Caturday quickies: What’s going on in the garden?

Just a little note to give you an update on how things are going, or not, with the back yard.

The trees are gone and the hostas and ferns are beginning to recover.  Phil wanted to construct a roofed gazebo on our patio, but realized it would be fairly expensive.  Solution: a purchased gazebo.  He chose one that has a solid roof and intended to bolt it to the patio with tap-con screws.


Sadly, it’s bigger than the patio.  Solution: Phil is going to dig post-holes and sink some sono-tubes in the ground and pour proper footings for the gazebo.

Unfortunately, it’s been too hot to do a lot of work on the weekends.

So we wait.

Second problem, we had this small pond beside the patio.  It’s never been what either of us envisioned, so it came out this year.  The ground has been levelled but there are still all the stones around the edge.

This was the old pond

This was the old pond

then we dug it out

then we dug it out

now it looks like this (plus rubble)

now it looks like this (plus rubble)

Phil wants to replace them with retaining wall bricks or landscaping ties, but not until next year when he builds the deck overtop the patio and knocks down the brick retaining wall he build several years ago, and a whole bunch of other stuff that I think is a little too ambitious.

We’ll see what can be done.

In the meantime, it’s no outdoor office for Mellie.

As far as the gardens go, I’ve decided to let them grow wild.  I keep up with the weeding as I can, but I’m not moving plants from one area to another, thinning, or any other typical gardening duties.

The result is wonderfully chaotic.


itty bitty vine, HUGE flower

itty bitty vine, HUGE flower

Note how this clematis has grown up under my window (!)

Note how this clematis has grown up under my window (!)

And the Hedge Rose

And the Hedge Rose

Strawberry harvest is done.  Had about a week’s worth of berries on my morning cereal.  Perfect.

And my hedge rose has gone crazy this year!  I’m not complaining 🙂


My mom is helping a friend prepare for a move down south to be near family.  As a result, I’ve nabbed a couple of things.

A lampe Berger.


And another dolphin for the office collection.


Tomorrow: An ever so brief pupdate (the last, I hope) and another book review.  I’m thinking Blaze Ignites.

See ya then!

Caturday Quickies

8 Good things I’ve learned from bad computer-based training

So … we were provided this computer-based training (CBT) product to help roll out what may appear on the surface to be a fairly minor change, but turns out to be quite a complicated change that has an impact of several aspects of the work our front-line and processing staff perform.

The intent was to send the product and its accompanying Job Aid out to all staff, and let them have at.  There would, of course, be a policy brief released and online tools to help with the adjustment.

At first blush, the CBT looked great: interactive, with exercises and self-assessment tools …  That was before anyone actually tried to work through it.  Early on in the process, when it had already been decided that the CBT would be insufficient for our needs (thank goodness) I and several of my colleagues had a chance to go through the CBT.

I had no problem, but I’m tech savvy, I know how these things are generally designed, and I also play with things.  I click in apparently inappropriate places.  I muck about until I figure out how something ticks, and then I git ‘er done 🙂

The first problem was the site onto which the CBT was loaded.  It wasn’t particularly user friendly and several people couldn’t figure out whether they needed to log in, set up a new account, or reset their passwords.  The system was a little glitchy too, and offered errors when the CBT was accessed, requiring a re-log.

After I helped everyone get logged in and set up, I waited for the reviews.  This is what we discovered:

  1. Though pretty, the CBT was very much of the “clicky-clicky, bling-bling” species that Cammy Bean reviles.  Read about it on her blog.  Go on, I’ll wait.
  2. There were no clear and easily accessible instructions to inform learners what they needed to do on any given page (e.g. you have a picture of a luggage rack on the screen … and … ?).
  3. Navigation was accomplished through varied small or awkwardly-positioned cues.
  4. Exercises and tests contained no clear instructions, nor any mention of the purpose of the activity or how it would apply to the learner’s work.
  5. When working through examples, the learner can not navigate back to the scenario page and so has to write everything down and work it out by hand, or muddle through on a memory and a guess.
  6. All the assessments were self-assessments.  How could anyone determine if learning had taken place?
  7. The CBT was filled with acronyms, but no definitions.
  8. There were errors in the examples.

Turn all these negatives on their heads, and you have 8 take-aways for elearning.  See how that works?

When the CBT was given to staff, many of them were so frustrated with the experience, they stuck to (and got more out of) reading the print material.

Ultimately, the CBT was about how to get through the CBT, and the real learning was lost.

Admittedly, we don’t have the time to correct the existing CBT, or to develop a new product.  As flawed as it is, it’s what we have to use.

Next time, though, I hope the development team keeps a few things in mind:

  1. The importance of bringing subject matter experts (SMEs) who have some course design experience and technical aptitude into the fold. There are a few of us out there.  Use your networks and resources wisely!  Even if I had the time, I couldn’t redesign the CBT: I don’t have a license for the tool used to create it, or anything similar.
  2. Design for how people think.  This means keeping the end-user in mind.  It has to be a product that both your mother and your ten-year-old nephew could navigate through equally easily.  This means beta-testing on a group of your target audience and taking their criticisms seriously.
  3. Assessment is not just for the learner, it’s for team leaders and the advisors who are going to have to answer all the questions your learners have after the CBT experience.  It’s also for trainers, course designers, and IT, so they can figure out how to make a better product next time.

In the end, the CBT has to facilitate learning, support retention, and help the learner apply the knowledge when he or she returns to work.

Oh, if I were king of my little learning world 🙂  And yes, I’m a woman and I want to be king.  Got a problem with that, do ya?  I didn’t think so 😉

How have the best-laid plans of upper management and IT gone awry for you?  Did you tuck any lessons away for future application?  Have you learned good things from a bad CBT?

The Learning Mutt is signing off for another week.