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Friday, June 29, 2007

Better Conferences

The post / poll / discussion around having better conferences continues to grow. There are quite a few really good comments and the trackbacks from the post are really quite good. Discussion of Wifi issues at conferences, George Siemens lamenting about ED-MEDIA 2007, Jay Cross and Karl Kapp calling for an unconference in Monterey - and my suggestion to colocate with the eLearningGuild in Santa Clara/San Jose, a question of whether virtual conferences are better, and more. Great stuff.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Great Quote

In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

Al Rogers

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Diversity in Blogosphere?

I've run into the question of how diverse the voices are in the blogosphere before. In Blogs vs Discussion Groups someone said that blogs - “felt so … old white guys club." Janet Clarey's - Women’s Voices in the Edublogosphere points out that we have to think about who the women bloggers are - there are some really great women bloggers, but it would seem they are the minority.

I thought that was true in the Edublogger realm as well, but take a look at: Who’s Coming to Dinner - Survey Says! which suggests that there's actually better gender diversity than I thought - but not very good racial diversity.

Still when we get together for Beer Tasting at ASTD TechKnowledge, Boston, Beer - Bloggers - - it is definitely still feeling like a lot of middle age white guys.

Oh, and it's definitely middle aged NOT OLD.

Needed Skills for New Media

George Siemens post pointed me to Henry Jenkins New media literacies and indirectly to a white paper that provided the following list of needed skills for new media literacy:
  • Play — the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving
  • Performance — the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery
  • Simulation — the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes
  • Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content
  • Multitasking — the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details.
  • Distributed Cognition — the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities
  • Collective Intelligence — the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal
  • Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources
  • Transmedia Navigation — the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities
  • Networking — the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information
  • Negotiation — the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.
I saw Henry Jenkins speak at the eLearningGuild's Annual Gathering and I must confess that I was a bit critical. Henry was great at introducing the concepts of participatory culture - but he didn't really get into the implications of what this meant for all of us. So, I am very glad that George pointed me back here, because this gets into exactly what I was hoping for from him.

While Henry focuses primarily on students, the question is really important to all of us. In other words, in a world with Wikipedia, blogs, social networking, etc. - not to mention in a world of Google as the interface to knowledge - what new skills, techniques and tools do we need?

In looking at similar skills but with a slant towards the skills that knowledge workers need, I might rephrase them into the following list:
  • Work Integration — the ability to leverage social media and personal learning as part of problem solving
  • Meta-Learning — the ability to look at your own work and learning processes to continuously identify improvement opportunities
  • Simulation — the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes
  • Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix content as part of work and learning
  • Scanning — the ability to quickly scan from a wide variety of sources, to focus on salient details in order to maintain a broad picture and also to focus as needed to salient details.
  • Distributed Cognition — the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities
  • Collective Intelligence — the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal
  • Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources
  • Transmedia Navigation — the ability to follow the flow of information and conversation across multiple modalities
  • Networking Building — the ability to build a network of people who can help with a wide variety of needs
  • Network Access - the ability to quickly access your network for a variety of different kinds of needs in different ways using different tools
  • Negotiation — the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.
  • Knowledge Work - the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information as part of work processes that captures personal value, builds network, and collects appropriate feedback
Would it be fair to say that we have a responsibility to build these skills in ourselves? And help build these skills in others?

Isn't this what eLearning 2.0 is all about?

Leading a Horse to a Fire Hose ...

From a post - Professional Cat Herder -
In my line of work, corporate training, I have seen this first hand several times. Management scratching their heads because people aren’t taking advantage of the resources that are available. We have all heard the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” We just haven’t done a good job of telling the horse that it is hot and drinking now will prevent thirst in the immediate future. Its not the horse’s fault for not knowing this, its ours for not sharing this information.
I think this is something that we've all seen and lived. But this is becoming more and more challenging of an issue. As Harold Jarche just pointed to in his blog - Learning 2.0 Value Chain -
Reward attention, because it’s everything on the Web
Attention is a big issue. There is a fire hose full of information available to everyone today and we all think our part of the fire hose is important. So we can lead the horse to the fire hose, but should we expect them to drink it all? And can we really say that the information we are providing is particularly important? And is it important right now? Or should it be available in the minimum about just when they need it as a reference? And how would they find it at that point? Oh, and keep in mind that they won't find it through the LMS?

It's a funny change that's going on ... quite a change of mind set - of course, it's hard to break habits. I find myself grappling with this all the time. In the messages in this blog and in my speaking about the importance of building new learning and work skills - growing personal work and learning environments - etc - should I expect to get some attention? Should I expect to get some change of behavior? Or is this a futile effort that's a small part of the fire hose that is a nice to have in a world of have-to-have only?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

eLearning 2.0 - An Immediate, Important Shift

I just finished reading a blog post on Read/Write Web - eLearning 2.0 - All You Need to Know. Normally, I find the content on R/WW to be pretty good, but this time, it left me a bit flat.

