Monday, December 29, 2008

Life’s (and death’s) little jokes


oldestI always get a kick out of seeing headlines  like this. No disrespect intended, but if the gentleman is dead, then he is no longer the oldest man in the United States.

It reminds us once again that the English language is a very harsh taskmaster. I know they used this caption because until he died he represented the oldest man, but that’s no longer the case.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Teaching With Online Games - Dec. 11th

This seems like an ambitious topic to cover in only one hour, but I guess for free you can't go wrong. Elluminate is hosting this presentation By Dr. David Gibson of the University of Vermont.

Can a game or simulation teach a teacher? Can it improve one's knowledge and skill as an instructor? As part of an international dialog between researchers in educational technology, this key question and many more related to it have led to this new collection of ideas, research and reflections by researchers looking for answers.This session is intended for a broad audience of anyone who is looking into games and simulations with an eye to their potential for improving teaching and learning. If this is you, then welcome to an emerging community!

Elluminate - Where Bright Ideas Meet

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Going Too Far with Online Interactivity?

Okay, I'm for making learning more interactive as much as the next person, but I think this proposal in an otherwise interesting post by Dr. Trent Batson in Campus Technology - Tipping Point for "Content"--Dynamic Interaction, Not Static Stuff - is taking immersion a little too far.

Or a class discussion carried on in a chat room (while in a real classroom) so students can interact with each other as much as with the teacher.

Why would anyone want to have learners who are gathered together in a real classroom carry on their discussion through an online chat room? I have a difficult time getting around the vision of a room full of learners all studiously clicking away at their i-Phones, laptops, etc. without a word being said.

About the only value that I can see from this exercise is that it creates a record of the conversations through the chat room log. If that's what a teacher wants then just buy a digital tape recorder.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Learning "Webinoshes"

Will Thalheimer's newsletter announced the following two Webinoshes

Upcoming Schedule:

Friday November 7th, Noon U.S. East Coast Time Can We Improve Our Smile Sheets? Link to Register:

Friday November 21st, Noon U.S. East Coast Time Does Context Matter? Link to Register:

Available through both the phone and VOIP so folks from around the world can attend.

Will describes his webinoshes as "short, intimate webinars covering one essential topic in human learning and performance. I add questions, learning myths, and question-and-answer sessions (where you can ask me anything) to the mix to keep things interesting. These Brown Bag Learning experiences are provided using a "Subscription Learning" methodology, so that themes will be repeated over time for deeper, more impactful learning.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Chrome's impact on Web-based Learning

Noise to Signal With Google's release of Chrome, it's new browser, one has to wonder what impact it will have on the web-based learning development community. For those of us who create courseware for the corporate world we have long used Microsoft's Internet Explorer as the standard by which we measure the functionality of our output.

Part of this is because the corporate world has viewed Microsoft and its products, the software equivalent of General Motors. And to paraphrase the old saying, "What's good for Microsoft is good for the country." (In fairness, it appears that saying was a mis-characterization of what Charles Wilson, then CEO of GM actually said. ) Internet Explorer is so intertwined with the Window's operating system that it has become defacto corporate browser of choice.

But can this corporate mindset stand much longer. Mozilla Firefox is slowly cutting into IE's overall hold as the world's preferred browser. In the past eight months IE's percentage of the browser market has decreased over 6 percent, although it still controls a large 73% market share. It will definitely take a more secure release before Chrome can even be considered by the corporate world. But the overall concept is intriguing because it is taking Microsoft's approach to grabbing the lion's share of the browser market but in reverse. By bundling it with Google Gears, it has made it easy to use Google's online office application tools including setting up desktop icons to access Google Docs, Google Gmail, etc.

Time will tell whether Chrome becomes a hit or miss, but my gut feeling is that it will find its niche market in the small and medium corporate world. Google already bundles secure solutions with its other main services and Chrome could become the icing on the cake. Even if Chrome does not catch on, the publicity will make people start to reconsider IE and we, as an industry, will no longer be able to rely on IE as the sole yardstick for usability. Tags: ,,

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Morning Respite

I’d never heard of Webb Wilder until today. Wikipedia describes him as "a musician who famously mixes the sounds of country, surf guitar and rock & roll known as "swampedelic". He also produced an award-winning collection of short films under the title of Corn Flicks." Below are two videos that Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds displayed on his blog this weekend.

The first is a 1989 music video that cpatures Webb's musical stylings.

The second video is a short that provides a taste of his "Corn Flicks" films.

Does it have anything to do with learning, training, or education? Nahh, but it is certainly fun to watch and listen to.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Controlling the Information Fire Hose

Firefighters with a fire hoseI confess, I’m an information junkie. Left to my own devices I would spend my life researching and reading about the things that interest me. The wonder of the Internet is that I can do this from the comfort of my own home thanks to my computer and the Internet. For instance, I have always had a fascination with the history of baseball and like to dabble in researching some arcane aspect of it. In the past, if I wanted to read newspaper and magazine accounts from the period I was researching I would have to visit a library and crank up the microfilm machine. Now many of these sources – both still publishing and deceased – can be found on the web.

So where am I going with this? I was inspired to write this by Jay Cross who posted a blog entry on his Informal Learning Blog entitled Flow of Information. He wrote:

Google Reader is excellent for managing your subscriptions with RSS. Google Reader makes it easy to subscribe to a site, to see what’s new, and to read previously unread items. Sometimes that works for me; other times I might prefer picking through a list of titles for what I want or having articles flow by one-by-one.

I commented on that post that “I am constantly battling information overdose and RSS feeds are the hypodermic needle that delivers my fix.” It’s true. I am constantly battling to maintain some control over my feeds. Constantly having to reluctantly pick and choose who I might read. At the present I have more than 90 different subscriptions just for educational feeds. I have a separate RSS reader for general feeds that number more than 40 feeds. What can I say, I’m a collector. Can I read them all every day? No, at best I can only glance at their titles.

Which got me thinking about my previous career path as a newspaper journalist. One of the hardest tasks for an editor is to write an attention grabbing headline. With the amount of news slotted into a daily newspaper or a weekly news magazine articles are constantly jostling for your attention, and their means of doing so was with headlines, those big bold titles made up of three or four words. They are like carnival sideshow barkers competing to grab your attention.

Now, with the Internet and social media giving everyone the capability to be journalists the competition for attention is getting even tougher. We all need to learn how to write headlines. Think of the occasions we write headlines:

  • Every time we complete an email subject line
  • Posting a blog entry
  • Creation of a wiki entry

Each time we are fighting to grab our readers’ attention. Yet, I think little thought is given to what we name them especially email subject lines. As a result nuggets of important information gets missed because its just one drop in the spray of water from a fire hose.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Campus Technology 2008 - Day 2: Planning and Budgeting panel discussion

This session is a panel discussion of planning and budgeting for the next-gen classroom. The panel includes

  • Moderator Scott Walker of Waveguide Consulting, Inc.
  • Panelists:
    • Randy Jackson, University of Washington, Seattle - 20 year veteran of providing educational technology leadership at the university. His campus is large and diverse.
    • Michael Kubit, Case Western Reserve University - director of MediaVision, part of IT - a 25 year veteran - Case Western is a private research university. The university has 200+ technology enhanced classrooms that are refreshed every 5 years.
    • Matthew Silverman, George Mason University - about 30,000 students - 138 technology-enhanced classrooms - four standard installations - classrooms are monitored and managed via the network.

