June 21, 2001

Knowledge Management

Knowledge maps, knowledge architecture, taxonomies, and more from KAPS Group

On the rebound? Peter Martin, writes in CLO:

The Market Is Coming Back to Knowledge Management In hindsight, knowledge management was a recklessly defined initiative. [See below.] Companies were going to be able to ?empower the intellectual capital of their enterprise? with ad hoc software purchases. Over time the initiative lost its cachet, very much like the ?portal??a key element of knowledge management. As the meaning and value of the portal has risen from the ashes, so has knowledge management. The comeback for knowledge management can be traced to the economy, consolidation of vendors, technological advancement and enterprise software vendor buy-in.

To Verna Allee, it's all a matter of making connections. I think she's got it.

KM=BS? An abstract of T.D. Wilson's The Nonsense of Knowledge Management

Life On The Internet: Could Blogging Assist KM? from Amy Wohl
Knowledge Blogs Are Tough

Denham Gray's amazing KM Wiki

What's knowledge?

Knowledge management is a high-fallutin' buzz phrase for creating and sharing know-how. A hot item circa 1998, overuse has watered down KM's popularity as a category. To vendors, KM became "whatever I want to sell you," be it document-tracking or warehousing good ideas or building web pages or reinforcing innovation or focusing on intellectual capital.

Knowledge is like the sound of the tree that falls in the forest when no one is there: it doesn't exist unless people interact with it. Nurturing innovation and rewarding the sharing of ideas fertilizes seedling ideas. Setting up processes to highlight what's worthy and weed out useless undergrowth help grow heathly trees.

While it may carry a different name in the future, knowledge management anchors one end of the eLearning continuum and is vital to improving organizational performance.

"Knowledge is information that changes something or somebody -- either by becoming grounds for actions, or by making an individual (or an institution) capable of different or more effective action." -- Peter F. Drucker in The New Realities (The same might be said of learning.)

Knowledge Management is a case of the blind men and the elephant. KM refers to one or more of these activities:

  • creating and populating a repository of in-house knowledge
  • measuring the dollar-value of chunks of knowledge
  • facilitating the transfer of knowledge
  • creating a knowledge sharing environment
  • building a corporate culture focused on innovation and knowledge creation

At a minimum, do these things:


  1. Corporate yellow pages
  2. Best practices system that captures lessons learned
  3. Competitive intelligence


  1. Groupware
  2. Empowered Chief Knowledge Officer


  1. Top-down belief
  2. Spirit of sharing and collaboration
  3. Experimentation encouraged

Five Basic Principles of the Mind

  1. Minds are limited.
  2. Minds hate confusion.
  3. Minds are insecure.
  4. Minds don't change.
  5. Minds lose focus.

Jack Trout

In 25 years, knowledge will double every three months.What will that do for learning requirements?

Doug Engelbart

"Knowledge Management is the broad process of locating, organizing, transferring, and using the information and expertise within an organization. The overall knowledge management process is supported by four key enablers: leadership, culture, technology, and measurement."
American Productivity and Quality Center

A wealth of knowledge exists and can be generated among people with a passion for learning and a willingness to explore connections across traditional boundaries.

Meg Wheatley

Tom Stewart's Intellectual Capital, fun to read and source of the ideas to the left.

Information and knowledge are the thermonuclear competitive weapons of our time. Knowledge is more valuable and more powerful than natural resources, big factories, or fat bankrolls.?

Thomas A. Stewart, Intellectual Capital


Jack Welch of GE: We soon discovered how essential it is for a multibusiness company to become an open, learning organization. The ultimate competitive advantage lies in an organization?s ability to learn and to rapidly transform that learning into action.

And, in GE?s boundaryless learning culture, the operative assumption is that someone, somewhere, has a better idea; and the operative compulsion is to find out who has that better idea, learn it, and put it into action fast.


"If HP knew what HP knows, we'd be three times more profitable."

Lew Platt


Come together

Tom Barron, drawing on the ideas of GartnerGroup's Clark Aldrich and others, presents an astute view of the impending merger of e-Learning and Knowledge Management in A Smarter Frankenstein, lead article in the August 2000 issue of Learning Circuits.

Take an eLearning course. Chunk it into discrete learning bites. Surround it with technology that assesses a learner's needs and delivers the appropriate learning nuggets. Add collaborative tools that allow learners to share information. What do you get? Something that looks a whole lot like knowledge management.

Just In Time

Embedded Help
Performance Support

Knowledge Management
Traditional KM
Combined eLearning/KM
Just in Case Classroom Replication
Self-paced courseware
Virtual classes
Skills-building sims

The training function is accustomed to limiting its scope -- offering a curriculum that provides grounds for assessment. KM is open-ended, encouraging participants to share whatever works without an intermediary to translate things into lessons. Oil and water? The accelerating pace of business is already obsoleting the authoring function -- there's not enough time for lengthy development cycles; intitutive authoring systems are replacing middleman authors by taking content directly from the expert's mouth.

An obstacle I've personally never overcome to my satisfaction is countering the hoarding of knowledge by those who believe knowledge is power, or are perhaps too self-motivated to contribute to the good of their organizations.

What to Blogs have to do with it?

Weblogs (AKA Blogs) are important. If you're not familiar with Blogs, read Rebecca Blood's excellent Weblogs: A History and Perspective.

1. Blogs are a free authoring tool that enables anyone with a net connection to publish content on the web. The doors are open.

2. You cannot keep up with the raw flow of information being posted to the web without a lot of help. The Blogs of people you trust point the way to the good stuff. For example, I read Camworld because it has proven worthy of my time; I've grown to trust Cameron Barrett -- I know where he's coming from.

3. In time, organizations will encourage in-house Blogging.


Tacit & Explicit Knowledge

Knowledge Creation Spiral

In an economy where the only certainty is uncertainty, the one sure source of lasting competitive advantage is knowledge. When markets shift, technologies proliferate, competitors multiply, and products become obsolete almost overnight, successful companies are those that consistently create new knowledge, disseminate it widely throughout the organization, and quickly embody it in new technologies and products. These activities define the knowledge-creating company, whose sole business is continuous innovation. (source: Ikujiro Nonaka, The Knowledge-Creating Company, Harvard Business Review, November-December 1991)

Explicit Knowledge

Tacit Knowledge

You can write it down. Easy to share.

It?s tough to explain. Tough to share.

Left brain, pragmatic ? learned. Think classroom.

Right brain, idealistic ? internalized. Think watercooler.

Theory of organization =

Machine for processing information

Living organism with a purpose

Knowledge =

Formal, systematic, quantifiable

Know-how and ingrained mental models and perspectives. Subjective, hunches, intuitive, highly personal.

Metrics =

Quantifiable: increased efficiency, lower costs, improved ROI

Qualitative: increased effectiveness, embodies company vision, expresses management aspirations and strategic goals, builds organizational knowledge network.

Impact =

Increases immediate capabilities

Profoundly shapes how we perceive the world around us.

Communicated =

Via words, textbooks, CBT

Via figurative language and symbolism, metaphor, analogy, modeling.

Other sources

The Economics of Knowledge, Eric E. Vogt. "Knowledge is a perspective shared by a community which allows for some effective action. ...the economics of knowledge dictate that we think in terms of creating collection systems that allow for the instantaneous sharing of these new perspectives. Collection systems allow us to listen to the needs and concerns of customers. Collection systems allow us to tap into the global flow of creative ideas and fuel the imagination of our knowledge community."

Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization (JOHO). David Weinberger has the most level-headed approach to knowledge management you'll find anywhere. He's also a laugh riot. JOHO is one of my favorite reads on the Web.

Weinberger? He's a commentator on NPR, and co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto.
"Jay of InternetTime.com, has put a link to JOHO on his site,
www.meta-time.com. We hereby declare www.meta-time.com
to be the new Finest Site on the Web."

Knowledge Management News, Brad Hoyt. Sporadic ever since Brad joined a start-up but worth the wait. Pointers, reflections, jobs, events.

University of Denver: Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management

Karl Erik Sveiby's impressive "library" of on-line resources

ASTD on KM -- an overview of what's going on in the field

E&Y Center for Business Innovation -- a great resource

Scient sells KM as something that strengthens them and their customers

The Knowledge Management Paradox: How to Manage Your Most Strategic Asset, CPT

BRINT -- exhaustive and exhausting links and essays. More is more?

Thinking Business -- the document tracking end of KM

Leverage the Value-Hierarchy of Knowledge

Different skills produce different levels of impact.

Difficult to replace,
low value added

Staff jobs, skilled factory workers, experienced secretaries

?Know the ropes but don?t pull the strings.?
Don?t directly impact customers.


Difficult to replace,
high value added

Irreplaceable role in the organization;
nearly irreplaceable as individuals

Create the products and services
that draw the customers in


Easy to replace,
low value added

Unskilled, semi-skilled labor.

Success not dependent on these individuals.


Easy to replace,
high value added


Work is valuable but not this particular individual.


Often, the value added is the information subtracted.

A hired hand is not a hired mind. Routine, low-skill work, even if it?s done manually, does not generate or emply human capital for the organization.  Unleashing the human capital already resident in the organization requires minimizing mindless tasks, meaningless paperwork, unproductive infights. The Taylorized workplace squandered human assets in such activities.

?Informate? = change the work to add more value to customers.

Outsourcing frees resources to continue developing high-return expertise.

Capitalize means providing opportunities for learning. People need to feel they?re ?in the game,? and not ?being kicked around by it.?

How to Capitalize on High-Value Knowledge

Structural capital company property builds on corporate yellow pages, knowledge maps, speedy transfer. Do enough and no more; many overinvest. HP and others find that demand-driven approach is more effective than pushing information into people?s emailboxes. Avoid overinvesting by making it okay not to know everything ? leverage the expertise of specialists. When a manager brings in a problem, the experts teach her how to apply the lessons of a module to solve it.

Customer capital, the relationships of the company with its customers, is measured by market share, customer retention and defection, and profit per customer. This is the most valuable capital of all it's where the money is but ironically, it's also the least well managed. Tom Stewart has a wonderful line, The customer today can call the tune because he knows the score. The goal is to maintain an increasingly intimate relationship. Empowered customers deal directly with companies' databases.

Ten Principles for Managing Intellectual Capital

  1. Companies don't own human and customer capital. Companies share the ownership of human assets with employees. They share ownership of customer capital with suppliers and customers. An adversarial relationship with employees destroys wealth.
  2. To create human capital it can use, a company needs to foster teamwork, communities of practice, and other social forms of learning.
  3. To manage and develop human capital, companies must unsentimentally recognize that some employees, however intelligent or talented they are, aren?t assets. Invest in proprietary and strategic knowledge workers; minimize all other costs.
  4. Structural capital is most easy to control because companies own it, but customers are where the money comes from.
  5. Structural capital serves two purposes: to amass stockpiles of knowledge that support the work customers value, and to speed the flow of that information inside the company. Just-in-time knowledge is more efficient that knowledge stored in the warehouse. 
  6. Substitute information and knowledge for expensive physical and financial assets.
  7. Knowledge work is custom work. Mass production does not yield high profits.
  8. Analyze your value chain to see what information is most crucial. The knowledge work is generally downstream, close to the customers.
  9. Focus on the flow of information, not the flow of materials. Information once supported the real business; now it is the real business.
  10. Human, structural and customer capital work together.

Source: Thomas Stewart, Intellectual Capital

   Knowledge Management: Four Practical Steps jay @ 25-Apr-00

Ideas @ Work > by Diane McFerrin Peters

(Harvard Management Update, Vol. 5 #3, March 2000)

Most companies underestimate the importance of intangible assets such as knowledge, creativity, ideas, and relationships. All these account for more value in our economy than the tangibles. Yet it's difficult for companies to get their arms around intangibles, so they rarely protect them as carefully as they do bricks and hardware. What would you do if your smartest people suddenly left? How can you ensure that what one department or division learns is widely shared throughout the company?

1) Create a setting for sharing knowledge.
Access to knowledge breeds more knowledge, and the best KM techniques ensure that everyone's involved. Try an open meeting policy.

2) Eliminate communication ?filters.
Politics, turf, and implementation responsibilities can squelch ideas in traditional communication channels. Going outside the channels?for example, by allowing people to skip levels?leads to more ideas on how to do things better.

3) Prioritize the tasks.
Most companies' to-do lists contain twice as much as they could ever accomplish. A prioritization process can align brainpower and effort behind what's truly strategic. Senior leaders get together to rank all vital activities first to last, no ties allowed. The process lets people challenge assumptions about the value of long-running projects, share knowledge about what is being accomplished, and break down the departmental barriers that bottle up ideas and creativity.

4) Keep time budgets.
Few individuals and fewer organizations get a true read on where their time and effort really go.

Picasso had a collection of masterpieces in his home. They were hung slightly crooked, and visitors couldn't resist the temptation to straighten them. But Picasso felt that when a painting was straight, the observer focused on the frame around it. When the frame was crooked, the beauty of the image jumped out. It's the same with knowledge. Instead of trying to put boundaries around it, we should be letting it jump out of its frame.

Posted by Jay Cross at 11:14 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Making It Work (Implementing)

+ Consumer

Why this community? Organizations implement eLearning to improve the performance of their people. The successful ones gain organizational backing through change management and ground-level support through internal marketing.

We set up this site to build upon the concepts in our book, describe new findings and insights, and give our readers the opportunity to share best practices. Welcome!

Template for Developing an eLearning Implementation Action Plan

Twenty pages of forms, checklists, and text.

Fill in the form to complete your comprehensive plan.

FREE Download

Conference Presentations

Lance & Jay's PowerPoint slides from the ASTD Conference in San Diego, May 2003

Watch the video of Jay and Lance's keynote presentation at TechLearn 2002

Free Consultation with the Author

We want to help you succeed.
Call Lance Dublin at 1.415.759.1258 or email him at [email protected] to schedule an appointment. The first 15 minutes are on us.

Implementing eLearning, the Director's Cut

Find out what didn't get into the book. Typos, far-out ideas, and topsy-turvy presentation. This is unedited. From the heart. Unexpurgated.

