Tony Karrer's eLearning Blog on e-Learning Trends eLearning 2.0 Personal Learning Informal Learning eLearning Design Authoring Tools Rapid e-Learning Tools Blended e-Learning e-Learning Tools Learning Management Systems (LMS) e-Learning ROI and Metrics

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

eLearning Event Calendar

Tom King, formerly with Macromedia, has created a Google Calendar for Elearning Events which he says he will keep up to date by emailing him at:

You can see the calendar for October Elearning Events. And Tom was nice enough to post my event in September.

Virtual Meeting - What's Next in eLearning - Wed, Sept 27, 4PM Pacific

I had mentioned this briefly, but someone reading my blog had just said they had not seen the announcement, so sorry for the late notice. I'm doing a virtual presentation tomorrow at 4PM Pacific (3:30 PM set up) on:

What's Next in eLearning

You can get information at:

It is being done for ASTD Los Angeles, but they said that its okay for others to register.

I will try to post a recording of the session (assuming its not horrible) in the next few days.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Is Gagne Relevant for eLearning Courseware Design?

There's an interesting discussion sparked by Donald Clark's - Gagne's Nine Dull Commandments. His basic point is that Gagne's:

  1. Gaining attention
  2. Stating the objective
  3. Stimulating recall of prior learning
  4. Presenting the stimulus
  5. Providing learning guidance
  6. Eliciting performance
  7. Providing feedback
  8. Assessing performance
  9. Enhancing retention and transfer to other contexts

is in his words ...

an instructional ladder that leads straight to Dullsville

His examples unfortunately hit a little too close to the mark for many of the courses that are built out there:

1 Gaining attention

Normally an over long Flash animation or corporate intro, rarely an engaging interactive event.

2 Stating the objective

Now bore the learner stupid with a list of learning objectives (really trainerspeak). Give the plot away and remind them of how really boring this course is going to be.

3 Stimulating recall of prior learning

Can you think of the last time you sexually harassed someone?

4 Presenting the stimulus

Is this a behaviourist I see before me?

5 Providing learning guidance

We've finally got to some content.

6 Eliciting performance

Multiple-choice questions each with at least one really stupid option.

7 Providing feedback

Yes/no, right/wrong, correct/incorrect try again.

8 Assessing performance

Use your short-term memory to choose options in the multiple-choice quiz.

9 Enhancing retention and transfer to other contexts

Never happens! The course ends here, you're on your own mate.

I completely understand his point about the misapplication of this model and the fact that applying it without some creativity leads to boring courseware. But, let's not throw this away as irrelevant quite so quickly.

I personally am a big fan of a model where you accomplish 1-3 by challenging the learner with an example that leads to the primary questions you are trying to answer with the course. Let's take his example: Sexual Harassment Training...

The example would be something that is a borderline behavior (someone talking about the Janet Jackson superbowl incident, a joke being discussed between colleagues, dating a co-worker when its not boss/subordinate) that should be seen as true to life, the characters should be sympathetic (not an obvious harasser) and it should lead us right to the key questions: Is this inappropriate? How do you determine that? What should you do if you have a question? What is the impact on you if you are involved? What is the impact on you even if you aren't involved?

Generally, this accomplishes 1-3 and hopefully you can lead the person through the example to all of the key questions (objectives) through the example. Sometimes you need to embellish this. Note: I personally try to avoid putting the learning objectives straight into the course. The language of learning objectives and the language you use when interacting with a student is different.

Okay, continuing the example, let's be a little creative about how to present the content. We don't just want to present a bunch of information and have them read it. Let's continue the example that we set up and have the person in the story learn (along with us) how they should handle the situation. Have them find out (maybe in discussion with someone from HR) what the four factors are that can be used to determine harassment. It's going to cover the exact same thing, but you are doing it via a story and just changing language. Sometimes you need to stretch a bit or take the learner out of the story with some notes to cover additional material, but they are at least engaged.

Now for testing - unfortunately for a topic like the four factors that determine harassment, you are probably going to want to use a multiple choice question. I would argue that asking that via multiple-choice is going to be fine for the learner in this case (especially since you didn't hit them over the head with "learn this" in the first place). Definitely you should be able to set up scenarios and allow them to try-out different answers and see the result. Or test the user via a multiple-choice - what should you do in this scenario. Of course with a compliance topic, you are often limited on how gray you can make the examples - especially during testing.

Finally, as for follow-up, we have so much more opportunity these days. With sexual harassment as the topic, it may be a bit harder to do follow-up because you are trying to get people not to do something. I prefer to check in and see if they are doing something. But, wait, maybe we can convince the compliance office to allow us to ask learners if they've noticed any questionable behavior (which is actually one of the goals of more enlightened compliance programs - they do want reporting of possible incidents)? How about a nice short follow-up storyline-based piece that you can remind the user of the importance of the topic and maybe teach them something more? Even a reminder email from the compliance office is better than nothing. Sure, all the user may do is delete it - but give it a good subject line that at least puts the thought in their head for about two seconds. We certainly will provide additional content via eLearning in another year or two to help follow-up on it. Normally I also want to try to engage with managers who are involved in the overall performance initiative, but with the topic of sexual harassment, I'm worried that they would blow it off completely (what's in it for them).

What's my point with all of this? As instructional designers, we need to use models like Gange, but we also need to be creative. It takes me five seconds to add a little extra cheese and garlic salt to my kids Kraft Mac-n-Cheese, but man does the extra stuff make all the difference in the experience.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Adoption of Web 2.0 and eLearning 2.0 Revisited

A consistent pattern in our response to new technologies is we simultaneously overestimate the short-term impact and underestimate the long-term impact.
- Roy Amara of the Institute for the Future.

I have (and I believe that it's common) a natural tendency when looking at new technologies to swing back-and-forth between believing they are the best thing since sliced bread, trying something with the tool, running into barriers to adoption, feeling like they'll never get adopted. In response to my post Personal and Group Learning Using Web 2.0 and my post on eLearning 1.0, eLearning 1.3 and eLearning 2.0, I got asked about adoption. Will people really use this stuff?

