Dec 29, 2008

New 6C learning site is live

The new 6C learning site is live.

It replaces the old one (on Dotnetnuke, and not updated for over two years) and also has the updated version of the framework. The useful stuff from the library on the old site is still available, along with a few overview presentations of the 6 areas: Concept, Computer Infrastructure, Content, Context, Collaboration, Coordination.

The new site has been made with the standard and free version of Google Apps, more specifically the Google Sites application. I must say I'm impressed by this new feature (a port from JotSpot that Google purchased). The only moderatly difficult part is to change the DNS records of my domain to point to the google services, but the applications are very easy to use. I also integrated the overview presentations directly from Google Docs. At first I tried to make them with 280slides.com. That must be the most beautiful web application I've seen to date, but it just was too slow to be any good to me, so I gave Google presentations a shot.

Oh, it's on www.6Clearning.com.

6C learning framework : new slides

Here are the new slide decks to introduce the 6C learning framework. They are available on slideshare.net and soon on the brand new site 6Clearning.com.

6C learning in 6 questions




6C learning how to samples

Dump

I'm going to close down the old 6C learning forum very soon now and start an all new site. I thought the following forum posts deserved preserving, so I'm going to dump them just in one big post here:


Some interesting free documents at the www.kineo.co.uk website:
- 13 ways to manage informal learning
- 50 ideas for free e-learning
- 7 ways to market e-learning

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http://nuvvo.com/

This site gives info on a hosted LMS system they describe as 'learning 2.0', based on AJAX and all that 'web 2.0' stuff.
It's English only, but has a virtual tour and extensive online help. You can create your own free hosting account and create a course. You can charge students for your course (nuvvo charges 8% transaction fee).

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A nice example of podcasts used for learning.

http://www.firstaidpod.com

It has small training movies on how to provide first aid. Put it on your ipod of PDA and use it (just in time) when you need it!
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Creating online content is a team sport

(taken from Patti Shank)
Most folks who build online instructional materials can't do it all. But building good online learning in
any kind of effective and efficient manner requires that one possess expanded skills.

Here are the major skills that are often needed for building online instructional materials:

Instructional design
Graphic/visual design
Technical writing
Creative writing
Information design/architecture
Web authoring
Multimedia/programming
Usability
Quality assurance
Learning infrastructure
Project management

Yeah, it's a lot. Before you become overwhelmed, however, keep in mind that not every project requires
deep skills in all these areas. But a lack of skills (and not knowing when other skills are needed) leads
to ineffective (or worse) online instruction.

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Survey by eLearners.com Explores Myths About Online Learning
When online higher-education students were asked what they think the biggest myth is about online learning, their top three responses were: "It requires less time and effort," "The work is easier" and "It is a less effective educational/learning format," according to a recent survey by eLearners.com. More than half these students indicated they spent more than 10 hours per week on their course work. Despite the workload, 90 percent of the online students surveyed indicated their experience was good or better, with more than 83 percent saying they would recommend online education to others.
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ROI calculation is a natural next (or first?) step in e-learning : why do we spend that money? What do we get back?

Here is a link to a toolkit for return calculationin workforce change management:
http://www.aspenwsi.org/BVAToolkit.asp
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'The rise of the high-performance learning organisation'
http://www.accenture.com/xd/xd.asp?it=enweb&xd=services\learn\rise_hp.xml

1- Alignment of learning initiatives to the business goals of the organisation
2- Measurement of the overall business impact of the learning function
3- Movement of learning outside the 'four walls' of the organisation to include other members of the overall value chain such as customers and channel partners
4- A focus on competency development of the organisation's most critical job families
5- Integration of learning with other human performance systems and functions such as knowledge management, performance support and talent management
6- Blended delivery approaches that include classroom as well as both synchronous and asynchronous electronic learning
7- Mature design and delivery of leadership development courses

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Pick the low hanging fruit

As a recommendation, you should identify the 'low hanging fruit' for your learning projects. If you concentrate on the quick wins, you can quickly prove the value of learning and get the necessary credibility and executive support for your next step in the learning transformation.

Some ideas to help identify those learning needs:
- what is the main goal of the company this year?
- compliance with regulatory directives
- organisational change (merger, acquisition, reorganisation, moving to another building,...)
- performance improvement (new product, cost reduction)
- competitive forces
- new hiree training
- IT projects (IP telephony, desktop upgrade, SAP introduction, ...)

Any more ideas on the 'low hanging fruits'? What is the key learning need this year in your organisation?
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free ebook the business impact of e-learning

Just found this on the internet:

http://www.ag-rapportenservice.nl/(phmcsg55z2j1gz553b55fr55)/Default.lynkx?HomePointer=1-10&type=RapportView&RapportPointer=1-9-6439-6441-44884

It can be ordered (paying) or downloaded (free). It's a disseration of a doctoral student at universty Nuyenrode (June 05).
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Justify elearning investments in three phases

Just came accross a Gartner study (ID G00131076, publication date 13 Oct 2005) on e-learning investments.
Their point is that e-learning requires sustained investments over many years but justification for this spending will change with time. They advise to use a three-phased approach to retain the support of corporate managers.

Phase 1 : e-learning lowers training costs (= justify investments on cost savings)
Phase 2 : e-learning makes employees more productive (= operational/tactical benefits)
Phase 3 : e-learning helps achieve business goals

Any comments on this justification?

An IBM executive briefing paper (see documents) lists three similar phases for governance of learning:
1- Training efficiency
2- Business Unit Performance
3- Enterprise Readiness
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Dec 19, 2008

Facebook on the workfloor: the numbers

I read a lot of companies ban Facebook access for their employees because 'non productive'. It reminds me of the times companies banned Internet access alltogether because 'non productive' and 'not work related'. We'll need to go through the same with social software. Yes, it can be misused. So? Not allowing people to interact with their network is cutting them from half of their knowledge (a lobotomy as I call it). Ask for responsible use, make a code, track abuse. But don't just cut it...

Anyway, some numbers on Facebook usage on the workfloor from this week's edition of Vacature:
- 18% uses Facebook at work more than half an hour a day
- 29% says their boss knows they use Facebook at work
- 57% has both personal and professional friends in their network
- 17% has their boss added to their friends list
- 34% of hr people screen candidates on Facebook

Dec 17, 2008

the smart cut: reading Training Industry Inc ezine

Clips from reading this month's edition of Training Industry magazine:

- Ed Cohen reflects on the current crisis in the editorial as "One thing history tells us is that the parachute will open... this economic cycle will come to an end." The article is entitled "weather this storm, prepare for the next". I don't agree with his notion that this is like any other crisis our young industry faced, this one could be much deeper. But I do like his idea of "the perfect storm" building up. When the economic thing, together with the demographic thing, the new leadership for a changing environment thing and others all happen simultaneously and all simultaneously impact learning. It is in contrast with Clive Shepherd who thinks the only crisis is the economic one to worry about right now and that thinking of new generations of learners at this time is like rearranging the desk chairs on the Titanic. One more point of interest is the quote "Companies that treat their people well, even during difficult times, will be the long term winners." I agree, don't just stop learning flat, not even for one quarter. Cut it smart, not alltogether, you will cut in your own future, not your own fat.