Tips & Best Practices Examples

Communications plan for NCR University from George Brennan
eLearning Brochure for Pharmacia from Donald Oguin. Also Cafeteria table tents & Poster ( pdf )

Decades of Marketing in 5 Minutes from Internet Time Group

Customer Experience Meets Online Marketing at Brand Central Station from Boxes & Arrows

The Marketing FAQs

Survey Says? Identify Your Objectives from HBS Working Knowledge

"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood." Daniel H. Burnham

Change Management 101 by Fred Nichols

Please contribute to our community. If you're really proud of your team's accomplishments, send your stories and artifacts to us: [email protected] or [email protected]

Critical Success Factors: eLearning Solutions , Cappuccino, Deloitte

Cisco's e-learning development vision - It's a process with up's and down's.

Best practices: people

Online Instructor Competencies from Learning Peaks, Patti Shank. A good online instructor wears many hats.
What's an eTrainer? & New Role: eLearning Guide , Internet Time Group 2/2000
Smile, Everyone! It's Time for Your Computer Training, Fast Company, 5/2000. Empower the learners and let them have fun!

Worst practices: people

The Training Weenie Syndrome : Five Foolish Things Trainers Do To Demote Training © INSIGHT ED Patti Shank Trainer, don't shoot yourself in the foot.

The Lie of Online Learning, Training magazine, March 2000. "Let?s move learning out of the workday and into the employees? own "uncompensated" time. No one wants to tell you that the anytime of online learning is supposed to be after work and that the anyplace is at home."

Learning in the Real World . Skeptics' views on why we should be cautious about putting computers into children's schools. "In the real world we can teach, explore and learn the patterns of connection which link different people, plants, animals and places. If education software even attempts to deal with these crucial concepts, the limits of the media may make the presentation inflexible, superficial, and inadequate." Much of this reasoning applies to computer-mediated training of adults as well.

ERP Training Stinks , CIO (6/00). "The average ERP implementation takes 23 months, has a total cost of ownership of $15 million and rewards (so to speak) the business with an average negative net present value of $1.5 million. And the news gets worse."

    "But the consensus that's emerging is that the training that matters isn't techy, "this field shows this; this button does that" training. In fact, what we normally call training is increasingly being shown to be relatively worthless. What's called for, it seems, is an ability to figure out the underlying flow of information through the business itself. The traditional view of training may blind the unwary to its significance and to the tightly woven links that exist between training, change management and staff adequacy."

"The first problem is that word: training . It conjures up images of dogs jumping through hoops. This is not helpful."


Is it Time to Exchange Skinner's Teaching Machine for Dewey's Toolbox? (Yes.)

A New Role: eLearning Guide

Learntivity's Attention Links Zounds - Compelling Experiences

Motivation in Instructional Design. ERIC Digest

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence Services
Emotional Intelligence Consortium

Bringing EQ to the Workplace (research paper)

What Daniel Goleman calls emotional intelligence is the source of ROI, human happiness, responsible behavior -- well, what more could you want? It's taken a backseat to such mundane issues as IT training because its payoff is not immediate, engineers don't get it, and it's a tough nut to crack. This is a major opportunity.


Network Architectures For E-Learning Applications
tells how Cisco wires things together in support of content on demand, broadcast, and virtual classrooms. Microsoft Research on Telepresence

Adoption and barriers to eLearning & Approaches to Implementation , both from David Simmonds at Forum Corporate

Change Management and eLearning by Tom Werner

Sales Knowledge Management by Carl Binder

Benchmarks for Success in Internet-Based Distance Education

A study of distance learning benchmarks at six colleges prepared by The Institute for Higher Education Policy for the NEA and Blackboard. April 2000.

While the methodology is a bit dodgy (literature review followed by ratings from administrators, faculty, and students), the study is provocative.

The benchmarks considered essential for quality Internet-based distance education are:

  • Institutional Support -- a technology plan that addresses security, backup, system integrity; technical reliability; and central support for infrastructure
  • Course development -- periodic updates, require students to engage in analysis, synthesis, and evaluation
  • Teaching/Learning -- interaction between student and faculty (voicemail and/or email suffice), constructive and timely feedback, students learn research methods
  • Course structure -- triage up front to cull out unsuitable candidates, supplemental course nfo that outlines objectives, concepts, ideas, learning outcomes, library resources (virtual is okay), common expectations for tme to complete assignments and receive feedback
  • Student support -- hands-on training in system use, help line, rapid turn on answers
  • Faculty support --- technical assistance in course development, instructor training, written resources to deal with issues arising from student use of electronic data
  • Evaluation and assessmen t - use several standards, learning outcomes are reiewed regularly to ensure clarity, utility, and appropriateness.

Quality on the Line

Coach Roles

goal articulation
acting as a role model
challenging questions
achieving results
personal growth
gaining and keeping balance
giving expert advice
dealing with adversity
making tough decisions
social skill development
improving skills
inner peace and reflection
lifestyle decisions
finanical or economic well being

Strategies for Learning at a Distance

Morgan (1991) suggests that distant students who are not confident about their learning tend to concentrate on memorizing facts and details in order to complete assignments and write exams. As a result, they end up with a poor understanding of course material. He views memorization of facts and details as a ?surface approach? to learning and summarizes it as follows:
  • Surface approach:
    • Focus on the "signs" (e.g., the text or instruction itself).
    • Focus on discrete elements.
    • Memorize information and procedures for tests.
    • Unreflectively associate concepts and facts.
    • Fail to distinguish principles from evidence, new information from old.
    • Treat assignments as something imposed by the instructor.
    • External emphasis focusing on the demands of assignments and exams leading to a knowledge that is cut-off from everyday reality.
Distant students need to become more selective and focused in their learning in order to master new information. The focus of their learning needs to shift them from a ?surface approach? to a ?deep approach?. Morgan (1991) summarizes this approach as follows:
  • Deep Approach:
    • Focus on what is "signified" (e.g., the instructor?s arguments).
    • Relate and distinguish new ideas and previous knowledge.
    • Relate concepts to everyday experience.
    • Relate and distinguish evidence and argument.
    • Organize and structure content.
    • Internal emphasis focusing on how instructional material relates to everyday reality.

Improving Distant Learning

The shift from surface to deep learning is not automatic. Brundage, Keane, and Mackneson (1993) suggest that adult students and their instructors must face and overcome a number of challenges before learning takes place including: becoming and staying responsible for themselves; "owning" their strengths, desires, skills, and needs; maintaining and increasing self-esteem; relating to others; clarifying what is learned; redefining what legitimate knowledge is; and dealing with content. These challenges are considered in relation to distance education:

  • "Becoming and staying responsible for themselves" . High motivation is required to complete distant courses because the day-to-day contact with teachers and other students is typically lacking. Instructors can help motivate distant students by providing consistent and timely feedback, encouraging discussion among students, being well prepared for class, and by encouraging and reinforcing effective student study habits.
  • "Owning one's strengths, desires, skills, needs" . Students need to recognize their strengths and limitations. They also need to understand their learning goals and objectives. The instructor can help distant students to explore their strengths/limitations and their learning goals/objectives by assuming a facilitative role in the learning process. Providing opportunities for students to share their personal learning goals and objectives for a course helps to make learning more meaningful and increases motivation.
  • "Maintaining and increasing self-esteem" . Distant students may be afraid of their ability to do well in a course. They are balancing many responsibilities including employment and raising children. Often their involvement in distance education is unknown to those they work with and ignored by family members. Student performance is enhanced if learners set aside time for their instructional activities and if they receive family support in their academic endeavors. The instructor can maintain student self-esteem by providing timely feedback. It is critical for teachers to respond to students? questions, assignments, and concerns in a personalized and pleasant manner, using appropriate technology such as fax, phone, or computer. Informative comments that elaborate on the individual student?s performance and suggest areas for improvement are especially helpful.
  • "Relating to others" . Students often learn most effectively when they have the opportunity to interact with other students. Interaction among students typically leads to group problem solving. When students are unable to meet together, appropriate interactive technology such as E-mail should be provided to encourage small group and individual communication. Assignments in which students work together and then report back or present to the class as a whole, encourage student-to-student interaction. Ensure clear directions and realistic goals for group assignments (Burge, 1993).
  • "Clarifying what is learned" . Distant students need to reflect on what they are learning. They need to examine the existing knowledge frameworks in their heads and how these are being added to or changed by incoming information. Examinations, papers, and class presentations provide opportunities for student and teacher to evaluate learning. However, less formal methods of evaluation will also help the students and teacher to understand learning. For example, periodically during the course the instructor can ask students to write a brief reflection on what they have learned and then provide an opportunity for them to share their insights with other class members.
  • "Redefining what legitimate knowledge is" . Brundage, Keane, and Mackneson (1993) suggest that adult learners may find it difficult to accept that their own experience and reflections are legitimate knowledge. If the instructor takes a facilitative rather than authoritative role, students will see?their own experience as valuable and important to their further learning. Burge (1993) suggests having learners use first-person language to help them claim ownership of personal values, experiences, and insights.
  • "Dealing with content" . Student learning is enhanced when content is related to examples. Instructors tend to teach using examples that were used when they received their training. For distance learning to be effective, however, instructors must discover examples that are relevant to their distant students. Encourage students to find or develop examples that are relevant to them or their community.

Learning for purposes of IT Certification must combine the motivational and social reinforcement academia is working on with the PI/simulation approach of traditional IT training.

Enabling Learning in a Digital Age, 1998

This is about kids but applies to adult learning equally well.

The model that education has used for centuries considers the student a vessel to be filled at regular intervals with knowledge. The alternative I hope you´ll strive for is seeing the student as co-discoverer of knowledge and the teacher responsible for seeing that the discovery takes place. This model may mean we don't need to be confined to a classroom if discovery can take place in different spaces, even cyberspace. The impact of today's information revolution on schools goes vastly beyond replacing the old blackboard with a shiny whiteboard. Technology is revolutionizing the very nature and dynamics of the conventional classroom experience; this new learning environment, by design, emphasizes students, autonomy and independence.Classroom learning will become student-driven, interactive, experiential and collaborative - all goals long-cherished by many educators but never before attainable. Students will no longer passively receive information but will manage and synthesize it and even contribute it.They become not only takers, but givers – creators -- of information. This level of interaction will herald new types of student communities of practice.The world need more problem-solvers. It needs more explorers.

It needs more rough edges.

Enable learning, don´t teach. a good teacher doesn´t teach at all. They enable students to teach themselves. And it´s not just symantics. Enabling learning is entirely different from teaching.

While a significant part of learning certainly comes from teaching, much comes from exploration, from reinventing the wheel and finding out for oneself. Until the computer, the technology for teaching was limited to audiovisual devices and distance learning by television, which did little more than amplify the activity of teachers and the passivity of children.

The computer changed this balance radically. Suddenly, learning by doing has the potential to become the rule rather than the exception. Since computer simulation of just about anything is now possible, one need not learn about a frog by dissecting it. Instead, children can be asked to design frogs, to build an animal with frog-like behavior, to modify that behavior, to simulate the muscles, to play with the frog.

The opportunity is an unrealized potential.

The Future File

Posted by Jay Cross at 11:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Learning Standards



The Emerging Standards Effort in eLearning by Ed Cohen, eLearning Magazine, January 2002:

Torrents of tags
Much of what SCORM has assembled is preoccupied with the tracking, tagging, and storing of content objects. The standards dwell at length upon "metadata," specifying the identifying tags that all learning objects in a course should carry-be they graphics, text, animations, or simulations (see "A Primer on Metdata for Learning Objects," e-learning, October, p.26). For those who envision a future in which users wander through vast content repositories filled with such objects-plucked from various courses, each of them immaculately categorized and easy to use-SCORM is a dream.

This focus on metadata labeling is understandable, given that we all believe reusing course content will be crucial in the near future. Oddly though, this standard may be both too demanding and not demanding enough. If SCORM is ultimately dominated by a giant catalog of tagging requirements, it would pose a daunting hurdle for companies with large amounts of legacy content for dubious gains. And it would ignore important principles of instructional design-which, if they were established as a uniform standard, would help trainers and teachers get the most out of their courseware.

Online Learning, November 2000:

"Web-based training standards entered a new era in June when the major developers agreed to make learning management systems (LMSs) and content from different vendors work together. The agreement between the Aviation Industry CBT Committee (AICC), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Instructional Management Systems (IMS) Global Learning Consortium is not an official partnership ? yet. And because it is informal in nature the responsibilities of the respective parties haven?t been clearly defined. But it was determined that the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative of the Department of Defense, which was the catalyst for the new spirit of cooperation, would act as a coordinating body."

Standards: The Vision and the Hype, Learning Circuits, by Tom Barron The drive to create industry-wide technology standards for e-learning is gaining momentum and adherents. But some see perils--and posturing--amid the promise.

All about Learning Technology Standards, LINEzine, Wayne Hodgins. Learnativity has the articles, presentations, and links of standards visionary Wayne Hodgins.

Achieving Interoperability in e-Learning, Learning Circuits, by Harvi Singh.

In today's Internet economy, achieving integration and interoperability in digital systems is increasingly important. Such integration is possible with open protocols, which allow an organization or system to exchange information with suppliers, partners, and customers in a format that accommodates each organization's system. The same approach is being applied in the e-learning arena, where a new breed of software application frameworks and approaches seek to enable true interoperability of separate systems. This article examines trends and enabling frameworks for making true interoperability a reality.

An Intro to Metadata Tagging, Learning Circuits, by Harvi Singh. Get ready for the Dewey Decimal Classification system of e-learning

The Instructional Use of Learning Objects, a book on the topic

Standards Groups

Advanced Learning Infrastructure Consortium (JAPAN) -- Objective is to establish an active society by reasonably and effectively providing a learning environment which enables anyone to learn anytime, anywhere, according to the goals, pace, interests and understanding of individuals and groups. Also, to foster experts who will be the origin of global competitiveness. Targets: Advanced learning infrastructure that are from Primary and secondary institution to high school, company training, and tertiary school; Technology and Service; Learning system and contents that use information technology, such as network. Examples: e-learning, Web-based training, technology-based training, computer-based training, long distance learning.

