Dec 7, 2010

Are you still on this blog?

You should have moved to the new one months ago...

You can read my posts on Online Educa Berlin 2010 for example:

Berlin, Halleluja Berlin

OEB Wednesday : Do your own HoCo workshop

OEB Thursday : battle of the bloggers and more

OEB Friday : learning in three dimensions and more

Oct 15, 2010

I attended the EoI Cafe / Red Monkeys and other reflections

Attended an interesting event on innovation. Posted on my other blog:

Please adapt your reader RSS feed or bookmarks, as this blog's content will migrate into the Homo Competens blog.

Sep 21, 2010

(As posted on my Homo Competens blog (with links that got lost in this post)- please adjust your bookmarks, this blog will migrate into the Homo Competens blog.)

A week ago I attended the Meet&Greet of Kluwer. The keynote speaker was Manon Ruijters, and she talked on learning trends, and her research/tool on learning styles. You can find her presentation (in Dutch) here.

I know, I also read the end of the learning styles debate on Donald Clark's blog - even if they would exist, no research shows that designing training for it actually produces better results than just ignoring it alltogether. It doesn't stop learning styles from showing up about everywhere you look.
Manon's styles are not about visual or auditive or whatever channels. It's not about anything that comes to you. Her 5 styles are based on the learning behaviour people have when they face a learning need. She distinguishes (in my own rough translation):

  • the copycat : finds out what worked before, and does that - eg pair them with those who successfully done it. eg managers frequently have this preference
  • participating: collaborative, self-steering groups of professionals. eg healthcare personnel
  • knowledge finding: it's all about knowledge and expertise. eg lawyers, technical professions
  • exercising: and learn from mistakes. eg education
  • exploring: creativity, growth, serendipity . eg consultants

She made the exercise for everyone in the audience, and contrasted the Belgian with the Dutch audience. She also keeps score of typical preferences for groups of a certain profession, or for particular companies. For what it is worth, it's a nice exercise to do.
In my 'Homo Competence' thinking, you need to find out how you learn best. If this is a useful tool for you, use it. If you think styles don't matter, ignore it.

Here is a link if you want to score yourself on these dimensions:

Sep 15, 2010

Presentation given at ICL conference today

Earlier today I talked about and demoed my company's examples of immersive learning (serious games) and social learning at the ICL conference in Hasselt. Here is the slideshow with screenshots.

Sep 14, 2010

Mismatch in what training professionals think and the rest of us think

I attended the Kluwer Meet&Greet event some hours ago in Mechelen. They presented their new Learning Indicator, based on surveys amongst HR professionals and just plain professionals in Belgium. Here are some highlights and my reflections:

  • The smaller the company, the more often a strategy for training lacks. Make sense as the smaller the company, the more any policy document lacks, they don't need it as much. But I do hope even the small ones at least think about what it brings them and how they go about it, policy or strategy document or not.
  • But small or big, this vision often plainly lacks (in 36% of cases)
  • The top priority is mapping the (key) competencies with their training plans. Enabling learning technology is only at place 5 of the priority list. That's a good trend. It should always have been about balancing demand and supply of talent/competencies in your organization, aligned with business objectives.
  • Mismatch: the training department thinks it is doing a better job then the employees rate it
  • Mismatch: employees are far more willing to learn (88%), even outside of work (73%), than training folks assume (54%). The reflection I have with this is: employees will probably not take just any training outside of hours. Yes, I mean you, compliance training! Especially if people want to voluntarily take up training to advance their career, it better be effective and time well spent, and engaging etc. I would like to see a study on what the difference is between the learning people consume outside of work, and the learning during hours (and most often enforced)
  • The dominance of classroom is still standing, and of course e-learning is still on the rise, but also a lot of focus on coaching as a learning activity. Gaming isn't mainstream.

Sep 1, 2010

*as posted on *

It's 'back to school' day today in Belgium, so I'd thought I'd make use of the happy occasion to tell you about my first 'HoCo Concept site'. It is a site based on the principles of the book, and this first one targets learning. It has matured in the corner of my head for about two years now, and I finally found the energy and time to start programming it. Now it's ready enough for the first testers to take a look. Do let me know what you think!

The site is:

PS: If you are still on this blog, please update your reader to . This blog on learning will be integrated in the Homo Competens one on competent people.

Aug 22, 2010

The Instructional Designer

Watch the little animation Patrick Dunn made on his blog.

So, is the future of instructional design in danger? Are Subject Matter Experts the ones we need?

