Rate of Learning * Food of the Gods

February 11, 2009

As the saying goes, “the only thing that is constant is change.” While reading HG Wells Food of the Gods, about two scientists researching the growth process of living things, something occurred to me. The rate of human growth used in the book can be used as a reference for how people learn, process and adapt to new information. Stay with me for a moment…

Change is constant and learning is constant, right?

In Food of the Gods, two scientists theorize that the natural rate of growth is constant with periods of rest (Figure C.), which (applied to learning) is an ideal rate for Bloom’s Taxonomy right? We start with receiving information and progressively move to knowledge and then evaluation. That is great! Although, raise your hand out there if you feel like the rate of change and new information in your day to day life is a constant stream (Figure D.)? Everyday we can expect that things will change, new information will come in, new events will happen that impact our daily work and lives.

How do we manage this constant change? How can organizations manage this? Will sporadic growth and periods of rest continue to work for us? How many organizations have learning programs to accommodate Figure C. and D? To the contrary how many organizations have programs that resemble Figure A. and B? An initial information dump without reinforcement or no change at all.

What is the answer? Here are my thoughts:

  • Create learning programs that resemble Figure C. and D.
  • Provide tools to enable informal learning.
  • Build communities to support social learning.
  • Revisit topics of frequent change.
  • Use refreshers consistently to reinforce.
  • Turn learning into a constant stream.
  • What are you thoughts?

In closing to paraphrase Tim O’Reilly,

“…it is easier to consume small bites of information over a long period of time than to consume large bites of information in short period of time”.

Rate of Learning

Rate of Learning


DevLearn08 Recap * Learning in a Web 2.0 World

November 17, 2008

Just getting back from San Jose and a million thanks to Brent and the Guild for an absolutely amazing DevLearn08 (#dl08). The event was held in the beautiful Fairmont hotel near Adobe headquarters and was jammed packed with inspirational keynotes, deep dive concurrent sessions and physical + virtual connections with fellow bloggers, tweeters and learning professionals.

What were your favorite presentations? I was able to catch excellent conversations and sessions on mobile learning (Judy Brown, BJ Schone, Barbara Ludwig, David Metcalf), immersive learning (Mark Oehlert), instructional design using the semantic web (Rueben Tozman), micro-blogging trends (Michelle Lentz), new work literacy (Tony Karrer)…and many, many others. Of course, there was a lot of tweeting going on and informal aha moments. Special shout out to my new T-Mobile teammate Jeff Tillet, who I am excited to dive into new media learning solutions with.

Keynote Highlights

Tim O’Reilly – follow the alpha geeks, early adopters and people who need training the least (high performers). Reach out to them and turn them into mentors, as well as provide convenient resources, reinforcement. Then study successes.

Dan Roam says – break every problem into Who, What, Where, Why and How…all you need is a napkin and sharpie. By the way, I tested the PowerPoint slideshow drawing feature, which is cool and can even convert to a slide object.

John Medina – covered a few of his 12 Brain Rules and how the education system counteracts how the brain has evolved to process and store information.

LinkedIn, da Vinci and Qik dinner

The days and nights were crazy busy, and in a few cab rushed evenings, I was also able to meet up with Jackie Danicki from Qik in beatiful Palo Alto for dinner, see the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at the Technology Musuem, drive around Google-land and get a tour of LinkedIn headquarters, where we rocked out to Guitar Hero and got free snacks and fruit drinks in the LunchedIn kitchen. Special thanks to my co-presenter George Aston’s cousin Scott (LinkedIn web developer) for the dinner and tour…look forward to further tech discussions.

Thanks to everyone for coming to our 402 session on Using Rapid Video…it was almost a full house, which was cool. After quick hitting brain and film theory fundamentals with video examples, we broke the session into a hands-on video workshop with three groups tasked with props, storyboard and a Flip camera to rapidly create content. George and I were stoked by the amount of participation and levels of creativity. Please find what the groups created below on YouTube, as well as our slide deck in SlideShare. Also, if you are interested in current trends in user generated video, check out my article in Training Solutions Magazine.

402 Workshop Videos

Group 1 | Using paper props

Group 2 | Using real props

Group 3 | Using a flip chart and markers

Note: First few audio seconds for each video have a slight delay…not sure why…maybe a Vista issue with Flip software???

