Thursday, December 23, 2004

Best you might've missed

A short best this holiday week. Also, I'll be out of the office from December 24th until January 3rd and won't be posting. I wish you all happy holidays and a happy new year!

Traditional training/business

Creating a Learning-Driven Culture. Keys to sustained competitive advantage are knowledge, learning processes, learning culture, and knowledge practice.

Instructional Design Models. An in-depth directory of Webpages on the various instructional design models.

Emergent learning

"Instant Messaging: Collaborative Tool or Educator's Nightmare?" This paper examines advantages and disadvantages to instant messaging in general and in education.

"Doctors Use Video Games to Hone Skills." Video games as training for surgeons in the private sector and military. (Thanks, BoingBoing.)


"Technology and Happiness." "Is it possible that technology, instead of liberating us, is holding us back? Is technological progress merely a treadmill, and if so, would we be happier if we stepped off of it?"

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Free Webinar resource

I'm using ambiguity on purpose here. is not only a free resource, but many of the Webinars listed on the Website are free as well.

Some of the listings might be too HR-y for trainers (for example, Introduction to Workmen's Compensation Claims), but there are others that look promising, such as a Webinar on Developing Women Leaders (January 6th, free) or the Thought Leaders Interview with Marshall Goldsmith (January 10th, free).

Archived Webinars are available for a fee.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

What companies are doing to improve performance

A Leadership Pulse study from the University of Michigan and eePulse, Inc. asked executives "What are you doing to improve your company's performance beyond cutting costs?"

Responses were:

• 27% Undertaking company-wide performance improvement initiatives to
refine current processes

• 17% Focusing on specific strategies, partnerships and business growth
opportunities to increase sales

• 13% Providing employees with training, seminars and other educational

• 11% Motivating and recognizing employees

• 8% Introducing new products and services to the marketplace

• 7% Implementing the latest technology to streamline operations

• 7% Hiring new employees and concentrating on recruitment efforts

• 6% Improving internal communications

• 4% Improving customer service and personal goals mentioned

Friday, December 17, 2004

Best you might've missed

I've been catching up on my reading slowly but surely. To make up for last week's short list, here's a super duper list of articles and resources that I found most interesting or useful recently.

Traditional business/training

"The Six Myths of Creativity." Findings from a ground-breaking study, published in Fast Company.

The World's Ten Greatest Innovators. Good content from Dave Pollard yet again.

Staff want their employers to "disorganize." SmartMobs reports that "employees want more human organisations with greater autonomy and flexibility."

"The Plight of Middle Managers." An excerpt in Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge publication from the book Top Down.

Emergent learning

"Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age." A good article by George Siemens of elearnspace.

"The Business Singularity." A reprint on his Website of Jay Cross's article in CLO magazine. Discusses the convergence of networks of people and businesses.

The Two-Punch Power of Weblogs in Education. The two-punch is 1) support for organic, personalized, collaborative learning networks and 2)campus community.

Learning Objects, Metadata, Blogs And RSS: The Future Of Online Education According To Stephen Downes. An interview of the learning technology guru by collaboration guru Robin Good. (Note: this is an audio recording.)

Interview with Ray Ozzie. Gartner fellow Tom Austin interviews the founder of Groove about the future of technology and collaboration.


Beyond the Administrative Core: Creating Web-based Student Services for Online Learners. A partnership project developed by several colleges and universities.

Promoting E-Learning Research and Application Scenarios in Europe. A paper discussing the Network of Excellence in professional learning (PROLEARN).

"E-Learning: The Hype and the Reality." A paper from the School of Education at the United Kingdom's University of Southhampton.

"A Typology of Virtual Communities: A Multi-Disciplinary Foundation for Future Research." A recent article from the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.

E-Learning as a Narrative Technique: Yeah! A nice dialogue between Maish Nichani of elearningpost and Amy Gahran of Contentious.


"Always 'Talking': When Three Days Without a Word is an Eternity." Today's teens and future workers expect constant and ubiquitous communication. Employers take note.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Online mentoring

As a rule, I don't blog about for-profit products or services, but the exception is when it's something, well, exceptional. In other words, something unique that I haven't seen out there before.

Advance Mentoring fits that description. It's an online service that both helps individuals find mentors and also enables companies to set up customized Web-based mentoring programs.

The site reads, "The sophisticated Bloodhound Matching Algorithm™ matches prospective Mentors and Mentees based upon such factors as skills, personality, personal information, career background, and industry of focus.

The Advance Mentoring Organization Client also provides training and resources for both Mentors and Mentees."

Web components include:

* Personal Home Page Features
* Advance Mentoring Email
* Reminders and Calendar
* Instant Messaging
* Advance Mentoring Personality Test

Intriguing. If anyone tries it, leave a comment and tell us how it is.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Best you might've missed

I apologize for the short list this week. I'm swamped trying to get a Trends article done for Learning Circuits. It's on augmented reality and learning, really neat stuff. Look for it up on Learning Circuits after the 20th. I'll also try to remember to post the link.

Best business books of 2004
. From the Fast Company blog.

Creative people's work methods. Includes authors, artists, writers, and entrepreneurs. (Thanks for the link, BoingBoing.)

E-Learning Grab Bag. A great list of links from Amy Gahran, who's obviously been doing her required reading (unlike me).

"Managers Misuse Tech to Control Workers, Study Says." Findings from the "Future Role of Trust in Work" study.

Quiz for small business success. From Small Business Success magazine. Lets you analyze the readability of a document or Website. Good resource for e-learning content.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Cat gets online degree; owner sues

From the News of the Weird file: A woman is suing an online university after her cat was granted an MBA degree. The woman just happens to be the deputy attorney general in Pennsylvania. Kathryn Silcox is suing Trinity Southern University for consumer fraud and illegal email marketing after she filled out the university's self-evaluation form and applied for a $299 bachelor's degree under her cat's name. The university granted the cat not only a bachelor's degree but also an MBA--if the cat would pay an additional $100. Silcox paid $99 for a transcript that showed the cat had taken four semesters of business classes. (From the Chronicle of Higher Education, via Edupage)
Trends in diversity training

Corporate diversity programs, which took a hit with the recession in the United States, are regaining momentum, says Mike Hyter, president and CEO of consulting firm Novations/J. Howard Associates.

Hyter points to these trends:

"--Development of all employees. More organizations integrate their diversity efforts with overall development programs. While focus is still on the needs of specific groups, the new trend is to insure that all employees are given equal access to skills training and other career opportunities.

--Growing age bias. Women, African-Americans and others in the workforce have made gains, but bias complaints by older employees continue to rise and are now at the highest level in more than ten years.

--Advancement of women. While women’s needs continue to hold the attention of management, emphasis has shifted from just recruitment and retention to career development and advancement of women into the upper executive ranks, including C-level and corporate board positions.

--Workforce globalization. No single factor has done more to transform and expand diversity training than accelerating globalization of the workforce. International trade competition, the Internet and economic integration have combined to redefine diversity. Global organizations seek global solutions, even when issues and demographics vary by country and region."

Friday, December 03, 2004

Learning Circuits's E-Learning Trends 2004

Now on Learning Circuits: results and analysis from two e-learning surveys, the Annual Trends Survey and the E-Learning Readiness Survey.

Lots of interesting information about how companies are using e-learning and the issues they're facing.

Best you might have missed -- super duper edition

I'm still catching up on reading, but here are the articles and resources I've collected in the last couple of weeks.

