Friday, May 27, 2011

PKM/Network Learning

I am, at long last, attending my Personal Knowledge Management/Network Learning workshop at U of T, conducted by Harold Jarche.

I'll provide some reflections once I aggregate everything I've jotted down.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Small Planetary Diversion

Sadly, it lookS like I won't be able to get to see the Ruth Clark workshop in Toronto on the 29th. Sometimes circumstances just don't work in one's favour.

But I'm still hopeful to get to the mlearning workshop in Ottawa at the end of April.

I may be a little quiet for the next two weeks but rest assured I'm not going away.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Politics and "Business" of learning, Part 2

Here's the second installment of some posts to my Assessment & Evaluation learners.

Small-p politics is a always such a meaty subject and one that can sometimes become polarizing. So, I'm relieved on two fronts: first, that there's a real richness of commentary here; and, two, that the polarization seems to be almost non-existent. However, there are some additional things I'd like you to consider before this phase of the discussion wraps up.

The Politics and "Business" of learning, Part 1

I posted the bulk of this entry to the forum for one of the two courses I'm currently teaching.  The learners were sharing their observations and frustrations about politics and undue influence in supposedly objective evaluation frameworks.

So, mostly unedited, here is the first part for your perusal.

Friday, March 18, 2011

S2 Q9) Best bottom-up learning implementation. Or, at least, my most memorable one. (apologies to @LnDDave)

I pondered the answer to this question for a while because it's been some time since I did any real bottom-up learning, but I drew on one of my experiences in the Army Reserve as an example, and arguably the one I am most proud of although I won't lay claim to the original idea, only its implementation for some of my soldiers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

You know it's been a productive day, when...

...when you realize your initial LrnBk Chat posts from the night before for Section two were really well-received (as the day starts)

...when you manage a course-correct with a client who was about to deliver some very disappointing e-learning to their customer and get them turned around in 90 minutes. (in the morning)

...when you find yourself unexpectedly in a sales discussion with two ex-Veeps from your former employer who sought you out to maybe build some solutions for them (over a long lunch, and you're not even in a sales role)
...when you really catch the attention of a "Big 4" client on a new e-learning pilot (in the late afternoon)

...when you look at the time and realize that you have no synapses left to fire to participate in the weekly #lrnchat.

That, dear reader(s), is a productive day.

(now if I could just turn off my buzzing brain....)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


There are times when I would really like to have the ability to make some posts private, like almost every other blog platform can do.

(and yes, I acknowledge the irony of private posts on a public blog, but...)

OK, rant over.  Moving on.  Nothing to see here.

Q7) "doing stuff " at work or "learning"? A longer post, just for @LnDDave.

When I read this question (which I mean to answer last week), I was reminded of an interview I had after getting out of my college Graphics Program about a million and a half years ago - long before I considered my part-time training work to be anything other than just that.

When the rather terse interviewer asked me what I expected out of the job, one of the things I said was that I wanted an opportunity to learn something.  His response was something along the lines of "oh, you're not here to learn. You should know everything you need already to get started."

Needless to say, I didn't get the job...and thank heavens for that.

With respect to Clive's statement, I (sorta) disagree, but let me first talk about the leaders.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Q6) Courses, not resources: where not to do it, and Q6a) What are we doing to change?

Q6) BBC turned away from courses and toward resources. Are their organizations where this would not be effective

I can see organizations that are heavily regulated or have strong compliance requirements remaining largely in the course model. I'm thinking of organizations where lack of "training" may translate into a genuined risk to individuals, organizations, or the environment.  So, orgs like Airlines, some primary Healthcare providers, or maybe even the military, although I'd love to eventually be proven wrong on all counts.

Q6a) If you are working towards this vision, what steps are you taking?

