Blab with me

Have you tried Blab yet? It’s what Google Hangouts should have been, a free video conferencing tool for up to four speakers and an unlimited audience. Optionally, Blab records and archives conversations.

Brent Schlenker turned me on to Blab, and as soon as I saw it, I had to host a session.

blab Click for recording

Blab is tightly integrated with Twitter. You can Tweet announcements of sessions and invitations for people to join in.

I’ve been searching for something like this to enable readers of Real Learning to meet online to share their experiences and help one another learn.

On Monday at 11:00 Pacific/2:00 Eastern I’ll open up a session on Blab to talk about Real Learning. You can find the details on Twitter. Sure, I know it’s Labor Day. I figured you might have a few minutes when you’re not in meetings.

I just scheduled the session. This immediately appeared on Twitter: Real Learning Monday 11:00am PDT. Subscribe now ➼      Join me.

The developers are monitoring Blab closely and it improves every day. It reminds me of WordPress, where they are forever fixing things I didn’t know were broken.

Postscript. More than a dozen people subscribed, indicating they were going to join us. One person showed up; we’d had lunch together a few days before. Participation inequality lives on.

Real Learning

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
–George Bernard Shaw

 Aha! is becoming Real Learning.  The old name didn’t fit the book.


Aha! captures the spirit of “Oh, I see; that’s how you do it.” Cool.

Unfortunately, the term Aha! only focuses only on the magic moment of enlightenment. It doesn’t suggest the work that comes before (knowing your goals, tuning your networks) or what it takes to make learning stick (taking action and reflection).

As I worked with it, the term began to feel too close to the self-help snake oil that fills bookstore shelves. Creepy.

I am out to help people learn how to improve their lives by learning to learn and don’t want to be confused with the charlatans and their faith-healing promises. Real Learning is based on neuroscience and what’s proven successful, not the standard self-help bullshit.

Real Learning is what the book is  about. I’m not going to give you a sales pitch. (If that’s what you’re after, look here.) The book is a natural sequel to Informal Learning.  The earlier book talked about the importance of informal learning.  Real Learning explains how to do it .

Change is a pain at this point, but as Jack Welch said, it’s best to change before you have to.

Weird night vision, cause unknown

“Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” Eric Raymond
The Cathedral and the Bazaar

I suffer from Pronoia, the belief that the world is conspiring to make me happy and successful, so I’ll ask the net if anyone has a clue as to what might be going on with this.

A week ago, walking the dark steps from the Internet Time Lab to my upstairs office, I sensed something wasn’t right. I soon realized that I was nearly blind in my left eye. The right eye was working fine,.

I just went outside. Here’s what I saw:


This only happens at night. My daylight vision is fine.

I visited my optometrist this afternoon. He is totally baffled. The problem is persistent and hasn’t changed much over the week since I first noticed it.


keenecardShame on Walter Keene. 

Jane Hart’s Top 100 Learning Tools


It’s time once again to contribute to Jane Hart’s annual survey of tools for learning. I was the first person to take part in this project some nine years ago and now it’s an annual ritual. It’s enlightening to review what’s best in the toolbox.

My top tools for learning are:

  • Experience. Extracting the lessons of simply living my life.
  • Friends. My colleagues in Internet Time Alliance and colleagues.
  • Books. I have an extensive library and am in the midst of looking back through to refresh what I’ve learned from them.
  • Journals.  I buy a new black book at KaDeWe in Berlin every year to draw and write in.

These won’t be on my submission to Jane, because for purposes of the survey:

A learning tool is any software or online tool or service that you use either for your own personal or professional learning or for teaching or training.

