Learning Circuits asks readers to reflect on the year gone by and share what they learned in 2008.
I learned to shed my inhibition and fear of the online world (identify theft, spam, and most importantly, what will others think) and create a real digital presence on the web.
I learned to blog and interact with fellow bloggers.
I learned that it is great feeling when people I meet for the first time tell me that they read my blog.
I learned how easy it is get a domain name and set up a website.
I learned about social and viral marketing and managed to generate a better response this year for my unofficial salary survey.
I learned from my fellow blogger how to gracefully agree to disagree.
Finally I learned that there is so much more to learn, and the more I learn the more I realize how little I know.
Here's a 'Wordle' of titles for 2008 blog posts.
Here's a 'Wordle' of titles for 2008 blog posts.
- Writers Gateway – Rupa Rajagopalan
- Viplav Baxi’s Meanderings – Viplav Baxi
- eCube, Collaborative Learning Environment – various authors
- Speak Out – Archana Narayan
- Designed for Learning – Taruna Goel
- Random Ideas – Mousumi Ghosh
Here are the remaining who I wish would write more often:
- Simply Speaking – Geetha Krishnan
- Discursive Learning – Anil Mammen
- The Learned Man – Ankush Gupta
- E-Learning and Beyond! – Amit Kapur
When I come across blog posts that talk about other products, I take them as opinions of those bloggers. I am a gullible guy J. However I will not necessarily take business decisions (or even personal buying decisions) based only on one or two blog posts, and I don’t think that means I don’t trust blogs. It is definitely helpful when bloggers disclose posts to be sponsored posts. I follow RWW and they talk about their sponsors all the time. They also talk about other products and I trust them to provide a balanced view in their product reviews.
An interesting thing to note in the Forrester report is that people trust emails from people they know but don’t trust as much the social networking profiles from people they know. Hmmm…
According to a recent Forrester Research report, people trust emails from who they know most and they trust corporate blogs the least. According to the report, only 16% people trust corporate blogs. I had written about CEO and corporate blogging sometime back and this report presents some interesting perspectives.
What do you think? Do you trust corporate blogs? Which ones do you read regularly and why? It would interesting to get some views of corporate bloggers too.
Do you know enough?
If not, what are you doing about it?
If so, who do you think you're kidding?
[Interesting side alley: I was talking to a friend yesterday and encouraged her to speak at an upcoming conference. She said, "No way. I don't know enough." I explained that volunteering to speak was the best way to be sure that she'd end up knowing enough by the time she was through.]
When I recently got a chance to speak at our annual strategic input conference, I thought Why Not. I am no expert (yet J) and opportunities like these help me learn more about areas of my interest.
I spoke about the web and mobility. My presentation was divided broadly into four parts. I started with a recap of Web 2.0 and some changes from Web 1.0, and getting the audience to check their Web 2.0 Quotient. I followed this up with some trends that I have been observing and how companies can/should use the Web to connect with their customers. Finally I left the audience with what I believe are two critical tools to get started on the Web and some next steps for them to get started with Web 2.0.
My main message – You can’t ‘learn’ about Web 2.0 in classroom or in a conference. You have use it and experience it to leverage its power.
Here’s my presentation on SlideShare and some notes about what I spoke.
- There are enough demographic studies to tell use that the workforce is getting younger. The younger workforce is more adept at using technology, and this is not limited to a particular socio-economic section. Depending on where the audience is from, they will be relatively more tech savvy. How are we going to connect with them, train them and also leverage their inherent tech savvy mindset is going to be the opportunity in coming few years.
- While Second Life is clunky, slow and can’t be accessed through most corporate networks, we should watch out for 3-D virtual worlds. While the current use in training and business is limited, their use will increase in times to come. I encouraged everyone to get a Second Life account and try out the 3-D worlds for themselves just to get an experience. It is a little hard to imagine what it is like without actually being in one.
- Telepresence will increase and will not be limited to just high quality video conference, even though that is what it seems in the first instance. The video of John Chambers and Marthin De Beer is a good example of what telepresence can do and give rise to new applications.
