Friday, January 30, 2009

Wasn't the Internet Cute Back in 1981

This vintage news report demonstrates how the news media had no real clue about the possibilities of the Internet.

Hat Tip: IO9

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Helpful Reminder for All Designers

As we go about our daily design efforts under the pressure of increasingly tight schedules we sometimes forget about the people who will be sitting in front of their computer screens trying to digest the elearning we develop. This presentation - Dumping the Drone - by Cathy Moore is a helpful reminder of how we should be developing content.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What Can Training Departments Learn from Our President's Experiences

A report in the New York Times last Friday provides an interesting parable for the corporate training world that is looking towards Web 2.0 as a new avenue to deliver training. The article, titled Obama 2.0: Who's Leading Who?, notes that the leadership team around our new Chief Executive is discovering that once they let the genie out of the bottle they cannot get him back in. At the heart of the story is the fact that the grassroots elements that Team Obama connected with, in part using web 2.0 technology, are now continuing to demand the face time they had during the campaign.

Not everyone is sure, however, that once in office, President Obama will be able to marshall his online forces and engage them against his targets. Now organized, they may decide to move against him.

That’s already happened, wrote Ari Melber yesterday at the Nation, noting that the previous week a question about whether Obama would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate possible Bush Administration war crimes had been voted to the top of citizens’ questions submitted to the new administration via An Obama spokesman tried to dodge the question, but it didn’t go away:

It is striking that Obama’s aides, who helped win the election by harnessing new media, believed they could just spin away from their online interlocutors. Instead, the move backfired immediately. Bob Fertik, the activist who submitted the question, campaigned for it; and progressive websites, including, blasted the dodge. Within a day, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann picked up the story. A day later, Obama was compelled to answer the question in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who quoted it and pressed Obama with two follow-ups. Obama’s answer, which prioritized moving “forward” but did not rule out a special prosecutor, made the front page of the January 12 New York Times.

So what does this mean for corporate training departments. I would suggest it means the end of the learning management system as a gatekeeper for training. It could signal the end of the existing static training experience (whether in the classroom or over the corporate intranet) in which information is dumped on the learner with a few exercises or multiple choice questions thrown in to break up the monotony. More importantly, learners are not going to stand by and just absorb information and then walk away and do what the training intended them to do. Web 2.0 will no longer allow that.

At least in the classroom they can ask questions and talk among themselves. I think in the elearning environment the days of the standard elearning course has to come to an end. Business likes elearning because the learner can take it at any time, any where. More importantly, the learner can be easily interrupted and pulled out of the learning experience to handle more profitable issues. If the training is programmed with bookmarking, the learner will not even lose their place.

In the future, elearning cannot be delivered in this fashion. The new generation of workers are not going to allow it. They are going to require that they have the ability to communicate with an expert and with one another. It is going to require creation of a cadre who will take the course at the same time and will have access to some form of online chat so that they can talk to one another as well as to a subject matter expert. The SME does not need to actively present the material, but he or she will be actively monitoring the chat session to answer questions as they appear.

Most important, it is going to require that the top-down model of communication in the company is going to have to relinquish some control over the learning environment.

Hat Tip to Will Thalheimer Tags: ,,

Monday, January 19, 2009

Better Read then Dead

P1010032Okay, I know that is mighty strange headline for a blog post, but what the heck, I’m in that kind of mood. The point I’m trying to make is that I used to think I could never read an ebook. I always thought that I had to have  the dead tree version of a book to be able to enjoy the read.

I want to say right now: I WAS WRONG!!!!

To the right you see my most recent gadget. It’s a Samsung Blackjack; not as sexy as an Apple  iPhone, but for my money its just as good. I’ve coupled it with my home version of Microsoft Office 2007 so I can create and edit documents to my heart’s content.

But my most recent addition to my Blackjack is the addition of Mobipocket ebook Reader. This free software has turned my Blackjack into a mobile library of books and documents. My most recent read, which I highly recommend, is Cory Doctrow’s Little Brother, a dystopian tale of the Department of Homeland Security run amok and the efforts of a band of teenagers to resist.

Other books I have read using my Blackjack include:

All of these book, except for Atlas Shrugged are available for free. Mobipocket ebook Reader also provides the ability to import web documents, .pdf files, and office documents and converts them to their reader. Whenever I connect my Blackjack to my computer Mobipocket will ask if I want to synchronize my library. I have met the future and it is wonderful. Tags: ,

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Learning in Hard Economic Times: A Delicate Balancing Act

Harold Jarche has an interesting post concerning innovation and learning that I post here in its entirety.

In Innovating in the Great Disruption, Scott Anthony suggests three disciplines necessary to foster innovation in difficult economic times - placing a premium on progress; mastering paradox; and learning to love the low end. He also discusses the importance of learning;

" Innovators will need to continue to find creative, cheap ways to bring their ideas forward. Fortunately, they can tap into a plethora of powerful tools to facilitate rapid learning."

Rapid learning is not PowerPoint slides turned into online courses but rather increasing the ways to connect ideas and people. This is the future of training and e-learning, or what I call ABC (anything but courses). Anthonys third point, love the low end, also speaks to the use of inexpensive tools such as web services or open source software. If learning professionals can be seen as catalysts for innovation, then even in difficult times will their future look bright.

While I will agree that the corporate world is mistaken in believing that a one-day or two-day training program is sufficient to develop employees in a specific process, I fear that Harold is going overboard with his "ABC" idea. Without a base, formal presentation of some sort to provide a framework for ongoing learning between people you could end up with a case of the blind men describing the elephant.

Harold is correct in stating that "[r]apid learning is not turning PowerPoint slides into online courses," but it is also not a matter of setting up a bunch of social web services to facilitate discussion. In fact what is telling about the quote he provides is what preceded it.

While more and more companies recognize the name of the game is transformation, the tolerance for blind experimentation has never been lower.

And that is too true. In times like these, the corporate world looks to cost centers such as training as the first place to make cuts. So any proposed innovation will require a balance between something old and something new, which is what I suggested way back in 2007.

Harold Jarche » Innovation and Learning

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Lunch and Learning Objectives

 Will Thalheimer has been providing a series of brown bag webinars called Webinoshs and the latest is about learning objectives. Here's the 411:

FREE Webinosh on Instructional Objectives This Friday January 9th, I will talk about Instructional Objectives, and some research, thereof. Instructional Objectives:

  • Do they produce learning results?
  • Are they all the same?
  • Do we have to use them?
  • Do prequestions work just as well?
  • How specifically do they have to be worded?
  • Can I use the word "Understand"? Answer: In some of them, but not others.
  • Hey Will, do you have a new taxonomy for us?

To sign-up just go to