Dec 31, 2009
Speaking of 2010, what else can we hope for? Is this going to be the year that an LMS system becomes less important? It is going to be the year that the we take care of collaboration and connections more and focus a little less on content in our education and training programs? Is it the year we will discover that training individuals doesn't really matter because everything is done in a team? Is it the year we will come out of a crisis which fresh ideas or will we continue where we left off? Is it going to be the year of the final breakthrough of e-books and e-readers, making books as free and as pirated as music in the process? Will this be the year where we will interact with computer systems through gestures and touch rather than mouse clicks? We'll see it all when it happens.
Have a great year end and a good start of 2010!
PS: I did manually correct the dictation. The software [or my voice] is not perfect.
Dec 18, 2009
- Learntrends: this was a completely online free conference done by Jay Cross, George Siemens and Tony Karrer. Replays for most sessions at the learntrends site.
- Learning 2009: This is Elliott Masie's conference in Orlando every year. He posted some video of the major sessions too. Go here.
If I don't find the time to blog before Christmas: have a merry one.
Dec 8, 2009
Update: I realise you need more than the slides to get this year's battle topics. So here is how to replay your own battle of the bloggers.
- Warm up : In December 2012 (according to the calendar of the Mayas) the world will end. How will learning/teaching/tools/training be different between now and when the world ends? Look around what lives in research, what vendors are vending, the trends of learning land, etc.
- Round 1 : About the brain. There has been a lot of talk about the brain and learning this year. We still don't know much about the brain. The rest of the body is easy: that's just mechanics really. But there is so little we know about the working of the gray matter. The picture on slide 9 is taken from an art exhibition. It's a new ultra portable device that scans for brain activity. Based on what part of the brain is active, metal plates on the ceiling make noise. The press article mentionned potential application in the field of e-learning: you can tell when a learner is distracted and respond to that in the e-learning course. Mmmm. Scary thought. "Mr Stevens, I don't know what you are thinking right know, but I know it's not mathematics."... At the one hand there are books such as 'brain rules' that provide practical tips for learning based on brain research. At the other hand, it's not because we know how two neurons communicate in the brain, that we can sensibly make any extrapolation on complex processes such as learning. What if anything can we use from brain science to make learning better?
- Round 2 : The picture on slide 12 is one of 'the oldest profession'. But that is not correct. If you ask me, our profession is the oldest. And with 1/60 Americans in the education business, I'd argue we are not only the oldest, but also biggest profession of them all. But we don't seem to agree on anything. At the one hand we celebrate 50 years of Kirkpatrick's 4 level learning assessment, but at the other hand you'll find a lot of reasons why that model is crap. There seem to be so many urban legends in learning: left/right brain, you remember 50% of what you smell, learning styles, etc. Is there a common language in learning? Do we agree on anything or are we all working in our little corners? Having common understanding and common language can lead to scale and scope effects and make our profession stand out more and more productive. At the other hand, a highly fragmented and unregulated profession that doesn't have a common language or understanding has more diversity. Or maybe we should keep using models even when they are crap, just because these half lies are the only thing that keeps our profession together. What do you think about the common language of the learning profession? Whe hold these truths to be self evident...
- Round 3: The picture on slide 15 is 'a fool with a tool'. Don't you find it strange? People will always tell you 'it's not the tool, it's what you do with it', and then go into a 1 hour discussion on specific features of specific tools. What's with that? The observation here is on the top 100 most used e-learning tools as traced by the Queen of e-learning tools, Jane Hart. Only one of them, on place 14, is a pure and hardcore learning tool. It's moodle. All the others are tools that at the best have learning as some by-product. Should we have more dedicated tools for proper learning? Or should we move more into the direction of finding learning uses in everyday tools? If we go for the latter, what with all the research funding and corporate R&D on the many learning tools, not to mention the dear old LMS?
- Round 4: This round in short is about the central question: will we have more success with instructionally sound or with contextually relevant learning? Instructionally sound is good content, with proper pedagogical models behind, and proven impact. It's the learning we would all like to develop and diffuse. It's the learning that gets awards. Contextually relevant learning is good enough learning but at the exact moment of need. The world moves at hyperspeed. Is there still time to create pedagogically sound material? Do monkeys run the show instead of professionals?
