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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Narrowing Gap between Face-to-Face and Online Presentations

Are people noticing this? It seems that face-to-face and online presenting are becoming more similar. Some aspects:

  • Wireless access is becoming more common in places where presentations occur. If you are a conference organizer and you don't arrange for wireless, be prepared for some negative comments. See Better Conferences.
  • A larger percentage of the audience these days brings a laptop to presentations and it seems that the factor of Laptop Distraction is quieting down.
  • If your audience is already on a laptop and connected wirelessly, then you can use techniques such as Twitter Conference Ideas with twitter as a back-channel or twitter to post links to the audience. You can get the audience to provide thoughts and suggestions just like chat online. In fact, this is on of my favorite things about online presentations (see Examples of eLearning 2.0 for how great the audience input can be). But now you can somewhat do this at Face-to-Face presentations.
  • It used to be that your online audience was distracted. Now your face-to-face audience may seem distracted as well. I had a recent presentation at a large corporation. 75% of the audience had a laptop. Some percentage of that audience was taking notes and chatting on Yammer. Some percentage was reading email. Hard to tell which was which.

The last bullet is probably the biggest change here. I'm used to presenting in-person where the audience is highly engaged, taking notes, etc. It was a bit different for me to see an audience looking at their laptops that much.

I've talked about this in Online Conferences and In-Person Conferences and made the comment that:

In-person conferences have an advantage of getting more attention from the attendees.

That's still probably true as there's a higher commitment level, but the gap is narrowing. Clive as points to this in Multitasking is now every presenter’s problem.

What struck me is how the gap is narrowing between face-to-face and online events. You could usually rely on a fully attentive audience face-to-face while bemoaning the ease with which multitasking occurs online. The reality is that the same phenomenon is now occurring in each setting.

What's interesting here is that it used to be that you could count on your in-person audience to be singletasking (is that a word?) and paying attention. Now, they are going to be multitasking just like your online audience. I've always said that one of the wonderful things about face-to-face presentations is that you can see your audience and get immediate reaction based on their faces. But what about when they are looking at their laptop? If anything it's worse than online. When you present online and the chat channel is active but on-topic, you feel you are doing good. When you are in-person and everyone is looking at their laptop, it doesn't feel good. Hmmm…

One last thought … I recently presented to a group of professional speakers about the use of social media. There was quite a bit of discussion around Face-to-Face vs. Online Conferences. I'm still of the opinion that Face to Face Still Matters. However, because of the dramatically different characteristics of Online Conferences and In-Person Conferences and because of the narrowing gap between face-to-face and online presentations – we will see a shift towards more online conferences such as LearnTrends 2009.

Update: Since this comment block is too small for such big questions, I've decided to make this the Big Question on ASTD for October 2009. You can find the question here:

New Presenter and Learner Skills and Methods

Feel free to comment here as well, but I'm hoping we will attract a few longer entries there.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

2.0 and Interesting Times

Interesting post by Dan Pontefract where he provides definitions of some different "2.0" definitions and the HR & Organizational impacts. It's worth taking a look at some of these:

  • Enterprise 2.0

    • Definition (via Andrew McAfee):
      • the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers
    • HR & Org Implication:
      • Enterprise 2.0 is the use of Web 2.0 concepts in an organization; thus, failure to drive its introduction may result in redundant platforms/processes & confused employees
  • Learning 2.0
    • Definition:
      • the shift from a predominantly formal instructor-led/eLearning model to one that encompasses formal, informal and social learning methodologies
    • HR & Org Implication:
      • organizational culture can evolve via a strong learning ecosystem; to continue with antiquated ‘spray and pray’ formal only training models is akin to GM’s 2011 automobile lineup being full of SUV’s
  • Work 2.0
    • Definition:
      • the shift from a 9-5 workday to a flexible workweek inclusive of work location (ie. home, shared workspace, coffee shops, etc.)
    • HR & Org Implication:
      • the performance of an individual should be measured not on when they are in the office or present in their cubicle; rather, on the end result and its merits for the organization itself (whenever the deliverables are accomplished)

While people may not like the "2.0" terms, I believe there's merit to using them if only to indicate the substantial impact that these things will have on organizations and particularly on Learning and Development.