Business/Traditional Training

Corporate fun. Funny office signs--use at your own risk.

How We Can Improve Collaboration. Good, in-depth thoughts from Dave Pollard.

"Are You Burning Out Your Best Employees?" Something every company should stop and consider.

"Is Your Job Just Work?" From Harvard Business School, an interview with the author of the new book, Just Work.

"At Tech Firms, Time Again for Flextime?" Focuses on technology companies but is a good general look at flextime and job sharing.

E-mergent Learning or Technologies

Virtual 3D Collaboration Spaces Strike Again: Imaginer. Robin Good's introduction to a new product and summary of others.

Ten Technologies That Are Going to Change the Way We Learn. Also from Robin Good, always on the leading edge.

Social Bonding Device for Human Connectedness. Another device that helps introduce people. Also see my Intelligence article for November, "The Future of Meetings."


The eLearnopedia. A Website with lots of e-learning resources from the Academic Co-Lab (ADL).

Top Ten Tips for Implementing E-Learning. From the UK's eLearning Centre.

"Orientation Practices for Effective Distributed Learning Coursework: Students Speak Their Minds." From professors at the University of Arkansas.

CTB/McGraw-Hill Releases First Online Test for Adult Education. Don't be fooled by the headline: They mean adult remedial education.

"Cognitive and Logical Rationales for e-Learning Objects." A scholarly paper out of the University of Bern, Switzerland.


Google Scholar. Search for papers, theses, books, and other scholarly documents.

"How to Live, Love, (and Text) in the 21st Century." Manners for a new age.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

December T+D now online

The December issue of T+D magazine is up online here.

This month's feature articles:

--"Get a Seat at the Table" by Kenneth Brown
--"Waiting to Exhale" (how the job market is finally looking up) by Chris Taylor
--"An Illuminated Path" (on the Organizational Savvy Model at Becton-Dickinson) by Martin Seldman and Edward Betof
--"Learning Outsourcing: A Reality Check" by Nancy DeViney and ASTD's own Brenda Sugrue

The Brown feature is free to all with registration while the others are free for ASTD members only. However, links to the online store are included, where the articles can be purchased.

My Intelligence column this month, "Succeed to Lead," covers executive competencies and development and is part one of a two-part series. It is free with registration.

The Fundamentals column, available to ASTD members or for purchase, is written this month by business guru Stephen Covey.

The Working column, free and not requiring registration, discusses the emotional intelligence of Genghis Khan.

...and more!

Lots of good stuff, whether you're an ASTD member or not. Check it out!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Happy Employee Learning Day!

For more, go here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Hope all my U.S. readers had good Thanksgivings!

I received a press release about, a free resource that lets you search for training seminars by topic, geographic location, provider, and so forth.

I can't make any guarantees about the quality of the sessions, but I wanted to point out the resource. It looks like there are some well known providers included, such as Skillpath and the American Management Association.

Trainers and companies who want to list their events can do so for a fee, but apparently you don't pay unless you receive registrations.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

I had the best intentions about writing a Best of the Week today before heading off for the holiday. Unfortunately, our Internet was down all day. I'm hopping on here from home just to say Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. readers and, don't worry, I've still been collecting lots of good articles and will give them to you next week.

Take care all, off to dinner with some friends before heading up to NJ tomorrow.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Employee Learning Day

Have you heard? ASTD has declared December 1st as Employee Learning Day to encourage leaders to renew their commitment to provide employee learning that supports organizational results.

What can your company do on Employee Learning Day? Here are some ideas:

--Set up an on-site learning center with information about learning opportunities within the organization and throughout the community.

--Encourage membership and involvement in a professional association.

--Inform employees about business-critical information so they understand their role in the organization's future.

--Create individual development plans for employees, making sure that learning is incorporated into all goals.

--Cross-train, or pair up employees and/or departments so they can learn from each other.

For more on Employee Learning Day, see the press release.
Free Webinar on Webinars

"Understanding Webinar Technologies: A Basic Introduction" is a two-part Webinar sponsored by Interwise and Intellor Group, an event management company with lots of Webinar experience.

Part I will take place on November 30th at 12 p.m. EST and will focus on visual and audio content, including

--visual content basics - starting with static content
--mixing-it-up - adding dynamic content
--audio options - phone? streaming? VoIP?
--pitfalls, recommendations, questions & answers

Part II will be held on December 1st at 12 p.m. EST and examine "Webinar interfaces, network, server architectures, and their relationships to performance." Topics will include

--interfaces - client, browser, and Java based
--networks and servers - points of failure
--firewalls and what you need to know
--performance considerations and questions & answers

Friday, November 19, 2004

Best you might've missed: TechLearn, pt. 3

Here are notes from a couple of other sessions I attended.

The Buck Stops Here (Chief Learning Officers Panel)
Panelists: Ted Hoff, CLO of IBM; Jill Smart, CLO of Accenture; Steven Teal, VP of Learning Services, Mariott International; Bill Wiggenhorn, Vice Chairman of GEM Corporation; Daisy Ng, VP of Hewlett Packard. Moderated by Elliot Masie.

--Create credibility between the learning organization and senior executives so execs see learning as a way to move the business forward. The measures of success are effectiveness and efficiency metrics, how revenue grows, whether leaders are developed. (Hoff)

--But how do I personally measure success? How senior executives speak about learning (Hoff).

--You can go wrong by not staying aligned with the business strategy and long-term vision, by being too tactical and not long-term strategic enough (Teal).

--Two other areas to contribute: Helping the business go into new practice areas and markets. Learning officers are scouts; they see the world differently than others in the organization (Wiggenhorn).

--Measure the leadership team on whether they allow their people to get training (Smart).

--Measure the cost of ignorance: What did it cost the organization when someone didn't know something (Wiggenhorn).

--Move from classes to collaboration to learning embedded in work. Learning is 80 percent informal; IBM is trying to make training reflect that (Hoff).

--Trainers need to understand the business drivers and issues (consensus).

--Lean what kind of people, teams, skills, are needed. Be proactive (Hoff).

--Make sure learning is positioned as an investment, not a cost. Have senior leadership sponsorship (Smart).

Gaming & Learning: An Expert Dialogue
Panelists: Ron Edwards, President, Ambient Performance; Mark Prensky, CEO, Games2Train; Mark Oehlert, Manager, Booz Allen Hamilton; Robert Gehorsam, SVP, There, Inc.

I came in late so I didn't catch which faces went with which names. Here are thoughts in general from the panelists.

--When do we use games? Game is a language, so when do we want to speak game? When we have an audience receptive to listening.

--You can implement a simple learning game and get game learning accepted in the organization before doing anything elaborate and expensive.

--If you embed the ability for *users* to make modifications within the learning like some games do, the effect is very powerful and lasting.
Best you might've missed: TechLearn, pt. 2

The most fascinating session I attended was Virtual Humans as Online Mentors and Role-Playing Actors, presented by Dr. Renee Stout, consultant to the Joint ADL Co-Lab.

ADL is helping create extremely sophisticated avatar-based simulations. These are not like any you've seen before. They incorporate voice, gestures, facial expressions, and locomotion using standards developed for humanoid animation.

These let you create libraries of mouthshapes (international), gestures, and poses that enable reuse and transfer of animation from one course to another.

