Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Growth Opportunities

This is the way I currently visualize and categorize the activities around our roadmap.

Read more.....

Thursday, September 19, 2013

System vs Personal views

When we compare the activities performed with and without the aid of a reminder list, we see that the conclusion one draws depends on the point of view being taken.  To the outside observer (who takes the system view), the same actions are intended to be performed with and without the list, but (usually) they are carried out more accurately and reliably with the list.  To the individual user (who takes the personal view), the list is not a memory or planning enhancer, it is a set of new tasks to be performed, with the aspects of the list relevant to memory and planning separated from the aspects of the list relevant to performance. - Donald Norman, 2007  (Thanks Clark!)

Many of the process improvement activities I've seen recently have consisted of creating artifacts (checklists, tools, applications) where there are none.  Formalizing "known" processes.

Read more....

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

An Example of Needs Assessment

Many organizational processes look like this.
During a recent project, one of our SMEs kept INSISTING "Everyone KNOWS the process!"
Then in the next sentence she complains about how they are doing it wrong.

Read more....

Thursday, September 12, 2013


As far as your fans know - you are only capable of hate.
I don't hate golf....

A couple members of my team have just finished one of those trainers nightmare implementations.
As a follow-up, the subject-matter experts are doing further sessions on process and workflow.
From experience, I know this is a good thing.
My colleagues aren't so sure and feel like they fell short.

Previous managers spent years drilling into my head that “image is important,” and I just can’t help but feel that ...the need for these sessions damage our credibility and image in some way. 

For years, I knew the feeling.
The lot of the IT implementation trainer is to be the scapegoat of all that is wrong with the product and the project.

Be the rescuer of the ill-advised, the ill-planned and the ill-executed.

Make sows ears look like silk purses.

My initial response to my colleague was something along the lines of "We're OK. The SMEs aren't out to get us or make us look bad this time, so we're ahead."

But the more I thought about his comment, I realized that there was something else that bothered me...
A lot of leadership advice is filled with "fake it till you make it."
Watch your body language.
Wear the appropriate costume.
Use x words.
Apply x tone.

What I have observed is that I get real uncomfortable when I run into someone or something that practices all of the "right" things.

Tutorials that are too polished and pretty.
Voice-overs that are too professional.
Salespeople and executives that look and sound "just right."
Trainers that are a textbook example of "good trainer."

I find myself looking for the catch.
Over the past few months, I've received some interesting feedback about my work.
The telecommuters seem to be responding to the unpolished nature of Tuesday Morning Telecommuter.
My colleagues have informed me that they appreciate my "honesty" when I train.
Other peers tell me they like my voice-overs - with the dropped letters, slight slurring, popped Ps and breathing noises.

When I look at my favorite trainers / bloggers / mentors / vendors / people - they all have authenticity about them.  There's something messy, human and integrated that makes me trust them more.

This perspective is likely the result of me being terrible at "image control."
My moods are written all over my face (despite my best efforts).
I tend towards the rumpled.
I get obviously uncomfortable if I have to skirt issues or not answer questions or withhold information.

But I also wonder if we are doing people a disservice if we keep preaching "Image is important."
How about "Authenticity is important."
"Connection is important".
The hypothesis I am currently playing with in my own life....

If I am as open, honest and above-board as I can possibly be...
Image takes care of itself.

I'll let you know what I find....

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Optimum Compliance Training

This is from a conversation Steve Flowers and I had during a dinner a month or so back. I am totally stealing his idea.

Assume that this is completely reportable (SCORM / AICC / TinCan / whathaveyou).
Wonder how I can implement this....

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Learning Under Stress

----------- As some of my previous posts hinted, there's been a lot going on in my life. My big problem has been focus. Which gremlin do I tackle first? Between the distraction of the work gremlins (walking colleagues through a trainers nightmare, renewing an important vendor contract, preparing for the new academic year and the resulting badly planned "emergency politically-sensitive" projects), a sudden call for jury duty, and worrying about Mom and's hard to tell where to start. --------------- The personal emotions around the topic of accessibility right now has made it even harder for me to learn the disability support tools I am currently investigating. It's not just basic "stress". It's fear for the worst. Hope for the best. Wishing that the people I love didn't have to go through this hardship. Finding ways to help. I find myself distracted. Unable to absorb the information I'm learning. Even less able to apply the information. That doesn't bode well for being able to teach it. -------------- This is yet another reminder about the importance of what people bring into any learning situation. Where is their head at? Is there something else going on in their life that is 15x more important than learning a new project management tool? Or how not to harass people in the workplace? Or HIPAA / FERPA / OSHA / etceterA rules and compliance? Or any number of things we force people to learn in the workplace that have nothing to do with business objectives OR personal growth? Because if their head is not in it.... If they too are fighting their own, personal, multiplying gremlins... If what you are teaching and how you are teaching it brings its own emotional charge... Even if they are highly motivated to learn.... It will take a lot more "selling" of your idea. In the grand scheme of their life, your topic is not that important. And that is just as it should be.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Accessibility - Attempt 2

Shane is very good at showing and describing the motions needed to operate VoiceOver + the strengths and limitations of the tool.

Awesome work Shane and thank you.
That night, more than a little blue, I was idly surfing the net with my iPad.....

On the iPad - I noticed that some sites had a Reader button appear in the URL.
Click on it - and it becomes text.
I wonder if there are other accessibility settings in here?  Maybe VoiceOver?

---------- I set up VoiceOver, showed him how it worked, and handed Dad the iPad.
Well, this looks more promising, Dad said as he put the iPad to his nose and squinted to see the screen. Typing, however, was still slow and awkward. Not sure how well this is going to work. ---------- Wendy - did you think about using Siri? My brother is also in the IT space. He has occasional flashes of genius. This was one. I scampered back to the iPad. Can my father draft an email without having to type it? My answer....kinda. I still need to figure out how to delete incorrect text in a way that isn't so frustrating. Furthermore, besides reading and writing emails, is there some way to make my Dad more independent? Not so reliant on Mom to get out and about? As it stands, Dad is still trying to maintain his old normal in hopes that the scheduled surgeries give him his eyesight back. That's part of the process. One of the lessons learned is that people will learn what they need to know when they are ready. Meanwhile - this buys me some time to figure this whole issue out. And pray that we never need to use any of this information.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Accessibility - This One's Personal

For 50 years, Dad has been blind in one eye.
For 25 of those years, he's seen nothing at all out of that eye. No light, no shade, nothing.

A month or so back - he noticed something in his good eye.

A leisurely Friday trip to the doctor turned into a month of bright lights, lasers, fog and tendrils drifting through his vision.  The retina in his good eye was starting to let go.

His good eye is weak from doing the work of two eyes for the past 50 years, so recuperation hasn't gone as smoothly as any of us hope.  Thankfully, he is getting his sight back.  There is still a long way to go and we're not entirely certain how permanent this fix is.

The thought of my Dad becoming functionally illiterate if things go wrong scares the heck out of me.
He's put up a good front, and has engaged in more than a little denial, but I know he's scared too.

Right now - we have a chance to come up with a back-up plan.  Dad currently has vision enough to read (albeit uncomfortably) and learn a new tool.  Time to strike while we still have the chance.
One of the benefits of a formal instructional technology education is exposure to assistive technologies.
I haven't had to take a look at the state of the field in a very long time (like 7+ years).

Now - I'm motivated.
My Dad is an Apple fanboy.  However - he's of the "buy once and use until death" school of IT.

He had his Power Computing desktop for over 10 years before he finally had to break down and buy a new tower a few years ago.

My first thought was to use Mac OS 10.6.x built in accessibility tool - VoiceOver.


This sighted person could not figure out how to get the thing to work the way I wanted it to with the control I would like - even being able to SEE the screen.   I am not the only one (read the comments).

