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.”