I'm a big believer in eLearning 2.0 and it's interesting to R/WW's take on eLearning 2.0. But the title - "everything you need to know" was a particularly bad choice of words. As you read through the post, you really don't get any sense for what eLearning 2.0 is all about. They talk about things like Nuuvo (more or less an LMS), Google Apps (online applications) as examples of eLearning 2.0 applications. Without some explanation of how they might be used in an eLearning 2.0 way this probably hurts more than helps.

What might be more valuable to the readers of R/WW is to focus on the fairly fundamental shift represented by eLearning 2.0 which is very similar to the shift represented by Web 2.0. After that shift is better explained, then look at how different tools and systems might support people who are making the shift (learners) or people who are responsible for helping others make the shift (corporate training / educators). At the end of the day, eLearning 2.0 is much more than would be indicated by reading about the applications listed in this post.

But what really got to me about reading the post by R/WW was that it was easy to read it and come away with a belief that eLearning 2.0 is all about adoption of these applications. Which to many people equates to "it's about them."

And that's a problem. The most important thing to understand about eLearning 2.0 is that it is an immediately applicable and important shift in learning that applies right here and right now for most knowledge workers. Adopting a practice like blogging as a personal learning and networking tool or adopting Personal and Group Learning Using Web 2.0 Tools as a means to support collaborative work teams is something that is an immediate and important shift for knowledge workers - and that's you!

The bottom line is that eLearning 2.0 is not about a bunch of applications, it's about adopting practices that leverage these applications to support work and learning in new, powerful ways.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ideas on Making Conferences Better are Flowing

In case you've missed the conversation on Better Conferences. There are some fantastic ideas flowing. Come join the conversation.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Value of Blogging - Thanks Tracy

As you know, I've started Pushing Harder for People to Blog - at my recent presentations, I've really pushed people hard. Luckily a few people take me up on my suggestion - and what makes me happy is when I see things like Tracy Hamilton saying
I attended the eLearning Guild’s Annual Gathering this year and one presentation really hit home for me. The speaker mentioned that since he had started blogging, a year previous, he had learned more from blogging and reading the blogs of peers than he had in his entire academic career. I though to myself “Ya, right? Who’s going to believe that?” He knew the audience was thinking the same thing and said to just try it and experience it yourself.

So the first thing I did upon my return was start my own and behold he was right. I truly believe I have learned a great deal from this simple process. Blogging is a wonderful way to learn directly from one another. Each day I read many different postings from people I then can summarize, analyze, draw my own conclusion and post my own ideas and thoughts on those same topics. By doing this one simple example of peer-to-peer learning/teaching I am able to learn a many new things each day and expand my existing knowledge on those topics of which I am already aware.
Tracy slightly misquoted me - I actually talked about the Big Question around Blogging and some of the responses - see Top Ten Reasons To Blog and Top Ten Not to Blog - particularly:
Karyn Romeis & Barry Sampson both said - I’ve learned more via blogging over the past year than I learned in the preceding several years!
Read more from Tracy on this in: eLearning 2.0 - I'm trying to DO IT

Monday, June 18, 2007

Better Conferences - Response Needed

I'm pretty sure it's not just me... I believe we can build better conferences. And, I need you to help by doing one or more of the following:
  • provide a response to the poll below (won't show in an RSS feed - sorry)
  • provide suggestions for what you'd like to see in future conferences (add comment).
If you don't vote, then we'll assume you either will never go to a conference or think that every conference is just great as it is.

I am talking to conference organizers fairly often and I'm sure they'd love to hear your frank opinions.

If you've been a reader of my blog for a while, you may have figured out that I'm almost continually surprised by what I consider to be obvious problems with the conferences I regularly attend - and no offense to the eLearningGuild, ASTD, etc. - because most conferences have these same problems.

Certainly a big part of the issue is that attendees are quite willing to hop on a plane to attend a conference, but are much less willing to spend time preparing. If you talk to any conference organizer, they will tell you that it's almost impossible to get people to spend time ahead of a conference preparing. So, while my suggestions in Be an Insanely Great Professional Conference Attendee, Conference Preparation and Better Questions for Learning Professionals may be theoretically correct, in practice they don't stand a chance.

But this really does make you wonder. And, I'm not alone. Dave Pollard tells us:

The self-initiated learner can now often learn more in an hour's online research than in an hour listening to the most profound and articulate expert. And while some don't have the skill or interest in doing such research, and are willing to pay money to hear someone step them through something they could teach themselves for free in the same time, the freeing of information has raised expectations and lowered the satisfaction of many audiences with formal conference presentations and panels.

And, don't tell me that you've not felt that you could have spent your hour's worth of time in a session in front of a computer and received much more value by just searching on the keywords being used in the session.

Now, I'm personally not ready to throw in the towel on conferences. I still feel that Face to Face Still Matters. But I believe we need to see some changes in order to make the conference experience a better use of time.

Some some initial thoughts/suggestions -

1. Experts Only Time

Most conferences attract 50% newbies. So most sessions have to bring along newbies. Let the newbies have their time, but create opportunities for the experts to exchange.

