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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Business Value of eLearning - Elevator Pitches Needed

April 2008's Big Question was What would you like to do better as a Learning Professional?

The responses to this question were quite varied. It was interesting to see that the first two responses both dealt with selling the business value of eLearning.

Shaun tells us:
I need to be able to sell the ROI on learning better. and
How can I better impress the value of eLearning across the organization?
And from his post, its clear he's not unsophisticated around it. Jay Cross will tell you to forget ROI, but I'm not so sure that you can dismiss the notion that you have to explain the business value of what you are doing ahead of it in order to sell it in the organization.

Michael says pretty much the same thing:
Really improve my "elevator pitch" to really convince sceptical behind-the-curve C-level executives that learning and development initiatives are actually going to grow their business, not send it into a Hindenburg-like crash and burn.
I really wonder if we can't help Michael out a bit by suggesting elevator pitches. There's no single right answer here, but seeing a few examples would be good. So ...
What do you say in your organization or to your clients that help explain the business value of eLearning?

In other words, what's your elevator pitch?

Monday, April 28, 2008

100 eLearning Articles and White Papers

My collection of eLearning Articles, White Papers, Blog Posts, etc. just reached 100. Thought I'd share. No particular order to these.

1. Creating Passionate Users: Crash course in learning theory

2. Keeping Up with the Pace of Change

Informal learning will help employees survive in the future workplace

3. Understanding E-Learning 2.0

There are some very interesting changes going on in the world of e-learning that seem to have crept up on practitioners.

4. eLearn magazine: Feature Article

Ten Web 2.0 Things You Can Do in Ten Minutes to Be a More Successful E-learning Professional By Stephen Downes, National Research Council Canada

5. 2007 Training Industry Report Summary

This report covers stats on the industry's trends and growth over the last year and will appear in the upcoming Training magazine edition.

6. Web 2.0: A New Wave of Innovation for Teaching and Learning? (EDUCAUSE Review) | EDUCAUSE CONNECT

7. eLearn: Opinions

Good short article on characteristics of 2.0 collaboration

8. e-learning 2.0 Infiltrates the Classroom - ReadWriteWeb

9. Technology Integration Matrix

Together, the five levels of technology integration and the five characteristics of meaningful learning environments create a matrix of 25 cells as illustrated below. Each cell is supported with video examples.

10. Web 2.0 Is the Future of Education (Techlearning blog)

11. eLearn: Case Studies - The Reluctant Online Professor

12. Seven Tips for Making the Most of Your RSS Reader

13. Managing the Complexity of Forming an Online Networking Community:

14. Innovate: Moving from Theory to Real-World Experiences in an e-Learning Community

15. Building community in an online learning environment: communication, cooperation and collaboration

16. Storyboards & eLearning (Pt. 1) " EduTech gEEks...We're a new brEEd

Still new on campus, social software tools can support students and staff beyond the classroom, reaching around the world for learning and communication

17. We Learning, Part II

Second part of an interesting article - We Learning: Social Software and E-Learning, Part II.

18. E-Performance Essentials: ELearning and Social Software

An interesting article - Early e-learning traded technology for human interaction. Now, the personal element is being added<sep/>

19. eLearn: In Depth Tutorials - Designing and Developing E-learning Projects: A Three-Tiered Approach

20. Clive on Learning: In-house, out-house, that old question

21. Newbie's guide to Twitter | Webware : Cool Web apps for everyone

22. Ten Excellent Online Apps For the Innovative Teacher

23. Mzinga : White Paper Series : eLearning 2.0 & Communities 2.0

24. Learning Networks and Connective Knowledge

25. The Bamboo Project Blog: My Personal Learning Environment

An example of a PLE

26. Project Management and E-Learning: MORE is Worse

27. Horizon Report 2008

The annual Horizon Report seeks to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, or creative expression within learning-focused organizations.

28. Beyond Text: using your voice online

29. The Technology Source Archives - Seven Principles of Effective Teaching: A Practical Lens for Evaluating Online Courses

30. The New Learning Landscape - Using Wiki in Education -

How do students learn in a world where traditional assessments of intelligence are radically changing, abundant knowledge is more readily available, and learning community is more important than ever? By Stewart Mader

31. A third of teachers 'struggle with technology' | E-learning |

A third of teachers struggle to use the technology schools are equipped with and want more support and training, the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) said today. NFER's first Teacher Voice Omnibus Survey (TVOS), which was completed b

32. KnowledgeWorks - Map of Future Forces Affecting Education - Education Map

interactive map about future forces of education

33. eLearning Reviews: research on elearning

Provides those interested in research on elearning with concise and thoughtful reviews of relevant publications.

