The reading list grows…

Disillusioned with my shipping experiences with Clive Shepherd’s book from Lulu, I decided to take the (almost) revolutionary step of ordering Clark Quinn’s new book Designing mLearning in ebook format for the kindle reader on my PC. ; Now I’ve had ebooks on my computer before, but mostly in the Microsoft .lit format -a holdover from my days as an iPaq user – and those were usually Project Gutenberg editions.

(Side note on Fiction titles: ; I appreciate that people usually want to make money from their book sales, but I have to say that I really object to the extortionate prices that some people want for audiobooks or even for e-books. ; At this rate, I’ll hold out for paperbacks.)

So within seconds of having my order processed, I had the pages of Clark’s shiny (shiny from my screen?) new book gracing my laptop screen. ; So far, Kindle seems to be doing a reasonably good job of letting me make those ‘oh yeah, what about…’ notes inside the book. ; Trying to figure out of I can sync it to the iPod as well, but that may need more exploration.

No review planned because I’m certainly not an expert, but I may provide some reflective commentary once I get through the book.

Really wish I had a tablet… 😦

A wholly unqualified book review (WIP)

It took a while (no thanks to Lulu’s dreadful low-cost shipping options), but I finally got my copy of Clive Shepherd’s The New Learning Architect. ; Sadly, it’s taken me until now to be able to read more than one page of the damn thing (sick child, workloads, yadda, yadda).

So I’m going to keep this blog entry (started Feb 20) as my own mechanism for reviewing the book and making my own observations and comments along the way. ; I also learned today, after setting up my new personal Twitter identity, that there’s an online “book club” chat happening as of March 7. ; If I’m lucky, I’ll be more than 20 pages through the book by then (although at this rate, I wouldn’t put money on it). ; Mark Britz is acting as the facilitator/guide for the chat and I’m really looking forward to it.

I had some initial thoughts as I forge into the first chapter. ;
I will preface my comments by saying that I may be taking more of an academic view of the book out of habit. ; One of the things I tend to look for is a list of references from which the book is drawn – unless the book’s content and approach is more fact based and where the approaches are not necessarily subjects of extensive research. ; So, Clive, that’s the lens at which I initially looked at this book.

At first glance, the book reads like an Op-Ed piece, because there’s nary a citation to be found until page 18! ; While there’s nothing wrong with that kind of approach for a beginner, I was gettinc concerned that the book was going to be too superficial for my needs when I finally saw some footnotes and then some of the User Profiles. ; I breathed a small sigh of relief and if my little guy wasn’t in need of TLC I could have forged ahead with renewed interest. ; Fear not, however, I’m reading and making notes as I go along.

If nothing else, Clive has given me significant food for thought as I ; re-examine my career path and options down the road.

New Tweet Space Done

>…well, sort of.

I realized after my last post that I should probably separate my business and personal tweets and other activities.  So I’ve set up a new identity that will point followers here, but it will take me a while to replicate my list of those I follow to the new ID, and I can but hope that a good many business followers will make the trek over to this side of the house.

Also, thanks to my PLN, I learned how to establish Pages/Tabs at the top of the blog.  So I can have my lengthier profile attached as a page, rather than chewing up too much real estate on the sidebar.

Still much reading of posts to do for my College learners.  My Adult Learning group is a gregarious bunch and the activity has been astounding.  My Assessment & Eval learners are quieter, although I suspect the traffic will pick up today and tomorrow.

Design a Planet, or just my little piece of it?

>

“The chances of finding out what’s really going on in the universe are so remote, the only thing to do is hang the sense of it and keep yourself occupied… Look at me: I design coastlines… I’d far rather be happy than right any day.”
“And are you?”
“No, that’s where it all falls down, of course.”
“Pity, it sounded like quite a good lifestyle otherwise.”

Slartibartfast to Arthur Dent.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Book 1

As a small foreward to this (probably) disjointed post, congratulations to Harold Jarche for his 7 years of independent and thought-provoking blogging.  He gives me hope that maybe another ex-soldier can make good in the learning world.

As I was participating in the most recent #lrnchat, I commented to Jay Cross that I wanted to be able to participate in more things like MOOCs and other readings, etc. (for example, Clive Shepherd’s most recent book is still mostly unread) but scheduling was a challenge.  While he agreed he suggested prioritization, although I said to him that negotiating that kind of regular effort would likely require some coordination with those who sign my cheques.  He does, as he says, have the benefit of being his own paymaster and secretary.  Of course, as I pondered that exchange, I imagined Peter Block telling me that I just wasn’t committed enough. 😉

For all the time I’m spending on what is (relatively speaking) a pretty aggressive and innovative front, I feel a tremendous dissatisfaction that my own development is taking a distant back seat.  Part of that, I think, is the post-Grad School hangover, where all of a sudden after 2 years you’re not scrambling to read a journal or write a paper or engage in a discussion of some kind.  The other part of it is perhaps being in a role where – for whatever reason – there’s no overt or explicit encouragement to keep skills sharp or even to participate in events, conferences, or the like.  Even my participation in #lrnchat feels slightly ilicit under what is nominally a vendor/reseller banner, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences there for anything (although I am considering a separate handle for more of my PLN/personal commentary and only using the main handle for work-specific purposes).

Now I know that part of the recent time issues are of my own making with my agreement to teach two online courses for the College.  With 35 learners in one course and 13 in the other, I definitely have my hands full, and – of course – having an active 2 year old does tend to have an impact on remaining time.

