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.
Technological infrastructure for social learning
Work and learning are converging, and as this change happens, the infrastructure of the old corporate learning must go – things like traditional one-size-fit-all in-person training seminars. In its place enters social and informal learning hubs like on-demand content, live online discussions, wikis and forums, and searchable content archives. The great news is that social and informal learning don’t require new systems because learning can take place on the same “platform” as the existing social network, if a company already has one.
The primary thing to bear in mind, says MIT’s Andy McAfee (McAfee), is INATT. That’s short for a phrase that kept coming up in conversation when he was writing Enterprise 2.0. It’s short for “It’s Not About The Technology.” People come first.
But you can’t do without the technology either. Social networks are the ideal platform for the new corporate learning, so let’s briefly examine how they support corporate learning.
Early personal computing was based on corporate computing. Conventions like ASCII, programming languages, Internet protocol, and encryption were developed for corporate mainframe computers and only later adopted for personal computers. That situation has flip-flopped. Innovations in applications and user-interface design are born on the consumer side and migrate to the enterprise.
Forbes named Salesforce.com the world’s most innovative company. Where did that innovation come from? Salesforce.com says cloud-based Customer Relationship Management application borrowed heavily from Amazon. Salesforce.com’s social network application was inspired by Facebook. Salesforce.com’s Chatter began its life as in-house Twitter. As the web turns social, Salesforce.com has changed its mission to “leading the shift to the Social Enterprise,” and that’s where it’s proving its forward-thinking nature.
So how do you find the right social platform to enhance your corporate training program? When an organization is improving its workscape, looking at consumer applications is a good way to think about what’s required in the corporate space. Ask net-savvy younger workers how they would like to learn new skills, and they bring up the features they enjoy outside of work:
Minimum viable workscape
What we’re talking about is a social work hub where every employee and external partner can come to collaborate, share information, get information and provide updates and ask questions. When it comes time to build your new collaborative and social learning center, some of those consumer applications are simple to replicate in-house. Others are not. You probably can’t afford, and definitely don’t need, to create your own Facebook or Google behind your firewall. There are lots of applications you can implement at reasonable cost. Be skeptical if your collaborative infrastructure doesn’t include these minimal functions:
Profiles – so each employee can personally connect to the network. Profile should contain photo, position, location, email address, expertise (tagged so it’s searchable). Nice-to-haves include how to reach you (noting whether you’re online now), reporting chain (boss, boss’s boss, etc.), link to your blog and bookmarks, people in your network, links to documents you frequently share, members of your network.
Workspaces – to break up the organization’s activity into relevant, digestible feeds for each individual and feeds. Workspaces are networks within the organization that are created by employees to gather a team or group in a specific area. For example, new hires that are brought on at the same time, may create a workspace where they can ask each other questions and share information that they find out.
Activity stream – for monitoring the organization pulse in real time, sharing what you’re doing, being referred to useful information, asking for help, accelerating the flow of news and information, and keeping up with change. Activity streams should be available for the company at large and for workspaces.
Wikis or notes – for writing collaboratively, eliminating multiple versions of documents, sharing information with a relevant group, eliminating unnecessary email, and sharing responsibility for updates and error correction.
Integrated virtual meetings – to make it easy to meet online, because there needs to be room in your learning program for group discussion and application. Minimum feature set: shared screen, text chat, video conferencing streams.
Mobile access – Half of America’s workforce works away from the office at least sometimes. Smart phones are surpassing PCs for connecting to networks for access and participation. People post more Tweets via phone than via computers. Google designs its apps for mobile before porting them to PCs. What does all of this mean? Your new social workscape needs to be mobile so people can collaborate from anywhere.
Putting a learning platform in place
When it’s time to put a learning platform in place, it’s a good idea to make a company wide commitment to your new philosophy on learning. Here’s an example from a company I recently worked with:
Changing behavior requires continual reinforcement, so be ready to tackle the concern and resistance that some people may have toward becoming a more collaborative organization.
A great way to embrace your new collaborative nature while helping people adapt to it, is to host all-hands virtual meetings to share your process toward becoming a collaborative organization. Make your employees a part of the evolution; keep them in the loop.
Networks are not only the environment of learning; they’re also the place where problems are solved, discoveries are made, and new knowledge is created.
Workers are members of multiple, interconnected networks.
Everyone has personal face-to-face networks: the friends, neighbors, colleagues, and acquaintances we talk with. Most people have electronic personal networks, too: Facebook, discussions groups, and a variety of followers and followed comrades. We rely on our networks to help us learn what’s going on in our worlds. The collaborative organization may replicate those personal connections through social work platforms with customizable workspaces. Each workspace is for a group of connected people – teams, departments, project contributors, and so on.