- Doug Harward lists 7 concrete ideas for impacting the bottom line : leverage internal resources, reduce administration, reduce travel for training, consolidate vendors, reduca your vendor's cost, rationalize portfolios and convert learning courses into learning content. Let me turn this useful list into 7 questions:
  • Can you involve your internal talent for what you do best?
  • Are you generating lots of reports noone reads?
  • Are travel costs bigger than the training costs itself?
  • Do you have a lot of vendors that each have a small piece of the training cake?
  • Can you renegotiate with your vendors?
  • How does a particular course impact the corporate mission?
  • Are you leveraging the wealth of information on your intranet besides what is locked in your LMS?

- There is a very good article on informal learning. Take the 'perfect storm' as an opportunity to push more into a blessed, supported and sustained informal approach to learning on the workplace.

the smart cut : why do we need click here click there application training?


Why do we still make such an amount of e-learning that is nothing more than 'click here, click there' application training? That is sooooo last century.
When productivity tools like office applications were on the rise and getting employee productivity to new heights, it was a very natural thing to have book shelves full of 'how to work with application X'. I guess it's because that was the way we learned back then: thorough, step by step, building knowledge that would last a lifetime because things never changed. But these applications kept on changing every year, books were reprinted and reprinted, and e-learning took off with one of its killer applications: application simulations. The camtasias and other tools of this world specialised in making 'click here, click there' training got big. They even got into 'application cloning' for training purposes (like Datango or Assima).
Now we see the rise of social software that will bring the next productivity kick, moving productivity from the individual to the group. Did you notice the total absense of traditional learning for these tools? There are no shelves at my book store full of books on how to use Facebook, write an article on Wikipedia, twitter or blog or how to use Yahoo Messenger or Skype. We have gotten used to working with applications without needing the details. It's like getting directions in a building: we are just told where to go, and we find our way. Nobody at the reception desk will explain how to take the elevator, open a door or such things. We kind of collectively figured out that a button with 'cancel' will cancel the transaction, please stop teaching us that already! We have figured out how to interact with an application and get what we want. And applications have learned to ignore the engineering design and go for somewhat usability. That helps too. Finding your way around a web site or application is a basic skill. Acquiring that skill should have been done years ago and if you are not on that waggon, it's too late for businesses to spend money on that. Go back to school, or have the government take that up.


I would say: it's time to cut most of that 'click here, click there' training. If I would ask you what you learned in the end you would say 'I learned to click a button'. Kudoos, you're an A student. What we need is to know what the application is capable off, how it fits in what needs to be done (process, task, whatever), the 10 basic things to get us started, who we can ask for help if not the person next to us and especially what it will change in our work lives (and by the way, for the better.)
Allow me to suggest an alternative to application training. Did you ever hear of Jing? It's made by TechSmith, the creators of CamTasia. It is a very easy stripped down version that allows end-users to take a snapshot of an area of their screen and annotate it, or to make a small video recording of their application. Try it out, a child can do it. I imagine a 'learntube' site in your corporation where you host channels like "How to ... with SAP", "How to ... with Lotus Domino". The learning department makes the first 10 movies with basic tasks and posts them. All others are uploaded by users. It's rated by the community and the best rated will be on top. It's searchable. It's a community tool for and by the community, out of the formal learning loop. And it wouldn't cost a great deal. Makes sense? Stupid? Let me know...

the smart cut: CLO magazine article 'the outlook is not getting any better'

Chief Learning Officer published an article on the economic downturn with the title 'The Outlook's Not Getting Any Better'. Yes, companies continue to announce massive layoffs. Here are some sentences of the article I found worth quoting:

- 70 percent of HR professionals feel budget cuts across entire organizations are likely

- Typically, training is one of the first items to be cut, but Cohen believes organizations should avoid that route....In the case of budget cuts, learning and development organizations need to be prepared. To avoid haphazard cutting, organizations should look to see they can tighten their belts.“You really need to think about what the costs are associated with training,” Cohen said. “You try to find ways to continue learning but minimize other structural costs that go along with it. If it’s possible, shorten the length of training. Where you might have purchased a three-day course [before], think about purchasing a one-day course. ... But my hope for organizations is that they find a way to continue the learning, but reduce the cost associated with that learning.”

- Learning becomes even more critical when an organization is cutting back on raises or bonuses, as these are ways to retain employees. ... An employee will remember [that the] organization tried to give [them] as much as they could, instead of cutting as much as they could.

Key point to remember for smart cutting: 1. It will happen, so please prepare. 2. Don't stop the learning as a whole, but cut its cost via all possible ways 3. You can use learning to retain the people you want to keep, especially at year end when folks think over their next moves...

Dec 16, 2008

The smart cut - go open source (or even open content)

You probably have a lot of expensive licensed software you use for learning. An LMS for administration and e-learning delivery, authoring tools, collaboration tools, social software, ...

Open source software is not something just for the home or geeks. It can have its place in the corporation as well. Sure, only the license is free and you will need to work out the sustainability, support and other issues via a community. But for the most popular open source softwares there are companies who provide services like installation, customization, maintenance, hosting or support for you.

The most popular open source LMS (learning management system) no doubt is Moodle. It comes with a lot of modules the community has made, in multiple languages and has a thriving community and business around it. It started mainly of in schools, but has corporate attention now too, albeit currently a lot for test servers or departemental learning servers. There are others: Dokeos in Belgium, ILIAS in Germany (scorm certified even!), Atutor in Canada, ... But maybe the one with the biggest corporate endorsement behind it is Sakai, a Java based open source LMS.

You'll find a lot of open source software for learning on the web or even on this blog. Just have a fair look at what open source software can mean for your smart cut.
Some more I recently discovered:
- http://pachyderm.nmc.org/: Pachyderm is for web-based authoring of multimedia presentations.
- http://www.salasaga.org/ : Salasaga is an open source authoring tool for making application simulations e-learning.

Oh, and there is even open content too! MIT started to put its content openly on the web. (See MITOpencourseware) Why can't industries not do that? Do all car manufacturers need their own modules on basic engine stuff? Do all banks need their own version of how to calculate the value of options? But maybe I'm dreaming now...

Jef Staes at the Creativity Forum

What can I say, I'm a fan of the man and his red monkeys. And he has more and more in English now.

Dec 15, 2008

The smart cut - make, keep, freeze and cut

This is a suggestion for smart cutting your training catalog. It deals with the formal part of learning, anything that comes in classrooms or has to do with courses, curricula, certification and the likes. So it does not deal with the informal (or natural) part like communities of practice, social networks, forums, having a mentor, etc.

Here it goes:

Step 1 : Find out what the top 5 business priorities are for the year. If it's a big organization, you might need to do this exercise for various regions or business units. I can imagine for example that the business and learning needs in emerging markets as India and Russia might be different from the established ones with near zero growth.

Step 2 : Now get out your catalog of training and map it to the business priorities. Assign an impact number: 3 if the impact is this quarter, 2 if it is short term (like less than a year), 1 if it is a long term benefit (like next year).

Step 3 : Keep (or make if non-existing) the learning related to the business priorities that have an immediate impact (3).

Step 4 : Keep (or make if non-existing) the learning related to all you MUST do. This includes legal requirements on export regulations training, security training, ... depending on your industry. There might also be promises to unions that cannot be broken on short term, so that's a MUST training too.

