Friday, July 31, 2009
In English, that means that we can have many different people each own their separate calendar and we can bring it together.
The initial list of calendar entries, we added ourselves. But I'm pleased to announce that we've just signed up our second calendar curator - Coaching Ourselves. Their events are now appearing in the listings:
It is exactly because we can distribute the load of keeping this list current that makes me think this will work really well in the long run.
If you are doing webinars that would be of interest to workplace learning professionals, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
The Business of Learning (see Free Online Conference – Future of Learning with Recordings Here) event went really well. One of the really interesting ideas came from Allessandria Polizzi who is Group Manager for Accountant Training & Relations at Intuit. Her role is to make sure that accountants are trained on the Quickbook products.You can see Allessandria at 21:30 of the following video:
If you have problem seeing the video you can view them here as well.
Intuit used to produce the content themselves, but they have transitioned to hiring their Accountants (their customers) to produce the training content for them. This includes a varied mix of solutions - webinars, seminars, self-paced eLearning. One of the examples of how they did this was to give the Accountants camcorders and software (along with training) so that they could produce small training pieces. One example that she mentions is a video piece on mobile access showing how they can access client information from the beach via a mobile device.
There are 100 accountants who produce training for them as compared to 12 in her organization. These accountants are experts in using their software. They add legitimacy to the content. Many of these accountants already provided training to their end customers, so providing training to other accountants was an easy extension.
It's an interesting idea and something that can be applied in many other domains. While this is similar to having SMEs produce the content - I think that Intuit takes it a bit further with how they are engaging and paying them. They also audition/test their customers. They spread the work pretty wide.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Have you ever wanted to have a single list of the various free webinars brought together in a single place? In conjunction with eLearning Learning, we are working with Jon Udell (thanks Jon) to use his calendar aggregation technology to bring together a list of free webinars that we believe will be of interest to learning professionals.
Let me know if you think this will be valuable.
Integrated with Best of eLearning Learning
We are planning to include events that are coming up in the Best of eLearning Learning each week. We just did exactly that for the post:
where we listed three upcoming webinars. Hopefully another reason to subscribe to the best of eLearning Learning.
Get the Word Out
Hopefully this can grow to address both sides of this need – consumers and producers.
As a consumer, I seem to randomly run into webinars like you probably did when I just announced: Free Webinar - Models for Learning in a New World. Because they hit me somewhat randomly, I most often don't schedule it into my calendar at that time. I know that I'll make a decision later about the event.
As a producer, I know that getting the word out on a webinar can be very difficult. I will publish the information about the webinar I just mentioned on my blog, but that hits exactly the same audience. I will tweet about it. Hopefully a few people will Retweet. But it doesn't reach all that wide. I'm hoping that this will become a good way for producers to get the word out. By the way, if you are producing events that will be of interest to a learning professionals audience, then drop me an email.
Thoughts and Ideas
We are just beginning this process. We have some ideas on where this will go and how to make it better, but I would really like to get your input.
Is this a good idea?
What can we do to make this better?
I'm doing a free webinar in a few weeks where I will be discussing some of the major trends that are affecting models of learning. I think this will be an interesting discussion and I welcome your participation.
Models for Learning in a New World
This is a very interesting time to be a learning professional. Fragmentation of jobs, increasing concept work, and constant change all put a premium on learning. At the same time, we are seeing an explosion of information sources, greatly increased accessibility of experts and expertise around the world, and new tools emerging every day. This environment means that workplace learning is changing. We have to look beyond formal learning solutions towards solutions that support self-directed and social learning.
In this session, Dr. Karrer will discuss the big picture trends that are impacting workplace learning. He will present how learning solutions are evolving in organizations to meet changing needs. Holly and Monika will discuss a model for learning that integrates various learning strategies that combine formal, performance support and informal learning.
Come join this interesting presentation and discussion around models for learning in a new world of learning.
Dr. Tony Karrer, TechEmpower, Inc.
Holly St. John Peck, Peck Training Group, LLC
Monika Ebert, Different Lens, LLC
Date/Time: Tuesday, August 25th 10-11 AM Pacific, 1-2 PM Eastern, 5 PM GMT
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Great dialog between Harold Jarche and Stephen Downes around Harold's PKM process …
Stephen Downes wrote in response:
… what does the concept of a ‘method’ here imply? That there is a ‘best’ way to manage knowledge an information? Isn’t that what we’ve learned there isn’t? It’s a pick-and-choose sort of thing: the way we manage information has a lot to do with the information, and a lot to do with who we are and what we want the information for …
Harold responded with Other PKM processes where he shows some other models and states:
To be clear, my intention is to show what works for me and perhaps some part of this may work others. All of my articles on PKM are descriptive, not prescriptive. Take what you need, as there are no “best practices” for complex and personal learning processes.
Harold and I have discussed this exact issue before and we are both on the same page that Personal is really important word in Personal Knowledge Management. Studies of Personal Information Management say that what works is often highly personal. However, a lot can be gained from sharing approaches and practices.
Anyone who has seen me present know that I give a big caveat with the word Personal on the slide. While I use the words, "you should" … what I mean is that "you should consider and maybe try" … not necessarily "you should adopt" … What works for me, may or may not work for you.
However, there are some people who take that to mean that they can be successful continuing to use the same approaches without being aware of, considering or trying alternatives. That's a real mistake. And Harold and Stephen are great at trying to provide ways to think about and think through these alternatives.
