Category Archives: Community

Ten years after

atdplusThose who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, so I’ll reflect on the old days a dozen years ago when we were sorting out the ground rules for eLearning.

In 2002, ASTD and I introduced a blog, Learning Circuits Blog, about eLearning and networking. I was an early and frequent contributor. For a simple blog, we went far. At ATD, Ryann Ellis was the under-appreciated editor who held it together for years. <Kudos!> Learning Circuits was ASTD’s first foray into modern learning.

It’s amazing to look back. In 2000, ASTD executives assured me you couldn’t charge for online instruction. Live conferencing and lecture, maybe, but not for mere content delivery or interactive learning. People were still debating whether online learning “worked.” Many were skeptics. Two years later we launched the Learning Circuits Blog. We were web and network enthusiasts; that’s how we got here.

Ryann wrote: This isn’t the first time ASTD has revamped the LC Blog into a more serviceable offering. Excited about the new communication tool, we actually started our first blog somewhat ambitiously in 2002 as an experiment lead by informal learning guru Jay Cross and Learning Circuits editor Ryann Ellis. After a few years of misfires and restarts, Jay helped us relaunch the blog as we now know it on January 5, 2005, with a post laying down ground rules for a group-generated blog. In short, the rules were, no self-promotional posts, no personal attacks, and keep it brief—all good advice to heed today, no matter the platform.

Indeed, over the years, the blog has seen several incarnations and a parade of learning technology thought leaders contributing content, including Clark Aldrich, Karl Kapp, Donald Clark, Dave Lee, Clark Quinn, Clive Shepherd, Harold Jarche, and most notably Tony Karrer, who was at the helm for nearly four years. We thank them and everyone else who shared their ideas, expertise, and dedication to the field. [And have no fear: For those looking for an older post, the LC Blog will remain live with all its content intact.]

For a few years, the Learning Circuits Blog was our learning community’s early substitute for Twitter. The vocal folks built their online reputations there. Tony Karrer and Dave Gray figured heavily in making the LC Blog go. Forgive my feeble memory for blanking on the other contributors.

ASTD revamped its IT system several years ago, breaking thousands of links irrevocably, sending lots of my content down the rathole. Bad move. Links were severed. Thank goodness Goggle has a different mindset: keep everything. Since we set up the Learning Circuits blog on Blogger, it’s there to this day.

Here’s the last (2008) Learning Circuits Blog. Or 2006.

Stroll back in time. Not much new, is there? You could use some of this stuff in Sunday’s sermon and no one would recognize they’d heard it before.

lc blog



Learning in Organizations Community

mastheadTwo years ago I set up a Google Group on Learning. Last night I wrote the members:

You’re one of 1,797 members of the Learning in Organizations Community on Google Plus.

Since its founding two years ago, our community has morphed into a place to post wisdom, schlock, and self-boosterism. Some days you get lucky and discover a gem in the flow; other days you don’t find anything worth your time.

We can make a lot more out of what we’ve started here if we like. (We’ve been around longer than most Silicon start-ups.)

For example, this is a spot where you can ask questions and seek advice. Why not? Our group’s intimate. We’ll always be a safe place to float new trial balloons out of the limelight

We can help one another find things. You might get the real skinny on a vendor, an event, or a service by talking with someone who knows them from experience. As we grow to trust one another, we will form deeper relationships. Maybe. At least it wouldn’t hurt to post a few questions and see what happens.

We need not continue to be just a place to read funky articles. The network will come to life when some of us use it as a springboard and become connected by phone and skype to start changing the world together. Google makes it easy to set up a Hangout from within the Community.

We would benefit from a larger, more diverse membership. Free thinkers. People on the thin end of the Long Tail. Please promote us on your streams.

Finally, please contribute to the community if you’re good at that type of thing. You got great ideas and stories? Post them. Please share your most exciting, zany projects. You show me yours; I’ll show you mine.

