I gave my eLearning Strategy presentation to the eLearning Division of ASTD’s LA Chapter. Despite some technical hiccups (GoToWebinar doesn’t seem to have a chat feature, nor does it allow Mac users to be presenters, ahem), the presentation went off reasonably well. And now, it’s available online. It takes quite a while to load (guess it’s *huge*), but you can hear the whole hour+. I’d welcome your feedback!
I’ll be presenting on eLearning Strategy for the ASTD LA Chapter’s Special Division on eLearning on the 21st of May (virtually). I’ve also just presented to the Best Practices Institute (but you have to be a member to see the archived version). It’s similar to how I’ve presented it before, but I keep adding new thoughts.
The notion is still the same performance ecosystem, but I made a point of searching out more on eCommunity at the eLearning Guild’s last conference to augment my knowledge. Can’t promise it’s improved the presentation yet (that’s the problem, they always want the deck weeks before the actual presentation, and my thinking isn’t static).
I’ve talked before about how Marc Rosenberg and I carve up the space differently, but agree on the main principles. The one thing I add is mobile, but I’m sure he’d rightly see that as a different channel for the underlying support. There is no one ‘right’ way to carve it up, but I still find my framework useful.
I’m seeing more interest in this from a corporate perspective. As I think I’ve mentioned, I’ve used this framework increasingly to help understand the context in which an elearning initiative sits. And using it to look at broader strategies for elearning for organizations. Harold Jarche also points to an initiative we did with an organization and the framework was very much in my mind as I tossed out answers. Maybe there’s one for you. Maybe we’ll see you at the ASTD LA chapter meeting?
In addition to the Q&A with Patrick (and Steve Wexler on the Guild research), the other thing I wasn’t involved in was Lance’s thought-provoking interview with Bob Dean (who I’ve blogged about before). He came in as a representative of the CLO role, and threw out more TLA‘s than you can shake a stick at.
In talking about what he was looking for in his role, he said “universities are one of the least innovative solutions” in reference to many corporate approaches. What he wanted was a Talent Development System (TDS), which is much more than an LMS. I didn’t get a chance (but I’ve pinged him) whether the performance ecosystem was close to what he had in mind. It would include competency modeling, online performance review, yellow pages, profiles, and career development history. Talent’s the new way to view the learning role, it appeared, and he suggested their needs to be a Chief Talent Officer (CTO, which is why I’d suggest it might be Chief Performance Officer, CPO, not to step on the toes of IT).
I did get to ask him, in light of the increasing change, whether competency models would be out of date too fast, and whether he was thinking it would be closer to 21st century skills (learning to learn, etc, the type of curriculum I think we need). He basically agreed, indicating there might be core skills and new skills. Interestingly, talking about their (recruiting firm) 19 C-suite competencies, he thought that they weren’t needing to change, but the 5 or so priorities that they ask their clients for are!
As before, he was still enthused with learning experiences, and as before I fully agree. He talked about Continuous Development Experiences (or CDEs), and it’s not a bad notion: viewing learning as an ongoing process instead of a punctate series of events. Now that’s a role for mobile learning to augment.
He was not focused on ROI, but on Return on Visibility (ROV), where how the efforts were perceived were what carried weight. He reckoned that by the time the numbers were available they were on to other things, and getting programs done was what was important. In contrast, I remember Ellen Wagner once saying that “if you aren’t measuring it, why bother”. Still, it appeared to be the context that they aren’t looking to him for measurable results.
I note that, given Marc’s talk yesterday and Bob’s today, it’s clear the new strategic concept is ‘alignment’. The notion is that learning (or talent) initiatives need to be geared towards organizational goals. I think it’s obvious, but clearly to be buzzword-compliant I’ll have to get better at tossing the word around ;).
Overall, Lance did a good job handling the interviews , the colloquium seemed valuable to the audience, and fun for me. Well done!
Today’s keynote was John Patrick, talking about the future of the internet and implications for learning. There was a lot of the former, and unfortunately not enough of the latter. He made some great points, specifically that we’re only tapping 5% of the potential, citing a number of examples of where people were dropping the ball (what a great deal, getting paid to whinge about bad internet experiences :), and also about what was possible with coming developments. Here’s the mindmap:
In followup questions (part of the learning management colloquium), he talked a bit more about learning to learn (a pet fave of mine): that, generationally-independently, some get it and some don’t. I asked the obvious question: given that the internet has so much knowledge, but (as he claimed in his talk) that folks don’t necessarily have good internet skills, would the obvious implication be that the role of formal learning be about how to learn to learn with internet resources? His answer was discursive, unfortunately, but an interesting opportunity would be a software ‘net-surfing’ coach that watched your net strategy and provided guidance.