- Mobile phones have a far greater penetration than the Internet, at least in India. In India, while 3.7% population has access to the Internet, nearly 30% population has access to a mobile phone. With the increase in sales of the smart phone, the Internet will reach the people faster on a mobile phone than on a PC. It is going to be a great tool to reach out to the customers and applications using mobile technology will increase significantly.
- Web 3.0 will provide even more freedom to the users.
Connecting with the community
- When you see Baba Ramdev talking about Google Chrome in his billboard advertising, you know times are a changing. So how are you connecting with your customers? Your customers are everywhere on the Web. What’s your company’s web strategy in connecting with your customers?
- With the Web, there are a lot more channels for your customers’ voice. Your customers may not always communicate directly with you. With so many websites primarily aimed at carrying customer’s voice, it is imperative that companies listen to what their customers are saying in public forums.
Critical tools to get started
- The most common issue with managers is that they don’t have the time to do all what I have said above. While all this Web 2.0 mumbo-jumbo is fine and sounds great, where is the time to try all these things? Well, I suggest that all managers start with Feeds and Google Alerts. Feeds allow you to scan your selected sites quickly for updates. Alerts help you track what’s being talked about on the Web. Most managers have a smart phone with Web access. We need to start using the smart phones for more than just email.
- Most feed readers have a mobile version available allowing you easy access to updates without necessarily being on your laptop.
- Google Alerts provide you with daily email alerts about your search keyword. This is a great way to track what’s being said about your company or your area of interest.
Recently a proprietor of a small firm asked me how he can get more clients, including international clients. So with all my new found Web 2.0 and social media interest, I suggested that he start building contacts on social networking sites. I asked him to start building his contact list on LinkedIn. I also suggested that he starts participating in various groups on LinkedIn, basically increase web presence of himself and his company.
I met him a few weeks later and asked him how he was progressing on building his network. He sheepishly told me he hadn’t made much progress. On my asking why, he said that he feared that his competitors would get hold of all his contacts and approach his clients to takeaway his business. His fear completely flummoxed me. I could tell him that he could stop others from viewing his contacts but I have a feeling that it might still not be enough to get his started. So what do I tell him to get him started?
- Farm to non-farm
- Rural to urban
- Unorganized to organized
- Subsistence self-employment to decent wage employment
- School to work
Commenting on the economic conditions, he says while there may be a slow down but there is no shutdown. Manish’s company still finds it difficult to find people for jobs. They have more than 4000 open jobs on any given day that need to be fulfilled. The problem is not that there are no jobs, the problem is that the workforce is not employable. And rural India doesn’t have the same choices as the urban India in terms of the jobs they might qualify for.
Entrepreneurship is the art of staying alive long enough to get lucky
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- “Cash is King”. He mentions that one analyst mentioning that cash is not just king in times like these, Cash is God! It is imperative that companies manage and improve their cash reserves in current times.
- Avoid denial... acknowledge and then solve. The worst that can happen in these times is the leadership being in denial mode of the situation we are in.
- There are no sacred cows in this environment. He urges to relook at everything. No project is too sacred, no initiative too pet. Focus on core strengths; abandon ‘hobbies’.
- Pramod urges you to renegotiate existing terms and deals. Don’t wait for end of term or contract renewals.
- This is also a time to be aggressive not defensive in terms of going after business and managing costs. Aggressively drive your sales team to close orders. Focus on improving the order win rate, even if it means dropping prices. Now is the time to take calculated risk, focus on volume and increasing market share. He urges his sales teams to be closer to the customer, abandoning old models of engagement. He urges his sales team to get on the plane to meet with customers and close deals rather than wait patiently for customers to respond to proposals.
- Interestingly, he says leaders could use the ‘burning platform’ to alter cost models and bring in cultural changes. Now is the best time to bring about major changes. Now is the time when there will be least resistance to change in order to survive. Set new productivity goals for your teams. Crisis, he says, is also an ideal time to build teamwork.
- Accept lack of ability to predict and always have a plan B. Build flexibility in your plans.
- Look further out than what’s in front of you. Focus on high growth areas and areas that have the most potential in times to come.
