Jay Changes Direction

fallsMy book Aha! Learn for Yourself challenges readers to consider where they’ve been in their careers and where they’re headed. I feel obligated to practice what I preach.

My career in the learning business is at a turning point. My history by type of learning is below. I have one foot in retirement now; I’ve been at this for nearly fifty years!

Reflection on Career by Decade

Sixties and into Seventies.

Student. AB Social Science, MBA. Army Officer, Mainframe computer salesman. Coder. Sales training. Lots (>1000) of case studies, now long forgotten. Lived abroad. Market research executive.


EDU. Discovered that learning was a field. Designed the first business curriculum for what became the University of Phoenix, the largest business school in the world. Worked with founder. Experienced power of having the rIght product for the market, in this case thirty-year-old business people. Learned to speak with audiences because I had to sell, sell, sell.

Eighties and nineties.

Formal Training. Sold instructional systems that taught a million bankers how to make decisions and sell bank services. More than half of the 100 largest banks in the U.S. became customers. Picture a young San Francisco start-up showing the way for Citi, Chase, BofA, and more. Don’t get me going about banks. Learned every aspect of the training business, from marketing to design to models to costs, from ISA to ISPI.

Entrepreneurial. Interspersed with this, spent seven years trying to make something of five under-financed start-ups (medical records, advertising sales training, massive overnight loans, corporate histories, and tracking software) that never made it over the first hump. My dreams are bigger than my abilities but now I have a better idea of what not to do.

1999-2003. Turn of the century.

impllearninge-Learning. I saw the web and fell in love. The web and knowledge were made for one another. I became a fanatic. First to use term eLearning on the web. Chief cheerleader for concept. CEO, eLearning Forum. Early conceptualizer. Wrote Implementing eLearning.


informalinformal learning. Thought leader and chief proponent of informal learning. Book (2008). Presentations worldwide. More than 50 articles. In ten years, took an object of derision and made it the #1 or #2 priority of virtually every Chief Learning Officer in America. Largely a labor of love, I’m proud to have called this one early and paved the way to accelerate its adoption and appreciation. It’s good business and great for people.

Happiness. And with it compassion, gratitude, fulfillment, authenticity, peace. Mindful people are incredibly productive. Vitally important.

Next up

DIY learning. It’s a confusing world out there. Millions of knowledge workers and their bosses can prosper by adopting modern practices for working smarter and remembering things. Improving their learning efficiency will provide billions of hours over the long term to redeploy on activities with a higher return.

We learning professionals have a bag of tricks most people have never been introduced to. I want to empower workers to be intuitive instructional designers as well as self-directed learners by sharing what we know. Project is taking shape at internettimealliance.netmegaphone



My professional interest is shifting to helping knowledge workers learn and flourish without training. There are millions of harried people out there who don’t appreciate that learning is a skill that you can get better at. It’s the underground passageway to success. I’d rather work with them directly.

Thinking about learning from the learner’s point of view is different from looking on it as a learning executive or instructional designer. Well, most knowledge workers don’t know they have an CLO and certainly never heard of instructional design.

Anyway, I am on the lookout for useful metaphors to propel the new book on DIY learning and intelligence.

Experiential learning is the biggest lever in the learning toolbox, so let’s start there.


Picture two territories, FamilarLand, where you already know everything and the Unfamiliar Territory which is loaded with people doing things you don’t know how to do.

The Unfamiliar Territory is where you can grow. Staying in FamilarLand all the time is stagnating. There’s no excitement when there are no surprises.

Since you have all your predetermined opinions, ways of doing things, and beliefs along for the ride, you’re happy when lazing around FamiliarLand. Many will be stuck in place there, non-learners who couldn’t keep up with the flow. They are slouches; we’ve got to hang out with the others.

Go-getters will continuously rewire their brains with dashing adventures in the Unknown Territory. With perseverance, they will grow into the roles they’re shooting for.

Increasing border crossings will boost organizational knowledge.

