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Carpe annum! January 31, 2004


 
  Happy New Year!

You signed up to receive sporadic email from Internet Time Group. This is person-to-person, how-Jay-really-feels sort of stuff. Forgive the typos and over-the-top language.

 
 
The Future

My predictions for 2004: Conflict in the Middle East, Taxes Rise, Time Flies, Entropy Increases, Shit Happens, Study finds "There's No Free Lunch," and consumers ask "What's in it for me?"

If you want to tackle something tougher, try looking at 2014. You need to divorce yourself from the present to get there. That's the role of scenario planning, a discipline for looking way out there.

The Edinburgh Scenarios focus on eLearning circa 2014. You're invited to take part. I'll be co-hosting a free webinar on the Edinburgh Scenarios the morning of January 20. eLearning Forum will take them as their January focus. I hope you'll share my enthusiasm for brainstorming the possibilities and shaping our vision of the future. Monitor internettime.com for announcements and invitations. Since Scottish Enterprise is sponsoring the scenario project, some participants will win wool and whisky.

 
 
Metrics -- Does It Matter?

My eBook on measuring the value of eLearning has met with mixed reviews. A KM guru I truly respect wrote me, "I love this book! You have both the sizzle and the steak. Great style, great look, great content." Another industry leader emailed me, "Can't imagine anything I'd add or change ... for anyone looking for a real understanding of ROI, as well as various ways to calculate their return, this is the best A-Z guide I have read. And you hit the nail on the head ... it's ultimately about performance and the cost of improving performance." The only other comment I received was a consultant writing a book on performance evaluation who said, "I found it to be mostly a essay on various miscellaneous metrics topics, but it was not very useful. There was a lot on what shouldn't be done and the weaknesses of existing metrics, but not much on WHAT SHOULD BE DONE."

You can order Metrics for $25 and see for yourself.

How to Order...

 
 
Push and Pull

I enjoy reading the New York Times and the content it pushes at me. On the other hand, I prefer picking and choosing websites to catch up with rather than overloading my inbox with their email alerts. I go to sites that exert the strongest pull on me at the time. I asked a fellow at eLearning Producer how I could improve my blogs; he told me to add more push. Okay. (This is for you, my friend.)

I'll continue to send out sporadic emails, but if you want to keep up with my doings, or lots of blogs and news items, on your own schedule, you really need to get into RSS. Syndication. RSS ("Really Simple Syndication") lets you to sift though an amazing amount of information, only drilling down to detail when you are interested. A free program called BlogExpress shows me the headlines and a teaser from several dozen blogs I enjoy keeping up with. If I see something I like, I click for more. Bloglines, a free hosted service, tracks more obscure things for me. It alerts me to items that mention Workflow+Learning or Internet+TIme+Group. Take it from me, this is simple. Go to Edu_RSS to get a feel for what I'm talking about.

 
 

The 20/80 Rule

On Learning Circuits Blog last month, Sam Adkins posted an item entitled "We are the Problem. We are Selling Snake Oil," that declared that Training doesn't work, eLearning doesn't work, Blended leanring doesn't work, KM doesn't work." (Disclaimer: Sam and I are co-founders of the Workflow Institute.) Sam expected to start a debate, but instead he began a movement. His article was emailed far and wide. A record number of people responded on the Leanring Circuits blog. Few disagreed that learning and KM were out of touch with the requirements of business.

This lit up my cerebral panels. If Sturgeon's Law ("90% of everything is crap") applies to learning, isn't it time to take out the garbage? If lectures, courses, shovelware, PowerPoints, and assorted chrome aren't doing the job, let's flush 'em down the toilet. We can simplify our lives and improve out reputations by eradicating exercises that are irrelevant, unclear, poorly packaged, dogmatic, boring, unsupported, or not engaging.

We would become champions of purposeful learning that works. I imagine we'd be promoting discovery learning: watching others, solving problems, creating one's own vision, picking things up from others, and taking time to reflect. Conversation, dialog, and debate are great teachers. We'd make learning part and parcel of figuring things out, from Googling an answer to being prompted by a smart system. Teaching others works because it requires reflection and making our own connections. Storytelling works because our internal storytellers create our own private versions that relate to what we already know and believe.

If not now, when? If not us, who?

Workflow Institute

Sam Adkins and I have opened the Workflow Institute to promote the understanding of real-time enterprise-level learning in industry and government. We're giving presentations, writing white papers, helping vendors educate their customers, and providing a news feed on the convergence of learning and enterprise applications.

We're experiencing some pushback from people who think Sam and I are calling for turning ALL training into some Orwellian nightmare. For example, Stephen Downes wrote, "Honestly, if it's all about productivity, I want to pack up my computer and take up a new line of work. These predictions by Sam S. Adkins of the Workflow Institute seem well grounded, but they miss the wonderment that defines real change. 'Enterprise Application Integration accelerates.' Yawn. 'Productivity gains from new mobile technology explode.' Sigh. Where's the motivation, the urgency? He could have written all his predictions in one line: online learning will continue to be commodified and co-opted. Is all this what people really want out of our great new internet?"

No, we're not saying Workflow Learning is all people want out of the Internet. We are predicting a new era in corporate training fostered by enterprise application integration, web services, contextual collaboration, and learning at the point of need. The motivation and urgency come from replacing lackluster, ineffective training programs with something more effective and less expensive. Our vision is new, so we're groping along with too many four-syllable words and three-letter acronyms. Yawn. Co-opted? C'mon. Sam and I are trying to share some good news, not commodify our life's work.

Rendezvous in Q1?

You'll find me at:

Parting Advice

If you value your privacy, please follow my example by running AdAware and Spybot to kill off the spyware villains installed on your computer when you weren't looking. (Download these from tucows.com or download.com.) And don't tap anything into a computer at a cybercafe or at a conference's free email stations: they're probably sending your every keystroke to some dubious character.

Change your passwords. Frequently. And don't be stupid. Somewhere this year I read about a scheme that could crack into the systems of most major corporations. Bait senior executives with a free, high-quality porn site. Most of those who sign up will use their single, all-purpose passwords. Use those passwords to access their corporate accounts. Could this happen to you?

All the best!

Jay Cross
Internet Time Group


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