February 29, 2004

Jay, Design Curmudgeon

I decided it was time to upgrade Eudora, my email client, so I surfed over to Qualcomm's site.

See the network chart over the gray grid top right? That little dude is in continual motion, sort of like the Visual Theaaurus or Inxight except without the labels. To find out what's what, you click on one of the moving nodes.

In putting this together, some ersatz designer chose the wrong end of a usability trade-off. On the positive side, the moving network diagram is attractive. On the negative, this doo-dad means it's unclear what one's choices are (unless you click on every node). The movement insures that most of the time, you'll make an incorrect choice before the correct one. The inquisitive visitor will hunt around for some reason Qualcomm chose to put this confusing thing on the front page of their site. The message I get is that Qualcomm thinks I came to play games, not transact business.

To summarize Edward Tufte, if it ain't part of the solution, it's part of the problem. Qualcomm's thingamabob is electronic chart junk.

What were they thinking?

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February 27, 2004

Social Networks & Corporate Learning

February 25, 2004, brought the most severe winter storm the Bay Area has seen since 1989 and the first full session of the newly named Emergent Learning Forum. We say we’re emergent because we’re more interested in what comes next than in what’s already established.

Our topic, the impact of social networks on corporate learning, perfectly fit the bill. Social network software is a relatively recent phenomenon, pundits and investors feel it is ready to take off, and very little consideration has been given to how it can improve the quality of learning.

Alex Gault, a director of Emergent Learning Forum, the founder of Small World Ventures, and proprietor of Collaboration Café, conceived and moderated the Emergent Learning session in Menlo Park.

Alex’s introduction to social networking, coupled with presentations by Spoke’s Andy Halliday and Tacit’s David Gilmour, provided a wonderful introduction to what’s going on in social networking and gave us a foundation for discussing how it can impact learning.

Since Alex is too busy to do so, I’ve extracted his introductory material below. (All the presentations from the meeting will be available, with sound and video, shortly at www.emergentlearningforum.com.)

Recent History of Social Networking

q     Expertise Management

q     A dozen or so researchers/consultants doing applied work, notably:

§         Eric Lesser (IBM Institute of Business Value)

§         Andrew Parker (Stanford Phd Candidate; former colleague of Lesser’s)

§         Karen Stephenson (Netform; Graduate School of Design, Harvard)

§         Andrew Hargadon (Technology Management Program, UC Davis)

§         Rob Cross (Darden School of Business, U of Virginia)

Key Historical Moments

q     1967: Small World Phenomenon (Stanley Milgram)

§         6 Degrees of Separation Experiment

q     1974: The Strength of Weak Ties (Mark Granovetter)

q     2000: The Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell)

§         The Connector archetype enters vernacular

q     2003: Friendster

§         Online social networking goes viral

Strength of Weak Ties

Very close friends might have more motivation to give you information about available jobs, but they are often getting the same information you are.

While acquaintances culled from a wide circle may not be as motivated as close friends to share information about jobs, they will do so because often it is not very costly for them.

Because the friends of friends can be distant, their sources of information are different, producing new and sometimes unexpected leads.

Consumer Market: Models

q     Friend of a Friend (FOAF)

§         Ryze, Tribe, Friendster, Orkut

q     Matching

§         Match.com, Yahoo Personals

q     Referrals

§         Linkedin, Spoke

q     Harvesting contacts from address books & emails

§         Spoke, Tacit, Visible Path

Enterprise Solutions: Expertise Locator Systems

q     Tacit

q     Kamoon

q     AskMe

q     Xpert Universe

§         Integrates with Lotus collaboration suite

q     vConsult

§         For Physicians & Hospitals

Trust & Privacy

Respect individual relationships

q     Don't force workers to share what they wish to keep private.

Enable users to retain control over their relationships

q     ie. opt out; opt in anonymously; opt in, but not share everything about a relationship; or opt in, but share information with only a select group of people.

Provide mechanisms to ensure relationships are not abused

Resources: Papers

q     Knowing What We Know: supporting knowledge creation and sharing in social networks. Rob Cross, Andrew Parker, Laurence Prusak, and Stephen Borgatti. Organizational Dynamics 30.

q     A Bird’s-eye View: Using Social Network Analysis to improve knowledge creation and sharing. Rob Cross, Andrew Parker, and Stephen Borgatti. IBM Institute for Business Value.

q     Knowledge Brokering. David Gilmour. Harvard Business Review.

q     Karen Stephenson’s Quantum Theory of Trust. Art Kleiner. Strategy + Business.

q     What Knowledge Tears Apart, Networks Make Whole. Karen Stephenson. Internal Communication Focus.

q     Trust and Knowledge Sharing: a critical combination. Daniel Z. Levin, Rob Cross, Lisa C. Abrams, Eric L. Lesser. IBM Institute for Knowledge-based Organizations.


Collaboration Café: Tools, Trends & Know-how

q     www.collaborationcafe.com

Many-to-Many: A Group Weblog on Social Software

q     http://www.corante.com/many

Ross Mayfield’s Weblog: Markets, Technology & Musings

q     http://ross.typepad.com/blog


q     Trust. Francis Fukuyama

q     Tipping Point. Malcolm Gladwell

q     Linked: The New Science of Networks. Albert-László Barabási

q     Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age. Duncan Watts

q     Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Networks. Mark Buchanan

q     How Breakthroughs Happen. Andrew Hargadon

At the conclusion of the meeting, Alex announced the Emergent Learning Forum social network which will debut in April.

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February 26, 2004


The digital natives, kids who grow up with computers and the Net as part of their lives, have one big advantage over me: they will be alive long after I'm dead. One place I have something they have been denied is awe. Things that appear on the Net simply blow me away.

For example, I just followed a pointer from Robin Good to MultiMap.

Here's where Uta and I were married, in Heidelberg, Germany.

And the red dot marks my grandmother's house in Hope, Arkansas.

For someone who has bought heaven-only-knows how many paper maps, this sort of thing is phenomenal.

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Social software & learning

This morning the Emergent Learning Forum met in Menlo Park to ponder the convergence of learning and social software. Since most learning is informal, and most informal learning is person-to-person, how can leveraging one's ability to network with others do anything but make for better learning? The sum is greater than the parts.


Altus Learning Systems captured the entire event on video and will sync it with the slides, so I won't go into detail here, so much as give the 10,000' view.

Watch for the blow-by-blow at the Emergent Learning website.

Spoke's Andy Halliday gave us the lay of the land. In the network at left, the colors dots are nodes. The connections between them are arcs. The entire diagram is a graph. Degrees of separation are the number of hops from one node to another. (The top right green node is three degrees of separation from the bottom left red node.)

Social network analysis can show you the shape of a network. For example, on the battlefield you could map the radio communication among a group of tanks and figure out which is in control; that's the one you take out.

Spoke is based on private information and self-determination. Otherwise, many business people would never participate. Unlike on Friendster, where participants share personal information to attract dates, a sales person is extremely protective of contacts.

Privacy concerns are another issue. In the U.S., if someone hands you a business card, you feel free to share that information with others. In the EU, it's against the law to share that information!


Anita Lo told us about how Intel selected and implemented an expert locator system. Anita joined us from Folsom, hence the photo of "the speaker."

She related how Intel captures and re-uses actionable knowledge. One of our members noted how rare it is to see an engineering group thoroughly plan its in-house marketing as part of implementation.


Traditional Knowledge Management follows a publishing model, said David Gilmour, CEO of Tacit Knowledge Systems, and that's tough to implement. By the time you design a new structure, the business has already changed again. Relying on users to update their own profiles is iffy, and the least likely to comply are the very movers and shakers you'd want to have involved. Then there's the fiction that everyone's ready to share information equally, when in fact it's a loaded political, selective, cultural situation that's anything but equal.

David recommends a brokerage model. Tacit repurposes information that's already available (such as email and presentations) to mine the relationships and expertise held by each user. At first this smacks of spyware; in reality it's the opposite. Tacit provides pointers to people who are in the know. It never reveals the source information. Management can't see who's taking advantage of the system.

This approach works because the system does most of the work. Users don't have to re-enter or code information. Categories are self-organizing. (Preparing and maintaining taxonomies is a pain.) Participants can opt out entirely or category-by-category. The benefit of pinpointing who else is working on the areas that interest you can be enormous. One pharma client found that lengthy experiements they were preparing to do had already been done in their European operation. This alone pays for the system.

Alex Gault, Small World Ventures and a director of Emergent Learning Forum, announced a membership directory and networking initiative he has negotiated for the Forum. Scott McNealy calls this "eating your own dog food;" I prefer to think of it as "drinking your own champagne." Spoke is going to set up a voluntary network for members of Emergent Learning Forum. It will be a free benefit to members. We hope to spark formation of a global community of practice. This will roll out in April. If you want to participate, please join the Emergent Learning Forum. It's still free.

Keep up with Alex's blog, Collaboration Café.
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February 25, 2004

The new way to videoconference

From Robin Good at Kolabora:

Cluetrain Style: First Large Live Videoconferencing Event Makes Impending Socio-Technical Shifts Self-Evident

If there is something unique to say about the first Kolabora Live! online event, is that it was absolutely unlike any other Internet event I have been before.

Set to break many of the conventions and formalities typical of online Web conferences and presentations, the Kolabora Live! premiere showcased six live presenters in the glory of full and audio and video and seven simultaneous a/v feeds. For the over one hundred registered participants who attended live, the format of the event itself became the most interesting thing outside of the actual issues being reviewed in it.

