"The Internet Goes to College: How Students are Living in the Future with Today's Technology" (September 15, 2002) reports on the findings of a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey of U.S. students at two-year and four-year public and private colleges and universities between March 2002 and June 2002. Some of the study's findings include:
-- 79% of college Internet users say the Internet has had a positive impact on their college academic experience.
-- 73% of college Internet users use it for research more than they use the library.
-- Nearly half of college Internet users email ideas to professors that they wouldn't dare say in class.
-- 56% believe that email has enhanced their relationship with professors.
The complete report is available on the Web.
Cisco's approach is not for everyone. They have more money and infrastructure and change than just about anyone else. At Online Learning, Cisco's Tom Kelly shared a list of lessons learned and they are universal. This is how you do it.
VNU has posted Tom's presentation on the web. With sound!
Jane Massey's report on Quality & eLearning. 82% of the 433 respondents are from the EU. All sorts of users evaluate quality along two dimensions:
15% rated eLearninging's overall quality to be poor. 46% rated it fair. In the EU private sector, 72% rated eLearning quality poor or fair. Less than 1% of the respondents rated eLearning excellent.
Related site: European Training Village/Cedefop (the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training)
Accenture Outlook Journal. Good articles on Human Performance.
Paper on Web Services from Element K
What is the optimal eLearning strategy? by Tony O'Driscoll
Several people approached me after my presentation to ask how to convince their bosses to invest in internal marketing. I suggested they point to the failure of programs at other organizations. Anecdotal research suggests that only half the workers invited to participate in eLearning ever show up. Half of those who start a program drop out before completing it. Problem is, anecdotes are not proof. To be persuasive, we need names and numbers. Examples with teeth.
It’s tough to get failure stories. Generally, they’re swept under the rug. In the old days, it would have been impossible to collect stories of projects that bombed. Things are different today.
Walking the Expo floor at Online Learning, I bumped into several dozen people who are working for different organizations than they were last year. I talked with a similar number of “consultants” with no consulting assignments or jobs which will disappear within the next six weeks. Ah, the secrets they know.
Do you have a story to share? Email me with the subject: F**ked eLearning. I promise complete anonymity. What's really going on in eLearning? Got any horror stories to share?
Handouts from many of the sessions at Online Learning 2002.
Clouds Over Anaheim
"Building Better Employees"
Grace does not seem taken by KnowledgeNet's demo.
Watch for news about these guys.
A pal from SmartForce days ends up where
my instructional design career began.
Looks a little confusing to me.
eLearning People ???
The shootouts are great for people who author
programs in less than three minutes.
Webtrends reports the following traffic at www.internettime.com Sunday through Friday of last week:
More people visited www.internettime.com than attended Online Learning. (Not that they spent as much time here.)
A new first: This blog was the most popular page on the site, just barely edging out the eLearning Jump Page.
This week's numbers are skewed because things are shifting to a new host.
On Wednesday morning, I dragged myself out of bed to listen to Vince Flanders and Jakob Nielsen critique webpages in what was falsely billed as "USABILITY WRESTLEMANIA."
Vince is author of Web Pages That Suck and a very funny fellow. (When Gloria met Vince and said, “Hi!”, Vince replied “Not since 1970.”) Jakob is a useability guru whose own site is visually dull because he refuses to use graphics.
Jakob and Vince gave two-minute reviews of websites. Live. We start with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Confusing. Activities and information buttons intermingled.
U.S. Airways. Let’s make a reservation. Unlike the DMV, you can tell where you are. Reservation is up front while most people would want to do research first. Which Hartford airport? The page would not work for the visually impaired, because the “Continue” button would have dropped off the right side of the screen. One of the Hartford choices is a private airport that U.S. Air does not fly to.
What are the three worst things designers do? Vince:
Vince’s best things people do.
Jakob pointed out these web sins:
Jakob’s “what people do well”
Too bad Vince and Jakob wouldn't wrestle or even argue. (Their websites praise one another.) Vince at least showed up with garish wrestling garb. I had hoped they'd dig into some eLearning pages, but I guess that's a bit much to hope for when the vendors in the Expo are footing part of the bill. Can't bite the hand that feeds and all that.
Blogging can be like eLearning the boss forces her subordinates to take home. Its 1 am; I am starved for sleep, but I want to turn you on to some photographs of this event over on Stephen's Web.
After three full days of jabbering with people about eLearning, I’ve had it with details and am reflecting on the bigger picture.
eLearning has outlived its usefulness.
Some people say I invented the term eLearning. I am CEO of eLearning Forum. But the word eLearning causes more trouble than it’s worth. Arguments over its definition divert our attention from performance improvement. If it gets the job done, who cares what it’s called? In several conversations, we banned the word eLearning. It pressured us to talk about outcomes rather than techniques.
Clark Aldrich responds that,
Its not the learning.
During our presentation this afternoon, Lance said that it’s not the “e” that’s important, it’s the learning. I interrupted, saying I disagreed. It’s not the learning that’s important. It’s the doing that’s important. If the learning doesn’t change behavior, it is irrelevant and of no interest.
Intermingling disparate eLearning is not always good.
Online learning comes in two distinct flavors, each with its own sense of urgency and political support.
Two years ago, the LMS question buyers asked was “Docent or Saba?” Everyone assumed that you had to have an LMS. Today the common wisdom is that you don’t need an LMS for learners outside the firewall, e.g. customers. Unless you’re certifying learner accomplishment, you may not need much of an LMS inside the firewall either. LMSs pass information up, in the form of reports; they don’t do much to improve the experience of the learner. At first this seemed natural. As Allison Rossett has said, “We switched from counting butts in seats to counting hits on websites.” If performance gains are the measure of success, why bother counting the intermediate steps?