The theme of LearnTrends 2009 is a term I call Convergence. It's really about the fact that learning and development leaders have an opportunity to embrace 2.0. This means:

  • providing solutions beyond traditional training / courses
  • working closely with other parts of the organization including Enterprise 2.0, Knowledge Management, Corporate Library, OD, IT and, of course, the business
  • getting smart about a whole lot of new kinds of solutions
  • looking outside the firewall for solutions

And all of this comes in an ever more challenging world:

  • The Business of Learning faces real pressure and we are expected to do more with less.
  • We need to provide value to concept workers who are the highest value people in the organization and are in a continuous learning mode – it's part of their work. But concept workers don't get as much value in traditional learning solutions.
  • These workers direct their own learning. Learning and Development is likely not producing much content that will be useful to their day-to-day work except by building core skills. Thus, we must look to provide value in the long tail of learning.
  • The nature and value of content production is changing.
  • There's a ton more content available both inside and outside the organization and some of it is free learning
  • There's much greater accessibility of experts inside and outside the organization and ways to engage with them.

When I described eLearning 2.0 back in February 2006, I focused on the technology aspects. But there's so much more to all of this picture. I'm not sure if Convergence quite captures it, but …

These are truly interesting times.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Digital Asset Management – LCMS, ECM and SharePoint

Interesting post by Vic Uzumeri where he responds to a question that I asked him.  I'm going to also address the broader concept he raises about Work Networking.  But in this post, I want to consider:

We developed CoSolvent because we couldn’t find a reliable way move rich media (typically video) to and from the individual subject matter experts (SMEs) and managers among our various corporate training clients.

Living near Hollywood and the many different production companies and studios, I've talked to and worked on several projects that were digital asset management systems.  This includes working on the software the runs sites like Nasa Images.  So, I'm pretty familiar with the issues of digital asset management (DAM) and having to move large and manage large media assets.

Vic provides the following list of reasons that companies use his digital asset management software for eLearning projects:

  • The companies that employ our target audience strongly discourage employees from putting company assets on ‘public’ sites.
  • Workers often didn’t want their co-workers to see their materials until they had a chance to approve them.
  • People often work with collections of related, but dissimilar materials. 
  • We wanted to accommodate all types of video as input.

What's interesting is that my impression is that most corporations don't have that much of an issue with digital asset management and that these concerns are there, but not enough of an issue for people to jump on these solutions.  Am I wrong on that? 

Is there a need and desire for software or software as a service that provides digital asset management as part of eLearning projects?  Does the LCMS already provide this for you?  Does your enterprise content management solution provide this for you?

I do know of a couple of large corporations that do a good job of cataloging and organizing the digital assets – images, digital videos, documents.  They have hundreds of hours of courses.  And there developers are geographically dispersed.  Even still, most of these companies use relatively simple organization methods and the issues are getting developers to contribute assets, catalog them and then provide effective search and browsing.  In one case, they use a fairly rich enterprise content management (ECM) solution (a corporate-wide solution).

By the way, my impression is also that the digital asset management that comes with LCMS solutions is pretty limited.  Theoretically, this provides this same ability to organize digital assets so they can be shared by developers.  In practice, once things scale up, it becomes pretty hard to keep it organized and effectively find the assets you want.

I have heard a common lament that large files cause a little bit of an issue in that many IT departments limit network storage because of the need to provide robust back-ups and retention.  But using a storage as a service model with these large assets outside the firewall doesn't make much sense in that there's also often a restriction on network traffic.

The workflow and access restrictions are there.  You don't want people seeing your stuff that's still in development.  There's some course content that should not be accessible outside a particular group.  Again, most of this gets handled by standard network folders and permission structures.

Oh, and let's not forget that a lot of companies are Using Sharepoint for the exact purpose of organizing the efforts and assets of learning development.

Maybe it's because I have not run into these situations, but my impression is that there's not that much need for digital asset management solutions around eLearning and that you are probably already served by your LCMS, enterprise content management, or SharePoint if it is an issue.

Please share your experience and knowledge around this.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Should I Use Dreamweaver to Build My Course?

I received a question that I've heard in many forms and I'd like to ask help on this.

I am looking for some advice about whether or not my choice to use Dreamweaver with learning extensions (CourseBuilder + Learning Site) is a good idea or not.  I understand that Dreamweaver is not SCORM compliant (or at least it wasn't).

The reason why I thought it would be good to use, is because I work for a small company, and I am the only Technical Writer / eLearning Developer, so needed something simple and straightforward to use, but that could also offer me flexibility to design my own modules.  My modules are going to take a previously written training guide and turn it into an online interactive format.  It will need to have Forward & Back buttons, interactive exercises, tests & quizzes integration.  We don't have an LMS at this point, but we may need to track it in the future.

Also, Dreamweaver is relatively cheap, so I could make a good case to my managers to buy it for me.  There's also good help material available online, and there is a good book written by Michael Doyle "Dreamweaver MX e-Learning Toolkit" (although it was written in 2003).

I do use Camtasia to create my training videos, but have heard that Adobe Captivate is a good product as well.

