Tony Karrer's eLearning Blog on e-Learning Trends eLearning 2.0 Personal Learning Informal Learning eLearning Design Authoring Tools Rapid e-Learning Tools Blended e-Learning e-Learning Tools Learning Management Systems (LMS) e-Learning ROI and Metrics

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

CoComment Co.mments Switch

After struggling for a while with tracking my conversations via CoComment, I've recently decided to switch over to Co.mments. It seems to be working pretty well. I considered a few of the other services as well, but it seemed like they were the best choice.

I'm still not sure that there's a great overall answer to Blog Discussions Types. I discussed the specifics of Blogs, Community and Discussion Tracking - What's Really Needed a long time ago. Not sure that we've got an answer quite yet. It's still very messy to try to track all your activity across the network. Maybe there is no answer given how fluid everything is, but it still would be nice to have something better than what we have right now.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Conference Wiki Examples

Someone asked me for an example of a conference using a Wiki both for organizers during planning, evaluating proposed sessions, etc. and for attendees with session pages, participant lists, that kind of stuff. Certainly we did parts of this for Corporate Learning Trends 2007. It was more aimed at the attendee side. I can say that this made pulling things together for the conference significantly easier. And we even had people pitch in to do things like adding calendar files, automatic time conversion, profiles and questions for sessions.

For planning this year, we relied on Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets as the primary tools. This worked well with a small group and a small set of sessions. Likely the Wiki would be much better for something larger.

There have to be lots of examples like this out there. Can someone help out with pointers to a few?

Update - I was just pointed to Nonprofit Technology - Conference Wiki that pointed me to a couple of different posts that might be interesting such as: Collaborative Models for Capturing and Sharing Conference Notes at Nonprofit Gatherings. Of course, then I also checked eLearning Learning - Conference Wiki and found an old post of mine: Social Conference Tools - Expect Poor Result. These talk about slightly different issues, but still might be interesting.

Google Blog Search Problems

I rely pretty heavily on Google Blog Search to help me find people who are citing blog posts of mine so that I can see that kind of conversation. Unfortunately, it looks like Google Blog Search has decided that they will now include the entire contents of the web page rather than just the contents of the RSS feed. What this means is that I now get links to every post where the author includes my blog in their blog roll.

This completely defeats my purpose. I want a nice clean RSS feed of any posts that include links to my various sites.

I can't tell if this is something that is intentional, but it's been happening for a while.

I actually left Technorati for Google because Google appeared to be doing a better job. Time to evaluate my options?

Any suggestions on what to use for this?

Help Create Resources for Keynote?

I'm doing a keynote presentation at ASTD TechKnowledge in January on New Work Literacies and eLearning 2.0 and another session on Learning 2.0.

I would really like to be able to point attendees, blog readers, and realistically a lot of other folks to a set of resources that would help them on these topics. But, I really don't have time to create what I want to create.

Are you willing to pitch in to help me create some interesting resources?

I'm not sure how we will create these (Google Docs, Wiki, Mindmap, etc.). I'm fairly flexible, but at the end of the day they need to be web pages that attendees of TechKnowledge and other folks can access. I definitely will post them to my blog. And chances are they will get quite a fair amount of page views.

I will certainly give credit to anyone who contributes in a meaningful way both in my blog and during the keynote (assuming this happens).

Here are the two resources that I'd like to see us work on ...

Work Literacy 2008

A set of resources for concept workers who are not early adopters to help them be aware of relatively newer methods and tools that they should consider adopting to help them in their day-to-day work. These would be organized around the following categories:
  • Search
  • Keep/Organize/Refind/Remind
  • Leverage Expertise (Network)
  • Collaborate
  • Scan (Continuous Awareness/Learning)
Learning 2.0 for Workplace Learning Professionals

A set of resources that would help workplace learning professionals get up to speed on:
  • Introduction to Web 2.0 tools and their implications for Personal and Formal Learning
  • What Learning 2.0 means to them both personally and professionally.
  • Opportunities to apply Learning 2.0 in their workplace
I think that the resources collected as part of the recent Web 2.0 for Learning Professionals are a great starting point. For example, look at the following:
Because these are tied into forums, it makes them a bit harder for most people to go through. I'm also not sure that I buy that this quite tells a Workplace Learning Professional what they should do in terms of their personal use and in terms of how these might be used in their organizations. It was more intended as a introduction to the tools and likely does a good job of that.

Please drop me a comment or email me: akarrer @ if you are willing to work a bit on this.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Evaluating the Performance of Knowledge Workers

I've recently been talking to people about evaluating performance of Concept Workers. I want to thank Dave who has provided thoughts in several posts such as Getting to Exemplary.


Evaluating concept worker performance is an interesting challenge:
  • No right answer - Most often there is no single right answer. Which authoring tool, LMS, etc. we should use in a particular situation - you can't possibly get it exactly right. You are trying always to arrive at a reasonably correct answer given all the other factors (amount of time you can spend finding an answer, etc.)
  • Evaluator knowledge limit - In most cases, the person doing the performance evaluation knows less about the subject that the performer. So, they can't directly judge the answer, but may be able to sense when answers are possibly not correct.
The interesting bottom line has been that the way you evaluate a concept workers performance is by looking at signals such as:
  • Process - They went through a reasonable process to arrive at their conclusions.
  • Reasonable - Their conclusions are reasonable in your opinion (if you can formulate one).
  • Compare - If you took what they did and compared it to what you would expect from other similar performers, would they have arrived at the same result.
To me this has heightened my sensitivity to the need for concept workers to reach out to people for knowledge work tasks in order to ensure they will receive a good evaluation. It reinforces the fact that Leveraging Networks is Key Skill. I'm coming to believe this is the most important Knowledge Worker Skill Gap. This makes this things like: Network Feedback, Finding expertise, Using Social Media to Find Answers to Questions, Learning through Conversation very important topics.

