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.

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 trains your typing skills 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.

500 users $55,622
10,000 users $266,404
25,000 users $483,167
100,000 users $1,304,830
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 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:

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.
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?