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Thursday, May 29, 2008


I just listened to Clark Quinn's presentation at ASTD LA (eLearning Strategy Presentation)
which is available online. Clark and I have discussed before the challenges with naming in our world and I was happy to see that he adopted the terminology of eLearning -> ePerformance.

I've talked about ePerformance before in EPSS and ePerformance as well as in a series of articles in Learning Circuits:
Clark's take on ePerformance looks to have a similar definition. I like the way he stepped through the transition from thinking in terms of courses to thinking about broader uses of technology to support performance. His terminology around elements of what goes into ePerformance is a bit different than what I discussed in the learning circuits articles. The concepts are fairly similar.

One of the end points on Clark's map is what he calls a Performance Ecosystem that he talks through at minute 54 in the talk.

I'm not sure if this is top-down or bottom-up or both kind of adoption. I look forward to continued conversation around the topic of ePerformance. Then he gets into discussion (1:02) around the gist of ePerformance - it's "not about training/learning, it's about empowering performance." He mentions:
Just in time
Just what's needed
Informal Learning
Problem solving, creativity, innovation, wisdom
Good stuff Clark.

What to Say When a Colleagues' Family Member Dies

This is fairly off topic for this blog, but this is something that's come up several times recently for me, and I've struggled with it each time. This morning I received a note from a colleague to tell me that their mother died last night and that they couldn't do our scheduled call. I'm always at a loss as to what to say ...

I honestly sat in front of the email this morning trying to figure out what I should be saying. And I rewrote the email a bunch of times. I never felt the words in the email were the right words.

I'm generally okay with saying something about being sorry for their loss (and I truly am). If I know them well enough to know whether they are religious, I will sometimes say that they are in my family's prayers (and they truly are). I wish there was a non-religious way to say the same thing, but I don't know the equivalent.

But those one or two sentences seem inappropriately short given the magnitude of the situation. Maybe it's good to be short? Still it feels hollow.

And I struggled even more with whether to say and what to say about the work / scheduled call. Do you mention anything about it? I wanted to say that our discussions could hold until ???? But it seems wrong to even include that message in the same note. It felt like a rounding error on the important part of the message.

And if you do say something about holding, what's the end of that sentence?

Until you get back? <- Not quite right. It could hold longer if they need it.

Until things return to normal? <- Ouch. No. That's definitely not right.

Until ???

I'm sure that many other people face this same issue. I would appreciate any suggestions, especially sample emails / wording that you would or have used in this kind of situation.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Design for Search

Interesting post by Donald Clark that points to a BCC article -Web users 'getting more selfish'. The article is a bit over the top in terms of headline, but it's main point is:
people are becoming much less patient when they go online. Instead of dawdling on websites many users want simply to reach a site quickly, complete a task and leave.
Hardly selfish really. Most of our activity is looking up information, so the most common use case is search, evaluate, keep, organize. We don't want fluff.

Other tidbits:
Success rates measuring whether people achieve what they set out to do online are now about 75%. In 1999 this figure stood at 60%.

Web users were also getting very frustrated with all the extras, such as widgets and applications, being added to sites to make them more friendly.

In 2004, about 40% of people visited a homepage and then drilled down to where they wanted to go and 60% use a deep link that took them directly to a page or destination inside a site. In 2008, said Dr Nielsen, only 25% of people travel via a homepage. The rest search and get straight there.
I don't think any of this is much of a surprise.

And, by the way, I believe that Donald Clark does a remarkable job of providing links to interesting articles. I would put him up with Stephen Downes in terms of a valuable aggregator. I truly look forward to both of their links each day. If you've not subscribed, you really should.

Online Tutoring - Rapid Growth - New Models

Saw a post that cited predictions about the rapid growth of online tutoring:
Worldwide market for online tutoring is estimated to be in the region of $12 billion.
This is something I've been seeing more of, especially in the high school and college markets where tutoring has been more common. Online models allow for better matching of students to tutors and more cost effective models. One interesting model is social homework help provided by Cramster. It allows students to get help on specific textbook problems and to ask questions that are answered by experts.