So the question is:  what to do if I want to keep current or ahead of some of the trend demands?  Do I just say, ‘screw it’ and book my own time to read books/articles/blogs and seek out the brains of my PLN and abandon more event-driven activities?  Or do I take a more forthright stand and seek more control over my allowance for T&D and seek out some better Dev opportunities? I genuinely envy some of the folks in my PLN who are in either the right career space or right geographical space to take advantage of conferences, but for us Canadian practitioners who are not self-employed in lucrative thought-leader practices, its a different logistical challenge. Since very few of these big events come to Toronto, one has to travel larger distances and frequently across borders to attend. As an employee in a smaller org., it’s also logistics and a certain amount of proposal and rationalizing to convince someone to agree to pay for a flight, accommodations AND conference fees, all the while being generally unavailable for paid work for the duration. While I know that self-employment does have its advantages in

Maybe have a plan?

Ah, there’s the rub.  Saint-Exupery – I think – said that a “dream without a plan is just a wish”.  For me, a plan needs to have a goal and some kind of practical outcome.  Can I really learn to plan my own T&D for its own sake?  I suppose the educational purist in me says, ‘well, Duh’, but the practical and pragmatic Me has to raise some doubts. “Life”, as they say, “is what happens when one is making plans”.

But as time goes on, this T&D issue is going to hit critical mass and I can’t risk getting left behind in my career.  I’ve put way too much into it over the past few years to put it at excessive risk.  I’d much sooner be an in-demand resource than “just another training generalist”.  Selfish so-and-so that I am, I think I want to be right AND happy.

So, let’s see….Social Media, Informal Learning, mLearning….wow.  Looks like I have my work cut out for me.  Now, where did I put Clive’s book…?

N00b Management 101

>While I kept telling myself that my new online courses were College-level and not Graduate level, I realize now that I had confined my assumptions to the level of language used in assignment instructions and forum introductions. I hadn’t really counted on people entirely new to e-learning or even people who were not very familiar with computers at all.

(Okay, so I now have some ideas on an e-learning 101 asset, or series of assets, but I digress)

I think that part of the battle will be won by sticking with Salmon’s best practices for “weaving” and “summarizing” threaded discussions (but I will need to go back and explore different examples), but the other part of the battle is just getting people to realize how to work through an online course so that it’s not a “finish all 14 weeks’ content in a few days” event.  I will definitely need to take things slowly, use smaller words, and try not to leave anyone behind.  I am also going to have to be very careful with showing people the requirement for group work in an online course….I have a feeling that’s going to be a rough road for some at the outset.

A challenge for sure, but one I definitely signed up for.

LRNCHAT Reflections from Feb 10.

>Tonight’s #lrnchat posed an interesting and completly hypothetical ‘what if’ scenario: What if you could wipe the slate clean for corporate learning and do it all over again?

Well, I can say that this one definitely sparked some serious interest among the participants, especially those who decided to join #lrnchat for the first time.  The transcript of the chat doesn’t really show what a number of us were likely thinking: something a long the lines of, “ooh, so many ideas, and so little time”, but then some of the neat ideas really came through….of course these are all the ideas that we L&D professionals keep in our personal wish lists, but it’s nice to let them our for some fresh air once in a while.


Harold Jarche (@hjarche) was probably the lone voice of dissent and asking why we would wipe the slate clean, equating some of the theoretical concepts of the chat to, as he said, “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”, and that we might work more effectively on changing behaviours and other similar efforts.

It really was a neat thought, even though it was counter to the intent of the discussion (of course, that’s really the point of these things.  If we all agree, then we’ll never see the counter-arguments that are likely to smack us in the face like the handle of a stepped-on rake. While I didn’t actively pursue Harold’s line of inquiry (I was having too much fun thinking up new ideas in the fantasy land we’d created) but I had cause to think of it later.  Although, upon relfection, I didn’t really see anyone step up and say “hey, wait, we already do this stuff!”

Maybe the sum total of what Harold and the rest of us were saying is this: we really do need to do things differently if we’re going to drag mainstream corporate learning out of the weeds and make it more efficient.  So perhaps we stipulate to the status quo and make the commitment to changing how learning is perceived, created, managed, and delivered.  While there was a good focus on the processes and the approaches that need to change, there was also – not surprisingly – a lot of interest in the technology components. What I found interesting about that was, it wasn’t a “this tool sucks” kind of polarization (and I studiously avoided any “Death to PPT” slogans) but it was more conceptual.  We need tools that are accessible and easier to manage both in terms of generating content (note I didn’t say “course”) and also in terms of hosting, distribution, and access.  Clark Quinn suggested that you should pilot small, then “leverage the hell out of the results”, but I think this is where the @Quinnovator and I may differ on approach. While pilots are a good idea, the risk you run by limiting the pilot by business unit (or “silo”) is that while you may have convinced one set of stakeholders of the wisdom of your approach, but then you may have to start the whole process over again to get the rest of the organization on board.  So, limit the scope of content, but I’d suggest not limiting the reach.

I could see shades of Tony Bates in some of the commentary about openness and lack of barriers.  Learning should, I think, be something that people don’t have to fight for and has to be embedded at all levels.  We also threw ideas around about creating networks and communities, and gaining access to experts “at the moment of need”.  We also recognized a need to ditch the concept of a “course” and just replace it with regularly available informational and instructional assets that are easy to keep up to date.

On that note, @LandDDave posted a good picture that reflects what he thinks e-learning should look like…and I can’t really disagree conceptually.  For your own version, go to google.com, and do a print screen.  Save it, and think about it.

So maybe the path to success involves a little bit of revolution.  A key member of my PLN, Holly Macdonald (@sparkandco) posted a neat little blog entry asking whether you want to be a victim or an activist.  If you ignore some of the G20/WTO-type imagery and think more along the lines of Ghandi, you might just be onto something.  It may take a slightly subversive approach to makign the kinds of changes we really want to see….without wiping the slate clean and having to build it all over again.

All in all, another inspiring and thought-provoking #lrnchat.