World Wide Web Consortium -- Develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential, specifically XML.

Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) -- Formed in 1996. The mission is to develop technical standards, recommended practices, and guides for software components, tools, technologies and design methods that facilitate the development, deployment, maintenance, and interoperation of computer implementations of education and training components and systems.

Alliance of Remote Instructional Authoring and Distribution Networks for Europe (ARIADNE) -- Develops the results of the ARIADNE and ARIADNE II European Projects, which created tools and methodologies for producing, managing and reusing computer-based pedagogical elements and telematics supported training curricula.

IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc. (IMS) -- Developing and promoting open specifications for facilitating online distributed learning activities, such as locating and using educational content, tracking learner progress, reporting learner performance, and exchanging student records between administrative systems. IMS -- Meta Tags and Knowledge Bits

Advanced Distributed Learning Network -- Purpose is to ensure access to high-quality education and training materials that can be tailored to individual learner needs and made available whenever and wherever they are required. This initiative is designed to accelerate large-scale development of dynamic and cost-effective learning software and to stimulate an efficient market for these products in order to meet the education and training needs of the military and the nation's workforce of the future. It will do this through the development of a common technical framework for computer and net-based learning that will foster the creation of reusable learning content as "instructional objects." Check out Plugfest 5.

The Aviation Industry CBT (Computer-Based Training) Committee (AICC) -- An international association of technology-based training professionals. The AICC develops guidelines for the aviation industry in the development, delivery, and evaluation of CBT and related training technologies.

The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative -- An open forum engaged in the development of interoperable online metadata standards that support a broad range of purposes and business models. DCMI's activities include consensus-driven working groups, global workshops, conferences, standards liaison, and educational efforts to promote widespread acceptance of metadata standards and practices. (If you're invited, don't get out your passport. That's Dublin, Ohio.)


Judy Brown's home page

SCORM is mil-spec. It will probably work in military apps where standards can be rigidly enforced, and where performance outweighs price much more than in the commercial sector. SCORM comes from the same place as $1000 hammers and $10,000 toilet seats.

Corporations may find it easier to standardize learning as part of the Semantic Web. It's XML, interoperable, flexible, and will soon be the underpinning of business transactions. What better way to integrate learning and work? The Semantic Web would enable us to build performance support directly into the job (rather than as an add-on.)

Standards definitions
Posted by Jay Cross at 10:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How People Learn

What's important

Learning is the pathway to doing. If an instructor teaches something and nothing changes, no learning took place.

Learning is learnable. You can get better at it. We set up the Meta-Learning Lab to help people learn better, faster, deeper.

"Knowledge is constructed, not transferred. It's built out of known chunks. It's always linked to the situation, thus 'situated.' Skills and knowledge do not exist outside of context. Everything is connected, in mental, physical, or social space." Peter Senge, Schools That Learn


This book is the best summary of what it's all about.

How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, John D. Bransford, Ann L. Brown, and Rodney R. Cocking, editors. "This volume synthesizes the scientific basis of learning. The scientific achievements include a fuller understanding of: (1) memory and the structure of knowledge; (2) problem solving and reasoning; (3) the early foundations of learning; (4) regulatory processes that govern learning, including metacognition; and (5) how symbolic thinking emerges from the culture and community of the learner."

Robo-teacher has left the building

eLearning was born during the dot-com frenzy. Like many start-up ideas, the first descriptions of eLearning were oversimplified, extreme, and wildly optimistic. Otherwise rational people defined eLearning as putting all learning on computers, as if it had to be all or nothing.

Imagine the savings in plane fare, instructor salaries, and keeping people on the job instead of at the class! Employees could learn anywhere they could plug into the net, whenever you wanted. Learners would save time by studying only what they needed. They would learn at an optimal pace, neither held back nor bypassed by the rest of the class. Cool.

The only problem was that this sort of eLearning rarely worked. Learning is social. Even in the classroom, lots of learning takes informally, between students. Workers learn more at the water cooler or coffee room than during classes.

Learning requires much more than exposure to content. Most people drop out of 100% computer-led instructional events. These same people learn well when computer-mediated lessons are combined with virtual classes, study groups, team exercises, mentors & help desks, off-line events, and on-line coaches.

As the hype cools down, we find that learning hasn't changed; it still requires a variety of activities. Computers can make aspects of learning more convenient but they don't eliminate the need for human intervention. The presumption that eLearning would automate every aspect of learning today seems irresponsible. That dog won't hunt.

For great overviews, see Learnativity and Marcia Conner's Learning & Training FAQ, especially How adults learn.

The old way of looking at learning:

Teach = Fill their empty heads. Assess = See what's inside.

From the Institute for Research on Learning

Constructivism and other theories

Today we realize that learning isn't pouring content into heads. Rather, the real deal is an interaction between what's incoming and what's already there. Learning is rewiring the brain by sculpting new pigeonholes and adding connections.

Theories of Learning, from Funderstanding, explains constructivism, behaviorism, and so forth simply.

Greg Kearsley's Explorations in Learning & Instruction: The Theory Into Practice Database is an awesome resource.

Marc Prensky's Digital Game-Based Learning has a great list of theories of how people learn:

Learner-Centered Psychological Principles: A Framework for School Redesign and Reform, American Psychological Association, Board of Educational Affairs (BEA) 11/97.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Cognitive learning is demonstrated by knowledge recall and the intellectual skills: comprehending information, organizing ideas, analyzing and synthesizing data, applying knowledge, choosing among alternatives in problem-solving, and evaluating ideas or actions.

Affective learning is demonstrated by behaviors indicating attitudes of awareness, interest, attention, concern, and responsibility, ability to listen and respond in interactions with others, and ability to demonstrate those attitudinal characteristics or values which are appropriate to the test situation and the field of study.

Psychomotor learning is demonstrated by physical skills; coordination, dexterity, manipulation, grace, strength, speed; actions which demonstrate the fine motor skills such as use of precision instruments or tools, or actions which evidence gross motor skills such as the use of the body in dance or athletic performance.

I think of these as training the head, the heart, and the hand.


Best Practices

Implementing The Seven Principles of Good Practice

Internet Time Group has found that people learn best when they...

Excerpts from the LiNE (Learning in the New Economy) Zine Manifesto, Brook Manville and Marcia Conner (6/2000).

Learning requires engagement

Methods of engagement include:

1. Presenting information as tentative, which asks the learner to engage in assessing its veracity.

2. Offering opportunities to compare one's views to those of others. "18% of Americans feel public money should not be 'wasted' on art."

3. Feeding back information from a group of peers. "In a poll, 32% of you professed to never have seen porn on the web."

4. Providing challenges that call on one's exformation. "Exegesis means (a) pulling a tooth, (b) tracking feedback, (c) assembling unrepresentative cases to support one's argument -- what Nietsche often did, or (d) disinterring a body from the grave." Go ahead, take a guess. The answer is here.

5. Making connections to other contexts, e.g. You want to learn to fly. Let's compare flying to driving a car. Your mind begins mapping the differences and similarites.

Methods of Delivery

Live face-to-face (formal)
• Instructor-led classroom
• Workshops
• Coaching/mentoring
• On-the-job (OTJ) training

Virtual collaboration/synchronous
• Live e-learning classes
• E-mentoring

Self-paced learning
• Web learning modules
• Online resource links
• Simulations
• Scenarios
• Video and audio CD/DVDs
• Online self-assessments
• Workbooks

Live face-to-face (informal)
• Collegial connections
• Work teams
• Role modeling

Virtual collaboration/asynchronous
• Email
• Online bulletin boards
• Listservs
• Online communities

Performance support
• Help systems
• Print job aids
• Knowledge databases
• Documentation
• Performance/decision support tools

from Allison Rossett

Internet Time's Method Matrix

Distance learning is no less effective than traditional means, the "No Significant Difference Phenomenon".


Changing the Interface of Education with Revolutionary Learning Technologies by Nishikant Sonwalkar

Learning Styles for Online Asynchronous Instruction

A building block approach for presenting concepts in a step-by-step procedural learning style.

Based on events that trigger the learning experience. Learners
begin with an event that introduces a concept and provokes questions.

Learners are first introduced to a concept or a target principle using specific
examples that pertain to a broader topic area.

Based on stimulating the discernment of trends through the presentation of simulations, graphs, charts, or other data.

An inquiry method of learning in which students learn by doing, testing the boundaries of their own knowledge.


Making Training In The Enterprise Pay Off, Datamation

Why schools suck

A narrow view of how the American public school system got so screwed up. (The Germans did it.)

Schools may be the starkest example in modern society of an entire institution modeled after the assembly line. This has dramatically increased educational capability in our time, but it has also created many of the most intractable problems with which students, teachers, and parents struggle to this day. If we want to change schools, it is unlikely to happen until we understand more deeply the core assumptions on which the industrial-age school is based.
? Peter Senge


The Neurobiology of Memory & Learning from Hughes


Employee Motivation in the Workplace

The answer is "C". Both Nietsche and I are guilty of using exegesis to make our cases. BACK

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." -Confucius
"If I hear and see and do and teach and practice, I understand even better." -Jay
Information is not instruction.
Yeah, so? Doing is what counts.

Real learning is not what most of us grew up thinking it was. --Charles Handy

Meta-Learning Lab

The Distance Learner's Guide

I never allowed schooling to interfere with my education. --Mark Twain

Great diagram of the brain

Marc Prensky matches content to learning activity to game styles.

"Distance education should be called 'not-so-distant education.'" Bill Clinton, Online Learning, October 1, 2001

"One's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

Let's Tie the Digital Knot by Seymour Papert is a wonderfully feisty, common-sense look at education with fresh eyes.

Paradigmatic Vision Using an Internet connection in the classroom to enliven the fourth grade math curriculum is a good thing. By all means do it if you are a fourth grade teacher. But do not confuse it with the prescribed activity of developing a vision of the future of learning.

As an exercise of the educational imagination to strengthen your visionary powers, think about a world in which there is:

  • No such thing as fourth grade, because age segregation has gone the way of other arbitrary divisions of people.
  • No such thing as a classroom, because learning happens in a variety of settings.
  • And no such thing as curriculum, because the idea that everyone should have the same knowledge has come to be seen as totalitarian.


Leftovers & Oldies on this topic

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:54 AM | Comments (8)

eLearning Information & FAQ

eLearning FAQ

What is eLearning?

Related pages:



Knowledge management

Virtual classroom






Visual Learning


These are the absolute best sources of the bunch:

elearningpost , from Maish Nichani
eCLIPSE, from Jane Knight
Learning Circuits, from ASTD. Now, with blog.
OLDaily - Online Learning Daily, from Stephen Downes
eLearning Guild - check out the Journal
Learnativity - Marcia Conner's FAQs and Wayne Hodgins' standards

LiNE Zine, LINE = Learning in the New Economy. Edited by chaord Marcia Conner. Provacative, high-quality, original.

Big Dog's Bowl of Biscuits -- for instructional design reference

TechLearn Trends from Elliott Masie. Once the pacesetter, this one's getting a little loose. TechLearn Trends is personal, another venue for Elliott to channel his outsize personality and prescient observations to his fans. Breezy.

eLearn Magazine, from ACM
eLearnspace, from Geo. Siemens

OnLine Learning News from VNU Media/Bill Communications
Online Community Report from Forum One
Virtual University Gazette from geteducated

KM, computing, the future

Rapidly Changing Face of Computing (reborn!)
Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization, from David Weinberger. Hilarious take on knowledge management. Intense learning + entertainment = the way life should be. Now, with blog.
Tomalak's Realm strategic Web design stories, e-commerce, usability, intellectual property, electronics/technology futurism, more

Research sources

EPSS Central
Performance Centered Design
Cisco eLearning
Educause Effective Practices and Solutions
ASTD -- generally broad but shallow
Gerrit Visser (Europe)
HR Executive Work Index, Workforce, SHRM Online
Information Technology Association of America -- 900,000 jobs to fill!
Institute for Human Machine Cognition -- concept mapping is us
Software Design Smorgasbord -- KM, visualization, UI, performance support
Education Organizations Resources Directory, U.S. Department of Education






T+D (formerly Training & Development -- ASTD
CIO -- excellent on knowledge management, IT training
Training -- VNU Media
e-Learning Magazine -- Advanstar
IT Training -- Haymarket Business Publications, U.K.
Performance Journal -- ISPI, instructional design
CLO -- new kid on the block. from MediaTec
Certification -- MediaTec Publishing

Knowledge management
KM Magazine
CIO Magazine - KM Research Center

In 2000, most magazines began making past issues available online.


The Chronicle of Higher Education/Distance Learning daily
T.H.E. Journal (Technical Horizons in Education)
The Technology Source
The Educational Technology Journal

great list of online journals

Oil and water, Jews and Arabs, education and training...
  eBusiness & strategy
Strategy and Business (Booz)

Mercer Management Journal
Cap Gemini E&Y Center for Business Innovation Outstanding!
McKinsey Quarterly
Santa Fe Institute Update
Technology Review -- MIT. Come on, push the envelope.
These are fantastic catalysts for thinking out of the box.

What is eLearning?


According to Jay Cross, information architect of Internet Time Group, "eLearning" is the target model for corporate training in the next three to five years. It will be a key survival skill for corporations and free agent learners and is a convergence of:

  • loosely organized corporate ecologies
  • a business climate of permanent white water
  • technological advances, including high-speed broadband networks
  • a shift of power and responsibility from organizations to individuals
  • emergent best practices, from performance support to training to knowledge management.

Says Cross, "Successful leaders inspire members of their organizations to work smarter. Collaboration, learning portals, and skill snacks have replaced Industrial-Age training. The Web is revitalizing personalized learning and meaningful apprenticeship. Learning is merging with work."

Here's what lies ahead in our not-too-distant training future, according to Cross:

  • personal software agents that crawl the Web to screen and feed information to personal portals
  • connected gadgets and gizmos that simplify (and complicate) our lives
  • plug-and-play training modularity
  • learning standards that create interchangeable, Lego-like objects that slash costs and development time
  • personal files and programs that run directly from the Internet.

