Stuck in PDF Hell? Try Movavi PDF Editor

I have a love/hate relationship with PDFs.  I love them when they work well but often times, especially when I’m editing one, well it can be a nightmare.  I was working on revamping a PDF I made a few months ago as a resource to accompany a presentation. While I have access to Adobe Acrobat DC on my work devices, I need something cheap and easy for my personal use.  Even in Adobe Acrobat DC, I find manipulating a pdf can be cumbersome and honestly a time suck.  I wanted the ability to move assets around and I stumbled across a great tool called Movavi PDF Editor

Movavi PDF’s features
This tool has many features including:

  • Tabbing which is set up like a browser.
  • Adding or removing pages from existing PDF documents and then rearranging the sequence in which they are presented.
  • Rotating pages within PDF documents.
  • Inserting JPG and PNG images into PDF pages and adjusting their position, size and orientation.
  • Combining separate PDF files together. This includes the ability to export content from many programs and merging it with existing PDF documents.
  • Save JPG or PNG images as PDF pages.
  • Ungroup assets on the PDF and move and manipulate

The last feature was what I was interested in.  Much like bringing a vector drawing into your favorite editor and ungrouping it, this tool allows you to ungroup and arrange assets in the PDF.  You can see it in action in this screen recording.

I’ve become a fan of using PDFs to accompany presentations instead of handing out a slide deck. Here is an example created for a group presentation led by Sean Hickey, Greg Nagy, and myself from Learning DevCamp 2018.  We took inspiration from the old Nintendo Power magazine and took our slides and expanded on talking points and made sure there were spots for note taking (which is a fillable box in PDF).

What PDF hacks do you have?  Are there tools that you use to get more out of them?  I want to hear about it!


Giving Back in L&D: How Do You Serve Others?

I am in the process of moving to a new position within The Ohio State University and it got me thinking about how I got to this point.  I was thinking through some of my favorite L&D experiences and was reminded of a work experience I had a number of years ago, and the changes I saw in people’s lives as a result of the training program. That place was the Region 2 Workforce Development Board in West Virginia and that job was as an adult educator.

What is Region 2 Workforce Development Board? To provide some context, in the state of WV when you receive public assistance such as Medicare, HUD, WIC, etc you have to do something to “earn” it.  The options are to maintain employment at least 20 hours a week or enroll in a job-like activity. The center I worked for provided the job-like activity. We were a one-stop shop to help folks earn their GED, create a resume, learn technology skills, enroll in university classes, and even earn college credit during the class. The tenure of each learner varied.  

Depending on their goals, some would leave after they earned their GED, others when finding jobs, and some came and went as they pleased.  If they did not reach the 20 hour a week attendance requirement, they were kicked out and I had to notify their Department of Health and Human Services caseworker.  After a month or so, many would usually come back to my class. Some learning from past mistakes and others still making them. On average, I’d have a classroom of 25-30 adults at one time ranging in age from 17 to 60+.  Each person had a specific reason for being there and a specific goal.

This photo reminded me of all the great and not so great things I saw during my time there:

  • I saw a single mother gain the confidence to earn their GED and later graduate from a local community college.


  • Another woman had a drug felony in her background because she was 17 years old and her parents got caught selling drugs out of their homes and the system threw the book at her too.  She found employment as a court reporter and thrived.


  • Another woman had the courage to leave an abusive relationship and faced the harsh realities of being on her own for the first time in 10 years and quickly found herself homeless.


  • One time when I went to one of the satellite centers to work for the day, I had a knife pulled on me by a man that busted in the center looking for his “old lady”.  It was the rare time I had a co-teacher who happened to be a retired prison warden so that got taken care of quickly.


I could continue story after story after story.  These are real people and it’s important to remember that when we provide an L&D product.  I didn’t build eLearning. I didn’t put these folks through a formal training program. I delivered to the best of my ability the three C’s: compassion, curriculum, and cause.  Each one of these folks was dealing with hardships that I couldn’t imagine and had never experienced. By being an instructor there, it made me a better person. It also made me realize that that “L&D thing” you are making, well a real human is reading it, listening to it, and wondering how it can help them in their current situation.  

Poverty has a name.  Poverty has a face. There are many poverties all around the world. Being able to help someone work towards defeating it, that is some major power. It was something that I certainly didn’t expect in this role.  To be honest, seeing real people improve, isn’t that why many of us got into L&D? Do you have that feeling in your own organization?