What I've been saying in recent presentations is that going to Google and searching for information as your primary mechanism leaves you open to criticism. Instead, having a conversation with a peer can give you feedback on:
  • Was my process appropriate?
  • Is my answer reasonable?
  • How does my answer compare?
And if you want to be mercenary about it, the real bottom line is that if someone challenges your answers, you have already done their evaluation for them. You can say, "Look, I talked to a couple of people who have done this before. They said I've gone through the right steps. I've looked at the right stuff. My answer seems pretty reasonable. If they would have done it, they would have come up with the same thing."

There's a beauty in this!

But it does require better ability to reach into networks for help.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

ASTD TechKnowledge

ASTD TechKnowledge 2009 is coming to Las Vegas in January.

I'm doing two sessions including a keynote / general session - descriptions below.

If you are planning to go to the conference and read this, please drop me a comment because Get Together at Conferences - F2F Still Matters.

Better yet, go take a look at:
General Session -

New Work Literacies and E-Learning 2.0
Thursday, 01/29/2009 8:00AM - 9:00AM

Over the past 20 years, there has been an explosion of information sources, greatly increased accessibility of experts and expertise around the world, and new tools emerging every day. These changes are continuously transforming the landscape for knowledge work. How are we doing at keeping up with these changes? The results are in, and most knowledge workers are struggling to adapt to new forms of work and learning. This situation represents the challenge of our age. As learning professionals, we have an opportunity to take a leading role. To do so, we have to look beyond formal learning solutions toward solutions that support self-directed learning.

In this keynote, Dr. Tony Karrer will look at the transformation of knowledge work into concept work and the implications for the roles and responsibilities of learning professionals. We will look over the shoulder of a modern knowledge worker using e-learning 2.0 methods to see examples of where and how tools such as social networks, social bookmarking, wikis, blogs, and RSS readers fit into day-to-day knowledge work and larger learning solutions. Tony will also discuss the big picture implications for learning organizations and how to get started as you begin to focus on this important opportunity.

Learning 2.0
Thursday, 01/29/2009 4:00PM - 5:30PM , Room Brasilia 2/3

As described in the keynote on Work Literacy, there is an incredible revolution happening in knowledge work and learning. A big part of this revolution is a move towards Learning 2.0 - a shift in the way that knowledge workers work and learn. Personal, collaborative, and informal learning methods are emerging that leverage tools such as blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, and RSS readers. This session will explore these Learning 2.0 tools and their implications on personal and formal learning. We will look at adoption trends and examples of eLearning 2.0. We will discuss common barriers and ways to work around some of these barriers. Come to this session to learn about these tools and methods and immediate opportunities to apply them in your organization.

Friday, November 21, 2008

No More Little Sandwiches

End of the week and end of a little weirdness. At the start of the week, I found PBWiki Putting Image Over My Images - at least they were cute little sandwiches. But as someone commented, it is a little weird to have a sandwich floating over your head. I had spoken to the Founder of PBWiki in the past and had very nice conversations. I must admit that I felt a little surprised by the sudden change with no notification.

I created my post and immediately felt remorse when Mark Oehlert immediately (via Twitter) asked, "Did you contact them?" That would have been the smarter thing to do in hindsight, but this has been a learning week for me (euphamism for making lots of mistakes).

PBWiki's Founder and Chairman, David Weekly, explained -
Here's what happened

1) You were comp'ed a premium version of the service a year ago as a way of saying thanks for past feedback.
Being nice to me - their first mistake - and this is starting to feel like I'm not going to look very good at the end of this story.
2) This premium comp expired.
He was too nice to say that likely I received a notice about that which I may have ignored.
3) Our product places the sandwich in the corner of third-party-hosted images for free wikis as a general way of gently deterring people from using us as free image hosting. There were quite a few wikis that were using us to host very large images on MySpace a year or so ago.

4) To fix this problem, we've reupped your wiki to the paid version.
Yeah, I don't look particularly good in this story. Sorry, David and the PBWiki team. I felt blindsided, but the reality is that likely I got a notice telling me that my premium account was expiring. I assumed that didn't mean any changes as I pretty much only use the basics on PBWiki. So, I ignored it. Whoops.

David also said something along the lines of - "owing to your influence" - "appreciate if you'd alert us of problems" - this is a bit of a mind shift for me. I don't think of myself as "influential" - I'm one of a lot of signals out there.

I've been a PBWiki fan and saying what I said was more of a factor of surprise. At the same time, this is the second time in a couple of months that someone has told me something similar (that I said something not flattering and it may/did have a negative impact). So, I think I need to factor that in a bit as I post. I don't want to gate myself too much, but I definitely should have handle this differently. Again, apologies David and team.

The other thing he said was "I think you'll find our support is speedy and helpful and you'll be able to quickly resolve your issues." In fact, several people had already said that to me independent of David. Certainly they were very responsive in this case. And I don't think it was because I'm "influential." My sense is that they are responsive.

