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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Blogging Challenges

I just saw a post by a relatively new blogger - I’m Back… and What Happened?

In it, Angela tells us about how she "fell behind" in her blogging and then found she had trouble "catching up" ...
  • Then, I started saving “clippings” that I planned to respond to but fell behind and the subjects got old.
  • Did I mention that I fell behind and everything that I was excited about seemed to get “old”?
  • Then I thought I had to “catch up” in order to post again.

I can understand her sense of concern about how quickly subjects come and go in the blogosphere. However, there is now way that you can keep up and weigh in on every subject / conversation going on out there. It's just too much. Instead, you have to pick subjects that interest you or that you can relate to your work. There is no "keeping up" nor "catching up" ... there's only letting go.

The harder question is what to do when you are behind and there's a great subject that interests you, but it's been a couple weeks since anyone posted about it. My personal feeling is that if you have something to add to the conversation, it's still good to weigh in on it. The reason is that while you may not get much response or interaction, it still helps you complete your thoughts around the subject (that interested you).

Angela also told us:
Plus, I was so incredibly inspired about my work in the last three weeks that I worked harder than ever before and I was too tired to post at the end of the day!
It's ok to have time off from your blog, it will hurt readership and hurts conversation a bit, but that happens to pretty much everyone. On the flip side, if you are incredibly busy with something that's inspiring you, how about sharing about that. Start a new conversation around whatever you are doing. Or just talk about what's going on. Take a look at Wendy's blog - In the Middle of the Curve. She does a wonderful job of capturing what she's dealing with day-to-day, how she has approached things, what works, what doesn't, what she is concerned about. It's really an incredible case study. Maybe you can't do as much with your blog, but still capture what's inspiring you.

Using My Mouse to Magnify During Presentations

When I'm doing a presentation, especially one that involves demonstrations of software, I often use Magnify to zoom in on a portion of the screen. I often get asked after the presentation how I do it and I just got asked via email the same question. The honest answer is that I stumbled into my solution having bought a Microsoft Mouse that included the Magnifier feature. This allowed me to assign a mouse button (even without the special button such as the zoom wheel click) to be the magnify option. This is extremely handy.

A slightly less handy option is the built in Windows Accessibility tool Magnifier. You can find it by going to Start >> Programs >> Accessories >> Accessibility >> Magnifier. It's pretty easy from there. The only problem I have with it is that I have to fiddle with it too much during the presentation. Clicking the button is much faster.

If you don't want to buy a Microsoft Mouse with the Magnify feature, then I'd suggest you take a look into one of these inexpensive applications that claim to do the same thing. I've not used these - so if you have, please let me know what you find out.

Personal Learning Knowledge Work Environment

I've been reading a lot over the past few months around Personal Learning Environments and a lot of related material. What sparks this post is the combination of a recent post by Stephen Downes that includes a brief exchange with Jay Cross in the comments and some interesting discussions in the Enterprise 2.0 world that included a post by Bill Ives - Managing Personal Knowledge: Setting a Foundation for Transformation? In it, he points out that a stepping stone to Enterprise 2.0 adoption is getting folks to manage their personal knowledge and adopt practices like blogging for personal knowledge management (PKM) and personal learning.

What this has come to make me realize is that for the vast majority of knowledge workers (including myself), there should be no separation between my Personal Learning Environment (PLE), my Personal Knowledge Management system, and my day-to-day set of tools that enhance my knowledge worker productivity. Learning-Knowledge-Work - they really are the same and I need to do them all at once. (See also Knowledge Work Not Separate from Learning). As I compose this blog post, which am I doing? All.

Maybe there are some distinctions between personal knowledge management, personal learning and knowledge productivity. I can't claim that I really understand these distinctions, but I can say with certainty that systems or environments that provide support for these need to operate together. If you make these independent and distinct, it will be really annoying for us knowledge workers.

So, any suggestion on what the name for this system (or environment) should be? Certainly PLE and PKM would seem to be too limited, right?

And, if there's really only one environment, then what's in it?

For now, my sense is that we are all experimenting with different solutions pulled together from different tools. Take a look at a few of the following for examples:
These would seem to be summed up pretty well by Graham Attwell in Questions and Answers on Peronal Learning Environments:
Yes, I do have my own PLE, comprised of a ‘mash up’ of different desktop and web based applications I use for my everyday work and increasingly reliant on local and web based services. It isn’t particularly efficient and it has some pretty big gaps at the moment – but I hope to develop it further over the next year. Central to my PLE is the people I work with and the applications I use for communication with those people.
There's been quite a bit of other discussion around what these things might be:
And if those aren't enough you can go to PLE Links and the PLE Wiki.