Is the metaphor of a journey from FamilarLand to the Unknown Territories and back a useful way to look at things?

Why Content Curation Should be in Your Skillset

girlCuration can boost your profit and help your people grow. It can save millions, reduce frustration, and boost the velocity of information in your organization. It starts in a gallery.

You expect the curator of an art gallery to know the collection and to:

  • search out the best items
  • select for the collection
  • authenticate and preserve items
  • add interpretation, descriptions, and meaning
  • publicize viewings

Picture a digital curator in your company. They have the same job but instead of paintings, deal with digital artifacts such as:

  • blog posts and Tweets
  • articles
  • meeting summaries
  • presentations
  • competitive analysis
  • video
  • conversations
  • images
  • infographics
  • TED talks
  • sales pitches

Curating these items — selecting, organizing, evaluating, and sharing them widely — multiplies an organization’s return on information many times over. It makes sense to recruit curators from within; the primary job prerequisite is a burning curiosity.

Instead of satisfying art lovers, corporate curation saves enormous amounts of time, keeps teams on the same page, and equips everyone with the latest insights. In a minute I’ll give you the story of a company that saved over fifty million dollars with a low-budget curation program. And, as Clay Shirky has said: “Curation comes up when people realize that it isn’t just about information seeking, it’s also about synchronizing a community.”

Curation helps individuals keep professional skills sharp, improve critical thinking, earn professional recognition, build reputation, grow personal networks, and “work out loud.” Anyone can be a curator; it’s a great way to learn. Curation helps workers help their peers as they help themselves..

An example: How Jay Cross Curates Content

Here’s an example of a no-cost, one-person curation project. It’s one of mine.

When I started studying the future of conferences, I began with research. I set up a Google Search for daily news on the topic. I opened a free account on the curation platform scoop.it and put in search terms and authorities to listen to.  I scoured the web and paid particular attention to curation champions like Robin Good and Howard Rheingold.

Every day I would sift through a hundred or more items suggested by my social networks or the search engines. Perhaps one item in fifty seemed worth commenting on. Sorting through posts made me think critically and see patterns. It’s an excellent way to get a bead on a subject.

I voiced my opinion on nearly every item. Wise interpretation is what adds value to the content. The human touch is required. In my case, the review of thousands of items taught me a whale of a lot about the future of conferences. In order to write my opinion, I needed to pin down and say why this item made any difference. Like the pitch of the docent in front of  a painting in the gallery, I sold an item — or panned it — and tried to win you to my way of seeing things.

When I select an item, it shows up immediately on my scoop.it site:


Jay’s scoop.it site on the future of conferences

…and gets reposted to my Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter feeds. All on automatic.

Curation shows off your repertoire or interests. Four out of the five conference owners I spoke with over the next two weeks told me they’d heard about my work on the future of conferences and were excited to talk. Google for “Future of Conferences” and my work comes up #2. (Marketing departments love curation.)

The basic process I followed is the standard for curation.

  1. Research the field. Find and pour over the feeds. Scour.
  2. Make sense out of the item, explain why it matters. Grok.
  3. Publish on social sites, blog, mail list, and social media. Share.

That’s all there is to it.

IDEA: Entering new markets? Recruit someone to curate news to share with everyone on the team.

IDEA: Entire team researching a subject? Curate the topic collaboratively.

IDEA: New person joining the team? Curate a topic to gain exposure and build reputation.

We used to be inthralled with the idea that everyone now had a personal printing press. Curation tools make it easy for any of us to be publishers of glossy online magazines!

That’s the exhilaration that comes with curation. Imagine the web as millions of pages. To make your magazine, you tear out any of those pages you fancy, explain why they matter, and push the button. Bingo! You’ve shared a link to the content and your take on it.

Several companies offer inexpensive or free curation tools. The best known are scoop.it, pearltrees.com, andstorify.com. Pinterest enables you to curate photos. Diigo facilitates curating bookmarks; here are my Diigo pointerson the topic of Curation.