First question: What are the key drivers to funding technology on your campus?

Randy: Upgrading older campus buildings that are between 80 to 100 years old. We contact the state legislature and ask for electrical upgrade for safety and once funding is approved we ask to upgrade technology.

Michael: The primary driver is does the classroom scale and can we support with the staff we currently have. You can design a facility hoping you will get the staff. We design rooms for middle of the adoption curve, we design to needs of the faculty. What goes into the room is designed to 80% of our faculty.

Matthew: We try to ensure that the faculty can move from classroom to classroom and they will find most of the same equipment. We are playing a lot of catchup.

Second question: Do you have any good metrics for use in technology planning and budgeting?

Randy: As far as FTE staffing, its a different argument from technology planning. We know we need staff to support it, but on our campus its a separate argument. Facilities Design Instruction Manual expresses what we want our classrooms to look like. We update it constantly and its available to the campus and consultants. By documenting this it provides details on what you need.

Michael: We develop a "total cost of ownership" of classroom - develop a five-year plan that is readily available and then we have to calculate operating costs which cannot be neglected. It's easy to get capital money to build, but more difficult to get operating costs. Key is to find problems before a professor does, because don't want the professor lectures to be delayed while we fix equipment.

Matthew: We use specific budget numbers based on our standards to begin budget process.

Third question: What kind of strategies of breaking a cycle of putting technology improvements on back burner?

Randy: We used to look at technology in classroom as items you put in there, but now with next-gen you have to also consider lighting and ambient sound. Part of this is being aware of issues and making the argument that we need to consider these issues.

Matthew: We all have instances of classrooms that are horrible, and we have got the major stakeholders in the classroom to have them experience sitting in these classrooms so that they can appreciate the student's experience.

Fourth question: what about integrating technology into historic buildings

Randy: Dealt with it in several ways, we save the shell and completely gutted the inside of these buildings because they are incompatible for technology. Fortunately these buildings are not "historic" that prohibit touching the interiors. We use ADA architecture.

Michael: You need to strike a balance between form and fashion. We try to keep it simple so we use simple switch zoning so not complicated and costs. Need to work with physical plant people so that when renovations are proposed you have a seat at the table.

Fifth question: What is a next-gen classroom for you?

Randy: For me it means interactivity and flexibility. If you are not letting student to be connected and interact with each other. It involves room space and technology. Current popular items is coursecasting and audience response. We can measure use by surveys and downloads.

Michael: In 2002 we innovated our own lecture capture and distribution. Lecture capture provided students with opportunity to review lectures. Provide mp3s of lectures, but not downloading them, surveyed them and they said that online courses were visually rich and audio-only lectures were not useful. Students are not enamored by technology, they are not impressed by it or surprised by it. Developing "classroom-flip" - faculty pre-recorded lecture and in classroom they are working on homework in classroom.

Campus Technology 2008, Day 2: Podcasting as Educational Inspiration at UConn

The first breakout session was presented by David Miller, a professor of Psychology at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Two main podcast series produced at UConn:

  1. Icube: Issues in Intro: General Psychology
  2. Animal Behavior

Many students coming into college not knowing what a podcast is, and the specific requirements to listen to a podcast. He said he has to tell his students they don’t have to buy a podcast. He said a whole ecosystem has grown around the iPod. There has been a real cultural shift in portable media from transistor radio to the iPod and iPhone. He shows off the accessories available for the iPod ranging from iBoxers to a toilet dispenser with an iPod docking station.

Why should we think about podcasting? he posed. It is a course enhancement with added depth and content beyond classroom discussions. It can also promote interaction between students and professors including student produced content. “It shrinks a large class,” he said. Some professors use podcasts to deliver content in order to free up classroom for other purposes. Lectures can be recorded to help out students who cannot attend class because of inclement weather or specific religious holidays.

Types of podcasts

  • Basic – audio only
  • Enhanced podcast includes
    • Audio
    • Images
    • Chapter stops

He said there are some students who refuse to use iTunes so to resolve that problem he also generates the podcast as a .mov. He then looked at the use of podcasts to present lectures. He said many fear that using podcasting to present lectures will cut into notetaking. He said  that if you do course cast you could use class time for examples/applications, demonstrations, videos, clicker interactivity, and student presentation.

He said his podcasts for reflection and expansion on in-classroom lectures, to clarify comments, to generate interaction by recording student/professor lectures. For ICube there are three components

  • Weekly discussions with students
  • Precasts – previews of what is going to occur in the next class – main points to look for in the next lecture. They stay up the entire semester. Since I don’t coursecast, people who miss a class know what the main points were and can look for them in a classmates’ notes.
  • Postcasts – If he does not feel that he was clear about a topic in the class he can reiterate the important points from the lecture. These are not planned.

Based on evaluations, 41% of his students would listen to the weekly discussions and over 50% for the precasts. The precasts were extremely popular. He also found, and he said he couldn’t figure out why, his podcasts are listened to internationally.

His second podcast is for his animal behaviors class. He has a number of Honors students. The Honors students get Honors credit for participating in the discussion podcasts.

He also podcasts Review sessions before tests. Open only to Introductory Psychology class. He gives two midterms and a final and he holds review sessions that he records. The sessions are used to clarify and amplify lectures, and he thought it would be great to podcast the sessions. He also uses special podcasts to acknowledge highly successful students and asks them to explain what special skills or tools they use to succeed in the class.

Other uses outside the classroom

  • Student interviews about freshmen impressions of his/her experience at UConn as well as seniors about to graduate. They are asked about their experiences.
  • Freshman orientation: The orientation describes the differences between high school and university academic requirements.

How to podcast

  1. Record using a USB microphone and a mixer hooked to a computer, he is his own audio engineer.
  2. Editing software for post production
  3. Upload to site such as libsync (liberated syndication)
  4. Generate RSS feed

Audio Capture advice

  1. Decide whether to capture in stereo or mono – he recommends recording in Stereo
  2. Adjust the gain to proper level
  3. Have a theme song or identifier, he is in a rock band "Off Yer Rockers" as lead singer and rhythm guitar so he recorded his own music.
  4. Introduce each episode
  5. "Animate" your voice; exaggerate
  6. Use students' first names only
  7. Avoid distracting noises
  8. No background music
  9. For enhanced podcasts be mindful of copyright

Audio Editing Advice

  1. Edit out silence and speech fillters
  2. Mono can be a smaller file, but stereo provides quality
  3. Adjust levels either in your audio editing software or with The Levelator freeware that does it for you .
  4. Podcasting for Dummies

Campus Technology 2008 Session 3: Technology-enhanced Strategies for Engaging Your Learner

The final session of Day 1 was presented by Bethany Bovard, Instructional Designer, New Mexico State University. She posed the question What is Engagement? She said there is a disconnect on instructional design if the teacher thinks engagement is student excitement over showing what they have read the night before while the learner thinks it means completing homework assignments. Participants brainstormed over what it means to be engaged.

