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Brandon Carson
San Francisco, CA
Brandon designs and drives learning solutions for the digital world.
Recent Activity
Recently, Christopher Pappas of the eLearning Industry Network asked me to contribute to an eBook he was putting together about how to become an eLearning Pro. The tips and tricks gathered here include advice from some of the industry's top practitioners. I am humbled to be included in this motley crue. The eBook is free, and I highly recommend it. Some of the more salient tips include: Cammy Bean discussing her list of top books and references that apply to eLearning Connie Malamed listing the top areas of interest for new "learning pros" to focus on And Joel Gardner's three... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2013 at The Total Learner Experience
You're an Instructional Designer, eLearning Developer, Program Manager, Learning Consultant... or just someone involved in the corporate learning space. At times you interview for jobs and/or contracts. Most of that time is spent being grilled by your potential employer. They're investigating you. They're asking you questions. You respond, you do a bit of research on the company, you meet a few people. But, realistically, it's you selling you to them. In light of the rapid change going on in today's business world, I recommend you augment your interview process with some pointed, poignant questions for your hiring manager, their style,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2013 at The Total Learner Experience
Today's learners are much more tech savvy. They're used to high-resolution media, a lot of variety, and a heavy dose of hyper-personalization. You are more than likely saddled with an infrastructure that makes it nearly impossible to provide what your learner needs. You can make a couple of tweaks in your strategy to augment your old, wheezing system's traditional learning offerings: Liberate your content from formatting. Apply key terms and metadata, and make it searchable. And by searchable, I mean responsive search based on learner context. You want to prevent a waterhose of data flowing to your learner. Work with... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2013 at The Total Learner Experience
One of the traditional tasks in instructional design is the creation of “knowledge checks” -- standard quiz items usually placed in-context with content. The thought behind these types of assessment items is to provide the learner an opportunity to self-assess in sequence, immediately after information acquisition. A common type of item is multiple choice. Multiple choice items can work if you have a great deal of time and understanding of the material, and you are able to construct items that probe higher levels of reasoning. However, too often the reality is that instructional designers without domain expertise write multiple choice... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2013 at The Total Learner Experience
Creating learning content is like making sausage: there's a lot of ingredients to mash-up to get to the end dish, and it can be gross and messy. During the process, you usually have to research, interview, curate, create, map, link and review content from multiple sources. Additionally, you don't want to divorce yourself from the plate you'll serve the sausage on… or, the delivery mechanisms you'll use. And in today's world, there are usually multiple. A good learning content strategy considers: Content organization and structure Authoring and delivery platform(s) Resources In this post, I'll talk about content organization. At the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2013 at The Total Learner Experience
A scenario is a "story" often used in training courses to provide real-world context and decision-making opportunities. Usually, the point is to highlight the potential ambiguities in a situation, and reveal multiple choices along with their potential consequences. Scenarios can provide a rich palette from which to paint a myriad of situations that can bring almost any type of content alive. They're heavily leveraged in compliance, ethics, legal and other historically dry business courses. However, scenarios can be used in almost any training capacity, and when done right can be a highly motivating experience. The key is to either be... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2013 at The Total Learner Experience
Your learning function can't programmatically meet all of your employees' needs anymore. The knowledge worker now traverses a sea of complexity every day: from data overload to sensitive customer interactions to performing against sometimes volatile and quickly changing goals and directives. Instead, we in the learning organization need to start thinking about how we can empower more learner self-direction, help learners find information at or before their time of need, and we should focus less on training them to store it in their heads. The question to ask yourself is: how can you help put data and knowledge in their... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2013 at The Total Learner Experience
We all know corporations are moving at the speed of light nowadays. They're asking a lot from employees: salaries are stagnant, budgets are at bare minimum and work is more complex. In light of this, training organizations are shouldering a heavy burden in helping to support workers that are more in need of up-to-date information than ever before. And, to add fuel to the fire, many training functions are also seeing reduced budgets and staff while being asked to do more. Guess what? I wrote the paragraph above in 1998. You might think I wrote it just this week. But,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2013 at The Total Learner Experience
In today's world it's almost impossible to carve out enough time in a project schedule to perform a comperehensive needs analysis. Many people are forced to perform iterative analysis as they deliver. To help ensure the effectiveness of your learning experience, consider this 5-step rapid needs analysis process when you find time is of the essence: Identify the improvement opportunity. Identify and clearly state the issue or improvement opportunity, and the desired organizational outcome. It's easy to assume that all the key stakeholders know what the issue or opportunity is, but there can be significant variations in people's viewpoints. Many... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2013 at The Total Learner Experience
I often work with clients who have questions and are interested in blended learning solutions. Here, I've outlined what I believe are a few positives and challenges for going blended, and then I leave you with questions you can ask yourself to help determine the best path to follow. Classroom Training Positives: Face to face. The Instructor can see/recognize when a student is understanding the material or not, and offer a personal touch. Classroom training is the current comfort zone in many organizations. Students may be more accustomed to it, and may not feel comfortable with online training. Classroom training... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2013 at The Total Learner Experience