Jay’s Pinterest Page on Conferences

Millions Saved 

A multinational software and e-business consulting firm (If I told you the name, I’d have to shoot you) set up dozens of communities of a hundred or so like-minded professionals. Admission is invitation-only; the communities are like guilds.

Groups formed around topics such as Java, enterprise architecture, banking, insurance, dot-net and businessintelligence. Management made sure each community had at least one person planting seeds.

Each community elected trusted authorities to spot developments and research worth sharing with the group. Colleagues fed them leads from the field so they wouldn’t miss any important developments. Two topics per week were chosen for curation. The curators feared tackling more topics would wear out their welcome.

Since engineers are generally lousy writers, the firm hired professional authors to interview the authorities and write a couple of posts with links every week. Removing the noise of mediocre posts increases the fidelity of results. Applying one person’s time at the front end saves the time of hundreds at the receiving end.

The initial attempt to offer the curated news as RSS feeds and on blogs bombed. Workers will not tolerate breaking out of their workflow. Curated items began arriving by email and everyone was delighted.

Before the community news program, engineers or scientists spent 10% of their time sifting through lots of dead ends and time wasters, and perhaps still not catching the most important news.

About 4,000 people belong to communities. If the curation program cuts everyone’s research time from 10% to 5%, and the average engineer bills $300,000/year, that’s $60 million in additional billing capacity.

Personal Knowledge Mastery

The most sophisticated approach to individual and small-group curation is Personal Knowledge Mastery, a concept pioneered by Harold Jarche. (Disclaimer: Harold is chairman of Internet Time Alliance, the think tank with which I am affiliated.)

Harold’s workshops teach the mechanics of curation but take it to a higher plane. Harold’s PKM is a set of individually constructed processes to help each of us make sense of our world and work more efficiently. Continuously seeking, sense-making, and sharing become the process of work, not some activity on the side. This takes place on the local team level, in communities of practice, and on the internet at large.

PKM provides a framework for becoming knowledgeable. Sometimes it becomes an organizational priority. Says Harold,

PKM may be an individual activity but it is social as well. It is the process by which we can connect what we learn outside the organization with what need to do inside. Research shows that work teams that need to share complex knowledge need tighter social bonds. Work teams often share a unique language or vocabulary. However, they can become myopic and may lack a diversity of opinions. Social networks, on the other hand, encourage diversity and can sow the seeds of innovation. But it is almost impossible to get work done in social networks due to their lack of structure. PKM is the active process of connecting the innovative ideas that can arise in our social networks with the deadline-driven work inside organizations.

Just Do It

You may well be a curator already, posting items to Twitter, your blog, FAQs, or a wiki. When you look at the entire curation process top-to-bottom, you’re likely to find ways to do it with more impact.

Curation enriches the commons by saving people time in finding what they need. It’s also a marvelous means of professional development. The question is if you’re not curating, why not?

Curate your gallery of corporate and personal knowledge as part of your own personal development plan.

Research for this post sponsored by Litmos.

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



DIY Learning

dogI’m writing a book on learning for oneself, without training. It’s for knowledge workers and bosses who have been told “You’re responsible for your own learning.” I imagine they feel like the dog who got on the bus. “What do I do now?”

Aha! is a book for people and small groups of colleagues who are taking their professional development into their own hands. No instructors, no classrooms. It’s DIY learning coupled with Modern Workplace Learning.

The first deliverable will be an inexpensive book, probably both an ebook (cheap and easy to distribute) and a paperback (works better for checklists and highlighting). Later, the text and patterns from the book may become a playlist of exercises and/or a deck of cards. If we achieve liftoff, I expect to continually improve the book with additional examples.

Currently, the book focuses on these patterns:


Are you interested in helping me change the world?

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.” (Women okay, too). I need co-conspirators, advisors, editors, a coach, and other true believers. I could really use an intern with editing skills. And several hundred people who want to improve the way they learn.

The payoff will come from being in on the ground floor of something big: PULL learning on a scale rarely imagined, helping people leverage learning to work smarter. And, you get to work with (ahem!) the thought leader I’m reputed to be. Talk about Action Learning!