The Vibe at the Expo
Traffic was okay, but then again there were not as many aisles as in previous years. Visitors appeared more sophisticated, armed with specific questions, and less gullible than before. Vendors fielded more clueless booth people (you used to be able to talk with the primary developer or CEO) and group presentations. Three rows of chairs, a canned pitch every 45 minutes, reminds me of geeky software shows. Customers with eLearning experience don't need to hear the old any time, any place story any more.
Attendance is down.
How many people are here? I’ve heard a variety of numbers. One semi-official tally says 4,000 participants. Subtracting vendors and freebies knocks this down to 3,000. A couple of people estimated 2,500 legitimate, paying participants. The numbers are down; the sophistication's up.
The eLearning marketplace is maturing more quickly than the shows. People spent more time in sessions and less in the Expo. I heard a number of complaints about presentations that were geared to newbies. Also, I heard complaints about too many sessions competing for too few slots.
“People love to learn but hate to be taught.”
VP Worldwide Training at Cisco
In the good old days, Cisco rolled out a new product every 4 days and acquired a new company every 15 days. Philosophy is central deployment, decentralized development. Four years ago, John Chambers decreed that Cisco would embrace eLearning. The train was leaving the station. Unfortunately, everyone took off in their separate rental cars.
Competence? Our industry has been lukewarm on competence for at least the last two decades.
eLearning is not just e-Training. At Cisco, it’s information, communication, collaboration, and training. It’s all about content. We care about whatever makes people effective. Don’t focus on how to put courses online; rather, figure out how to make people successful.
FELC – 24,000 sales people in the Field eLearning Connection
73% more productive
75% accelerate selling ability
Partner eLearning Connection
72% cut costs 50+%
74% accelerate my ability to sell by 50% or more
76% more satisfied by 50% or more
56% increase sales/revenue by 50% or more
73% are more productive on the job
These metrics are about business impact.
Mfg: 40% improvement in time to competence
Soon to introduce Customer eLearning Connection
Free now, probably for cost later on as a subscription, price rising as you go deeper.
IP Centric Multimedia Studio
$7.5 million four-studio video broadcast facility
40-50 live events/month
1000 online meetings/quarter
cheaper than teleconference
4-6 hours after an event, Chambers’ message is available anywhere in the world.
“Rich media works.” Cisco believes in the power of video. The nine-person video staff reports to Tom. There’s no chargeback for this. It’s corporate infrastructure.
· Cost avoidance
· Time efficiencies (which does not count opportunity cost of learners who learn in half the time)
Savings from eLearning last year = $133 million ($73 million in avoided costs, $60 million in time efficiencies.)
executive involvement (Chambers doesn’t just talk about it; he uses it.)
innovate + standardize
it’s all about content
Informal content not well supported in the marketplace
Gloria Gery blows my mind. She looks for all the world like an old-time schoolmarm and yet year after year, she comes up with an inspiring message.
This morning she said “We’ve engineered the supply chain to the fourth decimal. We’ve done the same in re-engineering our processes and customer relationships. Human Capital Management comes next.”
Gloria says that we can’t define eLearning as installing an LMS. We’re not about KM or documents or technology – What’s important is the performer, to be able to name that tune in one note, to perform in exemplary fashion. We have to understand the work that people do. Most of all we have to be able to sit in the learner’s chair, to find out how the work comes at them. For the call center, we shouldn’t model how things should go theoretically. (Gloria’s visited many a call center – and they are reminiscent of a Charlie Chaplin movie’s factory frenzy.) This feel for the context enables us to shift the responsibility for success to the situation.
On a recent visit, Gloria found call center reps who had to deal with a dozen software apps acquired from mergers, a nearly impossible task. They had to construct mental maps of complex processes just to function. We need to put the real truth into our training. We need to understand what really goes on. Courses are necessary but not sufficient. We must have a strategy. Architecture is a part of it. Courses are a part of it. But we must understand people, how they learn, how they collaborate, how inquiry teaches, how we learn from observing models, incremental development of understanding.
“I was born when White Out was a technological innovation. I remember when I first saw word-wrap; everybody came over to take a look. How young are you?” asked Gloria.
In addition to eLearning, think as well of automating the task, teaching, providing content, supporting processes, supporting collaboration.
Why should we have to live with error messages like “File sharing illegal error?” Look at the evolution TurboTax. Simplify, simplify. `
Repetition is the mother of impression.
What are the best strategy and tactics to accelerate performance improvement? Our job is to develop computer-mediated environments that fuse, integrate…
You need to look at examples – they’re on the web. You purpose is to enable performance, not to implement eLearning. If not us, who? We must partner with our business clients and make life better for people who are skilled.
Clark Aldrich described the state of eLearning. We’ve had the first high-school fling. It wasn’t the right person but we still want to do it again. There’s a greater need for honesty, smarter relationships, more accountability. The term blended has outlived its usefulness; what else is new? SCORM compliance is not testable. It’s supposed to mean something but it doesn’t. Let’s get real.
Sunny morning across from the Magic Kingdom.
My first session on Monday was a good one. Michael Allen showed an enticingly simple template-driven simulation. One situation: Mia leaves a message that her husband just died of cancer and she needs time off. Right away, learners are dealing with a serious situation that demands a response. As Mia’s boss, what do you do? Document? Refer Mia to Employee Assistance? Grant Mia bereavement leave? (Among other things, the audience referred Mia to the Employee Assistance Program. Red flag! That was premature.) This vignette was memorable, certainly more so than reading a manual from personnel. Instead of a book, we learned from a very human situation. Good design trumps fancy technology.