Mark Oehlert and Tom Crawford suggested that we do a day prior to the conference and only invite experts. We are all willing to help make this happen. We think that doing this similar to an unconference style or doing it around The Big Question type topics where we get to exchange ideas with other experts in the field would be a fantastic learning and networking experience.

2. Unconference within a Conference

Unconferences allow the participants to present themselves on particular topics. I'd suggest we learn from this kind of exchange, but that we do it a little different. Here's my current thinking:
  • Have a morning of the first day session aimed at a particular audience segment, e.g., managers of corporate eLearning, facilitated by me and someone else that will help them identify their key issues, big questions and also identify topics they would want to discuss with others, what they would be willing to present as a case study to be discussed, or a topic where they might want to lead a discussion. Alone, this would have value in just identifying what they need to focus on. A mini strategic planning session.
  • We would then take these topics and establish cracker-barrel sessions that look at particular issues, e.g., how do you structure your eLearning production, centralized vs. distributed. You could probably do 25 minute exchanges in small groups around these topics and get tremendous value from each other. Yes, this would take a lot more work. No you don't get to just sit in the audience. But, wouldn't this be a good use of time?
  • Also, wouldn't it be great to have this list of issues just to know what everyone is facing. And as a presenter, it would be great to know the key issues that people are facing.
3. Better Fun Activities

I'm not sure that I know how to make this happen for more attendees, but Beer Tasting at ASTD TechKnowledge, Boston, Beer - Bloggers - and similar things at ASTD in Atlanta were definitely fun. Getting together with other experts over some beer was great. Having a really great Southern dinner at ASTD and talking about the implications of eLearning 2.0 was great.

Part of this is being able to connect with people who you will have good conversations with. Part of this is having fun activities that are actually fun and allow for good conversation. Food and beer/wine seem to help. But the typical conference thing, with a little bit of food and one drink ticket (and why just one - how about 3 or 4 - and add that into the cost) just doesn't work all that well. And finding people to talk to around particular topics never seems to work either. And, I'm not convinced that Conference Networking Tools really helps with this.

4. Passionate Keynotes aimed at Us

There's some really incredible stuff going on in our field right now. Learning is changing. Technology for learning is changing. This is an exciting time to be part of this field. While Jim Collins was inspiring at ASTD (and probably much more inspiring if you haven't read Good to Great). However, there's a big leap from what he was talking about to taking action as a member of this community.

While I know that getting big name speakers is a tried-and-true formula for conferences, I'm tired of feeling like I'm seeing entertainment rather than getting value. I'd much rather hear from luminaries in our industry talking about real issues that we are facing and firing us up about the real opportunities. Or maybe I'm the only one who is excited about what's happening here.

5. Demos

One of the reasons for my recent Big Question - Examples of eLearning? was that it is often hard to see demonstrations of what everyone else is doing. I like that the eLearningGuild at DevLearn has done a room full of demonstrations in the past. Some are really good. Some not as good. I liked going to a presentation by the folks from Brandon Hall that showed demonstrations of award winning projects. However, as I discussed in Award for the Best and Worst Presentation - the fact that the people weren't there to give context made it frustrating. What would be even better is to invite a few folks like Will Thalheimer to a session where some different pieces were presented and we could hear what's good and bad about them. Another good one with demonstrations is Judy Brown showing a bunch of mobile learning applications.

One thing that I would require as a conference organizer is to have demonstrations near the beginning of a session. How many sessions do you sit through a lot of blah, blah waiting for them to demo something cool? Then they finally demo near the end and it's not interesting at all.

6. Expert (or Crowd) Produced Cheat Sheets for Sessions and Expo

As I wandered around the expo hall at ASTD, what I really wanted was help in finding anything that was new/different. Seeing a bunch of custom vendors, niche off-the-shelf content folks, etc., made it hard to find much that was new or different. Because Bob Becker from Becker Multimedia had approached me before the conference, I at least got to see his device used to record customer interactions on something that looks like an iPod and then you can use the recording much like you do in a call center. A good idea. Something new and different.

But, what else was new and different in the expo? What would be worth checking out? The way you find out is by talking to people informally over lunch or dinner. Why don't we have a few experts ahead of the conference talk to the vendors and create a cheat sheet to help us make sense of the expo? Or we could allow attendees to post (twitter?) with cool things they are finding?

Doing this for sessions would be a bit more difficult, because it would have to be done ahead of the session. Finding out over lunch that there was a great session that you missed doesn't help. So, again, maybe we rely on experts ahead of time to go through the content that is going to be presented and create notes, a cheat sheet or something like that. It might help the presenters too. We could also allow things to be tagged with something like - demo at the end. But even better would be demo at the end and probably not worth seeing.

7. Free Wifi

Need I say more on this.


Okay, what did I miss? Add a comment below. And please fill in the poll.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Emergent Knowledge Management

There's been a long running discussion around what Knowledge Management is going to look like going forward and whether big systems that manage knowledge are going to be there. For example, see Bill Ives’ recent post, and Paula Thorton.

