Monday, January 31, 2005

Learning Circuits interviews Elliot Masie

Ryann Ellis, editor of ASTD's e-learning Webzine Learning Circuits, interviewed industry analyst and futurist Elliot Masie at the TechLearn conference. He had some interesting things to say about why the term e-learning is too narrow, how workplace learning professionals need to transform their language, and what the next big thing is. Here's an excerpt:

"Let’s be direct. E-learning is often an overstated term. The bottom line is that learning and performance is what people pay for. Even at our e-Learning CONSORTIUM, 70 percent of our conversations are not about e-learning; they’re about change management, OD, the process of graphic development, etc.

So, the marketplace, if you will, is a marketplace for assistance in making learning decisions. What’s really interesting is being able to answer the question, "What’s the learning decision that organizations have to make?" It may be a technology decision, it may be a methodology decision, it may be a strategy decision. Therefore, companies that define themselves in the e-learning marketplace are way too narrow."

Friday, January 28, 2005

Super-Duper Best

As promised, here's a super-duper double edition of the Best You Might've Missed this week.

(For those who care--T+D magazine is switching to AP style starting in March; I'm switching now to get myself ready. So magazine titles are no longer in italics, and that's on purpose.)

New Learning Theories

"Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age." As the editor's note reads, George Siemen advocates a theory of learning that "combines relevant elements of many learning theories, social structures, and technology to create a powerful theoretical construct for learning in the digital age."

Critical Life Skills: Learning to Learn. Dave Pollard ponders, "What if we were to invent an intelligent system, one which recognized that we learn in unique and individual ways. What would it look like?"

Emergent Learning

Games that make leaders: top researchers on the rise of play in business and education. Three professors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are studying games in learning and working with the Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Laboratory.

Educational Potential Of Video Games: Futurelab Finds Out. A couple more links on games and learning from Robin Good.

Video Game Training. A post on this hot topic from the MIT Technology Review Weblog.

Academics give lessons on blogs. BBC News reports on blogs being used in higher education.

Traditional Learning/Training/Business

"The CEO's Path to the Top: How Times Have Changed." An article from the Wharton Business School--requires free registration.

Older Workers: Untapped Assets for Creating Value. Touches on the training implications.

Fat Cat Pay. The Business 2.0 blog points out the growing discrepancy between the pay of average workers and large-company CEOs.

The Smart List. From Business 2.0 magazine, a list of which companies are doing what right.

Intelligence in men and women is a gray and white matter. A study from the University of California, Irvine finds that men and women manifest their intelligence in different brain areas.


"New Social Interaction Tools for Online Instruction." A recent paper by Patti Shank, who has done some writing for Learning Circuits in the past.

Events Break Out Of The Physical Space-Time Prison. Time-Extended Conversations Are Coming: X-Events. Some of this you probably already know, but some of the tools are new.

"Bounded Community: Designing and Facilitating Learning Communities in Formal Courses." A paper from the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning.

eLearning & Content Management: One Can Help the Other. "One of the major challenges of eLearning is figuring out how to organize large amounts of content (usually in the form of learning objects), how to keep it updated, and how to deliver it in multiple ways."

"A Diamond in the Rough: Divining the Future of E-Content." From the most recent edition of the Educause Review.

"Kaplan University Holds First Commencement Ceremony for Online Graduates." Behold the future. (The University has no relation to this writer!)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Take our Skills Gap Poll

A recent IBM/ASTD survey suggests that one of the most pressing issues facing organizational leaders is developing the skills necessary to drive company initiatives. Does your organization’s workforce have the skills it needs to succeed now and in the future? For the purposes of this poll, we define a skills gap as a high gap between skill needs and current capabilities of an organization’s workforce.

Skills Gap Poll (just 6 quick questions, then you can view results)
More on LMSs from Brandon Hall

From a recent press release:

"LMS KnowledgeBase 2005: In-Depth Profiles of 52 Learning Management Systems, with Custom Comparison Across 200+ Features" not only takes a critical look at strengths and weaknesses of 52 leading learning management products; it also identifies market trends based on the largest number of vendors ever included in research.

