Welcome to My (Flat) World

This week’s eLearning Heroes Challenge was to create a flat office or desktop theme based on your own work space. I love the visual design challenges so I jumped into to this one wholeheartedly!

What is flat design?

For the visual design newbies out there, flat design is a style that focuses on making images look simple, rather than realistic.  It’s 2D rather than 3D with minimal shadows and shading and is very clean and modern. It is also really easy to create flat images using just some basic shapes!

My inspiration

photoHere is a picture of my work space.  It’s cluttered (though not as cluttered as it was yesterday!).
Because of that, I decided to use it as inspiration rather than create an exact replica.  I actually tried making a close replica at first and boy was it
terrible.  Perhaps this means I need to simplify my office set up?

Well, that’s a question for another day.

My design

I ended up cutting out some of the desk shelving and moving the cork boards over to that area instead. I also cut out all the stacks of papers and magazines and flies as well as 4 of my 5 pencil cups.  I don’t know why I have so many pencil cups but I’m sure it is someone else’s fault.

2014-09-16_11-43-53I decided to keep my most fun element, a panda shaped pencil sharpener and mini shredder (you turn its tail to make either action happen), along with my yellow walls. I also added in my cat on top of the printer as that is her favorite napping spot when I’m in the office.

Adding some interactivity

In theory, this would be used as a setting for an interaction.  I think it would be a little crowded to use as a simple background. So I went ahead and added some interactive elements into it. You can drag the pencil to the panda to sharpen it, view “videos” by clicking on the webcam or first monitor, read an excerpt from one of the books, or view documents in the inbox, on the cork board, and from the printer.

Click on the image above to check it out and let me know what you think!  You can also download the source file to use or pick apart at your leisure.

Postscript: While my office has a PC desktop setup, I actually created this on my brand new Macbook Pro while sitting on the sofa in my living room… Just another person prodding Articulate for a native Mac version of Storyline. (Yes, I have put in a feature request!)

Flipped Primer – Part 5

Alright.  I have already talked a bit about flipped learning – what it is, how to do it, pros and cons, and tools for implementation.

This last installment is a set of examples of how flipped learning is being used in the workplace.  There are some cool uses in here so please read on!

New hire onboarding48_l

Think about the last time you were a new hire.  How was the onboarding process?  More than likely, it was a lot of manual reading and directions with very little application.

Lee and Recker tell the story of a US technology company that flipped this model. They used to hold a standard six hour classroom session for all new hires. Now the company immediately gives students access to a training application full of exercises completed with the help of a manual. The go-getters are able to complete this part of the training in just three hours. Of course, some follow up is needed, so a virtual one hour session is conducted to emphasize the key points, assess understanding, and answer remaining questions.

The outcome? Training time was decreased and retention was increased.

Sales Skills training

Lee and Recker also present a model for flipping sales training. I don’t know much about sales training – it’s not something I have ever done or participated in. But from what I gather, it usually requires sales people to leave work, travel somewhere, and sit in a classroom for a few days listening to a lot of  lecture and occasionally participating in some role playing (bleh).

2233425566_55ce200871_oThis flipped model for sales training looks a bit like flipped learning in college or a K-12 classroom.  It starts with some recorded lectures, then students answer questions and discuss the material in online forums. The live session can occur either face-to-face or virtually and is used to answer remaining questions and practice, practice, practice. A wonderful key feature of this model is that the collaborative tools used at the beginning (forums, or some other virtual tool) are also used after the synchronous session to support students in the field.

I love this model as it is a simple, low cost, effective way to switch up any kind of skills training.

Product training

I found a couple of great examples of how flipped learning can enhance training on how to use new products – an type of training where flipped learning really makes sense.

cat-244060_640Vayuvegula presents an example of a company switching up training on a new software product. Traditionally an instructor conducted a face-to-face training lecturing on what the software does and how to use it. In the flipped model, employees completed an eLearning course on product theory and were able to experiment with the product before a synchronous virtual session with an instructor. During that session, users asked questions and shared their experiences rather than listening to lecture. The learners found that the information was immediately applicable and tailored to their needs.

Sams and Bergmann share an example of how a hair care company is reconsidering how it trains stylists to use its products. The company usually conducts one day workshops for a new product where a trainer presents information in the morning and students practice on models in the afternoon. The company is looking toward a flipped learning model using instructional videos viewed prior to the event in order to give stylists more time to perfect their application of products.