Dreamweaver appears harder to use than other eLearning tools I have seen out there, but I appreciate its flexibility.

So, first, let's admit that many people in our industry are pretty much solo developers of eLearning.  They have to do everything on their own.  And they also are not building that much eLearning day-to-day, so it's pretty common to have to go through figuring out what tool to use.  And because they are solo, there's no time to spend evaluating a bunch of different tools.  Yes, I could download the free trial version and try it out, but that would take a fair bit of time.  At the same time, if I don't make a good choice, I could be suffering a lot of unnecessary pain.  Sound familiar?

So can you help me (and the reader) out?

  1. Decision Process? If you were this person, how would you go about selecting the tool to use?  Given there are a lot of Rapid eLearning Tools and Software Simulation Tools out there, how do you choose which tools to consider?  How would you decide which to download and trial?  Anything else you would do to make this decision?
  2. In terms of the specific tools here, any suggestions?   Dreamweaver?  Camtasia?  Adobe Captivate?  Articulate?  What others jump to mind?

Thanks, in advance.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Free Learning

Harold Jarche had a great post If learning was free that raises questions that need to be continually asked by learning and development around the issues of Free.

In the Business of Learning, I compared publishing and learning. Big publishers are having problems as the cost of distribution goes towards zero and as that brings along a ton of competition from the low end. Learning as a publisher of courses, content, etc. is facing the same thing. There's a lot of other content out there.

  • How differentiated is the content that we produce from all of the Free Learning that's otherwise available?
  • Is our content really that much better?

The typical response of large publishers is that their content is better. And yes, Britannica, New York Times, etc. that have paid, professional editors, writers are better quality than alternatives for the specific content that they cover. But all major publications have limitations in that because of the cost, they have to go after large audiences and they need to stay at higher level topics. They can't afford to go into depth in niche areas because the costs would be too high for the return.


Harold is drawing a parallel with Advertising. When you produce advertising for massive distribution on network TV, you can afford to spend a lot of time and money to produce the ads. However, when you begin to go after small, niche audiences, then low cost production becomes important. Harold tells us:

Anybody see a parallel here with instructional systems design or curriculum development? These processes take time and money and once the investment is made, nobody wants to do it again. Web media can be created quickly and, if designed in an open manner, can change according to the needs of learners and facilitators. For instance, we developed the Work Literacy site in about a week and at no cost. It was added to and modified by the participants. Everyone was an unpaid volunteer. Total cost: zero.

What Harold is raising is that there are going to be lots of free learning that is going to compete with our the more costly paid learning that learning organizations will continue to produce. Free learning can come from groups like Work Literacy that provided a large online learning experience for free, or from LearnTrends that produces amazing content like LearnTrends 2009 for free. It also comes from all the subject matter experts both inside and outside your organization that are continually producing content.

Free Learning may not be as high a quality – although I would claim that LearnTrends and WorkLiteracy filled niches. And sure if we spend time and money to produce courseware, it will be better than the stuff created by a subject matter expert with a rapid elearning tool. And there will continue to be times when the payback for better quality content will justify the cost. But …

The reality is that focusing our attention on publishing higher quality content – being at the high-end of materials – will mean that we are Marginalized. And let's not sugar coat this.

So rather than passing out clubs, we really need to embrace Free Learning:

  • Pull free learning together and deliver it into the organization.
  • Help people find free learning that you've not yet aggregated.
  • Teach people new learning skills.
  • Leverage the actions that go along with free learning to add value back into the organization.

Embrace, facilitate, support, connect, leverage free learning.

Please help - I'm looking right now for examples of organizations using open course content (e.g., OCW, OER) as part of their internal learning. If you know of examples, please contact me.

Free Learning Resources

I took a quick look on eLearning Learning to see what it has to say around Free. It was interesting to see all the different kinds of finds there are by visiting related pages like:
And one item that comes to the top a lot is ZaidLearn's post University Learning - OCW - OER - Free - worth checking out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

LearnTrends Innovation Awards

George Siemens, Jay Cross and Tony Karrer are pleased to announce the first ever LearnTrends 2009 Innovation Awards.


These awards are designed to recognize the products, projects and companies that represent interesting innovations in use of technology for Corporate / Workplace Learning and Performance.

Winners will be announced and will be asked to do short presentations during the conference.

Deadline for submission is: October 30.

You can see details of what we are asking for in the form below.

To apply for an award, please fill out the:

Submission Form

If you have questions, feel free to Leave a Comment or drop me an email:

Please Help

We very much want to get nominations from all corners. If you can help us spread the word about these awards, that would be greatly appreciated. Think something is innovative – please let them know about this. Post about this on your blog. Tweet about it. Any help would be appreciated.

