Thursday, August 31

Blog Guides and Managing Your RSS Feeds

Based on my experience in visiting blogs for the first time and having a hard time deciding what the content of the blog really was, I decided that what I needed was a blog guide. So, I decided to create a Blog Guide for my own blog and put a permanent link for it on my blog up in the header. Since I just saw a post by Jim Belshaw that referenced it - Personal Reflections: Tony Karrer and eLearning Technology where Jim said:

I do wish more people would follow this approach.

Would it be helpful to have a similar Blog Guide on this blog? On most Blogs? From an IA or ISD perspective, likely most of us would agree that the usual set-up of blogs (recent blog posts + archive by month) is not very helpful when you are a first time visitor trying to evaluate what the blog is all about. My guess is that my first attempt at my guide needs lots of help, but I feel it's better than nothing.

On a similar subject, I recently posted how I Manage My RSS Feeds. This model seems to be working out well for me.

Monday, August 28

The Innovator's Dilemma of Learning

In preparing for a couple upcoming presentations on eLearning 2.0 and I've been forced to deal with several related problems and have come to a realization about a fundamental problem that we face. First, let me walk you through where this is coming from...

Most conference attendees have done little or no preparation and have not sat down to figure out what questions they should be asking coming into the conference. I've written about the need to prepare before:
More Effective Conferences for Learning Professionals - The most important aspect of making sure you get the most you can from the conference is determining what the questions are that you should use to focus you during the conference. Otherwise, you will swim through the sea of sessions and vendors and will not get nearly as much from the conference.
However, even if you sat down ahead of the conference and really thought about the questions that you face in your job, most of the questions are along the lines of:
  • How do I get more interactivity into my courseware?
  • How do I reduce the attrition rate in my course/courseware?
  • What's the best authoring tool to use to build my courseware?

Sound familiar right?

The problem is that all of these questions assume that we are trying to do more of the same. We are trying to build courses/courseware - and that's dying. We are aiming at helping large numbers of novice/new performers even though that ignores most of the learning that occurs in organizations (see Rosenberg's Beyond eLearning - Is that eLearning 2.0?).

The realization is that we are facing the exact issue described by Christensen in the Innovator's Dilemma. He pointed out that many successful companies become unsuccessful when they continually optimize what they are doing well today only to be supplanted by disruptive innovations, e.g., railroad companies not becoming airlines. In learning, we have similar disruptions going on with eLearning 2.0, changing learning landscape and it provided the realization that we have the "The Innovator's Dilemma of Learning" ...

We are spending the vast majority of our time incrementally improving what we are doing today in learning (courses/courseware) instead of taking advantage of learning disruption that is happening all around us.

I know that most Learning and Performance Professionals will tell you all the reasons that "in their environment" they cannot break out of this mold. The Innovator's Dilemma suggests that you may be right, but it doesn't meant that you aren't heading for a rude awakening when you find out you are in railroads instead of airlines. Instead, maybe we should take Seth Godin's advice around Redefining Expectations.

Let's assume for a minute that you didn't have these barriers in your organization. I'm curious to find out what questions readers of this blog would ask at a conference if they assumed that they were not locked in the Innovator's Dilemma of Learning. Here are some that I might ask of other attendees, presenters, vendors, etc. I'm hoping that maybe even some of the other authors on this blog can begin to explore answers to some of these. Maybe I don't need to wait for my next conference...

  • Informal Learning - How can I provide a development process, tools and systems that foster informal learning in a way that I know will have impact on the performance that I care about and that is repeatable? What can I borrow from KM, collaborative learning, and management practices? What does this look like in practice? When do I use it? When are you using it? What effect is it having? How do you know?
  • Personal Learning - What systems, tools, techniques can I use to make myself a better learner?
  • Reference Hybrids - How have you organized landing pages to support both reference and learning modes? How do you define what will be treated as reference and what as learning? What tools are you using today? What do you expect to use in the future? How do you track this kind of learning? Do you have metrics on impact?

So what are your questions?

Wednesday, August 23

Elgg and the Blackboard LMS Patent

Harold Jarche provides a concise yet powerful defense of the Elgg learning environment against the 44 provisions of the Blackboard LMS Patent in his post Elgg and the LMS Patent.  His analysis from a learning professional's viewpoint is critical.