If you have suggestions, post them right here. We are an open community. I’m cutting the balloons loose.



Please join us. people

Berlin, here I come


I’m packing my bags for OnLine Educa Berlin. This is the event’s 20th birthday. It will be my tenth. Or maybe my eleventh. frontdoor

Every year, ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN attracts over 2000 participants from 100 countries worldwide, making it the most comprehensive annual meeting place for technology-supported learning and training professionals.



Changing Learning

Modern education is evolving into a different shape. Faced with the demands of an ever more complex world, today’s learning is being delivered in a multiplicity of forms and a variety of new environments. What will the shape of future learning look like? How are we changing learning to meet our new demands? How is learning changing us? What does changing learning offer us?

The 20th edition of ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN will focus on the evolving shape of modern learning and the opportunity that the variety of modern, technology-assisted learning brings.

Better and Best Practices

Submit your proposal and share the “how to” of better and best practices. These examples grow didactic and digital competencies of learning professionals and improve relevant skills and capabilities for learners. Share what you have learned using specific techniques and methods.

Training, Learning and Talent Development Strategies

Implement training, learning and talent development strategies with learning professionals at Business EDUCA. Do technologies designed for organisational learning meet organisational needs? What are the views of consumers of learning materials on certification and assessment as they develop their talents and capabilities? What is the key to promote engagement?

The Cutting Edge

Submit your proposal and showcase the cutting edge. Share solutions, services or products for educators, learners, trainers and learning providers which support innovative methodologies, didactics and pedagogies and effectively use digital tools. Including consumer tech, wearable computing, augmented learning and?

The Education Ecosystem

Submit your proposal to discuss the education ecosystem. What are the latest thoughts and examples of how education can be unbundled to create flexible, scalable and affordable learning and training?

The New Business of Learning

Submit your proposal to define the new business of learning. What lies beyond the traditional monopoly on supply of education? Increased (global) access and reduction of costs? Institutional models alter, new organisational strategies are determined and foundations for collaboration and partnerships are explored: contribute your experiences.

(Big) Data for Education, Learning and Training

Contribute your expertise of using data for education, learning and training. Possessing and using relevant data can determine the value of education better than ever. What is your story?



The year’s top posts on Working Smarter

2013 is over for everything but the holidays so I’m posting this list of the top 50 blog posts on Working Smarter this year. Here’s how they were selected.
Working smarter draws upon ideas from design thinking, network optimization, brain science, user experience design, learning theory, organizational development, social business, technology, collaboration, web 2.0 patterns, social psychology, value network analysis, anthropology, complexity theory, and more.

SEPTEMBER 30, 2013

Here it is: The Top 100 Tools for Learning 2013

‘The Top 100 Tools for Learning 2013 list was compiled from the votes of over 500 learning professionals from 48 countries. Here are some of the highlights from this year’s list. For a fuller analyis, visit Analysis 2013 Twitter retains its no 1 position for [.].

MARCH 10, 2013

Group work advice for MOOC providers

The most valuable aspect of MOOCs is that the large number of learners enables the formation of sub-networks based on interested, geography, language, or some other attribute that draws individuals together. With 20 students in a class, limited options exist for forming sub-networks. When you have 5,000 students, new configurations are possible.

APRIL 11, 2013

Exploratorium: Mapping the Experience of Experiments

‘We’re huge fans of our soon to be San Francisco waterfront neighbors, the Exploratorium. They don’t have docents, they have Explainers.

JANUARY 27, 2013

PKM in 2013

“The basic unit of social business technology is personal knowledge management, not collaborative workspaces.” ” Knowledge.
744 Tweets 191 Tweets 103 Tweets 114 Tweets

Doug Engelbart, we salute you!