I've not heard as much about this in corporate settings. Is coaching following this pattern? Moving online? Finding lower cost options?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Corporate Social Bookmarking Tools

I was just asked on twitter about using social bookmarking tools that work behind the firewall. I thought I had blogged about this before, but I'm not finding the post.

Here are the social bookmarking tools that I commonly cite in presentations:
Any others? Good comparisons of these?

I originally included: Jive Software - because I thought they had it, but it appears they don't.

Corporate Policies on Web 2.0

One of the barriers commonly cited during my presentations around eLearning 2.0 (use of Web 2.0 / social media for work and learning) is that organizations often have not established their policies or guidelines around the use of these tools. Unfortunately, companies sticking their head in the sand doesn't do any good. Employees are using these things in some way. Companies need a policy. And most corporate guidelines out there around social media are fairly similar. They generally make each employee personally responsible, they need to abide by existing corporate rules, obey copyright and other IP rules, keep secrets and act appropriately.

I think IBM's policy is a pretty good starting point: IBM Social Computing Guidelines

Updated 6/2/2009.

Other company policies or discussions of guidelines I've seen around blogging, social media, web 2.0:
However, I'm not really sure how many organizations have these kinds of policies and who in most organizations establishes them.

If you have good articles, posts, etc. on how to get these established in your organization or stats on how common it is among different kinds of organizations, please point me to them.

In some ways, the question we face is -
If our organization doesn't have an existing policy, is that a fundamental roadblock to using certain kinds of Web 2.0 tools as part of our eLearning 2.0 solutions?

Is it worth our time to try to push for getting a policy established?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Depressing Facts - Prisoners More Common than Active Contributors

Just saw Pew Report - One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008. That statistic is downright sad, distressing - some truly depressing facts in the report. It also really caught my attention because of my recent post around the 90-9-1 Rule.

So, a higher percentage of people are in prison out of the US population than actively contribute in any given population?

Can that be right?

Prisoners are more common than active contributors?

Dissertation Wiki

Karyn is asking for help via a post on her blog - So, how did you get started... and what difference has it made? Basically, it's about the use of Social Media by learning professionals. She is looking for first had experiences. I hope she's successful in finding them and publishing about them.

She also made one comment that was very interesting:
To the consternation of my rather conservative university, I am submitting the dissertation in the form of a wiki (although - strictly speaking - is it really a wiki if I don't open it up to the community to co-author, which of course I can't do in this instance).
First, I can't imagine trying to do a dissertation wiki. The issues with getting it into a format ready for print publication would be daunting. But that aside ...

You can't open it up? What's the dividing line? You are certainly allowed to get comments, suggestions, etc. on it. After all, that's what advisors are for (other than causing you grief with their agendas). So, if they provide comments via the Wiki doesn't that make a lot of sense. The alternative is emailing around a document. Why is that so different?

In fact, wouldn't it be safer to have it as a Wiki where you could see what each person did? And isn't it the notion of ONLY having your faculty committee / advisors a fairly antiquated notion? After all, the dissertation is certainly much too specific for them to really be experts on the topic. You quickly blow by their knowledge and then you can't get as much help. Opening it up to the world seems to make much more sense.

I've not really paid much attention to this topic. BTW, my experience writing my dissertation was not good. If I could have done it via a combination of blog posts and a wiki, that would have been a completely different experience. And, I truly believe I would have learned more.

I imagine there's lots out there going on around this, I just hadn't thought about it.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Laptop Distraction

A comment just got me a bit worried...
If I were someone not using a laptop during a live conference session, I'd just as soon not sit next to someone who was -- it seems at least for now much more distracting than sitting next to someone taking notes on paper.
As a person who takes all my notes into my laptop (or sometimes into my Treo), it worries me that I could be a laptop distraction as well.

