Reading, Learning, Cloudworker, Design, & Leadership

Christmas Lights

More on "Why don't we read so well on a screen?" - Innovations Report

Reading on a screen gives us more brain stress than reading the same text on paper. Clicking and scrolling interrupt our attentional focus. Turning and touching the pages instead of clicking on the screen influence our ability for experience and attention.

Formal vs. Informal Learning in 3 Learning Contexts - The Pursuing Performance Blog

Guy Wallace writes:
  • Personal Learning - for any personal interest or hobby - anything (in my definition - or is that iDefinition?) that does not lead to earning a living. From learning for the sake of learning for pure personal pleasure - to learning with very specific goals, such as learning to scuba dive.
  • Educational Learning - for learning within an educational institution for expanding knowledge to applying knowledge - and "to learn to earn" in current applications of knowledge. Includes both Formal and Informal Learning.
  • Enterprise Learning - for learning with a purpose and a return on the investment in mind - including general knowledge and skills, to very targeted performance capability development/ assurance.
Where Informal Learning makes sense - use it. But that is less-so in an Enterprise Context - except for the very advanced learners/Performers. Those 15%-ers. That's what research suggests is the % of people who can learn out of context and apply it to a different context. That means that 85% cannot learn out of context and then apply it.

Q: And what do you do? A: I'm a cloudworker - Janet Clarey

The way I see it, you've got two types of information workers at your organization. You've got 'cloudworkers' who will define what they need. . . The rest of your learners (and many managers) seek (and are use to) clarification (although there are probably a few that aren't even seeking that - just practicing on-the-job retirement or hating their jobs).

Anyone Can Be a Web Designer - CenterNetworks

Interesting quote from Allen Stern:
It's these type of "fly by night" designers (or developers, marketers, etc.) that will slowly erode the industry as a whole and make it harder for talented professionals to get work.
I think that there is also some fear amoung learning designers that these new tools will also erode their industry, but great learning designers will always be needed.

$20 Billion Company CEO... Takes the Bus - Evolving Excellence

With all the talk of corporate jets and massive bonuses for the CEO's of failing companies, here's a jolt of true leadership inspiration.


Christmas Eve News - 2008

How NORAD Tracks Santa - Wired

NORAD is training on a daily basis to handle whatever comes up this Christmas:

The North Warning System, a network of 47 radars strung across the continent's northernmost frontier, tells NORAD when St. Nick takes off from the North Pole. Infrared satellites track the jolly old elf's flight path once he's airborne. "The satellites actually pick up an infrared signature from Rudolph's nose," says Navy Lt. Desmond James. Once Santa touches down, a little-known network of surveillance cameras called "Santa Cam" transmit images of St. Nick making deliveries. The global network went online 10 years ago, and NORAD officials swear it is used only on Christmas Eve. Four C-18 fighter jets escort Santa through Canada before handing the job over to F-16s as the sleigh enters American airspace (the movie above capture parts of last year's Christmas deliveries).

Online v. print reading: which one makes us smarter? - Scientific American

Reading online may not be as rewarding - or effective - as the printed word. The reasons: The process involves so much physical manipulation of the computer that it interferes with our ability to focus on and appreciate what we're reading; online text moves up and down the screen and lacks physical dimension, robbing us of a feeling of completeness; and multimedia features, such as links to videos and animations, leave little room for imagination, limiting our ability to form our own mental pictures to illustrate what we're reading.

Learning technology sector shuns recession - New Brunswick Business Journal

While traditional soft-skills training gets slashed as soon as companies hit hard times, training related to productivity, safety and efficiency - as well as military training - continue to see a demand during slowdowns. Business can benefit from training," he said. "They can improve operations and increase their margins and produce returns on investment.

Next Up - Designing Learning

I wrote a post on Flipping Kirkpatrick into a backwards planning tool. After writing it I decided to do a series of posts on each of the four steps. Two have been written and posted. The third one, Designing Learning, should be finished before New Years Eve:


Capture the Performance

Once the impact or desired result has been defined, the next step in the backwards planning process is to define the performance level that will support the impact. That is, what exactly must the performers do to ensure that the results or outcome is achieved? Defining the desired performance by recording the steps gives the designers an outline on which to base the learning process.

Defining the performance is normally achieved through two means: explicitly and expository. Explicit performances are ones that can be readily observed because they are already in place. For example, a manager who wants to ensure that new hires are trained in a process that is already in place or a manager who has observed an expert performer master a process and now wants to ensure that the rest of her department models that performance.

