Monday, March 31, 2008
While it shows me something about the people, what I found really compelling was looking at the Popular tab which gives a pretty good indication of what the best content is on my site. Christy sited on of my old posts An Aha Moment - del.icio.us as Indicator of Valuable Content - Importantly My Content.
I still think this is a good indicator and the Diigo popular tab on my site community seemed like a pretty good list of what the most compelling content was on my blog.
This is a really neat feature and I'd guess that given a couple of widgets, Diigo is going to get some traction.
In Boy Scouts, I use to teach wilderness survival which required a lot of memorization. You couldn't count on having the Boy Scout Manual with you during a survival situation so I had the students memorize what plants were edible, different ways to purify water, and first aid techniques.So, he made me go back and change my slide to say Life is MOSTLY an Open Book Test.
So, life can be an open book test or a closed book test depending on the situation.
Of course, that's really more in line with I'm really saying - it's all about anticipated information needs. The right answer depends on where and when you need the information and what your expectation is around what you have available. What's changed is that we more often have some kind of computer probably with web access which gives us access to a ton of information and people - that definitely changes the thinking about what you have to have in your head.
Friday, March 21, 2008
By the way, have I mentioned that I'm feeling really good about this presentation? I have 90 minutes and I think I'm going to blow some minds, change a few lives, its going to be fun. If I can figure out how to shorten it, I think I have a presentation that's going to be a great keynote.
Anyhow, back to Life is an Open Book Test ...
I start this part of the presentation by asking the question:
What's more valuable?
1. A Phone Number kept in your Long-term Memory?
2. A Phone Number kept in your Cell Phone, PDA, Laptop, Organizer?
I expect there will be a little debate among the audience. But the actual answer is that it depends on how available that number is when you need it. This really goes for any information.
When needed is it:
- Easily / Quickly Available
- Accessible in a usable form
I will extend the question to then ask whether trying to put all of the White Pages and Yellow Pages into your Cell Phone makes sense? Likely it doesn't as long as you have ways to get to that information. For example, Google-411 or Google Info.
I believe this extends to lots of information. My 10 year old recently went through the exercise of learning all the capitals of the 50 US States. He's quite adept at memorization and can easily beat me (since he was around 5 years old) at concentration games. While the knowledge of state capitals might be valuable for future trivia, I would ask whether knowing this information is better or would it be better for him to know how to quickly look that information up (along with all sorts of other information about the state).
The bottom line for all of this are two important phrases:
There's more context here in the presentation, but the key ingredient is that we need to build skills in determining what our future information needs will be and whether we are trying to keep and organize individual pieces of information. Or do we keep meta-information (information about how to get to that information)? Or do we not really need to do anything?
After all - Life is an Open Book Test
I'd be curious if anyone has thoughts on this. In the past, I've received some pretty amazing feedback this way that significantly altered what I was going to present.
Coming across new and richly interpretable information triggers a chemical reaction that makes us feel good, which in turn causes us to seek out even more of it. The reverse is true as well: We want to avoid not getting those hits because, for one, we are so averse to boredom.
It is something we seem hard-wired to do. When you find new information, you get an opioid hit, and we are junkies for those. You might call us 'infovores.' "
The same thing happens with information as with food. We are programmed for scarcity and can't dial back when something is abundant.I was just talking about the importance of filtering skills for my ASTD 2008 presentation. Of course, it's a balance. We can't just shut off the flow of information. We have to get better at selection and filtering.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I'm in charge of classroom training for five campuses throughout North America. Our customers use Crystal Reports in connection with our software.The issue from what I could read an interpret from various posts (statement, article) is that Business Objects requires Classroom Licensing for third party training organizations to teach using their software. They also are trying to put restrictions on any use of their software in training materials, public presentations, etc. The goal seems to be to: (a) get additional software license revenue and (b) limit "gray market" training and consulting - trainers and consultants who are not officially part of their programs. Note: they included not allowing non-certified training organizations to include screen shots in their training materials.
It has been stated that Crystal Reports licensees may not train clients using Crystal Repots from Business Objects without an additional EULA for each and every customer receiving such training.
I'm actually not that familiar with the issues here and don't know how software companies generally handle this. I would certainly suspect that there are lots of software companies who would like to control this much like Business Objects. I've talked to a couple of friends at software development companies here in Southern California and they didn't have answers for me.