Step 5 : Freeze, all other training that relates to business objectives, but without immediate impact. Unfreeze when there's an economic uptick.

Step 6 : Cut all other training out of your catalog. (You might push it off to informal learning or do-it-yourself learning.)

Would this work? Does it make sense? I bet the MS Office training you organize, be it via classroom or via e-learning, doesn't fit the business priorities. Why are we even still having formal training that just shows what buttons to press? That is so last century. But leadership training or sales training might make a lot of sense now. So keep that.

The point is: when you need to cut, decide on what to keep (or make), freeze or cut. And do it based on business priorities.

Dec 11, 2008

The smart cut: Check.point article on learning in a tightening economy

Checkpoint learning today published an article entitled 'Technology enabled Learning in a Tightening Economy'. Here are some cuts I made from the article:

"For such a young industry as ours, we’ve had more than our fair share of ups and downs. But this time, we may be able to defend ourselves." : true, for a young industry we had our swings, but hey, that's what it means to be in business today. Things are more volatile and prone to go to extremes than ever before. It's a new given. Don't know who showed it at Online Educa, but the number of days the stock market grows or shrinks more than 4% has gone through the roof the last years.

"If we can demonstrate that the value delivered by learning technologies can navigate an organisation through troubled times, we may have less to fear than ever before. The problem is that when it comes to the value we create and the benefits we deliver, our industry has on the whole failed to present a unified, clear, and above all business-driven case." : all too much true. And ROI is not necessarily the best way to prove your value. Just prove if with real evidence, not hippie talk. There was an interesting talk about evidence of learning on Learning 2008 by Doug Lynch.

But the reason I am mentioning the article here is their view on the 2 agendas that go on at the same time:

"The efficiency agenda" – use technology to deal with similar learning challenges as previously, but cut cost and time
"The effectiveness agenda" – use technology to add value in a way only new technologies can; to address learning and performance challenges in new ways

And then they go on with a nice table with examples of both. But hey, you can read for yourself. Key point for the smart cut: work both on efficiency and effectiveness.

Dec 10, 2008

The smart cut - calling the learning field to think about it

Hello fellow learning professional!

It's all around us: in the newspaper I read about car and steel plants that stop production for a few months. My bank is still there, but others are not. Germany and other leading economies are officially in recession. So what will 2009 bring for learning? It's the economy, stupid!

In the last weeks I had the privilege to hear many people talk about their views on the impact of this crisis. Some are in denial, think it will not happen to them, think they'll sweat it out, think they are untouchable as Iceland. Some predict the end of the capitalist industrial age. Some don't know. Here are a few of the mixed messages:

- I read in a poll amongst Belgian employees they still expect a raise next year, crisis or no crisis.
- Jay Cross says: First off, be aware that the magnitude of the financial meltdown is almost beyond comprehension. ... We are witnessing the final meltdown of the industrial economy.As in other tough economic times, training budgets will be cut. That’s a given. But I can foresee training departments being eliminated almost entirely. And I fully expect a third of more of the corporations in our audience today will be re-engineered, chopped up, overtaken, and dismembered beyond recognition by this time next year.
- Clive Shepherd agrees: In this situation, for learning and development professionals to be fussing too much about the needs of a new generation of learners would be like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. First let's deal with the iceberg.
- Most learning chiefs don't expect their budget to get cut.
- Lucy Kellaway predicts the year of the CFO in the Economist. The financial manager will gain influence over all others, and many CEOs might be replaced by people with a financial background. The war on talent will not be the key topic of 2009.

So there seems to be a crisis arriving, but we are unsure on how long it will take and how deep the impact will be and if we need to act. But understand this: HR and learning departments will be asked to cut. History has its way of showing that.

So I would say DON'T do anything of the following: deny, hide, berry your head in the sand, wait until the storm is over, fear, wait for the ax to fall, do business as usual, ...

I would recommend the learning industry to take the ax in its own hand, and cut smart. Because that is our duty: to make sure we don't blindly cut but do it smart. Actually, with the 'opportunity' of this crisis, and the demographic shift, and our understanding on how adults really learn most (no, it's not through formal classroom training), and advances in collaborative technology this is a great moment to cut learning right.

This is a call to all people involved in learning to help think about the smart cut.
I know you are all busy, but any ideas?

the smart cut
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: learningcutcrisise-learn...)

6C learning framework adjusted

I just never got around to make the changes till now. The original 6C learning framework dates back 4 years and was based on (e)learning projects I was doing at the time and my thesis at the Vlerick school. Things have shifted from that time. So I did some updates to the wording of the 6 attention areas of the framework. It's not making the framework fundamentally different, just more adjusted to current thinking.

The framework just puts forward 6 attention areas you need to address in learning projects. How you fill it up is entirely based on your best judgment.

1C - Concept
Answer this question: what makes learning matter? What's the vision? Goal?

2C - Computer Infrastructure
Get the fundamentals right, think about your learning infrastructure. This means technology.
(Still looking for a better term that also starts with a C, any suggestions?)

3C - Content
What is it about? Get in relevant, good quality, to the point content.

4C - Context (previously known as Culture and Attitude)
Put the content in the right context, adapt for personal goals and company or general culture. Make it relevant to the job and community. Connect with previous knowledge and future application of the learning.

5C - Collaboration (previously known as Coaching)
Collaborate with experts (coaching) or peers (social networks). Learning is a social activity.

6C - Coordination (previously known as Coordination and Control)
Now steer the whole thing and monitor. Loop back to the concept and fix if the goals are not reached or not in an optimal way.

I still need to update the 6C learning site itself, but I'm not sure that is still going to be in 2008...

Dec 9, 2008

Guess where human capital builds up most?


I saw this slide during Richard Straub's presenation on Online Educa Berlin. It's taken from the Lisbon Council. It shows how you human capital (what you learn) evolves during your lifetime. Guess what the big red part it? It's what you learn on the job...

Dec 8, 2008

The 5 minute university

As seen before the workshop of Jay Cross started...

Dec 4, 2008

Just a thought...

Will this whole Generation Y thing give the learning profession finally the momentum to change learning to what we know and wanted a long time ago?

(thought on Dec 4 somewhere in the middle row of the Online Educa Berlin Potsdam room listening to Clive Shepherd)

Dec 3, 2008

Online Educa Berlin braindump: day minus one

Tomorrow the conference starts, but today was the pre-workshop day. I attended a workshop by Jay Cross on informal learning. And when it arrives, get his book on informal learning too. During lunch I attended a press conference in German, believe it or not.

First: Berlin is always a great place to visit this time of year, and it looked like it was going to snow, but it turned out just thick rain.

Now for the braindump of what I remember of today and scribbled (oh, I usually scribble quotes or catchy phrases):
- There is a great video on YouTube by the comedian Guido Sarducci on education, need to look that one up.
- informal learning = natural learing = fun
- management 2.0 : find out yourself how to connect the dots
- don't concentrate on the individual, but on people working together
- Nodes want to connect / hiearchies are unstable
- there is no difference in learning and teaching
- it's ok to lurk (= hang around), you also learn from that
- Something they do at La Caixa (Barcelona): have project blogs maintained by the project manager - sounds like a really good idea for internal project communication
- Swiss study: the most enjoyed informal learning what also with the least learning outcome. (!?)
- 70/20/10 rule : 70 percent of learning is from working with it / 20 percent learn through others, 10% formal learning via courses and the likes

And I also learned that this year my attention span to listen to speakers that don't use images has dropped to a minute or a few minutes at most. Then my minds starts wandering away on me. Need to watch that.

