Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Working Smarter Fieldbook: A Glimpse and Some Thoughts

"Collaboration is a process through which people who see different aspects of a problem can constructively explore their differences and search for the solution that go beyond their own limited vision of what is possible." ~ Anecdote 

And informal learning is hinged on collaboration.

I am reading The Working Smarter Fieldbook (June 2010edition) by the ITA group, namely, Jay Cross, Jane Hart, Jon Husband, Charles Jennings, Harold Jarche and Clark Quinn.
My current understanding of informal learning and collaboration, their place in the workplace, their efficacy in improving performance--both individual and organizational, their importance in individual happiness, and their relevance in becoming a true professional and building communities of practice, all stem from the blogs of these thought leaders.

The book is a synthesis of years of collective experience, know-how,  knowledge and deep passion for improving and enabling human performance. As an L&D professional, for me the book is a practical guide to the implementation of a more efficacious "workscape" and even tells me what my elevator pitch should be. However, as I read it, I realized it is also much more. It speaks to me at a personal level showing me how I can push myself to become a more effective professional, find my Element by investing in collaborating, learning, and sharing, by building a network and being part of a network of professionals.

While I follow the individual blogs of the writers mentioned above and I am familiar with some of the articles, the book brings all together in a cohesive structure enabling us to see the linkages, patterns, co-relations, and inter-connections. The seek-sense-share cycle in active sense-making advocated by Harold Jarche has been done for us, and I could see the pattern emerge. Undoubtedly, it has placed a lot of scattered information in perspective for me.

This post is by no means a comprehensive review/synthesis of the book but a snippet to give readers a hint of its flavor. The book is divided into the following key sections:
  1. Working Smarter
  2. Informal Learning
  3. Social Learning
  4. The Business Case
  5. Develop your Elevator Pitch
  6. Cheat Sheets
  7. Instructional Design 2.0
  8. Collaboration
  9. Content
  10. Rethinking Learning in Organizations
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Mobile Learning: e-learningnext

Why Mobile Learning 

The strongest Value Proposition for mobile learning comes from connecting people with ideas, information, and each other—anytime, anywhere! 
Ten years back, Clark Quinn’s statement about mobile learning seemed wishful thinking. Today, mobile learning is no longer a buzzword. It has arrived.
Clark Quinn, a thought leader in technology-mediated learning, said in 2000:

mLearning is the intersection of mobile computing and elearning: accessible resources wherever you are, strong search capabilities, rich interaction, powerful support for effective learning, and performance-based assessment. It is elearning independent of location in time or space…

Now, 10 years after this prophetic statement, several interesting trends are converging to create a perfect melting pot for mLearning. Some of these include:
1.    Rapid and unforeseen increase of mobile device adoption from Blackberry to iPad
2.    Growth of location-based services and location-aware networks
3.    Surge in social media adoption and participation
4.    Growth in cloud computing
5.    Increase in awareness among globally spread companies that  eLearning, mLearning and online training is a way to save on training costs, provide just-in-time performance support, and improve productivity

Certain key reasons why “mobile learning” via PDAs, mobile phones, MP3 players, iPod, Kindle, E-paper eReaders, and anything besides that is amenable to being carried around, will increasingly become business necessities are:
1.    Growing complexity of the work environment
2.    Distributed workforce as a result of globalization
3.    Rapidly decreasing shelf-life of knowledge
4.    Information explosion across all spheres and domains
5.   Need for instant access to “useful” information to stay ahead of competition (The increasing importance given to speed and accessibility.)
6.    Need to collaborate and tap collective intelligence to solve complex problems
7.    Importance of being connected to networks (both the hyperlinked and the human kind) to have access to information at the point-of-need
8.    Effectiveness of the mobile device as a PPI (Personal Productivity Improvement) tool

The three key functions that emerge as the core of mobile learning then are: CONNECTION, COMMUNICATION, and COLLABORATION.
The concept map below depicts mobile affordances at three levels. The emergent ones are those that are likely to have the greatest impact on Human Performance Improvement and Personal Knowledge Management.
Source: Mobile Affordances by Clark Quinn

Industry Facts and Figures

This brings us to the business feasibility of including mobile learning as a service in our solution portfolio. 
Fast forward to 2009: The result of a research conducted by RBC Capital Market speaks for itself (Smartphone sales to beat PC sales by 2011).
A recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project predicts that by 2020, most people across the world will be using a mobile device as their primary means for connecting to the Internet ( Mobiles are already well on the way to becoming a universal tool for communication of all kinds.
Source: 2009-Horizon-Report
This prediction is reinforced by the growth of the worldwide-converged mobile device market (commonly referred to as smartphones) that more than doubled that of the overall mobile phone market in the first quarter of 2010—a sign the segment is in high-growth mode again. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped  54.7 million units in the first quarter of 2010 (1Q10), up 56.7% from the same quarter a year ago. In contrast, the overall mobile phone market grew 21.7%.

