making web 2.0 easier to grasp

29 06 2007

i wandered upon an interesting post by niko coucouvanis on the mac|life site this morning (how i found it? i have no clue!). niko outlines 10 things you don’t know about web 2.0. niko’s goal seems to be to make web 2.0 a bit more palpable to those who are overwhelmed by it all. (who isn’t?) the headlines of his 10 things are:

  1. it’s evolutionary, not revolutionary.
  2. it’s all about the api.
  3. myspace is only the tip of the iceberg.
  4. it modernizes the telephone.
  5. it works for work, too.
  6. your photos can do more than just sit there.
  7. it brings tv to your mac.
  8. some sites have l-o-n-g legs.
  9. there are skeptics.
  10. it’s just getting started.

overall, it seems a bit simple to me, but then i’m immersed in web 2.0 and not generally overwhelmed by it. i do like #1 it’s evolutionary, not revolutionary. i think in our excitement about the latest new applications, that we forget that very few of these are new ideas. sometimes the new packaging opens up new opportunities, but that doesn’t make the concept new. it just makes it flashier.
#4 is probably the most powerful statement of them all. and true. skype and all the other voip applications and web conferencing tools have indeed changed telephony forever. but that’s what the founders of skype set out to do when the decided on their next project after making kazaa a worldwide success.
finally #8 reminded me of one of my favorite early, early, early sites that still exists – deviantart. deviantart was cataloging artwork and other images almost 7 years ago (their home pages announces “only 39 days until our seventh birthday.”) many of the images that are displayed on deviantart would be taken down by flickr for not being photos.

happy birthday in a month, deviantart!

Powered by Qumana

Technorati Tags
, , , ,

Related News
The Internet grows up: What Web 2.0 means to business – British Industry
Top 5 ways to give Big Brother a Web 2.0 spin – Mobile Digest
Social Networking in the Web 2.0 World – Business Wire (press release)
Web 2.0 Reality Check – CIO Insight
From Web services to Web 2.0 — same name, new game – ZDNet

Some of my recent related posts
making web 2.0 easier to grasp
del.icio.us and my folksonomy
collective intelligence excites execs
exemplary elearning solutions
there they go with the powerpoint thing, again!

Powered by StuffaBlog





learning is risky business

25 06 2007

stephen lahanas’s comment to my post what is a good example got me thinking about a particular area of learning that i find fascinating – risk taking. if we push ourselves to try new things, read new blogs or books, go new places, we usually will learn a great deal. however, this new knowledge comes with a certain amount of risk. how much i learn will be highly affected by how much risk i’m willing to endure to gain the knowledge, skills, or attitude change i desire.

risk

noun

  • A possible, usually negative, outcome, e.g., a danger.
  • The likelihood of a negative outcome.
  • (Formal use in business, engineering, etc.) The potential (conventionally negative) impact of an event, determined by combining the likelihood of the event occurring with the impact should it occur

verb

  • to incur risk

factors that increase/decrease risk

risk is a complex concept. there are numerous factors which affect a person’s or an organization’s estimation of risk in any given situation. some of these factors include:
knowledge – the more information available the better chance you have of understanding the risks of the options you have
uncertainty vs. risk – from the definition above, risk is not an unknowable factor. uncertainty is generated by a lack of information about what outcomes are potential. risk is a calculation of the potential outcomes.
perception of risk – similarly, do we really understand the risk involved or are our emotions, prejudices, expectations, or other information clouding our ability to understand the extent of the risk involved in our behaviors.
social norms – almost all human behavior is affected by social norms and pressures that can increase or decrease the risk or the perception of risk of an undertaking. if we follow the crowd or follow procedures, we are likely to lessen the level of risk we need to cope with. similarly if we go against the company’s dress code or conduct a project outside of the prescribed fashion, we will be at greater risk. if we follow regulations, we have limited risk. if we don’t we are increasing our risk to the extreme.
what is the payoff – is the reward for high-risk behavior worth the risk? and to whom? a person will be much more likely to attempt a high-risk action if the reward upon success will benefit them personally and is of significant value to them. as many a ceo has found out through experience, if employees don’t perceive that a requested (or even required) behavior will have little or no reward directly to them, there is a strong chance that there will be little or no behavior change achieved. no matter the potential gain to the company.
goal-based alignment – this is currently a predominant factor in business today. if your actions are inline with the strategic goals of the organization, you can take higher risk actions than if you are working on project that doesn’t tie directly to the strategic plan. data also shows that a major factor in employees leaving a company is they don’t understand how their work fits with the company goals. In other words, there was too much risk that what they were doing wouldn’t be valued by the company.