I was delighted to be part of the show.

Most synchronous meeting tools are imitations of the classroom (e.g. Centra) or the lecture hall (e.g. Placeware). There's an authority in charge. The rest are listeners. A listener may (metaphorically) raise his or her hand; the authority-figure may or may not respond. The teacher has PowerPoint slides; the listener has a chat window. The traditional sync set-up is a one-way event. Even audience questions are usually filtered before being asked. While we don't always realize it, our tools shape the way we look at and do things.

In real life, people learn from conversation. The interaction of several people is invariably more interesting than the dogma of one individual. Give and take. Dialog, not monolog. Think you're the equal of Jay Leno or David Letterman? Stop kidding yourself. And even they would lose the audience if they droned on alone for more than ten minutes.

In real life, people speak in the vernacular, not in PowerPoint-speak. The Cluetrain got that absolutely right. In the session, I mentioned an experiment at Harvard School of Education. Two groups of students were given the same paper to read, being told they would be tested. The group that was also told the paper was controversial retained more of the information. Why? Because uncertainty engages the mind.

Yesterday's event was like live television. (Kids, we used to watch the Perry Como show because it was fun to see him grimace when he forgot the lines to the song he was singing.) No one was ready for it when Nancy and I put on masks during the event. I imagine people were watching a little closer after that.

The technical glitches were a disappointment but quite understandable. If you don't have a few screw-ups, you're not being daring enough. Sorry I disappeared early, but I experienced enough to have a real fire in the belly for this approach.

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February 23, 2004


Hard to imagine, but if you just don't have enough Jay in your life, read this Insight Newsletter from GetIt Multimedia. (I know -- it's time for a new photo.)

Loyal Emergent Learning Forum members know Laina Raveendran Green, the interviewer and GetIt's CEO, for she attends our sessions when she's on this side of the Pacific (instead of Singapore).

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The tools shape the worker

From Networking, Knowledge & the Digital Age, interesting twists on how the Internet is shaping social norms.

Thanks for the pointer, Seb.

When I heard this on NPR this evening while driving to the Chinese squid market, I was hoping for second-source confirmation. Eschaton provided it:

WASHINGTON - Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation's largest teachers union a "terrorist organization" during a private White House meeting with governors on Monday.

Democratic and Republican governors confirmed Paige's remarks about the National Education Association.

"These were the words, 'The NEA is a terrorist organization,' " said Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin.


He was implying that the NEA has not been one of the organizations that has been working with the administration to try to solve 'No Child Left Behind,' " he said.

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, said of Paige's comments: "Somebody asked him about the NEA's role and he offered his perspective on it."

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Power to the agents

From Robin Good, The Birth Of The NewsMaster: The Network Starts To Organize Itself. This is an important article if you haven't glimpsed the power of RSS. Hell, it's important even if you have, for it speculates on what's just around the corner in terms of personalized, self-organized news.

Yesterday, at the latest DEMO 2004 Conference in Scottsdale Arizona, Feedster “announced a new tool called FeedPaper, which combines syndicated Internet content (culled from the 500,000 newsfeeds continuously searched by Feedster), such as The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Amazon.com, many IT publications, PRNewswire, and hundreds of thousands of blogs. A Feedpaper is a web-based and RSS-enabled micropublication on any topic of its creators choosing. Creating a Feedpaper enables its publisher to blend, track, and share information on any topic.

The discovery is the unlimited and yet untapped power we now have to search, filter, aggregate and create focussed news/information channels with the only support of our know-how, culture, experience and a little unknown free technology called: RSS.

Bloggers have been first to scout new independent sources, alternative voices, and who have pointed links to new ways of looking at any issue. They, more than any other group, have brought, among much useless noise, the true emergence of effective meta news sources that originate, filter and aggregate valuable content online.

So, what it appears to the many superficial onlookers as a universe of mindless writings (blogs) is nothing less than the initial phase of a complex and orderly process whereby humanity at large takes control of filtering, gathering and re-organizing his own know-how an discoveries.

In one of life's odd little twists, I got an instant message from Robin Good himself while reading his article. He's prepping me for an online event tomorrow. But the timing was amazing.

Robin concludes with opportunities for people who master the RSS-on-steroids technology. For one, this is the future of competitive intel and professional development.

Via Stephen Downes: Gallery of Network Images

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February 22, 2004

Edinburgh -- finale

An overlong interview with the press kept me from participating in the afternoon's concurrent sessions. It would have been a tough choice: I'd gotten to know Don Norris, Jon Mason, and Alan Smith throughout the conference and here they were, all speaking at the same time.

I spent a while visiting Space Unlimited, a series of hands-on exhibits constructed by a group of teenagers who had spent months exploring eLearning and the future of school.

Most of what they had created was admirable and refreshing. Their exhibits lauded discovery learning, experimentation, self-expression, freedom of choice, and fun while learning. Some of their concepts were naive, for instance the fear that eLearning would be bad for the economy because of all those out-of-work teachers.

Film of student sacking a superfluous teacher

The "digital natives" gave the penultimate presentation of the conference. Ten of them took the stage and acted out their messages, something no “grown-up” had even considered. Instead of showing a PowerPoint slide about learning styles, they asked everyone to complete a personal Learning Styles Inventory.

In a truly lovely moment, a female student gripped the podium and surveyed the audience with a schoolmarm’s critical gaze. Someone in the audience snickered. “You there, what’s so funny?” she growled. That drew laughter. She shushed us with a penetrating frown of disapproval. Learning through intimidation. Remember it?

For the finale, a panel of experts took the stage to answer audience questions.

Among the opinions expressed:

  • Regarding learning objects, we must be careful not to over-engineer once again.
  • Regarding global acceptance of eLearning, do we have what it takes to offer true choice? Yes, at least we have enough to begin the expedition.
  • We talked a lot about learners as consumers but we need scaffolding. Unlimited choice of diet leads to obesity.
  • Workflow Learning and business process modeling bring a compelling vision
  • Barriers to eLearning parallel those to traditional learning, e.g. “not enough time”
  • Demand-driven learning works; supply-driven learning fosters resistance.
  • Courses are dead, to be replaced by informal learning and communities of practice.

Four years ago, eLearning was sufficiently new that conferences convened an eLearning community of practice. We discovered what worked and shared it with each other. It was exciting to be among the enthusiasts and cognoscenti.

eLearning has become much too broad an endeavor to be a single practice. Some conferences are how-to events for neophytes. Others are guilds for experienced practitioners. And events like eLearnInternational push the boundaries of eLearning, learning culture, the future of learning, and the linkage of learning to other major forces in the world.

Mark Bell closes the event.

Back at the Sheraton Grand, several hundred people in formal dress were milling about. The Institute of Chartered Bankers.

A group of us headed out to Bar Roma for a final meal together.

Jonathan Star and Charlie Stuart

Don Norris

David Wilkinson

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February 21, 2004

Cool online meeting room

From Kolabora comes news of a Three-Dimensional Virtual Conferencing Room system.

I want it! I want it! I want it!

You can download a demo of AliceStreet or a 30-day eval.

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Learning + Social software

Join us this coming Wednesday morning as Emergent Learning Forum looks at how social software can leverage corporate learning. We'll have the CEO, Tacit Knowledge Systems; a VP from Spoke; and we've located Intel's expertise locator systems expert! Presentations, discussions, and a panel session. All moderated by Alex Gault. Check Alex's blog, Collaboration Cafe for latest developments in collaborative software.

We're meeting at SRI in Menlo Park. Go to http://www.emergentlearningforum.com for registration and complete details.

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Edinburgh -- Etienne Wenger

Etienne Wenger is a social learning theorist who cut his teeth at the Institute for Research on Learning. He is best known for popularizing the concept of communities of practice. His presentation spoke to me deeply.

Communities of practice are not new. The earliest version may have been cavemen sitting around a fire talking about the best way to hunt bears. That’s the way “communities” work: practitioners in a field or practice come together to share, nurture, and validate tricks of the trade. Apprentices have always done this. Sometimes we mistakenly thought most of the learning was going on between master and apprentice. In fact, most apprentices probably learn more from one another.

Question: What does a flower know about being a flower? And what does a computer know about being a flower? Stumped? That’s because neither flowers nor computers are members of the human community, and it’s community that harbors knowledge.

A friend of Etienne is a wine professional. Describing a wine, the friend said it was “purple in the nose.” This meant absolutely nothing to Etienne, because he is not a member of the wine-tasting community.

Now imagine the wine-tasting friend is with his fellow wine tasters. He discerns a new element in the wine which he describes as a convergence of fire and gravity. If others in the group buy in, the fire & gravity meme is legitimized. Here we have the two primary aspects of any community: participation and reification.

By the way, the concept of community is value-neutral. The word community has a warm and fuzzy feel to it, but we’re talking about groups that can impede progress, engage in group think, or neglect their responsibilities to the larger organization. I recall being shut out of a community of instructional designers because I was perceived as a business man, not a designer.

Now let’s think about how eLearning might be a transformative force. Learning in a community involves answering four questions:

• Identity: Who are we becoming?
• Meaning: What is our experience?
• Practice: What are we doing?
• Community: Where do we belong?

Learning by sharing knowledge in a community leads to what Etienne calls the “horizontalization” of learning. In school or workshops, the learning relationship is vertical: there’s a provider on top and a recipient. In a horizontal community, peers learn from one another.