Our catalyst was the change 2 yrs ago to partner as a reseller for a rapid e-learning development platform. It gave us some serious flexibility in asset development that wasn't present in our previous dependence on tools like Flash. I know I am also trying to influence the decision-makers, select clients, and our account execs on how we can position these resources as a stronger service offering that reflects a more realistic model for how people want to learn in the workplace.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Lrntect Q1 Response

Q1) Shepherd says “As none of these [learning methods, learning media, the science of learning] is intuitive and obvious, the client cannot be expected to have this expertise. And for this reason, it is neither sufficient nor excusable for the learning architect to act as order taker.” What are some ways you avoid being an order taker

Our first defense against order-taking is knowledge and ongoing learning. It has been my experience (personally and from observation) that if you get to a plateau with skills or execution, you can only respond by "filling orders" based on previous, apparently similar requirements. So if you don't bother staying abreast of new developments or alternate approaches, you will be stuck in a world of "thats the way we've always done it.

I also believe that order-filling is a result of a failure to fully understand the nature of the needs of the client and/or the learner. In these situations, our desire to give the client "what they asked for" in the chase for billable services outstrips our responsibility to give them "what they really need".

On a more aggressive stance, at what point do we decline these "McCourses" when the client cannot be swayed from their stance? Do we simply bite our tongues and do it, or realize that the relationship is not going to be a win-win and walk away? I realize this gets into a whole other topic of client influence and business development, but do we keep perpetuating bad practice for the sake of revenue?

Monday, February 21, 2011

The reading list grows...

Disillusioned with my shipping experiences with Clive Shepherd's book from Lulu, I decided to take the (almost) revolutionary step of ordering Clark Quinn's new book Designing mLearning in ebook format for the kindle reader on my PC.  Now I've had ebooks on my computer before, but mostly in the Microsoft .lit format -a holdover from my days as an iPaq user - and those were usually Project Gutenberg editions.

(Side note on Fiction titles:  I appreciate that people usually want to make money from their book sales, but I have to say that I really object to the extortionate prices that some people want for audiobooks or even for e-books.  At this rate, I'll hold out for paperbacks.)

So within seconds of having my order processed, I had the pages of Clark's shiny (shiny from my screen?) new book gracing my laptop screen.  So far, Kindle seems to be doing a reasonably good job of letting me make those 'oh yeah, what about...' notes inside the book.  Trying to figure out of I can sync it to the iPod as well, but that may need more exploration.

No review planned because I'm certainly not an expert, but I may provide some reflective commentary once I get through the book.

Really wish I had a tablet... :(

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A wholly unqualified book review (WIP)

It took a while (no thanks to Lulu's dreadful low-cost shipping options), but I finally got my copy of Clive Shepherd's The New Learning Architect.  Sadly, it's taken me until now to be able to read more than one page of the damn thing (sick child, workloads, yadda, yadda).

So I'm going to keep this blog entry (started Feb 20) as my own mechanism for reviewing the book and making my own observations and comments along the way.  I also learned today, after setting up my new personal Twitter identity, that there's an online "book club" chat happening as of March 7.  If I'm lucky, I'll be more than 20 pages through the book by then (although at this rate, I wouldn't put money on it).  Mark Britz is acting as the facilitator/guide for the chat and I'm really looking forward to it.

I had some initial thoughts as I forge into the first chapter. 

New Tweet Space Done

...well, sort of.

I realized after my last post that I should probably separate my business and personal tweets and other activities.  So I've set up a new identity that will point followers here, but it will take me a while to replicate my list of those I follow to the new ID, and I can but hope that a good many business followers will make the trek over to this side of the house.

Also, thanks to my PLN, I learned how to establish Pages/Tabs at the top of the blog.  So I can have my lengthier profile attached as a page, rather than chewing up too much real estate on the sidebar.

Still much reading of posts to do for my College learners.  My Adult Learning group is a gregarious bunch and the activity has been astounding.  My Assessment & Eval learners are quieter, although I suspect the traffic will pick up today and tomorrow.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Design a Planet, or just my little piece of it?