Really awkward multi-finger keystrokes are required.  Might be OK for a kid (or me).
Very awkward for a 70+ year old - even with decent dexterity.
There also didn't seem to be any way to integrate voice commands with the technology.

I had Dad try out the solution. He (rightly) rejected it out of hand.

How do they expect me to use this if I can't read my keyboard?  How indeed.
There had to be a better solution.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Firing SMEs as Instructional Designers

I'm over it.
I'm tired of receiving 100 slide PowerPoint decks with tiny text.
I'm tired of arguing with SMEs over instructional design.
I'm particularly tired of arguing with executive SME overseers over objectives.

I'm pretty low on the totem pole - so I have only limited (very limited) leverage over what goes into our LMS.  If a higher level compliance SME mucky muck wants their 100 slide PowerPoint deck with unrelated clip art in the LMS - there is not much I can do to stop them.

Furthermore, I'm tired of hearing complaints over how long it takes to create these 100 slide PowerPoint decks with tiny text. 

Having projects on my radar for months because the "really important project" suddenly becomes unimportant - for it to reappear as a zombie project when I am slammed with 10 other things.

There has to be a better way....
What if I could just give them tutorials already built? 

But we need to customize them!  We're special!!!!

Hmmm...what if I give you an easy-to-use customization tool?

What if you could point the executives to that baseline vs. spending the time to develop it yourself THEN having to go through the back-and-forth?

What if these were already in our LMS as scorable objects so that I don't make you spend money for custom content licenses?

What if this saves you money because you won't have to go out to another vendor to purchase a tutorial of unpredictable quality that may or may not work in our current systems?

Savings in time, savings in money, savings in potential grief for all parties.

We are in the process of renewing our contract for SkillPort.

As part of this - we are adding the Legal Compliance library AND the Environmental Health and Safety library.  We are also adding some SkillStudio licenses - one for my team and one for our HR folks.

I'm really excited because I see this as a potential way for us to get the SMEs out of the instructional design business, speed the process of converting from 4 hour classroom courses to eLearing courses, better track compliance training (since so much of it is spread out over paper and Excel spreadsheets in various departments), and have material that is 1000x more instructionally sound than what we currently have.

Cyndi and Sid, my soft-skills counterparts, are completely aboard.

However, I need a sales person. An executive salesperson.  One who can speak mucky muck AND has some leverage to enforce use.

My next task....figure out how to engage this sales person.  See how it can be to HER benefit....

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cloud-Based Subscriptions

- thank you
A major trend seems to be the move to cloud-based subscription services.

Read more....

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Playing with the New

This weekend's trapeze adventure.

Thanks Megan for coming out to play with me and for the video!
This has been the year of playing with the new.
  • Up2Us
  • Overlap
  • Panel Discussion
  • Skydiving
  • Flying
  • Pole Dancing (no - there is NOT a video for this)
  • Stand-up Paddleboarding
  • and the Trapeze.
No - this is NOT a result of a mid-life crisis. (I had that a few years ago - thankyouverymuch)

This is more a result of deciding to familiarize myself with the unfamiliar.
Get comfortable with the the new and novel.
The fear of looking stupid.
Falling off the paddleboard.
Looking like a punk rocker in a mosh pit when I'm supposed to be finding my "inner sex kitten"
Crashing to the ground.
Being "exposed" - intellectually, emotionally

As an adult, dangit, we are supposed to be "good at everything."

I know this fear of looking stupid, this discomfort with the unknown, has kept me from taking advantage of opportunities.

This seemed like a good time to face that fear.

Opportunity knocks!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Subscription-Based Learning: The Videos

As part of this subscription-based learning program, I am incorporating really quick, really amateurish videos into the blog posts for the technical pieces.

Read more....

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Playing with Subscription-Based Learning

To my knowledge...Death is not currently participating in our telecommuting program.
- from Savage Chickens

My university has been implementing a telecommuting program for the past year.
We now have over 300 (known) people who telecommute 1-5 days per week.

Read more....

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Are we looking at a "Fourth Wave"?

- Hugh MacLeod
There's a dynamic happening that I am not fully understanding.

Read more....

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Success - or..why I am scared of "management"

My takeaways:
- Don't rest on your laurels
- Do the stuff you love, not what you (or others) "think" you "should" do.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Time, Resources, Scope

Aaron Silvers' electroluminescent seasonally-inappropriate "cast cozy".
My first foray into exploring the intersection between craft and technology.
Learning to skateboard at 40 (not having done it as a kid) is a classic example of JFDI.
I thought it should be rewarded.

Thank you Nick and Gill for the electroluminescent wire.

Thanks Aaron for the picture and for loving the present so much.   ;)

The classic 3 project constraints - Time, Cost / Resources, Scope.

Overlap '13 was an opportunity to nudge up against all 3 -with the things I made.

Read more....

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Making Real

The official Overlap '13 Commemorative Thumb Blister.

I had two big takeaways from my weekend in Pennsylvania:

Read more....

Thursday, May 30, 2013

What Turns You On?

Don’t ever let anybody tell you that the thing that you love is something that you’re not allowed to love. - Wil Wheaton

h/t to Steve Kamb at Nerd Fitness

In this year's quest to try new things, I took the plunge and accepted Mike Hruska's invite to Overlap '13.  The theme is "Makers."

To say I am excited (and a wee bit intimidated) is an understatement.

LOTS of new people (thankfully, I know more people than I thought I would going in).

In preparation - I came up with 3 questions.
   - How did you learn to do your craft?
   -  Why did you choose to do what you do?  What turns you on about it?
   - How does the stuff you love to do influence and impact the stuff you do for a living (if that person earns their primary living through other means)?
I intend to ask these 3 questions of everyone I talk to during our time in Pennsylvania.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I've been hearing something very promising as I wander around the University and talk to people.

"Hey Wendy - it would be awesome if we could get together with other folks who are also doing training here!"

"Wendy, if you know of anyone doing (x) - I think I have some ways to help them."

"You know, I've been meaning to talk to (other group) - but I didn't really know anyone.  Who should I talk to?"

I didn't hear these comments when I did my last "inventory" of our terrorist training network.

Could it be the termites of collaboration gnawing away at the silos?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Trying to get out of "Survival Mode"

I keep staring at my triangle of purpose.

At that big green Compliance section at the bottom.

Read more....

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

JFDI - the Bucket List version

One of those peak moments that appear in life....when everything comes together just so.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

#skillsoft Perspectives 2013 - Higher Ed Track

This year I decided to hang out in the higher ed track. 
See what other institutions using SkillPort are doing.

- 2 of the 3 higher ed presentations I saw used either another LMS or a portal to access and curate SkillPort content. The 3rd that went to SkillPort directly had a very targeted audience (IT folks).

- The big theme at ALL of these sessions was curation and curriculum.  General finding - the free-for-all model just didn't work when it came to driving adoption. People got too overwhelmed.

Our Organizational Development and Effectiveness group does their curation through a website and deep linking SkillPort content to point to specific content around themes.

We are also taking a long look at how people access the content in SkillPort.

My thinking - the closer we can get to the user where he/she is working, the better off everyone is going to be.

Since we are in the process of re-thinking our "intranet" and portals (otherwise known as "the SharePoint implementation") - we will have to rethink how people access our content libraries.  Permissions, organization, the whole shebang.

This most likely means SkillPort becomes a (very big, very important) content library in our environment.  Not necessarily a bad thing....
When the Java issue came up at the Higher Ed networking session - everyone nodded their heads. 
It took a LONG time for us to get off the topic. 

One of the SkillSoft reps commented that they didn't hear that as much from the corporate clients. 
A higher ed person shot back:

"Yeah - but they all have much more control over what people are using and how they are configured.  We have to support anything that shows up on campus! It's a free-for-all!"

