Leadership, Blackboard, Networks, Instructional Technology, & Flock

The Pepsi challenge - Fortune
No sooner had PepsiCo president Indra Nooyi gotten word 18 months ago that she was to become the next CEO than she hopped on a plane to Cape Cod, where Mike White, her main challenger for the job, was vacationing. As Nooyi's plane landed on Cape Cod, there was White waiting for her at the airport with a card he'd written to congratulate her. They took a long walk on the beach. Back at his beach house, he played the piano and she sang. Before she left, they went for ice cream. "Tell me whatever I need to do to keep you, and I will do it," she told her longtime colleague, who was vice chairman at the time.

A Personal View On the Blackboard-D2L Patent Case Resolution - Stephen's Web
Lanny Arvan expresses his anger at the Blackboard patent case, not from the perspective of technology or prior art or any of that stuff, but collegiality.

Digg makes you Dumb and an AAAS Roundup [Video - 3:30 min.] - Scientific American
When ideas are shared in highly connected networks, free-thinking goes south and we tend to follow the herd.

Integrating Technology with Marzano's Instructional Strategies - Kevin Jarrett
This voluminous site, created by created by Sherri Miller, Instructional Technology Resource Teacher for Gloucester County Public Schools, is based on research from: Classroom Instruction That Works by Robert J. Marzano, Debra J. Pickering, Jane E. Pollock. Also see Marzano's A Theory-Based Meta-Analysis of Research on Instruction.

Flock is Maturing... - Forever in the Refining Fire
Flock - the browser for people who like to be connected.


Learning, Long Tail, Needs Analysis, Web 2.0, & Creative Thinking

February 25, 2008

What's the Value of Learning? - Donald Taylor
This is not some relativistic world where training is fine as long as the manager says it's good (what David Wilson of Elearnity terms the 'conspiracy of convenience'). No, there are particular types of measure that are of value to stakeholders, and as long as the learning function can show its effect on these, and be seen to be operating effectively, then it is doing its job.

Note: Donald Taylor reviewed the CIPD paper that I posted on Feb 23 and left a comment, but since I forgot to turn the "approve comments" field off after a rash of spamming, his post was approved late, so in case you missed his it, be sure to read his review.

Long Tail Learning - Size and Shape - eLearning Technology

  • Long tail learning is effectively infinite
  • There is no way for an individual to keep up much less learning and development.
  • Trying to "keep up" and putting ourselves in the producer role is not going to work.
Needs analysis round-up (Part-1) - Sims Learning Connections
Sigh, 'training professionals' have often set themselves up to become training order-takers versus performance consultants - a situation that is difficult to break out of, once established.

The Wisdom of the Chaperones - Slate
Digg and Wikipedia would do well to stop pretending they're operated by the many and start thinking of ways to rein in the power of the few.

8+ Ways To Train Yourself To Be Creative - John's Blog
Whenever you want to do something but your mind tells you that you can't, write that thought down and then next to it write down 2 or 3 reasons why you can.


Evaluating Learning, Knowledge, Blackboard, & Ubiquitous Computing

The value of learning: a new model of value and evaluation - CIPD
A look at the role of learning and training in creating value in organisations and at how that role can be analysed, measured and evaluated. The paper is located here.

Radical contradictions drive the success of Toyota, which regards itself as being in the 'knowledge industry'. Westerners were good at explicit knowledge, while Asians tended to be masters of tacit knowledge that suggests that for new knowledge to be created we need to convert tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge, or to convert explicit knowledge to tacit.

Jury Supports Blackboard Patent - Stephen's Web
Is this a true win for the plaintiff, or a loss because they didn't get a recovery over the cost of bringing the case?

A Vision of Ubiquitous Computing - Partial Recall
What might a university look like with a fully deployed program of converged devices like the iPhone? Connected is one possible vision. Be sure to watch the video.


Training Industry, Good & Evil Organizations, Learning, & Problem Solving

The Training Industry in 2008 - CLO
There is a wide range of issues and challenge that will unfold in 2008, but overall training will grow in importance, with even more backing from senior management due to a heightened sense of demand from the war for talent. However, in an economy fraught with housing woes, rising oil prices and sliding currency values, budgets will be tight and training departments will be held more accountable to align with business imperatives and deliver tangible results. The top ten activities expected to have significant impact in 2008 (to view the charts go to the digital version, page 52):
Ranking Activity Compared to Last Year
1 Competencies Same
2 Leadership Training Same
3 Instructor-Led Training Same
4 Measurement Same
5 Compliance Training Up One
6 Learning Management Systems Up Three
7 Informal Learning Down Two
8 Self-Paced eLearning Same
9 Succession Planning Same
10 Knowledge Management Up Three