So, while I push a lot around tools and methods for work and learning:
- Tool Set 2009
- Work Skills Keeping Up
- Top-Down Strategy
- Better Memory
- Information Radar
- Processing Pages with Links
- Networks and Learning Communities
- Twitter as Personal Work and Learning Tool
- Browser Short Cuts
- Pre-network with LinkedIn
- Network Skills
- LinkedIn Guide for Knowledge Workers
- Blog Learning
and the list goes on. ( In fact, Work Literacy is pretty much this topic. )
This is a good opportunity to add the same caveat:
The real intent is to provide context, alternatives and suggestions of where things might apply. Your mileage will vary.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
There are a wide variety of local events in the Los Angeles area that I periodically attend. I must say that I go through phases where I attend more events for a while and then I pull back and only attend a few. Right now, I'm in a fairly selective mode. So, when I go to an event, I want to make sure that I get the most I can from the time. Generally, it's a commitment of 3-4 hours between driving, networking, program. I have to make sure that I get at least as much value from that 3-4 hours as I would from spending the same time using LinkedIn for Networking – and that's tough competition.
Over the years, I've somewhat changed what I'm looking for when I attend a local event. It used to be that I first looked for good content. A program that had interesting speakers and where I expected to learn a lot. Now, unless its someone really great, I don't go because of the program. Most often I can spend 30 minutes on my own to get a better result in terms of content than I get from 60 minutes at an event. And most in-person events do not give you a back-channel or much opportunity for Q&A.
Side note: I very much enjoy local events where I'm the moderator because then I do get to shape the topic to my interests.
Obviously, if it's not content, then the key ingredient is who else is going to be in the room.
Quick Decision Process
I spend about 5-10 minutes deciding if I'm going to attend. The way I do this is simple. I try to find a list of people who are attending the event. Many events now publish the list such as the following:
If they don't have a similar list and I can't find the event on Facebook or LinkedIn or somewhere else, then likely I won't attend. I've found that it suggests that it's not going to be a good group and I definitely won't be able to pre-network so even if it's a good group, it will be hard for me to get much value from the group.
Using the list of attendees, I randomly sample 5-10 people. Actually, it's most often not random, I choose more people who have Profile Photos (but don't get me started on that). I choose people with names that are a bit more unique so that it will be more likely to find them on LinkedIn.
I have the LinkedIn Browser Toolbar installed which gives me a right click action …
So I can see a few mini-profiles:
Okay, I won't be spending more time on this list and I won't be attending. No offense to attorneys and investment advisors, but the attendee list suggests this is general networking mixer and not likely worth the time investment.
Side note: there generally is a high correlation between the people who have profile pictures on the site and the people who have profile photos on LinkedIn.
If the results had been better, then I would have spent time drilling down on people like Lee:
I don't know Lee, but by scrolling through his profile I can see some possibly interesting things to discuss. Does Browse My Stuff make sense from a channel marketing standpoint? What is happening from an eLearning 2.0 perspective around channel training? So, Lee and I could have a very nice conversation.
Gee – maybe I should change my mind and plan to attend. I could go back and look for 4 or 5 other Lee quality people and decide to attend after all.
Alternatively, I can reach out to Lee directly through LinkedIn and just set up a quick 30 minute call. In fact, that's what I will do after I'm done writing this post. And 95% likely that we'll talk within a few days. That's what makes it harder to convince me to go to a local event.
Pre-network the Event
Assuming that I am seeing a few different Lee-quality people, then my next step is that I'm going to pre-network with them prior to the event. I try to do this roughly about 2-3 days ahead of the event. That way the list of people attending is fairly complete and there's still time for back and forth with the person.
I will go through the list of attendees more thoroughly on this pass looking for anyone who I want to meet at the event. I look to find 5-8 people. You want to have a large enough list of people because some won't end up going and if you've committed to meeting someone at the event, you will end up going. And you could find yourself at an event waiting for that one person talking to attorneys and wealth planners.
For each of those people on your pre-network list, you simply send a "Get Introduced Through a Connection" to them:
It's nice that I have multiple people who can introduce us. It gives me a nice touch point with someone I already know. And they can vouch for me in the introduction. You don't get that when you are at the event.
Then you compose your message. The nice thing is that the subject is easy – name the local event.
My message to Lee would be very similar to what I'd say when I would meet him in person. Maybe something like:
I saw you on the attendee list for the upcoming event. I'm planning on going as well and it looks like we might have some good things to discuss. It looks like you have a background in eLearning and I'm going to be curious to hear how you are applying it for channel sales. I also have a technology that I think might apply in an interesting way.
I just wanted to make the connection so that I'd be sure to meet up with you at the event.
You generally will get a very positive response to this kind of message and your time at the event will be much better because of the pre-network effort that you've put in.
This technique equally applies to conferences and other kinds of events. Unfortunately, few conferences provide attendee lists.
For more discussions on networking and LinkedIn see Networking Events in Los Angeles and Southern California, Secret for Networking at Events – Prenetworking, Pre-network with LinkedIn, Local Event Organizers Need to Adopt Social Media.
Monday, July 20, 2009
I've done a few posts in the past that take a look at the topics that are Hot Topics in Training. In each case, these are crude in that they look only at what terms people are using in a given content set. Back in 2007, I pointed out various aspects of what I was seeing:
- strategy/strategic and performance are back as topics after dropping way down in 2006
- surprisingly trainer is also back, you would think in the age of eLearning 2.0 this would be down
- notable dropping topics: games, simulations, knowledge, interactive and blended
Karyn Romeis commented:
Hmm. I have doubts about the validity of these data. Perhaps some topics are on the wane because they have become so integrated as to be invisible and no longer a topic to remark about. Just a thought.
And she's absolutely correct, that these are only general indications of what people are talking about. Also, it only indicates what the presenters and conference organizers (for that data set) thought that the audience would be interested in and was worth presenting at the conference. I still maintain that it's helpful to keep an eye on these things.
