Category Archives: Informl

Workshop on putting informal learning to work


I’d leading a half-day workshop on how to implement informal learning the day before Online Educa in Berlin.

For the main event, Charles Jennings and I are designing a two-day track titled Creating a New Era of Corporate Learning.

Online Educa has grown to become the largest global e-learning conference for the corporate and public service sectors in education and training.

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Berlin is beautiful in early December. You should think about joining us!
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Shifting biggly

The world of business is shifting from push to pull. In a delightful post on Edge Perspectives, John Hagel unpacks what this means.

From knowledge stocks to knowledge flows.

From knowledge transfer to knowledge creation.

From explicit knowledge to tacit knowledge.

From transactions to relationships.

From zero sum to positive sum mindsets.

From push programs to pull platforms.

From stable environments to dynamic environments.

If institutions viewed their primary rationale as fostering scalable peer learning, they could create learningscapes that would help individuals develop their talent much more rapidly than these individuals ever could on their own.

Picky, picky


George Siemens echoes my feelings exactly in his post today on elearnspace titled Modernizing corporate training

I generally resist linking to organizations that monitor and use the ideas generated in the social/learning/tech space, and then produce reports that fail to acknowledge sources of inspiration. However, this post on modernizing corporate training is worth a read, even if only for the irony. It explores the history of corporate learning from 1980’s to today. Today, according to the report (and roughly every other consultant) is the age of collaboration. And then they freely sprinkle half a dozen “registered trademark” signs.

I must quibble with the assertion that “In 1998 the term ‘e-learning’ caught on.” The first citation I can find for e-Learning dates back to 1997. However, the term didn’t really catch on until October 1999 when CBT Systems was reborn as Smartforce, the e-Learning Company.

“In the mid 1990s we entered what I call the ‘blended and informal learning’ era” may be typo. Josh should know; he wrote the book. In 2004. The first time I recall hearing talk about blended learning was in 2000 or 2001.

And as to “…we are going through one of the most important transitions to corporate training in the last 10 years,” I’d probably make it the last 100, perhaps 200, years.

The important transitions are in how people interact with one another, networked business structures, instantaneous communication, collaborative intelligence, and the demise of the industrial era. This is earth-shattering stuff, and it doesn’t do it justice to frame it as a mere transition in corporate training.


Corporate Learning Trends: The Future of Organizational Learning

On April 21, Corporate Learning Trends will focus on the Future of Organizational Learning and Development. We plan to explore the issues you want to talk about. Among the suggestions to-date:

  • Show me the money. Where should an organization invest its time and resources going forward? What’s the optimal balance of formal and informal learning?
  • What does the Future of Learning look like? What are the new roles? Should instructor-led environments live long? How informal? Tweet?
  • What does future learning architecture look like? How about new forms of Instructional Design?

Please add your suggestions on the Corporate Learning Trends site. What are your burning topics? Who would you most like to hear? How can we improve our delivery and interaction? What timing works for you?

Treat this as brainstorming. Crazy ideas are welcome. Build on one another’s thinking. Let it flow. For now, let’s share possibilities and proposals; we’ll hammer down the specifics next week.

Under the radar: great technologies you could be using

Learning Technologies 2009

Track 1 Session 1

Learning technologies: the road ahead

Under the radar: great technologies that you could be using

  • URL for this page:
  • TInyURL for this page:

This is the jump page for a presentation January 28. That’s why the syntax is choppy — and why I keep changing it.

Collaborative Learning; for exploring music (and our soundtrack) MariaFernanda choconancy

Backnoise for back channel, to get more conversations going. Go here to take part.

Poll: Jane’s Top 100 List

  • Write a blog?
  • Twitter
  • TED talks
  • RSS Reader
  • YouTube, SlideShare
  • Skype/Instant messaging
  • Google Docs/collaborative writing

Learner redefined. Prospering in community with others. Becoming who you are. Getting good at what you do. Figuring out how to do a good job. Preparing for an uncertain future. More.




Smart Search, e.g. Informal Learning Flow. Tony Karrer. Jay Cross

Activity streams, e.g. Jay’s FriendFeed. FriendFeed. Jay’s Tumblr.

Jay’s learning ecosystem is Jay’s home page. It maps to lots of things we’ll talk about.

Research page is a starting point for feeds, searches, and proven destinations.

interface is my personal launch page, and it includes links to many of the technologies we’ll cover today.

blogs, one of which is home to this page.