The simulation we saw was developed to help U.S. soldiers interact with civilians in Iraq. This is a situation when non-verbal cues are absolutely crucial, so the animation has to be sophisticated.

Not only are the characters avatars, but there is a virtual mentor who is an avatar as well. She guides you through the simulation giving advice and asking questions.

Wonderful stuff. I may cover this in more depth in an upcoming article.
Best you might've missed: TechLearn, pt. 1

Hi, all. I'm back from TechLearn and worn out. I was working hard in the ASTD bookstore, which is why I didn't get time to blog.

But my best-of-the-week this week will be the information I found most interesting from the conference sessions I did get a chance to attend. (Especially because I'm behind on my reading.)

Next week I'll do a best-you-might've-missed on Wednesday with links from this past week and the first few days of next week.

Outsourcing Visions and Organizational Realities: A Panel Discussion
Speakers: Sam Herring, Executive VP of Intrepid Learning; Dave DelMonte, Supplier Account Manager, The Boeing Company; Steven Teal, VP of Learning, Mariott International; Glenn Oclassen, Learning Solutions Strategies, Autodesk, Inc.

--You see a lot of selective outsourcing, for example courseware development (Herring).

--Defining terms and responsibilities, not assuming, is crucial. Different companies define things differently (consensus).

--You need a partner relationship with your supplier (DelMonte).

--If training is viewed as a commodity, then you haven't done a good job of showing your value to execs (Teal).

--But you can have some aspects of the training function that are a commodity and outsource those (DelMonte).

--Look for where the opportunities are to create value for the organization. One place might be knowledge management or performance consulting. If you stay solely in the training and learning space, you might be outsourced (Teal).

--Training has been involved in the means, not the end, which is strategy. Only you can tell the organization what the strategic goal is and how to get there and what success looks like. The means can be outsourced but never the goal or strategy (Oclassen).

--Strategy *can* sometimes be outsourced (guy in the audience from Accenture).

--But you're working together, not taking it over entirely. Whose job is on the line? That's the person who owns strategy and it's usually someone internal. (Oclassen).

--There's still a lot of gray area, not yet clear lines what's outsourced and what's not (Teal).

Extreme Times Require Extreme Approaches to Learning
Speaker: Elliot Masie

--Extreme on-boarding: Consider rearranging the prcesses and have orientation before hiring. People would be more likely to stay.

--Rapid e-learning: Get the approval process under control. We are victims of out-of-control content review and approval; this is the number 1 problem. Too many people to review.

--If you change the approval process, you can reduce development time to 25 percent of what it is currently. Use experts as informants, not approvers. The person who just learned the skill last week is a good reviewer.
--A major problem with content: It all looks equally important. In a course on Antarctica, the content about hypothermia and death looked the same as content about fog in binoculars.

--Rapid e-learning = helping people know which is the content that's most important to do first/fast.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Free Webinar on creativity and innovation

In this Webinar on Wednesday, November 17th at 1 p.m. EST, you can learn how to
- understand the relationship between creativity and innovation
- stimulate employee creativity
- develop a business case for innovation
- build an innovative culture

The Webinar is put on by Presentation Excellence and Dr. Jerry Cahn, an "entrepreneur, psychologist and attorney who advocates the unleashing of people's creative energies to produce innovative companies."
At TechLearn

I'll be attending the TechLearn conference in New York Monday through Wednesday next week, so depending on my schedule I may be absent from the blog. (I'll be working in the ASTD bookstore and also attending some sessions--not sure how much I'll be able to get online.) I'll check in at the end of next week if not before then. Have a good week, everyone!
Best you might've missed

Here are the articles and other Web resources that I found most interesting this week.

E- or e-mergent learning

Prensky Weblog. Mark Prensky of Games2Train has a Weblog and writes about new articles he's posted to his Website. Check out "Interactive Pretending: An Overview of Simulation" and "The Seven Games of Highly Effective People."

"Group as user: flaming and the design of social software." An informative post that can provide some ideas on designing and monitoring online discussion boards.

Whitewater editing. A great blog entry about writing and editing for the Web. Might help in e-learning development.

Traditional training/business

"Resources Needed to Make Evaluation Work." A Learning Circuits article adapted from the new ASTD book, Make Training Evaluation Work. Both are written by the well-known evaluation gurus Jack and Patricia Phillips.

"The do's and don'ts of virtual team emails." From the Fast Company blog, drawn from The Driving Force: Lessons in Teamwork from Saturn and Other Leading Companies.

"Work groups perform best when expertise is judged from task-relevant cues." Reports on a study from the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis.

"Sleeping on the Job." The nap room trend revisted: Companies in London are installing sleeping pods. Is it a helpful option or a way to get employees to work longer hours?

"99 Ways to Cope With Stress."
A fun Friday article that reminds us how to cope when life (and work) is getting us down.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

"Lifelong Learning: Citizens' Views in Close-up"

This free report is available for download from the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop).

Cedefop lists these highlights from the report:

--Only a minority of European citizens judge scientific and technological skills as very useful.
--European citizens recognise a significant skills gap, but do not always recognise a language skills gap.
--North-South "new skills" divides are closely linked to education levels.
--Work-related learning environment preferences differ greatly between countries.
--Mobility as a learning tool is very much a minority pattern.
--Twice as many respondents did not recently participate in education and training as those who did.
--Motivations to participate in learning are mixed, but personal motives tend to dominate.
--Lack of time for learning is the main obstacle – and within this, family commitments.
--Women are more highly motivated to learn, but experience more obstacles.
--Non-participants and the de-motivated are more likely to be older, low educated and female.

Only Connect

That's the theme of T+D's November issue.

The free cover story (requires registration) is on Robert E. Knowling Jr., former head of Covad and now CEO of the NYC Leadership Academy, which is using best practices from businesses and the military to turn school principals into change agents.

There are also feature articles on outsourcing, consulting, and mobile tools; a survey on blended learning; a review of The Hidden Power of Social Networks: Understanding How Work Really Gets Done in Organizations; a column on managing difficult participants, and more.

My Intelligence column this month is entitled The Future of Meetings and discusses some cool tools under development as well as some available right now.

A lot of these articles are available free if you register or are an ASTD member. Check out T+D November!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Best you might have missed

Here are the articles and resources I collected this week.


"For Your Viewing Pleasure, a Projector in Your Pocket." Someday soon projectors will be tiny attachments to cell phones or laptops, and trainers will rejoice.

Traditional training/business

"Using Far-Flung Virtual Teams for Managing Knowledge in Global Companies." This topic could deal with a lot more examination, but this short piece is a good start.

"U.S Adults Search for Info On Colleagues and Employees." Workers are using search engines to find out info on their colleagues. Reasons include researching a job candidate's background, preparing for a job interview, simple curiosity, checking out a rumor, and more.

E-mergent or e- learning

"M-Learning 4 Generation TXT?" As this article says, "Blogs and wikis were yesterday. Moblogging is today. Tomorrow, Alexander anticipates the arrival of sensor networks, digitally tagged objects and places, augmented reality, location-based knowledge, and something Alexander calls 'swarm learning.'"

"The Future of Learning Technologies: An Interview with Chris Dede." Dede discusses three types of learning technologies he's researching: "world to the desktop," multi-user virtual environments, and ubiquitous computing.

"Digital Community Colleges and the Coming of the 'Millenials'." Contains some interesting info about distance learning and technology at community colleges.