- Take decisive actions, don’t hesitate. It is okay that some decisions may not be the best but now is not the time to hesitate.
- Assume that your pricing is going to come down by 10-15%. How will you make the same money?
- Change at this time will be relatively easy. Make the change now.
- Crisis is a terrible thing to waste. Use the crisis to figure out how can you change your business model, how do you want to utilize cash?
So you go to my LinkedIn profile or Facebook profile and connect with me.
On LinkedIn, click Add Manish to Your Network, select Other and put in my email manishmo [at] hotmail [dot] com. On Facebook, select Add as Friend.
This month’s Learning Circuits Big Question asks where is the best place to ask if you need input from people, what works and doesn’t work, what did you consider using, what was the outcome, ...
Continuing with my experiences with social networking, I have tried to use blogging to connect with people and get answers. However I haven’t been very successful in generating a dialog through my blogs. Perhaps my blog has very small readership, or perhaps people aren’t comfortable commenting.
As part of my journey in social networking I also started two communities – on Facebook and LinkedIn. Somehow it seemed harder to get a dialog on Facebook community but LinkedIn community got the dialog going quicker initially.
I recently sought inputs on a presentation I had to make. I posed the question on my LinkedIn community and didn’t get any response. I also sent a message to my Facebook community inbox instead of posting it to the group site. I got most response using this method. It makes me wonder if email is still the best form of social networking.
I am relatively new to social networking and social media. I remember my first encounter with social media was on a new Indian social networking site about 17-18 months ago. The social networking site’s interface was a combination of Orkut and Facebook-style networking (which I figured later after I started using Orkut and Facebook). So here I was on this social networking site but I couldn’t see anyone to network with (it didn’t let you see anyone’s profile unless you were their ‘friend’). On their open chat room, I asked what the point of this site was. I was told by someone that I could invite the ‘real’ friends I knew and grow my network. I felt a little silly. But I already know all my ‘real’ friends. What’s to network with them? I thought the whole point of these social networking sites was to expand and build new networks. I gave up first attempt at social networking within an hour of trying, turn my nose up, wondering what all the fuss was all about when I couldn’t really connect with people I didn’t know.
Thankfully I progressed on to using the social networking sites and even started my own communities, figuring things along the way. Blogging definitely helped my journey in using the many social networking sites. I primarily started building my social networking on Facebook. Initially I found Orkut a lot more ‘social’ and Facebook a lot more ‘professional’. However I now figure it just depends on which communities you connect to on each of these sites. I have since figures that LinkedIn perhaps truly ‘professional’ networking site while Facebook and Orkut have a much more ‘social’ side to them. I have also felt that Orkut seems to have a much larger Indian community than on Facebook before finding some statistics recently that validate this.
The social networking sites have also made it easier for me to remember birthdays by transferring the responsibility to the person whose birthday I should remember J. And like mobile phones ruined my ability to remember phone numbers, social networking sites are making remembering email addresses a futile exercise.
As my online presence grew (though still miniscule compared to many other bloggers I follow), I started getting ‘invites’ to be ‘friends’ on Facebook, Orkut and LinkedIn. Many old colleagues were connecting with me. I get scraps on Orkut seeking my inputs on career and education. I have also started reaching out to people I don’t know. I always try to provide a brief intro/background/intent of my connecting with them. I am petrified of connecting with an old acquaintance with no introduction or an introduction like “Hi, remember me?” What if they don’t? So I play it safe and provide some introduction. It is also better to receive introductions that have some background.
I also figured (again) that humour or something said in lighter vein can easily be misinterpreted. I should know this but still have learning experiences. And no, a smiley in my message does not necessarily mean that the intent will be transmitted and interpreted correctly by the other person. So humour is highly avoidable with professional contacts with who I have not yet established some sort of communication rapport.
Based on some of the feedback I received, I have made a few modifications to the Web 2.0 Quotient. There is greater focus on collaboration and not just having an account with the Web 2.0 services.
Please keep your suggestions coming and help this evolve. Please share your score in the comments (Post a Comment link below).
