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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Network Effects - YouTube - Video Blogs and More

Wow, what a great presentation / video from Michael Wesch and the author of The Machine is Us presenting to the Library of Congress. It's an hour long, so make sure you give yourself time.

Video and Screencast Styles for Corporate Training?

I'd like to get help identifying examples of videos and screencasts that show different styles. I'm hoping people can help me collect some of these. As background ...

I've been discussing with several people recently how they can create small (5 minute) screencasts or videos that teach something very briefly. As part of these discussions, we always talk about how we would want the pieces to have some kind of nice style to them. For example, there's a nice, fun style to the videos by Common Craft. They are short and explain one key item.

However, what I would like to find are a range of good examples of videos and screencasts that show different styles and hopefully are things that are engaging, have fun or maybe humor. Other than Common Craft, what are some other good examples that illustrate other approaches to videos and screencasts that would be good for corporate training / learning?

An example video ...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Performance Support

Great post by Jay Cross that uses the history of performance support to set up the need for what Jay calls Learnscapes. I've been a long-time believer in EPSS and ePerformance. Jay tells us:
Performance support is blossoming in organizations today under the label of Web 2.0.

Remember the original premise of PS, making information available to workers instead of forcing them to memorize it? That’s how we use Google and corporate wikis and instant messenger.

Gloria [Gery] sought easy, immediate, individualized on-line access to information, software, guidance, advice and assistance. Learnscape architects have implemented miniature versions of the internet behind corporate firewalls that provide all of these things, from peer-rated FAQs to wizards, on-line help desks, and best practices repositories.

This is an interesting take. I actually don't think that Gloria would consider external resources (which we've had for years as reference systems that go along with software) as a form of Electronic Performance Support Systems (EPSS). Gloria always liked to use TurboTax because there was a nice interface (the interview) and then the complex interface with lots of forms, etc. EPSS was the interview - easy to use and understand forms layered on top of the software application. Jay does speak to this in his post, but I'm not sure that the adoption of Enterprise 2.0 really gets you performance support.

Jay tells us the early definition of Performance Support was:
Performance Support empowered novice employees to get up to speed rapidly, to perform with a minimum of outside coaching or training, and to do the job as well or even better than experienced workers. Gloria’s goal for EPSS was to enable people who didn’t know what they were doing to function as if they did.
He later asks:
Overall, what are corporate blogs, feeds, aggregators, wikis, mash-ups, locator systems, collaboration environments, and widgets, if not performance support?
I don't think that having these things constitutes performance support - or at least not performance support as originally defined. I would say that they come closer to knowledge management than performance support. Or maybe this is all definitional and we are talking about the next generation of what I called ePerformance back in 2003. These resources are rich information bases, expertise locators, learning enablers, etc. But, not really performance support - at least not as Gloria defined it. There will need to be another layer to make these things performance support.

In fact, I would claim that because of general lack of skills around the use of these things - as we discuss at work literacy - that they are far away from being performance support. Instead, they enable new kinds of solutions, but they don't make a novice proficient.

All that said, I agree with Jay's most important point -
Today, the greatest leverage in corporate learning comes from building on-going, largely self-sustaining learning processes. This process orientation focuses on the organization’s architecture for learning, a platform a level above its training programs and regulated events. The learnscape is a foundation for learning that is self-service, spontaneous, serendipitous, drip-fed, and mentored as well as the formal training that will always be with us.
I completely agree that we should be looking for ways to reduce the amount of training we develop and deliver and enable people to have the skills to be able to do it from there. Put most of your material in a reference solution (Wiki).

I don't think that the Gloria Gery style performance support is going to come back anytime soon, but I completely agree with Jay that these tools make up a new kind of learning landscape and that they represent the true responsibility of a learning organization.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Starting Authoring Tool

I received a question:
I am an educator in Arizona about to graduate with my Masters in Instructional Design. I wish to apply my experience designing courses for online learning; however I've searched and don't know where to begin to actually learn how to use the LMS and course design software available. I came across your blog and thought you might be able to offer some suggestions.

I have great computer skills but am not experienced in creating web courses. I've seen all sorts of elearning software- Dreamweaver, Lectora, Captivate, Flash etc etc mentioned in job ads, but don't really know which ones to choose in order to get a well rounded working knowledge of how to build a course. Do you have any suggestions where to start? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
First, a good place to start is to ask around like you are doing.

