Jay Cross helps people work and live smarter. Jay is the Johnny Appleseed of informal learning. He wrote the book on it. He was the first person to use the term eLearning on the web. He has challenged conventional wisdom about how adults learn since designing the first business degree program offered by the University of Phoenix.
Should your department be outsourced?
I’m not asking about development and I’m not necessarily talking about India. Accenture and IBM are aggressively seeking to run entire training departments. Boeing has outsources training to Intrepid. The outsourcing argument has financial merit. Wouldn’t you expect CFOs to be receptive?
Join Emergent Learning Forum this Thursday, July 22, from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm at SRI in Menlo Park to discuss these issues. It promises to be an exciting program, featuring recent SRI research, the experience of Autodesk, and a presentation from outsourcer Intrepid Learning Solutions.
Threats, Opportunities and Challenges in Silicon Valley and Beyond>
Please sign up if you intend to join us. Do so at the Emergent Learning Forum website.
Did you hear the one about the fellow who outsourced his own job? He hired a chap in India to do his job for $12,000 a year. He spends 10% of his time giving instructions and checking the other guy’s work. He has done this three times now. He is holding down three $80,000/year jobs, clears $200,000 after expenses, and has 70% of his time free to relax on his yacht.
Yesterday afternoon and early evening, I attended the announcement of a partnership between Oracle and Macromedia at Oracle’s futuristic headquarters in Redwood Shores. I’ll be a little more reserved than usual in my reflections on the event because I like both these companies and because I was officially invited as a stringer for CLO magazine. Also, I know the people on both sides of this deal, both companies have been generous to Emergent Learning Forum, and I’ll undoubtedly be hitting both up for business in the future.
In a nutshell, the news is this: Compliance with AICC, IMS, and SCORM is no assurance of interoperability. The standards are subject to interpretation, and legal extensions can lead to one-off code. Macromedia is king of the mountain in web development tools; just about all of Oracle’s 300 LMS customers use Macromedia products. By having their engineers bang their heads together, the two firms will make it easier for shared customers to build, publish, and consume training. They’ll support best practices for learning content development and publishing with a Content Resource Center that’s free to all.
More than a hundred of us convened in Oracle’s conference center. I’d been here once before, when Oracle VP Chris Pirie hosted a meeting of Emergent Learning Forum last year. At the time, one of our members remarked, "Wow. This is really nice." His companion responded, "Yeah, well, this is a profitable company." Oracle is a class act. The opening speaker explained that this was once the site of Marine World, which is now esconced in Vallejo. The builders left the lake so the boss would have a place to walk. (Book title = The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison *God Doesn’t Think He’s Larry Ellison.)
"We’re going to have a raffle after the presentations. Someone is going to win some free software — PeopleSoft, Siebel, BEA… Of course, you may have to wait a while to receive your prizes."
Chris Pirie and Kevin Lynch gave a mercifully short presentation before yielding the floor to Josh Bersin, who led a panel of users in discussion. (Ever see Warren Beatty’s wonderful movie, Reds? Fantastic film. Anyway, the panel were the "witnesses".)
Cisco’s Peg Maddocks advised that for next generation eLearning, "Stop doing what you’re doing." After eight years of "free range learning" where everyone did their own thing, her team has chopped the 31,000 offerings on their LMS back to 4,000, and she figures half of those can go, too. In the early days, Cisco would pay $300,000 to $800,000 for a custom program on products that were changing monthly — and couldn’t be updated. Quick-and-dirty development is a better way to go.
Brocade’s Linda Moss is focused on customer learning. A mere handful of the audience are there yet. Linda has limited resources, so instructors have been recuited as developers and are now becoming web developers.
Mary Kay Russell, director of Enterprise eLearning for Kaiser Permanente, is using the 80/20 rule as she centralizes what started out as in-house, ad hoc page turners. Kaiser is implementing an automated medical record system. In the early nineties, I hawked clinical record software for a while. The various regions of Kaiser Permanente considered themselves separate companies. Mary Kay has her work cut out for her.