- Round 5: The wall. It has been 20 years since the Berlin wall came down. In our field, there are many walls. There are walls between the education and the corporate training world. There are walls between individual institutions in the education chain, as there are walls between the corporate divisional kingdoms that have their own learning organisation. There are walls between learning and the other functions of talent management and HR. There are walls between related (or equal?) fields as knowledge management and training. You can do two things with walls: keep (or enforce) them or demolish them. It's very popular to bring down walls, certainly in a world that is increasingly interconnected. Breaking walls in our field means open standards, open content, an education chain, learning integrated in the work, etc. But maybe some walls are there to protect us? What if you are not an English speaking culture, should you have walls to protect you against the flood of the wisdom of English speaking crowd? What if the walls keep us together instead of spreading us out in all directions? What if they keep out evil or ensure you can charge for your service instead of drowning in the all-for-free world? In short, this round is about walls, and which walls to keep, and which to destroy.
Oct 25, 2009
In last week's Data News (a local IT magazine here), I read that learning outsourcing has hit the classroom training. It is actually cheaper for IT administrators to get their Microsoft, Cisco or other certification by flying all the way to India and do the courses and exams over there. With the airline fee and hotel included, that's still cheaper than earning the title in the local country.
So now learning outsourcing gets very physical...
Oct 4, 2009
The reason I tell this in my learning blog is because of what I read at the end of the corresponding newspaper article: Imec lists as a potential use for its device, next to all kinds of medical usage, e-learning. The device can see when you are distracted and at that moment the course may react with an interruption or engaging activity. Fiction? Soon reality?
Sep 19, 2009
In their own words:
"MOS Solo is a Windows application to create learning courses, presentations, assessments and surveys. The courses created are SCORM conformant and can be viewed in a LMS or directly on the Internet."
You can download and use it for free, but it is made by a company with add-on products, so not a Linux-like open source movement. And I couldn't see where to get the source code either, so I'm not sure where to place this one relates in the open source / commercial spectrum. Tut then again, I wouldn't know what to do with it.
May 20, 2009
This is a blog post 'on demand'. There is this new thing out from IBM Research, called the 'blog muse' that lets people request others to blog about a certain topic. The tool will find the 'experts' on the topic and ask them to dedicate an article on is. As I like the approach of 'blogging on demand' a lot, here is my view on 'social learning':
Social learning is not new at all. Some call it informal learning. I think learning is the oldest profession in the world (yes, not the other on), and it has mostly been a social activity until the mass education system of the industrial age changed that somewhat to a sender/receiver happening. What is the most natural thing you do when you are stuck at whatever you are doing at work? You ask the ones next to you. Conversation is social learning (and as Jay Cross called it a lost art.) The thing is that the person next to you is probably not the best person to ask, just the most availabe one. Enter technology. We have a lot of technology now that enables us to make social leaning work better. Social learning has always existed, social networking technology makes it work more and better.
- We have always been able to ask someone for guidance. But now we have technology to ask people far away (IM), asynchrounously (forums, email), to search for experts, etc
- We have always been able to coach people. Now we can do it remote, virtual, faster and further.
- We have alway been able to write down our experience in journals.Now with blogs people can follow our journey and learn from that anywhere and all time.
- We have always been able to work together on documents. Now we can do that remote in real time via whiteboards, wikis, etc
- We have always been able to search for expertise. Now a system can link us in real time with available experts via social networking and profiles.
- We have always been able to bookmark interesting information and learning. Now social bookmarking makes that availabe to the crowd, and the crowd tells us what is worthwhile.
The hugh potential of social learning or informal learning is not to make it formal (and kill it), but to unlock the potential of 70 to 80% of learning on the workplace. Do that by supporting it instead of forbidding it (install your own social software instead of blocking access to facebook), by making it visible, and by making it count.
May 15, 2009
All too often, we support content, not learners.
It's true, we all too often do. Protecting learners from the vast amount of unnecessary content would be one good place to start. It's not because the content exists, or someone thinks it wouldn't hurt to know that everyone needs it. Is there an 80/20 rule here that enables us to cut 80% of the content and allow people still to do the actions we wanted them to do by giving the training?
- Phase 1: Inform, generate awareness = answering the what, why, how, who, when and whatsinitforme questions, via posters, emails, presentations, speeches, etc
- Phase 2: Involve, generate involvement = change attitudes and behaviors and start with key influencers. You can use meetings, road shows, lunches, etc
- Phase 3: Integrate, generate commitment = make sure the change is accepted as the norm, for example linking it in with the current performance evaluation, key initiatives, processes, etc
May 13, 2009
But that's not the point, have a look at this site, and tell if the lady spins clockwise or counterclockwise. That says if you are right (rechts) or left (links) brained. The weird thing is that if you do some other activity she might suddenly change rotation. Is this really a proof that we use right/left brain for different activities? Or some other weird experiment? It does freak me out...
