Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Headed to DevLearn?

I hope to see you at the eLearning Guild's DevLearn Conference and Expo next week. If you're there, join me Wednesday for a Morning Buzz session on social learning, on Thursday for breakout sessions "What Managers and Executives Need to Know About Social Learning" and, with Kevin Thorn "DesignBoarding: Leveraging Good Treatments for Your Content".  Also on Thursday I'll be on the Strategic Buyers Stage to discuss "Outsourcing Social Media: When and Why".  Also check out sessions from many of my great and learned (and entertaining) colleagues. DevLearn is always a great time, and this year it's in Vegas, baby. Should be a fun and meaningful time! 

Thursday, October 06, 2011

"Nuts and Bolts" for Practitioners

Many of you likely know that for the past couple of years I've been writing a monthly column, "Nuts & Bolts", for the eLearning Guild's Learning Solutions Magazine. It's meant to help an audience largely made up of folks who may have found their way to eLearning and instructional design via less-than-formal means. I find that writing this often satisfies my bloggin' urge (and find that people often refer to these columns as "posts"). Some are ID based, some philosophical, some theory. Visit here for all the past columns. 

"Social Media for Learning" Report

I was delighted that the eLearning Guild invited me to write up the results of their ongoing "Social Media for Learning" report. The 2011 version is now available to Guild members. Results showed great enthusiasm for using social media for learning, and widespread (83% of respondents!) belief that social media for learning was worthwhile. 

There's a brief excerpt in my October "Nuts and Bolts" Column for Learning Solutions if you'd like to take a look there. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tool Time: To Each His Own

In my work I sometimes need to schedule meetings with people, all at once, who live around the globe: New York, LA, Sydney, London. As I am math-challenged even on the best days I find the time zone issue confounding and almost always get something wrong. I'd tried a number of time zone converters but none displayed multiple cities in just the way I needed. So I was delighted to find out about World Time Buddy, which displays time by cities all at once. I tweeted about this and was almost immediately, resoundingly, hammered with responses like "this is not useful for webinars" and "I don't need to know the city, I need to know the time zone".

Here's the thing: World Time Buddy is useful to me. It is the tool that solves my problem. It is what I need. With literally dozens of time converters out there, no doubt there is something more useful for you, that solves your problem. This is part of the magic of the web 2.0 world: people can find just-in-time, just-for-me solutions. Some of us think that maybe that's supposed to be the point.

I see this happen, too, in discussions of most other tools. People say, "Well, college students don't use Twitter" as if there is some fatal flaw of Twitter that only college students see. Why would a college student use Twitter? Do most undergraduates need to reach out to big online communities day and night? I like Twitter because I am in a very isolating work role and have found it a wonderful way to connect with other L&D professionals and writers. I didn't really need that when I was in college. (And by the way: when I'm in a location with lots of friends nearby, like at a conference, and want to keep in touch via text, I don't really use Twitter for that. I like the Beluga phone app. I bet college students have something they like for that, too.)

And of course it is happening now with Google+. I keep going in to look at conversations, and I'd guess that fully half of them right now are either arguments about how Google+ is better or worse than some other tool, or discussions of which other tool will or will not be put out of business by Google+. I like Google+  fine, and I've enjoyed playing with it for the past week or so. I also still like Facebook and Twitter just fine, too. Others like LinkedIn. Or Ning groups. Or [name your tool]. (As I've said before: Don't like Facebook, Twitter, or Google+? Ask for your money back.)

I don't know why we feel there has to be one magic tool to rule them all. But I do know this, for sure: If tomorrow someone launched the Perfect Social Media Product, which was free, ridiculously easy to use, seamlessly integrated with every other need and tool, and solved every problem we had, then the day after tomorrow there would rise up a group of People Who Hate The Perfect Social Media Product. There would then be another tool, and more discussions, and ... will it ever end?

So my $.02? Find what you need, and use that tool/those tools. Partly that may be driven by where your best connections spend most of their time. But don't be blind to other, newer things, or places where other good connections are spending time, and try to give them an honest chance. And please, if we ever need to have a meeting in Yokohama, be sure to double-check my math.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Join me at eLearn Magazine!