Community, where you can add comments and ask questions after this session.

overview of these pages on Jing


Mimeo on-demand publishing for training

Lulu on-demand publishing for books

Veodia video directly to the cloud. Example.

EyeJot for video email and a sample

Scribd “social publishing” for documents


Google for an ever-greater array of services. Docs.

Delicious tools for shared bookmarks

MindMeister for collaborative mind-mapping

Learning in times of economic meltdown

They got it
At Online Educa Berlin last month, I hosted a small discussion on Learning in Times of Economic Meltdown. A dozen of us talked across a round table over lunch. Here are my notes:

    Massive, disruptive change is underway. This change is fundamental: the network era is replacing the industrial age. Things will never be the same. A “new normal” is on the way.

    Life-threatening crisis unfreezes organizational structure. This fluid state affords re-organizing, re-arranging, and replacing the status quo. Survivors develop and present agendas for change while things are in flux. Doing nothing is a sign of holistic corporate dyslexia: the inability to read the handwriting on the wall.

    The challenge for organizations is to use smart delivery, to replace classes with technology, to embrace open source, and perhaps to adopt a software-as-a-service model. Since adaptation is the key to survival and learning is the enabler of adaptation, the learning function may be able to get on to the CEO’s agenda. People have become the primary means of production; it’s time to give the people functions in organizations equal standing with finance, sales, and production.

  • Temporary workers and the “company of one” will be providing more service — and corporations need to figure out how to develop these non-employees.
  • Tough times will force the training function to focus on value.
  • The drive for value will increase demand for learning in smaller chunks. “Just give me what I need to know.”
  • Companies will eliminate measurement and control systems that do not deliver value. Good bye to the fancy LMS.
  • Travel is easy to ban and yields an immediate, tangible cost saving. Virtual delivery and meetings will boom.
  • Specialty areas, for example language learning, will be outsourced.
  • Bottom-up learning will come into its own. Personal challenges (think of the Volkswagen 5000 program and Google’s policy of dedicating 20% time to independent innovation projects) will be come more common than costly top-down attempts to impose projects from the top.
  • As we have seen with mergers and acquisitions, project management skills will be in high demand.

Inge de Waart blogged the conversation.

All of us agreed that the economic crisis will be here for a couple of years, resulting in job losses. Seeing that in the past the learning department was one of the first departments to be cut in companies, estimates are that nearly 70 to 80 % of the learning budgets will be cut in the next couple of years. So we all better gear ourselves to overcome this crisis, both on a personal and on an institutional level.

Inge captured some points that didn’t make it into my notes, among them:

  • more emphasis on open source/open resources;
  • shift in company ethics, durable (energy) solutions;
  • equiping people to manage the recession => that would be a business worth investing in.
  • dare to invest time to seize the day the opportunity to be prepared for the long-term future.
  • in times of crisis you go in search of the essence of what you have and what you need => a personal process;
  • learning is personal.
  • being confronted with dire straights inspires, the ones that dare in these times flourish.
  • personal knowledge/learning techniques will benefit the whole or the communities to which the learners belongs.
  • personal learning is essential in addition to managemental learning change.
  • learning touches all societal issues.
  • outsourcing the learning department to some extent might be a possibility.
  • increase the consciousness that learning has a definite positive impact on the complete organisation or/and person (if you cut a department, it will effect the whole; if you cut knowledge, everyone will be challenged).
  • knowledge on new learning techniques should be increased.
  • more really tailored content has to be provided. In many cases we now buy a complete package from which we only use a small percentage, because only this content is of interest to us. So focus on small content tailored for the user and standardized so it can be build on.
  • learning touches all the society.

Inside out

Teemu Arina and I met online about 18 months ago. I was leading a remote presentation on informal learning from California to a group in Helsinki. We finally got together F2F at Online Educa in Berlin last year. Teemu and I are on the same wave-length, nodding our heads in agreement when we talk, despite the fact that I’ve probably spent four decades more on earth.

An educational institution asked him to draw up a one-pager on how to take advantage of informal learning. They were imagining the formal learning at the core, with informal learning glued around the periphery. Teemu gave them an informal-learning centric rendering instead.

teemu arina (Click for larger size.)

If most learning (and I’d add innovation) is informal, shouldn’t it be at the center rather than the other way around?

Teemu is CEO of Dicole Oy in Helsinki. His blog merits attention.