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


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.


Knol * A unit of knowledge

July 29, 2008

Has anyone out there started using Google’s Knol yet? If so, what do you think? If not, why not?

Just browsing, I DID find eLearning, iPhone, Adobe Captivate and did NOT find mLearning or immersive learning…what’s up with that people?

Unlike Wikipedia, Knol puts a stronger emphasis on authorship and even encourages users to start different ‘knols’ for the same subject. Google is also serving up AdSense advertising on the site, whereas Wikipedia stays away from any advertising on its site. – RWW


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.


A|G 2008 – ILS Symposium & Day 1 Highlights

April 17, 2008

The eLearning Guild 2008 Annual Gathering (Orlando) has been amazing with so many new ideas, fresh perspectives, amazing case studies, actionable approaches and social connections. I look forward to staying in connect with everyone I met to continue the conversation. I tried to take as many notes and plan to synthesize and post. Below is a collection for the a pre-conf symposium and Day 1. More to come…

Immersive Learning Simulations (ILS) Symposium

This was a very, very impressive session with ILS experts let by Mark Oehlert, which was an awesome blend of theory, group discussion and plenty of awesome examples. Life and learning looks different through the glasses of ILS. The coolest thing is that they started a wiki for continue the conversation.

Here are my random notes and examples.

Terminology

Simulation – model of reality (an engine that drives everthing)

Scenario – initial conditions, goal, story

Game – tuned (being in the zone, tuning the scenario) adding time, pressure

Frame game – uninteresting, content irrelevant, glorified quiz

  • “Play in the beginning of knowledge” – baby animals, kids. Learn how the world works.
  • People do things for two reasons (Have to, Want to)
  • Congtive science research, learning should be “hard fun”…play is better learning
  • “A good game is a series of interesting decisions” Sid Meier
  • “People make mistakes in patterns” bring models in from their experience
  • Every wrong answer should have a different set of feedback
  • Mark asked a question about compliance training….Clark, ethics – have high stakes for story, law suit will shut company down. Mark O. said he does this, even with simple quiz, they are making results public to add competitive element.
  • “Tuning is nine-tenths of the effort.” Will Wright
  • Book: A Theory of Fun for Game Design
  • Book: The Game Design Reader
  • NY School The Game School – tell Cinnamon about this (public) Katie Salen
  • Tip” Provide a social outlet with the release of a course/game (i.e. a wiki), even better is a built in comment, feedback mechanics into the training…unmoderated.
  • Term: Adver-games
  • Choosing the right metaphor for your game content
  • (Mark C thought) – Are toys valuable in learning?

Day 1

Keynote: Keith Sawyer

To be successful we need to create a culture of collaboration and learning (environments).

How to learn to be creativity:

  • Research says, build on learners knowledge
  • Encourage reflection, meta-cognition
  • Carefully scaffold authentic situated practice
  • Combine inquire and project-based activities with information delivery
  • Foster learning in collaboating group

Challenges for eLearning:

  • Identifying a good problem or design challenge (ideally come from learners)
  • Support active learning
  • Fostering effective collaboration
  • Supporting the creation os shared artifacts and effective critiques

Positioning Your Careers in Social Networking and Collaborative Learning

Ray E. Jimenez

Social networking jobs are increasing and will continue to a vital part of the learning ecosystem and job market. Some up and coming job titles are: social learning analyst, social networking analyst, toolkit guru, resident expert, gaps consultant.

This ain’t your Mama’s training. Implementing learning 2.0 at eBay

This was a most impressive example of how eBay has strategically incorporated collaborative web tools (blogs, wikis etc.) in their work environment. The heart of their presentation was using an organized matrix to look at what they are doing with information, where they are doing it and the flexibility and “able-ness” of the tool(s).

Here is a bunch of other random notes:

  • Millenials are primary employee base
  • 90% of people say carrot when asked to name vegetable.
  • 3 weeks average time to develop a program
  • Speed, lean teams, change, trends, location
  • Survival forced eBay to think differently, are we relevant to the organizations
  • Have you ever thought of declaring training bankruptcey, get rid of everything…give freedom.
  • How we can deliver in a different way.
  • Moving from called training professionals to learning professionals.
  • Call themselves knowledge farmers
  • eBay “assign learners to use a blog as a personal training journal” – great idea
  • Turn learning objectives into “challenges” individual and teams
  • Applied Learning 2.0 to formal first with success, than they tackled informal…they found other islands of employees already using informal learning 2.0
  • Build “digital knowledge artifacts” feedable, searchable, taggable, linkable…

Learning management made fun! * Edu2.0

December 21, 2007

Have you seen Edu2.0, which calls itself ‘next generation education’? If not you should seriously check it out. It gets five stars from this guy and here is a summary w/top five big wins.

Free web-based education site with comprehensive features for teachers, students and parents. Anyone can teach and/or learn using the system, whether it’s at school, at home, or on the move.

It’s mission is to “make teaching and learning more efficient and enjoyable”, which is refreshing for learning professionals, who have been struggling with clunky purchased or home grown LMSs or lack there of.

1. Facebook-like dashboard – Your Home ‘Welcome’ space gives you a quick snapshot of how many classes you created, and/registered in, messages, contributions and even friends. Talk about ease of use for teachers, administrators and students. This is one of the reasons that people are really getting into Facebook. This type of high level connection helps us easily manage all the people we know, things we’ve done and things yet to do.

edu20

2. Web-hosted & Easy to Use – Besides being FREE, which is a BIG, BIG plus, it is web-hosted, so I can take this LMS anywhere with an internet connection, whether workstation or portable device, office or coffee shop. This is the exact reason I started using Google Docs, so I am not tied down to a location and my information can be with me at all times, when I need it. No need to install anything, just create an account and go. It is also extremely user friendly, and is similar to the WordPress model, which makes creating and organizing content simple and fun, which can 100% motivate you.

3. Private or Public, you decide – It has growing repository of free (open) content, which would make Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams proud. As more and more organizations are opening up to leverage external resources, open content is key. At the same time, if you want to keep your (proprietary) content private, you can easily choose to do so, and not risk putting a wall around your learners because they still can access all the other open content along side.

4. Useful Tools – It includes everything you need for your virtual learning environment at your fingertips including wikis, forums, feeds and gradebooks. Besides helping instructors stay on top, it helps learners stay connected and facilitates. participation.

edu 20 tools

5. Excellent design – With a pastel color palette, simple icons and round tabs and buttons, it makes navigation quick and fun. Instead of being in a rigid, clunky ‘system’, it feels like you are in a virtual IKEA office, which certainly makes for a comfortable learning environment.