More info www.intemettime.com

Training & Development, November 1999

SmartForce, Learn Fast, Go Fast, pdf (11/99)
Disclosure: SmartForce was an Internet Time Group client..

Will Companies Ever Learn? "Learning has got to be connected directly to the business," says Judy Rosenblum, former chief learning officer at Coca-Cola. "The idea is to stay away from a standard 'learning program.' Instead, learning needs to be embedded in processes, projects, and experiences. If you put your energy into people who are ready and willing to join you, and if those people add value to the business, others will come."

Get Smart Online, UpsideToday Special Report (4/00)

"Training is moving online for the same reason that companies attempted outsourcing 10 years ago," says Gartner Group analyst Clark Aldrich. "Not because it's better but because it's cheaper and more measurable." There are technical barriers to implementation, some of which are overcome by outsourcing. Pressures for eLearning include demands for global reach, reduced time to market, flexibility, just-in-time learning, and cost savings. Even with he right internal systems in place, companies often find it challenging to navigate such a young market to find the right fit. The metrics are murky.

eLearning: Rhetoric vs Reality, Gautam Ghosh

Embedded help
Performance Support
Knowledge Mgmt-Based JUST IN TIME
Classroom replication Immersive Solutions JUST IN CASE

Into the Future, a Vision Paper by Wayne Hodgins and Jay Cross (2/2000) for ASTD and NGA. In HTML, not pdf.

Cisco eLearning
Disclosure: Cisco Systems is an Internet Time Group client.

The Future of Online Learning by Stephen Downes (7/98), a classic

Getting Started with Online Learning, Macromedia, "designed to help authors create learning applications that succeed."

Web Based Training Information Center

The eLearning FAQ

Caution: I wrote this in March 2000, before the dot-com bubble burst, and it remains somewhat overenthusiastic. Here's a more current take on what's going on:

The State of eLearning
Guest lecture at the Business School of San Francisco State University, October 2, 2002.



eLearning is learning on Internet Time, the convergence of learning and networks and the New Economy. eLearning is a vision of what corporate training can become. We've only just begun.

eLearning is to traditional training as eBusiness is to business as usual. Both use the net to augment tradiitonal means.

This FAQ addresses corporate learning. In this context, effective eLearning dramatically cuts the time it takes for people to become and remain competent in their jobs. For context, check out the first eLearning White Paper ever written.

More definitions

eLearning is the convergence of learning and the Internet.

Howard Block
Bank of America Securities

eLearning uses the power of networks, primarily those that rely on Internet technologies but also satellite netowrks, and digital content to enable learning.

Eilif Trondsen,
SRI Learning on Demand

eLearning is the use of network technology to design, deliver, select, administer, and extend LEARNING.

Elliott Masie,
The Masie Center

eLearning is Internet-enabled learning. Components can include content delivery in multiple formats, management of the learning experience, and a networked community of learners, content developers and experts. eLearning provides faster learning at reduced costs, increased access to learning, and clear accountability for all participants in the learning process. In today's fast-paced culture, organizations that implement eLearning provide their work force with the ability to turn change into an advantage.

Cisco Systems

eLearning is dynamic. Today's content, in real time, not old news or "shelfware." On-line experts, best sources, quick-and-dirty approaches for emergencies.

eLearning operates in real time. You get what you need, when you need it.

eLearning is collaborative. Because people learn from one another, eLearning connects learners with experts, colleagues, and professional peers, both in and outside your organization.

eLearning is individual. Every e-learner selects activities from a personal menu of learning opportunities most relevant to her background, job, and career at that very moment.

eLearning is comprehensive.
eLearning provides learning events from many sources, enabling the e-learner to select a favored format or learning method or training provider.

Greg Priest,
The e-Learning Company

eLearning [is] the delivery of content via all electronic media, including the Internet, intranets, extranets, satellite broadcast, audio/video tape, interactive TV, and CD-ROM.

Connie Weggen
WR Hambrecht & Co

We define eLearning companies as those that leverage various Internet and Web technologies to create, enable, deliver, and/or facilitate lifelong learning.

Robert Peterson,
Piper Jaffray

eLearning is using the power of the network to enable learning, anytime, anywhere.


Best Practices

Accept no substitutes! Anyone with a web site can claim to provide eLearning. How does one separate the real stuff from the bogus? Legitimate eLearning is more likely to:

  • Focus on the needs of the learner, not the trainer or institution
  • Take advantage of the net: real-time, 24/7, anywhere, anytime
  • Bring people together to collaborate and learn together
  • Personalize, often by combining "learning objects" on the fly
  • Offer more than one learning method, e.g. virtual classroom and simulation and self-paced instruction
  • Incorporate administrative functions such as registration, payment and charge-backs, monitoring learner progress, testing, and maintaining records

eLearning? e-Learning?
E-learning? E-Learning?

In the early days, way back in 1998, it was always e-learning, with the hyphen. SmartForce is the "e-Learning Company", and Cisco's John Chambers evangelizes e-learning.

As eLearning matured, some of us are dropped the hyphen (and started "intercapping" the "L".) Microsoft uses eLearn, as do SRI and Internet Time Group. The Google search engine finds:

  • 1221 elearning (no hyphen)
  • 2900 e-learning (hyphenated)

Does it matter?


Change is rampant. It's the Knowledge Era, New Economy, Internet Age, Information Revolution, yadda, yadda, yadda. Brains have replaced brawn.

Networked organizations demand rapid-fire, front-line decisions, and people must be in the know to make them. Everything's converging or already networked, cycle times are speeding up, and competition is coming from all directions. Are you ready?

Staffing for eBusiness is a make/buy decision.

Buying is pricey and shortsighted. (Techies with tongue-studs and purple hair command six-figure salaries, and there are too few of them to go around. We're short half a million high-tech workers, and business gets more techie every day.) Buying talent is not like buying tools. The shelf-life of knowledge has dwindled to the point that a four-year engineering degree is obsolete in, well, about four years.

People once agonized over career decisions for fear of looking like "job hoppers." These days they hear about a new opportunity over lunch and go to work for a competitor that afternoon. Money doesn't necessarily talk to a young person who drives a Porsche. What keeps people on board these days is the opportunity to develop, to build valued skills, to achieve certifications, and to add to their store of intellectual capital.

Learning has become a vital business function, but old-style training can't keep pace with Internet time. Traditional workshops cost a fortune in airplane tickets and time away from the job. In the eyes of many senior managers, off-site workshops have always been somewhere between a total waste of time and a boondoggle, the "great training robbery." Training has grown too important to be delegated to training departments.

eLearning is attractive to corporations because it promises better use of time, accelerated learning, global reach, fast pace, and accountability. It's manageable. It cuts paperwork and administrative overhead. Sometimes it can be outsourced, providing more time for leveraging the organization's core competence. eLearners like it, too.


The Brand Called You

The Future of Work

Hire for attitude;
train for skill

Free Agent Declaration of Independence


As human capital becomes the chief source of economic value, education and training become lifelong endeavors for the vast majority of workers.

Peter J. Stokes,

We need to bring learning to people instead of bringing people to learning.

Elliott Masie,
The Masie Center

Technology has revolutionized business; now it must revolutionize learning.

WR Hambrecht + Co

Information and knowledge are the thermonuclear competitive weapons of our time. Knowledge is more valuable and more powerful than natural resources, big factories, or fat bankrolls.

Tom Stewart,
Intellectual Capital

American education needs a fundamental breakthrough, a new dynamic that will light the way to a transformed educational system.

Chris Whittle
The Edison Project

Organizations today realize that they cannot use traditional training methods if they want to stay competitive. Because product cycles, competitive intelligence, industry information and corporate strategies are moving and changing so much faster than they need to, companies understand that the only way to get knowledge to their employees is thorough an eLearning initiative that relies on the Internet.

Kevin Oakes


Education is the next industrial era institution to go through a complete overhaul, starting in earnest in 2000. The driving force here is not so much concern with enlightening young minds as economics. In an information age, the age of the knowledge worker, nothing matters as much as the worker's brain.

Peter Schwartz
The Long Boom

Technological changes increase complexity and velocity of the work environment. Today's workforce has to process more information in a shorter amount of time. New products and services are emerging with accelerating speed.

WR Hambrecht + Co

eLearning solutions provide the missing link that allows organizations to effectively measure ROI and the learning to business results.

Dave Ellett

....the number one reason employees leave existing positions for new jobs is not pay but that their employer was not investing in their development.

Thomas Weisel Partners LLC

Learning is what more adults will do for a living in the 21st century.

U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray

Imagination is the most powerful human resource on the planet. Harnessing it and its resultant electronic tools in the service of education is the great hope of the world.

Glenn R. Jones
Jones International


Human skills are subject to obsolescence at a rate perhaps unprecedented in American History.

Alan Greenspan

It is estimated that we will need 1.3 million new computer scientists, systems analysts and computer programmers by 20006 in the United States. Yet, currently one out of every ten IT positions, or approximately 350,000 jobs, are open today.

Merrill Lynch

With the aging of the U.S. workforce (median age of US worker expected to increase from 35.3 to 40.6 in 2006) and technology automating a large percentage of unskilled jobs, training is necessary to remain relevant in today's knowledge-based economy.


Knowledge workers require greater flexibility in the workplace. Globalization, competition, and labor shortages cause employees to work longer, harder, and travel more than previous generations. A the same time, these workers require more independence and responsibility in their jobs and dislike close supervision. Today's knowledge workers have a nontraditional orientation to time and space, believing that as long as the job gets done on time, it is not important where or when it gets done. B the same token, they want the opportunity to allocate time for learning as needed. Modern training methods need to reflect these changes in lifestyle.

WR Hambrecht + Co

Discreet training events held off-site in a hotel room that fulfills the "20 hours per year, "check the box" regimen will not suffice.

Thomas Weisel Partners LLC

Drivers of Cisco's Learning and Training Needs

The Objectives

  • Fast, effective deployment of mission-critical knowledge
  • Well-trained and up-to-date workforce
  • Lower-cost learning

The Challenges

  • Geographically dispersed learners
  • Phenomenal growth
  • Difficult/Expensive training logistics
  • Need for Knowledge on Demand

The Pressures

  • Relentless Competition
  • Constantly changing technology
  • Shorter product cycles
  • Shorter time to market
Source: Cisco Systems

How does it work?

Different perspectives

eLearning is like a cubist painting. To make sense of it, you need to look at it from different perspectives.

From the philosophical viewpoint, eLearning is framed by the principles and practices of the eLearning community -- a mix of social concern, instructional design, software savvy, entrepreneurial zeal, and extreme dissatisfaction with the status quo. Another view looks to the components of eLearning -- collaboration, simulation, databases, and so forth. The eBusiness perspective relates eLearning to ERP, supply chain optimization, and disintermediation.


eLearning is revolutionary. As Nicholas Negroponte says, incrementalism is innovation's worst enemy. The Internet changes everything; education and training are about to be changed. Radically. It's time for a fresh approach.

eLearning focuses on the individual learner. For years, training has organized itself for the convenience and needs of instructors, institutions, and bureaucracies. Bad attitude. Think of learners as customers. Compete for their time and interests. Provide them legendary service. Convert them into raving fans. Give them choices. Don't make them reinvent the wheel.

From instructor-centric:

to learner-centric:







If you have a fast connection to the net, here's a better explanation of the instructor-centric and learner-centric models.

eLearning is forever. Continuous education. The forty-year degree. Daily learning. Work becomes learning, learning becomes work, and nobody ever graduates.

Performance is the goal. The objective is to become competent in the least time and with the least amount of training. If people could take a smart pill instead of logging in to class, bravo! How long is this going to take? No more credit for seat-time.

Most learning is social. The coffee room is a more effective place to learn than the classroom. Studies reveal that the majority of corporate learning is informal, i.e. outside of class. eLearning seeks to foster collaboration and peer interaction.

A classic study at Standard found that Hewlett Packard engineers who watched videotaped lectures followed by informal discussion performed better than Stanford engineering students who attended the same lectures on campus. Instead of an on-campus lecturer pouring content into students' heads, the HP engineers were challenged to construct their own interpretation of the subject matter.

Most eLearning is personalized. The best eLearning system learns about its users and tailors its offerings to their learning style, job requirements, career goals, current knowledge, and personal preferences. <buzzword alert> Small chunks of learning (granules, objects) are labeled (metatagged within IMS standards) so systems can automatically mix and match them to assemble and deliver individualized learning experiences. At least that's the dream. Nobody's fully there quite yet. </buzzwords>

Hierarchy of Learning Objects

eLearning is delivered in the right-sized pieces. Why take a one-hour class for the five minutes' worth of content you're looking for?

eLearners are responsible for their own learning. eLearning empowers them to manage and implement their own learning and development plans.

Education in the Knowledge Economy

Old Economy
Four-year Degree
Training as Cost Center
Learner Mobility
Distance Education
Correspondence & Video
One Size Fits All
Geographic Instituting

New Economy
Forty-Year Degree
Training as Competitive Advantage
Content Mobility
Distributed Learning
High-Tech Multimedia Centers
Tailored Programs
Brand Name Universities & Celebrity Professors
Virtual Learning Communities
Source: The Book of Knowledge, Merrill Lynch, p. 8


Smart pill. Would you prefer this or the workshop?


eLearning is inevitably a mix of activities -- people learn better that way. An eLearning environment generally includes:

self-paced training delivered over the web (although it could be via book or CD or video or what have you)

1:many virtual events (which could take place in virtual classroom, virtual lecture hall, or expert-led discussion)

1:1 mentoring (which might entail coaching, help desk, office hours, periodic check-in, email exchanges)

simulation, because we learn by doing. Learners from all over the globe experiment on millions of dollars worth of routers and bridges at Mentor Labs. Consultants learn about eBusiness from a game developed by SMGnet.

collaboration, either joint problem-solving or discussion among study groups via discussion groups and chat rooms

live workshops (yes, the old way), for some topics are best taught in the real world by a flesh-and-blood instructor or expert

assessment, both for initial placement and for opting out of topics the learner has already mastered

competency roadmap, a custom learning plan based on job, career, and personal goals

authoring tools, to develop and update content

e-store, to pay for learning or post costs against budgets



Overview of an eLearning Setup


Tour of Dell's EducateU


How Does eLearning Work?
from the How Stuff Works site


learning management system which registers, tracks, and delivers content to learners; reports on learner progress, assessment results, and skill gaps for instructors; enrolls learners, provides security, and manages user access for administrators.

