Posts Categorized: Learning

Innovation and the Learning Industry 2

Dave Pollard continues his discussion in A Prescription for Business Innovation Part 2 and gives us further principles of innovation strategy:

Flat, small, responsive, democratic organizations are inherently more innovative.
True innovation only occurs where there is consensus that there is an important problem to solve and a sense of urgency to solve it.
Competition is now dysfunctional, a vestige of earlier times of resource scarcity, and cooperation is now essential to effective innovation.
The customer is now king and needs only better decision making tools to become the sole driver of economic activity, rendering obsolete the need for marketing, branding, and other producer-driven mechanisms of influencing customer actions.
… organizational structures, processes and behaviours more commonly associated with businesses run by women are gaining traction in the New Economy, and that bodes well for innovation.

This is a current interest of mine, as I’m moderating a community of practice around elearning R&D in the region. The central issue is how to get a disparate group of companies, united by geography, to collaborate on innovation in the form of a problem, project or issue. As Dave Pollard writes:

Perhaps this is a universal trait that we need to consider when designing innovation programs: Everyone loves to engage in social activities that are fun, challenging and unthreatening, but when the social activity impinges on individual ‘territory’ or property, or on scarce resources, social and collaborative behaviour ceases and confrontational, competitive behaviour takes over.

I believe that the key to this community of practice will be to find that fine balance between collaboration and confrontation, but also holds peoples’ interest.

Blogs in Business

Seek and ye shall find. In response to my question, the Otter Group’s Kathleen explains some of her current business-related blog & RSS projects.

I believe blogs are ideal peer-to-peer learning and communications channels. Because they are so inexpensive to produce and maintain, they can be cost-effectively used for small groups and small projects.

It seems that the participation levels are higher with blogs. This was an issue that we had a few years back with a community-building project using a hefty document management system (think expensive) – it was just too cumbersome. This post is much more practical than what was reported in the NY Times on BloggerCon II and blogs for business, via Weblogg-ed.

Thanks Kathleen!

“It is difficult to overstate the significance of the Internet …”

From the University of Prince Edward Island, Mark Hemphill’s end of course notes from "Networking, Knowledge & the Digital Age", discussing eBusiness, enterprise software and the social and commercial forces of the Internet. Some of Mark’s observations:

Web-like Internetworking provides us with a new freedom, and allows us to grow faster than we ever could when we were fettered by the hierarchical classification systems into which we bound ourselves.

Networking offers an opportunity to reclaim our real voices and restore real human relationships.

We are hurtling through an era of unprecedented change – a transformation of unimaginable scale and proportion. Much of the existing complex has been undermined and is slowing crumbling around us. Legal, ethical, and social institutions are lagging far behind our technological evolution.

Great technological shifts of the past, such as the advent of speech, fire, writing, and the printing press, can help us to understand our current transformation.

Lots of food for thought. Worth the read, and worth some reflection. It’s great to see this use of social networking software in our region’s universities. Keep up the good work Mark.

Innovation and the Learning Industry

Dave Pollard in A Prescription for Business Innovation Part 1 cites six basic principles of the innovation process:

Need Drives Innovation
Innovation starts with the Customer
Innovation Drives Technology
Innovations are Interconnected
Stories Transfer Knowledge
Innovation Requires Discipline & Patience

Having just completed an analysis of the learning industry in New Brunswick, I had the opportunity to reflect on global issues relating to the industry and make suggestions on how the industry could better position itself. Using Dave Pollard’s principles, what could the industry infer?

Since need drives innovation, a solid understanding of customers is essential. Build it and they will come, will not work. Neither will products that are developed because they have new features. Learning companies have to fill a real need ?��Ǩ��� and there are lots of learning needs; just listen to the customers.

If innovation drives technology, then your competitive advantage is the ideas you can generate, not your technology, with its ever shortening half-life. Not only are creative people necessary, but they need a creative environment. Too many learning companies are still structured around the industrial command and control model.