So true.....
SkillPort seems to be used in 2.5 ways in the higher ed space
  + Staff development (often to a targeted audience OR to benefit-eligible employees)
  + Staff AND Faculty "enrichment" (the .5, often including adjuncts)
  + Academic use - students.

The schools I talked to that opened SkillPort up to academic use purchased it specifically for that purpose.

Our school is struggling with this particular issue.  We are starting to see demand for academic use, but we don't have the licenses or the personnel to support it.  I know my upper management is thinking about what to do.  The current thinking is to get the staff development side working appropriately.  But since we already opened it up for students in the initial implementation (no structure) - it may be tough for us to stick that genie back in the bottle.
The eLearning adoption issue came up in a number of presentations.

More interestingly - most groups that started with a fully asynchronous eLearning strategic approach quickly shifted to a strategy that provided more "learning choices" (read - the re-introduction of ILTs). 

No one really discussed why this was beyond "some people prefer learning that way." The education = classroom assumption.  But from what I was reading between the lines - most people missed the conversation and interaction element. 

The only example where folks seemed to prefer the asynchronous eLearning approach was some network engineers studying for the CompTIA+ Network certification. And they, apparently, heavily leveraged the live mentoring function SkillPort offers.

My takeaways from this observation:
- Increase emphasis on the live mentoring functions within the courses.  Especially for on-demand topics we no longer do instructor-led training on (such as Office and Google Apps).

- Make sure we offer some interactive opportunity / human support if we can't do a synchronous class due to resource constraints.  We already do this to a certain extent - but it was a reminder of how important this feature is.
A little rest - then off to Universal's Harry Potter area, to make ourselves sick riding roller coasters and the broom ride :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

#skillsoft Perspectives 2013 - other stuff

The other sessions I attended focused on talent development.

To be clear - my job centers around IT training.  I am not directly responsible for developing talent.

Some cool ideas though....

The University of Alberta created an interesting Pathways program leveraging various resources and focused on the 7 competencies they defined for being a successful employee at their organization.

I liked their first go at an interactive map.

They also give away patches and blankets.

Wonder if we could get away with "scout sashes" at our organization.
Be curious to see how that would go over.
Active Network did some real interesting work with their management training.

They came up with the structure of "bento boxes" - 5 minute snippets of formal, informal and social learning objects packaged as a box.

The presenters emphasized careful editing.
The users only see what they need to see.
In some of their programs - they only reveal content each month.

This design choice was a result of users getting so overwhelmed with choice that they didn't start at all. Find that this curation is working much better.

The Active Network guys offered an iPhone app that provides a design example of what they did and gives links to their materials.

Of course - I managed to get a bit distracted by Active Network's event management and registration technology.

Found myself half-hoping that SkillSoft would partner with these guys to improve the ILT registration experience.

I plan for my evening to be chill.
A trip to the hotel gym.
A quick meal from the in-resort market.
Some time to absorb the day....

#skillsoft Perspectives 2013 Day 1 Keynotes

One of the values of a vendor conference (to me at least) is that it allows me to see where my vendor is going.  What is their roadmap? Is it worth following?

Thus far - SkillSoft has been pretty good about listening to their customers (more so than any other vendor I have worked with) and keeping their pulse on the greater learning environment.

John Ambrose gave one of his better presentations this year.  He argues that 2013 is the beginning of the era of Learner Engagement.

- How can we give people what they want when they want it? 

- How can we make the learning experience more engaging?

- How can we encourage them to rent us their hearts, not just their hands?

- How can we leverage the visual experience that makes content more engaging?

- How can we create collaborative experiences that help increase engagement?

- How can we challenge our audience appropriately (since brain activity is highest when anticipating a challenge)?

- How can we use the new opportunities presented through new modes of engagement (like mobile, like wearable computers) and the data these devices collect to improve the learner experience?

We've talked in the eLearning space about the importance of learner engagement and creating learner-centric instruction for a very long time.  We've also talked about performance support and just-in-time learning for awhile. This is a nice summary of how these ideas dove-tail.

The big reason why I was excited to attend this year's Perspectives was to hear Seth Godin speak.

He believes that we are looking at the development of a Connection economy.
Connecting is a human act.  We, as humans, are the best at that.

To participate in the Connection economy we need to bring 2 things to the table:
- Generosity - because no one wants to connect with the selfish
- Art - which he defines as the "human act of doing something for the first time"

Sharing that art, risking failure - that act leads to connection.
Through connection, we gain AND give value.

As much as I've been resisting the idea of being a connector - I just realized while Seth Godin was talking that I am being thrust in that role whether I want to be or not.

Time to get a lot more generous and perform a lot more art.

"Is this the best I can do?"

The key question Seth Godin asks of himself daily.

I should too.

The Pandora's Box of Purpose

The Data Whisperer stared at my fancy 2 slide PowerPoint.

What about purpose?

Read more....

Friday, May 10, 2013

Summarizing the Learning Ecosystem

I've been working with the new SWAT Team Member for Enterprise Business Process to help clarify some of my ideas.  

Read more....

Thursday, May 09, 2013

"We Don't Know Any Better"

This is actually the "Gorilla Change".  Though what I am doing may incorporate some "sleight of hand" - I really was hoping to find a video of a bunch of gorillas in a facilitated brainstorming session.
I am in the process of performing a bit of guerrilla change management.

    Tuesday, May 07, 2013

    Use Cases vs Implementation

    - One way to get pigs to fly
    I will be the first to admit that I am a buzzkill.
    I see new things and my first thought it - "ok - can I implement this thing?"

    A few weeks ago, Reuben Tozeman pointed to a couple of resources discussing xAPI.

    Read more....

    Thursday, May 02, 2013

    Conflicting Ideas

    Dear Ze - thank you for the permission to "overthink."

    I have just realized that I am getting distracted by conflicting needs and ideas:
    • Fixing immediate problems vs. accommodating future needs
    • What the business needs vs. what I (and the IT department) can realistically deliver
    • Business strategy vs. IT strategy
    • Strategy vs Tactics
    • Immediate projects with tight timelines vs planning projects
    • Using what we have in-house vs. requirements for future purchases
    • Simplicity vs complexity 
    • Everything in one vs. leveraging the many
    It's enough to make me more than a little bonkers.

    Like the voices in my head start to sound like this band.

    And I LIKE speed punk!

    Tuesday, April 30, 2013

    Love and Discomfort

    It has dawned on me that my best relationships - platonic and romantic - have had an element of discomfort to them.

    I break discomfort down into 3 types:
    - the discomfort of doing something stupid
    - the discomfort of the unknown
    - the discomfort of growth

    The people I love the most,  the people I try my damnedest to keep close, are the ones who make me uncomfortable. Uncomfortable in a way that makes me better. The discomfort of growth.

    Challenging my assumptions.
    Forcing me to think clearer.
    Attacking my belief systems.
    Encouraging me to find more examples.
    Identifying when I am acting in a way that doesn't match my values or goals.
    Wanting me to just be a better person.

    I don't like it when the people I love show me they love me back by pointing out my "failings".
    Where I fall short.
    But I know they do it to make me better.
    To grow.
    To be my best self.

    To my family, my friends, my co-workers, my professional network.
    The people I commune with on a semi-regular basis.

    Thank you for the gift of the discomfort of growth.

    Monday, April 29, 2013

    LMSs, Push and Groups

    Just a few thoughts - only because this is on my mind too....
    I trust that my UP2AOU colleagues will let me know if I am entirely off base.
    One of my fellow higher ed colleagues is looking for a new LMS.

    Read more....

    Thursday, April 25, 2013

    Tuesday, April 23, 2013

    Garden - Part 4: The Seedlings

    So what ARE you going to put in the boxes - you may ask.

    Remember those seedlings?