Important facets of eLearning

The continuous evolution of the learning industry is hell-bent toward an experience totally personalized to the individual learner. Today, the vertical communities accessed by an individual learner provide a comfortable envinroment to learn skills required in the learner's industry. Tomorrow, access will be through a corporate-sponsored community completely tailored to the individual's needs, with content delivered on demand and technology that will continually monitor the learner's abilities as the learning takes place, adjusting content and pace seamlessly.

Wade Baker
Payback Training Systems

Improved collaboration and interactivity among learners. In times when small instructor-led classes tend to be the exception, electronic learning solutions can offer more collaboration and interaction with experts and peers as well as a higher success rate than the live alternative. ...a study found that online students had more peer contact with others in the class, enjoyed it more, spent more time on class work, understood the material better, and performed, on average, 20% better than students who were taught in the traditional classroom.

WR Hambrecht + Co

The magic is in the mix!

eLearning blends the best of:

Traditional and new classroom


Coaching and informal mentoring


Standalone technology

Online technology

Digital collaboration

Elliott Masie
The Masie Center

How well does it work?

The cards aren't in yet. eLearning is too new to have produced hard evidence of learning gains. eLearning's top-line upside is speculative; its bottom-line savings are on more solid ground.

Undeniably, eLearning cuts the costs of travel, facilities, administrative overhead, duplication of effort, and more importantly, the opportunity cost of people away from the job in times of great need.

There's no doubt that eLearning can be rolled out fast. The time required to roll out a new product globally can shrink from months to hours.



Sharing and managing knowledge throughout our company...was one of the keys to reducing our operating costs by more than $2 billion per year....

Kenneth T. Derr
Chevron Corporation


...learners ...can better understand the material, leading to a 60% faster learning curve, compared to instructor-led training. ... Whereas the average content retention rate for an instructor-led class is only 58%, the more intensive e-learning experience enhances the retention rate by 25-60%. Higher retention of the material puts a higher value on every dollar spent on training.

WR Hambrecht + Co



Motorola calculates that every $1 it spends on training translates to $30 in productivity gains within three years.

A recent study found that corporations that employed a workforce with a 10% higher-than-average educational attainment level enjoyed 8/6% higher-than-average productivity.

Computer-based training and online training can reduce training costs over instructor-led training. A congressionally mandated review of 47 comparisons of multimedia instruction with more conventional approaches to instruction found time savings of 30% improved achievement and cost savings of 30-40%.

Merrill Lynch,
The Book of Knowledge


Benefits of Online Learning Versus Classroom Training
Results measurement
Retention of information
Relative cost
Source: Click2Learn.com

What are the pitfalls?


Whenever the topic of bandwidth comes up, the phone company yowls about ?the last mile,? the flimsy wire bottleneck between their switching station and your house.

e-Learning providers also have a bottleneck, the last yard from the monitor into the learner?s brain. Without motivation, this final connection will never be made.

Professional training via CD-ROM flopped. Why? Because we took instructors and coaches out of the picture. The learning process breaks down when "untouched by human hands." A ringing phone interrupts a standalone learning exercise, and CD-ROM courses morph into shelfware.

Companies that adopt eLearning as a cost-cutting measure and provides no human support will not be successful. eLearning is not training by robot. Learners will live up (or down) to expectations.

Which of these two scenarios presents a better environment for learning? Assume your boss arranged for one of these two learning events for you:

instructor-led, off site


Before you leave, the boss calls you in, tells you this is important, and explains what he expects you to come home with.

You receive an email from personnel.

You fly away to the beach-side resort hotel where training will take place.

You study at home after work.

Your peers know you?re away for learning. (They have to take up the slack.)

No one even knows you?re taking part in training.

You return home, and everyone asks what you thought, what?s new, anything to share?

They still don?t know you?re taking a course.

You learn with members of your study group. After you and the guys finish your lessons, you hop out for a few brews and a game of pool.

You learn on your own.

You hang your certificate of completion on the wall. Or put the paperweight on your desk.

Another email from personnel.

It doesn?t have to be this way. Managers must go the extra mile to pat learners on the back, give them recognition, and encourage them to learn with their peers. eLearners are customers; they continually need to be sold.

Finally, eLearning is not for everyone. Some people simply will not learn outside of a classroom.

Learning to the desktop

This is one of those benefits that's better in theory than in practice. Learning complex subjects requires concentration. Most people's desks are less than optimal for learning (and often for working, too, but that's another matter).

Buddha was right. "When you do something, do it as if it were all that mattered." Get away from the phone. Shelter yourself from colleagues. Go to a learning cubicle. Put up a "Do Not Disturb" sign.

"Ah ha," Dilbert's pointy-haired boss would say. "I've got the solution -- take it all home." As if there aren't distractions aplenty at home. Feed the baby, watch the game, talk with the spouse, have a beer on the patio, or log in for learning? Besides, what message does the boss communicate about the value of learning if he expects people to do it on their own time?






No. Berwick, Scotland








Educational psychologist William Glasser claims we learn:

  • 10% of what we read
  • 20% of what we hear
  • 30% of what we see
  • 50% of what we see & hear
  • 70% of what we discuss with others
  • 80% of what we experience
  • 95% of what we teach someone else

Later today, I want you to teach someone all about eLearning, okay?


Hurdles to eLearning!

  • Quality and intensity of content
  • Availability of content
  • Habits, customs, and culture
  • Technology delivery -- bandwidth, etc.
  • Pricing models
  • Lack of digital collaboration models
  • Research gap: Does it work?
  • Calibration of expectations
Elliott Masie
eLearning Briefing
January 2000, Seattle

Certain content -- because of its nature, relative value, or importance -- is not suitable for technology-based delivery. While online training is especially well suited for the acquisition of IT skills, it has certain limitations in the arena of soft skills training. Other educational content that does not translate well into a virtual environment is material requiring significant hands-on application, with a strong emphasis on peer review and collaboration.

WR Hambrecht + Co

Update in mid-2002:

A horrific pitfall has turned out to be cajolling workers to participate. One third to one half of workers never register to take part. Half to three-quarters of those who start a program drop out before completing it. I've just completed a book on how to improve employee participation.


What are the trends?

Short term

Corporations increasingly outsource training to Learning Service Providers (think Application Service Provider + Learning).

Standards-based learning management systems assemble large-grain learning objects on the fly. (XML meets learning).

Learner relationship management mirrors customer relationship management.

ERP and CRM vendors replace learning management systems as learning is recognized as an enterprise application.


Longer term

"Intelligent" interfaces learn about the eLearner over time. (Apple's Knowledge Navigator finally arrives, only twenty years late.)

Learning becomes imbedded in work processes and equipment.

Economies of scale will development of "cool" learning using rich media, popular entertainers, and game interfaces.

Beyond eLearning




eLearning. Internet Time Group dropped the hyphen at the turn of the century.

Other worthwhile glossaries


Block, Howard, Bank of America Securities, The e-Bang Report, mid-1999

Beer, Valorie, The Web Learning Fieldbook, 2000

Brown, John Seely, and Duguid, Paul, The Social Life of Information, 2000

Bucher, John, Private Investment Group, Online Learning Industry Overview, 1999

Clark, Don, Time Capsule of Training and Learning

Clients of Internet Time Group, who've taught me more than they'll ever realize about real-life eLearning, particularly

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:53 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack




Building community is like gardening: you plant the seeds and pray something worthwhile happens. Fertilizer helps. Care is indispensable. But you can't force them to grow.

Well, duh.

Online Community Technologies and Concepts by Cameron Barrett

reputation management
content management
mail list management
document management
collaborative filtering

Internet Time Group on building community (dated)

Beyond One-to-One: The Power of Purposeful Communities, ArsDigita
Building an Online Community (book), ArsDigita

Learnativity on Building Community

Nine Timeless Design Strategies for Community Building (Amy Jo Kim)

Doblin Group's community bibliography

Joel Udell's Internet Groupware for Scientific Collaboration is a comprehensive guide to software for coordinating events, discussing issues, publishing findings, and making & distributing news.

These Sites Make Teams Work, Fast Company's comparison of five Web-based tools that are designed to help teams work better.

Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace by Rena M. Palloff and Keith Pratt
Distributed Learning Communities, CU Denver
Inhabiting the Virtual City, Judith Donath
The Nature of Nets, Doblin Group
Collaborative Strategies -- great case studies and astute analysis by SF consulting firm. groupware gurus.

Cafe Knowhow from The World Cafe (Juanita Brown)
Howard Rheingold handpaints his shoes,
group jazz hosts events

Electronic Learning Communities Research Group at Georgia Tech. (Amy Bruckman)
Sociable Media Group at MIT (Judith Donath)
Online Discussion Groups

Resources for Moderators and Facilitators of Online Discussion (Collins and Berge)

The Last Word: Where is the Future of Learning? by Nick van Dam, eLearning, November 2001

Yet, there are times when people need to see each other face-to-face for optimal learning. What are these?

Teambuilding—True teambuilding means being together—at the same place. Building trust, a sense of purpose, and commitment to outcomes requires an intimacy not possible through technology at this time.

Personal coaching—Feedback and coaching around performance issues is difficult, if not impossible, if the climate of trust and respect hasn’t been built in real-time, face-to-face.

Networking/Teaming—Getting a sense of an individual, exchanging thoughts and ideas, and crafting the invisible links that tie a network together require engaging the senses in the interaction.

Building culture—Organizational culture is built on a shared commitment to values. The shaping of these values to inspire and motivate performance need multiple face-to-face contacts with all involved—thinking, doing, acting, and reacting to embed the cultural values in each person.

The Invisible Key to Success, Fortune, Tom Stewart (1996)

Denham Grey's Knowledge Community has a great and growing selection of links on communities of practice, who's doing what, and who the players are. See also his Collaboration Tools (How can you have community without collaboration?)

Convergence is coming....

On-line Collaborative Learning Environments, a special issue of Journal of International Forum of Educational Technology & Society

Setting up a live eLearning session, a how-to by Bryan Chapman


Is "virtual community" just a Ponzi scheme?


Participating on The WeLL taught me more about community than anything since. They have a deal (until 3/31/01) where you can try it out for $2. Use me as your reference ([email protected]).


Wenger's Communities of Practice Home Page


Rheingold Associates


























Community Building on the Web
: Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities by Amy Jo Kim. ISBN: 0201874849 . $29.99. Check out the companion web site.

  Don't leave out the fun.  
Beware of generalities. Nothing is as simple as it seems.

The Social Life of Information

by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguit (2000).

Well-written argument that kontent is not king. The refuge of simplistic infocentric futurists: demassification, decentralization, denationalization, despacialization, disintermediation, and disaggregation.


Jay's notes on The Social Life


Communities of Practice:
The Organizational Frontier

Harvard Business Reivew, 1/1/00
by Etienne C. Wenger & William M. Snyder

A new organizational form is emerging in companies that run on knowledge: the community of practice. And for this expanding universe of companies, communities of practice promise to radically galvanize knowledge sharing, learning, and change. A community of practice is a group of people informally bound together by shared expertise and passion for a joint enterprise.

Communities of practice can drive strategy, generate new lines of business, solve problems, promote the spread of best practices, develop people's skills, and help companies recruit and retain talent. The paradox of such communities is that although they are self-organizing and thus resistant to supervision and interference, they do require specific managerial efforts to develop them and integrate them into an organization.

Fred Nichols on Communities of Practice (2000)

Nurturing Three Dimensional Communities of Practice: How to get the most out of human networks, Knowledge Management Review, Richard McDermott, PhD (1999)

Key Hypotheses in Supporting Communities of Practice by John Sharp (1997)


Peter Senge: "Knowledge generation really only occurs in teams, where people engage in doing meaningful work." Teams are task-oriented and fleeting; they don't last. As the teams dissolve, people go off and reform in other teams. But they keep those networks of relationships, and they maintain those community ties." The Fifth Discipline... "was really about team learning and not very much about organizational learning. It took all our experience with member companies to recognize that communities are the place where this knowledge moves into, gets tapped, accessed, diffused and shared. Knowledge is contextual; it comes in the context of doing work. We send people off to training, we educate them, we give them tools and ideas. But that's not really knowledge generation. The real question is what happens when people try to use their training?"

Learning Organization (but read the box at left)

Telepresence just has to be part of the secret of online community-building.

Dance of Change


Peter Henschel, in LiNEzine

The manager’s core work in this new economy is to create and support a work environment that nurtures continuous learning. Doing this well moves us closer to having an advantage in the never-ending search for talent.

By sheer force of habit, we often substitute training for real learning. Managers often think training leads to learning or, worse, that training is learning. But people do not really learn with classroom models of training that happen episodically. These models are only part of the picture. Asking for more training is definitely not enough—it isn’t even close. Seeing the answer as “more training” often obscures what’s really needed: lifelong, continuous learning in work and at work.

That is one reason why preserving the integrity of these informal communities is so important. The worst effects of downsizing and reengineering come from their complete disregard for communities of practice. The fact that training deals only with explicit knowledge, while the value is often in tacit knowledge, is another reason training can get at only part of what is understood to be effective. The other main limitation of traditional classroom training is that it is episodic and mostly relies on “push” (we want you to know this now) rather than “pull” (I need to know this now and am ready to learn it).

Another dimension to the community idea is seldom discussed, but critically important: Learning is powerfully driven by the critical link between learning and identity. We most often learn with and through others.

What we choose to learn depends on:

  1. Who we are
  2. Who we want to become
  3. Which communities we wish to join or remain part of.

So, not wanting to be like “them” can be enough to keep someone from learning. That fact seems to hold whether we are talking about company apprentices, high school gangs, or seasoned software engineers.

