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Monday, April 30, 2007

Update to the 1% Rule

I've talked about the 1% Rule before. This rule tells us roughly that in online communities:
  • 90% will read-only
  • 9% will make limited contributions (comment)
  • 1% will actively contribute content
In 1% Rule - Can You Fight It?, I contended that if we changed the dynamic of contribution to make it less effort, then there would be greater contribution.

A recent Forrester research report (cited) that looks at the numbers from a different perspective and it tells us a slightly different story. It tells us that:
  • 52% - don't participate in social media
Of the 48% who do participate, you can find them at varying levels participating in social media. They categorize them into:
  • Creators (publish web pages, have a blog, upload video)
  • Critics (comment on blogs, post ratings and reviews)
  • Collectors (use RSS, tag web pages)
  • Joiners (use social networking sites)
  • Spectators (read blogs, watch videos, listen to podcasts)
The percentages reported are much higher than the 1% rule, but they are looking at the question differently - across all possible sites for interaction - not looking at a single site.

The categories are interesting to think about.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Top Ten Subliminal Searches

As I mentioned before more than half of the traffic to my blog comes from search engines. Of course, that doesn't count folks who read content in their RSS reader, but still its a significant number. What's sometimes fun to do is take a look at various search terms that people use to find my blog. This morning I had a really good chuckle because I saw that the search:
top 10 reasons not to do your homework
Put me in position number 2 on Google (at least on the servers in the US that I used). I'm sure glad my kids don't read my blog and to find out that somehow I support not doing your homework.

This made me wonder what else people were searching for, having me come up in the results list AND deciding to click on me. It also made me wonder if this tells me something about what people might think of me or my blog. Or if there's some hidden meaning that I somehow get found for these searches. Maybe there's a subliminal message hidden here.

So I looked back over the past two weeks to see what other searches were brining people to my blog. So I decided to make a list of the Top Ten Searches that might reveal something I didn't know about me and my blog:
10. motivating avon reps
9. worst design management
8. fun generator
7. call your parents
6. boston beer
5. synthetic happiness
4. party sign generator
3. impersonal questions that spark discussion
2. worst presentation
and my personal favorite:
1. top ten lamest people
Have a good weekend.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

eLearning Software

eLearning Software posts:

eLearning Software Tools

Course Authoring and Rapid eLearning Software Satisfaction - Satisfaction survey results for eLearning Software.

eLearning Software Satisfaction (More) - follow-up on satisfaction results for eLearning Software.

What is Rapid eLearning Software? - Description of eLearning Software for rapid eLearning.

Rapid eLearning Software - Another post looking at eLearning Software for rapid eLearning.

Flash Quiz Software - Lists different software tools used to create quizzes and tests in Flash.

Test SCORM Software - Ways to test courses under SCORM.

View of eLearning Development Software - Ease vs. Power - Graphic that compares different eLearning Software tools.

Software Simulation eLearning (w/ links to Tools) - eLearning Software aimed at producing Software Simulations.

eLearning Software - Wikis, Blogs and More - Alternative eLearning Software tools.

Use of Wikis as eLearning Software- another post on Wikis as eLearning Software.

Captivate and Articulate for Interactive Slide-Based Presentations - two eLearning Software tools for a particular kind of application.

Virtual Classroom eLearning Software - Information about virtual classroom eLearning Software.

eLearning Software Trends

Authoring in eLearning 2.0 / Add-ins & Mash-ups - How eLearning Software is changing based on Web 2.0 technical approaches.

Shift in eLearning Software Approaches from Pure Courseware towards Reference Hybrids - An alternative eLearning Software approach.

Direction of eLearning Software - Emergence or Big System - a trend in eLearning Software.

Future Platforms for eLearning Software - trends in eLearning Software platforms.

Point Solutions vs. Suites and Composition in eLearning Software

Jumping into my Blog Roll

I normally use a system for Managing RSS Feeds where I keep new blogs in the quarantine for a few months to see if they are going to pan out. However, I've already cited this blog in New Blog - and a Great Post Conference Practice and now another great post conference practice in the post:

SME vs. Customer - With Me in the Middle

Showing how different sessions apply to particular projects within the organization.

Good stuff!

Problem finding Podcasts and Videos

I just saw a post by Mark Oehlert -Help Needed: Long Car Ride Ahead and I Want to Load Up on the Best Podcasts

Makes me realize that we don't have good sources to find podcasts or videos that appeal to a particular group of people, e.g., folks involved in eLearning. I find them randomly through blog posts. But, if I go to YouTube and search for videos, I will occasionally find good ones, but normally it's a needle in a haystack.

There must be a better way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Correlation Between IQ and Net Worth (Wealth)

Just saw a post If You're So Dumb, Why Aren't You Rich? that cited an article in the journal Intelligence.

It shows the correlation between IQ and Net Worth. Surprisingly there isn't one. Can that be right?