"The chances of finding out what's really going on in the universe are so remote, the only thing to do is hang the sense of it and keep yourself occupied... Look at me: I design coastlines... I'd far rather be happy than right any day."
"And are you?"
"No, that's where it all falls down, of course."
"Pity, it sounded like quite a good lifestyle otherwise."
Slartibartfast to Arthur Dent.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Book 1

As a small foreward to this (probably) disjointed post, congratulations to Harold Jarche for his 7 years of independent and thought-provoking blogging.  He gives me hope that maybe another ex-soldier can make good in the learning world.

As I was participating in the most recent #lrnchat, I commented to Jay Cross that I wanted to be able to participate in more things like MOOCs and other readings, etc. (for example, Clive Shepherd's most recent book is still mostly unread) but scheduling was a challenge.  While he agreed he suggested prioritization, although I said to him that negotiating that kind of regular effort would likely require some coordination with those who sign my cheques.  He does, as he says, have the benefit of being his own paymaster and secretary.  Of course, as I pondered that exchange, I imagined Peter Block telling me that I just wasn't committed enough. ;-)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Shameless self-promotion

I just had my blog commentary on the excellent video-based rapid e-learning approach article posted by the good folks at OpenSesame!

Nothing like a little additional exposure to motivate you!

(I'll offer a small w00t!)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

N00b Management 101

While I kept telling myself that my new online courses were College-level and not Graduate level, I realize now that I had confined my assumptions to the level of language used in assignment instructions and forum introductions. I hadn't really counted on people entirely new to e-learning or even people who were not very familiar with computers at all.

Friday, February 11, 2011

LRNCHAT Reflections from Feb 10.

Tonight's #lrnchat posed an interesting and completly hypothetical 'what if' scenario: What if you could wipe the slate clean for corporate learning and do it all over again?

Well, I can say that this one definitely sparked some serious interest among the participants, especially those who decided to join #lrnchat for the first time.  The transcript of the chat doesn't really show what a number of us were likely thinking: something a long the lines of, "ooh, so many ideas, and so little time", but then some of the neat ideas really came through....of course these are all the ideas that we L&D professionals keep in our personal wish lists, but it's nice to let them our for some fresh air once in a while.

Thoughts on a "controversial" approach to rapid e-learning development.

One of the things that popped up in the Thursday #lrnchat was a note from the folks at @OpenSesame about a blog post talking about using video as a rapid content development method.  I chimed in because I've had some success creating some quick & dirty assets to support our own rapid ID/Dev ecosystem.  So with their permission and encouragement I am recording a few thoughts on the post and what it could mean to organizations and individuals.

The author, Tom Carter, is a senior Insructional Designer in the UK and - like my own employer - his has a genuine interest in rapid e-learning, so as I read through the post, I actually wasn't surprised by what I read, in spite of the caveat that his opinions might be "controversial".  In fact, I didn't find it controversial at all.  Of course, that makes me wonder whether or not I'm as much of a "disruptive" innovator and experimenter as Tom is, or perhaps his ideas really aren't as controversial on this side of the pond.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Power to the PLN!

"When it comes down to it, there are really only two fundamental human activities. Learning is the other one."

PLN, you ask?  What the heck is a PLN?

Well, according to those in the know, it is a "Personal Learning Network".  Yeah, it's a nice term and all, but let's put this into perspective.

For those of you of a similar generation as me, think back to the people in high school that you might study with, or lean on for help in Calculus, Chemistry, or Physics.  Or maybe you were one of the bright ones who had people coming to you to explain things that made no sense when coming from your so close to retirement they could taste it teacher?  Well, that's a simple Personal Learning Network.

Taking (Online) College Instruction by Storm!

Well, I admit that I never thought it might happen, but as of today I am officially a College-level instructor because my two courses started today.

