Monthly Archives: October 2005

>Hot idea du jour

>I’m transcribing this idea not because its new or even revolutionary, but because I simply wanted to do a self-brainstorm.

This idea was inspired from some discussions at the recent E-Learn conference in Vancouver.

Mobile learning.

Hmmm….how can I accomplish that within my workplace? I mean, anything’s possible with a little effort and research.

So, here’s the challenge for me. Find a way to easily and effectively deploy browser- or Flash-based content to a team of potential JiT learners via their Blackberries. I threw this idea at my boss and he’s intrigued. So part of this morning was spent digging for resources on Blackberry development and some of the concepts and constraints.

Stay tuned. This could get interesting.

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>E-LEARN 2005 thoughts – Thursday PM

>Quite a full afternoon of events, starting with the Networking lunch. Each table had a specific “subject/topic” and I probably could have sat at 3 different tables and enjoyed each experience. At my table (Courseware Development & Authoring Tools) were attendees from New South Wales TAFE (Australia), Limerick University (Ireland), Sweden, Carnegie-Mellon University (USA), Foreign Service Institute – US Department of State, the BC Institute of Technology (Canada), and yours truly . It was quite interesting to see the different approaches taken to designing, developing and delivering courses in the online world. Some common choices of tools, to be sure, but the overall thought processes were markedly different. Some were focused on blended learning, some were looking at dedicated self-paced options. We all faced similar challenges with adoption/awareness and buy-in, as well as challenges with just getting content developed and maintained. Common issues with no geographical barriers.

I felt quite badly for the presenter who was stuck with a Mac/PC issue and wasn’t able to get her presentation on the Learning Object Life Cycle. Heinz Dreher from one of my morning sessions was in attendance and we had a rather thought-provoking chat on the way up to our respective rooms. We discussed some of the issues from her presentation as well as the panel discussion before lunch. That panel had obviously touched something in him, because he observed that a lot of people are “missing the point” about all this learning development. “We’ve forgotten why we’re doing it and who we’re doing it for,” he said. He’s right, of course. As designers, a lot of us tend to get lost in the tools and the technologies and we really forget about the learner experience. Do we know what they want? Do we care? Should we? Again, more food for thought.

I love the little sidebar discussions like that one. I get a lot more out of those than I do from some longer presentations. Its she sheer rush of those little “eureka!” moments that truly make this job worthwhile.

Finally, I had the opportunity to sit through another award winner, Diane Newton’s presentation on the role of the Australian Army instructor in the e-learning process. As a former military person, I had a personal interest in her presentation, but I was really surprised to see both the breadth and depth of content that the Australian Army’s Training Command had created and made available to its soldiers. Not surprisingly, there were some cultural challenges with taking this approach and I can see a lot of the growing pains, but I can also see some real advantages to much of what they are trying to accomplish. The depth of her reasearch work was excellent. Almost makes me want to go back to the consulting world and make nice-nice with the folks at DND.

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>E-LEARN thoughts – Thursday AM


To start the day, Curt Bonk from the University of Indiana was the morning Keynote speaker. Touching on his session from Monday he talked a lot about the sharing of knowledge, particularly Open Courseware, Open Source tools and the like.

I was amazed at the sheer volume of academic materials available online. One project of note was the OOPS initiative from Lucifer Chu from Taiwan, where he is translating all of the MIT open courseware into one of the dialects of Chinese as a largely volunteer project.

Heinz Dreher from Curtin University in Perth, Australia, showed some of his efforts with a natural language grading/marking tool. I have to say that, as a veteran of the multiple choice examination world (MCP, ITIL, etc.) I welcome the inclusion of natural language assessment in the e-learning world. While still largely a prototype, I think it holds great promise for the corporate world.

The folks from the University of Saskatchewan talked about their work on Learning Object Content Management systems. Wow. Simple, clean, and lots of interesting features to really glean worthwhile information about learner activity, and to stream learner paths, while working in a LO environment. Their LORNET efforts are part of a national initiative focused on telelearning using learning objects. I can’t wait to tinker with their environment.

