This blog post is by Articulate Community Manager Jeanette Brooks.
Gerry Wasiluk isn’t your average Super Hero – in fact, he’s much more influential. He doesn’t wear a mask or leap tall buildings in a single bound. Instead, he wears a friendly, welcoming smile and wields superpowers stronger than any kryptonite: traits like helpfulness, dedication, and approachability.
Gerry’s been a pillar in corporate education for 27 of his 37 years at 3M, and beneath that mild-mannered exterior, he’s been a powerful force-for-good in the Articulate community since 2004. Though he recently retired from his job as Learning Solutions Manager in 3M’s HR Talent Solutions group, we’re glad to know he won’t be hanging up his Super Hero cape anytime soon! He plans to continue his legacy by staying involved in both the e-learning field and the Articulate community.
We recently caught up with Gerry to find out what makes an e-learning Super Hero tick, and here’s what we learned.
#1: Super Heroes jump in with both feet
Way back when he was a novice Articulate user, Gerry recognized the value of actively connecting with other e-learning folks. When the Articulate community forums first launched, he immediately became a regular, checking in almost daily to exchange e-learning tips and advice with Articulate users and staff. And he hasn’t stopped since! In fact, to this day he holds the all-time record among Articulate users for the greatest number of forum posts —more than 8,300 posts combined from the original Articulate community forums and the more recent E-Learning Heroes forums!
“At first, my involvement in the community was mainly about learning the software. 3M had just begun using Articulate on a widespread basis, and I needed to get up to speed quickly so I could help other new Articulate users at 3M,” Gerry explains. “But in the process of jumping into the Articulate community, I made all sorts of new friends and colleagues—people from many different organizations and backgrounds with whom I can share, exchange ideas, and learn. The Articulate community quickly became an important part of my professional network. The chance to see how others approach and design their e-learning, and to bounce ideas off of colleagues around the world, is priceless.”
#2: Super Heroes share their knowledge
When it comes to helping others, Gerry’s never been one to hold back. Because of his constant commitment to sharing his knowledge, he became one of the first Articulate MVPs (now known as Super Heroes) and he continues to exemplify what it means to be a community leader. You’ll frequently find him sharing resources and advice in the forums, or helping someone out with e-learning answers. (He’s also been known to inject his crazy sense of humor into the forums now and then, too!)
He’s so passionate about knowledge-sharing that he even helped established a monthly internal Articulate user group within 3M. “We designed the group to help 3M course developers move beyond creating ‘just presentations’ to building true e-learning courses,” Gerry says. “The group was also a great avenue for keeping our folks aware of all the resources in the Articulate community. That way we could concentrate on supplementing those resources with 3M-specific topics.”
In true Super-Hero fashion, he leveraged his experience from the 3M user group and turned it into a helpful resource for the whole Articulate community by authoring a popular Word Of Mouth blog post on how to build effective internal communities of practice.
Gerry also makes a habit of sharing with the e-learning community at large—he was a favorite presenter at Articulate Live ‘09, and his talks on engaging e-learning have been a big hit at events such as the eLearning Guild’s Online Forums and local ASTD meetings.
Where does he go for presentation ideas and input? The Articulate community, of course! “I turned to other course developers in the E-Learning Heroes forums to get their thoughts on engaging e-learning, and their ideas became central to my talk. In many ways it became a truly community-inspired presentation, and I always make sure to credit the community when I present.”
Tom Kuhlmann, Articulate’s VP, Community, says, “The Articulate community’s success is ultimately about helping people, and there’s no better ambassador than Gerry. He models all the right things: he’s kind and respectful of everyone, he’s always willing to help people out, and he has a natural, unassuming way of encouraging others.”
#3: Super Heroes never stop learning
Another hallmark of Gerry’s superheroism is that he’s always eager to learn. “Even though I’ve been blessed to be an Articulate MVP and Super Hero, I really only think of myself as a learner and a contributor,” he says. “I’m not formally trained in e-learning development—my background is in administering and facilitating classroom sessions, distance education, videoconferencing, and designing registration systems and websites. So, the opportunity to constantly learn from other course developers is a real lifeline.”
Gabe Anderson, Articulate’s Director of Customer Advocacy, describes Gerry like this: “His relentless desire to learn more and to devote countless hours to helping others embodies what the Articulate community’s all about. His designation as an MVP and Super Hero is something he takes very seriously, and he has really earned it! He constantly reaches out and has a friendly, knowledgeable, reliable presence in the community.”
Clearly, Gerry’s doing something right! Last year he was a semifinalist for one of the highest awards at 3M because of his work in creating, supporting, and administering e-learning. And at the time of his retirement last month, 3M had deployed more than 4,000 Articulate-published courses via their learning management system, under Gerry’s oversight.
Gerry’s take on being a perpetual learner: “No one person ever has all the answers —but as a community we can help each other by sharing and learning and tapping into our collective wisdom. I find that both liberating and stress-reducing!”
#4: Super Heroes always look for ways to do things better
Never satisfied with the status quo, Gerry has also been a source of significant design and enhancement ideas that have helped shape the direction of Articulate products. He and his colleagues at 3M contributed to Articulate’s early development discussions about Articulate Quizmaker and Articulate Engage. Gerry has also served as a diligent beta tester of both Articulate Studio and the soon-to-be-released Articulate Storyline.
Articulate QA Manager Dave Mozealous says, “The thing I will always appreciate about Gerry is his passion for great software. Even though he’s a friend to many of us, you couldn’t label Gerry as an Articulate fan boy — he always provides honest, meaningful feedback, and he pushes us to constantly improve, based on what’s important for customers. I’m really lucky to have interacted with him over the years.”
What’s next for this Super Hero?
Now that he’s retired, the natural question is: what’s next?
“One thing’s for sure, I won’t be sitting on the couch watching talk-shows and soaps, and eating bonbons!” he declares. “I want to stay involved in this field, even if only in a part-time or voluntary fashion. I’m actually taking some time to go through some wonderful books on e-learning – some of them I’m re-reading, and others I’m reading for the first time. I also want to go back to Tom Kuhlmann’s Rapid E-Learning Blog and re-read everything from the start, and re-visit many of the posts in the Word Of Mouth blog. I like to go back to the basics from time to time and re-learn or reinforce the essentials, and unlearn anything that’s not working.”
Besides staying involved in e-learning and the Articulate community, Gerry has plans to do lots of traveling and sightseeing with his wife, Katie. National parks and historical sites rank high on their to-do list.
His sage advice to folks who are new to the Articulate community? “Take the plunge. Contribute. Ask questions. Give your thoughts and perspectives. Don’t be shy – the waters in Articulate’s E-Learning Heroes community are really friendly! Anyone willing to share, grow, and improve by answering questions or engaging in community discussions is an MVP in my book.”
Congratulations on your retirement, Gerry, and many, many thanks for the countless things you’ve done (and continue to do!) to make the Articulate community an amazing place. We admire and appreciate you!