Presentation SlideShare Deck


Bringing social media in? * P-O-S-T

October 3, 2008

Social media tools help people easily (and virtually) connect with peers, friends and families to help answer questions like “how are you you”,”have you seen this video” and “so, what are you doing”. As Marcel LeBrun, CEO of Radian6 puts it social media is like a new phone. (credit Chris Brogan).

Moving forward, we can’t help but consider the opportunity to use this new form of social connection on the job. Your average employee has been using email for everything and for a very long time, and it is time to figure out best way to incorporate these tools with your team and organization. A lot of you out there are probably already doing this via grass roots.

Networks are exercises in structured informality.

The key principle of networking is focusing on what you do best and delegating other activities to your allies. – Heather Creech and Terri Willard | Strategic Intentions

Why bring social media tools into your organization and what is the best way? Groundswell, written by two analysts from Forrester Research, tells us to walk through Peope Objective Strategy Technology:

  1. People – What is your employee and/or customer technographic profile?
  2. Objective – Select one (yes only one) objective (Talk, Listen, Energize, Support or Embrace).
  3. Strategy – What will be different when you are done? Do you want a closer, two-way relationship with your best employees or create a knowledge support groups and self-serve community?
  4. Technology – NOW select your tool of choice (user-generated video, blogs, social network)

Let’s compare two technographic profiles. Do you see any differences? Notice the difference between critics, creator, joiners and inactives. Which group would be easier to talk to vs. listen to? Which group would be conducive for building an online community?

Profile A

Profile A

Profile B

Profile B


So what are you working on? * Enterprise Conversations

October 3, 2008

I was reading this Mashable article that hits exactly on what I have been thinking for a little while, how businesses can leverage microblogging tools like Twitter and Plurk, aka Yammer to help build online communities. This new communication tool can open up enterprise doors to faciliate cross-department conversations and support.

The article concisely summarizes business value and key considerations:

Business Value:
Emergency Broadcast System: First and foremost, any company needs a way to reach all of its employees quickly and efficiently. E-mail is obviously one way to do this but increasingly, it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. With many folks receiving hundreds of e-mails a day, it can take minutes if not hours before we get to an e-mail from the CEO.

Knowledge Management: Here’s where things get interesting. One of the biggest failings of many companies is the fact that they trap their intellectual property in Powerpoints, spreadsheets and Word documents and store them on shared drives and e-mail inboxes. Once the creator of that content walks out the door, the odds of their years of work finding its way into anyone else’s life are slim. As companies start uploading more and more content onto wikis, or central file repositories, these files can be linked to and indexed by conversational tools like microblogs.

Training: Any company that has gone on a hiring binge quickly realizes how painful it is to train new employees. If a formal training program exists, the materials are often outdated almost as soon as they are created. By identifying a few key influencers and allowing new employees to see their daily “streaming,” information and best practices can be shared more easily and in real time with little burden on the “trainer.”

Expert Identification: Another area that many larger companies fall down is in making their resident experts easily findable. If you can see your company’s employees talking (possibly segmented by business unit or group within an organization), it wouldn’t take long to figure out who knows what about whom.

Seeing the Connectors: Good companies spend a lot of time on succession planning. Unfortunately, most companies don’t have a good handle on who the true connectors are within their organization. By analyzing conversations and watching the conversations of employees, senior managers can easily identify who these connectors are and then ensure these employees compensation and titles match their internal value AND start to add additional connectors if too much information is flowing through any one individual.

Inclusion of External Stakeholders: Back in the early 2000’s, extranets were all the rage. There would finally be a way for companies to include partners, investors and even certain customers in their daily conversations. Portals obviously began to fill this roll to a degree but none were ever truly conversational. Enter enterprise microblogging with the ability to include these aforementioned stakeholders in the mix.

Key Considerations:
Single Sign-On (SSO): A growing problem in the social media world right now is identity proliferation. With some notable exceptions that accept OpenID, most sites still require you to create yet another account in their system (or identity domain). In most enterprises, a fair amount of effort has already been expended on establishing single sign-on through the intranets’ LDAP registry. It would be highly desirable to leverage this capability to enroll employees in the microblogging system. So, an enterprise microblogging solution must have flexibility in adapting to existing ID and sign-on registries.