Moderating a Panel

Stephen Downes was recently on a panel that I moderated and as in many things, he and I have a very different approach to things - even though we somehow often land in similar end points. He just put a brief post up and said -
I think the biggest mistake is to over plan a panel.
Stephen pointed us to a really great post by Derek Powazek - How to Moderate a Panel that has some really good advice on moderating. His first bit of advice is to get to know the panelists in depth. Couldn't agree more. He also tells you to not have the panel before the panel. Don't have them get together ahead of time. I also agree. Actually, I agree with everything that Derek is doing. His post is well worth bookmarking to remember.

I would add a few things to what Derek said:

1. Decide ahead of time what you want to get to in the panel and where you won't go. I've gone to many very frustrating panel sessions with experts on the panel and all we do is here about things at a surface level. That's completely the moderators fault. These folks are experts. The panelists get a total of about 15 minutes of airtime. As a moderator, you need to make sure you get them into depth.

2. Because of lack of airtime, I like to give panelists a sense of the topics we'll cover and the kinds of prompts I'm likely to use so they can think of concise answers or what they want to talk about. I don't ask them to talk with each other about this or even me (although I mostly know where they'll go based on conversations). It's still an impromptu answer, but I've found that panelists normally get there quicker if you let them know ahead of time.

3. Push the panelists. As Derek says, as the moderator, you have to be the audience's advocate. Panelists sometimes stop short or go astray of really interesting things. You sometimes have to help them get there.

4. Highlight contrasts and similarities. Contrasts (or better yet disagreements) are the most fun. But it's also great when you have Microsoft, Google and IBM on a panel (I've moderated that before) and point out where they are saying the same things in possibly different ways.

5. Involve the audience as much as you can. While there's not much total time in a panel, it's often really good to ask the audience for quick input on particular topics. It's a nice reality check and makes sure that it's not an us/them thing.

My experience moderating Stephen was quite fun - but honestly - I wasn't sure how it was going to be. He and I have a very different interpretation of what Derek is saying about preparation for the panel. Stephen would prefer to show up cold and let things go where they will go. I prefer to talk to each panelist ahead of time and have an agenda of things we'll talk about and some that we won't because we don't have time. Stephen will make sure he then includes all of those topics (actually he doesn't but he did get a good laugh by pointing out when he was mentioning a topic that was on my list of things we weren't going to be able to cover eveb though they were completely appropriate given the title to the session). In all seriousness, I truly believe that a deeper conversation with Stephen ahead of the panel might have allowed me to aim things a little better and pull him in better and know where I could point out how what he was saying was very much in alignment from what you were hearing from Tony O'Driscoll from IBM and where he aligned with me.

But to add the last point to Derek's post:

6. Have fun and make it a panel session you and the panelists would have wanted to attend.

And I think we did that - didn't we Stephen? and Tony and Brent?

Spending or Wasting Time on Web 2.0 Tools?

I just read a couple interesting posts: The Pursuit of Busyness - by Andrew McAfee and The Enterprise 2.0 Hawthorne Effect and Enterprise 2.0’s Productivity Perception Paradox by Joe McKendrick.

Andrew McAfee raises an interesting dilemma about the use of Web 2.0 tools (ex. Wikis, Social Bookmarking) in the Enterprise:
people who use the new tools heavily -- who post frequently to an internal blog, edit the corporate wiki a lot, or trade heavily in the internal prediction market -- will be perceived as not spending enough time on their 'real' jobs
This is almost the inverse of the concern that Nick Carr brought up soon after the initial E2.0 article came out -- that busy knowledge workers wouldn't have time for the new technologies.
It's something I've somewhat wondered about. Do people have enough time to use these tools? If so, does that mean that they are somehow not the people who are already "too busy" at their jobs? Are the only people who will use the tools exactly those people who the organization views as time wasters, tinkering about, etc. I think most of us can relate to that kind of concern.

Joe summarizes this concern wonderfully -
That is, won’t employees spending time on the Web checking out Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0-related tools and sites be perceived as not spending enough time at their “real” jobs?
If we turn this towards the world of learning and performance, I'm afraid that we may already be suspects in the pursuit of things that are not our "real jobs."

I wonder how hard it is for people to justify spending time on these new technologies, new ways of learning and collaborating?

I'd be curious to get thoughts on this?

Formalizing and Investing in Informal Learning

I just saw a post by David Wilson -Real metrics on Informal Learning that asks about a subject that we would all like to know.
Is investing in informal learning effective? Do you get return?
This is a fascinating subject for me, because it leads us straight into The Paradox of Informal Learning (Form of Informal?) - which is basically that once you put form and structure to informal learning and try to support it in an organization, it becomes more formal. I've got a lot more on this issue in:
I actually do think there are ways we can provide form and structure to intentional informal learning approaches. And I believe that we can measure intermediate factors as well as measuring impact on outcomes (see also Intermediate Factors and Elves, Measuring Results and Informal Learning).

However, I think the question right now might not even need to be around ROI, but rather it could be sufficient to ask if we should shift the mix. That was the discussion in: Numbers and Informal Learning as well as on The Learning Circuits Blog: The Numbers Behind Informal & Formal ..., and The Learning Circuits Blog: Investing in Informal Learning.

It may also be good to look back at Informal Learning: A Sound Investment and Formalizing Informal Learning.