  • Active listening and participation
  • Taking questions home to discuss around the dinner table
  • Model engagement by talking to them

The key she said is to communicate what your anticipation in engagement. Research has shown that the barriers to engagement are:

  • Social – isolation, lack of interaction, and missing social context cues (am I being understood, Do I understand?)
  • Administrative – lack of instructor feedback and inability to find materials on the web
  • Learner Motivation – hardest to address, procrastination due to other two barriers, boredom

Technology that can be used to reduce social barriers by creating a sense of community

  • Make first contact getting students to introduce to one another, encourage group projects, and provide audio/video message
  • Use email to share syllabus, context info, and resources – though not a web 2.0 tool it encouraged students to communicate before class began.
  • Create an audio/video greeting 
  • Create an avatar at to create and send a greeting to learners. Can make the avatar speak in three ways, record your own voice with a microphone, call in using your phone, or type in a synthetic message and it will create a synthetic voice.
  • Use blogging to encourage interaction and create continuity between classes.

Administrative barriers include:

  • Missing directions/clear expectations – no way to clarify misinformation.
  • Lacking timely feedback (In published research, student-instructor interactions – including timely feedback – are one of the most significant factors in student satisfaction and learning.

Technological means of overcoming administrative barriers

  • Share contact information – be available to answer questions
  • Repeat yourself often – state directions and expectation in various ways
  • Provide feedback – vary your timing, amount, and manner of feedback - 

She used Skype ( to address all of these issues.

Motivation Barriers include:

  • Overload of content
  • Deadlines are not communicated frequently

Ways to overcome motivation barriers

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Campus Technology 2008 – 2nd session: Explicit Bargain Setting

The second morning session focused on the use of Second Life in the college workplace. It was presented by Sarah “Intelligirl” Robbins of Ball State University and co-author of Second Life for Dummies. She title her program Explicit Bargain Setting: Realistic Expectations for Teaching in Virtual Worlds.

Ms Robbins started her presentation with the following two disclaimers:

Pedagogy comes first and technology second

Students come first and the university second

She argued that technology should not be used without regard to the learners and she said she offered that her guiding principle in applying technology is to adhere to Chickering & Gamson’s Seven Principles for Good Practice in Higher Education. She said that the Digital Native/Digital Immigrant argument is bogus; it’s an excuse by some not to learn new technology. She the real difference is in the Lifestyle, Engagement, and Motivation Divide. She said most people have cell phones, but older people tend to view them as a practical device to keep track of projects and people whereas teenagers and twentysomethings see them as a means of staying connected.

She said when considering the use of Second Life or any other technology we should follow Clay Shirky’s recommendations in his book Here Comes Everybody. In that book Shirky argues that when proposing the use of technology you should detail “The Promise;” explain how “The Tool” will help achieve that promise; and outline the Bargain which defines the rules of engagement between the teacher and the learner.

The promise made by Second Life is that involvement there will:

  • Increase a sense of presence
  • Allow bonding within the community of learners
  • Learning will be more engaging, immersive, and fun

The tools for delivering on this promise are:

  • Stigmergy – the ability to manipulate your environment for those who will follow
  • The ability to customize your avatar
  • Access to a global community
  • Multi-modal communication (text, voice, sight, hearing)

The bargain to make the promise work is that students must suspend their self-limitations and agree to learn to function in Second Life. They will drop this self-limitation, she said, if they are given a good reason. They also must be willing to cooperate and behave in an orderly fashion. That does not mean they cannot don the avatar of a huge dragon. She had one student whose avatar was that of a mermaid and since he had no legs he flew everywhere within Second Life. She said she did have to caution her students against nudity although it is present in Second Life.

And that is the key to applying any technology to learning. You, the teacher, instructor, ISD, must justify using the tool. She dismissed the idea of holding a meeting in Second Life where all you do is sit around and talk. Such a function is overkill in Second Life and could better be performed via conference call or in a private online chat room.

She ended on a cautionary note, stating that committing to teaching in Second Life required the teacher to be extremely familiar with how Second Life operates. “The teacher has to have expertise to serve as a guide, an advisor, and as an instructor so that when her students get into trouble because they are not familiar with Second Life she, the teacher can help them out. She told how she had one student who accidentally started his avatar break dancing and couldn’t figure out how to make the avatar stop. He resisted assistance for a week and as a result everytime he stopped talking his avatar would start to break dance.

The commitment involved in becoming a Second Life expert is intense and involves a steep learning curve.

Campus Technology 2008 – 1st session: Riding Web 2.0

The first breakout session I attended was titled Riding Web 2.0 Toward Service Beyond the Classroom. This was presented by a trio of individuals:

  • Jim Wolfgang, Director, Georgia Digital Innovation Group, Georgia College & State University
  • Keith Politte, Corporate Relations Officer, University of Missouri, Columbia
  • Frank Lowney, Manager, Web Enabled Resources & Professor of Educational Foundations School of Education, Georgia College & State University

The premise of their presentation was to talk about how Web 2.0 can serve as a collaborative tool to reach beyond the classroom and involve the learner in the community. Mr. Wolfgang offered the question of the value of posting thousands of video lectures on a school website if there was no way for the students to talk with the professor and with each other. He said the key to getting buy-in to using Web 2.0 tools is to speak in the vernacular of the individuals in position to make the decision to implement Web 2.0 tools. Too often we get caught up in the technospeak of the tools.

Mr Lowney explained that especially in the corporate world new technologies are measured in ROI or Return on Investment, but he argued that ROI can mean more than just “money.” It can also mean good PR as word spreads on how you are applying the tools. He pointed to how his own university received positive publicity when CNN reported on their works in being the first university to employ Ipods as learning tools.

Mr. Wolfgang then encouraged the participants to experiment with Web 2.0 tools. “If you wait for 100% perfection, it ain’t gonna happen,” he said. He said the key is to start slow and to explain to the people you are trying to get to use the tools how each of the particular tools work. He argued if they see each tool as a hammer you will see people hammering nails with what is in reality a wrench.

As they talked I couldn’t help but wonder if the early web 2.0 tools such as blogs and wikis may ultimately give way to the verbal tools such as online audio and video as the preferred means to communicate. The computer and more importantly the smartphones and digital PDAs are really more of a visual and audio medium than a textual medium. Early adaptors grew up with the printed word as the primary means of storing and communicating knowledge. So it seems only logical that wikis and blogs would be the lead agents in the web 2.0 world. But as the Next-Gen generation pick up the pace, the wikis and blogs would seem to be logical to dropped.

Campus Technology 2008 – Keynote Address

8:30 am

I’m sitting in the keynote address hall for A ‘New’ American University for Next-Gen Learners presented by Adrian Sannier. He is with Arizona State University and will talk about six transitions to the new university. Rightfully calls us a “roomful of geeks.”