Well, off to the speakers reception now!

PS If all bloggers would kindly tag their Online Educa Berlin posts with oeb08, we can consolidate that faster for the big battle of the blogger session at the end on Friday.

Dec 1, 2008

Video from Learning 2008 (Masie)

Elliott Masie posted some video of his latest Learning 2008 conference. I haven't been able to go this year, but I attended last year. Haven't seen all the video's yet, but I recognise some speakers from last year. For example I remember Doug Lynch giving an interesting speech on ROI for learning and moving to evidenced based. This year Elliott asked him the top one thing the learning field should do in the current time. His answer: "Demonstrate that what we do matters." Bulls eye.

Oh, and the 'Learning is the only way to go' video is funny...

Nov 28, 2008

Does learning value shift from content to context?

Interesting thought. Just read the article:

http://www.icwe.net/oeb_special/news110.php

From the article:
In a recent research report from a global corporation, I read the following
provocative statement: "In the age of free content, the future (and the money)
is in context." Hence the question: Is this the emerging reality and what does
it mean for the publishing industry?
Nobody can deny that the production of
quality content has significant costs attached to it, especially for
peer-review, quality control, author compensation, versioning, marketing, etc.
Looking at educational content, the requirement of a "facilitated context" via
teachers, tutors and co-learners comes up immediately. A free "content object"
by itself may not be of much value. However, when integrated into a well-
orchestrated learning process as its context, it may be very powerful.

Nov 2, 2008

The Saber - educational currency

I read in the Flemish magazine 'Klasse', that Brazil experiments with a new currency: the saber (knowledge in Portuguese). The Sabers are given to 7 year old children, who can use it to 'pay' older students for tuition and guidance on any of the topics they have trouble with. Those children can then do the same for asking coaching of even older ones, all the way up to the ones going to university. Those 17 year olds can actually use the Saber to pay for their tuition fee.

I must say I never heard of it before but I'm curious to see how well the experiment does...

Nov 1, 2008

101 free learning tools

Free 101 learning tools by Zaid (slideshare)
101 Free Learning Tools
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: thinking tools)

Oct 30, 2008

elearning 1.0 and 2.0

I very much liked the table on learning 1.0 vs 2.0 on this blog. (Couldn't find the name of the author on the page.)

eLearning 1.0 eLearning 2.0
Formal structure Freeform
Training required No training
Software installation SaaS = Software as a Service
Complexity Easily changed
Experts to make changes
Anyone [mine][in the book: "simple"]
Predetermined uses only
Unintended uses
Non-social Social

Meet Charlene, a 2.0 learner

Meet Charlene
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: learning 2.0)

Oct 18, 2008

Last lecture - how does that work in companies?



You probably have seen the famous last lecture video of prof. Randy Pausch. It really was his last lecture as he was diagnosed with cancer. If you have never watched it, I encourage you to do so. (Why are the brick walls really there? - If you screw up and nobody bothers to tell you any more, that's when you are in a bad place - etc) .

I was wondering how you can bring a concept of giving your so-called last lecture to the workplace. Giving your last speech gives you the freedom to throw away all what doesn't matter and speak from the heart on what you find is most worthwhile. Could we have a 'last meeting' for people leaving the company? I bet they'd have interesting things to say, and good advice to give. Or a 'last email' to the company when you move on? Would it work?

Oct 16, 2008

Audience comments on lecture via SMS

A few days ago I attended an event on Generation Y, organized by my alumni association. As an experiment, they had invited people from a company called citylive with a cool technology for conferences. You see two screens above the speaker's head: one is ye old powerpoint (ok, shown via SlideShare instead of MS Office, but still a presentation), and the other screen shows live comments from the audience and answers to questions from the panel or speaker to that audience. The audience can react via an SMS or a mobile application. It really makes the whole presentation thing two-ways, interactive and a lot more fun. Oh, by the way, the comments are filtered by a moderator :-) . People are still people.

Sep 20, 2008

OpenElms: open source LMS, CMS and content

I stumbled upon OpenElms.com, another site where you can download an open source learning platform. So far, nothing special. This one calls itself 'open source e-learning for business', and I didn't try the product but from the demo it seems to do the job. Although it's open source, they really want you to do business with them too, reading between the lines, but who can blame them? :-)

Anyway, what I find refreshing about this offer is that you don't only get an open source LMS and LCMS with rapid authoring tool for it, but also a selection of ready-made content on various topics that you can then customise to your needs. I like the marriage between open source technology with open source content, and wish openelms all the best with their business model.

Sep 10, 2008

Brain Rules

Brain Rules for Presenters
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: reynolds garr)


Mike suggested me this book and site: brainrules.net. It offers 12 rules for the brain. Learning professionals should know a bit on how the brain works and in what conditions it works best.
And very cool presentation too... I ordered the book, I'll read it in November (yes, you need to plan these things :-) )

Companies say: who's wants a lobotomy?

This is how a lot of companies act lately:

"Hi young graduate, would you like to come and work for us? You get a nice car, a laptop, a challenging environment and lots of growing opportunities. The only thing we ask for in return is you have a lobotomy."

Now honestly, would you consider? And this is in fact how too many are welcoming the new generation in our organizations. I'm talking about all those policies to ban social networking and instant messaging from the workplace "because they hurt productivity". That is not wise. Here's why: people entering the workforce are used to finding the answers they need via their network. Your brain is what is inside your own head PLUS what your contacts know. And in a world of constant change and information overload, that is actually the best you can do. Half of your knowledge or more is in your network. So, cut that off at the office, make sure that you only can rely on the stuff in your own head, and you might as well get a lobotomy. It reminds me of the times companies didn't want to allow Internet access to their employees "because it hurts productivity". It doesn't, and IM or social network sites don't either. In fact, you would do well to implement it within your organisation. Get it or don't get it.

Sep 9, 2008

From hard to soft skills

Shifting from hard to soft skills in the future (yes, that's you generation Y!)

