Saturday, August 15, 2009

Are we missing teachable moments with the health care debate?

Don't you wish that this debate could rise over partisan noise. Wouldn't it be great if some mature individual could take up this discussion and transform into teachable moments.
  • Is health care a right?
  • What kind of society do we want? Do we want health care coverage for each and every American?
  • What about mature discussions about end of life care and decisions?
  • How about approaches to prevention? Prevention costs money.
  • Does the current system reward quantity over quality?
  • Can the free market provide solutions that will meet societal needs?
  • Does a government program (Medicare) make it socialist?
Finding the uniquely-American solution(s) should include thoughtful discussion and debate versus insane claims and shouting. We've reduced debates to partisan back and forth talking points with over-charged language.

Anyone? Anyone?


Update 16 AUG 2009
From the NYT Week in Review Sarah Lyall, Health Care in Britain:Expat Goes for a Checkup.
A very teachable moment. Investor's Business Daily published an editorial claiming that administration health care proposals that mimic the British National Health Service, physicist Stephen Hawking wouldn't stand a chance in the UK because his life would be judged "worthless." Hawking suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease. Apparently, the Investor's Business Daily didn't know that Hawking is a British citizen. Hawking subsequently released a statement supporting the NHS.

Teachable moment - the facts (in this case real) and what kind of society do we want? Will costs enter into care decisions?

Update 24 AUG 2009
Jon Stewart and Betsy McCaughey "discuss" the Health Reform Bill. I've read the cited sections of the bill and come to different conclusions that Ms McCaughey.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

At 1:02 in retort to Steward's comment on American life expectancy, she actually says, "when you remove violent crime and car accidents, we're number one (in life expectancy)."

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 2

Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Update 26 AUG
Betsy McCaughey resigned from the board of directors of a medical products company, to "avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Craig Ferguson on youth (and advertising)

Do we focus on youth too much? Was it because marketers and advertisers want to build lifelong relationships to sell stuff? Enjoy the rant.

H/T AdFreak
link if the player vanishes

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Social media growth stunted

From a UK press release, we learn that the business leaders lack of understanding and data security concerns key barriers to use of social media within UK businesses. HR, on the other hand, demonstrates high usage and support for social media. In the survey, almost half of HR and L&D professionals use social networks, such as LinkedIn, to learn and gather knowledge.

Brightwave, who conducted the research, says that business leaders just don't get it. They don't see the value in social networking. In many instances employees don't have access to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others.

Data security, wasted time and bandwidth concerns were also cited as key reasons for not using social media.

Lars Hyland, from Brightwave,

“UK businesses are missing out on a huge opportunity to cost-effectively build knowledge and understanding, as well as engagement, across large volumes of employees in different locations. Business leaders must be informed about the real opportunities in applying social networks to business, otherwise they risk alienating their highly networked current and future talent in today’s global workforce.”
Suspect this is the case here. Personally, my participation in the weekly #lrnchat (Thursdays, 8:30 PM - 5 GMT) demonstrate the power of social media for learning. The intelligence and diversity transmitted through the keys enrich me with every session. I even read the transcripts.

I wonder when we'll see the tipping point where some brave organization demonstrates value and blesses these tools. Is there some social media acumen competencies out there? Even Jack Welch uses Twitter now!

H/T to @gminks for the Tweet

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

MIA redux

Too many distractions. Managing and mastering (hopefully) the adjunct faculty role, projects and some travel. Goal is to post a couple of times per week.

Check out #lrnchat every Thursday evening 8:30 PM EDT. Tweetchat is my tool of choice.

On Boarding

Catching up with the reading, June 2009 T+D article, Making New Employees Successful In Any Economy. Good article by Katharine Giacalone about the first 90 days. The first 90 days are critical especially in a downturn and the expense of hiring. As the incoming Atlanta ASTD chapter president, I’ve been thinking a lot about on boarding and reflecting on past experiences.

Giacalone in her article gives us six strategies to make sure your new employees stick:
  1. Schedule employees first day when the bosses in the office
  2. Have workstations ready for them when they arrive
  3. Give the employee the lay of the land – tour of the office, campus
  4. Get down to brass tacks – not only the routine policy and procedures but
  5. Train new employees within the first week's
  6. Check in frequently during the first weeks months and beyond
It's been some years since I've been on-boarded in process. On my last new job I had showed up on the first day and was informed that there had been reorganization and I was now reporting to someone else. I spent my first day following my new manager around and attending three different staff meetings that covered the same topics. That’s my memory of my first day! BTW, no computer, no voice mail, no paycheck in first pay period and my “new hire” orientation, was scheduled in two months.

While I was still in that organization with a different role, the then director of the group had made a new hire. Unfortunately, the director had scheduled herself to be out of the office the entire week. So this poor soul came in on Monday and really had no direction for her first week. I took pity and ran the organizational gauntlet for ID, PC and telephone. Perhaps a better plan would be to have this new hire show up when the director was available.

Back in the 80s I joined a health care system that actually had a very good on boarding system. I went through employee orientation prior to starting my job and then spent the better part of the first week shadowing with other employees in the group. Actually the hospital brought back the former incumbent to orient me to the system, an in-house television operation.

Any on boarding stories to share? Good, bad?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

John Kotter’s Town Hall at ASTD ICE

I attended the conference in DC this past week with a different perspective, being a volunteer. As a volunteer you earn one day of the conference per volunteer day. I chose to volunteer for Tuesday and Wednesday. I only had two days of the conference to attend sessions and traipse through the expo floor.

As I review and file my notes, I’ll post about my memorable sessions and observations.

John Kotter’s town hall moderated by Kevin Oakes. I found this session outstanding observations on leadership and change. Many Q&A sessions are boring with questioners playing gotcha and see-how-smart-I-am. Kevin’s prepared questions and follow up primed better questions from the hall. From my spot in the front it appeared that the audience was primarily international attendees. That drove an interesting observation from Kotter in the increasing enrollment in international students in his Harvard classes. He worried that his western-centric business examples were “lost” on international students. He offered to stay after class and work with any student should the examples be unclear or obtuse. To date no one has taken him up on the offer. Kotter attributes that outcome that leadership is still all about human nature, leaders mobile people to achieve astonishing things.

