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.