Communities are networks of people who share common interests and identify themselves as cohorts. A community may be a group of professionals (e.g. chefs or chip designers) or people with shared passions (e.g. model railroaders and cyclists) or co-workers from different work teams (e.g. the United Way Committee or neighborhood watch). Communities share knowledge (“Here’s a great recipe for crayfish with foie gras”), help one another (“There’s an opening for a sous-chef at the Fish Trap in Key West”), validate best practices (“Use coddled eggs in Caesar salad to avoid salmonella”), and develop apprentices into professionals (“My salad chef is ready to become a pastry chef”). Communities can exist internally (the United Way Committee) or externally (the chefs). Innovation in Silicon Valley is enhanced when competitors share trade secrets because allegiance to their professional community (“We’re chip designers”) is strong than to their employer (“I work for AMD.”)
Many companies enable workers to establish a personal node in the company’s social platform. This is where your individual profile enables people to find you, know what your good at, and share things you may be interested in. Many workers narrate their work on individual blogs. Transparency builds trust.
Most information work is carried out by project teams. When team members are unable to meet in the same physical space, they rely on networks to collaborate on getting projects done. Team members who work together, learn together. In time, team members develop strong social ties, trust emerges, and they co-create new knowledge and innovation. Experience is the best teacher and work teams are where it happens.
Project Teams have a job to do; communities come together to cooperate and share for the good of the group. Project teams inevitably need to acquire knowledge from outside their small circle. Their individual members are often members of several communities, which they tap for knowledge and guidance. A smart organization supports its internal teams and encourages its people to take part in external teams.
Many progressive companies have set up social work platforms that connect all employees to an activity feed that lists activities and pointers from all over the company. Social workspaces are the ultimate silo busters, enabling everyone to be on the same page, accelerating the organization’s cycle time, and letting “the company know what the company knows.”
A Note About Internet Access
Many companies signal their lack of trust in their employees by denying them access to the greatest assembly of knowledge in the history of humanity, the Internet. To be consistent, they should probably take away their telephones (They might make long distance calls to China!) and pencils (They might waste time playing tic-tac-toe). Bad apples are going to do bad things with or without the Internet, but by hoarding access to the web, you’re not only punishing your good apples, but also hindering their ability to learn.
For many people today, working without the net is equivalent to working blindfolded. When companies deny access to the net, employees route around them with smartphones and tablets that bypass corporate IT. The price of criminalizing access to the net is lower morale, the message that it’s okay to break rules (wink, wink), and to give up on hiring the best and the brightest (who will work somewhere they are trusted to act like responsible citizens). Companies should encourage workers to connect to the outside world, for that’s where the customers are.
The Internet is an essential library of information for today’s workforce. David Weinberger points out that the web has changed the nature of knowledge itself. Knowledge that was once limited to what you could print on a page is now connected to all manner of evidence, counter-claims, elaboration, and interpretations.
The basic idea is that the properties of knowledge that we’ve taken for granted at least in the West for, oh, 2,500 years are not actually properties of knowledge. They’re properties of knowledge when its medium is paper. And when you remove the paper and put things online, it takes on the properties of its new medium—of the Internet. Importantly, knowledge in a network includes differences and disagreements in a way that traditional knowledge is uncomfortable with. Everything is unsettled, everything is argued about, and very few things are ever totally resolved on the Net.
There’s a word for companies that deny workers access to the riches of the Internet. That word is stupid.
The next post in this series will address readiness for and benefits of collaborative learning.
My presentation on Well-being and Corporate Learning to the Learning and Skills Group.
Happy employees are 31% more productive on the job and make 37% more sales. They are 200% more creative than their sad peers. Happiness is but one aspect of well being. Researchers have correlated well being with academic performance.
Join Jay to talk about the notion of well being and its importance on the job. We’ll look at what makes people happy, how this impacts working and learning, and what you and your organization can do to be happier, better learners.
• Lead a happier life
• Assess your own well being
• Learn about the Positive Psychology Movement
• Discover free assessment resources
• Live longer! (Happy people do.)
Click for a recording of the webinar.
I did not want to like paper.il, the new, personal Twitter aggregater. Just more clutter, I thought to myself.
Nonetheless, it is so easy to set up, I filled in the blank with my Twitter list of Internet Time Alliance colleagues. Voila. Our Daily Tweet-news.