May 4, 2009
- identify the business need (1C)
- gain leadership support (6C)
- assess your culture (4C)
- choose the technology (2C)
- Gather your resources (6C)
- identify the appropriate learning model (1C)
- define your content strategy (3C)
- ensure you've got support (5C)
- manage the transition (4C)
- measure it (6C)
May 3, 2009
Activities contributing to learning effectiveness:
- pre-work contributes for 26%,
- the learning event itself for 24%,
- the follow up for 50%;
- 10% goes to the preparation,
- 85% to the learning event and
- 5% to the follow.
In the next slide the causes of training failure are displayed: lack of preparation or readiness 20%, bad learning intervention 10%, application environment 70%.
It builds a strong case to have more of our attention and money spent on the afterlife of a course. Actually, the whole idea of learning being an event is not the right approach. People learn through a period over time in which they soak in knowledge and skills, learn to apply them optimally and adapt to their working environment and job.
Take for example this video tagged with learning. It's a son-of-a-Kirkpatrick talking about measuring the impact of learning.
Apr 25, 2009
As they say themselves: yAuthor.com is an on-line service with authoring tools allowing authors to create professionally looking interactive content easily. There. It's a beta project of Young Digital Planet (I believe they are in Poland.) As other emerging authoring tools (udutu, unison, ...) this one is completely online and will create you the things you wanted to create a few years ago: courses with tests and multimedia, downloadable in SCORM format ready for the LMS. Don't get me wrong, I see A LOT of potential for these tools, especially combined with collaboration features for the extended e-learning development team. And these tools WILL lower the bar for e-learning creation with cheaper tools. BUT it is still optimizing the kind of learning we were wild about three years ago. This is still the wiseguy(s) making a course of all things that you need to go to after you find it first.
I have not made a course with yauthor, but it looks well designed and easy to use. Might be a winner.
Another classic in e-learning is screen recordings for application training. I've posted earlier about new, online tools to let you capture your screen and upload that to a site for sharing. GoView is another one that is in beta. This one is backed by a big one: Citrix.
Apr 20, 2009
Mar 25, 2009
I like the way experiencepoint for example makes its business simulations to get a student into a simulated business context to learn from.
- Sliderocket.com : this must be by far the nicest online presentation authoring tool I've seen. I'm just wowed by it. (But I must admit I use Google Docs presentations for now because they are integrated and I don't need to make really fancy looking ones - yet.) Lately, I found a renewed interest in slide-based learning. Like many I turned away from it years ago because of the 'death by bullet point' syndrome. But when you use the presentation tools right, you get fantastic results as this site and samples on slideshare.net prove.
- WiZiQ.com : aimed at the education world, but interesting for corporations too. This tool lets people teach and learn via online classes, tests and content sharing. It's like a market place where people with an urge to know will find people with the desire to share/teach. Supply meets demand. X marks the spot. The economist in me likes it.
I'm including it not because of the content per se, but to show you what a flowgram is. It combines web pages, slides, photos and other information and someone talks you through it all. As always, you can share and embed flowgrams in other pages.
I wonder what the post-crisis learning will look like. If the crisis would be done tomorrow, we'd just go back a few months in time and pick up where we left. But as time passes, some innovation might get a chance to prove it's value and some historically established burdens might have gone bankrupt. The blended balance might shift a few percentage towards virtual or e-learning. We'll see it when it happens.
Anyway here are a few innovative sites I keep an eye on:
- There is a new set of e-learning authoring tools emerging. There are all online, usually based on flash templates. One of the productivity benefits is that they offer true collaborative authoring in the form of integrated media libraries or LCMS, online review cycles during development and less need for programmation or technically advanced actions. Right now they are owned by smaller firms, but they might become big fast. Here is a list to watch: unison, coursebuilder, composica, atlantic link, rapidel-i, udutu, smartbuilder. I've played around with most of them, and they allow you all to create the type of e-learning that is 'established' now, in fast templates: courses with next buttons, images and text and flash and video, glossary, menu and FAQ.