    I attempted to put them in the boxes!
    Visions of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages and cardoons!


    uh....they're KINDA green....ish.....

    Sometimes, the seedlings we plant fail.

    In this instance - I suspect they were doomed from the start.
    Too spindly.
    And I didn't harden them off (what does "harden them off" mean?)

    There's a little hope for the cardoons and kale.
    The rest...dead.

    I suspect that the political / talking-to-people process in my Learning Ecosystem is comparable to the hardening off process for seedlings.

    I've had a number of mentors recently tell me that I'm doing a great job of starting the seedlings. 
    I just need to take the time to harden them off.
    Get them a little more comfortable in the environment I am working in.
    Otherwise, they may wilt and die.
    Just like the seedlings for my garden.

    Tuesday, April 16, 2013

    Garden - Part 3: Rotating Crops

    I have some garden boxes in the front "yard".
    A benefit to living in a neighborhood with no homeowners association.

    The past few years I have used these garden boxes for tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.

    From my admittedly limited study of vegetable gardening, I decided that this year I would move the crops to an area I fondly call "Pine Chip Beach."  We used to have a pine tree at that location that we had removed and chipped into mulch to smother the English Ivy.

    Last year - the peppers and eggplants that were in containers did MUCH better than the plants in the boxes.

    So I have decided to plant all of our nightshades in containers this year.

    Pine Chip Beach still gets quite a bit of sun since we had the cherry tree (trunk seen on the right) trimmed way back.
    It won't be this sunny forever.
    Figured it's time to take advantage and let the boxes rest.
    In the Learning Ecosystem, I am also "rotating" or moving crops.  My reporting crop - to be specific.

    Like my boxes, there will still be some reporting coming out of the old location (our LMS).

    But we are looking to do a lot of our reporting in different locations. 
    More fertile locations with possibly more sunshine.

    As with my attempt at crop rotation (of a sort), I hope to gain more options for reporting and a richer crop of data.
    Also, as with my attempt at crop rotation, I am not entirely certain this will work.

    At least I have more options.

    Thursday, April 11, 2013

    Garden - Part 2: Smother and Replace

    There are areas of my garden where I am doing a complete re-do.

    Below is an attempt to smother some grass with newspapers and topsoil. 

    This is in preparation for a future butterfly garden.

    If you look carefully - there are still patches of green peeking up through the dirt.

    Some of these green patches are bulbs. These can stay.

    Some of these are a cool-looking ground-cover weed.

    The debate I pull the cool-looking ground-cover weed out or leave it?

    Over the dirt - I have sprinkled the appropriate Butterfly Garden seed mix.
    I suspect that half of the seed will be sacrificed to the birds - who have been eyeing my progress with great anticipation.

    Now...we wait to see what grows.

    In the Learning Ecosystem - I've tried to smother my old development tools to adopt and grow new ones. 

    Yet, cool things are popping up through the attempt at smothering. 

    I find a need to keep the old development tools as use cases pop up through the dirt. 
    Not desirable, necessarily, but useful for now.  

    I have a better idea of what is blooming among these tools than my garden. 
    I adopted new tools about 6 months ago.  I spread the seeds last week.

    I also have a better feel for how my external environment in the Learning Ecosystem will react (conservative and cheap) than for how the birds will behave and the weather impacts the seeds.

    However, even with progress being made in the Learning Ecosystem, I am still uncertain as to whether the revamp of this section of the garden will turn out the way I plan. 

    How much of the "old" will remain and for how long.

    Whether the new "seeds" I planted will sprout.

    How external forces will impact my efforts.

    Ultimately, I may leave it up to the birds.

    Wednesday, April 10, 2013

    Garden - Part 1: Insanity

    It has dawned on me that enterprise, legacy, courses and all that assumes a level of stability that no longer exists.
    With the coming of spring, my thoughts have turned to gardens.
    Specifically - my garden.

    My garden - an ever-morphing, ever-evolving ecosystem within a specific environment (in this case - my property lines).

    The Learning Ecosystem - should be an ever-morphing, ever-evolving ecosystem within a specific environment (in this case - the University I work for).

    The next few posts will explore this metaphor.
    There are areas of my garden where we are making (yet again) an attempt to do the same thing that hasn't worked before.

    In THIS case, an attempt to grow grass in the backyard.

    Note the little piles of grass seed and Clay Breaker.
    The significant other INSISTS that THIS TIME it will work.

    In the Learning Ecosystem - Instructional Design (or lack thereof). Guilty as charged.

    Insanity....doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

    Tuesday, April 09, 2013

    Demo Days

    The most important part of my job as an IT trainer is to break stuff.

    Because if I don't break it, someone else will. Likely in my class. Or when they are in panic-mode and whatever it is they are trying to use is really super-important and they need to use it NOW orelsetheirkittendiesahorribledeathathtehandsofthechiefheadmuckymuckoftortureandabuseandifIdontdoitnowIwilllosemyjoband apoxwillbeputonmyhouse

    Better that I do it.

    Anyway, we are in the process of looking at replacements for our communications systems.
    Phones, Video conferencing, Web conferencing, IM, the whole shebang.

    This is potentially good.  We are hitting up against issues in our current environment that need fixing.

    - We have a lot more telecommuters.  Attending a meeting as a telecommuter in our environment is painful.  Especially if there are a bunch of people in a video teleconferencing room and you, the lonely telecommuter, is at home with your phone and (if you are lucky) an outdated document.

    - Trying to do desktop share is awkward, at best.  Non-functional on too many occasions (curses Java, Java applets, and all the rest)

    - IP Softphone to help you drag your office phone to any other location....a good idea in concept.  Our current execution is spotty.  Some people love it.  I am not one of them.

    - There is no way for me to easily escalate a chat to a voice call to a video call or web conference.  That would be awesome.

    - We have way too many tools that we use to perform simple tasks.

    So my hope is that any solution we select and implement
    - Solves the problems we have
    - Reduces the number of tools.

    Seems simple, right?

    Uh - yeah.

    After look at our options, I walked away a touch depressed.
    - 3 of the 4 options looked cobbled together
    - Of those 3 options, 1 didn't work at all. The other 2 were variations on the same theme.
    - The one option that appeared to work the way we wanted it to is probably too expensive

    I had our student helper go through the demos as well.

    "This looks cool and all, but why can't we just use Google Hangouts and Skype?"

    Why, indeed.....

    Thursday, April 04, 2013

    Words of Wisdom from Ze Frank

    "God, let me enjoy this.  Life isn't just a sequence of waiting for things to be done."
    I have missed Ze Frank.

    Tuesday, April 02, 2013

    Another Attempt at xAPI Sense Making

    One of my objectives for Learning Solutions was to make more sense of how xAPI (fondly known as Tin Can) might work in my Learning Ecosystem.

    Read more....

    Thursday, March 28, 2013

    One on One

    This is an excuse for a Hall and Oates moment.
    I've been having a number of conversations about communities of practice and the like.

    I realized that the power of my personal network and community is really in the strength of my one-on-one relationships.

    Invitations to join a community tend to come from a relationship established elsewhere.

    If I join a community with no invitation - I find that I am more likely to stick around if I find one person that takes me under-wing.

    The likelihood of me staying with a community tends to be dependent upon the strength of the one-on-one relationships I am able to establish within that community.

    So how does this translate to organizations and the discussions around communities of practice?

    I'm not entirely sure. 

    Strikes me we might be approaching "building communities" in organizations the wrong way.

    Instead - maybe we should be asking how we can encourage individuals to build relationships with other individuals.

    Provide collaborative tools to make relationship-building easier.

    Support the process of making friends and introducing people to other potential friends (and not always in group settings).

    Create opportunities for individuals to build relationships with other, like-minded individuals.

    Encourage conversation - not meetings.

    Maybe talk around "so what do we want the community to DO" might miss the point.

