Looking for Stories on Learning Outsourcing

Hal Richman and Eilif Trondsen from SRI Business Consulting Intelligence are writing a series of three articles for ASTD’s Training and Development magazine (Sept-Nov 2004) that build on their recent report on Learning Outsourcing: Strategic Opportunity Perspective.

We are interested in stories, anecdotes from training staff in any organization that has undertaken training outsourcing.

If you have interesting stories that you would like to share, check out the post on Passion4Learning.

Ontario Department of Education Signs with Star Office

As a follow-up from a previous post on open source in government, it’s good to see the Ontario Department of Education has signed an agreement with Sun Microsystems to use Star Office. Star Office and its open source (free) version Open Office provide Microsoft compatible desktop applications for documents, spreadsheets, presentations and PDF export. Star Office retails for $(CA)79.95 but, according to the IT Business report:

Financial details of the arrangement were not disclosed, but Sun Canada’s director for education and research Lynne Zucker said that the fee was minimal.

I had suggested a similar solution to the Government of New Brunswick as well as the Department of Education, and received a nice e-mail for my suggestion. Perhaps Ontario’s example will lead to our province examining the use of open source software in government. It might even keep my taxes down. Via Seb.

Ensemble Collaboration gets Rave Reviews in Washington

Ensemble Collaboration launched this week and is getting some very good press. The local Atlantic Canadian press of course reported this, but so did the national Globe & Mail. From Canada East:

The degree of acceptance for the product surprised Mr. Watson. One potential customer said he would fly to Fredericton next week to visit with company representatives.
“Honestly, the most frequent question was, ‘How soon can I get it?’ Mr. Watson said. “The opportunities seem to be much greater than we anticipated and the market seems to want to get this sooner rather than later. And that was only the first day.”

It’s good to see some excitement in the business again. Congratulations Ben!

Students in Favour of Laptops in Schools

Via Seb is this discussion (in French) about laptops in schools. The students at this northern New Brunswick school were asked on the Haut-Madawaska Learning Centre blog – what do you think of the Education Minister’s request for schools to participtae in a laptops in schools project and should we participate? The responses, which seem to be all from students, range from "computers will enrich our IT skills and increase communication in class" to "access to more computers would help us to access our existing class blogs" and "it would make research a lot easier" and "Wow, what a good idea".

Even the 2nd Grade class thinks that laptops in 7th and 8th Grade are a good idea. Of the estimated 100 comments, only one was slightly negative. So there it is. The students (learners) are resoundingly in favour of laptops in school.

I have always believed that the key to learning is motivation, having been influenced early on by Gagne’s events of instruction – where the first instructional event is "activating motivation". These students are already motivated!

More on ASTD 2004

The best coverage so far on ASTD 2004 is from e-Clippings. These posts include an overview of Harold Stolovitch’s session, quoting Harold on the definition of "technology":

Technology is the application of organized and scientific knowledge to solve practical problems.

This is the correct definition of technology when applied to Human Performance Technology [my field] – which is NOT about information technology, but solving problems in an applied way.


If you want to know what giveaways are popular on the exposition floor at ASTD 2004 then read the T&D Blog. Not much else though.

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