  • From knowledge to learning
  • From routine to creativity
  • From following rules to breaking rules
  • From experience to innovation
  • From specialization to generalization
  • From keeping the order to managing the chaos
  • From stability to the power to surprise
Source: Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies

Sep 5, 2008

CLO Magazine: outsourcing on decline,

From this edition of the (free) CLO magazine, I remember:

Training Outsourcing on the Decline: (probably US only, not sure?)
  • Decisions to outsource rests mainly on whether the needed volume and quality of training can be supported by internal staff.
  • The most important activities, according to CLOs, in the learning function are: custom content design, training delivery, strategy development, program oversight and learning technology management. Reporting and measurement came 6th.
  • The most outsourced activities, according to the same CLOs are: custom content development, training delivery, learning technology management, and only small portions of all the rest.
  • It seems that companies are using external training providers primarily for activities that are important but do not require the transfer of management authority.
IOL: Determining the impact of Learning
  • Like metrics for learning or not, but you need to justify it somehow to upper management. Total students trained or course smileys says little on impact.
  • ROI is often designed too complex but might work.
  • Another way is to go for the 'Impact of Learning' or IOL instead of the Return on Investment (ROI)
  • There are these three basic steps to IOL as a way to demonstrate the value of learning: insight - individual - impact
  • And I still would like to see a complete example before I'm intelectually capable of understanding this approach
Creative destruction in the learning industry

  • Disposable technology demands faster and more relevant learning than what can be designed and delivered using old ADDIE methodologies of yesterday. (Connie Twynham)

Aug 24, 2008

Between making yourself and buying off the shelve

E-learning content is basically a make-or-buy decision. Either you find the package that satisfies your needs on the market, and you buy a license, or you don't and than you develop it yourself. I would argue that the industry is or should be shifting to a make-and-buy model, where a company can buy semi-finalized course materials, and put in the extra 20% effort to tweak them to the organization's unique needs. After all, generic e-learning can only satisfy so many needs (Office training would be one), and reinventing the wheel for customized training is a costly matter.

- Companies should be able to buy instructional templates and creative alternatives on specific types of training. I'm thinking of templates for application training, product training, process training, induction, management 'soft' skills, etc. It saves a lot on instructional design to work with a sound and proven template.

- Companies should be able to buy almost-ready content that is approx 80% ready and complete it with their own terminology, logo, picture library and relevant cases and examples. I'm thinking of general training or cross-industry training.

I stumbled upon Kineo, a UK provider that is operating in this in-between market: the offer flatpacks or templates for a fee. Have a look at their store:

http://www.rapidelearningstore.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=2&Itemid=107

What is PENS?

PENS is another standard in the elearning world, and stands for 'Package Exchange Notification Services'. It's a specification that allows for quickly and automatically uploading an e-learning package to an LMS from a supported tool like an authoring tool or an LCMS.

http://pens.lmstesting.com/pages/whatispens.htm

Busuu language learning

Busuu is a new site to learn languages (English, French, Spanish, German). Currently in beta, it offers an orientation test and a community around native speakers. The design is fresh and very visual, something important for language learners. I also like the fact this site does not necessarily assume you want to learn language A from B. In your profile you can select all the languages you know and the level you are at, and the languages you want to know. The tour video doesn't work, but otherwise looks promising. Made in Spain.

Jul 21, 2008

Learning snacks

What's in a name? You can a small learning unit an object (SCO from the SCORM standard), or a module, a lesson, ... Microsoft has a new name: on their Windows 2008 website they offer 'learning snacks' for free.
It are little modules on some of the features of their new server product in their usual e-learning format: a combination of a menu, static information, and simulations.
It plays in a nice Silverlight player. Silverlight is Microsoft's competitor for Flash and just like Flash requires a one time installation of the free Silverlight player. After that, it just plays in your browser, and as Microsoft will push their format in the time coming, you'll hear more of it.

One thing struck me while viewing a sample: either Text-To-Speech voices have become very good, or the man speaking the text on the simulations has a bad cold or is a cyborg. :-)

Web-based e-learning authoring tools

I'm a strong fan of complete web-based e-learning authoring tools. With the Rich Internet Client applications these days (often build with Flash Flex or Ajax), it is not needed anymore to install local programs to create courses. Furthermore, online tools ensure better collaboration during the development phase because just like learning, making learning is in essence a social and collaborative activity. These online editors often share a common online media library, have workflow features (for example for reviews), and allow for publishing in SCORM or other formats. They are often more simple to use because they heavily rely on screen templates or educational templates.

Here is a list:
- Udutu.com : beta site I wrote in this blog about before. Free authoring via Flash-based forms.
- http://www.rapidintake.com/unison/index.htm : similar product, by the makers of FlashForms
- http://www.coursebuilder.no/ by Edvantage: Course Builder is an online platform for course creation. Don't confuse it with an Adobe product of the same name.
- http://www.composica.com/product/ : online elearning tool for 150$ per author per month
- http://www.courseliner.com/ : courseliner is a French commercial tool

Jul 19, 2008

Knol = a unit of knowledge according to Google

It's one of the things Google is experimenting with, when they are not making maps of the moon or so. They started a by-invitation only project called Knol, which is short for knowledge. The idea is to bring authors and their expertise status back into the web. I'm not sure what it looks like, it seems like a wiki for experts only that other people can comment on but not change. I'm sure we'll hear more about it in due time, but if nothing else, we have a new cool word for 'a unit of knowledge', a knol. It sounds so much better than learning object, doesn't it?

More information and a screenshot on the official Google blog.

Jul 17, 2008

Masie survey on how employees learn

The Masie Consortium did a survey on how employees learn. You can read some findings here:

http://www.masieweb.com/voicesurvey


Some of the points I remember are:
- People like the fact they have multiple options on what, how and when they learn. There used to be only a class. Now there is also tutoring, e-learning, social networks, the internet, etc.
- But people also get the feeling that with more options, they actually get less time for learning.
Looks like corporate learning is shifting to 'more freedom but in your own time'.

Flash movie tool online: toufee.com

I'm not producing any flash for my sites. The reason is that although the result is visually better than HTML with combined javascript, I just don't have the skills or the money to do proper flash development. Once in a while I'm temped to use an easy (and I mean REAL easy) flash tool.

I recently stumbled upon toufee.com. Warning: I haven't tried it out, because they charge (a little) for it, but it looks like a good tool if all you want is to quickly make some animated movies or text transitions. It's made by a couple of Indians. There is an article on TechCrunch on them here.

Scorm Test Track online by Rustice Software (free)

A tool I frequently use to check an e-learning SCORM package is the free and online SCORM Test Track by Rustici Software.

Just make an account and upload your SCORM packages. You can launch the course, and track all the SCORM communication in detailed logs or just the major items like completion status and score information. Highly recommended tool for testing if your course is SCORM compatible and communicates the necessary information to the LMS.

The tool itself will not solve any compatibility problems between your course (authoring tool) and learning platform, but is a great help. The problem with especially SCORM 1.2 is that the same standard can be interpreted in multiple ways. I give you one example: there is an API to tell the LMS you are moving to another page. But the standard doesn't say if you have to specify the page ID you are moving away from, or the one you are going to.

Jul 16, 2008

Site with quiz and testing tools

This site lists many free or commercial tools to create quizzes or tests.

http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/Directory/Tools/testing.html

Jun 28, 2008

Does content still have value?

Answer: yes. But the willingness for the consumers of it to pay for the content is going way, way down, to the point that content itself will be offered for free, and additional services around will make the money. It is what the music industry is struggling with (the revenue is in the concert tours not the songs), and it's in fact an old prediction of the Internet bubble gurus. They weren't wrong about everything.

This blog (Will at Work) explains why learning will not escape this trend and makes some predictions. I think everyone in our industry should read this, whether or not you agree.

http://www.willatworklearning.com/2008/06/all-media-force.html

100 Helpful Web Tools for Every Kind of Learner

Fiona King pointed this list of learning tools out to me. The list is categorized via learning styles or kind of learners, such as visual learners (mindmapping, video), auditory learners (pod cast tools), kinesthetic learners (note taking tools, collaboration). That gives it a nice angle. I don't know all tools in the list, but the list gives a good impression of useful tools.