    We have projects for that.  A project is it's own little community.  Relationships can be built within them.

    But the big stuff I somehow manage to accomplish, the communities I've been involved with, and any productivity (and enjoyment) I get out of my work are the result of individual relationships in my own little universe.  Not from big group gatherings, team-building activities and forced participation in "communities of practice."

    Maybe it's just my anti-social, crowd-phobia shining through :)

    Tuesday, March 26, 2013

    One Tool to Rule Them All

    From fanpop
    After investigating the current state of the LMS space over the past 3 months I have learned the following:
    • Adding content that is trackable is still awkward in the majority of LMSs
    • The type of reporting I want to be able to do -Is the training stuff I am developing actually helping the business?- has no BUSINESS being in the LMS.  It should be in the organization's business intelligence systems.  If you don't know or haven't made friends with your organization's resident Data Whisperer - it's time to go out and socialize.  Bring cookies.
    • The space really hasn't changed very much.
      • "Collaboration tools" is the new chat room / message board
      • The types of reports you can get are the same (butts in seats, completion and scores)
      • The assumption is still that the learning objects are "courses"
    If I replace the LMS we have with another LMS - we still have the same problems.

    Oh yeah - and the content library in the current LMS is too valuable to fully replace the LMS, so we would wind up with TWO LMSs.

    Erm...yeah.  Sounds like a great use of our time.

    I have a feeling I am not alone here.

    Thursday, March 21, 2013

    The Center of My Universe

    This is a picture of the boundaries of the solar system.
    How changes in the Sun define and impact everything around it.
    The reach of its influence.
    I thought this was a good analogy.

    Yes I AM the center of my universe :)

    Courtesy of

    Over the past couple of years, I have learned that there are 4 levels to change.

    - Internal change - Feeling that change needs to happen. Defining the change for myself on not only the intellectual level, but also on the EMOTIONAL level.

    It's the integrated buy-in from both the head and the heart that motivates me to move on to the next level.

    If the change is just in my head - it winds up becoming a list of "shoulds" and a weapon to beat myself up with. I don't need any more self-flagellation tools.

    - Individual action - Acting on the internal change.
    Do my actions move me closer to or further from my goals?

    - Finding the tribe - Who shares my goals?
    Who can serve as a support system?
    How do my goals mesh with theirs?
    How can I help them as they help me?

    These folks don't have to be in physical proximity - though it helps to have a few nearby.
    The small day-to-day decisions and actions are easier when support is close-at-hand.

    - Critical mass - How many of us feel that the same change needs to be made?
    At a certain point, with enough people marching in the same direction, culture change occurs.
    Whether the leadership likes it or not :)

    At the core of this is Internal Change.

    I have to believe that this change is necessary and right.
    Everything else seems to follow organically from that.
    I find myself performing the next right thing.  Or making the next right decision.
    I find myself surrounded by people with similar aspirations.  I find my tribe.
    Ultimately - I observe a groundswell of change.

    I'm seeing this dynamic at work right now.

    Internal change - I sensed that I needed to look at a much broader picture than just an LMS replacement.

    Individual action - I started evaluating what I had, what I needed, what trends I was seeing, and what obstacles needed to be considered as I looked at our Learning Ecosystem.

    Finding the Tribe - I started reaching out to people who could help.  More importantly, I have also been trying to figure out how I can help them too.  Relationships are better when there is both give and take. I find the giving more satisfying.

    Critical mass - Over the past few months, I've been seeing a greater emphasis on enterprise and collaboration vs. the silos and games of telephone.  This may just be one isolated corner of the world (mine), but I am not getting the resistance I have in the past.  The communications trail seems....flatter.

    I'm observing this in other areas of the organization as well.  Not just by design (see the SWAT team), but also by general activity.
    - Traditionally closed and isolated departments starting to tout their collaborative efforts with others.
    - Cross-divisional teams creating operational programs with minimal headaches.
    - Greater access to expertise.
    - Groups moving from small, artisan shops to scalable enterprise programs.
    - More people looking at the bigger picture vs. just at their own individual interests.

    What's great about this is that it seems to be happening organically.

    All I need to do is continue my individual internal and external activities.
    Continue evaluating whether my thoughts and individual actions match what I want to see in my world.
    And have faith that all will work as it should.

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

    A Confession

    From Secret of Flight

    One of the themes I've been hearing is frustration / ennui around the eLearning space.

    I guess this is the natural evolution of things.
    Kinda like when a small indie band gets popular - then we claim they've sold out once other people discover them.

    I did this to myself with my rapid development tools and teaching subject matter experts to fish.
    I am guilty of propagating this.
    I did it out of necessity.
    Too much demand (finally!), too many projects, too little time, too little me.

    I did this to myself by falling back to old design practices and habits - despite the power of a number of these tools to facilitate real learning beyond our familiar generations-old model.

    Instructional televison?  Classroom over the air.
    Synchronous online training? Classroom on the computer.
    Asynchronous online training? Classroom (time-independent) on the computer.
    Mobile learning? Classroom on the go.

    We know this model. Our subject-matter experts know this model. Our audience expects this model.
    It's easy.
    Same way teaching the same course over an entire career, like many research professors do, is easy.
    There is less resistance.
    Less discomfort.
    Less having to "explain ourselves"
    Less having to sell an idea that no one can "see" yet.
    Again - I am guilty.

    The ennui and frustration I feel is my own fault.

    And I get the feeling it is the result of thinking too small.
    Focusing too closely on "getting it done". On the immediate crisis at hand.

    But what if I expand my perspective a bit?
    Look more at the entire forest - flora, fauna, trees, undergrowth?
    Even just a BIT of the forest?
    I wonder how that might change my approach?

    Worth finding out.

    Thursday, March 14, 2013

    #LSCON Subscription Learning pt 2

    There is a wave effect that increases the time over the retrieval threshold.

    Spacing may slow learning but improves remembering.

    But you still need the repetition.
    Got to come back to the original topic for this to work
    (Think our telecommuter training. The tech training is used as a base for repetition for the next topic which is used as a base for the next topic.)

    Think key concepts.
    Reintroduce those concepts occasionally.
    Opportunity to repeat things over time.

    Delivery methods
    Scheduled email (figure out how to do this in gmail)
    Email marketing platform (figure out what is lying around that we can leverage)
    Subscription learning platform (generic)
    Subscription learning platform dedicated (to particular subject)
    ELearning authoring tool.
     (I also investigated Google Sites RSS feed subscription )

    Prompt an answer
    - make less likely they will peek ahead.
    Delay an answer
    Summarize headers list

    Can do test after they've done stuff
    Authoring tools can keep track already
    Some subscriptions, will do for you (cameo)

    Do it
    Try different approaches

    #LSCON subscription learning

    Will Thalheimer

    Spacing effect. Spacing learning over time.

    Subscription- feeling ownership. Opting in when benefit. Opt out when no benefit. Want "latest" information.

    Scheduling of learning events
    - one time event - single class or event
    - multi events - stretch out over weeks or year. Multiple events
    - subscription -fairly regular stream

    Learners subscribe
    Many learning events
    Short nuggets
    Tech enabled
    Push technology
    spacing events
    Engagement optional

    People tend to have good attention span on short time frames.
    Can you get them into it.
    Easy to update
    More prescriptive.
    More likely to remember.

    If people learn but don't remember, can't apply.
    Spacing effect can support remembering.
    What happens depends on design of learning and after learning follow up
    Subscription learning about design (but also speaks to post learning.

    Repetition works in the real world (see surgery death rates)
    Verbatim, paraphras, retest, different media
    Paraphrase more powerful than straight repetition
    People get different things each time.

    Spacing effect is one of the oldest and best documented phenomena.
    Repeat over longer period of time, remembered over longer period of time.

    Other info on subscription learning.