Do All Companies Have to be Evil? - Scientific American
Humans are by nature tribal and xenophobic, and thus evolution has enabled in all of us the capacity for evil. Fortunately, we are also by nature prosocial and cooperative. By studying how modern companies work, we can gain insights into the evolutionary underpinnings of our morality, including concepts such as reciprocity, altruism and fairness. When we apply these evolutionary findings to economic life, we learn that Enron and the Gordon Gekko "Greed Is Good" ethic are the exception and that Google's "Don't Be Evil" motto is the rule. Two conditions must be present to accentuate the latter: first, internal trust reinforced by personal relationships, and, second, external rules supported by social institutions. The contrast between Enron and Google here serves to demonstrate what in corporate environments creates trust or distrust.

Learn at All Levels - Marcia Conner
If we are committed to learning and growing, we must be equally committed to unlearning and stopping. Without actively letting go and moving along, where will we find room for something more?

Secret to problem solving: don't think too hard - Cosmos
Insightful problem solving is generally associated with more lateral and creative solutions to problems, so being able to enhance this ability would clearly be of great importance. Also see: What Are We Thinking When We (Try to) Solve Problems? and Brain waves pattern themselves after rhythms of nature.


PowerPoint, Learning, Networks, & Reading

How Cognitive Science Can Improve Your PowerPoint Presentations - io9
Harvard cognitive scientist Stephen M. Kosslyn, who studies how brains process images, wants to improve the world with his cutting-edge research by explaining that the four rules of PowerPoint are: The Goldilocks Rule, The Rudolph Rule, The Rule of Four, and the Birds of a Feather Rule.

Juggling eLearning vs Online Training - w/Mindshare
eLearning, online training, eperformance, performance support, courses, wikis, social networks, search, YouTube...the colors on a palette tend to run together, don't they? The real question is, "what's the picture like?"

Learning and Knowing in Networks: Changing roles for Educators and Designers - elearnspace
When knowledge is seen as existing in networks, and learning as forming and navigating these networks, many existing aspects of academia are subject to change.

Dawn of the digital natives - guardian.co.uk
If people are reading less, why haven't scores dropped more dramatically? The answer gets to the most significant sleight of hand of the NEA study: its studies are heavily biased towards words on a printed page.


Myths, Questioning, Implementation 2.0, Literacy, & Innovation

Fact or Fiction?: People Only Use 10 Percent Of Their Brains - Scientific American
Though an alluring idea, the "ten percent myth" is so wrong it is almost laughable, says neurologist Barry Gordon at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Questionating - Change This
Over the years we've found that the most popular answers to this question are "why," "how," and "why not" in that order.

Implementation 2.0 - Learning Circuits
Today's collaborative technologies can knit together an enterprise and facilitate knowledge work in ways that were simply not possible previously. They have the potential to usher in a new era by making both the practices of knowledge work and its outputs more visible.

Programming: The New Literacy - Edutopia
Some have expanded the notion of twenty-first-century literacy beyond spoken and written language to include the panoply of skills often collected under the umbrella term multimedia (being able to both understand and create messages, communications, and works that include, or are constructed with, visual, aural, and haptic -- that is, physical -- elements as well as words).

Eureka! It Really Takes Years of Hard Work - New York Times
Epiphany has little to do with either creativity or innovation. Instead, innovation is a slow process of accretion, building small insight upon interesting fact upon tried-and-true process. Just as an oyster wraps layer upon layer of nacre atop an offending piece of sand, ultimately yielding a pearl, innovation percolates within hard work over time.


On Design

The Learning Circuit's big question -- For a given project, how do you determine if, when and how much an instructional designer and instructional design is needed?

The quick answer is "it depends." However, I think it goes a little deeper than that.

Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones. - Herbert Simon (Nobel Prize Winner & Carnegie Mellon professor)

Simon went on to argue that design brings forth what does not come naturally. While science is concerned more with how things are, design, on the other hand, is concerned with how things ought to be. So what gives Instructional Designers their worth? It has often been argued that instruction is both art and science, thus we are perhaps more closely related to the crafts.

