Posts Categorized: Learning

Learning Economics Group

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 ?��Ǩ��space?��Ǩ�Ѣ 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.

Business metrics

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.

Personal Knowledge Management

From Lilia, is this quote worth keeping for your files:

To a great extend PKM [personal knowledge management] is about shifting responsibility for learning and knowledge sharing from a company to individuals and this is the greatest challenge for both sides. Companies should recognise that their employees are not "human resources", but investors who bring their expertise into a company. As any investors they want to participate in decision-making and can easily withdraw if their "return on investment" is not compelling. Creativity, learning or desire to help others cannot be controlled, so knowledge workers need to be intrinsically motivated to deliver quality results. In this case "command and control" management methods are not likely to work.

Taking responsibility for own work and learning is a challenge for knowledge workers as well. Taking these responsibilities requires attitude shift and initiative, as well as developing personal KM knowledge and skills. In a sense personal KM is very entrepreneurial, there are more rewards and more risks in taking responsibility for developing own expertise.

My conclusion for a while has been that knowledge cannot be managed, and neither can knowledge workers. It will take a new social contract between workers and organisations in order to create an optimally functioning enterprise. Adding management and technology won’t help either. This is the crux of everything in the new "right-sized, lean, innovative, creative" economy – getting the right balance between the organisational structure and the knowledge workers.

RSS for Learning

Eva Kaplan-Leiserson, gives a good overview of RSS [that’s "rich site summary" and/or "really simple syndication", defined for the last time on this blog] for learning in Learning Circuits. She brings together the recent work of Stephen Downes, Amy Gahran, Mary Harrsch, Robin Good and others. Many readers will have seen some of the referenced articles, but Kaplan-Leiserson’s piece will be a good introduction for those new to RSS, or if you need a current summary. Here’s the business rationale (for a very short elevator ride) for RSS:

Rather than collecting content in a central repository, requiring an expensive software application, the RSS model distributes content across the World Wide Web, allowing access piece by piece.

What do instructional designers design?

Don Morrison?Ǭ�
has made available his speaker notes for a presentation on "What do
Instructional Designers design?" Much of what he says resonates with my
own experience and perspective. First, that tradional instructional
systems design cannot address the multitude of?Ǭ� alternatives available to us today – such as knowledge management,
performance support, blogs, workflow learning, communities of practice,
etc.

Morrison also says that Google is a learning tool [I agree, it’s how I
learned HTML], and that it favours information
over instruction. This is an
interesting point. A few years back, I had a conversation with the
design team at Tecsult-Eduplus
about their learning programs for astronauts. They recounted how they
had initially designed some courses which adhered to the "standard"
rules of using only 7 points of information per screen. The feedback of
the astronauts was that they wanted not only more information, but the
maximum information possible per slide. For these bright students, time
was of the essence and they couldn’t waste it by clicking on the next button.?Ǭ� I have noticed
that medical school students are the same in their learning style –
they absorb information like sponges, and later reflect on it. Speaking
for instuctional designers, Morrison says:

That if Google is being perceived as
the best learning tool ever, it’s because it has developed relevant
notions like adjacency, weight
and PageRank, implemented them
in a smart, innovative process which is embedded in a lightning-fast,
user-friendly interface.

What LMS, what LCMS, what competency engine, what third-party or custom
course library or curriculum, what instructional design theory has done
anything close in terms in responding to today’s learning needs??Ǭ�
I think you and I both know the answer. Not one.

In comparison, our response has been linear, turgid and unimaginative.

Morrison goes on to discuss a number of design models, including some
more advanced models (and lesser known within many instructional design
teams) such as van
Merrienboer’s
Four-Component Instructional Design Model , as well
as more general Cognitive Load Theory. The whole text is worth a read,
and worth the effort of reviewing or researching Morrison’s references.
This text should also be read by anyone in higher education where
educational technology is taught, to show that there is a heck of a lot
more to learn than how to put courses online.

ATutor 1.4 soon to be released

ATutor has announced the latest version of its open source, standards compliant LCMS, which should be available in a couple of weeks. The new version 1.4 includes:

Templates for creating your own custom look-and-feel
Roles & Privileges for students to create teaching assistants or additional instructors
Automatically marked tests
Search the TILE learning objects repository, and import content packages directly into ATutor by entering a URL
Evaluate content with the content editor accessibility checker to ensure learning materials conform with international accessibility standards
Visual Content Editor (currently disabled) format content without knowing any HTML
ACollab Groups for running group activities within ATutor courses, as well as file sharing, managing assignment submissions, collaborative document authoring and archiving, and more (also available as a standalone)

I will be putting the standalone version of ACollab through its paces in a short while, and will provide a detailed evaluation of this platform as we go along.

