I’m pleased to announce that Tom Kuhlmann, Silver Winner of the 1st Annual Articulate Guru Awards and known by thousands of Articulate customers around the world as Articulate MVP Doofdaddy, is now an official member of the Articulate staff.
Tom is our new VP, Community, so you can expect to see an even bigger presence from the Doofdaddy in the Articulate Forums, as well as the rollout of other exciting offerings to come.
I was delighted to meet Tom in person at last week’s ASTD conference in Atlanta. Now you get to learn more about Tom in the below interview:
Gabe: A very big welcome to you, Tom! As one of our key contributors to the forums, you’ve probably been mistaken for an Articulate employee in the past, so hopefully it will be a natural transition for you in joining our team. Can you tell the user community a little about your background?
Tom: First, I am really excited to be part of Articulate. I have been in the training industry for over 15 years. Most of that time has been focused on multimedia development. It wasn’t that long ago that I was building 35mm slide shows. I still have some old equipment. I’m hoping that there’s a movement towards retro training design and then I can rummage through some boxes, find my slide projectors, and be ready to go (laughs).
I’ve had the privilege of working for some small organizations as well as large ones like Capital One, Washington Mutual, and most recently, Weyerhaeuser. Larger organizations obviously have more complexity when it comes to delivering training. However, I’ve found that all organizations basically have the same issues. They need to operate at the speed of business. For e-learning that means good quality, cost-effective development, and rapid delivery. Those issues introduced me to the Articulate products a few years ago … and I haven’t looked back.
Gabe: So you’ll be working with our community of users? What do you envision?
Tom: Ironically, while I was sitting in Starbucks contemplating the opportunity with Articulate, I was reading an old article from Fast Company on innovation. Something the author said really stood out. “Innovative companies deliver jaw-dropping products and jaw-dropping service.” That statement confirmed the decision for me.
The Articulate products are outstanding and the customer service is great. I have been a customer for more than four years and am enthusiastic about the products. They literally saved my organization’s thousands of hours and provided millions in value. At one organization, we delivered over 200 rapid e-learning courses in a single year. This was not possible just a few years ago.
What really makes me excited about Articulate is the user community. I’ve done research in communities of practice. As a matter of fact, that is one of the reasons I initially became involved in the community forum. Articulate’s user community is a model for communities of practice.
I equate the Articulate user community as a virtual e-learning coffee shop, where you come in and chat with other users. If you just want cream and sugar, it’s there. However, if you’re really stumped and need some help, there’s always someone there to talk with.
It is welcoming and a great resource for help. In fact, I am bummed about living on the west coast because when I go to the community forum in the morning, all of the expert users in earlier time zones have already answered the questions.
Right now, we have a model community. It’s a great learning environment where experts share readily with the “noobs.” I want to continue nurturing the community that way. My vision for our community of users is that it is an extension of the work place and that you have a network of peers to help you succeed. I’ll listen to what the community needs and support it in a way that helps the users do the best job they can do with our software.
Gabe: What are your thoughts on the future of our industry?
Tom: This is an exciting time for our industry. The technology is creating many opportunities to do our jobs better. The challenge is that many rapid e-learning developers are not Flash programmers and trained instructional designers. From a practical perspective, they can build e-learning courses rapidly. However, the next step is to help them build good learning environments using the tools.
My personal mission is to play off the long “a” in our logo. If you’re an Articulate user, I want to help you get an “A.”
I love talking to users and participating in the forums. Right now, I’m developing resources to help our users become e-learning heroes. Even if you don’t currently use our tools, I think you’ll find the information useful.
I look forward to where we’re going and helping others get there. If you think Articulate tools are great now, wait until you see the next generation rapid e-learning tools. They’ll blow you away.
Please join me in welcoming Tom to the Articulate team!