So, bottom line - I learned something in this process. Little sandwiches are gone for me, but will be there if you use PBWiki for image hosting (display on external sites). And, I'm going to stick with PBWiki.

What's that old axiom about customers who have had a difficulty that gets resolved are more attached than those that never have had any issue?

Oh, and I'll try to pay attention to messages a bit better. Ah, who am I kidding, if it didn't say that little sandwiches are about to appear on top of all of your images in the subject line, I probably still wouldn't catch that the expiration of premium would do that.

Now, maybe I need to go back through my posts and figure out who else I may have said bad things about. For example, Twitter. And at the start of my story when I mentioned that Mark suggested to contact them. That was through Twitter. Hmmm ...

Learning Communities List

As we are wrapping up the week for Learn Trends, one of the questions we faced was what to do with the Ning community that sprung up to support the conference. I'm pretty sure we are going to leave it up, but I'm also pretty sure that it will sit fairly dormant until the next learning event.

The discussion today suggested that it would be nice if there were a way to transfer the connections being made during the conference out to other networks or learning communities. I would highly encourage everyone who I connected with during the conference to connect to me on LinkedIn. I've connected to a couple of fellow bloggers.

But the issue of other learning communities was raised. This relates to the discussion of Getting Help. In that post, I suggested some places (learning communities or networks) when I need help.

I've not seen a good list of learning communities to go to in an on-going basis. So, I'm trying to form a list of on-going learning communities that learning professionals should know about. I'd prefer to add online communities that have fairly substantial membership, with active discussions and/or good ways to reach out to the members to get help.

Please add comments below to help me flesh out this list.
  • TrDev - Large, Moderated - Training and Development Discussion Group begun in October 2000. Discussions deal with a wide variety of topics. Assessment, benchmarking, competencies, content development, course development, e-learning, EPSS (electronic performance support systems), evaluation, instructional systems design (ISD), job aids, knowledge management, learning characteristics, learning outcomes, learning styles, needs assessment, objectives, performance improvement, return on investment (ROI), strategic analysis, task analysis, tools for training and learning, train-the-trainer, training and development.
  • (E-)learning network - Fairly active LinkedIn group/network for professionals working in the (E-)learning industry and informal learning industry.
  • ASTD National - ASTD's LinkedIn group. Lots of members and discussion.
  • Courseware Development - Smaller LinkedIn group started by Ted Kopp interested in courseware design and development. Some discussion.
  • eLearn - Fairly large LinkedIn group for sharing ideas, concepts, and technology for eLearning. Discussion varies.
  • Learning, Education and Training Professionals Group - a large LinkedIn group for training professionals, including project managers, instructional designers, developers, learning environment engineers, learning officers and classroom trainers. Fairly active.
  • The eLearning Guild Linked In Group - LinkedIn group for members of The eLearning Guild. Fair amount of discussion on design, development, and management of eLearning.
  • DEOS-L - The Distance Education Online Symposium. Listserv for professionals and students in the field of distance education and provide a forum for discussion of all aspects of distance education.
  • ASTD Discussion Forums - Fairly active discussion forums on wide variety of topics such as e-Learning, consulting, OD & Leadership, Performance Improvement.
  • LearningTown! - Large, active Ning community hosted by Elliot Masie with monthly questions that spark discussions. Some subgroups emerging.
  • Chief Learning Officer Network - Fairly active Ning community that has broad range of topics.
  • Classroom 2.0 - Very active Ning community looking at web 2.0 in education including tools, curriculum, integration, design.
Learning communities in related areas:
What am I missing?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Real-Time Collaborative Editing

A while ago I asked in several places if people knew of a text or document editor that would allow real-time collaborative editing during a conference session (or workshop, seminar, course, etc.). My main requirements were:
  1. Easy to use
  2. Easy to distribute (give everyone a URL)
  3. No download required
  4. Support chat and document editing
At the time, I didn't get very good responses. OneNote and Gobby require installation. MoonEdit and TwitterNotes were suggested as well. None quite fit.

Well I think I just found it... and it's called EtherPad. It's pretty ugly, but it does exactly what I asked for. People come in easily and just put their names in there.

Couple of notes:
  • I've only used this for a small test. If you use it for anything bigger, please let me know.
  • I think that a key ingredient is setting things up ahead of time so people will know what to do. Random notes may not be a great effect. It needs to be used with a purpose.
  • Still it may be more interesting to get a collective set of notes and chat, especially with some structure. (More on this below.)
Doesn't Google docs already do all of this? Actually, no it really doesn't work that well for what I want. When you have several people editing a document at the same time in Google Docs, it takes about 5 seconds for an edit to show up. That latency causes lots of confusion.

Google Spreadsheet handles real-time editing (using the cells as protectors) much better.

Also, I still don't understand why Google Docs don't have notifications of changes like Google Spreadsheet. That has to be one of the worst decisions they made on the product. But now I'm on a tangent.

Google Docs are much harder to share with other people. Trying to share it at a conference would be a lot harder. And people need to have a Google account.

Google Docs doesn't highlight who is doing what.

In short, Google Docs isn't really made for real-time editing.

While I'm on the subject of real-time collaborative editing, I just had a fantastic experience via Robin Good where he used MindMeister to allow participants to collectively edit a Mind Map during a session at the Learning Trends.

