Posted tagged ‘virtual workplace’

Reflections of LearnX 2009 – Day 2

5 April 2009

LearnX 2009 Expo
Following on from my previous article, below I share some of the key messages that I drew from Day 2 at the LearnX Asia Pacific conference held recently in Sydney…

 
Personal Professional Development: I expected the keynote by Stephen Downes to be the standout session of the event, and I was not disappointed. Instead of focusing on supporting the learning of others, Stephen shifted his focus to how e‑learning professionals can support their own learning. His premise is, bluntly, if you don’t take care of your own career, you risk losing it. One of Stephen’s key principles for personal professional development is interaction, which he defines as participation in a learning community (or CoP). In fact, Stephen considers it so important, he elegantly expresses it as: “Interaction is breathing for the brain”. His point is: if you aren’t interacting with other people through media such as mailing lists, blogs, Twitter, discussion forums etc, then you are not developing professionally and you will eventually stagnate. Stephen offers the following tips: place yourself (not the content) at the centre of your own learning network; organise your knowledge (eg build your own CMS with Drupal); simplify your learning by summarising it; and accept the fact that you can’t read it all, so choose what you need now and let the rest of it go – if you need it again in the future, it will be on the Web somewhere. Stephen has kindly made the slides and audio from his session available on Stephen’s Web.

Teamwork 2, courtesy of svilen001, stock.xchng.Connecting Many Voices to Make a Difference: Anne Walsh and Brendan Revell from Fraynework Multimedia provided an overview of the e-learning support they are providing to The Sisters of Mercy. The Sisters are a religious order working to alleviate poverty in 47 countries around the world. They use web conferencing to facilitate large group meetings and also 1-to-1 meetings across geographical boundaries. Each Sister has the power to set up a web conference via their organisational CMS platform, which also provides access to their email, e-newsletters etc. Anne and Brendan are clearly proud of their work, given that the average age of the Sisterhood is over 65. The implementation of web conferencing has not only reduced travel costs significantly for the order, but has also given each member a voice that they otherwise would not have had. A practical tip that Anne and Brendan share for introducing web conferencing to those who are unfamiliar with it: facilitate several group conferences first to allow the audience to grow comfortable with the concept. As their confidence grows, they will start to set up their own meetings at their own pace without feeling like they are being railroaded into it.

computer 1, courtesy of tome213, stock.xchng.Training Remote Workers and Their Managers – Getting the People & Technology Right: Margaret Aspin, Director of Aspin Online Consulting, explored the challenges of managing and training teleworkers and virtual teams. Key drivers in our changing environment (eg tightening labour market, climate change, terrorism, work/life balance) are increasingly pushing workers to the virtual workplace. Margaret maintains that it takes about 6 months for office-based workers to feel comfortable transitioning into a fully virtual team space. This new paradigm demands proactive, transformational leadership from people managers. Margaret offers them the following tips: always be mindful of the remote worker/learner; train them to chunk their days into productive periods free from interruption; avoid information overload; and build social capital through social networking. Margaret also recommends the resources at Telework Australia and Knowledge Ability.

3d elevation bar graph, courtesy of wmagni, stock.xchng.Fusing eLearning and eMarketing Best Practices to Achieve Your Business Objectives: By applying principles of e-marketing, Faith Legendre, Senior Global Consultant at Cisco WebEx, explains how you can optimise the success of your online training. Faith umbrellas these principles under 7 steps: determine the goals of your training program; smooth out the technologies and systems you will use; plan who does what during delivery; promote the event; execute the training; follow-up the training after delivery; measure and report. Faith also offers practical tips to maximise attendance: survey your learners to identify the most appropriate delivery day and time for them (avoid Mondays and after 3pm); employ champions throughout the organisation to raise the profile the event; send out an engaging video clip to prospective attendees prior to delivery, and send out another video clip to the actual attendees post delivery as a “gift” for attending.

Raptivity screenshotThriving in the midst of a slowing economy: Invest in powerful rapid eLearning tools: Nachiket Khare, Sales Manager at Harbinger Knowledge Products, reminds us that while one of the consequences of cost-cutting during the GFC will be less interactivity in our e‑learningware, it’s an important aspect of learning. Nachiket used this concept as a segue to introduce his company’s tool, Raptivity, as a low-cost, yet powerful, rapid and easy-to-use interactivity builder. Caryl Oliver was on hand to demonstrate her use of Raptivity in building engaging, self-paced e-learning for the hospitality and transportation sectors. Despite the commercial overtones of this session, I happen to think that Raptivity is a wonderful product, and it certainly won plenty of awards at this year’s LearnX.

Imaginary city 1 3, courtesy of chrisjewis, stock.xchng.Animating E-Learning: Robb Reiner, CLO at Evolve Studios, informed us that static graphics are typically more effective than animations for conveying general information to learners. However, animations are superior when illustrating complex structural, functional and procedural relationships between objects and events. Robb demonstrated a few of the impressive works that his company has produced for various clients, including a mind-blowing 3D animation of the inner workings of a glock pistol for the Australian Police. Unfortunately I think that during the GFC, amazing resources like these are going to be beyond most non-government budgets.