First generation knowledge management failed because it was top down. (Identify the critical knowledge and stuff it in a content management system. Nobody took ownership because no community embodied the knowledge. Now that we appreciate that knowledge lives in communities, we can facilitate KM by nurturing their development. Etienne quotes Pasteur, saying “Chance favors those who are prepared.”

Etienne suggests scrapping our industrial model of training and the notions that go with it. Learning will become an internal part of live itself. Teaching will fade in importance. Progress along a trajectory of development will replace skills training.

The three aspects of social learning are the Domain, the Practice, and the Community. What, how, and who.

Related links: What is Knowledge, Building Community, and Informal Learning.

Googling out these references to past entries here, I found that I'd already recorded many of the concepts Etienne presented in Edinburgh. No matter. It took an hour of live presentation for them to take hold in a transformative way.

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Edinburgh -- Dinner

That Wednesday evening, a piper led us to a marvelous dinner party hosted by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Wild rabbit terrine. Angus beef. Chocolate tart. Between Eilif Trondsen and me sat a community organizer from Barra.

Barra? It’s an island north of Inverness with 1,000 inhabitants. Most of the male residents fish for a living. Young people leave the island to complete their educations. Most do not come back. The organizer was exploring whether eLearning could prepare people for productive work on Barra, in order to save the island from depopulation.

Castle on Isle of Barra

Etienne Wenger and Jane Massy

After the meal, John Simonet provided the evening’s entertainment. He said people sometimes remarked on his strange name. John. He asked a teacher he was speaking with, “What do you teach?” “Bastards,” came the reply. He found this a bit strong, coming from a nun. Later… Know how to remember your anniversary? Forget it once. To the founder of NewMindsets, “Are you Welsh, Gareth, or did your parents just have a sense of humor?”

My guess would be that dinner table conversation was the richest source of learning for our community the first day.

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Edinburgh -- Plenary

The day before, the plenary session speaker’s father had died. The Conference organizers drafted me to take his place. Serendipity strikes again! I’d assembled an hour’s worth of material and my first assignment had been to talk for only half an hour. Now I had a full hour and the entire audience.

I noted that lots of learning comes in the wrong size containers. Sometimes what you’re after is a few pages in a book or ten minutes wrapped in a lengthy course. This coaxes curriculum designers to pad out learning experiences into bigger packages. Often the author or designer imposes a false logic to make everything in the box a logical whole. I explained that we were going to change that this afternoon. Sequence often makes no difference. It’s chrome and fins.

Was everyone familiar with memes? A meme is an idea so hot that it propagates like virus. I showed a menu of a dozen memes.

“Pick a number,” I asked the audience.

These are all familiar topics to people familiar with my work. I'll give a summary paragraph or two on each topic and a link to more information on it.

1. The Birth of eLearning
In fall 1999, the dot-com era was in full swing, twenty-somethings were driving Ferraris and guzzling fine wine, Moore’s Law was Silicon Valley’s religion, and people began to talk of eLearning, an attempt to share the halo of eBusiness and eCommerce. Venture capitalists swarmed into eLearning, hoping to cash in on a Learning Revolution to eclipse the Industrial Revolution.

People are not widgets, certain aspects of learning cannot be automated, and first-generation eLearning was largely a failure.

5. Blended.
Blended is a term much in favor among those who originally defined eLearning as training by computer alone. When that didn’t work, they coupled online learning and face-to-face workshops. An extensive course would contain numerous slices of on, off, on, off, on, off, etc.

The on/off approach is absurdly limiting. Shouldn’t we always make available the best tool for the job? My eLearning palette includes collaboration, knowledge bases, simulation, just-in-time support, communities of practice, blogs, industry news, and more.

6. The Blogosphere
Blogs (short for web logs) are another symbol of the increasing importance of the individual over the institution. By and large, blogs are person websites characterized by:

• Frequent, often daily entries.
• Chronological sequence, latest entries first.
• Single author, speaking informally.
• Links to favorite blogs of others.
• Ability to comment on entries.
• Searchable archive of all previous entries.

Five million people blog. They are individuals, hobbyists, teenaged girls, geeks, authors, reporters, Howard Dean, corporations, political rebels, newspapers, and more. We looked at a few of the previous week’s entries on my blog at www.internettime.com. There was an explanation of Mobile Learning, photos of the Royal Mile, and a photo of shrink-wrapped haggis on the shelf at Safeway.

Imagine the power of easy-to-use, searchable blogs behind an organization’s firewall. Blogging is not for everyone and it raises questions of privacy and individual freedom, but if only a handful of people wrote insider blogs, it would provide so much information on the “shadow organization” – how things really work.

2. Hunt the Elephant
I had a CEO who admonished the staff to “hunt the elephant.” Don’t be distracted by chattering monkeys or jungle drums. Focus on what you came to do.

Soon after the term eLearning came into vogue, people began saying it’s not the “e” that’s important, it’s the learning. I don’t think they went far enough. It’s not the learning that’s important, it’s the action that comes after the learning. Executives look for one thing: execution. We need to talk with them about performance, about getting the job done, about hunting the elephant.

11. Bad Stuff
Poor design is at fault for some of the failure of first-generation eLearning to meet expectation. My first example showed a simple definition that had been tricked out as a page in a book, accompanied by an on-screen magnifying glass to make it legible. We also looked at an exercise where one learned proper casual attire by dressing a cut-out doll.

Finally, we tried a lesson in business etiquette. Which is the proper choice of things to say to your host following lunch?

    a. “My bass was great. How was your chicken?” b. “Mind if I finish off your chicken?” c. “Nothing like a fine Single Malt Scotch to finish off a meal, eh?”

Most of us had learned the night before that the correct answer is “c.”

We need to treat learners as customers and to avoid shoveling this sort of claptrap in their direction.

4. Emergent Learning
Our world is becoming more complex, a tsunami of information is on the horizon, and we’re expected to do more and more in less time. We have little choice but to reconceptualize our roles as workers and learners.

    “All the world's a stage And all the men and women merely players”

In bygone times, workers memorized their lines and followed the script. Today’s workers are improv players, making up their lines in response to the immediate situation.

3. Phase change

In 1999, the major justification for adopting eLearning was reduced costs. (Fewer airplane tickets, fewer salaries, and other one-time gains.) Then line managers bought into eLearning as a vehicle to prepare people to meet short-term goals. (Faster product rollouts, more informed sales people.) And now some senior executives think eLearning transformational. eLearning is a prerequisite of doing business in real time. Learning has become competitive advantage.

8. EAI
EAI stands for Enterprise Application Integration.

Thirty years ago, the prevailing wisdom was that business was made up of a variety of semi-autonomous parts: marketing, sales, manufacturing, logistics, finance, distribution, and so on. A hillside of silos. Then came Michael Porter who preached that all the parts were linked together in a “value chain.”

Enterprise software began to forge the links among disparate functions. And now Web Services are linking everything together, leading to an end-state where a corporation’s entire workflow is monitored and managed by one piece of software.

9. Workflow Learning
Imagine the worker in the turbulent white water of workflow. She receives guidance through contextual collaboration in the form of portals, IM, chat, blogs, web conferencing, workflow simulations, and smart knowledgebases. She is connected to the real-time workflow via business process models, social networks, expertise mining, personalization engines, and performance analytics.

Learning comes in real-time, right-sized chunks.

7. Visual Learning, also here.
Learning without pictures is half-brained. Paperback books have changed very little in the last 500 years. Words cannot do justice to the power of visual imagery, so let’s look at some pictures to learn from.

10. Networks & learning
This is the age of networks. We are enmeshed in information networks, social networks, financial networks, communications networks, the Internet, and more. Our bodies and brains are networks.

I define learning as the ability to prosper in the communities that matter to you. Our prevailing views of learning are colored by our shared experience of schooling. Might we be more open to thinking about learning as a network phenomenon? Learning means making better connections.

12. Brand
A brand is a promise to customers that converts a commodity into something so desirable that people we pay extra for it. If we seek to sell learning to workers, doesn’t it make sense to brand it? What promise are you making to your prospects? If your learning programs were an automobile, what brand would it be?

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February 20, 2004


Once again, I am aloft, this time flying from Scotland back to San Francisco after spending a couple of days pondering the future of eLearning.

I’ve been talking about how time is speeding up for the past few days and this morning I experienced it. I’d turned in quite late. I awoke to my wake-up call at 5:00 am. Then I rolled over to catch a few more winks before getting out of bed. I took a look at my watch and was horrified to see that it was 6:20 am. At 6:30, I was in an Austin taxi hurtling to the airport. Luckily, Edinburgh airport is small. I made my 7:25 flight with time to spare.

The second eLearnInternational Conference kicked off the morning of February 18th at the Edinburgh Conference and Exhibition Center. A BBC journalist introduced the event and The “Edinburgh Scenarios,” four alternative visions of eLearning ten years hence, that would be a springboard to our thinking for our discussions over the next two days.

Scottish Enterprise, which convened the event and would like to see Scotland become an eLearning powerhouse, unintentionally provided a delightful contrast of old and new with the first two speakers.