I will only add this to the debate: I see a lot of 'degraded' instructional design roles, and to me an instructional designer for learning is like the TV format creator in entertainment.

Yes, degraded. When I look only at my own company to all the people that carry the title 'instructional designer' (especially in one country that attracts a lot of outsourced work and shall remain unnamed)  and I look at what they mostly do, I get worried. Somehow, over the years the skill of matching learning need with proper learning activity design degraded into how to arrange stuff on a screen. That is not what instructional design is about. If it is, or if it got degraded into that for most that carry the title, please let subject matter experts take over.

A proper instructional designer is like a TV Quiz format creator to me. It is the design of the 'template', where other people can make a 1000 shows on... We don't need 100s of instructional designers for that, but we need a few damn good ones.

Learning isn't knowledge transfer

Via Clive on Learning: this YouTube video. Learning isn't just knowledge transfer. (I would not make every learning activity based on emotion either... We would all need shrinks to cope with the affection overload.)

Google's CloudCourse

Google would not be Google if they didn't do everything themselves. That goes for the LMS too. Or at least what they need of LMS functions. They now have opened up the source code of what they call 'CloudCourse' for the benefit of the rest of us people. It runs on their appengine platform, which is their cloud computing service.

You'll find it here.

It comes as no surprise to me Google would internally reinvent the LMS for how they believe it should work. In a video from one of Google's learning folks (forget where or the name, sorry about that), they even don't make learning content anymore. They just find it on the net, and link it together. Makes sense if your core business is finding stuff. What could you possible want to learn about that is not somewhere covered by someone on the Internet?

Jun 21, 2010

So learning culture is the biggest driver for impact

Here is a quote from Bersin in one of his latest blogs on talent management:
"The core of this report is one major finding:  among all the HR and training processes we study, the single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organization's learning culture." 
And there we have it... learning culture is still the walhalla of corporate development and success. So all we need to do now is figure out how to succesfully shape these cultures, right?
Succesful learning cultures can make (all) the difference in the world, but knowing what constitunes one will not get you one. It is actually pretty safe for companies to share the secrets of their culture as they are not easily copied and remain a unique and strategic important asset to the company. 
The Bersin report lists 6 elements of learning culture:
- building trust
- encouraging reflection 
- demonstrate learning's value 
- enabling knowledge sharing 
- empowering employees 
- formalizing learning as process 
Leadership and management either foster or destroy the ability to learn and the motiviation to learn. Oh, and the outcomes of a learning culture are goodies too: agility, innovation, satisfied customers, ... As I said, corporate walhalla. 
More here in this very intersting article: 

Apr 22, 2010

Not so informal learning with Dr Werner

I've been giggling for 15 minutes watching Dr Werner explain in his best German/English the benefits of informal learning. It just happens and you need people to write a 10 page ROI report on it...  Enjoy...
(And thanks Paul for sharing this with me)

Mar 25, 2010

Generation Y and beyond: there is no life after 35

As an add-on to my last post on the generations talk: a study by Jeugdonderzoeksplatform reveals that youngsters all want the same thing. Their perceived life path will not take them on a world trip or alternative life or a career head start. Basically they plan to have their first sexual intercourse at 17, first job experience at 22, leave the house at 23, get married at 25, and have their last child at 34, shortly before the peak of their career they situate at 35.
And there it stops, so there is no life after 35? (I'm being melodramatic because I'm turning 36 next April 18, do send me a present :-) ).

I don't remember how realistic my life path was when I was 16, but employers do need to worry about the expectation to peek professionally at 35. "Homo Competens" wise, I'd say you may peek at your first career after 5-10 years, but you'll have other careers before you retire. You would think the networked generation would realize that...

Mar 24, 2010

International e-learning conference in Hasselt in September

It is not that often an international e-learning conference takes place in Belgium, so for those that didn't know yet: from Sept 15-17, the ICL2010 conference will take place in Hasselt. It used to be in Austria, and it used to be for academics audiences mainly, but this year a corporate track is added. The call for papers is open by the way.