To add to the mix, there's some very interesting discussion going on out of an experiment by David Pollard where he offered to collaboratively edit a document on why collaboration tools are underused. In the responses (Shawn, Wendy) and in the result and in comments around all of this stuff, you can see a myriad of barriers to adoption of collaboration tools. The irony of collaboration around why collaboration tools are underused is undoubtedly not lost by everyone.
But, this discussion is not limited to folks in the learning / eLearning world. In prior posts (Enterprise 2.0 - What's the PU? & Web 2.0 Adoption in the Enterprise - It's Personal) I provided links to lots of posts discussing adoption issues that come from slightly different context. My contention is that the same old technology adoption model holds:

Adoption Rate = Perceived Usefulness (PU) * Perceive Ease of Use

And with how easy these new tools are, the PEOU is going to be high. So, it will come down to their Perceived Usefulness (PU). But, ...
It's first and foremost about personal value.

Banking adoption on value to the department, value to the enterprise, value to the group, those are all hard sells. Thus, getting adoption of a new tool whose primary value is "collaboration" is a tough sell unless that collaboration has obvious, immediate value to the individual.

Now, while my personal pendulum swings back-and-forth around adoption of approaches that I describe in Personal Learning for Learning Professionals - Using Web 2.0 Tools to Make Reading & Research More Effective and Personal and Group Learning Using Web 2.0 Tools, I actually think we are seeing tools that will slowly gain traction in the enterprise.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Personal and Group Learning Using Web 2.0 Tools

In my previous post, I examined Personal Learning for Learning Professionals - Using Web 2.0 Tools to Make Reading & Research More Effective. That post focused primarily on how Social Bookmarking tools such as or Yahoo My Web can be used as part of Personal Learning. In this post, I want to focus on a specific scenario that involves Personal and Group Learning and how Web 2.0 tools apply to this need.

Scenario – a learning development department in a mid size corporation has five staff members. They want to define an eLearning strategy that will look at (a) the business needs of their company and internal clients, (b) their performance and learning needs, (c) their learning strategies, and (d) what they need to do from a services, technology, process and people perspective to support this strategy. They will be creating this strategy over the next few months and have many strong feelings among the group about different things they can and should be doing. The strategy will ultimately be presented as part of the fall planning cycle and be used as part of budget justification. It will also be used to help communicate with internal clients about the services they provide and how they can work with these clients. They also want what they define in the strategy today to live on and evolve over time. In order to accomplish this, they need to learn quite a bit about where things are today in their business and in eLearning and where they are going in the future.

Hopefully this scenario sounds familiar to many people. Now let’s focus on how several Web 2.0 tools could be used as part of a system that would support them in this challenge.

For this scenario, I’ve chosen tools that (a) I’m most familiar with, (b) are provide as Software Services, (c) are free – a big part of the reason I’m familiar with them. :) The tools are:

I’m also making an important early decision about what and how much we will share publicly vs. keep internal. We will keep all content on PBwiki internal only. We will intentionally make our Blogger conversations and Yahoo My Web links public. Of course, links to internal PBwiki pages can be seen but not accessed. It will be important for all staff members to keep this in mind as they use the systems.

To get this going, the department selects one person (who likes playing with systems) to first go through and set things up for themselves. They will help make it happen for the rest of department. Overall, the set up steps are:

  1. Create one PBWiki account with appropriate settings and they will use a single shared password – but changes will be tracked back to the individual. Initially only simple edits to the home page are made.
  2. Each person on the team creates a Blogger blog account
  3. Each person registers their blog on Technorati. I would recommend that you have one of the more technical person on the staff help make this happen.
  4. One person creates their blogline account and subcribes to (a) RSS feed from PB Wiki, (b) various eLearning Blogs, (c) all Blogger blogs from department. Finally, the technical person will provide the OPML link from bloglines and put it on the Wiki with instructions how to import it so that everyone else can import the same subscriptions.
  5. Each other person in the department creates a blogline account and imports the OPML so they are automatically subscribed to the same blogs
  6. Each person in the department signs up on Yahoo MyWeb. This includes downloading and installing the Yahoo Toolbar which won’t work in some corporate environments. Consider in these environments. Add each other member of the department as "contacts" in Yahoo MyWeb.

Now let’s consider what happens after things are set up. As part of an initial brainstorming discussion, it becomes clear that the business wants to be able to create quick hit eLearning pieces on their own with little to no involvement of the learning department, i.e., they need some kind of rapid eLearning tool that can be used by SMEs. The expectation is that some of the content will be sent around via email and sometimes it will include a brief quiz and they’ll want it tracked under the LMS. The department needs to figure out:

  • What do they need to provide to support this? What are the service offerings? How will it work?
  • What tools will work?
  • What do they need to do now to be prepared?

Again, hopefully this sounds familiar. Let’s look at some of the things that happen out of the meeting using the tools that were set up previously.

  1. One of the people on the team creates a page in the Wiki on Rapid eLearning. They put a quick note on the page to ask that everyone uses the tag “rapid” on things that relate to this topic. They go to Yahoo MyWeb and create a Web Badge that will show all recent links to pages tagged with “rapid.” They embed this on this Wiki page. The assumption is that over time, some of these dynamic links from the Web Badge will be copied and made permanent on the Wiki.
  2. Each of the members also should add a subscription in bloglines to Yahoo MyWeb tag “rapid”. You do this by going to MyWeb and doing the appropriate tag search and then grabbing the RSS link at the bottom of the page.
  3. The first task is to try to define the requirements, so a couple of the people in the department start searching for related content (in another post I’ll talk about how Web 2.0 tools might help you find better content).
  4. Each time they find an interesting page, they save it to My Web and tag it with “rapid” and sometimes add notes that the other members will see along with the link.
    They also copy and paste into the Wiki as the find interesting possible requirements.
  5. As they run into interesting issues (challenges, questions) around the requirements, they create blog posts. These are public so they get comments or feedback from other members in the department, but occasionally they get feedback from people working on similar issues or with relevant experience.
  6. Once they feel they have a good list of requirements, they post it again as a blog post and ask for anything they’ve possibly missed that was important.