At work, the potter sits before a lump of clay on the wheel. Her mind is on the clay, but she is also aware of sitting between her past experiences and her future prospects. She knows exactly what has and has not worked for her in the past. She has an intimate knowledge of her work, her capabilities, and her markets. As a crafts[person], she senses rather than analyzes these things; her knowledge is 'tacit.' All these things are working in her mind as her hands are working the clay. The product that emerges on the wheel is likely to be in the tradition of her past work, but she may break away and embark on a new direction. Even so, the past is no less present, projecting itself into the future. - Henry Mintzberg, "Crafting Strategy", Harvard Business Review, July-August 1987, pp. 66-75.

Like a potter, an experienced Instructional Designer brings forth her past experience to a future conception. This allows her to view a certain aspect of our world so that we may make sense of it, and in turn, create possibilities within others. However, unlike the potter who works with inanimate materials, we deal with a network composed of over ten billion semi-independent neurons that seem to be randomly connected to each other -- the human brain. And the way that we are able to make some sense of this extremely complex network is by chunking it on higher and higher levels. These chunks or patterns provide us with concepts on how people best learn -- they are the science behind our profession. Yet with each step or concept that we create, some precision is lost.

For example, an Instructional Designer might be able to say with confidence that studies show that a 4:1 student to instructor ratio is best when instructing heavy equipment. Yet, it is all about context -- her past experience might also tell her that in particular situation that since the equipment has few safeguards and the learners have little or no experience, a 2:1 ratio would bring about the best possibility for learning. A different situation might tell her that a 8:1 ratio would be not only effective but also more efficient.

Science also tells us that while the brain is a complex network, it is somewhat limited as an information processing system. It can only process about seven chunks of information at a time and it takes about five seconds to transfer one chunk of information from short-term memory to long-term memory. And often, this has to be done repeatedly.

While this can be accomplished with rote memorization, learners can become extremely bored with this method. In addition, it is has little or no context, thus rote memorization can be limited in nature when taken out of the classroom and put to use on the job. Thus, our designs must become more like a composer's fugue in that we base learning on one theme or concept, yet is played (learned) on different voices (interactions), keys (activities), speeds (spacing), directions, and emotional levels.

Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt wrote Canto Ostinato (mp3 music file) for various instruments and flexible duration. Ten Holt uses repetition and minimalist permutations to create an original, evolving work with ever-shifting moments. These parts are woven together into an overlapping and flowing whole.

What happens on-stage is like you're looking at an object from different angles, and the object is changed by the input people put into it. If you look at an object from above or below, it's still the same object, but the colours are different, the shapes are different, and that's what happens on-stage. So the players' input is very important. - Simeon ten Holt

So not only do our learning designs need to be like fugues, but also like Simeon ten Holt's composition in that the learning experience not only allows the players (learners) to reach the objectives set by the composer (designer) by being able to view them from different angles in order to meet their styles and preferences, but also flexible enough to allow them to meet their own objectives.

Science gives us a large part of our declarative or explicit knowledge that allows us to map and plan our course of action for best creating learning, for example:

Yet our experience, knowledge, and skills gives us our procedural or tacit knowledge that is spread widely around our brain. This is our real worth as instructional designers. It tells us when a project is basic enough to pass on to SMEs through the use of templates or when to keep a project in the hands of instructional designers because of the uniqueness of it. The tacit knowledge that we develop within ourselves over the years allows us to view each learning situation as a unique project with many variables to account for so that the best possibility of learning occurs.


Designing eLearning, Reading, Instructional Design, mLearning, Yahoo!, & Google

Designing E-Learning - University of Leicester
Gilly Salmon, Professor of E-Learning & Learning Technologies at the University of Leicester, talks about designing elearning in a short video.

To Read or Not to Read?
Do people still read books?

Instructional Design - If, When and How Much? - The Learning Circuits Blog
The Big Question - For a given project, how do you determine if, when and how much an instructional designer and instructional design is needed?

At Yahoo, a need to hit refresh - c/net
Note: this article came out before the big annoucement, however, it would make an excellent case study.

By many accounts, the Semel era transformed the company from a free-wheeling and innovative dot-com to a buttoned-down outfit where new products were subject to review by committee. Departments became responsible and rewarded for their own profits, much like many U.S. companies. At the time, the approach made sense and Yahoo saw dramatic financial improvements.

But those "big company" controls had a downside: they caused people to think about how to protect their own turf and put themselves--instead of the company--first, according to people familiar with Yahoo.

Wherefore art thou M-learning? - DONALD CLARK PLAN B
M-learning may as well mean missing-learning - it's is an elusive beast. The problem is that people don't really seem to understand what they want to do with these devices.

The Google Enigma - strategy+business
Is its approach to management and innovation a cause of its success or a product of its success? Google is starting to look less like a sower than a harvester, less like an inventor than an exploiter.