He defends the name of his presentation, A New American University. In the previous century universities tried to emulate the likes of Harvard and Berkeley. What makes them great is they are selective, which means you can’t go. We need to change what “access” to college means. It means reaching out to the community. The 21st century won’t be like the 20th century. What are the people going to do if they don’t get a higher education. They won’t be able to participate in the economy.

We have faith in only one thing in this country: technology. There will be all kinds of presentations around wikis and blogs and its exciting he said.

Looks back at “promises” made in the 20th century. When 2001 came around there was no HAL like in 2001, no moon base, no flying cars. But some predictions did come true. We now have a form of telepathy in the form of instant communication. It has crept up on us, but it is taken for granted by our children. It’s incredible the way they communicate. It’s like a giant hive mind.

The singularity is coming and the kids are closer to it then we are.

Says that the Encyclopedia Britannica is the greatest invention, but notes that no one has read it. Millions of copies have been sold, but no one read it. It used to be what every high school report was built upon. Then along came Wikipedia and now its free.

He notes that Amazon.con can pick out better gifts for his mother than he can.

Took 85 years to get 80% of households to adopt the landline telephone.

Think about bundled services where you get television, internet, and telephone in one service.

Universities need a revolution in technology because they are falling behind in the technology game.

Teaching kids multi-column addition like they will be a bookkeeper in 1935 will not last long. Calculators don’t matter any longer. Only ones that use it are kids in school because they can’t use computers. He railed against his son’s schools because they banned all technology. “They can teach them like its 1950 and they can work in a factory. Except there are no factories.”

He said schools are still “sage on the stage” and tell him on tests what he told us. He rails against the dullness of the classroom. “That’s the dirty little secret, schools are dull.” Next-gen students are saying we will tune you out until you tune us in.

Frank Rhodes, President Emeritus of Cornell, “most instruction is still a cottage industry…they have not diverged much from Socrates, except that they moved indoors.”

John Chambers in Forbes magazine “Many agree technology should play a role in education, but they don’t know what role it will play in our future.”

Six keys for the future

  1. From Context to Core: The enabling transformation – most difficult, but most critical – it liberates resources. We have been spending money on technology for the last 30 years. – In the early 1990s we had better technology than industry. Universities are the cottage industry for IT. It’s all about climbing the value stream.

    Core Processes: The processes that differentiate you from competition everything else is context. Have to spend 80% of your budget on core processes, rather than 20%. No strategic advantage in investing in IT, industry has already done it. IT and bandwidth is like electricity (statement by Nicholas Carr in The Big Switch).

    Concept of “1”: Reduce redundency in context, the things that people do not buy your offerings.

    Concept of “0”:
    Don’t do it, get someone else to do it, someone bigger, richer, and more powerful. At ASU they hired Google to provide 65,000 students with email, storage, etc. Google delivered it in two weeks and saved them $400,000. From a corporate perspective, could Google provide similar services in a secure manner?
  2. From info to Intelligence: ASU partnered with Oracle to manage information and transform it it into knowledge.
  3. From Cattle-car to 1:1 No more forcing them into one form of technology. IT need to support virus-laden student laptops, not building the next email system. Also provide value in software, web-delivered services, etc.
  4. From Cop to Concierge: IT too busy prohibiting things then helping students. Web sites are constructed that way. Finding info on university websites is like playing Twister. Calls for “” website presence, there is no proprietary web page. To get there you need “Prune Concentrate” that requires pruning your website. ASU has thousands of webpages, but only 50 are getting the majority of hits. These should be concentrated in a single location. Help desks must be available 24/7.
  5. Physical to digital: Burn down the library; all books are digitized. Single search brings up everything we have. Publishing should be digital as well, don’t need professional publishers. Remove the cost to look at the published documents.
  6. From Traditional to Hybrid: Don’t know how to do this. We’re tool rich, but the problem is culture. The faculty don’t believe this. Faculty believe only technology they need is death ray from their eyes.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Feelin' like Don Quixote

Its late Friday afternoon and I'm trying to express in words the theory and acts I carry forward as I create instructional materials and for some reason Gordon Lightfoot's song Don Quixote is striking a chord with me.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Google Takes on Second Life with Lively

Well this is interesting. Google is apparently getting ready to take on Second Life with its own Lively. According to Cybernet:

People will get involved with Lively by creating an avatar, creating various spaces that they can decorate, and visiting other rooms. They’ll even be able to have televisions in their rooms playing user-selected videos from YouTube. According to Google, “The Lively team wants to help people experience another dimension of the web. We hope you will use the product to express yourself with and without words, and to do this in the places you already visit on the web.”

Cry “Havoc,” And let slip the virtual dogs of war.

Google Takes on Second Life with Lively

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Learning Opportunity – Connectivism as a Theory of Learning

Stephen Downes and George Siemens are offering a 12-week, college-level course looking at the latest theory of learning: Connectivism. The course is free to audit or you can pay and receive college credit. Here’s how they describe the course.

Connectivism and Connective Knowledge is a twelve week course that will explore the concepts of connectivism and connective knowledge and explore their application as a framework for theories of teaching and learning. It will outline a connectivist understanding of educational systems of the future. George Siemens and Stephen Downes – the two leading figures on connectivism and connective knowledge - will co-facilitate this innovative and timely course.

This course will help participants make sense of the transformative impact of technology in teaching and learning over the last decade. The voices calling for reform do so from many perspectives, with some suggesting 'new learners' require different learning models, others suggesting reform is needed due to globalization and increased competition, and still others suggesting technology is the salvation for the shortfalls evident in the system today. While each of these views tell us about the need for change, they overlook the primary reasons why change is required.

The course will begin in September 2008.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Learning Digital Native Style

Received a notice from the Digital Natives Facebook group of a two-hour online forum on Wednesday, June 25th entitled: Creativity and Media Literacy Forum. The forum is hosted by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

The focus of the forum is “about current creative obstacles and opportunities media producers, teachers and others face in their fields. The presentation will be webcast in Quicktime, the conversation can be joined in the Berkman IRC room (irc:// using an IRC client such as Trillian, and can be viewed and interacted with in Second Life.

To quote from the Digital Natives’ Facebook page and the Berkman Center website:

We're excited about the group of presenters and attendees we've assembled, and wanted to let you know what the general game plan is. The conversation will be fluid, interspersed with very short presentations from team members of

I’m fascinated by this effort not only because of the subject matter, but also the virtual means of presenting it. Tags: ,,

Monday, June 23, 2008

Developing Productive Online Discussions

Fascinating opinion piece posted at Campus Technology last week about grading conversations in the Web 2.0 world. The piece written by Trent Batson focuses on the academic world but has a lot to say to corporate training initiatives that seek to employ Web 2.0 tools.

Two items jumped out at me as I read the piece. Batson explains how a professor based all of his/her grades on student conversations in Blackboard.

The students' first impulse was to just write essays. However, these were not conversational turns, but performances, so they were graded very low. When the students instead started picking up on elements in the previous comment and including references to these elements in their own comments, their grades went up. If the students extended their discourse skills to synthesize several comments in their own comments, they got even higher grades.

