FocusOnI’m busy preparing for the FocusOn Learning conference that will be taking place 8-10 June in Austin, Texas. I’m leading a pre-conference workshop titled Guerrilla Video Techniques for Beginners, as well as two conference sessions. The first will be on Thursday on the subject of effective video for learning on a shoestring budget, and the second on Friday titled, “Lights, Camera … Wait, Who Has the Script?”

I’ve been so wrapped up in this and other activities that I managed to nearly disappear from my social media channels, which prompted a good friend to reach out and see if everything was okay. Yet another reason to love my network, but also a reminder to check in. So here is a brief, off-the-top-of-my-head summary of what’s going on. I look forward to your thoughts.


It’s getting even more huge for learning and development than ever, which I see as catalyzed by the incredible capabilities of smartphone video cameras and the increasing capabilities of low-cost or free video editing solutions. I’m personally creating a lot more workplace videos over the past few months and doing what I can to help others do the same. Two weeks ago I volunteered to write a few scripts for videos on using SharePoint for a common workplace collaborative task. After finishing the scripts in a few hours, I corralled a colleague and we quickly recorded her on camera and then captured her voice track. The next day we delivered videos instead of scripts to our customer. And just last week, after a day-long (and valuable) training event, I made a news report video using the technique I learned in this video on YouTube. It was was great. Better, we recorded it on my MacBook Pro in less than 10 minutes and did the editing in less than two hours, so we enthusiastically played it for our team the next day. So much for 4-6 week video productions.

I’ve gotten completely wrapped up in new techniques to add interest to the short videos I produce. I placed a preorder for a SoloShot, a robotic camera, that I intend to use for simplifying making videos with me on-camera. I’m also now ordering a selfie stick, something I never thought I’d do, after getting inspiration from Casey Neistat on YouTube. I may not be doing aerial acrobatics in my videos, but I intend to step up my game and begin vlogging here soon.

A new venture

IMG_0263My wife, Lauren, is a geriatric care manager and licensed by the state of California in Residential Care for the Elderly. She’s quite busy these days seeing to the care needs of her clients, some of whom live out of state. She is also now in the process of opening a board and care facility in Torrance, California, that will serve the housing and care needs of six memory-impaired residents. So how does this all involve me? I’m her webmaster, graphic designer, and Chief Technology Officer. With the board and care facility under construction, I’m also now an interface with the contractor who is doing the renovations for the facility, as well as the CFO of the corporation. It’s an exciting venture and an adventure, but not without a great deal of work.

Brother Erik

IMG_5478In my last article, you “met” my beautiful Arianna. She continues to do well with her eyegaze device and is rapidly approaching the end of the school year and will go quickly into four weeks of summer school before easing into two months off. That presents a care challenge for us as parents, but we may well be flying to Armenia soon – either during summer school, and likely again after.

I titled this section, “Brother Erik,” because that’s how his name is programmed into Ari’s speech device. When we adopted Arianna in 2009, we met her older brother Erik and have remained in contact with their family via Skype. Well, Erik’s grandmother, his legal guardian, passed away a couple years ago and we have been working to adopt him. The trouble is, he’s now 15 years old and once he turns 16 we can’t file the application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS). The paperwork was daunting, but now filed. We are conditionally approved with CIS and now waiting to make it through the process that has to run its course in Armenia. Our attorneys here in the U.S. tell us we just have to be patient, that we can’t rush another country. If you have any ideas, please let me know.

So that’s my brief check-in. We’ll be back with our regularly scheduled program with my next post, and look for a flurry of activity here and on my Twitter feed between 6 and 10 June.

Thanks for reading!
~ @tomspiglanin


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