Please volunteer. Sign in at http://internettimealliance.net. (Note: .net, not .com). Or call me at 510 323 7380.


Cheap books on learning worth the price

kindleunltdToday I paid my $9.99 and started devouring free books on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. I spend on average of $40 a month on hardcopy books, so this seems like a steal. Since I’m in the midst of writing a book on solo/DIY learning, I thought I might learn something from these freebies:

45 Elearning Tips and Tricks, by John Araiza. This is an instructional designer’s record of twelve years’ experience. Advice is for building courses. “Don’t buy photos until you get final approval.” “Use animation to spice up a course.” “remember that you are training adults.” “Become familiar with AICC and SCORM.” Not useful for solo learners.

Accelerated Learning. A How-To Guide on Becoming an Excellent Learner and Fast Reader. By Don Long. Brain training, speed reading, self hypnosis, mental clarity, the power of mind. Bummer. The book tells about speed reading, but doesn’t explain how to do it. (It ain’t that tough but usually wears off.) You might get his hypnosis directions to work; I have. At twenty pages, this is more a pamphlet than a book.

Effective Learning. Discover Accelerated Learning Strategies. Learn more, study less. Another pamphlet. 24 pages. Slight academic slant. Flimsy.

Think Smarter. Bulletproof tips to improve your thinking skills, make better choices and increase your overall intelligence. William Wyatt. Mainly aartn essay about thinking logically. About a hundred pages. Short on learning.

The Art of Learning: A Simple Handbook to Improve your Learning Techniques. By Laeticia L. How to study for school. English, Math, Science… Nothing about work.

Become a Super Learner. Learn Speed Reading and Advanced Memorization. By Levi, Goldentouch, and Goldentouch. Yawn. Those two techniques is all you get and the description of memorization is a little fuzzy. Otherwise, I guess super-learners don’t learn from people and events. The authors are quite taken with themselves.

Learning 300% Faster: 25 Learning Techniques. By Sebastian Archer. Not bad but focused 100% on learning explicit knowledge. Build good learning habits — he offers plenty.

All of these authors are stuck in the schooling paradigm: Improve your study skills, use memory tricks to pass tests, speed up your reading, take better notes. You’d think that all there is to learning is studying for the test.

They miss the most important learning: tacit knowledge. This is the savoir faire, know-how, life skills, and professionalism that can’t be told because it’s coded into your unconscious mind and shows itself only after battling with the conscious mind.

Explicit knowledge? That’s what an algorithm can figure out. Don’t make this your main job! Dealing with facts, figures, and logic will be delegated to robots. Soon. Slave wages ahead. That’s not what you’re after.

Tacit knowledge? That’s the intuition, judgments, and behavior that define who you are. It’s learning to become your true self and fulfill your destiny. This is the home of value creation and personal fulfillment.

Alas the largely self-published pamphlets on DIY learning tell you a little bit of how to prosper in school and next to nothing about how to get ahead in business and in life.

The most important learning is learning to be. That’s where I’m focusing my attention this year.


Informal Learning in Belarus

Belarus has gotten the word about informal learning. If they can do it, you can do it!



bokПо мнению Джея Кросса, только 10–15 % приобретаемых знаний получены из формальных источников, а остальные 85 % — из неформальных. Однако до сих пор неформальному обучению в компаниях уделяется очень мало внимания. В своей книге он подробно рассказывает, как составить программу неформального обучения. Квинтэссенцией звучат его слова о том, что в обществе знаний обу- чение — это работа, а работа — это обучение


Ukelele break

Sorry, off the point, but I just love this. 

Where I’m coming from

recykceThese are my core beliefs about how to get along in the world.