Reliability: Initially, microblogging may seem like a non-essential, nice-to-have kind of tool, but our bet is that most businesses will find it very quickly becomes indispensable for keeping important lines of communication open. People, on their own, will invent many different uses for such a simple tool, as they have with Twitter. In a large corporation with geographically distributed sites, it would be best to have a solution that allows each campus to run its own server and not be dependent on a remote centralized service. These distributed servers would exchange data to unify the system as a whole. See Distribution below.

Analytics: Businesses will eventually want to analyze the traffic on their microblogging sites. They’ll want to know who follows who, who posts the most and to who and most importantly, a feature I’d love to have in Twitter, the ability to see and search all my posts and other posts selectively for important information, just like we can search our G-mail accounts now.

Security:This will probably be of paramount concern at least initially in most businesses. Most corporations are very aware of keeping internal communications safe from prying outside eyes. An enterprise microblogging solution must provide for fine-grained authorization and trustworthy security of communications. Management, through the IT department will want to be able to restrict who can see certain posts.

Scalability: The word Enterprise covers a huge spectrum of organizations. An enterprise microblogging solution should be scalable from less than 100 users to tens or even hundreds of thousands of users, spread across the globe. The ability to distribute and federate many local servers on the corporate intranet will help to satisfy this need.

Groups: Enterprises comprise many different groups within their walls. Not just departments, but project teams, ad hoc working groups, common interests, etc. An enterprise microblogging solution must provide for the easy definition of groups or tags, where any employee user can belong to many groups.

Distribution: This requirement has been touched on already, but it should be mentioned again because of its importance to other requirements. It refers to the ability of the enterprise microblogging solution to be decentralized, spread out across wide geographic areas, and hence to become fault tolerant, so the failure of any one node does not cause a failure of the whole system.

Interoperability: Clearly a distributable enterprise microblogging solution would require its various nodes to federate and interoperate, but a corporation wishing to allow interaction with its customer base outside its walls would require a solution that interoperates with other microblogging solutions that may exist, yet allows only some posts to be seen outside the corporate firewall.

Yammer

Screenshot of Yammer


New Media * New Learner

August 1, 2008

Can New Media Be Taught in Schools, written by Marshall Kirkpatrick, inspired me to reflect on the subject of new media tool adoption and the enhancement of learning. As any web 2.0-ified elearning specialist in the corporate world, I advocate for new media tools to support learning, improve performance and facilitate knowledge management. Knowledge management, which I view as the gray area where people, processes and tools overlap, can easily fall to the wayside with personnel turnover and the clock ticking away.

New media, web/eLearning 2.0, or whatever-you-label-them-tools are ideal for establishing ubiquitous virtual settings for learners to collaborate, share and learn from each other, while simultaneously creating a cloud of digital knowledge artifacts to easily retrieve, validate and maintain. Whether it be a wiki of process documentation, a user generated video gallery or a trusted set of RSS feeds, these tools act as both learning and performance support tools. Plus with the power of the network and the greater number of connected minds strengthen the alignment around objectives and amplifies results.

Can those skill sets be taught in school? Most people we talked to said that schools could do well to facilitate learning experiences regarding new media. We believe, however, that there are large amounts of tangible information that can be transmitted to students in any setting that will enable them to have far more meaningful experiments in learning.

Update: A number of people have responded in comments, arguing that it’s not the skills that need to be taught, it’s knowledge about the issues. Ethics, history, ethos, etc. While that’s all very important, the skills themselves are not trivial, either.

Can that information be transmitted to students in a school setting, though? Students may be better off spending an hour watching all the 5 minute Social Media in Plain English videos from Common Craft.

Is the question how can teachers prepare students, or how can students prepare teachers? Maybe students help students help teachers help students relate and figure things out in this brave new wired world.

Kirkpatrick’s article asks, is this what the future of education is going to look like?