I'm curious - is this the norm? Is it okay for a software company to establish its policies and try to generate revenue by controlling who customers use for consulting and training? Where do you draw the line?
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Does anyone know where I would find such a comic or something like that?
Or any ideas on searching for such a thing?
I've tried various things on Google Images with little luck.
BTW, the point I'm highlighting is how changes in technologies and/or methods can cause previous methods to become out of date. I'd be happy to use other such illustrations.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Mick Leyden - Professional Responsibility??? tells us:
The learning professional is responsible for ensuring learning objectives are achieved regardless of the delivery mode.This sounds quite reasonable at the surface. However, it dawned on me that if you define the scope of responsibility based on learning objectives you end up limiting yourself to focus only on content, immediate knowledge transfer, the fat end of the Long Tail Learning.
Is this possibly the crux of the issue? The disconnect I talked about in my previous post?
I would claim that willingness to accept definition of your scope in terms of learning objectives puts you in the box. To get outside the box, you need to have business needs and performance objectives.
Monday, March 10, 2008
First, my earlier posts Corporate Learning Long Tail and Attention Crisis and Long Tail Learning - Size and Shape lay out that I believe the space in which Corporate Learning (and realistically all learning professionals) operates is changing such that unless they look at providing Long Tail Learning, they will be a continually smaller part of the overall information landscape.
So far the posts have generally suggested a fairly broad view of responsibility for learning professionals. They express that learning professionals have some responsibility for solutions that extend beyond formal learning - whatever you choose to call this: informal learning, peer learning, bottom-up learning, non-formal learning. As Jacob McNulty said in Scope it Out:
I feel that learning professionals should support learning. Period. Whatever form(s) of learning that are most beneficial to the workforce (as well as appropriate members of the value-chain) are the ones that should be pursued.I like how Clark Quinn broke this down a bit in Scope of Responsibility. He points out that we have responsibility around:
- Wide range of approaches (resources and job aids, portals, knowledge management, eCommunity, coaching, mentoring, informal learning, etc.), and
- Promoting a culture of learning
- Developing learners as learners (or as I would put it - building learning skills)
Likely a few different sources of this disconnect:
- Rest of the world doesn't expect (or look to) learning professionals for anything other than formal learning interventions. When you offer something different, they tell you they just wanted a course.
- Can you push bottom-up learning from an L&D organization?
- What does this mean in practice?
I would suggest building solutions which include provision for user generated content. Features such as:Karyn's making a great point. We are used to being publishers and what makes this very challenging is to think of ourselves not as publishers, but as starters, infrastructure, aggregators, etc.
The content of these spaces is outside of the scope of the learning professional - although you might provide a starter for 10 to get the ball rolling, but providing the space for this interaction, actively promoting user ownership of the learning process and contribution to the learning content is part and parcel of the provider's responsibility.
- discussion forums and/or noticeboards
- tip of the day/week/whatever
- FAQs - manned by the champions and drawn from the discussion forums
- jargon busters' corners (some form of wiki - although it sometimes doesn't to let the audience know that that's what it is!)
Friday, March 07, 2008
I've got to say that in comparison to other worlds of blogging, all us folks in the learning and development world seem rather civilized - possibly verging on boring. Sure, once in a while Stephen Downes will call me out for being too control oriented and I'll say he's too much of a socialist and he'll correct both my definition of socialism and misconception that socialism is somehow not the answer (see Decomposting Socialism). This is always fun, but still relatively boring. But, finally, we have an honest to goodness fight emerging.
Bill Brantley has called out Jay Cross - Cross Calls Me Out (or was it the other way around?). Bill has particularly gone through a critical review of Jay's book to poke holes. I can't say I've not done similar things (see Thomas Davenport and Blogging - He is Wrong! : eLearning Technology). Luckily Davenport writes a blog, but either doesn't respond to other bloggers or doesn't read them. So, no fight emerged.
In Bill's series of posts he tells us (among other statements):
Informal learning is just another hype-filled, buzzword that pretends to be a radical change from the past but is really bits-and-pieces of other learning methods badly packaged.Ray Sims - Informal Learning Dustup at Sims Learning Connections and Harold Jarche - Growing, changing, learning, creating both mention Bill's post, but interestingly neither of them mention the food fight aspect. This would be another boring exchange without the use of terms like "hype-filled", "buzzword", "repackaged", and the rest. That at least makes it seem more interesting and entertaining on a Friday afternoon.