Uses rudimentary MS Excel features and is highly dependent of retaining the format and location of cells. No great programming has been attempted here. I still haven’t been able to figure out how to put this online.
Carla Arena writes:
Well, first I must confess that being comfortable and having a high IQ on the Web is not about the services you use and how often you connect, but how you're using it to connect to others and learn. Anyway, I had fun with your form, but I'd change it to a Web2.0 version using a google docs form, rather than an excel program that you have to download. Just an idea...Steve Tuffill writes:
Well Manish - I scored a 73 in your Excel spreadsheet-based test. I tend to agree with Carla though. It may have been more appropriate in a Web 2.0 based environment like Google Docs. And certainly the figures would speak volumes about the trends of using the technology which we are all studying so closely.Roberta Miller writes:
I would be interested to see what everyone scored on this test. Are you planning on making this capable of aggregating the data centrally?
Also, what exactly does my 73 score tell you (or anyone else for that matter) about me?
So I have to say I was really disappointed in this. I find am having trouble finding the "greatness" or importance of "Web 2.0". I generally don't tend to respond to posts I read, but I am trying to break out of my this and start voicing my opinion.Catherine Fitzpatrick writes:
I think you did a great job in creating the form, and it was fun participating so in that sense it was a success. After reading the questions though I felt a little let down. "Is that all there is to Web 2.0?"
I scored a 42 by the way. There were some questions I had to leave blank though because I couldn't find the appropriate answer.
Added later: I sent the form to my 21 year old to she scored 27. What does it all mean?
I'm with Roberta on this, though I scored 83, more than double her score, but I have even MORE of a sense of "Is that all there is?"George Siemens writes:
And she's right, that the answers are too pat. For example, it could ask me if I like or trust wikis -- I would say "no," although I'm forced to use them. She could ask if I actually show up on Facebook, which I don't much, etc. It doesn't chart usage.
And even if it does, there isn't really the hard question that needs to be asked: do you get paid to do this? Does this pay out to you? Does this get used in your job that pays you? And the answer for most people will be a resounding NO. I'm lucky it does pay out some modest amount for me, but nowhere near my value per hour spent at some other occupation.
I'm with you (Roberta) on "is this all there is to web 2.0". At best, these tools are an instantiation of a longer cycle of change. When schools create new reforms based on the current fad/flavour, they do themselves and their "stakeholders" a disservice. I would just as soon do without web 2.0. But, it seems, that we need umbrella terms that encapsulate complex ideas. So discussions of participation, openness, technologies, read/write web, etc. get pressed into a term. And once we adopt the term, it in itself becomes a limiting influence to new innovation.
The common threads in all these are some answered questions and suggestions:
- So what do the scores mean?
- Is that all there is to Web 2.0?
- How often do you connect is more important than just having a registered user ID on the services.
- Should be online on Google docs or something similar.
- Would be great to see other’s scores.
Lately I’ve been asked by a few people on how to get started with a career in instructional design and elearning. Here are some of the questions I received:
- Could someone suggest that how to start my career in Instructional Systems Design field?
- I'm interested in joining the field of Instructional Design. I've done my MA in English and also a diploma course in multimedia. I would really appreciate it if you could guide me on which companies to approach and how, to secure an entry level position. I am looking for something in the NCR region.
- Can u tell me how relevant is teaching exp to ID?.....If I've 4 yrs of teaching exp, what would be the starting salary in ID?
- Lots of my friends want to know about some good courses they can take on ID - ISDT / Symbiosis ID are amongst courses they are considering. Any suggestions?
- Well i wud lik to get som information of ID work. if u share some link and actual ID work for elearning.
So what does it really take to be an instructional designer? What is instructional design anyway? Christy Tucker has a great series of six posts that can help you get started. Start with her first post in the series – What does an Instructional Designer do? and follow her other posts. Closer home, Rupa Rajagopalan also provides practical tips about instructional design in her blog One-Stop Resource for Instructional Designing. Start with archives on her blog and read your way up chronological posts. I also found an interesting article by Shilpa Shet on instructional design as a career. I have also written in the past about competencies required for an instructional design role. That post also has links to other sources for the same.
