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!