Monthly Archives: February 2009

Free chapters from Implementing eLearning

Seven years ago, Lance Dublin and I wrote a book entitled Implementing eLearning. The cover explained…

Here Is How To:

  • Manage the Change to E-Learning
  • Successfully Market to Learners
  • Create an Implementation Strategy

We wrote that for eLearning to work, you needed to set the stage with change management and sell the stakeholders with the methods of consumer marketing. The message is timeless. People still buy copies of Implementing eLearning today.

For years, we’ve offered excerpts from the rough draft of the book for free. Since a lot of people are fighting uphill battles to implement anything these days, it seemed a good idea to make the outtakes available again. I converted them from Word to Acrobat this evening and offer them for your  use.

Find out what didn’t get into the book. Typos, far-out ideas, and topsy-turvy presentation. This is unedited. From the heart.

By answering the questions at the end of each chapter, you assemble an Action Plan for change management and marketing.

This material will join the repository of problem-solving stuff I’m assembling at

Close the training department?

No More Training

An astute VP at LSI Logic was concerned with the meager results of the company’s classroom training. He wanted LSI to focus more on building competencies and less on training events. Workers at LSI had been happy to pick and choose traditional training from a buffet of offerings. Taking away their choices would require extreme measures.

LSI shut down its training department. Cold turkey. Focus shifted from training to talent management. A talent management steering committee representing the Vice Presidents from each major function was formed and backed the plan.

In place of training, LSI put online development plans in place. Employees work with their managers to determine what competencies they must master. They agree on a path to get there: on-the-job learning, coaching, books, and other means.

Nearly four years later, LSI is letting some training creep back in. Compliance and certification had never really gone away. A new CEO favors management development workshops. Training is allowed, but other development options are encouraged first.

Excepted from  Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance, pp. 222-23

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pfeiffer (November 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787981699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787981693

No more "learners"

Three-and-a-half minute rant about leveling the preacher-and-congregation model of learning in favor of recognizing we’re brothers and sisters here, not parents and children. Geez. YouTube.

Readers, is a shorty video like this a worthwhile means of sharing information? Would you find a series of these useful?

Please rate the video if you go to YouTube for it. Be brutally honest. I am looking for feedback.



This afternoon eight of us took part in an online discussion convened by Nancy White for people who were disappointed not to attend VizThink this year. We had a grand time using a shared white board in Vyew and a conference call service we Skyped into.

Great conversation about making graphic facilitation a whole-body experience, and the energy that comes from drawing while standing. Lots of conversation about academia and executives being so tied to text that visuals lack credibility.


Christina Valenza shared this wonderful picture of what’s going through her head while recording things visually. We lamented not being able to convince the other people in the room during our presentations (or online together) to pick up the marker and add to the action. Dave Cornier thought people feared messing up the picture. Christine Martel has found the same reluctance when people are dealing with expressing themselves through photographs.

I think the time is ripe for Daniel Pink’s concept of the whole new mind to blossom. Right-brainers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.

Talking about the process depicted in another of Christina Valenza’s drawings got us thinking about how to bring participants into the visual gestalt. I’d like to explore having a visual back channel during presentations. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see a stream of graphics from the listeners? Cameras are cheap and ubiquitous, so this should not be too tough to tackle.

Lots of innovative ideas popped up. I hope we can continue this conversation at Learning Irregulars.

Innovation in organizational learning

In this 12-minute closing presentation at Learning Technologies 2009 in London, I describe the global economic cataclysm and learning in the longest-lived culture in the world, the Aborigines of Australia.
Find more videos like this on Internet Time

These are the slides from the presentation. Advance to Slide 8 for this portion of the talk

Learning Irregulars
Karl-Eric Sveiby
Treading Lightly

Get out

Top of the World, Berkeley
View to the northeast, toward Sacramento

The weather in the Bay Area was glorious today, so Cappuccino and I decided to walk up Vollmer Peak to the top of the world. We needed the exercise and we needed to get out of the house.

Wandering in the woods does marvels for one’s thoughts. We humans grew up moving in the great outdoors. In Brain Rules, John Medina writes that if you want something to stick in your memory, learn it while walking outside. Alvaro Fernandez relates physical fitness to brain fitness. The impact of learning disorders subsides in half the kids who take breaks in the woods instead of concrete playgrounds.