Second, I'm not 100% clear if the question is about creating good online learning experiences that include a blend of online learning techniques. For example, are you looking at becoming good at doing online sessions? If so, you might take a look at: Webinar Software - Adoption Advice and there's a lot more to designing good blended learning experiences.

However, I'm going to guess based on the list of tools that you are really talking about creating self-paced (asynchronous) eLearning experiences. So, given that, my strong recommendation (especially given the comment about having great computer skills) would be to:

1. Choose a specific course, content, audience, learning objectives, etc. Even if you never plan to deliver it, you will still learn a lot more if you aren't just playing. You need to be really trying to create something that is realistic.

2. Download a free trial of one of the more common authoring tools. My personal suggestion would be either the Articulate Free Trial or the Captivate Free Trial. A very close third would be the Lectora Free Trial. Only download one of these and really try to work through creating your course. Get a bit creative about different types of interactions. How to keep the user engaged, etc.

3. Then I would go and download a second tool out of these and try creating similar things with that tool. In this case, I might recommend choosing Lectora as it is a little different in how you work through things.

Once you've gone through this, you should be in great shape to move forward.

Oh, and did I mention that you should be blogging your experience. :)

Tools Used

I've been working with Steve Wexler and the eLearningGuild on the eLearning 2.0 survey and report. Some interesting data points are coming out of the study. Right now there are more than 1000 respondents. I've not really seen good numbers on what people are using as part of their day-to-day lives. Here are some numbers that confirm a bit of what we thought and a few surprises. More coming on this.

The charts below show use of different tools, sites, etc. The key is for the charts is:
  • Darkest blue - daily
  • Medium blue - weekly
  • Light blue - monthly
  • Gray - never
Tool Use in Corporations

Some things that jumped out at me:
  • Much more blog reading that I expected. 62% read at least weekly.
  • Interestingly RSS readership for "weekly" only adds up to 41%. There's clearly a gap here around the use of RSS readers.
  • I'm really amazed at the gap between people who store their bookmarks online 53% vs. those who share bookmarks online: 23%. Most people who store their bookmarks, don't share them. That's a surprise. I guess they must be using a lot of tools other than delicious.
  • LinkedIn was shown as being used monthly or more by 68% which is higher than I would have expected. I personally get a lot of value out of LinkedIn, but I wonder if other people are getting that same value.
  • Facebook use is higher than I would have thought. MySpace is clearly behind in the corporate eLearning world.
  • Twitter adoption is higher than I would have thought.
When I take a look at Tool Use as reported by people in Education ...

Some things that jumped out at me:
  • Clearly Education is ahead of Corporate adoption, otherwise the numbers are fairly well aligned.
  • There's similar sharing ratios.
Then to compare with adoption by people in Government.

Some things that jumped out at me:
  • Despite the stereotype, people who work in government were clearly able to think outside the box and make their top choices Other1, Other2 and Other3.
  • Government is much more like Education in adoption than Corporations. Given many of the challenges they face, I would have thought that adoption would have been more like corporations.
Virginia asked what the "other tools" were:

Plaxo, YouTube, LearningTown,, Picassa, Ning, Google Docs/Google Apps, Second Life, Blogger, iGoogle, orkut, FriendFeed, Internal workplace community, PBWiki, Xing, Digg, Friendster (really?), Pageflakes, Photobucket, Snapfish, Diigo, gather (?), gmail, Google Reader, Instant Messaging, istockphoto, LiveJournal, Multiply, Netvibes, Pandora, Wetpaint, Wikipedia, Wordpress.

Obviously, many people who marked other were using tools that fit into the categories above. But we clearly missed an opportunity to ask about community tools like Ning.


Podcasts, Twitter, Slideshare, Flickr, MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, Wiki, RSS, RSS Reader, Wikipedia, delicious,, blogs.

Monday, August 04, 2008


DevLearn is coming up. I just took a quick look on the eLearningGuild site and DevLearnis looking good again this year. My guess is that I'll be getting together with a few folks there to have a drink and discuss things like eLearning 2.0 (yeah, we know how to have fun).

Quite a few of the speakers are straight out of my blog roll, so I'm looking forward to seeing them.
I'm sure I'm missing some folks. But, as a reader of this blog, you should drop a comment if you are going to DevLearn and I'll try to let you know when we are getting together. In the past, this has been quite a bit of fun (see DevLearn - Beer - Who's In? - And Where?, Boston - Beer - Bloggers - and Beer Tasting at ASTD TechKnowledge). Including having Adobe and sponsor events in the past. Maybe someone will want to do something similar. Maybe Tuesday night?