I have recently taken on a new role as Editor in Chief of eLearn Magazine and hope you'll be a partner with me on this new journey. Here is part of my welcome message:

"I’m thrilled to be coming on board as Editor in Chief.  We’ve worked hard to identify ways of keeping the best of the last 10 years while looking for new areas of focus and ideas for reaching a broader community of readers. eLearning has evolved so much since 2001, from “CBT” and the early days of “distance education,” through virtual classrooms and virtual worlds to, now, the brave new frontier of handheld devices and mLearning, in an age with so much being created, shared, and curated through the new channels provided by social media.
The eLearn reader we hope to reach is  interested in and willing to use new technologies and approaches in creating, delivering, and supporting instruction (both academic and organizational) and workplace performance improvement.  This reader sees him- or herself as an educator or workplace learning practitioner interested in professional development, improving practice, and learning more about learning regardless of the vehicle.  He regards professional development and lifelong learning as an obligation for any practitioner in any field.  She is not a schoolmarm with a ruler.
eLearn will continue to publish content for the higher ed audience but will expand material for  those involved in workplace training, instructional design, and performance support.   We’ve already begun this journey with Cammy Bean’s wonderful  “Avoiding the Trap of Clicky-Clicky-Bling-Bling”, Aaron Silvers’ review of Thomas and Brown’s New Culture of Learning, and Tracy Parish’s reportage from Learning Solutions 2011."
We welcome reader submissions and invite case studies, research, app and product reviews, reviews of conferences and other events.
See the full text of my first blog post and writer's guidelines for more details. 

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Talking is Easy. Do Your Objectives match Your Strategies?

New "Nuts and Bolts" column today! Do your learning objectives match strategies and outcomes? 

“Talking is easy. Presenting bullet points is easy. Figuring out how to reach the other domains – to provide psychomotor practice or to elicit an emotional response – is your challenge in developing effective eLearning.”

Monday, May 23, 2011

THIS is What Social Learning Looks Like

Something really interesting happened on Twitter last night. The backstory: There is a regularly scheduled discussion, #blogchat, that happens on Sunday evenings at 8 pm ET (oops--update, correction: 8 Central). Participants share ideas for generating content, growing readership, that kind of thing. I don't usually participate but I follow several people who do. Last night I happened to see a tweet from @MackCollier with a link to . Turns out the #blogchat group decided to dedicate some of their Sunday nights to offering critiques of one another's blogs. Participants wanting feedback submitted their blogs for consideration; 4 were chosen this time with a promise that others would be considered soon. 

Those who offered their blogs up for review got a good deal of feedback useful particularly for them, but also for others in the group. For example:
@newdaynewlesson: Make your type left justified. Centered screams amateur.
@Collin_K: Font in the header looks too much like comic sans. Hard to take you seriously.

@blogdash: You want your readers to focus on your content. Everything else is a distraction. Choose your distractions wisely.
@Collin_K:  I've never been a fan of the double sidebar. Takes too much attention off of content.
@TheOnlineMom: I love how you share your objectives of the blog right off the bat.
@MikeHale: You can get a premium template for $100 and tweak it, you don't need to do a whole custom design. 
@AmyAfrica  If you want a new design & are on a budget, get a new header. It's affordable & it will make biggest difference.

I think last night's #blogchat is important for several reasons:
1. So many organizations show interest in Twitter and other social tools, but then worry about making online conversations private, or locking them up inside the company's firewall. I always say that's not really the point, and last night's #blogchat is exactly why. These are people who otherwise don't know each other, or work together, but who share a common interest -- and improving could be quite valuable to some of their employers. Talking about top-secret research on a new drug the company hopes to patent, or a pending indictment of an SVP? Maybe not in public. Talking about making your corporate blog better, or tweaking your leadership academy, or communicating with a global workforce, or finding the best productivity apps for the organization-issued smartphones? Why not a Twitter chat, or a LinkedIn discussion, or a Facebook group open to the rest of the world? 