Stephen Downes, Senior Research Officer eLearning, National Research Council Canada, Institute for Information Technology.
Steve is the author of Stephen’s Web and a candid observer of the eLearning scene who’s even more skeptical about what’s going on than I. We met at a party at the Sheraton Anaheim that was wall-to-wall with Canadians; there had to be at least a hundred of them! (Eh!) Steve and I found common ground on the folly of LMS, the dire situation of copyright in the U.S., the role for global courseware, the wrong-headedness of “library” sales, the absurdity of standardized testing, and the extremism of us folk south of the border, among other things.
We’re going to try to blog Online Learning together. Steve is securing a wireless connection on the Expo floor. We’ll probably cross-post to one another’s blogs. Your questions and comments are not just welcome but encouraged. Give us some motivation to do this by responding to what you read here.
Post Script. It appears that Steve won't be attending sessions. Also, the first comment we received asked that we not work together on things:
Ted Lehne, Delta Airlines
Thomas Perham, Microsoft
Nanhi Singh, Nokia
Susan Johnson, Department of the Army, eArmy U
What’s your biggest challenge for 2003?
Alan May, Centra
VP, Strategic Alliances and Channels
[I remember meeting Alan his first week on the job at Elliott Masie's conference on the business of eLearning in Seattle. Centra had but seven employees at the time!]
Partnering is like marriage.
You must figure out where partnering fits as a company priority.
Most global organizations are marketing-challenged.
Treat any new partnership as a “serious experiment.”
Write a brief one-page letter of understanding.
Define specific action items, resource commitments, and target milestones.
Jane Massey gave an overview of the Euro market
Collective bargaining the rule. Big demographic shift – aging populations. They will have to work into old age – there’s not enough pension funding to stay afloat otherwise. (How do we train older workers?) Second and third wave countries joining the EU challenge literacy, integrating women into the workforce, and language training.
OECD PISA study has significant data on literacy, numeracy and scientific knowledge of young people. Each country fighting against leveling that comes with accreditation across borders. Recognition is vital, because credentials go hand in hand with jobs. Attemps to support mobility through transparency and mutual recognition – EUROPASS, ECT, Euro CV.
IT literacy is recognized as a basic skill. All schools have IT literacy requirements. European Computer Driving License is the baseline.
Understanding each of the five basic training systems models in Europe and their relationships to employment systems is essential to planning market entry. You need to understand employment systems, language, business culture, and training/ed systems. (Ed sys are: 1. Germany (dual), 2. NL/UK (NVQ approach), 3. France/Belge (bilan de competence, 4. Med 4, 5. Scan 4)
Bad to assume that you have it right and they have it wrong
The Supplier Summit (cont.)
Vendors are hungry for professional development. At 8:15 this morning, the
room is full of people listening intently to Clark Aldrich lecture from PowerPoints.
Clark listed questions holding back eLearning.
Only one industry has the same organizations in charge as 200 years ago.
Universities. And it’s because they’re not measured.
Technology Entrances for eLearning
It’s wrong to look only at the enterprise. How can you sell to an enterprise if you can’t sell it to the individual?
Globalization will not happen without eLearning; eLearning will not happed
without globalization. Clark foresees a global curriculum, a world where it’s
assumed that everyone has taken the foundation in business course.
The Summit is a day and a half of sessions for eLearning vendors that's taking place before Online Learning 2002 opens its doors. Frankly, my expectations were low going in but I found the evening a pleasant surprise. Many of the sixty in the room were friends and acquaintances.
Clark Aldrich opened with a hilarious "Top Ten List" of very short eLearning books. I'll share a few:
Daryl Conner took the high road with a keynote challenging vendors to gain competitive advantage by telling the truth. Not that vendors are the only ones who push "comfortable falsehoods" over "troublesome truths." Vendors and their customers engage in a folie a deux, colluding with one another in the illusions that everything's going to turn out just fine, longterm problems will sort themselves out, people will be supportive, and costs will be under budget.
The problem is that clients want change without risk. Vendors don't often realize it, but they are merchants of risk. The way that eLearning vendors can deliver on their promises is by taking the long-term view, not accepting business they can't deliver on, compensating sales-staff on value to the client as well as revenue, and refusing to go along with pie-in-the-sky optimism.
Next up, Clark questioned a panel -- IBM's Margaret Driscoll, Sun's Terry Erdle, Click2Learn's Kevin Oakes, and
SmartForce's Skillsoft's Paul Henry.
Paul Henry noted that eLearning is not on the executive agenda, and "As long as we're mudwrestling in the training/HR arena, we're not going to get very far."
Where should standards bodies focus? The interoperability focus (e.g. SCORM) and the Plug Fests to see how things really work are excellent. Things get contentious when we get to Learning Objects. Margaret noted the need for support of converting legacy material.
Kevin mentioned an article he wrote for the back page of the current issue of Training which asks "Is eLearning a real business yet?" I happened to read that very article this afternoon. He recalled fighting for new technology in a glum economic times decades ago -- and finally convincing headquarters to let his office have a fax machine. In the future we'll look back with a wry smile at the days when we questioned the merit of cataloging legacy knowledge and avoiding the perpetual reinvention of the wheels of intellecutal capital.
Tuesday evening I ambled down the hill to the Berkeley campus to attend Weblogs: Challenging Mass Media and Society, a discussion among a veritable who's who of blogdom -- Rebecca Blood, Meg Hourihan, Scott Rosenberg, Dan Gilmour, and J D Lasica.
Altamont? That’s what the GSJ was compared to when it announced a blog course. The rebels complained about being co-opted by the establishment.
Meg: The same reaction came up when we brought out Blogger. People asked why folks shouldn’t do this themselves.
