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Monday, July 30, 2007

Interesting Paradox - Choices

Gladwell - TED Talk - Malcolm Gladwell talks about providing choices that people don't even know that they want.

Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central belief of western societies: that freedom of choice leads to personal happiness. In Schwartz's estimation, all that choice is making us miserable. We set unreasonably high expectations, question our choices before we even make them, and blame our failures entirely on ourselves. His relatable examples, from consumer products (jeans, TVs, salad dressings) to lifestyle choices (where to live, what job to take, whom and when to marry), underscore this central point: Too many choices undermine happiness.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Understanding eLearning 2.0

My article - Understanding eLearning 2.0 - was just published on ASTD's Learning Circuits.

I would like to thank readers of this blog for helping with contributions. As I said in the article:


This article would not have been possible without considerable discussion and input from many different people who have taken part in discussion around this topic via the blogosphere. For example, in the discussion on the blog post, "e-learning 1.0 vs. 2.0 - Help Needed," you can see that Howard Cronin provided the analogy of AM/FM, CD, and iPod adaptor. Thanks, and I look forward to the continued conversation.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Aide RSS Filtering Tool

AideRSS looks at a variety of sources of information including comments, technorati, bloglines, icerocket and to determine what posts are generating the most interest. It provides a widget that allows you to show your top posts for month or year. You can see what it thinks are mine in the right column of the blog.

I've been creating similar information manually for a while, so it's nice to have an automated support for it.

I've not quite figured out how to take a very large list of blogs, e.g., all edublogs, and have it filter those down. It imports OPML, but the interface didn't seem intuitive. I'll let you know if that works later.

Change Your RSS Feed?

A while ago, I created a feedburner feed for this blog so I could add lots of stuff to the feed - most importantly I publish a daily summary of my new links. It appears that most people still point to my Blogspot feed.

I would suggest that readers of this blog might want to change over to the FeedBurner feed to get this added functionality:

Monday, July 23, 2007

How Wikipedia Works and Wikis in the Enterprise - HBS

Great article - How Wikipedia Works (or Doesn't) that looks at Andrew McAfee's experiences around the "Enterprise 2.0" article and Wikipedia's Articles for Deletion process. It's an interesting discussion of the net impact of Wikipedia's process - which can be frustrating, especially to casual users. At the same time, I've also had some very good experiences such as when my 10-year old son updated Wikipedia.

At the bottom of the article, the author interviews Andrew about the use of Wikis in the enterprise. A couple of things jumped out at me:

Sean Silverthorne: Is Wikipedia a good model that transfers to a corporate environment?

Andy McAfee: No is the short answer here, simply because (a) how valuable is the corporate encyclopedia, and (b) how much enthusiasm or incentive do we have to contribute to the corporate encyclopedia? But an encyclopedia is only one of the things you can build with wiki technology.

This is a somewhat strange answer. In my experience, Wikis often start (and sometimes end) as an easier-to-use replacement for simple web publishing (an intranet that's easy-to-edit). For example, you have a bunch of resources that get shared and you want to put them up. Or you have a set of reference pages. The old way would be to work with your IT staff's content management system or to hand-craft web pages and go through a painful posting process. The new way is to use a Wiki and just click the edit button. Often, you don't really expect end-users to edit the pages when you start out. Sometimes, they end up editing them, sometimes they don't. But it is still easier. My strong belief is that:
Anytime you think about creating a web page, you should probably think whether it wouldn't be better to make it a Wiki.
The article later discusses:

Silverthorne: Have you used wikis yourself?

McAfee: I can give you a couple of examples because I try to use wikis in a fair amount of my own work. I was organizing a 40-person conference of academics and needed to take care of all these administrative tasks that I really hate doing, like putting the schedule together. And I thought, "Ding, I'm going to outsource this to the people who are coming to the conference." So I put up a couple of initial wiki pages and e-mailed them to everyone. I said, "Here is the bare -bones schedule. You guys tell each other and tell all of us what you think we should do in each of these slots, and if you want to present in one of these 4 daily slots, just add your name to the list." And with very little pushback, the Web site for the conference self-assembled, and most people were quite happy with it. The amount of overhead went through the floor.

I also use them in my MBA course Managing in the Information Age. I tell my students that about half their grade will be based on wiki contributions. So I solve the incentive problem that way. And then I have to deal with all the problems of, "Well, what do you want us to do?" ("I'm not telling you.")