      1. WordPress. My blog is where I reflect on things and share them with others. I’m still old-school on this, writing whatever I feel like. One reader complained, saying “I thought this was a blog about L&D.” Well, no, my blog covers whatever grabs my attention and that’s less and less about L&D.
      2. Twitter. I learn new things every day, following the links offered up by the 250 people I follow. I have 9,000 followers who provide feedback or answer my questions. (Jane has 26,000 followers.)
      3. Skype.  I like to see the person I’m talking with. Also, Skype’s great for talking with a group of people at once.
      4. Google. Many times I’ll be searching my own sites. I really enjoy using Google to search images. They are very useful when I’m trying to get different perspectives on a concept. If I need to remember who someone in a photograph is, Google will tell me about 80% of the time.
      5. YouTube. I tap YouTube for entertainment and publishing videos. YouTube also showed me what we wrong with my fridge and taught me how to create 300 dpi imagery with Photoshop,
      6. Flickr. Flickr enables me to enjoy memories of times past. Since 2001, I’ve posted 32,000 photographs.  I’ll admit to revisiting Monterey Car Week half a dozen times.20018082444_08f995c1e3_z
      7. I curate five topics on (example). You really learn something when you share it with someone else. As master curator Robin Good suggests, you need to give your opinion to add value. It keeps you on your toes. Plus, searching for fresh content puts you in touch with the latest news.
      8. Diigo. Bookmarks are my external memory. In the course of researching two books, I’ve created nearly 3,000 bookmarks. (Here are the current bookmarks related to my book on DIY learning.) A side benefit is the ability to share your bookmarks with other.
      9. SurveyShare. I take surveys to find out where groups are at. One is currently collecting feedback from people who read my new book.
      10. The cloud. I store all my files online, in Dropbox, Google Docs, and iCloud. Since I work on three or four different computers, it’s great to have all my stuff available no matter where I’m signing in from.

Honorable mention:

VLC. This little freeware tool plays just about any video format you can throw at it.

iMovie. As movie editors go, this one’s simple as can be. It has its limitations, especially if you want to edit multiple tracks, but the output is excellent and it’s free on Macs.

PowerPoint. I’m not your conventional, bullet-pointed presenters. I use PPT for making simple diagram, for storing visuals, and keeping up with visual models. Every year I start a new PPT of general graphics.

neuronsPowerPoint image for Aha! book



VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

Perhaps it’s a  lesson for people who don’t understand what complexity is all about.

complexImage courtesy of Boiling Frogs (!)

VUCA is redundant. Complexity captures the whole deal. Easier to just say complex. Complex situations are always volatile, uncertain, and ambiguous, aren’t they? That’s their DNA.

Some acronyms are a lot more fun, for example “WEIRD = Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratized,” coined by Adam Alter for his book Drunk Tank Pink.

Or the Guardian’s LOMBARD: Lots of Money But A Read Dickhead.

Complexity is such a far-out concept that I could have it wrong. I’ll forward this to Dave Snowden, my go-to guy for things complex and get his take on it.


Postscript: Dave Snowden has confirmed my interpretation of VUCA.


Think for yourselves, plagiarists

informalIn 2006, Jossey-Bass published a book of mine on Informal Learning.

The book describes informal learning as “the unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way people learn to do their jobs”

It compares formal learning to riding a bus and informal learning to riding a bicycle.

The book says that “Work = Learning; Learning = Work.”

For the second time in a week, I came upon words I had written, unattributed, in an infographic and  a presentation on the web.

I put “unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu” and “informal learning bicycle bus” into Google and found those three words, verbatim but unattributed, in these works:

huffpostThis infographic on Informal Learning appears in Huffington Post.

ASTD InfoLine: Designing for Informal Learning by Bruno Neal, Linda Hainlen. “Informal Learning is the unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way most people learn to do their jobs….”

The most blatant rip-off is by Brainshark‘s Audrey Polce who uses my bus and bicycle analogy and wording without attribution in a webinar entitled Using Brainshark for Formal and Informal Learning. From her slides: bus:bike

[Update, from Twitter August 27th:

  1. How is informal learning like riding a bike? Apologies to , the original source of this great analogy:

  2. (3/3) It is never our intent to misappropriate information, and we apologize for the mix up.

    Brian also Tweeted me that this was completely unintentional. I don’t understand how Audrey could have unintentionally presented several paragraphs of my ideas as her own when clearly they were not.

    I’ve accepted their apology because feuding’s not fun.]

Informal vs. Formal Learning: What’s the Difference? by Brendan Cournoyer, Director of  Content Marketing, Brainshark. Cournoyer thanks her for this knowledge in another post. “We can liken the difference between formal and informal learning to travelling on a bus vs riding a bike (thanks to Audrey Polce for this metaphor.”

Most of this next batch use the words “unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way most people learn to do their jobs.” Often that’s the only transgression, although to my way of thinking, that’s enough. When you quote someone word for word, you need to acknowledge your source.

Informal Learning Management, Evaluation, Regulation by Brian Swisher on the “eLearning Heroes” site. “I am writing a paper for my ISD Masters Program on informal learning. Informal learning is the unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way most people learn to do their jobs.”

 How social  networks and Web 2.0 can support informal learning in your company or organization, EU Net Knowing Project,  funded by EU Leonardo da Vinci Programme in the framework of Lifelong Learning European Programme. “Informal learning is the unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way people learn to do their jobs.”