I did a quick search and didn't see a whole lot on this.
  • Are other people finding that they are distracted by someone with a laptop sitting next to them at a conference?
  • Any suggestions on best way to handle?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Blog Discussion

Dave Ferguson just raised the issue of blog discussion that has come up before when I talk about Learning and Networking with a Blog. The issue he raises in Mandatory Blogging is:
Here at your own blog, you often have extended discussions. Of the 15 comments here before I started this one, 12 were from 10 people other than yourself. That's a terrific exchange, though I doubt that's the norm. For me to get 15 comments, I have to go back a month, and half those are my own.
Dave points out that given the 90-9-1 Rule he's not likely to get much dialog by creating a blog, posting and waiting for comments. I actually think Dave has a pretty good blog. So, the real question is:
What should a blogger with relatively less traffic do to generate more dialog around topics he's interested in online? Should they try to get more comments? If so, how? Or what else should they do?
I talked about different Types of Blog Discussions before. And Dave is participating in blog carnivals that certainly help. He also has participated in the Learning Circuits Questions. These would be first level suggestions for most bloggers.

Some other things I've seen around this topic or have experienced myself.

1. Comments are Not the Only Blog Discussion

Cross linking and discussion on other blogs is discussion.

2. Ask Questions in Your Posts

Make sure that your posts inspire people to interact. Easiest way is to ask questions.

3. Invite Comments

Make it clear that you'd like discussion. Of course, that's probably same as asking questions.

4. Make Openings Clear

Make it clear that you know that things are missing. For example, I know that the list I'm writing right now is incomplete and there are other things you can/should do.

5. Post Controversial Topics

Take a stand, but something you believe in - not just to be controversial.

What else should bloggers do to create dialog?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

ASTD Conference

Anyone going to the ASTD Conference in San Diego in June? It's nice to get together at conferences. If you are going - please drop a comment below.

Even better if you might be interested in blogging about sessions, thoughts, notes, etc. from your experience at the conference. I won't even say it's Mandatory Blogging. :)

Likely this is a better way to have success with networking ahead of the conference (Social Conference Tools - Expect Poor Results). ASTD's site still hasn't provided much value for me. But maybe I'm missing it.

A few other things you might want to look at prior to going to spark ideas...
Oh, I'm doing an eLearning 2.0 Presentation at the ASTD Conference.

Collaborative Note Taking Tools and Methods?

Any suggestions on the best tools and techniques to use for attendees at upcoming sessions to take notes collaboratively? Has anyone done this successfully?

I'm wondering about this both for 75-90 minute presentations and day long courses.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mandatory Blogging?

Over the past two years, my thoughts around blogging as a learning and networking tool have been slowly evolving.

In Oct 2007, the LCB asked - Should All Learning Professionals Be Blogging? I summarized the responses in: Top Ten Reasons To Blog and Top Ten Not to Blog

At the time, while I felt that blogging was something good to do, I didn't push all that hard. But, slowly I started pointing to:
Now I'm starting to feel that blogging is such a powerful learning tool that if I was going to send an employee to a conference, I'd want them to use a blog to enhance their learning. If they were starting on some new learning activity, I'd want them to blog.

Certainly in a few cases (formal learning), I've seen blogs be mandated as part of a course. But, otherwise, I've not seen anyone making it mandatory. I'm also thinking that a conference could be a significantly better experience if blogging was essentially mandatory as part of the conference. See Reframing Conference Social Tool Participation and think about the experience if people were blogging and we used an aggregator - ideally pre and post conference as well.

Has anyone else felt this transition from blogging as a nice thing for a few people to something that you want to find ways to force on people?

And Stephen, before you complain about the words force and mandatory, understand that this already happens in classroom settings. I'm extending that same notion to other settings. But I recognize that few (if any) conference organizers would actually go so far as to make it mandatory for attendees. (Although they might if they really wanted to help attendees learn and network.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Learning Blog

I often suggest learning blogs (see Learning and Networking With A Blog (T+D article) and Personal Learning Strategies). In other words, blogs are a fantastic tool for Personal Learning. I often suggest during presentations that starting a blog at the beginning of any learning endeavor is a great move. I just saw this:
I have decided to take the plunge into the world of National Teacher Board Certification. I am going to record my thoughts and experiences here as a way to keep myself grounded, to have a record of the process and hopefully so that other educators will find this blog and offer encouragement, help and companionship along the way.
I know this happens all the time, but it's a quick reminder that creating a learning blog is a great move.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Twitter Status

My twitter status just changed.

