Articles and white papers

Informal Learning -- The Other 80%. DRAFT. eLearning Forum (2003). This paper addresses how organizations, particularly business organizations, can get more done. The people who create the most value are those who know the right people, the right stuff, and the right things to do. People learn these things through informal learning that flies beneath the corporate radar. Because organizations are oblivious to informal learning, they fail to invest in it.

eLearning: You Built It -- Now Promote It, eLearning Developers Journal (2003). "Your elevator pitch is what you say when your CEO steps onto your elevator and asks what you're doing. You'll probably include the three basic elements of marketing design: your brand, your position, and your target segments."

How to Transform an Organization with Visual Learning, with Xplane (2003). This you gotta see for yourself.

eLearning: Apples and Oranges, Learning Circuits (2003). "Perhaps corporations should consider how small an e-learning application can be and still get the job done rather than try to create monster centralized e-learning systems. In doing so, would companies lose economies of scale? Maybe. But consider this: As many as half of all grandiose, enterprise software initiatives fail to live up to expectations. Many simply fail."

See What I Mean, eLearning (2002). "In the 20th century, we confused reading words with learning. Learning is a multisensory, both-sides-of-the-brain experience. Pictures unlock the imagination. Yet, most books do not contain a single illustration." More legible jpg here.

The Value of Learning About Learning, with Clark Quinn (2002). "If Olympic athletes approached running the marathon the way business people approach learning, they would show up for the race without having trained. Learning is a skill, not a hard-wired trait. The discipline of meta-learning seeks to re-invent learning as a self-correcting, ever improving process. Its measure of success is not effort, but business results."

The DNA of eLearning, with Ian Hamilton (2002). "eLearning technologies, as platforms for business-critical training needs, simply don't do what companies need or envision them to do. The fact of the matter is that different companies need them to do different things. Lacking the ability to purchase an effective eLearning technology platform, companies certainly cannot be convinced to purchase third-party eLearning content to play on these platforms."

Tomorrow's Too Late LiNEZine (2002). How would you describe an elementary school principal who didn’t conduct fire drills? Irresponsible. And how would you describe a chief operating officer who didn’t prepare for crises? Typical.

Envisioning Learning (2002). "It's right before our eyes, but we're so habituated to it that we can't see it. We've confused reading and writing with learning. What's the problem with line after line of type? They're linear. This is not the way we think. We think associatively. Thinking resembles freeform conversation, hopping from one subject to another, changing in emphasis, delivered with emotion, forever an engaging assortment of choices and surprise. The written word conveys but one of the options."

Blogs Learning Circuits (2002). Blog is short for web-log, an informal personal website. Half a million people have blogs. "...blogs are destined to become a powerful, dirt-cheap tool for learning and knowledge management.

The SunTAN Story (2001). "Appropriately enough for a company whose motto is 'The network is the computer,' Sun Microsystems started using eLearning to train newly hired sales people long before the term eLearning was invented.... The time it takes sales people to achieve quota dropped from 15 months to 6 months. What's the value of 9 months of additional sales from 1,440 people? Given that the people have $5 million quotas, that's in the neighborhood of $5 billion in incremental revenue."

A Fresh Look at ROI Learning Circuits (2000). "Where you stand on ROI depends on where you sit. Different levels of management make different sorts of decisions, so it's appropriate that they use different measures of ROI. In a nutshell, traditional accounting recognizes nothing but physical entities; intangibles are valued at zero. Vast areas of human productivity--ideas, abilities, experience, insight, esprit de corps, motivation--lie outside the accountant's field of vision. Accounting fails to recognize that people become more valuable over time."

Frontline: eLearning Forum Learning Circuits (2001). "Cliff Stoll caught everyone's attention by loudly proclaiming, "E-learning is a fraud!' Unquestionably, Stoll took control of the floor. He asked the group, 'If you were hiring a plumber, which would you choose: one with an online degree in plumbing or one who learned firsthand?' Muttering that simulations were a great way to avoid the person sitting next to you, Stoll said that the designers of flight simulators spent more time making the clouds look right than getting to what the pilots really need...."

Being Analog LiNEZine (2001). "Computers are bipolar. A bit is on or off. 1 or 0. Unless you're a digital processor, this binary thinking can trick you into oversimplifying what's going on. The human world is not yes or no; it's a sea of maybes. Most decisions aren't black or white; they're shades of gray. Are you liberal or conservative? Perhaps like me, you're a little of each. Treating the world as an open-or-shut case leads to thought crimes like "The Internet changes everything." In my work, I struggle with the knuckle-headed assumption that learning must be either instructor-led or computer-delivered rather than a blend of the two. Few things in life are really all or nothing."

The Changing Nature of Leadership LiNEZine (2001). "Wide, ever-shifting boundaries change all the rules. We once rewarded compliance; today we reward innovation. We once praised obedience; today we praise ad hoc solutions. Yesterday’s subversive employee is today’s innovator. Leadership—creating value by hopping outside boundaries—used to be the province of a well-paid, well-educated few somewhere near the top of the pyramid. Turbulent times have converted leadership into a responsibility shared by all members of the organization."

Food for Thought LiNEZine (2001). "Treat the learner as a customer. Make it easy for the learner to buy (learn). Use interactivity, relevance, wit, and excitement to keep the learner/customer engaged. If the customers aren’t buying, it’s your fault, not theirs. The learning revolution is over. The learners won. Take control by giving control. Problem formulation often counts for more than problem solution. School always gives you the formulated problem; life does not."

eLearning (1999). "In the training jungle, corporate performance is the elephant. Training's only function is to hunt the elephant. Focusing solely on employees' needs does not bag elephants. The "e" in eLearning is not only for electronic; it's also there to remind you about the elephant. Remember, corporate performance is what you're hunting for."

Vendors commission us to write white papers and articles, for example:

Time Matters, Profit Returns (for X.HLP, 2001). "While training directors may have different objectives than CEOs, everyone in today's business world shares one need: they want it all now. Benefits you don't see until two years from now are hardly benefits at all. Given enough time, a million monkeys at a million terminals could develop your entire curriculum, with Flash animations and a repository of SCORM-compliant learning objects. Nobody's got time to wait."

Leveraging the People Value Chain (for SmartForce, 2000). "Companies looking for workers who take orders, understand discipline, and put the welfare of the company above their own will be disappointed. Workers like this no longer exist. While some companies decry high turnover, others turn the mindset of the new recruit to their advantage. After all, they want innovators, not followers. They prefer self-starters who will do what's right rather than waiting for instructions. They need people more concerned with getting the job done than punching the clock. For too long, we've looked at investing in people through the wrong end of the telescope. Instead of trying to keep the cost of training and development down, what if we were to try to keep it up?"

Converting Intellectual Capital into Competitive Advantage (for Avaltus, 2001). "Success in the knowledge age requires new tools. This paper describes a unified approach to creating, maintaining, and exploiting intellectual capital, the knowledge platform. The objective is to deliver the right information at the right time to the right person, simply, economically, and immediately."

Learn Fast, Go Fast. (for SmartForce, 1999). "eBusiness needs an eBusiness approach to learning itself, something we call eLearning. eLearning is to traditional training as eBusiness is to the five-and-dime. eLearning puts the learner in the center of the equation instead of the trainer."

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