You could start with the following sites to get more information about elearning, instructional design, course development, although some of these just might be too heavy for absolutely new users.
- Hitchhiker’s Guide to Course Development
- Web-Based Training Information Center
- Florida Gulf Coast University
Elearning/Content development Companies
There are many elearning/content development companies in NCR region. NIIT, Genpact, IBM are the larger ones and Infopro, Liqvid, Servetium, G-Cube are some of the smaller companies in NCR region. I have compiled a small list of companies on eCube Directory listing. It is not comprehensive by any means, but a start nevertheless. I am told that there are more than 100 elearning/content development companies in India.
Instructional Design Courses
I am not sure how good the courses in India are. I recommend getting a job instead. Symbiosis is quoted more often in conversations and so must be gaining some popularity as an instructional design course. But honestly, as a manager who has had to recruit for ID, I look for prior experience, and if there is no prior experience, I look for their core writing skills and ability to learn. Having a diploma is good but not essential.
Having said that, here are some of the courses you could look at. I have not evaluated any of them and don’t necessarily endorse any of them.
- Symbosis Center for Distance Learning – Certificate Course in Instructional Design
- S.N.D.T. Women’s University – 4-Credit Online Course on Instructional Design
- Wavelength eLearning Consulting and Training in Noida provides ID & content writing, and Flash programming.
- Vyaktitva in Delhi provides some advance courses on training design and facilitation skills.
- Technopoint in Bangalore seems to be offering some courses on Instructional Design.
Career and Salaries in Instructional Design Jobs
Teaching experience helps but it actually depends on what you were teaching and what content you will be creating when you start with instructional design. If you were teaching in a school and you get a job to create K-12 (school) content, then your teaching experience will be relevant and may be considered when the company decides your starting salary. Most companies though will take your past work experience into consideration and give you some weightage for the same.
Basically you need to have good writing skills. This is most critical to get into instructional design job. Without good writing skills, it will be difficult to get into the role of ID. Writing skills is typically what is tested by companies for taking on new IDs.
Starting salary with 4 yrs exp but no exp in ID can vary from company to company. You can expect between 1.5 lac to 4 lac per annum CTC. The range is wide since the industry is relatively small. CTC will include PF, medical insurance etc. Refer to my unofficial salary survey of elearning and content development jobs for more inputs.
One could also try to land a job as technical writer to start with. Many technology companies hire tech writers, though it helps if you have a tech background to get started in a tech company. You will first probably start as content developer or tech writer, before moving to actual design. Good writing skills are essential for getting entry into the field.
While Kevin Kelly talks about Internet of things as he predicts the next 5000 days, the question is are we even ready for the present? We are still struggling with Web 2.0 and Learning 2.0, trying to bridge the gap between digital natives and digital immigrants.
So are we really ready for the future? How well do you use the web in the present? Are you familiar with the Web 2.0 mumbo-jumbo? Do you utilize the web to connect, learn and grow? What is your Web 2.0 Quotient? Here’s a simple form I created to check your Web 2.0 Quotient.
Simply answer a series of questions and see how you score on the Web 2.0 quotient.
My score: 68. What's your score?
Have I missed anything? I am sure I have missed many things. Do provide your suggestions to improve this.
Uses rudimentary MS Excel features and is highly dependent of retaining the format and location of cells. No great programming has been attempted here.
Update: See responses in a this new post.
Do I have a To-Learn list? Well no, but here’s my first list of things I want to learn.
- Learn to play the tabla. Have been wanting to for a very long time now!
- Learn to run a Rs. 100 crore company. I see my bosses doing much more with aplomb ease.
- Learn PHP !!! Actually not really ‘learn’ but knowing it will really help ever since I started messing around with Wordpress and other tools.
- Learn to dance such that my daughter doesn’t roll on the floor laughing.
Other questions asked in the Big Question:
- How does a to-learn list impact something like a Learning Management System in a Workplace or Educational setting?
- What skills, practices, behaviors do modern knowledge workers need around to-learn lists?