While none of this answers David's question - my guess is that there's nothing that's really going to answer it in a satisfactory way. On the other hand, I believe there are lots of suggestions out there that investment in informal learning makes sense.

Monday, April 23, 2007

More on Personal Learning Environments

Ray Sims has a great post on Personal Learning Environment and personal learning environments. His diagram and description that states that we not only each have our own personal learning environment, but that we are interconnected in all sorts of ways and need to be able to group things together for certain kinds of groups (organizational, informal, etc.) very much aligns with my mental model.

Ray tells us...
What I am reaching for is an optimized environment for Learning AND a loosely-couple optimized environment for Doing.
I agree with his overall goal, but I'm not sure I separate Learning and Doing. In fact, the ideal in most cases is that learning is set up as doing. When I was a professor, I normally tried to start my lectures by setting up the problem. It gives context for what they were going to learn. And since I was teaching techies who are natural problem solvers, it engaged them in something they love. In other words, I don't agree on two environments - Doing and Learning should be the same. Am I doing or learning right now?

Ray goes on to say...
I see the opportunity for Learning Communities to facilitate some common toolsets where the community members have an easy-to-get-started-with PLE that easily integrates with others in the same learning community, while also are connected to others outside the community.
This is a great point. We definitely need easier, starter versions of personal learning support - but starter versions that head you in the right direction longer term.

Great stuff Ray.

New Blog - and a Great Post Conference Practice

I just saw a post - Welcome to My First Post! that was good to see:
It was Tony Karrer’s session [at eLearningGuild], An Introduction to New e-Learning Technologies that inspired me to start this blog.
That's always good to see and makes you hopeful that there actually is some good coming from presenting. But it was also great to see the other comments made by this blogger about what they feel they learned from the conference, a few things they are planning to do, etc. It made me realize:
  1. This is a great thing that everyone should do coming out of a conference. Make a list of things you learned. Your aha moments. And a list of the things you plan to do.
  2. Capture this in a public forum so that other conference participants (that includes speakers) can see these and draw from them.
I'm sure this blogger is getting value just from doing #1 (as would everyone else). My guess is that taken together #2 would constitute an incredible post conference exchange of ideas.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Rapid eLearning Tools - New Debate

I wasn't able to go to the panel session at eLearningGuild, but there are a couple interesting posts on it and some debate around the purpose of these tools.

Clive Shepherd tells us - Rapid e-learning is swimming in too small a pond

His main point is that Rapid eLearning Tools should be aiming at the SMEs, but according to Clive, at the panel session, the vendors claimed they weren't really aimed there. My guess is that they may have been playing to the audience. I agree with Clive that this is part of the intent of rapid eLearning - pushing the tools to SMEs to allow them to easily create small information nuggets. These are not intended to be big courses with lots of interactivity.

One of the comments that Clive got back on his blog was that people were producing poor quality stuff with these tools. I guess it depends on what you mean by poor quality. Is what I'm writing now poor quality? Probably it depends on the context. If you are here trying to learning about Rapid eLearning Tools, then this is definitely poor quality. But, the intent of small bursts of information produced by SMEs is a bit different than producing a 60 minute course on ethics in the workplace (like that really works).

Jay Cross also discusses this session in -Rapid eLearning Panel and he does a good job discussing this very issue:
When is it appropriate to use rapid eLearning development tools? For procedural, how-topics. For things you have to get out the door right away. And I see e-information applications in addition to eLearning. “Information is not instruction,” but sometimes information is all you need.

No Informal Learning and Blended Learning Mix - CLO Panel Surprises

At the eLearningGuild event, I attended a panel of CLOs from fairly large organizations (including EMC). Most of what they said was pretty much what you'd expect, however, what really surprised me were two things.

First, none of the panelists seemed to focused on finding ways to support informal learning in the organization. EMC owns Documentum (a big document management/content management system) and owns eRoom (a team collaboration tool). Marc Rosenberg, the moderator, asked if he was using these tools as part of his solutions. The answer was roughly - no that's someone else in the organization. Marc pressed him a bit and it seemed that the CLO defined himself in terms of training solutions so these tools really weren't important for him to use to help learners/performers. It was fascinating to see the disconnect.

And it wasn't only the CLO from EMC. Clearly, each of the CLOs saw themselves primarily as providers of formal learning solutions.

Second, when I finally asked a question towards the end of the panel to press each of them on how the mix of their blended learning solutions would be changing (and suggested that they might have to be shorter and available as reference) - they seemed to agree, BUT, within the context of a training, course, courseware kind of model. It was remarkable and extremely old school. I'm still not 100% sure if it was a language thing or what - but this is not what I would have expected.

Isn't it our responsibility to figure out the broader mix of solutions? Are we so caught up in Course and Coursware that we can't see other things?

Personal Learning and Personal Learning Environments

Personal Learning and Personal Learning Environments

As part of the recent discussion on personal learning and personal learning environments, I went back to find my posts on these topics and on personal knowledge management and related.
Ongoing list of posts on personal learning, PLEs, PWLEs.