34. How Students Develop Online Learning Skills (EDUCAUSE Quarterly) | EDUCAUSE CONNECT

35. Steve Hargadon: Web 2.0 Is the Future of Education

36. eLearn: Feature Article

E-learning 2.0

37. eLearn: Best Practices - What do you mean when you say usability?

38. Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0

39. Mental Model Musings

40. eLearn: In Depth TutorialsDesigning Usable, Self-Paced e-Learning Courses: A Practical Guide

41. The Ultimate Student Resource List -

42. Instructional design - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

43. Podcast on Social Networking in Project-Based Learning | Beyond School

44. Marc Prensky - Twitch Speed

45. Learning and Networking with a Blog (Deleted Scenes) : eLearning Technology

46. Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0 (EDUCAUSE Review) | EDUCAUSE CONNECT

47. Instructables - The World's Biggest DIY & How To Show & Tell

48. Really Fast Storyboarding for E-Learning Projects - DSA Learning & Performance Tips Newsletter

49. Creating Scripts and Storyboards for e-Learning

50. Infinite Thinking Machine

51. 10 Universities Offering Free Writing Courses Online --

52. Innovate: Uses and Potentials of Wikis in the Classroom

53. Online Schooling Grows, Setting Off a Debate

54. Back to School with the Class of Web 2.0: Part 1

55. Project Based Learning Checklists

56. Just-in-time vs. Just-in-case learning

57. Knowing Knowledge: Home

Knowledge is changing. It develops faster, it changes more quickly, and it is more central to organizational success than in any other time in history. Our schools, universities, corporations, and non-profit organizations, need to adapt. We need to chang

58. Elgg, Drupal, and Moodle -- the components of an online learning environment | FunnyMonkey - Tools for Teachers

59. E-Learning & Web 2.0

60. Bloom's Taxonomy

61. e-learning 2.0: All You Need To Know - ReadWriteWeb

62. The Art of Building Virtual Communities (Techlearning blog)

63. Personal Learning Environments Wiki - JITT

64. The Wales-Wide Web | Personal Learning Environments

65. Innovate: Collecting, Organizing, and Managing Resources for Teaching Educational Games the Wiki Way

66. What Steve Jobs Can Teach You About Designing E-Learning - The Rapid eLearning Blog

67. The Social Affordances of the Internet for Networked Individualism

68. Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction: An Introduction

Just as Malcolm Knowles is widely regarded as the father of adult learning theory, Robert Gagne is considered to be the foremost researcher and contributor to the systematic approach to instructional design and training. Gagne and his followers are known

69. 10 Signs of Intelligent Life at YouTube (Smart Video Collections) | Open Culture

70. 10 Ways to Make Your iPod a Better Learning Gadget | Open Culture

71. Critical Thinking in an Online World

72. The Bazaar - Bazaar project " Personal Learning Environments

73. Podcasting and education - White Paper

74. A Big List of Sites That Teach You How To Do Stuff

75. Inside Outside, Upside Downside Strategies for Connecting Online and Face-to-Face Instruction in Hybrid Courses

76. How to take a course at MIT free -- at home

77. Online Copywriting 101: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet — Part 2

78. The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age " I. Overview

79. · e-Learning and the ADDIE Model

For best results, the development process for CD-ROM or Web-based training programs should use a modified ADDIE model, which borrows from the most valuable aspects of the systemic approach. Specifically, a rapid prototype phase is inserted after, or as an

80. The Top Web-Based Education Resources

81. Google Scholar - a new way of navigating through scholarly materials

82. The Self-Directed Student Toolbox: 100 Web Resources for Lifelong Learners | OEDb

83. Collaborative Learning Using Web 2.0 Tools - A Summary : eLearning Technology

84. Theories and models of and for online learning

85. The newsletter for the Association for Learning Technology: Using a Virtual Learning Environment to motivate learners

86. Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-olds - Kaiser Family Foundation

87. How Adults Learn :: Ageless Learner

88. eLearning & Deliberative Moments: The present and future of Personal Learning Environments (PLE)

This post is recast from an assignment I completed about four months ago in a Masters Degree course entitled Innovative Practice and Emerging ICT, in which I investigated what PLEs are meant to be and where they might be going. It was originally part of a

89. CREST+ Model: Writing Effective Online Discussion Questions

90. 10 Damaging E-learning Myths (elearningpost)

These myths seem to be spreading at an infectious pace. This list gives us an opportunity to look again at the assumptions and beliefs that have come to define our dealings with customers.