Tips to reduce ramp-up time

These tips for reducing the learning curve for new hires come from the Center for Effective Performance, based on the Criterion-Referenced Instruction (CRI) approach:

"1. Clarify the explicit expectations for performance for the position. What does a performer need to do, and how well is he expected to do it in terms of accuracy, speed, etc. These expectations often remain in managers’ heads and can vary from one executive to the next.

2. Identify the detailed best practices for performing each job task. At the same time, consider what barriers the new employee might confront in performing the task -- are there motivational or operational obstacles that might get in the way of desired performance?

3. Make certain training maps directly to desired job performance. New hires should spend approximately 75% of training time actually practicing all the critical tasks they will be asked to perform, and be able to demonstrate the ability to meet all performance criteria before training ends.

4. Have new employees practice the job tasks in the most likely situations they will face on the job. For example, a new call center employee would practice customer calls with an abrupt or unfriendly customer. A new sales person would practice negotiating with a difficult customer. In each case, the new employee receives immediate feedback and coaching until he or she can meet required performance levels during training."

The CRI approach is recommended by Dr. Seth Leibler, the CEO of CEP, because it's based on behavioral science and the way people learn, think, and remember. It also takes into account three factors needed for performance: "skills, motivation, and operational supports like tools, systems, and information."

CEP says that research shows skills alone aren't enough and for performance requirements to be met, all three components must be in place.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Two free online seminars

First, a brief public service announcement. I know you're all probably tired of people telling you to vote, but just in case you're one of the people in the United States who's been living in a dark tunnel--don't forget to go out and do your civic duty today!

Now, for our regularly scheduled programming.

1) On Thursday, November 6th at 2 p.m. Eastern time, Centra is sponsoring an online seminar entitled "A Lesson in Success: Implementing Virtual Classroom Technology at Northern Virginia Community College."

Dan Alford, instructional technologist at Northern Virginia Community college, will share best practices for implementing virtual classroom technology within a college or university, for 1) traditional courses, 2) distance courses, 3) blended (or hybrid) courses, 4) instant meetings. If you can't make the live session, you can still register and then receive a link to the recorded session afterwards.

2) On Wednesday, November 10th at 1 p.m. Eastern, a seminar on "Competencies in Performance Management: Supporting the Manager's Mission" will be presented by

Paul Storfer, president of InScope Corporation and Joaquin Gonzales, former analyst for SRG, will "explore how competencies can be used in the improvement of talent selection, development, organizational effectiveness and overall corporate performance."

(You'll have to register to be a member of but registration is free. Also see their event archives at

Friday, October 29, 2004

Best you might've missed (boo!)

Happy Halloween everyone!

Here are the articles and resources I collected this week as particularly noteworthy.


"Customer Training is Outsourcing's Hottest Trend." Another great article (but I suppose I'm a little biased since I work on this Web zine) on Learning Circuits.

"Non-Formal Learning: Mapping the Conceptual Terrain." An in-depth consultation report from the United Kingdom, with a request for comments.

Radical sabbaticals. A company lets customers try out their dream jobs and gives them a personal mentor to do so, reports the Fast Company blog.

E- or e-mergent learning

Workflow learning family tree. This helpful map shows how workflow learning fits in with e-learning, content management, EPSS, business process management, and other practices and concepts.

Learning Online: Models and Styles. This chapter from an online tutoring e-book discusses constructivist learning, collaborative learning, experiential learning, and problem based learning.

E-Learning Future: With or Without Teachers. Heike Philp predicts that live e-learning will increase and teachers will return to their (virtual) classrooms.


Are you afraid to blog? This blog entry discusses the importance of blogging as a way for businesses to connect with customers.

"50 Ways to Save Money in Your Business." If running your own training or consulting company, some of these tips for small businesses might prove helpful.
Women want feedback

Honest feedback from management is the most important element in aiding women's careers, says a recent survey of 1800 human resource executives by Novations/J. Howard & Associates.

Feedback (96 percent) was chosen over flexible scheduling (94 percent), a strong mentoring program (91 percent), an aggressive diversity program (91 percent) and employee support groups (81 percent).

Said Audra Bohannon, Novations/J. Howard senior vice president, "Today women know what it takes to succeed and don't wish to be patronized....[They] want to be treated in a way that ensures their success. This means giving them constructive, pertinent feedback as to how they're doing by the standards needed to do the job well."

She continues, "Management must listen more closely to what women are looking for, and not pull punches when their performance falls short, especially in areas that are not tied to a specific task, such as collaborating, influencing, building strategic relationships and so on. To whatever degree management does this for men employees it owes such honesty to women as well."

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Future outlook from The Futurist

One of the resources I use to research and write about learning and work trends is The Futurist, a magazine published by the World Future Society. It's a great magazine that can help you stay out in front.

In the most recent issue (November-December), the editors provide an outlook for 2005, gleaned from past issues of the magazine and the society's electronic newsletter. Here are some relevant tidbits:

--Distance learning grows. By 2008, distance learning (including learning via the Internet, email, and other means) will be the primary delivery mechanism in 30 percent of training programs. By 2014, it will be the main method in 30 percent of university courses.

--Telecommuting increases. The number of people in the U.S. who are telecommuting will grow to more than 50 million by 2010 (from 15 million today). That trend will be driven by better communication technologies and companies' search for low-cost labor.

--"Me generation" winds down. More and more people are focusing on spirituality, caring, and time with family over materialism and getting ahead. These people are known as "cultural creatives" and they make up 26 percent of U.S. society now, over 5 percent in the 1960s.

--Older workers could help lengthen business day. This demographic tends to wake up early and be more alert in the morning. Early risers could work 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and expand business hours of companies.

--Knowledge work will decrease. As farming and manufacturing have dwindled, the growth of information technology could make infotech and service jobs dwindle. By the end of the century, jobs in that sector may comprise only 2 percent of the workforce.

--Skills that can't be automated will be in demand. Employers will put more emphasis on these "hyper-human" skills, including caring, judgment, intuition, ethics, inspiration, friendliness, and imagination.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Best you might have missed

Here are the articles and resources I picked out this week. Have a great weekend, everyone! I'm doing the AIDS Walk here in D.C. tomorrow with several other ASTD'ers. Wish me luck.

Traditional training/business

"Less for Success." Knowledge management initiatives may work best if they're started off small rather than begun as large, enterprise strategies.

"Managing the Gamer Generation." A short interview with the authors of the book Got Game: How the Gamer Generation is Reshaping Business Forever.

Sloan School of Management at MIT OpenCourseWare. MIT's groundbreaking OpenCourseWare project offers materials from most MIT classes free on the Web. These are the materials from Sloan School of Management courses.

A (business) week of the Wall Street Journal free. Starting November 8th, you'll be able to read the WSJ for free for five days, reports the Business 2.0 blog.

E- or e-mergent learning

"Decentralization of Learning Resources: Syndicating Learning Objects Using RSS, Trackback, and Related Technologies." A wiki of the presentation at Educause on Tuesday.

"Cell Phone Lessons Prompt Students to Prepare for the SAT." This is mobile learning in action. High school students are doing now what adult learners might be doing in the near future.


"Can You See Me Now?" Videoconferencing is coming back, thanks to voice-over-IP technology. (Look for my Intelligence article "The Future of Meetings" in T+D's November issue.)
Quality in e-learning: European survey

CEDEFOP, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, is sponsoring an e-learning survey in collaboration with the European Quality Observatory. The results will be co-published in January 2005.

