Environmental Defense Fund’s mission is to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends, focusing on the most critical environmental problems. Houndstooth partnered with EDF to show how clean energy is thriving. Graphics, animation, and music by Houndstooth.
In 1997, I worked in a development job about as removed from web-delivered content as one might imagine. I sat in a gray expanse of cubes, and programmed microcontrollers. My computer interface looked like this:
One day I got an email – a novelty still in 1997 – that contained a link to this site on the World Wide Web. Back then one could click on links with impunity, so I did. I saw this:
That probably doesn’t look like much today, but to people accustomed to all the web you could cram through 28.8 dialup (viz.animated GIFs, flashing HTML text, etc) this early appearance of Flash was pretty cool. To my eye, accustomed to command-line compilers and pointer arithmetic, it was a complete revelation.
Thus began my journey out of embedded development, through the peripheries of the video game industry, and into the world I inhabit today at Enspire Learning. Until recently, Flash figured prominently in Enspire’s business. Continue reading →
VCA Animal Hospitals operates over 580 small animal hospitals in 41 states and Canada. These hospitals are staffed by more than 2,600 fully qualified, dedicated, and compassionate doctors who provide the very best in general and specialty veterinary care.
In a national survey of VCA doctors, 87 percent identified “improving exam room communication” as the skill with the greatest impact on their job performance. To help doctors grow in this area, VCA partnered with Enspire Learning in 2011 to create the Communication Works: Happy Doctors, Loyal Clients, Healthy Pets program. Built from extensive field research with VCA doctors and over four decades of evidence-based studies on doctor-patient communication, the program is designed to lead to healthier pets, happier clients, and more professionally satisfied doctors. The program includes a classroom-based collaborative learning workshop, online training modules for content and skills reinforcement, and an online repository for readings, discussion forums, and other resources.
Enspire and our media arm, Houndstooth, developed a trailer (below) for the program’s launch. Read this case study to learn more about our work with VCA!
Enspire’s media arm, Houndstooth, and Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing recently collaborated on a video designed to help educators support prekindergarten programs in their districts. Click on the image below, and then scroll down slightly to see the video. This won a AIGA Texas Show Gold award. Enjoy!
Is 3D media a better choice than 2D for asynchronous learning experiences?
First, context: I think marketing and entertainment savvy have an important place in training and development. All cross-disciplinary approaches to improve the design and production of exceptional online learning experiences are welcome. Enspire’s own media subsidiary, Houndstooth, reflects this philosophy – cross pollinating heavily between the worlds of marketing, learning, and entertainment, and deploying 3D or 2D media as need dictates.
That said, I’ve noticed customers are specifically seeking out vendors to create 3D environments for asynchronous learning experiences. Note the “asynchronous” modifier. I’m referring to single user experiences, not multi-user virtual worlds.
Enspire’s Houndstooth media arm provides design and high end media production for Enspire Learning products and custom services. HT also explores creative projects outside the learning space in Austin and beyond. All this creativity finds its way back into Enspire work… a virtuous cycle.
Every year, writer/director Richard Linklater‘s Austin Film Society honors outstanding Texans who’ve made a significant contribution to film and entertainment, and non-Texans who have advanced the Texas entertainment industry.
Houndstooth developed the motion graphics package for the 2012 Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards banquet, held at Austin City Limit’s new home – The Moody Theater – in the W Hotel in downtown Austin. Houndstooth also designed and executed custom lighting for the event, painting the outside of the W with a kaleidoscope of color. View HT’s Ziris loop and other videos here, and pictures from the banquet on Flickr.
Catch KLRU‘s rebroadcast of the show on May 14th at 10:00 PM CST!
Enspire’s media arm, Houndstooth, designed and executed the lighting for the Austin Film Society premiere of Richard Linklater’s new film Bernie. The premiere took place at the Violet Crown Cinema, with director Richard Linklater, star Matthew McConaughey, and co-writer and Texas Monthly Executive Editor Skip Hollandsworth in attendance. Hollandsworth’s 1998 article “Midnight in the Garden of East Texas” recounts the strange tale of beloved Carthage, TX resident Bernhardt “Bernie” Tiede, his close friendship with the town’s most cantankerous widow, and her subsequent disappearance. The film also stars Jack Black and Shirley MacClaine.
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities,
in the expert’s mind there are few.”
– Shunryu Suzuki
Is it easier to train a beginner or an expert? I need only reflect on my repeated failure to learn a foreign language in my adult years in order to answer this question. I’ve studied both Spanish and French, but whenever I encounter French or Spanish speakers, I must arduously translate the words and sentences I happen to recognize into English in order to understand them. At this point, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I really want to learn either of these languages, the only thing left for me to do is to pick up and move to Paris or Mexico City, to immerse myself in an environment where I am forced to upend what I know about language and become a beginner again.
Well-designed simulations are like these foreign countries I imagine moving to. They offer the opportunity to immerse ourselves in environment in which we are forced to challenge our expertise, to disrupt the long-rehearsed patterns of our daily lives and work. In doing so, simulations allow us to grasp the possibilities of learning complex tasks and systems in ways that cannot be merely studied. This is where the true power of training simulations lies – in turning all of us “experts” into beginners in some way.
This is not to say that expertise isn’t useful, but it is inherently limited from a learning perspective. When we call upon it, we foreclose on possibilities for viewing our area of expertise in a different, often deeper way. Therefore, the first question in designing a training simulation is not so much how we can create experts but how we can get individuals with varying areas of expertise to approach a task or challenge with a beginner’s mind. It is from that place that we can affect the greatest behavioral change in our audiences.
Before I came to Enspire Learning, I spent years working as a chef and restaurant owner. I’m frequently struck by the degree to which working for a learning provider is like working at a restaurant. Some restaurants sling pre-packaged value meals. Some learning providers do that, too, while others prepare sumptuous feasts created specifically for the person or business consuming them. People working for both of these businesses need to share a common preoccupation, though: customer service. More often than not it is the quality of the service experience, not just the quality of the training or the meal, that brings customers back for more.
How can you improve your customer experience? In every professional services engagement there are multiple touchpoints with the client. Plenty of people have an opportunity to delight the customer, or alternately degrade their experience to the point that they never want to come back. I’ll talk about my old business – the restaurant business. In the restaurant business, a customer’s experience starts before she even sets foot in the door and doesn’t end until she’s left the parking lot. There are many points of contact before and after a diner enjoys the meal where a little extra effort can go a long way. Continue reading →