Cross’ definition of informal learning is so wide open it can mean almost anything.
Cross has a marketing background which explains the breathless pace at which he writes.
Cross’ book is filled with hyperbolic assertions that training is just selling snake oil (p. 32), courses are dead (p. 167), and there is no sense in measuring return on investment for training (p. 165).
Unfortunately, Jay has only provided a very minor response via a couple of comments. Not enough to have a full blown fight on our hands. I'm still hopeful. Or maybe someone can more aggressively defend Jay or better yet simply attack Bill.
All that said, as a person who as a panel moderator, or the proctor of the Big Question, likes to instigate interesting discussion, debate, disagreement, I'm perversely happy to see this. On the other hand, I'm somewhat worried that the tone may put off people.
So, I'm curious:
- Are these kinds of debates good or bad?
- If it helps excite the crowd, is a little blood okay? Or should we always keep it civilized?
- Do you think it's good that Obama finally started attacking Hillary on her experience (okay, you don't have to answer, and yes it's US centric, but I couldn't resist)?
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Unfortunately, Chris got some flak based on his initial question. The problem is that the question is somewhat complex to answer for any individual and so not something to be done lightly. It's easy to list a set of tools. Jane Hart has done a great job collecting individual answers to what learning tools and technologies that people use. But, that doesn't get you very far.
More important are the methods. But probably most important are the mental models or frameworks that people use to understand what they need and turn it into methods and tools.
The question is a bit harder than Chris expected. At the same time, I agree with his call for sharing on these things and "learning over the shoulder" of others.
And I also sympathize with the "no its personal" beat down he took. There is certainly value in sharing methods and models.
I ran back through some previous discussions on PLEs and found that much of it focuses on tools and technology. A little on methods. Very little on models or frameworks. Here are some of the links:
- Requirements of a PLE Framework
- Social Network Operating Systems
- Personal Work and Learning Environments (PWLE) - More Discussion
- Personal Work and Learning Environments
- PWLE Not PLE - Knowledge Work Not Separate from Learning
- Learning and Networking With A Blog (T+D article)
- Personal Learning Strategies
- Personal Learning
- Learning Systems
- EPSS and ePerformance
- Personal Learning for Learning Professionals - Using Web 2.0 Tools to Make Reading & Research More Effective
- Personal Learning Knowledge Work Environment
- Personal and Group Learning Using Web 2.0 Tools
- Needed Skills for New Media
- eLearning 2.0 - An Immediate, Important Shift
- The Fischbowl: Creating Personal Learning Networks: Part 2
- growing changing learning creating: If this is your first PLE
- Personal Learning Environments: What They Are And How To Implement Them - Good summary
- Jeremy Hiebert's headspaceJ -- Instructional Design and Technology
- The Inevitable Personal Learning Environment Post
- Derek's Blog: More on MLEs and PLEs
- Personal Learning Environments Wiki
- The present and future of Personal Learning Environments
- Wikipedia: History of personal learning environments
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
- First Thoughts After ASTD TechKnowledge Sessions.
- ASTD TechKnowledge 2008, Lots of Fun
- TK08 - Tony Karrer and Implementation of Social Learning
- How to Add Scenarios to Your Rapid E-Learning Courses…Rapidly!
- @ ASTD TechKnowledge 2008 (Wednesday)
- Questions from the audience
- techknowledge conference
- More on Better ConferencesFormal Learning at TechKnowledge
- ASTD TechKnowledge 2008: Postmortem
- ASTD TechKnowledge 2008
- ASTD TechKnowledge 2008 (Tuesday)
- ASTD’s TechKnowledge ‘08, Day 1 (And a Little Royce)
- @ ASTD TechKnowledge 2008 (Monday)
Monday, March 03, 2008
I can honestly say that the bloggers and social networkers I know who make a real effort with identify with these statements.
Bloggers reported a greater sense of belonging to a group of like-minded people and feeling more confident they could rely on others for help.
All respondents, whether or not they blogged, reported feeling less anxious, depressed and stressed after two months of online social networking.
