Monday, April 30, 2007

Cheating Rocks!

I have a small boy who is just entering the education system at the moment. The schooling he is getting seems comfortingly familiar but then he's only four - things at this end of the learning scale have changed much in, well, centuries (for those that got it at least): a bit of painting, holding pencils, building blocks and jugs of sand or water. Playing Rocks, right?

Like all parents I wonder about the quality of the education he'll receive, whether the school will be well funded and the other pupils a help or a hindrance - unlike most in the UK I get worried about moving him into a foreign system and whether one or the other would be better (if China was the alternative, that might well be the conclusion). The last thing I need to be worrying about is whether the fundamental approach to his education is right.

Karl Kapp has a great article here that shows just how out of date school thinking is becoming. The skills taught in schools (passing exams) are not those skills that people need to succeed today.

Redefining elearning

Spurred on by one of those emails that "does the rounds" I tried to come up with a few alternative definitions for aspects of our business. The rules are add, take away or change one letter.

SCORN compliant
what some rapid elearning has to be to get past militant LMS managers.

a point of view, especially prevalent in sales people, pushers of LMSs and IT folk that online training is the panacea for all ills.

rabid elearning
too much course based elearning written in PowerPoint causes learners to foam at the mouth and bite people.

how a poorly designed user interface can short circuit a user's brain.

a click-here, do-this activity that causes learners to respond in ways not anticipated - like throw their mouse away in frustration.

and here's one for devotees of ILT:

SCONE compliant
what a classroom course must be to make way for a really satisfying afternoon snack.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Aha! #2 Practicing what we preach

For me, the revelations are far from over. The elearning bloggers are all very much walking the walking the walk.

Hot on the heels of the eLearning Guild event in Boston, indeed as a result of a meeting there, Clive Shepherd has kicked off an interesting experiment in collaborative working - the elearning SME 30 minute masters.

So far it has been a few tentative tweaks to Clive's original effort - I suspect most people are cautious about wading in and doing anything that may seem to contradict the the very point of the course. I've thrown one comment in and am contemplating opening up some more pages to start populating ideas for content, but I haven't just yet...

However, in having this team of elearning professionals come together in this way, it is in the spirit of Tom Haskins article here about educators practising what they preach and the absurdity of the notion of a formal qualification in informal learning.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Social Learning - my Aha! moment

I really like this diagram by Clark Quinn that tries to summarise the relative value of various elearning tools. I find it quite a good illustration of where most organisations that are new to elearning go wrong - almost all their initial investment will be in the bottom left corner. And that is hardly likely to get the big leaps in performance that they will have/have been promised.

But what it really did was make me think about social learning. I've never really been sure about the actual learning benefits of all the social learning hype, yet here it is represented as the middle of this diagram (almost a z-axis?).

Thinking more about it I was struck by something. A group of people I've never met gathered in a city I've never been to discuss a series of pretty obscure topics that weren't in anyway picked up by the mass media. And I learnt from it.

In entries by Cammy Bean, Clive Shepherd, Stephen Downes, Tony Karrer and Brent Schenkler and the whole PLE meme that spread about over the weekend I got a significant portion of the benefit of actually attending at least a part of the eLearning Guild Conference.

Thanks to blogging I have learnt simply because the conference happened. If that doesn't rock, nothing does.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Personal Learning - Corporate Environment

So far at work I've managed to avoid mentioning the TLA "PLE", mostly to avoid the blank stares and potential ostracism. However, the blogs often come back to the subject and this description, by Michelle at Bamboo Project is about the best description of how it works I've found.

For me, the most important technological component in all this is RSS, really simple syndication, the bit that makes the blogs work and what feeds my Google homepage - the start of my own PLE.

While in a really great meeting at a client this week where someone from one part of the business challenged someone from another part to come up with some new approaches it became apparent that what was wanted was a variety of presentations of the same material so learners could choose their method of learning: podcasts, video, micro-training - anything but another page-turner.

The problem was that to use the LMS to distribute all these different versions of the same thing would be a mess. I suggested RSS allowing learners to pick and choose the subject areas or formats they prefer - it fell on deaf ears - if it can't be tracked and reported on in the LMS they weren't so interested.

Does anyone out there know of an instance of RSS making it in to the L&D strategy for a large corporation? I'd love to know so I could help these guys get the solution that suits them best, and examples of people like them getting the learning right would really help.

Friday, April 06, 2007

TED's back

Not too long ago I posted on the subject of the TED Talks - a lecture series given by some of the the most eloqent speakers in the world on subjects as diverse as education, economics, engineering and ecology. These short videos are for me a great example of the very best of the free, wide ranging teaching available out on the web.

The good news is that they are back. TED 2007 took place in early March so the videos are starting to appear, beginning with the winners of this year's awards: Bill Clinton, E O Wilson and James Nachtwey. And they are available in a hi-res 480p format.

Brilliant stuff.