This mind map started with just the first level nodes that represented the categories. He asked people to add to those and people started typing in all sorts of things. It was very interesting to see.

I still think the most powerful work example for this has been real-time collaborative editing of Google Spreadsheets that contain project status reports. You get the team online at the same time and you can all talk and edit to get the status updates, next steps assigned in a very short period of time. It's really a fantastic effect.

It's exciting to see real-time collaboration (something I worked on 15 years ago while I was a Ph.D. student) finally taking off in the real-world.


Trying to find?

eLearning Technology

Another fix. Wow, fun times with Blogger.

Rapid eLearning - More Definitionn

Trying to find?

Rapid eLearning - More Definition?

What is Rapid eLearning?_12

Are you trying to find the post:

What is Rapid eLearning?

Note: this is being done to try fix issues with broken links to old posts.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

PBWiki Image Overlay - Yuck

This issue has been resolved. See No More Little Sandwiches. And I'm still a fan of PBWiki.

I just took a look at my blog and wow, all of my images that I've been keeping on PBWiki for use on my personal Wiki and for use on my blog have randomly started having an image overlayed on top of my images with their logo. You can see two examples below that I've saved from PBWiki and then uploaded to blogger.

I don't think I received any kind of warning about this. That's pretty bad. So, I go from being a raving fan telling people about them during presentations (literally yesterday was one example) to a person who now can't recommend them because who knows what they will do in the future.

Now I have to go out and figure out who I'll use instead.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

eLearning Learning Update

eLearning Learning was launched about a week ago. There has been quite a response and some great feedback. It made it to the delicious popular pages for eLearning and e-Learning. If you look at the other entries such as Jane Hart's recent top tools and Stephen Downes on The Future of Learning, that's quite good company.

Several of my favorite bloggers have been added into the mix. I'm also listing what they show as their top tools in the widget for some of them - which I find interesting. It gives me a sense of the tools they talk about.

Cammy Bean - Learning Visions

Mel Aclaro - Business Casual Blog

Ken Allan - Blogger in Middle Earth

Joe Deegan - Blender Training Solutions

David Fair - Learning Journeys
Lars Hyland - Lars is Learning
Jay Cross - Internet Time
Eric Tremblay - eLearning Acupuncture

We have several upcoming planned improvements to the site that will be rolling out over the next few weeks and months. I'm definitely interested in suggestions.

I will likely also be asking for help with some curatorial / moderation kinds of activities in the future. If you are interested in participating that way, please let me know via email: akarrer @ techempower . com.

Get Help - Spam?

This month's ASTD Big Question on the Learning Circuit's Blog is about Network Feedback. You might want to take a look at the question by way of background. The basic question is how do you reach out into the vast network of people to get help. A lot of my basic thoughts are captured in:
Karyn Romeis has an interesting model. She goes from people she already knows who might be experts then to consider other sources. It's almost distance vs. likelihood vs. experience vs. cost. I'm sure there's a nice graph there that could explain this concept. Where's Kathy Sierra when you need her?

Karl Kapp's response sparked some things for me. First, he tells us that there's not one right place to get help. I think that's part of the question. We know of several and may have different levels of experience and we go through some process when we decide. Then he makes a great point:
With Web 2.0 and social networks, the cost of asking a question and seeking advice from several different channels simultaneously is so minimal that it no longer matters whether or not you know the right place to ask the question. Ask it in multiple places because you never know who might have the answer and the overall cost is negligible.
So, the cost graph with Web 2.0 and all the tools make it such that you can push your question into many areas. Maybe spending time choosing is not the way to go at all. Just get good at quickly pushing the question out to all the networks you have. He has an example of where he sends it to five places simultaneously.

What I wonder about sending out to all of these places at the same time is that likely the same people will see the same question going by. What is their perception of multiple questions by the same person? Do they think of it as spam?

I'm curious what people think on this.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Manager Training Online Courses

I received an inquiry from someone I know, and I'm hoping people who read this blog can make suggestions.
I'm looking for vendors who supply off-the-shelf training for basic manager skills such as, time management and delegation. Thus far I've looked at Element K, SkillSoft, Vital Learning, Ninth House, and Achieve Global. What I like about these providers is the scope of what they offer -- many courses to choose from. Are there other providers you'd recommend I look at?
Those vendors are certainly at the top of my list and I'm not sure I have other suggestions. Any other providers that folks would recommend they look at? And why?

Online Learning Course Design

The Work Literacy online learning course is over and Michele Martin - Deconstructing the Work Literacy Learning Event and Harold Jarche - Post Work Literacy have posted their thoughts around the event. We also have some great Feedback from Participants. I think they've both captured a lot of what worked and could have been changed.

Here are some thoughts on the course and the implications for design of similar kinds of online learning courses.

Social Network as Course Platform

Like social networks generally, Ning, unfortunately feels a bit scattered. There are lots of places to wander around and see things. It's not always easy to feel like you've seen "everything" or even the important stuff. Students likely will feel "Am I done?" "Is this where I should be looking?" At the same time, I think that it worked extremely well to allow discussion with fellow professionals to be the basis for the course. And you can't control discussion, it will go where it goes based on interests. To me this is often the best kind of learning. However, it does feel quite different for participants.

I believe that many learning experiences designed to reside in a social network will inherently feel more scattered. In discussing Facebook Learning, certainly if you look at the types of things involved, it will be scattered.

