At the mLearnCon conference, it became clear it was time to write about wearables. At the same time, David Kelly (program director for t he Guild) asked for conference reflections for the Guild Blog. Long story short, my reflections are a guest post there.
1 July 2014
5 May 2014
Arianna Huffington kicked off ASTD’s international conference with a very engaging presentation covering the four pillars to thrive. Alternately funny and wise, it was a great start.
2 April 2014
My latest tome, Revolutionize Learning & Development: Performance and Innovation Strategy for the Information Age is out. Well, sort of. What I mean is that it’s now available on Amazon for pre-order. Actually, it’s been for a while, but I wanted to wait until there was some there there, and now there’s the ‘look inside’ stuff so you can see the cover, back cover (with endorsements!), table of contents, sample pages, and more. Ok, so I’m excited!
What I’ve tried to do is make the case for dragging L&D into the 21st Century, and then provide an onramp. As I’ve been saying, my short take is that L&D isn’t doing what it could and should be doing, and what it is doing, it is doing badly. But I don’t believe complaining alone is particularly helpful, so I’m trying to put in place what I think will help as well. The major components are:
- what’s wrong (you can’t change until you admit the problem :)
- what we know about how we think, work, and learn that we aren’t accounting for
- what it would look like if we were doing it right
- ways forward
By itself, it’s not the whole answer, for several reasons. First, it can’t be. I can’t know all the different situations you face, so I can’t have a roadmap forward for everyone. Instead, what I supposed you could think of is that it’s a guidebook (stretching metaphors), showing suggestions that you’ll have to sequence into your own path. Second, we don’t know all yet. We’re still exploring many of these areas. For example, culture change is not a recipe, it’s a process. Third, I’m not sure any one person can know all the answers in such a big field. So, fourth, to practice what I’m preaching, there should be a community pushing this, creating the answers together.
A couple of things on that last part, the first one is a request. The community will need to be in place by the time the book is shipping. The question is where to host it. I don’t intend to build a separate community for it on the book site, as there are plenty of places to do this. Google groups, Yahoo groups, LinkedIn…the list goes on. It can’t be proprietary (e.g. you have to be a paid member to play). Ideally it’d have collaborative tools to create resources, but I reckon that can be accommodated via links. What do you folks think would be a good choice?
The second part of the community bit is that I’m very grateful to many people who’ve helped or contributed. Practitioner friends and colleagues provided the five case studies I’ve the pleasure to host. Two pioneers shared their thoughts. The folks at ASTD have been great collaborators in both helping me with resources, and in helping me get the message out. A number of other friends and colleagues took the time to read an early version and write endorsements. And I’ve learned together with so many of you by attending events together, hearing you speak, reading your writings, and having you provide feedback on my thoughts via talking or writing to me after hearing me speak or commenting on my scribblings here.
The book isn’t perfect, because I have thought of a number of ways it could be improved since I provided the manuscript, but I have stuck to the mantra that at some point it’s better out than still being polished. This book came from frustration that we can be doing so much better, and we’re not. I didn’t grow up thinking “I’m going to be a revolutionary”, but I can’t not see what I see and not say something. We can be doing so much better than we are. And so I had to be willing to just get the word out, imperfect. It wasn’t (isn’t) clear that I’m the best person to call this out, but someone needs to!
That said, I have worked really hard to have the right pieces in place. I’ve collected and integrated what I think are the necessary frameworks, provided case studies and a workplace scenario, and some tools to work forward. I have done my best to provide a short and cogent kickstart to moving forward.
Just to let you know that I’m starting my push. I’ll be presenting on the book at ASTD’s ICE conference, and doing some webinars. Bryan Austin of GameOn Learning interviewed me on my thoughts in this direction. I do believe in the message, and that it at least needs to be heard. I think it’s really the necessary message for L&D (in it, you’ll find out why I’m suggesting we need to shift to P&D!). Forewarned! I look forward to your feedback.
19 March 2014
Soren Kaplan gave a keynote on innovation that nicely pulled together a number of strands around how to break through some of our cognitive traps.
22 January 2014
Jeff Dyer presented an inspiring talk on innovation (a favorite topic :) at ASTD’s TechKnowledge conference, with great ideas buttressed by data. A nice kickoff to the conference.