- Screentoaster: I've tried this screencast program when it was just out of beta a few months ago and liked it. Now Jane tells they just added features. It is a simple, completely web-based way to make application 'how to' screencasts. Tools like screentoaster and jing give end-users and non-technical coaches the tools to make short tutorials, and gives peers the tools to instruct eachother. As I said before, let's hope our expensive corporate learning factories won't have to deal themselves with making this absurd 'click on the save button to save' training beyond what you need to get started.
- Thinking Worlds : This is a software by UK based Caspian Learning to create educational games. I've browsed for many game engines the past week. They all seem horribly expensive and focus on the graphics rendering rather than learning. Caspian Learning is the only one I found that has thought about how learning might work in games, and proposes some types for that. Furthermore, you can (could?) freely go to thinkingworlds.com and make new games based on existing assets for non-commercial use. I made one last week. Cool tool. Today that site seems to be closed and they announce the commercial version of it in a few days. If they sell the commercial one for affordable price, they deserve to take the market by storm.
- And open source is busy with good things too. Moodle's rise is unstoppable. And Toby from work pointed me to eTok, an extension to OpenOffice to make e-learning. I haven't had time to test it myself yet.
All these and more make me hopeful that when the crisis is over in months or years, the learning field will have raised its bar. We're the first to get budget cuts when times are bad, but we should also be the first to act and rise again! (trumpets!)
We are stealing from our children. This economic crisis cuts deep in government budgets, and guess who will repay that one day? We are borrowing that money from our children who will pay taxes to finance our current mess. Actually, we are borrowing without their consent, so the proper term for that is stealing.
What value are we giving them in return? I will not exaggerate and say we leave them a screwed up planet, but the least you can say is we used up more of it than was our fair share, and triggered the planet's climate system to find a new balance. We leave them a financial burden.
Maybe the most valuable and lasting thing we will leave them, is education. If we do the utmost we can today in our schools, universities and employment programs so they can look back and say they got great value from their education that set them of and lasted for life, we might have made up for the stealing.
It's why I get so upset when I read about education that just isn't living up to expectations. It might be the one lasting value we give them in return. How do you recognize those institutions and countries that don't live up? They are the ones not asking the question on what they leave the children with, but got stuck in their own system, beliefs and comforts.
As I said in the beginning, I'm not anyone to talk about education. It's not my field. My friend works as a secondary school teacher, and I see the despair and frustration in his eyes anytime we go to a reception and meet up with a random bunch of people all so knowledgeable on how schools are bad and how they need to change. I'm not going to do that. But I am going to plea for all people that are in the education field to please please please do everything it takes to give our children the biggest value possible.
Mar 15, 2009
The demo looks good, it is very engaging content with a lot of potential. That is, if Microsoft can convince book publishers to go to new waters and make decent e-books that are not PDF versions of their paper cousins. But than again, a lot of publishers are firmly entering the e-learning arena. (Bertelsman with scoyo.com, television stations as discovery channel that set up educational sites, etc) It's a late entry compared to schools and corporations, but a significant one that can redirect our current thinking on e-learning and established content formats.
Jan 8, 2009
"He identified trends that are emerging from his work with learning organizations:
1) Increased centralization: Learning organizations are moving to federated, central learning models.
2) Emphasis on talent management: CLOs are partnering with talent management partners and programs.
3) Business alignment: Learning organizations are focusing on initiatives critical to the business."
Jan 6, 2009
There was a time online conferences and online classes were two separate things, and two separate products. Those times are gone, you can discuss, teach, learn in any online conversation.
Quotes from the article:
Too many people in the training department make the leap from a performance issue (lack of skills, abilities, knowledge; lack of access to appropriate data and resources; etc) directly to training as the only solution. This is the wrong approach and the most costly. Even the CEO may play into this, with statements like “We have a training problem” and no one challenges that statement. There is no such thing as a training problem.We in the training field might indeed all too often think training is the answer. Training might very well not be the best answer, or the most cost effective. Ouch, it hurts.
I, for one, do not regret the demise of the L&D function. Perhaps our profession will wake up and start helping the organisations we serve.
Check it out: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/nasaeclips/index.html
Jan 4, 2009
If you can't remember what multi-modal learning means, it's the urban legend that we remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we see, 30% of what we do, etc...
Jan 3, 2009
INTJ - The Scientists
The Scientists enjoy theoretical work that allows them to use their strong minds and bold creativity. Since they tend to be so abstract and theoretical in their communication they often have a problem communicating their visions to other people and need to learn patience and use concrete examples. Since they are extremely good at concentrating they often have no trouble working alone.