Kotter’s core message was about creating a sense of urgency, the topic of his new book. Complacency has taken over, even in these troubling times. “Complacency capacity to remain consistent is fascinating,” he observed. Success leads to growth that leads to an inward focus (pride, arrogance, internal political battles) versus an outward market focus; his example, Rick Wagoner and GM. In a meeting many years ago, Kotter was astonished at the quiet the executive offices and complacency at GM as Toyota was on the rise. “There wasn’t a Kill Toyota sign in the place.” People were busy he noticed but was that productive activity?

As a leader, get out there, walk around, gather data and understand the real problems. Some gems, “leaders understand that everyone is not six (years old).”
When asked about business schools and finance. “I’m always suspicious of the finance department; it’s part of the system that moved us into this pattern.” I interpreted this as complacency.
When asked about women starting in leadership, Kotter gave this Zen-like response, “should do, start do , just do it.”
“Learn to lead yourself, then others.”

Missing in action

It has been a month since my last post. Took a break with some personal and professional association projects; a paying project; spooling up as an adjunct faculty; thinking about my "brand" and reading.

I have found some wonderful Twitter chats. Check out #lrnchat every Thursday evening 8:30 PM EDT. Tweetchat is my current tool of choice.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Failure rates for new computers?

I was in one of the big box computer stores yesterday and a guy was buying a Mac mini. He asked what was the failure rate. The manager said we see about 34% return in the Mac. He then said this was better than the "average" of 38%. Huh? What a bizarre thing to say.

In Googling failure rates PC, 2006 data from Gartner pegs the annual failure rate at near 25% over two years. For Mac, there's little current data mostly forum entries and tales of woe.

Anyone experience a 1 in 3 failure rate with sets? You corporate IT types, what's been your experience.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sex and the cellphone

Fascinating above the fold story in Sunday NYT Styles section When the Cellphone Teaches Sex Education. The Birds and Bees Text line in North Carolina is an attempt to lessen the teen pregnancy rate. NC has an abstinence-only curriculum. Teenagers can text questions anonymously to the line about sex and "receive a cautious, nonjudgmental reply, texted directly to their cellphones, from a nameless, faceless adult at the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina."

Regardless of your philosophical or religious position, kids are going to be interested in sex, we're hardwired for it as in propagating our species. Adolescents need to be fully and capably informed. If parents are providing that information, great, but if it's from peers on the playground, watch out. I believe that the US relies too much on denial in addressing sex education (see above abstinence-only curriculum, see celebrated teen moms of 2008/2009).

I applaud programs like the NC and hope that politicians will listen to the public health experts and continue funding. Acknowledge that these programs raise issues regarding parental control. My preference is for informed adolescents.

The CDC is providing widgets for use in MySpace, Facebook and other websites as well as twitter feed: CDCemergency. My spouse is a CDC epidemiologist.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Twitter and Swine Flu

Use @CDCemergency to follow the Swine Flu outbreak. Check out those that are following. The full CDC emergency and preparedness site is here. The tweets are clear and reassuring.

My first introduction to Twitter was back during the Fall gas shortage in Georgia. Useful in finding a station that had fuel.

Makes the celebrity rush to 1,000,000 followers seem trite.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Life, interupted

Attended the This American Life broadcast last night at a local cineplex. Seemed weird to go to a movie theater to view a radio show but this program is always entertaining as well as challenging. The pre-show visuals were entertaining and clever as we played Hangman with a return to the scene of the crime theme. Sample, Part of a Spring dress - MAYHEM. We also solved word anagrams that set the stage for the event. Lights down and Ira Glass entered screen right, sat at a desk with a mixing board and two digital cart machines (hard disk drives to play audio segments.)

Act 1 in return to the scene of the crime. In Putnam County, FL (it's east of Gainesville) those convicted of shoplifting serve a portion of their sentence in carrying a sign stating "I shoplifted at this store." Ira read his copy and deftly inserted music and then recorded quotes from those involved; the judge, corrections officer, the defendant and citizens on the street. Rather than seeing Ira talk, the screen was filled with supporting animation. Ten minutes in, a thunderclap then deluge, the staccato of large rain drops pelting the roof, probably hail too. We call it a toad choker. The digital satellite signal was lost for 30+ minutes until the storm and lightening passed. Remember this was a live event, weather happens. AMC treated the audience right by giving out passes, offering refunds and inviting us to view another film while the storm passed.

The signal was restored at Act 5 with a monologue by Dan Savage on returning to the Catholic Church after the death of his mother: a touching and emotional story that was so genuine as performed in front of an audience versus the clinical, sterile radio studio. Act 6 featured Joss Whedon singing some of the director's comments on the DVD of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Watch Dr. Horrible here on Hulu.

I'll do this again. It's fascinating to watch the solo man, script, machine interface tell stories. Check it out.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The resume format

Recently I posted the question: Curious as to the best format for an experienced professional's resume, 1 or 2 pages? I posted within professional groups in LinkedIn and Facebook as well as Twitter.

So what did I find? It depends. However I received loads of advice on networking, networking, networking. And did I say networking? When the discussion was on topic, the results were evenly split as to the number of pages. Some proposed "custom" resumes targeting the job's requirements. Seems a management nightmare and a possible conflicting resumes out there. One suggested a cover letter only and complete online profile; e.g., LinkedIn.

Interestingly, no responses from a Facebook group "owned" by a well known learning personality and none from Twitter. I need to work on my number of followers.

My action item: create a one page resume.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Reflections on Earth Day

Reading the NYT Magazine for April 19, 2009, this chart in The Way We Live Now, Natural Happiness, caught my eye.

As I'm getting older, I do observe nature and take note of subtle changes from day to day. As we tend the multiple gardens or walk the dogs, I study for changes in the leaf pattens, the hint of fragile tentacled asparagus, watch for the explosions of flowers and perfumed air. The birds twitter about (not microblogging) as they gather food for their young. Bunnies hop around scoping the gardens while the hawks circle lazily above. The box turtle begins the migration from the bog to the salad greens. I appreciate the sunrises and sunsets as well as the Spring storms. Using the rich compost for nurture our garden keeping a good amount of waste out of the landfill.