Again, no doubt a lot of this process will sound familiar and will be only slightly different than what you already would do when you face this learning / work challenge. That’s a good thing. But let’s consider what’s happened here that’s a little different:

  1. You have collected links that are:
    • Easily shared between your group members (as easy as saving a favorite today)
    • Full-text searchable for everyone in your group
    • Published via RSS out to the group so they can see what’s going on
    • Available from any computer
  2. You have a collaborative editing location in the Wiki that can be shared with internal clients at an appropriate point
    • No need to shuttle around word documents with version numbers
    • No need to figure out how to post on your intranet
  3. You may have receive outside feedback / input on what you are doing
  4. You haven’t added one additional email unless you really wanted to send an email to the group
Except for item #3 above, I wouldn’t claim that this is revolutionary. Even item #3 you could do today using current technology such as a discussion group (and maybe still should). However, the net effect is much better support for this process.

Finally, there’s an important side note here. As part of your eLearning Strategy development, you should be learning how to use these tools to figure out if they should be part of your eLearning Strategy…

Let me know what you think. Are you going to try it? If so, please blog about your results. If not, why not? If you find good resources that give more detailed instructions or have problems, also let me know.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Decline in attendence puzzles professors

Found via Online Learning Update - Decline in attendance puzzles professors - Matt Krupnick, the Telescope. Interesting piece that addresses something I've wondered about for a while. If it's a class with 700 studens and pure lecutre, and you have a taped lectured and notes on the web, why bother going to the live class? Especially if you can play back the lecture in a fast-forward mode (one of the coolest features out there). Of course, what you also soon realize is that going through a long taped lecture isn't all that great - what you really want is the transcription.

And, if you have the taped lecture and the notes, why bother doing a new lecture again the next year?

It does raise some very interesting questions!

Blogs and Community

I just read Nancy White's Blogs and Community – launching a new paradigm for online community? Truly a great article on how blogs build community. Her description of a topic centric community really helps you to think about the loose community network that gets created by blogs. The article also pointed me to a couple of interesting related pieces:

What's Better to Build Community: Blogs or Forums? - Compares conversation in blog world vs. forums. What struck me was:

  • In general, blogs are great at connecting and bridging to a NEW community.
  • In general, forums are great at harnessing and growing an EXISTING community.

Put in a different way, blogs allow us to grow a community without going to a single location. A forum or mailing list is most effective if everyone agrees to go to that single location and abide by those norms. Blogs allow community to be formed based on common interests and the community grows and evolves in a very fluid manner.

It's an interesting time right now as I'm beginning to see many more blogs with authors talking about eLearning and slowly a community (a very fluid community) is growing.

Blended Learning Dead? - Huh?

I ran across a post by David Wilson - Is "Blended" really dead? He resides in the UK and during a recent discussion by folks who visited firms in the US, the general sense was:
"Blended Learning is still in the literature, but not discussed seriously"

Wow, really? If you are talking corporate learning, then almost everything is Blended Learning these days. The only thing I can surmise is either:

a. The definition of Blended Learning was a very limited definition of face-to-face instructor-led training with some courseware. Of course, even that is being done a lot.


b. It is so much part of everything that's being done that no one thinks about it as being anything worth discussing. In other words -
Of course we'll use a blended learning approach. Next question.
If you look at my Learning Design in a NutShell, the outcome of the learning design is a blend. Today, these blends are more and more interesting.

I can't imagine what they were saying.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In the Middle of the Curve: So what do we do now?

Found an interesting post via Brent: In the Middle of the Curve: So what do we do now? This post is a great example of first hand experience with the Learning Trends Point To and Shape eLearning 2.0. However, it sounds like Wendy is creating something that may be more eLearning 1.3 than eLearning 2.0.

I'll be curious to see if Wendy can get Moodle to work in a Web 2.0 way. Most of the time the LMS gets in the way of these approaches (see Do You WANT an LMS? Does a Learner WANT an LMS?)

Rapid Authoring Tools

Rapid eLearning Tools Satisfaction from the eLearningGuild Research reported Feb 2007 - Course Authoring and Rapid eLearning Tool Satisfaction

See also Software Simulation Tools.

Page update Mar 2008. When the above graphic was taken, it shows the overall satisfaction reported by eLearningGuild members about various tools.

I was reminded of the various Brandon Hall shoot-outs. For example, in 2007 PowerPoint to eLearning Shootout they compared:
Atlantic link scored the highest in the shoot-out. Of course, they were more looking at PPT conversion tools. Still, it's a resource worth looking at. It's also interesting to see the resulting applications. Some of them I could not get to run - which is always a bit scary. As far as Atlantic Link, I believe that the eLearningGuild survey treated them as a Software Simulation Tool and that's part of the reason they didn't appear when I created the graphic above (2007). They also didn't have many users at the time. I'm always somewhat skeptical of niche tools (see eLearning Course Development).

In June 2007, I added a few more rapid eLearning tools. I also updated the graphic that shows eLearning Tool Satisfaction at the bottom of the page - see also - Course Authoring and Rapid eLearning Tool Satisfaction blog post. This list includes a host of additional tools that eLearning Guild members consider rapid eLearning development tools including Apple Keynote, Microsoft Word, Trivantis Lectora, Respondus StudyMate, Brainshark Presentations, Vuepoint Content Creator, WebEx Presentation Studio, KnowledgePlanet Firefly, Xstream RapidBuilder, ReadyGo Web Course Builder, BrainVisa RapideL, OnDemand Presenter, Desire2Learn Learning Environment, Corel Wordperfect Office, SkillSoft Course Customization, Toolbook Instructor, LearnCenter, IBM Simulation Producer, Toolbook Assistant, and Cornerstone OnDemand. Many of these eLearning tools realistically are quite different than what I would consider to be the norm in Rapid eLearning Development tools.

