search tweets by other previous student cohorts and share information, resources and references. This increased the possibility of a community of learning being built over time that goes beyond the course timeframes and boundaries.

Students could also use Twitter to ‘favourite’ and curate their own content to use within their assignments and assessments.

The lecturer could also curate Tweets and use Tweets over the course to share student generated content – social learning.

In summary, here I’ve given 5 reasons why I used Twitter in a particular university course. Twitter can also be used in other environments for different types of learning experiences. There are many reasons why you might consider using Twitter as part of your learning toolkit, some may or may not be the same as mine.

Have you used Twitter as a learning tool? Please share your reasons for using Twitter in the comments below, or you can Tweet them to me @LoMinister. If you are interested in different elearning methods or want to read more about how I’ve used Twitter in activities you can also follow me on my blog –

Below are some other posts you might find interesting

Secondhand shopping for elearning

Why story telling should be part of your elearning toolkit