Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Social Media & Knowledge Management

As part of our user conference we're having a discussion of what we can learn from the world of social media when implementing a knowledge management initiative. I think there's a huge opportunity to learn from Social Media, not just with regards to knowledge management.

Usability, collaboration, flattening hierarchies, wisdom of the crowds, openness. Some of the basic ideas of social media.

So what better way to explore the idea than to use social media? Sort of social media On Social Media. Not a unique concept - just go on del.icio.us and see how many people tag pages with "del.icio.us." So we'll start with this post. This will probably turn into a series of posts to help clarify some ideas. I'll post some questions in some other areas and see what comes up.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

instructional design- reality check

Most of what's discussed on instructional design is toward the ideal scenario. What Should we be producing. In the ideal world we're talking about an immersive unique experiential environment. This becomes half-systematic and half-creative exercise.

I'm looking for ways to work this into our current design methodology, creativity comes at a very tangible price. The implementation becomes considerably longer when we don't use a cookie cutter approach software rollouts don't always allow for such timelines. Clients are generally pleased with the end result. True ROI on learning, and testing of retention is not done as often as we'd like - why? again, because it's not in the budget.

It's refreshing to hear Cammy represent this same train of thought http://learningvisions.blogspot.com/2008/03/e-learning-project-reality-guerrilla.html

Clean water for all

You can do a good thing but just ordering a glass of water.

Cara foods
is involved in a great project with Unicef. The Tapproject.ca is about having customers donate 1$ for each glass of tap water in order to help unicef provide access to safe drinking water and sanitation for over 90 countries.

From the website:
It's our single most bountiful resource. Yet, water is a daily privilege millions take for granted. The little known truth is that lack of clean and accessible drinking water is the second largest worldwide killer of children under five.
Cara restaurants are Swiss Chalet, Harvey's, Milestones, Montana's & Caseys. So do some good, go have a drink!

A great way to promote awareness raise some money. Besides drinking bottled water is for chumps.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

potential versus profits

Last week, Gerald Green of the Houston Rockets was cut from the team. Amidst their amazing win streak they needed to get bigger in Yao's absence. In his place they got Mike Harris, the antithesis of Green. Hardworking, hustler, takes nothing for granted.

Some were quick to point to Green's Prep to Pros path as the cause. "If he only went to college" perhaps he could've refined his game, upped his basketball IQ and become something really special. He never fulfilled all the hype. He made a massive slide in the draft itself, because of questions surrounding his work-ethic.

So do you fault him and his agent, family etc for not going to college first? What about the millions he made on his rookie contract. He might have gone to college, and been revealed, and Never drafted. Should he have turned it down and gone to college?

Why shouldn't he cash in when given the chance? If the NBA continues to devalue skill over potential then that's their fault.

If it were me, given the opportunity- even if I knew I had big gaping holes in my game, i take that shot. I go to the league, I take that massive cheque. Wouldn't you? Nothing's stopping him from going to college now, getting an education using that rookie money. He could also play overseas which could renew his love and drive to play the game.

For his sake I really hope he gets it together to realize some of that incredible potential.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

i should not OBAY!

Back in January and February there was a great little campaign that most people in the GTA noticed. It was a parody on a new drug that would make child conform to their parent's will. Odd, no one was quite sure what it was about. In the end it was Ontario Colleges, an advocacy group encouraging... college.

The idea that many students are being herded into college so their parents can live through them is one many people have experienced. Looking back, I don't recall entertaining the idea of going to college. All through highschool it was all about going to university. Calling college a distant second doesn't do it justice. I don't think it was even an option. Realizing the opportunities my parents never had wasn't too big of an agenda, or so I think.

I see in my family now that my younger cousins are being strongly encouraged. I think it's a very valid debate. Colleges have gotten a bad rap. Universities have received a false title. College is for kids that couldn't get into university; university will get you a good job.

From a person with Computer Science degree I can still say that university is (and should be) about thinking - Not getting a job. University is about becoming a more well-rounded person, being able to critically think for yourself. The lines have been clouded by the idea that you can't get a job without university. Schools have created more and more specialization to make students more attractive to employers. Where have all the free-thinkers gone? I guess that's bound just to Liberal Arts now.

I've heard about the coming shortage of skilled trades with the bulk of baby boomers nearing retirement. However I haven't heard of rates for tradespeople going through the roof yet. Perhaps I should consider a new career now, by the time I get through school and an apprenticeship all the boomers will be retired, and I could rake it in at a Y2k consultant-type pace.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Knowledge Management Defined?

It's neither concise or well-defined, very similar to Knowledge Management itself. Ray Sims provides a great starting point for defining KM. Forty-three different definitions from various sources. Personally, I could only whittle down my favorite to a half-dozen. I think one of the main distinctions I'd like to see is Information Management versus Knowledge Management. I honestly don't think that is too clear either.

Ray is going to further elaborate through a cloud map and classifications. I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Irresponsible

As it does almost every month, this month's ASTD question is something I'm currently grappling with:

What is the Scope of our Responsibility as Learning Professionals?

Let's start by clarifying the question, by asking more questions.


Do instructors need to adapt to Long Tail Learning?
What's an instructor's traditional scope of learning?
Is an instructor's ultimate role to help students or teach certain content?

I think Long Tail learning is a fact of life that cannot be ignored. We could choose to not acknowledge it but that would only serve to marginalize ourselves. The long tail is the way things work, and we must embrace it. A learners attention is split in so many different ways. Our tools now embrace this through RSS, and other cross-linking capabilities. Now our methods and approach must also embrace it. When classroom discussions go off on a tangent it might be impractical to enable it. There is material to cover in a fixed amount of time. A skilled instructor might be able to direct the discussion back on point but it’s a tight-wire act.

In an online format time is less of an issue. The same requirements on curriculum do apply but without the constraint of time we can go out on a tangent. The curriculum will still remain, the onus falls on the user to come back and finish what they’ve started. The learner remains responsible. These tangents can bring a deeper understanding of the material.

Traditionally an instructor has a given curriculum which guides lesson plans which defines materials and the discussion. That is very deep inside the box. I’ve had some great instructors that were able to take you on a journey to look at the subject from a very different angle. What appeared to be off-topic was really spinning ideas to foster learning. These are the teachers that you know have spent a great deal of time & effort crafting their message looking at things from different viewpoints to give students the best learning opportunity. When other topics appear, they let it blossom, hopeful that it will raise interest to new heights. These are the teachers that inspired you to do more, read more, maybe even pursue a career.

Ultimately I think the real role of an instructor is to provide this best opportunity for learning. We cannot force learning. We can only provide the information in the most engaging format possible to help students learn. This learning should not be just about the curriculum. It should inspire a hunger for more depth and breadth on the topic at hand. Great instructors should help students learn, and make you to want to learn.