Connecting & Collecting Info the Easy Way

This post was originally published on my weekly tips blog which you can get in your inbox every Friday via email by registering here.

There are a lot of us who at one point or another need to collect information from a number of different people. Traditionally, you send out an email asking for the information you want. Then the ‘fun’ begins…a flood of email replies overwhelm your inbox…at some point you have to take a trip to the copy & paste rodeo so you can consolidate everyone’s answers into a single place so you can make sense of it all.  It is painful and time consuming.

Today, I’ll tell you how you can say good bye to those overloaded inboxes and the copy & paste-apalooza and make the whole process quick and painless. The secret is to use a web form that will automatically collect all the responses for you in a nice, neat spreadsheet. Once you’ve setup your questions all you have to do is sit back and watch the data roll in, while sipping a nice, warm cup of coffee (or whatever drink you prefer). Easy peezy – here are a couple nice, free options.

These online survey tools let other people fill out a form—like a sign-up sheet or questionnaire—where you can see it all in one place online. You can create a survey, send everyone a link and all the responses are compiled for you, automatically in a spreadsheet.

Google Docs Form

1. Go to Google Drive at drive.google.com.

2. In the new Drive, click New in the top left, hover over More, and chooseGoogle Forms.

( In the older version of Drive, click the Create button in the top left, thenForm.)

In the form template that opens, you can add any questions you’d like. You can also organize your form by adding headers and dividing your form into several pages. Learn more about editing your form.

One of my favorite things about Google forms is that you can set it to notify you when people respond.  Choose Tools – > Notification Rulesand select the option that says Notify me when “a user submits a form.” You can also set how frequently you would like to be notified – if you have created a “Contact Me” form, the “email right away” may be a good choice but for mass polls and surveys,  the daily digest option might be a better choice.

See it in action and take this sample form for a test drive

GoogleForm

 

Another good option that works very much the same way as the Google forms, is available using Excel Online.

Excel Online

You’ll need a free Microsoft One Drive account

1. Sign-in to One Drive

2. Near the top of the screen, click Create, and then click Excel survey. You’ll get a form that walks you through creating your survey.

ExcelSurvey

3. Anytime you want to work with your survey to edit or share it, just click the Survey button on the ribbon.

Survey

See it in action and take a sample Excel form for a test drive

ExcelForm

 

The possible uses for these forms is virtually endless:

  • Include the link in your elearning courses to gather questions and comments
  • Use it for event/course sign-ups and registrations
  • Collect email addresses for newsletters
  • Add it to your website to use as a contact form
  • Many,  many more…what are yours?

Get Things Done Faster With This Handy PowerPoint Toolbar

If you’re anything like me,  you love anything that enables you to do things more efficiently. (And who doesn’t like that?) So with that in mind, I’d like to share the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) that I use in PowerPoint.

The QAT is basically your own personalized toolbar that puts all your favorite and most used functions in a single, easy to access place. No more extra clicking to find the right tab or sub-menu!

Another cool thing about them is that you can share them with others. So here is mine. It will give you a big head start and you can always tweak this to suit yourself after you get it.

Go ahead and grab a copy. It takes about 2 seconds to import it and you’re off to the races! If you need instructions for importing this into your PowerPoint set up, you can get them here.

QAT

Download my PowerPoint toolbar

I got my own headstart from Bright Carbon & Tom Kuhlmann

Here are a few other things you may be interested in if you start playing around with your own Quick Access toolbar. Note that this works the same way in other applications including Word, Excel, Articulate Storyline and others.

How to Customize the QAT

How to Create a Customized E-learning Toolbar in Articulate Storyline

20 Free Tools For Creating An Awesome Online Portfolio

Last week at the ATD TechKnowledge conference in Las Vegas, I led a session on tools anyone can use to easily create a great looking portfolio. It went really well with lots of great feedback. We covered options for getting your courses online and 20 free tools ranging from super fast personal landing pages that can be created in minutes up through more powerful, flexible (but still easy to use)  options. Here are the tools and resources I shared.

Build Your Elearning Portfolio: It’s Easier Than You Think!