And now, because of eLearning Learning, I have a much better way to track these things over a much more interesting content sets.
By selecting LMS, I've selected content that is the latest and best stuff that's associated with the term LMS. The keywords on left side are changed to keywords which are more closely associated with that term. For example, we see terms now at the top like Learning Management System, AICC, SCORM. Take a look at the companies:
You notice the counts are out of order (not descending). That's because they are ordered according to how closely the system thinks the companies are associated with the selected term within the content set.
This works across any subset of the content including sources, keywords and arbitrary searches.
For example, when I view my blog's content through the eLearning Learning lens, it shows me that relative to other sources of content in the system, I tend to talk about:
That's a pretty fair representation of topics that I talk about.
Topics by Year
By selecting 2009, I've selected a subset of the content, but in this case it's basically content associated with this year. When you look at the keywords on the left you see things like:
Now, the content set in this case are highly skewed towards innovators as compared to the topic sets being used by my past analysis (training conferences). But still, this gives a general indication and it's especially interesting when you compare it to 2007:
Ah the good old days of 2007. Seems so long ago. :)
How about 2005?
Back when we still had hope that folksonomy (tagging) would make sense of the flood of content.
Year by Topic
You can also go the other way to see things like selecting Twitter and you can see that the associated years are:
2020? That indicates that someone is talking about that year and about twitter in the same content. So, predictions for the future and how twitter might relate.
This stuff is definitely not exact, but it gives a general indication. Twitter is a hot topic right now as compared to some others.
The years associated with Wiki suggest it was more discussed a couple years ago and now is discussed less.
Does the associated years for SharePoint suggest it's a technology for the future?
You can pretty much do this endlessly.
I often will use this technique when I run into a new company to see if anyone is blogging about it and generally what is associated with it.
So when I go back to Hot Topics in Training, the topics that were hot then and by looking at the associated years I can get a sense that:
- assessment – not discussed as much now (e.g., 2001 2002 2000 2003 2004 are associated years)
- virtual classroom – still current
- strategy – old
- flash – still current
- performance – old – not sure why – shouldn't this be a perennial topic?
- roi - old
- enterprise – future and old
- games – still popular
This is definitely something that I'll be using as I go forward.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
I personally believe that one of the areas where learning professionals need the most help is how communities and networks impact learning and building individual and facilitation skills around these:
- Knowing how to individually leverage Network Skills and Communities to help with work and learning tasks
- Community and Network Facilitation Skills to help others learn and work using networks and communities
In my post Networks and Learning Communities, I looked a bit at this topic. But, I by no means consider myself an expert and find that I spend quite a bit of my time building my network skills so I can do this more effectively.
So I was super excited when I saw that Nancy White, who helps me learn about all things communities and networks, posted a response to the New Skills for Learning Professionals Big Question for July 2009. When I looked at her first post, I was actually disappointed because it wasn't really about networks and communities. My disappointment was purely my own making. But Nancy came through and posted her follow-up pieces and especially Part 3 and the Online Facilitation Wiki that was a great launch point for me to read a bit more. I also used both the Communities and Networks Connection and Work Literacy to source additional reading.
So, starting with her post I've spent the past few hours going through a lot of material, processing the information and writing this post.
I've come to few realizations from the process.
My Focus is on Networks
There were great definitions of communities, groups, networks, facilitation, management, etc. I realized during the process that I mostly focus on networks and less on actual communities.
- Community - a group of people with bounded membership who have some shared, congruent interest and interact with each other over time.
- Network - a constellation of individuals associated via fuzzy, unbounded membership and overlapping … not fully congruent … interests
For me a couple of examples:
- LA CTO Forum – definitely a community. Meet once a month. Invite only. Learning and peer support. Somewhat a classic community or practice.
- Learn Trends – not quite sure this fits Nancy's definition of a community – it looks like one, but my sense is that it's somewhere in between a community and a network
Where I spend most of my time is with the blogging network and various other networks. In some ways, Learn Trends is just part of this network allowing us to meet at various points and act a bit more community like. We share our interest of learning. There's quite a lot of discussion/debate whether blogs act as networks or community. Probably don't want to kick that hornet's nest.
And I'm not alone in my questioning / focus. Take a look at: How relevant are communities of practice in a network age?
My Community Facilitation Skills are Hopeless
One thing I started to realize is that good community facilitation takes time, desire, skills and appropriate mentality. For the LA CTO Forum, I have a couple of cohorts who help to organize things, but there's quite a bit more we could be doing.
For Learn Trends, Jay, George and myself do not spend time on facilitation. We should. But we don't. In fact, this is probably a great opportunity for someone to learn about facilitating an online community.
Does anyone want to jump in who does have time, desire, skills (or willing to learn) and appropriate mentality to help facilitate the Learn Trends community?
I found this great piece - The Art of Hosting Good Conversations Online – I will go back to refer to this quite a bit to remind me of all the kinds of things I should be thinking about.
But frankly, I will have to grow these skills over time based on specific situations. It doesn't look good for me to become a really adept, willing community facilitator.
I don't like the term, Network Weaving, but that's what Nancy calls it – although I don't think she likes it either.
In the eLearning space there's this very complex network of people, organizations, content that forms this amorphous thing where we all play. The combination of blogs, sites like LinkedIn, various discussion groups, etc. weave us all together in a weird way. We still have the core human desire to connect. Many of us enjoy learning and discussion around these topics. But we really don't act like a community. And people vary widely in their connectedness and activity level.
What I found on Network Weaving left me wanting something quite different … I would run into materials that talk about how you analyze and map networks. Such as the advice:
Improved connectivity starts with a map – knowing the complex human system you are embedded in.
