Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cellphones, Driving & Learning Cognition

There's a growing debate amongst the effect of cellphones while driving. While it would seem to be logical that cellphones would increase the rate of accidents. However a recent study proved otherwise. A study of regions that have banned cellphones while driving reported no decrease in the rate of accidents. There is some difficulty in producing hard data as to whether accidents are reduced. How many people will admit to being on the phone? Within the learning field there is a similar discussion about the effect of distracting the user through different forms of media.

So if accidents aren't decreasing, this seems to elude to two options.

1) Cellphones aren't a distraction
2) Drivers are still using their cellphones

People for banning cellphones would argue that the number of accidents involving phones are going down. Those opposed to the ban point to stats and state that it doesn't make a difference. So it follows that other types of accidents are going up. So a third option appears:

3) Drivers are finding other distractions

Okay. So what's this got to do with learning. As of late there's more weight being given to cognitive science. Cognitive science tells us how our mind processes stimuli. When taking learning it's distracting to have both audio narration and redundant text narration. What's being read fights with what's being heard for the mind to process. In a car it's the same thing, passengers talking, tunes playing, GPS systems directing, DVD movies playing. Everything takes its toll on the mind.

No matter what the study says distractions - Bad. Whether people are distracted by cellphones, coffee, the newspaper, makeup, or passengers if they're not focussed on the road - it's a problem. Despite the clear evidence, can eliminating a distraction hurt? Any data to show that talking on a cellphone improves a person's driving? I suppose without hard evidence we shouldn't restrict liberties (unless it helps the terrorists - I digress).

See Also:
Calgary Herald

Friday, April 18, 2008

shut up already

I like twitter, really i do. But it's not a good signal to noise ratio. I'm trying to be very selective on who I follow. I'm extra careful with my notifications. but it's increasingly difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I understand the value in getting closer in touch with people through these life streams. Part of why i follow people is to find insight and perspective. The aimless blabber with some twitter streams is tough to justify.

Why must it be justified? - Because twitter is eating into my day more and more. following Guy Kawasaki & Jeremiah Owyang along could be a part-time job.

I follow a selected few, and don't read everything, how on earth do people with hundreds or thousands manage? Are they ignored for the most part except for the occasional trip to twitterland? With the lack of good search tools (hash tags are a good step) what's the point in all those followers are people really keeping up or are they just basing it on chance?

Tech Crunch: Web 3.0 Will Be About Reducing the Noise—And Twhirl Isn’t Helping
Seth Godin: Signal to Noise

How do you cope?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Learning ROI

In the ASTD big question - what would I like to do better is communicate ROI on training investments across the organization.

*Bam* the very next day this comes out from Chief Learning Officer. The rest of the organization speaks in dollars and cents, revenues and expenses, if you don't speak in their language you're done. Getting the right metrics is key. In software training, what type of metrics can we use?

The whole point of training initiative is to meet a performance objective. For me this often means supporting a new rollout. Perhaps we need to tie specific modules to tasks in the project. Then post go-live managers can monitor and match training completion to "real-world tasks". After completing the report writing topic, have the user create a report. How well did they complete the task? If they did well - great. If they didn't, how does the real task compare to what they accomplished in class? Are the tasks comparable?

There is a great deal of discussion that ROI is not an appropriate metric for learning, I don't know if that's an acceptable answer for anyone in a corporate environment. Everything comes down to the bottom line. I recently came across "Developing and Measuring Training the Six Sigma Way: A Business Approach to Training and Development" by Kaliym A. Islam. I haven't gotten my hands on it yet but I'm looking forward to evaluating learning programs without the classic Kirkpatrick's 4 Levels.

What other tangible methods of learning are available?

Related Posts
Better ROI

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Learning Town

When I first heard about this, I had the same reaction as most. Of course, that's what we need- another social network.

But actually we do. I haven't been too active yet, but I'm getting into it now.