Standard resumes and cover letters are no longer sufficient if you want to stand out from the crowd. Having a good portfolio has always been important for freelancers, but it’s quickly becoming a must have for anyone in e-learning who hopes to snag the best opportunities that come along, inside your organization or out. Having a portfolio is a great way to showcase your accomplishments, skills, experiences, and personality. A good portfolio highlights your best work, along with personal achievements that can accentuate your abilities and help you successfully market yourself to potential clients or employers. Even if you’re not in the market for a new job, now is the time to build a portfolio that showcases your talents and proves you can actually do what your resume says you can do. Waiting until you need it could be too late. Creating a great looking e-learning portfolio is easier than you think. With more options than ever before, anyone can build an e-learning portfolio that looks like a million bucks.

Grab a copy of the handout: 20 Free Tools For Building Your Portfolio

…or explore additional resources and examples from my shared collection of portfolio bookmarks.

Getting Your Courses Online

If you want to get your course online for others to see, you’ll need to host your published course files on a web server. But don’t worry, there are several free, easy to use options available that will have you and your course up and running in no time.

Articulate Tempshare:

If you’re using Articulate authoring tools Tempshare is the quickest, easiest way to get your courses online. Just publish your project, click the .zip button and then drag your zip file onto the tempshare page. In a few seconds, your project is online and you can share the resulting URL with anyone. You can see a screencast and get more details in this post “Get Your Projects Online with Tempshare

NOTE: The link is only good for 10 days. After that you’ll need to re-upload your project and get a new URL. 

Google Drive

If you’re using other authoring tools or need a longer term solution, Google Drive is a great option.  Google Drive has a web hosting feature, that gives you 15GB of free storage space that you can use to host your online course. For details, check out this article I wrote on the Articulate E-learning Heroes site “How to Share Your E-Learning Course for Free With Google Drive“. It’s super easy!

SCORM.com: 

If you’d like to have some LMS type features, SCORM.com will host your courses although you’ll only get up to 100MB of storage space. Still a great option for access to features normally only available in an LMS and a great tool for testing your content. Sign up for a free account and try it out for yourself.

Dropbox

Check out this screencast on how to use Dropbox for hosting your course.   Signup here for a Dropbox account.
NOTE: Accounts created after October 4, 2012 require the $5 plan for this to work.

Amazon S3

This is definitely the LEAST user friendly option to get started with. But Amazon S3 offers you 5GB, free and is a very inexpensive option if you need a lot of storage space. Learn more and sign-up for a free Amazon S3 account here. 

Nameplate or Personal Landing Pages

These ‘online business card’ sites are great because they’ll give you an online presence within a matter of minutes. They’re very visual and you can choose a template, fill in some details and you’re all set.

about.me

flavors.me

Strikingly.com 

LinkedIn

Almost everyone has a LinkedIn profile, but not everyone realizes how you can add appealing visual content to their profiles. Using LinkedIn’s professional gallery feature can make your profile stand out from the crowd. Learn how to enhance your LinkedIn profile with the professional gallery.

LinkedIn Visualizers 

Infographics are very popular these days and these sites will translate the information from your LinkedIn profile into a great looking infographic/visual resume.

Re.vu

Visualcv.com

Visual Resumes

Another great idea is to show off your own design skills by creating your own visual resume. Once you’ve created your visual resume slides here are several sites that can host them online for you.

Slideshare

Speakerdeck

Office (PowerPoint ) Online

Custom/DIY Options

Evernote:

Create a note including any images, links, etc that you want and then use the sharing option for anyone to view it online. A cool thing about this option is you can update it even after sending the link, which allows you to make corrections, additions, etc without needing to reshare a new link. See the slide deck above for an example.  Get Evernote

Postach.io:

If you’re already collected things for your porfolio in Evernote, postach.io can turn them into a great looking online blog/website format. Just create your note and tag it with “published” to add content to your postach.io site. Check out what it can do at postach.io

Use Your Authoring Tools

Finally, another creative way to show off your skills is to build a portfolio using your authoring tools.

Here is a simple Storyline portfolio example I created.  You can download a copy over on my templates page.

Stephanie Harnett and Bruce Graham have even built their entire websites using Storyline.

Portfolio Websites

There are tons of sites built specifically for the purpose of creating an online portfolio. I’ve kicked the tires on a lot of them and these are a few of my favorites.

behance.net

This is my favorite one of the all. Behance is very complete, gives you some insightful stats and allow you to connect with others by appreciating and following people you like.

krop.com

coroflot.com

carbonmade.com

Website Builders

If you’re looking for a good balance between flexibilty and ease of use without needing any html/css coding skills you might want to consider one of the many website builder tools.