J.D.: Fear among bloggers that journalism represents the mass media invading their turf.
How does this impact journalism?
J.D.: Readers too often feel out of it; blogs create participatory journalism. * * * Reporters need to do their own weblogs. Increases the reporter’s credibility. * * * Good reporting tool for reporters.
Scott: Journalists blogging? Well, they’re very busy people. (Dan: The beast must be fed.) It’s a format, not a movement. Whither editing? One of the attractions of blogging is the individualistic “nobody tells me what to do.” Journalism holds to standards of fairness and accuracy; more than one person’s eyes see the copy.
Rebecca: What standards apply to a journal’s blog? Personal blogs are lax on standards.
Dan posts directly but if he has the slightest doubt, he runs it by his editor first. “I don’t lose standards just because it’s going online.” His blog is less formal. Instead of three columns, Dan now does two – plus a column of blog entries. The normal publication dumps printed info on the web; the Merc is doing it the other way.
Are readers your editors?
Meg: A weblog is almost never done. A newspaper story is more a complete package.
Rebecca: You don’t have to do something as a performance piece to express your personality.
Is this just a fad?
Rebecca: Part of the reason people have weblogs now is because they can. If Pyra had brought out e-zine software, there would be lots of zines now. Journalism requires standards and primary sources, and 99.9% of the blogs don’t fit my definition of journalism.
Dan: I’m not so sure. Blogs are part of the process that adds up to journalism. We think of the model of mass-media, 20th century journalism, but something’s going on. Dave Farber’s interesting people mail list is journalism. Matt Drudge is not my kind of journalist but he is a journalist nonetheless. “If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” says the old editor. Journalism is changes from the top down and the bottom up.
J.D.: There’s now room for amateur journalists.
Journalism = verification of what I read in the blogs
Blogdex…the pointers are very interesting. The storytellers may have the most interest. The reporters want to know what the people are thinking.
Echo chambers. Initially it was for publicity; spreading the meme. Stuff I just happen to like. Are we in danger of group-think?
Weblogs' goal is to send people away, expecting that they will come back. The Wall St Journal wants you to stay, not clicking anything but the ads. Bloggers don't track readers....
Rise of the individual expert who does something so well.
Rusty foster and kuro5hin. In depth essays. Community rallies to fix what’s broken. Like a public writing workshop.
Dan: The web as a read/write medium is only beginning, unlike what Hollywood would like, a read-only world.
George Siemens has written one of those articles that sums up all the loose ends that have enveloped eLearning since the economy went into the toilet. His article A Learning Development Model For Today’s Students and Organizations, explains what has changed and how to handle it.
For example, what is needed in an organization for eLearning to thrive?
Siemens' new model calls for
The one thing I miss in George's methodology is feedback. This is probably because I am steeped in corporate, show-me-the-money training rather than academia, with its immeasurable objectives. Nonetheless, a system without a means of self-correction tends toward entropy.
I should be focusing on finishing the presentation I will be delivering four days from now, but some ideas are nagging me to be expressed and I'm not that good at arguing my brain out of such notions.
Several recent memes are influencing the way I conceptualize my website and my professional direction.
The notion of object orientation has me pondering what size unit is appropriate for my newly designed website. Also, the separation of form and substance, thanks to stylesheets, is liberating. And using a search engine instead of a hierarchy or indexes adds flexibility, too. The title of David Weinberger's book about the web, Small Pieces, Loosely Joined, describes the blueprint for the new internettime.com. In tmie, half the site will be Easter eggs one trips over accidentally.
Nothing is ever finished. I used to complete a page or a white paper or a chapter and figure that is was "done." No longer. There's always a new perspective. And, since everything seems to be connected to everything else, things are always in flux. This is just as well, since people (including your author) engage with unfinished works but are bored when everything is over. Hell, they may have something to add; hence the need for two-way authoring. I like the way Movable Type encourages me to come back to add on to items I'd posted a while back.
Time is accelerating and is more important than it used to be. When I mentioned this to a management consultant friend, he asked, "Do you have any proof of that?" My response was, "Can't you feel it?" For the last dozen years, I've been drawn to the study of time, without explanation, like the moth to the flame. (I can identify with the Richard Dreyfus character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind who was obsessed with Devil's Tower.)
This notion that relentless time is moving ahead is goading me to shift over to the new internettime.com before I normally would have. It is not finished. It's half-baked. But then, it never will be finished. And I have experiments I want to conduct on the web and cannot afford the time to keep two sites up to date.
Finally, I'm reconceptualizing the role of the site itself. At first, we positioned ourselves as an authority on eLearning. When we'd figure something out, we'd clean it up and present it on the site. The new role is inquirer. We invite people to look over our shoulder as we explore how the world works and how to make it better. The inquiry leads outside of our familiar domains but we have the courage (or is it chutzpah?) to boldly go out on that thin ice. Psychology? Cog-sci? Design? Socio-biology? The new science? Entropy? Chaos? No problem.
The field of knowledge management keeps tripping over its shoelaces. The problem is that since we consider ourselves knowledgable, we all feel entitled to define KM as we please. Witness this delightful list of contradictory defintions from the experts in the field.
Among the useful observations:
DDI's Pete Weaver has a cogent article in the August 2002 issue of T+D. Among the points I applaud and underscore these (Bold is Pete; follow-ons are Jay's.):
Great work, Pete.
One part of the internettime.com site that never grabbed me is the "What's New" page. Dullsville. So dull I'd keep forgetting to update it, thereby confusing my readers.
Cruising around to my favorite sites this evening, I came to Arts & Letters Daily. A&L is always a fun page simply because it contains enough stuff that there are bound to be some things that grab your attention. There must be 300 separate items on the single page. Most are two or three sentences that lead to a link outside.