Jun 24, 2008

Wanted: T-shaped students

I came accross an article on Fifth Academic Days Conference in Zurich some time ago, where academic leaders and business leaders met. It called for the creation of 'T-shaped' students. Before you imagine their physical appearance, let me tell you: it's just a metaphor of course. The industry is looking for people with broad general education (the horizonal line) as well as a profound and deep knowledge of a particular subject (the vertical line). I'd add to that the vertical line might actually shift to other fields during your career...

A quote:

Schools are doing this to create ‘T-shaped students’. The vertical part of
the T represents the traditional mathematics and science education of an
engineer and the crossbar is all the other qualities, so students don’t end up
deep but too narrow. Larry told the group, “at IBM we look for people who have a
depth in a particular field but that also possess much broader top end skills.
That’s what it takes for collaboration to occur.”

Jun 16, 2008

It's not the lack of manpower, but insufficient knowledge transfer.

Nice article on CLO Magazine on upcoming changes in workforce, I quote the first paragraph:

"According to Randstad USA’s just-released “2008 World of Work” survey,
U.S. businesses face a serious talent problem with the coming retirement of baby
boomers. Of course, this isn’t news to most chief learning officers. What they might not realize, though, is the challenge lies not with a
lack of manpower, but with insufficient knowledge transfer
."

This means in my humble opinion the learning profession is called upon to make this transfer of expertise happen! The retiring generation has a lot of expertise in its head (knowledge), hands (skills) and heart (behavior), and somehow that has to be extracted, transformed into learning that works for the incoming generation and delivered to them asynchroneously.

The rest of the article is here: http://www.clomedia.com/executive-briefings/2008/June/2247/index.php

Jun 9, 2008

A global LMS costs 400.000 $ per year

In this month's Chief Learning Officer magazine, Josh Bersin mentions some numbers from a recent study on global Learning Management Systems (LMS):

- a global LMS costs on average 400.000 $ per year
- about half of that is for license fees
- 30% is for support
- most have LMS steering groups
- you might need up to 1 LMS FTE employee for every 1000 students

May 30, 2008

Free tool to create learning in Microsoft-style: LCDS

Microsoft develops a lot of e-learning on its own products, and you can find samples on the Microsoft E-learning site. They all follow the same template and style, and are in my humble opinions excellent pieces of learning content for the intended type of subject and audience.

And now for the good part: the internal tool they use to develop these courses is now freely available on the Microsoft site. It is called the Learning Content Development System or LCDS, installs easily and has a simple form-based editor. It shows the course structure, a list of templates you can use, and the properties like text, animations and images that go on that template screen. There is a preview button, and the output is SCORM content. Voila. What do you want more?

There is an online help, but not much more documentation or tutorials then that. So I would recommend you first go to the Microsoft E-learning site. There are always one or two courses available for free that should give you a good feel of what the type of screens is you can make with this tool. (All the animation comes from flash you need to develop outside of the tool.)

I played around with the tool and I'm impressed with its ease. Here are my observations and tips:

- The tool is very strict in what it allows: it comes with its list of templates, and the resulting course will have the Microsoft defined look and navigation in it. If you don't like that, search for another tool that gives you other templates or full flexibility. If you are fine with the approach, you'll love the tool.

- Tip for Vista users: by default the tool installs in the c:\Program Files\Microsoft\Learning folder. It also stores all courses here (and you cannot configure that). As that part of the hard disk is not writeable for non-administrators on Vista, it will cause a lot of problems and security popups. My suggestion: after you install LCDS, move or copy the folder somewhere under 'My Documents', and start up the author.exe file from there.

- Tip for media: the images, animations, video you want to include all need to be in the media folder underneath the course folder. The form will only let you pick media that you have manually copied there first. So open up the media folder with the button on the toolbar, and drag/drop all media in there first, before using them in the course pages. This is a little something that could have been solved more nicely, but once you know it works out just fine.

May 27, 2008

Open source evaluation software: exams

There is an open source exam or evaluation software available, called EXAMS. It is made by the university of Liege if I'm not mistaken (in Belgium that is), and has the necessary components for test takers, makers and administrators.

http://www.exams.be

It is a php application that runs on an MySQL database, and the online demo looked very nice. It didn't open in Internet Explorer (kept saying something irrelevant about cookies), but worked fine in Firefox.

A list of serious games

There is a lot of talk about games that do not just intend to entertain, but also serve one or more learning objectives. There is an excellent site that lists those type of games:

http://www.socialimpactgames.com/

As with all kind of experience-based learning, it takes some time to cover one learning objective, but I do think this (at this point more expensive) kind of learning will pass the hype and remain in the ever enlarging blend of learning formats. And hey, you can't get further away from ye old pageturner learning than this :-)

George Siemens interview

Good interview with George Siemens on the link below.
http://www.elearning-africa.com/newsportal/english/news139.php

I clipped this:

1- A conceptual shift in how we view learning. Learning is increasingly seen as comprising social, contextual and situated perspectives. The social dimension of learning is certainly not new, as it has been advocated by Vygotsky, Bandura and others for almost a century. Within education today, however, these concepts are not merely receiving theoretical acknowledgement, but are now actively implemented at classroom and system-wide levels.
2- A technological shift in how we interact with information and each other. The development of technology has reduced access barriers, enabling individuals from around the world to access information and each other with far greater ease than possible even five or ten years ago.

May 26, 2008

Sample course on Udutu.com

In this post, I would like to mention a third party example of 'amazing e-learning.' Point your browser to 'Udutu.com', and on the home page, click on the 'How to build effective online courses' organge box. This will open a small sample course on how to create a course. The first page is a bit of advertising.

What makes this course special?
- I find the course look and feel and interaction just average, so that is not what makes it special. This is your typical pageturner+ kind of course.

- But I like the content: it has some nice sections on instructional design such as the often used Bloom taxonomy and definitions for constructivism and behaviorism and other popular instructional design theories. It also has a nice video based example of scenario based learning. I think everyone in the e-learning production chain benefits from a high level understanding of these principles. (Take the test: aks an instructional designer what social constructivism is, if they can't answer you can have their job :-) ).

- And above all, this is a sample course created on a new kind of platform: a completely online authoring tool with templates for the most common types of screens, customisable layout, SCORM export, etc. It is called Udubu.com and they have an interesting business model. The use of the authoring environment is free. They just charge 1$ per screen per month if you want to host the course with them. If you export if for your own LMS, it doesn't cost a thing. Obviously, this tool does not have all features that something as rich and complex as IBM Content Producer or Lectora have. But mark my words: these tools will become the 'powerpoint' of e-learning, taking down the barrier to create simple pageturner courses that enlightened SMEs can use for themselves.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating...
So I took the test myself and gave me one hour to make a little course with the udutu.com tool. I will let you judge for yourself, but here is a preview link to the course 'Hello E-learning World':

http://publish.myudutu.com/published/launcheval/4795/Course7598/Launch.html

Actually, it took me more like 1h30 hours because on two occastions, the tool frooze and I had to log in again (but without loosing any work). So in 1h30 I made 17 screens with some audio/pics etc. And no, this is not 'amazing e-learning' :-) It is just an example of what can be done by simple, dumb, thirteen in a dozen SMEs in a very near (or now?) future...

