Friday, October 13, 2006

A fragmented identity

Clive Shepherd has put his book collection (or the bits he's prepared to admit to at least!) on a site called Shelfari.

Another interesting niche site, but there are hundreds of these kinds of sites out there these days, all providing a nice way of describing some aspect of your life/work/interests etc. This is an inevitable consequence of capitalist opportunism and entrepreurial behaviour, but do how do you deal with such a fragmented approach to managing our own identity? I heard some venture capitalist on Radio 5Live recently going on about another site for "helping managing your digital identity" - which of course she happened to be an investor in, but that turned out to be another "personal website" space. How do we manage these identities and niche content on a sustainable basis with so many fragmented niche offerings???

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Blogs and Wikis for corporate learning?

I have recently had a number of conversations with some different corporates about their interest in using Blogs or Wikis within their corporate learning programmes. Most of the individuals in these conversations are actively blogging themselves, but it made me wonder how many companies were actively using them already. Or are these just an interesting idea, or not even that.

Maybe you could let me know your view by responding to the web poll on the right of the page. Thanks in advance and PS the answers so far will be displayed once you've voted.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Personalisation - a slogan in search of a meaning?

Seb Schmoller has just put an interesting post relating to personalisation in learning. In it, he cites some recent articles and a recent Guardian comment and expresses scepticism about the reality of personalisation in education.

We have looked a little at personalisation within our research the corporate learning and e-learning area, and its a topic that I feel needs much greater exploration. Firstly, I agree with your sentiments about its use as a slogan in search of a meaning. Like many of terms in the learning area, it has become used as a bandwagon without much reality of substance. A sense of a good idea, without much in the way of tangible execution.

But having said that, I also feel it very important, and in many encapsulates the shift in thinking from training to learning. If we are to make progress on the potential for personalisation, I think our research would support the view that we need to tackle it at two levels - and I feel some synergy here with your arguments and Kevin's comments. Personalisation impacts structure at the macro-level, and it impacts choices and options at the micro-level. Much of the debate about the meaning of personalisation at an institutional level is about my macro-level; the structure of services, how they relate to the learner, and the organisation providing them. Without a fundamental rethink or realignment of current structures (in both academic education and corporate training), it is difficult to see how personalisation has much real meaning or difference.

But if that is true, personalisation at the micro-level is still very important. The choices that individual learners are offered or make related to their specific learning process; the resources they choose to engage with, the way they use or interact with peers, even to a degree, the role they expect from the teacher, trainer or facilitator. These are all areas of much greater flexibility and potential for personalisation than we give them credit for - already.

We must be wary of rejecting the concept of personalisation, but we must also be realistic about understanding its challenges. My personal view is that learning becoming more personalised, is an inevitability.


GooTube to impact corporate learning?

Google's acquisition of YouTube could result in some interesting side-effects in the learning world.

Despite its many problems, not least blatant infringement on copyright of many of the commercially produced video that has been clipped onto the site, YouTube seems to me to be a very powerful tool to support learning. It is a fantastic mechanism for rapid distribution of video-related content that could support learning programmes, or for just-in-time learning support.

But it is also the culture of video creation and sharing that has been encouraged by the users of YouTube and other similar services. With the rapid in growth in cheap video cameras and increasing availability of video capture from mobile phones, there is an enormous potential for creative learning processes and knowledge sharing using these tools.

I also think this represents the final confirmation that we have now passed the tipping point on video as a pervasive media in web information and learning content. Historically it has tended to be an important but niche component, but now with the diversity of tools to generate video, and pervasive tools like YouTube for its distribution, the video genie is well and truly out of the lamp!


Monday, October 09, 2006

The cost of innovation

Seb Schmoller has posted an interesting comment on private provision of infrastructure for schools. His point at the end of the post about (what I would call) the cost of innovation in the ICT or learning infrastructure I think is very valid in a corporate environment too. Too often this is seen as a static IT cost rather than a dynamic environment which needs to be evolved and allow innovation. Recent interest in blogs and wikis as learning tools is a good example. Most of these projects have to be done outside the gaze of IT or formal budgets. The danger is that the budget for infrastructure, just like the training centres of old, is a reflection of learning past rather than learning future.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Nuvvo up for sale!

Brent Scheckler noticed that Nuvvo, the innovative e-learning platform and marketplace from Canadian company Savvica is up for sale. Apparantly they've run out of money to push it forward and are looking to sell the business and technology. Here is the full announcement text, or a link to Nuvvo's blog.

Nuvvo’s sale may also reflect some realities of the e-learning market as well as some of the mistakes Savvica may have made in themselves.

To our eyes, Nuvvo made an interesting splash with an innovative service which was nicely packaged, but like many web start-ups, underestimated the time and cost to build a robust pipeline of business, and the costs to establish an e-brand. Whilst selling a paid service is always an issue with open source alternatives, I doubt it was as significant as being portrayed. After all, only a small proportion of the cost of e-learning relates to the platform, it just happens to be a visible amount.

The e-learning market has proved to be a graveyard for many organisations over the past few years, I am sure there will be more!


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Learning Content Model

Delivered a keynote presentation at a seminar in London today, focusing on the topic of Learning Content Management, and based on some analysis from a recent corporate research project. One slide which seemed to get a lot of interest from a number of people in the audience was a model we have been using recently to focus the discussion of what is the scope of learning content.

Click on the image to link to a larger version and a PDF of the slide.

The model maps two dimensions - the nature of the content, Generic to Specific, and the nature of the learning, Formal to Informal, including some example representations for the typical types of learning we see in companies: classroom training, generic and custom e-learning, performance support, coaching, etc.

I like the model because it a) seems to have a lot of resonance for training people in structuring the way they think about sources of learning content, and b) can be used to clearly focus the discussion of the scope and aspiration for learning content management. E.g. We have found that many organisation focus their attention in the top right (formal, specific) initially, and then want to expand it longer term both downwards into supporting informal learning approaches, and then right to left to expand the scope to include all learning content.

How would you draw your different learning activities on the model, and what would your potential focus be for learning content management; now and maybe in 3-5 years? I'd be interested in your views and feedback on the model.

The Learning Circuits Big Question

Tony Karrer and Dave Lee have just started a new feature, The Big Question, on the Learning Circuits Blog. .

This months relates to whether all learning professionals should be blogging?

My view is mixed, i.e. yes and no. To start with the no first, blogging is a useful tool but it has its limits and it tends to be viewed by some (and the press currently) as a bit of panacea. To my mind, much that is blogged is repetitive and doesn't add a lot of value. There's almost a trend to have to be seen to be blogging for the sake of it rather than because you actually have anything new to say. The danger is that creating a culture where all learning professionals must blog would in fact magnify these problems.

But having said that, on the plus side, blogging is best when the blogger has a view and can express it. The lack of formality and the ease of cross-referencing other blog content or references means is great to accelerate discussion and promote broader thinking and understanding. Learning professionals should be able to engage and contribute in these discussions. They should be able to communicate, and they should be able to both have, and express a view. If not, how effective are they as learning professionals? So, on balance I think, getting more or all learning professionals to engage in the blogosphere would be positive. But maybe for some, their blogging will be public - i.e. on the Internet, for others it will be "private" , i.e. inside their own organisation. That might not have been meant by the original question, but I think internal blogging from learning professionals, and promoted by learning professionals inside the organisation would be a positive step in the fostering of the learning organisation.