As I read through these, I began to wonder what happened to the idea that KM was going to move along the lines of what Andrew McAfee talks about around Enterprise 2.0. I had imagined that we would provide relatively simple, free-form tools like Wikis, blogs. Structure would come from a layer on top such as social bookmarking and digg, and, of course, from search across unstructured content. There would be tools like social networks that would allow us to find people inside and outside the enterprise. KM would become more of an issue of how you provide structure and get leverage on these free-form tools.

This vision aligns well with what I see happening in eLearning - Direction of eLearning - Emergence or Big System Tacit workers will use their PWLE to work and learn and it will be up to us to figure out how to aggregate and provide structure to leverage this information into valuable content for others in the organization.

Am I missing something here? Do we really think that there will be a new wave of Enterprise Knowledge Management or other big systems?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Quality and Web 2.0

In a post by Will Richardson - Web 2.0 as “Cultural and Intellectual Catastrophe” he points to a recent post by Andrew Keen - the author of the Cult of the Amateur. Andrew tells us -
it’s obvious that Web 2.0 is a cultural and intellectual catastrophe
The basic issue is experts vs. collective intelligence. As Michael Gorman tells us in Web 2.0: The Sleep of Reason, Part I:
reference works were not only created by scholars and published by reputable publishers
One point of caution - this is all being published on Britannica's blogs - which has a vested interest in maintaining a Cult of the Expert. At the same time, this echoes what I read recently in The Chronicle - New Metrics of Scholarly Authority - Michael Jensen -
right now we're still living with the habits of information scarcity because that's what we have had for hundreds of years. Scholarly communication before the Internet required the intermediation of publishers. The costliness of publishing became an invisible constraint that drove nearly all of our decisions. It became the scholar's job to be a selector and interpreter of difficult-to-find primary and secondary sources; it was the scholarly publisher's job to identify the best scholars with the best perspective and the best access to scarce resources.
The publishers and peer review assured the quality of what is produced. In Web 2.0, quality theoretically comes from public review and scrutiny.

This is exactly the issue many of us face in the development of training. We are the experts. We validate the quality of the content. Without us in the mix, how do we know that the content being created by learners is accurate, of high quality, appropriate, etc.

These are fair questions for us to ask, and there certainly is a problem when experts are drowned out by a group of people who have more time and interest in pushing for alternative views.

At the same time, one of the people commenting on Will's post said:
To me Web 2.0 is new tools. It’s how we use them, not the tools themselves, that matters.
I'm not sure it's that simple. What's changed is that there now are incredibly easy to use tools that allow all of us to be content creators. There is an incredible flood of content. And it gets produced incredibly quickly.

Print publishing cycles and normal kinds of peer review are simply too slow to be a reasonable filter on the communication. Instead, we get many-to-many communication that is fundamentally different than what we've had before.

I also believe that something else is changing - access to resources. My son's ability to access California Gold Rush Historic Maps from the David Rumsey Map Collection to do his report on routes taken to the Gold Rush is something that none of us had when we were in 4th grade. Spending 10 minutes to zoom into the description on the Map of the Gold Regions of California, Showing the Routes via Chagres and Panama, Cape Horn, &c. was an incredible experience for my son. Add to it that he updated Wikipedia with an additional route and a link to the map collection.

I would be curious to see what Britannica has on this topic. The information I could get to without having to enter a credit card didn't mention the route through Mexico. But more than that, having the link to that map and the collection of maps is something that Britannica will have a hard time replicating.

I do believe that there's still need for expertise, review, authoritative sources. But there's also a valuable place for the speed, breadth, depth and network in Web 2.0. Certainly, I'd much rather scan the blogs in my blogroll than read a copy of Training Magazine. The magazine content never can go into as much depth, it can't cover as many topics, the content is at least six months old and it doesn't allow me to engage in a conversation around it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ray Sims - Ongoing Series of his PWLE

I never know what kinds of things to link to in my blog posts, but definitely if you've not been checking out Ray Sim's recent posts where he dives into how he uses different tools as part of his PWLE.
Taking a look at some of his early posts around personal learning and doing environments is also time well spent if you are interested in learning how to learn.

I love how Ray translates concepts into practice. He did similar things around informal learning a while ago. Good stuff Ray!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

PLE - PWLE Discussion Contiunes - Corporate vs Personal and IP Rights

This continues the discussion being had around PLE/PWLEs - see More Discussion on Personal Work Learning Environments for a bit of recap.

Tom Haskins has a series of interesting posts - on the topic:First, I have to jump on the comments in these posts by Stephen Downes and Michelle Martin. Stephen tells us...
Clearly this is a different use of PLE's than those outside the firewall, for free rangers, and for learning from everything of personal interest.

And they are not, therefore, PLEs.

A PLE that is 'inside the enterprise' is a contradiction in terms.
and Michelle says ...
I have to agree with Stephen here. What is the most engaging to me about PLEs is that they put power into the hands of individuals, rather than corporations...
First - let's clarify when we talk about "inside the enterprise" what does this term mean. It could mean -
  1. Only available to employees inside the enterprise with no ability to reach people outside the enterprise.
  2. Tools provide by the enterprise that will sometimes reach outside the enterprise to give public visibility.
I believe we are all talking about option #2. The enterprise provides tools to employees that they can use as part of the PWLE. This is already done all the time.