More info:

Here is some wording from the conference flyer:
The interdisciplinary ICL conference aims to focus on the exchange of relevant
trends and research results as well as the presentation of practical experiences in
Learning has become an increasingly important subject of all organisations. It is a
main task to develop and to maintain the individual and organizational skills and
knowledge to create a sustainable competitive advantage, achieve superior
performance, increase efficiency, respond to changing environments, and improve
business results.
How to provide the most effective learning solutions and facilities for workplace
learning? It’s time to make the change and to benefit from the revolution of ICT to
enhance the quality of learning and provide better training by the usage of Elearning,
where learning materials and relevant knowledge can be delivered just in
time in the workplace by using internet technology
A special corporate e-learning track will be organized in the frame of the ICL
conference by University Hasselt in Belgium in cooperation with: BE-ODL, IBM, i-
KNOW, KBC, VDAB, CVO Antwerp South, OU (nl)
Topics of Interest
 Business experiences in and impact of the implementation of e-learning
 E-Learning readiness: measuring it and action plan
 Immersive learning models thanks to technological advancements
 Semantic tooling delivering personalised content and integrating learning in the
 Computer-Assisted Language Learning
 Personal Learning Environments
 Information retrieval techniques for e-Learning

Mar 21, 2010

And the generations are back...

The crisis must be over, at least in mindset. The generation debate "oh my, we have Gen Y entering the workforce" is back from where we left it two years ago. Earlier this week my newspaper ran a hallucinating article of a plumber and his 20 attempts only this year to find a suitable fellow. Some were stealing (never good), some just not showing up either on the first day or after a week (the dog needed care), some overly incompetent (and lying about it), etc. In the weekend edition of the same paper, there's more under the title "Employers don't understand youngsters." It lists some of the value shift in the generation now entering the workforce: more immediate, more attracted by smaller firms where they can make a difference rather than being stuck in the boundaries of a big corporation, driven by challenge, feedback and reward (immediate by the way), valuing short concrete projects over longer jobs, valuing work/life balance (yes, the distance home-work IS important), and then some other shifting values... Skills being more important than looks, for example, if the newspaper is any authority. In short: the generation debate seems back, so let's reflect on what is going on. What's new in this debate, really?

Disclaimer: I'm by the way well aware that you can't and shouldn't make any individual judgment based on the statistical characteristics of an entire group of people. I'm putting no one in a box here. But statistics about groups of people CAN be rightfully used to make predictions about those groups. So while nothing in this debate can be brought to the individual level, group-wise it makes sense.

Question: Is the generation entering the workforce unfit? 
Answer: Not more than our parents thought the same of us, or our grandparents about them.
There is nothing new in the debate 'they don't know work ethics anymore, you can't trust them, they don't know the rewards of hard work, bla bla.' It seems that every major generations thinks that of the next one. There is nothing new there. It won't matter either. Every generation is shaped by the experiences of their youth and growing up: by that technology, mindset, etc. So yes once in a while there's a clash of values, and gradually society and work will find ways to accommodate the values of the new emerging and soon dominant generation. It has happened before.

Question: Will the new generation bring the new technology and fitting lifestyle (social networks, a lot of instant communication etc) to the workplace?
Answer: Yes, most likely. We have a precedent with the Internet.
Yes, the new generation and their preference for social technology and networking, constant and instant communication will impact the workforce. My generation did that before with the Internet. I first went online at my second year in university, because that is where the Internet was in those days. When I entered the workplace four years later, the corporate world was in a big debate if the Internet even had business value and if providing access from the office would not harm productivity as people would be surfing all the live long day. The discussion of those days closely resembles the one we have today about banning social networks at work, and whether LinkedIn is a blessing or a burden on corporate life. Just as with the rise of the Internet in the business world, we will have experimentation and exaggeration or abuse at both sides. In the end the new technology will find its rightful place and the trend will be that abuse of good stuff is not good. This debate isn't new and it's outcome is predictable because we have a precedent. It has happened before.

Question: Does the corporate world need to accommodate or adapt to the new generation an its values?
Answer: Accomodate, but not as before. The workplace is multi-generation now.
We have had new groups/generations entering the office before. Traditionally, there is friction of values until the new generation is powerful enough to influence practice and process according to its world view, and then step by step they become the dominant generation and it starts all over again. This will NOT happen again soon. There are a few trends that make the succession of the 'dominant generation' unlikely: ageing workforce that needs to work longer before they are allowed to retire, at the same time new generations entering the workforce and the one stuck in the middle not wanting to give in. The trend is for a workfloor that successfully and equally integrates multiple generations and their values, rather than converging around the values of the dominant generation. So the balance exercise for the years to come is to integrate multiple expectations and value schemes into the same environment. That is the generation challenge ahead, not just worrying about a particular GenY entering. It has not happened before.