First up, a professor of moral philosophy from the University of Aberdeen demonstrated why the traditional academic model must change or die. Legitimizing his authority by noting his chair at the University had existed for 510 years, he lectured us through a series of questions that insulted our intelligence. Had we considered the anticipated outcome of this eLearning business? What is the purpose of it all? Mustn’t it be useful or valuable? Can one really expect to receive a quality learning experience via computer? After all, his own attempts to put his material into a learning management system had failed. Did we appreciate that learning is more than serving up content? Finally, some things, for example the ATM and the cell phone, don’t require any training. This erudite fellow was talking through his hat, so wedded to the way things were done on campus that he could only see eLearning as an inferior version of the real stuff that had stood the test of time. Sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I asked the professor a few questions. eLearning is not all or nothing. Shouldn’t we look at how technology can improve the traditional, no-tech solution? In that not every learn can come to the campus, wasn’t eLearning better than nothing? And did he really think that designers of eLearning were unaware of constructivism and that learning is a process? My questions rambled because I found fault with nearly everything this scholar had told us, and it was hard to know where to begin. I never got around to banks weaning customers from human tellers by training them to use ATMs. The prof must have a simpler cell phone than I; I have yet to learn how to use most of my phone’s features.

Remember the scene in the Woody Allen film where a pompous Columbia professor is trying to impress his date with his interpretation of the work of Marshal McLuhan? From behind a poster, Woody pulls out Marshal McLuhan himself, who tells the professor, “You know nothing of my work….”

Don Clark, CEO of the largest eLearning firm in the U.K., provided just such a moment with his common-sense, crystal-clear description of the future of learning. If we lived in a world with no schools, what would we build in their place? Would we rebuild rural, medieval colleges? Don showed photographs of his twin boys learning. These “digital natives” are autonomous learners. They learn from the Internet. Drawing on frameworks obtained from computer games, they ask their father about military strategy. Imagine, ten-year olds talking strategy. The twins do not have the patience to abide with the stand-and-talk model of teaching. Lecture is such an ineffective medium for learning.

Don Clark

What is a university, anyway? The Internet offers more information resources than any university library. The faculty comes and goes. The students are booted out when their time is up. What remains? In this age of digital abundance, the university is no more than a brand.

Learning has been a form of punishment, and it’s time to end schooling’s two thousand years of slavery. Huzzah! That gave us plenty to talk about amongst ourselves during the ensuing coffee break. Most people went easier on the professor than I. No one appeared to disagree with Don.

The next activity was three concurrent sessions, one for corporations, another for government, and one for NGOs. I attended the corporate session led by Martyn Sloman. Martyn directs learning research for CIPD, the U.K. equivalent of ASTD.

Martyn explained that training and learning are different things. Training is an activity you do to people in hopes that they will learn. Learning is a much broader activity performed by learners themselves. Most learning is informal. For example, you learn how to fiddle your expenses without benefit of taking a course on the subject.

PowerPoint. How many in the audience use PowerPoint at least once a month? (Most of us.) How many learned it by attending a course? (1 person) How many learned via eLearning? (2) How many learned through trial and error and/or asking people for help? (45) This is a typical finding.

Links from Martyn:


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Edinburgh Sites

Sunshine in Edinburgh. This is the castle.

The last resting place of David Hume.

On the facade of St. Giles

Along the Royal Mile

These were all over

Bill's favorite pub

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February 16, 2004


I adore travel to unfamiliar places. Even in the gray drizzle, alleys and cemetaries are beautiful if beauty is what you're looking for:

Some things remind one of home...

Others are a fun surprise, as in this Safeway:

Sometimes, you make private associations that bring a smile to your face.

Tonight I enjoyed a phenomenal dinner of nouveau Scottish cuisine. A pear stuffed with crab meat, wrapped in delicate smoked salmon. Grilled halibut in a red pepper coulis atop haricots verts and lightly sautéed vegetables. Three delectable Scottish cheeses.

The dollar is so worthless (less than half a £) than I feel like I'm carrying a third-world currency.

Luckily, I have no hang-up about shopping for bargains wherever I find myself. Speaking of which, I find the 10-year old Ardbeg Single Islay Malt superior to the 17-year. The elder is smoother, but it has lost too much of the youngster's peatiness.

Tasting notes

Next time I'm in Scotland, I think I'll go island hopping.

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Last week I concluded a presentation at TechKnowledge by reminding people, "Don't forget to turn in your Level 1 assessments."

Presenters at conferences get to see one thing participants don’t: the Evaluations. Having read more than a thousand of these quick-and-dirty assessments, I’ve concluded that most evals tell more about the evaluator than about the presenter.

Some people show their inner schoolmarm by critiquing form rather than substance. Yes, I know I should alternate colors on my flipcharts, and I understand you lowered my grade for my own good. Uh, thanks. Guess I had other things on my mind.

Others are extremely cynical. On the issue of whether our four panelists improperly promoted their wares, one participant wrote “You must be joking!” In our case, we had studiously avoided even a hint of impropriety. Neither I nor my colleagues even told people what we did. You hear what you expect to hear.

At training conferences, lots of participants come to be trained. They want things spelled out clearly. They expect to receive “the school solution.” They consider ambiguity a sin. I wish they’d come to learn. Then we could co-create some new ideas. Be positive; you might hear something you like.

And then there’s the matter of handouts. I invariably make improvements to a presentation the night before. I find a better way to express an idea or a local angle. Apparently, some in the audience would prefer that I not improve the presentation because it means the handout doesn’t synchronize perfectly with the words on screen.

At a recent event, five of us spoke in the course of 90 minutes. Among other things, participants were asked to rate our appropriateness, adherence to the written description, clarity, and the quality of delivery of each speaker. On the rating scale, “5” was tops and “1” was awful.

What are the odds that someone really found everything awful? Several people responded 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1. Conversely, wasn’t there some room for improvement? Lots of people rated us 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5. Hardly anyone rated any item 2 or 3. I guess we had a room full of extremists. This provides no guidance to anyone.

Let me offer a few suggestions on getting the most from conference sessions.

  1. Come to the session as a learner, not an evaluator. Let go. Be open. Forget that you know more about presentation skills than the presenter. You’re here to learn, not to coach the presenter.
  2. Don’t assume the presenter is only out for his or her own interests. Some of us are “paying back” for the help they’ve received from others. Many of us are really trying to make the world a better place. Remember, speakers at breakout sessions don't getting paid to do this.
  3. Nothing in this world is certain. Few things beyond second grade can be nailed down with three bullet points. Pat answers are usually wrong answers. Furthermore, uncertainty engages the mind. You want to learn? Expect to leave your comfort zone.
  4. Regarding handouts, Emerson pegged it with, “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
  5. If you want to give the presenter meaningful feedback, put it in words. Multiple choice items convey scant information.
  6. If you attend sessions to learn, evaluate your own performance. Were you attentive? Did you try to link the speaker’s ideas with your professional challenges? Did you take meaningful notes? Did you learn enough to justify investing your time? Is this the optimal mode for you to learn?

When Lance Dublin and I were making many joint presentations at the time our book came out, we marveled at people who rated us sub-par, but stayed with it for an hour or more. (There’s always at least one character who would have criticized Abe Lincoln at Gettysburg for speaking too long.) We started telling people that if they weren’t getting something out of our session, please leave. We didn’t want their ratings to ruin our averages.

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February 13, 2004

Group learning

What's wrong with these pictures?

I drew these pictures to make a point five years ago. If imitation is truly flattery, some of eLearning's best and brightest have flattered me extensively. No problem there, for I believe in karma. No, the problem lies elsewhere.

In part because we mistake the role of training with the role of schools, schematics like this focus on the individual rather than the work group. We've figured out lots of things about how a single person learns, but we haven't come very far since The Fifth Discipline in helping groups learn.

Hence, I'm delighted that Sage Learning's David Forman offered to share his perspective on how groups learn.

Changing Perspectives: From Individual to Organizational Learning

By David C. Forman, Sage Learning Systems

Most training and educational professionals have focused their efforts on learning in individuals, not organizations. This is understandable because so much needs to be accomplished to improve the efficacy of schools and corporate training programs. Besides, the notion of organizational learning has been ambiguous, difficult to comprehend and unfamiliar. This orientation toward individual learning seemed appropriate, complete and right at the time; but now it may no longer be sufficient.

Many of the basic building blocks of today's learning solutions were developed more than fifty years ago when the world was barely entering the information age. ENIAC, the precursor to modern computers, was in the laboratory while Benjamin Bloom was developing taxonomies of knowing; and distinctions between teaching and learning objectives were debated. Major corporations were domestic, not global, in reach; and their competitive advantage was based on the size and scope of their fixed assets. The term human capital was probably considered an oxymoron for the day. The PC was several decades away. The Beatles had not been born.

The economy, world situation and avenues for value creation have changed dramatically. The competitive strength of companies and even countries is now tied not to physical resources but to the knowledge and skills of people. And these people do not work in isolation within companies; they work in teams, informal groups and in multiple roles. Human talent works better in teams (de Geus, 2004). In this changed environment, there needs to be a way to discuss cumulative learning among individuals in teams, communities and organizations. There needs to be more emphasis on organizational and not just individual learning.

Organizational Learning

The term "Organizational Learning" entered most people's consciousness in 1990 with the publication of Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline. Senge actually used the term "The Learning Organization," and the concept resonated with strategic thinkers and corporate leaders immediately. It made sense that there were different factors at work to make an "organization smart" and if these could be harnessed, the company could be stronger, more vital, and better able to adapt to change.

Senge defined the learning organization as the collective ability of a group to expand continuously its capacity to create the future. Most observers view organizational learning and the learning organization as virtually synonymous terms, with the former focusing more on process and the latter on structure. Huber (1991) extended the definition of organizational learning by identifying four necessary constructs: knowledge acquisition, information distribution, information interpretation, and organizational memory.