I would suggest that we leave LMSs alone for now. There are enough other things to be managed with all the informal learning and Web 2.0 mumbo-jumbo. Let’s not add To-Learn Lists on to LMSs. And do knowledge workers need to have any skills, practices around this? I don’t think what knowledge workers need would be any different from what anyone else would need. This is a ‘life-skill’ that we all need irrespective of our profession, to become a better person, a better human being.
It was absolutely fascinating. Within a day, the group had divided into four camps:
- The game-show contestants, quick on the trigger, who were searching for a quick yes or no. Most of them left.
- The lurkers. They were there, but we couldn't tell.
- The followers. They waited for someone to tell them what to do.
- The leaders. A few started conversations, directed initiatives and got to work.
Nifty experiment! Read full post here.
LinkedIn now has hundreds of Company Profiles. Select Companies link on the top links bar. You can view companies by location, industry, name, and companies in your network.
On the company profile there are some interesting pieces of information. It shows career paths of employees before and after their employment with the company. It also shows employees most connected to which other companies. Aha, that’s where most of our employees are headed...
The company profile shows new hires, and recent promotions and changes of employees. More interestingly, under Key Statistics section it shows common job titles. These are job titles of employees in the company who have registered with LinkedIn. So in my company Software Engineers, followed by Project Managers and Consultants are the most common job titles on LinkedIn. Hope this provides some useful information to HR.
The Key Statistics section also shows that of all the people from my company on LinkedIn, 77% are males. I know for sure that the gender ratio is pretty much even in our company. So does this mean that males from my company are more likely to be using LinkedIn than females?
Finally it shows popular profiles from the company. Does it help if my profile shows up as the second most popular profile after the CEO of the company? :-)
- Guy Kawasaki talks about Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn
- Head on to blog of Mario Sundar, the Community Evangelist at LinkedIn,
- And not to forget the LinkedIn official blog.
- Of course, you could simply Google “using LinkedIn” for more results.
It made me think though. I see vast differences in the way the Web is used by different people. The variances are way too high to be comfortable. I could be talking to someone who lives Web and yet I come across people who don’t really use the Web other than to check their email. In this diverse experiences and ways to use the Web, it is easy to disbelieve Kevin about the next 5000 days that he talks about. However there is no denying the past 5000 days.
The question is, are we all really ready for the Future? And will the ones who aren’t really lose out on anything? Does it really matter that I am not on the Web talking about all the Web 2.0 mumbo-jumbo? Does it matter that mail is still the killer web application, and perhaps followed by search (Google!)? Even in the Internet of Things, how will my day to day life really be affected? The digital divide will continue and both sides will turn up their snooty noses at others, living happily and satisfied on their sides :-).
As I wrote in my post on why workplace learning is largely 1.0, here are some of the reasons for organizations standardizing on IE:
- I guess the fact that the OS comes preloaded with a browser might have something to do with this.
- We are lazy and don't really want to take the pain of installing a new browser, especially when we don't know the advantages.
- We are too lazy to learn new tools. After all just installing Firefox is not enough. Vanilla Firefox will not provide the advantages that it does with plugins added.
- We don't pay attention to teaching using tools like a 'browser'. Have you ever seen training on browser on any corporate productivity improvement training? Good case for 'Work Literacy' like initiatives!!!
- The new plugins (like the Ubiquity) don't come with "business" or "corporate" examples in their videos. Heck I won't be able to make a good business case with the above video of showing that Firefox will improve productivity when the video talks about using mash ups to identify restaurants near you.
- Applications run only on IE. Many (I am guessing all though I haven't tested all) internal application in our organization don't run very well on Firefox. So I need to have both browsers even though I use Firefox as my main browser of use.
- In any case we don’t want employees to fritter away their time browsing. After all they should be doing something productive like work rather than browsing.
Personally I started using Firefox primarily because IE 7 was hanging on me more often than I liked, and haven’t looked back since (except when I need to use internal applications). However I have seen a sum total of only one other person in our organization using Firefox.
The survey received total 62 responses, including 8 incomplete responses. Most responses were from the NCR region, followed by Mumbai. Pune, Bangalore and Chennai had more than 4 responses, while Hyderabad, Kolkata, Coimbatore, and Cochin had 3 or less responses.