Question: Is there anything different really with the GenY or Milleniums?
Answer: Yes. They seem to have balls.
You can find tables with broad characteristics of semi-arbitrary labels as 'baby boomer', 'gen x', 'gen y', 'milleniums', etc. So they say that the new generations want to make a difference and have a job with impact on the world, with challenges and new stuff to learn all the time. Is that new? Did any other generation ever enter the workforce with the dream of a boring job with no impact on the world whatsoever? This is not so new either. It would be sad to start your career without goals, some healthy ambition and high expectations. And then it happens: promotions are not as fast as you had imagined, there is some boring stuff and lot things you can't do, etc. I spot a difference here with the new generations: crisis or no crisis, having to pay for a mortgage and children or not,  they will not stand for it. We were not necessarily happy, but we understood the context and blabla and we stayed. The new generation seems to have more balls. They will go. They will take matter more in their own hands. They are not patient, and they are not obeying stupid stuff. More than us they will hack systems and ignore stupid rules (like not installing applications on your laptop that help you do your job but IT hasn't approved). How much more balls they will have five years into the workforce, and how much of their values they will not accept any compromise for is unclear. We'll know more when they have families and houses to pay for, and start leading other people instead of just worrying about their own performance. But the trends are there and that is new. Exiting times ahead in the corporate world!

So to conclude my Sunday rant on generations:
- The debate is back.
- There are some shifting values, nothing new about that. That brings some friction, nothing new about that either. The dominant workforce will call them unfit or even lazy, again nothing new.
- But this generation is not going to overtake the position of dominant generation any time soon, the future is for a multi-generational workforce. That is new.
- And the new generation seems to have more balls to stick with their values than generations before them. Let's see what that gives.

What do you make of all this generations talks?

Feb 28, 2010

Training and education in Belgium

It's always interesting to hear other people talk about your country. In the February issue of Training Magazine, the world view column focuses on Belgium. Here are a few statements:

  • "Despite its small size and lack of resources, Belgium has achieved success through its stellar training and education." I guess that one is true. We have a good reputation for high levels of education, specially in math and science, according to OESO. But our training once employed lacks behind those of other nations. Some told me that is linked to the high level of education we get before entering the workforce. I'm semi-convinced...
  • "Because of the euro's strength, training costs are higher in Belgium that in the US. As a result, training program participants are motivated to do well." I'm not sure I'm following this logic. So if the dollar weakens, we get more motivated participants in training classes? Don't think so. Maybe the motivation is higher because you are not that often send to training.  It's almost a reward if you get to go.
  • "Training is looked at very positively in Belgium, and trainers are highly respected." I've been an IT trainer years ago, and I was indeed always treated with respect. I can't really compare, but do participants throw dirt at trainers in other countries?
  • "Participants feel that the trainer is the expert, and they should focus their attention on the instructor as opposed to their fellow trainees." Sadly true. There's a culture of 'let's shut up and listen to the expert, he is supposed to know it all and tell us'. Classes in Belgium are not as interactive as let's say in the UK or US, (or the Dutch, but they talk all the time :-) ). It is often very hard to get participation and Q&A going.
  • "Don't single out a trainee for praise, as this can create an uncomfortable class environment". Funny tip, but true, we are modest people. Too modest?
  • "The most popular training programs in Belgium deal with leadership, management and presentation skills." I didn't verify, but companies indeed focus on this.
There's more in the online version of the magazine (free by the way) on  As said at the start of this post, it is always interesting to hear other people recommend how to behave in your country.

Feb 7, 2010

Google part of learning process

I'm quoting an article on a study of Google use for learning purposes here. Researchers at Penn State University found that instead of looking for new information, search engines are primarily used to fact check information that you already know."Not just a place to find facts, but to show that you know the facts"

More here.

Widget to my web store

Jan 27, 2010

Dokeos open course LMS becomes Chamilo

There are a few dozen open source Learning Management Systems out there like Moodle (most popular), ILIAS, aTutor, etc. For years I kept an eye on what Dokeos did, an open source from Belgium that did quite well. Dokeos I believe itself was a fork of the Claroline system because of some difference in view. For the last years Dokeos has gone more and more into a commercial direction, with a stripped free version. And now the community of Dokeos developers thinks that has gone too far, so meet the newest fork: chamilo. A few weeks ago this new project kicked off, bringing the old Dokeos code back to a 'real' open source and free community. It is so interesting to see what is going on with socially developed software and their communities. It's not Coronation street, but it is its own kind of soap :) .