A 2011 Aberdeen survey on the impact of sales training shows that the firms that enjoy the most effective return on performance improvement among their salesforce share these characteristics: 91% focus on instructor-led training as the most effective training modality 85% have defined competencies and training for each sales role 83% use of a formal sales methodology - either homegrown or from an external provider Salespeople drive the company’s revenue. The last thing a performance-focused learning organization should do is waste a salesperson’s time with training that is redundant, not relevant to the individual’s specific knowledge and skills, and doesn’t... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2013 at The Total Learner Experience
Recently, I tweeted on what I feel are five necessary elements of a disruptive learning experience: Story Journey Failure Redemption Resolution I’ll expand a bit here on what I mean by Story. Story unlocks creative consciousness Many of us that work on the creative side of writing and instructional design (and I argue that proper instructional design requires good writing) toil with what makes story most effective for our audiences. The very idea of story is about discovering the essence of what makes us human: good writing drops the reader directly into the heart of the matter, with tension, romanticism,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2013 at The Total Learner Experience
Red Hot Chili Peppers: I Could Have Lied (1991) Stevie Ray Vaughan: Little Wing (1991) Nirvana: Aneurysm (1992) Jimi Hendrix: Red House (1967) Guns n Roses: You Could Be Mine (1991) Cream: Badge (1969) Santana: Europa (Earth's Cry, Heaven's Smile) (1976) Danzig: Tired of Being Alive (1990) Suicidal Tendencies: I Saw Your Mommy... (1983) Michael Jackson: Beat It (1983) Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2013 at Boxes and Bytes
The world of instructional design is overrun with endless rules. Many rules are steeped in years of research and driven by appropriate learning theory. However, we think there are some rules that are OK to be bent, twisted, or broken to fit specific needs. There’s an old saying that in order to break the rules, you need to know them. In this series, we are going to take some long-lived rules of Instructional Design and discuss the when and how to break them. Agree or disagree? Let us know! Rule #1: “Avoid Direct Instruction” Direct Instruction (DI), is the explicit... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2013 at The Total Learner Experience
Yes, we have multiple delivery channels for "learning experiences". I get that. We have eLearning, Virtual Live, mobile, printed manuals, phone support, hell even Skype and FaceTime. Yep. Learning Experience Designers (LEDs) have lots and lots of choice. But, for me, the first default I go to when considering a new learning experience is classroom. I only end-up delivering about 50% of my learning experiences in the classroom, but here's why I *think* classroom first: Classroom works when... need your learners to connect to each other. Really connect. Like, sit next to each other and discuss, argue, debate, show... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2013 at The Total Learner Experience
Well, I just found your blog via a link from Ian Bogost on Facebook. He linked me to the post on AirBnB and Uber. Love that post. I blog on Typepad as well, and have yet to find a significant audience, however, I also blog on and will now link back to the AirBnB/Uber post. Don't give up. I like what I see here.
Toggle Commented Jan 4, 2013 on Self-Assessment 2013 at Whimsley
1 reply
The last few years have been quite revolutionary for the field of instructional design. Since the release of the iPhone in 2007, the “mobile revolution” has spawned an entire new design and delivery mechanism for training. Additionally, the focus on developing “courses” has evolved to developing “learning applications” and more "chunkified" content experiences. With this rapid pace of change occurring, it can be somewhat overwhelming to pause long enough to figure out how to leverage emerging technology in a meaningful way that appropriately supports the mobile workforce. As we continue the transformation away from tethered to mobile computing, there are... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2013 at The Total Learner Experience
The Internet has transformed almost every aspect of our lives, from how we work and play, to how we connect with each other professionally and personally. This change is transformational on a scale rarely seen in human history and compares to the invention of movable type, the printing press and the ability to transmit recorded sound and images. Based on this change, corporate learning and development (L&D) organizations need to recognize the three forces fueling the learning transformation that is happening now: Globalization Global access to markets and talent is reshaping the fundamentals of business operations Demographics Multiple generations (up... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2012 at The Total Learner Experience
Brandon Carson is now following
Apr 26, 2012
Bobby's mom took a long drag from her cigarette and sputtered in her raspy voice, "You're a stubborn buck, boy. Too stubborn for your own good. You used to have some friends. What happened?" Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2012 at Bobby: A Facebook Story
When the sun goes down, Bobby's demons come out, roaring some sins. Here comes the card-sharks, grifters, mainliners, moon-shiners and the guns and ammo. There is no salvation for those that ramble in the mysteries of the night... Especially when it's crowded inside the belly of pain. Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2012 at Bobby: A Facebook Story
Every morning Bobby's mom wakes him with a hug, her arms holding onto him like she's rescuing a pound dog from certain death. Bobby tucks his head into the fold of skin between her arm and chest as he yawns into the day. He knows he's an outcast. At school,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2012 at Bobby: A Facebook Story
Bobby has one crazy eye. It just kinda "works on its own". His friends think he's more trouble than he's worth -- but he's got all these ideas. Ideas on how to live it up. He's a spark, or a magnet -- he's got a pull. Bobby spends a lot... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2012 at Bobby: A Facebook Story
Bobby, a weird, lonely Midwestern kid stands perilously close to someone else's ledge. When his mom leaves he puts on her lipstick, and wipes it off really quick when she returns. Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2012 at Bobby: A Facebook Story
Assessment is used to measure learning outcomes, but if you see it only as a testing tool you’re missing half its value. Assessment should not be punitive; it should uncover the learner’s strengths and help identify areas for improvement. Well planned and integrated assessment creates opportunities for learners to reflect on their learning, apply new skills and knowledge, and also enables the business to recognize ROI on the learning intervention. Adapting existing models can take you much further than re-creating the wheel. In this post, we examine some guiding principles for effective assessment. An excellent example of assessment as a... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2011 at The Total Learner Experience