Second - while I would expect Stephen to argue about the issue of control (see below for why corporations likely will want access, ownership, control), I'm surprised to see him argue that the same tools provide by the corporation or access completely independent of the corporation changes it from a PLE to not being a PLE. I could understand an argument that it would be preferable for individuals to be able to use the same tools outside the corporation for personal interests - but I don't see his argument that it is no longer a PLE or PWLE.

Third, Michelle, while there is definitely an issue of loss of content if you (as an individual) use tools provided by the corporation, I disagree that this does not still empower an individual's learning in a substantial way. Even if this isn't ideal (to you and Stephen), it still doesn't turn it into "not a PLE."

In PLEs are power tools Tom tells us ... I'm on the same page as Cammy Bean about Personal Learning Environments:
So all the talk about tools and maps has struck me as odd. How do we quantify or control something that is so unique to each of us? For me, I add -- why bother? Just do it.
This kind of argument strikes me as odd. Learning is certainly very individual, does that mean we should help people learn how to learn? We've spent centuries studying this and we spend years teaching people these skills in schools. While Tom is right that "Life is my PLE", that doesn't free all of us from understanding how these new tools, techniques, skills, the network, the understanding of who vs. what, etc. has changed learning and in reality how it changes tacit work. Let's find the patterns here and help some folks. Certainly posts like Michelle's wonderful - My Personal Learning Environment or even my Personal and Group Learning Using Web 2.0 Tools are helpful in us finding patterns.

Andy Roberts posts - More Discussion on Personal Work Learning Environments where he juxtaposes Jay Cross’s comments:
Pitting individuals against corporations is not productive. Nor is the implication that businesses are out to steal workers’ intellectual property.
versus my question:
.. if people will adopt these tools and approaches over time, then as a corporation, if you want to be able to keep the content after an employee leaves, especially blog content … then shouldn’t you make sure you provide these tools now rather than having tools adopted that are outside the firewall and personally owned where you will lose the content if the employee leaves?
There were a few comments in Blogging Inside or Outside the Corporate Firewall that help to highlight the issues we are dealing with: Karyn Romeis said...
Hmm. I'm worried about the labelling of the various LEs. This speaks of clearcut boundaries. The separation of for-work learning from other learning. I would have trouble separating a PWLE from the rest of my life, let alone the rest of my learning.
I think this highlights, but also confuses the problem. I can't separate my work from my learning except in unusual circumstances such as going to a class. Most of the time, I am doing things like researching topics that relate to issues that face my clients. It is clearly both learning and work. Tacit workers do both at the same time. Thus, there's no separation between a PLE and a PWLE. I'm suggesting the term PWLE because it highlights this exact issue. So, I agree with Karyn that you can't separate the two.

Karyn continues with ...
Also, by saying that a learning environment needs to be "set up" imputes a measure of formality that I'm not sure is warranted.
What I'm suggesting is that learning departments should provide ready access to a set of tools and help employees (through training, resources, guide-by-the-side, etc.) learn how to use these tools and build skills in employees that ultimately makes them better tacit workers. Yes this does provide some formality to it. As a community, we need to think of ways to help people get better at learning.

Karyn continues ...
Because my learning journey is lifewide as well as lifelong, it existed before any formal structures were set in place - either by me or my employer. Not only does it follow me from job to job, but it follows me home, and to university and to church and behind the mic at band practice and and and....
Fantastic point! So, if we provide tools and skill building for learners that can be used as part of their work-learning, these same tools naturally would be useful in all sorts of other tacit work activities. So, as an individual, I may want to have these same tools and skills to be available to me outside the corporation's control to support personal work-learning activities. This is going to cause some friction. Likely you will get supported in some corporations to help you use their tools that will allow the corporation to have on-going access to the work-product. They won't want you to do personal work-learning in these tools. So you will end up with two sets of similar tools.

Finally Karyn tells us ...
The concept of a formalised PLE (or PWLE or PXLE) speaks to me more of training and less of learning. My employer might have a form of LMS which might include a space referred to as my PLE, but I don't restrict myself to it. Just as my life is bigger than my job, so my learning is bigger than any formalised environment that exists, on or offline.
This is the only part I really have issue with. Providing a blogging tool and helping employees to learn how to use this as part of their PWLE would seem like a great idea for many corporations. Maybe this is the whole issue of the The Paradox of Informal Learning (Form of Informal?). Karyn is not comfortable with trying to understand how to support PWLEs because it might formalize it too much?

Mark Prasatik said...
Well I have to admit that this conversation frustrates me a little bit. I think that all people have a PLE just as Stephen, Jay Cross and others have said. Nothing new there even if it's only a cell phone and TV. I also think that the explosion of Web 2.0 tools has created incentive for many of us to move much of that PLE online and at the same time add the PWLE part as well.
Great points, although again, I'm not sure what "add the PWLE part" means. Mark continues...
Companies used to own the PWLE because it was on their computers, network etc., but now that it's online the genie will be out of the bottle. The PWLE will be more the responsibility of the learner and will also be more the property of the learner except where intellectual property rights are concerned. Maybe this PLE/PWLE gets taught/encouraged from within many environments (school, work, non-profits) as a way to promote a good life much in the way we treat health issues.
Mark points us to the exact problem. The corporation used to be able to know that the work product created as part of tacit work would be retained on their computers. Now, if we use web services and we have every employee create their own blog that they control, we could easily see situations where the work product is no longer available to the corporation after the employee leaves.