Here are some graphics you can use:




Monday, September 21, 2009

LearnTrends 2009 - Free Online Conference

George Siemens, Jay Cross and Tony Karrer are pleased to announce our third annual free online conference:


LearnTrends 2009 - Agenda and Speakers

The Corporate Learning Trends and Innovations Conference

November 17-19, 2009 | Online | Free

The theme/focus this year is on Convergence in Workplace Learning. We will bring together people who look at different aspects of learning and knowledge work to understand better what's going on in those areas and how we should be thinking about this holistically. I'm particularly looking forward to discussions of how:

  • Enterprise 2.0
  • Communities and Networks
  • Knowledge Management
  • Corporate Libraries
  • Talent Management

come together to form a cohesive picture. What should L&D managers be doing relative to these related efforts? How does this impact our eLearning Strategy? Heck just discussing eLearning Strategy should be fun with the right people in the room.

As always, this conference is about getting together interesting people who bring a slightly different perspective and have meaningful conversation around innovation in workplace learning. We typically get more than a thousand people signed up and at least a hundred in each session.

And every year I learn a lot.

To register, you must first register on the LearnTrends community and then register on the Conference Event Page.

Lots of details of speakers will follow.

The conference will also include the LearnTrends Innovation Awards 2009. Please see that post for details.

Please Help

We very much welcome broad participation in the event. Anything you can do to help get the word out would be appreciated. Some ideas:

  • Post about it on your blog.
  • Add it to your sidebar.
  • Put a comment in a discussion group or LinkedIn group.
  • Tweet about it.
  • Send an email to your work colleagues to let them know.

Wow, I ran out of ideas quick. What else can people do to get the word out?

One suggestion I just received - let's use the hashtag: #learntrends to refer to things related to the group and the conference.

Oh and here are some graphics you can use along with your announcement.




Friday, September 18, 2009

Brandon Hall Free Webinars Added

Just a quick note to announce that the crew at Brandon Hall have joined up as eLearning Calendar Curators. Janet Clarey just announced it today on Workplace Learning Today. The bottom line to this is that we will all be working together to create a calendar of Free Online eLearning Events.

If you want to subscribe to be notified of upcoming events, go subscribe to the Best of from eLearning Learning.

If you want to help by becoming a calendar curator, please Leave A Comment.

If you see events that we are missing, please Leave A Comment.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Leave A Comment

Blogs are all about conversation. I just saw a post that explained to readers how to leave a comment, and I thought that might be a good idea to have that post as well and it would be a nice addition to the content in my First Time Visitor's Guide. Please, if you have thoughts or questions on one of my posts leave a comment.
  • It shows me that you care.
  • That it inspired a thought or a question.

I learn a tremendous amount from the comments on my blog. So, please, please, leave a comment.

Have I begged enough?

Comment Policy

I welcome comments on this blog — suggestions, affirmations, critiques, questions.

I ask that your comments:

  • are constructive and not personal or hurtful
  • are related to the content of the post
  • include personal connections to what the post is about. A comment which does not add to the conversation, runs of on an inappropriate tangent, or kills the conversation may be edited, moved, or deleted.

I try to respond to comments fairly quickly. In some cases, I wait a little while so that other people can weigh in.

How to Leave a Comment

To leave a comment, just click on the "Post a Comment" link near the bottom of each post.


It will take you to a page that looks something like:


You can provide various bits of information so we know who you are. I'd recommend not doing Anonymous comments unless that's really important. It's pretty easy to just give a name/URL combination.

This is pretty simple, so please leave a comment.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Discussion Forums for Knowledge Sharing at Capital City Bank

Looking at Capital City Bank from the outside, I wouldn’t have expected to find a great example of social learning inside. 

They are a solid, conservative bank. They have more than 1,100 associates spread out across Florida, Georgia and Alabama.  I recently had a great conversation with Becky Barch, a performance consultant at the Bank, about her smart application of discussion forum software from ElementK.

The forum is targeted to a small group – loan/lending assistants. There are roughly 22 people in that role in at Capital City Bank. Because loans can be fairly complex and unique, there were continual questions that came up. One person had become the “defacto associate help desk”. This individual ended up fielding all of the calls.


Becky turned around and used a discussion forum to make the situation better. The same associate who received and handled the questions before now gets the question as a discussion item and responds in the forum. They also have enlisted another associate to help field questions. And, in fact, other lending assistants will jump in with answers as well. Because the answers are stored in the discussion forum, they can be seen by everyone and can later be searched.

Questions come up on all kinds of topics. A recent topic was “Fees for Department of Motor Vehicles.” These fees vary depending on the county and there wasn’t an obvious place to find the information. So, various people contributed links and attached PDFs with the information that was needed.

