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Interview with Dana and Chris Haines of Boondocked Media

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You’ve probably heard of Digital Nomads: folks that are location independent and use technology to perform their jobs. But have you met any in the eLearning industry? Then meet Dana and Chris Haines of Boondocked Media. Based out of Texas, Dana, Chris, and their two children, live and work out of their Jayco Seismic 4212 RV Camper. They were kind enough to answer a few questions about their exciting and unique lifestyle.

 

1.    I love the name “Boondocked Media” — Can you explain its origin?
Well… it was honestly a collective effort, several late nights, and a million phone calls with our uber supportive family and friends. How could we not involve them in something so fun?! Ultimately, the two words have two major representations. Boondocked: it’s what we do (camp), even though it technically isn’t a real word. Media: we didn’t want to limit ourselves to eLearning given we have other talents in the areas of writing, design, photography, videography, and web design.

2.    What’s a typical workday like for the two of you?
Wake up and have a coffee walk. Work. Make a smoothie for lunch and have a lunch walk. Work. Take the kids to Tae Kwon Do. Work. Ideally, we like to stop work around 4 pm, but that very rarely happens.

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3.    As eLearning Professionals, what are your specialties?
Three things: One, we love programming complex interactions in Captivate. The second is taking a whole book of text and making it totally understandable and digestible in a simple infographic. The final specialty is graphic design and laying out screens in Illustrator to ensure pixel-perfect placement.

4.    Can you name a project you’re particularly proud of?
We honestly don’t have a favorite. In fact, we’re convinced Boondocked Media is a magnet for all possible challenges in Captivate. We are learning something new with each project, and we’ve come never to assume that any project is a slam dunk.

5.    Name five tools you currently use that you couldn’t live without

  • 1 – Airdrop … When we are in remote areas we’re able to share files back and forth very quickly, and it’s a good tool when we divide and conquer a project via collaborative tasks.
  • 2 – Rode mics … We have several different mics and are constantly surprised at what a difference they make for a small investment.
  • 3 – Adobe Captivate … Because it is traditionally viewed as a harder-to-use authoring tool, knowing it so well sets apart from other developers.
  • 4 – Adobe Libraries … When we have repeat projects from the same company, it makes customizing screens in Illustrator sooooo much easier.
  • 5 – 45’ toyhauler … It holds absolutely everything we need to get through the day whether we are in the middle of the Mohave Desert with no one around us, or comfortably tucked away in an RV resort plugged into all amenities.

6.    Where do you seek out your professional development opportunities?
When we were in Houston, Dana was a community leader for ATD, so that gave us a good foundation for what to look for when we visit new places. We have a few subscriptions for web development tools, and Dana watches very closely what the web environment is doing and how it changes one upgrade at a time. No doubt, TLDC was our absolute greatest professional development event during this past year on the road.

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7.    Is there anything you’re currently researching to learn more about?
During TLDC16, we were turned on to 360 video. Chris, in particular, is delving into that and seeing how it can be used as an enhanced media tool inside of eLearning courses. We do travel to meet with clients and could easily capture requested footage.

8.    So far, where’s your favorite location to work from?
It is hard to pick our absolute favorite. However, we can quickly, and agreeably, tell you our most memorable. Earlier this year, in April, we docked in Yosemite during the height of the waterfall runoff and had zero connectivity. Of course, we had video conference meetings scheduled just about every day. After reading a previous social media thread, we knew there was a spot three miles down the road we could get a -Verizon signal. We tested that spot out, it worked, and the rest of the week we had the most breathtaking view in the middle of nowhere overlooking the Yosemite Valley floor.

9.    Any recommendations for people that might be interested in pursuing a similar lifestyle?
Be a little crazy. Be very bold. Be over the top confident, and spend 10 minutes every single day – even when you are beyond exhausted – working towards putting your dream into place. Know that every family ends up executing their own version of this lifestyle based on their individual needs, so don’t expect your dream to look exactly like ours. We had the same number of obstacles as anyone else, and with our whole heart, we can confidently state: If we can do it, ANYONE can do it!

10.    So who drives?
Ugh, not Dana! So here’s the story with that. As we prepared to launch, we had a list a mile long of items and responsibilities that needed to be sold, donated, purchased, executed, ended, passed off, learned, etc. The only thing on the list we regret not completing was teaching Dana to drive with the camper attached. Chris is a phenomenal driver whose skills have been tested at least a dozen times. Dana has a lap desk and usually works (except in California where the roads are too bumpy).

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