2. The fact that this happened in public means I got to learn from  it, too. Because I happen to follow some of  #blogchat's regular participants, their tweets started showing up in my feed.  My takeaways: In blogging, content matters more than most anything else, and "choose your distractions wisely". I also found a couple of interesting new folks to follow. How many of us work in organizational silos and have discovered -- often too late -- that employees in other silos were having really interesting, useful discussions relevant to our own interests and work? Or were working on a project that we could contribute to? Or were replicating work that's already been done? Another thing that happens by living out in the big wide world: You may find new things that interest you. Hagel, Brown & Davison's Power of Pull describes this as "increasing your surface areas".

3. Popular talk about  "communities of practice" (CoPs) focuses a great deal on 'community' but rarely on 'practice'.  Per Wenger, a CoP is comprised of people who work together with the explicit intention of getting better at what they do (not just talking about it, or complaining about it, or 'conferencing', or sharing 'best practices'), but to actually apply their new learning and improve their own practice.  #blogchat is a great example of what a CoP does. The community members don't want to just gripe about problems with blog products, or trash other bloggers who don't participate in #blogchat, or complain that someone else's blog is better because that someone else has funding for it. People engage within the CoP with the intention of improving their practice. Most are open to offering up their own work and saying, "How could this be better?" -- if the feedback is given in a spirit of cameraderie from peers or other credible sources. Most people are willing to share what they know. Most people want to help each other. And what organizations often just can't grasp: People can gather based on their own self-identified needs and self-manage to get better at what they do -- without excessive administrative oversight or elaborate procedures.

Here's the thing: What happened in #blogchat last night goes on all the time in workplaces. People say they're having a problem and ask coworkers or others for help. They likely don't think to document it on their TPS reports, or include it on a time sheet, or maybe even mention it to anyone else. They don't call themselves "adult learners"; they call themselves "solving a problem". Last night it happened to happen on Twitter. Where is it happening in your organization? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

There's an App -- or Something -- for That

I remember the day I felt the technology plates shift under my feet. It was maybe 6 years ago: post-Internet, pre-Kindle, and I'd gone into the local library. I was standing in the fiction section thinking how great it would be if I could go online at home and store an evolving list of books I wanted to read, and then pull it up when I got to the library.

Well, it turned out, the library had an app for that. Ok, not an app exactly, but an online catalog/request system that did exactly what I wanted. It was a moment that foretold -- for me -- the coming age of apps, of devices talking to one another, and of  the Cloud. I remember that was the moment I stopped thinking, "Why can't I...?" and started asking "Can I....?" I've had a lot of moments like that since then: I wished there was something that would send an alert when there's a traffic jam to or from the office. I wished I could find out what is the name of that song they're playing in the shoe store. I wished there was somewhere I could just store my music online and access it from anywhere on any device. Well, I have all that now. Some days it's like rubbing a magic lamp: wish, and it appears.

I love these changes in technology, every day. And I love the usual answer now to "Can I...?"

What was your moment?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Headed to Learning Solutions?

Headed to the Learning Solutions 2011 Conference in Orlando next week? Lots of great folks will be presenting, including Marc Rosenberg, Patti Shank, Thiagi, Brandon Carson & Enzo Silva, Judy Unrein, Brian Dusablon & Kevin Thorn, Tom Kuhlmann, Michelle Lentz, Ray Jiminez, Mark Oehlert... I'd better stop. I'm going to get in trouble for leaving folks out.

SO: I hope to see you there. I'm onsite all week. Find me on Twitter @JaneBozarth. Even if you're not in one of my sessions, please hunt me down and say howdy. Keep an eye out for my Twitter avatar.

My sessions:
Monday, March 21: Foundations Intensive, "Evaluating eLearning"
Tuesday: Certificate Program : "Better than Bullet Points: Creating Engaging eLearning with PowerPoint"
Wednesday: "Social Media for Trainers"
Thursday: ID Zone, "Social Media: Myths & Magic"
And the closing "Ignite!" Session

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The New Learning Architect

Last month at Learning Technologies UK I finally had the pleasure of meeting Clive Shepherd in real life. We vowed to read and to review each other’s new books, a promise he kept right away and on which I was delinquent. I did download The New Learning Architect to Kindle right away – it’s available solely in handy ebook form—and did finally settle down with it last weekend.