A couple of great examples. Both are uses in smaller workgroups which is probably an early place to look for adoption. I've similarly used Wikis in conjunction with a class environment, and it's quite natural, especially if you have collaborative exercises defined for the students.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

eLearning 2.0 Presentation - ASTD OC - September

I'll remind people when it gets closer, but if you read this blog and can come to a presentation in Irvine, CA on September 12, it would be great to have a few blog readers there.

Details here.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Pimp My Course

In a comment on Podcasting has No Inherent Pedagogical Value - which has some interesting comments in it around technology and value - I was pointed to an interesting article in the Chronicle - Pimp My Course and Stephen Downes summary of some of the responses. It seems that no one is sure if the author is serious - but I worry that some people might actually think so, especially since it reminded me of conversations I had with fellow professors 15 years ago when I was teaching computer science at Loyola Marymount.

When I first started teaching, I felt that much class time was wasted as I wrote stuff on the board and had them feverishly trying to take notes to keep up. Unfortunately, that's how I went through school and so I did the same thing. I quickly realized that I could have a much better classroom experience if I provide my students with class notes that meant they only had to write down the 20% that was in the discussion or dialog around the topic that would be there thoughts on the topic. I also changed to start every topic with a problem that would hopefully capture their interest and then answers would unfold through the material as we worked through and discussed it together. It changed the dynamic somewhat, but, of course, it's still lecture. What technology did I use? MS Word - posting links on an intranet - remember this was 15 years ago.

Now I would definitely be using a Wiki for my class notes and syllabi - it's just easier. I'd also have students use blogs for collaborative learning assignments.

Still, even using MS Word and problem-based learning seemed like a big leap from what other professors did in their classes. When I discussed this with them, they seemed to conceptually get the idea, but none of them seemed to change to actually do it. It's not like as a young professor I really challenged why they would stick to a note-taking approach, but it was interesting to me.

Back to the Chronicle article. I'm still not sure how serious the author was ... which is maybe why there's such concern. I could believe that 60-80% of teachers/professors feel that way. But it was also interesting to see the comment in my other post that points out that unless you start with what you want to be happening for your students and in your classroom, technology makes no difference.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Podcasting has No Inherent Pedagogical Value

Found via Dave Boggs - Consensus: Podcasting Has No 'Inherent' Pedagogic Value

This would seem to be another article where the headline sounds more interesting than what the content turns out to be. The article tells us:
The pedagogical value of podcasts depends almost entirely on student motivation and the learning "context" of the application.

Podcasting does not contain any inherent value. It is only valuable inasmuch as it helps the instructor and students reach their educational goals, by facilitating thoughtful, engaging learning activities that are designed to work in support of those goals.

Isn't that a no duh? Isn't that any technology? It's not the technology - it's how you how you apply it?

Friday, July 13, 2007

eLearning or e-Learning vs. learning

Thanks to Big Dog, Little Dog saw an article/post from Donald Taylor on Training Zone - It's Time to Drop E-Learning - a horrible title given that the author is only calling for dropping the "e" from the front of the term. I found a few things interesting about the article:

I would have to register to leave a comment, thus, I'm posting instead. Likely they won't have trackbacks. So, people who read the article probably won't find this information.

There's been a LOT of discussion around this topic and related topics. While the author cites a few related pieces of information, they don't point to various sources on the same topic and consider what they have to say...

As I said back in May 2007 -
Do a search for "drop the e" elearning and you'll get 74 results, but there are literally thousands more out there. Including an earlier article from CLO itself: What's in a Name? and a post by me: What to Call Ourselves and Our Industry?

In terms of specific content - Donald argues -
The ‘e’ in e-learning is all about delivery. Gutenberg didn’t rave about the b-learning his printed books provided; I’ve never heard a lecturer enthuse on v-learning for voices, so why the ‘e’? Even as the concept of e-learning was being slowly re-habilitated in the Learning and Development profession, the term itself was still flawed.
And, he's right that the "e" is about delivery. Of course, the terms "email" and "ecommerce" seem to be fine. And these certainly are delivery based terms.

Donald also discusses that eLearning is associated with cost cutting measures. I would agree that we need to move people beyond that. Especially with the potential value offered with the network effects in eLearning 2.0. Just as email and ecommerce open new possibilities, so does eLearning.

Donald tells us:
Too many see e-learning as yesterday’s fad.
I would tend to agree with this, but without another term such as eLearning 2.0 or something like ePerformance to describe the broader mix of solutions, then we are better off trying to refine the meaning of the term than we are to drop the "e" and hope that people understand what we are talking about.