learning is risky business

These factors create interesting points of risk in learning situations. how each learner estimates the risk involved versus the direct benefit to them will ultimately determine whether they will perform differently in light of the learning intervention they have participated in.

umm, i don’t know – one of the biggest risks any learner struggles with is accepting that they have a need to learn something. at first, this seems silly. if you don’t know something, learn it. but in the workplace, where relationships and power gambits are vital to both your current work and your professional future, admitting you need to learn something can be very risky. image and reputation can go down in flames if you don’t know something that others assumed you knew – or worse yet, you pretended to know. while it may be changing in some workplaces, lack of knowledge is generally still perceived as a weakness – whether the knowledge is core to your job or peripheral. solutions designers need to understand the target learners, the company’s goals, and the environment in which both the learning event and then the applications of the learning will take place. management can promote an active learning culture where learning is rewarded – both intrinsically and extrinsically. they can share what they are trying to learn and why. when performance is praised, what was learned to insure that performance was successful can be included.

why should i trust you? – it’s likely that you’ve seen circumstances where learners dismiss the content of a training course because the facilitator didn’t meet their expectations of what the facilitator should be either in knowledge, presentation, or position. “what am i going to learn from her, she’s not a programmer?” “he doesn’t work here, how does he know what’s expected of me?” the learner judges that there is a risk that what they spend their time learning may not be applicable to their work. solutions learning programs can be certified. the desired outcome for the company can be stated. executive sponsorship can be explicit. managers can participate before, during, and/or after the learning event. previous learners’ experiences can be incorporated in the content.

i’m not going to look like a fool – during the learning process, it’s important for the learner to rehearse and practice. learners need to be given opportunities to try-on their new knowledge. but such practice has the same risks as exposing a lack of knowledge. if a safe environment is not created, learners will suddenly need to use the bathroom or have an important conference call they suddenly need to participate in. solutions instructional designers can assure that activities involve both new knowledge and baseline knowledge the learner brings with them. role playing in which everyone takes risks and everyone supports risk-taking at different times can help lessen this risk. managers can assure that mistakes aren’t punished, but rather studied for future situations. after action reviews are one effective tool to promote this type of examination.

but what if it doesn’t work – from the new employee trying to fit in by using corporate slang to a commercial airline pilot making his first live landing in a 747 loaded with passengers we all fear the consequences of failure when implementing new knowledge and skills. this fear can be paralyzing to some. in learning lingo we talk about transfer to the job. will the learner implement what they have learned. our kirkpatrick level 2 analysis says they definitely learned it. but our level 3 analysis says they never used it. solutions the instructional design can incorporate follow-up activities and reminders. managers can be made aware of what their employees are learning and how they might support their efforts to implement it. learning can be aligned with the learner’s work to allow for adjustments based upon real application.

this all leads to some overarching characteristics of organizational learning that can help reduce employees’ estimation of risk involved in learning.