It's definitely still in its infancy, similar to FastCompany many users are unsure of the structure - how & where to post. The sheer volume of people registering and posting in such a short period of time would appear to bode well. There are some great posts and starting points on Rapid eLearning, instructional design models and even Learning ROI. From a social networking standpoint I haven't friended anyone - yet. Since the conversations are open to all so I'm not seeing the value in that, but the connections will come in time.

I'm still working my Social Media & KM project so I will start seeding questions on Learning Town and see how it goes as well.

In the meantime, I'd invite you to join the conversation and look me up.

Toronto Gun Ban - misguided?

In the last few days Mayor David Miller has launched an online campaign to put pressure on the feds to ban handguns. The immediate reaction is why, do criminals attempt to legally acquire handguns before performing illegal activities? To me the logic doesn't work.

The mayor has created a video plea & a petition. There's a letter to the PM and a factsheet. The letter called for the feds to completely ban handguns. Before passing judgement, I decided to give it a better look. There isn't any real mention of the guns being illegally imported and what to do about that.

An interesting quote from the factsheet:
Approximately 60% to 66% (two-thirds) of guns seized by the Toronto Police
Service enter Canada illegally across the Canada-U.S. border, and about one-third (up to 40%) are from domestic sources.
None of these stats are more recent than 2006 but I wouldn't think there's been a big change. If anything there's probably been an increase in gun violence. That's over 1/3 of gun seizures are registered handguns. To me that was startling. This stat doesn't reveal whether those weapons were involved in crimes or turned in voluntarily. Removing 1/3 of the guns off the street sounds like a pretty good idea. Perhaps then we'd have less excuses and could go after the other 2/3 of illegal weapons.

It does seem that we're going after law-abiding citizens. Should we get rid of all the cars so drunk drivers will have nothing to drive with? What percentage of legally registered guns are used criminally? I'm pretty sure about 100% of illegals guns are used for criminal purposes. Perhaps tougher registration laws are in order, increase the level of responsibility on gun owners to ensure that they are serious about their collecting, sport or whatever.

While I think the Mayor should be targeting the illegal guns which are all about illegal activity. Removing 1/3 of the guns used illegally can't be that bad an idea.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Will you be missed?

Seth Godin has a good post about standing out. If a certain brand up and vanished, would you miss it? I know apple inspires this sort of rabid loyalty.

Seth extends this to people. What mark have you made? Will you be missed? Will anyone notice? In today's organizational culture people are meant to be plug and play. With development and succession planning everyone is replaceable. The backup has a backup.

From an organizational view I understand it. Personally I would like to stand out. When I leave here I would like to be missed. It means I made a difference. Not just another 9-5er. I made an impact. I think this comes from going above and beyond. Making the effort to connect with clients. Helping them understand their needs not just the extent of their budget. Connecting with co-workers, helping them grow as well.

I want to be missed.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Better ROI

The Learning Circuits Blog: Do Better

The ASTD's Big Question of April 2008 is:

What would you like to do better as a learning professional?
A very broad question that could go in so many different directions. To me it's a simple question. I need to be able to sell the ROI on learning better. Large userbase, wide geography, cost of travel, logistics are the standard selling points. This comes all down to cost. So long as it's cheaper than a classroom program it's better.

The value of e-learning is much more than a cost-savings issue. Interactive, engaging content available just-in-time is a very valuable resource. How can we as professionals impress that across our organizations? Often I work with new rollouts. Being a new initiative there isn't concrete evidence that support calls are up, people are having difficulty. I can't come back one year later and show how calls have gone down, thus performance is up.

I suppose I should be grateful that users aren't being left to fend for themselves from the outset. Users are provided with tools. However, since we've always had the tools it's difficult to understand life without them. The value becomes an unknown quantity.User surveys don't bring insight as users don't know what they don't know (yet). In the end I'm left with this question:

How can I better impress the value of eLearning across the organization?