Based on a couple of recent posts about Rapid eLearning and Rapid eLearning Tools (What is Rapid eLearning? & Rapid eLearning - More Definition), I was asked for recommendations on Rapid eLearning Tools. We've used several different eLearning tools and so I'm hesitant to say which is best, but thought it would be worth providing a list of eLearning tools. Most of these fit into the PowerPoint + Audio and most convert to Flash for delivery.

I've also added a couple of links at the bottom to other sources on eLearning Tools that might be helpful.

Articulate Presenter & Engage

Adobe Captivate –

Adobe Connect (formerly Breeze) –

Adobe Presenter –

Swish Presenter -

Camtasia Studio – w/ PowerPoint Add In

Microsoft Producer -


PointeCast Publisher


Accordent PresenterOne

Wondershare –

Tegrity -


Rapid Intake - Flashform

Harbinger Knowledge - Raptivity

Content Point from Atlantic Link




Embed Powerpoint Slides as Flash Presentations in your Blog without Spending a Dime –

Brandon Hall PPT to Flash Shootout (2004 - so a little old)

PowerPoint to Web Tool Recommendations for UW-Madison

Keywords: eLearning Resources
eLearning Tools

Monday, September 18, 2006

Cool Cat Teacher Blog: How to comment like a king (or queen!)

Great postL: Cool Cat Teacher Blog: How to comment like a king (or queen!) found via CrispyNews!

Ed Blogger - Crispy News

Interesting - I posted the other day about Wikis - Public vs. Controlled - Why There's No eLearning Wiki and several of the comments pointed out that something like Digg for eLearning would be great. I just saw: - News for Education 2.0. While this is not quite eLearning and is more education focused, it certainly is Digg for a particular community.

In the Future, Will A Student Even Know Where the Computer Lab Is?

Great post that makes you think - In the Future, Will A Student Even Know Where the Computer Lab Is? Just this weekend, my brother and I were discussing how computers are beginning to appear in all sorts of forms (think Xbox and Tivo) and with the advent of Software as a Service solutions, we are going to see quite radical changes in computing over the next 5-10 years. So, what do we do differently as designers of learning solutions in an always connected world, myriad of form factor world?

Keywords: eLearning Trends

Monday Question - Learning Design Different Now?

Jim Belshaw suggested in a comment on a previous post suggested that a good model for a blog is to post a question each week that might stimulate discourse (something that many of us want). The question today actually comes from a Lee Kraus post. The basic question is:

How is Learning Design different when we are using different learning techniques, especially bottom-up techniques based on personal learning and informal learning?

To help provide some context for this question, in a previous post I provided the following mental model of Learning Design:

The question Lee asked is whether this is the reality given that with new models of eLearning (see: eLearning 1.0, eLearning 1.3 and eLearning 2.0) where SMEs and the Worker / Learner play an increasingly central role in content development. For eLearning 1.3, much of the content is created as Rapid eLearning by SMEs. In eLearning 2.0, content is created by the Worker / Learner. At a crude level, we might consider the picture under these models to be more like:

This picture is meant to imply that while there may still be some traditional up-front learning design content creation will increasingly be done by SMEs and the Worker / Learner. Further, it will likely be done later in the process in an on-going way. IDs may play an on-going role of providing structure to the content, but they don't create nearly as much content. Instead, we will push tools to the SMEs or Worker / Learners to allow them to create their own content.

Given this context, the question: Is Performance Analysis the same? Do we look at the same Considerations? Or are we doing something very different? If it's different, then the natural question is: can our current understanding of Performance Consulting / ISD / ADDIE / etc. help us under the new model? Alternatively, feel free to tell me that this is the dumbest question you ever heard (and hopefully why).

Feel free to either add comments here, or to create a blog post and post a link to your post in the comments.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Be an Insanely Great Professional Conference Attendee (at eLearningGuild’s DevLearn)

As way of introduction to this topic, let me start with a typical scenario that you will recognize if you’ve ever attended a professional conference…

It’s noon and you are heading into the lunch area. The conference organizer has put signs in the middle of each table with a topic. One of the topics is LMS and there’s a seat available, so you sit down. You introduce yourself to the people sitting to your left and right. You ask each other the natural questions. “So what LMS are you using? How do you like it?” They respond with a superficial answer. And you go on with “Hmmm … that’s great. Do you have any plans while you are in town?”
Well you tried right. C’mon we’ve all been there. We’ve all gone through similar motions. If anything that’s the normal conversation. But let’s compare…

You walk in. Sit down at the LMS table. Introduce yourself. Then you say, “We are beginning to use more reference materials as part of the learning and back on the job. We’d like this to be tracked through the LMS, but we are running into a problem that if we try to track it, then the LMS makes you jump through a couple of hurdles to access it. Are any of you using reference material? Are you tracking it? How?”
Hopefully it’s obvious that everyone else at the table is going to enjoy their lunch conversation a lot more because of your questions and, of course, you are going to get a lot more out of the conversation.

What’s the difference between the two? If you read my blog you know the answer … Better Questions.

If you are planning to attend DevLearn in October, and really even if you aren’t but want to figure out what questions you really have, I would highly encourage you to TAKE ACTION by thinking through the questions you have about eLearning and CONTRIBUTING YOUR QUESTIONS AT THE END OF THIS POST. Psst … it’s also the

Secret to Being an Insanely Great Conference Attendee =>

Find Your Good Questions

At a conference, you will get significantly more from the conference by being prepared with better questions. And it’s not only lunch conversations. You’ll get more from walking around the expo floor … have you found yourself wandering aimlessly … that’s because you don’t have questions. You’ll get more from sessions you attend. And the speaker would LOVE it if you sent them questions ahead of their session.

Finding Your Good Questions

The old adage used to be “There’s no such thing as a bad question.” Unfortunately, if you’ve ever been a teacher or professor – actually a person – you know that there’s a spectrum of questions from bad (yes there are some) to really good. Good questions provide some context. They dig a little deeper. And, yes, they require a bit of thinking to find.

My suggestion is that you start by recognizing that likely questions are going to come from a variety of perspectives: career, project, learning department, and internal/external clients.