I wrote this post fourteen years ago and rediscovered it this morning. I’m amazed at the consistency of what I believe. I still hold to these, although now they’d be supplemented with newfound knowledge about complexity, mindfulness, informal learning, community, social media, and other topics. Here’s how I saw it in 2001:


Perception is reality. (See The User Illusion)

  • Placebos work.
  • Hawthorne effect.
  • Halo effect.
  • There need be no commodities.
  • Reality is relative: we each have our own.

Mental expectations set real limits.virgil

  • Learned helplessness.
  • “They are able because they think they are able.” Virgil
  • Optimism works better than pessimism.
  • Logic = blinders to intuitive exploration.

Modern people have cro magnon brains.

  • The human brain is the product of 10 million years of evolution, 99.8% of it in caves, on the savennah, hunting and gathering.
  • Our relatively modern “thinking” brains are in perpetual contact and conflict with our ancient “feeling” brains.
  • Pre-agricultural troglodytes lived entirely in the now. Our brains didn’t need to plan very far ahead, so looking longterm is not in our natural repertoire.
  • Our brains seek patterns, often finding one when it’s not intentionally there. As we retell a dream, our brains invent the context to make sense of nonsense. We do this in waking life as well, but are not conscious of it.

cromagPeople are warm-blooded, omnivorous, sight-mammals.

  • We are creatures.
  • Circadian rhythms control our thinking.
  • If it full empty it; if it’s empty, fill it.
  • Fight or flight response is the root of stress in the office as well as the jungle.

People like what they know; they don’t know what they like.

  • In marketing, position services for maximum halo effect.
  • First we make our habits, then our habits make us.
  • Personal comfort zone = blinders, rut.
  • Change threatens stability.

beherenowBe alert. Keep an open mind. Follow your heart.

  • Mindfulness matters.
  • Be here now.
  • Walk in other people’s shoes.
  • Get out of your comfort zone.
  • Learning is an active process.

To every thing there is a cycle.

  • You’re born, you live, you die.
  • You live on through your children, your start-ups.
  • Epigensis = born at the right time.


betaEverything flows.

  • Time flies.
  • Nothing alive is ever finished.
  • Worthwhile documents, policies, reports, and relationships live.

All things are connected.

  • Connections often as important as the things they connect.
  • Value of a network increases exponentially to the number of nodes.

Less is more.

  • Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
  • When confronted with two explanations, choose the simplest.

Everything exists on numerous levels.

  • Level of abstraction/detail. Meta-.
  • balconyNo matter what’s happening in the plaza, you can always go up to the balcony for a look at the bigger picture.
  • Laterality, everything/idea has neighbors, related by concept, co-location, timing, etc.
  • Everything is rooted in a life cycle. It’s young or old, evolving or dying.

Process is power.

  • Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.  –Chinese Proverb
  • One person’s process is another person’s content.

Virtually everything is on a continuum. It’s shades of gray rather than black or white.

  • There is no absolute truth. There is no meaning without context.

Most things in life are beyond our control. (See Serendipity)

  • Better to think things through than to thrash and force-fit.
  • yinyangThe mind and body are one.
  • Diversification decreases risk.
  • We are smarter than any one of us.

Shit happens.

  • Entropy.
  • Moorphy’s Law (On Internet time, shit happens exponentially.)
  • Chaos.


tradeoffDecisions are a tradeoff of risk & reward.

  • Leverage = How much risk or reward.
  • R & R are not logical.
  • …rather, a mix of logic, emotion, biological drives, habit, associations, current state of mind, etc.
  • Information is valuable only to the extent that it will change decisions.

wattsDoes it matter?

  • What’s in it for me?
  • What business are we in?
  • Principle of materiality.
  • Don’t fret over the inconsequential.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • The past is a sunk cost.

Invest time and resources wisely.

  • Time is the scarce resource.
  • Optimize mix of up-front preparation and auctual doing and folllow-up.
  • Do not confuse thought with action.
  • waqatchThere is no such thing as a free lunch.
  • Beware of armchair data.
  • Diversify
  • Leverage

When management treats time, space and no-matter as resources rather than as roadblocks, our methods of organization will no longer be lagging behind, at the end.  —Future Perfect.


welchIn business, take Jack Welch’s advice…

  • focus on customers
  • resist bureaucracy
  • think imaginatively
  • invigorate others.