Expository performances are new, thus there are no exemplary performers to observe in order to base the performance steps on. Rather, the analyst has to prompt an expert to interpret and describe something based upon her background experiences and knowledge of the subject or task. For example, when a new process is put into place or a process that has been radically changed to produce a more efficient and/or effective one. In addition, tasks that are normally associated with "knowledge workers" often have no clearly observable actions and can often be accomplished in multiple ways, thus a definable performance must be built.

It should be noted that some performances will not be exclusive to one or the other, but rather a combination of the two, however they will normally fit more readily in one of the two performances.

Defining the performance is normally achieved through one or a combination of two means: observing and interviewing Exemplary Performers (EP) and/or Subject Matter Experts (SME).

We can thank John Howe and Dave Ferguson for the term, "Exemplary Performer" (exemplar) - a practitioner who currently does the job, produces exemplary results, and who's widely seen as outstanding in those two dimensions.

Now I'm going to differ with Dave and John on the term of Subject Matter Expert, mostly because I held the title of SME for over a year while serving in the Armed forces who basically define a SME as an expert in the job who works with an instructional designer in the development of a learning/performance process. And for the purpose of this discussion I'm going to add: the expert may not currently perform the job, but her experience and knowledge about the job has given her insights into the performance, especially expository performances.

Explicit Performance

This type of performance is normally easier to define and break down into tasks because you have a model of excellence to observe and interview. Observations are normally accomplished through:
  • Observation Task Analysis: Observe the tasks required in the performance under actual working conditions and record each step for performing a task and the standards of performance.
  • Simulated Task Analysis: Observe the tasks required in the performance using simulated working conditions. The working conditions should match the job environment as closely as possible. Record each step and standards of performance in addition to receiving input from the performer when the simulation does not match actual working conditions.
In addition to the observations, an "Interview Analysis" is also performed: consulting with the exemplar to determine the required steps and standards of performance. This is normally used to validate the data gathered by the observations. Note that this method should not be used alone as performers often leave out vital steps as they have performed the task so often that some of the steps become internalized, thus they fail to acknowledge in even doing so.

In addition, observations normally only include the what and how, thus the interview is used to gather the whys. For example, Icihro always goes through the same basic routine when he approaches the plate to hit.


Part of the routine is a tug on the shoulder of his uniform. While some of his hitting techniques can easily be understood by observation, this part is not readily explainable:

  • Is a habit?
  • Is it a lucky superstition?
  • Is it part of a routine to put him into a zen-like hitting state?
  • Does it loosen his sleave so as not to restrict arm movement?
Questions are asked to determine if this part of the exemplar's performance is required. If it is, such a loosening his sleeve for full arm movement, then the "why" is important so that it can be explained to the learners. Perhaps it might be to put him in a zen-like hitting state and if so, do new performers need to do it or can they learn it on their own or should it be put into an advance learning process once they have learned the basics?

Expository Performances

Unlike explicit performances, expository performances have no exemplars to observe and interview, thus the performance steps are normally obtained through:
  • Content Analysis: Analyzing operating or technical manuals (to include web resources) in order to determine the steps and standards of performance.
  • Interview Analysis: Consulting with a SME to determine the required steps and standards of performance.
While explicit performances normally rely mostly on exemplars to model the performance, expository performances rely more on a network of content, SMEs and EPs to first build the model and then to test the model. In addition, you have to work more closely with your customers to ensure the model will work for them (buy-off).

The Office

As you work your way through this network, you will often discover that there are a number of ways to accomplish a task within the performance. A simple example is a software program in which you can use hot-keys, a context menu (click the right key on the mouse), or the main menu at the top of the screen. Thus you have to decide if all three methods are actually needed or if you can reduce the number for more effective and efficient learning. For example, you might decide to concentrate on the context menu whenever possible. However, since the performers will use the copy and paste command quite frequently, then the hot keys for these two commands will also be taught.

Capturing the performance provides the designer with a blueprint for the next step in backwards planning -- planning the learning process.

Patterning, Layoffs, Corporate Culture, & Science

Winter Time

Meaning is made through patterning - Live Journal

Jeff Knight's video on instructional design.

More Companies Are Cutting Labor Costs Without Layoffs - New York Times

Companies are using technology to track employee performance and productivity, and in many cases they know that the workers they would cut are productive ones. People are measured and 'metricked' to a much greater degree, so companies know that when they're cutting an already taut organization, they're leaving big gaps in the work force.

For more reasons on why not to layoff, see Downsizing.

