Don't Lose a Common Sense: LISTEN

When Jennifer Hoffman asked me to record a few thoughts from Training Directors Forum on a tiny RadioShack IC recorder, it struck me as kind of hokey but since I'm always open to experimentation, I recorded a blurb.

"Listen, learn, change"
David Gergen

Someone responded yesterday, so I trekked over to InSync Center to post a reply. Once there, I saw a few friends' faces and felt obligated to hear what they had to say. When I heard Lance, Ghenno, Marc, Saul, Harvey, and others giving their extended sound-bites, it triggered their larger messages. It helped to have their photo alongside, tool

As I upgrade the Workflow Institute site, I plan to add some soundbites you can call up with a button. Jennifer's done a great job of making this easy to use. I suggest you take a look.


Meanwhile, on the screen, this message just arrived in my gmail box:

Dear Sir

I Durga doing research in e-learning standards relationship and its role.

So I am conducting survey on this area. Here I attached my survey form. I will be happy if you could give me your opinion. I look forward to a favorable reply.

Please send my form by email or Fax.

A year ago, I would have opened the attachment and answered this chap's questions. Not now. For all I know, this is a virus-bomb being lobbed inside my firewall from a spoofed address. A wolf in sheep's clothing.

A pity this crap is so commonplace.


Posted by Jay Cross at June 21, 2004 10:04 AM | TrackBack
Comments

Jay

I was prompted to the following thoughts by the registration plate of the Jaguar pictured in your posting.

Whereas, in many states of the US, it is possible to choose (almost) any unique name or phrase to create a "personalised" registration plate, in the United Kingdom the situation is completely different, and folk have to be highly inventive to demonstrate originality.

In the UK, registrations are issued and strictly controlled by the government, and are drawn from a pre-defined set of letter/number combinations.

The very first set, forming registrations in the (approximate) range 1A -> 9Y eventually became exhausted, so a new set A1 -> Y9 was started. This too became exhausted.

Next came two letters and 3 digits, eg AA111 -> YY999, then 3 letters and 3 digits, but - with post-war economic growth - these were also soon used up.

To manage the phenomenal increase in vehicle ownership, the government started to employ a year-specific "namespace", in which each car registered in the same year would have the same final letter, the rest of the registration being formed of 3 letters and 3 digits, eg - NRP 429 A, etc. The era of non-descript registrations seemed truly to be upon us.

Started in the early sixties, this scheme too had run it's course within twenty years, so the government just flipped the pattern round for the next set, eg - A 429 NRP, etc.

Anyway - to get to the more interesting bit - given the restricted (and indeed restricting) range of combinations available, it has become a great and enjoyable challenge for folk in the UK to employ imagination to shake off utilitarian registrations and create truly "personalised" numberplates.

So, though the Jaguar would seem to implore "LISTEN", the actual registration is L 15 TEN. The "5" has morphed into an "S".

Similarly "4" can morph into "A" to get from H 4 RRY to HARRY, while "1" has its obvious uses in P 1 PER. The scope is almost limitless, though some were proscribed by the government, including V 14 GRA and PEN 1 S!!

BTW, given the truly unique nature of these numberplates, the law of supply and demand ensured that some combinations were particularly coveted, and hence attracted huge prices. To date, the most costly - K 1 NGS - went for circa $200K (at current exchange rates), but almost all sell for a substantial premium on top of the circa $100 they initially cost to register.

"All great fun" - I hear you say - "but is there a message in this for the e-learning community?"

Well, I think so. And it has to do with the formalism and creativity.

For too long, e-learning practitioners have approached projects as unique, standalone events, having little or no crossover with either previous or companion projects. Ad hoc-ery is ubiquitous, and re-use - whether that be of materials or methodologies - is, at most, limited. Lessons learnt are seldom shared, and rarely retained. Collective consciousness and muscle memory is not much in evidence.

"But we are creative people. E-learning applications cannot come from sausage machines or cookie cutters. There is no one-size fits all; no shrink-wrap solution. We need to fulfil customers' needs on an individual basis."

Sure. But that does not mean that everything has to be built from scratch; that every customer is so unique that only "frontier" technologies and "blue skies" methodologies will do.

Certainly, that is not how it works in almost every other industry. And it would be extremely odd, not to say remarkable, if e-learning was really so different.

That is not to say that creativity is not necessary; merely that it is not sufficient.

For example, architects exercise immense creativity, but they don't treat each building as if it was the very first. Instead they draw on a deep, rich vein of shared knowledge, understanding and experience, exercised within a discipline based on sound principles. These do not stifle creativity; rather they provide a foundation of confidence.

Same for medical practitioners.

Same for aeronautical engineers.

Same for.... every other profession.


So, I would argue that e-Learning needs to become more "professional", with a solid corpus of theoretical and practical knowledge, free exchange of ideas and experience, a clear identification of the skills, roles and understanding that practitioners require, and a sound ontological framework to give that "foundation of confidence"

Cards on the table, I am advocating the establishment of the profession of "Learning Engineering", and would therefore encourage you to read the excellent article on the subject (http://learningengineers.com/learningengineering.htm) by Jane Knight of the e-LearningCentre.


One final thought. Formalism does not imply the death of creativity. Just look to the examples of UK motorists. And to four simple letter: C, G, A, T.

Posted by: Philip Hart at June 21, 2004 05:37 PM

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