A few years ago I doubt I would have noticed. Didn't get into this although I enjoyed being outdoors, even mowing the yard. My bandwidth was devoted to other processes - career and office politics.

I now have a much deeper appreciation of diversity and I hope that makes me a better person.

Happy Earth Day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The fallen business star

I finished reading Confronting Reality, Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, 2004. I read their earlier book Execution some years ago and found their analysis and advice commonsensical and straightforward.

Confronting Reality is a quick read and challenges leaders to "confront reality." They then highlight several leaders who confronted reality such as Bob Nardelli at Home Depot, Jim McNerney at 3M and Richard Harrington, Thomson Corporation. None remain at these companies and the current reality is very different for Home Depot and Thomson Reuters. McNerney is now at Boeing. Nardelli's departure from Home Depot (disclosure, I'm a HD share owner) was notorious and well reported. He's now at Chrysler with a very different reality to confront. I wondered about all those business books celebrating the wise leader and cheering his/her accomplishment only to confront the harsh reality of losing that job. Most certainly the that list will grow as once celebrated leaders stumble.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Text as onscreen narration

Garr Reynolds Presentation Zen blog is a favorite. Here's an interesting presentation with a memorable twist to tell the story in less than two minutes.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The week in review

So we've learned this week:
  • Apparently AIG and all of Wall Street do not have HR functions providing advice on the term "bonus." Google "AIG bonuses" = 2,270,000 hits. As a former HR practitioner, this troubles me and further sets the profession back further.
  • Treat head injuries seriously. See Natasha Richardson's tragic head injury and death.
  • Men, take the time to wipe up the pee spillage around the toilet in hotels as part of your pre-departure routine, per Tom Peters.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

So much for my assumptions about digital natives

I was a guest speaker at a colleagues class at the local university earlier this week. My presentations was use of web 2.0 tools: wikis, shared work spaces, blogs, social networks, podcasting, Twitter; the usual tools. This was less than an hour with the usual class business overhead.

What was surprising to me is that they don't use this tools in aggregate as many of us do within our project work. Communication is texting rather then e-mail. Collaboration using shared work space was very sparse with a few Google doc users. Couple of bloggers and Twitterers. Most of this crowd use Facebook as expected. Shared this article from McKinsey, Six Ways to make Web 2.0 Work. To save you a read, McKinsey found mixed results across the study group, the need for a management champion, management/supervisory and employee resistance to the technology.

Best question, "Does business really see in value in these tools?"

It will be a journey.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Twitter, you do tempt me

From AdFreak, learned that Crispin Porter + Bogusky creative chief Alex Bogusky may have reconciled his differences with Twitter (reported in this blog and here) and may return to Twitterland. Whew, glad that distraction is cleared up, or is it?

My favorite twitterer du jour, he just speaks to me in such a clear and compelling voice.

One week to go

Down to one week before taking a certification exam. Tying to practice what I've preached in "skilling up" during the down times. I've been focusing my energy on this now unfamiliar process, almost 30 years since I had to apply memorization.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Twitter, jumping the shark?

AdFreek (an Adweek blog) reports that Crispin Porter + Bogusky creative Alex Bogusky is leaving Twitter.
Signing off twitter. Just not for me. I really enjoyed the time and it was fun to follow and be followed by such a lively group. Love, Alex
Alex did three months before bailing. I'm still undecided about Twitter and realized that it's been two days since I opened Twirl or went to my Twitter account. Haven't missed it. I've been busy with some projects, recruiting volunteers for ASTD Atlanta and prepping for a certification exam.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Will Thalheimer survey

Here's a link to Will's Will at Work Learning blog containing a survey of independent consultant/contractors.

SURVEY has been taken down 2 MAR 2009. I was late in catching up with the reading

Lots of chatter about the economy hitting the workplace learning profession hard, especially for independent consultants and contractors. Will is gathering data to see what's really happening.

I've been a reader of Will's work and participant in his "webinosh" web-based seminars. Good stuff available though his site: Will at Work Learning. Check out his catalog for other resources.

Friday, February 27, 2009

In the unlikely event of a water landing

Returning from DC and see two dudes wearing flip flops on the the plane. Temperature at the time of departure was around freezing. Anyone remember US Airways 1549?

Wear practical shoes when traveling.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Obama squeals

Visiting DC and spent 5+ hours in The Museum of American History. The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden explores the role of the president and commander in chief, manager of the economy, chief communicator through a selection of presidential artifacts. Of course there's a chronological illustration of presidential portraits and photographs. Several young kids, toddlers, squealed upon seeing the new photograph of President Obama. This happened multiple times across diverse children. At least they know their president and brought a smile.

Another thought: my guess is that Obama's name is easy and fun for kids to say.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Self directed versus social learning

What's the best description? What works best in your organization? Would the term self directed be more supported in corporations?

Elliott Maise's Facebook experiment

Over 1,000 members of Learning Town in the Facebook group and tiny, tiny participation in the discussions. Hmmm? Slow adopters? Lurkers?

Are you and industry-valued asset?

Alexandra Rampy in SOCIALBUTTERFLY, posed this thought,
don’t be an expert. Instead, become an industry-valued asset. The difference? One works for himself and his own knowledge base, the other, wants to be valuable and enjoys collaborative efforts.
Who'd want to be called an expert nowadays? If we believe Malcolm Gladwell and others, expertise (broadly defined) takes 10,000 hours to mastery. By the time you are "expert," the knowledge base has probably shifted. Experts are routinely disparaged by pundits, politicians and loud mouths. I want help from the person who is a collaborator, one who will delve into research, readily help to solve the problem and be that helpful role model. I want to be an industry-valued asset.

h/t Brazen Careerist

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Give it a second, it's going to space

Step back and the world is amazing according to comedian Louis C.K. on Conan.

