Hey, Teachers: Monetizing Learning Online (Part 2 – Skillfeed and Learning Paths)

 In the last blog post, I suggested that you start thinking about how you would like to educate. What’s the learning objective as an educator? This is an important concept to have cemented before you approach the next task I want you to consider: Your education funnel.

Perhaps one of the biggest things that plague the online education market is that it fails to fully structure learning objectives together for a consumer. The reason is fairly simple – in most online learning platforms, you have instructors that are working asynchronous.
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Filed under Education

Science Works at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

Last weekend, fellow Nerds TimRyanMandiGary, and I had the opportunity to participate in Science Works at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  The purpose of the event was to get kids interested in STEM careers so the museum held a mini-career fair and invited a number of companies in to give hands on experiences for kids and hopefully get them excited about science, technology, engineering, and math!

Since the Nerdery focuses on interactive development, the Museum had us set up in the entrance to NetWorld, the museum’s exhibit dedicated to the internet.  Since most people think of the web when they think internet, it was the perfect place for us to demonstrate how easy it can be to get into web development.  We had two interactive demonstrations we were showing off.  The first one was aimed at pure beginners and was showing people how to alter web pages using Google Chrome’s built in developer tools.  The second demonstration was a series of animations done using canvas in HTML5.  The series started with drawing a simple shape, then how to duplicate the shape many times using a function, then moving the shape, then finally putting that all together and making a particle emitter.  You can see the source code for the second demo on github.

WARNING: if you are looking at the 4th example, you may want to set SEIZURE_MODE_ON to false, otherwise, be prepared for some hot, crazy flashing background action.

All in all, it was a fun day!  Seeing the kid’s excitement as they changed the content of various webpages was priceless.

UX Apprenticeship Results – Cohort 1

The last time I wrote about UX apprenticeship on this blog, it was still just an idea. Okay at that point it was more of a plan. But now, we’ve graduated our first cohort of apprentices to the role of Associate UX Designer! The past 12 weeks have been the most professionally rewarding of my career and in them I have learned a ton about what worked well and not so well about the program, and this article spills all the details. And I mean all of them. It gets so detailed that I am handling this like any other research report; I’m kicking it off with an executive summary (aka tl;dr).

Executive Summary

  • 3 of 4 apprentices hired into the Associate role
  • The fourth has a job waiting for her once she graduates from college
  • Cohort 2 was approved and four more apprentices start 9/9
  • The basic model was successful, but some elements needed to be tweaked or dropped along the way
  • Upcoming changes for Cohort 2 should make the program even more successful

Establishing Business Value

The program achieved its business goals, although it was more of an upfront investment than we originally intended. It proved difficult to enable it to pay for itself through apprentice billings, but hiring three new ready-to-go designers allows us to earn our investment back quickly. We’re now planning to integrate apprenticeship into the structure of all UX projects to reduce this difficulty in the future. If a project is structured to accommodate an apprentice from the beginning, assigning apprentices to projects in a billable capacity will become much easier than it is now. Read more

How Games Can Engage Users and Impact Real Business Objectives


At The Nerdery, we are technology agnostic, meaning that we do not advocate for a particular platform or technology.  Instead, we begin by researching and defining user goals and business goals and then determine the platform or technology solution.  If the goals are to track user performance or change behaviors, consider using games as a vehicle for change.

Some may ask, “Don’t games just waste time?  How do games actually help with my business objectives?”  Consider the engagement users experience with challenges, achieving goals, advancing to higher levels, and learning new skills. These are all desirable objectives for business.

Gallup reported that 70% of workers are not engaged in their jobs, which costs businesses billions of dollars every year, so finding new ways to engage people is even more important than ever. Read more

User Experience Design Apprenticeship

Demand for user experience design talent is exploding. More and more people are asking UX designers how they can become UX designers, too. UX-related degree programs are proliferating. While this seems fantastic on the surface, if you dig just a little deeper you’ll find that the demand is for experienced UX designers, the supply of which is extremely limited. This experience gap is a threat to the health of the UX profession. If we don’t close it, we risk losing relevance to business (they’ll find some other way) and becoming unattractive to potential new designers (why struggle to get into a field so hard to get into?). So, how can we close the experience gap? At The Nerdery, we’re building an apprenticeship program to take people with the raw materials required to be great UX designers and help them build the skills that will make them so.
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Tips & Tricks: Creating Efficiencies For Your Development Projects

Ryan Carlson Employee Photo

As referenced in Episode #7 of the NerdCast, “Launching Successful Agency-Partner Projects Under Pressure”, our guests discussed a lot of things that can be done when partnering with a development company to help projects go a lot smoother. These are efficiencies that can directly impact projects on tight deadlines. Below are tips and tricks that can be employed by anybody that is engaging a development partner like The Nerdery.

Highlight Reel:

  • Developing a partnership versus a vendor-client relationship. This allows for building new process and workflow dynamics. Partnerships are built on trust and working around one another’s processes. Vendor-client relationships have a tendency to suffer from a lack of communication or a lack of understanding of the creative and development process on both sides of the fence.
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Primer Notes: Mobile Apps – Cutting Costs, Not Corners

In this installment of the Nerdery Primer series, we explore cost saving advice that can be applied when creating mobile applications. The discussion is led by Jon and Ben, two senior mobile developers at The Nerdery. The discussion specifically addresses common areas in which iOS and Android application developers can reduce the cost of creating applications by making smart decisions during project planning and working more efficiently.

A Sample of Discussion Topics Include:

  • How to reduce costs within the project planning phase of the project by setting realistic project requirements.
  • Identify how technology choices and device support can impact the overall cost of a project.
  • Cost savings found within the visualization and design of the application.
  • Common technical tips and tricks used to create efficiencies.

Nerdery Primers are LIVE webinar events that features up to two unique topics a month. Live viewers have the opportunity to participate and have their questions answered in a live Q&A format. Recordings of each Primer will be available on the blog the following week. If you would like to receive an invitation to join our LIVE Primer events, you can do this by entering your email address at the bottom of this web page in the ‘EVENT UPDATES’ field.

If you have a topic you’d like our Nerds to discuss, please send an email to

Filed under Education

Nerdery Tech Talk: Overcoming Scaling Challenges at Pinterest

Pinterest engineer Dave Dash paid us a visit to talk about the nerdy work of Pinterest’s internal operations team. After a high-level overview of Pinterest, he took us on a deep dive into the technology behind it. Dave gave us context on the rapid-growth challenges of a startup company from an operations perspective, like the inherent issues and inefficiencies with code deployment to hundreds of machines in the cloud, pushing feature updates, managing code repositories, and the internal tools they needed to create efficiencies within Pinterest. For anyone interested in how Pinterest has managed to stay on top of the rapid adoption of their service and insight into their internal technical challenges and solutions, this talk rocked.

Filed under Education, Events, Tech Talk

Primer Notes: Project Planning for 2013

Filed under Education

Primer Notes: WordPress – Beyond the Blog

Filed under Education