    #LSCON Thurs AM Keynote Part 2

    Speaker: Daniel Coyle
    What is happening to folks undergoing massive performance improvement?

    Myolin - brain insulation. Insulates our wires. It grows in response to practice. Adds layers.
    Signal - layer.
    As insulation gets thicker, signal speed increases.
    Practice earns speed, accuracy.
    Once myosin in place, doesn't disappear.
    To make a new habit - need to build. Can't destroy the old habit.

    Growth proportional to hours of practice.

    We are what we repeatedly do.

    (He talks about physical practice, but it has much greater application. Emotional habits? Mental habits?)

    Habit 1: maximize reach fullness. Find, fail, fix
    - ruthlessly eliminate passive learning.
    - aim for the 60-80% sweet spot. On edge. Not where can't succeed.
    - REPS gauge. Reaching and repeating? Emotional engagement? Purposeful action (building what you want to build)? Is there Swift feedback?

    How do you motivate people to into that uncomfortable space?
    When we stare a a person we want to become- unleashes energy. (Who is your model)
    One person succeeds. There is your model.
    Who is the person you want to be?

    Habit 2: do what you can to fill the windshield (who do you want to become?)
    - promote staring. Let people spend time observing
    - encourage stealing. All constantly stealing from each other.
    - create a mistake club. Detoxify mistakes. Share greatest mistakes as well as triumphs.

    What makes an effective coach?
    Coaches know a lot and talk a lot. This is our story. But is this true?

    Best coaches tended to be older, not give speeches, connect to individuals.
    Through the individual relationship - can give feedback, motivate.
    Short pieces of vivid information. Immediate feedback.

    Habit 3: communicate like a coach
    - connect (esp. Emotional connection)
    - vivid concise information. No long speeches. Vivid images.
    - praise for effort and not for ability

    We live in a world of signals.
    We are status driven creatures.
    If send a signal about effort - more willing to take risk.
    If talk about you are awesome at something - less willing to take risk,


    Talent is really emotion driven. Effort driven.
    Not about naked magical babies.

    We build talent together.

    #LSCON Thurs AM Keynote

    Hotbed: The Blueprint of High Performance
    Daniel Coyle

    "You should get good at something."
    Tiger woods playing with golf pall. Encapsulate skill
    Skill=exactly the right thing at exactly the right time.

    3 levels of being bad at something
    Bad and sad
    So bad it's funny
    So bad that your kids make a movie around how bad you are

    One day - something illogical happens.... (Dan Coyle golf)

    What just happened?
    What is this space between bad and good?

    The story about this space:
    Babies are born with gifts. Over time and hard work and passion, these talents bloom.
    Is it true?
    Talent seems like a lottery here. And very vague.

    These places succeed because they are good at growing fast, accurate brains.
    The brain drives the muscle.
    They are like ecosystems. Everything aligned towards how the brain works.

    World of business is a learning contest.

    1st habit - all spent 10000 hours intensively learning their craft.
    - we think of practice is necessary. Don't think of it as being transformative.

    There are certain moments where things happen in our brain to make us learn.
    - people learn more when they have to fill in the gaps.

    You made a reach.
    A moment where you had to struggle. Got it wrong.
    The mistake is information to give you a solution.
    When we operate on the edge of your ability - we get smarter.

    Fail, find, fix.

    This is not small.

    Deep practice has a specific feel. Struggle. Not a nice place to be emotionally.
    These people put in places where they can struggle.
    The feeling of that mistake is visceral.
    You learn more in that intensive 5 minutes.
    Want to spend time in that uncomfortable, visceral space.
    The practice is about finding and fixing the mistake.

    If you play a song fast enough so it can be recognized, playing it too fast.
    Slowness - allows you to find the mistakes.

    Push the brain to the edge of its ability for those 10000 hours.

    Design a space where people can fail.

    Wednesday, March 13, 2013

    #LSCON Afternoon Conversations

    Ran into Kevin Thorn at the Articulate booth with Tom Kuhlmann. Really good to talk to both of them again. Tom was telling me about this great design he made for a compliance training that had the policy in a frame for reference and the eLearning content in a window. I am hoping he writes about it in a future blog post. I point anyone who will even remote listen to me regarding instructional design to his Rapid eLearning blog.  Really cool to catch up. I haven't had a chance to catch up with Tom in a few years.
    Had a big a-ha moment from watching Kris Rockwell set up for his sensor presentation and seeing Stephen Anderson's synthesis of the intersection between the new tactile technology experiments and learning. user motion interfaces. The ability to track data using mechanical sensors / physical activity. This could be huge!  Not just in terms of switches (like airplane cockpits), but also in terms of things like surgical simulators and performance support of telemedicine. Further tracking of physical performance like golf swings, VOMax test etc for athletes, maybe even using those sensors and that info for PT recovery. More organized tracking of keystrokes and mouse movement or touch screen activity (since this is where our apps are going).

    The bits and pieces are there.

    Again, Wendy sees something and has no idea what to do with the information.....
    I keep finding and missing Mike Hruska.

    That dude is fast.
    Time to recharge electronics and grab chow.

    A really productive day.

    #LSCON sensors and xAPI continued

     (Overnight project - figure out a better blogging system)

    XAPI - you really need to define what you need to capture before you capture it.

    We are doubling the amount of information every day.
    Does not mean we are doubling the knowledge.

    We need to have an idea of what we are looking for.
    XAPI and other technologies mean huge amounts of data.

    In his model - RFID, validates person. Then toggle switch = action.

    Eg Kris interacted with toggle switch.

    It's about context.
    What if I  have many boxes with many switches?
    ( like an airplane cockpit)
    It gives us a really interesting picture of how our learner are performing.

    Flight simulators record everything they do. But on paper or (if really ahead) web page.
    This gives great metrics on performance. Plus rewarded by less frequent decertification.

    Apply this to other fields (ambulance, boat captain...)

    By reporting directly through the mechanical interaction - more direct data. Maybe even more accurate? Definitely more efficient.

    This is also not next button learning.
    (Adding the kinethetic element Stephen Anderson talked about)

    #LSCON Sensors and APIs

    Kris Rockwell and his explosive device sensor. With Megan Bowe.

    The popularity of sensors not to be underestimated.
    How can we use sensors to capture user interaction data?

    We use sensors every day (see smartphone)
    We can use this as a way to collect data!

    Experience API gives us new way to collect data beyond courseware completion etc.
    Older APIs constrained to desktops. Now need to accommodate different hardware.

    With the xAPI - we have a great tool and no idea what to do with it.
    Still focused on the old courseware. "How do we convert it?"
    (Of course)

    #LSCON Experience API and LRSs

    Some really nice conversation with Glenn Bull from Skilitix before Aaron's session.

    Seems like there are a lot of us grappling with learning analytics and its place in the enterprise.
    Not just us end-user folks.
    Experience API more like an open standards project.
    Define and make instruction set available.

    Baseline info on Experience API (Tin Can)

    Creating structured record jSon object
    Actor- verb -object -result -context

    Learning record store - place where activity statement goes.
    Records any valid statements
    It is a capability - not a product. Make across systems.
    Try to use same command across all systems that can read common API.
    Want to be able to leverage LRS idea across varying types of systems. Project management, linked in, enterprise systems

    Verification done through signed statements

    LRS addresses only 1 capability that LMS deals with. The learning records.
    LRS = antenna
    LMS = fortress

    LRS collects. Reporting system makes sense of the data.
    The collected data can go across to other systems - Hris systems, LMS reporting, even a personal data locker (maybe through LinkedIn?)

    LRS = storage not processing.
    Very little validation done at runtime.
    Other services make meaning of the data.

    Identify person talking about through authentication means.
    Can use embox (?) email address. O auth - token that tracks back. Like Facebook or twitter signin from another app.