Watch more SpikedHumor videos on AOL Video

Who remembers party phone lines? When did we become so inpatient?
h/t to Tom Anderson

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Unemployment greater security threat than terrorism?

A NPR story caught my ear this morning According to National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair's report,
The global economic downturn could easily change the world. Previously stable countries could become unstable. The geopolitical lineup could shift sharply, some countries becoming more powerful while others get weaker. Allies could turn into adversaries.
With tens of millions unemployed, mitigation of this risk or even intervention would certainly require approaches that counter a free market/free trade philosophy; e.g., perhaps "socialistic" and trade protectionism approaches. Policy makers must broaden their thinking outside of narrow frameworks. This will be an interesting debate for interesting times.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lame Joke = Social Outcast

Dish out a bad one and expect derision, harsh remarks and perhaps a blow. According to Washington State University Applied Linguist and Assistant Professor Nancy Bell in research on failed humor,
“The predominant verbal reaction to failed humor in our study was oriented exclusively toward attacking the speaker,” Bell said. “These were basically attacks intended to result in the social exclusion or humiliation of the speaker – punctuated on occasion with profanity, a nasty glare or even a solid punch to the arm.”
This behavior was noted by those that knew the errant jokester well,
Bell said it’s essentially because – unlike people you work with or know only casually – family and close friends know they’re the ones who are stuck with you.
So those that facilitate multi-day courses beware; familiarity may bring contempt and workplace violence. To test try this on the last day of a long course: There were two peanuts walking down the street, and one was assaulted! I'm here to help.

H/T: Improbable Research

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Drinking from the firehose

Spent the past three days in a certification prep course. This course used accelerated learning principles, content chunking and frequent quizzing starting with a pre-test and culminating in a simulated certification exam. My confidence is higher and the study plan leading up to the exam date makes sense. Although pricier than other options, this provider has a good reputation from those in my network and the facilitator was excellent.

As with most certifications, you have to erase reality and think from the pure world of the certifying organization. I'll update as I move through the study phase into exam phase.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Shout out to Georgia companies in Training Top 125

Congratulations to those with home operations in Georgia for recognition within Training Magazine's Training Top 125. Those organizations are:
9. Mohawk Industries, Inc.
27. Scientific Atlanta, a Cisco Company
35. Aflac Incorporated
48. Warner Robins Air Logistics Center Centralized Training and Professional Development Division
49. Gables Residential
70. UPS
74. Shaw Industries, Inc.
83. Orkin, Inc.
88. U.S. Security Associates, Inc.
92. Cox Communications
I'll update if I've missed a GA company. In a former life, I compiled the application for what was the Training Top 50 then Top 100. These applications require a tremendous effort however the data is useful in improving the learning function. Here's where you find the list. Weird that they posted it as a word document.

UPDATE 14 FEB (and sign of the times) You have to buy the chart of winners. In past years you could download. Next week 16-20 FEB, will highlight a Top 5 winner each day, They are:
1. PricewaterhouseCoopers
3. SCC Soft Computer
4. EMC Corporation
5. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals

Monday, February 9, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

Learner-focused learning! Elliott Maise

Listened to the CLO webinar with Elliott Maisie yesterday. Our learning systems focus on organizational needs but not the needs of the learner. Elliott was arguing that our learning systems should foster learner engagement, curiosity, social learning and user content/context; e.g., be learner centric. By user content, he proposes that learners can add content to courses as they apply what they learn. Learners should be able to sequence content to meet their needs. Users should be able to go off path and explore the learning concept in practice.

So far I am in agreement although reflecting back in the trenches on how one could implement. Would you want user generated content in business compliance courses: sexual harassment, workplace violence, diversity? Suspect the lawyers would answer NO. I see user generated content content useful in the business skills content including management and leadership.

Elliott cited the use of rogue learning systems in a top company created by the learners to meet a need in certification. This "rogue" system consisted of Google, instant messenger and a bulletin board hosted outside the firewall. My concern with rogue learning systems is integrating that data into talent management. How can you find that talent for projects or product development if they're not in a system? I suspect that performance and talent management (human capital management) is still a work in progress in most organizations and reliant on carbon-based databases as to where the talent is within the organization. Thoughts for another posting.

I did like his concept of "drip" learning, thin intravenous learning, one drip at a time. Elliott asked, who would get a MBA through the "drip" method over seven years?

Anyone out there with rogue learning systems?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Creepy Ads

What's with the creepy eyes for Geico and the green dead guys for the tax software? And Jason's back. Looking forward to the next two Friday 13th. Check your calendars.

Links - Career + Branding

From Tom Peters blog- The Business Case for Giving Away Your Best Work for FREE! Raj Setty: A great list and all these ideas resonate. Providing free "good" stuff should reap benefits in reach, relationships and reputation.

How To Get A Job By Being Nice Rafael J. Hernandez: The importance of thank you notes even when you've laid off. Other tips from an ASTD Atlanta program on marketing during the lean times. Get out there and build your brand (per Tom Peters Brand You 50), network and build relationships, "don't push cards."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Meet my son Machiavelli Rasputin Darth Cheney

Unpopular names and crime, root cause? Nope. However unpopular names are correlated with factors that tend towards delinquency, primarily socioeconomic. More fodder to Ann Coulter and that ilk to oversimplify, stereotype and whomp up those that only see the world as black or white.

This is a bad sign

Layoff Tracker This blog dates back to October 2008 with 345 entries for 2008 and 188 to date. From the Evil HR Lady blog.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

RETRACTION - That's what I like about the South

Wait a couple of days and it's 27° with a stout wind. At least we have power.
UPDATE - wind advisory, gusts up to 35 mph!
UPDATE 2 - 14.9° at Ice Station Marginally Competent. Big dent in the bug population. 6:05 AM 4 FEB 2009.

Monday, February 2, 2009

TK 09 Virtual Experience

In participating in the ASTD TKo9 Virtual conference, there were two "channels" to experience a subset of the sessions. Virtual TK participants voted for ten sessions to be videotaped. Both keynotes (David Pogue and Tony Karrer) were taped along with sessions covering virtual worlds; ROI; authoring tools future focus; social networking; implementing "readiness;" creative training techniques for webinars; expediting development/deployment of elearning and facilitation skills for E-trainers. 26 eWebEx sessions were presented live as a shoter version of the actual session as well as five vendor spotlights. Anthony Allen provided an orientation to the conference and WebEx environment and three archived sessions by the TK Program Advisory committee as background/marketing.

I found the live webinars the most satisfying and best learning experience. Here you were engaged though chat for feedback, quizzes and serious/silly questions. One presenter actually called upon us for questions. A few presenters called on up to come to the blackboard and indicate a preference or vote. Best live seasons for me ( in no particular order):
  • Lance Dublin - Keys to Successful E-Learning Implementation.Lance stresses the importance of marketing elearning internally; think consumer-style marketing. He introduced I3 Change Implementation planning tool: Inform, Involve, Integrate.
  • Jared Palmer - Open-Source Applications for Designer-Developed E-Learning. Great collection of OS tools. I'm playing two new apps GIMP and myUdutu.
  • Georgianna Marie - Virtual Classroom Instruction: Strategies for Keeping Learners Engaged. Here I was called on from Las Vegas, great application of face to face techniques within the VC. Tip: assign learners into groups ahead of time.
  • Darlene Christopher - Facilitating Virtual Events: Success Factors from the World Bank Group. Great session with practical tips for those presenting to global learners. Extra benefit, I found her blog: Web Conferencing.
  • Will Thalheimer - Measuring Learning TK Results: Research Insights for Better Evaluation Designs. Will proposed that we leverage evaluation to support learning, to prove value to the organization and to improve design.
  • Peggy Page - Zero to 60: Launching E-Learning, a case study in launching elearning within a bank.
  • Andrew Jefferson - Learning Transfer: How to Fix the Weakest Link in E-Learning. Andrew discussed the 6Ds - Define, Design, Deliver, Drive, deploy and Document and provided a learning transfer scorecard.
The taped sessions we're not so satisfying. Very passive and camera is locked in a wide shot. The Sonicfoundary Mediasite application provides a small window of the presenter and slides or desktop. You can arrange either window to what suits you. Taping works for keynotes since that's a show. However for other sessions, not so much. Audio with a panel discussion was awfully low requiring the listener to crank it up to 11. Audience questions and comments are unintelligible. Group activities in the room provide the atmosphere of waiting for the press announcement on cable news.

Taped sessions that worked for me were:
  • Patti Phillips - Measuring ROI in E-Learning
  • Frank Nguyen - Five Things Your Authoring Tool Will Do by 2013
  • Brent Schlenker - Social Networking: From Organizational Chart to Circle of Influence
  • Jean Barbazette - Facilitation Skills for E-Trainers
  • the two keynotes
One session on virtual worlds was plagued by presenter PC issues that chewed up a significant amount of time; Vista 1, learners null.

The archived WebEx sessions only provided the slides and presenter's audio. We lost the richness as well as context of the chats when referenced by the presenter.

All in all, great effort by ASTD in this inaugural attempt. Great value too at $199 for ASTD members. Only a few technical glitches in the WebEx using VOIP. A couple of speaker's sessions cancelled and we're not back filled. This also happens in the real world. I made new connections via the LinkedIn site. And I didn't have the expense, along with the noise and smoke, of visiting Las Vegas. I'll do this again.

Annoyances - speakers that proclaim their handouts/slides are on the website. Less than 50% have their material posted on the conference site. ASTD should require all presenters to make their materials available at least in draft form.

My tip: In attending webinars and in note taking, I do screen captures to aid in compiling session notes. Jing is a great tool for this purpose. Rember, this is streamed content and will not have the highest resolution. Once compiled, I trash the slides to save HDD space.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

That's what I like about the South

The Marginally Competent weather station reported 30° this morning.

At 2 PM EST, 65° and bike riding time. Survived January.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Open-Source Applications for Designer-Developed E-Learning

Jared Palmer, RWD, presented a session on open-source tools for the developer. Many colleagues are wary of open-source applications.

I'm an enthusiastic user of the Firefox browser and Thunderbird e-mail app. Both are free, robust, work on the PC and MAC as well as performing faster than IE and Outlook. I also use open-source "office" tools (Open Office, Google Docs), KompoZer (wysiwyg HTML editor with CSS editor) and Audacity (an audio editor).

For those in corporate setting, Jared referenced a handy cost of ownership comparing off the shelf and open-source from a Canadian government study, Here's the link to the spreadsheet download in MS Excel. I could open this file in Open Office. Once you determine is open-source is a fit for your organization, plug in the numbers and build a business case. You can also try this at home. Develop a relationship with an IT buddy (per Brent Schlenker, The elearning Guild) as they may be trying OS apps in some lab. IT has to understand the total cost of ownership (cost of licenses, support, necessary hardware, etc.) and free has to be compelling.

Authoring tools to check out: eXe and myUdutu (free to use, cost to host content with them)
Image editing: GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP), Paint.NET
Screen capture and annotation: Wink

I'll download and play with GIMP and myUdutu. I'll blog on these tools later.

Second Life Session TK09

System froze twice on my above average MAC and DSL. Will need to explore the issue and try again. This was also at the end of a very long day for me with the session at 10 PM EST that started at 6 AM EST. SO it was easy to bail. I'm a Second Life newbie and frankly disoriented there. However, I haven't spent much time there.

For those interested in giving it a whirl, ASTD in SL allows you to put a toe into the Second Life ocean. Anders Gronsted hosts SL sessions on Tuesdays at noon EST. Anders has written several T&D articles and it a veteran presenter at ASTD Conferences.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Innovation for E-Learning Systems: LETSI & SCORM 2.0

This session connected me to LETSI, the International Federation for Learning-Education-Training Systems Interoperability. From About Us:
LETSI is a non-profit consortium of e-learning adopters and associations, standards bodies (think ADL, AICC), systems integrators, policy makers, and educational product and services vendors.

They have four working groups: Architecture, Business Requirements, Sequencing and Teaching and Learning Strategies. LETSI also has a rich, open wiki for those that want to learn more about Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM).