He then cites four criterion for grading a written conversation:

  • Cohesion in which students need to show they are conversing with one another rather than just posting items to the message board/blog comments field/other conversation tool. This means repeating or restating elements of a previous post on which they are commenting, or at least referring to the post.
  • Awareness that because this is a conversation between all class members and not just between the commenter and the teacher. They need to be attempting to convince all to their point of view, not just the teacher.
  • The conversation must be directed to the purpose of the class, not just “social chit chat.” While the conversation does not have to be purely straight-laced, the social element must be related to the discussion points.
  • Finally, the diction employed must be academic in nature. Batson says “[a] discussion of an idea is not the same as the discussion of a party.”

As the corporate world starts to apply web 2.0 tools to their training environment it is essential that the individuals who will stand in place for the university professor be aware of these elements and maintain a watchful eye on online discussion boards. While grading may not be a factor, these elements offer clear guidance on how to maintain a productive online environment.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gen Y and the future of IT

Web Strategy by Jeremiah asks some interesting questions about how corporate IT is going to deal with the waves of Gen Y'ers that are entering the workforce.

These questions remain:

  • Do the once finite lines of the corporate firewall between work and personal start to fade?
  • Who is really an official spokesperson? Is there an unofficial spokesperson?
  • As Generation Y moves into the workforce, how will their communication habits change? How about ours? (I work with several talented ones)
  • Will Generation Y, who is accustomed to Facebook Applications, Google Docs, Rich internet application interfaces, and advanced web technology (all public) be shocked to find out how bad your enterprise software is?
  • How will companies adapt and changes their corporate policies to meet this change?
  • These are questions that need to be considered as well by learning professionals who still think that Level 1 elearning is an appropriate means to "train" their staff. This was touched upon in the comments section of the post:

    Elliott Ng June 22nd, 2008 6:48 am

    The questions this raise for me are:

    1. What can we Gen X and older learn from Gen Y and Millennials? In terms of social media?

    2. What assumptions do we have about Gen Y and Millennials that are wrong but we don’t know it?

    3. What do we have to teach in order to get the most out of our Gen Y and Millennial people?

    Cool post.

    jeremiah_owyang June 22nd, 2008 6:55 am


    What I’ve learned about Generation Y is that because they are digital natives, they know how to learn. They can figure it out on their own, you just need to provide them direction and let them bump into a few walls to get experience.

    Jeremiah's comment that company's need to "let them bump into a few walls to get experience" leads me to wonder whether they will be permitted that leeway during these tough economic times. Tags: ,,

    Thursday, June 19, 2008

    Free Experiential Learning Webinar

    Learned about this through the Instructional Technology Forum post by Christine Nickel of Regent University:

    Want to know more about how you can use experiential learning in you traditional, technology-enhanced or online courses? Then plan to attend a free webinar brought to you by Wimba’s Distinguished Lecture Series.

    Instructional designers Robert Fitkin and Christine Nickel of Regent University will explore Kolb's model of experiential learning and its application in higher education today. Scenario Based Learning, Digital Game Based Learning, and Storytelling will be examined as practical ways to use experiential learning in the traditional, technology-enhanced or online course.

    Please mark your calendars and attend!

    When: Wednesday July 2, 2008 at 2pm EDT

    How to register:

    Remember, the webinar is free and accessible to people throughout the world.

    Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    E-mail over Essays?

    email I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a month now. I saved the Campus Technology Web 2.0 newsletter in my inbox for more than a month, and now that I have the time I want to comment it. Dr. Trent Batson, PhD, is a professor of English and an ePortfolio consultant in the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology at MIT.

    Dr Batson made an interesting proposal in the May issue of Web 2.0; in his viewpoint piece, Writing: It Ain’t the Same Anymore, he proposes that for the new digital age the basic form of writing that should be studied is the email instead of the essay.

    A native form (“the boots”) in the digital world is e-mail. Yes, the first reaction to suggesting e-mail is a form worth studying and teaching is, “Oh, e-mail is simple, nothing there to teach or examine.” Until you look under the hood, that is. We thought spoken interaction was pretty simple, too, back when many people predicted we’d have natural language processing software by 1967. Forty years later, we’re doing ok, but no one counted on it taking us 40 years.

    In fact, e-mail is one of the most complex written forms any of us has ever written. Essays only seemed hard in school because educators made it artificially difficult: Though many writing teachers are changing the paradigm, the essay has traditionally been taught as an autonomous (not collaborative -- that’s “cheating”) structured communication written by a novice to an expert, telling him or her (the teacher) what that expert already knows.

    Being the recipient (and the sender) of hundreds of emails each week, I’m not convinced that email is a complex writing form. In fact, I’m not sure it qualifies as a traditional writing form, it has evolved into an asynchronous dialog. Anyone who has been cc’d on an email chain that consists of one or two sentence responses will attest to that. In fact I would wager to say that most email constitute a Web 1.0 solution to the instant messaging clients of the Web 2.0 world.

    Dr. Batson then asks the question “Is ‘real writing’ the context-less essay or is real writing what we all do during a large part of each day as we work at our computers?” He contends that an essay constitutes a “design challenge” while an email is a “communications challenge.” I’m not really sure what the difference is explains that with an essay you must "state your thesis in the first paragraph, limit yourself to five paragraphs, and conclude by summing up." He doesn't explain how an email differs from this. In my experience a well-written email follows the same formula, except you can't count on your recipient reading beyond the text initially shown in their email client viewing pane.

    So, I guess I respectfully disagree with Dr. Batson's proposal.

    Red Cross Using Web 2.0 Tools in Emergency

    The American Red Cross is using a variety of Web 2.0 tools to coordinate its response to the flooding occurring in Iowa and the rest of the Midwest.

    ReadWriteWeb reports:

    Getting information out to victims and their families during a disaster is a major issue for any relief organization. So while the Central United States recovers from a spate of storms that has ravaged towns with tornadoes and flooding, the American Red Cross is relying on a number of web 2.0 technologies to spread information to the press and people affected by the severe weather. The online newsroom that the organization has set up relies on a number of web 2.0 widgets.

    The newsroom site runs off of Wordpress, and it's being used to push out press releases, media, and information about shelters. The Red Cross is using Utterz to post audio reports from the field, Flickr for photos and YouTube for videos, as well as a Slide-powered slideshow widget that allows anyone to upload photos of disaster areas. The site also features a Google Maps mashup that depicts the surprisingly large number of relief operations currently being run by the American Red Cross (hint: click the "view larger map" link, because viewing the informative popups inside the widget on site is next to impossible).

    Read the whole story.

    Friday, June 13, 2008

    Twitter alerts me to free online presentation on Emotion, Learning and the Online Learning Environment.

    Picked up info about this free program via blog posting by  Inge de Waard (Twitter name: Ignatia). The program is being offered by the Canadian Institute of Distance Education Research at Athabasca University.

    Title: Emotion, Learning and the Online Learning Environment.