May 25, 2008

YouTube for teachers? Sure: TeacherTube


You know it exists, you just don't know where it is on het internet: a youtube-like site for educational material. I'm sure it's not the only one, but I stumbled upon teachertube.com.


One example is a funny video on how not to use powerpoint. (seen it before, probably on big brother youtube)

Top 100 learning tools

From the website : 'Between January and March 2008 155 learning professionals shared their Top 10 favourite tools for learning (either for their own personal learning or for creating learning for others). We used these lists to compile the Top 100 Tools for Learning Spring 2008. '

The list actually has only a few tools or links to sites that are education-specific. Most are your typical links like Google Docs, del.icio.us, Wink, NVU, etc. Does this mean the area of specialized learning tools is over and we just pick whatever we need from the mainstream toolset?

The link to the free PDF: http://c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/pdf.html

Mar 31, 2008

Learning is like water

I just read a piece of the latest newsletter of Elliott Masie:

"Covert/Secondary Learning Systems? We have been tracking an interesting trend, as some organizations are adding a second or even "covert" Learning Management System to stretch their functionality beyond the capabilities of the enterprise system already in place. Some of these "added" LMS installs have been in business units that want to rapidly expand functionality for targeted learning undertakings. For example, one Fortune 20's Sales Training group wanted a more collaborative approach to their on-boarding, so they leased an instance of a hosted system -- but called it an Onboarding System, rather than a LMS. They transfer the data in batches back to the corporate LMS. We are seeing secondary LMS systems implemented by other divisions or regions of the world, with unique needs that can't be rapdily met by the current LMS. "


It's not just that, there are 'hidden' LMS systems everywhere. It explains why Moodle has such a market share also in the corporate world: as seconcary LMS systems, for pilots, targeted departmental learning etc.

It strengthens me in my believe that learning is like water. It will find a way.

Let me explain: when there is a need for learning, it will happen. If the easiest is to do it via the learning function or the corporate learning systems, that is how it will go. If that is too troublesome process-wise, takes to long or makes no sense at that level, the learning will be disguised as meetings, workshops, LMS systems that are called differently or managed by another group, undercover as unmanaged and unbudgeted 'informal learning' etc. But it will happen. You can quote me on it: learning is like water, it will find a way. So there is a message for all the guardians of the learning function: if you make your service easy to access and use, the learning will go your way. Or else it goes any way the water flows...

Mar 30, 2008

Once upon a time there was a story

I firmly believe in storytelling as a way of learning we should use more often. Hey, it's how cavemen learned around the fire, and it still works.

Ralph gave me a link to a free software to help you write the scripts for the stories. (or where learning meets Hollywood). Haven't tried it out myself, but looks good.

http://www.celtx.com/

Mar 26, 2008

Google Code University

For teachers of programming languages, Ajax and web security, it might be worthwhile to check out the Google Code University. They offer free and creative common licensed materials. The site has samples, tutorial pages (text+image), video's of speakers on the topics and some contributed content. I guess this is Google's take on e-learning.

Mar 14, 2008

The urban legends of learning

You probably heard or used it as well:

We remember…
10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear
70% of what we say
90% of what we say and do

Turns out this is one of the myths or urban legends of learning, and is NOT based on research. A free and new research paper of Cisco on multimodal learning reveals the origins of this widely held misconception, and tries to find an answer.
Learning is a bit more complex than 'doing is better than seeing', and the above doesn't necessarily hold. It depends on context, learner style and what have you.
So, back to square one on this common believe. Next thing they will be saying that Kirkpatrick isn't based on anything either. (Actually, it isn't.)

Mar 13, 2008

keybr.com trains your typing skills


Keybr.com is a nice little site to test your typing skills. Just type in the nonsense sentences as fast and flawless as you can. After a few screens, I stopped at a speed of 50 and 5 errors.

Mar 4, 2008

Generations and learning

I'm more and more fascinated by this cross-generational learning thing, and how the learning function should play its vital part when in western society tons of people will retire and leave the workforce and need to be replaced by a new generation. It is a historical opportunity for the learning profession to claim its value!

I know, it is a generalization to talk about characteristics of entire generations. But let's do it anyway. The table has characteristics of 4 generations (in western society), as defined by Lancaster, L.C. and Stillman, D. When Generations Collide: Who They Are. Why They Clash. How to Solve the Generational <Puzzle at Work.Wheaton, IL. Harper Business, 2003. Click on it to enlarge.

Do the checking: ask people about their preferred way of communication for example. These generations also have different perspectives on what good learning is and how they prefer to learn. The babyboomers for example are used to more formal classrooms and prefer coaching by an expert to set them on the way. Generation Y likes experience-based learning and games, and connects with all and everyone to find what is needed. The funny thing is that the 3 right generations in the table will be involved in the learning and have quite different approaches and likes and dislikes about it. Organizations need to ensure that learning in the form of a knowledge transfer happens between the leaving babyboom generation and the entering Gen Y workforce, but the learning will be made by the Gen Y people that staff the learning function. That should be fascinating!

To end this article, I leave you with yet another YouTube video trying to tell you what students today are all about. (And education folks, I'm not fingerpointing at you to once again change the whole education system. I'm rather fingerpointing at the enterprise world for largely ignoring what is coming to them in the next few years.)

Average cost for LMS per user (Brandon Hall)

A new 2008 Brandon-Hall report lists average costs for a Learning Management System. Hosted is more expensive than your own implementation.

INSTALLED IMPLEMENTATIONS
500 users $55,622
10,000 users $266,404
25,000 users $483,167
100,000 users $1,304,830
HOSTED IMPLEMENTATIONS
500 users $72,370
10,000 users $339,414
25,000 users $601,358
100,000 users $1,529,718

Mar 3, 2008

CLO Magazine : some quotes

You can get a free digital subscription to Chief Learning Officer magazine at www.clomedia.com. This month's issue is on the changing role of the CLO. Here are some quotes on the feature articles. I've also put them on the 6C Quotes site.

- It's better to convince than persuade. (Mary Parker Follett)
- As a chief learning officer, how do you help manage all this change within your organization? You don't. You lead it - by honest conviction, convincing leadership and example. (Editor's letter)
- Workers want to get a 360-degree mixture of authored and third-party content, as well as YouContent. (Elliott Masie)
- Buying a hammer doesn't make you a carpenter any more than building a Community of Practise guarantees powerful learning results. (Bob Mosher)
- If you build it, they will probably come. It's keeping them there that's difficult. (...) Commitment comes from seeing value. (Bob Mosher)

Starbucks in North America closes 3 hours for learning

Starbucks in the United States took a rather drastic move: they closed ALL of their coffee houses for 3 hours to educate all staff on how to make a great coffee.

Elliott Masie has a 8 minute video on the Starbucks experience:
http://www.masieweb.com/starbucks

Can the folks at Starbucks maybe share the business case they used to convince top management of investing 3 hours and actually pausing business for that? I'd love to be able to come up with the right justification for that.