I just saw a really good post on this by Mark -PLE/PWLE debate and my thoughts that highlights the issue and I think helps us separate some of the issues.

Somehow, lot's of people are not comfortable with considering the issue of the rights the Corporation should have to Intellectual Property that is created as part of work and learning efforts done while employed or in a work-for-hire situation. Clearly a corporation has a reasonable expectation that work done while they are paying you should be done on their behalf. They should have rights to the end work product.

If one of my employees creates something for us or for our clients on a for-pay basis, you had better believe that there's an expectation that the owner expects to have continued access to the work product after the employee leaves. Has that somehow been changed or suspended?

Of course, it has always been a little dicey dealing with things that people have inside their heads and where the line can be drawn if they go to a new corporation or go out on their own. I can't claim any great insights into this part of the complex issue.

What's really interesting here is that blogs, used as part of a personal work learning environment (PWLE), will bring this issue front and center. Corporations could lose access to significant, captured IP that will exist in the blogs of employees if those blogs sit outside the firewall and are controlled by the individual. When the employee leaves, they could theoretically take the content down and the corporation would no longer have access to that resource - to all of the ideas, thoughts, learning of that employee captured in the blog.

Naturally, most corporations are reasonably going to want to keep access. Maybe that simply means making copies of personal blogs that are archived by the corporation in case the employee leaves. In other words, maybe all we do is keep a copy of all RSS feeds, social bookmarks, wiki pages, etc. under the control of the corporation. I would guess that this will start to happen as corporations deal with the proliferation of web services.

The more likely scenario in the near-term is that corporations (and their learning departments) will provide tools to employees (a blogging tool for example) and will encourage their employees to use those tools (as opposed to using tools that the individual controls). This is already being done. And, likely will increase over the next few years.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Couple Links

Karl Fisch - 21st Century Skills

Look at how many of them are learning how to learn.

The Knowledge Building Paradigm: A Model of Learning for Net Generation Students

Subscription is required, but the article is pretty interesting. Talks about net generation will learn. I'm certainly seeing this with my kids.

More Discussion on Personal Work Learning Environments

There's some great discussion happening around the issues of control and resulting ownership of work product as we create personal work learning environments.

This has made me wonder... if people will adopt these tools and approaches over time, then as a corporation, if you want to be able to keep the content after an employee leaves, especially blog content ... then shouldn't you make sure you provide these tools now rather than having tools adopted that are outside the firewall and personally owned where you will lose the content if the employee leaves?

Update on Software Simulations Tools

I'm never sure what updates people will see, but I wanted to alert people that I've made a small update to my page: Software Simulation eLearning (w/ links to Tools)

The update primarily added some data from the eLearningGuilds Research at the bottom of the page - eLearning Tools Satisfaction. This shows satisfaction among tools that fall into categories related to software simulation: screen capture, electronic performance support (EPSS) and simulation. There are some definite issues with some of these tools not really being for the same purpose, but I was looking to get Assima (which comes under EPSS) listed next to Captivate, Camtasia, etc.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Blogging Inside or Outside the Corporate Firewall

Stephen Downes commented on my recent post - Personal Work and Learning Environments (PWLE) - More Discussion and said -
I am opposed to the trend coming from the corporate learning side of the house to treat PLEs as work tools. What is it about people in corporate learning that they feel the need to perpetuate the attitude of servitude it seems all learners must adopt. We don't exist to work for a corporation; our learning, our minds, our most valuable asset of all, ought to serve our own purposes first and foremost. But I guess it's employers, not employees, paying the bills for corporate e-learning consultants, and they wanna hear what they wanna hear. Meanwhile - for the rest of us - the reason we call them personal learning environments is that they are indended to serve our needs, not someone else's.
It was interesting to read this because when I was writing about a PLE really also supporting my work - I didn't think of it in the context of ownership of the work product. It is an interesting issue. I'm sure that some employers would prefer to own the blog, i.e., it's a Sun Computer owned blogging system, therefore when you leave Sun you leave your content behind. I don't personally think this is the right direction for individuals and in my recent presentations on eLearning 2.0, I suggested in my examples for what this looks like in a corporate environment that people use a tool like Blogger. There's a side benefit of doing this in that you can keep the content beyond your current job. You have to make the content be somewhat generic since it's public.

I did suggest that they would either use a Wiki behind the firewall or use a password protected Wiki - because that's where the work product goes.

I didn't really consider in my presentation the implications of ownership around this content, but it feels like a natural separation given the constraints of many corporate environments.