10 Reasons to Design a Better Corporate Culture - Harvard Business School

Strong, adaptive cultures can foster innovation, productivity, and a sense of ownership among employees and customers. They also outlast any individual charismatic leader.

Gingko Study Proves Nothing - Brain Blogger

A quite interesting statement from Donna Schwontkowsk:
There's a huge fallacy that exists in the minds of most people regarding research studies. That fallacy is that you can prove that something is NOT effective. This is a scientific oxymoron. Science is the systematic observation, measurement and classification of observable phenomenon. The absence of a relationship cannot be observed, classified or measured. Thus, scientific studies can only prove what exists, not what does not exist.
For example, this brings to mind learning styles in which studies generally show they are not effective when it comes to training, but we know that peole learn differently and have preferences.


Competency Models, Mindhacks, Training, Experiential Learning, Twitter, SharePoint, and Order

Christmas Tree

Using Competency Models to Target Training Needs: Lessons Learned - ASTD

Josh Bersin explains:
Our research proves that organizations that use a leadership competency model are three to four times more effective, and sometimes as much as six times more effective, than companies that don't use models. Yet we have found that fewer than 20 percent of companies use this more effective, integrated approach.

100 Terrific Mindhacks to Make the Most of Your Brain - Find Schools

Your mind is a powerful thing, but it's often limited by things like fear, habit, and poor health. However, there are a number of ways to improve the way you use your mind.

Training in the 21st Century: Everything Old Is New Again - Chief Learning Officer

Ed Cohen writes on "Where the Rubber Meets the Road:"
In many ways, the ability to link learning interventions to a company's strategic objectives represents the epitome of training's aspirations. If a CLO can point to the metrics that show training's impacts on those objectives, so much the better - for both his budget and people.
Christmas Tree

Experiential Learning at a Distance - Training Magazine

Jacob Stoller notes:
Distance learning often is seen as a compromise in which the intimacy of the in-person classroom is sacrificed for the low cost and convenience of online methods. The medium, however, can provide some unique advantages. One of them is privacy, which allows learners to venture outside of their comfort zone without fear of making a bad impression.

Definition of Twitter - maverickwoman

"Twitter is breathing the news as it happens and raising the wisdom of the crowds 140 characters at a time." Found on twitter (Twitterrific to be more specific).

The truth about SharePoint - KM World

SharePoint promises a number of services (even more than its so-call "six pillars"), but it doesn't necessarily deliver on all those promises to the extent customers hope or expect.

Christopher Alexander's The Nature of Order - Later On

One important idea is to go to the site and look at it and its surroundings, and situate the structure to take advantage of the site. (via Signal vs. Noise)
As a Learning Designer, do you go to the site to ensure your learning platforms fits in with the environment?

Backward Planning - Identifying Business Impacts

If we learn how to do something, we have the capability to perform in a new way. For value to occur, we have to change our behavior and use the new capability in performance. Further, our performance must be aimed at worthwhile results — Brinkerhoff and Apking (2001).
The first step in performing Backward Planning for Learning Initiatives is to determine the desired impact that will improve the performance of the business.

Business impacts (often called results or outcome) begin with the end in mind and are best achieved through "Business Linkage" — spelling out how a learning initiative supports the organization's initiatives, strategies, or goals (Garnevale, Gainer, & Villet, 1990). Business linkage is considered a "high value add", which is basically defined as the difference-making in business in that it adds high value. Yet linking learning initiatives to other business units is normally one of the activities that learning designers spend the least amount of time on (Trolley, 2006). We spend an enormous amount of time on designing and implementing our learning programs, but often fail to explain to our customers exactly how it impacts the organization.

For example, the chart below shows the average percent of time for creating a learning program (USMC Multimedia Guideline for Percentage of Development). As shown, most learning initiatives spend a lot of time on design and development, but very little time showing the customer how the learning platform adds value.

Even though the design and development of a learning initiative may takes a considerable amount of time, there must be additional effort expended to show your customers exactly how the learning initiative will benefit them (planning) and how it did help them (evaluating). Since each customer is different, you have to collaborate with them to ensure you know what their expectations are and how they would measure success. If customers do not see the learning initiatives benefiting them, then they are going to start picturing the Learning Department as a consumer of resources rather than a resource that produces assets.

Learning initiatives should always be undertaken to improve the performance of the business, thus they should always be defined in business terms. This does NOT mean you have to show an ROI (Return On Investment); however, there should be a clear causal link at the very least.

