Tuesday, November 30, 2004


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

I received a press release about Findaseminar.com, 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 HR.com.

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 HR.com but registration is free. Also see their event archives at http://www.hr.com/events/HRSeminarsArchive.cfm.)