Stephen's very much correct about a PLE being for the person. It is going to be a challenge for corporations to come to grips with the ownership of the learning if it is captured in a system. Certainly, if it's in your brain, you leave with it. If it's captured in a system inside the corporate firewall, it won't go outside. I'm sure there will be some interesting discussion around this in the future.

Creating a Blog on Blogger

Great little video from folks at Google that shows how to create a blog on Blogger.

This is both a good example of a brief eLearning piece, but also helpful if you are considering creating a blog.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Fourth Grader Wikipedia Update

I just wanted to relate something that I think shows the power of a Wiki in general and Wikipedia particularly.

My son, in 4th grade here in California, was assigned a research report on the California Gold Rush and decided to focus his report on the different routes taken by the 49ers. He used a variety of different resources and particularly used the California Gold Rush Historic Maps from the David Rumsey Map Collection. There is one map in particular that has an incredible description written in 1849 of the different routes: Map of the Gold Regions of California, Showing the Routes via Chagres and Panama, Cape Horn, &c. If you are into maps, this is a fun one to drill down on to see the description.

Of course, my son read the Wikipedia California Gold Rush page (it comes up first in Google). It had a paragraph on the routes, but it didn't include the route through Mexico. It did point us to a detailed article on the California Trail. Because it was rather limited about the routes, my son added a sentence about the route through Mexico and added the Map to the Wikimedia Commons and added the map to the article and added a link to the collection of maps on the topic.

Now 4th graders doing the same project will be able to find that same wonderful primary source.

It's actually somewhat rare that a 4th grader has a primary source like the map, so it's quite a nice little legacy to leave behind. Actually, I don't remember having anything as cool as that to study when I was in school. It's quite remarkable when I think about it.

And it shows the beauty of a Wiki and Wikipedia.

Blogging - I'm Pushing Harder Now

For people reading my blog for a while, if you had been at my recent ASTD presentation on eLearning 2.0 - you would have heard a much stronger appeal for learning professionals to blog as compared to a gentler push that I was giving last fall. When I asked The Big Question for October: Should All Learning Professionals Be Blogging? and then posted some of my thoughts in Should All Learning Professionals be Blogging? while I suggested that YOU should, I didn't push. In my summary of the responses to the Big Question - Top Ten Reasons To Blog and Top Ten Not to Blog - I again didn't push all that hard, though there is an obvious bias.

The reason that I find myself pushing harder is that I believe the evidence is mounting that it's an incredible personal learning practice.

Take a look at what Janet Clarey had to say after her first 100 days - Debriefing myself…a noob’s experience after 100-ish days of blogging:
There is a palpable difference between reading/lurking and writing that I had not fully anticipated. The difference is in the learning experience. If I were to return to a corporate training job I would blog and get others blogging. Culture be damned!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Personal Work and Learning Environments (PWLE) - More Discussion

I've run across a few different posts talking about Personal Work and Learning Environments which I have tentatively started to call PWLE - pronounced p-whale.

Tom Haskins in PLEs are power tools and Cammy Bean in Be the Node tell us:
So all the talk about tools and maps has struck me as odd. How do we quantify or control something that is so unique to each of us? For me, I add -- why bother? Just do it.
The reason why I think it's worth us talking about tools and maps and basically what is your PWLE (p-whale) is that it's helpful for us to figure out how to support our own personal work and learning. This is much like all the discussion around personal productivity tools, but in this case it is more focused on research oriented work that requires learning as a component of the activity.

Michelle Martin has a wonderful post - The Psychology and Skills of Personal Learning Environments and it's definitely worth looking at some of her earlier posts on the topic that you can find through the link. Michelle also expresses concern around the focus on tools:

What I've noticed in the conversation about PLEs is that there's a lot going on around trying to get a handle on the tools for personal learning and how we use them. There's a great deal of discussion about whether or not a PLE should be a single tool or a collection of tools loosely joined.
And points us back to Stephen Downes and the skills that we need to learn to be successful in this new world. That's a great point by Michelle and a fantastic list by Stephen:

Here he talks about the skills that we should be learning for success in this new world in which we live:
  • Predicting consequences
  • Reading for deep understanding
  • Distinguishing truth from fiction
  • Empathy
  • Creativity
  • Communicating clearly
  • Learning how to learn
  • Healthy Living (which isn't fear and anxiety-based)
  • Valuing Yourself
  • Living meaningfully--as in having a purpose in life.
But I think we need to add to this discussion more around the specific kinds of actions that we take as individuals on different types of tasks and how this relates to our PWLE (p-Whale).

We can use a models from the PKM world like the PKM skills from Steve Barth:
  • retrieving information
  • evaluating/assessing information
  • organizing information
  • analyzing information
  • presenting information
  • securing information
  • collaborating around information
Or something more along the lines of Jeremy Hiebert's:
  • Collecting
  • Reflecting
  • Connecting
  • Publishing
I believe there's quite a bit of commonality among the kinds of tasks we deal with (at an abstract level) and we need to help each other figure out how we can effectively and efficiently work through these tasks as individuals, as work teams, as part of a larger ecosystem. This is talked about a bit in Personal and Group Learning Using Web 2.0 Tools - which is something I often refer to during presentations.