But it gets even more interesting: IRL studies, among others, have shown that as much as 70% of all organizational learning is informal. Everyday, informal learning is constant and everywhere. If this insight is true even in a bare majority of enterprises, why would we leave so much learning to sheer chance?

Posted by JonKatz on Tuesday October 03, @12:00PM

from the de-bunking-the-utopians dept.

Berkeley scholar Joseph Lockard (a doctoral candidate in English Literature) claims the idea of the virtual community is a Ponzi scheme, promoted by benighted utopians and elitists who equate access to the Net and the Web with social and democratic enlightenment. This myth has been virtually unchallenged for years, he says, and in a provocative and interesting essay called Progressive Politics, Electronic Individualism, and the Myth of Virtual Community, Lockard claims that it's nothing more than a bunch of hooey. Does anybody out there think virtual communities are real?

Lockard's essay scores more than once. He's right in going after the hype that has surrounded the idea of the virtual community for years now. The tech world is rich and elitist, and becomes more so daily. Apart from developments like open source, which has done much to try and make technology more inclusive (though very few people will ever be able to successfully program) there are few signs yet that the Net is re-vitalizing democracy, or that virtual communities are supplanting or improving upon real ones. online, we see little organized concern for the technologically-deprived, or worry about the inevitable social divisions created by classes of empowered and tech-deprived people. It's already obvious that people with access to computing and the Net will have enormous educational, social and business advantages over those who don't; the latter face menial, low-paying jobs all over the planet.

Lockard also accurately points out that the largest communities forming online are corporate, not individualistic, and their agenda is marketing, not community. He calls the very idea of a "virtual community" an oxymoron.

"Instead of real communities, cyber-communities sit in front of the [late but not lamented] Apple World opening screen that pictures a cluster of cartoon buildings which represent community functions (click on post office for e-mail, a store for online shopping, a pillared library for electronic encyclopedias, etc.)" Such software addresses only a desire for community, Lockard writes, not the real thing.

...Certainly there are bulletin boards and mailing lists -- from sex sites to San Francisco's WELL, from media-centric gatherings from pet rescue forums to AOL's Senior Net -- that have functioned for some time as very real communities that foster conversation and mutual understanding, spawn friendships, generate support for members in trouble. Topical, community oriented Websites -- everything from Camworld.com, Kuro5shin and myvideogames.com to Slashdot -- function as information or true cultural communities as well -- sometimes for idea-sharing, sometimes for material support and information.

The early cyber-gurus definitely got carried away by notions that everything would become virtual, a mistake now shared by all sorts of panicked businesses -- publishing comes to mind -- and starry-eyed utopians. Cyberspace is definitely a new kind of space, but there's as yet no reason to believe that it won't compliment or co-exist with the material kind. So far at least, virtual communities suggest a Middle Kingdom, existing somewhere in the middle between the utopian fantasies and Lockard's dismissive jeers.

Online people do make powerful connections and the virtual realm does permit us to share information (including software), research and commerce and and encounter all sorts of people in all kinds of places -- something that has never been possible before. But when the dust settles, and if the history of technology offers any clues, people will always hang out with their friends, get drunk. They'll still be logging off their computers to have sex, get married, fight with their parents, send their kids off to school and go to the movies, and seek out the company of human beings to meet human needs. The best virtual communities have always complimented that need, not supplanted it.


Corporate Culture in Internet Time

By Art Kleiner

Anyone who has tried to create a culture knows it can't be done on Internet time. Cultures aren't designed. They simmer; they fester; they brew continually, evolving their particular temperament as people learn what kind of behavior works or doesn't work in the particular company. The most critical factor in building a culture is the behavior of corporate leaders, who set examples for everyone else (by what they do, not what they say). From this perspective, the core problem faced by most e-commerce companies is not a lack of culture; it's too much culture. They already have two significant cultures at play - one of hype and one of craft.

...during most of the 20th century, as companies matured into mainstream corporations, other cultures - those of finance, labor relations, marketing and managerial bureaucracy - eclipsed and overwhelmed the cultures of hype and craft.

It is currently fashionable to say that the old, tightly knit mentoring relationships of bricks-and-mortar companies are dead, that individuals are now responsible for their own development and career growth. Unfortunately, this view is not sustainable; there are too many risks, even in a high-growth economy, and too much human waste. The task of developing people will move away from companies, since they are not stable enough; it will move to the team level. In other words, if success depends on building a new "culture," that effort will have a lot more effect at the team level than on any company-wide level. It's reasonable to expect, in the turbulent e-commerce business environment, that companies won't necessarily evolve intact cultures. But teams do; as one e-commerce veteran puts it, they're "islands of stability in a place where nothing else is stable."

Ultimately, I suggested to Jane, all the organizational-learning techniques in the world wouldn't do her any good unless she were willing to go to her bosses, the startup's founders, and say something like this:

"If you let me build my own team, and choose and develop the people, I'm willing to take on [name of tough, challenging project here]. But I want to take our own development seriously. I want to try some new ways of organizing the work, regularly evaluate them, and try to learn how to manage ourselves in this new territory. After a few months, we'll come back together and see what we've accomplished, and which of those innovations might apply to the other teams around here. But it will only work if you give our team enough autonomy to learn from our experiments."
   Rules for building a game community jay @ 17-May-00

12 Principles for Designing an Online Gaming Community

  • Define the community's purpose
  • Create distinct gathering spaces
  • Provide rich communications
  • Implement a rankings ladder
  • Evolve member profiles over time
  • Provide online hosting and support
  • Offer guidance to new members
  • Provide a growth path
  • Support member-created subgroups
  • Anticipate disputes
  • Hold regularly scheduled events
  • Acknowledge the passing of time


   Intensional, personal networks jay @ 01-May-00

It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know: Work in the Information Age
First Monday, 5/2000

"It's not what you know, but who you know," could, paradoxically, be the motto for the Information Age. We discuss the emergence of personal social networks as the main form of social organization in the workplace.

NetWORK is our term for the work of establishing and managing personal relationships. These relationships can involve a rich variety of people including customers, clients, colleagues, vendors, outsourced service providers, venture capitalists, alliance partners in other companies, strategic peers, experts such as legal and human relations staff, and contractors, consultants, and temporary workers. These are fundamental business relationships in today's economy. As we have noted, studies that focus on narrowly scoped "teams" miss the vital work that goes into relationships that enmesh workers in a much wider, more complex social framework.

To keep their network engines revved, workers constantly attend to three tasks:

  1. Building a network: Adding new nodes (people) to the network so that there are available resources when it is time to conduct joint work;
  2. Maintaining the network, where a central task is keeping in touch with extant nodes;
  3. Activating selected nodes at the time the work is to be done.

NetWORK is an ongoing process of keeping a personal network in good repair. In the words of one study participant, "Relationships are managed and fed over time, much as plants are."

The reduction of corporate infrastructure means that instead of reliance on an organizational backbone to access resources via fixed roles, today's workers increasingly access resources through personal relationships. Rather than being embraced by and inducted into "communities of practice," workers meticulously build up personal networks, one contact at a time. Accounts of the "virtual" organization and organizations with flattened hierarchies have stressed the benefits of the streamlined, nimble, democratic workplace, responsive to contingency, empowering workers to make decisions quickly and independently. It seems however, that these transformed organizations also mean reduced institutional support, and that individual workers incur some of the costs associated with these corporate gains. In the Information Age, workers meet the challenges of diminishing organizational resources through who they know.

  from Feed's loop discussion on community, Crowd Control

It is this discussion that has captured the categories we use to analyze the social impact of the Internet. The Internet has been drafted to serve duty as yet more evidence of the disintegration of "community", etc. As is sadly always the case in American intellectual discourse, complex social and historical issues get reduced as quickly as possible to simplistic binary oppositions which exclude by definition all the really interesting choices and developments (a good analogy here is our reduction of the categories used to analyze sexual behavior to either promiscuity or monogamy).

I do not believe the internet is an effective facilitator of community. And this fact is largely irrelevant to how we judge its impact on society. Instead, what the internet facilitates is friendship, and it does this in a very 19th century way - through writing. The modern replacement for traditional community is a web of self-chosen relations that can now span the globe. In this respect we are recreating the relations that existed among scholars and humanists in Europe before the modern era, except that now it is no longer just the elite that have this opportunity.

The development of friendship in this manner is I believe a very good alternative to traditional community, which, for all the "meaning" it bestows on life, is more often than not coercive, intolerant and closed-off. I see the disappearance of the one and the ascent of the other as a good thing, not something to lament. (Most of the intellectuals today whining about community would never put up with one in reality for a second, since they would never assent to the restrictions on their personal freedom that communities traditional require).

Participation Inequality from Jakob Nielsen

A major reason why user-contributed content rarely turns into a true community is that all aspects of Internet use are characterized by severe participation inequality (a term I have from Will Hill of AT&T Laboratories). A few users contribute the overwhelming majority of the content, while most users either post very rarely or not at all. Unfortunately, those people who have nothing better to do than post on the Internet all day long are rarely the ones who have the most insights. In other words, it is inherent in the nature of the Internet that any unedited stream of user-contributed content will be dominated by uninteresting material.

The key problem is the unedited nature of most user-contributed content. Any useful postings drown in the mass of "me too" and flame wars. The obvious solution is to introduce editing, filtering, or other ways of prioritizing user-contributed content. One idea is to pick a few of the best reader comments and make them prominent by posting them directly on the primary page, while other reader comments languish on a secondary page. It is also possible to promote the most interesting postings based on a vote by other readers who could click "good stuff" or "bozo" buttons.

  Collaboration is a lot more than communication and will eventually split off into a separate topic. See Internet Groupware for Scientific Collaboration.  



Value discipline

Where it shines

Source of shareholder value

Global focus

End stage


Discontinuous innovation

Early market

Infectious charisma

Shared vision



Product leadership

Early, bowling alley, tornado

Pierce competitiveness

Measurement & compensation

Caste systems


Operational excellence

Tornado, Main Street

Relentless improvement

Business Planning



Customer intimacy

Bowling alley, Main Street

Perceptive adaptation

Customer focus


From Clock of the Long Now


The Learning HIstory Project is a combination of story telling and corporate culture. Very much in tune with the work we did at Oral History Associates.


Posted by Jay Cross at 10:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


American Society for Training and Development

Our report on ASTD 2001

ASTD TechKnowledge, Las Vegas 2/2002

The Masie Center
Conferences for eLearning managers, executives, vendors and more. Each fall, everyone comes to Orlando for TechLearn. Hosted by larger-than-life Elliott Masie. Owned by Advanstar.

TechLearn 2002

TechLearn 2001 & low-bandwidth version

TechLearn 2000

Warning: My notes mix facts with opinion.


VNU Business Media (formerly Lakewood Publications)

Online Learning 2002

Training 2001, Atlanta, 3/2001 (photos)

Onlilne Learning 2001

Online Learning 2000

Online Learning 99

Online Learning 98


Defcon 8

Web 99

Online Educa, Berlin, 11/2001

Online Social Networks 2001 4/2001[virutal]

eLearn Expo, Paris, 2/2001

eLearning Think Tank, Silicon Valley World Internet Center

Brains on Deck -- Human Capital 3/2001

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Emergent Learning Chief Learning Officer (2004), Before the World Trade Center attack, the world was more predictable. Knowledge was power. Adaptability has now taken its place. Our requirements have changed. Corporations and government agencies are on permanent alert. Networks have taken the slack out of the system. Timing is the critical variable. The performance metrics for troops on a plane headed to a new hot spot and for systems engineers countering a new competitive threat are the same: How soon will they be ready to perform?

Personal Intellectual Capital Management Chief Learning Officer (2004), Ultimately, you’re responsible for the life you lead. It’s up to you to learn what you need to succeed. That makes you responsible for your own knowledge management, learning architecture, instructional design and evaluation.

Connections: The Impact of Schooling Chief Learning Officer (2003), "Your 16-year-old daughter says she’s going to take sex education at school and you’re relieved, but she tells you she plans to participate in sex training and you’re unnerved. Why? Because outside of education, you learn by doing things."

Informal Learning: A Sound Investment Chief Learning Officer (2003). "Workers who know more get the most accomplished. People who are well connected make greater contributions. The workers who create the most value are those who know the right people, the right stuff, and the right things to do."

Blogging for Business Learning Circuits (2003). "Four million people write blogs, and blogging is growing faster than the web at its high point. A customer blog enables a company to make announcements to its Web customers immediately. All customers can benefit from a question asked by only one. The intimacy in blog culture conversation enables customers to get to know workers-and vice-versa. Affiliation breeds loyalty. Customers begin to talk among themselves. A typo that would be an embarrassment in an advertisement becomes a sign of authenticity on a blog."

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.

How E-Learning Professionals Learn About E-Learning Most of the respondents said that they place a higher value on information from individuals: friends, fellow bloggers, authors, and people who send them email or that they meet at conference. As a group, they didn’t put much stock in information from organizations: suppliers, magazines, and conference sessions.

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."

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."

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Collaboration Supercharges Performance, ASTD International. Macromedia Breeze. Covers blogs, RSS, information overload, complexity, time acceleration, network models, value of collaboration, Emergent Learning Forum, social network software, and more.

Vision for Emergent Learning Forum, Macromedia Breeze, 15 minutes.

Trends in Collaborative Learning (Macromedia Breeze)
Keynote presentation for Collaborative Learning '04

Implementing eLearning, (Webex)
Presentation by Lance Dublin & Jay Cross, October 8, 2003. More than 350 people attended the live presentation.

Writing the Next Chapter of eLearning (Macromedia Breeze)
slides from Interwise webinar with Boston eLearning Association, July 2003. No sound.