Sue Waters - who I met through the posts: Reframing Conference Social Tool Participatio and Social Conference Tools - Expect Poor Results yesterday walked me through what she had done at a couple of conferences. See her page: mlearn2007 by others and mlearn2007 my notes.

Along the way, she convinced me that Twitter was something that I should stop resisting.

She did this by sending a tweet out that asked how Twitter helped people with their personal learning. She quickly got back:
dmcordell @dswaters Hi, Sue. I'm the only LMS in a rural district. The world is my network with Twitter!

Gregory Thompson @dswaters I use Twitter+YahooTubes+RSS Aggregator and it brings me wonderful content via links every day, a place for inspirational sparks

barbs1 @dswaters love the community of sharing and support for our celebrations frustrations sorrows Huge impact on learning new stuff

onlineteacher @dswaters Twitter is critical app 4 me b/c shared brilliance n human connections brighten everyone's world n I can share n do same (teach)

Sunshinetalia @dswaters because i can stay current with what other educators/ elearning peeps are up too! I get great links to resources & readings 2.

RobynDennis @dswaters Twitter allows us (no matter where we are in the world) to receive *instant* updates on the latest news or topics. Great for PD.

jeffmason @dswaters chat room with hyperlinks, alerts to ongoing conversations and pd opportunities

coyenator @dswaters oops. meant none can keep up individually, together we have a better shot at it

coyenator @dswaters none of us can keep up with emergent change everything individually, strength in numbers willing to share connections, knowledge

tjshay @dswaters Just started Twittering last week, have found countless resources...Websites, videos, etc. Faster than blogs

SarahStewart @dswaters Gives me instant access to group of people to share information & ask for advice

k1v1n @dswaters without twitter I would have never met you. And I learn tons from you.

suzievesper @dswaters - the sharing of collective knowledge and the support of like-minded educators.

Inpi Twitter keeps us in touch with the last discoveries in "webland", gets help for "web-troubles", most of all feeds sense of community
That's interesting both from the content and also from getting a question answered pretty quickly. Not sure how I'll think about using LinkedIn Questions vs. Twitter, but it's still good stuff.

So, I broke down and now am on Twitter:

So my current twitter status: I'm still not convinced, but am willing to try.

I Report Bugs - Do You?

I received an email telling me that my blog was having problems (showing code all over the page). I quickly checked and didn't see a problem and sent an email back. The response I received was:
Your blog looks fine now. Sorry for wasting your time.
What a misconception. The person had taken the time to report a possible bug on my site. In my mind they are doing me a huge favor.

Most of the time I report bugs. And this extends beyond the online world. If I'm at a restaurant, I will try to tell the manager about an issue - most of the time not to fix it, just to make them aware. Of course, you always evaluate how easy it is to report the issue. If the manager is not around or there's no contact mechanism on the site, then I don't report it.

Generally, people are appreciative of the bug report. But it's sometimes surprising the response you get. It's almost that you are bothering them. They don't want to hear it. No wonder the person was so sensitive about "wasting my time."

So this made me wonder ... is this the norm? Do you report bugs? How do you decide if you spend the time? And, what's your feeling about how they are treated when you report them?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Make Me Better

Needing help to Make Me Better is a common issue. April 2008's Big Question was What would you like to do better as a Learning Professional?

I appreciated part of Karyn's answer -
"How do you plan to achieve that?" Oh crud, I don't know.

I think this is a common problem. We often define goals and then we struggle with the specific steps to help make me better. One of the beauties of blogging is that you can enlist the support of lots of other people who help you think through things and help make me better.

Take a look at some of the comments in recent posts:
I have really appreciated recent help through comments on this blog. There have been a few new commenters who I truly thank for helping to make me better. Thanks.