I'm sorry, but I'm simply are not going to try to really map out this incredibly complex network. Of course, the folks who are writing this are networking mapping folks who come at it from that perspective. I think it would be a really interesting picture and there's real value in it. But it's only a starting point if it's relatively easy to do.
Instead, what I'm asking about is:
- What could I do to get more from the network?
- What can I do to help other people get more from the network?
And when I say "Get more" … I think about the ability to tap a larger network of folks, get to them for help more quickly and easily, learn from them faster, more easily establish conversations, draw them together into ad hoc groups as needed, and ??? a lot of things I don't know even what they are yet ???
In fact, some of the nuggets I found helped me think a bit about this knowledge gap. In What Networks Do?, they point to filter, amplify, convene among other things. With Browse My Stuff I should have thought of social filtering a lot sooner.
I'm sure I'm missing a lot.
And, I'm probably thinking about this more than most.
Which leaves me with …
Where's the help for Network Skills?
Nancy talks about how community facilitation skills sound a lot like network skills. After reading a lot of the material, I'm not convinced that the mapping is that easy and I certainly don't get the path from one set to specific actions in the other.
So, I know some of the materials I've produced such as the LinkedIn Guide for Knowledge Workers.
The ironic thing is that like network themselves – how to kinds of information around network skills seems to be missing. Most of it is unfortunately more tool centric.
So where's the help for building my / our / their Network Skills?
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
One of the more interesting aspects of the discussions I've had over the past few weeks as I prepare for the free online conference on the future of learning is the perspective on the focus and scope of responsibility of internal learning organizations and external learning/training companies.
Caveat: This is definitely not a new issue. I'm not really claiming any great new insights. It's a first cut at a developing mental model. This is only partially formed and I need help to flesh out my thinking.
Please let me know what you think.
- Does this ring true?
- Does the model work for you?
- Do you similarly hear these kinds of clues? And what other clues do you use to identify?
- What are the implications?
With all that said, I believe that I'm beginning to get a handle on the differences in focus that people bring to bear around their responsibilities. The following crude diagram captures a bit of it:
I'm finding that learning professionals of all types (IDs, CLOs, VP Learning, C-level at Training Company, etc.) tend to own a different view of their responsibilities in this space.
- Learning – Responsible for ensuring learning objectives are achieved regardless of the delivery mode.
- Talent – Responsible for ensuring that talent is analyzed, selected and developed to meet the needs of the organization.
- Performance – Responsible for ensuring that behavior change occurs in a way that improves performance.
- Business – Responsible for ensuring that business objectives are met.
Know the "Right Answer"
Let's say that we are interviewing a potential new learning professional. We pose the question to them:
What do you see as the responsibility of a learning organization?
Many (probably most) learning professionals are smart enough to be able to answer the question such that they focus on creating solutions that are ultimately about all of these. They would position themselves right in the middle of the diagram. This is, of course, the right answer although a very adept job seeker will be able to adjust the answer quickly based on the focus on the organization that's doing the interviewing.
If you've done much interviewing in your life, you know that asking this kind of question is most often not effective. Instead, it's much better to find out by asking about specific examples of projects they've worked on and listen to the focus. You ask about things like the types of solutions that they've used, what were the objectives, how did they tackle the problems, etc.
Of course, I'm not interviewing people for a job. Normally, I'm talking to people with the goal of getting help on particular needs, e.g., how is social learning being used in insurance companies or other highly regulated industries, how does this technology work out in practice, what other things should I be looking at to solve this issue. In this case, I've had a bunch of conversations around the Business of Learning and this model is somewhat falling out from the discussions. But it's still conversations and I'm coming to fairly quickly recognize some clues that indicate the focus of the individual.
So what are some clues about the focus that you can listen for?
Learning Focus Clues
The person is showing learning focus when you hear:
"… learning objectives … "
"… learners …"
"We have very limited budget and our focus needs to be on building critical, core skills."
"I wish we had the time and money to spend on informal and social learning solutions."
"We want to make sure that our informal learning still ensures that we meet the learning objectives?"
"Our trainers don't have time to get involved with the learners after the training."
Performance Focus Clues
The person is showing performance focus when you hear:
"toolkits and job aids"
"involve the managers"
"back on the job"
Business Focus Clues
The person is showing business focus when you hear:
"customer satisfaction" (or a host of other business metrics)
"metrics" (and they don't mean Level 1 and 2)
"move the needle"
"we probably don't need much training"
Talent Focus Clues
The person is showing performance focus when you hear:
"fill the talent pipeline"
"recruiting and selection"
"performance review process"
Notes, Questions and Thoughts
Unfair Bias around Learning Focus?
As I wrote down the clues that indicate a learning focus, I felt I was being unfair. I've talked to a lot of very smart people who clearly have the learning focus. I respect them, consider them to be valuable contributors, and feel like I'm being unfair when I put down those clues. I feel I should somehow even this out a bit. But I wasn't sure how.
Obviously, this is partly personal bias. All things being equal (which they never are), I'm guessing my focus is more a business and performance focus. I was a professor for 11 years and still do lots of presentations and workshops where clearly the focus is learning. Certainly Work Literacy has a learning and performance focus and is a passion of mine. But day-to-day, my passion and where I probably play best are things like data driven solutions. Working on eHarmony for its first 4 years with a combined purpose of making money, making better marriages and supporting a rather complex performance was fantastic. Working with emerging or established companies is fantastic. Looking at social learning as a performance mechanism is fantastic. So maybe I have a strong bias towards business, performance, and then learning and that's why it doesn't sound quite right the way I've positioned it.