Organizational learning remained a relatively abstract concept for several years. The idea was compelling but few knew what to do about it. Then, several things started to happen. First, influential CEOs became very interested in optimizing the human capital and talent in their organizations. Led by champions such as Jack Welch, rhetoric turned into programs and core values that strengthened intangible human assets and led to stronger competitive market positions. These champions knew inherently that the keys to a dynamic, responsive, contemporary organization were not just workers or employees; but people who could think, work together, challenge each other, and innovate.

Workers today must be equipped not simply with technical know-how but also with

the ability to create, analyze, and transform information and to interact

effectively with others.

Alan Greenspan

Chairman, Federal Reserve Board

Next, economists (and even accountants) began to provide more clarity and specifics on the definition, costs and the components of organizational value. Organizational value is comprised of financial assets, physical assets and intangible assets. It is now clear that in the 21stcentury economy, 80% of a company's market value is not determined by cash, buildings or equipment, but by intangible factors such as intellectual and human capital. Furthermore there is the "market to book" value of Fortune 500 companies which in 2001 reached a value of 6.0. This figure means that for every $6 of market value, only $1 represents financial and physical assets (Weatherly, 2003). These figures corroborate what top CEOs already understood. Wealth stems from great people.

Useful distinctions were made among different types of intangible capital (Weatherly, 2003). The term human capital is sometimes used as a synonym for intangible capital, but it is not as Table 1 demonstrates. Different authors may use other terms such as relational, customer and intellectual capital, but Weatherly's categories are logical, consistent and complete. It is also interesting to note that human capital is an asset that employees decide to share or not share with the organization (Davenport, 1999). Workers are not human capital; but human capital owners who decide when, how and where they will contribute it. This is a very important distinction that is often ignored by managers and executives.

Table 1: Types of Intangible Capital

(Weatherly, 2003)

Type of Intangible Capital



Human Capital

The collective knowledge, experience and attributes of employees that they choose to

invest in their workplace.

Tacit knowledge


Work-related know-how

Work-related competencies

Structural Capital

The codified knowledge that

resides within an organization

Intellectual property

Methodologies and policies



Social Capital

The relationships within the organization to facilitate the

transfer of knowledge

Mentor-mentee relationship

Collegial networks

Team relationships


Organizational Capital

The company's external relationships.

License agreements

Distribution channels


Brand credibility

The last reason for increased visibility of organizational learning is the rise of enterprise-level knowledge management (KM) systems. Early implementations were often little more than a big repository of indexed documents that people could access. As the technology improved, these systems included connections to experts for those who needed their guidance; and collections of work products, proposals and research papers that could be accessed by employees facing similar situations. These systems have great potential for reducing mistakes, leveraging existing work and networks, and greatly contributing to organizational learning. Human and cultural factors, however, have often impeded the progress of knowledge management within organizations. For example, in some contexts, knowledge sharing is not rewarded or at least subtly discouraged. Despite these difficulties, the need for effective knowledge management--a key facilitator of organizational learning--continues to be a priority in global organizations.

Organizational learning is now in sharper focus. The first step in a renewed emphasis on organizational learning is to move beyond the general concept and develop a practical framework that can facilitate communication. This article presents a practical framework for the discussion of organizational learning, and it has its roots both in instructional design (ID) and organizational development (OD) practices.

An Organizational Learning Framework

The framework for organizational learning identifies factors that are necessary for an organization to continue to develop and grow its intangible capital. When these factors operate together and synergistically, a learning culture is created that perpetuates itself and nurtures continued growth throughout the enterprise. Organizational learning, then, becomes both additive and cumulative so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

At a macro level, this potential is best illustrated by the GE Corporation whose market value is billions of dollars greater than the sum of its various component businesses. This synergistic value is not achieved by accident, but rather by a concerted strategy to share knowledge in a boundaryless organization. Within an organization, the same standard applies: organizational learning should result in accumulated intangible capital that exceeds the sum of what individuals possess and contribute.

There are two levels to the framework. The first is the contribution level and this refers to what individuals, teams and groups do to develop new knowledge, processes, approaches and products. When successful, it is the outcome of work and jobs and the foundation of organizational learning; if it does not exist, the organization begins to become stale. The second is the multiplier level that expands and magnifies contributions throughout the organization to more people, faster and more effectively. It is this level that can lead to a sustaining and vibrant learning culture.

Each level is depicted in the following visual and then briefly described. The levels and their corresponding organizational capabilities are certainly not exhaustive and they can occur in varying sequences, but the framework is valuable because it provides a common language to discuss organizational learning. With a common language established, it is then possible to create programs and processes to develop these organizational capabilities, monitor their success, and make adjustments accordingly.

Levels of Organization Learning

The Contribution Level represents the collective performance improvement of the organization. This is the essence of a learning organization: if improvement occurs, the organization learns and grows; if it doesn't, the organization stagnates, loses ground and repeats the same mistakes again and again. The main organizational capabilities of the contribution level are:

·        Learn-- The collective knowledge, skills and know-how of people in the organization must continue to be nurtured and grown. To some, this might translate into more extensive training programs, but this is rarely the answer. Leading companies such as Qualcomm and Cisco understand that communication platforms play a vital role in refreshing knowledge and keeping people current and competent. Cross (2003) has recognized that informal as opposed to formal learning is four times more meaningful in providing know-how. Organizational learning opportunities must extend beyond formal training programs and include different informal and nontraditional ways in which people learn and grow.

·        Collaborate-- People do not work in isolation. Project teams, matrixed- organizations and multiple job roles are common practices in today's organizations. To be successful in this environment, people need to work together, share information and exchange perspectives. If not, individual knowledge and know-how remains locked up and not accessible to the team and the larger organization. The organization starts to whither as collaboration breaks down and knowledge remains in the purview of individuals. Individuals, it must be remembered, have a choice of whether to invest their human capital in the organization.

·        Leverage -- It is not enough to simply share past information and practices; improvements must be made to solve new problems. The ability of teams to synthesize, challenge and enhance past approaches is what establishes the basis for innovation. This is where collective information is interpreted, tested and transformed. Organizational growth, learning and value are now being formed. This capability has its roots in "double-loop" or generative learning (Argysis, 1977 and Senge, 1990).

·        Innovate -- Organizational innovation occurs if: 1) the collective body of knowledge and know-how grows, 2) people work together 3) collective knowledge is enhanced and extended and 4) these lessons are applied to move the organization forward. If application does not occur, the organization remains essentially unchanged. Innovation can take a number of forms. It can result in breakthrough ideas, patents, products and methods or it can lead to more gradual improvements in quality, timeliness and cost effectiveness.

The Multiplier Level extends the impact and influence of the learning organization. If the contribution level supplies the substance of the organizational performance improvement, the multiplier level helps to provide its soul to a broader audience.. Without this level, organizational learning would be apparent for a period of time; but would not become ingrained and part of a perpetuating learning culture. The main organizational capabilities of the multiplier level are:

·        Mentor - The mentor-mentee relationship can be a rich source of insights, guidance and practical wisdom. It is also a vehicle for both the mentor and mentee to pass on, enrich and extend improved organizational learning practices. Since these discussions usually occur outside the direct reporting and work environment, these lessons get passed along to other spheres of influence within the enterprise. As networks and social capital expand, mentoring becomes a way to enrich relationships and extend influence.

·        Network-- Some people argue that social capital (know-who) is a more significant organizational asset than human capital (know-how), given how quickly knowledge and conditions change. The ability to expand social networks and relationships, both internally and externally, is vital to improving the visibility and credibility of organizational learning. It is also a key ingredient in gaining broader consensus and laying the foundation for a perpetuating learning culture.

·        Inspire - Passion has its place. All learning, whether individual or organizational, encompasses change, and this is difficult to accomplish under any circumstance. Champions help to provide the motivation for change and also serve as role models to guide others. Inspiration is not only the key to implementing change but helping to establish a culture that values learning, growth and continuous improvement.

The contribution and multiplier levels work together to foster organizational learning. If the organizational capabilities in the contribution level exist and work together seamlessly, then the collective level of organizational learning rises. If the capabilities in the multiplier level are present, integrated and effective, then organizational learning's influence is extended and a learning culture begins to take hold.

The Organizational Context

Some organizations can grow organizational learning capabilities; others cannot overcome the considerable barriers, in spite of best intentions. The best collaboration, mentoring and networking programs, for example, will go nowhere unless the company actively and enthusiastically supports these initiatives. This commitment often comes from senior management, but because of global success stories such as Shell, Philips and GE, more and more CEOs are "signing on" to the value of maximizing the use, development and deployment of their talent.

There are three organizational factors that directly impact organizational learning. One makes organizational learning easier, one makes it possible and the other makes it expected. These three factors are:

·        Systems -- Technology can both facilitate and amplify organizational learning. The amount of information, people and structural capital within organizations is immense and without some way to systematize these resources, they are difficult to access, let along share and leverage. Technology has usually been used for communication platforms (Intranets), training delivery (e-learning), collaboration (web meetings and business platforms) and knowledge management. Problems arise, however, when organizations expect technology alone to drive organizational learning. It can't and it hasn't, despite the power of these systems and what vendors suggest. Poorly constructed technical systems can also impede organizational learning.

·        Culture --If organizational learning is inconsistent with the culture and values of the organization, it will whither. Examples of an inconsistent culture might be one that supports strict hierarchical relationships, cycles through a great many people, or values cost reduction above value creation. Just as the soft Ss in the McKinsey 7S framework (shared values, skills, staff and style) are more influential than hard factors such as structure and systems in the effectiveness of implementing strategy, culture is what makes organizational learning possible. If a company's culture initially supports the basic precepts of organizational learning; and then the organization develops learning capabilities and begins to demonstrate their value, learning can then become embedded and instilled as part of the ongoing company culture.