The survey will examine how quality in e-learning can be improved in your organization, country, or in Europe in general. Which strategies are working and to what extent are they successful?

Survey questions are available in English, French, German, and Greek. To participate, visit

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

New CLO Dashboard collects and reports learning data

I received a press release today about CLO Dashboard, which "provides tools that align an organization's goals and objectives with key learning
indicators and their supporting measures, then collects data and
reports progress through a graphical dashboard.

Business dashboards aren't brand new. They've been popping up in the last year or so, but the ones I've seen have primarily been focused on general business metrics and have been for CEOs and other top executives. This is the first one I've seen focused on learning. CLO Dashboard is an indicator of the increased importance of the CLO role and CLOs' need to keep on top of learning metrics.

More info on the product:
--includes predefined indicators, such as learning efficiency, effectiveness, compliance, and readiness
--contains a library of industry measures such as training cost per student day, completion rates, and Kirkpatrick Evaluation Levels
--data is collected from LMSs, LCMSs, human resource, and financial systems (the dashboard will integrate with THINQ, Pathlore, EEDO, and Questionmark platforms)
--the system includes alerts that provide immediate recommendations for corrective action when measures are higher or lower than set thresholds.

Gauges are odometer-style and then CLOs can drill down to see "underlying objectives, key measures, historical and projected trends, and comparative industry benchmarks." The system can also monitor timelines, resources, and milestones on learning projects.

Want to buy it? You can't yet--the CLO Dashboard is still in beta testing. You can, however, apply to be a tester. Go to the Zeroed-In Website to submit your application, or just to learn more.

Fast and efficient: update on Google's new personal KM tool

Last week I wrote about a few of Google's new offerings. I've been using the new Google desktop search tool for the past week, and I can report that it works quite well as a personal knowledge management tool.

The desktop search is fast and efficient. It integrates seamlessly with standard Google search so that for any keyword that you type into a Google search box (whether at the Google homepage, on the Google toolbar, or in the Mozilla/Firefox browser), results returned are not only Webpages but also items stored on your computer--emails, documents, copies of Web pages browsed, and so forth.

Some people have voiced privacy concerns with this, saying it might create issues if you're using a shared computer or if there is a chance other people would be using your computer. The key is that if there's a chance others might be on your work computer, don't keep anything on it that you wouldn't want public. That's a good rule to follow in general, not just with the new Google desktop search.

The results Google returns are always on target, unlike the Blinkx tool that I reviewed previously. For additional KM benefits, I could see the Google desktop search tool being extended to include what's on the computer of your work colleagues. That would in effect create a large knowledge base without the work of inputting information.

That of course brings up more privacy concerns. Perhaps there could be a feature added that would let you mark certain items as private and not to be shared. This feature exists in Furl: As you input a Webpage into your archive, you can mark it private. Then, if others subscribe to your archive, they can't see the items you've marked for-your-eyes-only.
Upcoming free Web seminars

Click here for the list of upcoming Web seminars offered for free by Interwise. Choices include "Collaborative Tools in the Learning Continuum," "Leveraging Learning for Business Impact," and "The Challenges of E-Learning Content Integration."

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

T+D welcomes new editor

Here at T+D magazine, we have a new editor--Mr. Rex Davenport. He comes from Refrigerated and Frozen Foods Magazine, where he served as executive editor. Previously, he was editor of Microsoft Executive Circle, a magazine for senior-level business decision-makers.

We welcome Rex to T+D and ASTD. For more about him, see our press release.

Rex has some fresh ideas for improving T+D, so look for some changes in upcoming issues.

Friday, October 15, 2004

The best you might have missed

Here is a double edition of my weekly list. These are the best articles and other resources from Websites and blogs that don't usually cover the learning arena.

If there's an article that's not to be missed and it originated on a learning blog, I may also include it.

Happy weekend, everybody!


"'Pure' Outsourcing Model Falls From Favor." Indian companies are realizing they need U.S. facilities and staff in a more blended approach. (Also see my October Intelligence column on offshoring--registration required for non-ASTD members.)

"What Lovers Tell Us About Persuasion." This article, originally from Harvard Management Update, examines communication in relationships and applies it to the business world.

"Decision Evolution." Automated decision-making tools are taking off in companies. This article from CIO examines the advantages and disadvantages.


"State Program for Online Training Model for Others." An e-learning program is helping single, low-income mothers gain skills and earn more. (You may also see this in an upcoming Intelligence column.)

E-mergent learning

"The Buntine Oration: Learning Networks." If you want to know the future of learning, there are a few people you must follow. Stephen Downes is one of those people--this is his talk given at an Australian educational conference.

"Blogging communities and the knowledge enterprise." Taking blogs from individual communication tools to enterprise communities.

"What are the differences between message boards and Weblogs?" Contains a great chart breaking down the differences in various aspects.

Other technology topics

"Spilling the beans." More on the meeting of blogs and work--this article examines anonymous "job blogs" that chronicle an individual's work life and offers some examples.

"Public Displays of Connection." A look at social networking Websites and their implications for identity and connection.

"Visionaries Outline Web's Future." Universal knowledge for all can be had for only $260 million, apparently. BBC News reports on the Web 2.0 conference and some glimpses of where the World Wide Web might be going.

"Paralysed man sends email by thought." I wrote about this research way back at the beginning of this blog. This has important implications for some disabled people who aren't currently able to join the work world.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

New Learning Circuits article on educational simulations

Have you visited Learning Circuits lately? If not, you might've missed Clark Aldrich's article, "Six Criteria of an Educational Simulation."

Aldrich is one of the foremost experts, being the lead designer of the ground-breaking Virtual Leader simulation. He is also the author of Simulations and the Future of Learning and has been interviewed on e-learning and simulations by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, and more.

In the Learning Circuits article he writes, "The more I build, evaluate, and discuss educational simulations, the more I realize we need to establish some better terms. Specifically, there are six criteria that are emerging as critical, and ultimately not just to simulations but all educational experiences. Three criteria, linear, systems, and cyclical, describe content. And three, simulation, game, and pedagogy, describe delivery."
Google as a learning and KM tool, and the company's new offerings

(Note: Google is one of my favorite companies. I don't receive any kickbacks from writing about them--I'm just a satisfied, loyal user.)

Google is more than a search tool; it's a learning and KM tool. I'm not the first to say this and I probably won't be the last. Need a quick answer to a specific question? Using a plus sign or a set of quotation marks, you can narrow down your Google search and find a document or Website to answer your question stat.

While your learners may be reluctant to take time out of their day to complete an e-learning or classroom course, they most likely use Google regularly to get just the information they need, just-in-time. Have you considered adding Google enterprise search to your intranet or knowledge base? It may be one way to help ensure that workers find the information they need to do their jobs.

Recently, Google announced the creation of some additional tools, which I think will expand its reach and use in the learning and KM arenas:

1. Google SMS

Think mobile learning. This new service in beta-testing enables users to access certain features of Google via text messaging on a cell phone or other wireless device. The main learning use right now is defining a word, but you can also calculate a tip, look up an area code or zip code, access restaurant listings, and get prices for an item you want to buy.

Those are all current Google features that are now available via these portable devices. More features will be added (sign up on the Google SMS homepage to be notified), some of which may have learning implications. For instance, I could see the Google translate tool being added to the SMS service, or even Google Answers.