Instructional Design/Content Development had 24 responses and Project Management had 16 responses. The rest of the functions had less than 4 responses. I provide analysis of only ID and PM functions.
In case you are interested in the PPT or raw data to draw your own conclusions (the survey was anonymous), please contact me on email at manishmo2007[at]gmail[dot]com.
As part of judging entries for the Brandon Hall Awards this year, I encountered an elearning module that attempted to teach the company’s sales people its new service orientation and its service oriented products. The elearning module was very well made, full of videos (actually it was practically a ‘video-based-training’ disguised as elearning) with very well written script and extremely professional production quality. The script and production quality was so good that I would have been proud of the product if it had been made by my team.
I went through the modules as a learner, something I hadn’t done in a while. I was probably the right audience, not in terms of being part of that company, but perhaps with about the same experience as the intended audience. So after being impressed with the first few video clippings I got down to actually attempting learning from it. And man was I unhappy going through the training. The training included lots of case studies and ‘role plays’ (the wrong and right way to sell videos). As an intended audience, I felt bad and felt the training was demeaning my intelligence and showed what I might be doing right now (remember I was trying to be in the actual learner’s shoes) in very bad light. Something like this might work in a controlled classroom environment where a trained instructor would be able to provoke me and respond to my reactions to the content being taught, and I might also have a healthy debate with others in the class. However using the elearning module, I felt the module was preaching to the choir and insulting the learner’s intelligence. Since it had no facilitation of a trainer and there were no other peers to learn from or debate with, I felt very bad about the content.
Which makes me wonder – can self-paced asynchronous elearning be a good tool for attempting to change behaviour? Is elearning better suited for certain types of audiences when attempting to do this? Are there some content areas that should just be dealt with in a classroom? Or perhaps is there a better way to teach behaviour change using elearning?
My personal preference is now with Blogger as compared to Wordpres.com, if you want to get started quickly and without any expense. In addition to the comparison in the link above, some additional comparisons are:
- Blogger allows you to add new templates which Wordpress.com doesn’t allow. You are limited to the themes provided by Wordpress.com.
- Blogger provides email alerts for comments (and posts too). Wordpress.com (and self hosted Wordpress too actually) doesn’t provide any email alerts for new comments.
- Blogger has an in-built poll widget. Wordpress.com doesn't have a poll widget.
So there you are. In my view, get started with Blogger. The other criteria for choosing between the two could also be the availability of the blog name. You might need a blog name that may be available on a platform not of your choice.
However, notwithstanding the technology debate about the blogging platform, I finally figured that it is the CONTENT that matters most. Do I have the content on my blog that will pull readers or which is personally satisfying to me? That is far more important than the blogging platform!!!
Here are my top 10 tools for learning in Aug 2008.
- Search engines – though Google is still my most used generic search engine, I have discovered and used few other more specific search engines. I frequently use Flickr and LinkedIn search add ons installed on my Firefox. I also use Summize (which has since been acquired by Twitter) to search Twitter tweets.
- Blogging – blogging continues to help me reflect on my thoughts and crystallize my learning. I still use Blogger for my personal blog and have moved to hosted Wordpress for my team blog.
- Blog Feeds – I read blogs via RSS feeds. Have been on Google Reader so far and recently discovered Feedly. Feedly integrates very well with Google Reader and presents a very nice magazine-like interface. I just love reading my RSS feeds on Feedly now.
- Social Networks – I use Facebook as my main social networking environment and it’s been great. It has been a great source for getting help from my social network. I am also beginning to utilize LinkedIn Answer, though the usage is still low.
- Social Bookmarking – I had del.icio.us on my list the last time, however I hardly use visit it to view other people’s bookmarks. What have really helped is the bookmarks I receive in various feeds (RSS or Facebook feeds) of my network. So social bookmarking is still on my list but the usage is different now.
- Right click-Open in New Window/Tab – Still on my list. So you may argue this is not exactly a learning tool. But I find hyperlinks very distracting and if I click on a hyperlink I lose the flow of what I am reading. So I always right click and open the hyperlink in a new tab or window. This enables me to continue reading and if I do view a hyperlink, this allows me to return to my original document easily.