New links are added at or near the tops of sections, with older ones sliding down the columns accordingly. Most items will continue to be available for three or more days.
Items removed from Arts & Letters Daily are transferred to our 2002 ARCHIVE. As most links will eventually expire, we urge readers who see an item worth keeping to save or print it while the link is still valid.
Here's something I'd missed in earlier readings, a line in the small print at the bottom of the main A&L page: "The Arts & Letters Daily motto, Veritas odit moras, is a line from Seneca’s translation of Sophocles’ Oedipus. It means “Truth hates delay.”
A&L gets 130,000 unique visitors a month and takes in as much as $70,000 a month in ad revenues. I'll probably have 18,000 visitors this month, about 14% of A&L. Could I conceivably drag in $10K a month in ad revenues? Too bad I'm serving a depressed market. For $120K a year, I could spit out a riveting zine.
Back to the concept of using the A&L format as a starting point for a monthly recap of internettime.com. I'll try a few blog entries from the last few days....
4,000 designers, developers, and eLearning managers have become members have joined eLearning Guild in its first six months. What's the secret? MORE
This is a day of rememberance throughout the land. Allow me to commemorate Peter Henschel by restating the Institute for Research on Learning's famous seven principles of learning. MORE
Nightmare from 2004: Expo at eLearning Taiwan. You want the entire NETg library? $10. How about SmartForce? $10. Will Learning Objects open Pandora's box? MORE
That's certainly easy to do. A few minutes to cut-and-paste the entries. Given practice, and links to external material, I could whip out something like this in short order.
Arts & Letters Daily just folded. The people who bought them, Lingua Franca, took them down when they went bankrupt. Denis Dutton maintained the site in three hours a day. They had 60,000 loyal readers.
Last night I read an article by Ruth Clark in The eLearning Developer's Journal that clarified several things my gut had told me were important to design. Read it yourself, but just to tantalize you, I'll summarize part of her Six Principles of Effective e-Learning: What Works and Why.
Over the past decade, Richard Meyer and colleagues at U.C. Santa Barbara have measured the effectiveness of text, graphics, and sound in multimedia learning. He found that:
David Holcombe is a very interesting fellow. Together with Heidi Fisk, he founded The eLearning Guild. The Guild is prospering. I forget when they came on the scene, maybe six months back. In that time, 4,000 designers, developers, and eLearning managers have become members. Registrations for their Annual Conference in San Diego are ahead of expectations.
Over lunch in the courtyard of Piatti in Sonoma yesterday, we talked about why eLearning Guild is creating such a strong buzz. David's been in the learning confrence business a long time -- he ran the Influent conferences after a stint with Ziff Davis. He attributes the Guild's initial success to focusing on the needs of a community rather than the vendors who feed on it. The conference in San Diego will be largely commercial-free. No expo. No sales pitches disguised as breakout sessions. No thank-yous to sponsors for buying you breakfast, a drink, or a bag to carry your stuff around in.
David can run the numbers on an event in his head, but making the numbers is not the Guild's goal. He's taking the high road. Essentially, it's "Serve the members; the numbers will follow."
I'm particularly interested in the Guild's future, for its goal and that of eLearning Forum overlap. Both groups are free, dedicated to building a community of practice, and vendor-neutral. Not many of us can say that!
I've been tweaking the new internettime.com to focus on my hot issues rather than history. I am defining hot to mean issues that are current and on which I have an opinion.
The Internet Time site is going back to its roots: it's stuff Jay is interested in. We're now in our fifth year. When www.internettime.com started, few sites offered advice on eLearning. Now there are oodles of sites with great eLearning information. I keep up with the field by paying attention to:
I do not intend to replicate what these sites do so well. Maish, Stephen, Jane, Ryann, and David are doing an incredibly good job of covering the eLearning scene. Internet Time aims to be more exploratory, gonzo, and personal.
Our traffic report for September 8 - 13 arrived this morning. We're getting more than a thousand visitors a day. Blog traffic continues to grow in importance.
Traffic to the static pages (those that change maybe once a month, sometimes once a quarter) is distributed over a number of topics. I take this to be a sign of health.
If you're curious, take a look at the beta version of internettime.com. (Blog readers get the news first!) Please give me your suggestions if you drop by. Leave a comment here or drop me an email.
A few days ago I found a wonderful free link-checker. It's called Xenu. (You can find it on Google.) Set this thing loose and it will verify all the links in a site. I'm going through the new internettime.com page by page.
Peter Henschel, shown here addressing the eLearning Forum in March 2001, died last week of a heart attack. I will miss him.
Peter and I first met at TechLearn several years ago. He was trumpetting a favorite theme -- that learning is social and that 80% or more of corporate learning is informal. He put that meme in my head, and it influences my work to this day.
After TechLearn, Peter and I met at the Institute for Research on Learning (where he was executive director). We hoped to coax eLearning vendors to embrace and leverage informal learning -- but our timing was not right.
To get a flavor of Peter's view of the world, read his article in LiNEzine from Fall of last year.
This is a day of rememberance throughout the land. Allow me to commemorate Peter by restating the Institute for Research on Learning's famous seven principles.
2. Knowledge is integrated in the life of communities. When we develop and share values, perspectives, and ways of doing things, we create a community of practice.
3. Learning is an act of participation. The motivation to learn is the desire to participate in a community of practice, to become and remain a member. This is a key dynamic that helps explain the power of apprenticeship and the attendant tools of mentoring and peer coaching.
4. Knowing depends on engagement in practice. We often glean knowledge from observation of, and participation in, many different situations and activities. The depth of our knowing depends, in turn, on the depth of our engagement.