    In spite of evidence that more and more students are engaging in online learning experiences (Alan & Seaman, 2006), clarity about the transition to a new learning environment is still at arm's length (Cleveland-Innes, Garrison & Kinsel, 2006). In addition, the impact of the emotion created by dealing with this new environment on learning is virtually (pun intended) undiscovered. In this session, Dr. Marti Cleveland-Innes and Zehra Akyol will review theory and data regarding emotion in online environments, with opportunity for discussion of the effect of emotion on teaching, learning and instructional design. In addition, this presentation corresponds with the launch of a web-site to support continued discussion and research on emotion and online learning. The web-site will be introduced at the end of the session.

    I cite Inge’s Twitter name because I was alerted to the posting via Twitter complete with a TinyURL link to the post. Inge, nee Ignatia, has linked her blog to her Twitter account so that everytime she posts a blog entry on her Blogger account Twitter sends out a notice to her followers. I maintain a similar set-up.

    Ignatia Webs: CIDER free online presentation on 'Emotion, Learning and the Online Learning Environment.

    Monday, June 09, 2008

    The Dangers of Social Networking

    One can only wonder how management will react when a post like the one displayed below finds its way onto a corporate Social/Professional network. This is a snapshot of the comments, the original can be found at

    Hat tip: The most Disgusting Digg Comment Ever (Pic) |

    Friday, June 06, 2008

    Free Online Learning Book

    Athabasca University Press has released the book The Theory and Practice of Online Learning, edited by Terry Anderson, for free download as a PDF.

    The book is published under the Creative Commons License copyright. Meaning it can be reproduced for non-commercial purposes provided the author is credited.

    You can download the entire book or any of it chapters. Here's a snippet from the chapter In-Your-Pocket" and "On-the-Fly:" Meeting the Needs of Today's New Generation of Online Learners with Mobile Learning Technology by Maureen Hutchison, Tony Tin, and Yang Cao of Athabasca University.

    If one assumes that the learner is in full control, what influence does this have on preferences for mobile learning? Given our knowledge of the Net Generation, Wagner and Wilson (2005) argue that mobile learning – while enabling equal opportunity access, ubiquitous connectivity, multi-generational uses and users, services for the mobile worker, and services for the mobile learner – will benefit most those who can leverage their digital communication skills in a world that has been levelled by mobile technologies. (Page 204)

    Tuesday, June 03, 2008

    Edupunk: the new generational battlefield

    I don't know if this is just a tempest in a teapot or we are seeing the next stage in the evolution of learning from the old industrial model to a new individualized approach. Over the past six days a figurative firefight has broken out over the concept of Edupunks. It seems to be an outgrowth of the uproar around an advertising pitch by BlackBoard surrounding its new academic suite. The promotion on its website reads:

    Engage. Interact. Collaborate.

    Release 8.0 is the complete engagement solution with smart grading capabilities that will delight faculty; tools that promote critical thinking skills and increase student engagement; and a single content management solution that enables users with diverse needs to collaborate across the institution. Learn more about the benefits and find out what it can do for you.

    This announcement seemed to be a call to arms for education bloggers on the overall topic of whom should be controlling the means of learning and discussion. It appears that Brian Lamb Jim Groom of BavaTuesdays started the ball rolling back on May 25th when he argued that BlackBoard was turning learning from a community effort to a technology effort. My take is that the Edupunks endorse the concept that Web 2.0 tools are just that tools used to facilitate individuals' ability to learn from one another. Stephen Downes offers this definition of Edupunk (prefaced with the proviso that "true edupunks deride definitions as tools of oppression used by defenders of order and conformity.").

    [E]dupunk is student-centered, resourceful, teacher- or community-created rather than corporate-sourced, and underwritten by a progressive political stance.

    Stephen has done great work on collecting the disparate threads of conversation around this concept. You can read his posts starting here, and then here, and the latest here. All are chock full of links to follow. Chronicle of Higher Education  provided a brief cover of the piece as well.

    Whether the Edupunk attitude carries on or not it does focus a spotlight on the future of Web 2.0 tools especially as formal organizations such as educational institutions and corporations look into using these tools. As David Warlick puts it in his blog post What's this about Edupunk?:

    I do not have any real objection to corporate embrace of these tools.  We’re all trying to make a living. 

    What worries me, though, is school officials  hearing the buzz, and thinking that they can buy their way into the crowd, rather than learning their way in.

    Replace "school officials" with "corporate officials" and Dave's line still rings true. I have to say that I think I have at least one foot in the camp of the Edupunks. The key to learning is not to use new tools to deliver the same top-down approach. As our society is opened up to alternative sources of information they are naturally becoming critical thinkers. The main stream news media are financially hurting because the public no longer has to rely on the single newspaper in their community or the three local television affiliates to provide them with news. The Internet has removed them from the isolation and dependence on these outlets to provide them with information.

    Likewise, learners, especially those who have graduated out of organized schooling and have entered the workforce, no longer have to rely on organized training sessions to learn about their job responsibilities and how to perform those responsibilities. Professional organizations looking to use Web 2.0 tools to enhance learning need to step back and be willing to relieve control to the learners. Provide them with the resources (videos, podcasts, computer-based learning, monthly seminars, and the tools to create their own content) and let them construct their own learning at their own pace and let them talk about it.

    UPDATE: I guess once again I'm late getting to the barricades, Intrepid Teacher brands Edupunk as "so yesterday."

    I am not here to out punk anyone or defend terms I had no hand in creating. I am also not here to cheerlead a group of people who could articulate their ideas much better than myself. This post is already one of many, probably too many, posts trying to attach meaning to a label. The creators of the term are probably sitting back and laughing at the direction their idea has taken. Some students are already angry that adults without their input are once again hijacking their movement.

    A commenter notes "I agree that the edupunk is just other stuff rebranded. what is more interesting is the notion of open source and cooperative approaches." They're both probably right, yet as William Shakespeare said, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet." If you don't like the term "edupunk" than don't use it and look at the arguments within.

    FURTHER UPDATE: Hat tip to Serena for correcting me on who blogs at babatuesdays. Jim Groom runs bavatuesdays, while Brian Lamb blogs at Abject Learning.

    Monday, June 02, 2008

    Brain Rules and presentations

    I've read Dr. John Medina's brain rules book and I have subscribed to both his Facebook page and his blog. The book is a very readable review of what we know about the brain, how it functions, and its impact on learning. The following slideshow was created by Garr Reynolds who publishes the Presentation Zen blog and it expertly captures three critical rules outlined by Dr. Medina in his book.

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Automobiles and Learning Technology

    In the past year I have become a big fan of the BBC television series Top Gear. For those of you who have not seen the show, it is a odd mix of British slapstick humor and reviews of the creme de le creme of automotive engineering. I'd like to share a 10-minute clip from the show in which two of the hosts look at the evolution of the driver's controls.

    Now, what you may ask does this have with learning technology? I think that what we see happening today with the learning industry trying to work these tools into their offerings is the same as how the automobile industry worked out the details on how the driver controls the vehicle.

    The means of working wikis, blogs, and podcasts into a structured learning environment is wide open and will remain so for another 20 or 30 years until the individuals we refer to as digital natives become the majority of decision makers in the corporate world. And then they will find what is the proper means of implementing these technologies in the corporate training world.