One caveat: Unfortunately, Google SMS may not work if you changed wireless carriers and kept your phone number, like I did.

2. Google Print

Also in beta testing, this new offering puts information and excerpts from books online--which enables them to appear in search results just like Webpages or other digitized documents. In your regular search results you'll begin to see links to books. Click on the link and you get an excerpt, more info about the book, and a link to buy it. Printing pages is not enabled.

As with Amazon's similar Search Inside the Book feature, publishers voluntarily submit books to be included. While this will no doubt increase publishers' sales, it will also increase for searchers the number and type of information sources from which to learn.

Granted, you'll have to still buy the books, but at least Google is offering an integrated way to find which books will be useful in addition to Websites and other online resources.

3. Google Desktop Search.

This new tool is such big news that it made the front page of the when it was released today. Also in Beta, the tool enables you to search your own computer just as you do the Web. The software will look through Outlook emails; Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents; Internet Explorer pages you've viewed in the past (even if you're not online); and even AOL Instant Messenger transcripts.

I wrote about a similar tool, Blinkx, on this blog recently. I was impressed with the idea but not the technology. I have a feeling that Google can do this a lot better.

I'm in the process of installing Google Desktop and it is now indexing my system. (It does this ahead of time so that searches take less time.) I'll report back how it works after I've had a chance to try it out.

Will we see a day when Google can search all of the information sources in the entire world? When the Library of Congress, for example, is Googl'able, or the bookshelves of your co-worker down the hall?

That day might not be far off if the company continues as it's going. Although we know that information doesn't necessarily equal knowledge, I think many or most of Google's innovations have implications for learning and knowledge management. I'd love to hear some ideas for taking the basic functionalities and running with them.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Goin' fishin'

Okay, I'm not really going to fish, but I am going on vacation. So this week's best of the week (or whatever it might get called in the future) will be postponed and there will be a super-duper one next week. (I wanted to do this week's one early but I'm too behind on my reading from having to meet other deadlines before I go away.)

In the meantime, here are two links I Furled this week that I thought looked interesting.

"Before Applying, Check Out the Blogs."
How blogs are being used in job search and recruiting. Not only are potential employers reading candidates' blogs, but also candidates are reading potential companies' blogs. (Thanks, SmartMobs.)

Communication dynamics: Discussion boards, weblogs and the development of communities of inquiry in online learning environments.
The title's a mouthful, but this long blog post is heavy on research and well thought-out. (Thanks, elearningpost.)

Back on the blog in a week--type to you all soon.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Competency update

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Core Competency Valuator, which was advertised as being able to accurately measure soft skills such as attention to detail, honesty, and customer service with multiple choice questions. I was skeptical about it but I told you all I'd give you an update when I tried out the software.

Well, I tried it out and it was pretty much what I expected. I was only given the ability to see one question in each of several categories, but I still don't think the full set of questions would be enough to gauge these soft skills in a way that's fair to both candidates and employers.

But I found (or remembered, actually, since I had seen reference to it before), another example of a better way. DDI (Development Dimensions International) offers other companies a process in which DDI will test out candidates with a full day's worth of mock work. Candidates answer emails, field phone calls, complete exercises, manage workflow, and more.

All the work is related to a non-existent company, and can be targeted to specific job levels and industries. Then, DDI analyzes the applicant's performance and gives the hiring company a full report of how the candidate performed. Interesting stuff, and in my opinion a much better way to gauge hard-to-measure soft skills.

It may be too pricey to do this for all your candidates, but for executive-level applicants, it may be well worth the money. See a description of this process (in the section about simulations) here.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Best of the week

Here are this week's standout articles. My goal is to find articles you might not see referenced on other learning blogs (unless they came from there originally and they're an important read), in case you read a lot of us.

So they're not really the best of everything...Maybe I should change the title to "Of note this week" or, as we say in the T+D editorial office SSBB (something similar but better). Let me know if you have a suggestion.


3D Virtual Spaces for Learning and Collaboration. Robin Good's list of advantages of collaborating and learning inside 3D spaces is not to be missed. This posting discusses SmartMeeting (see Try It for my review) and the Wired Second Life article I linked to last week.


Delivering e-learning: is the CD dead? A look at this question by Simon Neill of TNA Associates (thanks, e-Learning Centre). The spoiler? It's "wounded but a lot of life left."

Traditional training/business

"How Leaders Build Winning Streaks." In this age of failed and shamed leaders, this article by Harvard Business School professor and overall guru Rosabeth Moss Kanter is important reading. This is an excerpt from her book Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End.

"Work This Way." This article in the Guardian's series on life in 2020 is a fascinating in-depth look at the future of work. The good news: experts predict more employers will realize the importance of developing workers' skills. The bad news: work-life balance will probably not improve much.

Learning Styles Questionnaire. Forty questions test whether a learner is a pragmatist, theorist, activist, or reflector. Results are shown numerically and via graph. Make sure macros are enabled for this to work.

Job aid for soldiers in Iraq. The Kwikpoint company makes "visual language translators" that have a multitude of users, including corporate and military. Boing Boing shows how one set is being used by coalition soldiers in Iraq to tell prisoners what to do.

"Big Boss is Watching." CNet writes about how GPS-enabled cell phones can let companies track the location of workers. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse warns employers that the devices should be used with a strong privacy policy.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

The potential of Furl and tools like it in an organization's KM initiatives

I really like Furl. It's not just that I can save Webpages with comments and come back to them later. That part is great, and the software's benefits as a personal knowledge management tool are important.

But what gives the software its real potential is what I call the zeitgeist effect. On any day, you can go to the Furl homepage and find out what articles and Webpages are being saved by the most users. So, for instance, today I see that the most popular items are:

What the Bubble Got Right, furled by 34 members
The 46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities, furled by 18 members
Bush's Top Ten Flip-Flops, furled by 16 members
The 25 most difficult questions, furled by 16 members
TiddlyWiki - a reusable non-linear personal web notebook, furled by 15 members
Those Dark Hiding Places: The Invisible Web Revealed,furled by 13 members
...and more

So I can see not only the general issues that people are interested in today (politics, computers), but specifically what people are reading. Granted, these numbers are still low as the tool gains users. It's only been in operation for the past 9 months, so people are still finding out about it.

But I'm fascinated by the way a personal KM tool, by aggregating information, becomes a generalized KM tool. I can see what interests other people. And I often find out about articles that I missed this way. For instance, today there was a great set of resources on learning theories that was Furled by 8 people. I wouldn't have known about it had I not checked the list of popular articles today.

Social networking meets knowledge management in a way that's similar to blogging, except that the process can be as simple or as involved as the person wants. You can Furl something with two clicks of your mouse if you want, or you can take more time and add a category, rating, and comments.

Knowledge management software has long faced the problem of people having to take time to input information. With Furl, simply by hitting a Furl it! button on the browser and then the Save button, a person indicates the information's importance and then the info is automatically added to the collection.

What if Furl sold software that was specific to organizations? Then it would have some real KM power. I could go onto the tool and see what articles, resources, experts, etc. were Furled by my colleagues at my company. (It would be great if you could Furl a Word document or an email, or even an expert in an expert management system.)

The more restricted the use of the tool, the more relevant the info would be to me. So maybe there would be levels: one list would show me what was Furled by people at my company; another list would show by people in my business unit or department. The resources and articles could come from the Web in general or from my company's intranet, or even a specific person's own documents and emails on his or her computer. The more that people include comments or ratings, the more the KM power is increased. But the tool is still plenty useful without that, because of the way it aggregates information.