Let me give you some examples of questions that I think may foster a better conference:


  • I have a background/degree in ISD. I’ve been creating simple courseware using Lectora. But it seems like more and more of our content is going towards reference materials and we are using more rapid eLearning where there’s really not much instructional design. What kind of job can I do with my ISD background given this shift in how things are being done? Are there new skills I should be learning? How about studying Information Architecture?

Learning Department

  • We currently have three multitalented individuals creating courses in Lectora and Captivate. Each individual is assigned to a particular project and they do it all from start-to-finish including: ID, writing, authoring. Of course, we have slightly different talent in each of the areas so we try to assign the person based on the needs of the project. Should we consider restructuring the department so that we have specialists and so that they work as a team on projects? Will we get more or less done? Will the extra communication eat up any efficiencies we gain?

Internal/External Clients

  • We are helping store managers who are responsible for their store’s customer satisfaction ratings. We have numbers that tell us what areas need to be worked on, but we can’t directly reach into the stores and touch the employees. We have to work through the store manager. What kinds of tools, techniques can we use to help the store manager effectively train and coach employees given particular customer sat problems in the store? Have other people tackled this problem or similar problems?

Techniques / Technology / Tools

  • We’d like to use video for some of our training, but we’re concerned about bandwidth limitations. How can we determine if video will work on our network? Is there a cost effective way to test? What technologies might allow us to try it out on a limited basis without investing a lot? Are other people doing this? Did they do any load evaluation? Or how did they test and roll it out?
  • With SecondLife being used as a venue by Harvard Extension for a class, does this suggest that this technology should be considered? Has anyone really used it? What was the result? Why should I believe that using SecondLife or any virtual environment would actually result in better learning? Isn’t it just a fun gimmick that would get in the way of learning?

I’d love to hear these questions discussed at lunch, at a session, on the expo floor. While not every attendee is going to be interested in every question and certainly not everyone can contribute to every question, I’m confident that if you spend time finding your questions, you will get more from the conference. And, I'm sure that if you post your questions in the comments on this blog you will also get value.

Most people who attend eLearning conferences (such as DevLearn) have been working in the field for quite a while. How many questions do you think you might have?

Go ahead – add a comment right now to this post with a couple questions! No really. Do it!

Exposure / Novice Questions

What do you do if you don’t know enough to formulate a specific question? What do you do if your goal around a topic is just “exposure to what other people are doing”?

In these cases, the basic rubric is to ask: how does this topic apply to me and my situation?
Look at the topic and consider – how does it (if at all) apply to my situation?

I think it’s somewhat of a cop out to say – “I’m just coming to get exposure to .” Let’s pick a topic ... maybe, video. Let’s say you don’t know anything about technical aspects of video. But, if you are even interested in the topic, it must be because you think there may be some need. So, maybe your question is "Does this apply to my topics?" Maybe it’s "How can I easily create something for testing."

Do spend a little time thinking about your context and the topic area and figure out what you should say at the appropriate lunch table. And it’s not “I’m just here for exposure.”

Planning Your Conference

Once you have formulated your questions as best you can and posted them as a comment in this blog (Note:… if I get flood, then DevLearn has promised to help handle it … it’s a good problem not a bad one… ) … then you should go back and look at the conference program and consider how you can get your questions answered.

  • Who might you want to meet with who would have answers?
  • What sessions might have content?
  • What are other activities at the conference where I can talk to people?
  • How can I meet up with other people who have similar issues or have experience with my questions?

I bet that based on your questions, you will be able to figure out answers to this stuff. If not, then the conference organizer will be more than happy to help you figure out the answer.

One of my clients right now runs a trade show in a completely different industry. They see their mission as helping constiuents find help, answers, etc. They are truly committed to doing that. But, they only can help those who seek help. The smartest people take them up by figuring out what help they need. Do the same thing! Find Your Questions! Post Them! Be insanely great!

Wikis - Public vs. Controlled - Why There's No eLearning Wiki

Update Sept. 18, 2006 - see - which aims to address exactly the issues I'm discussing below in Wikipedia.

I received an email asking me if I knew of any Wikis that provided information on eLearning concepts. First, let me say that I really like getting questions. But, has anyone noticed that blogs don't provide a means of asking questions that are not specific to a particular post? Thus, folks must send me email which is fine, but it means that people who read my blog can't post answers. I guess I could create a "Questions" post where questions could be added in the comment. Does that make sense?

Okay, onto the question ... the short answer is "None that I know" ... there's not really a place where you can find a Wiki that covers eLearning concepts.

But the answer is much more interesting than that. You can certainly go to Wikipedia and find information about learning concepts including eLearning and eLearning 2.0. However, Wikipedia has some issues (as does any public Wiki) as a place for defining these terms. The issue is how you balance commercial activity (e.g., vendors posting a link to their product) vs. being a comprehensive resource vs. being too leading edge.

The article on eLearning 2.0 which I originally created but that now I've been told that I'm too commercial to have links to any of my blog posts even though there are links to other blog posts by other folks who are commercial. So, I'm going to wait until my articles and presentations on eLearning 2.0 are available and then I'll go back and edit the post. Sheesh. It's definitely a bummer and has turned me off to contributing to Wikipedia even though it could be the place where definitions could go, e.g., rapid eLearning, informal learning, etc.

What's even more tricky is what do you do about having a page on Rapid eLearning that might list products that are rapid eLearning tools. This is done on Wikipedia for some topics, e.g., List of Wiki Software. But, Wikipedia, in general, is trying to avoid allowing links to products. It just invites too many problems.

So, while it would be great to have a page that was the definition of Rapid eLearning with links to all the relevant tools. I personally believe that it won't happen on Wikipedia.

Why isn't it happening elsewhere? Theoretically, ASTD's Learning Circuits or the eLearningGuild should do it right? Both organizations have played with creating and using Wikis, but unless there is critical mass of content and visitors, unless they become the defacto standard of where you find this information then you won't get sufficient content. Further, they will be competing with lots of individual sources of similar information and will pale in comparison at first. And, they will face the exact same issue around commercialism. Of course, they do have the advantage of being able to limit contribution based on membership and members are far less likely to blatently violate rules around commercialism.