One thing that I'm left wondering is how this is different from all the discussion around productivity.

For me it's become more a question of the day-to-day processes I use on top of these tools and how the tools have adjusted how I do things. My life is different now than before I used an RSS reader and wrote a blog. It's also different since I adopted the practice of taking notes only on my laptop and heavy use of desktop search instead of trying organize things as much.

I'm not sure how to make sense of all of this yet, but I know things have changed and I'm not sure that discussing Personal Learning Environments separate from the rest of these changes is helping me.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Is it e-Learning or eLearning?

I just saw Gabe's post E-Learning: Will We One Day Lose the E? that discuss my post eLearning or Learning? - More to It. One of the things that Gabe tells us is:
Based on Google queries, e-learning (about 200,000,000 results) takes the cake over elearning (about 14,400,000 results) in 2007. So the world seems to like the hyphen.
My results are a little different but there certainly are more pages out there that have the hypen.

However, I actually believe the trend is more to drop the hypen. To back me up I went to Google Trends to see what the trend is for people searching. Here's what I saw:

Worldwide -

"eLearning" has almost caught "e-Learning" in terms of what people use in their searches.

In the United States -

"eLearning" is used more often in searches than "e-Learning" ...

Bottom line, like Gabe mentioned e-mail got shortened to email, I would be surprised if eLearning doesn't become the term of choice.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

eLearning or Learning? - More to It

I just saw a post by B.J. Schone -Is the Term ‘eLearning’ Going to Become Extinct? In his post, B.J. points to a post that I had seen as well but he tracks the issue back to an article from CLO Magazine that discusses the renaming of the E-Learning Industry Group in Europe. According to the article:

The E-Learning Industry Group is now the European Learning Industry Group, a change that reflects a shift within the organization itself, as well as within the learning industry.

“The term ‘e-learning’ has been overused,” said Joe Hegarty, Intel Innovation Centres director of business operations. “Technology is now clearly embedded in all modern learning solutions.”

This is certainly an issue that has been discussed a lot. Do a search for "drop the e" elearning and you'll get 74 results, but there are literally thousands more out there. Including an earlier article from CLO itself: What's in a Name? and a post by me: What to Call Ourselves and Our Industry?

I definitely sympathize with the sentiment about dropping the "e" from eLearning because we are really focused on the same problem as people who are involved in learning - and likely they use digital technologies (the "e" part) to accomplish parts of that.

However, I'm still with B.J. that it's still helpful to have a term for the fact that we are discussing the use of the digital technologies. So, it's still helpful to me to use the "e".

I really think there's a lot more to this question these days. Take a look back at my post: More on Personal Learning Environments. There I discuss a post by Ray Sims where he makes the point that we are converging on solutions that:
combine learning AND doing.
Certainly, my environments are combined. Am I learning right now or doing. Both. And I would say the concepts of Personal Knowledge Management, personal information management, Performance Support tools, ePerformance, Productivity Systems, etc. are not that far away. Really, once you get to information and doing, you pretty much are talking about everything an information worker does.

Clark Quinn and I had a conversation about this issue back in December 2006. And we lamented that we don't really have a good term to describe the broader range of systems that we work on. I tend to get involved when there's opportunity to do something more creative or interesting with technology that goes beyond what is often labeled as "eLearning."

For example, one system we built took customer satisfaction scores already being collected by the organization, combined it with management best practices, to form an action plan. There's was almost no "eLearning" - really these were tools. It took a sophisticated person in the organization to know how to cross boundaries (Operations, Marketing/Survey Research, Training, HR) to get it to happen. And at the end of the day, I would claim this was much more eManagement than eLearning. It really aimed at helping managers understand what they needed to accomplish, create a plan to accomplish it, get buy-in from others around the plan, track the plan, get conversations to happen around the plan in an on-going fashion. Basically, if you had coaches or good managers, they would be doing this in an ad hoc fashion.

What do you call this?

After watching the video yesterday of Everything is Miscellaneous, I find myself questioning the value of trying to define terms. At the same time, terminology in some form (e.g., tags) is critical to help us understand where things fit. For example, what conference should I go to where I would find people who create similar kinds of solutions or who are interested in working together on this kind of solution? It would be great if there was an accepted term because likely I could find the conference.

Clark and I are still struggling with these questions as are many, many other people. Likely there are no simple answers, but finding how to discuss these things, making sense of them is important for us to be able to explain what it is we do.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Great Video - David Weinberger's Talk at Google - Everything is Miscellaneous

Found via Joitske Hulsebosch post David Weinberger's messy cupboard. Video embedded below - you probably won't see it in your feed reader:

This relates to many things I'm doing these days...