For the study, learning management systems representing 84.5 million registered learners were queried on features, market share, and capabilities. The study uncovers interesting data about LMS usage, including:

66 percent of all LMS implementations are inside medium- to small-sized companies, with most companies averaging 75 employees
22 percent of LMS implementations are in small companies with revenues under $100 million
The largest percentage of LMS implementations are for the governmental market, at 14.14 percent
94 percent of LMS systems support basic classroom management functionality
63 percent of LMS systems have some sort of basic authoring capability
80 percent are AICC certified or compliant
Implementation of an LMS system takes an average of 6.5 weeks
$77 million per year is currently spent on R&D by LMS vendors
LMS price benchmarking

This helpful information appeared in a recent Dispatch from Brandon Hall. You can subscribe to their newsletter here.


"The different in pricing between different learning management systems is staggering. In our most current LMS research, we asked 50 LMS vendors to provide the cumulative cost of a 3-year license, including maintenance and hosting fees (if applicable) for 500; 10,000; 25,000; and 100,000 learners. For a LOCALLY INSTALLED, behind-the-firewall implementation, the vendors reported the following price ranges:

INSTALLED Pricing Ranges

Number of Learners /Low High
500 learners/ $8,980 - $234,150
10,000 learners/ $11,980 - $1,000,000
25,000 learners/ $11,980 - $2,032,500
100,000 learners/ $11,980 - $5,340,000

"To put this in perspective, the cost of the most expensive 100,000 user implementation is almost 450 times more expensive than the lowest-cost implementation. For a three-year HOSTED implementation, the price difference is only slightly smaller, with the highest-priced implementation about 410 times higher than the lowest-priced implementation.

HOSTED Pricing Ranges

Number of Learners/ Low High
500 learners/ $11,800 - $320,000
10,000 learners/ $15,580 - $1,065,000
25,000 learners/ $15,580 - $2,115,000
100,000 learners/ $15,580 - $6,390,000

– Richard Nantel, analyst,

Friday, January 21, 2005

Friday substitution

I'm pretty behind on my reading as I've been getting T+D's new, double-stuff Intelligence column out the door for March. We've expanded from three to six pages for that month (some months it may be four or five). I won't be writing it all every month, but will have contributors in addition to my own content--but for March I did most of it.

Anyway, I'll offer a super-duper best-you-might've-missed next week after I catch up on my reading. In the meantime, here's a good tidbit I received in a press release, courtesy of The Driving Force: Lessons in Teamwork from Saturn and Other Leading Companies (2004, Xephor Press,

Characteristics and Tell-Tale Actions of Effective Executive Team Leaders

1. Facilitative Style: Achieve results through others; encourage discussions, collaboration and debates; recognize team results to nurture a team approach; require information sharing across groups.

2. Strategic Thinker: Strive for alignment; explore the vision, mission, and organizational direction; keep the pieces linked together; articulate the big picture; link team to other organizations or environmental situations to drive alignment; crate a vision and strategy for the organization.

3. Business Focused: Focus on measurable results; build interdependence and teamwork; reward performance.

4. Results Oriented: Demand results to get results; implement plans and monitor performance; delve below the surface to get to the root cause; explore various angles to trigger meaningful discussion and debate; set direct, clear expectations; take personal responsibility for initiating change.

5. Skilled Communicator: Initiate and prompt discussions; encourage dialogue; facilitate debates; spend meeting time wisely; “stir the pot” if necessary to flush out disagreements; evaluate team membership.

6. Relationship Driven: Show care for members of the team; use a personal touch with the other leaders; create strong relationships and a foundation of trust; encourage learning and risk taking; stimulate a team’s growth; trust and empower others.

7. Sense of Urgency: Balance impatience with high quality standards; do the right things right; model a sense of urgency; create energy in others to generate outstanding results; refuse to protect the status quo; institute continuous improvement as an operating value.

8. Alignment: Engage individuals until issues are worked out; connect the need for change with performance goals and organizational structure; make messages clear to people in terms they can understand and relate to, no matter what their managerial level or background.

9. Tough Love: Confront nonperformance and incompetence; find ways to bring out an individual team member’s greatness; supplement one member’s weakness with another member’s strength.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The training media Academy Awards

Training Media Review is a great publication that T+D partners with--we publish their reviews in our Ratings section each month. They've just released their list of products that received their highest rating, 4 stars, from their independent reviewers in 2004.