Clive does a great job articulating a problem that’s nagged at me for a long while: as one trend surfaces, separate camps emerge and the implication of a winner and loser takes over the discussion. We saw it with eLearning v. classroom learning; we’re seeing it again now with informal learning v. formal. Shepherd argues that learning occurs in several contexts, with formal learning only one card in that deck, but still a useful one. He then offers a nice tour through tools and approaches within each context.  It’s the goal of L&D, he says, to build not classes or courses but environments in which people can learn, and those environments can come in several forms.  Suggesting we are ‘architects’ raises the bar, asking us to move to a more efficacious position above the ‘order taker’ function we’ve been fulfilling for far too long (“Yes, sir! That’ll be an order of Teambuilding with a side of Conflict Resolution!”)

Novices will find this very useful—there is a lot of support here to help them step off on the right foot,and  I think it would be a fabulous resource for those coming to the field with no preconceived notions. Experienced practitioners will likely be more interested in the information around informal and social learning as well as the excellent profiles of several successful learning architects.  Another thing experienced people might need?  Perhaps some new perspective on the place of learning in the learner’s world.  Shepherd talks a great deal about the case for and ways of achieving bottom-up change.  The idea appeals to me, and I admit I’m even more interested and optimistic about it given the recent events in Egypt.  While I was reading I occasionally Tweeted quotes from the book (did you know you can post to Twitter directly from Kindle? Like this). Shepherd’s idea that, "You build a learning culture by building an appetite to learn. This is predominantly a bottom-up, peer-to-peer process” caused a good deal of bristling, mostly from people who seemed to feel this could not happen without upper management control or L&D orchestrating it.  People used words like ‘partner’,  and having upper management involved in culture change, but we’ve seen how that looks so far and, well, it mostly ain’t working.

 Shepherd offers a nice overview of the field, with useful suggestions for current practice and provocative ideas for the future. It’s available as an ebook from Amazon US  and UK . 

Friday, February 04, 2011

Twitter in Training

There's lots of interesting stuff coming out this week on using Twitter as a training tool. First, Terrence Wing is moving like a house afire, first with this nice piece on using Twitter as a training platform, then with this great YouTube demonstration of using the video widget in the new Twitter interface to support delivery of a whole course via Twitter. (You can visit Twitter to see the course, too.)

Then last night I happened to check in on the new episode of Grey's Anatomy, which included a whole storyline about using Twitter as a training tool. The Chief was adamantly opposed to tweeting from operating rooms, calling Bailey's Blackberry a 'litigation machine' (sound familiar?). Meantime, staff were bending the rules and residents from all over the country were following along with surgery backchannels, eventually appealing to the chief's expertise and ego. Learners were able to ask questions and get answers from a master. Everybody won--including Twitter.  The ABC network site doesn't leave these episodes up long, and I fear readers in some countries outside the US will be unable to access the site. The episode's called "don't deceive me please don't go" so keep an eye out for it on subversive channels everywhere.

Readers of Social Media for Trainers will appreciate the challenges of trying to keep print text updated as new approaches and ideas evolve. Keep me posted of new things you run across and I'll do my best to spread the word. Ain't technology -- and the people who use it -- great?

Thursday, February 03, 2011


This month's "Nuts & Bolts" column for Learning Solutions Magazine: Surprise!

Incorporating what we understand about the role of surprise can help us overcome several common challenges in eLearning design.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

No More Clicky Clicky Bling Bling

This month's "Nuts and Bolts" column for Learning Solutions Magazine focuses on eLearning resolutions for 2011 --- and features the definitive example of Clicky Clicky Bling Bling eLearning. 

Note: Social Media for Trainers has been out for several months now and I am interested in hearing what you've been trying. Please get in touch if you have examples or experiences to share.

Happy new year, everyone!