Furl also offers the ability to subscribe to a particular person's archive. That would be helpful as an expert management-type feature. For example, if you'll be working on a project about purple monkeys and you don't know anything about them, you could subscribe to the archive of someone in your company who works with purple monkeys regularly. Then you could see what information is interesting him and learn from his learning process.

Want to subscribe to my Furl archive? Feel free. I save pages for this blog's Best of the week, Learning Circuits's Try It column, T+D's Intelligence column, and various other personal interests. Go to Other's Archives once you've logged in to your account and enter in ekaplan for username. You'll be able to see in advance what I may be writing about in the future. (Note that I don't write about everything I save--I cull through later.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

More free Webinars

Interwise has published a list of its upcoming free Webinars. Visit the event Webpage to choose the one(s) that might be helpful to you.

Topics include "Collaborative Tools in the Learning Continuum," "The Challenges of E-Learning Content Integration," and more.
Wednesday inbox tidbits

There are two interesting tidbits in my email inbox I'd like to share with readers.

--Generational Media Study. The report from this study was recently released by the Online Publishers Association. Granted, they have an inherent bias as they report which media are preferred, but the results are still worth noting.

The main headline? The Internet has taken the lead over television as the medium preferred by 18- to 54-year-olds. More than 45 percent of respondents said the Internet was their top media choice, while 35 percent chose television. Books were chosen 7 percent of the time; radios, newspapers, and videos/DVDs each 3 percent.

The figure for the Internet was even higher among 18 to 24-year-olds, with 51 percent choosing that medium. And the Internet is the only medium that showed a growth in time spent on it--across all ages. Almost half of the respondents said they spent more time using it than a year ago.

Keep these figures in mind when you're designing training, especially for young workers coming up in the ranks. They are digital natives and are extremely comfortable online. But even their more-experienced colleagues are showing a preference for the Internet in getting news and entertainment. That preference could translate over for learning--but only if the learning keeps them engaged the same way news and entertainment online does.

Read the press release or the full report.

--Shakespeare e-learning. Behar Marketing Ltd, a company describing themselves as "E-Learning Web Publishers," has published a set of 200 PowerPoint slides on Shakespeare's Hamlet. The slides are described as a storyboard of the play (including setting, characters, themes, the complete story, conclusions, and famous quotations).

The press release continues, "Each PowerPoint slide is captioned and illustrated in order to render it interesting and memorable." Hmm...I tend to think that Shakespeare's Hamlet itself is interesting and memorable. But then again, I was an English major.

The press release said that the e-learning tool will help students reduce study time, teachers communicate complicated concepts, and playgoers appreciate their viewing by being informed before watching the play or movie.

I predict many students (and perhaps others) not feeling the need to read the play. I guess this isn't much different than Cliff Notes, but just in a richer media. Still, I tend to think, et tu PowerPoint?

There's just something really wrong about a work of great literature being reduced to an illustrated PowerPoint presentation.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Best of the week

I'm short on time this week, so I am going to provide the interesting and intriguing links I found but no summaries of their contents.

By the way, this was the first week I used Furl to collect these links. I used to cut and paste the addresses into a Word document. Furl is much easier! I have a button on my Web browser and when I see a page I want to save, I just hit "Furl it!"

I can designate various categories so I can separate out Webpages I save for best of the week, my Learning Circuits Try It column, my T+D Intelligence column, and so forth. I can also make notes about where the links originally came from.

Business/traditional training

"Back to the Drawing Board: Is the Traditional Theory of the Firm Obsolete?" from Knowledge@Wharton.

Study: Security Measures Often Overlook Human Factor, from CNET.


"Bush Floats New E-Learning Plan," from eSchool News.

"Asynchronous discussion groups as Small World and Scale Free Networks,"
from First Monday.

Specifications for Accessible Learning Technologies

E-learning products of the future will operate in an interconnected world, from the Australian Flexible Learning Framework.

"Mobile Learning Attracts High School Students," from The Korea Times. (Thanks, SmartMobs.)

Technology/Beyond e-learning

"When Search Engines Become Answer Engines," from Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox. (Thanks, Contentious.)

Blogs for Workflow Management, from MasterNewMedia.

"Campus Life Comes to Second Life," from Wired News.

CEO Bloggers, from the Business 2.0 blog.

"When Bot Nets Attack," from Technology Review.
Another personal KM tool

I just tried out the Blinkx software for Learning Circuits's Try It section (look for the review to go up in about two weeks). It's a pretty neat idea, although the beta version definitely needs perfecting.

After you install Blinkx and allow it some time to index your system, it searches for other emails, documents, and Webpages on your computer that relate to an email or document you're writing or a Website you're surfing. You can also initiate searches yourself and it can look on the Web, but currently only 20 percent of Webpages are indexed.

The tool often returns some strange results but it's a good start at another personal KM tool (see this and this previous entry on personal KM), which help a person organize and share the information that they find most relevant to them.

The twist with this tool is that it can be automatic, so it's not the information that the person finds most relevant but that the software does--based on other information that the person is working with. That takes a lot of the burden off of the person--this push versus pull model has been a holy grail with many knowledge management initiatives.

Often, KM software just collects information and then the user has to sort through to find what's relevant. A tool such as Blinkx makes that unnecessary. Now we just have to wait for the technology to develop to a point where it's all exactly relevant.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

More free content on the T+D Website

I've just finished fiddling with the archives on the T+D magazine Website so that there's now more free content (albeit with required registration--not my decision).

There are certain articles and columns that we sell on the ASTD store each month. But I figured it made sense to open up the articles we don't sell.

You'll have to register to get to them (the exceptions being the Digital Beat and Working columns), but once you do, you'll be able to read my Intelligence column, Books, Concept, Human Side, E-Learning, and the free feature from each month even if you're not an ASTD member.

ASTD members can read all 2004 articles for free on the Website and then the 2003 articles we don't sell on the store.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Entry-level selection tests

I received an interesting press release from Competency Management Inc. describing its new tool to assess entry-level job applicants. The company says its test can reduce turnover by making sure candidates have the necessary skills before they're hired.

According to the company, CoreCompetency Valuator assesses not only basic skills such as reading, ability to learn, and flexibility, but also "will do" competencies such as attention to detail, honesty, and customer service. The tool was designed by a team of Ph.D. psychologists and scoring is said to be 100 percent accurate.

I don't know about you, but I'm a little skeptical about how well a test like this can assess soft skills like ability to learn, honesty, and customer service. I'm curious enough to request a demo, so I'll report back if I get one.

What do you think about competency tests for soft skills in entry-level jobs like this? I know jobs requiring higher-level skills do at times require tests--for example, I had to take a copyediting test when I applied for this associate editor job.

But copyediting is, in my opinion, a much more quantifiable skill than ability to learn. So what can companies do for entry-level jobs? Behavioral interviewing may be a better option than competency tests for soft skills.

In addition to asking applicants how they used a specific skill in the past, some companies are putting people on the spot at the time. IT companies have been giving applicants brainteasers to solve for a while--Microsoft may have popularized the practice. See this article in CIO magazine.

Other companies put people through a day of tryouts. As I wrote about in my August Intelligence column (requires registration), requires applicants to work for a day under observation.

To me, this kind of approach makes a lot more sense than some kind of test that attempts to measure and quantify such squishy soft skills.