This post is a call to action to any learning professional who wants to preserve open and complete competition amongst vendors (for profit or open source) seeking to assist in the learning process.  Please write a post on your blog (feel free to copy this post if you'd like) with a link to Harold's post and create a trackback to it as well. 

We all know how Google and the other search engines determine what sites to present first in their listings.  Let's make sure that any attorney who searches for information regarding this case finds Harold's post.

technorati tags:, , , ,

Blogged with Flock

Saturday, August 19

Butts in seats does not equal learning

Hours in class meaningless as a measure, especially if a lawyer is the instructor

“Are you excited about the recall election? Arnold’s campaign has a new slogan: ‘Win one for the groper.’” —David Letterman

Arnold Calls His Acts of Sexual Harassment a Joke

October 2003. In a “Dateline NBC” interview aired Sunday evening, Schwarzenegger said of the allegations, “a lot of it is made-up stories. I’ve never grabbed anyone and pulled up the shirt and grabbed the breast and stuff like that.”

But when asked if he denied all the stories about grabbing, he said, “No, not all. But I’m just saying this is not me. What I am is someone that sometimes makes outrageous jokes, someone that is out and says sometimes crazy things that may be offensive because there is a certain atmosphere.”

Assembly Bill 1825

Once Arnold took office, a Democratic state Assemblywoman drafted a bill mandating sexual harassment training for all supervisors (including Terminators). So far, so good.Now lawyers are trying to grab an exclusive on the training. A partner in a San Francisco employment law firm said, “It’s hard to estimate the size of AB 1825 training. A couple hundred million dollars would be my guess.”

There are reports that lawyers are making veiled threats to Calfornia employers that unless they meet the sex discrimination training requirement by conducting two-hour workshops, they risk being assessed massive damages in court. Guess who they recommend to lead the workshops? Lawyers, naturally. It boggles the mind. Can you imagine what two hours with a lawyer lecturer would be like?

Two Hours = what?

The issue hangs on the two-hour requirement specified by the law. As if two hours of butts in seats guarantees anything. As Gloria Gery famously asked, “Why don’t we just weigh them and report how many tons we’ve trained?”

Small mindedness coupled with lawyers lining their pockets is more than I can bear. I am seeking friends’ help to blow the two-hour requirement out of the water.

Protest Letter

I have drafted a letter and am gathering signatures in an attempt to wake up the Commision drafting regulations on this. If you agree with my letter, email me and I’ll add your name as a signer. If you can suggest other potential supporters, please forward this email to them.

Thanks. See you at the victory tail-gate party.

Jay Cross
Berkeley, California

P.S. For you non-Californians: the California statute could easily become the model for other states.

Wednesday, August 16

The Future of Media, Part 2

It's taken a bit longer to get to this post, but maybe I was waiting to read Jim Ware's post on The Dark Side of Collaborative Technology. There is a very dark side to web 2.0 that will send a chill up your spine if you think about it too long. Jim only talks about Stephen Colbert's punk on Wikipedia in which he suggested that his audience go change the entry for elephants to show that elephants aren't headed for extinction. The fact of the matter is that there are negative forces on the web looking to take advantage of the moment of novelty when consumers are in awe of the technology. Black mobs from Moscow, rioting youth in France and al Queda all are using the web for their purposes as well.

Now that I've depressed the heck out of everyone, let's talk about the antidote and the reality that Jim was focused on in his post as were the panelists at the Future of Media conference - TRUST. First Jim's key point in his post:

...but trust that produces genuine learning and new knowledge is a fragile thing. It takes time and common experiences to build trust - and that is a major reason why we don't advocate distributed work as a panacea.

His point is a good one. There might be too much trust placed too quickly in applications and people we hardly know. In the flatting world not only is there more and more information coming at us, but there are more and more people coming into our lives on a daily basis. Andy Halliday, CEO of, pointed out that we take our first step in building trust by listening to or reading other people's stories and sharing ours. As he pointed out, it's not a new invention to seek kindred spirits through storytelling. We just now have more ways to share our stories. The challenge becomes how do we sort through the cacaphony to find those whom we can come to trust.