Palmtop Series 1, courtesy of bizior, stock.xchng.Is m-learning just learning hype? Carolyn Barker, Managing Director of TheCyberInstitute, finalised the conference with a keynote about m-learning. Carolyn exploded the myth that m-learning is a passing fad; however, she maintains that it must be done right. In particular she recommends: restricting m-learning to “nanobites” of no more than 3 minutes in duration; covering only 1 or 2 key concepts per nanobite; using rich media where appropriate; and providing opportunities for collaboration (eg discussing photos uploaded to Flickr). Carolyn also made the point that m-learning should support other forms of learning. She maintains that “blended learning is king” – m-learning is just one of its inputs.

I hope you have learned something from my synopses of the conference, or at the very least they have provoked some creative ideas.

See you at LearnX 2010!

Workplace learning in 10 years

24 March 2009

The Learning Circuits Big QuestionThe Learning Circuits Big Question for this month is:

If you peer inside an organization in 10 years time and you look at how workplace learning is being supported by that organization, what will you see?

To answer this question, I’ve organised my own two cents’ worth under six major banners…

1. The responsibility for e-learning development will decentralise across the organisation.

In 10 years’ time, I believe organisations will rely less on external development houses to produce e-learning solutions, and instead bring more – if not all – of it in-house.

Of course this is already happening; however, it’s usually associated with the appointment of a specialist “E-Learning Team”. While such a team may fill a gap in the short term, it’s akin to appointing a Photocopier Operating Team, a Word Document Authoring Team, a Google Searching Team and an Email Sending Team. While all of these technologies were novel at one time or another, everyone has since learned to integrate them into their day-to-day activities.

E-Learning development should be no different. My view is that it’s unsustainable for a specialised E-Learning Team to remain responsible, in the long term, for developing all of the e-learning solutions for everyone in the organisation. Soon enough they’ll get swamped, their turn-around times will lag, and their colleagues will start to say silly things like “e-learning doesn’t work”.

It makes more sense to me to train the organisation’s Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in rapid e-learning authoring. Then, whenever a learning need arises, the SME has both the knowledge and the skills to develop their own e-learning solution, quickly and effectively.

Hand Work 1, courtesy of jmark, stock.xchng.

Sure, the interactivity of the e-learning that is produced by the SMEs will take a short-term hit. However, that should change over time as their confidence and experience grows with using these tools. I’m sure you’re better with Word now than when you first started?

Of course, the support and guidance of qualified e-learning coaches will be crucial during this transition period.

2. E-Learning will shift from instructivism towards constructivism and connectivism.

In a previous article, I said that workplace learning has thankfully become more constructivist and even connectivist over time. I think in 10 years’ time it will be even more so.

A driver of this shift will be people power. As staff familiarise themselves with blogs, wikis, RSS, YouTube and Twitter, and as more tech-savvy Gen-Y’s & Z’s join the organisation, the demand for self-paced, self-directed learning will accelerate.

Conquer the world 1, courtesy of Mart1n, stock.xchng.

Couple that with the increasing demand for e-learning more generally across the organisation, and no one will be able to afford the time and effort to prepare perfectly pre-defined, pre-packaged content for all occasions. Something’s gotta give; open it up to Web 2.0.

I still maintain that instructivism will remain relevant in the digital age. However, with less hand holding from a “teacher”, meta‑learning (or learning how to learn) will become an increasingly important skill set.

3. Staff will collaborate and share knowledge.

The shift towards constructivism and connectivism will demand organisation-wide collaboration and peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, facilitated by blogs, wikis, discussion forums and other online media.

Toplaps, courtesy of ugaldew, stock.xchng.

Single-point sensitive gurus are a liability; everyone has the obligation to share their knowledge with everyone else. This might seem a lofty or even altruistic notion, but the principles of Wikinomics tell us that the organisations whose staff don’t do this won’t be able to compete effectively in the marketplace.

This shift will be accompanied by formal acknowledgements of informal learning. Sure, you can learn something anywhere, but the organisation still needs to be confident of your capability. Insert summative online assessments here.

4. Learning will be fully networked.

As the virtual workplace gains in popularity, more and more people will be working from home, in different cities and different countries.

Virtual classrooms will be the norm for centralising everyone in the one space, while emerging technologies such as virtual worlds and holograms will also bridge the geographical divide.

5. M-Learning will be popular.

Ragan reported recently that only 10% of Americans use their cell phones to access the web daily. My gut tells me this statistic is reflected right across the corporate sector.

Palmtop Series 1, courtesy of bizior, stock.xchng.

However, advances in mobile technology and connectivity, coupled with the business world’s shift towards cloud computing, will eventually render the cell phone an indispensable learning and working tool.

Why? Because everything will be online. Why wouldn’t you use your phone to get it if you needed it?!

6. E-Learning will be smart.

Finally, while many technological advances will continue to improve knowledge distribution, it’s on another plane to personalise it so that it’s relevant to the individual learner. I think we’re just seeing the beginnings of artificial intelligence and the dawn of the semantic web.

So, do you agree with my predictions?

How do you see workplace learning in 10 years’ time?