Wiki Traffic - What Gets Visited on Wikipedia

Interesting article - What is Popular on Wikipedia and Why? Excerpts rom the introduction -
Wikipedia's English version has more than 1.6 million articles and received 43 million unique visitors from the US in January 2007.

Pages related to entertainment and sexuality represent more than 50 percent of the most visited Wikipedia pages. In particular, many of the most popular pages are related to media celebrities and TV shows, which also constitute some of the most popular queries that were submitted to the search engines in 2006.

70 percent of Wikipedia’s traffic comes from search engines. This implies that links to Wikipedia pages are included in the search results or result page and people select these links.

This makes a lot of sense. People type in search terms into their search engine and Wikipedia articles come up high in the search results because of high page rank or quality of content. While I'm sure there are lots of people (e.g., students) who go to Wikipedia as an online encyclopedia, the majority of the traffic is not that kind of traffic.

This also suggests something about using Wikis for content that we create. While our workers/learners/users will likely use the content sometimes in the reference look-up, it is likely that they will find the content because of it being appropriately indexed both locally (by the Wiki) and within the intranet/extranet/web search engines.

Of course, many organizations have issues with good intranet search. This gives us another reason to suggest that we push that to super high priority.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Personal Learning Environments and personal learning environments

There's been quite a bit of discussion going on around Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) and personal learning environments. We talked about this briefly during a session with Tony O'Driscoll, Brent Schelenker, and Steven Downes at the eLearningGuild. And then over beers.

Getting back, I've seen quite a few blog posts on the topic:

Stephen Downes - Personal Learning

I can talk about webs and networks and personal learnings and PLEs but there's a disconnect unless people see themselves as learners rather than teachers.
Stephen seems a bit worried in his post that people in the corporate world don't get the concept. They are used to command and control. There's some truth to that, but at the end of my What's New in eLearning session (on blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, rss readers, etc.) my final point was that we each needed to become better learners. That's exactly what Stephen, Tony O, and Brent said during our panel. When Stephen and I are agreeing on something ...

Note: Stephen and I don't agree on using the term Personal Learning Environment (PLE) with capitals to mean a put together system that integrates and supports your personal learning and a personal learning environment (lower case letters, no acronym) as the set of tools you use to help yourself learn (likely not very integrated). I believe that we all have a personal learning environment ... we just are not necessarily conscious of it.

Clive Shepherd - Personal learning environments

Also uses the lower case definition when he tells us...
My personalised learning environment includes many aspects of my knowledge network, including my browser favourites, my RSS feeds, my electronic documents and so on. But it's also non-digital and not easily captured in my browser. It includes my wife, friends and work colleagues, my tennis coach, my books, magazines and newspapers, the TV I watch, the films I see, the radio programmes that I listen to.
Michelle Martin - My personal learning environment

Does a fantastic job defining her personal learning environment. I love her approach on this and had suggested this as a Meme a little while ago and I hope others will post similar discussions of what their personal learning environment looks like.

Others that have chimed in:

eLearning Authoring Tools

Authoring Tools

Several questions came up recently around Authoring Tools and I wanted to point people to some past posts on authoring tools that I think serve as good foundation.

Boston - Beer - Bloggers -

I'm just returning from my trip to Boston (and NYC and Cape Cod - with my wife and kids). In Boston, I was at the eLearningGuild event and had the wonderful opportunity to speak at Harvard Business School (more on these sometime soon).

One of the more fun things we did in Boston was going out for a beer tasting that was organized by Jim Javenkoski, and myself. You can read Jim's write-up Of beer, blogists and Boston.

We did something similar at TechKnowledge in Las Vegas - Beer Tasting at ASTD TechKnowledge but this time we had as pretty amazing group of people including: Jay Cross, Mark Oehlert, Brent Schlenker, Stephen Downes, Judy Brown, Clive Shepherd, Lance Dublin, Tom Crawford, Mark Prasatik, Melissa Dailey from HBS, a bunch of great folks from, Adam Nelson from Ninth House, Silke Fleischer, and others. Brent as kind enough to take some pictures.

Looking forward to doing something like this in Atlanta for the ASTD Conference.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

eLearning Business Alternatives - Good Discussion

An interesting conversation is starting around this month's big question -ILT and Off-the-Shelf Vendors – What Should They Do?

Tom Haskins is telling us that we had better: Leave a clean corpse
Now that I have pictured ILT and Off-the-Shelf Vendors as obsolete, the question remains how long their customers will pretend the world has not already changed this dramatically.
Valerie Bock counters with Formal Content: It's not dead yet!
I think there will always be value in taking time out to figure out where the gaps exist between what people need to know and need to be able to do, and where they actually are. And there will always be a place for well-designed, formal content, prepared by people who have taken the time to find out what works for adult learners, in the quest to fill those gaps.
Even Valerie in her defense seems to acknowledge that the trend is towards alternatives to courses and courseware. So, what do you do to take advantage of a move to alternatives? Tom responds with Preparing for changing opportunities.