31 August 2013
Early this morning, my mother died. She’d been wanting to go; having lost one leg to bad circulation and with continuing pain in the other for the same reason, her quality of life wasn’t great despite the loving care my brother and family provided. She needed help to get around, and hated to impose. She’d already outlived all her siblings, and fortunately her passing was relatively quick and painless.
She had led a most interesting life; she grew up in Germany in a slightly privileged family (with a few servants), including during the time of World War II. The war was tough on the family; while one of her two twin brothers was lost to leukemia, the other lost his life as a fighter pilot. Her firm but loving father was briefly imprisoned for not being an ardent proponent of Hitler, but as a community official the local townspeople advocated for his release. Their house was bombed during the course of the war, but they had escaped to the countryside home of their family friends. I remember my mom telling me about heading with a friend to that region, and ducking under trees at times to avoid planes machine-gunning the field!
She was anorexic for a time, and so had to spend time in the hills of Czechoslovakia to recuperate, escaping some of the war. She also studied nursing in Switzerland, again avoiding some of the carnage, and felt remorse in both cases. She was also embarrassed about getting credit for not participating in a war-hawking May Day parade because the real reason wasn’t principled objection but instead that she didn’t want her birthday preempted. For the rest of her life she was always looking to help others. She was sympathetic to the disabled, as her father had lost his arm in the first world war, yet never let that slow him down.
After the war, she headed to the New York to stay with her aunt, and worked taking care of an elderly lady. She grew tired of being cold, and headed west by bus. She almost stopped in New Mexico, but ended up continuing on to Los Angeles, where she worked in a hospital, and ended up meeting my father, Nives. She never regretted leaving her native land and family, though she did miss them.
My folks got married, and she subsequently became a mother to me and then my brother Clif. With no proximal family of hers, she had to become quite independent, also as my father worked long hours. She kept us well fed, becoming a good cook and a strong advocate of natural foods long before such became popular. A good education was also a priority, and she took us to museums regularly as well as advocating for summer school and other activities. Frugal too (and occasionally penny-wise and pound-foolish, as she’d laughingly admit), our regular vacations were camping except for the occasional trips to Germany to visit her family. And she was capable: she knitted us sweaters, sewed, gardened, and had a ‘can do’ attitude.
She eventually went back to nursing when we were old enough, and was a revered fixture in the local emergency room for many years (though we had to restrain her from telling injury tales at the dinner table). She and my father remained active in politics and social efforts; after retirement they did considerable traveling but also volunteered time when home. She was always heading off to go shopping for the abused women’s shelter or to deliver something for somebody in need. She also was continually restless, courtesy of an overactive thyroid gland, and it was a family joke that she’d say she was finally going to sit and watch a movie, but soon she’d be up making snacks or doing some other thing around the house.
The thing that I grew to recognize and appreciate was how much my mother was a people person. Our house regularly had visitors, often from far away. My mom had the gift of really listening – she loved hearing others’ stories about life - and the next time she met you she would remember and ask. And help if she could. As a consequence, my folks always had invitations to visit, and people they met on their travels were always stopping through on their way elsewhere.
She never thought she was smart or wise, and yet she was both. She cared and her varied experience and endless curiosity meant she often had something useful to say. Her brain remained strong long after her body began to fail her. Despite the travails of infirmities, she continued with good cheer.
She was gentle, kind, thoughtful, and good, and we were very very lucky to have her. Rest in Peace.
3 December 2012
David Jonassen passed away on Sunday. He had not only a big impact on the field of computers for learning, but also on learning itself. And he was a truly nice person.
I had early on been a fan of his work, his writing on computers as cognitive tools was insightful. He resisted the notion of teaching computing, and instead saw computers as mind tools, enablers of thinking. He was widely and rightly regarded as an influential innovator for this work.
I also regularly lauded his work on problem-solving. The one notion that really resonated was that the problems we give to kids in schools (and too often to adults in training) bear little resemblance to the problems they’ll face outside. He did deep work on problem-solving that more should pay attention to. He demonstrated that you could get almost as good a performance on standard tests using meaningful problems, and you got much better results on problem-solving skills (21st century skills) as well. I continue to apply his principles in my learning design strategies.
