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.
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 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.
Seth Godin gives a possible glimpse of what it will be like five years in the future. Given these assumptions, how would you change your business plan?
Hard drive space is free
Wifi-like connections are everywhere
Connection speeds are 10 to 100 times faster
Everyone has a digital camera
Everyone carries a device that is sort of like a laptop, but cheap and tiny
The number of new products introduced every day is five times greater than now
Wal-Mart’s sales are three times as big
Any manufactured product that’s more than five years old in design sells at commodity pricing
The retirement age will be five years higher than it is now
Your current profession will either be gone or totally different
Dave Pollard has another thoughtful post, reflecting my own attempt at achieving some kind of work/life balance. If you know me, or have followed the external links, you know that I volunteer at the Atlantic Wildlife Institute. We are a charity, and therefore are constantly low on operating funds. The work I do here is very gratifying, but highly paid. As a new consultant I’m always looking for the next project, or working on the current project. In between I try to spend some time with my family, or get out for a cycle.
The subject of work/life balance came up today with some business partners, and we’re all trying to keep the work coming, but try to do something meaningful at the same time. If we just wanted a paycheck, we would have stuck to regular jobs, but I’m sure that we’re all idealists at heart. Dave Pollard’s advice from a friend is to keep two lists (1 – things that pay well & 2 – things that make a difference). Start with the top item from list 1 and then try to do the top item from list 2.
My friend’s advice was simple. "Write the damn book. Now. Get it finished, get it out there. Then decide if you can afford, on your own terms, to do either or both of your two Next Things. If you can’t, pick the thing from List 1 that gives you the most money, and/or the most spare time to keep working on the plan, and the skills development, that you need to do the two Next Things, and do it, for as long as you have to."
Sounds like good advice to me – get on with it!
Sometimes learning professionals (trainers, educators, instructional designers) get caught up in their own world. Here’s another reminder about what’s really important – performance. From e-clipping’s interview on collaborative technologies with Jay Cross:
I made up the word elearning because I wanted to highlight learning, but I don’t think learning is at the head of the train.
It is performance that is at the head of the train and only a fool would expect to get results from the technology alone.
It is the technology in support of key organizational goals that is key, and that involves incentives, leadership, innovation, esprit de corps….and this is all mixed in together.
As a matter of fact I’d be somewhat sceptical of any company that would highlight their intense [use] of collaboration technologies if they left out "What is important to us is to serve our customers and this is how we go about it".
Last week, blogs were being discussed on CBC Radio One and Tod Maffin suggested that blogging was on its way out. A different perspective from Kathleen is that blogs help you get what you need done. She needed help and posted it on a blog, and the right person, with the right experience contacted her.
I absolutely love how the peer-to-peer network in the blogging world led me directly to the right person.
If blogs are also perfomance support tools (in addition to knowledge repositories, etc.) then blogging may be around for a while yet.
Jay’s comments on this week’s meeting of the Learning Economics Group. Jay has added to Brenda Sugrue’s initial conceptual model, giving us his usual insight into this fuzzy world of learning, technology and business. I like the fact that Jay is pointing out the power relationships (e.g. Boss’s Ego) as well.
Attended a teleconference session of the Learning Economics Group today. This is a non-profit group focused on conducting research, developing tools, databases, forums and the creation of a virtual discussion ?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½ï¿½space?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½Ñ¢ for professionals, policymakers and others about Learning Economics. LEG kicked-off in early April, but there is already a lot of interest worldwide in their research agenda, from all sectors. FYI, Learning Economics is defined by LEG as the study of the strategic value of learning, both formal and informal, and its economic impact on a corporation or organization.
Attendees included professionals in the field from Shell, Cisco, HP, BYU, SRI, and two Canadians! After introductions, Dan Blair from HP, with Brenda Sugrue of ASTD, gave the main presentation on setting a learning economics research agenda. A key concept in this presentation is the shift of Tangible versus Intangible Assets on the S&P index from 38% intangibles in 1982 to 85% intangibles in 2002. Most economic value is now intangible (think knowledge and knowledge workers). As someone stated, we now know the problem, but we don’t know the answers to "managing" intangible assets. A lot of participation and commentary from attendees, such as Eilef Trondsen and Jay Cross, et al.
Check out the website and join the group, participate, and contribute to the already significant resources that have been contributed by members.
Is there interest in the region to become a special interest group (SIG) and contribute to this forum? I will continue to participate and provide comments to the LearnNB (loosely coupled) community.
From Elliot Masie’s Tech Learn Trends comes this list from buyers of what metrics are starting to be used as indicators of the effectiveness of new approaches to learning:
* Time to Launch a New Product
* Time to Hire and Deploy a New Staff Member
* Time to Compliance for Regulations
* Time to Implement a Systems Change
* Time to Globalize a Process
* Time to Merge with New Company or Organization
* Time to Quality Targets
* Time to Sale
These are the points that learning providers should be addressing in their proposals, and it looks like they’re all about time.