The inevitability of Laptops

Via Stephen, is this article from USA Today on the use of laptops in schools. It’s getting to the point where the the conservative majority will not be able to argue against students being connected with information technology. In a short time, using laptops will be more economical.

Back in the Dallas suburb of Forney, Superintendent Smith doesn’t know what he’ll do after the experiment with textbook-loaded laptops next year. It all depends on the price, he said.
"A child’s set of textbooks costs $350," Smith said. "If they can get these notebooks down to $500, it gets cost-effective in a hurry."

eLearning in Quebec

A recent report, on the state of the elearning industry in Qu?ɬ�bec was commissioned by Alliance num?ɬ�riQC and conducted by Am?ɬ�lioraction. The executive summary, in French only, is available for viewing and the entire report will be available for purchase soon.

Here is my quick translation and summarization of the executive summary.

The report’s authors describe the Qu?ɬ�bec elearning industry as comprising about 60 companies, with a total of around 600 people. Most of these companies have fewer than 15 employees. During the past two years, many of these companies have seen 30 to 35% reductions in their annual earnings. These companies do not have the necessary resources to bring their products to market, especially since the elearning marketplace requires a complex "go to market" strategy.

Using Moore’s "chasm" model, the report states that Qu?ɬ�bec companies have done a good job of attracting the early adopters, but are failing at convincing the more conservative buyers about the merits of elearning. In Qu?ɬ�bec, most executives believe that classroom training yields better results than elearning. For this reason, the authors suggest that blended learning may be a better strategy for Qu?ɬ�bec elearning companies. They also suggest that the elearning industry look at creating complete, or end-to-end solutions, in order to compete in an industry that is witnessing major mergers and acquisitions. They see fragmentation as the major obstacle to their industry’s growth.

The authors suggest that the industry look seriously into partnerships and collaborative models. They see Alliance num?ɬ�riQC providing a provincial industry focus, and mention the national role of CeLEA for industry and CSTD for professional development.

Some of the 33 proposed actions include reinforcing the role of Alliance num?ɬ�riQC; increasing the business competences of business leaders – especially in marketing, exporting and partnering; and identifying events to educate major potential clients about elearning. They recommend that the markets to be addressed should be, in order – Qu?ɬ�bec, Canada, USA.

This is an interesting report, particularly for its similarities to other Canadian studies. There are some unique Qu?ɬ�bec perspectives, and I hope that the spirit of co-operation will go far beyond the provincial borders. Obviously, when you add the figures from the elearning industries in BC, Ontario, Quebec and NB, we’re still only a few thousand people, and it’s a big world.

Farewell TeleEducation

I had mentioned earlier that Teleeducation NB was going to close; the victim of government budget cuts. The news was finally been posted to the After 5 website [which is now offline], and the official closure date is May 7th, this Friday. Philippe Duchastel, the Director, has penned a final note [I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him], on TeleEd’s accomplishements and on what is left to be done:

For one thing, TeleEducation NB was very good at what it did: it led the way in creating a climate in which e-learning thrives in many sectors: our main universities and many of our colleges now use e-learning routinely; our school system enrols thousands each year in specialized courses offered online; and despite ups and downs, the e-learning industry in New Brunswick is still going strong. So e-learning is all around us.

Isn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t then the mission of TeleEducation NB accomplished? Yes and no? Yes, e-learning is here to stay and thrive. No, we are not a model of an e-learning society as initially envisioned. A lot is missing. Take the government professional sector. Professional development of civil servants should be taking routine advantage of the benefits of e-learning. As should also the health sector. And the education sector [the professional development of teachers]. These are all sectors where tradition is heavy and that need to be ?¢‚ǨÀúbrought along?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ to e-learning.

There is another article written by the staff at TeleEd, reviewing the specific accomplishments over the past ten years – including the Program Development Fund. I am certain that every company in this Province tapped into this fund for online learning content development [I know, I evaluated the fund in 2001]. The staff cite the legacy of TeleEd as:

* Citizens have increased access to education
* Businesses have been established
* A culture of education as an economic development tool has been created
* Public and private sector organizations collaborate for the good of both
* New Brunswick has been recognized internationally as a centre for e-learning development and delivery

I agree with these, but have to add that many businesses have been "uncreated" as well. What really matters though, are the people.

Furthermore, this legacy is only a snapshot. We need to continue to innovate and create new pedagogical and business models. It will only be in the next ten years that we will see if TeleEd’s legacy has resulted in something lasting for the learning sector and the region.

I know that there is an initiative to continue with the "After 5" online ‘zine, and I have offered to write, edit or do whatever is necessary to continue the conversations that have been started here. After 5 was in its infancy, and just getting a following. Let’s keep the conversation going; and that includes you – the "anonymous instructional designer" ;-).

This just in: After 5 ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú the e-learning newsletter for New Brunswick" will be available May 31, 2004 at LearnNB – Watch for it!