But - if you consider that part of the goal of the course was to have an experience of learning in this way, I actually think this was exactly right. Participants certainly experienced what it was like. And, if I were designing something for new hires or another group of learners, I think it gave a pretty good idea of what the experience would be like.

Spectator / Joiner / Creator Levels of Participation

One of the best decisions we made early in the design of the course was to define different levels of participation in the course. Here's how we defined it:
Each week we will share new activities that will allow you to explore each of these tools. We recognize that there will be differences in interest, experience and time available for exploration, so these activities will be designed to give you meaningful experiences at different levels:

* The Spectator--These will be exercises or activities that should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. The Spectator level is for people who want just a quick exploration of the tools and minimal interaction.

* The Joiner/Collector--For those who want to delve more deeply into a particular Web 2.0 tool, the Joiner/Collector level will consist of activities that take approximately 30 minutes to complete.

* The Creator--These activities are for people who want to really spend some time exploring and trying out a particular tool or set of tools. The activities will take approximately 75 minutes to complete and will allow you to immerse yourself in the Web 2. 0 experience.
By doing this, we allowed people to particpate in different ways. A person who wanted to more actively explore something could do so and add value to the rest of the group. They would more actively engage with other highly active participants. But people who wanted to be a spectator were given permission to participate in other ways. And people who only wanted to comment or discuss were allowed to do that. This works out extremely well, but requires a fairly large audience to be successful.

Length / Duration of Course

We saw a drop-off in participation, especially active participation, as the weeks progressed. We still had lots of visitors, but the number of posts decreased. To me, this suggests that it would be better to do this over a relatively shorter period of time - possibly two weeks. But that's hard as well. There's a certain amount of learning curve to get into and going on the social platform. The amount of content would need to be small. I'm still not sure we have the right balance. I wonder if an on-going course that would have one week a month might not be an interesting model. One of the advantages of doing things online is that we could (and should) experiment with other schedules.

Facilitator Participation

Harold, Michele and I all suffered from trying to fit in facilitation among other work. Sometimes we were more active. Other times less so. It made it hard to ensure that each of us were helping to keeping things interesting, moving, etc. For me, it was sheer volume of discussion, comments, etc. that would take time to review, comment on, etc. that made it difficult. I also found it hard to get on each day and spend that kind of time. Michele and Harold did a much better job of it than I did.

To be more active facilitators would have taken much more time. On the other hand, it had a somewhat good effect to allow conversation to be driven by the audience.


When I took at look at Feedback from Participants, I was struck that through the opportunity there were quite a few people who received quite a bit of value from the course. I really think that it achieved its basic purpose. Trying to provide exposure to these tools and their implications for personal and formal learning.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Find Speaker for Local ASTD Chapter

I've been approached quite a bit recently to do presentations at local ASTD chapters or to help find a speaker. The reality is that I can't afford to do free presentations at local events. In some cases, I am finding myself doing workshops locally that can then help fund it. I'm looking forward to doing more of these this next year.

But in the cases where that's not going to work out, I would really like to help the person find a speaker who is local and who can speak to the issues around eLearning 2.0, Work Literacy, etc. This is similar to the issue being discussed as part of this month's Big Question - Network Feedback and in Getting Help.

So, I'm hoping that folks can recommend what I should do with a request such as a request I just received (and they've allowed me to post it publicly) for help:
I need a speaker in the Birmingham, Alabama area for a local ASTD on eLearning 2.0 or Work Literacy.
What would you do if you were me? Where would it make sense to post? How would your answer change if you got one request like this per week vs. one per quarter?

Oh, and if you know someone who might be a good fit, please let me know.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Learning Trends Starts Monday

Just a quick reminder that LearnTrends - Corporate Learning Trends and Innovations - starts on Monday. There is a ning group for it: LearnTrends Ning Community.

You can find the Schedule of Sessions. Be careful that all times are Pacific Time. And Ning's time converter does not work.

There will be some interesting discussions going on in the Ning group based on the presentations.

To get into the live sessions go here:

Live Session

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I'm at the Dan Roam - The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures
- keynote at DevLearn. You can find something similar here.

What problems can we solve with pictures? All of them. We all know how to do this.

Three quarters of our brain is dedicated to visual processing.

After you hit age six or seven, in education we stop emphasizing visual thinking.

The act of creating the picture forces us to think in new ways.

Whoever best describes the problem is the one most likely to solve it. (Much like asking better questions.) Subtext: whoever draws the best picture gets the funding. Southwest airlines started on the back of a napkin in a bar in San Antonio. They print all their cities on their napkins. Presidential Doodles: Two Centuries of Scribbles, Scratches, Squiggles, and Scrawls from the Oval Office squiggles & scrawls from the Oval Office. Pretty cool pictures.

Arthur Laffer - take place in a bar - drew the famous Laffer curve. Drew it originally for Rumsfeld and Cheney. Great story.

25% of the people in any meeting - black pen people - can't wait to get to the whiteboard and start drawing.

50% of the people say - "I can't draw", but can go and highlight. Good at highlighting important parts.

25% sitting back - red pen person - say - "Mapping out problem at superficial level." Too much detail.

Way to get red pen person to the board is to get them so upset that they feel they need to get to the board.

Why do we use PowerPoint to communicate? Just a tool. What PowerPoint allows to do, enables us to become lazy to turn off and fill in the squares in.