What I'm quickly realizing is how important this conversation really is and it's far beyond ILT and OTS Vendors - it's all of us. It's a question of what will be happening. Take a look at George Siemens post - Is Print Dying? from a day or so ago and not in any way part of the Big Question. Among other things he says:
The challenges of media are providing valuable lessons for education. Any industry that has formerly viewed content as the key value point - media, newspapers, education, museums, libraries - are in the middle of a substantial shift. ...content changes too rapidly to be our value point.
But many of us define ourselves in terms of our ability to produce content. Looking back at my posts Disruptive Changes in Learning and Content Vendor Value - this is really a WOW topic.

And, unfortunately, I'm going to be missing part of this conversation because of a trip to NYC and Boston. Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

eLearning Design - Posts about Designing eLearning

I received a question about a particular eLearning Design challenge that someone was facing and I realized that the title of my blog and the way I post doesn't really do justice to talking about design and patterns in designing eLearning in this blog. I'll try to work on that, but here's a list of posts that are relevant to eLearning design and eLearning patterns:

What Clients Really Want
The basis for many of the eLearning design decisions.

Top Ten Suggested New Year's Resolutions for eLearning Professionals
Several elearning design patterns are discussed.

Significant Work Needed to Help Instructional Designers
Changes required in ISD, ADDIE and HPT in order to adapt to the current design environment.

eLearning 1.0, 1.3 and 2.0
The move of eLearning design towards SME and user-generated content.

Course and Courseware are Fading - The Future of eLearning
How we must adapt to the fact that our designs cannot rely on larger chunks of learning - especially in Corporate eLearning.

Future of ISD, ADDIE and HPT
Big impact on how we will be designing eLearning going forward.

Learning Design Different Now? and Future of ISD in a World of Read/Write Web
How is Learning Design different when we are using different learning techniques, especially bottom-up techniques based on.

Learning Design in a Nut Shell
My simple attempt at what learning design and eLearning design is all about.

Reference Hybrid
A particular pattern for designing eLearning.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Captivate and Articulate for Interactive Slide-Based Presentations

I got a question (and you know I love questions):
We are being asked to use Adobe Captivate on a project. I understand that Captivate is great for simulations and demonstrations of computer tasks, and can be used for scenario-based training for that kind of content. All good.

However, this project doesn't involve ANY simulations, demonstrations, or scenario-based training. It's an employee orientation that consists of many (500) slides of text and graphics. We'll make the slides fun with graphic effects and movies, but that doesn't change the slide model.

So, I thought that Articulate Presenter might be a better choice for this project. What do you think?
First some good news - I happen to like both of these products and if you look at my posts: Course Authoring and Rapid eLearning Tool Satisfaction and eLearning Course Authoring Tool Satisfaction - More you can see that both of these tools score pretty high in satisfaction. So I'm not alone in my opinion about these tools.

Certainly, as the person asking the questions states, if you were going for Software Simulation eLearning then Captivate (or the other tools list in my post) would be more appropriate than Captivate. But, in this case, it's not simulation, it's interactive presentation.

For the task described, where the source is initially MS PowerPoint slides, Articulate Presenter is going to be easier to use. Especially if you have animations or anything beyond the slides in your source PowerPoint. There's actually another product that Adobe offers - Adobe Presenter based on Breeze that is a plug-in or add-on to PowerPoint that allows you to continue to author in PowerPoint but it doesn't offer the same level of interaction support as Articulate Presenter.

From the question - "make it fun through graphic effects and movies" doesn't necessarily imply interaction - quizzes, games, etc. But I sincerely hope that somewhere among your 500 slides, you plan to make things interactive. However, if you really are not, then either Articulate Presenter or Adobe Presenter should be fine. I just feel sorry for the person going through the content.

One last point to make on this - these tools are not mutually exclusive. Captivate can be used to create Flash movies that can be embedded inside of Presenter. So, if there's a brief interaction that you feel can be created best in Captivate, you can always do that as well. So depending on how stubborn the person is who is pushing for Captivate, you might suggest that you primarily use Presenter and use Captivate for certain aspects.

Moodle in Corporations

Clive just posted - Apples and Pears - about the eLearningGuild's new report on Learning Management Systems. I was one of the authors of the report and it was interesting to have an opportunity to interview people and see the numbers produced through a pretty extensive interview process.

Clive points out one of the more interesting discoveries in the survey results numbers - Moodle comes back as being used inside lots of corporations. In fact, it appears near the top in market share even among larger corporations.

However, as Clive points out, this is somewhat misleading (and the report covers the difference between an CMS, LMS and TMS). We had a fair amount of debate among the researchers about how to handle the fact that Moodle comes out being used inside a lot of corporations, but often used in a very limited fashion. We tried to handle it by drawing distinctions where possible, but the fact remains that lots of companies are using Moodle.

On the other hand, you should know that when a corporation uses Moodle they often are using it for some very simple course delivery, creating assessments, etc. In fact, if you only have a couple of courses or you need to put up an environment for a couple of eLearning courses, then Moodle may be a great option.

At the same time, every large company that I interviewed who had indicated they used Moodle, were only using Moodle as a short-term solution on the way to something more or as a targeted solution.