  • Tests on Twitter
  • Wiki-style study groups
  • Students quizzed on yesterday’s most popular videos and sites

Here are a few that I would like to add to Kirkpatrick’s list:

  • Blog and video-log learning journals and portfolios.
  • eLectures, via iTunes or other.
  • Class and even post-class social (group) networks? Do you remember all the names of everyone in your graduating high school class, or where they went afterwards? Don’t worry, I can’t either. Now you have more than just a yearbook picture to look at. Imagine the potential now for young people to maintain peer connections throughout the years. What use to be passing phases of friendships, becomes a (loose) network of peers that can efficiently strengthen at anytime necessary for personal or business reasons.
  • Probably others I can’t even think of yet (please comment if you have ideas).

In closing, I want to re-quote from Nonprofit technologist Amy Sample Ward.

For new media ‘courses’ to be successful, in my opinion, the ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’ need to be synonymous. Experiential learning and project-based assignments are really the only way to provide a space to learn and discuss new media tools. For example, a project that I had in one of my new media classes, was to take the regional newspaper’s website, and re-vamp it be an actual community space using new media tools for story-telling, community building, and up-to-the-minute input. We even had the chance to present our changes to the newspaper staff. It doesn’t get much more ‘real’ than that; and made us all focus on the biggest lesson of new media application: it needs to fit, not just be cool.


Justin Mass * T-shirt to Honor Tim Russert

June 18, 2008

An inspirational act at a sad time…

Justin Mass of Washington DC, is using the power of the (Facebook) network, grass roots effort and mad (t-shirt) design skills to raise money for a good cause in honor of Tim Russert. Besides being a new family man, an eLearning guru and a hip-hop evangelist, Justin is also quite the humanitarian. Go Justin go! // I met Justin last year at an eLearning Guild conference and have been keeping up with him ever since.

Read an excerpt from an article (below) and here are a few media bites: (Seattle) radio interview, (Seattle) news article, and DC news article

Justin Mass of Ashburn, like the rest of America, is mourning the passing of long-time “Meet the Press” host, Tim Russert.

“I always looked forward to his show,” said Mass, 31, who attended graduate school at University at Buffalo, in Russert’s hometown. “He’s one of those special guys who you really don’t appreciate until he’s gone.”

Mass, a huge hip-hop fan whose blog is called Daily Operation, decided to honor Russert in the way that the hip-hop community memorializes fallen musicians.

“When an artist passes prematurely in hip-hop, it’s usually just a few days before someone designs a tribute T-shirt,” he explained.

Mass had never designed a T-shirt before. By day, he works at a Reston law firm. But after hearing of Russert’s death and watching the news coverage until midnight on Friday, he felt inspired to honor the man.

The tribute Tees cost $20 each, and all profits will be donated in Russert’s memory to an organization that the broadcaster was actively involved with: The Boys and Girls Club of D.C.

Mass linked his T-shirt design on a Russert Facebook page yesterday, and by this morning, he said he had already received 20 orders.

“At first, I just told people to send me a check when ordering,” he said. “Today, I set up a Pay-Pal account to meet the demand.”

To order one, click here.


A mock-up of the Tim Russert tribute T-shirt (Design by Justin Mass)

Get O-R-G-A-N-E-Z-I-Z-E-D * Enterprise 2.0

May 30, 2008

Does your team and/or company need to get O-R-G-A-N-E-Z-I-Z-E-D?

Quote from Taxi Driver:

Travis Bickle: I should get one of those signs that says “One of these days I’m gonna get organezized”.
Betsy: You mean organized?
Travis Bickle: Organezized. Organezized. It’s a joke. O-R-G-A-N-E-Z-I-Z-E-D…
Betsy: Oh, you mean organezized. Like those little signs they have in offices that says, “Thimk”?

At this point most of us know about the damage of infomania and the value in peer collaboration and social media, so raise your hand if your team is using it? GOOD FOR YOU…hands down. Now raise your hand if you are begging IT and leadership to bring these tools within your firewall (a pilot at least) ?

With all of the grass roots web 2.0 things organically growing around the business world, the wise vendors are rushing to accommodate the need. Take DreamFactory for instance (thank you ReadWriteWeb).

In this first phase of the DreamTeam Suite, the software includes a Project Management module, a Time and Expense module, an integrated Document Manager, and a Team Calendar. Because it’s hosted in the cloud, there’s no need for implementation or provisioning, save for a one-time install of a browser plugin. There’s no need for any contracts, either: a Professional Edition starts at $12.95/month for unlimited projects and participants and the Enterprise version starts at $89.95/month.