Today’s New York Times reports that

New research suggests that play and down time may be as important to a child’s academic experience as reading, science and math, and that regular recess, fitness or nature time can influence behavior, concentration and even grades.

Top of the World, Berkeley

I appreciate the fact that it’s easier for those of us who are self-employed or unemployed to knock off for 45 minutes to walk the dog. However, for overall productivity, all of us should adopt the routine. A mind atrophies in a windowless office or cube, especially when it’s situated in an immobile body.

Top of the World, Berkeley

Besides, your dog will love you for it.

Related posts:
Brain Rules, John Medina
Learning Takes Brains

The culture of social learning

Understanding Corporate Twitter
, a post from an employee of EMC, got me thinking about the role of corporate culture in implementing the social learning platforms I’ve been calling learnscapes.

Traditional training programs are a reflection of their designers, authors, and instructors. Social learning platforms are more a reflection of the people who use them, sprinkled with a corporate culture and the ability to make good connections.

We have an extended core of “social people” at EMC.  They participate vigorously on the internal social platform.  They tend to blog proficiently inside and outside of the company.  You’ll see them leaving comments on other people’s blogs and comments.  Wherever you go, you’ll generally find the same EMCers participating and engaging.

They’re out there in force — representing themselves and EMC quite well, thank you!

And so, when Twitter (or whatever) comes along, there’s really no need for us to do anything.  The EMC social people find out about the service, set up shop, and do what they normally do — engage in discussion.

Shouldn’t that be at the heart of any corporate social media strategy?  To find, encourage and enlarge your internal group of proficient “social people”?  So that — regardless of the platform or context — they’re out there representing your company well?

Thus, improving the effectiveness of social learning rests in part on finding, encouraging and enlarging your internal group of proficient social learners. Traditional instructional design overlooks these natural supporters of peer-to-peer, collaborative learning at its peril.

eLearning must be social


Six-minute video of the beginning of the closing keynote at Learning Technologies 2009 in London last month.

In this segment, I recall the genesis of eLearning a little over ten years ago, the changing nature of business, and the necessity of embracing social media in corporate learning. Here are the slides from the presentation:

Businesses must assess the quality of learning

Have a beer


You may have heard my story about the brewer who was told to cut his costs 16%. “Not a problem,” he told his CFO. “We’ll simply put five bottles in each six-pack instead of six.”

The CFO protested that people would notice. Why not just cut the training budget?

“And they won’t notice if we stop investing in the know-how of our people???

The 2 1/2 minute video recap on YouTube

Outcomes matter

Odd as it seems, budget decisions about corporate learning rarely take the quality of the outcomes into account. Bean counters treat learning as if it were binary, present or not, when in fact learning outcomes are highly variable.

You know in your gut that some learning experiences are exhilarating; they impart lessons that will be with you for decades; they’re challenging but fun. You also know that some learning is deadly dull, mindless, in-one-ear-and-out-the-other, and eminently worthless.

On the organization’s income statement, however, the good, the bad, and the ugly learning experiences all look the same: they are costs. The benefits of the learning are not entered into the ledger. If you follow generally accepted accounting principles instead of common sense, you’ll always select the low-ball solution. The consequences can be scary,  like astronauts contemplating the fact that their spacecraft was contracted out to the lowest bidder.


Benefit analysis

Take a new training initiative, for example, a new product rollout. Picture the training in your mind’s eye. Got it?

Okay, now think about how you could improve the learning taking place. You could post videos of a few winning sales pitches. Create a space online for asking questions and sharing advice. Perhaps add a 24-hour help desk or product hot-line for answering questions. Capture and share customer testimonials. You can easily come up with another dozen ways to improve learning outcomes. But when do you stop? How much is enough?

The hand-wringing discussions about the ROI of learning rarely lay out the range of R’s you can achieve with different levels of I. This is naive. We need a new calculus for evaluating investments in learning.  We should be optimizing our cost:benefit ratios, and this entails getting specific about the benefits received from different levels of costs.

Help me think about how to do this. I expect learning metrics to pop up on the agenda of the Learning Irregulars soon.