How to behave

  • Live as if this is all there is.
  • Look for the best in others. Other esteem.
  • Share my thoughts and feelings. Be authentic.
  • feedbackOpen the door to feedback.
  • Smile. Learn. Laugh. Pay attention.
  • Practice optimism. Be here now.
  • Live with intention.
  • Think out of the box.
  • Do what I love. Do it with gusto.
  • Maintain balance.
  • Don’t obsess.

Seek patterns

  • Homeostasis — central tendency, self-correction, standard deviation.
  • Pareto’s law: 20% of the resources yield 80% of the results.
  • Self-organizationpareto
  • Organize by product or area or function

I don’t ask him ”What’s the problem?” I say, “Tell me the story.” That way, I find out what the problem really is. –Avram Goldberg

Structure follows strategy.  (Strategy = plans and policies by which a company aims to gain advantages over its competitors.)

Drivel, BS, and caution signs

Time problems.

  • knightAnachronism. Fighting the last war.
  • “And so he continues to plan his future with the rules of the present in mind — heedless of the possibility that the future will have rules of its own.  Change in inherent in civilization.” –Harry Brown
  • Finding comfort in obsolete, vestigial rules and concepts. Accounting is BS.
  • Short-term fix for long-term problem
  • Too busy chopping down trees to sharpen his ax

Accepting the wrong answer to the right problem.

  • madnessIllogical expediency
  • Group think
  • The madness of crowds

Evaluating with what’s easy to measure rather than what’s appropriate.

  • examples: $/hour, academic grades, IQ
  • need to measure what counts
  • Nasrudin story
  • confusion of means & ends

Information is not instruction.

  • teachTelling is not teaching.

Using my context to understand your situation.

  • Jimmy Swaggart syndrome
  • Jungian projections

noiseConfusing meaningless social noise with a message.

  • “It’s a communicating problem.”
  • “We don’t have time.”
  • “How ’bout them Niners?”
  • “Thanks a lot.”

A word is not the thing itself.


Fourteen years ago, my post didn’t have illustrations. I didn’t appreciate how much they reinforce what you’re saying back then. Furthermore, in the days of 300 baud modems, images took forever to download. Crafty designers put them way down in posts so you could read the start of a post while the images were gradually appearing on screen.


Summarizing Learn for Yourself



I just copied a rough draft of my new book, Learn For Yourself, into a free summarizer. In a few seconds, it reduced my 116-page manuscript to 10 items


It’s all a matter of learning, but it’s not the sort of learning that is the province of training departments, workshops, and classrooms.

You are learning to learn how to become the person you wrote the obit for.

It’s learning to know versus learning to be.

Most of what we learn, we learn by interacting with others.

Sharing is an act of learning and can be considered your responsibility for the greater social learning contract.

Know-who (social networking skills, locating the key people and communities where competencies, knowledge, and practice reside and who can add the greatest value to one’s learning and work) Two students working on one computer learn more than both would learn if working individually.

Learners can give more than they take by sharing what they learned and how they learned it with others.

We call this phenomenon the new culture of learning, and it is grounded in a very simple question: What happens to learning when we move from the stable infrastructure of the twentieth century to the fluid infrastructure of the twenty-first century, where technology is constantly creating and responding to change?”

While the summary skips over the primary content, fifty ways to learn better and work smarter, it catches the spirit of the book rather well.

When I’m deciding whether reading a lengthy article is worth my time, I’ll sometimes dump it in a summarizer to figure out if it’s worthwhile to read further.




Here’s a summary of the Working Smarter Fieldbook:



While learning is ascendant, training is in decline, for workers are embracing self-service learning; they learn in the context of work, not at some training class divorced from work.

