Knowledge management

Virtual classroom



I've been a cheerleader for eLearning for the last several years but crappy implementation is grawing away at my faith. My mantra for 2002 is that the eLearner is a customer. She must be sold. He must be satisfied. This is not about "getting them trained." No, this is about forming a long-term, mutually rewarding relationship. We've got a ways to go. I expect to have a book out on this subject later in 2002.

Critical Success Factors: eLearning Solutions, Cappuccino, Deloitte

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

Best practices: people

North Berwick, Scotland, 1996

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

Worst practices: people

The Training Weenie Syndrome: Five Foolish Things Trainers Do To Demote Training © INSIGHT ED Patti Shank Trainer, don't shoot yourself in the foot.
The Lie of Online Learning, Training magazine, March 2000. "Let’s move learning out of the workday and into the employees’ own—uncompensated—time. No one wants to tell you that the anytime of online learning is supposed to be after work and that the anyplace is at home."
Learning in the Real World. Skeptics' views on why we should be cautious about putting computers into children's schools. "In the real world we can teach, explore and learn the patterns of connection which link different people, plants, animals and places. If education software even attempts to deal with these crucial concepts, the limits of the media may make the presentation inflexible, superficial, and inadequate." Much of this reasoning applies to computer-mediated training of adults as well.
ERP Training Stinks, CIO (6/00). "The average ERP implementation takes 23 months, has a total cost of ownership of $15 million and rewards (so to speak) the business with an average negative net present value of $1.5 million. And the news gets worse."
    "But the consensus that's emerging is that the training that matters isn't techy, "this field shows this; this button does that" training. In fact, what we normally call training is increasingly being shown to be relatively worthless. What's called for, it seems, is an ability to figure out the underlying flow of information through the business itself. The traditional view of training may blind the unwary to its significance and to the tightly woven links that exist between training, change management and staff adequacy."
"The first problem is that word: training. It conjures up images of dogs jumping through hoops. This is not helpful."


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


Research Dog's readniess assessments: Introduction & Questionnaire

Change Management and eLearning by Tom Werner

Sales Knowledge Management by Carl Binder



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

A New Role: eLearning Guide

Learntivity's Attention Links Zounds - Compelling Experiences

Motivation in Instructional Design. ERIC Digest


Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence Services
Emotional Intelligence Consortium

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

Bringing EQ to the Workplace (research paper)



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


Microsoft Research on Telepresence
   Benchmarks for Success in Internet-Based Distance Education jay @ 07-May-00

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

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

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

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

Quality on the Line

  Coach Roles

goal articulation
acting as a role model
challenging questions
achieving results
personal growth
gaining and keeping balance
giving expert advice
dealing with adversity
making tough decisions
social skill development
improving skills
inner peace and reflection
lifestyle decisions
finanical or economic well being
"The only things worth learning are the things you learn after you know it all."


Strategies for Learning at a Distance

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


Improving Distant Learning

The shift from “surface” to “deep” learning is not automatic. Brundage, Keane, and Mackneson (1993) suggest that adult students and their instructors must face and overcome a number of challenges before learning takes place including: becoming and staying responsible for themselves; "owning" their strengths, desires, skills, and needs; maintaining and increasing self-esteem; relating to others; clarifying what is learned; redefining what legitimate knowledge is; and dealing with content. These challenges are considered in relation to distance education:
  • "Becoming and staying responsible for themselves". High motivation is required to complete distant courses because the day-to-day contact with teachers and other students is typically lacking. Instructors can help motivate distant students by providing consistent and timely feedback, encouraging discussion among students, being well prepared for class, and by encouraging and reinforcing effective student study habits.
  • "Owning one’s strengths, desires, skills, needs". Students need to recognize their strengths and limitations. They also need to understand their learning goals and objectives. The instructor can help distant students to explore their strengths/limitations and their learning goals/objectives by assuming a facilitative role in the learning process. Providing opportunities for students to share their personal learning goals and objectives for a course helps to make learning more meaningful and increases motivation.
  • "Maintaining and increasing self-esteem". Distant students may be afraid of their ability to do well in a course. They are balancing many responsibilities including employment and raising children. Often their involvement in distance education is unknown to those they work with and ignored by family members. Student performance is enhanced if learners set aside time for their instructional activities and if they receive family support in their academic endeavors. The instructor can maintain student self-esteem by providing timely feedback. It is critical for teachers to respond to students’ questions, assignments, and concerns in a personalized and pleasant manner, using appropriate technology such as fax, phone, or computer. Informative comments that elaborate on the individual student’s performance and suggest areas for improvement are especially helpful.
  • "Relating to others". Students often learn most effectively when they have the opportunity to interact with other students. Interaction among students typically leads to group problem solving. When students are unable to meet together, appropriate interactive technology such as E-mail should be provided to encourage small group and individual communication. Assignments in which students work together and then report back or present to the class as a whole, encourage student-to-student interaction. Ensure clear directions and realistic goals for group assignments (Burge, 1993).
  • "Clarifying what is learned". Distant students need to reflect on what they are learning. They need to examine the existing knowledge frameworks in their heads and how these are being added to or changed by incoming information. Examinations, papers, and class presentations provide opportunities for student and teacher to evaluate learning. However, less formal methods of evaluation will also help the students and teacher to understand learning. For example, periodically during the course the instructor can ask students to write a brief reflection on what they have learned and then provide an opportunity for them to share their insights with other class members.
  • "Redefining what legitimate knowledge is". Brundage, Keane, and Mackneson (1993) suggest that adult learners may find it difficult to accept that their own experience and reflections are legitimate knowledge. If the instructor takes a facilitative rather than authoritative role, students will see—their own experience as valuable and important to their further learning. Burge (1993) suggests having learners use first-person language to help them claim ownership of personal values, experiences, and insights.
  • "Dealing with content". Student learning is enhanced when content is related to examples. Instructors tend to teach using examples that were used when they received their training. For distance learning to be effective, however, instructors must discover examples that are relevant to their distant students. Encourage students to find or develop examples that are relevant to them or their community.

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

   Enabling Learning in a Digital Age, 1998 jay @ 24-Jun-00

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

The model that education has used for centuries considers the student a vessel to be filled at regular intervals with knowledge.

The alternative I hope you´ll strive for is seeing the student as co-discoverer of knowledge and the teacher responsible for seeing that the discovery takes place. This model may mean we don't need to be confined to a classroom if discovery can take place in different spaces, even cyberspace.

The impact of today's information revolution on schools goes vastly beyond replacing the old blackboard with a shiny whiteboard. Technology is revolutionizing the very nature and dynamics of the conventional classroom experience; this new learning environment, by design, emphasizes students, autonomy and independence.

Classroom learning will become student-driven, interactive, experiential and collaborative - all goals long-cherished by many educators but never before attainable. Students will no longer passively receive information but will manage and synthesize it and even contribute it.

They become not only takers, but givers – creators -- of information. This level of interaction will herald new types of student communities of practice.

The world need more problem-solvers.

It needs more explorers.

It needs more rough edges.

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

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

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

The opportunity is an unrealized potential.

The Future File



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

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

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

Online Learning, November 2000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standards Groups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Judy Brown's home page

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

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

Standards definitions