Blogs (Macromedia Breeze)
very short, from Interwise webinar with Boston eLearning Association, July 2003

A Pocketful of Memes (Macromedia Breeze)
Jay's Keynote at I-KNOW 03 in Graz, Austria. July 2003

Silicon Valley, The DNA of a Community of Practice (Macromedia Breeze)
Jay's presentation to a group of Canadian eLearning Entrepreneurs, April 2003

Envisioning eLearning (streaming, Impatica)
Jay's presentation at Online Educa in Berlin, November 2002

Some Difficulties with ROI (streaming, Impatica)
Jay's presentation at Online Educa in Berlin, November 2002

Implementing eLearning (Windows Media streaming video)
Jay and Lance's presentation at TechLearn 2002, November 2002

The State of eLearning (streaming, Impatica)
Jay's lecture at SF State University, October 2002.

eLearning is not Important (streaming, Icohere)
Jay's presentation for Collaborative Learning 2002, November 2002.

Feel free to download or quote these so long as you credit internettime.com as your source.

I speak frequently to groups of every size and composition on every topic you find in my blog and some you won't. I'd be happy to come speak to your group, meeting, or conference. I'm quite comfortable giving one-hour keynote style speeches, conducting panels, or moderating group discussions. I'll entertain discounts and fee waivers for non-profits, educational groups, community groups, or conferences with significant exposure.


Posted by Jay Cross at 01:10 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Metrics & ROI

Four years ago I attended a how-to-ROI presentation at a major eLearning event and found it so misleading that I began writing about how companies really evaluate project potential and after-the-fact results.

Recently I've noticed ROI Workshops popping up. Spend a couple of days and the better part of a thousand dollars. Get a certificate. Such a deal. Unfortunately, neither the workshops nor the conference presentations cover the things I deem important:

  • Metrics are in the eye of the beholder. They are not simply the application of a rote formula or accounting rule. They are subject to interpretation. This is what makes them worthy of discussion.
  • The internal customer for metrics is your sponsor, also known as the person who pays the bills. When you talk with an executive, you need to talk about execution, not training.
  • The only valid metrics for corporate learning are business metrics. To converse in business terms, it helps to be fluent with the concepts of trade-offs, risk assessment, expected value, focusing on core, changing perspective, the 80/20 rule, and the bottom line.
  • Business goals. Strategic initiatives. Quarterly objectives. New product introductions. Figure out what matters in your organization. Then show the connection between what you do and what matters. It will make you an insider instead of an outcast.
  • Kirkpatrick's four levels are a history lesson, not a guide to action. Imagine telling your sales manager that the sales force was well prepared ("Levels 1 & 2") but simply hadn't sold anything ("Levels 3 & 4"). Good luck in your next job.
  • Most of a company's value resides in the know-how and relationships of its people. Traditional accounting assigns these intangibles a value of zero. Hence, traditional ROI has little credibility with enlightened executives.

Rather than update my various white papers and articles, I have consolidated my thoughts into a single one hundred-page eBook called Metrics. Check it out.

Power Shift

eLearning infrastructure decisions are climbing up the corporate ladder. A few years ago, eLearning was pigeonholed as a cheaper, faster way to train employees. By default, eLearning decisions fell to the director of training or HR.

Now, functional managers are using eLearning to meet business objectives. Managers look beyond employees to customers, suppliers, and distribution channels -- everyone benefits from seeding eLearning throughout the value chain. This is where we are now, with eLearning decisions seesawing back and forth between can-do functional managers anxious to get on with it, and CIOs/CLOs who want to go the next step to enterprise solutions. Still rare but perhaps the next step in this evolution is the CEO who looks at eLearning as a competitive weapon, the way to create a nimble organization, improve customer service, move quickly, and stay ahead of the pack.


January 10, 2003. Those of you who've read my thoughts on ROI know that I believe cost/benefit analysis is manditory and most ROI calculations are utterly worthless. Thus, I was delighted to come upon Enough Already! Getting Off the ROI Bandwagon by Kevin Kruse (mistakenly identified as Kevin Kenexa) in the current issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine.

Kevin writes that:

    First came the articles, then the books, and now I see that an entire conference is devoted to the ROI of training. Obviously we're seeing a backlash against the orgy of IT spending of the late 1990s, and against e-learning initiatives that fell short of expectations. Personally, I think it's all hype, and I've had enough.

    First, many senior executives don't care about ROI. In Jack Welch's book, "Straight From the Gut," he tells of his decision to invest millions in GE's new Crotonville training facility, even while undertaking massive layoffs. He didn't have an ROI spreadsheet to tell him training was a good investment; he just knew that investing in talent was critical to GE's future.

    Second, ROI is an imperfect science that often involves making educated guesses at potential savings and gains. Senior executives know this, and they also know that there are many variables that can't be captured by a formula.

    Third, ROI guesstimates are often a cop-out for tougher measurements of results. How about measuring employee engagement scores before and after management training, or doing pilot studies of sales training programs that measure closing ratios and time-to-close?

Systems Changes

Traditional ROI has suckered corporations into evaluating learning initiatives on a project-by-project basis, and this has lead to supporting each new approach as if it existed in isolation. The Meta-Learning Lab is developing ways to improve the overall learning process.

Take the old cliché of "Give a man to fish and he won't be hungry today. Teach a man to fish and he will never be hungry again." (Excuse the sexism; this dates back several thousand years.) The Meta-Learning Lab's goal is to teach fishermen how to improve their catch.

Scientific rigor: The Baloney Detection Kit

How to draw boundaries between science and pseudoscience, or between useful metrics and pure hype. From Scientific American

1. How reliable is the source of the claim?
2. Does this source often make similar claims?
3. Have the claims been verified by another source?
4. How does the claim fit with what we know about how the world works?
5. Has anyone gone out of the way to disprove the claim, or has only supportive evidence been sought?

6. Does the preponderance of evidence point to the claimant's conclusion or to a different one?
7. Is the claimant employing the accepted rules of reason and tools of research, or have these been abandoned in favor of others that lead to the desired conclusion?
8. Is the claimant providing an explanation for the observed phenomena or merely denying the existing explanation?
9. If the claimant proffers a new explanation, does it account for as many phenomena as the old explanation did?
10. Do the claimant's personal beliefs and biases drive the conclusions, or vice versa?

"Clearly, there are no foolproof methods of detecting baloney or drawing the boundary between science and pseudoscience. Yet there is a solution: science deals in fuzzy fractions of certainties and uncertainties, where evolution and big bang cosmology may be assigned a 0.9 probability of being true, and creationism and UFOs a 0.1 probability of being true. In between are borderland claims: we might assign superstring theory a 0.7 and cryonics a 0.2. In all cases, we remain open-minded and flexible, willing to reconsider our assessments as new evidence arises. This is, undeniably, what makes science so fleeting and frustrating to many people; it is, at the same time, what makes science the most glorious product of the human mind."

Corporate Learning Strategies by Dan Tobin. "If you start and end all of your learning efforts by focusing on your organization's goals, you will never be asked to do an ROI analysis to justify your budget."


There's no cookbook approach to measuring the ROI of training. Fred Nichols is so right about this.
Because the definition and perception of value varies from person to person, so do the purposes of evaluation. Moreover, the various audiences for evaluation frequently act as their own evaluators. If you look carefully about you, or if you reflect upon your own experiences as a "trainee," you will quickly discover that training is being evaluated every day, but by trainees, managers, and executives -- and in accordance with their criteria and purposes.


Technology-enabled learning creates value by speeding things up. Business-school professors compare making big corporate changes to turning around the Queen Mary. Turn the rudder and in a few miles, the ship changes course. These days, organizations that lack the agility to turn on a dime can only go about as far as the Queen Mary (which is moored in cement alongside a pier in Long Beach, California.)

A Fortune 50 company used eLearning, knowledge management, and collaboration to bring new-hire sales people up to speed in six months instead of fifteen. Nine months x 1400 new hires/year x $5 million quota = $5 billion incremental revenue. To be sure, better products, sales campaigns, and a host of factors contributed to the gain but a tiny faction of $5 billion still yields a significant ROI. (Here are the details: New-hire training at Sun Microsystems.)

Ten thousand consultants at a Fortune 100 technical services company earned professional certifications via eLearning. The result? Less attrition, better esprit de corps, and $100 million revenue/year attributable to higher billing rates.

A software firm launches a new system into a $250 million global market with eLearning and virtual meetings. This accelerates time-to-market by two months, gives them first-mover advantage over a major competitor, builds a more confident and enthusiastic sales force, and gets the channel up to speed at the same time as the direct sales force. Gain? $80 to $100 million incremental revenue.

A very large retailer of personal computers realizes that customers are frustrated with their products because they don?t understand the software that accompanies them. The company offers customers free admission to an online learning community created by SmartForce. More than 100,000 customers sign up to learn Windows, Word, and Office apps online. Value of increased customer loyalty? Conservatively, $20 million in repeat business over three years.

Often an e-Learning initiative pays for itself right off the bat by eliminating travel and facility costs, but that misses the point, because in comparison, upside gains dwarf cost savings.

The eLearning Emperor Has No Clothes

Go to any major conference for trainers and you'll find many sessions on evaluating results and measuring performance. If you're a line manager with no training background, you will at first be confused when participants make statements like, "We evaluate 100% at Level 1, 80% and Level 2, and 40% at Level 3. We're going to shoot for some Level 4 next year."

The "levels" come from a taxonomy developed by a budding academic, Donald Kirkpatrick, as his Pd. D. thesis more than forty years ago. Level 1 evaluates trainee reaction (generally via evaluation forms derisively known as "smile sheets.") Level 2 checks retention (can they pass the test?) Level 3 looks at whether theydo what they were trained for. Level 4 is whether the learning creates meaningful results for the organization.

Picture this. A national sales manager is reviewing quarterly sales performance with his boss. He tells her the new sales trainees scored 95% on Level 1, 82% on Level 2, and 9% on Level 3. Unfortunately, Level 4 improvement was infinitesimal. So the sales force loved the sales training, the majority passed the test, and nearly four out of five could demonstrate great sales behavior in a role-play. The only trouble is Levels 3 & 4: they aren't selling. How long would the sales manager keep her job? In business, Level 4 is, in fact, the only thing that matters. No wonder senior managers question the value of training.

The only valid measure of training is business metrics, not training metrics.

As the Godfather said, "This is business." If you can't see a benefit, don't do it.

Jack Zigon's list of performance measurement sites

Excerpt from Ed Trolley's Running Training Like a Business

Evaluating e-Learning by Dorman Woodall

Jay's notes on making the business case, new ROI challenges

The trouble with the "four levels" is that they falter when they go outside of the limited context of training. What happens outside the box is what counts inside the box. See Measuring Training ROI & Impact (1999). You can guess how I see this.

The Evolution of Management Accounting by Robert S. Kaplan

BNH on ROI. Their software models simlify complex ROI calculations.

Discussion group: ROInet

The Business Case website

The Fallacy of ROI Calculations

Measuring the Success of Training

Baruch Lev

Measuring the ROI of Training, CIO

Economic Value Added (EVA)


Learning at home

Training magazine, the March 2000 issue: Train on your own time, not "during work."

Sure, moving training from the classroom to the Web can mean reduced travel costs, less learning time away from the job, and certainly lower delivery costs. But most corporate training doesn't require travel, says Paul Reali, president of CyberSkills Computer Training Centers in Winston Salem, NC. And, he points out, no valid study has yet shown that online delivery significantly reduces learning time - actual time spent mastering a skill or acquiring knowledge-compared with instructor-led training of similar quality.

"No one wants to tell you that the 'anytime' of online learning is supposed to be after work and that the 'anyplace' is at home," he says.

Another reason: Despite yellow crime-scene tape barriers and "do not disturb" signs, the cubicle is a tough place to have a quality learning experience. And it's almost impossible to reserve the necessary time and concentration without broad organizational support--and the backing of trainees' immediate managers for regular learning time-outs.

This is so true and so short-sighted.
Posted by Jay Cross at 01:05 AM | Comments (1)


Acronyms. You'll need to know many of these to keep up with Workflow-Based Learning.
  • BAM Business Activity Modeling
  • BI Business Intelligence
  • BPM Business Process Modeling
  • CA Customer Analytics
  • Collaborative Web Conferencing
  • CPM Corporate Performance Management
  • CRM Customer Relationship Management
  • ECM Enterprise Collaboration
  • ECM Enterprise Content Management
  • ERM Employee Relationship Management
  • ERM Enterprise Resource Management
  • EM Expertise Mining
  • HCM Human Capital Management
  • IM Instant Messaging
  • LCMS Learning Content Management System
  • LMS Learning Management System
  • PA Presence Awareness
  • PDM Product Data Management
  • PLM Product Lifecycle Management
  • SCM Supply Chain Management
  • SFA Sales Force Automation
  • SKM Structured Knowledge Management System
  • UKM Unstructured Knowledge Management
  • WFA Workforce Analytics
  • WFM WorkForce Management
  • WFO WorkForce Optimization
  • WM Worldflow Management

ADL. Advanced Distributed Learning, an initiative originally established by the U.S. Department of Defense and now a collaboration between government, industry, and academia. The purpose of the ADL is to ensure access to high-quality education and training materials that can be tailored to individual learner needs and made available whenever and wherever they are required. The ADL maintains a set of guidelines under the acronym SCORM to accomplish their purpose.

AICC. Aviation Industry CBT Committee. The granddaddy of standards bodies. Originally formered to set guidelines for the aviation industry, AICC concepts are the foundation for subsequent work by ADL, IMS, and others.

Andragogy. Word coined by Malcolm Knowles to describe how adults learn -- which is different from how children learn ("pedagogy"). I'm beginning to suspect pedagogy denigrates children and that andra is the gogy to go with for all. Main points are:

  1. What's in it for me?
  2. Let me decide how I'll learn it.
  3. Where does this fit in relation to the other stuff I know?
  4. Sell me on learning this.
  5. Remove the obstacles from my path, please.

Asynchronous. [pretentious] Any time you like, e.g. watching a rerun on your VCR.

Bandwidth is a description of how much information can squeeze through a data pipe. Your intranet has high bandwidth; your dial-up connection is low bandwidth. Also used anthropomorphically, e.g. "He has low bandwidth" is equivalent to "He is a taco short of a combo plate" or "Her elevator doesn't go all the way to the top."

Bipolar thinking. The tendency to see everything in black and white when faced with shades of gray.