·        Performance Management - The organization needs to craft job responsibilities, programs and objectives to ensure that organizational learning is expected, part of everyday activities, and rewarded. If this type of motivation and reinforcement is not present, then momentum wanes and companies fall out of alignment and revert to past practices. When employees are aligned and focused on organizational learning, then it can begin to achieve its unfulfilled potential.

Closing Thoughts

If the talent of an organization is its most precious (and expensive) asset, there must be ways to discuss the continued development and expansion of these intangible assets. If we believe the rhetoric of the knowledge economy, we must at least be able to converse about a company's most prized possessions and its wealth. The models and frameworks from the training and education disciplines are not helpful because they focus on individual not organizational learning. Similarly, the evaluation and return on investment literature offers little guidance because it looks at particular programs and not learning that is additive and cumulative over time. In addition, these evaluation models are rather exclusively focused on cost reduction as opposed to value and knowledge creation.

The frameworks from strategists and organizational developers have proved to be not much more useful. They are either too abstract or too segmented. Many treatments, for example, focus on a piece of the puzzle such as knowledge management or collaboration, but not the power of an organization that grows, develops and continues to create more intangible capital..

The framework for organizational learning has been presented as a vehicle to begin the important discussion about practical ways in which the knowledge and wealth of an organization can grow. The framework's levels and organizational capabilities are taken from the nexus between instructional design and organizational development where learning becomes both meaningful to the individual and to the organization. Some training and HR professionals may not want to enter this new organizational learning arena because it is ill-defined, complex and high-stakes. It is safer to retreat to our specialties. But organizational learning has great promise precisely because it is so important, yet poorly understood. If we come out of our silos, we have a lot to contribute.

The rate at which organizations learn may become the only sustainable competitive advantage

Peter Senge, 1990


Argyis, C. "Double-loop learning in organizations." Harvard Business Review, 55(5), 115-125

Cross, J. "Informal learning: the other 80%." The Internet Time Group, 2003

Davenport, T. Human Capital: What It Is and Why People Invest It.? San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1999

De Geus, A. "The nature of organizations." Hr.com online learning, 2004

Fitz-enz, J. ROI of Human Capital. New York, NY: AMACOM, 2000

Greenspan, A. In: The Human Capital Challenge. Alexandria, VA: ASTD, 2003

Huber, G. "Organizational learning: the contributing process and literatures." Organizational Science, 2.88:115

Senge, P. The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. New York, NY: Doubleday/Currency, 1990

Weatherly, L. "Human capital: the elusive asset." SHRM Research Quarterly. 1, 2003

Weatherly, L. "The value of people." SHRM Research Quarterly. 3, 2003

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February 12, 2004

Fun Flow

Deep Fun looks like a site worth coming back to.

A summary page on flow

Boxes and Arrows has this nifty take on "Paradigm Dissonance."

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Virtual Clark Aldrich

Harvey Singh had to pinch-hit for Clark Aldrich on our panel on the future of learning. Harvey did great. But Clark, this could have been you in this photo instead of Harvey:

Clark did send along these photos of hundreds of NCOs, soon to be heading back to Iraq, doing the Virtual Leader simulation.

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TechKnowledge '04 -- Day Three

By the third day of an event like this, some participants are zombies; others are off to Disneyland (soon to be ComcastLand). This time they missed some great insights.

ASTD chair Pat Crull took the stage to introduce Qualcomm's Tamar Elkeles who was going to tell us about The Wireless Future and the Impact on Learning. Yawn. I expected a pitch about Kyocera phones. Or how people who refuse to read for very long on a 17" monitor are going to learn to love reading on a 2"x2" screen on a PDA. I've heard it and I figured I could wait until this stuff came of age.

Tamar took the stage and began to talk about "learning on the move." She told us how you can already use your phone as a voice-activated remote control for both your garage door and your television set. You can download a ring-tone that is an inaudible mosquito repellent. For $10 a month, SPRINT will let you watch CNBC and sports by phone.

Tamar's presentation

Consider how phones are woven into our lives. Ring! Ring! Ring! You feel compelled to pick it up to answer. Cell phones are a relatively new innovation yet they've become indispensible. Losing your phone is like losing an appendage to your body.

The Europeans are investing € 4,5 million in wireless illiteracy training for the homeless. Why? They may not have a home, but they surely have a wireless device. Gallo uses wireless phone learning to bring merchants up to speed on new products; at least they won't be interrupted by phone calls.

Pilot programs are investigating blends, discovery learning (museums), interpretation (info), and more. About then it hit me. My concept of "phone" had become obsolete.

A dozen years ago, speakers describing how gradual change can sneak up on you would recount a story of frogs and water on the stove. The legend said that it you pitched a frog in boiling water, he'd hop right out. However, if you put the frog in tepid water and heated it to a boil, the frog wouldn't sense what was happening and you'd end up with boiled frog. In my case, the phone had almost reached the boiling point before I woke up to the fact that we're no longer talking about Ma Bell's phones. Today's devices are not the same species as the phones I grew up with. (When I was a little boy growing up in Hope, Arkansas, our phone number was "2"; our town wasn't wired for dial phones at the time.)

It's the old saw that you can't learn what you already know. I was two years late appreciating the real value of storytelling because I thought I already knew most of what there was to know on the subject. Then I finally read Stephen Denning's The Springboard and discovered an entire new landscape. Ah, co-creation. Now I see why stories are great (your mind makes up its own stories in reaction to those of others).

I'd have caught on to M-Learning sooner if instead of phones and PDAs, the enthusiasts described the hardware as learning gizmos or TriCorders. That would have kept me from blocking out the potential with limitations that are no longer there, some kind of learned helplessness.

IBM's executive for M-learning, Christopher von Koschembahr, climbed to the podium to describe a scenario out of Sam Adkins' and my workflow learning playbook. Over the past ten years, the back-end of business computing has consolidated to the point that a mobile learner can connect into the central nervous system of the enterprise. (Chris's wording was much more elegant but I hope you get the idea nonetheless.)

The thought is that the only slack time available for learning comes in small chunks. You have ten minutes waiting in line? Pull out your learning gizmo and catch up:

Tamar came back on to tell us it's time to work on our M-Strategies. It doesn't cost anything to begin, it rides on infrastructure we've already built, and the time is now.

Lance Dublin, the impresario of TechKnowledge '04, came back on to thank everyone who helped put the event together. I found this event very worthwhile. I was happy to get the feeling that America is finally coming out of the economic dark ages of the last couple of years.


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Personal Intellectual Capital

This article appears in the current issue of CLO magazine.

Personal Intellectual Capital

you are the most important person in the universe.
so is everyone else.

e. e. cummings

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.

Professionally, we design learning experiences to meet concrete objectives. We plan ahead to prepare for the future. We try to avoid reinventing the wheel. We build systems to leverage the knowledge we already possess. We gather feedback so we can do better next time.

Personally, we should do no less. Intellectual capital is what separates winners from losers, and I want the best I can get. My personal learning and knowledge management are too important to leave to chance. So are yours.

Choose your goals. For next month, the next year, the next decade and before you die. Think about what you must learn to achieve them.

Become aware of how you learn. Your brain hosts a continuous, internal conversation. If you don't like what you hear, change it.

You don't need to know something if you know where to find it. Set up your own knowledge repository. For 20 years, I've saved factoids, quotations and reference information on my computer. It's searchable. I couldn't do without it.

You are what you learn. List your inputs--magazines, Web sites, courses and colleagues. Will these inputs enable you to learn what you need to know? If not, change them.

Life is not a true-or-false test. Everything is relative. Recognizing that what once appeared black or white is actually a continuum of grays is healthy unlearning.

Deep learning takes reflection. Every time you learn something, make a connection to something you already know. After attending any event, I give myself time to look over my notes, to write and to draw mind maps. Friends who took 6 a.m. flights to get back to the office won't retain nearly as much as I will.

Hanging out with the same crowd all the time limits innovation and encourages groupthink. To learn new things, leave your comfort zone and sample new disciplines and cultures. Use the Web to read other countries' newspapers, other professions' journals and other people's blogs.

Imagine that your field of work is a spinning disk. Things at the center move very slowly. Innovation resides at the periphery, far from that slow, established core. The edge is where your work interacts with that of others. You've got to be edgy if you seek fresh perspective.

Be your own sports psychologist. Visualize achieving your goals. Then go for it!

The process of change sees to it that lots of what you've learned is obsolete, inappropriate or simply dead wrong. The world is riddled with complexity. Admitting that some of what you know is wrong makes room to learn new things.

To deepen understanding and plant something in memory, teach it to someone else.

Human nature values urgency over importance. If the phone rings while you're working on an important project, you answer it. You defer the important to tend to the trivial. Dumb move. Dedicate time each day for long-term thinking. Take time to learn. Remember the 80/20 rule! And don't forget to cut off the phone.

Level 1. Are you happy? Do you lead the life you want to lead?

Level 2. Can you demonstrate what you're learning? Is your learning sound?

Level 3. Are you progressing in ways that increase your economic value? Are you deepening relationships with family and friends? Are you growing spiritually?

Level 4. Are you doing your part to make the world a better place?

Jay Cross is CEO of eLearningForum, founder of Internet Time Group and a fellow of meta-learninglab.com. For more information, e-mail Jay at [email protected].