I had the opportunity to meet him face to face at a conference on learning in organizations. While I was rapt in his presentation, somehow it didn’t work for the audience as a whole, a shame. Still, I had the opportunity to finally talk to him, and it was a real pleasure. He was humble, thoughtful, and really willing to engage. I subsequently shared a stage with him when he presented virtually to a conference I was at live, and was thrilled to have him mention he was using my game design book in one of his classes.
He contributed greatly to my understanding, and to the field as a whole. He will be missed.
3 November 2012
At the recent DevLearn conference, David and Heidi (the two-cofounders of the eLearning Guild) punk’d me. Under the pretense of having me assist the keynote speaker, they had me sit at the front of the stage with another purpose in mind.
As background, the Guild is explicitly labeled and designed to reflect the original concept of an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The notion is that elearning professionals will be members of the guild to stay abreast of new developments, and interact with their peers. Inherent in this is the notion of participants starting as apprentices and moving gradually to the center of a community of practice. Consequently, the Guild hosts a number of things: online conferences (forums), Learning Solutions (an online magazine), research reports, discussion forums on LinkedIn, and of course their excellent conferences.
Heidi and David decided, apparently, that they wanted to reward those who were contributing, who were serving as defacto ‘masters’ of the community, following the historic traditions. Consequently, they were reviewing who did what, who was writing, researching, and presenting, and apparently one name kept appearing at the top of the lists. Mine.
Now, you have to understand that I have made no effort to see who was doing what; I see certain names regularly appear on their speaker lists, as well as new ones. I know a number of people have been involved in research, and they’re always getting new authors for the magazine. But I literally had no idea how much I did compared to others, so this was a complete surprise.
So they called me up on stage and bestowed upon me the honor of being the very first Guild Master, handed me this great chunk of gorgeous glass, all with me somewhat stunned and embarassed. They have stated an intention to honor others at following conferences, which will be great. I like how they view their role, think it’s valuable, and they strike the right balance in making a viable business that serves a community. They continually experiment as well, and that’s a good thing.
Needless to say, I’m truly honored that they noticed and deemed me worthy. It’s not always you get recognized for doing what you love, and when you do it’s humbling. I’m very grateful to them, and the kind comments others have made subsequently. And thanks to you for the feedback you’ve provided on my thoughts via this blog, helping me develop my understanding so I am better equipped for what I do. I am passionate about helping people perform better through technology, and as I often joke “this is what I would be doing even if I were independently wealthy (and you’re welcome to make that happen :)”.
I am truly pleased if what I’ve contributed has helped, and can only hope that I can continue.
15 October 2012
I’ve spent a few days on the road the past few weeks, and thought I’d share my reflections on trying to survive sensibly and healthily. Kinda out of the normal line, but FWIW:
1) if you stay in a hotel that’s crazy enough to provide dinner, but also has kitchens, use the kitchens. Tried the fried rice yesterday and it was too salty. The overly sauced sesame chicken looked like it had death levels of sugar. And the fried egg rolls? Fat levels better left unmentioned. Glad I picked up food at TJ’s. Even if I have to wash the dishes (soap bars seem to work ;), it’s better than this food for a week. Today was better, the veggies looked ok, but the garlic bread looked suss and bet the chicken parmiagano was way too salty too.
2) same lesson for breakfast. The sausage and cheesy potatoes were ok yesterday, but glad I found the oatmeal today. I love biscuits and gravy, but they’d be the death of me if I ate the buffet bins everyday. Hard enough to eat well on the road.
3) increasingly, I’m finding tasty meal-scope salads when you inevitably eat out that I can really fill up on and feel good about eating: yesterday, asked for grilled chicken instead of fried on my southwest salad, today got the peanut sauce on the side for the oriental salad. Increasingly avoiding carbs, going for veggies and bits of meat.
As you get older, are on the road a fair bit, and still want to enjoy life, you need to find ways to eat more healthy when out and about. The good news is, it’s increasingly doable, but it also means some diligence. It’s hard to rein in my enthusiasm for food, but the realities of the slowing metabolism (I hate that) despite exercise mean I’ve got to find ways…
Love hearing your strategies!
25 January 2011
..you get things right. Today, courtesy of Don Taylor, I got to sit at a dinner table with Roger Schank, Cathy Moore, Nigel Paine, David Mallon, and Steve Wheeler. The conversation segued between cutural wine etiquette, ethnic heat tolerances, and culture literacy, among other things. Thanks again to Don, and hoping I wake in time (jet lag is no fun)!