    Can do both group and team (will need to figure out how to architect . This is still early days.)

    There is a spec for activity streams.
    Google etc care who you are.
    Learning folk care what you are actually doing.
    Verb list describes what you are actually doing. (Fire a kiln vs. fire a gun)
    URI -creating a unique identifier for that verb.
    Objects described in lots of ways. LRMI - trying to describe learning resources in common ways.

    Result - did you get a result back?
    This done separately. (Also traditional thing we measure)
    All activity time steamed.
    Working on geo-location.

    What are people actually using (can we leverage this with existing web analytics?)
    How can we build in feedback loops - how is what you are doing (training) translating to the job?

    (Good stuff Aaron!)

    #LSCON Developing Mobile LMS

    The session I am doing that may be more immediately applicable to my organization.

    Speaker with Sungard Public Sector (Government arm)
    Hooks into their regular LMS
    Mobile LMS also self developed

    Business needs /user needs / capabilities

    Used stepwise progression.
    What do we NEED to have happen.
    Quick and early betas with each step.

    How do you get them to want to do it vs. forced to do it?

    Need a way to measure success.
    (First, define what success is)

    Need to find ways to make it easier to find data for people in the field.
    Issue with resync capability. Folks not necessarily coming back to office pc to sync.
    Also looking at way to leverage info from conference apps (his org does conferences)

    Build or buy?
    If we have a successful project - what does it look like?
    Everything must feed back to LMS. Can you display results from LMS to mobile site?
    Can we feed? Putting stuff INTO LMS hard.

    Mobile app vs mobile web. (Standard arguments)

    Tech notes
    Php for back end
    Database using odbc
    JQuery mobile for front end
    Initially could not register for classes. Needed to hack LMS db tables.
    Did web based. Only lost push notification.

    What do your users really need /use.
    - too much in desktop LMS. Don't need everything.
    What classes / courses do you want to focus on to start?

    Step wise process
    What one person can do in a year
    1) create mobile interface for first event (beta)
    2) create for second event (pilot process)
    3) create full mobile interface. write to database.(does the dev process work larger scale?)

    Lock down the phases. Only changes and new features for each phase if something absolutely does not work.

    (Essentially he is talking about a conference app development system)
    Had some issues with jQuery mobile. Too slow. Right now just hand holding it.

    Leaving the aicc / scorm pieces out. Not worried about courses on demand.

    Keep your date picker simple (now, this week, this month....)
    Big ui thing to consider for mobile - keep it real simple. Easy to touch. Easy to see.

    #LSCON Ideas YouCan Play With

    I had a chance to meet Stephen Anderson at UpToAllOfUs a couple of weeks ago. Just some awesome ideas. He deserved to be featured.

    Basic questions for selecting "technology"
    Is it manipulative?
    Support self-directed learning?
    Immediate feedback?
    Ideas You Can Play With
    Stephen P. Anderson

    As a designer - we work with humans. Good to know how they work.

    Mental Notes card deck (this is really cool btw)

    Seductive Interaction Design.
    How do we get users to fall in love with our stuff?

    Laugh-o-gram films.
    Also worked to bring live action into cartoons (again - where are the gaps? What tools do you have?)
    Theme of his life - investing in the next big thing.
    Silly symphonies a platform for new technologies.
    Color, sound synch, multi-plane camera...
    Always playing with new technologies.
    How can I advance what I am doing?

    Disney company - plants as multi-touch control!
    Just uses software and electrodes.
    Also experimenting with grip, gestures, etc
    Experiment with feeling on device (which would be awesome on this touch screen!)

    Where do people get ideas?
    The intersection between disciplines, fields, culture

    - self-directed learning. Give them an interesting learning challenge and environment to explore...powerful.
       Minecraft - no leader boards, missions, etc. curiosity, self expression, autonomy...

    How do you leverage internal drivers?

    - sense of vision picks up subtle things and patterns before it becomes conscious . Subtle differences are significant.Powerful visual imagery allows you to not put stuff in memory
    - conceptual metaphors aid in understanding. (bad analogy theatre is a very useful game)
    - playful interactions.  Serendipity through play.
    - immediate feedback loops.
    - embodied cognition. Thinking and thoughts tied to body.
       Thinking then doing doesn't hold up entirely. Really thinking THROUGH doing.
        Can rearrange to facilitate (scrabble)
        (Manipulatives allow you to learn in a different way. Process differently. Have we made our workspaces too sedentary?)

    3rd phase of computing. Ubiquitous.
    - seeing devices communicate with each other. Scrabble.
    - appcessories. Combine tangible vs. screen. Shine activity app.
    - changes in how we interact
    - sensors that connect to you
    (So the next trick is leveraging this stuff - wonder if Steven and Kris have talked to each other today)


    #LSCON Cruising the Vendor Hall

    Took a quick lap around the vendor hall and found the usual suspects.

    Did have a productive conversation with Andy Whittaker at Rustici software.
    Those folks are really thinking through the new API and exploring the possibilities of it beyond the LMS / LRS model.

    An idea that came to me in Texas (and might make my IT colleagues heads explode) is the thought that there might be a way to automatically generate reportable information from wherever content is housed.

    Wendy - think about a small scale prototype for proof of concept.

    What if I tried to attach some mechanism for generating Tin Can Experience API statements from our  FTP server? We dump non-tracked stuff in there anyway. We have control (mostly) of that corner of our web space.

    You might then be able to dump it and the other stuff into a Learning Record Store, then maybe into your Big Data Warehouse for business analytics.


    That goes with the Business Intelligence strategy from my understanding of where that is headed...

    Definitely a conversation that needs to be continued.

    #LSCON Wed AM keynote

    Lots of new people this year (no surprise ). If my organization is any indicator - we have hit tipping point. Elearning is now sexy(ish)

    My iPad decided it didn't want to scroll down anymore. Apologies for incomplete words at the end. And the disorganized notes.

    (End at the beginning....due to my technology. Blah.)
    His big thing - using telepresence to explore vs submarines. The cameras can just stay down.

    Tends to work in parallel . Looking at convergence points.
    Looking for gaps.
    Where can I explore?
    What tools do I have to explore it with?
    Exploring the Role of Technology in Peak Performance
    Robert Ballard

    Wanted to be Capt. Nemo when growing up (cool).
    Parents encouraged him
    - became submariner
    - parents sent him to visit Scripps nearby

    When in a bad sea - put your nose into the swells.
    If you turn - you tip over (decent analogy).

    Occasionally you get a rogue wave that is huge and eats you.
    (I try to go where there aren't rogue waves)

    The mountain range under the sea covers almost a quarter of the earth.
    We went to the moon before exploring this feature.
    This plays a huge role in the creation of the earths outer skin.
    Earth is a living creature and works in a systematic way.

    Earth creates skin similar to humans.
    Creating new "tissue" and killing old.

    (He is telling stories. My Dad is a marine biologist , so I found this section interesting. I see why he chafed at spending the rest of his career as a Budget Analyst).

    (Typing this on an iPad. Not bad. Having issues with links. Internet generally good.)

    Most of the planet is in eternal darkness . No photosynthesis.
    In one dive - changed chemistry, biology, geology.
    (Was one of those Scientific Revolution moments that was occurring around him at the time 60s-70s)

    Was looking at the volcanoes - but learned about the process of discovery.

    Got what was looking for - but in a very different form.
    The underground chimneys - vast mineral deposits.

    Discovered that sea is salty because the river minerals going into cracks and being processed within those deep cracks.

    They found a world that was "not supposed to be there."
    At time - assumed that no or limited life with no biosynthesis.
    More robust ecosystem than tropical rainforest.

    Found a creature that uses poison to replicate photosynthesis.
    This may be where life was created on the planet.
    May have come on meteorite . 23% this bacterium that uses poison for photosynthesis.