They are now using the discussion forum as part of training initiatives. As they are rolling out a new escrow initiative, they’ve had webinars that were supported by Q&A in the forum. Because lending assistants are familiar with the forum, they’ve found this to be an effective pattern.

How Did They Get There?

One of the things I’ve found from doing many presentations on social/informal/eLearning 2.0 is there will be lots of activity when I get to the challenges when using this kind of approach. I spent quite a bit of time discussing how Becky made this happen . And I should point out that Becky makes all of this seem quite simple. I had to drag most of this information out of her.

First, the Bank has a bit of experience from the very top with social media. They have an internal message board used by the CEO of the Bank called “Bill’s Blog.” Anyone can ask a question and various associates would formulate an answer post. If needed an “official” or correct answer, it would be highlighted. The idea was to use this as a tool to learn and get questions answered. It has has been successful in the Bank and certainly signals openness to using social media.

However, I think the real story here is more around Becky’s background, particularly the first course that she took at Florida State University (FSU) from Professor Jeong (an expert in discussion forums for learning). Not surprisingly given Dr. Jeong’s background, this course heavily leveraged peer discussion through discussion forums. Becky said she was wondering where the professor was in all of this for a long time. She expected more involvement. However, as the course progressed and the concepts of social learning and self-reflection as part of the learning process emerged, she saw the beauty in what Dr. Jong had done. He had set up a great environment and taught them how to engage. He provided very specific instructions and guidance, and provided plenty of support. It took a while, but Becky and the other students really came to understand that kind of learning.

So, when Becky saw this situation, it was obvious that a discussion forum could work. And, certainly the subject matter expert, she was happy the work she was doing would reach more than one person at a time. She knew that much support would be needed, as the company definitely has an e-mail and phone culture. She set up sample questions with answers to provide context and initial categories for the questions. She supported the users and the subject matter expert as they began using the system. Of course, given the culture, most of the users have the system setup so they get e-mail notifications from the discussion forum.

Over time, they are beginning to establish a culture where many associates are contributing information. Initially, another lending assistant was set up with permission to post answers to help out the subject matter expert. But that changed associates’ perspectives on the site and more associates are getting comfortable posting answers, suggestions, etc. Becky ensured a safe and positive environment to make sure that people feel comfortable asking and answering questions.

I was certainly curious about how Becky overcame the obstacle of potential risk/liability in a heavily regulated field like lending. She didn’t see it as that much of an issue. Lending assistants were already familiar with sending questions via e-mail and documenting loans. These folks were knowledgeable about issues related to fair lending. It was unlikely there would be an issue and if one arose, they would follow standard procedures that would have been executed via e-mail in the past. The system actually has an advantage in that respect since users can flag potential issues in the system. But so far, this has not been the case.

Lessons Learned and Next Steps

Becky has found other groups want to adopt this same kind of approach. She’s slowly deciding on how she will tackle these.

Becky discovered how important it is to know the boundaries of the community If you want this to be a safe environment, you have to know who is in or out. Who has access to the information? They’ve had some challenges with more people have wanting access to the forums as they see value in the information. But, does that violate the safety of being able to ask anything in a safe environment?

We also had an interesting discussion about what happens when management asks for access. Obviously, you can’t say no. But how do you provide access without violating the spirit of the group? This hasn’t been a problem at the Bank, but it is an interesting issue. Becky suggested providing temporary access to those who would not normally have access so they can see how the tool is being used without violating the user’s trust.

Becky said forwarding the future she will have more up-front discussion about who will and won’t have access. In particular, asking the question, “Who else do you see who would benefit from this?”

Final Thought

One thing that really struck me about my conversations with Becky is how obvious she made all of this sound. But it was only obvious after her experience at FSU. It was obvious to her when she saw what was currently happening. It was obvious how she could support the lending assistants with detailed help / guidance. It’s obvious to Becky.

I’m pretty sure it would not have been obvious to a lot of other people. And I’m not quite sure how to make this obvious, but I’m thinking about it. Becky’s suggestion is that everyone should participate in a 100% online course with a discussion forum and someone there who knows how to moderate it.

Becky – thanks for a great conversation and sharing with me/us!

Do you have a case study for me?

I'm hoping to do a lot of case studies over the next 6-12 months looking at interesting examples of the use of social/informal/web 2.0 learning.  If you have an example, please drop me an email:

Monday, September 14, 2009

eLearning Strategy

I spend a fair amount of my consulting time working with large organizations to help define how they will apply technology to particular business / performance / learning needs. This is either in terms of specific needs, e.g., improve customer satisfaction, or as part of an overall eLearning strategy.