Next up before lunch was a panel session on Future Trends in Learning, Technology and Standards, and one of my favourite speakers, Wayne Hodgins, was on the panel. Wayne is always a great speaker and entertaining as hell. I had the opportunity to hear his keynote address at the Microsoft Certified Trainer conference in New Orleans in 2000. Awesome stuff. Even though Wayne tends to be looking anywhere from 5-100 years out, its still thought-provoking to see some of the patterns and trends illustrated in some of his forecasts and planning.

What struck me was that Wayne is right-on about the need to remove the “e” from e-Learning. Learning technologies tend to overwhelm the importance of pedagogy (echoing Curt Bonk) and that there needs to be a better focus on “personalized learning” versus “ubiquitous” learning. Sheer volume of information is useless without context, audience, medium, and timeliness. Needless to say I have much to think about when I return to the office. We also need to address, he says, “un-learning”…that is, how to transform previous learned behaviour and enforce new behaviours and new patterns of action for better results. (Shades of what I experienced trying to break the traditional mould of applications training.) His final comments was that the personalization of learning cannot be something that we thrust upon the user. Too much choice is as deadly as not enouch choice. Personalization must be user-centric, rather than what I’ll call “negative option marketing”

As usual, a really fantastic panel session, although I admit that the speaker from Simon Fraser really had a hard act to follow and his content was somewhat pale in comparison to Wayne’s.

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>E-LEARN thoughts – Wednesday PM


I changed my schedule so I could attend Dr. Vladimir Uskov’s session on Technology for Advanced e-Learning. His expertise is evident and he has been able to build a lot of in-house tools to support his own e-learning efforts at Bradley U. It was educational (no pun intended) to see where some of the barriers exist when trying to offer the full virtual classoom experience. (Video compression/bandwidth issues, etc.) He clearly has some success with his work at the University. Looks like something to emulate, in principle if not in specific application. )

Knowledge retention is always an issue and I took in the session entitled “You want me to remember what??” Their tool was the “Profound Learning System” being prototyped through a number of diferent groups learning Outlook. The results of their test series (immediate posttest, 30 days posttest, 60 days posttest) were quite interesting to me. As a classroom veteran its a little alarming to see how retention drops off after a relatively short time.

(Comment from audience member sotto voce: “what a stupid question to ask” after seeing one of the posttest reviews. Odd and vitriolic reaction.)

The charts were a little tough to view, but I’m looking forward to picking the presenter’s brain after the session about PLS and what it could mean to us.

(Had the chance to speak with him and he very kindly pointed me in the direction of the vendor who is apparently re-tooling their product as we speak. )

My final session is with the group from Belgium, presenting Tools2Team: a web-based Knowledge Management tool. At first I thought they weren’t serious about their features wish list, but they really are trying to add a staggering amount of capacity to a web-based tool. Could it really be all things to all people? So far it looks promising in principle, if a little rough in its initial presentation.

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>E-LEARN thoughts – Wednesday AM


Quite an enjoyable opening session this morning with Allison Rosette where she talked a lot about convergence and knowledge transfer.

I admit that I am somewhat of a traditionalist at heart, so her references to Mary Broad’s research on Transfer struck a chord, but I was particularly interested in her statement that the distinctions between ‘before, during and after’ are starting to disappear. Very interesting food for thought. I can really see some concrete ways to implement some of the 6 strategies for converging work & learning.

Quite disappointed to see that one of my morning presenters hadn’t made it to Vancouver. Too bad the staff here didn’t pick that one up on their cancellation sheet.

Enjoyed the presentation from the ladies at Penn State about their blended learning efforts. Funny what you can accomplish without a significant capital investment.

The session about incorporating blogs as learning and knowledge management tools was a confirmation of a personal suspicion. Had the chance to sit with Wesley Fryer and take shameless advantage of the wireless signals to blog, share ideas, and demonstrate some of our own JiT transfer. Life imitating art, after a fashion.

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>E-LEARN 2005 Link

>Please bear with me while I recover some archived posts on e-learning and some of my own experiences with processes, tools and techniques. I look forward to staying in touch with some of the folks I met at E-LEARN 2005 as well as making new contacts.

Comments and input and idea-shares are always welcome.

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