You will notice I didn't say much about talent focus. I'm know about it. I do work in it. I've actually done data driven solutions in that space. But it's not my normal focus and I feel a little bit removed from a talent focus. I definitely struggle the most when talking with people who have a very strong talent focus.
So, I'm really not sure how to level this playing field a bit so that my bias is not coming through. Thoughts?
Also, I'm sure that most people do flow between these things a bit, but have a more natural home. I'm not quite sure how that fits into this whole discussion.
Separation of Performance and Business Focus?
I debated on separating performance and business focus. You may notice that they two overlap more than most of the other sections. That's intentional. I believe that there are quite a few people who take a combined business and performance focus. There are relatively fewer who are dominant on the performance focus – but occasionally I run into people who seem to come at it with that focus.
Talent and Performance Intersection?
When I first did the diagram I intentionally did not have an intersection point right in the middle – and specifically it excluded intersection of Talent and Performance.
Most people who I talk to who have a talent focus seem to come at this whole picture from a completely different angle. They describe goals in terms of looking at the overall mix of talent in the organization. They look at the picture much more holistically. They are quite often trying to align this with top level goals of the organization, but in many cases they really are not talking about moving the needle. They care about learning as part of development and to build important competencies in the organization and to fill the talent pipeline. So, intersection with learning and business – not necessarily focus – is clear.
Intersection between talent and performance seems less common. Normally the folks who look at the big picture talent issues are far removed from day-to-day behavior and performance. They would claim that they look at it in terms of skills and competencies. They need to know about behavior in the form of job profiles, selection, performance reviews, etc. But the reality is that they are typically not thinking about what it takes to directly help to get the sales people to sell more, or change how retail sales managers get the associates to act in a way that improves customer satisfaction, etc. They won't be building a job aid anytime soon. They are likely not talking to the performers or facilitating interactions on the job to get performance to improve. It's a level indirect from that.
As I said, I initially put these as non-intersecting, and then I thought about people who work directly with sales management that really do take a look across all of these issues. I'm not saying that all sales management improvement professionals take this approach, but certainly some do. They look at who the sales people are, how they get selected, the comp packages. But they also look at the sales support materials, sales meetings. They get in and get dirty day-to-day. So, clearly this kind of dual focus exists, especially around specific goals.
When I discussed the "right answer", I pointed out that an adept learning professional seeking a job would quickly adapt to the interviewer and make sure that their answer corresponded to what the person wanted to hear. You would listen for clues and use the language that fits. Same as what I just described.
Of course, that happens in organizations as well. The collection of people in the organization establish what the expectation is around focus. If they expect you to have a learning focus and deliver formal training solutions and not bother them back on the job when they are doing real work, you will quickly find yourself taking a learning focus in order to fit.
Meaning and Use of the Model?
I debated on whether this model is useful and meaningful enough to post. It's pretty much an internal mental model that developed based on many discussions (and really many years). That doesn't mean it will make sense for anyone else. Nor does it necessarily suggest that it's useful.
So, can you tell me whether this makes any sense to you?
- To convince someone who's primarily learning focused to spend time and effort on solutions that come after training, you need to talk about it in terms of additional learning transfer opportunities. The learning won't stick unless we get out there after they are back on the job and reinforce it. We can talk about "office hours" where learners come together to discuss issues they face when they are back on the job. And you know going in that this all will be a tough sell.
- You need to talk to most talent focused people in talent terms. If you have a toolkit / set of job aids, you need to talk about it in terms of reducing the time to competence or how it fits with development planning.
- If you are talking to business or performance focused people, prepare to get in and get dirty. You need to be prepared to be in there working with the people to get the performance to change or the needle to move. I'd suggest not using the words "learning objective" … they may perceive you as "one of those people" … they'll let you know when they will need some of that kind of thing.
But this is more than language. It translates into how they think about tackling problems and the kinds of solutions that they consider.
Again – this is all partially formed and I'm really hoping that you will weigh in with thoughts.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I just got through posting the eLearning Learning Best Of for this week:
There's something that doesn't make sense to me, so I need your help!
Best of eLearning Learning is a Must Subscribe
I could be completely wrong, but I feel like these Best Of posts represent a really valuable contribution to people who don't have the time to read all of the posts from all the great eLearning bloggers and all the other sources that we track and include on eLearning Learning.
In fact, even for me, and I'm on the extreme end of reading blogs, I often miss good items that are surfaced through the Best of eLearning Learning lists.
In my experience doing presentations to learning professionals, polling the audience I find that roughly:
- 10% – use an RSS Reader to monitor blogs as sources of content related to their professional interests
- 90% – do not use an RSS Reader, but do subscribe to various email lists and other sources of content related to their professional interest
The Best of eLearning Learning is really aimed at the 90% audience. It's my belief that if you are interested in eLearning and only could subscribe to a single email (or RSS feed), you should subscribe to the Best Of feed. I also don't know that there's anything close to that available anywhere else. And I also believe that even if you are in the 10% you probably should subscribe (although via RSS) to the Best Of list just to help make sure you didn't miss good stuff during the past week, month or year.
Or to put this another, rather blunt way -
If you had to choose to subscribe to eLearning Technology, this blog, or the the Best of eLearning Learning, you should subscribe to the Best of eLearning Learning.
Of course, the right answer is to subscribe to both. ;)
Please Help Me Figure This Out
My expectation is that eLearning Learning with it's higher traffic rates and great content should be acquiring new subscribers at a faster rate than this blog.
But that's not the case. Both are growing. But for the first 5 months of this year eLearning Technology adds about 20 new subscribers per day at a fairly constant rate and eLearning Learning is adding about 10 per day since it started a few weeks ago to offer email subscriptions. Heck, I would think that most of the subscribers here would immediately have subscribed to the Best of eLearning Learning and the numbers would be much higher already.