I would suggest that this will happen at some point. Heidi Fisk? Dave Lee? Any comment?

Now before people jump to the conclusion that my experience on Wikipedia suggests that Wikis have problems as a tool to use in learning... Nothing could be farther from the truth. I actually think that Wikis are a fantastic tool for putting up reference materials and that in many corporate environments, they have become a means for people throughout the organization to easily contribute content. In a controlled environment, Wikis are a fantastic tool.

After my presentations at DevLearn - I'll have more to say on this subject.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Learning Design in a Nut Shell

I've recently updated my mental model of how I go about Learning Design, so I thought I'd share.

These days is that we have such a big mix of different delivery models, tools, etc. and such different kinds of blends that emerge that it's difficult to feel comfortable and confident with what tools to use in what situation.

In fact, the Art of Learning Design is dealing with the variability of the myriad of performance needs, considerations and possible delivery models and tools; working through the combinations; to arrive at a delivery pattern that will be effective.

Update: Sep 14 - Lee Kraus posted Learning and Technology: Learning Design about this and asked an interesting question - "Does this apply to both formal and informal learning?"

Great question and I'm not sure that I have a good answer. The first cut answer is that it does apply in that from a Learning Design standpoint, you would define Informal Learning Delivery Models as part of the overal Delivery Pattern. For example, I might say that we plan to provide a Wiki that will be used both during up-front formal learning for collaboration around key questions and then in informal learning as a means to collect best practices.

However, all of this assumes that I'm in the Top-Down, Intentional mode (see eLearning 2.0: Informal Learning, Communities, Bottom-up vs. Top-Down). There's a case to be made that you could provide the tools out to the users / learners and allow them to determine what they need and have it grow organically. It would be a completely different picture. But, I'm not convinced that this really works - see:

But - this is still a great question that makes me wonder if there's not a completely different bottom-up model based on empowering Personal Learning and letting individuals figure it out for themselves. I'm just not convinced it gets us where we need to go.

Keywords: eLearning Trends

Rapid eLearning - More Definitionn

I had previously posted about What is Rapid eLearning? I just recently saw a Briefing from Kineo on roughly the same topic and it really confirmed what was in my earlier post.

In my earlier post, I talked about the drivers for Rapid eLearning, so I'll skip that in this post.

Kineo's definition of rapid eLearning was based on the following seven attributes:

  • Can be developed in 21 days or less
  • Doesn’t require specialist knowledge and skills or 3rd party support
  • Can use SMEs to author directly
  • Requires a low level of investment to create it
  • May have only a short shelf-life
  • May involve an element of virtual classroom delivery or be completely standalone
  • Will be short
This fairly well lines up with how I stated the industry has come to define "Rapid eLearning" as I mentioned in my previous post.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Harvard Extension Class in Second Life

Found this on Joho the Blog - but you almost have to go visit the class description just to see that - yeah that's Harvard Law and yep, they are using Second Life for real.

Defending the Status Quo - Seth Godin

A list that we all recognize posted by Seth Godin - Defending the Status Quo
  • "That will never work."
  • "... That said, the labor laws make it difficult for us to do a lot of the suggestions [you] put out. And we do live in a lawsuit oriented society.""
  • "Can you show me some research that demonstrates that this will work?"
  • "Well, if you had some real-world experience, then you would understand."
  • "I don't think our customers will go for that, and without them we'd never be able to afford to try this."
  • "It's fantastic, but the salesforce won't like it."
  • "The salesforce is willing to give it a try, but [major retailer] won't stock it."
  • "There are government regulations and this won't be permitted."
  • "Well, this might work for other people, but I think we'll stick with what we've got."
  • "We'll let someone else prove it works... it won't take long to catch up."
  • "Our team doesn't have the technical chops to do this."
  • "Maybe in the next budget cycle."
  • "We need to finish this initiative first."
  • "It's been done before."
  • "It's never been done before."
  • "We'll get back to you on this."
  • "We're already doing it."

Finding Answers and Power of Questions

I just saw a post by Mike Oehlert on the Power of Questions where he says:

So then I read about how Yahoo!, MSN and another service called AnswerBag are valuing the question (Google Answers is also in the mix along with AllExperts). These folks are all offering services which allow you to post your question to a community and get answers. Some allow people to offer those answers to you for a small price (couple of dollars). They are also integrating RSS feeds into these technologies so that you can subscribe to an answer stream and some are even integrating it into your Instant Message client.

When I read stories like this, I wonder if there is some huge technical hurdle
I'm missing which is preventing this kind of thing from catching on in the
corporate/government world or if it really just boils down to a question of
culture again.
This has been done for quite a while in corporate environments through a variety of mechanisms. However, it's about to heat up again both across organizational boundaries and within companies because of having lighterweight solutions. A good example is Illumio that basically uses the contents of what is in your email to determine what you may know about and will route questions to you based on that information.

What's interesting is that this maps nicely to part of how we learn. Once we've formulated basic information, we can then postulate questions that we want to get answers from multiple people.

Of course, we are going to have hurdles with getting people able to pull together intelligent questions and getting some people to be willing to participate. But, I believe with the lower technology hurdles coming about now there will be incremental adoption in the enterprise.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

eLearning 1.0 vs. 2.0 - Help Needed

I want to try an experiment. I think there's an interesting bit of content in here, but in exchange, I would ask that you maybe throw me a bone and answer a question or two in exchange.

I'm still preparing for a couple of presentations at DevLearn and a presentation for ASTD Los Angeles - What's Next in eLearning? (Actually that presentation is virtual so if you read this blog and are interested in attending, I can talk to the organizer.)

In any case, I need help figuring out the best way to explain the trends going on in eLearning. I'm going to put in my current figure, but I'm not happy with it or necessarily how I'm presenting it, so I'd like some feedback.