America West’s Tony Willis was the eLearning virgin on the panel. While the airline has 12,000 employees, just about all training has been instructor-led. They’re implementing eLearning first with the reservations group, then other airport personnel, and eventually hope to add in the "absentee workforce," i.e. pilots and flight attendants who may live just about anywhere. America West has been an Oracle customer, and that figured heavily in their choice of Oracle’s LMS. Tony’s caveat: Don’t oversell eLearning. His boss now thinks it’s a silver bullet and wants everything to go "e."
Genentech’s Harry Wittenberg has previous eLearning experience with IBM, Cisco, Apple, Chas Schwab, and…was it Andersen? Harry told lots of "blended" learning stories.
As with so many events, you really had to be there. How else could one savor the sushi, satay, stuffed mushrooms, and wine? As I said, Oracle is a class act. The reception had the feel of a college reunion. So many people I hadn’t seen for a year or two.
Is this technology partnership a big deal? It’s good for Oracle customers. I’m disappointed we don’t see more industry cooperation. Wouldn’t it be great if Macromedia had this sort of pact with IBM and Sun and Microsoft?
Given the skepticism that greets me when I talk with many people about blogs, I was delighted to come across this item from Buzz Machine:
People who are not acquainted with blogs don’t get it. Why would so many people want to keep on-line diaries and snapshots of their cats? Moreover, who has time to read this stuff?
Every medium has its amateurs and its pros. Some people are exciting to read; others are a snooze. When blogs are good, they are very, very good, and when they are bad, they are awful.
Yesterday I read a post by Mena Trott, the former CEO of SixApart, about handing over the reins to an older guy. Outside the blogosphere, a news release on a transition of power would have been obscured by so many layers of corporate baffle-gab that you’d never know what was going on. Mena’s post was different. It was personal. It came from the heart. She writes:
So, for all you out there who’ve read up to this point, I hope that I have proven that it’s possible for a CEO to stop being CEO but still be content in a company. Additionally, I hope that this weblog influences others in my position to share their experiences.
Last night I met with a charming group of people at the monthly meeting of the Silicon Valley Chapter of ASTD. We discussed A Few Thoughts About Informal Learning. My pal Kathleen Hurson introduced me as the sort of person The Tipping Point calls a maven. In fact, she said super-maven. Finally I’ve found a title to put on my business card. Well, perhaps not.
each of us is at the center of the universe.
so is everyone else.
e. e. cummings
Yesterday morning I’d spoken with a hot-shot learning systems architect for the first time. She asked, “Aren’t you the guy who writes that website that’s really out there?” The day before that, friends had pointed me to a blog posting entitled Annoying Hype that began:
The author goes on to explain that I am blissfully ignorant, misleading people with Panglossian optimism, and that Web Services has nothing to do with the future of IT and learning.
I’ll readily admit to being a provocateur. Provocation is the way out of the box. And my belief in the positive psychology memes of David Cooperider and Marty Seligman compells me to describe what the world may become rather than to kvetch about what’s holding it back. In the spectrum of psychological comfort zones described by the classic technology-adoption curve, I’m obviously in the red zone: an enthusiast, early adopter, and wild-eyed visionary.
By definition, most people are on the opposite site of the gray vertical line some call “the chasm.”
It’s not that some are right and some are wrong. Both points of view are valid. In diversity there is strength. Different organizations need different mixes of attitudes. Here’s a koan for your contemplation:
More than once, people have described me as “out of the box,” generally in a tone that communicates WAY out of the box. Too far. Of course, I see this differently. The box in my head is simply bigger than theirs. To me, my thoughts are natural, obvious, and real.
People ask me how I find so much time to blog. I answer most of what I write on the blog is no more than sharing the reflections I used to keep to myself. Opening up my thinking to others invites feedback and suggestions which inform my direction.
The Johari Window is a 2×2 showing what I do and don’t know about myself in one direction, and what others do and don’t know about me in the other. It’s a neat way to visualize privacy and ignorance. I’m consciously trying to expand my “Arena,” i.e. what I and others know about Jay.
I suspect that most of our Arenas (what we share with others) are further left on the adoption curve than our Facades (what we keep to ourselves).