Bottom line - consider Moodle for these kinds of situations. But to paraphrase Clint Eastwood - A man's got to know Moodles limitations.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

April Big Question - Content Vendor Value

Since I'm likely not going to be blogging for about a week starting Friday, I thought I'd get an early jump on this month's Big Question from LCB - ILT and Off-the-Shelf Vendors - What Should They Do?

I'll be curious to see what kinds of responses come out around this topic. There's really a lot at stake in this question in that it goes far beyond the question. The reality is that all providers of content are competing in a flat world, with easy access to virtually every other information source and many different, alternative means of content creation. In this world, content producers face real challenges. And this isn't just in corporate training and education. My post - Disruptive Changes in Learning - points to examples such as TV, Music, Press, etc. If you are a producer of content, you are now competing with many new sources.

As a content vendor providing training (Instructor Led or eLearning), you are naturally having to compete with each person's ability to find information via a Google search or through access to a service like Safari (which makes all of the O'Reilly books fully searchable).

One of the most important questions is:
What's the added value provided by content providers over alternative information sources?
While I often hear lots of answers to these from vendors, it's becoming increasingly difficult for them to have a compelling differentiation. So, there's real problems, especially if you stay with traditional models of Courses and Courseware - see Course and Courseware are Fading - The Future of eLearning. You can't afford to be in that business going forward.

(One exception to this rule - for things like most compliance training where companies are wanting to "check the box" - they will continue to use courses and will want short versions and box checking. Lowest cost will dominate. But courses and courseware will remain.)

The good news is that there's also some hope for innovative companies who can move beyond the business of Courses and Courseware. Generally customers are buying something more than a course or courseware. In IT world, they are transitioning their staff from Java to .Net or from .Net 1.0 to .Net 2.0. In sales they are moving to consultative selling. It might be a culture change initiative. Or employee engagement. Or customer satisfaction. Etc. There's always more to the picture than providing courses and courseware.

My belief is that there's great opportunity to make smart use of new kinds of eLearning Solutions that will have real impact on the actual results that people care about. Take customer satisfaction. In a recent solution for a large retailer, we provided tools that:
  • Showed customer satisfaction numbers (that already existed) at the store level so that store managers could identify areas where they needed work.
  • Provided a variety of possible interventions the store manager could use (some with content, some that were more like a series of meetings-in-a-box).
  • Had store managers create an action plan composed of the steps of these interventions and had that approved with their district manager.
  • Helped them remember needed steps and track progress.
  • Prompted the district manager's involvement appropriately to reinforce actions.
  • Tracked the results so we could figure out what interventions worked and which didn't.
This intervention is worth many millions of dollars to the client. Far more than it cost to implement. It attacks the issue of helping store managers to improve customer satisfaction. While there's quite a bit of content created, it's not really about the content.

There's also this old CEO adage:
There's margin in mystery.
In other words, because we aren't coming in and saying "here's some content we are selling you" - instead, it's a whole system, and tracking, and hitting people with communication over time - it's not as obvious what's going on. Under the hood, it's not terribly complicated, but it's still got some mystery. Probably the best example of this that I've ever worked on was eHarmony. If you've ever taken a personality profile, you know how they come back and seem to know you. eHarmony does that as well. It allows them to command a premium. Same thing is true of a more recent client MyShape. When there's mystery, you can command a premium. More on this in Matching Algorithm.

If you look at things like Gallup's Q12 Employee Engagement system, it's not terribly complicated, but it sells well because of the mystery.

Now the good news is that it's easier than ever to create solutions that are more interesting than simple courses and courseware. You can hit people many times over the course of time. You can hit them in new ways. On new devices. In virtual training environments (sandboxes). As an example, if I've got a conversion of an IT staff to .Net 2.0, I probably don't want to ship them all to classes at one time. Rather, I'd like to get them trained up a bit and then have them get coached over the course of time. Plus, when it's new technology, having to get it set-up is always a pain as well - maybe you can provide sandboxing support. Further, I probably have some superstars that I give more training to at the start and then provide them with tools and systems to get the rest of the staff up-to-speed. Do you think they can do that on their own? Probably not well. But with some support they might be able to. Maybe the management needs some training as well, but that won't be classroom. Maybe they need some on-going coaching over the beginning of the project. In fact, if you are providing risk reduction over the first few projects, then maybe the solution isn't really training on .Net 2.0 but rather a transition to .Net 2.0 development capability. There's likely a suite of offerings and a series of things that need to happen to get them transitioned. If it was only getting some folks up to speed on .Net 2.0, well they could read a book or go use Google. There's a lot of other barriers.

I know that I'm probably not helping define a specific enough game plan for any vendor and maybe this isn't practical for some people. But my suspicion is that most vendors need to move in this direction in order to sustain margins.

I'm hopeful that we are going to see some interesting discussions on this topic.