I've spent several hours this morning trying to find good resources on eLearning Strategy development and particularly looking for examples to use in this post. I've really been striking out. I'm hoping that people will help out.

Update Nov. 2010 - I just did a search for eLearning Strategy articles and through eLearning Learning found a bunch more around eLearning Strategies, Learning Strategies that resulted in Top 35 Articles on eLearning Strategy.

Most of the time I'm working with a centralized technology groups within Learning and Development that acts as a services arm to corporate L&D and to distributed L&D that is spread throughout the organization. I wish I had a good name for these groups, but they are called something different in most organizations. For the purpose of this post, I'll call it the L&D Technology Group.

It's interesting working closely with L&D Technology Groups because you are a key influencer, but you don't really decide much about the performance and learning strategies. Rather, you are very similar to a services company. You get requests for help building particular kinds of solutions. You determine business requirements around that solution and get to influence where it goes. But ultimately, the internal customer and likely someone who is in another department within L&D who is responsible for learning design (ID) ultimately decides on the approach that will be taken.

Another interesting aspect for the L&D Technology Group is that you really don't know what your next client may ask you to do. So, you have to be prepared for a wide variety of different kinds of requirements and be ready to service them. You can't afford to be constantly saying, "We can't help you with that." At the same time, you can't over-engineer because it costs too much to prepare for every last contingency.

This is the heart of the challenge in defining eLearning Strategy:

  • predicting future needs,
  • planning to effectively and efficiently service those needs.

Predicting Needs

The starting point for an eLearning Strategy is predicting needs. This is very hard. Clearly, you are going to go around the organization to various business owners, partners such as IT, KM, Corporate Library, etc., and to your distributed L&D organization to understand what you can about the kinds of requirements they will have in the future. Of course, you can't say - "What requirements will you have for me in the future?" Few of your internal customers or partners will be able to answer that question in a way that really helps you.

Instead, the eLearning Strategy discussion is a learning, teaching and evangelist discussion. You start the conversation by understanding what their real business, performance, talent and learning challenges are. And then you shift from those challenges to the myriad of different kinds of solutions that might be part of solutions. You have to walk people through different tools and learning methods. Show potential customers within the organization what they are and how they can be applied. Then collaborate around where and how they might fit with the organizations needs.

This conversations can result in some really great outcomes. But most often, it's quite a mess. You will hear about many different kinds of possible future needs. Some wish list kinds of things. Often you have to talk your internal customer out of something that's pretty crazy. "Sure that 3D telepresence stuff if pretty cool. I bet we could get similar outcomes by using X. It wouldn't be quite as cool, but is probably much more cost effective."

Still in my experience this is messy stuff and you try your best to capture what it means for you in terms of requirements.

I would love to hear how people do this and if they have good ways of capturing this mess of requirements.

Planning Services

From this messy set of requirements, you are really looking at a strategy where you define the set of services you will deliver to the rest of the organization. This includes:

  • Learning Method Support
  • Tools / Technologies
  • Process / People / Vendors

You need to be the one who is aware of what's happening generally with technology in the organization. You have to be a really good partner with IT. You are going to be learning's liaison to IT.

You likely are also a liaison to vendors. As parts of the organization have variable needs for technology solutions, part of the strategy is to be able to quickly and effectively engage with vendors to address particular needs.

Technology steward – you likely can't say to the rest of the organization, "Don't use these tools." But you can say, "We know this set of tools works. If you use this other tool, we won't be able to support you as well."

Packaging Your eLearning Strategy

In most cases, if you are going after significant dollars, a key aspect of your eLearning Strategy will be how you present it. Most often this includes some kind of vision for what you are looking to provide. It will summarize at a high level the requirements you are hearing and then will talk about what this means in terms of your Learning Strategies and then how the technologies fit into this.

Most of the time, it's best not to focus too much on all the different individual types of solutions you are prepared to deliver, but rather on the net effects. Still almost every eLearning Strategy will contain something like the Learning Methods from Reuters:


This is broader than the technology group, but there are implications for the technology group. You can also see that there are talent elements in this list.

It will also contain a list of major technology or related initiatives along a timeline:


I did a bit of searching looking for examples of corporate/workplace eLearning Strategy presentation decks. I didn't find a lot. It would be really interesting to see what people produce around these things. Please point me to them!

Bigger eLearning Strategy Questions


  • See Learning Performance Business Talent Focus. This question of focus and scope has a major impact on the strategy.
  • What's your role relative to Talent Strategies? Are you involved in Selection, Onboarding, Reviews, Development?
  • What's your role relative to providing business and performance focused initiatives? Are you on the front lines of improving customer satisfaction? Do you get in and analyze aspects of performance relative to that and provide Data Driven performance solutions? Or are you going to be brought in to provide training?