Historic Maps

I just saw on Learn-Learn-Learn, a blog that I've been following for a while a link to one of my favorite clients (we've worked off-and-on for 10 years): David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, Historic Maps » of New York. If you like historic maps, prepare to lose yourself for a little bit of time.

Let me know if you have thoughts around faceted browsing (what, where, who, when) - something new for this collection.

One thing we are trying to figure out these days is how people are going to want to use things like maps and artwork. Certainly, I can see it in Genealogy. But, what else?

Off-Shore Call Center Experience

While I've been somewhat agnostic on the issue of having on-shore vs. off-shore call centers, an experience five minutes ago may have changed my mind. One of my business credit cards changed aspects of the card and sent me the new card. I called up to get the card switched back. The person who picked up initially was from an off-shore call center in India. She took both my old card and new card information, but clearly didn't understand quite what I was telling her. She then told me literally - "don't worry you can charge above the credit limit on the new card." This was not a topic of discussion and likely it must have come up on her screen.

I considered just canceling the card at that point, but instead asked to speak to someone else. Someone from an on-shore call center got on the phone and fixed the problem within 15 seconds. Literally, they just said... "No problem, Mr. Karrer, I'll change everything back. Just cut up the new card. Is there anything else I can help you with?"

Wow - what a difference.

And if I hadn't pushed, I would have canceled the card and had a bad taste for the several large brands involved (major bank, major airline, major credit card).

That's a pretty steep cost and was an eye-opener for me. I wanted to save this in my blog just so I could remember it when someone asks about on-shore vs. off-shore.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Measuring Blog Success

Stephen Downes post Measuring Your Blog's Outcomes and Use of Other Social Media Tools
has a couple of good comments and he points to Beth Kanter's Measuring Your Blog's Outcomes and Use of Other Social Media Tools which also has good comments and some nice links to other posts on the subject. The point of the discussion is roughly that there are different ways to measure your blogs success based on different purposes. I tend to agree with Stephen:
Measuring "your blog's outcome" is ridiculous. It's like measuring 'friendship'. measuring 'reflective moments'.
My personal measures of success for my blog are:
  • Is it helping me to learn? Is the process of processing and writing causing me to learn more? Am I getting interesting questions from readers via email, feedback from comments, challenged by other blog posts?
  • Is it helping me network? Does it help me meet new interesting people? Am I getting interesting inquiries? Does it help me continue "slow" conversations?
On learning - it's absolutely huge! See the comments in Top Ten Reasons To Blog and Top Ten Not to Blog.

On networking - again, it's been a big success. I've been meeting really interesting people including Stephen Downes who was on a panel in Boston because I met him through blogging. I get good questions. I've had quite a few interesting conversations.

If I look at my measures of success, these are hard to quantify. While having greater reach (readership, visitors, etc.) is important to both factors, the direct link between the hard measures and what I care about is tenuous at best. Furthermore, looking at some factors like Technorati ranking or number of visitors is sure to cause stress. There's only so much you can do to help build higher ranking and increase visitors - AND - those activities may or may not get you success if you define it like I do. Quality/depth of learning and conversation is what it's about.

Conference Networking Tools - Do They Work?

I just saw a post by Mark Oehlert - Good for introNetworks! - in which he points to introNetworks Secures $2.7 Million in Series A Funding.

In case you've not seen introNetworks before, they provide tools that allow membership groups to network with each other based on common interests. You may have seen them before and will likely remember their scatter plot:

There are other applications aimed at helping you to network at conferences:CMC Central - Tradeshow Appointments, Eveni Meeting MatchingExpoMATCH, eXtreme Networking, Introplus, Leverage Software, NetworkingMatch, and I've both used some of these tools with different membership groups I belong to and I've recently gone through an evaluation process for a customer who does a large trade show. All of these are based on a matching algorithm.

Based on my personal results, I've not found a lot of value in these tools. It could be that we simply lack the skills to do the right things after finding people with common interests - see Conference Preparation and Be an Insanely Great Professional Conference Attendee.

Or maybe it's me. What's your experience with these tools?