The opportunities of ubiquitous internet access are exciting, certainly, but I think it will take some smart ‘voting with eyeballs’ to really make a change. I’m an idealist, but I also recognize that individuals are satisficing, not optimizing, and people are still buying shoddy product (why are people still buying Coors?). How will we get the necessary cluetrain going? Odd thought: ridicule.
After the keynote, the Learning Management Colloquium started with an introduction by Lance Dublin, then ‘deep dives’ by Bryan Chapman, Michael Echols, and Marc Rosenberg. This is a separate stream within the Guild’s Annual Gathering, though this year it’s open to everyone. I’ll be representing ‘games’ in the Espresso Learning session tomorrow.
Lance started talking about Web 2.0 and management, with the increasing information overload and how kids these days are coping with prosumption and democratization of content, and that we had to take advantage of these approaches to cope. He created a distinction between informal and non-formal learning, arguing the latter is what we can actually control, and should be thinking of. I think Jay Cross wouldn’t mind separating out the measurable from the ineffable, but would suggest we should still be thinking of things we won’t necessarily track including things as broad as designing floorplans to promote interaction (such as Sawyer talked about in today’s keynote) as well (and probably quibble about the importance of tracking).
Bryan Chapman talked about learning technology infrastructure, and in the audience interaction pointed out how broadly divergent were the LMSs used, more commonality in authoring tools, and then divergence again in virtual classroom tools. Also evident was that people confused portals with knowledge management. My real takeaways were the recommendation of having a high-level, cross-business unit performance council and standard-setting group.
Michael Echols next talked about ROI. He had a refreshing perspective, basically using a control group or baseline contrast to evaluate ROI. His ROI formula is statistical:
ROI = (delta-cost)/cost
where delta is new performance metric – old performance metric. It’s a nice contrast to the Kirkpatrich ‘chain of argument’, where your improvement is based upon measured comparisons at each level, and arguing that they’re connected. On the other hand, it requires having that baseline or control group! Still, delightfully principled.
Finally, Marc Rosenberg gave his usual, but still important, spiel about elearning needing to be more than courses. His list of elements has a different cut than mine – he has six elements: ILT, WBT, Knowledge Management, Performance Support, Community of Practice, and Experts, where I have a different six: eLearning (w/ Advanced ID), Performance Focus, eCommunity, Greater Integration, and Broader Distribution, leading to a full Performance Ecosystem. We agreed afterwards that the lines aren’t clear cut and each served our purposes.
First thing in the morning I had a Breakfast Byte on eLearning Strategy that was well attended, and presenting my models seemed to be well-received with nods when I queried whether it made sense and several thanks afterwards. I was clear that it wasn’t an answer, just a framework to be customized, but has proved valuable for me. Overall, a valuable first day.
Today I’m at the eLearning Guild’s Annual Gathering. Yesterday I was part of two different pre-conference symposiums, one on Immersive Learning Simulations (read: serious games) and Mobile Learning, and today we started off with a keynote. I mind-mapped it, which I sometimes do, and here’s the result:
Overall, I confess I was a wee bit underwhelmed, as some of the talk was that a constructivist approach fostered more innovative folks. Well, yeah. However, there were some good points, and he told a great story about the real history of Monopoly.
The main good point was debunking the myth that innovation is individual insight, and his research on creativity shows how teams iterate over time to create new ideas. He also pointed out a couple of ways to facilitate creativity, which included building layouts (pointing to his book, ahem), and re-assigning staff as a systematic organizational policy.
There were also some good details about making effective learning (see the subtrees from the ‘challenges’ node in the mind map, above), including identifying a relevant problem, supporting active learning, fostering effective collaboration, and creating shared artifacts. Most specifically, the details underneath these were more depth than you often get.
Of course, the question is whether the talk was relevant for the general audience, not me (after all, I too have studied creativity, and the learning sciences). My informal poll seemed to support my view, but the eLearning Guild is making some good efforts at linking in social tools, so there should be lots of reactions being tracked. Did you see his presentation? If so, what did you think?
Jay Cross has an interesting post about ‘time‘ (one of his favorite topics) for business. In it, he talks about Internet Time (not surprisingly ;), along the lines of his inspired claim that:
Some creative workers would produce more value were they required to dedicate 11 months of the year to learning and one month to innovation and decision making.
I’m inclined to agree, but it made me think something else as well.
To me, business needs to move at the speed of thought. Which is not really what Jay’s claiming, as he’s talking about network and digital speeds in a different context; I agree with his post, but I’m going somewhere else. Our brains are actually much slower than electrons, and yet we rush to make decisions faster than ever. Consequently, I suggest, we’re making decisions that aren’t smart, let alone wise.
To make smart decisions, let alone wise ones, means taking time to think through the consequences. While we try to make it easier to make the right decisions, with policies and procedures and rules, with the ever increasing amount of change I think that the decisions will also increasingly be ones that we haven’t had to think about before. We’ll be facing ever new decisions that require us to be good problem-solvers, ideally even wise ones. And that’s going to take time.
