Posts Categorized: Learning

The Polo Parable

Via James Farmer comes the polo parable from David Wiley. This is a light-hearted story which will ring true for many of us in the elearning sector. Without giving it all away, the moral of the story is that "putting classroom training online" is like turning a water polo team into a polo team.

For example, the water polo coach is told by the athletic director, "Do all the things you did before, just do them on horseback instead of in a pool." Sound familiar?

LearnNB – Where Innovation Lives

The LearnNB website was recently launched as a portal to the learning industry in New Brunswick. The site currently has a recent article on the state of the industry, and you may sign up for the newsletter. More information and tools will follow soon.

Members of the industry met in Fredericton today to get updates on recent initiatives, such as the creation of a local chapter of the Canadian Society for Training and Development, as well as upcoming trade missions to ASTD’s annual conference in May and the CSTD conference in Toronto in November.

There was also some interest in working on open source software applications for learning. If this interests you, please contact me, as we would like to hold a conference on this subject sometime in the next year. Engage Interactive in Fredericton has developed some OS applications, and I know that some of our friends at the NRC elearning research group would be interested.

eLearning Sector in BC

A recent report on The elearning Sector in BC provides a marketing strategy for the industry. The report covers Global Trends and Market Opportunities; some regional comparisons and strengths and weaknesses. The key recommendations made in the report are:

To grow effectively, we recommend that companies:
1. Focus on the United States and Canada.
2. Target three to five vertical sectors, like the Olympics, rural communities, the federal government, healthcare, oil and gas and resource sectors.
3. Consider e-Learning opportunities related to gaming and simulations in the longer term.
4. Look at international markets in three to five years.
Industry associations and post-secondary institutions can support the growth of the sector, through education and research. Governments can provide ongoing support for industry-wide marketing, along with sponsoring further industry research and related policy development.

These recommendations could work for other North American regions, such as Silicon Valley, Ontario or New Brunswick. In BC’s case, the industry is even more fragmented than New Brunswick, but there is more access to larger firms (as clients or for sub-contracting) in BC than here in Atlantic Canada. One of New Brunswick’s advantages, of having one third of its population French-speaking, is quite unique when compared to BC. This advantage has yet to be translated into business success.

Many regions are looking for a way to capitalize on Canada’s perceived leadership in elearning. Like any other industry, success will come with the best business model, that is vigorously implemented, at the right time.

Passover Googlebomb

Given yesterday’s fire bombing of a Jewish school in Montreal, I’m doing my part in "Googlebombing" to ensure that racist propoganda is pushed off the web. From Liz Lawley’s Blog, I’ve discovered that the top-ranking Google search for "jew" is a racist site. Therefore I’m linking to Wikipedia’s definition, in order increase Wikipedia’s Google ranking. This in turn will decrease the racist site’s Google ranking [note no link]. This small post is now part of a larger movement in the blog world, showing how a lot of networked indviduals can work together for a better future. Any fellow bloggers, please join in.

I wish all of our friends a happy and peaceful Passover.

Via James Farmer’s Incorporated Subversion.

Atlantic Canada eLearning Case Studies

A recent Industry Canada sponsored report, Innovative e-Learning Practices in Atlantic Canada: Case Studies is now available online. From the eight case studies, the conclusions drawn by the researchers on success factors for elearning in rural areas are:

Address a Clear Market Need
Use a Partnership/Collaboration Approach
Have Access to Broadband Technologies
Create a Sustainable Business Model
Use Prior Learning Recognition (aka PLA)
Training the Trainers/Teachers

Learning Objects Summit

I attended the final day of the eduSource Learning Objects Summit in Fredericton today. An interesting presentation from Doug MacLeod of the Netera Aliance with this thought – open source is a way of nurturing the e-learning industry to become a "real" industry. I guess it’s like railroads, you need the rails before you can start shipping. Open source gives us a common platform.

Also, there is now a training module on IMS content packaging developed by the Unversit?ɬ© de Moncton, available online.

