ACM Logo  An ACM Publication  |  CONTRIBUTE  |  FOLLOW    

The Rock Stars of eLearning: An interview with Chad Udell

By Rick Raymer / May 2013

Print Email
Comments Instapaper

Are you curious about mobile learning and why it's relevant in your organizations? Perhaps you've heard that 90 percent of our learning experiences occur informally through our everyday activities and interactions, but you're not sure how or if this is applicable to your business. Maybe you'd like to learn how your training initiatives could be more effective and meaningful for your learners.

If you've ever pondered these issues, and you're not quite sure where to find answers, Chad Udell, his company Float Mobile Learning, and his book, Learning Everywhere, are fantastic resources. Chad has a knack for boiling down these complex subjects into high-impact solutions. Float Mobile was an early adopter and shaper of the Experience API (Tin Can). Their mobile app, Tappestry, which tracks informal learning experiences, was built on Tin Can, and is freely available for your smartphone or tablet. If you haven't used it yet, download it now. It's a great platform for tracking your everyday learning experiences. I've personally found it to be highly valuable at conferences, where I can record my �ah-ha� moments, and compare them to others at the conference.

With that, I give you my next eLearning Rockstar, Chad Udell.

When people ask you, "what do you do?" What is your response?

I work for a mobile learning focused consultancy, Float Mobile Learning. I help shape mobile solutions and strategies for medium and large business.

If you were going to classify the industry you are currently a part of, what would you identify this industry as? What motivated you to get into this industry?

The learning or training industry, specifically focused on corporate or adult learning. I got started in training via designing and developing educational games and experiences for tradeshows and museums. Eventually, I was building eLearning and then, of course mobile apps and websites.

Why are you passionate about what you do? What makes you enthusiastic about what you do?

I feel as there is a tremendous opportunity to affect real change in this space right now. It seems as though people are open to change at this time and are responding to my messages in my speaking, books, and applications. Change comes slowly, but at this time, things seem to be accelerating a bit!

What are some of your "big ideas" for improving yourself, your learners, the industry, society, etc.?

Really, my kids have been the main way I have been improving myself…I learn stuff from them every day! Beyond that, I read…a lot—blogs, Twitter, magazines, articles, and books. Just about anything on learning that comes out and looks interesting will probably be consumed by me. I also follow mobile and design oriented publications, personalities, and sites to stay fresh.

I feel as though a big idea that a lot of people in the learning industry need to get accustomed to is that good learning design is often just good information design. Instructional design isn't dead, it's metamorphosing into good information design.

Learning about content strategy, learning analytics, and curation is more important than learning the newest version of [INSERT PRODUCT HERE].

What suggestions do you have for "turning your learners into fans"?

Don't tick 'em off! But seriously, don't make them wait, don't make them click through your pedantic overwrought intros and narrative, and don't make them look at a walk on avatar that explains how to use whatever it is you just created. If you need that, you've failed.

What are some of the best examples of eLearning that you have seen? What is considered "state of the art" in our industry?

I think that some of the communities out there like Khan Academy and a lot of the content on Udemy is really good. "State of the art" would be a recommendation engine that tells me what I should learn based on my role, intent, and history. Contextual awareness FTW! I don't think we are there yet, but it's coming.

What needs to change in our industry? How will it evolve?

L&D needs a identity makeover, a little slap on the face, a cool shower, and maybe a cocktail or a coffee to snap out of our doldrums. We need to get over the fact that "learning" is really less important for your audience than increasing performance and intrinsic knowledge. We need to understand that the only way to get invited to the party (or higher profile corporate efforts) is to stop being so bookish and get your act together. You are there ultimately to help you coworkers do their job, not �learn� in the traditional sense.

Who are some of the people that you consider to be the "rock stars" of our industry, and why?

  • Aaron Silvers—The beard is reshaping learning into his own image. It's rakish and wears a kick butt scarf.
  • Kris Rockwell—Kris know games, you should know him.
  • Reuben Tozman—This guy is on a whole 'nother level. His book, Learning on Demand, is a must read.
  • Jane Bozarth—Jane cuts through the BS on social learning like a Benihana chef cuts through the onion volcano. She's accurate, approachable, and entertaining to watch present.
  • Koreen Olbrish—I really like her candor and attitude. She has a lot to say and knows where things are headed.

About the Author

Rick Raymer is an eLearning consultant specializing in gameful design. Previously, he was a primary solution architect at Serco Inc., working with integrated product teams to design, develop, and deliver state-of-the-art learning games, interactive courseware, and simulations. In addition, he designed and managed production of eLearning, games, and simulations for the North Carolina Community College System's BioNetwork organization, and was the VP of Product Development for Oasys Mobile, a top 10 mobile games publisher. Raymer has been designing videogames professionally since 1996. He has produced more than 40 games, with titles on every major gaming platform including consoles, PCs, handheld devices, and mobile phones.

© 2013 ACM 1535-394X/13/05 $15.00

DOI: 10.1145/2483758.2487722


  • There are no comments at this time.