Now, I’m not talking months to decide whether or not to lock the door at night, but rather taking the appropriate time to evaluate the short and long term consequences, for self, others, and society, with a sense of responsibility. This shouldn’t hamper most decisions, but will come into play when it should.
We need to not rush to make decisions, but be willing to allow the time to make a good decision. And that’s contrary to much of management practice and organizational culture. I remember several years ago when we were pushing quite strongly on meta-learning, the push back was that “we don’t have time for reflection”. That has got to change for organizations that want to persist and succeed. (Of course, so to does the push for shareholder returns in the short term!)
Our brains are increasingly the valuable commodity, as Jay argues, so we need to foster the conditions under which they work best. That doesn’t come from speed, but from a supportive culture for experimentation, reflection, and thought. It doesn’t mean getting rid of commitments and deadlines, but setting them realistically, not politically (in the organizational sense of the term).
How do we reconcile the pressure for execution with a need for innovation? It’s an interesting challenge. A few of us are looking at how we can help organizations get a handle on it, in a collaborative way. If your organization is interested in taking this sort of step, do let me know.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit recently about how to improve organizational performance. It’s part of thinking broader about how technology can be used to support performance, but then you have to have a picture of organizational learning as a whole. As I look at organizations, many are focused on excellence in execution, and quite a few have recognized that the competitive advantage comes from continual innovation. What I’m not seeing enough of is recognizing that the two are intimately linked. They’ll focus on innovation in engineering, and execution in customer service, but not connect the two across the organization.
For example, I’m seeing organizations supporting execution with training, and supporting innovation with knowledge management or eCommunity. I’ll see training groups supporting execution, and management invoking innovation exercises, but management not worrying about training, and training not worrying about innovation.
The thing is, you develop people from novice, through practitioner, to expert. You might hire experts, but you can also develop them. And even experts won’t innovate unless they see the big picture of where the field and organization are going, and are in a supportive culture. And if they’re not developed internally, you’ll have some barriers getting them steeped in the organizational goals and culture.
When I talk about a performance ecosystem, I’m usually talking about the technology infrastructure to support it, but I’m also implicitly talking about the culture and mission. And I’ve been finding it quite useful, with clients, to use that framework to help them look at the larger picture. My question is, are others seeing this too, or am I missing something? Because if others are seeing the concept like I am, and aren’t seeing the implementation, as I’m not, we’ve got a need and an opportunity here to really help some organizations take a significant step forward. What are you seeing?
Jay Cross has started talking about a rethink on what ‘management’ is about. He’s spot on that focusing on execution is not sufficient, and it’s got to be about “giving everyone a voice, experiment often, power comes from below, communities are self-defining, decisions are peer-based, and just about everything is decentralized”. I think it’s fair to say that ‘administering’ business (hence the MBA) isn’t the way forward.
He then goes on to talk about the implications for training departments. His take is that “ISD lacks the framework to invent non-learning solutions. Meta-learning and flexible infrastructure are becoming more important than individual topics.” I’m a fan of meta-learning, and what he then talks about is really filling what Jay calls the ‘learnscape’, with opportunities to learn, to collaborate, and more. It’s not the LMS (see Will Thalheimer’s recent piece), it’s a whole suite of resources, channels, and more.
On ITFORUM, George Siemens just concluded a discussion about his connectivist model of learning, and how the networks are in our head and external, and that learning will be building and exploiting those networks external to augment what we know to solve new problems. Our notion of ID will be much broader than course design if it’s to succeed; we have to be about supporting people through their own learning. I was thinking the ‘training’ department of today will need to be the ‘learning partner’ of tomorrow, helping others develop resources, mentoring discussions, finding new tools.
That’s what I’m trying to help organizations do: see the bigger picture, take responsibility for the full performance ecosystem, and move to a more enlightened approach to learning and, consequently, business. It’s not only doable, it’s really the only option, don’t you think?
A while ago, I created a diagram that captures my notion of the performance ecosystem. At the DevLearn conference last November, I held a session where we collaboratively populated the system. A number complained that just putting text on the ‘map’ didn’t help capture the range, and I had to agree. They wanted to use ellipses or some other way to capture the range of the tools, and there were some differences of opinion.
It occurred to me then that I’d seen a collaborative diagramming tool that we could use to do this online, and promised to arrange it. However, I couldn’t remember the tool, and then I couldn’t for the life of me find it when I got home.
Well, I just found it: Gliffy, a reasonably powerful online diagramming tool, and I’ve opened an account and created the graph again:
However, you don’t have to take my approach, you can go in and edit it, too! Just let me know what your email is, and a little bit about you (I need *some* sort of filter…:), and I’ll add you to the collaborators. This is an experiment, so let’s see how it goes!