This morning I visited my Daily site and learned a number of things I might otherwise have missed. Three-quarters of this was generated one way or another by my prolific pal Harold Jarche, but still, it amazed me how a change of format brought things to my attention. No doubt I’ll habituate but for now, I’m happy to learn things like:
Chuck House speculates that HP’s board was looking for a reason to force Hurd out:
The Voice of the Workplace, HP’s thirty-five year historic ‘measure’ of employee feelings (done every five years) showed in April an astonishing finding — more than two-thirds of HP’s employees would quit tomorrow if they had an equivalent job offer. Not a raise, not a promotion, simply an alternative. That number never used to be in double digits.
Hurd was, apparently, very unpopular with the HP rank-and-file.
Ironically, when I went back to look at this, I was in the midst of cleaning up my already-too-many social connections:
May 3-5. San Francisco. Internet Time Alliance will be there. For the free part. Exhibits, unconference, and keynotes. Register here.
Since this is half an O’Reilly gig, I wonder why it still has the Web 2.0 monitor. Didn’t Tim O’Reilly tell us it was morphing into Web Squared?
One of the things I like best about Twitter is the collegial, friendly fire-ish banter among L & D professionals. One of the most active of these professionals is the prolific Jay Cross. Jay, with his colleagues in the Internet Time Alliance, has recently produced the 2010 version of his “unbook,” Working Smarter: Informal Learning in the Cloud.
Among the topics often up for grabs lately are ideas around informal learning and the networked learning landscape of the 21st century. Those in the quantitative data/metrics/benchmarking camp argue against the legitimacy of the notion of “informal” learning. As often as not, they claim workplace learning is too important to be left up to happenstance, and requires planning and careful, thorough, design. Cross is clear, though, that he is drawing the “kill the courses, shut down the training department” line with a dramatically heavy hand, admitting that he uses it as much for shock value as anything else, while trying to put forth the idea of workplace learning as different from the traditional view of training course. He also asserts that “informal” does not, as it so often seems to be interpreted, mean “haphazard” or “random.”. Cross acknowledges the time and place of traditional training approaches, particularly for novices (although he questions the decision to put so many resources there rather than with supporting better producers). But seasoned workers, he rightly notes, will not flock to workshops and traditional classes, as they have work to do. Making it easier for them to get to information, to find one another, to learn through collaboration and by accessing meaningful self-service performance support, will strengthen the organization and “help sharp people become sharper.”
As I said on Twitter one night, “I am 93.2% suspicious of statistics about concepts of abstractions like ‘learning’.” While the data we have all seen – along the lines of “80% of workplace learning occurs outside the classroom” – may be appealing, and so quotable, we know we can’t actually measure anything like “learning” in these terms. But we do know that people learn at work all the time, every day, more from one another (even if that “other” is a person who has uploaded a video tutorial, or updated a Wikipedia page) than from anything that happens in a classroom. We know that peer groups and communities exist to share knowledge and support performance, even if they’re bootlegged and kept under management’s radar. We’ve all experienced a need-to-know moment, made better or worse by how quickly we could put our hands on the right information or find the right person to ask. Doubt me? For the rest of the week, as you go about enacting your work, ask how much of what you are doing came from anything resembling a traditional classroom or e-Learning course. Cross leads the reader on a tour of informal, networked learning and performance support, and helps move the conversation from 50,000 feet to 50. This “unbook” is a compilation of his own ideas as well as interjections from his colleagues in the Internet Time Alliance (Harold Jarche, Jane Hart, Charles Jennings, Clark Quinn, and Jon Husband), with chime-ins from many others. There are checklists, tools, and images, charts and provocative questions. And there are honest remarks about the state of learners, many of whom need to stop waiting for directions and start becoming self-directed. For me, the most value in the text comes not from the parsing out of the finer points of informal and formal approaches, but the articulation of the difference between training and learning. Food for thought, from Cross: “If you were to create the organization’s learning and development function from scratch, what would it look like? Are you still doing huge, expensive training-based software rollouts, or shifting the effort into on-point performance support? Have you taken charge of your organization’s learning function, or just training?”
A word about the book itself – it claims it is not one. It’s an unbook, updated every year or so, and published by “Jay Cross and friends,” his colleagues in the Internet Time Alliance Group. Updates appear on Jay’s Internet Time blog http://www.internettime.com so, if they strike your fancy, purchase a bound or e-copy update from Jay’s site, from Lulu, or from Amazon. Where traditional books exist as editions updated every few years, often out of date before they even make it to bookshelves, this unbook is always in Beta. Be aware: While Working Smarter is organized into chapters, it is not the formal, tightly edited, unified work that some readers will expect from a traditional book. I found the organization refreshing, and the get-to-the-point-already style very effective. You can also find Jay on Twitter @jaycross, where he’s a frequent participant in the weekly Thursday night #lrnchat sessions that I help moderate. Join us! 8:30 to 10 PM ET. Jay Cross and Friends. (2010) Working Smarter: Informal Learning in the Cloud. Internet Time Alliance: LULU. $20 paper; $16 e-version, available from Lulu http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/working-smarter-|-january-2010/8259651 or from Internet Time at http://internettime.pbworks.com/FrontPage.