Time to go back and update - Top Ten Reasons To Blog and Top Ten Not to Blog
It was designed to be a small to medium size group discussion, but because the room was large it was very challenging to do that successfully. I discussed a bit of these issues in First Thoughts After ASTD Sessions.
I'm writing this post for both attendees of the session to have some notes and for people who were not at the session to hopefully get value from the discussion that happened there. As such, I'm trying to:
- Report and discuss the results of an introductory survey that I conduct (thanks to the suggestion via Conference Breakout Sessions).
- Provide the content. I've embedded all the content from the slides.
- Provide thoughts around the content and the discussion.
Oh, and I'm going to go in order according to the topics covered in the session.
At the very start I asked the audience for examples of where they were currently using these tools as part of learning solutions. There were about 7 examples mentioned including Intuit using a Wiki-like system for customers to ask questions/get advice around taxes, using a group blog with students prior to a formal learning event, the US Army's use of collaboration tools to share best practices in Iraq, and several others.
I discussed the fact that there was a common Adoption Pattern that went from personal adoption to work groups to organization.
– Personal =>
– Work group =>
I also discussed that often these things evolve into solutions. This is something that gets discussed as emergent: see Emergent Knowledge Management, Direction of eLearning - Emergence or Big System, and Future Platforms for eLearning.
So while the session focused on organizational adoption, it likely was the case that you should look for targeted adoption opportunities.
Adoption Opportunities (Survey Part 1)
Prior to the start of the session, I handed out 100 copies of a brief survey. I ran out of copies (so there must have been more than 100 people in the room at some point - although people often come to grab copies of handouts and then leave prior to the start). I received 41 surveys back from participants. The participants were Learning Professionals from a cross section of Corporations, Academia, Military, Government (IRS was well represented and a little scary) and Non-profits. I didn't ask questions which would help to better identify participants.
Question 1 - What are the most likely ways / places your organization might or does use Blogs, Wikis, Social Bookmarking, Social Networking or Collaboration Tools? Choose the top 3-5.
|Alongside Formal Learning ||26||63%|
|Process Information / Training ||22||54%|
|Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) / Support Information ||18||44%|
|Commonly used resources, URL's to applications, documentation, Contact Information, etc. ||15||37%|
|On-Boarding process / Corporate Information ||11||27%|
|Online Reference / Glossary ||10||24%|
|Product Information / Training ||9||22%|
|Supporting Meetings, Conference Rooms, Phone Numbers, Facilitation Assignment, agenda, etc. ||7||17%|
|Augmenting live conversations, e.g. taking jointly visible notes during a virtual meeting ||4||10%|
Other methods or comments written in:
- Communities of Practice
- For Professional Consulting or Training Areas
- CoP and Detective training, teaching students, share best practices and poll member, learn from each others membership interest groups
- Peer to Peer Knowledge Transfer (Across Divisions)
- Membership Interest Groups (Certain areas of focus)
- Leveraging our professional team to learn from each other
- New Results Distribution
- Performance Support - "reminders"
- Share best practices and to poll other members
- To teach students tools they need for success in the workplace and world
- Developing New Training
- Currently do not use but will after implementing LMS
- A big reason for the survey was to get people to think about where these tools might make sense. However, the discussion quickly lost steam. There weren't nearly as many suggestions as to where they would like to see adoption as I expected.
- I somewhat expected that the answers would be scattered. This was more of a prompt than it really was a true survey. And, of course, part of the scattering is that people in different kinds of organizations are going to have different needs.
We discussed several other possible uses, but I'm blanking on what they were. Again, though, not as many people jumping in with - "What I really want to do is ...." as I expected.
Target Audiences (Survey Question 2)
Question 2 - What audiences are the most likely to use these tools in your organization?
Other audiences written in:
- Professional Trainers and Consultants
- Clients- Access Knowledge Domains
- Work Groups
- Training Department
- Engineering (Product, Process, Quality)
- Product Developers
- Members of our Association
- Younger Employees
- Clinical Research Associates
Also, several people wrote in the training department itself. That's actually quite a good point and likely a good way to go after it. It also fits nicely with starting with targeted adoption.
I only briefly mentioned how other organizations are adopting these tools in a big way - The Wall Street Journal - June 18 2007 - social networking at IBM
- 26,000 registered blogs.