Last night several people asked what they could do today about my portrait of the future. They are living with overly rigid command-and-control organizations. Courses and classrooms are the tradition; informal learning and collaboration are suspect. Management knows that learning is somehow important but measures performance by counting butts in seats. I think this is a similar issue. Some of us envision the future; others maintain the present. To prosper, know thyself and know thy customers.
Here’s my presentation from ASTD International this year, Collaboration Supercharges Performance. The PowerPoint is nearly the same as yesterday evening’s, although different words popped out of my mouth in Washington.
I’ll reiterate the flow of things since you may want to pick and choose what to listen to.
|We began by looking at a universal model of everything.|
This led into a discussion of blogs, RSS, plogs, and customer education blogs.
Remember that major changes in direction are indicated as SHIFT GEARS.
|Next up: the scary part. We are drowning in information, the world grows ever more complex, time is speeding up, and everything is topsy-turvy. Rigid organizations won’t make it through this. Flexibility is prerequisite to survival.|
|Networks are the next step in computing, business organizations, and more. As internodal communication costs drop, networks replace hierarchies.|
|The age of collaborative learning is at hand.|
|Mentoring used to be tied to events. Collaboration can be omnipresent. We considered examples.
|We wrapped up with the evolving framework for Emergent Learning Forum.
Oh, yes, links. I promised the group last night links to several topics.
Emergent Learning Forum (next meeting is July 22, 4-7 pm at SRI in Menlo Park)
Internet Time Group on Blogs
Workflow Institute (conference in San Francisco October 11-13)
I can doodle, I can diagram, but I never learned to draw. At least, I can’t draw well. Trust me on this. It’s not learned helplessness. Drawing is absent from my genetically inherited mental macro library.
Actually, I lied when I said I never learned to draw. I should have said I never learned to draw without help. I just finished this portrait. It took about 10 minutes.
My performance support tool was a cool web-based application called Mr. Picassohead. (Try it.)
Check out the whole gallery.
Imagine having a console like this for doing your work. Zounds.
Steve Jobs reputably had a graphic on his office wall at NeXT that said that the least efficient means of transportion among mammals was a human walking. The most efficient? A human riding a bicycle.
I’m in the midst of a wonderful weekend at Kingbridge Conference Center, about 45 minutes north of the Toronto airport. Sixty out-of-the-box friends and acquaintances are participating in a weekend retreat, discussing transparency, good & evil, social networking, and whatever else we’re into.
John Abele, who made his bucks with Boston Scientific, owns the Center, which began life as a spa, morphed into the Learning Center for CIBC, and came on the market in tough times. Abele’s mission is to use the Center to extend the role of collaboration. The place is beautiful, the food is tasty, and I’d love to host an event here some day.
Shortly before seven this morning, I set out for a walk. Alas, walking through the woods, I was attacked by an aggressive swarm of mosquitos. The front desk gave me some StingEze, but half an hour later I was hit with severe itching on the palms of my hands, my toes, my thighs, and other places I knew the skeeters hadn’t gone. I tapped into the ‘net and discovered I was having an alergic reaction. I drove my rental car ten minutes south to pick up Benadryl. That could care of the itching but made me so sleepy I probably missed half of today’s session.
With: Jay Cross
Time: 5:00:00 PM – 8:00:00 PM
1621 Barber Lane MIT 1/2 Conference Room
Thoughts on Informal Learning:
Corporations typically invest very little in informal learning, even though thats where most corporate learning takes place! First-generation eLearning took the people out of learning. New collaborative tools and techniques bring the people back. Join us to see how learning networks, knowledge-blogs and wikis, outsourced mentoring, and emergent communities accelerate and deepen learning. Find out how thought-leaders are redefining collaboration to improve customer satisfaction, foster teamwork, cut time-to-proficiency, and create continuous learning. See demonstrations of collaborative technologies, often open-source solutions available for free.