How to create an eNapkin? Can run PowerPoint in Adobe Connect, WebEx or other virtual meeting software. PowerPoint - launch it and run the best drawing tool - on screen drawing application within PowerPoint. Lower left corner icons. Touch sensitive drawing tool. Can see them at same time. Really crazy part is that anyone can participate.

I will have to try out the eNapkin.

By creating something on the paper, you get over the hurdle of where to start. He suggests a pattern with "Me" and "My Problem" ...

Bill Gates quote - The barrier to change is complexity.

Shows picture of MS Word with all the tool bars open.

Drawing pictures of interface ignored details and that actually got around common objections.

The more human your picture, the more human your response. The mind likes to look at things that match the way we see. The six ways we see:
  1. Who/What - identify the objects in the world
  2. How many - identified how many of them there are - more than three - more than 9 - thus it's a lot.
  3. Where - only tells us where things are - in reference to where you are. Only combined later in the brain.
  4. When - represent passage of time by seeing location of object in time
  5. How - looks for patterns
  6. Why - make sense of the patterns
Six ways that we see. Any problem can be broken into six pieces using the above. Only need to learn how to make six kinds of diagrams.
  1. Who/What - Portrait
  2. How much - Chart / Dots
  3. Where - Map
  4. When - Timeline
  5. How - Flow chart
  6. Why - Mutlivariable plot (diagram with multidimensional data)
Next time you face a problem - you use one of these types of charts or combinations of charts.

Wong-Baker faces chart Pain Rating Scale. Tufte - information visualization. Venn diagram shows conceptual spatial relation between objects. Hard to get something drawn in a circle.

Any problem is like a big layer cake. There are more flavors inside than anybody expects. Start with a general drawing and then drill down.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

eLearning Research

At a panel at DevLearn. We have:
  • Will Thalheimer, Work Learning Research
  • Kevin Oakes, I4CP
  • Claire Schooley, Forrester
  • Chris Howard, Bersin
  • Kevin Martin, Aberdeen
Biggest trend is Learning 2.0 trend. A shift in Training Methods. Allow people to work faster, better through informal learning. eLearning 2.0 addresses informal, on-the-job. It's relatively new. Bersin is publishing report on learning 2.0. Collaborative. Learner in charge. Looking out there for the information they need. Find it. Use it. And it sits there. Younger generation used to finding things on their own.

Talent management being discussed in the board room. Performance management. Learning and performance management converging finally. Linking development plans, career paths, learning opportunities. Leap to 2.0 before they get the foundation right.

Good, Chris, called him on this. Learning 2.0 is so different. 2.0 is chaotic. Talent management is structured.

Statistics from ASTD research -
  • 86% - web 2.0 technologies likely to use more in learning function than they do today
  • 41% - using technology for informal learning at high or very high extent
Kevin Oakes - "learning is getting left behind as people look at talent management." Only 19% say they have integrated talent management to a high or very high extent.

Learning 2.0

  • Trust is barrier
  • Culture is number one barrier - knowledge sharing is problem
  • Reluctance among potential mentors to teach each other
  • Time is problem
Qualcomm - employees submit business plans. Have festival where employees vote on best business ideas.

What percentage should they invest in Learning 2.0 - answers ranged from 20 to 50%?


Do we have to do anything different?
  • Shift priorities to align better.
  • Use cost lowering technologies (video conferencing, web conferencing) to save money
  • Look at criticality of retaining workers
  • Improve performance of existing workforce
  • Should be good for L&D to be more accountable
GE CEO - told training leaders - need you to step up. That's not the norm. Rest cut training budgets during down economies. Prediction, unemployment is going from 6.4% to 8% over the next 12 months.

Focus on how you can impact sales and cost reduction activities. That's what people care about during tough times.

Talent Management

Where does learning fit in? Is training organization taking a back seat?

Strategic effort - learning is part of it, but not leading it. Broader focus. Especially when you talk "Integrated Talent Management."

Kevin mentions how Learning Management System companies have move towards Talent Management. See Rise and Fall of LMS.

Why are you getting into talent management?
  • Compete in marketplace
  • Retain
  • Need to innovate
Hiring manager focused on better quality candidates. HR may focus more on time-to-hire.

Informal quarterly reviews were differentiator between best in class and those not.


Must be done the way the business does itself. Revenue. Profitability.

Not a top priority. Talk about it. Don't actually do as much as they should.

Recognize they are not doing as a good a job as they could, but generally roughly okay.

Best-of-class (top 20%) - want to have metrics. Which means they don't today.

Josh Bersin's book suggested as resource for what impact training has on organizational performance - The Training Measurement Book: Best Practices, Proven Methodologies, and Practical Approaches.

Best in class - training organization design. Hub and spoke is a good approach.

Question from audience: Can learners effectively handle control of their own learning? What does research show?

Some debate, but no research on this yet. Somewhat goes to the fact that this would be hard to measure for most kinds of organizations.

Organizations need to think of Learning 2.0 as a learning style thing.

New Literacies

At the Tim O'Reilly keynote at the DevLearn conference. His outline is very interesting in that he's promising to talk about the "new literacies." I'm hoping this is going to be similar to Work Literacy.