For more discussions on networking and LinkedIn see Networking Events in Los Angeles and Southern California, Secret for Networking at Events – Prenetworking, Pre-network with LinkedIn, Local Event Organizers Need to Adopt Social Media.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Personal Learning - Mistakes that Can Hurt

Found via Jack Vinson - 9 Mistakes That Can Kill Your Personal Growth - definitely worth a read. But I read it with the context of Personal Learning. The 9 mistakes are:
  1. Thinking you already know everything
  2. Being confused by the marketing hype
  3. Not taking action
  4. Giving up
  5. Worrying about/listening to what others think
  6. Dabbling with it
  7. Having unreasonable expectations
  8. Failing to/not wanting to (at least start to) understand yourself
  9. Not taking responsibility for yourself
The one that really jumped out the most for me was:
3. Not taking action – Thinking that reading a book or blog will automatically transform you and your life. But knowledge without action on your part is not that very transforming. And only you can change yourself. Others can only give a bit of advice, support and motivation. But in the end, you have to take the steps in real life.
This is exactly why folks will say that they learn tremendously more via blogging than from simple scanning. Take a look back at: Top Ten Reasons to Blog.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Thompson Leaves Learning Market

Saw Thomson Corp exists Learning Market on Learning Reflections...
Not only have they just completed the sale of their NETg subsidiary to SkillSoft for $270 million, but they have also announced they are selling Higher Education assets of Thomson Learning to a couple of venture funds for $7.75 billion.
This goes back to the discussion we had recently around the challenges for vendors: eLearning Business Alternatives - Good Discussion. Looking back at some old posts, Disruptive Changes in Learning and Content Vendor Value - this is really a WOW topic.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Personal Search - and Naming Your Kids

I've recently been dealing with naming for a start-up and ran across a WSJ article - You're a Nobody Unless Your Name Googles Well. Given how hard it is to figure out business names, reading this was a little scary:
So when Ms. Wilson, now 32, was pregnant with her first child, she ran every baby name she and her husband, Justin, considered through Google to make sure her baby wouldn't be born unsearchable. Her top choice: Kohler, an old family name that had the key, rare distinction of being uncommon on the Web when paired with Wilson. "Justin and I wanted our son's name to be as special as he is," she explains.
Yikes! Thank goodness I didn't know this before I named my kids.

Blended Learning

Posts related to Blended Learning:

eLearning Tools

Posts on eLearning Tools:
Related posts:

Open Source eLearning

Open source is a common theme in my posts. Some of the more relevant posts on open source:

Test LMS - Open Source eLearning - describes how eLearning tools can be tested using an open source eLearning solution.

Web 2.0 Applications in Learning - provides a list of several open source eLearning 2.0 tools.

Interesting Distribute Publishing Model and Open Source eLearning - discusses a publishing model and open source eLearning.

Open Source eLearning Business Model - business models for open source eLearning.

Innovation Geography Based and Innovation in eLearning

pen source eLearning applications - looks at the issues of finding open source eLearning applications.

eLearning Startups - New Wave Coming - looks a new wave of startups including those in open source eLearning.

eLearning Solutions

Updates on eLearning Solutions in various posts.
In the eLearning sector many vendors have created eLearning solutions primarily for educational institutions. Same is true in the corporate eLearning space ( LMS Dissatisfaction on the Rise & Do You WANT an LMS? and eLearning 2.0
What's interesting about the new wave is that most are targeting outside of traditional eLearning solutions. Today the startups in eLearning sit in smaller niches or by attacking tangential opportunities in eLearning. I'm not sure if other people are seeing this, but based on a bunch of conversations and calls, it appears that there is a wave of new startups being created right now and the trend is accelerating.

Earlier posts on eLearning Solutions:

Instructional Design

Posts around instructional design topics, especially those related to instructional design around custom eLearning:

What Clients Really Want
The basis for many of the instructional design decisions.

Top Ten Suggested New Year's Resolutions for eLearning Professionals
Several instructional design patterns are discussed.

Significant Work Needed to Help Instructional Designers
Changes required in ISD, ADDIE and HPT in order to adapt to the current instructional design environment.

eLearning 1.0, 1.3 and 2.0
The move of instructional design towards SME and user-generated content.

Course and Courseware are Fading - The Future of eLearning
How we must adapt to the fact that our instructional designs cannot rely on larger chunks of learning - especially in Corporate eLearning.

Future of ISD, ADDIE and HPT
Big impact on how we adapt instructional design and particularly the design of eLearning going forward.

Learning Design Different Now? and Future of Instructional Design in a World of Read/Write Web
How is Instructional Design different when we are using different learning techniques, especially bottom-up techniques based on.

Learning Design in a Nut Shell
My simple attempt at what instructional design and eLearning design is all about.

Reference Hybrid
A particular pattern for designing eLearning.