91. Reflective Learning Future Thinking (pdf Object)

This paper summarises the results of the Reflective Learning, Future Thinking research seminar jointly held by ALT, SURF and ILTA at Trinity College Dublin. At this seminar 50 leading researchers from three nations came together to share thoughts about th

92. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century

93. Social software: E-learning beyond learning management systems

94. eLearn: Case Studies - The Reluctant Online Professor

95. Color Theory for web designers - Colors on the Web - color combination, color wheel, color schemes

96. Ten Web 2.0 things you can do in ten minutes to be a more successful e-learning professional

97. Learning Networks and Connective Knowledge

98. John Seely Brown: Growing Up Digital

Growing Up Digital: How the Web Changes Work, Education, and the Ways People Learn

99. Futurelab - Research - Publications - Social software and learning

100. Assessing Learning Management Systems

Learning Objective

Through the comments in Blog Learning (itself about learning through discussions on blogs) something hit me. Stephen Downes and Jay Cross would say this is a "no duh." But I had just never formulated it this way.

The comment was roughly that this blog (eLearningTechnology)
'has significantly more than the new learner "needs" to know. '
I would hope so!

But it also made me realize that someone might come to this blog thinking that it's purpose was to help them learn. And that the core objective might be to help a "new learner."

What's the learning objective associated with this blog? I hate to be so self serving, but the objective is really to help my personal learning. To a lesser extent the learning objective is to help other people learn.

In other words, the objective of this blog is not really to try to teach the readers a particular set of things. I hope that each post offers insights into a topic. It may spark some thoughts. Cause us to have a discussion.

But what do I post about? Well it's what I found interesting at that moment and what's meaningful to me that I think might also be meaningful and useful to you.

When you boil it down, there's learning on both sides - but the intent is first to support my learning (my personal learning objectives) - I don't really know you well enough to try to support your learning in any meaningful way. That's up to you. I hope my blog is part of that.

Of course, I may have just learned something myself - and maybe you did also. :)

90-9-1 Rule aka 1% Rule in Collaborative Environments

I was just talking to someone who is regular reader of my blog and they claimed that I had never officially posted about the 90-9-1 Rule which is often referred to as the 1% Rule. Basically this rule tells us that in collaborative environments, e.g., discussion groups, wikis, etc. for every 100 people that sign up:
  • 90 will lurk (read with no active participation)
  • 9 will participate in a limited fashion (maybe rate or comment periodically)
  • 1 will regularly post content
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
and other adoption models. Still, be careful about overselling the amount of adoption.

And even with these efforts and while some environments differ in their participation rates, there is often a similar spread of participation which can be a big problem for the effectiveness of social solutions. Think about it:
To get 10 active content contributors, you need an audience of size 1,000.
More information:

Wikipedia article: 1% Rule
Guardian article: "What is the 1% rule?"
"The 1% Rule: Charting citizen participation
Quantitative Analysis Of User Generated Content (PDF) - paper

Reframing Conference Social Tool Participation

Through my recent post: Social Conference Tools - Expect Poor Results I've received a bit of feedback on being such a pessimist (Dave Ferguson) and a great comment from Sue Waters that made me realize I needed to reframe the problem. I've been disappointed by the low participation rates and generally haven't seen that much value from these tools. But, most of the tools provided are aimed at trying to get everyone in the conference to use the tools.

Instead, if we believe the 90-9-1 Rule, then the real questions should be:
  • How can we create systems that when they are adopted by 1% of the population, we can provide value for the rest of the conference attendees and appropriately reward the 1%ers?
  • What can we provide for the 9%ers so they can make lightweight contributions that add value?
  • How can we effectively integrate the 90%ers so they get value from the 9%ers and the 1%ers?
I'm not sure I have answers here, but at least it gets me to think about the problem differently, and I'm more hopeful to find answers to these questions than trying to get greater participation among the entire conference audience.