Corporate eLearning

Corporate eLearning

Blog posts related to Corporate eLearning:

Learning Management Systems (LMS)

Learning Management Systems

Updated Nov. 2010

My most popular post around LMS is (by far):

LMS Satisfaction Features and Barriers

Here are a LOT of other posts that look at all things Learning Managment Systems (LMS): And resources found via eLearning Learning's pages on Learning Management Systems and LMS. Click these links to find a constantly update Best Of posts on these topics. But here are some great resources:
  1. LMS Resources- aLearning, May 8, 2010
  2. LMS RFP- eLearning Technology, October 25, 2007
  3. More Than One LMS Option- aLearning, February 14, 2010
  4. Other Open Source LMS Solutions- eLearning 24-7, April 14, 2010
  5. Take This LMS and Shove It- Living in Learning, May 19, 2010
  6. LMS Satisfaction Features and Barriers- eLearning Technology, September 20, 2007
  7. LMS Template- eLearning 24-7, May 21, 2010
  8. LMS and Social Learning- eLearning Technology, March 31, 2009
  9. LMS: A Quick SWOT Analysis- Upside Learning Blog, June 16, 2010
  10. The Great LMS Debate- Element K Blog, June 11, 2010
  11. A Learning Portal is Not an LMS- Getting Down to Business, May 18, 2010
  12. Potential Questions to Ask When Having an LMS Demo'd- Discovery Through eLearning, January 14, 2009
  13. LMS Selection Process- eLearning Technology, October 18, 2007
  14. Five Things Not to do While Selecting an LMS- Upside Learning Blog, August 27, 2009
  15. When to LMS- Learnlets, May 18, 2010
  16. The Standalone LMS is Dead- trainingwreck, October 24, 2009
  17. Open Source vs Commercial LMS- Learning Next, April 18, 2007
  18. LMS Launch Happens in 11 More Sleeps- Discovery Through eLearning, September 10, 2009
  19. Eight Tips for LMS Implementation- Upside Learning Blog, February 17, 2010
  20. Open Source LMS- eLearning Technology, December 10, 2009
  21. The Real Cost of a Free (Open Source) LMS!- Upside Learning Blog, April 29, 2010
  22. Listing the Steps of the LMS is Difficult- Discovery Through eLearning, February 16, 2009
  23. Top 13 LMS (and Learning Technology) Blogs- Upside Learning Blog, April 15, 2010
  24. Goodbye LMS?- eLearning Technology, September 5, 2006
  25. Why Do We Have an LMS?- MinuteBio, July 11, 2010
  26. Why bash the LMS?- Learnlets, May 10, 2010
  27. Do You WANT an LMS? Does a Learner WANT an LMS?- eLearning Technology, July 26, 2006
  28. Enable Learning Anywhere with World’s First Portable LMS- Ignatia Webs, September 29, 2010
  29. A case for the LMS?- Learnlets, May 6, 2010
  30. Test LMS- eLearning Technology, September 10, 2008
  31. Free LMS Comparison Template- aLearning, May 22, 2010
  32. Open Source LMS Comparison- The Learned Man, April 27, 2007
  33. New Kind of LMS?- eLearning Technology, January 11, 2007
  34. Low Cost LMS - Help Needed- eLearning Technology, February 10, 2009
  35. Tracking Without an LMS- eLearning Technology, May 17, 2006
  36. The LMS – Will It Survive?- Upside Learning Blog, May 11, 2010
  37. More LMS Options for Associations on a Budget- aLearning, April 25, 2010
  38. Sakai 3 Development Process- Experiencing eLearning, June 9, 2009
  39. The Right Way To Go About Open Source LMS- Upside Learning Blog, October 23, 2009
  40. LMS Moneyball- eLearning 24-7, March 15, 2010
  41. Standalone LMS is Still Dead (rebutting & agreeing w/ Dave Wilkins)- trainingwreck, May 15, 2010
  42. Looking for THE SCORM Resource?- MinuteBio, June 12, 2010
  43. The LMS must die- Learning Conversations, August 15, 2010
  44. LMS Contracts – What U Must Have, Need 2 Know- eLearning 24-7, January 8, 2010
  45. LMS: Strategy or Tool?- Upside Learning Blog, March 18, 2010
  46. LMS = Losing My Smile- aLearning, February 5, 2010
  47. Test SCORM Courses with an LMS- eLearning Technology, January 13, 2008
  48. LMS & LCMS Directory- eLearning 24-7, July 8, 2010
  49. LMS Customization- eLearning 24-7, December 8, 2009
  50. Learning Management Systems - Trends and Issues (Brandon Hall Research) Webinar- Discovery Through eLearning, July 8, 2009
  51. Informal Learning Blog » LMS, we hardly knew ye- Informal Learning, September 4, 2006
  52. Moodle: Email Notfication Problems- eLearning Blender, April 16, 2009
  53. ZaidLearn: Any Free Hosted CMS or LMS? (Yes, Obama Says!)- ZaidLearn, May 16, 2009
  54. A Defense of the LMS (and a case for the future of Social Learning)- Social Enterprise Blog, May 12, 2010
  55. Moodle LMS: Hot Potatoes is Now Free!- The E-Learning Curve, September 15, 2009