Atlantic Wildlife Institute Officially Launches

One of my other roles is as director of education at the Atlantic Wildlife Institute, a voluntary position with an exciting charitable organisation. Having just developed a five-year strategic plan, I’m looking forward to using social networking technologies and practices to build a much larger community of learners. Comments on learning and the non-profit sector are always welcome. Here’s some of our latest news:

?��Ǩ?�Our mission is environmental education and our theme is renewal,?��Ǩ�� says David Hawkins, recently designated Chairman of the Atlantic Wildlife Institute (formerly Maritime Atlantic Wildlife). ?��Ǩ?�We?��Ǩ�Ѣre launching our new season with a new name, a new slogan, a new web site, a new Wildlife Learning Centre, and a new board of directors.?��Ǩ��
The name change, to Atlantic Wildlife Institute (AWI), reflects an expansion of the focus of the well-known Maritime Atlantic Wildlife organization, which has been in operation for the past eight years. It will now add an important dimension of learning and research to its initial mission of rehabilitating displaced or injured wildlife. The new Institute program will include wildlife education and ecotourism experiences, as well as training opportunities for people who want to gain the skills required for responding to wildlife emergencies.
?��Ǩ?�The Institute designation also underlines the non-advocacy nature of our activities,?��Ǩ�� continues David Hawkins. ?��Ǩ?�We are ready to partner with any organization that has a sincere interest in enhancing the relationship between human society and nature. We?��Ǩ�Ѣre actively seeking constructive solutions, but we?��Ǩ�Ѣre not activist, in the confrontational or lobbying sense, nor will we be.?��Ǩ��

Performance Improvement Certificate

There is finally some formal training/education in the field of performance improvement available in Canada. From CSTD news feed is this article on a program being offered by Fanshawe College and Seneca College, both in Ontario. From the joint course description:

Training can be the most expensive of performance improvement options. It is also among the most frequently and inappropriately used, and without performance support in the workplace, is a highly perishable investment.
The number one workplace complaint compromising job satisfaction is poor systems and processes: 94% of employees flagged this issue in studies conducted by W. Edwards Deming, father of Total Quality Management. By contrast, training and professional development solutions address skill and knowledge gaps almost exclusively.

All I can say is that it’s about time, but what about Atlantic Canada? Is anyone willing to get a program going on the East coast?

“Classroom teaching will not scale”

Stephen Downes succinctly tells us why technology is the necessary equalizer in creating a global learning society:

Classroom teaching, even if supported with technology, will not scale. If we are to provide access to all, we must abandon the idea that education is something that is done for us and support the idea that it is something we can do for ourselves. That’s why we need technology in learning.

New technology, used to support new approaches to learning, is akin to the replacement of scriptoriums by literacy. Just as we no longer need people to read and write for us, we will, in the future, no longer require people to teach for us. The technology should – and will, because people demand it – allow us to teach ourselves. But clinging to the traditional model – in which writing is still done in scriptoriums (albeit, with ballpoint pens and laser printers) is to show a casual disregard for the needs and aspirations of people who not only benefit from writing, but are liberated by it.

In Tunisia I was told that the country had very different demographics than Canada. Most of the population is under 20. In order to make room in the classrooms for the expanding group of younger students entering the school system, the older students’ learning needs were starting to be addressed through e-learning. In this way, the limited physical infrastructure could be reserved for younger children. In Tunisia, classrooms don’t scale well either.

Objects & Repositoires

George Siemens distills the essence of the use of learning objects and repositories in the e-learning field:

… content in context is the real challenge. Or put another way, the extraction of meaning from an object is the real challenge. We can have access to all the content in the world, but if we are not able to find what we need, when we need it, in the format we need it, and for the task which we need it, it’s of no use. Content management takes care of organizing resources. The extraction of meaningful content is where systems fail.

I find that there is still a lot of snake oil being sold as e-learning. If you can help people find what they need, when they need it, in the right context to be useful, then you will have effective content management and/or performance support. The rest is what a friend of mine calls "shovel ware".