For example, frequent feedback to subordinates is normally considered a means for promoting better performance that should equate to higher profits (Wick, Pollock, Jefferson, Flanagan, 2006). A goal of having supervisors learning feedback skills is NOT a business outcome as it does not relate to a verifiable outcome that adds high value. A better business outcome would be the supervisors's subordinates will receive more frequent and better feedback as a result of the learning initiative. This gives a result than can be both measured and verified.

Learning departments have become pretty adept at selling their initiatives on features rather than benefits. For example, they will promote an elearning program as allowing the learners to read, listen, or do both. Yet in the majority of cases this is a feature rather than a real benefit; indeed, in some cases it is poor instructional design. Benefits, on the other hand, solve customers' needs by adding high value in one of two ways: increasing profits or lowering costs.

Anything that does doesn't support the business will be subject to intense scrutiny. What can't be articulated as driving business will be scrapped. - Rebecca Ray (2008)
Thus our first requirement as instructional designers is to ensure the learning initiative provides a real benefit to our customers. Only after this primary requirement has been met to we consider adding worthy features. In the book, The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning (2006), the authors list four questions that need to be asked before the design of a learning platform begins:
  • What business need will be met?
  • What will participants do differently and better?
  • Who will be able to see and confirm these changes?
  • How will you measure and document results?
Only after these questions are answered does the next step in the "Backwards Planning" process begin: the level of performance the learners must be able to do to create the business impact.


Brinkerhoff, R. O., Apking, A. M. (2001) High Impact Learning. New York: Basic Books.

Garnevale, A., Gainer, L., & Villet, J., (1990), Training in America: The Organization and Strategic Role of Training. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Ray, R. (2008). The Future of learning. Chief Learning Officer. Dec., 2008, p.21.

Trolley, E. (2006). Lies About Learning. Larry Israelite, ed. Baltimore, Maryland: ASTD.

Wick, C., Pollock, R., Jefferson, A., Flanagan, R., (2006). The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning: How to Turn Training and Development Into Business Results. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.


Flipping Kirkpatrick

Donald Kirkpatrick's Four Levels of Evaluation was introduced in the late fifties:
  1. Reaction - how the learners react to the learning process
  2. Learning - the extent to which the learners gain knowledge and skills
  3. Performance (behavior) - capability to perform the learned skills while on the job
  4. Results (impact) - includes such items as monetary, efficiency, moral, etc.
Because of its age and with all the new technology advances, it is often criticized nowadays for being too old and simple. Yet, almost five decades after its introduction, there has not been a viable option to replace it. And I think the reason why is that because Kirkpatrick basically nailed it, but presented it wrong. Rather than being just an evaluation tool, it should have been presented as both a planning and evaluation tool. To do this, it needs one simple adjustment. . . flip it upside-down! That is, rearrange the steps into a "backwards planning" tool by starting with the end in mind:

Thus, planing and analysis needs to work backward by identifying:

  1. the desired impact (outcome or result) that will improve the performance of the business
  2. the level of performance the learners must be able to do to create the impact
  3. the knowledge and skills they need to learn in order to perform
  4. what they need to perceive in order to learn (the need to learn)
Planning it backwards will help to ensure there is a circular causality:

The learners' perception of the need to learn should motivate them to learn, which in turn causes the desired performance that drives the impact desired by our customer (client). This causality should continue in a circular fashion in that the results achieved should now drive the performers' perceptions of the need to learn more and perform better in order to achieve even better results. Of course this assumes that not only the customer understands the level of impact achieved, but also the performers/learners' perception on how close they came to achieving the desired result.


Eighth Mass Media, Creativity, No Trust, ID, & Fluidity


What's the opposite of email? - Faster Future

"Xerography - every man's brainpicker - heralds the times of instant publishing. Anybody can now become both author and publisher. Take any books on any subject and custom-make your own book by simply xeroxing a chapter from this one, a chapter from that one - instant steal!" - Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage (the father of rip, mix, & learn)

The seven mass media:
  1. Print
  2. Recordings
  3. Cinema
  4. Radio
  5. Televsion
  6. Internet
  7. Mobile
We are now on the verge of the eighth mass medium -- us!

"We are the distrubution, the content, the medium, and the message carried with it." - David Cushman, EContent Magazine (Dec 2008)

What we need for the arrival of the eighth mass media is something which is as good at expressing our id and metadata outwardly just as broadly and effectively as your email account can collate it centrally.

Moodstream - Getty

Need some creative inspiration? Go to Moodstream and dial in the level of inspiration that best fits your present needs.

No Trust - eLearning Technology

Tony Karrer ponders the issue of "No Trust" of blogs as sources of information:
"it's a bit depressing to realize that you rank behind direct mail and online classifieds in terms of trust. That they think of what they find here the same way I think about other bloggers who I don't know. It's another data point that I will eventually validate through people I do know. A little depressing, but at least it's a data point."