Mar 2, 2008

Virtual Launch Experience

Most learning comes in events: classroom events, conferences, competitions etc. Microsoft is about to launch new products (Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008) around the world. That is nothing new. But check out the 'virtual launch experience' they have been setting up for it.

http://www.microsoft.com/heroeshappenhere/events/default.mspx
You will need a free Microsoft Live ID (like hotmail accounts) to get in, but I'm impressed by the innovative approach to a global virtual information and learning experience here. They have taken the traditional mass launches and opened them up via technology to anyone else that could not attend one. I also love the way they combine video, like in the picture above. The lady presents the various navigation elements on the screen by pointing to them and explaining. Now, would that not be a great way to have our e-learning courses introduced?

Mar 1, 2008

Good old classroom

This week I got to spend 3 very intense days on a good old fashion 27 hour classroom experience. And I must admit, it has been one of the best classes I've taken in my company. The class was about consulting skills, had 24 students from Belgium and The Netherlands, 4 tutors from Dubai, UK, Spain and Germany and took place offsite in the Holiday Inn Amsterdam Schiphol hotel. The advantage of that brand new modern hotel is it lays about in the middle of nowhere, so there is nothing to do but concentrate on your course :-).

The course had it all: engaging activities, team forming per table with a competition between tables, a course dinner, theoretical backgrounds and above all one integrated case study to allow all groups to carry out the consulting engagement step by step from interviews to the presentation of the findings. At that time the 4 tutors swapped personalities and became one of the 4 characters of the case study. For me, they are all Oscar-winning actors, it was great.

I spend most of my time making e-learning happen. But of course these kind of classes can never be replaced by e-learning although they require substantial investment. The case study is actually based on a real one back in 1973! However, I do think we can blend just a little technology into these kind of courses to make them more productive. Let me explain myself: this was not my first course based on a case study. My whole MBA experience was largely based on individual preparation of a (Harvard) case study document of x pages with some preparation questions. And that is the part that can be improved with technology: why not set up a website prior to the course with all the (also downloadable) parts of the case study presented in a more engaging and structured way, with multimedia support such as video's etc. The answers to the preparation questions can then also be entered on-line, and actually seen by others and commented on or refined before the class starts. For the control freaks among teachers it even helps to track time spend on preparation and the efforts made. Has anyone come across such a solution yet?

Feb 22, 2008

E-learning for multiple generations

Very nice article on creating online learning for different generations. I know that this divide in typical generations is a generalisation, but it does provide interesting insights.

http://www.managesmarter.com/msg/content_display/training/e3ifd9d309a05210550829851b903c9b630

Jan 25, 2008

What's with this Common Cartridge standard?

I must admit, I'm a bit lost. In a newsletter I was intrigued by announcements of something called a Common Cartridge standard package specification, backed by an alliance of big LMS vendors such as Blackboard, and publishers such as McGraw-Hill. You can read the brochure on the IMS site, for it is another IMS project. (IMS is the organization that gave us e-learning standards such as SCORM - that I can't find back on their site now - and QTI).

As far as I understand, this project started in 2006 and its goal was to come to one format for learning that would work everywhere, in all systems. Publishers find they need to make separate packages for a lot of different systems, so standardization is a good idea. But wait a minute... didn't we have SCORM for that? In fact, the Common Cartridge specification includes SCORM and other popular standards such as the learning metadata description, QTI for assessments, etc. It is like a wrapper around all of them. Is this admitting that SCORM failed to realize its promises because it was open to too much interpretation?
You will be able to play the packages without an LMS too, and it is widening the scope to all kinds of learning. Or so I understand. I didn't find a lot of clear stuff on CC, maybe because it is still in development. Here are some of the best sources I found:

Presentation: conference.merlot.org/2007/Wednesday/CommonCartridge.ppt
Video of Alt-I-Lab 2006 : http://www.sakaiproject.org/media2/2006/altidemo06/altidemo06.htm
Icodeon website gives a brief and to the point definition :
Common Cartridge is IMS GLC's new standard for packaging blended content to support courses facilitated by instructors, including a variety of digital formats, assessments, discussion forums, and web applications.
And at always the best information in a blog: Sheila's work blog.

I must say I'm very skeptical, specifically since this project started in 2006 and now in 2008 a simple Google search does not reveal any packaging tools, specifications, sample packages, etc. What is it with learning and standards? It is indeed true that the promise of shareable and reusable content is only partly materialized. A SCORM package does not necessarily work on all LMS systems. Some systems even only implement SCORM partially. The latest version of SCORM is 2004, but everyone is still using the older and much simpler SCORM 1.2. QTI is at version 2.1 in draft, but everyone - if they use it at all - is using version 1.2. Does the IMS and the industry keep making elearning formats that don't really work out on the floor or are not needed, or overly complex? Or do we as an industry have trouble getting our act together around one working standard?

Common Cartridge might be a next well intended try. It might be the thing that works. I'll see it when it comes along.

Is learning in collaboration better?

My guts tell me : yes, but you have to prove these things. And there have been a lot of studies researching the effectiveness of collaborative learning, both from the perspective of outcome (for individuals and groups) as from the perspective of the process (for example impact on motivation, interaction). I'm not an academic, but here are some interesting bits:

- There are a lot that conclude it gives better results. Such as Gokhale (1995) who says that 'there is persuasive evidence that cooperative teams achieve at higher levels of thought and retain information longer'.

- Klemm (1994): Collaborative Learning can be used with some confidence at every age level, in every subject area, with any curriculum and with any task...

- Mohr and Nault (2004) share 8 critical success factors for collaborative learning to work:
- manage expectations
- create a common base of knowledge before the course starts (readings/exercises, refresh)
- make it extremely clear how and when participants will communicate
- demonstrate the technology at the outset and reinforce its use throughout the course
- make synchronous sessions highly interactive
- let students generate the data and examples used in the course
- include a collaborative project
- bring closure to the materials and provide a plan for the next steps

- ? says : Paradoxically, though seldom used in e-learning, cooperative learning works better online than it does in face-to-face classrooms. The reasons include: all students can find the time to do their share of the work ; thinking is more focused and clear because it is done in writing ; everybody is more accountable, and everyaone sees what everyone is doing.

Jan 10, 2008

Just a quote.

"In a sea of user created content, collaboration and instant access to information of varying quality, the skills of critical thinking, research and evaluation are increasingly required to make sense of the world."

Source: NMC Horizons Report 2007

Looking at the past 50 years, education has put more attention to critical thinking instead of the blind belief my parents were educated on. So we should be safe(r), no?



Jan 7, 2008

The big divide

Based on Clive Shepherd's observation., I believe the e-learning market, like many other markets, is growing into a low end/high end segmented business. On the low end it is all about cheap, standard and mass. That is the spot where expensive other forms of learning like classrooms will be transformed to, unless the class delivers high value. It is the spot of weblectures, standard page-clicking e-learning, quizzes, simulations, etc. On the high end it is all about exclusive (smaller audience), tailored and more expensive content. That is the spot of serious gaming, video or animation, real-time adapted content and virtual immersive learning solutions.

In the lower end there will (hopefully) soon be a widely accepted open source alternative for making content as opposed to managing it (we have plenty of open source LMS systems by now). In the higher end I expect to see content makers collaborating with other players such as media production houses and movie and game specialists.

Jan 5, 2008

Clash of the generations

Makes you think. Old recipes don't work anymore. But if you don't know what to prepare for, does it make sense preparing in the best possible way?