The interconnectness of innovations means that you have to be looking outside your industry, your discipline and yourself, in order to see the connections. Perhaps magazines like the Utne Reader should become required bathroom reading.

If stories transfer knowledge, why do most companies (including learning companies) insist on PowerPoint slides with lists of bullets that are read out loud. Having survived another ?��Ǩ?�death by PPT?��Ǩ�� presentation last night, it seems to be obvious to everyone, except the presenter, that no one is interested in reading a bunch of bullets. Tell a story. Tell your story. Share your stories. Remember that "markets are conversations". For example, all learning companies should be encouraging blogging so that they can look outside the region, sharing their stories and learning. Get the conversations going.

Like blogging, innovation requires discipline and patience. As Ms. Rice says, there is no silver bullet.

Learning in Healthcare

One of my performance improvement projects last year was with a Montreal area hospital. We looked at the performance requirements around the adoption of a new nursing methodology. This methodology focuses on learning as the primary function of nursing care – learning for the patient, the family and the community. Health care organisations should be the epitome of learning organisations, but many are stuck in their disciplinary "silos", as well as command and control training programs. Kim Vicente’s book, The Human Factor, highlights some of these issues in healthcare.

The need for continuous learning is reflected in a recent report on a nonprofit community medical centre in the US. As the director of education, Dr. Anne-Marie Sawyer, states:

Beyond new technology and learning methods, changes have come in the philosophy of education, Sawyer says.
"We’re really encouraging people to think about not just their everyday work life but their life as lifelong learning. It never ends."
A willingness to learn is "what’s going to get people through the 21st century," she says.
That extends to the patient.
Accurate knowledge "allows people to act on their own behalf when they need to enter a health care system. It enables them to ask intelligent questions, to know where to go for information, to evaluate if they’re in the right place and satisfied with (the treatment that’s) been given to them," Sawyer says.

Via Online Learning Update

Emergent Learning

Jay Cross gave an animated session on the web this afternoon. This webinar, using HorizonLive, featured Jay talking about emergent learning, the end of industrial models and even "smart learning objects". The commentary on the chat was fun and fast. The audio on the HorizonLive synchronous classroom platform was excellent, and I did not notice a single technological glitch. Having used various synchronous web platforms, from both sides, I can say that I’m impressed. Kudos to Matt Wasowski at HorizonLive for hosting this excellent webinar, which included over 60 people from across Canada and the USA.

Jay has followed up from his "?ɬ� la carte" menu of this afternoon with a dessert menu of topics for further reading and discussion. Here is one of his comments on emergent learning:

Emergence is the key characteristic of complex systems. It is the process by which simple entities self-organize to form something more complex. Emergence is also what happened to that ?��Ǩ?�utopian dream?��Ǩ�� of e-learning on the way to the future. Simple, old e-learning has combined with bottom-up self-organizing systems, network effects and today?��Ǩ�Ѣs environment to morph into emergent learning.

TeleEducation NB to Close

So it’s now official. Teleducation NB will be closing its doors next month. TeleEd NB has been my partner and client over the past six years. TeleEd NB predates the WWW, and has been involved in a lot of elearning initiatives, including the evaluation of LMS’s and production of the After Five newsletter.

TeleEducation NB’s mission is to provide to the New Brunswick government, education and training institutions, and private sector companies leadership, direction and expertise in the practical application and integration of new instructional methods and learning technologies.
TeleEducation NB facilitates flexible access to quality education and training by promoting the integration of e-learning in the education and training systems, thereby contributing to increased education levels and the prosperity of the citizens of New Brunswick.

Over the years, some people have voiced criticism of TeleEd, as a government agency performing functions that others might do as well. Well folks, it’s time to step up to the plate. LearnNB might do the job, but it is in its infancy. Take a look at the TeleEd site and the After Five newsletter, and see if there’s something that you or your organisation might be able carry on. It’s up to us.

Finally, I would like to thank all of the people who have worked so hard at TeleEd. You helped to put New Brunswick on the global e-learning map.

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.