Explaining Blogging for Business

Tomorrow I’ll be in Halifax for the Nova Scotia eLearning Summit. As a panelist during the "eLearning in the Corporate Environment" forum, I will have ten minutes to focus on weblogs and provide:

Practical, real-life examples of how companies/organizations are using elearning to strengthen their competitive position, streamline employee training and bring value to customer relationships.

This is like getting the perfect blogging elevator pitch, which is currently being sought by Judith Meskill, but unfortunately her competition isn’t over yet, so I can’t view the collective wisdom of the blogosphere.

So far I’m cobbling together ideas from Rob Paterson, Jay Cross, Robert Scoble, Kathleen Gilroy, and Lee Lefever. I’ll also tell how blogging has become an essential part of my free agent business. I’ll publish the feedback when I return.

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.

Wikis becoming mainstream

Via Seth Godin is this reference to EditMe, which is a commercially supported wiki service. Most wiki software is open source, and can be a pain for non-programmers (like me). EditMe offers hosting, support and a better interface for a reasonable fee of $5 to $25 per month. I was involved in a recent healthcare project that used a wiki, and the learning curve was a bit steep for some people. EditMe seems to be an easier tool to use, which would mean less time to accomplish the goals of a collaborative build project.

Canada drops to 11th place in e-readiness rankings

From the BBC News World Edition are the e-readiness rankings [defined as: connectivity and technology infrastructure; business environment; consumer and business adoption; social
and cultural environment; legal and policy environment; and supporting e-services] produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Canada has dropped to 11th place while nordic countries, with Denmark on top, are holding their own.

According to the EIU, "for most countries – particularly the top-ranked ones – the change has had a dampening effect… because broadband adoption is still very low".
The US, for example, slipped to sixth in the survey from joint third a year earlier. The Netherlands dropped to eighth, while Switzerland fell to 10th, Canada 11th and Australia 12th.
"In a digital world, new technology will constantly move the goalposts," the EIU said.

This is where Canadian governments and businesses have to constantly work together – in creating the necessary infrastructure for innovation.

Stephen Downes provides this view on the flaws in the methodology of this report, as well as last year’s report.

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!

Your Interests

In order to understand your areas of interest, I’ve created a poll. Please respond to it if you are interested in participating. The focus of this poll is on the interests of people in the Atlantic region, but others are welcome. Just make a comment on where you’re from. Only one vote per person, but you can always add comments.

Link to Poll

Still only 4 votes, as of 12 May

Thank you;
Harold

Welcome

Welcome to the Community of Practice (CoP) blog on R&D issues in the region. Read the previous three posts for a bit of background, but this is the first step in fostering a CoP around issues that are of importance to us. Your participation is essential, and my job will be to connect people, ideas and communities; as well as keep the conversations flowing. Suggestions are always welcome.

Technologies for the CoP

Based on the general requirements for a community of practice, and the short duration of this project (six months), three separate systems will be used. Each system has its unique attributes. All systems were compared with other available systems. ACollab was selected because it is open source, Canadian and bilingual. Drupal was selected because of its scalability and the existing knowledge base in New Brunswick (I’m using it, as well as some other companies). Spoke was chosen by default, as it is the only free access network of its type at this time. Spoke was recommended by Jay Cross of the Emerging Learning Forum in California.

Collaborative Tool Suite
ACollab is a bilingual, open source, collaborative workspace, for the more intense
sharing aspects of the community. This can be password protected and allows for document storage. ACollab is developed by the University of Toronto, and this project will help to introduce it and its LCMS (ATutor) to the New Brunswick Learning community. This tool suite may only last the duration of the project, but may continue, depending on the interests of the members.

Weblog
Drupal is a content management system with a powerful weblog capability. This weblog runs on Drupal. This weblog is separate from the collaborative site, and is open to the public. As the moderator, I will make posts, with comments open to anyone. The blog will likely continue for longer than the duration of the project (which is why it is separately hosted by Jarche Consulting), and will provide continuity, and perhaps a home for LearnNB related discussions. I am willing and open to move this blog elsewhere should the need arise.

Relationship Management
Spoke enables connections with other people through your existing contact list. It allows members to see who they know and how these people may be connected to others. A number of members of the NB learning community are already members, and Spoke may become the medium by which the NB “node” connects to other “nodes”, such as Silicon Valley. Comments on how to maximize the use of Spoke will be posted to the Collaborative site. The use of Spoke will extend beyond the limits of this project, but could be an interesting component of community-building. Those using Spoke will be members of a much larger community.

Both ACollab and Drupal will be tested, and should technical problems arise, other platforms may be used in their place.

CoP

Jarche Consulting has the role of coordinating this Community of Practice (CoP) for the next six months. This will include:

Contacting and coordinating any potential members
Analyis and synthesis of any research-related activities
Moderation of any meetings and online discussions/conversations
Provision of a technology platform to enhance the CoP
Developing a case study to be made available to the industry

The NB Learning industry comprises any organisation, private or public, that is interested in emerging issues related to learning, particularly technology-mediated learning. The focus of this CoP will be research and development, especially business models and commercialisation. This will not be a theoretical or academic community, but one that is looking at the development of practical applications – be they products, services, standards or models.

Membership will be open to anyone, with the initial membership working through the norms and guidelines. For instance, a group may form that is composed of CTO’s of learning companies. This group may decide to limit participation (by forming a sub-group) as they develop protocols to share intellectual capital.