One warning about this ... I'm not sure I can count every conference attendee as even a 90%er. Are they even going to enroll in the collaborative system? So, for a conference with 1,000 attendees, how many participants can you realistically expect. There will be anomalies (e.g., a Web 2.0 conference).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Social Conference Tools - Expect Poor Results

I saw a post by David Warlick - Reaching Out With Your Conference where he suggests that conference organizers should:
  • Consider a social network for your conference. Although I remain skeptical about social networks, social networking is essential, and a few conferences have made brilliant use of them.
  • Give presenters a wiki page to spread out their session descriptions, post presentation commercials, and generate discussion through the commenting feature.
  • Give exhibitors a wiki page to spread out their description and to add special offers, schedules of booth presentations, and codes for door prizes.
  • Establish and CLEARLY advertise conference tags for bloggers and photographers.
  • Either aggregate photos and blog entries, or set up a conference page on Hitchhikr and link to that. (I’m considering doing a major rebuild of Hitchhikr.)
  • Generate a tag cloud that represents the conversation that is the conference.
  • If you have a social network or are connecting to profiles in some other way, ask attendees (physical & virtual) what’s on their radar, and post that, perhaps as a tag cloud.
  • Keep the conference web site going. Continue to maintain it. Post videos and audio podcasts of sessions. It’s good for your community, and good advertising for your conference.
A lot of these I think are really good ideas in theory and I'm constantly waiting for them to take off. Actually, I'm continually trying to figure out how to make conferences more effective use of time. And I've actually talked about this quite in posts such as:
I think there are some really good ideas in David's post and in some of these other posts. And, I've been happy to see various conferences about some of these practices - and I encourage them to keep it up.

However, ...

My basic feeling is that there's a fundamental flaw in all of these ideas that lead to poor results. The flaw is that it appears that people are quite willing to attend conferences without any up-front effort, back-end effort and probably the minimum effort during the conference. I posted how to Be an Insanely Great Professional Conference Attendee, but the requirement is to do some work to figure out what you really are trying to get out of the conference. It takes some time (but not a lot). Do attendees do this? It's rare.

In addition to the lack of effort, there's another big problem - lack of skills and experience. I've questioned before Conference Networking Tools - Do They Work?
and the answer is that most of these tools are not very good. I've recently tried to use the one associated with the ASTD conference. It's not going to help me connect with people. I feel I'm relatively adept at networking via online tools, and have talked about how I use tools ahead of events Secret for Networking at Events - Prenetworking it's still really tough.

Based on what I've seen, I question whether it makes much sense for organizers to spend time on these things.

Let me try to summarize - these ideas are great, but they are social solutions that require participation and we don't get participation because of lack of effort and lack of skills.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Blog Learning

Something I (probably too often) talk about is learning via a blog. It certainly is a great lens to have in viewing the world. It puts you into a learning mode. It naturally builds a network of learning cohorts. Simply put, it's a wonderful learning tool.

But what struck me recently is how great the feedback and interaction can be. In other words, I'm learning via blog comments and blog posts by other bloggers - likely much more than anyone reading the blog itself.

In some cases, I've set out with a specific information need and asking for input:
On the last of these, I was steered away from a particular approach to a session. This was great learning. Come to find out, people don't like those small break out sessions at most conferences either. I've seen them so often, I just assumed I should be doing them also. Blog learning!

In many cases, I post my thoughts and someone comes in to correct me or redirect my thinking. Take a look at:
I started with a kind of inquiry and found myself realizing that one of the citations I gave was an example of a badly designed course teaching about instructional design.

But one of the best kinds of examples comes out of discussions such as in the following:
I originally posted a thought. Then people came in to clarify it and redirect my thinking. I was originally thinking of a pretty limited case - looking up a phone number. How that's changed. And I may still use that. But consider how rich the problem is as described by a comment over the weekend:
I'm running through the same questions in regards to a certification desk of help desk technicians in my office. What is more valuable to the company - a technician that knows the answers, or a technician that knows how to look up the anwers. I'm coming to the point where I am leaning in both directions, and it's kind of making me angry internally for not being able to come to a conclusion.

One one hand - a person who knows the answer immediately sounds more professional (gives a sense of knowledge when speaking to the customer), and resolves problems more quickly.

On the other - a person who knows how to look something up is generally more capable of finding the correct answer, at the expense of a) time spent looking up the correct answer and b) looking like they do not know anything because they constantly need to go for help.

I have a similar issue when it comes down to people who 'understand' the material vs people who look up the answers. I can train almost anyone to fetch an answer from a database, but what is more valuable - a person who truly understands the material and understands why doing action A leads to result B, or person who looks up action A, gets result B, and then has to go back to the answer book to find next step C?

My superiors think that people who can answer scripted questions are more valuable to my industry, yet they consistently rely on people who understand the theory of problem resolution to actually fix anything important. I think that having 2 people who are able to think with logic and resolve issues correctly beats 5 people who can only read from a script.

How do I figure out what is the best situation and how do I convey this to managemnt.
Incredible insight. It's not nearly that simple as the phone number example. And I completely understand what Alan (the commenter) is saying here. And certainly, waiting for someone to look up the answer or finding out that they need to look it up can seem wrong. And not knowing why something is right worries me as well. Certainly, I would worry about hiring someone who always looked up answers and didn't seem to "know" anything.