5. Engagement is inseparable from empowerment. We perceive our identities in terms of our ability to contribute and to affect the life of communities in which we are or want to be a part.
6. Failure to learn is often the result of exclusion from participation. Learning requires access and the opportunity to contribute.
7. We are all natural lifelong learners. All of us, no exceptions. Learning is a natural part of being human. We all learn what enables us to participate in the communities of practice of which we wish to be a part.
Articles on learning from Down Under.
Color, Contrast & Dimension. A beautiful site and Communications Arts award-winner.
Times of our lives by Karen Wright, in the current Scientific American
Adrenaline and other stress hormones make the clock speed up, as do cocaine and meth. Parkinson's patients and dope-smokers have less available dopamine and experience slower time. States of deep concentration or extreme emotion may flood the system or bypass it altogether; in such cases, time may seem to stand still or not exist at all. Because an attentional spike initates the timing process, people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder might also have problems gauging the true length of intervals.
Circadian rhythms are something else again. "Confined to a petri dish under contassnt lighting, human cells still follow 24-hour cycles of gene activity, hormone secretion and energy procution. The cycles are hardwired and vary by only a few minutes a day!
Most animals have extreme changes throughout the year, for hibernation, molting, and the all-important procreation. We humans get seasonable affective disorder. Big deal.
Another article by Paul Davies in the current issue of Scientific American.
Traveling into the past is rather trickier. Relativity theory allows it in certain spacetime configurations: a rotating universe, a rotating cylinder and, most famously, a wormhole -- a tunnel through space and time.
Time dillation occurs when two observers move relative to each other. Hence the twins paradox: the space-traveler twin returns to find a much older twin back on earth. This happens on airplanes, too, but a few nanoseconds here and there are easily overlooked.
Gravity also slows time. A clock in the attic runs faster than one on the ground. The amount is trivial close to Earth but must be factored in by the GPS system.
Davies proposes a time machine constructed of a couple of wormholes. Place one next to a neutron star -- that will slow down time a bit. Go in one place, come out somewhere else in space and in time. How are we going to do this? Quantum mechanics pops up. Sounds like voodoo to me.
I've begun reading the Scientific American special issue on Time.
"From the fixed past to the tahgible present to the undecided future, it feels as though time flows inexorably on. But that is an illusion." So writes Paul Davies in That Mysterious Flow.
Nothing in known physics corresponds to the passage of time. Indeed physicists insist that time doesn't flow at all; it merely is.
Einstein famously wrote... "The past, present and future are only illusions, even if stubbon ones." Einstein's startling conclusion stems directly from his special theory of relativity, which denies any absolute, universal significance to the present moment. According to the theory, simultaneity is relative.
As to why our brains think time exists, Davies suggests that maybe it's due to the irreversible process of entropy. Things get messier over time; they never un-mess. New memories add to the brain's entropy. Maybe we experience this as the passage of time?
In 220 pages, What Management Is explains what's important: creating value, strategy, organization, the real bottom line, innovation, and managing people. Don't bother if you have a recent MBA. Otherwise, read this book.
Amazon's review nails it:
I read this one cover to cover. Value comes from the outside. "Determining who the relevant outsiders are may be management's single most critical decision." When GE went through this exercise, it found that its customers wanted short-haul, easily-maintained locomotives, not the behemoths GE had been selling them. "...the shift in mindset from inputs to results, from product to solution, was like flipping a light switch."
SkillSoft and SmartForce Complete Merger; Commence Operations as SkillSoft
Merger Creates Global Leader in Corporate e-Learning
Nashua, NH and Redwood City, CA - September 6, 2002 - SkillSoft Corporation (Nasdaq: SKIL) and SmartForce (Nasdaq: SMTF) today announced the closing of the merger of the two companies. ... SmartForce intends to do business under the operating name of SkillSoft. The company will pursue legally changing its official name to SkillSoft in the near future.
Headquarters: Corporate headquarters of the combined Company will be in Dublin, Ireland; North American headquarters and executive offices will be in Nashua, New Hampshire.
Oof. Millions and millions building a brand that lasted less than three years.
New architecture for www.internet time
I'm in the midst of overhauling www.internettime.com. The site is morphing from a quasi-encyclopedia of eLearning into a newspaper of performance improvement. "Newspaper" isn't quite the right word. The restructured site will place more emphasis on what's going on at the moment, generally via blogs and new links. Unlike a newspaper, the site will also provide opportunities for discussion and interchange, offering the ability to comment on the blogs and take part in threaded discussions.
Private vs. public discussion
This website is about learning. Mine and yours. All too often, we only get to see the result of a web project, not the design process that got it there. If you're not interested in this level of detail, click something in the right column to skip over it.
How much outbound?
I'm still pondering how much outbound content to send. On the one hand, I don't want to add to the world's oversupply of Spam or to appear intrusive. On the other, of the 77 people who have responded to my ongoing survey thus far, 43% visit "several times a year" and 22% drop by once a month. I take this to mean that the majority of visitors read stale news.
I suppose I could distribute a newsletter. That entails beefing up the invitation to join the mail list. Perhaps a prize with each issue. An irregular distribution schedule would increase value. Maybe limit the newsletter to the cognoscenti.
Webtrends Stats for September 1-6
The number of visitors here continues to increase.