Interestingly, Donald suggests we get rid of the term, but doesn't suggest an alternative. Get people to start using an alternative, and I think you've got something. But just suggesting to get rid of the term is not all that helpful.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tracking Social Media for Possible Confidentiality Violations

Found via FastFoward blog -Attention Business Bloggers: Big Brother is Watching
- Techrigy is a new start-up that focuses on:

Real–time social media management for enterprises with SM2.

As blogs and wikis spread throughout enterprises, organizations must deal with compliance and risk-management issues that are created from communications through these media. Not only are employees communicating through these media at work, but they are also doing so at home. Is your organization aware of what employees are communicating through blogs and wikis? Are communications through these media that are affiliated with the organization or company being monitored for liability risks and being retained in case of litigation?

Techrigy’s SM2 is an enterprise–level management tool that helps organization control and monitor blogs and wikis that employees are utilizing. SM2 discovers and inventories all blogs and wikis being used in an organization, records these communications and monitors them for risks and liabilities.

SM2 can help your organization implement and utilize social media by providing a tool for monitoring these media and enforcing your organization's compliance policies.

Yes, that's right it watches what employees do to try to determine if there are risks. At first, this might seem like a really bad thing, and I'm sure that Stephen Downes won't be happy. On the other hand, it may help address the common objection that is often raised by organizations around this very topic. I personally don't think this is different than email or IM. Anything put in an email can possibly be leaked out. If anything email can be worse. Of course, you can't see what people are putting in their personal email right, so at least you have more visibility.

Reading More - But Differently

Several bloggers have picked up on a BBC News Piece - 'More reading' than in 1970s. The report's main point is that reading as a whole and reading of books has gone up:
One of the researchers, at Manchester's school of social sciences, Dale Southerton, said there was a popular perception that people were reading less but all reading had gone up, reading books had gone up the most - and there were 17% more people reading them.
One of the more interesting posts about this comes from Ewan McIntosh - We're reading more than ever before - no surprise for bloggers?. He first points out that he as well reads more books than before. But, also adds:
The thing is, I get just as much quality and enjoyable material from my blog browsing on the old feedreader as I do from the printed books I get stuck into (and have to pay for). Some of those even have their own blogs, with development of the content taken further. Many of the books I read are also ones sprung from the writing of a blog I've followed for a while.
I think that most people who regularly read blogs and even more so if you write a blog, you find that you start to read differently including when you read a book. Probably the two biggest differences are:
  • Skim to find interesting content and then dive in.
  • Capture what make sense for me and likely for blog readers.
  • Fish around for other stuff on the same topic.
But what you find doing this is that books and even more so magazines often have very little content that has any depth. It's not a surprise to me to skim right past a bunch of blog posts looking for things that will be interesting. It is a surprise to skim through a whole magazine not finding anything worth capturing. Or even worse when it's a book. (Actually the worst is an hour long presentation - because you can't skim.)

My gut tells me that most everyone finds this experience over time, but I'm not sure I've ever had this discussion.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Writing, Learning, Knowing - Help Needed

I'm preparing some future presentations and articles. One thing I've really struggled with in past is how to get across the power of writing a blog as a tool that forces you to learning, especially to synthesize knowledge. In the past, I've used the analogy of the challenge during school of writing and how it forces you to really understand something. I've also talked about seeing my kids writing and how it shows important gaps. But, somehow this doesn't really capture this effect.

Does anyone have a suggestion on how to capture that power?

Why does Karyn and Barry tell us - Top Ten Reasons To Blog and Top Ten Not to Blog - "I’ve learned more via blogging over the past year than I learned in the preceding several years!"?

Those of us who blog have experienced this, how can I translate that into a description that is meaningful for someone who is considering whether it makes sense to spend the time and effort to blog?


Conference Thoughts

Hate to post again around better conferences but two things:

1. I just saw a fantastic post - Do We Need NECC that discusses a lot of the same issues. And there are some fantastic comments/trackbacks there.

2. On the original post - better conferences - there's been a call for moving this to a Wiki. I'm not really sure what the Wiki would look like, but it seems that there's an opportunity to have something along the lines of a Conference Patterns wiki. It would discuss different patterns that can be used for conferences as a whole or elements of a conference.

Unfortunately, I don't have time to pursue this right now. Maybe someone wants to pick it up. Feel free to continue to discuss on the original post.