A study of Gartner’s 2009 Hype Cycle for emerging technologies reveals the following:
For mobile learning, it is interesting to note that e-Book Readers have reached the Peak of Inflated Expectations while Tablet PC is climbing the Slope of Enlightenment. These, in conjunction with the rise of Web2.0 and other collaboration tools like Wikis and blogging, will ensure that the need for “always-connected” mobile devices will continue to grow.
And a year has passed since this Hype Cycle was created. It can be assumed that Tablet PC (being the latest in mobile devices that offers larger screen area and better view-ability) is sealing the arrival and acceptance of mobile devices as a tool for learning and collaboration.
What will give mobile learning a further boost is that some of the mobile devices now come with Operating Systems that allow for installation and removal of applications on the device. In the past, mobile devices came with fixed features, and a user perforce had to make do with the appliances that shipped with the device. In future, all phones will have sophisticated operating systems, sensors, and connectivity.
In ten years, mobile learning moved from being a “buzz word” and “yet-another-technology-hype” to a medium of learning and performance support that is here to stay.
Institutions are now opening up to mlearning and corporate organizations are asking for it, as the examples below will illustrate.
Examples of mobile learning implementation:
1.    Recently, underscoring its commitment to education, AT&T made a three-year, $1.8 million contribution to Abilene Christian University to support the expansion of the university’s mobile learning initiative.
2.    Duke University made headlines when it provided all incoming freshmen with their own 20-gigabyte iPods.
3.    The Virginia Tech College of Engineering became the first public institution to require all students to purchase a tablet PC beginning with incoming freshmen in fall 2006.
I would like to specially thank the Upside Learning team for their blog posts and resource links to mobile learning. Those have been immensely helpful in the development of my understanding about mlearning.I have also shamelessly quoted from their various posts. Acknowledgment given below.
  1. Five Mobile Learning Implementation Tips
  2. Mobile Learning Roundup: 10 Top Posts From Our Blog 
  3. General Considerations for Mobile Learning (mLearning)
  4. The Advent of Mobile Learning Technology
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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Quotes and excerpts on the need for Learning 2.0 from the Best of T+D: 2007-2009

Excerpts from the Best of T+D | 2007-2009

Harold Jarche in Skills 2.0:
As knowledge workers, we are like actors--only as good as our last performance.

Professionals are anyone who does work that cannot be standardized easily and who continuously welcomes challenges at the cutting edge of his or her expertise. David W. Shaffer in How Computer Games Help Children Learn (quoted by Harold Jarche in T+D)

Creativity is a conversation--a tension--between individuals working on individual problems, and the professional communities they belong to. David W. Shaffer in How Computer Games Help Children Learn (quoted by Harold Jarche in T+D)

Professionals immeresed in communities of practice have a larger zone of proximal development.

In a flattened learning system, there are fewer experts and more fellow learners on paths that may cross.

In a knowledge economy, the individual is the knowledge creator, and relationships are the currency.

David Wilkins in Learning 2.0 and Workplace Communities:
Embedding social media within WBT courses reintroduces these social exchanges without sacrificing the cost savings or WBT's time-of-need "replay capability."

Ted Hoff, Vice-President of IBM's Center for Learning and Development:
Some managers will complain that use of social networking tools will eat into productivity, but the reverse can also be true; they can be a tremendous boost to productivity, allowing people to get answers to work-related questions, as well as to build social connections, collaboration, and innovation.

Learning Gets Social by Tony Bingham:
Karie Willyerd, vice president and chief learning officer for Sun Microsystems explains the huge opportunity the profession has in informal learning: “One of the things that has happened is that we have focused so much on the 10 percent [formal learning] that we abdicated the 70 percent [informal learning]. If the learning organization doesn’t get into that 70 percent and use social media, they’re going to get left behind. They’re going to become irrelevant because people are going to be able to post and share knowledge with one another without the learning function. It’s a call to action for learning to become really involved in social media in order to facilitate and enable informal learning. And that’s a really exciting place for the learning profession to be because what you are capturing, then, is the performance of an organization.”

Josh Bersin of Bersin and Associates said it well: “It’s not informal learning taking over everything; it’s a modernization of the learning function.”

Informal Knowledge Transfer by Eric Sauve
A 2005 McKinsey & Company report titled, “The Next Revolution in Interactions,” examines how workplace tasks are completed in developed economies. It describes a shift from valuing transactional interactions—those that are routine and involve noncreative interaction—to complex interactions—those that require people to deal with ambiguity and solve problems based on experience or tacit knowledge. Gartner, a research institute, estimates that the frequency of nonroutine situations that require tacit knowledge will double between 2006 and 2010. A recent study from Forrester Research detailed the rise of social computing—interactions continued through online or other technological means—and its impact on e-learning indicates that more than 80 percent of adult learning takes place outside of the classroom. ...
Gartner has recognized CoPs as one of the five best practices for increasing organizational agility. CoPs deliver unique benefits to an organization. The peer-to-peer environment of CoPs fosters employees’ natural trust in advice from someone in their situation. It also encourages emotional as well as instructional support.
John Deere, one of oldest industrial companies in the United States, relies on CoPs to drive innovation, efficiency, and lifelong learning by facilitating connections among knowledge workers. Since implementing the current CoP technology in 2002, John Deere has built a network of 300 communities that covers a wide variety of topics from Six Sigma to mergers and acquisitions to the Deere Production System.
Knowledge Delivered in Any Other Form Is... Perhaps Sweeter by Aparna Nancherla

“Formal training and workshops account for only 10 percent to 20 percent of what people learn at work,” says Jay Cross, one of the foremost experts on informal learning and systems thinking. On his blog, he compares formal learning to passively taking a bus whereas informal learning is like riding a bike, in that “the rider chooses the destination and the route. The cyclist can take a detour at a moment’s notice to admire the scenery or help a fellow rider.”

Informal learning fits the context of today’s knowledgeon-the-go world, where information is best processed in small information bites.

...sharing informal knowledge should be implemented into a company’s reward structure, says Mark Salisbury, author of ILearning: How to Create an Innovative Learning Organization.

Organizations as Communities — Part 2

Yesterday, in a Twitter conversation with Rachel Happe regarding the need for organizations to function as communities, I wrote the follow...