Verna Allee, one of the world's leading authorities on knowledge management and communities of practice, pointed out in a side conversation (I happened to sit next to here) that there is a clear preference to believe content that carries a real person's name on it over content that carries an institution's name. Content which has no specific authorship (anonymous entries in a best practices database for example) are dismissed my most people without any evidence of their veracity or lack thereof. So finding ways to know we can trust someone is key. Chris Anderson, Editor of Wired Magazine, shared his belief that you can build that trust through reputation, quality of expression, and experience.

Authenticity it was agreed by the panelists is all there is in the future. The blogosphere has opened the world to authentic discourse. Uprooting entire industries in the process. Ironically, it was pointed out that Stephen Colbert and Dave Stewart are considered the most reliable news sources on TV today. Ray Kotcher, CEO of Ketchem PR, agreed saying "there is no use in running. Your story is going to come out. Your good stories and our bad stories will all be known." Knowing who you are, what you can do and telling it honestly is all there is. If you have a competitive advantage, you don't have time to look at the competition. Craig Newmark, Founder of Craig's List, got a roar of laughter when he shared, very quietly, "In reality we have competition, but in practice we ignore it."

John Hagel pointed to a concept he and John Seeley Brown develop in The Only Sustainable Edge that one of the three key sectors of the future economy will be centered around customer relationships. Ray Kotcher agreed asking the question "is media a collection of micro chunks of content or is it first and foremost about relationships." Hagel feels that the true economic unit of the future is going to be attention. The ability to get customers focused on what you can deliver to them to meet their needs is key to business success, he feels. The ability to keep yourself or your organization focused on what you want and need will be real determiner of success in the future.

While it's very true that new technologies are totally disrupting the global society, creating radical changes across the globe, and yes, creating an environment in which click fraud, disinformation campaigns, and identity theft may run rampant for a time. The ability to connect with like minds using the new technology but some very traditional, even ancient human skills of storytelling, authentic presense, and focusing our attention is incredibly exciting.

Thursday, August 10

some housekeeping details

Three bits of housekeeping detail to make everyone aware of.

A NEW VOICE As you've probably noticed due to his very popular first post, Tony Karrer, Ph.D., has joined the LCB Blog Squad. Tony is the founder and President of TechEmpower - a firm dedicated to providing innovative learning solutions to its clients. His blog eLearning Technology has quickly become a must include for eLearning professionals' RSS aggregators. Tony's well thought out ideas and his willingness to engage in open and fair debate will be an asset to the LCB community. Welcome aboard, Tony.

A new topic was introduced this week in the discussion wiki by Suzanne. She has raised the interesting challenge of "What's so great about informal learning?" Join Suzanne for this discussion or the other two discussions currently active on the wiki - "What makes a great simulations designer?" and "Finding sources for public sector projects"

You have to log in to be able to comment. Once you are logged in, you share your ideas by adding or amending the pages of the wiki or using the comment tab at the top of every page to share your remarks regarding that page's content. Please be sure to associate your name in some form or another with your comments made directly on the pages. it just makes it easier for everyone to follow the commentary.

NEW FAQ you may have noticed that our FAQ changed dramatically about an month ago. Our Bravenet FAQ was getting flooded by spam and I just got fed up with spending a hour a day deleting bogus questions.

If you have a question that the FAQ doesn't answer about LCB or have a concern or praise for LCB, please don't hesitate to contact me directly at daveleelcb at comcast dot net. Thanks for all the great conversations!

your humble blogmeister,
Dave Lee

Sunday, August 6

Courses and Courseware Fading - What's Coming Next?

A few recent posts by Jay Cross, Brent Schlenker, and me (Tony Karrer) discuss Course and Courseware Fading - The Future of eLearning. The general sentiment among many in the workplace learning and performance industry is that the course model is beginning to fade and one of our biggest challenges is figuring out what comes next.

Just as it is today when we design a Blended Learning solution, undoubtedly we will have a variety of delivery models and the specific solution will depend on the situation. But, the challenge before us is that we are only just beginning to understand what these delivery models are, how they work, when they best apply, and the process we must use (see Informal Learning - Let's Get Real). Further, as these delivery models evolve (and they will evolve tremendously over the next few years), we will naturally see change in our matching of learning and performance needs to delivery models.

As the new author on the Learning Circuits blog, I'm hoping to help add to this conversation as it is probably the most important question facing us in eLearning today.