He uses the same quote I often use from William Gibson -
The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed.
Pattern recognition is key. What do these companies have in common:
  • Google
  • eBay
  • Yahoo
  • Amazon
  • MapQuest
  • Craigslist
  • Wikipedia
  • YouTube
Built on top of Linux (open source). Services. Not packaged apps. Data aggregators, not just software. Network effects are key to their market dominance.

Dell Ideastorm, Starbucks, Best Buy, SAP (Harmony), YattIt, BeingGirl (P&G) mentioned as examples. Allow people to share ideas. Social media in action.

At DevLearn - tend to equate Web 2.0 with Wiki, Blog, Social Bookmarking, Social Networking, etc. - instead it's really systems that harness network effects. The lock in is data.

Eras - Hardware (IBM), Software (Microsoft), Network/Data (Google). Data is the Intel inside of next generation. He's explaining PageRank.

Wesabe - contributing credit card data. Allows us to see spending at particular stores, repeat at stores. Wow, very cool data. Wonder how we could get access to that?

Mentions Google putting testing over the toilet.

What do you need to teach people? Not about the tools. It's about how to use them. How to leverage the data? Core competency of information age - leveraging collective intelligence.

Get away from old model of data. Hadoop. Computer Science shifted to teaching Hadoop to freshman from teaching SQL. Deals with messy data better.

Statistics. Design. "Big part of the new literacies."

These new literacies are not unlike talking about visual thinking as a literacy, new kinds of synthesis. The level of these "literacies" is interesting to me. Much more challenging to develop these literacies.

Suggestion - study the people who don't need your help. Go find the people who are on the leading edge and study them. The "Alpha Geeks."

Turn the Alpha Geeks into the mentors. They would pair Alpha Geeks with good writers.

Provide self-starters with access to the best resources. Online reference tool - Safari.

Show, then do, with reinforcement from frequent small successes. Get people engaged with the process.

Watch someone doing something right can improve your own performance.

Read in reviews - people talk about themselves. Very cool concept from Kathy Sierra. She is awesome at those kind of ideas.

Importance of hands-on. Magazine - "Make" about playing with technology.

Cites Wikipedia the missing manual. Literally just bookmarked How Wikipedia Works this morning.

People are telling us about these technologies, not telling us how to change. Create peer learning opportunities.

Study success stories.

"Stop fondling the hammer and focus on the house." - It's not about technology. It's about what you are trying to accomplish.

I'm not sure that Tim connected the high level concepts with what each person needs to do. I'll try to do it at 1:30 at my presentation. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Per Question Reports

I received a good question from a reader:
Our school district uses Blackboard. We have recently been exploring putting more coursework online and have experimented with the Articulate line of products. Blackboard has done well for us although I am not pleased with their support of the SCORM standards.

I would like to be able to export SCORM test results by user/by question but all Blackboard seems to support is general pass/fail records. Now I can drill down to the individual results via the Bb gradebook but that just won't work for exams that are being giving to hundreds of students.

I have spent many hours researching this issue related to SCORM compliance and more specifically how to get the test results exported out of my LMS for more in depth analysis in Excel or perhaps some type of statistics package.

Would you be able to point in the right direction of a resource to help me get this done or please let me know if I am wasting my time. Perhaps the world has moved onto something else as most of the conversations online I am able to find regarding SCORM matters are 2-4 years old which in Net time as you know may as well be decades.
This brings up a bunch of initial thoughts. First, having worked on custom LMS, LCMS, Authoring projects and being pretty deeply familiar with SCORM, it's easy to blame the LMS for poor reporting on per-question reporting, but its very hard for an LMS to create generic reports that work well across all the variations that you run into. So, if the source of the statement "I'm not happy with their support for SCORM" is only the issues of reporting, that's a bit unfair.

I'd be curious what they are going to do with question level reporting. I've had a lot of clients initially say they want question level reporting. I always drill down on why they are going to do it. The most common answer is that they want to know if there are particular questions that lots of people are missing. But, in many cases (in corporate eLearning) there will be no attempt to go back and fix the course or update the test. So, if you really aren't going to do anything with the data, don't bother. It's a lot of work to get the data, look at it, decipher what it means and do something with it.

So let's get to the more helpful pieces of information. First, it appears that they are getting question level data in the LMS. That's good. And not always the case. In many cases, people will implement a SCORM course and/or LMS to only handle SCO / Module level reporting or even just course level reporting. But in this case, they have the data. Good job Articulate and Blackboard!

So, the easiest thing to do is to get a data extract from the LMS into a CSV that then you can manipulate in Excel. You should absolutely start with this to figure out what you really want to do with the data. You can do this in Blackboard by using the the "Download Results" with the "By Question and User" option. Here's a good plage showing this:

Once you've done this a few times and have figured out what you want your reports to do, then you can define a custom report using Crystal. Sometimes it's a bit hard to get at the data on a per-question basis, but I'm pretty sure there's a good view in Blackboard.

Let me say again, do not bother to try to define your custom report until you've done this manually across several courses/tests that will expose all the different ways that the data may come out. Then you will likely begin to appreciate the complexity. You may end up deciding to just look at the data via CSVs.

With all that, I'd love to hear your thoughts/ideas around:

* Do you use question level data / reports? If so, what do you do with it?
* Generic LMS reports that you have found useful for reporting at the question level?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Concept Worker

Daniel Pink's book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future contains a description of new age - the Conceptual Age.