Posted by Jay Cross at 11:54 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A Killer Web Event

Kolabora Live!
: "What Experts Need To Do To Prepare For A Killer Web Event" with Jay Cross, Stephanie Downs, Nancy White, Heike Philp, Wes Kussmaul and Robin Good. Tuesday February the 24th at 12 noon EST

Speaking of "killer," IBM's Richard Straub responded to my kvetching about the degredation of email by saying "Perhaps email is the real killer app," meaning that it kills you. He continues...

[However,] I believe there is a hidden productivity reserve in e-mail for most companies. I am not just talking about the mis-uses of e-mail we are all suffering from, but about the lack of an e-mail culture and broadly accepted code of conduct, taking into account the economics of communication. Even before spam became common, the e-mail volumes in many companies were reaching unacceptable levels; 100 - 200 e-mails per day do not exactly increase the productivity of knlowlege workers - as Peter Drucker would
probably put it.

Yesterday I received 497 emails, of which perhaps a dozen conveyed a worthwhile message. Sixty of them were notices of XXX comments posted to my blogs by cyber-vandals.

Time permitting, I'll be posting a report later today on the wrap-up of TechKnowledge. What I'm telling friends in email:

  • Optimism is in the air. Once again, training professionals are talking about the future.
  • Small can be beautiful. A thousand attendees is about right. You can find anybody you want to talk with yet there are enough people to make networking practical.
  • My own interests have shifted. I used to prefer breakouts with a single speaker taking me deeply into his or her worldview. This time, I got more out of the panel sessions.
  • Most of the faculty followed the philosophy of The Cluetrain Manifesto: more signal, less b.s.

I am not optimistic about the state of today's schools, and messages like this one from students : "I,m student of spectrum , a communicative course in english- 1B . I need to testing package, please tell me how do I get it "
Posted by Jay Cross at 09:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 11, 2004

TechKnowledge '04, Day Two

Welcome, Dan, Fred, Beatrice, Amanda, and Elizabeth, who attended this evening's sessions on Blogs & Learning at TechKnowledge.


 Josh Bersin

My second morning of TechKnowledge began with a panel of vendors of LMS and eLearning platforms addressing “Where are they going?” Panelists were Jason Averbook (PeopleSoft), Ed Cohen (Plateau), Lenny Greenberg (Pathlore), Malcolm Hobbs ( Saba ), and Jim Federico (Click2Learn). Moderator Josh Bersin (Bersin & Associates) pulled these nuggets of wisdom and rules of thumb from the panelists:

  • For every $1 you spend on LMS software, expect to spend three or four times more for implementation.
  • 5% to 15% of your cost will be for integration.
  • LMS no longer run in silos. One provider says nine out of ten installs link to HR or financial systems.
  • Jason: You cannot integrate at the business product level.
  • Ed: That's a myth. The LMS can be the hub.
  • It's not going to be a single-vendor world. (I thought of a Ferrari, with body by Bertone, Pirelli tires, Bosch ignition, Dell'orto carburetor, and so on.)
  • PeopleSoft receives 30,500 RFPs a year.
  • You've got a choice with enterprise software. You can customize the software to your processes (paying through the nose for customization and shutting off your upgrade path) or conforming to the best practices imbedded in the software.
  • A quarter of the audience had more than one LMS.
  • Important in the 3-5 year future: enterprise wide performance culture, adoption of industry best practices, total cost of ownership, plug—and-play enterprise software, integration of learning and work, workflow-based learning.


Next I visited a panel of buyers. Steve Teal (Bristol Myers Squibb), Dan Henry (Bank One), and Keith Irwin (Wells Fargo), egged on by moderator Sam Herring (LGuide), told stories of the “Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”

Lessons include:

  • Be sure who owns the intellectual capital.
  • Determine your requirements before calling in the vendors. The devil's in the details.
  • “Will the vendors come in to you?” “Too often.” One fellow no longer returns phone calls. Advice: don't call them in until you've defined what you want.
  • What if the vendor doesn't follow your RFP process? Watch out. One buyer received 200 pp. of boilerplate ahead of the answers to his questions. How they answer the RFP indicates what they'll be like later on. Eliminate them from consideration.
  • The RFI is educational; the RFP comes after defining your requirements.
  • When choosing an advisor, pick a “partner” who is independent. Lots of great people are available.
  • Research? One person suggested Brandon Hall. Another said the information he received from Brandon was inaccurate and out of date. LGuide used to date-stamp its reports since inaccuracies are often attributable to the age of the report.
  • Watch out for two similar-sounding but very different terms. Configurable means you can flip a few switches to change things to your liking. Customization is recoding – and you will pay for it.
  • Translation: “We can do that” = “Pull out your pocketbook.”
  • Would you buy version 1.0? No.
  • Sign a prenup setting grounds for a no-fault divorce in case of irreconcilable differences.
  • Next was my panel with Ellen Wagner, Harvey Singh, and Dexter Fletcher, orchestrated by Brenda Sugrue. We covered a lot of ground but that will wait for another day; I'm a bit tired.

Next was my panel with Ellen Wagner, Harvey Singh, and Dexter Fletcher, orchestrated by Brenda Sugrue. We covered a lot of ground but that will wait for another day; I'm a bit tired. (My photos of Ellen and Brenda did not turn out.)

Posted by Jay Cross at 09:17 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 10, 2004

ASTD TechKnowledge 04 #1

ASTD TechKnowledge '04

Battlefield Report

ASTD COO/CIO Tony Bingham opened the TechKnowledge conference at the Anaheim Marriott this morning with an arresting slide that announced, "Technology is Dead." Then he announced that this was a quote from Larry Ellison, just crazy Larry spouting off again. (Tony presiding signaled the fact that ASTD has yet to seat a new president.) Tony warned us away from pertrusive (pervasive+intrusive) apps.

Michael Rogers, a "practical futurist" from the Washington Post gave us his thoughts on what's next. Kids think the classified ads in the newspaper are dumb; why wouldn't you search for precisely what you're after online? Why pay for a dozen songs on a CD rather than buy the songs you really want one at a time? The next gen expects to have its media customized: TiVo is replacing "appointment viewning."

With MyWashingtonPost, they invested $1 million, but consumers did little beyond customizing their movie schedules. Personalization must be implicit, like Amazon, the result of smart software watching my behavior and accommodating my needs.

People today want to be doing things. They want control. They want tools. Along with the book review, add a button for buying the book.

The browser's fading away in favor of Internet-aware apps.

Wired kids, e.g. in Finland, make fluid plans. "Let's all go to the pizza place now." You can show up in person or virtually (text messaging is as good as being there.)

Ease of use should mean "Easy to Use." Steve Jobs announced the Mac in 1984, saying that Apple was making the computer as easy to use as the telephone. Now our telephones are getting as hard to use as our computers!

The "guru problem" crops up when an expert has a vested interest in keeping his "secret knowledge" secret, i.e. making himself indispensable.

On my first cruise of the four-aisle exhibition, I found a few new items:

Hatsize supplements a web conferencing tool (e.g. Interwise, Centra, WebEx, etc.) with administrative control. For example, Hatsize will set up all the computers with the software and configuration to participate in an eLearning course. Say the course takes a break. Hatsize can return everyone's computers to their last state when learners return.

Pixion is a conference server. One wonders how many of these the world needs. Unlike most of what's out there, you can buy Pixion as either a hosted solution or to run on your own servers. Written in java, Pixion is natively multiplatform (unlike MS Live Meeting.)

TalentSmart is an online interview that assesses your EQ (emotional intelligence) from asking 28 questions. This creates scores long four dimensions: self awareness, self management, social awareness, and relationship management. Then you're reinforced with action plans, goal tracking, sharing results with your boss, and more. They tell me Goldman Sachs has purchased 3,500 units. Unit cost is $29.95. Workshops, workbooks, etc., are extra-cost items. It's an interesting concept; I can't tell whether it's going to change the world. Experience will tell.

Plateau's Ed Cohen considerately warned me away from his wildly popular session on LMS as too elementary. I walked across the hall and caught Kevin Oakes's presentation on getting "A Seat at the Table." This was Credibility-Building 101. From what I've seen in California companies, I agree with Kevin 100%. Being invited into the executive conversation is not an entitlement; it's something you earn by thinking and expressing yourself like a business person.

Kevin quoted Pat Galaghan, who was sitting directly behind me, telling of an audience member who bolted when Pat brought up the bottom line. "I didn't get into training and development to worry about the bottom line."

I was happy to finally meet T+D's Eva Kaplan-Leiserson f2f. She has just had published a couple of items on social software, good roundups of an exploding area of interest. I invited her to join our next Emergent Learning Forum, which will focus on the nexus of social software and corporate learning.

I expect to be writing more about this. For now, I'll offer Kevin's summary:

  1. Skip the rhetoric. (Normal people don't talk about pedagogy.)
  2. Understand the business and speak in those terms.
  3. Act, don't just "align."
  4. Use technology for a purpose.
  5. Focus on results. = bottom line.

Totally nutty, the organization of this event. In late afternoon, I wanted to hear Thiagi talking about games and sims. And Sam Adkins, on workflow learning. And Bob Mosher, now with Microsoft. And IBM's Tony O'Driscoll on "challenging conventional wisdom." I ended up in Jack Phillips' session on ROI. (Why schedule all the hot speakers for the same slot?)

Jack's emphasis on results is right-on and his lilting Southern drawl is ideal for putting across a no-nonsense message.

