Thinking like nature

Please read Dave Pollard’s post on William McDonough, a true visionary in the field of design and natural systems. Pollard lists McDonough’s four websites, all of which are absolutely fascinating. The Green Blue organization site includes a unique set of concepts that you should read, if nothing else. For example:

Good industry
The current conversation about environmental and social challenges too often points to industry at the enemy. This is a mistake. The true villain is bad design, and the solution is an industry that makes intelligent, informed design decisions. Cradle-to-cradle thinking is the key to these decisions.

After looking at McDonough’s information and concepts, I feel much more motivated to try to address some of those really big and messy issues that most of us just avoid. Yes, we can design a better world.

Technical Frustrations

Many thanks to Stephen Downes for pointing out that my web pages were taking forever to load. You may have noticed a sidebar on the left called "En Passant" that previously held my recent Furl items of note. Each time a page was loaded it had to check the Furl server, which is not working well today. My apologies to all for my technical incompetence, but a lesson has been learned.

ASTD 2004 Comments

There is an excellent conversation on Jay Cross’s blog regarding collaboration technologies and informal learning. Jay is presenting at ASTD 2004. This is well worth the read.

Also, from e-clippings is this first impression of the ASTD conference.

More people, buzz and swag than other, recent e-learning conferences

New (and Improved) LearnNB Website

The new LearnNB website was launched today. There’s much more content, and we will be using this as a portal for many other initiatives, such as our R&D community of practice. Learn NB’s aims are:

Promote the export of New Brunswick’s experience, knowledge, expertise, products and services in e-learning and related fields.
Facilitate partnerships between the private sector, governments, universities, and non-governmental organizations in pursuit of the above.
Assist the Province of New Brunswick and the Atlantic Region through the ongoing development of our human capital and, in so doing, to be able to more effectively export our collective competence in e-learning capacity building.

The site is brand new today, and I’m sure that there will be a lot more information soon. Once we get some blogs, wikis, trackbacks and RSS feeds on this site we’ll know that we’re getting somewhere 😉

Ensemble Collaboration Launches

Ensemble Collaboration, an elearning company in Fredericton, New Brunswick, has formally launched this afternoon, and is no longer in "stealth mode". The product launch is happening at the ASTD conference.

Ensemble’s offerings are collaboration and mentoring tools. The collaboration application suite is based on Search, Live Help, FAQ’s, Discussion and E-Mail functions. None of these are new, but they are all wrapped together, with access to a larger network than you would normally have in a single course. There is a demo module on collaboration available, featuring Jay Cross.

ASTD Conference

The ASTD Conference and exposition launched today in Washington. There are few local exhibitors at this year’s conferenc; nothing like the late 1990’s when we had about 20 vendors at Online Learning. Perhaps the largest local exhibitor is CSTD, which includes the newly-formed New Brunswick chapter. Other local companies are Ensemble Collaboration and LearnStream.

It’s nice to see that there is a Performance Improvement track at ASTD and I would appreciate any comments from delegates at this year’s conference.

Jay Cross on Workflow Learning

Jay Cross has written an article for ACM’s eLearning Magazine on workflow learning, which is, in a nutshell “how workers improve performance in a business ecosystem.”

The concept and realisation is a bit more than this though. Workflow learning combines technological advances like web services and XML, with business process improvement (BPR, Six Sigma, HPT, etc.) and puts it all into a knowledge management/performance support framework. What’s exciting about workflow learning is that the technology has caught up to some of the theory, and the globalized economy is making workflow learning (or something resembling it) a necessity.

These are interesting times for learning professionals focused on business performance.

Who reads Blogs?

From Rick Bruner is this reference to a survey about blog readers. Rick’s summary analysis of the data:

Average age: 39
Percent of all respondents who are male: 79%
Average household income: $98,000
Average number of blogs respondents read daily: 8
Percent of blog readers who do NOT write blogs: 79%
Percent who have clicked on an ad on a blog: 67%

Read the entire survey results [scroll down] for your own evaluation.

Open Source CMS

A very good overview by James Robertson on the pros and cons of using an open source content management system.

Community-based CMS: these systems are best suited for organisations that have strong internal development resources, as customisation will need to be conducted in-house (in the absence of commercial support). This makes them unsuitable for any project requiring ‘out of the box’ deployment.
Commercially-supported CMS: these systems should be evaluated like any other commercial product. While the licensing cost is zero, the system must match business needs.