Corporate Training

Posts on topics related to Corporate Training:

Collaborative Learning

Posts on topics related to Collaborative Learning:

Informal Learning Topics

Posts on the topic of Informal Learning:

Web 2.0

Posts related to Web 2.0:
Related posts from several eLearning Blogs:

Enterprise 2.0

Posts covering topics related to Enterprise 2.0, especially the adoption of Enterprise 2.0 and Web 2.0:

Blog Maintenance

Sorry, I'm going to do some minor maintenance. Next few posts will be primarily for clean-up.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

PowerPoint - More Questions

Okay, I'm going to blame this on Karl Kapp, because in response to the LCB Big Question - PowerPoint: What is Appropriate? When and Why? - Karl created a presentation and a blog post that inspired me to revisit a presentation I recently gave and try to improve it using some of his suggestions (and a few others that I've recently read).

The presentation is aimed at folks who manage or are hands-on in the development of eLearning and it's designed to introduce them to eLearning 2.0 concepts and tools. I've given this talk a couple of times in various forms and I got really good reviews, but in going through and trying to improve the slides I found that I had more questions than I had answers. I'm hoping that I can get some help. Please.

1. Do I include an outline?

Guy Kawasaki generally does this thing where he numbers his points from 1-10 because he says that everyone wants to know how much longer the presentation is going to be. I think he says something along the lines of "If I suck, then you want to know how long I'm going to continue to suck."

I always like an outline because I'm often sitting there wondering if the person is going to get to a particular topic, or what the heck they are heading towards. Maybe that's just me.

But, I like to show the rough topics that I'm going to cover and sometimes even give a sense of how much time I'll spend on each. Not unlike what we do at the start of an eLearning course or the start of a class via a Syllabus showing topics over the course of weeks.

But, should I ditch this concept? Should I adopt Guy's approach?


I personally think that using quotes from other people provides tremendous value during a presentation. I sometimes will include a picture of the person (ex. Martin Luther King), or the book (The World is Flat). I try to strip down the quote to the most important parts or underline key phrases.

But if you look at the suggestions around using images, then it would seem that using quotes are problematic.

I also have always struggled with whether to pause to let people read the quote or read it myself to everyone - which I hate.

So, should I ditch quotes or use them? If so, how?

3. Time & Interaction

I'd love to spend more time on particular topics to have the audience recognize the change themselves, to enlist them to a greater extent in the talk, but since I'm driving to talk about something else, I feel compelled to treat things in a different way.

4. Lists of items

I personally have a hard time using only the verbal channel when someone is going through a list of items and discussing them. It's very helpful to me (just like the outline) to have some visual clue to the size and shape of the list. If you give me a picture and proceed to tell me the five important things on a particular topic, I'd wonder why you didn't try to give me the list. Now sometimes the exact list isn't important and it's more the overall message - then not showing the list is okay. But if the items are something you'd like people to retain, then do you should a list.

5. Handout vs. Slides

Audience members are often upset if your slides are different than your handouts. And heaven forbid if you've added a new slide with new content. I always offer to send it to people via email, but it's still frowned upon.

Several times I've provided more detailed handouts than my slides, but I find that the audience sits reading the handouts during the presentation and I lose interaction.

I've tried - I'll hand out details after, but that frustrates the audience because they aren't sure that the right notes will be in there. (And I have the same concern when I'm in the audience.)

So, what do you do?

PowerPoint - Fantastic Resource by Karl Kapp - A Question

In response to the LCB Big Question - PowerPoint: What is Appropriate? When and Why? - Karl created a presentation and a blog post that is wonderful on many levels - not the least of which that his use of a slide presentation (PowerPoint) to provide insights into the topic itself.

At the same time it raised a bunch of questions for me that I asked as comments on his post. One of my questions was on the use of images. I took a look at a couple of other resources linked to by other people answering the Big Question and found that they helped the question become more concrete.

Take for example one of the slides being discussed in:

was the topic of: "The pharmaceutical industry today is navigating a sea of change"

The advice was to use a picture of a compass (something similar to):

and you could either include the title or not. The final suggestion was to not include it.

What I wonder is - if a picture is worth a thousand words, but the 1,000 words it tells are different than what you intend the message to be, then what do you do?

The compass emphasizes the word "Navigate" and also implies sea. Probably not change. And certainly nothing to do with pharmaceuticals. We could also choose:

to emphasize "Sea of Change" ... or

to emphasize pharmaceuticals. I'm not sure what picture would actually convey the same 10 words that is the title. So, instead it's a visual cue around an important concept - but it would seem to really be aiming much more at the emotional content. Thus, maybe the picture of the stormy seas is much more appropriate than the picture of the compass.