All of this doesn't make any sense to me:
- Any thoughts on an explanation?
- Have you subscribed to the Best of eLearning Learning? Why or why not?
Part of the issue may be reaching the 90% audience. By definition, the 90% are not subscribed to this blog and are not reading this. So maybe there's an additional question:
- How can bloggers reach the other 90%?
I'd appreciate your help in figuring this out.
Monday, July 13, 2009
On July 23 - click the following to: Launch the Session
You won't want to miss this ... Intuit talks about their move to outsource learning development to their customers and redefining value of learning. Hearing Dave Wilkins talk about selling social learning solutions. Or Gary Wise talking about selling incremental changes to learning designs on the path to richer solutions. Amit Garg discussing where his innovation team is focusing. Or senior leaders from major training companies talk about the challenges and opportunities in the market. This is going to be really great stuff.
Future of the Business of Learning
Free Online Event
Corporate training departments and training companies are facing challenging times. It’s clear to thrive they need to focus on business critical issues for the organization, provide solutions provide real value, differentiate their offerings, and look at ways to provide value beyond being a publisher of courses and courseware. However, that’s easier said than done.
This online event will bring together people with a variety of perspectives on what we should be doing today to set ourselves up for success going forward. We will look at questions that include:
- Is this a temporary downturn or changing landscape?
- How will demand change?
- What will internal or external customers pay for that's not traditional training?
- What's already selling today?
- What business models, products, companies should we be watching?
- What should we be doing today to be in position for the future?
Panel #1 - Industry Perspectives
This distinguished panel will provide overview of the challenges going on in the industry, major trends that they are seeing, what is selling and what’s not, and where they believe that organizations need to go to be successful going forward. Josh, a long time analyst and source for trends in learning product and market data, trends and expert advice, will provide us with perspectives on what’s going on. Paul, a connector between training companies and other kinds of providers and the marketplace, has some very specific suggestions on where training companies need to focus. Lisa, as President of ISA and a long-time consultant to training companies, understands a lot of the challenges they face.
- Josh Bersin, CEO and President, Bersin and Associates
- Paul Terlemezian, President, iFive Alliances
- Lisa Fagan, President, Amplify Selling
Panel #2 – Internal Training Perspectives
This panel consists of senior managers responsible for aspects of corporate learning who will discuss what they are doing today and opportunities they see in the future. Gary will talk about his Prepare-Deploy-Reinforce (PDR) model, how it represents an incremental transition, and how he sells to various audiences. Rob will talk about how he sees his offerings transition in the future. Allessandria from Intuit will discuss how they’ve outsourced parts of their development to their customers and have changed how they view “return” on learning investments.
- Gary Wise, Sr. Director Learning Architecture, Cincinnati Children's Hospital
- Rob Robertson, SVP, Learning Technology and Architecture, Citi
- Allessandria Polizzi, PhD, Group Manager, Accountant Training & Relations, Intuit
Panel #3 – Training Company Perspectives
This panel consists of senior executives at training companies who are looking at how they can create more compelling offerings in the market. They will discuss aspects of how their offerings are evolving and the kinds of new offerings they are trying to sell. Ann, who facilitated a session for ISA with CEOs of Training Companies to look at the future of the business of learning, will start the session with an overview of key take-aways from that session. Jeff, Pete and Ben will all discuss their particular perspectives on what it’s going to take to be successful going forward. Because of their very different kinds of companies and offerings, we’ll likely have a lively discussion.
- Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, CEO Herrmann International
- Jeff Sugerman, President and CEO, Inscape Publishing
- Pete Weaver Senior Vice President of Leadership Solutions and Chief Learning Officer, DDI
- Ben Snyder, CEO, Systemation
Panel #4 – Software and Services Perspectives
This panel consists of senior executives at software and services companies who are trying to create compelling offerings in the market. They will discuss aspects of how their offerings are evolving and the kinds of new offerings they are trying to sell and the challenges they have selling these offerings. Amit will discuss their interesting innovation team that works closely with training company partners to showcase new offerings that the partners can sell in the marketplace such as mobile, performance support, simulations and games, integrated accountability, and social learning solutions. Dave will discuss the challenges and opportunities around social learning solutions. Holly and Monika will talk about capitalizing on development opportunities that exist in every day work environments.
- Amit Garg, Director, Upside Learning – The Training Company Back Office
- Dave Wilkins, Executive Director of Product Marketing, Learn.com
- Monika Ebert, CEO, DifferentLens
- Holly St. John Peck, CEO, Peck Training Group
Panel #5 – Discussion
We will transition into a more open discussion around what we heard and what we think are some of the important answers coming from the session. We have several interesting folks joining the discussion that I’m sure will challenge us a bit. Some of these folks include:
- Jay Cross
- Harold Jarche
- Ray Jimenez
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Wesley Fryer discusses How are you dealing with TMI? (Too Much Information) (found via Stephen Downes). Wesley points us to a post by Kevin Washburn “TMI! Information Overload and Learning.” where Kevin points out:
TMI floods the brain with data, preventing comprehension and elaboration, and thus, preventing learning. Jonah Lehrer suggests the danger of too much information is “it can actually interfere with understanding.” Why? Because the brain has a do-it-yourself attitude toward learning.
Wes also asks us to consider:
current visual list of education applications from the website “All My Favs.” I’m overwhelmed just looking at these choices!
This is similar to the list of Web 2.0 tools that I often use in my presentations.
All of these represent potential metacognitive tools and methods. Life was simple 25 years ago. We knew how to use the card catalog, journal indices, microfiche readers. We had quarters in our pocket for the Xerox machine. We knew how to use Interlibrary Loan. We knew how to take notes.