Or maybe we can get Michelle Lentz to figure out a place for wine?

One thing that they've kept from last year are the breakfast bytes. These were informal opportunities to discuss topics. I attended one with Will at Work Learning and it was quite an interesting discussion. Almost a beer and bloggers type discussion, but with coffee and a bit more structure.

Looking forward to seeing folks at DevLearn. Oh, by the way, I'm doing two sessions:
So, drop me a note if you are going.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Delicious Upgrade Only Skin Deep

I personally think delicious is a great tool and I often describe it's use in presentations and workshops. It recently went through an upgrade that improved the look and performance. However, it interestingly left out a lot of what I said was missing in my post - Yahoo MyWeb better than, rollyo, for Personal and Group Learning from March 16, 2006.

My claim back then was the Yahoo MyWeb has some features that made it better for a lot of corporate users, and while I hate to argue for its use, the fact that two years later after Yahoo acquired (delicious), they've not addressed these issues is a surprise.

What were the issues I cited back in 2006?
  1. Searching within the contents of my bookmarked pages
  2. Page caching (so I don't lose the pages I've bookmarked)
  3. Control on sharing of bookmarks (private, friends or public)
  4. Categories of Friends (so I can have family, work, etc.)
  5. Web Badge for Integration into my Blog
Okay, so they've addressed (a while ago) item #5. But that's really the least of the items. When you think about what knowledge workers need relative to Keep / Organize / Refind / Remind, I've discussed in The New Skills that we want to be able to keep track of everything we've seen with minimum effort. If users can't do a full-text search across their pages (or if they might lose them), then this violates this rule. Further, if they don't feel comfortable making certain saved pages public, then this also will hinder adoption.

Yahoo has so many issues these days, you'd think when there are obvious, high value features, they would attack them.

Maybe in another two years, they will do something more than skin deep.

Memorizing Facts

Brain 2.0 has sparked some very interesting discussion and quite a bit of disagreement. My basic claim is that technology changes what is considered

Does new technology reduce the need to memorise facts? Mark Frank rightly argues:
We remember things better if we elaborate on them – and there is much more scope for elaboration if you already know a lot.

The point is that knowing facts is one of the best tools for accessing and using other facts.

I don't think anyone disagrees with that. You need to attach information to other information in order to be able to recall. And you need some way to recall or bring in anything that you want to process. Creating attachment is incredibly important.

Mark in many ways get rights to the crux of the issue with his suggestion that the key question is what are the necessary facts that students (or anyone) needs to learn. And this is an age-old and likely never solved debate. As part of his argument he tells us:
There is long-standing debate as to what facts are necessary (e.g. how much history should children know?) but that has little to do with new technology and is largely a matter of values.
Now this is where I believe it gets very interesting. I believe that technology does have impact on what will be considered "necessary facts."

As a trivial example, consider the impact that cell phones have had on memorizing phone numbers. One study has shown that people over 50 have significantly better recall of important dates, phone numbers, etc. than people under 30. Why remember something that is immediately accessible in a usable form (ready to be dialed) when needed?

From my comments, in the post:

My belief is that there's a finite amount of learning time that students have. You have to make choices about what to spend your time on. And truly with access to very rich, easily accessible information sources, some time is wasted on needless facts. My earlier post on Life is an Open Book Test test talks to this. We test all the time closed book, but that's not reality. And especially now. So there's some balance that's needed. But my belief right now is that we are tending to stick with what we all accept as the right stuff to test just because that's how all of us learned and we think it represents important base knowledge.
Going back to the question of knowing the population of England in 1800, I actually think it would be far more valuable to know the paradigm that population (which can be easily accessed by doing X) compared to something like the population of London (urbanization) and/or the number of people who died in a war or by disease (net impact, is this important) are interesting questions to know to ask. Unfortunately, while that may have been the point the professor was making in my class - it certainly was not the emphasis. By the way, I couldn't tell you the population of the U.S. (my home country which I theoretically have studied in far more detail) in 1800, nor do I have any sense if urbanization was more or less in the US, etc.

The question at hand - doesn't having quick (almost immediate) access to the definition and details of concepts like urbanization, populations, state capitals, change the set of facts we define as necessary?