Actually, if the only message here was that simple title, then I'm not sure I'd devote a whole slide to it anyhow.

In Karl's presentation, my question was around the use of images of the moon landing when the topic was "Technology defined the boomer generation" - or at least I think that was the topic - the problem is that all I remember is the picture of the moon landing.

I'm certainly going to use some of Karl's suggestions and go back and look at some slides and try to improve them.

But, it's tough to break old habits. :)

Blogs and Community

I just saw this post: Blogs as community killers? and the white paper Blogs in the CoP ecosystem.

Both are quite interesting in that they point to the fact that Blogs form a network that is loosely coupled and thus lack the cohesive, singular environment that many communities desire (think listservs).

This is something I've discussed before in lots of posts (see below). But the core of my feeling on this issue is that I build better relationships with individuals via Blogging than via listservs and what we really need is a way to create community on top of Blogging. See:
Other related posts:

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

PowerPoint - Seth's Booklet

Cognitive Load and PowerPoint pointed us to Seth Godin's free booklet Really Bad PowerPoint (and how to avoid it). A few of the points that Seth makes:
Communication is about getting others to adopt your point of view, to help
them understand why you’re excited (or sad, or optimistic or whatever else you

You can wreck a communication process with lousy logic or unsupported facts,
but you can’t complete it without emotion.

Create a written document. A leave-behind. Put in as many footnotes or
details as you like. Then, when you start your presentation, tell the audience
that you’re going to give them all the details of your presentation after it’s over,
and they don’t have to write down everything you say.

The home run is easy to describe: You put up a slide. It triggers an emotional
reaction in the audience. They sit up and want to know what you’re going to
say that fits in with that image. Then, if you do it right, every time they think
of what you said, they’ll see the image (and vice versa).
I very much agree with Seth that there's a combination of information transfer and emotional transfer going on in any presentation. Otherwise (as he says) you could do this with a written document.

I'm not sure I'm 100% on-board with only having emotional content on the slide and promising a leave-behind but not giving it out so people feel confident that they will have the details they want.

Still it certainly is amazing food for thought.

PowerPoint Preparation is Good

This month's big question on the Use of PowerPoint has already sparked some discussion and some good links. We'll likely get agreement that PowerPoint itself is not evil, but poor use of PowerPoint is. However, I'd also want to add that in my experience presenters who don't use slides often don't do a good job providing information, they are often ill-prepared, seem to ramble through stories, don't necessarily draw it to a conclusion, and make it really hard on the audience to extract the meaning.

Now that I blog, I often sit at a presentation and capture notes that are of interest to me and that would be of interest to blog readers. What you quickly realize is that speakers who don't use slides are often very high on the inspiration, entertainment side of things, but they don't get into much content beyond very superficial statements. I've attended quite a few keynotes like that and even more panel sessions. There have been brilliant exceptions such as a recent Peter de Jaeger keynote on change management.

Karyn said that one of the best presentations she attended was someone who had created the PowerPoints and lost them. So, it was likely a great preparation tool. Which is a great point. PowerPoint forces you to think through the real message of the presentation. It's a great way to see if you are going to be successful getting it through.

I happen to also believe that seeing a list on a slide helps me (being a predominantly visual learner) feel comfortable that I'm getting the intended message of the speaker. A pretty picture with a story - did I get the point?

I'm looking forward to continued discussion on this topic.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Beer and Bloggers in Atlanta at ASTD

Continuing what has now become somewhat a tradition (see Beer Tasting at ASTD TechKnowledge, and Boston, Beer - Bloggers -, I plan to informally get together with bloggers at the ASTD conference in Atlanta in June to go have a few beers. I just realized that's less than a month away. We'll do it on June 4th in the evening.

If you are planning to go to ASTD and you have a blog, drop me a comment. Or if you needed that extra little incentive to start a blog right now, this may be the trick.

Brandon Hall Network - Back from the Dead?

I just saw a post from Tim Sosbe -The “New” Network that tells us the following about the Brandon Hall Network,

We’ve been building this for a large part of the past year, constantly tweaking the service and offering new capabilities in order to make it the premier place for learning professionals and talent managers to collaborate, share resources and make new connections.


If you’ve read other blogs claiming the Network is dead, consider that a great exaggeration!

I feel somewhat bad because if you Google search "Brandon Hall Network" the results give you a couple of links to Brandon Hall and then links to a few of my past posts around the network such as: Brandon Hall Network - Nicely Done? and Brandon Hall Researchers Blogging - Implications? where I predict and then roughly say told-you-so that "my guess is that this is going to be a big failure."