    Was in Silicon Valley during 80s.
    Dreaming - gotta be a better way to " go to work" than 6 hours there and back.
    Absorbed stff

    Monday, March 11, 2013

    Prepping for Yet Another Conference

    Completely unrelated...

    Why is it that technology companies are out to make us look like Star Trek characters?

    I'm just sayin.....

    Another week, another conference.
    I haven't traveled this much for work in over 10 years.
    Maybe I should think about joining one of those frequent flyer programs.....

    This week's adventure is Learning Solutions in Orlando.

    One of the more "comfortable" conferences in my calendar.
    Not presenting (thank goodness).
    Just hiding in my corner near the power outlets and blogging. 
    You know, where you will usually find me at these things.

    As with most conferences - I go in with a "plan" that I reserve the right to change at any moment.

    This week's plan:
    - Touch base with the folks I bonded with at Up to All of Us.  And a few folks from that weekend that I didn't get a chance to spend time as much time with as I wanted.

    - Find Chad Udell.  We found each other, then missed each other at TechKnowledge.  May turn this into a game :)

    - Really explore APIs.  Those sessions will get a lot of play.  Plus, it will give me an opportunity to see Kris Rockwell and Aaron Silvers speak again.

    One of the takeaways from my weekend in Texas is the thought that there might be a way to create a system that allows us to track learning automatically no matter where it is housed in our environment. 

    The technology isn't quite there yet, but I have a couple of people with much better technical chops than I do willing to play with me.  I hope to touch base with them at Learning Solutions.  Definitely following up in April.

    There will be web meetings....

    Friday, March 08, 2013


    This spring's seedlings under the grow lamp.
    - Upper left - Cardoons
    - Lower left - Kale
    - Upper right - Bete Noire cabbage
    - Lower right - Brunswick cabbage

    The Bete Noire cabbage looks a bit unhappy in this picture. Those particular seeds sprout later - so I'm not worried.

    My seedlings are a little spindly, though.

    Time to adjust the growing environment :)
    I've started the annual gardening cycle again.  This is my 2nd full season growing stuff in my yard.

    Right now - I'm starting seeds for the spring garden.
    This spring - broccoli, cauliflower, kale and a couple types of cabbage.

    Amazing how quickly those seeds sprout with a little light, a little heat and a little water.

    I don't have to fuss over them.  Just keep an eye on them, thin them as they get healthier - picking only the strongest.  The weaker seedlings get composted (or eaten - nom!).

    In a couple of weeks - the seedlings should be ready for the great outdoors.

    And, if all goes well, I should have green and purple cabbage for coleslaw, kale for kale chips, broccoli to roast (the only way I will eat it) and purple cauliflower to look at (or figure out some way to consume that doesn't require a blender, 2 sticks of butter and a pint of heavy cream to eat).
    This 6 month cycle has been about starting seedlings.

    - Collecting requirements / challenges from my co-workers (seeds)
    - Collecting ideas from my tribe (seeds)
    - Creating a fertile environment for these things to grow (light, heat, water, soil)
    - Adjusting that environment as needed to support those seedlings (nutrients)
    - Weeding out to give the best seedlings a chance to grow strong (care)

    As I collect seeds and begin sprouting them, I am continuing to make decisions around what I want in this garden of mine.

    What will I use (eat) most.
    When is the best time to grow that particular seed.
    When is the seedling ready.
    Where should I plant it.
    Who do I share the harvest with.
    What changes need to be made if the process "fails".

    In the actual practice of training and development - we tend to focus on the "event".
    The Assessment of what needs to be in the event.
    Best practices for Design.
    The final product for Delivery
    The timeline for Implementation.

    But in our march to the next project, Evaluation gets neglected.
    The step back to see whether we have selected the right seeds.
    Created a fertile environment.
    Grew what we expected to grow.

    This is above and beyond metrics and Kilpatrick levels and smile sheets.
    It is in that Evaluation process that we have the opportunity to tend the garden.
    All of it.  Not just one plant (the course). Or just one container (the curriculum).

    How fertile and varied is your garden?

    Thursday, March 07, 2013

    Finding the Tribe

    During one of the introductory exercises at Up to All of Us last weekend, Marty Rosenheck asked:
    Wendy - what three wishes do you have for your professional life.

    A little pressure when you have 40+ people staring at you.

    My three wishes are:
    - A job I love
    - People I love to work with
    - A field that allows me to explore anything I want.

    I spent a long time looking for a professional situation that fulfills these three wishes.
    And I am finally there.

    I give thanks every day for that.
    One of the themes of my weekend in Texas was "finding my tribe."

    The folks at Up to All of Us are part of my tribe.

    A group of people where I found radical acceptance.


    A mirror into parts of my self that I don't necessarily see.

    People who I can bounce my craziest and most radical ideas off of and have them treated not only seriously, but added and improved upon.

    Intellectual stimulation at leisure.

    Seems like a rare and wondrous thing.
    As I thought about my answer to Marty's question, I remembered that I have found members of my tribe at work too.

    Probably the only thing missing in that situation is the leisure.
    I get glimpses, but then one or the other of us have to go to a meeting.
    Or we have to "get stuff done." "Stay focused." "Meet deadlines."

    There is a level of pressure in the work situation that seems to stunt the important, rambling conversations that lead to connection - both emotional and intellectual.

    This makes me wonder - how do we create those spaces in the workplace?

    It doesn't have to be physical spaces (because I have found that attempts at "collaborative workspaces" tend to result in workspaces where one can't work at all.  Please see cubicle farms.).

    I'm not entirely convinced the scheduled meeting works either.  Seems to take away the serendipity aspect.

    I wonder if maybe we should allow the line staff to have the same "offsite retreat" opportunities that executives have? 

    I wonder if there is a way that we can "encourage" our colleagues to find THEIR tribe?
    Figure out the types of people they want to surround themselves with?
    Provide opportunities to spend more time with them?
    Create tools and resources to play together - whether they are in the same physical space or not?

    From my own experience, finding my tribe has meant that I've gotten a LOT more accomplished - personally and professionally.

    And I am much, much happier.

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

    Taking Things Out of Conferences

    An animated discussion at Philz Coffee, San Jose CA, with Brian Dusablon and Craig Wiggins.
    Whatever I was talking about must have been fascinating.
    It was probably about breakfast burritos....

    The Data Whisperer walked into my office for one of our Friday Conversations.

    How was the conference?

    Good. I think the folks in my sessions got what they needed out of it.

    The Data Whisperer looked at me quizzically.  This is not an unfamiliar expression.

    What about you?

    I probably looked at him with that same quizzical expression.

    Going into the conference - my whole goal was that people got what they needed out of my sessions.  I wasn't particularly expecting to get "anything out of it" other than the experience of presenting and participating in a panel discussion, a quick look-see at the state of the vendors, a Psycho donut and a nice meal with Aaron Silvers and Megan Bowe.

    I got that out of the conference. 

    After a significant amount of processing time - I realized that the most "value" I got out of ASTD TechKnowledge was in the serendipitous side conversations away from the conference rooms and vendor hall.

    I'm headed to Austin for Up to All of Us this weekend.

    Despite Brian, Aaron and Megan's attempts to explain it to me - this is one of those "you'll understand when you get there" situations.

    I'll be the first to admit, I am a little nervous. And I am at a bit of a loss for what to "prepare."

    There are some topics I hope to get some insight on:
    - Building communities of practice
    - Learning analytics and data
    - Feedback on the Learning Ecosystem I'm attempting to build.
    - Best approach to building a flaming marshmallow trebuchet

    If we talk about NONE of those, that will be fine too.

    From what I'm hearing and seeing from last year's participants, however, the takeaways were deeply personal - not just professional.

    I suspect that if I keep my expectations open - what I come away with will be richer than anything I can "plan" for.