Informal learning?

  • Are you focused on and responsible for informal learning solutions? What responsibility do you have after the learning event?
  • Providing a set of tools (wikis, blogs, discussion groups, etc.) that can be used as part of informal learning support does not mean that you are really supporting informal learning in the organization. There's a lot more to it than that. And part of your strategy should be to be prepared to help your internal customers with those aspects.


  • Off-the-Shelf / External Content?What's your responsibility for finding, vetting, facilitating the acquisition of external content sources, e.g., Skillsoft, Books 24x7, Safari, etc.
  • Content management, re-use
  • Portal and portal integration
  • Reporting/dashboards

What are some of the other big eLearning Strategy questions?


Bersin provides a great high-level list of issues to consider in their Modernize Corporate Training: The Enterprise Learning Framework. It is good to raise possible areas to consider.


Also worth a peek is: The eLearning Guild : Guild eBooks: Handbook of e-Learning Strategy

What other resources are there on this topic? What would help me think through what I might be missing in my strategy? What would help me create a presentation to executives with our eLearning Strategy?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

eLearning Costs

A reader sent a note asking my opinion on the vendor pricing in The Great eTrain Robbery? (Please Opine). Here's his brief description:

The particular course in question is approximately 2 hours of classroom soft skills training that needs to be delivered in an eLearning format. The content has already been written for the classroom. It needs to be repurposed for eLearning. The course will be developed using a Lectora-style system that produces what is essentially an HTML/javascript page turner. Multimedia (animation, narration, etc.) will be minimal. The course will not be narrated in its entirety, but there may be some snippets of narration here and there. Interactions should be basic form-based questions created within the development application. Graphics will include basic stock images/clip art in the classic “eLearning that looks like a bad PowerPoint presentation” style.

The fixed-price contract that has been signed with the vendor for this course is for 766 hours of development at an average hourly rate of $116 for a total of $89,000+.

His question is whether this price is reasonable, high or worth raising a stink.

From his brief description, the price sounds high, but I would need to know a bit more detail to be sure. For example, how much rewrite of the original course will be done. Are you coming up with "simulations" or more complex exercises to teach the soft skills? In many cases, there can be significant work to design that kind of learning experience.

If it's merely a port without significant redesign, then that's a pretty high price.

If you are going to raise a stink, I would suggest you do it by pointing to various resources that discuss costs. I went to my favorite resource (eLearning Learning) and looked at the keywords: Cost and Ratio and found some pretty good sources:

When you look at these, you will come up with various ratios and costs. The one from Karl Kapp in Learning Circuits (Time to Develop One Hour of Training) would seem good to cite.

Take a look and the ratios range from 122 to 243 hours per finished hour for simple courses. This aligns with Bryan Chapman's 220:1 ratio. However, before you jump all over the 383 per finished hour that the vendor is citing, note that Kapp includes Soft Skills Simulations that ranges from 320 to 731 per finished hour.

So, again, a big question is whether they are designing a kind of simulation that plays within the simple interactions you describe?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

15 More Workplace eLearning Blogs

Based on my post Top 99 Workplace eLearning Blogs several people contacted me with suggestions for additional blogs to include in eLearning Learning.  So, I'm happy to say that eLearning Learning now includes the 15 following great sources in addition to the 99 previously listed:

Several of these came courtesy of Mainsh's list - Blogs by Indian Learning Professionals and Companies.  Thanks for helping Manish.

I'm excited to have all of these new sources as part of eLearning Learning.  It helps me find great stuff and especially to make sure that I don't miss good stuff.  With the Best Of feature, I know that I'll see what's coming up as the good stuff each week and month.  For example, yesterday I posted the Best Of August 2009:

LMS – LCMS – Camtasia – Best of eLearning Learning – August 2009

It included several great posts that I had missed during the month.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Twitter Brings Lower Quality Clicks

Richard Hoeg points out that for his blog Twitter = High Visits But Low Conversion. Basically, he shows his "referring sites" from Google Analytics for the past two weeks:


His conclusion:

Folks who visit from Twitter don't visit as many pages and spend less time of the site.

Of course, that made me wonder if twitter really was bringing lower quality clicks than other sources. That's contrary to what I would expect. You would think that someone who gets a link referred by someone they know would visit and then look around. It should be pretty qualified. So, I looked at a similar view of referring sites:


Indeed, people coming from twitter are the lowest in pages viewed per visit and near the bottom in time on site and highest bounce rate. Likely they were interested in the specific item that they came there for, but still it's a bit disappointing that they don't click around a bit more.