Most Popular Downloads
Observations from the first 77 respondents to my Customer Survey
Things that disappoint:
My takeaways are to
Summary for 9/1-6/2002
Average Number of Visitors per day on Weekdays 1,078
Average Number of Hits per day on Weekdays 14,843
Average Number of Visitors for the entire Weekend 619
Average Number of Hits for the entire Weekend 6,122
Most Active Day of the Week Wed
Least Active Day of the Week Sat
Most Active Day Ever September 04, 2002
Number of Hits on Most Active Day 16,824
Least Active Day Ever September 07, 2002
Number of Hits on Least Active Day 28
Most Active Hour of the Day 12:00-12:59
Least Active Hour of the Day 02:00-02:59
1. Google 1,558 79.2%
2. Yahoo 227 11.54%
3. Microsoft Network 106 5.38%
4. AltaVista 53 2.69%
Of the Microsoft Internet Explorer front, just about everyone uses 4.0 or higher.
Browser Visits %
1. Explorer 5.x 2,299 54.54%
2. Explorer 6.x 1,810 42.94%
3. Explorer 4.x 102 2.41%
The same holds ture for Netscapers:
1. Netscape 4.x 206 58.35%
2. Netscape 5.x 136 38.52%
Windows is far and away the platform of choice. Linux users are < 1%, Mac < 4%.
1. Windows 2000 2,044 38.47%
2. Windows 98 1,675 31.52%
3. Others 720 13.55%
4. Windows NT 407 7.66%
5. Macintosh PowerPC 211 3.97%
6. Windows 95 185 3.48%
This is a continuation of observations from the Learning Object Symposium yesterday.
Robby Robson, Vipel Pillau, Glenn O'Classen, and I took part in a panel session on the business side of learning objects. We never directly answered my opening question, "Can you make a profit in the learning object business?"
Is the real money to be made from developing new objects? Or by stringing together best-of-breed, fully-interoperable chains of objects? Or by providing customization services?
This is a course or an assembly of objects. A module. They're all the same color because they're all made by the same company.
If you're making all the objects, there's little question but that reusing components will be more economical than reinventing the wheel. The Military, Reuters, Shell, Rabobank, and others are doing this today. It works. Interchangeable parts. Eli Whitney.
The assembly to the right contains learning objects from numerous sources. Reusability in this case leads to massive economies. How do I set a price? Glenn does it now at GeneEd -- negotiating separate contracts as he goes along; this doesn't scale.
How will authors avoid being ripped off? (Are we the new recording artists?) What about pirates? Who will define when something is original? (Caution: Legal remedies only scale at an unacceptable cost to the quality of life.)
Nightmare from 2004: Expo at eLearning Taiwan. You want the entire NETg library? $10. How about SmartForce? $10.
This is a former learning module. This module is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! It's metabolic processes are now 'istory! It's kicked the bucket, 'It's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-MODULE!!
You see, this morning, the Disney Corporation's attorneys issued an injunction against you releasing your program. See that missing block? That particular item, call it the mickey-block, contained the phrase "Hey, Donald." Disney Corporation claims ownership of that learning meme.
If you have not read it, waste no time. Listen to Lawrence Lessig's presentation, "Free Culture."
The mind plays tricks. We panelists figured it would be more lively and gripping to present our material impromptu rather than practiced. So I'm yammering on about whether the value is in the learning objects or the result. Is it like the fishermen living on a pittance while the restaurateurs charge an arm and a leg for the bouillabaisse? I had to stop and apologize. Back to our regularly scheduled program.
Back to the issue of whether one will be ripped off, i.e. by losing control of an object? My answer is that yes, sure, you can plan on it. But the question is based on an outdated concept of business. In the Industrial Age, we added value by making and selling things. Sales transactions ruled. In the Intangibles Age, or whatever we call it now, we seek to form relationships -- channels people will subscribe to. Don't give me money for the cash register; sign up for a continuing steam of payments. And for the developer of learning objects, this means staying ahead of the game by producing new stuff and lowering your expectations of getting rich off past accompllishments.
Question: What value can third parties add to learning objects?
Answer: Quality assurance, assembly, sales & marketing, personalization, compliance with standards.
Wayne wisely pointed out that the object approach is not an all-or-nothing proposition. I noted John Seely Brown's observation that computer types tend to count, "1...2...3...one million."
I took no notes during the session since I was one of the four making it up as we went along. Please add comments and observations. Did anyone take notes?
What's the prognosis for the future? If you equate uncertainty with opportunity, we're entering boom times.
Yesterday I joined sixty or so people in Menlo Park for the Learning Object Symposium, the intended kick-off for a new community of practice at the intersection of design and learning objects.
GeneEd's John Hathaway pointed out that today's learning object standards do not have instructional design built in. We left out the design while focusing on getting the interchange of learning media figured out. Now’s the time to add design back in.
What is a learning object? At Cisco, it may be a 10-minute video clip. At U.C. Berkeley, it could be a single slide in an art history course; or it could be the carousel of slides; or the entire course. We don't have a common vocabulary to describe obejcts. Besides, they are relative. One person's object is another person's assembly.
Several people endorsed the definition put forward by David Wiley in The Instructional Use of Learning Objects.
Wiley proposes defining a learning obejct as “any digital resource that can be reused to support learning."
Jim Spohrer defined "educational object," as used at EOE. Educational object = online shareable & fashionable knowledge resources for learners, educators, and developers/info architects around the globe.
"Learning objects" are really a whole lot of problems mooshed together. Educators are deconstructionists and constructivists who see the promise of digital media as assembling whatever they want. Publishers want to lock down the content to best protect and monetize.
Harvi Singh echoed this thought, pointing out that Learning Objects are related
NETg's Brendon Towle noted that SCORM is inadquate because, among other things:
What's the relationship of Learning Design and Learning Objects?
At NETg, a Learning Object = presentation + assessment + objective
Brendon kicked up the emotional temperature in the room when he declared that the reuse of learning objects is a fairy tale. You don't expect a great movie to be made up of recycled bits and pieces; the great ones are made from scratch. We want engagement. Why expect reuse?