The basic trend that I see in eLearning is that we've really started down a couple of new paths that I've label eLearning 1.0, eLearning 1.3 (I'll explain that in a minute) and eLearning 2.0. My first problem is that the labels include the version number that implies that we simply get rid of the old version when we upgrade. That's not really the case. A better analogy is an Oven and a Microwave. Just because you have the new technology doesn't mean you cook everything in it.

Question 1 - What's a good technology analogy that has 3 generations and where
you still keep prior generations around?

Okay, so now let me confess why I'm calling it eLearning 1.3. It's because that dang Clive Sheppard has patented "Learning 1.5" (Clive on Learning: Learning 1.5 - for those who prefer evolution to revolution). No, actually, it's because I think the distance from eLearning 1.0 to eLearning 1.3 is shorter.

Question 2 - I know that some people hate the term eLearning 2.0, but it seems that this is better than any alternative I've heard. Any suggestions on what to call the columns? Maybe the answer to Question 1 would help.

In the eLearning 1.3 column, I'm trying to represent a lot of what is happening today in corporate learning. While we've not really let go of eLearning 1.0, we are being forced to build learning more quickly, in smaller learning bursts and often can be accessed as reference as well as up-front learning. Many times the SMEs are doing some of the content creation and definitely more maintenance. Because of that we're using fewer desktop based authoring solutions and moving towards web-delivered authoring.

My guess is that most folks in corporate eLearning can identify with the above trends. Here's where it gets trickier.

LMS - Some folks have gone away from the LMS for a big chunk of their learning. Thus, delivery of content is initially through email and then through the intranet on an on-going basis. Other folks keep their eLearning content under the LMS. Clearly by the time you get to eLearning 2.0 with user generated content, the LMS has to change. Further the trend in Web 2.0 suggest that lightweight solutions win out over more complex, controlling kinds of solutions like an LMS.

Question 3 - Is the use of the LMS important to understanding this trend? Does it matter that there's been somewhat of a backlash and I expect that to continue?

Collaborative Learning - There's definitely a trend (as pointed to by Clive as well) in using collaborative tools as part of what is otherwise an eLearning 1.0 kind of solution. This is certainly not eLearning 2.0 and not really eLearning 1.3 by itself. But, it seems like it heads you towards thinking about learning occurring through peer interaction and helps you move towards eLearning 2.0. Thus, I've included it in the eLearning 1.3 column even though that really feels not quite right.

Question 4 - What should I do about Collaborative Learning?

Finally, I'm trying to convey in the last row the changing role of Training in each of these approaches. I've tried a bunch of different analogies and not found one that I like. Currently, I say Gourmet Chef because we get an order for some really great learning and pull together the best ingredients and create something really spectacular (actually I've probably not been a gourmet chef since 1993). Short-order cook because we still take orders, but people expect it fast and cheap and they are going to eat quick. Food critic because we don't even create the content any more but we do help people make sense of content that's being created.

Realistically, the dramatic shift between eLearning 1.0 and 1.3 is changing to being responsible for tools and process that SMEs can use to create content. In eLearning 2.0 we do that as well except for it's end users creating content (hopefully they are SMEs too). But we also add the responsibility for aggregating the content into helpful guides, etc.

Question 5 - Is this analogy helpful? Would you ditch it? Change it?

That's it. I'm really hoping I'll get some feedback on this.

Keywords: eLearning Trends, eLearning 2.0, Web 2.0, Informal Learning, Collaborative Learning

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Better Discussion / Debate in Learning

Mark Oehlert post: I long for this kind of debate in our learning circles.... talks about something that definitely stuck a chord for me. In particular, he laments that as he was reading a discussion in a different domain and "working on the team picking out sessions for the 2007 ASTD conference" he found himself wanting to have better discussion and debate in our world of learning.

Mark - I do too!

However, as I continued to read Mark's post, I realized that he and I may not want the same thing. He says -
Now some folks, notably Jay Cross (along with Harold Jarche and Judy Brown) have been exploring the "unworkshop" and they are to be applauded. But this is not a desire to have the learning/training version of FOO Camp or Bar Camp but something more.
Actually, I think that maybe FOO Camp and Bar Camp aren't quite the right format, but having the kind of dialog that occurs at unconferences is definitely needed at corporate learning conferences, e.g., ASTD, Training, etc. I've talked about More Effective Conferences for Learning Professionals but as I explored this, I realized that the real challenge was Better Questions for Learning Professionals. Without having some really interesting questions, then conference organizers default to putting signs on tables with general topics, e.g., healthcare or simulations. We've all seen this. Then you sit around the table with little or no real dialog. But, it's more because we are not prepared with real, interesting questions.

Mark seemed to come to a similar conclusion as he provides examples of questions that he would find really interesting:
I want a thoughtful discussion of what we do. Not about your LMS. Not about your 'issues.' But about why we believe what we do is worthwhile and why anyone should pay any of us to do it. What are the theoretical underpinnings of our industry? Kirkpatrick? Bloom? Piaget? When is the last time you went to a conference, billed as a conference about learning, and heard someone stand up and say the Bloom is full of crap? That Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction is fundamentally flawed? That new breakthroughs in the field of cognitive science or neurobiology are shifting how we think about learning?
The good news is that Mark and I have had a little discourse on the definition of informal learning (along with input from George Siemens, Harold Jarche and Dave Lee) and it really help me to understand some of the different definitions of informal learning. So, I would suggest that the discussion occurring today is having some impact, but as Mark suggests it seems few and far between. And I'm not sure why that is. It would seem that we should be the best at this. Cobbler's shoes maybe?

Of course, now the bad news... I pretty much disagree with Mark on what are the important/interesting questions ... I do want to talk about "your issues" ... actually, "your real issues" ... how you can make a true impact on human performance and business performance. I think that the questions about Kirkpatrick, Bloom and Gagne are only going to hit home for me if you put them in context.

But, this does get me to thinking again about Better Questions for Learning Professionals and even more:
What are the controversial questions facing us today in Corporate Learning?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Q&A - eLearning Standards Especially SCORM

Now that I posted about Better Questions for Learning Professionals, I've been receiving questions via email from a variety of people. That's great! I like getting interesting questions. Some of them I just respond with an email. But, I'm going to try to make a practice of creating blog posts around some of the questions.

