Nov 29, 2007

Presentation on IBM Knowledge Factory

Just gave my presentation at Online Educa Berlin on the IBM Knowledge Factories, and how we went from the 'renaissance man' model to a global e-learning production factory model with global resources.

I've uploaded the presentation to

The presentation went well, just the open discussion at the end didn't really take off. I guess the European Online Educa audience want to get presentations rather than discuss :-). The discussion was on how to integrate the learner (not the subject matter expert) in the development process without adding cost, predictability of quality outcome or time. I'm always interested in your ideas.

Nov 26, 2007

Sounds of the Bazaar: my first podcast appearance

I just made my first podcast appearance on 'Sounds of the Bazaar', a series of podcasts leading up to the Online Educa Berlin conference that I will be attending this week. I have a weird voice :-). The podcast is on e-collaboration tools in learning.

Nov 8, 2007

Book review: Informal Learning - Jay Cross

I finally finished the book 'Informal Learning - rediscovering the natural pathways that inspire innovation and performance' by Jay Cross. It has been on my reading list since last year, but somehow I never got around to go on after the first few chapters.

The book is as the title suggests about one extremely important form of learning that is overlooked by the learning profession and industry: how people learn informally through conversation, contacts, social networks, etc. Admit it: the first thing you do when you don't know something is ask the person next to you. Very often that is not the right person to ask, but it does show how people prefer to learn. It is by definition impossible to formalize informal learning (don't even try!), but it can be steered and supported.

I found the first chapters of the book very insightful, cleverly written with some humor and very promising. However, the later chapters where Jay Cross starts describing some formats (often long chapters on personal experiences) did not really add much value for me. They sound like written by a learning guru on the verge of retirement, looking back with disrespect to the things he has done before and we as a profession are still doing daily. Or I was just jetlagged while reading them.

Some forms of informal learning experiences like unconferences, spontaneous and unmoderated sessions, or grokking especially seem very powerful mechanisms for a little select group of people: those who are smart, open and willing. It's like Steiner education: I think it IS better than traditional education, but only for the smart, open and willing. Those forms of informal learning will not take off or be less productive for others. I can see how these formats would work well in an environment such as IBM. I do not see how to get better results out of it in a federal ministry where people actually don't want to share their knowledge for reasons of status and job protection. I can see it working in America. I cannot see it working in a culture where hierarchy and status dominate value and performance.

I totally agree however with the main point of the book. Informal learning is important (80% or another number of learning), and can be fostered and cultivated. In a learning world where about all focus is on formal courses and training, a book that (over)emphasizes the other side is more than welcome. So let's indeed start to at least acknowledge and support informal learning in our workplaces.

Use to find voice talent

The times of expensive 250$/hour audio studio recording is over. Nowadays you can include voice in your courses or learning podcasts at much more reasonable prices. Use for example the site The site is an intermediary between you and thousands of voice talents. The site doesn't charge you for its use and lets you set up a project and get quotes and demo's from voice talents. You can also search the database for a particular voice.

Some numbers from E-learning Guild 360° report on learning systems

  • The top ten vendors enjoy a 70% market share and the top 20 vendors an 83% market share.
  • 'Developed in house' is the second largest LMS in terms of market share, with a market penetration of 12.78%. Moodle, the most popular open source LMS, comes 4th but is usually a secondary LMS. (These numbers include academia and small companies as well as large enterprises.)
  • Costs per learner per year for large corporations (> 5000) for the LMS vary from 15$ to 57$.

Nov 6, 2007

Learning SCORM

SCORM is the major e-learning standard nowadays and it defines how the e-learning industry packages, describes, structures, delivers and tracks e-learning modules. It stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model and its current version is SCORM 2004. Most organizations however standardize on courses and learning platforms that are SCORM 1.2 compliant, due to the slow adoption and the unneeded complexity of SCORM 2004. Anyway, the world is big and open, and unless you like begin locked in with one particular vendor you better make sure both your learning infrastructure (LMS) and learning content are SCORM compatible and/or certified. Open standards ARE the way forward.

Many people however ask me what SCORM is, what is does and how it works. So today I provide you with two links to help you out.