From the audience: If objects aren't to be reused, why are we wasting our time at this meeting?
Jim Harriott posits two types of knowledge. There's "what you know." and there's "what you generate on the fly." The spotlight is shifting from the former to the latter, from individual learning to co-creation.
I'll continue in the next post (becuase I want it to have a permalink I can point to.)
One of the roundtable sessions led me to conclude that we're missing a piece of the learning object equation. We're going at everything from the object/sender direction but overlooking the learner/receiver end of the deal. After all, I want my learning system to learn about me as we go through this together. Yet I hear no discussion about meta-tagging the humans. And how do I deal with collaborative filtering (the light green lines above)? Or comparing my profile to that of others? How could I inject a rating system for content (as done on Slashdot)?
Here's a simple little application that opens the mind to the possibilities in the near-term future. The application is called Small Blueprinter.
You slap together a diagram of a building in seconds. (Hey, this is only windows and doors.)
Push a button for an isometic view:
Push again for a walkthrough. This is the view from my front door at sunset.
I only stumbled across this fifteen minutes ago. It's a mind-strecher, no?
Our garbage disposal just stopped working. I'm reading the Troubleshooting Guide at In-Sink-Erator.
I sauntered into the living room to announce another reason to be glad we're in the 21st century. Ah-ha! The Trouble Shooting Guide has told me what to do.
Alas, the disposal is still inert. Like the Monty Python parrot. It's a former disposal.
John Seely Brown, Steve Denning, Katalina Groh, Larry Prusak
Check out Steve Denning's extensive links. He has sections on:
I've determined that I want to spend more web-time getting my ideas to others than dorking around with font-tags and such.
To that end, I'm trying to separate content from presentation in my site. It's a burden up front but worthwhile in the long run.
Now I need to find an easy way to strip the obsolete font tags and so on from my previous pages.
A reader complained about dated material on my site. Another liked the depth. So I'm creating a "Leftovers & Oldies" category that people can reach by search. The regular pages will be slimmer with more wheat, less chaff.
The Blog here is coming along. Now I've got categories working, so there's a single point of entry. I've messed with the template to make things large enough to read and dark type on light background.
The Forum is up, although it's on the new site. I switched the colors, bulked up the type.
Doc's blog tipped me off that Jerry Michalski is writing a blog, Sociate. As you'd expect, it's though-provoking, to wit:
Apply this to blogs. Better to provide a blend that lets readers choose how they'll take part.
First, Weblogs offer only one distribution model: People have to come read your blog at its Web address. Why can't people read each entry as it is posted, if they would like to, as they can with e-mailed newsletters? It is somehow strange that Dave Winer's Radio Userland Weblogging software doesn't allow its users to do what Dave does every day with Scripting News, which is post to his broadcast list and his Weblog.
I'm creating two lists for this one Weblog. The first list, Sociate, is a broadcast list for people who want to see new items quickly, but don't want the e-mail traffic of a discussion list; the second, Sociate-Talk, includes all the outbound posts of the first list, but is meant for people interested in the discussion.
I just subscribed to the Sociate list to see what it feels like.
So I will harvest the best items and set them into a more permanent context, using several tools. The obvious method is to collect similar items into various categories and post them on this Website, which I will do. But Web pages aren't that expressive, so I will also use two more interesting tools: a wiki and my Brain.
Internet Time will be harvesting but not a brain and certaining not a wiki. Maintaining one personal database is about all I feel I can spare time for.
Yesterday I read this book online, my first pic from the Safari service at O'Reilly. My first month at Safari will cost $15 for 10 books. Information Architecture retails for $28 at Amazon. Such a deal. While it may not spread beyond the technical sphere, Safari fits my needs for computer books like eLearning is practical for IT skills training.
The book gave me the final nudge into accepting that the new Internet Time site will separate form and substance. I've begun defining new .class items for CSS, e.g. "highlight" and "summary" and other elements to add clarity and improve usability. I'm going to have the system put breadcrumbs atop each page for navigation. The plan is to do a lot of coding upfront and almost none as time marches on. I bet this eliminates 10,000 font tags.
It is HOT here. My office is 86 degrees and rising. So I just came downstairs to the back deck. A fat squirrel made his way along the trellice and stared at me for a while. (I don't do this often enough.) I swept the dried leaves fro the Japanese maple that shades the back deck. The noise spooked a large buck that was lolling around in the backyard. I kid Uta that we're letting the back return to its primordial state.
I'm rebuilding my website and I decided that it's time to bite the bullet and put together a new framework with cascading style sheets, consistent look & feel, templates, and other goodies that have come out since I put the original together with NotePad and HotDog.
Reading Macromedia's Dreamweaver and Flash sites told me more than I wanted to know about some of the things I'd like to do and not enough about others. (I'd really like a good default site to customize but I haven't been able to find one.)
Some of the O'Reilly books have caught my eye. There's a new version of Information Architecture out; the first edition is one of the more valuable web books of the four or five dozen I've read. There's a whole book on Cascading Style Sheets. There are PHP and Perl books. All adorned with those cute drawings of polar bears, meerkats, and other animals. I want a wheelbarrow full but at $25+ a pop, that's not in the cards.
Reading a review of Information Architecture II, I came upon an ad for Safari, an online book-licensing deal from O'Reilly.
People kvech about reading on screen but it doesn't bother me that much, especially if it's a technical book I want to be able to search.
What IS information architecture? The authors define it thus:
1. The combination of organization, labeling, and navigation schemes within an information system.
2. The structural design of an information space to facilitate task completion and intuitive access to content.
3. The art and science of structuring and classifying web sites and intranets to help people find and manage information.
4. An emerging discipline and community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.