Of course, a relatively small percentage of traffic from twitter actually comes from "" – many people use tools like TweetDeck. And I believe many of these are reported as Direct Traffic. So, I went to the list of All Traffic sources:


and while Direct Traffic does have a good number of referrals, it really doesn't provide good results. Basically, it's about the same as organic search traffic. And some of the Direct Traffic that comes from twitter is lumped in with Direct Traffic from other sources including RSS readers. And I believe that those other sources likely are higher quality clicks. Notice that as a referring source (likely Google Reader) is better than Direct generally. Bloglines also has better numbers.

I tried to get a bit more detail by using to see more about sources, but unfortunately, they also run into the same issue with the different twitter sources. Here's their description of "referring sites":

Direct Traffic includes people clicking a link from:
- Desktop email clients like Microsoft Outlook or Apple mail
- AIR applications like Twirhl
- Mobile apps like Twitterific or Blackberry Mail
- Chat apps like AIM
- SMS/MMS messages
It also includes people who typed a link directly into their browser

So they can't help differentiate either. Bottom line, everything I'm seeing suggests that Richard was right:

Twitter brings lower quality clicks

What's also interesting here is that there's been quite a bit of high profile discussion around Does This Blog Get More Traffic From Google or Twitter? where there was a question of whether twitter brought more traffic than traditional sources. For Fred Wilson, he gets pretty huge twitter traffic.

For Richard and I, we don't get nearly the same levels and it's not even close.

Twitter delivers some traffic, but it's still small compared to search.

It's surprising that Fred Wilson is not looking at the question of the quality of his twitter traffic either.

Aggregators Bring Traffic

One last thought, it's been a while since 2007 Traffic Stats - Hopefully a Meme where I looked a bit at my traffic numbers. They've grown considerably over the years, but a lot of the statistics have remained consistent. One of the really interesting things I saw in Richard's stats and in my stats was:

Two Aggregators (eLearning Learning and Work Literacy) are among the top 5 in referring sites.

On Richard's eLearning Learning was number 7 as a referrer. For him, they were 100% new visitors and had pretty good pages clicked and time on site. For me, it was also pretty good quality traffic.

This is somewhat validating the concept behind these sites and the Browse My Stuff concept.

And all of this makes me think:

Marketers interested in quality clicks should focus less on twitter and more on blogging, search and aggregation.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Play and Socialize with People Interested in eLearning

I'm co-founder and CTO of a new start-up, Fantasy World, that creates fun, online games that allow groups of people to have fun, win prizes, play-along with celebrities, and most of all to socialize outside the normal context of the group. It's backed by a major entertainment company and my co-founder comes from the fantasy sports space.

Our first game has just launched, Survivor Football '09.

If you like American rules football (sorry this is not soccer), and you would enjoy socializing with a group of people who read this blog, please sign-up and join the Fight Club that is called - the eLearning Fun Club. I'd especially welcome any of you who can help us make better picks during the season, i.e., actually have some knowledge of Fantasy Football. I'm a fan, but have never done fantasy football before. Luckily the game is pretty simple, but still helpful to have a couple of ringers in our fight club to help us out.

Here's a video that explains a bit more about the game:

When you join, make sure you select the eLearning Fun Club as your fight club. That's where we will be hanging out. In addition to Fight Clubs, there are prizes. You can choose the prize you want at any time prior to the start - Week 2 kick-off.

Some of the other fight clubs are offering prizes in addition to the prize that you play for. I don't specifically have a prize in mind for the winner of the fight club yet.

Any ideas on what we could give? Maybe a copy of some books from authors who read this (and would want to play)? Maybe something from one of the vendors who reads this?

More generally, I believe that this represents something we will see more of in the future. Interesting ways to socialize that is outside the original venue and how we are used to socializing. I'm curious what Nancy White might have to say about this kind of thing. But that's likely another whole series of blog posts.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Nothing More Important in my Life Than Blogging

From Jay Cross' Informal Learning Flow Hot List for August, fantastic video with Seth Godin and Tom Peters discussing the value of blogging.



They sound a lot like what I say about blogging and learning.  This is going to be pretty good for an upcoming presentation to professional speakers about the use of social media.

Seth Godin

Doesn't matter if anyone reads it.

What matters is the metacognition of thinking about what you are going to say.

How do you force yourself to describe in three paragraphs why you did something.

You are doing it for yourself to become part of the conversation even if it's very small.

Tom Peters

No single thing in the last 15 years professionally has been more important in my life than blogging.

It has changed my life.  It has changed my perspective.  It has changed my intellectual outlook.  It has changed my emotional outlook.

Best damn marketing tool by an order of magnitude.


And it's free.