An excerpt from the press release is below. See brief descriptions of the products in the complete Best2Buy article, which is free to all. (Their longer reviews are a members-only service, but some of these reviews did appear in T+D.)

"The Best2Buy media categories are the most comprehensive in the training industry: online content, online technology, print, software, and video. In addition, TMR recognizes a track record of achievement in training with its Editor’s Choice award.

The 2004 year’s winners are as follows:

Online content
KnowledgeNet Microsoft Live Office, KnowledgeNet (
Project Management: Ethics and Professional Knowledge, SkillSoft (
Six Sigma Foundations, Motorola University (

Online technology
Breeze Live, Macromedia (
WebEx Training Center, Webex Communications (

Adaptive Coaching by Terry R. Bacon and Karen I. Spear, Davies-Black Publishing (
The Global Diversity Desk Reference, Pfeiffer/Wiley (
Making Sense of Online Learning by Patti Shank and Amy Sitze, Pfeiffer/Wiley (
Simulations and the Future of E-learning by Clark Aldrich, Pfeiffer/Wiley (

RoboHelp X5, Macromedia (

Dialogue: Now You're Talking! Quality Media Resources (
Speaking to the Big Dogs, Frederick Gilbert Associates (

Editor’s Choice
Four Disciplines of Execution, Franklin Covey (

Training Media Review
Training Media Review has been evaluating training products for 12 years. It has always adhered to the belief that the best evaluators of training products are the people who use them: training professionals. TMR’s expert reviewers are all experienced professionals in training and allied fields. Most have been reviewing training products for years.

Why More Awards?
All of the Best2Buy products have received four-star ratings from regular TMR reviewers. Their judgment is more seasoned and neutral than judges for one-time events and shootouts. In those contests, awards HAVE to be handed out, and judges are under implicit pressure to award them. In fact, a large percentage of products submitted for annual contests receive some kind of award.

Training Media Review does not have to give out anything, AND we don’t set a predetermined number of products to receive recognition. Training Media Review never charges producers a fee to have their products considered. Some of the largest and best-known annual awards in training and related fields take in hefty fees from vendors and thereby—at least in our judgment—set up a conflict of interest. It is no wonder that so many products in these events go home with some kind of prize."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


As a writer and editor I take some offense at a site that uses numerals when words will do just fine, but I'll offer this resource anyway in the hopes that it can be useful.

Internships4You can help companies worldwide find interns as well as help people who want to learn find internships. With the promotional code, companies can place listings for free, and prospective interns can search for no cost (although to apply, free registration is required).

Here is the promotional code info contained in the press release I received:
"When you reach the Payment Center enter this promotional code 9M19MT1 that will enable you to post for FREE. After completing your transaction at the Payment Center you will arrive at the main menu."

Additional features are available for a cost.

The release said:
"Use this promotional code E6HD7HZ to recieve a 20% discount on all our other services and you will see why we are rapidly growing. Internships4You's best features are Screen and Interview. These features ensure higher quality intern applicants who match your requirements and are more motivated to answer your questions. "

Friday, January 14, 2005

Best you might've missed

Here is this week's listings of the articles I spotted that are worth checking out.

Traditional Training/Business

"The Knowledge Coach." From Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge, an article on this new type of coach who can help knowledge stay in an organization when workers leave.

Blink and the Wisdom of Crowds. A dialogue between Malcolm Gladwell (Tipping Point author who just released Blink) and James Surowiecki (author of the Wisdom of Crowds).

Salary Clock. Type in your salary, hit start, and you'll see how fast you earn your pennies. (Thanks, Business 2.0 blog.)

Emerging Learning

"Enterprise Blogging." An article on how blogs can be used as enterprise tools in organizations for various aims, including knowledge management.


The Future of the Internet. MIT's Technology Review summarizes and links to a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

eBay Launches Recycling Program. Don't know what to do with your company's old electronics? eBay has a new program; the article also lists other organizatons that can help.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

My latest Learning Circuits Trends article

My Trends article on augmented reality and training, "Augmented Reality Check," has been posted to the Learning Circuits site. Sorry about the delay; we were having some technical problems.