Blended. Current rage in eLearning circles. Means using more than one learning medium, generally adding an instructor component to web-based training. Duh! Blended is only a revelation for people who had been trying to do everything with just one tool – the computer. Classroom teachers having been blending various means of learning – lecture, discussion, practice, reading, projects, and writing, for example -- for eons.

Blog. An easily updated personal website, generally updated daily and expressing. See About Blogs or look at a sample.

Blog digest, blogathy, blogerati, blogger bash, blogger ecosystem, bloggeral, blogoverse, blogistan, blognoscenti, blogapottamus, blogorrhea, blogosphere, blogroach, blogroll, blogspot, blogstipation, blogule, blurker. See Blog Vocabulary.

Boiling the ocean. Trying to cure all problems at once, often with a single tool.

Broadband. Unscientific term for sufficient bandwidth to receive streaming video and sound. Usually refers to bandwidth equal to or greater than DSL or Cable Modem speed.

Career Limiting Move. It refers to any incident that puts a roadblock in your career path. "Jack spilled coffee on the boss. It was a major CLM."

Caution: Learning isms ahead.

  • Behaviorism. Show me. If you can't show me a change in behavior, nothing was learned. A vital aspect of rat-maze psychology.
  • Cognitivism. It's all in your head. Cogito ergo sum = I think, therefore I am. Unlike Behaviorism, I don't have to show you.
  • Constructivism. Learning is what changes your current worldview. It builds on what you already think you know. A teacher who knows where you're coming from has a better shot at positioning new learning to have impact.

Certification. Pass the test, get a certificate. This started with technical subjects, e.g. Certified Novell Engineer and Microsoft Certified Professionals. Cisco offers a progression of certificates that reminds one of the ranks in Boy Scouts. Since there's no authority legitimizing the certifications, expect a continuing proliferation of these things. Certifications simplify hiring decisions; on the downside, they encourage "studying to the test." For $500, I can get you an Certified Internet Time Professional ranking.

Chat. Real-time communication, text or voice. Generally, messages disappear when the session's over. Otherwise, you're probably having a discussion.

c-learning. Classroom learning. Used to be just "learning," but now we need to differentiate c-learning from eLearning.

Collaborative filtering. Example: Amazon tells me that other people who like the books I like are buying a particular book.

Community. A group of people united by a common purpose who share information and knowledge with one another.

Community of Practice. An informal group that shares values, perspectives, and ways of doing things. The motivation to learn is the deisre to participate in a "community of practice."

Complexity. It's a nonlinear, interconnected world and you will never figure it out. Shit happens.

Content. What's being learned, information. If it doesn't cause change, it's not information. The challenge is how to get the right content to right person, at the right time. This involves media choice (e.g., paper versus on-screen), speed, delivery cost, relevance, learner motivation, and other factors.

Context. The environment of content. Who's talking? When? Why? Content and context are like inside and outside: you can't have one without the other.

Content management system (CMS). A CMS supports the creation, management, distribution, publishing, and discovery of content from cradle to grave. A CMS helps users find what they're looking for. It also separates content from presentation. See StepTwo Designs.

Course. Rigid unit of learning, generally expressed in days and 'led' by an instructor. Opposite: 'Just enough.'

Dead-tree media. Paper-based publications.

Dynamic information. 'Real time.' Current, up to the second. Instead of reading pages prepared in advance, the pages are assembled on the fly, incorporating current information and taking into account current needs.

eLearning. Also e-Learning. Best practices for learning in the new economy, implying but not requiring benefits of networking and computers such as anywhere/anytime delivery, learning objects, and personalization. Learning on Internet time. Often includes ILT.

Explicit knowledge. Knowledge that's easy to communicate. (Opposite of "tacit knowledge.")

Gap analysis. Figure out what to do by assessing the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Most people then begin building from the present into the future. We favor looking at the step right before the ultimate one and backing toward the present one step at a time.

Hitnosis. Obsessively checking your web counter to see if the number has changed.

ILT. Instructor-led training, generally a workshop.

IMS - A standards body developing and promoting open specifications for facilitating online distributed learning. Its traditional emphasis surrounded meta-tagging specifications

Informal/formal learning. Formal learning is a class, a seminar, a self-study course -- everyone recognizes it as learning. Informal learning is over the water cooler, at the poker game, asking the guy in the next cube to help out, collaborative problem solving, watching an expert, or sharing a terminal for eLearning. More than half of corporate learning is the informal kind.

Instructional design. A systems approach to designing a learning experience. Heavily promoted by DoD investment, formal instructional design is currently under attack for fostering slow development, a printed-paper mindset, and insufficient attention to informal learning.

Internet time. The accelerated timeframe of the new economy brought on by eBusiness and the Internet. A year of Internet time may equal seven years of calendar time. Or more. Or less.

Intangible. Something that cannot be perceived by the senses. Accountants and financial types only grudgingly concede that some intangibles have value, and they find it in things like brand names and patents. Because you can't immediately sense a person's capability, a customer's loyalty, or a relationship with a supplier, accountants say these things have to value.

Job aid. Cheat sheet. Checklist. Process map. Generally, a piece of paper that helps you do your job.

Just-in-time learning. Getting the right knowledge to the right person at the right time.

K Log. Knowledge blog. A euphemism used by corporate types who don't want to be typecast as mere social bloggers.

Kittyblogger. A person who uses their blog to write about their cats or equally interesting topics.

Knowledge Management (KM). Whatever you want it to mean.

Learner-centric. Organize things for the good of the learner, not the instructor and not the institution. The core tenet of eLearning.

Learning. To gain knowledge or information of; to ascertain by inquiry, study, or investigation; to acquire understanding of, or skill; as, to learn the way; to learn a lesson; to learn dancing; to learn to skate; to learn the violin; to learn the truth about something.

LMS or Learning management system. eLearning infrastructure. At the simplest level, a tracking system. LMS's range from simple course-by-course registration systems to humongous, real-time databases that deal with personalization, learning prescriptions, job competencies, and parsing learning objects.

LCMS. Learning content management system. An LCMS is a multi-user environment where learning developers can create, store, reuse, manage, and deliver digital learning content from a central object repository.

Learning object. A machine-addressible "chunk" of learning. When labeled with metadata, an eLearning system can mix and match learning objects to create individualized learning experiences. Controversy swirls around the question, "How large is a chunk?" A course is too large -- that's yesterday's object. A couple of sentences is too small -- you would lose the context that provides meaning. Think five or ten minutes.

Learning service provider. Delivers eLearning - including learning management -- over the Internet. A learning ASP. Focus in-house IT on core processes; outsource eLearning to an LSP.

LOMBARD. Lots Of Money But A Real Dickhead. Coined by The Economist. Sometimes applied to vulture capitalists.

Low-hanging fruit: In an apple orchard, it’s the apples on the low branches. In business, it’s the easy sales to get. Problem: You run out of low-hanging fruit long before you become profitable.

. On the Web, a destination site that links to other worthy sources of information.

Meme. A self-replicating idea that propogates through people and networks, much like comptuer viruses. A thought-gene. Coined by Richard Dawkins.

Metadata. Information about information. Often, "metatags" that describe what's inside a chunk of learning. Generally machine-readable. Analogous to a barcode on an incoming shipment.

Meta-Learning. The process of learning. Learning to learn is a major component. See Meta-Learning Lab.

Meta-tags - Descriptive labels applied to media assets, pages, information objects and/or learning objects that describe the object so it can be managed more effectively. Machine-readable.

M-learning. Mobile learning. Learning delivered or augmented by an untethered device, for example by cell phone, WiFi PDA, wearable with headmounted display, or wireless tablet.

Moblog. Combination of "mobile" with "blog," moblogs are websites where people can post pictures taken with mobile phones in real time.

Nurnburg funnel. Source of the metaphor of training being akin to pouring knowledge into a person's head.

Ontology. The capstone of the Semantic Web. XML describes what the data is. RDF explains what the XML tag means in our context. An Ontology describes how all the pieces fit together.

Paradigm drag. When old thinking holds back new. From David Gelernter's Machine Beauty: Elegance and the Heart of Technology.

Peer to peer. When the PC is both client and server, able to swap resources directly with other PCs. Resources? Files, songs, videos, processor cycles, disk space. This wil be big for self-organizing teams.

Performance. The goal of learning. AKA productivity, results. It's relative to context. Decide what constitutes performance, then design the learning to support it.

Performance support. Learning imbedded in work. Microsoft's talking paperclip and 'Wizards' that guide users through applications are examples.

Permalink. A permanent marker or reference point to a certain document on the world wide web. Most commonly used for weblogs, news sites and newspapers. A permalink is denoted through the use of a symbol (pound sign, arrow, dot), date of content creation, the word permalink or image.

Personalization. Learning opportunities tailored to the learner's background, style, previous knowledge, etc. 'Mass customization' and '1:1 marketing' applied to learning. Results are saved time, accelerated learning, more wheat/less chaff, phenomenal performance gain.

Portal. 1. Synonyn for entry screen. Widely hyped 1998-1999 because anyone can imagine the utility of an in-house Yahoo. 2. Transactional portal. A front-end which lets you do as well as see things.

Problem. Sometimes, a way of blinding oneself to new opportunities. Dr David Cooperrider says “Once we describe something as a problem, we assume that we know what the ideal is - what should be - and we go in search of ways to close any ‘gaps’ - not to expand our knowledge or to build better ideals.”

Pronoia. The belief that the world is conspiring to make you happy and successful.

RDF - Resource Description Framework. A dictionary and thesaurus for XML tags that sits between XML and an ontology.

RLO - Reusable Learning Object. A discrete chunk of reusable learning that teaches one or more terminal objectives.

RSS - Real Simple Syndication, among other definitions. A format for syndicating blogs.

Search learning. When you learn from perusing Amazon, looking up topics on Google, or paging through business magazines on the airplane.

Semantic Web. Will enable computers to talk with one another. How we will address "the difference between information produced primarily for human consumption and that produced mainly for machines. At one end of the scale we have everything from the five-second TV commercial to poetry. At the other end we have databases, programs and sensor output. To date, the Web has developed most rapidly as a medium of documents for people rather than for data and information that can be processed automatically. The Semantic Web aims to make up for this." Tim Berners-Lee in Scientific American.

SCORM. Sharable Content Object Reference Model. Standards are very popular; that's why there are so many of them. SCORM is the Federal government's standard. It seeks to track and manage courseware developed by various authoring tools using a single system. The objective is to bring together diverse and disparate learning content and products to ensure reusability, accessibility, durability, and interoperability. Built on the work of AICC, IMS, the IEEE, and others. See www.adlnet.org for the latest. Coming under fire for narrow focus on self-directed learning as well as for military backing.

Shelf-life. Knowledge is perishable. Some suggest it be labeled with pull-dates, like cartons of milk. (And others point out that spoiled milk may have been put in the eLearning bottle to being with.)

SOAP - simple object access protocol. Describes how one application talks to a Web service and asks it to perform a task and return an answer. SOAP makes it possible to use Web services for transactions—say, credit card authorization or checking inventory in real-time and placing an order. See Web services.

Synchronous. [pretentious] Live event.

Tacit/explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is knowing how; it's impossible to transfer to it you in words. Explicit knowledge is the opposite -- you're reading it right now.

Technophilia. The belief that technology will solve all ills. Especially prevalent during the dot-com delusion, fostered by Wired magazine.

Timing. The first 90% of a development project takes 90% of the time. The remaining 10% also takes 90% of the time.

Training. An attempt to impose learning, often more at the convenience of the provider than the learner.

UDDI (universal description, discovery and integration) A virtual yellow pages for Web services that lets software discover what Web services are available and how to hook up to them. See Web services.

VOIP. Phonecalls over the Internet. When you conduct a meeting with Centra or Groove, people from all over the world can speak with one another with NO PHONE CHARGES. The technology is not yet out of the woods; unable to reach someone at Cisco last year, a colleague explained, "Oh, she's testing one of our VOIP phones. She never receives her calls."

Warchalking. Marking the location of open wi-fi connections to the net on the sidewalk or wall in chalk.

WSDL - Web services description language. If UDDI is a virtual yellow pages, WSDL is the little blurb associated with each entry that describes what kind of work the Web service can do—say, that it can give you access to a database of ZIP codes.

Web log. AKA blog. Try this one. "If journalism is the first draft of history, then blogging is sometimes the first draft of journalism...." says Ed Cone.

Web services. Standards that enable interoperability on applications on the net. Includes XML, SOAP, UDDI, and WSDL. More

Wireless learning. Tell me once again. If my cell phone craps out at random intervals, how will a wireless modem enable me to cut the cord?

Workflow Learning™Also, Workflow-based Learning™. Term coined by researcher Sam Adkins to describe the sort of learning the real-time extended enterprise requires. The merger of work and learning in Enterprise Application Integration. Seen Workflow Learning Institute. Term is trademarked by Internet Time Group.

XML. eXtensible Markup Language. Like HTML but more flexible because you can redefine tags to say whatever you want. Instead of <H1>, you might have <duration> or <invoice>. This enables computers to talk with one another without pesky human intervention.

For learning objects, XML is equivalent to the labels on cans at the supermarket -- it's lets you determine what's inside without opening the package. This enables an object-level Learning Management System to assemble strings of learning objects into personalized learning paths. See Web services.

YMMV. "Your mileage may vary." Recognition that your results may not be the same as mine. (Other things are never equal.)

Learning Circuits' eLearning Glossary

Cisco's eLearning Glossary 2001 (pdf)

Big Dog's Learning Glossary

Financial and Business Terms (New York Times)

Net Lingo

Wired's Encyclopedia of the New Economy

Accounting Glossary

eCommerce Glossary

Business 2.0 Glossary

Encyclopedia of Educational Terminology

Encyclopedia of Business Case Terms

Performance Deisgn Glossary (Geary Rummler)

Specialty Dictionaries

Library Spot


June 09, 2001

Jezebel's mirror has become The

Jezebel's mirror has become The Mirror Project. This site is great for reflection.

Posted by Jay Cross at 04:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack