A Lesson Plan for eLearning

cisco_eLearningI came across Harold Jarche‘s blog today where he discussed, a brief history education delivered via The Internet, see Learning is Connecting.  Check it out.

He also shared a link to an article from Fast Company in 2000, Cisco’s Quick Study that discusses using the Web to reinvent training inside the world’s most Internet-centric big company, Cisco. I have included a snibit of the article below that discusses what Tom Kelly learned about eLearning back in 2000 and how it’s changing the style and the substance of training at Cisco Systems. What great incite Tom Kelly shared in 2000 and these are still trends and issues that we are discussing in 2014.

A version of this article appeared in the October 2000 issue of Fast Company magazine written by @AnnaMuoio.

A Lesson Plan for eLearning

Tom Kelly, VP of worldwide training at Cisco Systems, works inside the world’s most Internet-centric big company. So it’s no surprise that he champions Web-based education — “e-learning” — and that he and his team operate at the cutting edge of the field. Kelly may be in the early stages of his work, but he has already learned some important lessons.

Small is beautiful
One problem with how most companies deliver information is that they expect people to spend too much time at one sitting. We work in a world of limited attention spans, unlimited demands on people’s time, and endless multitasking, Kelly says. Learning programs have to reflect these realities: “Most e-learning is still anchored in the mind-set that learning means going somewhere for 8 hours at a time to study a 40-hour curriculum. We may have a 40-hour curriculum, but we deliver it in 20-minute chunks, or even faster. That makes it easier for people to build learning into their workday.”

Blends are powerful.
“E-learning does not imply the absence of human beings,” Kelly argues. “We recently did a workshop where there were 40 people in a physical classroom, plus 60 people online in other parts of the United States and Europe. All 100 people were engaged in a lesson with a live instructor at the same time. It was a real classroom combined with a virtual classroom. We took the outcome of that, digitized some of the video and audio, and put it online so that people who couldn’t participate could later access the information and ideas. The best solutions are often blended solutions.”

Measure what matters.
“The real measures of success here at Cisco do not involve training issues: ‘Do our people learn better?’ They involve business issues: ‘Is Cisco performing better?’ There’s certainly no arguing the altruistic side of education — that well-trained people are more valuable than untrained people. But that’s kind of esoteric. If customer satisfaction goes up because we have a more knowledgeable sales force, that’s not esoteric. If technology adoption occurs faster because the sales force is better-trained, we have real business impact that’s measurable. That’s the real benefit of e-learning, and that’s what we have to measure.”

New technologies require new leaders.
“One real problem with e-learning is that traditional training people are in charge of it,” Kelly says. “You’ve got people who have spent 20 years in lecture-lab environments, and now they’re deploying e-learning inside their companies. No wonder it doesn’t work! Can you imagine if the post office was in charge of email?”

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How To Dethrone Google, and Who Will Likely Do It (Hint: Not Facebook)

Really enjoyed your post @derekbrown. As Google already is, they must fight to maintain the value that they have built for their market. But what I believe sets them apart from the Yahoos and Microsofts that they have surpassed with leaps and bounds is that they are risking being innovative to add new value to what they offer. Google understands that to be successful in the tech world they must maintain value but also add value. For more on this notion of “adding value” see my recent post, How are you going to “add new value” to your eLearning?

Originally posted by Derek Brown on LinkedIn How To Dethrone Google, and Who Will Likely Do It (Hint: Not Facebook).

google_driverless_carIn case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last 24 hours, Google recently released news regarding a new pilot program for their driverless cars. This news of Google’s innovative big idea was posted on their blog, sandwiched between posts about machine learning and trends that they’ve found in recent searches. There’s no doubt about it:

Google is one of the most innovative, progressive, and dominant companies that capitalism has ever seen.

So can others compete? That part is fairly easy. Look at the likes of Yahoo and Microsoft. They are still in the advertising, search, and mail sectors, competing for second place. They are alive and sustaining, even under the giant’s shadow.

But merely competing isn’t enough. Someone will dethrone Google, not just compete with them. For every Goliath, there is a David.

The question is not “can others compete”, but rather “how to dethrone Google?”. Here are my thoughts on the question, one that has plagued me for years now:

  • Change the rules of engagement. No one will beat Google at their own game of traditional search, a great email client, aggregation of video content, or a robust advertising stream. It simply won’t happen. They are too far ahead in terms of talent and data. Microsoft wasn’t dethroned; the ruling kingdom changed. This same idea can, and likely will, happen to Google.
  • Embrace the things that favor the underdog. Two things work in the underdog’s favor: the unpredictability of future innovation and the explosion of mobile computing. The prevalence of mobile computing is changing the way people search, and no one has yet to completely figure this one out…including Google. Much less there are still complete industries that are being born that could radically change Google’s clutch on the world of data. From natural language processing to computational search to artificial intelligence to wearable computing, there is still a lot of innovation to be had. All it takes is one game-changer to allow someone else to compete.
  • Big ideas will outweigh and outlast small, incremental changes. There are companies that are trying to iterate on an existing idea who are trying to compete with Google. This category includes the Yahoos and Microsofts of the world. Hear me loud and clear: they are still playing Google’s game, and have already lost. Yahoo Mail and Bing may pay some bills, but they are not revolutionizing the industry any time soon. What will carry a lot more weight in battling Google’s iron clasp on the internet will be big, revolutionary ideas. Artificial intelligence, wearable technology, and similar ideas are radical game changers.

The Fun Part: Who Can Do It? My Picks for Contenders

Whoa. Wait. Hear me out. Watson is one of those game-changing ideas in an innovative field (artificial intelligence). And to boot, IBM knows it. If IBM were to start thinking about the consumer market with regards to Watson’s technology, it could be industry-shifting. Think about having the power of Watson in a consumer phone, tablet, or wearable. Plus, the idea of a legacy company coming back from behind in the 4th quarter is a great story. They know how to handle data, they know what it’s like to be on top of the industry, and they have ambition to possibly get them there. Hopefully they’re not just focusing on the enterprise market.

This isn’t just some off the wall pick, nor is Wolfram’s ambitions simply creating a search engine for computational queries. Check out this site regarding the Wolfram language or view it in action. Knowledge based programming is another big idea that could change the way that the game is played. Now, no company can be formed based on the proliferation of a language. That said, the creators of a language have a significant advantage in how to use it for economic gain. The idea of not just holding and controlling the source of knowledge, but holding and controlling the display of it is completely revolutionary.

You can disagree with me vehemently (in the comments!), but Twitter has much more staying power than Facebook. Real-time search is going to be the next big thing in terms of finding information. Twitter has the capacity and data to execute this idea well. They have a social graph of sorts, but more importantly, they have access to real-time data. Twitter leverages the mobile platform extraordinarily well, and are positioned to to take advantage of the platform better than any other company at this point. The question for Twitter is whether or not they have the next leap-and-bounds innovation in mind, or if they are are simply making small incremental changes on their existing platform. The answer to that question remains to be seen.

So what do you think? Can Google be dethroned? Who will do it?


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Is It Possible That Online Students Want To Talk To Each Other?

Students-talkingLast week I shared a snibit from Mat Honan’s article which I also have included below and discussed that our eLearners are social. If you are interested in this topic, check out my tag, Social Presence.

As The Internet has improved over the years we now are able to communicate with each other in many different ways. As we all know, this occurs globally… all around the world. We can experience these events in real time. We are no longer just watching world events like the moon landing of 1971 in the isolation of our homes. We can experience these events with everyone in the planet.

Originally written by Mat Honan on Wired Magazine. May 2014

During the Sochi Olympics, peak tweet volume hit during a live hockey shoot-out that pitted the US against Russia. Both countries were tuning in and cheering through their devices, despite a massive time-zone discrepancy. And this year’s Oscars were the most-watched in 14 years, even wih our DVRs and other entertainment options. Maybe we just wanted to talk.

Consider the following tweet that Mat mentions above that apparently broke Twitter. Here is an embed so that you can see the most up to date retweets and favorites:


Perhaps this is what caused the 2014 Oscars was the most watched in 14 years? I wonder why? What you also may not know is that most of this action occurred within 15 minutes of broadcast, i.e., there were Retweets 1,019,570 & Favorites 289,727. No wonder Twitter crashed. Why is this? Maybe we just wanted to talk with each other?

What does this mean for eLearning? Or perhaps a better question is what is happening here that isn’t happening in our eLearning?

While an instructional event isn’t quite the same as the Oscars, but maybe it is? Students getting together online to learn? Why shouldn’t it be a social event? What can an instructor do so that they can get Retweets 1,019,570 & Favorites 289,727 in 15 minutes?

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Educator as a Design Thinker

Always enjoying Jackie’s doodles and reminders that we must think again about our current systems and pedagogy.

User Generated Education

educator as design thinker

 Resources for Educator as a Design Thinker

Ideo. (n.d.).  Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit – http://www.designthinkingforeducators.com/about-toolkit/

Pfau, P. (2014).  Rethinking Education with Design Thinking – http://www.metropolismag.com/Point-of-View/February-2014/Rethinking-Education-with-Design-Thinking/.

Speicher, S. (2013).  Design Thinking in Schools: An Emerging Movement Building Creative Confidence in our Youth –  http://gettingsmart.com/2013/11/design-thinking-schools-emerging-movement-building-creative-confidence-youth/

Teachthought. (2013). 45 Design Thinking Resources For Educators http://www.teachthought.com/teaching/45-design-thinking-resources-for-educators/.

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Why Google doesn’t care about college degrees, in 5 quotes

I couldn’t agree more. The purpose of a resume is just to get you in for an interview. Nothing more. Nothing less. It is the only piece of advertising that you get to sell yourself and it is “ocean front property!” If you come in and can’t prove you can do what is listed on your resume, no degree listing, multiple degrees listed, etc. will help. They don’t care about where you went to school and how many degrees you have. It is about wither you can do the job. Thanks for the affirmation VentureBeat and Google 🙂

Featured Image -- 388

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Our learners are social: Television has talked to us for decades, but it never listened!

I have enjoyed this month’s issue of Wired, especially an article from senior writer, Mat Honan. I couldn’t find his article on the web, otherwise I would have just linked to it. I heard from him on Twitter today that the full article will be made available soon. This is a continuation to my previous posting, Our eLearners desire something human. The best designs let something human look back at them. Below you will find another except from his article and I have continued some thoughts, added some images, and thoughts to facilitate a conversation about social presence in eLearning which I have been writing and presenting about lately.

Originally written by Mat Honan on Wired Magazine. May 2014

“This instant Internet, ubiquitous and pushed to our smartphones, lets us experience events not only as they happen but together—even when we are physically apart. It’s bit watching something at the same time as someone else; it’s watching it with them. We’re not just broadcasting anymore; we’re conversation-casting.

Television has talked to us for decades, but it never listened. While we all watched events like the moon landing at the same time, we did so in pockets of isolation. This is why the so-called second screen has triumphed over the first. It’s why “second screen” is such a colossal misnomer the phone is the first screen—always with us and always on. And it has made our big screens more vital. By combining the two, we connected ourselves.”

As Mat discusses, we are truly connected, always connected, and it allows us to experience something that has been around for 50+ years in an entirely new way. “Television has talked to us for decades, but it never listened.” For decades we have often been designing and experiencing eLearning in the same way. Similar to a fast food restaurant. We drive up, everything is organized with a very clear menu of what we want to eat (i.e., learn), then we order exactly what we want, accomplish our objectives, and drive way. Depending on the objectives of the learner (or goals), objectives of the course, and even objectives of the institution, sometimes learning can be quick, cheep, and easy. Some MOOCs are designed this way.

ordering_fast_foodImage: (CC BY-SA 2.0) Keenon Lindsey, Flickr

Originally written by Mat Honan on Wired Magazine. May 2014

“Thanks to this, live TV has never been better. The ability to comment immediately and have anyone respond has given live television a power-up; it has provided motivation to tune in to things we might otherwise skip or TiVo. Because a show isn’t just something to watch anymore—it’s a way to connect.

This should scare the hairpiece off any TV exec mulling a tape delay. Take the Grammys, which were televised separately on the East and West Coasts. By the time the show aired in California, it felt like a nonevent. Search Twitter analytics service Topsy for the terms “grammys” or “#grammys” and you’ll find 4 million tweets while the show was live…. And 470,000 during the recorded broadcast.”

But then there are courses with the human element. Look at this image below of this home cooked meal. You see something very different here and feel something very different.

chatting_at_dinnerImage: (CC BY-NC 2.0) Rasmus Andersson, Flickr

Here you are part of a group and contributing to the conversation. Just as with the 470,000 watching the Grammys, you are interested in what is being talked about. Perhaps you want to design experiences that can make your students feel a part of the conversation? There is much that can be discussed in terms of how to write discussion questions, using emerging technologies, personalizing feedback, etc.