    In the interim, we digital immigrants need to just keep experimenting with these tools and be prepared to get laughed at by the digital natives as we misuse tools that are ostensibly theirs. It will be through our trial and error

    Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    The ultimate act of sportsmanship

    This is not totally on subject given that the focus of my blog is about learning and instructional design...well maybe it is.

    I came across this story at Neatorama, a general interest blog, but I think it can serve as a learning moment. The lesson to be learned: teamwork can stretch beyond just individuals in your own group. Here are two college sports teams "competing" when an unusual situation drives them together to cooperate for a higher goal. The lead for the ESPN story really tells it all.

    Western Oregon senior Sara Tucholsky had never hit a home run in her career. Central Washington senior Mallory Holtman was already her school's career leader in them. But when a twist of fate and a torn knee ligament brought them face to face with each other and face to face with the end of their playing days, they combined on a home run trot that celebrated the collective human spirit far more than individual athletic achievement.

    To paraphrase the rest of the story, Tucholsky stumbles rounding 1st base as she is celebrating hitting the first home run of her college career and injures her knee to the point that she cannot stand let alone walk around the bases. Under the rules of the game she would be called "out" by the umpires if her teammates or coaches assist her. The only seeming alternative is to stop the play with her on first base, provide a pinch runner, and continue on with the game. Unfortunately, she would not be credited with a home run. That's when competition took a back seat.

    "And right then," [Western Oregon coach Pam] Knox said, "I heard, 'Excuse me, would it be OK if we carried her around and she touched each bag?'"

    The voice belonged to Holtman, a four-year starter who owns just about every major offensive record there is to claim in Central Washington's record book. She also is staring down a pair of knee surgeries as soon as the season ends. Her knees ache after every game, but having already used a redshirt season earlier in her career, and ready to move on to graduate school and coaching at Central, she put the operations on hold so as to avoid missing any of her final season. Now, with her own opportunity for a first postseason appearance very much hinging on the outcome of the game -- her final game at home -- she stepped up to help a player she knew only as an opponent for four years.

    "Honestly, it's one of those things that I hope anyone would do it for me," Holtman said. "She hit the ball over her fence. She's a senior; it's her last year. … I don't know, it's just one of those things I guess that maybe because compared to everyone on the field at the time, I had been playing longer and knew we could touch her, it was my idea first. But I think anyone who knew that we could touch her would have offered to do it, just because it's the right thing to do. She was obviously in agony."

    Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace lifted Tucholsky off the ground and supported her weight between them as they began a slow trip around the bases, stopping at each one so Tucholsky's left foot could secure her passage onward. Even with Tucholsky feeling the pain of what trainers subsequently came to believe was a torn ACL (she was scheduled for tests to confirm the injury on Monday), the surreal quality of perhaps the longest and most crowded home run trot in the game's history hit all three players.

    I truly recommend you read the whole article, its amazing. Education, like almost any other area of human endeavor, has become so competitive that we miss out on the simple truth that we need to help and support one another. I know it sounds hackneyed, but as we develop instruction, especially asynchronous, we need to make sure that there is some sort of helping hand out there that a learner can turn to when they are unclear on something or are frustrated by a problem. This perhaps is the true bonus that Web 2.0 elements have to offer.

    ESPN - Central Washington offers the ultimate act of sportsmanship - College Sports

    Monday, April 21, 2008

    Laptop U: Where No One Looks at the Professor

    For some reason I'm in a negative mood about Web 2.0 tools and education. Reading this article posted at Pajamas Media, got me wondering if what is necessary at the primary school level is some form of instruction on showing respect and prioritizing your life. Written by a professor who chooses to be anonymous so that her students don't discover "she is onto them."

    I'm in the midst of a brilliant lecture. I'm very well prepared for this class. I have thirty or forty Powerpoint slides that boil down the textbook chapter into handy outlines. I have included outside material that I spent hours finding and scanning. I have even inserted a two minute clip from a news show that someone had uploaded to YouTube. I also genuinely find this topic fascinating, so I'm able to talk passionately about it. I'm pacing and making wild arm movements. I'm wearing a short skirt.

    But about half the class isn't staring at the wonder that is me. Their eyes are glued to their computer monitors. There is a background sound of clacked-clack as they transcribe my lecture. At least, that's what they tell me what they're doing. I cant see their monitor screens. Its more likely that they're IM-ing their girlfriends and flirting with boys on MySpace and downloading songs.

    Part of me wonders when adults ceded responsibility for how learning should occur to the students. How far does an instructor have to go to keep learners interested in the topic? If learners are allowed to surf the Internet without repercussions in the classroom, how will they respond in the workplace?

    I am not arguing that we should tell them to check their laptop at the door, or schools should turn off Internet access in the classroom. But there needs to be some guidance. At the very least we need to re-instill a belief that we should show all people the kind of respect and attentiveness that we would expect from others when we speak.

    Or maybe, the lecture hall should become a thing of the past, a quaint anachronism akin to the chalk board and the fountain pen. If lectures can be recorded and streamed, if lecture notes can be posted, and assignments delivered via the class web site why do we need to bring the students together in one room

    There are winners and losers with each new technology and maybe, for better or worse, the time of the formal educator, the sage-on-the-stage and the classroom is passing. Tags:

    Pajamas Media » Blog Archive » Laptop U: Where No One Looks at the Professor

    Symantec: Online Security Concerns Growing in the Workplace

    I started reading Neil Postman's Technopoly over the weekend in which he presented a  piece from Plato's Phaedrus in which a god named Theuth presented to King Thamus the discovery of letters. Theuth praised his discovery because he said it "will make Egyptians wiser and give them better memories." But Thamus replied

    O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.

    Postman presented the piece to note that adoption of any technology, regardless of its potential, is a Faustian bargain in which a sacrifice must be made in return for the power offered by the technology. I offer this up because of the post I read this post on Campus Technology about security concerns surrounding Web 2.0 tools in the workplace.

    Symantec has posted a pair of reports that reveal that workers "put themselves at risk whenever they check their MySpace and Facebook pages...all while at the workplace."

    Among the key findings in Symantec's "Global Internet Security Threat Report" are some staggering numbers, including the 711,912 new threats discovered in 2007, compared to just 125,243 in 2006. That's an increase of 468 percent.

    The report also highlighted several enterprise system weakness trends which are germane to IT pros looking to balance the new work/life spillover in their IT administration space. According to the report, 58 percent of respondent-documented vulnerabilities in the third and fourth quarters of last year affected Web-based software or applications. Of those vulnerabilities, 72 percent were deemed "easily exploitable."

    In their second study, Millennial Workforce: IT Risk or Benefit?, Symantec unveils that:

    • 66% of millnnials access Facebook/MySpace during work hours
    • 75% access their personal webmail accounts
    • 46% use IM on the corporate network
    • Less than 45% stick to company-issued devices or software

    The report then goes on to call for CIOs to study what devices are being used in their organization, what applications are being downloaded,  and to track movement of data and information. Based on this data they need to quantify and remediate the problem.