I write, "Think you can predict the future of learning technology? If you point to simulations and virtual reality, you’re wrong. Or at least half wrong.

Simulations will have their place. They’re getting more and more sophisticated and the popularity of such virtual universes as Second Life and There prove that people can be engaged by, even addicted to, experiences that are purely virtual.

But the real future of learning is what one developer calls “blended learning on steroids.” Just as training designers now choose among classroom-based training, synchronous online seminars, asynchronous Web-based training, and other options when determining the best delivery mechanism for learning content, in the near future those designing training will choose among training delivered in the real environment, via augmented reality, or in a virtual environment.

The real environment is self-explanatory. Virtual reality, in the form of computer-based simulations, has been written about quite frequently in learning publications—but much less attention has been paid to the learning potential of augmented reality. This is no doubt because its more complicated technology has matured at a much slower rate. But research and hardware advances have helped propel AR forward, and it is poised to make a very big splash in the learning arena. It is AR, then, that we will examine here in more depth."

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Five critical business issues for the new year

Ninth House, a leadership development company, writes, "Driven by increased global competition, an unrelenting push towards even greater productivity, and the impact of outsourcing, mastering and integrating the following five management skills may mark the difference in 2005 between the leaders and the losers."

(The contributors to the list are Ninth House faculty members.)

1. Creating a Compelling Organizational Vision. "The organizational leaders of 2005 will be those individuals who are able to create a compelling vision that tells everyone who you are (purpose), where you are going (picture of the future) and what will drive your behavior (values). If your people don't know what you stand for, they will fall for anything. Once your vision is set, then the goals or strategies you establish will have a bigger picture context."

Ken Blanchard, chairman of The Ken Blanchard Companies
Author of The One Minute Manager

2. Understanding and Coping with a Constantly Changing Economic Environment. "The pace of change is greater than ever, and there are signs that our individual ability to assimilate it is reaching the limit. Today's leaders are faced with the daunting task of sustaining productivity under conditions that will certainly undermine it. Without them, productivity will suffer, and our hair-trigger economy won't stand that."

William Bridges, president, William Bridges & Associates
Author of Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes and Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change

3. Developing and Mentoring Employees. "Over 100 years ago, Henry Ford said, 'Why when I only want to hire a pair of hands, do I get a whole person?' In today's complex world that is moving more and more into a knowledge economy, the challenge for leadership is to 'use the whole person.' Leaders can no longer have the answers. Instead, their task is to release and focus the potential of everybody within their organization. Only when that is done will excellence be achieved."

Dr. David Bradford, senior lecturer in organizational behavior at Stanford University Graduate School of Business
Co-Author of Managing for Excellence: The Guide to High Performance in Contemporary Organizations, Influence Without Authority

4. Building a Workplace Community. "The growth and uncertainty experienced in 2004 caused some leaders to return to basics-building workplace communities of respect, affirmation and inclusion. It worked. Employees and the marketplace responded positively. If this trend becomes a strategic priority for leaders, we predict 'workplace 2005' to be one of risk-taking, shared knowledge, increased productivity and a reduction in the impact of change."

Clifton L. Taulbert, president, The Building Community Institute
Pulitzer-nominated author: Eight Habits of the Heart

5. Negotiating and Managing Critical Relationships. "The ability to negotiate and manage relationships with strategic partners is essential. Productivity within companies who partner could be three times higher than the normal productivity per employee. Look for growth in partnering, which spreads capital risk and shortens time-to-market."

Larraine Segil, partner, Vantage Partners
Author of Measuring the Value of Partnering and Intelligent Business Alliances

Friday, January 07, 2005

"How to Learn Online" free Webinar

The InSync Center, home of the Certified Synchronous Training Professional program, offers this Webinar on Tuesday, January 11th at 12 p.m. EST.

More details available from Robin Good.

Best you might've missed

Here are the articles and resources that I found most interesting or intriguing recently. It's a super-duper list this week!


Predictions for 2005. From eLearn magazine, featuring the usual cast of characters (Elliot Masie, Stephen Downes, Allison Rossett, Margaret Driscoll, etc) as well as some new voices.