Standards are essential for technology-delivered learning. These standards will evolve over time. We as workplace learning professionals should be knowledgeable and we must be involved in the definition of the standard.

ADL Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative for more details on SCORM.

David Pogue Keynote 28 JAN

The entertaining and talented David Pogue (Pogue's Posts) and Pogue Press The Missing Manual series presented Web 2.0 2.0. He spoke last year on Web 2.0 at TechKnowledge. Highlight of the talk:
A Wikipedia edit war with someone determined to misrepresent his background
Everything must happen in real time, text message, IM, or Twitter
Nobody cares about privacy or selectively caring while publishing all sorts of thing and activities. Partially driven by ego in amassing friends and/or followers.

Interesting live Twitter experiment shared with readers of his blog today. He tweeted: “I need a cure for hiccups… RIGHT NOW! Help?” to his 5,000+ followers. In moments scads of helpful advice of 140 character or less streamed in. My favorite: "warcand: check your 401K. That should scare the hiccups right out of ya!" He was speaking early morning in Las Vegas.

User generated content has a dark side. Some have gamed the system in generating glowing reviews, dissing a biotech company by a short seller, posting of a false Steve Jobs hospitalization that caused Apple's stock to fall 7.5% in one day, and so on.

To fix the problem and retain and sustain credibility, David states:
  1. Require credentials for review, the you-must-be-this-tall-to-get-on-this-ride
  2. Require use of actual name for a review/comment
  3. Commenters rate the comment where the "bad" comments fall to the bottom.
  4. An established code of ethics
  5. Hire a moderator
Finally, the Gen Xer take 2.0 for granted; it's a trusted source.

Interesting 2.0 sites referenced in the talk:
As David sauntered off the stage, a baby grand piano was conveniently located for his lounge act; a rework of John Lennon's Imagine.

Facilitating Virtual Events: Success Factors from the World Bank Group

Darlene Christopher, World Bank Group, (her blog) shared the PREP model:
  1. Planning - become familiar/comfortable with the tool
  2. Rehearsal - important step, practice with the facilitation team, test with mock audience
  3. Execution
  4. Post Mortem - solicit feedback from participants key, use system features
The World Bank Group employs the two person model, lead facilitator and a producer. Use an extra computer logged in as a participant. Can also serve as a backup. VIOP is not an option since they have locations all over the world.

Good tip: have a printout of participants with photos so you can relate to the learners.
  • Use the system to have some fun with the participants
  • Use webcam to establish a "social" presence. The turn it off to save screen real estate. They turn the web cam on during breaks so participants know when the session is restarting
  • From the chat - scheduling a "play date" with new SME presenters with the tool
Wonderful use of WebEx chat function to gather tips from the participants.

Staffing for Success: How to Meet Changing Business Needs

Nyla Reed, Edugroup, presented an interesting session on training moving from traditional to some desired future state.  Implicit throughout her presentation was the concern that the current learning teams may not have the skills to meet this new business need. As an example she suggested from a business unit dedicated learning team to one at the enterprise level. Factors to consider are organizational structure, departmental skills and deficiencies. In comparing current state versus desired state, what's the skills gap and how will you "skill up?  

From the participants and the current state of hiring freeze it appears that retraining current staff or recruiting internally those that have the desired skill set. 

I wondered how many learning groups use competency models for the desired skills. If models exist, I wonder how many models include a competency on INFLUENCE and ORGANIZATIONAL SAVVIERNESS (apologies to Stephen Colbert). Can the learning staff influence decision makers, SME, vendors, etc. 

I was reminded of a large company I worked for that built a matrixed learning organization with the business units owning their functional training while the enterprise group owned the corporate stuff - business compliance, sexual harassment, workplace violence, etc. You don't want multiple versions of those programs with business unit perspectives. We lacked the INFLUENCE competency and it took some time to figure out how to make things happen, organizational savvierness. This became very clear to me in reading Dana and Jim Robinson's Strategic Business Partner

Skill up on INFLUENCE and find those people that can make things happen in your organization and build that savvierness.


First session cancelled, taking the time to watch some of the videos. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Leverage the Power of Social Media to Attract, Develop, and Retain the Millennial Generation

Jeanne Meister focused on social media and the Millennial generation. Couple of nuggets here:
  • Millennials still prefer the classroom and mentoring/coaching, online no so much and nope on reading books/manuals
  • Desire a manager that will coach and mentor as well as being tech savvy
  • Training and development across the world scored highest (53%) across all respondents; however here in North America and the Caribbean it's flexible work hours (53%), cash bonuses (43%) and the free private healthcare (38%).
Presuming this is from research she's conducting (ed) for a forthcoming book. Suggesting in "learning" social media are:
  1. Experiment
  2. Select, implement tools
  3. Teach tools
  4. Use the tools and propose pilots with your team
Alas, according to Jeanne, we mostly do 2 while 1, 3 and 4 are critical.

She introduced the term wearable learning; iPod, smartphone. Googled "wearable learning" and 696,000 hits. Is clothing optional learning next? BTW three hits on Google.


So we now have many, many scenarios on the closing of Gitmo, here's the best with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed gaining American citizenship.

So where was the congressional creative scenario-making for Iraq, finance, climate change, etc?

Measuring Learning TK Results: Research Insights for Better Evaluation Designs

Great session with Will Thalheimer, Willatworklearning, his blog. Will is a researcher bringing the theory into practice. He stepped through the use (or lack there of) assessments for training citing the eLearning Guild's 360 Measuring Success report. We should leverage assessment to support learning, prove benefits and improve design.

  • Consider a delayed Level 1 assessment, not the moment before dismissing the class or flagging the online course as complete
  • Use the Level 1 assessment as an opportunity for feedback for those that design and deliver
  • Consider the forgetting curve and design follow up "authentic" learning to sustain learning transfer
  • Shrock & Coscarelli, Criterion Referenced Test Development have "raised the bar" in scenarios should be the minimum in assessing ability to do a job versus memorization content
Plenty of good free stuff in his catalog.