Bottom line for me - the discussion of process, tools, skills is very helpful and the more specific people can be, the better. I also am finding myself ever more convinced that we are discussing basically the same thing being discussed in PKM circles and even some overlap with productivity. I'm not quite happy yet with PWLE (p-Whale) as a unifying term - but I prefer it to either PLE or PKM because both of those seem to be taken; somewhat limited in their scope and also seem to imply separation from day-to-day work. One key here is Knowledge Work is Not Separate from Learning.

Tips on Developing a Wiki Community

Found via Stephen Downes - Tips On Developing A Wiki Community.

E-learning 2.0: Fact, Fad or Fiction?

Found via Donald Clark's Images, Crowds, Cognitive Bias, eLearning 2.0, & Networks - E-learning 2.0: Fact, Fad or Fiction?

I've not had time to read through this nor give any thought to it. But what I found ironic was the suggestion at the bottom of the article to send an email with your thoughts. How 1.0? I hope the rest of the article is better than that.

eLearing 2.0 - Great Response and Some Feedback

I did my eLearning 2.0 presentation at ASTD 2007. There were over 200 people and it was standing room only. Someone told me that lots of folks couldn't get in. Lots of good energy in the room. The audience was about half very new people to training and eLearning and the rest had varying levels of experience. Most of the audience wasn’t familiar with social bookmarking. About half were familiar with blogs and Wikis, but very few had any experience.

By in large feedback was VERY positive which is gratifying. I took suggestions from the LCB Big Question - PowerPoint: What is Appropriate? When and Why? and PowerPoint More Questions to heart and tried to improve my presentation.

Some of the positive feedback was:

Tony should be a KEYNOTE SPEAKER

and they did write it with all caps. And

Best info I have ever heard!

Those are maybe a bit over the top, but there was certainly quite a bit of positive feedback among the participants. And there was clear energy in the room. But also some strong skeptics. Which, if you believe Seth Godin, means you likely are doing something right.

But there was also quite a bit of constructive criticism too, which is always what I spend my time on. I try to digest it and figure out what I can/should do different going forward.

1. Tried to Cover too Much

Many people said that I tried to cover too much and didn’t get enough into how/where/when to apply eLearning 2.0 approaches. That’s a completely valid criticism. In 75 minutes, it was impossible to both introduce the tools to people who are not familiar with them and discuss in any depth where they apply. One really good suggestion was to break it up into two sessions:

  • eLearning 2.0 Introduction
  • eLearning 2.0 Applications

I did something along these lines (two presentations) at ASTD TechKnowledge 2007, but many people came to the Applications presentation without having attended the 101 presentation. I would love to know that everyone coming into the Applications session know the content covered in the Introduction session.

I’m excited about doing an eLearning 2.0 Applications Session. I’m thinking about structuring it around three levels of application:

  • Individual - You
  • Work Group – Your Team
  • Organization – Your Job

I’m going to be working on this: figuring out great examples that are highly relevant; maybe looking for a co-presenter; searching for sources.

At the same time, I’m going to struggle with what is best to present in 60 or 75 minutes. I think there’s a fantastic keynote presentation in there about the eLearning 2.0 Revolution – but it can’t get into a lot of the detail that I also love. I think there’s a couple other 60 or 75 minute presentations that will have slightly different focus. Go through the tools faster. It’s hard. I’m still going to have to work on this.

2. More time for Discussion / Questions

Some of the questions in the feedback –

  • What about intellectual property rights?
  • Any issues w/ content quality?
  • You didn't get back to implications in education.

3. Handouts

The conference hadn’t printed enough handouts. At the start of my session I told everyone that I would be happy to email them a copy and that I had made some changes and if they wanted those changes, just drop me a card and I would email them. And I will.

In the feedback, many people complained about running out. They also complained about the changes. The changes were relatively small – I still kept all the same links – the outline didn’t change. Still many complaints came in about that.

4. Speaking Style

I speak very fast. Some people are okay with that style, but international audience members had a hard time following me. I hadn’t considered that 20% of the audience would be international. Of course, that’s going to be a big conflict with my issues of time.

Other issues of speaking style:

  • Remember to repeat all questions.
  • Waved pointer too fast

I want to thank everyone who spent time giving feedback. There were a lot of evaluations. And those who spent the time to write down a thought or two – positive or constructive is greatly appreciated.

Of course, what would be even more gratifying is to see comments and blog posts from people in the room. Did anything actually happen at the end of the discussion? Out of ASTD TK 2007 and the eLearningGuild, I know at least a few people have taken my presentation to heart. Let's see if that's true with ASTD.

Just saw this - ASTD Internation 2007 - Sunday, June 3rd 2007
and this - Here at ASTD...first session reviews...Ruth Clark and Tony Karrer...
and this - eLearning 2.0
and - eLearning 2.0

Cool that these came up so fast.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Off to ASTD in Atlanta

I'm heading out to ASTD in Atlanta tomorrow after I do a keynote tomorrow morning here in Los Angeles for the ASTD eLearning Bootcamp. I hope if you read this and you are going to either one, you will introduce yourself.