Here's a recent one to get me started:

  • Is it mandatory to use SCORM while developing an E-learning Software?

    SCORM is as close as you get to Mandatory in the world of eLearning. You want to implement your courseware to the SCORM standard if you plan to have it launched and/or tracked under an LMS. SCORM is a fairly easy standard to deal with especially since most people are fine with a single SCO that does only single score/completion reporting. More than that is most often not expected and can cause you integration problems.

    There are a couple of situations where SCORM gets dropped. One case is building a one-off course that needs simple tracking/reporting and will never run under an LMS. If you won't ever need to run it under an LMS, then SCORM is overhead you don't need (see Tracking Without an LMS).

    The other situation is if you are building something that is not a course, e.g., it's reference material. In these cases, I'm not tracking and likely it's not under the LMS. Most LMS systems have ways to launch these kinds of reference systems (they are just a web page after all).

  • What about other Standards?

    AICC goes after the same thing as what I've described above for SCORM (tracking under an LMS). However, it is less common now than SCORM and it is harder to implement (which is why it's less common). Once in a while, you will still run into this. Most of the time, it's to handle cross-domain issues, i.e., learning content is on different server than learning management. I've also seen it in an environment that had certain restrictions on JavaScript.

    There are a bunch of other standards by ADL (who is responsible for SCORM), IMS, IEEE LTSC including CORDRA™, LOM, Meta-data, etc. in the eLearning world. However, as Pierre pointed out in the comments (and I've edited the text here based on his comments - thanks Pierre) - ADL's SCORM really incorporates what we need from these other standards and thus we've not needed to spend effort going into these standards separately. (Note: ARIADNE, AICC, IEEE LTSC, and IMS all participate in ADL's work on SCORM).

    There are also standards such as WebDAV that are going to be important for authoring tool implementations in the next few years. So, when I've been consulting with vendors who are working on any kind of authoring system, that was a particularly interesting standard.

  • Can we develop the same project using : Java, JSP, J2EE, XML, Oracle, Flash combination?

    This certainly can be used. Flash may make it a litttrickierker to implement SCORM, but there are lots of resources on how to do that. SCORM uses JavaScript to communicate so you will need to embed a bit of JavaScript code on the pages your application generates.

Couple of quick updates to this post on Sept. 6, 2006:

Judy Brown has left her long time position, but the good news is that she is writing a blog - SCORM Watch. Love the name, love the blog, and we all love Judy. In her blog she pointed to a bunch of great SCORM related resources:
  • Jennifer Brooks of the ADL Co-Lab shares experiences and lessons learned through facing these issues.

  • David J McClelland shares his experiences and a standard troubleshooting method for SCORM content in his blog. (Great post on issues that many of us have faced!)

  • This does not appear to be a new posting, but one that I recently found for the ToolBook community, but it is relevant for all. Included are: the business case for SCORM; overview of SCORM including kinds of SCORM learning objects, online or offline learning objects, and organizing and sequencing learning objects; organizing learning objects and SCOs; implementing SCORM-compliant learning objects and SCOs; and packaging SCORM-compliant content. The chart on cost of content integration before SCORM and with SCORM is very interesting.

  • And - Suresh Susarla, the Business Analyst in the Workforce ADL Co-Lab at the University of Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee, asks important questions to determine whether you need SCORM:

    • Do you need to control learner access to courseware, track learner progress, or monitor the effectiveness of your e-learning content?
    • Do you want to be able to control the learner’s path through the content in some way?
    • Do you plan to develop content in house and also purchase content from one or more third-party content vendors?
    • Do you plan to use the content for multiple new audiences in the future?
    • Do you plan to reuse parts of the content in future courses?
    • Are you planning to redistribute or sell the content to another

Goodbye LMS?

I had seen this paper (Social software: E-learning beyond learning management systems) before, but Jay Cross's take on the implications of the paper in LMS, we hardly knew ye is interesting:

LMS create a walled garden in an era when walls are falling down. Why not use
the real internet and real internet technology rather than some hokey
oversimplification? Furthermore, how can you manage serendipitous learning that
is inherently unmanageable?

I get the feeling that Jay and I are responding to what is happening out in the world of corporate use of LMS products and this is something I've been writing about before:

The paper about social software is definitely worth reading to get up to speed on issues such as Integration vs. Separation (or as I called it Point Solutions vs. Suites and Composition), their introduction to Social Software from a learning context, and their point that LMS products are incompatible with a learner-driven environment.

However, I agree with Jay that the bigger reason that LMS products are causing us grief in corporate learning applications is that while we want some aspects of what an LMS provides, we don't want our content to get stuck inside the LMS in the form of a course that makes in useless in other modes. Further, it causes us to think in LMS terms (course).

The counter argument for why we need an LMS centers first and foremost on tracking required learning and secondarily on helping to communicate learning requirements. This makes me wonder if we wouldn't be happier ourselves and for our learners to have a system with the following main functions:

  1. Invisible tracking - tracks the web pages that each individual visits and activity that it corresponds to. This is similar to web log analysis today, but would include tracking of the individual via cookies and analysis to say that if you hit particular pages, then a particular event occurs.
  2. Email blast utility - give us tools to communicate to individuals and allow it to base communication on event completion or selection criteria.
  3. Reporting - tell us who has completed what events

The advantage of this kind of approach is that it breaks down the walls so that content is just content and still gives us the necessary tracking and communication. You'll notice that I've not included any method of communicating about particular learning requirements. My assumptions is that you'll just create emails or web pages that tells people what they need to do.

If we believe that Course and Courseware Fading and that much of the learning content that we'll provide in the future will be in the form of things that do not look like courses, then don't we have to move to this kind of learning tracking and communication system?

Of course, The Innovator's Dilemma of Learning suggests that this solution may not not come from any of the big LMS players (see also Do You WANT an LMS? Does a Learner WANT an LMS?).