He describes how our society has gone from agricultural to industrial to the information age. But then he describes how we've really moved on past that to a new age where the dominant value for most organizations are created by high-end knowledge workers working on concepts. He calls them creators and empathizers. That is to make emphasis on his focus on the right-brain aspects. But, I actually think we should be focused on the emphasis on the type of knowledge work and the type of workers. In other words...

Concept Work

Concept Worker

I've often been a little bothered by the fact that we categorize the a person working in a call center handling customer service requests in the same category as an engineer working in R&D - they are both called knowledge workers. That's not as helpful as it should be. The person in the call center does quite a bit of routine knowledge work. They will occasionally encounter unusual situations and then need to do more conceptual knowledge work. To me it's all about how easy it is to obtain the answers. The harder it is, the more conceptual. Certainly our work around Work Literacy is all about concept work and concept workers.

I'm sure that if I went back and looked at Davenport's Thinking for a Living: How to Get Better Performances And Results from Knowledge Workers and the various categorizations of knowledge workers he would have several ways to describe the difference between someone in a call center and the engineer and the doctor. And while these are more granular, I'm not sure I hear much of it being discussed. That's why I'm liking the idea of referring to work that involves figuring out unknowns as concept work and the people doing this work as concept workers. This more succinctly and clearly differentiates the issue for me.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

eLearning Learning Launched

I'm happy to announce the launch of eLearning Learning. This is the beginning of a community portal where the community will help to collect and organize the best content from blogs and web sites. The goal is to create a place where it's relatively easy to find current content and highly relevant content surrounding eLearning.

To be clear eLearning Learning is a jump off point. The content comes from other places. Right now these are mostly posts from bloggers, but you will soon see other kinds of content appearing. The bottom line is that eLearning Learning is trying to help find and navigate the world of eLearning.

I've selected bloggers who I've been reading and felt provide value on interesting topics.

The following blogs are helping me today to launch this and I've listed a few unsolicited comments on their experience so far.
"I'm LOVING the way the label widget works!"
"I like your widget a lot. Kind of a linear tag cloud."
"looks pretty cool"
You will see that these bloggers and soon other bloggers listed as Featured in their blogs. They will show the following badge:

You will also see that most featured bloggers are including the eLearning Learning Organizer Widget. This widget is in my sidebar and it shows the topics that I blog about. As a blogger, this helps me keep my content organized, which has always been a bit challenging.

You might visit a few of the blogs listed above to see the topics they are writing about. For example, looking at top tools:



Mine are:

Boy, I talk about Wikis a lot.

I hope that you will find eLearning Learning to be a valuable resource. I welcome any thoughts or feedback on the system.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Online Language Training

Over on the Big Question, we are discussing Network Feedback which is basically how can you reach out and get help around a question. Almost the same time I posted the question, I received a question from a reader around Language Learning.

The person works in a corporation in Turkey and is looking to find eLearning to teach employees English. I know there's a lot going on in online language training. In our brief exchange, I mentioned EduFire and Myngle - but the response is that these are more aimed at consumer rather than corporate.

Any suggested solutions?

And, if you have thoughts on how you would go about finding answers to this inquiry, you can use that as your answer to the Big Question. :)

Monday, November 03, 2008

LinkedIn Facebook Twitter - Different Connection Style

As a result of my recent change in my Approach to LinkedIn Connections, I've actually met quite a few people who read my blog, but I don't believe had ever commented. They were comfortable connecting with me via LinkedIn and since it offers mutual value it was worth the effort. It truly does feel like a (virtual) networking event.

Interestingly, one of the people who connected to me suggested we might want to do the same on Facebook and Twitter. This really got me thinking. I described my approach to LinkedIn only having recently changed where I view my connections now as really being more of a combination of:
  • PANs = Potentially Active Network
  • CANs = Currently Active Network
  • FANs = Formerly Active Network
I used to think of LinkedIn (and LinkedIn themselves suggest this is how to think of it) as containing only people who I have a deeper relationship with (CANs and FANs). However, for some of my primary uses Finding Expertise via LinkedIn and LinkedIn Answers to Get Help, it makes more sense to connect to people who it will be good to be connected with in the future (PANs).

However, this is not really the case with the way I use Facebook and Twitter. Both of these tools are much more conversational tools for me.

In Twitter, I have people that I follow in order to listen into their conversation. If you try to listen to too many, or if you listen to people who you don't really have a relationship with, you will experience what I describe in Twitter Mass Follow - Nevermind - basically it feels like noise.

In Facebook, it's much the same. I have my friends who I want to get together with, see what they are doing, have conversations with.

Both Twitter and Facebook really are my CANs and FANs. In some ways, the goal on both is to stay more closely connected with FANs to keep the relationship alive. Something I must say that I'm not good at. I can think of a bunch of folks who I really like, get along really well with and who I won't talk to unless something unusual happens. It's nice when we can get a bit of that ongoing conversation via Facebook or Twitter.

Yes, I could theoretically open up to a much larger network and somewhat ignore the noise. This would get the advantage of being able to broadcast. But, it's really not the way I use these tools today.

Now, it took me 2-3 years to change my thinking about LinkedIn. So, with all fairness, it could be that I've not evolved my thinking about Twitter and Facebook.

When I step back and see the message, I'm sending, I'm a bit worried:
If we are connecting on LinkedIn based on a very loose relationship, maybe we'll have more conversations and get to the point where it makes sense to connect on Facebook and Twitter as well.
Does that sound bad?