It's a lot more complicated these days.
And I think that we need to recognize that it's more than the "Too Much Information" aspect of the issue. It's really that we need to adapt to new methods and tools. It's a big skills, knowledge, performance gap – see Work Skills Keeping Up. And I personally believe that it's a big mistake to Not Prepare Workers for Web 2.0. It's why I created Work Literacy about a year ago.
Wes has some specific suggestions in his post for how to deal with TMI.
I try to address this through posts such as:
- Tool Set
- LinkedIn Guide for Knowledge Workers
- Top-Down Strategy
- Better Memory
- Information Radar
- Processing Pages with Links
- Networks and Learning Communities
- Twitter as Personal Work and Learning Tool
I look forward to collaborating on this very important topic.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
As part of preparing for the July 23 free online session on the Future of the Business of Learning, I've had a bunch of conversations with CLOs/VP Learning, CEOs of Training Companies, Marketing and Sales Consultants to Training Companies, Industry Analysts, Software and Services Vendors.
I am really looking forward to July 23 when we come together to discuss this. It's going to be interesting. There are some real nuggets that I'm finding that you will hear about. I would highly encourage you to join in and book the day. If nothing else, seeing the Intuit case study to think through and discuss outsourcing to your customers and rethinking return on training investment.
There's a bit more detail on the particular sessions via the link above. I will announce the panelists in a day or two.
I felt compelled to capture a few thoughts as I've been having these conversations:
Tough Times - No One Jumping
Statistics are made real when you run into actual examples. For example, 10% unemployment doesn't always translate. Having friends or family lose their job hits home.
When you talk to someone who's training business is off 20-30%, it hits home. Imagine your paycheck getting cut 25%. Actually, if you are a smaller training company, it's worse than that. You likely are now scraping by with virtually zero paycheck. And possibly incurring debt.
At the same time, while we all know this is tough times from training, no one I've talked to is on the ledge ready to jump. Instead, I think that everyone recognizes that there's always going to be need for skill development. And overall, learning is more important than ever.
Mature or Declining Industry?
When I first introduced this topic, I probably should not have used an analogy between publishing and training. No one knows for sure what the total spend on training (using formal learning methods) will be in the future. Will it overall go up a lot? Down a lot? Stay relatively the same? Training is definitely in much better position than publishers who relied on advertising dollars.
I personally believe that the overall market for training using formal learning models is going to be on a long, slow downward trend. We are currently experiencing a big drop (similar to the drop in 2001). Training never quite recovered from the 2001 drop. And likely after this drop, we won't quite recover again.
My guess is that even the most optimistic person sees a relatively modest growth percentage and pessimists probably line up with me.
But what I find is that anytime I say that Training (using Formal Learning Models) might be transitioning into a relatively flat or declining industry – people hear - "Training is Dead." (see Long Live? for an example).
So, please help:
How can I effectively explain that training might be a mature or declining industry and still keep folks listening?
One thing I have tried to do is use an analogy. On a phone call the other day, I used the unfortunately analogy of the railroads. At one point railroads were in hyper growth mode, then they matured and consolidated. Then they were supplanted by cars, trucking and airlines as other forms of transportation. I don't think that any of the railroads managed to really transition themselves into other forms of transportation. It's a classic example of the innovator's dilemma (see The Innovator's Dilemma of Learning). Of course there are still railroads.
This did not go over well. Partly it was that there was a funny moment when I realized how tough things were for the auto and airlines. But also, no one wants to see themselves as the railroads.
Differentiation and Innovation Opportunities
No matter your take on the overall training spend, there's clearly lots of differentiation and innovation opportunities. A lot of what I've been hearing is about successful differentiation in the marketplace. Training companies and internal training organizations who focus on things that matter to organizations or who have offerings that are more than content seem to be having a better time of it.
There's also some incredible innovation going on as well. The Intuit example that will be presented and the implications of it for internal and external training organizations is going to be worth the entire time investment.
Tough Questions – Tougher Answers
I hope you won't come on July 23 expecting easy answers. The core question that I asked:
While training as a publisher of courses and courseware faces an increasingly challenging market, what other things can learning businesses successfully sell to internal or external customers?
is definitely a tough question. ISA did a session in March looking at a very similar question and it's clear there are no easy answers.
A big part of what makes these questions tough was beautifully captured by Tom McKee, CEO of Ken Blanchard,
You can't sell what people aren't willing to buy.
Many of our internal customers are simply not ready to buy solutions that look like something more than courses and courseware. There are exceptions and definitely opportunities for innovation. But realistically, a lot of what we will be talking about is what organizations should be doing today to be in position for the future.
This is going to be fun, hope you will join the conversation.
Monday, July 06, 2009
I do a lot of presentations where one of the topics is how to use LinkedIn more effectively as part of your knowledge work. In most cases, I will ask for a show of hands:
- How many of you have a LinkedIn Account? - Generally 50-70%.
- How many of you actively use LinkedIn? – Generally down to 10%.
- How many of you get really high value from LinkedIn? - Now down to 2-5%
I am continually surprised by this result (Getting Value from LinkedIn). I can't remember how I could get things done without LinkedIn. And I consider knowing how to effectively use LinkedIn to be a core Work Literacy.
I wanted to collect together some of the resources I've found that can help you get more out of LinkedIn.
And, don't forget to look at my LinkedIn Connection Approach Rethought. Consider whether it makes sense for you to introduce yourself and connect via LinkedIn.