Learning Networking through Mobile Apps, proposal defense by jepputeh iot. “Informal Learning: Unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way of us learn to do our jobs”

Informal Learning Context, EDU 09 – THEORETICAL BASE  OF  PHYSICAL SCIENCE EDUCATION – II by T.K Thankcom. “Informal learning is the unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way most people learn to do their jobs. Informal learning is like riding a bicycle: the rider chooses the destination and the route.

Organizations and Cultures by dcarmona.”Informal learning is the unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way people learn to do their jobs.”

A Study: Informal Learning & Formal Learning in a General Music Classroom by Joon Hwang WONG Raffles Institution, Singapore. Presented at the 32nd World Conference of the International Society for Music Education. “informal learning takes place in an unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way most people learn to do their jobs. ”

The words pop up on at least five term-paper writing services (although they may all be drawing on the same batch of papers) but I’m not about to pay a fee to read my own purloined words.

My take on this
I don’t promote Informal Learning for the money. Believe me, it’s not lucrative. I spread the gospel of informal learning because I’m convinced it works and it feels like the right thing to do. I’m a true believer, but I don’t like to feel that people, especially LMS vendors, are taking advantage of me.

A couple of weeks ago, I came upon an LMS vendor’s site that described his company’s way of doing things with several paragraphs lifted directly from one of my white papers. The CEO apologized profusely and we had a lovely conversation. The fellow who wrote the copy said “I used your blog structure as an idea however must have published the wrong version with your text rather than mine.” Uh huh.


This is hardly the first time. Three years ago I blogged Where to Draw the Line on Plagiarism? and gave several examples:

This morning I looked at a presentation on SlideShare by the head of learning of an Irish insurance company. Eight of the 33 slides were copied from a colleague’s presentation deck without attribution. Another slide credits me but gets the numbers wrong and attributes the idea to Time Magazine instead of Internet Time Group.

One slide re-labels Charles Jennings’ examples of 70:20:10 as 50:20:30 — I guess the presenter couldn’t believe that formal learning had such little impact. Another slide quotes a Nobel Laureate but fails to acknowledge that the quote was borrowed from Charles’ presentation. The Irish presentation had been rekeyed. Hint: keying someone’s material into your presentation doesn’t make it yours.

It gets worse. Clark Quinn and I found an entire white paper we’d co-authored on an international university’s site. It reappeared word for word — except for our names, which were nowhere to be found. It looked as if the university had written it. When we called them on it, their first defense was that they had found it on the web and couldn’t remember where. I demanded an apology; the university said it was not at fault. I gave them a choice: I would out them as brazen intellectual property thieves or they would take down the article immediately. They chose the latter.

Last month an LMS vendor borrowed 200 words from my site without attribution. They told me it was a mistake. The post now acknowledges *research authored and compiled by Jay Cross at:

Marcia Conner once sent me a book, not a very good one, that printed 30 pages from my site without permission! These are not isolated instances.

I wrote a professor in New Zealand that “Your presentation presents words and graphics from three principals of of Internet Time Alliance (Charles Jennings, Jane Hart, and myself) without attribution and in violation of international copyright law.” He wrote back, “My sincerest apologies. I thought I had properly cited the work but it was not at all. Shame. I have removed the presentations. If you would like more recompense please let me know.” I told him “No need to remove the presentation. Just note sources for our material.”

I think I’ve been too much of a softie. I am fed up.

Future response
Maybe there’s an opportunity hidden here.

Henceforth, when I come upon plagiarism of more than a handful of words, I’m going to send the transgressor a link to this post and a bill for $1,000. If it’s a Fortune 50 company, it will be for $5,000.

If I don’t get a satisfactory response, I will out the company on Twitter and append the incident to this post.




Benchmarking Online Learning




Fascinating data.

63% lack of time for self-study
40% can’t find what they need
41% find current online learning not relevant to their need
28% lack of somewhere appropriate to study
26% find learning content uninspiring
25% technology issues such as low bandwidth
22% learning objectives are not clear

This is one of thousands of findings from benchmarking studies drawing on the experiences of more than 3,500 L&D professionals and 16,000 learners.

91% team collaboration
81% manager support
73% web search
83% conversations / meetings
67% support from mentor / coach / buddy
64% formal education course55% internal company documents
52% internal networks / communities
50% mobile
49% live online learning
47% self-paced e-learning

Twelve years ago, my friend Laura Overton (we worked at SmartForce together) founded Towards Maturity to benchmark learning across organizations. 