Side note: Google has been taking an unusual tack recently by posting billboards with a difficult math problem and ".com." No other info is given. If the person solves the puzzle and goes to the Website, they find another, more difficult, puzzle. Eventually the person is led to a fast-track recruiting page for the company.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Best of the week

Here's a question: how does one cite Weblog entries? Should they be in quotation marks like articles? (But the line between what's an article and a blog post on the Web is becoming increasingly blurred.)

I think I've gone back and forth on this blog and I'm looking for consistency. Blogs aren't mentioned in my Wired Style guide, published in 1996. I'll have to do some online research, but if readers have a source in the meantime, let me know.


Using the Wisdom of Crowds in Business. Another insightful post from Dave Pollard, applying the principles in the book The Wisdom of Crowds. (Also see his review of that book.)

Lifestylism: The Coaching of the All. Life coaching is a growing field and a possible new career path for workplace learning professionals. This in-depth post takes a frank look at the phenomenon and examines its pros and cons.

Test your courage in leadership. Take this quiz from the September issue of Fast Company. (Unfortunately, it hasn't been adapted for the Web so you still need to add up your own score.)


"Growing Virtual Communities." Another excellent article from the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning examines the definition of a virtual community, ways to grow one, the stages in the life cycle of a community, and more.

E-Learning without literacy. An German e-learning program works without learners being able to read. The tutorial at the site reads the instructions and text out loud. There's also a telephone advice line and a forum for learners via voicemail. (Thanks, Smart Mobs.) More on literacy from this blog here.

"Moving From Theory to Practice in the Design of Web-based Learning Using a Learning Object Approach." A paper from a Ph.D. and assistant professor of educational technology at Memorial University in Canada. A Web-based learning module was designed to "operationalize the concepts of granularity, reusability, scalability, and interoperability..."


Nurses Bid Online for Extra Shifts. To address the nursing shortage, a new program called eShift facilitates online bidding (at the lowest hourly rate) to match hospitals and nurses who want extra work. Is this a great idea or a horrible one? (Thanks, Smart Mobs.)

It's Not Just Usability. A great post from the blog Joel on Software about usability in general and social software interfaces in specific. Good information put in a humorous way makes good reading.

"Presence Applications Poised for Takeoff." An interesting article on what's coming down the pike. You may have heard some of this before, but this article talks about specific companies and uses, as well as some cultural implications. (Thanks, Telework Times.)

Two intriguing initiatives

There's more good stuff to post on this blog than time to post it...playing catch up. Also, trying to write shorter bytes for consumption, based on the findings of the Eyetrack III study.

1. Challenging corporations to improve online education. U Share - U Learn is a new corporate alliance program for organizations with online learning programs, announced by the Online University Consortium, a U.S. network of accredited universities and online degree programs.

The initiative will help companies benchmark themselves against other companies to create standards for online education and university-to-business alliance programs, says the press release.

Companies that would like to participate should contact Greg Eisenbarth at You can learn more about the Online University Consortium at

2. Anarchist University. Is this the future of learning? Anarchist U is a new model of university: non-hierarchical, self-organizing, blending online and in-person elements. The Website is used in combination with in-person meetings and learning sessions.

Anyone can propose a class at an in-person meeting, then once agreed on by consensus decision-making at that meeting, the Website helps sign up learners and organize curriculum using a wiki.

Then, learning sessions take place in-person at various sites around Toronto. Classes are on a variety of arts and science topics (with a definite progressive leaning) and last ten weeks. There are no fees or grades. Teachers are resources, not authority figures.

Will this approach replace traditional schools? Probably not, but there's a lot we can learn by watching how the experiment grows. Future of learning? More the past--think Socrates teaching under a tree, asking students questions rather than lecturing, not charging for the privilege.
Two more free Webinars

New Research on Learning Management Systems. Presented by Brandon Hall, this session on September 30th at 12 p.m. EDT will discuss LMS trends that may affect your buying decision, the most frequent characteristics in RFPs, questions to narrow your search, and more.

Online Usability: Best Practices for Applying Online Usability Testing. This Webcast, sponsored by the Usability Sciences Corporation, will take place on October 12th at 2 p.m. EDT. Participants will learn how to incorporate usability testing into Website development, technologies that can help measure and improve customer (or learner) experience online, best practices for usability testing, and more.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Free knowledge

This week only, until the 19th, the Journal of Knowledge Management is offering free access to the past three issues. That's a steal, because a subscription costs $1400 a year. (Thanks, Fast Company blog.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Presentation resource and cool tool

A new email newsletter for presenters and trainers, MasterViews, offers "selected solutions, how-to techniques and resources on effective presentation-making, information design, presentation technology, and delivery approaches." Subscribe at the MasterViews Website,, either with your email address or via RSS feed. The Website also provides an archive of articles and additional links and RSS feeds.

A new cool tool for presenters: The Optechcom wireless presentation remote comes with a 64 or 128 MB USB drive so you can take your presentation with you wherever you go and you don't need to lug your laptop. As long as there's a computer somewhere in the room (the remote works up to 100 feet) that you can plug this into, you're good to go. The device also comes with presentation software and 100 PowerPoint templates.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Super-duper best of the week

Wow! Lots of great content this week making up for the light-and-fluffy week last week.

Cool tools

Marconi's virtual presence application. The Telework Times reviews this new tool for multipoint videoconferencing. It has some nice capabilities and just looks neat.

The Literary Machine. The e-Learning Centre points out this software, which can be added to my list of personal knowledge management tools.

A new blogging tool. The Kolabora Website offers this review of Qumana, a new tool that should make life easier for power bloggers.

Workplace skills

An alphabet-full of creativity techniques. A long list of creativity techniques is offered by a small company in the United Kingdom specializing in creativity and innovation.

"Do You Know When to Delegate?" A good article from Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge says the keys are to make yourself let go, ask don't tell, match tasks to people, cultivate independent thinking, and link people with resources.

The Value of What You Do. A company has developed a proprietary platform that aims to gauge the worth of people's contributions at work so they can get justly compensated, the Fast Company blog reports.


Eyetrack III. The findings of this study on how people read news Websites may help you design e-learning. Interesting stuff, tracking the movement of eyeballs around the screen. Here's an interview with one of the project managers.

"Sleeping on the Job." Thirty percent of people have their best ideas in bed, compared to 11 percent who have them at their desk, says BBC News. The number of companies that offer nap rooms may be growing.

"Blended Learning and Sense of Community: A Comparative Analysis with Traditional and Fully Online Graduate Courses." An interesting study and report completed in the higher education world but with definite applicability beyond. From the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning.

"Workplace IM Showing Growth." Clickz Stats reports that 21 percent of respondents to their study use instant messaging in the workplace. Is it a helpful tool for productivity and collaboration, or just a distraction? Forty percent say it's improved teamwork; 41 percent says it hasn't helped collaboration.

The future of work and learning

Department of social capital. The Future of Work founders Jim Ware and Charlie Grantham offer their thoughts on a department that would link what kids learn in school and the jobs they get when they graduate, help determine what kind of businesses are profitable and sustainable, and more.

"Reusable Media, Social Software, and Openness in Education." This PowerPoint presentation from Stephen Downes is a rallying cry for some of the new, cool technology that's being used for learning--some of which Downes is creating. (For more on what he's been up to, see my RSS article and my content article.)