Based on a comment I just received, if you only have time for one resource - visit:
- Tips on using LinkedIn
- The Unofficial LinkedIn User's Guide for Executives and Professionals
- LinkedIn Tips
- 10 Ways to Use LinkedIn
- LinkedIn Tips and Tweaks: Do More with your LinkedIn Account
- 20 Ways to Use LinkedIn Productively
- Making Your LinkedIn Business Network Pay Dividends
- Ten Etiquette Tips for LinkedIn
- LinkedIn Learning Center
- LinkedIn How-Tos
- The Social Media Starter Kit: LinkedIn
- How to Use LinkedIn
- 10 Part Series: Can LinkedIn Work for You?
- Top 10 mistakes people make on LinkedIn
- 7 more things to avoid on LinkedIn
- Crowdsourcing in the Small
- Networks and Communities
- Secret for Networking at Events – Prenetworking
- Pre-network with LinkedIn
Profiles, Recommendations and Network Building
- Grow Your Network While You Don’t Need It
- Make Your LinkedIn Profile Work for You
- Your Reputation: Create a Permalink
- Growing Your Network Online
- Approach to LinkedIn Connections
- LinkedIn Facebook Twitter - Different Connection Style
- Write Your LinkedIn Profile for Your Future
- LinkedIn as Cult Builder
Using LinkedIn For Travel and Meetings
- Using LinkedIn to Fill Out Your Business Trip
- Using LinkedIn for Travel
- Connecting with People in Your Network When Traveling
- Secret for Networking at Events – Prenetworking
- Pre-network with LinkedIn
Groups on LinkedIn
- 5 ways to get more from your LinkedIn Groups
- 5 Tips for Creating, Promoting and Managing a LinkedIn Group
- What are They Talking About? (LinkedIn e-Learning Groups) – These are some of the learning focused groups on LinkedIn.
- Directory of Social Networks for Learning Professionals – Includes learning networks that are outside LinkedIn as well.
- Learning Communities List – Also learning communities including some LinkedIn groups.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
But recently – over the past six months – a new trend: fewer blogs with links, and fewer with any contextual comment. Some weeks, apart from the splogs, there would be hardly anything. I didn't think we'd suddenly become dull.
He points to backup evidence of this from a NYT article and based on
Technorati's 2008 survey of the state of the blogosphere, which found that only 7.4m out of the 133m blogs it tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. As the New York Times put it, "that translates to 95% of blogs being essentially abandoned".
I don't doubt that a lot of blogs are started and abandoned. People change their focus. Lives get busy. Blogging definitely takes work.
I have a limited view of blogging, but I do get to see quite a bit because of Browse My Stuff.
What about eLearning blogs?
Because of eLearning Learning, I track eLearning blogs closely.
When I go back and look at: More eLearning Bloggers – many of the new bloggers stopped blogging soon after. They had the experience and then stopped. This somewhat supports the Technorati numbers.
While there are these abandoned blogs, overall I believe there's been a nice growth of eLearning blogs from a wider variety of sources over the past few years.
When I first started blogging in 2006, it seemed like all the bloggers were exactly the same people who spoke at conferences. Now, there are more practitioner blogs . And there are more good quality vendor blogs. I remember asking Product Vendor Blogs - Where are They? Now I find quite a few on eLearning Learning. And the analysts have joined in (Brandon Hall and Bersin have blogs).
I'm sure that this will continue to change, but I would question the notion that long tail blogging is dying.
Possible Reasons for the Guardian Drop Off
Over the past three years, I've certainly noticed that while I read (actually skim dive skim) through a lot of blogs, I find I spend less and less time on mainstream publications. They simply are too general in most cases. I used to read the Guardian all the time. Now, I only saw this article because of Donald Clark's mention.
I do think that some of the limited kinds of blog posts that are essentially – here's an interesting article – has moved to twitter or other status updates. It's not worth a blog post if that's all you are going to say.
And, honestly, I'd much rather engage in a discussion with a blogger than with a mainstream publication that will never engage back.
Twitter Not a Good Substitute
I personally don't think that Twitter is a good replacement for blogging as learning tool. It's great for quick sharing. And quick, limited conversations. Deeper discussion requires blogging.
You can find a lot more thoughts around blogging via my post:
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
T+D Blog - Serious Gaming in the Workplace asks the question:
Is serious gaming being taken seriously in your workplace?
It is time to change the perception of "gaming" among CEOs and other corporate executives. It is a valuable learning tool that is taking too long to become a mainstream part of everyday learning.
However, I've been wondering for long time about when the added costs of building games really pays off. Last year in Training Method Trends I showed some data from the eLearning Guild that had games and simulations decreasing as a modality. My guess is that right now with pressure on training budgets, there's significant pressure on spending on games.
The Upside Learning (disclosure) white paper Do You Need Games In Your eLearning Mix? (see also their great blog post - Top 100 Learning Game Resources) of course comes out and tells us that different kinds of games make sense based on different learning needs and that there's a place for them.
I concur that there's pretty significant backing that game-based learning results in better learning transfer rates.
But transfer does not equal ROI. I've done some initial search for back-up that the added cost of developing learning games is worth the cost, and I've really not come up with much of anything. There are some great anecdotal examples, but the real question is up-front:
When is it worth the added cost to turn a learning experience into a game? And how do we know that going in?
The justification is often a bit hard. There's an emotional response among some buyers that games equals waste. But even beyond overcoming that challenge, I see it as a bit hard to go from additional transfer angle. Couldn't we get transfer using another approach at a lower total cost? Are we trying to justify in additional seat time that learners would spend if it wasn't a game? Is it true that seat time is less for the same transfer for games?
This relates to the question of the Business of Learning. I'm not sure that by creating games you really are going to be able to sell enough additional product or create enough added value that it justifies the additional expenditure.
What's the business rationale for spending on games?