This is nothing against the folks at Brandon Hall - in fact, I've had conversations offering ideas of where they might be able to get traction. I would actually like to believe that the community of people interested in the use of technology for learning and performance support would form a vibrant online community, exchanging ideas, making connections, etc.

Unfortunately, as I expressed in Too Many Social Networks, I'm somewhat skeptical that having a lot of networks will really take hold. And, it's worse when you are targeting a particular community that doesn't have a great adoption rate. It takes a lot to get from putting up the network software to getting widespread adoption. Maybe Brandon Hall or a Ning community will take off. Or maybe someone like ASTD will adopt Ning and give it a huge push. Or maybe the eLearningGuild. But it's hard to compete with open models based on stuff like blogging (which has been - by far - my best online social networking tool ever - far beyond discussion groups or anything else).

As caveat to all of this predicting - if you had demoed MySpace to me in the early days - I would have been pessimistic about its chances as well. I mean, c'mon, have you ever seen MySpace? It's got to be the ugliest application ever. And lots of people are putting big bets right now on being able to form communities around particular interest areas. So, maybe Brandon Hall will take off (but I'll stick with my earlier prediction.)

Background Reading - Use of PowerPoint

This month's LCB Big Question is on the Use of PowerPoint. In scanning around a bit for resources on this topic, I've found a few good starting points. I have tagged these in using the tag: lcbPowerPoint. I will continue to do so and you can find a current list at:

Sunday, May 06, 2007

FeedYes Now Spamming with Ads

Over a year ago I had set up two FeedYes feeds (see eLearning Technology: RSS Feeds from Static Magazines) for eLearn Magazine and LearningCircuits. Unfortunately, FeedYes has started sending lots of ads down the feed. The good news is that eLearn Magazine now has it's own feed at:

LearningCircuits doesn't and I've not yet looked for a replacement tool. Any suggestions on a good replacement for FeedYes to automatically send RSS feeds based on updates to the LearningCircuits home page?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Hot Topics in Training

Last year, I did Hot Topics in Training - A Crude (but mildly interesting) Analysis where I analyzed the topics at Training 2005 and Training 2006 to determine what topics were emerging and fading. As a speaker and someone expected to have a pulse on what's happening, I thought this was mildly interesting. So, I'm doing it again this time based on the topics in Training 2007.

One of the reasons I choose the Training conference is that it's not as leading edge as eLearningGuild events, but is a bit more mainstream, corporate than ASTD conferences. Although people may debate this.

Some of the mildly interesting results:
  • blog still didn't appear in a topic line, nor did social - but were discussed in several sessions
  • wiki finally appeared in two talks - about a year later than one would have thought
  • strategy/strategic and performance are back as topics after dropping way down in 2006
  • surprisingly trainer is also back, you would think in the age of eLearning 1.0, 1.3 and 2.0 this would be down
  • notable dropping topics: games, simulations, knowledge, interactive and blended
The fact that blended did not appear in a topic might suggest that it is assumed at this point - or maybe it's dead - see: Blended Learning Dead?

It's interesting that interactive / interactivity is dropping. Normally topics like "Adding Interactivity to your eLearning" are sure to pack the room. I wonder if the steady increase in rapid and the decrease of effective has anything to do with that?

2005 2006 2007 Change %Chg
results 9 0 2 2
wiki 0 0 2 2
assessment 3 1 3 2 200%
virtual classroom 5 1 3 2 200%
align/ment 8 1 3 2 200%
strategy/ic 10 3 8 5 167%
trainer 6 7 14 7 100%
performance 17 9 18 9 100%
lms 2 3 5 2 67%
rapid 3 4 5 1 25%
roi 9 4 5 1 25%
shoestring 0 3 3 0 0%
collaboration 1 2 2 0 0%
accelerated 3 2 2 0 0%
enterprise 8 1 1 0 0%
metrics 3 0 0 0 0%
blog 0 0 0 0 0%
training 43 50 49 -1 -2%
learning 102 73 71 -2 -3%
flash 3 7 6 -1 -14%
leadership 2 5 4 -1 -20%
authoring 4 4 3 -1 -25%
development 10 11 8 -3 -27%
design 26 25 18 -7 -28%
project 6 9 6 -3 -33%
powerpoint 6 3 2 -1 -33%
effective 5 5 3 -2 -40%
software 6 4 2 -2 -50%
tools 8 4 2 -2 -50%
delivering 5 5 2 -3 -60%
evaluation 1 3 1 -2 -67%
simulations 16 19 6 -13 -68%
games 0 23 7 -16 -70%
management 15 20 5 -15 -75%
technology 8 4 1 -3 -75%
knowledge 9 9 2 -7 -78%
interactive 5 13 2 -11 -85%
blended 4 4 0 -4 -100%