Flipped webinar

One of my favorite examples I came across was this flipped webinar by Jane Hart. What she did was simple and had a great impact.

6736359515_7d6cfa0e3e_zJane didn’t want to host a typical webinar with very little up front information, then lots of talking during the event interspersed with some Q&A, maybe a poll or two. Instead she asked participants to read an article beforehand, do some exploration of the topic if they wanted, and leave questions and comments on a blog site. The comments and questions helped shaped her presentation, which was pretty informal. During the actual webinar she answered questions that were left on the blog, encouraged discussion, and integrated some collaborative activities.

Flipped Conferences

I don’t know about you, but every time I attend a conference there is at least one breakout session where I wished I had made a different choice.  738px-Socks_cat_1

Well, the Professional Convention Management Association hears our pain and is working on ways to encourage meeting planners to flip meetings and conferences. A key component to this is assisting presenters in creating short videos explaining what the session will cover in the hope that participants can better decide what sessions to attend. A great side effect of having some preview material is that sessions could be more interactive.


So that’s it!  Flipped learning in 5 nut shells.

If you have a great example or idea of how flipped learning can change up the corporate classroom, please share in the comments below.


And of course, some further reading:

Hart, J. (2011, December 11). The flipped (or social) webinar. Learning in the Social Workplace. [Web log]. Retrieved from

Lee, B. & Recker, J. (2013, May 23). How to apply the flipped classroom model for buisiness learning. [Video file]. Retrieved from

Sams, A. & Bergmann, J. (2014) Flipped learning: Maximizing face time. Training + Development, 68(2), 28-31. Can be found at

Vayuvegula, A. (2012, October 11). Have you heard of flipped classroom in corporate training? CommLab India Blog. [Web log]. Retrieved from

Vayuvegula, A. (2014, January 13). Key element for the success of flipped classroom concept in corporate training. CommLab India Blog. [Web log]. Retrieved from

…And it’s Ikea for the gold!

I don’t know about you, but I’m really bad at sitting.  When I sit too long my knees start to hurt.  I slouch and my back starts to hurt. I fidget and fall out of my chair.  Really.

So a little less than a year ago I jumped on the standing desk bandwagon. I couldn’t afford a real standing desk so I made a nice hack from Ikea odds and ends. It was a gold medal solution…  until I changed jobs within my company and moved to a new office.

But this week I finally got my standing desk back in its rightful place!  In honor of that, I thought I would take a little time to talk about my office set up.

image of my desk set up

Ikea hack you may have seen floating around the internet is a great starting point and inspired the design of my DIY standing desk.  I used 2 Ikea end tables, as I have 2 monitors. And since I wanted the shelf that holds the keyboard and mouse to be a little offset, I brought in the big guns – velcro strips – to attach it to the brackets. Otherwise, I followed the model pretty closely.

If you’re worried about it holding up, one of the most frequent comments I get is about how sturdy the whole thing is.  I also lean on it way more than I should but it has held up nicely.  It’s a great value considering the entire set up cost just about $30.

So, what ergonomic considerations are important for a standing desk?

Well luckily, you don’t have to worry about a chair since that can get quite costly. But it’s important to make sure your gear fits. Take some measurements and figure out how high to put the shelf that will hold your keyboard and mouse. You can also use a handy dandy internet calculator to figure out where everything should be placed. My stuff is all a little higher than I would like, but I’m short and it couldn’t get any lower with the elements I was using.

Good monitor placement, wrist rests for my keyboard and mouse, and a nice anti-fatigue mat are all part of the set up as well. (The mat still hasn’t made it to the office but it will soon!)

Notice that little lamp on the right hand side of the picture.

I’m lucky enough to have an office mate who hates the fluorescents as much as I do.  We each brought in a few lamps and voila!  Our office has lovely soft lighting that keeps us alert but minimizes strain on the eyes.

One thing to note about lighting – it is important to make sure you don’t have glare on your monitor and that your brightest light source is to the side.  Lamps can help you accomplish this nicely.

The best part of it all? Dual monitors.

Really, I can’t emphasize enough how much easier these make my life.  They are almost crucial for anyone working on elearning or a similar pursuit where you have several programs running at the same time. And certainly useful for anyone else who likes to watch cat videos (or the Olympics!) while responding to email.

What do you find particularly useful in your office set up?  What tweak, hack or item makes your life golden? Share your must haves, tips, and tricks for a great working environment in the comments below.