- 20,000 wikis with more than 100,000 users.
- No anonymous users.
- DogEar – Social Bookmarking
- BluePages - employee-controlled profiles of 400,000 employees
- Daily online newsletter called w3. Ranking, tagging, top stories
- Tags link back to the tagger’s BluePages profile
- IBM owns more than 50 islands in Second Life. Orientations, classes, and meetings are often held in Second Life.
I then asked everyone to call out what they saw as their biggest barriers to getting adoption. No problems getting things here. I tried to capture things down as they were said, here are my notes:
- Privacy / Confidentiality
- Control over Quality of Information
- Strict Control Over Policies – Accuracy
- Liability / Discoverability / Compliance
- Change Management – Ready for It / Culture
- Management Take it Seriously – Away from Work
- Education of Management
- Lack of Resources – Mobile Devices
- Push Back from Workforce - Adoption
Note: if anyone has good discussions or references for how to address these barriers, please let me know.
Content Quality / Regulated ContentOne of the most common initial objections is what about quality of the content. How do you know what gets put onto a Wiki is okay to distribute?
- Moderation - On many Wiki software packages you can require approval for posting changes. It takes more work, but initially this is a good way to overcome this objection.
- Limit Authoring - You can control who is allowed to make changes. Initially, you can start where only your instructional designers / writers are allowed to make changes. Then, maybe open it up to subject matter experts. Then to the help desk. Then maybe to end users / learners. You can also limit what pages can be changed.
- Version Control - It's easy to roll back changes.
- Safe Harbor Statements - Clearly mark pages that are controlled and approved vs. those that are not. Or pages that are for training purposes but you need to go elsewhere for the official stuff.
- No anonymous editing
Fundamentally, the question is whether this same content is getting distributed through other means (think email or water cooler). If someone is going to post it on a Wiki, they certainly would send the same thing in email. Wouldn't you rather have it out in the open?
Participation / Adoption Rates
Will people really pick these things up and use them?
I cautioned everyone about the 1% Rule that says in collaborative environments, e.g., discussion groups, for every 100 people who sign up, 90 will lurk, 9 will participate in a limited fashion, and 1 will regularly post content.
Without anything else involved, you need a fairly large audience to get significant participation.
Of course, you can try to improve those percentages through:
- Incentives or requirements (students must blog - it's graded)
- Community cohesion
- Focus (short time frame, limited topic)
- Integrated as natural activity
Clearly to increase the chances of successful adoption, you should use patterns that are more likely to succeed. WikiPatterns is a great place to go for ideas around this. So is the look at Training Methods. A few of the interesting patterns that I commonly think about:
- Starting Point - Never give people a blank page. Start them with initial structure and obvious placed to add content.
- Barn Raising - Get people together or virtually together to get the content going. They'll learn how to do it and have experience and a feeling of ownership.
- Honey Pots - Create pages that people are likely to update such as Common Support Issues, FAQ, etc.
- Agenda - Meeting agendas are a good common editing needs
- Company Directory / People Pages - Another easy place to start.
- Time frame / Goal - Starting with a fixed time frame and a particular goal often gets better initial activity.
Often it can be tricky to convince management of the value of providing these tools. I've not really seen good examples of business cases (future ROI) for using these tools. Rather, I've seen them sold based on specific uses that have obvious value to the organization.
Still, this is a somewhat uphill battle. Even Thomas Davenport, author of Thinking for a Living, has blasted these tools:
blogs have detracted from productivity, not increased it.
– Thinking for a Living
I’ve been on LinkedIn for several years. I never initiate a connection. I can safely say that I have gotten nothing out of the site …I've already discussed that some people are really not getting the impact of different tools. Getting Value from LinkedIn, Thomas Davenport and Blogging - He is Wrong!, Spending or Wasting Time on Web 2.0 Tools? and have certainly called out the irony that Davenport is writing a blog (I guess he's okay with his personal loss of productivity).
– on his blog
For most organizations, selling the use of these approaches needs to be focused on the specific (limited) opportunity.
The other aspect is that it is often easiest to get these tools in very limited ways, use them in a limited fashion and then grow them. Use a Wiki instead of other approaches to creating web pages (only edited by ID/writers initially). Open up editing slowly.