    The bottom line is that in this age corporations need to be extremely sensitive to protecting its proprietary information as well as the information of its clients. At the same time, the Millennial generation is not going to blindly give up the technology it has grown up with. Corporations want to tap into the innovative spirit of the Millennials, but to do so they need to treat them as equals and not as children that should be seen, but not heard.

    Symantec suggests that IT needs to educate its audience. "Use logic to communicate the risk, solution and benefit to your employees. Recognize that coaching the millennial workforce is more effective than educating."

    I think that last line is the key. Corporations cannot just promulgate policies and post them as .pdfs on the corporate intranet and accept that as job done. Nor can it produce mind-numbing training sessions that basically rehash the policy. If there is going to be a zero-tolerance attitude toward IT security failures there needs to be greater communication and cooperation in developing and enforcing the policies. Tags:

    Thursday, April 03, 2008

    Do you want fries with that philosopher?

    This seems to represent the ultimate triumph of capitalism over all other ideologies.

    One student took a far more critical view: We the students are the customers, the consumers, the ones who make the choice every day to pay attention or not. I pay approximately $30,000 to go here, whether I text in class or not. Laurence Thomas gets paid whether his students text in class or not. Does he think that this is the first time this has happened on any college campus? Had he acted like nearly 100 percent of the other college professors in this country, he would have shrugged it off and continued with his lecture, which he is getting paid to do. His deterring of the class and exit from the lecture only serves to highlight is own selfishness, as he will get paid while his paying students are having their time and money wasted. He needs to get over himself here.

    Call me old-fashioned, but I side with the professor. An education should not be treated as just another throw-away commodity in our society. And a teacher should receive the respect he or she has earned from their scholarly endeavors. Hopefully the student quoted here is not typical. His or her attitude speaks volumes about their attitude towards the class. Of course I think the professor was being a bit childish in walking out on all of his students because of the actions of one or two.

    Unfortunately this class is probably a prerequisite for most of these students and they don't really care about the topic. It does speak volumes about the lack of true learning opportunities in a venue in which one person is speaking to hundreds of learners.

    If You Text in Class, This Prof Will Leave :: Inside Higher Ed :: Higher Education's Source for News, and Views and Jobs

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    Help yourself to the elearning buffet

    Interesting couple of articles published in the last few days about the future of elearning. On March 11th, the Rapid eLearning Blog wrote a piece called How to Create E-Learning Courses That Don't Waste Your Learner's Time.

    In that piece Tom Kuhlmann writes that many learners are taking elearning courses "because they have to, not necessarily because they want to."

    For them, it’s a matter of getting in and out quickly and then back to work.  This is not a commentary on the quality of the course or its content.  It’s just that many elearning courses are compulsory and the person taking it isn’t motivated by learning the content.

    Those people only want to see the essential information, take the required quiz, and get on with their lives.  They don’t want to be held hostage by a course that has them clicking all over the place.  Tell them what they need to know and let them go.

    He then proceeds to offer up a series of recommendations that include creating courses that are not courses and identifying course requests that would really serve a greater purpose as a reference work.

    Then today I received an email newsletter from the training zone, a training association based in Great Britain. They published a an article titled: Help yourself to the elearning buffet (free registration is required to view).

    This article contends that today's generation is accustomed to networked technology  and "lives its life on the web and has come to expect instant gratification...[they] are less accustomed to traditional methods of training, and prefer to be in control of when and where they consume information. The writer, Julian Dable, a regional manager for Travantis, thinks that, with an appropriate tweaking of how we perceive it, elearning is the solution to meeting the new web generation's needs for information solutions.

    Elearning is a perfect balance between traditional learning and self-determined 'quick-fix' internet learning. Readily accessible, expert information from sanctioned subject matter experts is the safest and most practical way of getting information into your employees' hands. These days, widely available authoring software tools put power into the hands of subject matter experts who don't need to be technologically savvy to create training courses. They can integrate the power of multimedia audio and video to create engaging learning. Even better, such tools are easy to learn and the process can be contracted to a matter of hours or days rather than weeks.

    His thoughts tend to gravitate toward moving elearning away from the traditional page turner and more towards a two-way communication structure where social frameworks can be built.

    Help yourself to the elearning buffet - 19 Mar 2008

    Monday, March 17, 2008

    Learning Visions: Accidental Learning

    Cammy Bean has a great post about accidental learning. Cammy quotes from Yo-Yo Ma's presentation for NPR:

    Every day I make an effort to go toward what I don't understand. This wandering leads to the accidental learning that continually shapes my life.

    - Yo-Yo Ma

    I've found that I often follow links (not just on the Internet) to discover new things. Just the other day I was listening to Jimmy Buffett's CD Don't Stop the Carnival. It was not a regular music CD, but it seemed to tell a story. So I searched Wikipedia to find out more about it and discovered it is based upon a Herman Wouk book by the same name. Buffett and Wouk colloborated on turning it into a musical

    Normally I would not think about reading a Herman Wouk book because I am conditioned to think that he writes war stories (Thank you ABC which produced Winds of War and War and Rememberance mini-series.) The only war-related theme in Don't Stop the Carnival occurs at the beginning when it is described how the United States came into possession of the island during World War II.

    After that it is the story of the adventures of Norman Paperman, a New York PR man who decides to slow down after he suffers a mild heart attack by running a resort in the Caribbean. I am now deeply engrossed in a book I would not have known even existed if I had not decided to find out the reasoning behind the unusual CD.

    Learning Visions: Accidental Learning

    Thursday, March 13, 2008

    The Blogosphere Mapped

    Ever wonder about the size of the blogosphere? Are bloggers just talking to themselves? Matthew Hurst of Data Mining put together various maps of the blogosphere. This one shows the blogosphere as a social network. It appeared on Discover magazine's website in April 2007.

    As expected the most populous site is the bold white spot marked with the number "1" and represents the political world.

    The outlyers represent LiveJournal social networking sites (3), sports blogs (5), and pornography sites (6).

    Other maps can be seen at Matt's blog, Data Mining: Mapping the Blogosphere. Tags: ,,

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    Recommended Books for Instructional Design

    BOOKSTOREAD.COM has compiled a collected list of recommended books on instructional design and technology.

    The purpose of the Top Ten Lists is to showcase the bookshelves of leaders in the field. Currently, we are accepting nominations for eminent scholars, theorists, and practitioners in instructional design and technology whom we would like to request that they submit a top ten list of their most influential or important books in the field.

    The list is kind of dated (nothing new since 2002), but still a good starting point for individuals interested in pursuing an informal education in instructional design. Hat Tip to John Curry, Ph.D., at EffectiveDesign.Org, for including it amongst his links  this week.

    Monday, March 10, 2008

    Social Media: Reducing friction and establishing a NEW discipline

    A fascinating piece on the role of social media (blogs, wikis, twitter, etc.) in the corporate world. Key nugget:

    Social media is not so much about direct influence of revenue, but more of a market optimizer - which DOES impact revenue. Current revenue streams AND future opportunities. Essentially social media aids in making markets more efficient with pervasive communication, connectivity and real-time transaction capabilities. Its a fundamental change in market mechanics.

    Read it all.

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