I see great promise in the interaction libraries. Wasn't that the promise of reusable learning objects? My fear would be the "developer" that falls in love with one interaction and subsequently overuses.

Don't know about the price points since there's the buy-the-library or monthly subscription model in my limited research. At least they provide a try before you buy.


Best Practices for Virtual Learning with Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional

will be rescheduled, presenter MIA

The host has not arrived, please stand by

Drones the WebEx robot. Remember that atomic aftermath movie On the Beach

Expediting the Development and Deployment of World-Class Online Learning

Bailed on this one, nature called in EST

ASTD TK4 The Art and Science of Test Creation

Nanette Miner, The Training Doctor. Nice, crisp presentation on does and don'ts of test creation. Coming from compliance-focused industries (health care and commercial aviation) there was not much new for me.

However she did focus on awareness of those with learning disabilities. How many times have we wondered about unexpected test performance by a chatty engaged individual in our classes. That individual may not be able to read but has adapted well to the work environment. Reminded me of many years ago I was delivering a learning map session to a group that required learners to read from cards and then the group would discuss. This was a mixed group of technicians, professions and support staff. I was having problems with individuals in volunteering to read. Soldiered on without 100% class participation in reading but the discussions went as designed; good thoughtful discussion. I was puzzled. After the class in a debrief with a colleague, she pointed out that these were probably functionally illiterate individuals. They couldn't read. However, they could sign in on the course roster and interact within a discussion. Big lesson early on in the career.

A good reminder for us all.

ASTD TK3 Zero to 60: Launching E-Learning

Peggy Page TD Banknorth
Good case study on rolling out e-learning in a NE bank. Stressed the partnership with IT and aligning with the culture; e.g., how will elearning work within your culture. Nuggets from Peggy's team:
  • Technology is the vehicle, not the driver
  • It's OK to play
  • Experience is the best teacher
  • View mistakes as gifts
  • There are no experts in the fiels
  • It's all about the learner's brain
  • Have fun

ASTD TK 2 Virtual Classroom Instruction: Strategies for Keeping Learners Engaged

Enjoyed this session although they unfortunately had the day's first technical difficulties. I don't spend a great deal of time in design of VILT so this was of limited interest. I liked their notion of giving a tour of the technology, as Anthony Allen did earlier in the day. Useful nuggets from Georgianna Marie, the GMarie Group:
  • Assign learners into small groups ahead of time
  • Conduct small group activities within these groups
  • Mix up the activities (don't rely solely on polling)
  • Mix up the timing of activities and interactions
Cool tool on the presenters website: asking effective questions, a Flash-based tool using Bloom's taxonomy to improve questioning. Worth a look.

I was also randomly called upon, first time ever in a VILT session. Behavior change on my part was to pay close attention.

ASTD TK 1 Orientation Session

ASTD TK is live with the orientation. Why do we feel the need to chat when that function is available? Many times distracting so I minimize.

Update 1: Good orientation to all WebEx features. Thanks to ASTD in giving this a try. Posted 2 discussion in the conference LinkedIn re Chat etiquette and Lessons Learned.

So far so good, participating on the PC while note taking on the MAC and multitasking (yeah right)

Let's be careful out there, pt 2

Catching up on the trade magazines on the treadmill and came across Crash and Burn in Electronic Musician about hard drives, why they fail and what to do about it when that inevitable event occurs. Yesterday, I  heard of two colleagues and their troubles with HDD failures with both life and business on hold or distractingly impacted. We can learn from the world that relies on metric tons of HDD storage. In the multimedia, video and music recording world, commercial viability rests on their ability to manage data and HDD. All of us must invoke practices that mitigate the eventual moment when disaster strikes. How many have a HDD backup routine? Do it and do it now. 

Crash and Burn (Bonus material) more details on data recovery from using a pro or DIY.

I use Time Machine on the MAC and currently using the VISTA back up program across redundant USB drives

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

ASTD TechKnowledge Virtual Conference 2009

Will be attending this conference from the comfort of the Marginally Competent world headquarters. Appears that this experience will be shared by 90+ other souls. The conference kicks off tomorrow at 11 AM EST. I'll periodically blog about the sessions using Twitter to announce a new post.

UPDATE: 126 in the virtual conference. 29JAN 7:23 AM EST
UPDATE: 130 in the virtual conference. 29JAN5:07 PM EST
UPDATE: 131 in the virtual conference for the finale. 30JAN4:18 PM EST

Monday, January 26, 2009

Let's be careful out there

MACs are vulnerable to trojans if you download pirated software,  in this case Adobe Photoshop CS4. Serves you right for downloading pirated s/w. Probably should be exploring protection for the MAC.

Links 26 JAN

Twitter has jumped the shark Apparently just discovered by ad agency CEOs.

Jing TechSmith, (Snagit and Captsia) provides a great free tool for both image and screen action captures. Available for Windows (XP and Vista) and MAC OSX (10.4.11 or higher). Snagit was a lifesaver for a project a few years back. I've been using Jing across both platforms for a month and I'm impressed. Considering updating to the pro version at the very reasonable $14.95 per year.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Links 24 JAN

Make Way for Millennials! How Today's Students are Shaping Higher Education Space
Persis C. Rickes notes how the millennials are impacting higher ed space planning; e.g., more meeting space, more team collaboration space, and the supporting technology in those spaces, not just the classroom. One result, less private offices as many companies in the US have done in supporting a telework/virtual staff.

Idee Labs
Advanced image and visual search. Check out the color picker for Flickr or a stock photo house.


Myths the Business Side Has About Learning: Result of Data Gathering. Sorry I didn't make the time to participate. His top myths are:
  1. Bad Learning Designs are Thought to be Good Learning Designs
  2. Training Alone Produces Improvements in On-the-job Performance
  3. Information Presentation is Sufficient as a Training Design
  4. Training & Instructional Design Require No Special Skills or Competencies.
  5. Learners Know How to Learn
  6. Managers Think Learning & Development is a Low-Priority Part of their Role
I can relate to all of the above especially 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Through happenstance I found Will in 2006 with this post:People remember 10%, 20%...Oh Really? In it he debunks the we-remember-10%-of-what-we-read, 20%-of-what-we-hear, and I'll pause while you chant the rest.