Then getting people to use them in other contexts is that much easier and you will gather anecdotal evidence of value.
A few other thoughts on barriers mentioned by the audience that I should more clearly address at some point...
- Firewalls - You can certainly install tools behind the firewall. See the lists of tools below. You have to decide about inside the firewall vs. SaaS, but this shouldn't hold you back.
- IP - Making sure it's clear about ownership of content is definitely an issue. Multiple authors - who owns at end. Not sure what else was implied.
- Privacy / Confidentiality - Limit the visibility.
- Security - This is no worse than any other form of electronic communication.
- Control over Quality of Information - See above
- Strict Control Over Policies – Accuracy - See above
- Liability / Discoverability / Compliance - Absolutely the contents of your Wiki, Blogs, etc. is discoverable. So, yes, you have to set up policies and alert people just like you do around any form of electronic communication (email, IM). My experience has been that people are more likely to say something problematic in email (they think of it as private) than they are on a public avenue like a Wiki.
- Change Management – Ready for It / Culture - Incrementally moving into it is needed.
- Management Take it Seriously – Definitely an issue.
- Lack of Resources – Mobile Devices - It doesn't take much to get most of these things going. I forget the issue around mobile devices.
- Push Back from Workforce - Adoption
The following are resources that I provided as links in my presentation.
Corporate Blogging Guidelines
• Yahoo Employee Blog Guidelines (pdf)
• Apache - Roller - Open source
• Mediawiki – Open Source
• Mindtouch - Deki Wiki – Open Source
• Twiki – Open Source
Social Bookmarking Systems
• IBM Lotus Connections - Dogear
• Scuttle – Open Source
Social Network Systems
Related posts from several eLearning Blogs:
and First Thoughts After ASTD Sessions.
And really, Chris made me realize that I had left out a few things from some previous posts around Better Conferences and Conference Breakout Sessions.
1. Entertaining Keynote vs. Content Rich Keynote
Chris tells us -
The opening keynote by David Pogue (I’m a big fan!), while not specifically related to eLearning, was energizing and highly entertaining.I would completely agree. Entertaining and not related to eLearning. I had my laptop out and was ready to blog about it. But I didn't find much to blog about. I've had this experience before and I'm often torn. I like to hear from people who are doing interesting things in related fields. But, pure entertainment doesn't seem appropriate to me. So, I personally would rather hear from a visionary in our field. Actually, I think I could pull together something better with a few visionaries that would still be entertaining in that it would be an Aha rather than a Woohoo.
But that's me, how about you?
2. Last Day Letdown
Chris tells us -
Sadly, the event ended with more whimper than bang, with a classic final-day conference letdown. Why do half of the participants always disappear before the final day of a conference?This is classic. I always try to avoid presenting on the last day. And I generally leave before the last day. Normally, it's only half a day. And conference organizers know that this happens. Not sure what you can do about this? Is there a better model?
3. Breakout Sessions
Chris tells us -
Both sessions I attended on the final day included extensive (and worthless) breakout group activities.Whew, I barely dodged this bullet (and Chris attended that session). Thanks to everyone for redirecting me via Conference Breakout Sessions.
If presenters plan to include significant group breakout activities in their session, please require that they warn us in the session description. So I can go elsewhere. I hate to sound harsh and unkind, but geez - can’t we move past these trite group activities already?
4. Waiting for Aha
Chris tells us -
I’m still waiting for the iPhone unveiling at Macworld moment at one of these eLearning conferences. Something that makes me sit up and say “Whoa!” Perhaps that is too much to expect, but I’m clinging to the hope of seeing something truly game-changing one of these days.No doubt that Chris is more advanced than most who are attending. Therefore, harder to get an Aha. Still, it would be nice if there were more opportunities.
Applause for Chris for an interesting postmortem that helped spark some thoughts. The conference organizers must love this - if they read blogs. :)
Sunday, March 02, 2008
, Chris from eQuixotic reminded me that I could have asked the audience to move towards the front of the room to fill empty spots in order for them to hear. I thought about it, but decided not to. It certainly hurt the session to have a large room. But I also know that I hate having to move myself. And, often, it makes it harder to Session Hop.
I'm curious what other people think about the issue:
Do you ask people to move to the front of the room?