Predictions for 2005. Forecasts from writers at Business 2.0 magazine.

"Top Ten Trends for 2005." From Red Herring magazine.


Experience as a Distance Learning Teacher Makes You a Better Classroom Teacher. A post on the e-Literate blog details a faculty study with these findings. (Note: the study is from 2001)

"E-Learning and Economic Development." A paper from the Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education.

Emerging Learning

Designing Online Collaboration Systems For The Large Organization: Understanding Social Processes Is The Key Requirement. Collaboration guru Robin Good adds his thoughts to a research paper.

"Folksonomy - more collective classification." The SmartMobs blog looks at the "practice of collaborative categorization using simple tags in a flat namespace" and what effect folksonomy will have on knowledge management.


"More Than Human." CIO magazine looks at the coming practice of transhumanism (enhancing people through technology), saying that when this stuff comes, "no corporation could ignore the competitive potential of a neurotech-enhanced workforce for long."

Traditional Training/Business

How to Avoid Losing a Great Hire. "A great hire is most likely to be lost in one of two places: the interview process itself and the follow-up that occurs--or doesn't occur--after the interview."

Creative Problem-Solving Process. Dave Pollard integrates innovation processes from the likes of Peter Drucker and himself to come up with a twelve-step process.

"Homely Solution to the Offshore Exodus." An article from the Guardian on how telecommuting in the United Kingdom could help stem the flow of jobs overseas.

Near Death by PowerPoint. Good PowerPoint tips to remember, from the Fast Company blog.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Top 10 Events that Shaped the Training Outsourcing Industry in 2004 writes, "Many believe 2004 was the year training outsourcing finally came into its own as a viable and respected business strategy for corporate executives. A couple of years ago, many outsourcing analysts believed differently. Some claimed that training was simply a subset of human resource outsourcing - that it wasn't an industry of its own, just a part of a bigger HRO segment. But, knowledgeable training leaders understood that the untapped customer education sector was as big a part of corporate training as traditional employee education."

They continue, "They also knew that HR professionals are rarely responsible for customer training and that this arena held significant potential for outsourcing suppliers. With the recognition that employee plus customer learning defines the training outsourcing market, the industry has been revitalized. Over the past twelve months, new companies have emerged, business processes have improved, benchmark business deals were consummated, and the training industry became more efficient in providing outsourced services."

The list starts out slightly biased, but then proceeds from there with some good info. (Nice to see ASTD included!) Here's the basic list--click here to see the list with explanation of each item.

1. Introduction of

2. Convergys Acquisition of DigitalThink

3. Raytheon's Extension Relationship with Major Automobile Manufacturer

4. GeoLearning - Multi-Agency Government Adoption of "Managed Learning Services"

5. GP's Introduction of TOPS Services

6. Accenture Awarded Outsourcing Deal with GE Consumer Finance

7. Intrepid Expands Deal with Boeing

8. ASTD's Training Outsourcing Conference

9. Thomson's Acquisition of Capstar and Knowledge Net

10. The Exceleration Group Holds Training Outsourcing Executive Summit

Monday, January 03, 2005

January issue of T+D magazine now online

I'm back--well rested and relaxed from my time off. Today I spent most of the day posting the January issue of T+D online.

Feature articles this month include:
--"Dispelling the Myths of Certification," by Jamie Mulkey and ASTD's Jennifer Naughton
--"The Promise of Phase 3," by Jack Zenger, Joe Folkman, and Robert Sherwin
--"The Coming Labor and Skills Shortage," by Tony Carnevale
--"It Takes a Community," a look at how some organizations are getting back a sense of purpose, by Neal Chalofsky
--"The ROI of SWAT," a profile of an innovative way of looking at ROI at Toshiba American Business Systems, written by yours truly.
--"What in the World is WLP?" by Tony O'Driscoll, Daniel Blair, and ASTD's Brenda Sugrue.

My Intelligence article this month is on executive succession. There's also a Trends column on job stress, a Development column on getting an MBA, a new monthly New Guard column, and more!

Some of the content is ASTD members-only, but a lot of it--including my Toshiba profile and Intelligence column, and the New Guard column--is free with registration. Check it out!