I’d like to throw out a challenge for you to give back in some way.  In the next few weeks, I’ll be launching another 6-week challenge, this time dedicated to service. Adult education centers are just the tip of the iceberg.  This is equally a challenge to myself as well. Myra Roldan has been kind enough to provide me with some guidance setting it up to make sure it’s easy to understand and participate. I hope that you too will participate.

Many of the L&D professionals I know are kind folks.  If each of us takes time to give back in some way, think of how much better the world will be.



Achievement Unlocked: Unicorn Horn

“Oh you are so creative!”
“I don’t know how you come up with those ideas”

I’ve been told that I’m creative. It bugs me when I’m told that I “think outside of the box”. I don’t see a “box”. Even though my mind wanders and I have so many ideas, I know that creativity isn’t a biologic trait. Creativity just happens. There have been many studies that suggest that creativity happens when we let it go.
Writing this article, I was inspired as I was working on another assignment. Something inside of me got me thinking about creativity. Maybe it’s the Super Bowl commercials in the background, maybe it’s because I don’t want to focus on writing a paper. I cannot pinpoint it, but I do know that being able to unleash your creative powers is important. Taking a fleeting thought and being able to articulate that into a product (eLearning, blog post, etc) is a skill that you can work on and build.
Here are some tips for you to unlock your unicorn horn:

Let It Go

I know this probably goes against a lot of advice you received, especially in traditional education, but it is ok to let your mind wander. A good part of my day my mind thinks through my future, ways to tackle a current pain point, even how to build my next instructional design product. An analogy I use to illustrate this is fishing. Even though I may have my fishing rod reeled in for a portion of the day, the vast majority is spent having my fishing rod cast into a deep lake. To be successful, you must bait your hook. So many people struggle with letting their mind go. I bet you can remember some amazing stories and memories from your childhood. Start there and think about what those look like within the frame of today or even the future.

Change Your Physical Environment

Have you ever had a great idea in the shower? How about driving home from work? Sometimes in order to think about something differently, you need to change your physical environment. Try it next time you get stuck.

Learn To Not Care What Others Think

Much to my credit or detriment (depending on the day), I rarely care what others think. I’ve shared ideas, writing, etc to pretty ugly criticism. It doesn’t phase me. I don’t feel the need to be understood. I have a gang of awesome people that support me and this is a must have to unlock your full potential. I recently shared this awesome video of Will Smith that sums this up perfectly
Life is too short to deal with crappy people. I’ve had to cut a lot of people out of my life because they want to tear me down instead of lifting me up. Ain’t nobody got time for that 😊


If you try any of these techniques or have others to get you in the creative mindset, share them!

How to Make a Cinemagraph in Powerpoint

This week I was tagged in a great conversation with many instructional designers on Twitter. I was specifically asked what I was working on and if it was an emerging technology.

Cinemagraphs are image files that feature a slight animation, making a focal point. There are many ways to make a cinemagraph including using programs like Photoshop and Flixel but I wanted to see if it could be done in Powerpoint. The answer is YES it can!

A great example of cinemagraphs in action, thanks for sharing Mel Milloway!

To create a cinemagraph, you need to take a photo of the splice of video you’d like to animate and crop the animated portion on top of the picture. Here is how you do it in Powerpoint:

eLearning SuperPowers: ELH #187


I have made the top 12 list here 🙂

I know you have probably said it because I know I have. “I don’t have time to do the Articulate eLearning Heroes Challenges. I have started the year being focused and intentional so on this MLK day, I used my day off of work to build this.

From the ELH#187 page:
Challenge of the Week
This week your challenge is to share a top 10 list of things you want people should know about e-learning.

Your list can be for any audience. For example, you can target your list to a general audience, those new to our industry, or even to experienced e-learning designers.

Your entry can be a static list, blog post, explainer videos, an interactive graphic or infographic, or anything else you’d like to do.

My Process:

My mind immediately went to superheroes.  eLearning Developers need to use many skills in order to build an appropriate solution.  I decided I wanted to create an interaction with hotspots, explaining what I think people should know about eLearning. Total time to create the interaction: 35 minutes. It is not perfect and certainly is not polished but I wanted to show that you can build a prototype and share an idea without using a ton of time. If I wanted to take it to the next level, I’d add superhero costume elements with the hotspots so when you select Sonee’s eyes, it also reveals a mask.