Thursday, May 03, 2007

eLearning 2.0 - I'm tring to DO IT

I just saw this post - eLearning 2.0 - I'm tring to DO IT - that's a response to my post eLearning 2.0 - Go DO IT.
I got back from the conference and started this blogging and not only that but I'm keeping it up. It because a little addictive though. The more I read and learn the more I want to express and share. But I'm starting to realize that is exactly what Tony and Brent Schlenker meant when they said that the best way to start learning how to use it and what you can get from blogging is to just start trying.
Way to go Tracy! And thanks for citing me so I knew about your blog. I'll keep track of it for a while to see how things go. But most of all, as a presenter / teacher / blogger, you periodically start to feel like - "Does any of this matter?" Is anyone doing more than coming, asking questions, being polite? After Boston, it seems like there have been several signs that at least a handful of people are DOING IT. That's great.

And, I'm not the only one with this kind of mini-crisis - take a look back at Will Richardson's -Owning the Teaching…and the Learning:
I’ve been growing more frustrated lately and I’m feeling more pessimistic about the prospects for any serious change in how we as an education system see teaching and learning, and I think I’ve figured out why. I hate to generalize, but the thing that seems to be missing from most of my conversations with classroom teachers and administrators is a willingness to even try to re-envision their own learning, not just their students.
So, thanks Tracy - you made my day.

Thanks Joan

Just a quick post to say thanks to Joan Vinall-Cox who was kind enough to take the time to point out a grammar/spelling error in my Blog Guide for First Time Visitors.

FYI - Joan has two very good blogs at:

Thanks again Joan.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Good Job Angela and Technology is Not the Devil

After reading a post by Will Richardson this morning entitled -“Technology is the Devil” and Other Observations where Will recounts a recent experience:
Recently, in the middle of a presentation to about 500 teachers, one woman raised her hand and said something along the lines of “Look, I’m not the most technologically savvy, but I have to tell you that in a lot of ways I think all this technology is the devil. I mean my kids plagiarize stuff left and right, they don’t learn how to spell because of spell check, and I just think we’d be better off without it.” And a number of people applauded.
My last post - eLearning 2.0 - Go Do It was partly out of my sense of concern that somehow people are missing the point and the opportunity.

Luckily I just saw a post by Angela White - who had already Jumped into My Blog Roll now I just saw this post - Conference Highlights Presentation Creates Network.

Go read it. I just did and it helped me feel that maybe technology is not the devil.

By the way, Angela is a fantastic example of great post-conference follow-up activities. See also: a Great Post Conference Practice.

eLearning 2.0 - Go Do It

Since my presentations last month at the Harvard Business School and at the eLearningGuild Annual Gathering, I've been getting several basic questions about what Web 2.0 and eLearning 2.0 really are. I've been trying to answer these questions by pointing people to various descriptions I've provided in the past such as:

But here's the real answer and I'm going to call it Tony's eLearning 2.0 Law #1:

You will NOT really understand Web 2.0 and eLearning 2.0 until you begin to experience it yourself.
and that brings me to Tony's eLearning 2.0 Law #2:
You WON'T be effective in helping others with eLearning 2.0 until you help yourself with eLearning 2.0.
To that end, the real advice I have for people to understand the topic is to dive in. You can look at guides such as those mentioned in:
But the BEST thing to do if you really want to learn about eLearning 2.0 is to simply:
  1. Start a blog that you will use to journal your learning experience
  2. Sign-up for a few other tools talked about in the guides listed above
  3. Answer the question (in your blog):
    • How can I use these tools to improve my personal learning?
    • How can these tools be used to help other people learn?
That's it.

NOW GO DO IT. No really! GO DO IT!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Learning from Sports Games

I just saw a post by Tom Crawford - The Rules of the Game. In it he discusses how a very bright person (graduated with a degree in psychology at age 19) from Nigeria who was just drafted by Houston first learned to play the game - playing Madden football.

I had a very similar experience with my son who didn't know the rules of baseball. I took him to a couple of games and tried to explain them - but it turns out that the rules are pretty crazy when you get down to it. Instead, I went to BestBuy and bought a copy of MVP Baseball. It took a couple of hours for him to learn the rules and a lot of the subtleties of the game.

It really made me appreciate the power of learning this way.