I don't agree with Jack's characterization of intangibles as things that can't or shouldn't be converted to numeric data. Those who read me here know that I consider intangibles such as know-how, competence, and relationship capital more important than physical assets. Geez, I also find that, even thought it's intangible, "opportunity cost" -- the value of what people would have been doing with their time were they not learning -- is often the largest cost of any learning.

ASTD has to think this event a success. They're larger than last year; the expo hall is filling out. The breakout speakers are good. Attendance is up, not down.

Some of the cognoscenti complain that the participants are two or three years off the pace. This is what happens when a technology becomes mainstream.

As I found at my first TechKnowledge event in Vegas a couple of years ago, conferences like this truly serve the membership. It's not cutting edge. It's tried and true.

From my motel, Katella Blvd & DisneyLand

Time for bed. Zzzzzzzzzzzz.......

Posted by Jay Cross at 12:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 07, 2004

New TV Series

Ripped from the headlines!!! (Today's New York Times)

White Collar Crime Unit

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 6 - Irwin Schiff, the nation's best-known promoter of claims that no law requires the payment of income taxes, suffers from delusions including a fantasy that he alone can properly interpret the tax laws, according to papers that he had his lawyers file in Federal District Court in Las Vegas.
The mayor's office noted that Irwin Schiff is not related for former DA Adam Shiff.

The mental health claim is also a ruse, according to an e-mail message sent on Tuesday to Mr. Schiff's thousands of supporters by his girlfriend, Cindy Nuen. She wrote that this defense is the only way for Mr. Schiff to escape fraud penalties because, she wrote, his lawyers are "scared" to tell judges that "the income tax law is meritless and frivolous."

Mr. Schiff's personal psychiatrist, Dr. Luis Carlos Ortega of Las Vegas, wrote last year, ... that Mr. Schiff has suffered from paranoid delusions about the tax system for decades.

...Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Tuesday on whether Mr. Schiff can be barred from selling his book "The Federal Mafia: How the Federal Government Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully Collects Federal Income Taxes."

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Killer Web Events

Robin Good invited me to participate in an online event named What Experts Need To Know To Prepare A Killer Web Event at noon Eastern on Wednesday, February 24th.

Since I prepared three online presentations in the last two weeks and am working on two more this very moment, I thought I'd better being recording some of what I'm doing, sort of acting as if I were an introspective anthropologist. At this point, I'll be jotting down more about presentations than events, because mine were 1:200 affairs, not back-and-forth conversations.

Alignment. My first step for any event or presentation is to contemplate my intended audience. Who are they? And what point of view do I want to convey to them? What's my stance?

Message. Next I brainstorm things I want to get across. A talk may have half a dozen messages. For each, I try to think up an illustrative story or an interaction/demo.

MindMap. If I'm juggling a lot of ideas at this point, I draw a Mind Map to sort them out. This is for my use; rarely do I share these with others.

(Here is the final presentation that began with this map.

PowerPoint. Whether you use PowerPoint or not in your final presentation, it's a wonderful tool for organizing ideas, images, sound, and even video snippets. I dump things into PowerPoint and move them around.

Sleep on it. At this point, I delegate organizing and embellishment to my subconscious, knowing that I'll awake with new insights. If you believe that, they will be there.

Get feedback. This item really covers several points:

  • practice, practice, practice
  • time yourself (and then add 50% because live always takes longer)
  • record yourself giving the presentation (e.g. narrate the PowerPoint)
  • send the recorded presentation to a knowledgeable and emphathetic critic

This may sould like a time-burning activity but it doesn't have to be. For me, I copied the presentation to my laptop. I cut on Macromedia Breeze, gave the talk, and uploaded it to the web. I invited a friend to review it on the web. He emailed me feedback. Granted, this is a short presentation, but going through this cycle took me no more than 45 minutes in all.

Notes. I invariably print out what PowerPoint calls "Handouts," pages with 4 or 6 or 9 slide images per page. I usually go for 9. And I add notes to myself on transitions, rough spots, and announcements on this "shooting script."

Posture. Whenever possible, I give presentations standing up. (I do the same for important phone calls.) Standing up makes the voice richer and mroe powerful.

Mantras. Immediately before I begin to speak, I say these words to myself; it's a prescription from speech coach Dorothy Sarnoff:

  1. I'm glad that I'm here.
  2. I'm glad that you're here.
  3. I know that I know.
  4. I care about you.

Breathe. Whenever you want to be calm, take a deep brreath. Do it now. Nice, eh?
Do it before you speak online, too.

Treat the microphone as you would a person.. In the photo, the presenter is using handsignals to make a point during a webinar.

What tricks of the trade do you find useful?

Posted by Jay Cross at 01:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 06, 2004

MyDoom, Your Doom

I have now wasted eight hours over the past couple of weeks deleting virus-mail from my inbox. When the Feds find the S.O.B. who opened this Pandora's Box of cyber-mayhem, I propose they send him to Guantanamo for twenty years of :interrogation" by the best thugs the CIA can buy.

This morning I read through a hundred incoming emails on the web using Horde. I deleted 95% of them as obvious Spam.

This reminds me of hearing Tom Stewart talking about how email appears in his inbox "as if delivered in the night by some evil Santa."

Posted by Jay Cross at 09:39 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 05, 2004

Recent Presentations

You may have noticed that I've been giving Macromedia Breeze a workout. I'm honored they chose me to give the first two sessions in their inaugural webinar series. Five hundred people signed up for Sam's and my presentation today, although of course nowhere near that many followed through. The etiquette in signing up for webinars is undefined; suffice it to say that registering for an online event is closer to highlighting a show you want to watch in the t.v. listings than to accepting an invitation to a wedding reception.

I'll post the URL to Sam's and my gig as soon as I can lay my hands on it. In the meantime, here are a couple for your listening pleasure. Please leave a comment telling us what you think of Breeze as a delivery medium.

The Edinburgh Scenarios, 34 minutes, Jonathan Star and Jay Cross

    GBN's Jonathan Star and Internet Time Group's Jay Cross discuss the state of eLearning ten years hence.

New Directions, 17 minutes, Jay Cross

    Jay discusses emergent learning and the Emergent Learning Forum

I've said this before but I'll say it again: PowerPoint presentations without narration or notes are about as useful for learning as a Rorschach test. The interpretation tells you more about the reader than about what the author had in mind. Wordless PowerPoint decks are cop-outs, e.g. "I missed the meeting but I looked through the PowerPoints." You betcha.

Posted by Jay Cross at 11:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 04, 2004

Out with the Old, In with the New


Old With the Old, In With the New

Tomorrow. February 4. 10:00 am Pacific Time. Macromedia Breeze.

Jay Cross, Founder, Internet Time Group, and CEO, Emergent Learning Forum
Sam Adkins, Chief Analyst and Director of Research, Workflow Institute
Offered: Feb 5th (Event Sold Out)

Most training fails. This session looks at what succeeds.

A recent post on the Learning Circuits Blog ("We Are the Problem: We Are Selling Snake Oil") raised quite a stir. Amazingly, few people disagreed with its assertions that "training doesn't work," "knowledge management doesn't work," and "e-learning doesn't work." Old-time, industrial models such as packaged courses, top-down KM, and traditional workshops no longer deliver on expectations.

The Workflow Institute recently isolated the common features of whatis working. Building on their research of workflow learning, Jay Cross and Sam Adkins discuss the characteristics that make real-time learning, storytelling, simulation, and contextual collaboration so effective.

Sold out, perhaps worth a try. I think the coordinates are:

audio:1 (800) 200-2285 Conf: 8226549
(You'll probably have to push your own slides.)

We'll post a recording of the event some time tomorrow.

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 01, 2004

Cyberspace Innkeeping: Building Online Community

Sometimes an essay is timeless. That's an apt description for Cyberspace Innkeeping: Building Online Community by John "Tex" Coate. I met Tex online when Fig-Tex (Cliff Figalo & Tex) ran the WeLL. Tex won the respect of everyone on the WeLL, even the over-the-top rowdies who trashed everything else in sight.

This article dates from 1991-92 and was last updated 1998. It popped back into my active stack when Tex sent me an email to tell me the URL had changed. As Stuart Brand once said, "Tex knows community."

Over the years much has changed but the advice is still valid: do these things and your online offering will allow your participants a better chance of developing real and meaningful relationships with the people that they meet online. Because at its essence the advice is to be kind, be interested and pay attention. Not so different than the rest of life. And that's the point. As virtual as you may want to make it, it is still reality governed by the same operating principles as the rest of life. Cyberspace doesn't live outside the rest of the universe. But it is still helpful to know a few tricks.

When it works right, an online gathering is a kind of organized mind pool. Everyone picks each other's brains. The informal nature of online conversation encourages people's amazing generosity in sharing the things that they know. It's a potluck for the mind.

...traveling through the chips and wires, as a kind of sub carrier to the words themselves, is real human emotion and feeling. The spectrum of the "vibes" is just about as wide as it is when people meet face to face. It's sometimes harder to interpret them because there isn't any facial expression or body English, but they are there just the same and people feel them and react to them. Furthermore, the quality of the vibes - the atmosphere, the ambience - largely determines whether or not the people involved will develop any affection for the system at all.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Posted by Jay Cross at 09:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Why Emergent Learning?

For your listening pleasure, here's a seventeen-minute presentation on why the eLearning Forum is morphing into Emergent Learning Forum.

Posted by Jay Cross at 02:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack