Our Job Is Not To “Develop Learning”

As software developers, we often think our job is to develop software, but, really, that is just the means to an end, and the end is to empower businesses to reach their goals. Your code may be elegant, but if it doesn’t meet the objectives (be they time or business) it doesn’t f***ing work.

Leon Fayer: “Your Code May Be Elegant”

The same goes for the field of learning. Our job is not to “develop learning”, but to empower businesses and/or individuals to reach their goals. Your eLearning course may be elegant, but if it doesn’t satisfy the real business or performance objectives (notice I did not say “learning objectives”), it doesn’t f***ing work.

Defrag Your Brain with a Concept Diagram

Notes from Scott Kubie’s (@scottrocketship) session at PSU Web, "Defrag Your Brain with a Concept Diagram".

Working at Wolfram

Is versus Ought: "Minding your isness"

Pages aren’t stories.

Websites aren’t products.

Wireframes and mockups only do so much. What if you’re missing something? How are things connected?

If someone assigns something to you, do the research to truly understand where they’re coming from. What they want. Their perspective.

Concept modeling is a process to develop a concept map/diagram.

Concept diagrams are graphical tools for organizing and representing knowledge.

Concept diagrams are made up of nouns and verbs. Nouns = concepts. Connected by verbs (link).

What they are NOT:

  • Sketch notes
  • Affinity diagrams
  • Mindmap

Five steps to building diagrams:

  1. Ask a question (you need to know what you want to understand)
  2. Do research (materials, competitive, interviews with experts, mind mapping)
  3. Make a list (parking lot, brain dump, big freaking list – nouns and verbs, interactive words for UX)
  4. Arrange the pieces (allow yourself to move around, shuffle – stickies, notecards, omnigraffle)
  5. Create links (trust your gut, your understanding)

Then, refine, refine, refine…or don’t.

Start with basics, then introduce size, color variations. What happens if you pull out the central concept? Can someone understand what your diagram is describing? Introduce larger circles, then you have Venn diagrams. Introduce icons or visuals that represent things. People, especially. Personas, etc.


  • Use content diagramming to do some Gap analysis
  • Concept model plus content model for strategy
  • Stakeholder meetings: can be tricky. But these are your propositions, not theirs. Remember that.
  • Tell a story with one or more diagrams
  • Works really well as a suggestive device

Other thoughts: Concept maps are never finished. Start with something you know well.

Dan Brown
Stephen Anderson


Scale images up with fractals and Perfect Resize
This has been around for a while. But it’s still awesome, and useful when you get those crappy 400-600 pixel images from clients or family members.

How to automatically incorporate edits into your course (via Tracy)
Export and import “translation” Word files. SMEs and content reviewers can update text (on-screen and in Notes section) and you can import the changes right into Storyline. This is wonderful for large course reviews and even better because the reviewer only gets to review the content, not images or styles. In other words, they can’t complain about the gray box you’re using as a placeholder and ask you why it’s not yellow or green.

“The preview button is a lie.” This. Exactly. I’ve loved pretty much everything Karen has written for ALA, and I get to see her next month, keynoting Penn State’s Web Conference. Yay!

There Are Only Four Jobs in the Whole World (via Dave) Interesting read. I agree, mostly. But I think you can be decent at more than one of these four, and even be happy in more than one of these four. For instance, I consider myself primarily a Thinker, but I work a lot as an Improver, and I enjoy both roles.

Textastrophe (via Robin)
“That dude is not even in the Black Eyed Peas, asshole.”