Here is a part of a screencast of the development using Articulate Storyline 360:

Check out the finished product



Book Review Engage the WORL&D by Zsolt Olah

I was not paid, coerced, or asked to do this book review.  I did it because I wanted to 🙂

When I first heard about the whimsical Zsolt Olah writing a book, I knew one thing….it would be different than any other learning and development book I have ever read.  If you would like to hear Zsolt talk more about the book in his own words, check out this TLDCast episode.  If you are looking for the next Dick, Dick, and Carey book, you are barking up the wrong tree.  If you are looking for an entertaining read peppered with real-life examples from Zsolt’s 20+ years in learning and development then you have come to the right place.

Engage the WORL&D starts off with a map of The WORL&D and an invitation to zap it using the Zappar augmented reality app.  When you do so, you are introduced to LI DOE (The Last ID On Earth) and your guide throughout the book.

Who wore LI DOE better?  Palpatine or me?!

Throughout the book, you will see LI DOE go through a transformation as the gender-neutral hero travels the world and performs instructional design tasks. This is framed in a humorous story that reminds me of a modern Chaucer Canterbury Tale.  In order to perform the learning and development tasks, LI DOE uses the Magic Mojo Hexad (an instructional design competency model that looks like the baby of a Simon boardgame and Trivial Pursuit wedge holder).  As you read each chapter, you unlock one of the missing traits of the Magic Mojo Hexad to help aid LI DOE on the adventure. The name of the places on the map also help you remember the topic the chapter focuses on.

My favorite chapter was the one focused on Human-Centered Design.  Zsolt starts the chapter explaining how important it is for learning and development to focus on the NOW and focus on our users.  So many times I have seen (I’m sure many of us have) the use of technology because it is shiny and new.

I hope this song is stuck in your head now, too 🙂 Disney’s Moana, all rights reserved.

Zsolt then says something that I love:

“…you don’t want learning to stick.  You want people to stick with learning” (p. 111)

The examples of gamification in this chapter are great, including the shout out to one of my favorite shows, Top Chef. I love the challenges in this chapter including playing a new game every week and asking who you are in the game, the goal, and what does or does not make it engaging.  Personally, video games have played a big role in my creative development in learning and development.  In a future blog, I will be sharing some of my favorite games and how they have influenced me in instructional design.

This is not just a passive read.  In one chapter that focuses on critical thinking, you are asked to recall information about an earlier story.  I admit that I failed.  Zsolt thought about the reader while crafting the story, peppering in an experience, and having the reader focus on what they already know about the topic and how they can improve their own learning.

The true reward for reading this book has to be the resources.  Highlights include LI DOE’s AI Framework (with a built-in sense of humor) and Stuff To Read (Zsolt’s extensive list of book recommendations).

Engage the WORL&D is a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously but that does not mean you should overlook the advice and resources throughout.  It was a lighthearted read that I enjoyed on my Amazon Kindle.  I’d recommend this book to folks newer to instructional design because it shares many lessons that you do not want to learn the hard way.  Excellent read and I’d highly recommend.

Where to Find Me In 2018!



I am so blessed to say that 2017 has been the best year of my career.  Here is where I can be found in 2018!

January-April 2018

  • Applied Instructional Design, online graduate course at The Ohio State University.  This is the 2nd level of instructional design courses offered in OSU’s College of Education and Human Ecology.  I am serving as a practitioner mentor, meaning that I provide students feedback and help guide them in the instructional design process.  Students also have the option to work with real clients on real instructional design projects.  I am absolutely thrilled and honored to be a part of this.  The course’s professor is Dr Ana-Paula Correia
  • I’m also enrolled in two courses: Scholarly Perspectives in Learning Technologies & Learning Technologies Diffusion, Innovation, and Change.  These are my first two brick and mortar classes since 2014.  It will take some getting used to physically going to class and let’s face it, Jan-March in Columbus can be a brutal time to be outside.





  • Learning Dev Camp  Salt Lake City, Utah June 11-14, 2018.  I’ll be presenting and tweeting up a storm 🙂
  • EdMedia Amsterdam, Netherlands June 25-29, 2018.  Hoping to present and of course being a typical tourist.



  • ATD Chapter Leader Conference October 11-13, 2018.  Arlington, VA
  • AECT 2018 Association for Education Communications and Technology.  Kansas City, MO. October 23-27, 2018