Just heard this old chestnut at an ASTD local function this week.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Language" "watch"

If you can read this thank a teacher, if you can read this in English, thank a soldier?

From the post in Language Log, I too wonder what this means. Is the English language under attack, the language of commerce, commercial aviation? Or is this part of the English only crowd, by jingo?

You can "quote" me on "that." Be forewarned, they're on the "lookout." Quotation Mark hunters have our "backs" as well as a Facebook page.

Friday, January 16, 2009

One demitasse over the line?

A British study has concluded that coffee intake doesn't lead to hallucinations, despite the press sensationally reporting otherwise.
... study itself,which found that self-reported caffeine intake was correlated with scores on the Launay-Slade Hallucination Scale (LSHS), a 16-item questionnaire that is supposed to measure people's propensity to hallucinate. The scale, which includes questions about vivid daydreaming, "intrusive thoughts," and hypnagogic images, does not indicate whether subjects actually have experienced waking hallucinations. The researchers called the relationship between caffeine consumption and LSHS scores "weak" and noted that it does not prove caffeine raises the likelihood of hallucinations.
Apparently the NHS Knowledge Service was obligated to calm the nervous (over-caffeinated perhaps) UK citizenry. Simon Jones and Charles Fernyhough of the Department of Psychology, Durham University did the research.

The best tip:
Anyone who has a psychotic episode should always consult a doctor, rather than assume it is caused by caffeine.
Duly noted. Found at The Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan

Update: My spouse asked, "how do you know if you're having a psychotic episode?" Presume you refer to the Launay-Slade Hallucination Scale and then seek medical attention.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


To Tom Peters (irony intended) for #151 in 100 Ways to Succeed.
"An unstinting commitment by all of us to accelerated lifelong learning."
Look at the past years in both business and government and the failure in learning while championing projects and initiatives since we "know." One characteristic I look for in leaders is the ability to learn, to grow and admit it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

When you gotta go...

Yet more animals. In organizing and moving photos from the Pictures folder, I found this wonderful shot of a chimpanzee at the DC Metro Zoo. The Zoo allows for exercise from the chimp house to another area using these overhead cables. Moments before, this chimp let loose raining urine over the pedestrian walk to the delight of the kiddos.

For those interested, shot with a Nikon D80, 1/500, f 5.6 @ 130mm. Beautiful blue-sky November 8, 2007.


Brownie, our rescue kitty, will not use her own perfectly good cat bed but opt for sleeping in Kipper's bed.

Suspect it's to annoy Kipper, the smaller high strung dog.

Brownie came with a place we bought in the North Georgia mountains. Our vet thinks she's a Norwegian Forest cat. She's got a great gig now with multiple warm places to sleep and a never empty feeding bowl.

Brownie tips the scales at 14 pounds and is the alpha animal among the pets in the household. All of our pets are rescue animals. Please consider a rescue animal when choosing a pet.

Friday, January 9, 2009

T&D Magazine: E-Learning No How

In the JAN 2009 T&D magazine, Mark Simon writes of seven disastrous decisions that contribute to e-learning failure. In the article he addresses marketing; assessments; work environment; learner course interface; LMS and end user sets. I would add this one: Failing to design your course to be evergreen.

I've found that many courses that were focused on a specific initiative tended to live on and on. Here's the course introducing some product/tool with a supposed limited shelf life and now it's used in new hire training. Therefore go ahead and design it to be evergreen. Take into account accessibility issues on the front end. Add those image ALT TEXT and design for colorblind learners per 508.

Build once, use many times.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

You've been upgraded

From the best terms for downsizing from Workplace Prof Blog:
A reader reports that when she was fired by her US company in mid-2008 she was told: “We are going to upgrade you with immediate effect. We are going to allow you to move on in order that you can you use your talents and skills more effectively and thus upgrade your career and opportunities.”
Honorary mention: dynamic rightsizing.

Tip of the hat to Evil HR Lady.

Risk Management?

Interesting story in the NYT Sunday 4 JAN 2009 by Joe Nocera titled Risk Mismangement that looks at the quantification of risk within an investment.

We really want to believe what the numbers tell us based upon what we want to believe; e.g, housing prices always increase.

When technology crashes 2.0

Was scheduled to participate in a webinar this past evening. Went to the site early to log in as is my practice. I had used this service before on the MAC with no issues across the multiple browsers.

As I logged in and waited, waited, waited and waited some more, a curious message appeared: "Your computer appears to be off line." Weird since I could navigate within other tabs on the browser. How does an online meeting service return a message that you appear off line? Reminded me of HAL in 2001: "Don what are you doing, Don?"

I went to the service site and attempted to log into the session and again, no no. Clicked on support and received this message: "This service is not available. Please try again later." The service was overloaded by the volume of participants and crashed. This is a well known and well-marketed service.

End users remember these difficulties. Hopefully, the sponsor has learned some lessons about scalability across its service provider and the consequences of heavily marketing a session.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

More on Greed and finance

See the NYT Op Ed long piece "The End of the Financial World as We Know It" with more disturbing observations from Michael Lewis and David Einhorn. I read it as self interest over responsibility. Will we ever trust again?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

So it was greed

I've been struggling to understand the economic challenges that have impacted us all. Spirited conversations (really arguments) were the result looking for the root cause. My belief it was greed. Greed in building these complicated and, for the most part, unregulated instruments.

From David Brook's Op Ed in yesterday's NYT on the Sidney Awards, read Michael Lewis' piece “The End”.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

UGA 24 Michigan State 12 GO DAWGS


Refreshingly UGA didn't self-destruct in the Capital One Bowl. This season held much promise and delivered disappointment.

I attribute most of the poor performances this year to a lack of discipline. Maybe some maturation next year in handling success as well as set backs?

The first post

OK it's now 2009. I've been exploring this channel as a creative outlet for sharing and a means to promote my business. So rolling up the sleeves and get to it. Bear with me as I get my bearings here (would that be sea fingers?)

I have high hopes for 09 for US and the rest of the world.