  • a learning organization that is actively involved in understanding what the company needs from its employees to execute to the strategic goals.
  • learning professionals that are attuned to the corporate culture, specific work environments, and current employee knowledge, skills and attitudes and how they will impact upon each particular learning challenge.
  • a corporate learning culture that is ambient and continual in nature. design should not be a one-off creation every time. learning should not be something employees are “sent off to.”
  • learning is a part of the strategic plan for the organization. it should be a part of every employee’s performance expectations. managers are held accountable for their employees’ learning
    the “why” of learning should be explained. often..

technorati tags: , , , , ,

Powered by Qumana





exemplary elearning solutions

12 06 2007

The Big Question logoover on learning circuits blog, the big question for june is: “where are the examples of elearning?” in my last post, what is a “good example”, i outlined a set of criteria that outline what an exemplar of good elearning would meet. in this post i’ll introduce three elearning examples using those criteria.

xblogs

I wrote about xblogs in my post entitled xblogs: the road less traveled. kim and jason kotecki created a pedagogical scaffolding to be used with a blog or blogs to help deliver learning in various content realms. you can read my previous post for the details. what makes xblogs special in my mind is that they’ve taken a very rich, but very amorphous technology – blogs – molded them to the specific goals for learning – particularly complex learning – yet kept all the essence of blogging.

criteria

evidence

solves a common problem

aiding the learning of ambiguous, higher order skills and behaviors
applicable to multiple specific situations new employee orientation, leading vs. managing

how and why must be transparent

the tasked-based nature of the activities scaffolds the learning and design, its exploratory nature draws upon existent organizational knowledge

learners must feel they have a choice

the learner chooses how they execute the task

no learning curve for the technology

blogs in general has a low usage-threshold: basic data entry, copy and paste, wysiwyg interfaces

clearly visible, multiple means of support

facilitators (called sherpas) are available, previous learners’ content is available as example work, subject participants in tasks provide guidance

appropriate use of the technology

presentation-reflect-react are core blog characteristics

results in the desired learning

dialogue enables building of higher-order skills via negotiation of meaning

w3schools

this free site is absolutely the primer for learning anything related to building and managing websites. from html to webservices, rss to .net asp w3schools provide contentw3c school logo in logical chunks that are digestible by anyone who has a general understanding of how to use their computer. there are thousands of examples – most of which can be altered as practice allowing for hypothesis creation and testing and trial and error. they also provide immediate and real opportunities to practice the principles being presented in each section. all of this content is available 24/7 as a reference and refresher to anyone who needs it. if you are just looking for a few solutions to tidy up a website or if you are seeking certification in one or more categories, w3 schools is a solid foundation for your learning.

criteria

evidence

solves a common problem

learning the terminology, systems, and standards required for the proper execution of a role or skill.
applicable to multiple specific situations 1) coding, programming and designing a website.
2) learning of pharmaceutical terminology, medical benefits/side effects, and regulation regarding products by pharmaceutical sales representatives.
3) learning terminology, taxonomies, and legal processes by insurance coders.

how and why must be transparent

highly structured segments of content presented, prioritized, reviewed, quizzed, practiced, and shared.database of content is cross referenced to demonstrate connections, relationships, and dependence between the chunks of content.

learners must feel they have a choice

what and how the learner choosed to go through the content is total up to them. the learner has complete control over how deep they go on a topic.

no learning curve for the technology

content is called and presented to learner who uses point and click on an outline, index, and/or search.

clearly visible, multiple means of support

highly structured organization provides a scaffolding of the content for the learner.user forumsexample code providedfull source documents onlinecontext like history of xml and web usage statistics

appropriate use of the technology

well designed relational database allows user guided selections, potential pathways, and meta-organzers amongst the chunks of content.examples and their manipulations require the ability to enter text.quizzes are simple and formative in nature.

results in the desired learning

besides having over 2 million page impressions a day as a sign of success. Here are a few customer quotes as evidence:

In just under an hour I learned more than I did in a five day class.

Finally it all becomes clear! XML- nothing to it after reading the tutorial on your site!