  56. Association LMS Report & the Entrepreneurial Jeff Cobb- Web Courseworks, November 20, 2009
  57. Blackboard reinforcing the Status Quo- Learning Technology Learning, October 12, 2009
  58. The 21st century LMS- Clive on Learning, October 27, 2009
  59. Picking the Right LMS Logo and Design- eLearning Brothers, January 12, 2010
  60. Resources for the LMS Selection Process- Kapp Notes, October 21, 2007
  61. The writings of Lee Kraus: ContentTracking by the LMS- Learning and Technology, January 10, 2007
  62. Kineo Insights Webinar: The Truth About Open Source – a conversation with Sakai’s Executive Director- Learning Visions, February 25, 2010
  63. Should an LMS be the only route to learning?- Good Practice, December 9, 2009
  64. Learning Management Systems: Expert Advice- The eLearning Coach, April 28, 2010
  65. Dear Blackboard …- Dont Waste Your Time, September 20, 2009
  66. Adobe Captivate: Analyze and Chart Quiz Data Without an LMS, Part II- I Came, I Saw, I Learned, September 8, 2010
  67. Top 5 tips on how to make courses SCORM compliant- Spicy Learning, May 7, 2010
  68. Tackling a New Captivate Project- In the Middle of the Curve, August 21, 2009
  69. Open Source life, LMSs beyond Moodle- Learning Rocks, December 18, 2008
  70. Captivate 4 patch update- Adobe Captivate Blog, May 30, 2009
  71. Text messaging in your teaching- eLearning Acupuncture, March 24, 2009
  72. First eLearning- The Learning Circuits Blog, October 1, 2008
  73. SharePoint and the LMS - Time to Converge?, February 9, 2009
  74. Is Google Analytics the new LMS?!, April 27, 2010
  75. Is Google Analytics the next LMS? (continued), May 10, 2010
  76. SharePoint and the LMS - Time to Converge?, February 9, 2009
  77. The 21st century LMS, November 28, 2009
  78. The Future of the LMS, August 31, 2009
  79. OLAT: Swiss Quality Open Source LMS by Joƫl Fisler, February 24, 2010
  80. What do your learners want from the LMS?, August 17, 2009
  81. LMS is Dead! But Long Live LMS!, October 29, 2007
  82. SyberWorks LMS e-Learning Implementation Podcast #32 Preview, November 6, 2009
  83. Check It Once … Check It Twice: Your Guide to Choosing the Right LMS by Jessica Athey, July 6, 2010
  84. The Perfect Learning Management System (LMS), July 21, 2008
  85. LMS Spotlight: Litmos, September 10, 2010
  86. When Publishers Buy LMS Companies, October 28, 2009
  87. LMS is no longer the centre of the universe, May 4, 2010
  88. Friday ReFlects #2 - LMS Edition, May 28, 2010
  89. Why it’s hard to find an LMS, September 25, 2008
  90. Who Is Using Moodle? We are!, August 12, 2009
  91. LMS Customer Support Expectations, July 17, 2009
  92. eLearning Development News » Is Moodle your LMS?, May 7, 2007
  93. gLMS is coming - Google Gears, June 3, 2007
  94. Connectivist and Constructivist PLEs, September 21, 2010
  95. How to enrich your free Google based LMS, May 20, 2010
  96. Will at Work Learning: Elliott Masies LMS Wish List, February 15, 2008
  97. Facebook vs The LMS: Can Someone explain this to me?, March 20, 2010
  98. The LCMS at a Crossroads, March 10, 2009
  99. LMSs that kick ass: Saba, January 2, 2009
  100. Learning Management Systems that kick ass: Generation21, November 28, 2008
  101. Mobile Learning at the Tipping Point by Ara A. Ohanian, June 10, 2010
  102. Cut to 30% eLearning Development Costs, August 17, 2009
  103. Sakai: Open Source … Open Minds by Larissa Biggers, December 13, 2009
  104. New SyberWorks Media Center Article – “Hosted (SaaS) Vs. Licensed Cost Analysis of a Learning Management System/Learning Content Management System (LMS/LCMS)”, June 9, 2009
  105. Beyond Control?, April 30, 2009
  106. Justifying that LMS, October 13, 2009
  107. Kill Compliance Training, October 12, 2007
  108. Have LMSs Jumped The Shark?, March 20, 2009
  109. LMSs that kick ass:, December 26, 2008
  110. LMSs that kick ass: Meridian KSI, December 19, 2008
  111. Tracking Instructor-Led Classes in an LMS, July 19, 2008
  112. Moodle: A fantastic tool for informal learning - and not just “e-learning”, August 31, 2009
  113. LMSs that kick ass: ElementK’s KnowledgeHub, January 16, 2009
  114. LMSs that kick ass - OutStart, January 23, 2009
  115. Stats on LMS Costing & Implementation Time, May 3, 2010
  116. Camtasia - LMS - LCMS - Best of eLearning Learning August 2009, September 8, 2009
  117. The LCMS at a Crossroads, March 10, 2009
  118. Introducing the SCORM Cloud, December 9, 2009
  119. Thinking Out of the Box: How the University of British Columbia School of Nursing Created a Practice e-Portfolio by Fareed Teja, February 23, 2010

Related Topic Pages