Doug Engelbart
This evening in Palo Alto a group of us in mourning for Doug Engelbart took part in an X-game to celebrate his values and, we hope, carry them far, far, far into the future. A tiny fraction of the time capsule:

When Doug was a young man, he staked out his mission and despite all odds, he never wavered. His vision was audaciously grand, so the cards aren’t played out yet, but his unwavering dedication is beyond awesome.

Moore’s Law should really be known as Engelbart’s Law. (Moore once said so himself.) Doug made us appreciate scaling.

For Doug, connecting hearts and minds was the obvious way to augment human intellect. Bill Gates (“A pc on every desk”) and Steve Jobs (closed Mac) didn’t get it. Neither did most of us until the internet spewed it in our faces. Doug’s office was one of the original two nodes.

Doug, we’re working to keep your flame alive.

Doug Engelbart
Photo by Bill Daul

Online Educa Berlin

Brandenburg Gate
In two weeks I’ll be attending my favorite learning event, ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN 2013, the 19th International Conference on Technology-Supported Learning and Training. This will be my tenth or eleventh year attending OEB. Joining colleagues from over a hundred countries and hanging out at Christmas markets has become a habit.Berlin, the day after Educa
Big data and analytics top this year’s agenda. I can hardly wait for the discussions of the ethics of the NSA and invasions of privacy. For my part, I’m going to focus on small data.
storiesMy session, the last event at OEB, Friday December 6, at 4:30 pm, will consist of eighteen personal stories from the last fifty years.

Inspired by French director Jean-Luc Goddard who said that “Every movie has a beginning, middle, and end — though not necessarily in that order,” the audience will select the sequence in which I tell the stories. Pick a number, hear a tale.

I plan talk about aborigines, Andrew Carnegie, Gloria Gery, Hans Monderman, George Carlin, drunk tank pink, the hills of San Francisco, founding the University of Phoenix, the birth of eLearning, the Oxford Union, a trip to the Morgan Motorcar factory, and more.

December 6 is Saint Nicholas day. Leave your boot by the door so Santa can leave you candy if you’ve been good this year.

California State Railway Museum

trainYesterday afternoon I took the train from Berkeley to Sacramento. Wifi, plenty of room, no distractions: the train makes a good office. My destination was the California Railroad Museum.


The Railroad Museum is captivating for the same reason as the Monterey Bay Aquarium: it’s the real stuff and it comes from right here. Most of the fish, otters, and sea creatures in the Aquarium are native to Monterey Bay. Most of the trains in the Railroad Museum are tied to California history.

Sacramento Sacramento
This is the first locomotive in California, shipped in pieces around the tip of South America and named for railroad mogul and governor of California Leland Stanford. Here, it’s heading into a snow shed in the high Sierra.

Sacramento Sacramento
The Golden Spike that tied together the transcontinental railway was a big, big deal for California, providing an overland alternative to long-range shipping. Giant locomotives hauled goods through long tunnels in the Sierra. The cab is at the head of the train to keep engineers from suffocating. You’re allowed to tour the cab.

The wonderful mining locomotives of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad are on display.

Sacramento Sacramento

Sacramento Sacramento

You can wander through an RPO (railway post office), dining car (place settings from many rail lines), sleeping car (which jostles as if it were real), and kitchen (only to look; it’s too small to walk through). Hundreds of school children were having a ball on the cars.

The railroads lured millions of people to California. How else do you promote a railroad? Some of the come-ons are lovely.

Sacramento Sacramento
I’ve taken up model railroading again. The museum has acquired a great collection of “toy trains.”

Sacramento Sacramento

Mannequins and people dressed in conductor’s uniforms bring the scenes to life.

Visiting the Railroad Museum is a whole lot more fun than reading history books. I’m confident the lessons are more lasting.

I’ve proposed that every corporation needs a history museum even if it’s just a single room or online. Artifacts reinforce values. Tales of past mistakes remind us of what not to repeat. Success stories make us proud of accomplishments. Surely, our organizations have important things to show than bowling trophies and little lucite blocks from investment bankers.