I found myself in this position by the purest of chance.  The backstory is that I live in a relatively major center with a nearby Community College.  As a product of the College system I have a certain amount of affection of the methods and approaches used therein.  This College runs a number of continuing education courses, including a certificate in adult learning (similar to the one I did years ago).  So, I figured I'd send out a general inquiry to say, "ya know, if you ever want/need part-time instructors for this gig I'd be, you know, interested.".  Based on my history with unsolicited resume submissions and the like, I didn't hold out a lot of hope for what I usually consider to be a pretty closed system.

Fate decided to keep me on my toes and I actually got a response to my query and eventually got an offer to teach not one, but two of the online editions of said certificate program.  That was back in October and I wasn't slated to teach until Feb., so it didn't seem quite real.

But, that was then, and this is now.  I've completed the edits to my course, and when I checked in last night I was pleasantly surprised to see that I even had learners enrolled!  So, things kicked off today. In my Adult Learning course I have 32 (!) learners, and in the Assessment & Evaluation course I have 12.  Of course, these numbers are likely to change as the course goes on, but I'm thrilled.  Lots of eager (and maybe not-so-eager) learners to mould, mentor, and guide.

I dug back through my online communities course from grad school and re-read Gilly Salmon's fine book, e-Moderating.  I tapped into some of my recent expertise and inspiration and I filled in what I thought were some of the gaps in one course, and worked with another new instructor to re-purpose and re-format another one because neither one of us could make head-nor-tail of the original approach (we also had learner feedback from a previous iteration to support our efforts).

So, I gave them a video introduction and I plan to do some of Salmon's "weaving and summarizing" as the content discussions progress.  I may even tap into some other activities through the 14 week run of the course, just to give the learners some other kinds of engagement.

While I find the thought of having to mark that many assignments a little daunting, I'm still excited about this new side activity.  I'll blog more as the courses progress.

The Unexpected leads to Energy

I probably should have written this post last night but sleep and prep took priority.

One occasional part of my job is that I get to go on-site with our clients and work with them.  In the recent past this has manifested itself as a mentoring/coaching session for our Rapid ID/Development platform because I'm ex-officio the resident platform expert and arguably the senior Instructional Design resource in-house.

Yesterday was a case in point.  I was tasked to do an on-site session for a client (something they were actually paying for as a professional service within one of their projects).  The original plan was to do some coaching on some specifics for managing updates to the courses we built for them, but through some fortunate happenstance, it didn't work out that way.

So instead of playing trainer/coach, I got to play Learning Consulant for the first half of the day.  The L&D Manager at the client decided that we should take a look at a Harassment & Discrimination document instead to see what we could or should do with it. 

I felt like an old war-horse pricking up his ears when hearing the sound of bugles or distant musket fire.  Excited, and chomping at the bit to get going! a small group we took the time to dissect the source content they were planning to put online, and I got the participants to mentally free themselves of constraints and put out different ideas.  (What I said to them, was this, "make your ideas so far out of the box you can't see the box with a telescope.")

And, wow...did we get some great ideas.

What did I get from it, you may ask?

Energy.  HUGE amounts of energy.  I revel in this creative process and stepping past the basics of content development and moving up a level to examine things as a program or continuous process.  We stopped thinking of this e-learning content as an event and they started seeing all the contributing pieces that support the learning (formal and informal).  I'm also encouraged when L&D professionals don't get all freaked out when the concepts of internal discussions or polling, or Social Media get raised as possibilities.  I'm equally encouraged when they see that there are other players in the learning process, like Internal Communications to promote and generate awareness/interest.

Yesterday reminded me that sometimes we do need to get away from event-based thinking and get way, way outside of the box.  Sometimes the "impossible" is really just "difficult, but do-able if we really work at it because it's worth it."

As Peter Block says, "change the conversation."

I felt inspired...and it was a day when I really needed it. Thanks to my clients and a little un-planning, we turned a predictable day into an energizing morning with lots of momentum for a focused, practical afternoon.