Not only does it confirm the significant frequency of informal learning, it demonstrates that informal learning shows up in many ways: e-Learning, traditional book study, social learning, and experience.” The use of social media in learning is is often referred to as “social learning”, but as has been demonstrated this has a much wider meaning than simply using social media for training – “social training” – but also for social (workflow/informal) learning where workers can share information and knowledge with others in networks and communities as well as adopting a new collaborative approach to working.

Note, this does not mean building lots more learning content nor implementing a traditional “command and control” (social) learning (management) system where everyone’s learning is tracked, monitored and managed, but rather providing an open,and enabling environment for individuals and groups to support their own learning and performance needs.

Any system that claims to “manage informal learning” is a learning management system, since once you start to “manage informal learning” it becomes “formal learning” as in a LMS the learning of the learners is still under the control of the organization.

In order to reinvent formal learning ALSO requires a re-thinking of the existing provision of formal learning, but to go further and to transform learning requires a complete NEW mindset in understanding the role of “learning” in an organization, – and to appreciate that, as my colleague, Harold Jarche in the Internet Time Alliance says “learning=working; working=learning”.

The shift from training (we tell you what to learn) to learning (you decide what to learn) increases the scope of the director’s job from classes, workshops, and tests to the broad array of networks, communities, meta-learning, and learning culture.

However, if the mindset has stretched beyond event-based learning to where most learning occurs for workers, which is in the workplace at the point-of-need, where process-based learning serves best and where learning through doing and learning as part of the work process happens, then ID takes on a whole new dimension.

We’ve looked at blogs, wikis, FAQs, instant messaging, crowdsourcing, sharing ideas, discussion among colleagues, discussion with experts, discussion with customers, learning on demand, chat, prediction markets, outsourcing innovation, communities of practice, subject matter networks, collaboration, expertise location, video learning, podcasts, coaching, use-generated content, experiential learning, mentoring, and peer-to-peer learning.

[Traditional] To gain knowledge or information of; to ascertain by inquiry, study, or investigation; to acquire understanding of, or skill; as, to learn the way; to learn a lesson; to learn dancing; to learn to skate; to learn the violin; to learn the truth about something.


Finally, here’s a summary of Informal Learning. When a book is loaded with content, it’s impossible for the Summarizer to boil it down to 10 items.

CONCEPTS examines the incredible acceleration of time, a working definition of informal learning, how informal learning benefits organizations, and why learning ecosystems will crowd out training programs.

Back in California, Peter and I met at the Institute for Research on Learning to talk further about informal learning, communities of practice, anthropological research, and learning as engagement.

CONCEPTS examines the incredible acceleration of time, a working definition of informal learning, how informal learning benefits organizations, and why learning ecosystems will crowd out training programs.

…..The emergent way of learning is more likely to involve community, storytelling, simulation, dynamic learning portals, social network analysis, expertise location, presence awareness, workflow integration, search technology, help desks, spontaneity, personal knowledge management, mobile learning, and co-creation.

We aim to create a learnscape where workers can easily find the people and information they need, learning is fluid and new ideas flow freely, corporate citizens live and work by the organization’s values, people know the best way to get things done, workers spend more time creating value than handling exceptions, and everyone finds their work challenging and fulfilling.

“One way to utilize spacing is to change the definition of a learning event to include the connotation that learning takes place over time real learning doesn’t unusually occur in one-time events.” …..In the chapter on Informal Learning, I likened formal learning with riding on a bus and informal learning with driving a car or riding a bicycle.

When you’ve finished, you not only learn your top five signature strengths, but also how you compare to everyone who has taken the survey, people of your gender, people your age, people in your line of work, people with your level of education, and people who reside in your and neighboring zip codes.

Not only does it confirm the significant frequency of informal learning, it demonstrates that informal learning shows up in many ways: e-Learning, traditional book study, social learning, and experience.” [Traditional] To gain knowledge or information of; to ascertain by inquiry, study, or investigation; to acquire understanding of, or skill; as, to learn the way; to learn a lesson; to learn dancing; to learn to skate; to learn the violin; to learn the truth about something.

Do you use a summarizer to condense text?