Wix.com

Weebly.com

WordPress

In my opinion, if you have some time to put your portfolio together and you want the best looking, most flexible option you should use a WordPress site. WordPress.com sites are quick and easy to create while offering a wide variety of free design themes that work great for portfolios.

To get an idea of what you can do check out these WordPress sites I’ve created :

Free Skitch Inspired Icon Set

I’m a big fan of Evernote’s screenshot tool, Skitch. If you take many screenshots you should definitely check it out – for a free app it is hard to beat. One of the things I like about it, are the great looking, built in icons. For a recent project, I wanted to use a similar style icon set, but needed more options and sizes that what is available in Skitch. So I created several version in PowerPoint and thought I’d share them in case they’re useful for anyone else.

I used the free Sosa font, but you can use any other font or icon images you want.

SkitchIcons

Feel free to grab a copy of my PowerPoint file and use them for any of your own projects.   |  https://app.box.com/SkitchIcons

Merry Christmas!

My 2014 Top 10 Tools for Learning

Learning Tools (1)

I’ve participated in Jane Hart’s Top 100 Learning Tools survey for several years now. I really enjoy seeing how the top ranked tools are evolving what others are finding most useful.

1. Articulate Storyline/Studio

2. Feedly - My feed reader to keep track of blogs and other things I want to follow online

3.  Twitter - Great way to find, follow and connect with an amazing network of people. I am @tmiket

4. WordPress - I run all of my blogs with WordPress including my weekly tech tips and Learncamp. So many ways to use it and super easy. It just works.

5. Google Search/Docs/Drive/Hangouts – Search is self-explanatory and  it is also the easiest way to collaborate on or share documents. You can host your elearning courses too!

6. YouTube - If your looking to learn something fast, YouTube will usually have the answer.  Also great for hosting the videos you create.

7. DropBox - Quick & easy file sharing.

8. Skype  - There’s nothing like having your colleagues and the rock stars in your PLN handy for a quick chat.

9. MailChimp - This is a tool L&D should steal from the marketing folks. This is a great way to supplement or enhance training campaigns. You can set up a series of emails that are automatically delivered in sequence when anyone joins the list. Great for new hire and other subscription learning approaches.

10. Diigo - Online/shared bookmarks are a quick, easy way save, organize and share web links. Mine are here.

 

Check out these other Top 10 lists from:

 

New Skills All L&D Pros Should Have

Untitled design

I just read Shannon Tipton’s post on “10 Ways to Take Your Corporate University Out of Snoozeville ” and  she dropped this list 10 things every L&D person should know how to do in at the end. While these might not be the first ten things you should know I totally agree that these types of skills have become part of the fundamental skill set, and not just for L&D folks, but a lot of others too.

Shannon’s list is a pretty good start. What else would you add? What are your thoughts about the importance of these skills for people in L&D?

  1. Blog
  2. Use Dropbox or Evernote
  3. Develop and sustain a PLN
  4. Curate and share information
  5. Send large files
  6. Use a hashtag
  7. Manage your online brand
  8. Know the variety of different delivery mechanisms
  9. Trouble shoot technology
  10. Subscribe to and manage: Slideshare, YouTube, or other dynamic digital media

If you’re interested in a great way to learn about these types of skills and connect with other like-minded L&D people. I’m running a free, 12 week program called Learn Camp starting June 30. It is a self-guided learning program that introduces these types of  web 2.0 and ‘social’ topics in a learning & development context with a series of short and sweet weekly activities. The best part will be the webinars we have lined up to go along with it by some great leaders who are implementing these ideas in their organizations including Mark Britz, Allison Michels and JD Dillon

Interested? Learn more about it or click here to register for the Learn Camp program.

Anyone is welcome to participate and who knows maybe Shannon will even join us! 8-)

Digital Content: It’s Child’s Play!

Not surprisingly, my kids (7 and 5)  have taken an interest in creating digital content. It is really a natural extension of what they’ve seen at school and home on the computer, iPads, etc so I’m not surprised. It is cool to see them get excited about things they create. From using PowerPoint like a digital sticker book to making stop motion videos with Lego creations they’ve already got a huge headstart on most people – myself included. It’s amazing what they can do at such a young age.

I can’t wait to see what they get into next!