Thursday, July 22, 2004

Best of the week

I'm out of the office tomorrow, so here are the articles and resources that caught my eye this week.


Job outsourcing/offshoring is a very hot topic these days in the United States. T+D will be running two feature articles on outsourcing in upcoming issues, and the lead item in my October Intelligence column will cover it as well. A trend alert I received from the Herman Group this week assigns the impetus for outsourcing to the lack of qualified U.S. workers to fill jobs--in short, to the lack of necessary training and education. The group says that to resolve this issue, workforce preparedness must become a higher priority in organizations and government. Community and technical schools as well as secondary schools will be key in this effort.

The Herman Group says, "Those communities that take action now will be in a much better competitive position to attract employers, draw skilled workers, and strengthen their economies. Those communities that do not will find their jobs going elsewhere---domestically and overseas."

My Intelligence column "Workforce of Tomorrow, part II" discusses this idea of how schools and businesses, as well as community colleges, must work together to prepare the next generation of workers. (You can read the article for free, but it requires registration if you're not an ASTD member.)


International Forum for Women in E-Learning. The United States Distance Learning Association is holding this forum, entitled "Dancing on the Glass Ceiling," on September 13th-15th in Phoenix, Arizona. The press release calls it "a groundbreaking inaugural event for women leaders in distance learning seeking to establish their identity in the IFWE distance learning community. There will be offsite adventures, networking, and time to stimulate new thoughts on leadership, life balance, values, collaboration and global cooperation." It looks like it could be a fun and educational event.

Technology and Human Issues in Reusing Learning Objects. Another good article from the Journal of Interactive Media in Education, written by two authors from the Netherlands. Plan to spend some time with this--it's long and text-heavy, but contains a lot of excellent information. Among other topics, the authors cover six distinct stages in the learning object lifecycle: obtaining or creating, labeling, offering, selecting, using, and retaining.

Reputation and trust:

The Telework Times writes about Stanford University's research on virtual teams and a phenomenon they call virtual mistrust. One suggestion to combat mistrust in virtual teams? Collaboration tools such as videoconferencing.

Internet journal First Monday offers an in-depth article, "Manifesto for the Reputation Society," which examines not only online reputation but also suggests "the potential utility of reputation services is far greater, touching nearly every aspect of society." The authors say that not only people but also inanimate objects and even ideas can have reputations: "The waxing and waning of idea–reputations directly affects their likelihood of implementation, and thus the environment that we all share." Very interesting stuff.

Here's an intriguing site: It enables users to "review, rate, and search [the] database of people's reputations for both business and social purposes." Each person who signs up on the service is rated with a "RepScore" from the input of other people, like an extension of the eBay ratings for sellers and buyers. I haven't had the chance to sign up and see how it works; if anyone does, let me know what you think. This kind of system could be incorporated into an expert management application in companies.

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