Attend this session to:
Learn how blogs and social software can boost learning results
Discover how outsourced mentoring spreads expertise across borders
Find out how business organizations are developing communities of practice
Understand how emergent behavior creates learning networks
See expert-locator systems and social network analysis in action
5:30 – 6:00 Registration and Beverages
6:00 – 6:15 Introductions and Chapter News
6:15 – 8:00 Evening Program
About the speaker:
Thursday July 8, 2004, 8:00 – 9:15 am Pacfic
Jay Cross, Emergent Learning Forum
Showing value for your e-Learning initiatives it a fact of life for most e-Learning managers or others responsible for e-Learning in their organization. The most common request from the executive level is to
show Return On Investment (ROI). However, “ROI” is an industrial age accounting term. It looks backward, not into the future. It places zero value on training, customer satisfaction, and intellectual capital. Though they may ask for ROI, it is not a very relevant measure of e-Learning. Many corporate executives no longer make
decisions on the basis of traditional ROI.
This session will look at why e-Learning ROI is not a good measure and more importantly will look at the measures and metrics that you SHOULD be tracking in order to “make the case” for your e-Learning programs. Best practices for projecting future cost-benefit include Balanced Scorecard, learning contract, and Key Performance Indicators are among the approaches this session will examine.
In this session, you
Here’s a problem with email blogging: Word-wrap in the email (in this case, Gmail) becomes a hard-return when it hits the Blog. This can botch up a long line of html as well.
This post is being send via email. It’s chock full of HTML. I figure
that if this gets through, just about anything can make it. Looking at
SRI-Business Consulting’s Learning on Demand pages today, I
came upon this interesting table of Best
Practices in eLearning, dated May 2004.
|BEST PRACTICES SUMMARY|
|Source: SRI Consulting Business
For the last three years, I’ve recommended Moveable Type to anyone interested in doing some serious blogging.
MT has a great set of features. It’s a chameleon; you can make a blog look any way you want. It’s a content management system; entries are stored in an SQL database. It’s supported by a developer community; volunteers are forever adding extensions called “plug-ins” that add new functionality.
However, MT is not an option for novices. Most tweaks to MT require messing about with oddball tags and scripts. The standard input screen in ugly. Plan on using FTP and changing file permissions to get things rolling. To take advantage of MT, you need to get your head around what this bucket of PERL scripts is trying to accomplish. It’s geeky. Their new version, Moveable Type 3.0, doesn’t signal much of a change in direction.
One other thing: There’s no easy way to manage Spam in MT’s Comments fields. The old Internet Time Blog has been trashed with hundreds of messages referring readers to Paris Hilton videos and worse. Registering to make comments isn’t the answer — that will simply drive away people who just want to leave a thought and be done with it. This Comment Spam issue is what drove me back to Blogger. I’m a happy guy, but it gnaws away at my spirit to open the morning’s emails, only to find dozens of truly degrading slime posted to my blogs.
Moveable Type also offers TypePad, a hosted version of their software. You pay a fee to use it. I couldn’t make it perform the way I wanted. Besides, why should I pay a fee when Blogger remains free?
We Americnans tend to distrust large organizations and root for the underdog. Microsoft. The Internal Revenue Service. Cable television monopolies. Great Britain under George III.
Google is an exception. Everybody loves Google. Compare the Google interface to, say, Yahoo! Google is simple, elegant, inviting, and to the point. On holidays, Google makes you smile. Yahoo!, by contrast, looks like an old circus sideshow poster as rendered by hopped up Las Vegas dip artists.
Google now owns Blogger but they’ve been wise enough not to kill the spirit of founder Ev Williams. Blogger is free. Blogger is attractive. Blogger is adding cool new features like audioblogging and blog-by-mail. And Blogger is committed to appealing to the broad non-geek audience.
Of course, my motivation is not that simple. I want to see if I can create an exemplary blog with Blogger. Then I’ll start recommending it. I’ll track my transition to Blogger here, leaving breadcrumbs for other folks who want to switch blogging platforms.
The old joke says that “God was able to create the world in seven days because he didn’t have to deal with an installated base.” Among the things I’ll be trying to figure out is what to do with my MT content (Blogger doesn’t have an import feature) and how to switch my change notification system over.
Several emails arrived this morning from readers. Several complained about the legibility of the white-type-on-black-background. On my monitor, a ViewSonic 19″ panel, it looks great, but I bow to the audience. I just changed the colors. (Aren’t Cascading Styles wonderful?)
What do you think? What else should I do to make things better?