So whenever I am designing an eLearning experience, I believe we need to think of ways to put the student in the center of our designs. Then try to figure out different events, activities, assignments, etc. that will get them to interact more with each other, their instructor, and the content.

So we have student-to-student, student-to-instructor, and student-to-content…. Types of interactions.

  • Student-Student may be designing group work activities, writing discussion questions in a way that fosters interaction
  • Student-Instructor may be designing activities where the instructor can provide some formative feedback. Depending on the expectations of the learner, the institution, etc. maybe students need to have that one-on-one interaction with their instructor.
  • Student-Content but a designer might also be trying to figure out how to engage students more with the content with something interactive.

If you are reading my blog, the term “gamification,” is nothing new. But gamification isn’t just confined to a flash based element or object. The entire course can be thought of as a real world problem. Students can all be involved in a scenario. Much to be said here.

When I teach my capstone web design class I have the students “pitch” their web design idea to the class as if we all were their client. By merely adding this scenario I have seen greater retention and more creative projects than I did prior to using this simple scenario that involved nothing but some text on a page describing it and then having students to the class as their client in the discussion area. But yes we did do some fun stuff like having them come up with a name for their company.

But think about it. If you ask someone about a class they took and what they liked. Ask them why? They will 99% of the time mention an activity, game, etc. that they played within the class, connected with other students, etc.

More on social learning to come in the next posting.

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Our eLearners desire something human. The best designs let something human look back at them.

I have enjoyed this month’s issue of Wired, especially an article from senior writer, Mat Honan. I couldn’t find his article on the web, otherwise I would have just linked to it. I will have some sequential blog posts over the next few days with excerpts from his article, with some additional images, and thoughts to facilitate a conversation about social presence in eLearning which I have been writing and presenting about lately.

Originally written by Mat Honan on Wired Magazine. May 2014

“The history of the Internet is one of lonely people trying to find one another. Consider: CompuServe, AOL, MySpace, Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp. Ultimately, they’re all about communicating with others. We look into a glowing screen and see something human. But the best of these services let something human look back at us. And when technology just melts away, it almost feels like we’re not alone.

The Internet has gotten better and better at letting us talk to one another. I can pick up my phone, start a conversation with a friend in Europe and another in Asia, and watch as they both type replies. It’s as if I’m seeing their thoughts form. I can share something—on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram—about what I’s currently experiencing and immediately hear from others experiencing the same thing.”

What Mat is sharing above, if we could for a second, relate it to eLearning. Do our learners feel this way in either a synchronous or asynchronous course?

alone_student(CC BY-ND 2.0) Bryan Rosengrant, Flickr

We need to remember that there is no classroom when learners are learning via eLearning. As Michelle Pacansky-Brock puts it when you read her book or hear from her at a conference, “students are isolated from their peers and instructor.” No matter how interactive it is, there is still no classroom. And there also is no “you,” that is, a teacher in an eLearning module. This may not be an original idea from Michelle but it definitely is a key one because our student’s in eLearning experiences are essentially learning alone.

Yes this can have it’s advantages which is probably why eLearning as often a method chosen by many students in the first place. It also has it’s inherent disadvantages as well and why students do not choose it. But yet, we cannot neglect that it could potentially save time, cut costs, and going to class in our pajamas is a plus!

I do believe they can but there must be intentional interactions built into the design of the experience so that, as Mat puts it, “technology just melts away, it almost feels like we’re not alone.” If we don’t cultivate a humanizing element into our eLearning then:

  • Increase a learner’s anxiety about learning
  • Decrease the learner’s use of the technology
  • Decrease the learner’s successful completion of the eLearning experience

But there has been research and much discussion about how to combat these issues specifically over the last few years. Some would say that a learner feels like they are learning alone because they are missing that “human element.”

A recent MOOC that I actually participated in back in November of 2013 on the Canvas Network called, Human Element: An Essential Online Course Component, shared this video with us and I thought I would share it with you here today.

This course was one of my favorite MOOC experiences because it did have this element. I was truly connected with other students around the material, chatted with them on Twitter, and many of them I am still connected with today. Some of the other MOOCs and eLearning experiences I have had in the past were not setup this way. Even courses that I have personally designed in the past. I know my learners had anxieties … perhaps because they felt alone. As much as we design our online experiences to be the same as a face-to-face class, without the human element their learning may not be successful.

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