Blog Learning!

I'm not claiming this is anything new (see Blogging for Learning and Networking) but the comment this weekend gave me new appreciation of the value proposition.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Larger LMS Audience Means Lower Satisfaction

I just pulled a report as part of an LMS Evaluation and saw an interesting pattern:

The pattern shows that the larger the audience the lower the satisfaction scores. My guess is that Learning Management Systems that target enterprise solutions and larger audiences will come out lower in LMS Satisfaction surveys.

Other posts around Learning Management Systems:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bad Course on Instructional Design

I just posted about eLearning Design and Development Training Course listing two examples of courses that talked about instructional design for eLearning. Whoops. I should have looked more closely.

The course from MyUdutu (
may talk about it, but it is a classic example of what not to do in eLearning. So while it talks about Instructional Design - it hardly is something to review.

As Chris pointed out in a comment and I talked about in Audio Narration vs. On-Screen Text
you should never have voice-over that's the same as the text on the page. That's just annoying and slows you down.

Other bad aspects included having choppy narration (people are not very forgiving around narration and other audio). Further, there was no audio control to let you know what's going on with the audio.

Later in the course, they used narration much better with a graphic. Still, this probably should not have been a course to point people to. Oh good, it looks like other suggestions are coming in.

eLearning Design and Development Training Course

Someone on LinkedIn asked:
Can anyone recommend a really good e-learning design/development training course?

This is for a colleague who is new to instructional design & development so something that covers the basics at an introductory level would be best. Thanks!

The responses pointed me to a couple of resources I hadn't seen before:

  • MyUdutu
A simple course that describes some basic principles of online training course design, and will serve as a template for a simple course if you copy it and substitute your own content.
An introduction to instructional design and course development and guidance on selecting the right design and development tools.

I know that I've seen others.

What else is out there?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Browsing Blog Content

I've added BrowseMyStuff to my sidebar and particularly links to keywords found in my blog and those found in various eLearning blogs.

Browse eLearning Blogs -

It's nice that it basically provides automatic categorization.

Let me know what you think.

Social Learning Objects - Flash Cards

I was contacted by Mike Hogan, the creator of Flashcard Friends. This is an interesting little application and might imply a few things around where things are going.

FlashCard Friends does a lot of what you'd expect in terms of creating Flash Cards for students. It's well designed and very easy to use. It also does some interesting things:
  • Allows users to categorize flash cards, mark them as being associated with particular text books, and then helps with the sharing of content. If you think about it, shouldn't the Flash Cards for most K-8 classes be similar?
  • You can copy an existing deck and easily modify.
  • They have automated definitions and translation to make it easy to create language flash cards.
  • You can add pictures or sounds to flashcards or with a Java applet, you can record sounds right into flashcards, which also is great for language learning.
  • For spelling, you can enter the word and the system has text-to-speech to create a sound that is the prompt that you then have to spell.
  • You can create tests (and the student can have practice tests) based on the flash card content.

There are flashcard decks for memorizing texting abbreviations and sports trivia to anatomy. You can see a video demo of the service here.

It's quite an impressive little application.

And I would suggest that there are a couple of interesting implications:

Web-Based, Niche Authoring Tools

I've claimed for a while (see Authoring in eLearning 2.0 / Add-ins & Mash-ups and Incredibly Cool! Vision of Future of Application and eLearning Development) that the age of desktop / installed heavy authoring tools are going to lose out to web-based authoring tools that focus on particular niches and allow composition. You somewhat see this with Survey Tool. I think that composition will look and act much more like Wiki Course Authoring.

In other words, my expectation is to have many easy to use, niche authoring tools that let's me create targeted interventions that I can compose together into an overall learning experience.

Social Learning Objects

One of the most powerful capabilities is how easy it is to grab existing content and modify it for your purposes. This is something we've wanted to do for a long time in learning, but it's always been hard. I would claim that within these more narrow, web-based authoring services, it will be much easier to share content. And there are lots of subjects where sharing makes sense.

What's also interesting though is that the expectation is that the learners themselves will find, create, share the flash cards (as opposed to relying on the instructor). This is exactly what the implication is Learning's Long Tail and Attention Crisis, Long Tail Learning - Size and Shape, eLearning 2.0.

Just so I'm fair to everyone, here are some competitors to Flash Card Friends:

Flashcard Exchange: Flashcards:

Aplus Math Flashcards:

Flashcard Machine:

Study Perfect (Luminaresoft):