The January 2010 Edition of Working Smarter was released today. Subtitled Informal Learning in the Cloud, this edition focuses on social learning and implementing web 2.0 technology.
The hardcopy version of Working Smarter costs $19.98. Believe me, I’m not trying to fool you with trick pricing. My publisher’s algorithm won’t let me charge $20 even. I figured $19.98 was better than $20.01. Buy the 240-page hard copy.
Introduction … 3
What can you achieve with this book?…3
Who should read this book?…4
How the book is organized …4
New in 2010 …7
Preface .. 10
Internet Time Alliance…12
Working Smarter … 14
Network Effects …14
What can we do to improve this informal learning?…23
Techniques and Patterns…24
Rethinking Learning in Organizations…30
Informal Learning …36
Genesis of the Informal Learning Poster …37
Become a Chief Meta-Learning Officer…93
Social media for collaboration…110
Resources on line ….119
The Research Page…119
The Home Page …120
Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies .121
People and their Brains….128
Speak the Language of Business …156
ROI is in the mind of the beholder …162
Techniques and Patterns …174
Rethinking learning in organizations …201
Learning is not enough…224
About the author..228
Where I’m coming from …229
Maps of Book Content …235
Understanding the impact that 3D environments, virtual worlds, and immersive learning spaces will have on society, business, and learning is a challenge. Corporations, academic institutions, and government agencies must develop a clear understanding of how virtual immersive environments will impact global interactions, knowledge transfer, work transactions, and existing learning paradigms.
Learning in 3D empowers forward-thinking executives, managers, faculty members, and training professionals to design, develop, and collaborate in the rapidly emerging field of 3D immersive environments.
It’s really smart to publicize a book like this on the web.
Drop by Internet Time Blog the week of February 15-19 when the book stops here.
You are invited to attend several virtual sessions of Online Educa Berlin.
Thursday, December 3
Tools of the Trade, Jane Hart
Future of Technical Training
Virtual venue: Adobe ConnectPro http://proj.emea.acrobat.com/simulcast Log in as “Guest.”
Link to descriptions of sessions.
BIG KM (corporate) | Little KM | Personal KM
Lots going on. Books, blogs, bookmarks, tags, etc.
Harold asked himself, “What is it I actually do?”
“Sorting” means filtering one’s sources.
Weekly overview of interesting stuff found on Twitter: tagged as Friday Favorites and posted weekly.
“Categories” are your personal folksonomy.
“Making explicit” is tagging and pigeon-holing.
“Retrieving” is recall.
“Connecting” is following people.
“Exchanging” is conversation, swaps, etc.
“Contributing” is writing articles, sharing tips.
Tools? They switch over time. Microblogging is new.
Your blog is homebase.
Delicious is delicious.
Magnolia disappeared – catastrophically. Harold downloads his Delicious files monthly.
Harold has tags for clients, for projects, and for subjects.
After a while, you realize the power of other people, sharing their bookmarks and tags.
Lilia Effemova’s model
Dave Pollard’s notion of critical thinking overlaps Harold’s PKM model:
DevLearn marked a significant shift in the field of corporate learning. Content and planning have become secondary to getting the job done. In today’s world, that means trusting workers to learn for themselves. The natives are taking control. Learning is mobile. Curriculum is toast.
Skim through the following ideas from several dozen DevLearn speakers. None of these topics were being presented two years ago. Social/informal learning is crossing the chasm to mainstream acceptance. I’ll expand on that thought in later posts and video.
Without a doubt, Web 2.0 is having a tremendous impact on every aspect of our lives, including how we consume, play, work, learn, communicate, relate, participate, and more. At the same time, organizations are under pressure to remain competitive in today’s economic environment, while being prepared to take advantage of new opportunities when they come and also meeting the needs of a multi-generational workforce. By leveraging the thinking and approaches, as well as the tools and technologies, of the Web 2.0 world for learning, organizations are meeting these challenges. Lance Dublin
With the advent of “Web 2.0,” we can begin to move beyond the next generation of e-Learning to the next generation of learning itself: Learning 2.0. Learning 2.0 is transformative, and its successful implementation requires support at all levels. Marc Rosenberg
Google has tapped the power of online collaboration to solve business problems and engage learners. It is easier than you might think to leverage scalable and free technologies to address your organization’s needs. Julia Bulkowski & Erika Grouell