History of Instructional Design - Random Ideas

Mousumi Ghosh looks at the emergence of Instructional Design as a discipline.

Learning Fluidity - Harold Jarche

Stories are an excellent example of learning flow. For millennia, we've learned through stories. Today, content capture and creation tools on the Web let us tell our own stories. Weaving our stories with those of others enables serendipitous learning and becomes a powerful way to reinforce our learning.


Essentials, Layoffs, Connectivism, & Corporate Blogs

The Frog
The Frog

Why you should mix records on crap speakers - Signal vs. Noise

It's not the gear that matters. It's you and your ideas that matter. Tone is in your fingers. Gear can distract you from the essence of what you're working on. Strip what you're doing down to its bare essentials and evaluate that.

Thinking Twice About Supply-Chain Layoffs - Harvard Business School

Many retailers see labor more as a cost driver than a sales driver. However, the findings of a four-year study tell a different story. Research indicates that increasing the amount of labor at a store is associated with an increase in profit margin. These findings run contrary to the thinking of store managers in that service quality is a top indicator of store performance. For more information, also see Downsizing.

Connectivism and The Networked Student - Education Musings

What should 21st Century learning look like? How can social networking technologies be harnessed in learning spaces? How can emerging technologies truly, meaningfully impact the future of learning? How do we prepare our students and teachers for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century? Includes video:

Consumers Distrust Corporate Blogs - AdWeek

A Forrester Research study found that only 16 percent of consumers trust what they read on blogs, a trust level below such hallmarks of veracity as direct mail and message board posts. Of all information sources, including traditional and interactive media, corporate blogs finished dead last in consumers' eyes.


Learning, KM vs. SM, Information, Web 2.0, and Second Life

Korean Soon Du Bu
Korean Soon Du Bu

Acquistion vs learning - Doing Something Different

"Two British researchers have just completed a study of undergraduate students that found "many young students are far from being the epitomic global, connected, socially-networked technologically-fluent digital native who has little patience for passive and linear forms of learning." Instead, the study found that students use a limited range of technologies for both formal and informal learning and that there is a "very low level of use and familiarity with collaborative knowledge creation tools such as wikis, virtual worlds, personal web publishing, and other emergent social technologies." See, More Mythbusting Evidence.

Knowledge Manaement vs. Social Media - Social Computing Magazine

Venkatesh Rao argues, "The Boomers will retire and the Millenials will win by default, in a bloodless end with no great drama. KM will quietly die, and SM will win the soul of Enterprise 2.0, with the Gen X leadership quietly slipping the best of the KM ideas into SM as they guide the bottom-up revolution." See, Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War. Via Gary Woodill.

Jeff Kelly counters with, "Our technology and society will continue to evolve; people will continue to be resistant to (but finally adapt to) change; youth will continue to disdain their elders until they become tempered by wisdom; and the opportunities to learn and prosper will continue to grow for those wise enough to do so." See, KM vs. Social Media: Beware the Warmongers

Web 2.0 - More Effective for Formal Learning Than For Informal Learning - The Pursuing Performance Blog

Guy Wallace notes, "It almost feels as if Web 2.0 has been hijacked by the Informal Learning crowd. I'd like to commander it back to the middle. To share it with Informal Learning and Formal Learning. And as I'm pretty sure what Formal Learning is and is not - and unsure about what Informal Learning is and is not - that's the safe place to be."

The Impact of Information Technology (IT) on Businesses and their Leaders - Harvard Business School

Andrew McAfee lists 10 principles for the Enterprise 2.0 recovery plan:
  • The company 'knows' the answers to our questions
  • Most people want to be helpful to each other, and to the company
  • Expertise is emergent
  • People are busy
  • Weak ties are strong
  • The ability to convert potential ties into actual ones is valuable
  • Platforms are better than channels
  • Search is the dominant navigation paradigm
  • The mechanisms of emergence should be encouraged
  • Anyone can learn the new tools

Second Life's Second Wind -Forbes

In what tech pundits at Gartner Research call the curve of hype and gloom, Linden Lab's virtual world, Second Life, has officially entered the gloom stage. But Mark Kingdon, Linden Lab's new chief executive argues that Second Life has some life in it yet. In fact, Linden Lab's economic statistics from Second Life show that in-world user hours and the volume of virtual land rented by users are both growing.

Also see George Siemens' comments on University Affairs' story, Studies in Second Life.