Thanks very much for the lessons – am about to change my whole website by using style sheets.

trailfire

trailfire fits in a class of web 2.0 applications that allow a person to place notations directly “on” a web page. trailfire not only allows you to share your notes with others, but it also allows others to make comments on your notes. in effect, a microblog post each time you leave a note. notes, called trail marks, can be strung together in a trail which can then be linked to as a guide through the trail marks. see my review of trailfire on eelearning wiki for more details.

criteria

evidence

solves a common problem

sharing content found on the web with others you are working with and/or learning with.
applicable to multiple specific situations sharing foundational resources with colleaguesframing options and concepts to create common ground for group decision making.present pre-requisite knowledge for new group members.

how and why must be transparent

The basis of the solution is the blog structure of post-comment.the content is attached directly to the content being discussed providing full context.the trail structure provides summary capacities to tie trailmarks together.

learners must feel they have a choice

learner has full control over which trailmarks to read, how much of the related content to explore, and if and how they respond.

no learning curve for the technology

creating a trailmark is a simple process with embedded guides.skills required are basic browswer navigation, basic data entry, point-and-click.

clearly visible, multiple means of support

in-solution forum guide use through creation of trails and trailmarks. learner clicks reads clicks writes.

appropriate use of the technology

utilizes rendering technologies to present easy to use forums.the share-reflect-respond format of a blog is translated well in to a micro-blog format.

results in the desired learning

the solution supports collaborative construction of knowledge at multiple levelsit immerses the learner in context an approach well supported for increased retention of target knowledge.

technorati tags: , , , , ,

Powered by Qumana





what is a “good example”

12 06 2007

over on learning circuits blog, the big question for june is: “where are the examples of elearning?” thus far we’ve had some grThe Big Question logoeat posts with wonderful examples that demonstrate the variety
of solutions available through the use of digital media, the internet, organizational intranets, and the web 2.0 paradigm of participatory and communal content creation.

but as i sat down to type my response to this month’s question i realized i disagreed with tony’s assessment in the home post of the big question that good examples of elearning are difficult to find. my experience is that there are examples everywhere i turn. as i thought about why tony and i might have very different thoughts on this, it came to me that perhaps part of it is a matter of definitions. i think the problem may be that, in general, tony may be looking for “good examples” in the same old way we’ve always conceived of “good examples.” the old way is to look for that one seminal best-practice or the definitive exemplar. what is the answer?

the new reality is that there is no such thing as a definitive answer anymore. quality is situational. what might be a tremendous success for one organization could well turn out to lead another organization to insolvency and shutting down. an approach that enables one learner to internalize a process or remember information will leave another learner totally baffled.

but to be a “good example” it is also, by definition, necessary that the solution be applicable to other situations. otherwise, it’s a unique solution, not a good example.

so what is a “good example”? here’s a list of criteria i propose for determining quality of elearning tools today. on one level, these are criteria of solid instructional design. but i think they are a bit more specific to both elearning and to the role of web 2.0 – both in the nature of the applications now available and to the new pedagogical posibilities they enable. i’d love some feedback on these ideas.