Benchmarking is the process of comparing business processes and performance metrics to industry bests and/or best practices from other industries. Benchmarking provides an opportunity to:

Review your progress and approach
Compare your results and approach with others – both your peers and the top performers in the field
Act on the findings to improve your performance

The Towards Maturity Benchmark is the only free, independent and confidential formal benchmark available to learning and development professionals.

75% want to be able to do their job faster and better
51% like to learn just for personal development
50% want to be eligible for promotion
47% want to obtain professional certification
41% want to be enabled to earn more money
39% want to keep up with new technology
35% want to achieve/maintain a higher certification level
35% want to increase productivity
22% want to pass an assessment
10% want to compete against colleagues for a high score

Benchmarking provides independent evidence that can helps organizations:

Set a baseline today to help demonstrate progress tomorrow
Increase staff engagement and results
Learn from common mistakes rather than making them
Justify an investment or proposal for change
Apply industry best practice relevant to your organization
Set ‘SMART’ targets in your business plan
Motivate your team to become industry leaders
Provide an external perspective to get stakeholders engaged with new ways of learning

Towards Maturity’s work to-date has focused on Europe, but the firm is going global. If you want to explore the topic of benchmarking, I suggest you speak with Laura at:

  • DevLearn, 28-30 September, Las Vegas
  • Learning@Work, 27-28 October, Sydney
  • LEARNTech Asia, 2-5 November, Singapore
  • Online Educa Berlin, 2-4 December, Berlin


Contact Laura Overton at [email protected] for more information. Say hi for me.

Disclosure: Laura and I are planning a joint session at Online Educa that ties together the findings of benchmarks and the competencies addressed in my new book.



Screencast, Aha!

Screencasts are a great way to look over someone’s shoulder remotely to see what’s happening on screen. I used to use Camtasia for this but the price tag drove me away. I used Jive instead.

Both Jive and Snagit were rendered inoperable by the latest update of Yosemite for the Mac. Recordings show a black screen with a blinking cursor. Nothing else. I and a lot of other users are ticked. Couldn’t they have alerted us?

I snooped around a little and found that you can replicate what Jive did with QuickTime. It’s built into Yosemite. The interface is primitive but it’s simple and it works. Here’s a QuickTime movie I made this afternoon:

Photographic memories

paulA delightful nostalgic post by Paul Simbeck-Hampson this morning led me on a search of my Flickr photos.

When was it that Paul, Harold, and I spent a zany day shooting video in Berlin? I couldn’t find it. (I have 32,000 photos, most of them not tagged, on Flickr; finding anything is a bitch.) So I queried Google with “berlin jay cross” and came up with this fascinating page. What a flood of memories!

Up popped photos of not only Paul and Harold but also Donald Clark, the Santa Claus at KaDeWe, Jeff Staes, Ignatia de Waart, Doug Engelbart, Bert de Coutere, Rebecca Strohmeyer, George Siemens, the Brandenburg Gate, the Christmas Market, Raines Cohen, Jos Arets, Vivien Heinjen, Allen Tough, George Leonard (he coined the term “Human Potential Movement”), Peter Isaacson, Jaan Netzow, Buthaina Alothman, David Hassselhoff, me dressed as Santa, Jane Hart, Sarah Frame, Angela Merkel, Charles Jennings, Robin Good, the Berlin Wall, Adolf Hitler, JFK, Graham Attwell, Karl Marx, the cover of my book on Learning Architecture, and a chicken thinking “I dream of a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.”

Drilling down got me to Paul’s original post on our rendezvous; it’s loaded with photos. We were doing the European launch of the Working Smarter Fieldbook. Sort of.



Turns out this took place in October 2010.

Photographs are such wonderful reminders of things past. I’m a snap shop guy, not of these folks toting around 2-pound Nikons and a bag of lenses. Give me a camera that fits in my pocket. Unobtrusively.




Yesterday I was crafting illustrations for Aha!

Just as I rely on my journals and blogs to refresh memories of the past, I let my photos retrieve the good times I’ve had. Photos enrich one’s life.

Thinking a few decades out, I expect images are going to replace alphabets. Your brain has to go through a lot of computation to make out letters, assemble words, and understand the meaning of sentences and paragraphs. We weren’t born to do this symbol manipulation.

We humans are sight mammals. We were born to see, not to spell. Of course it’s better if the images move.

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