  • solves a common problem – it should be applicable to many contexts. examples: new employee orientation, programming a website, learning a new language.
  • applicable to multiple specific situations – it should be transferable to situations that share similar functional and/or learning obstacles, processes, or goals. the nature of the content is likely to be similar while the context varies. examples: learning profession-based terminology, building active listening skills, acclimating to a new culture.
  • the how and why of the solution must be transparent – from the learner’s perspective, this means it shouldn’t “feel like learning.” it should be fun, enlightening. something that is done, not studied. from the instructor/manager’s perspective, (if there is a need for one) their role should be clear and simple. it should enable their completion of their strategic needs. from the instructional designer’s perspective, the structure and purpose should be visible and duplicable. whether these three roles occur in one person (jay cross’ free-range learner) or multiple people (traditional corporate ilt), all three components are necessary.
  • the learner must feel they have a choice – it must provide the learner with control over some, if not all, the variables of what to learn, when, how, with whom, etc. examples: providing optional learning paths, same content in multiple formats, allowing choice of roles in activities, deciding what to learn in any given moment, collaborative learning spaces, content databases, expertise profiles, etc.
  • no learning curve for the use of the technology – the solution should be programmed in a way that the learner will be focused on the target content of the activity, not the application used to deliver the solution. for basic, non-technical content, this may mean point-click, drag-drop, simple data entry. the very basic skills in computing. the same goes for professional content. for advanced level learning, appropriate combinations of technical and professional knowledge and skills may be included yet still meet this criterion.
  • clearly visible, multiple means of support – it will provide the learner with various ways to ask meta-learning questions about the activities. examples: faq, demonstration videos, glossary of terms, user forums, mouse-over hints, previous learner feedback/solutions, online tutors, email support, etc.
  • appropriate use of the technology it must deploy technology in a way that fits with the functionality and general use of the technology. because of their structure and their reputation for authentic sharing and feedback, blogs are powerful tools for openly sharing new ideas, but are less effective for presenting policies and procedures. it must also fit with the environment in which it is being implemented. implementing a social networking solution for learning in an environment that is anti-collaboration will be seen as alien and limit the crucial transfer of learning to the work situation. examples: post-training blog communities, customer forums, best-practices wikis, rss feeds of related new content, expertise portfolio databases etc.
  • it results in the desired learning – it should either have demonstrated success in achieving the desired learning results or the argument for why it should be successful is obvious and compelling. Obviously, demonstrated success is the preference. however, since the new applications are enabling new learning experiences, we need to apply what is known about learning in crafting these new experiences. example: learning simulations which place potential leaders in ambiguous situations, software that helps call center operators adaptively deal with emotional callers.

in my next post i’ll describe some of my favorite examples of good elearning.

technorati tags: , , ,





good leadership can be criminal

2 06 2007

i ran across an interesting article while surfing hr.com for some ideas regarding leadership. david langdon, who served the london (uk) police department as a detective for 12 years and then moved to organization psychology, points out that there are leaders who may not be on the right side of the law, but are successful leaders in the world they operate in. in search of leadership excellence: considering criminal leadership explores the business characteristics that enable a drug dealer to conduct his “business” successfully.

langdon is careful to point out that he’s not endorsing the illicit behaviors of such leadership. if you can suspend judgment for a few minutes, his article has much to share about dealing with volatile markets, fickle consumers, erratic supply chains, and employees who may not share your motivations.

he identifies twelve characteristics that not only help criminals succeed, but good leaders should also understand and make their own. a few examples:

be brave
Show little to no fear to your people, (unless you want to create impact and shock)…. high self-awareness and self-control over what you say and do, don´t jump too soon. And right now in this recovering market being brave is essential.

Keep up with the market – and move with the times
When cell phones first came out, criminals were amongst the first users. They used them for communication, used them to facilitate ´spotting´ the Police, …keep close to the market, be first (or second) in there and then shape the market too, don´t replicate the obvious. Move with the pack, but do not become a pack member.

keep tight lipped about new ventures:
in all areas of criminal activity, less is more. leadership depends on keeping potential activities close to the chest. you never know ´who´ you are talking to when you share information, or, who they might share that with…. create a bond within the team that knows what silence means, and knows the implications if information is shared. if you don´t want information shared, then don´t share it with anyone, then you´ve not lost control.

he also points to the drive and motivation criminals have for success. success in their world can pay huge dividends and failure has dire consequences.

langdon’s insights into leadership are powerful, regardless of the fact that he’s referring to drug dealers and other criminals. ignoring the strengths of your opponents can only lead to defeat. while criminals may not be behaving in accordance with socially acceptable norms, to assume that there are not good leaders and capable business men and women among their ranks is not only ignorant, it’s straight up dangerous. suntzu, the ancient chinese philosopher wrote in his art of war:

carefully compare the opposing army with your own,
so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient.

technorati tags: , , ,

Powered by Qumana