- Web-enabled mobile phone (iPhone) – Continues to be on my list.
- In-sighting and de-layering – A technique I learned in one of the leadership workshops. Now in every interaction I listen more carefully and ask more questions, with an attempt to get an insight into the subject of our discussion.
- Online conferencing – continues to be on my list. We now use Office Communication Server (OCS) at work and that is used a lot more frequently now than other paid services.
- Wikipedia – Continues on my list. Great place to find almost anything here.
Need I say more... although I have a feeling it's not just the clients, we probably do this to our process too... and perhaps this is what the developers feel about getting reviews from SMEs, reviewers and editors...
The biggest challenge in losing weight was to have determination. And my wife was very determined that I lose weight. When bringing about major changes in an organization, it is important that senior management is determined and committed to making things happen.
I tell my friends that the first step towards losing weight is to get a digital scale. Measurement is critical when you want to bring about changes. And accuracy of measurement is very important. It is imperative that you measure and monitor progress. Measure and plot on a graph of your progress. I measured my weight around the same time each morning, trying to wear just about the same number of clothes. Try to keep the parameters that impact what you are measuring constant. This helps provide a better measure of progress.
One of my colleagues remarked sometime back that she discussed this weight loss tip at home. Her husband told her that he will get her five digital scales if it makes her lose weight. So of course, only measurement is not enough to bring about change but a very critical first step.
I discussed my journey over last year with my wife. Determination and measurement helped get the program off the ground. My wife told me that the most difficult thing for her was to get me to eat alternative food that would be equally exciting and yet help me reduce weight. My body and mind was so used to certain eating habits that it is very difficult to change. The alternative had to be equally exciting so that the mind and body doesn’t keep reverting to the old habits. In organizations, we are used to our old processes and ways of doing things. The change has to be equally exciting for people to adopt. Bring about change is difficult, and it helps if the new processes, tools, structures etc. has things that will be exciting for everyone.
It seems the hypothalamus needs about one year to adjust to the new weight and start controlling the food intake. So the new weight needs to be maintained for at least one year before the body will completely adjust to it and you will not gain weight again after losing it. In an organization change initiatives will die a natural death if they are not continued for a period of time. We will revert to our old processes and ways of working if the changes are not in place for a sufficient period of time.
I have slowly started gaining weight again. I think senior management needs to revitalize its determination to keep the weight under control :-).
Image courtesy: Lusi at Stock.xchng
"Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?"
The survey was a huge failure:
- In Africa they didn't know what 'food' meant,
- In India they didn't know what 'honest' meant,
- In Europe they didn't know what 'shortage' meant,
- In China they didn't know what 'opinion' meant,
- In the Middle East hey didn't know what 'solution' meant,
- In South America they didn't know what 'please' meant,
- And in the USA they didn't know what 'the rest of the world' meant.
A blended learning solution mixes social contexts for learning (self-study, one-to-one, small group, larger community) with the aim of increasing learning effectiveness, and/or mixes learning media (face-to-face, online, print, etc.) to increase efficiency, in the context of a particular learning requirement, audience characteristics, and practical constraints and opportunities.
Clive’s does a great job in separating the method and the medium. I quite agree with Clive.
In my view, blended learning can be simply defined as a combination (blend!) of self learning (asynchronous) and teaching (synchronous). Self learning could happen in form of going through predefined learning path, using various media for content (books, whitepapers, wikis, blogs etc.). Teaching could happen in classroom, web conference, virtual classroom etc. Like Clive says, it is the method and not the medium.
What caught my fancy is the recent Xobni release of LinkedIn integration. The plug-in now provides a LinkedIn link of email sender in Outlook bar. It also provides the phone numbers of the person from the Outlook Contacts. Nifty little feature that integrates my most used email software with my social networking site.
It would be interesting to see if they can also show photograph of the contact from LinkedIn and really personalize the contact info.
There is still some fine tuning to be done over the next few days. I still don’t know how to automatically archive the Blogger poll widgets (so bear with them on the side bars). And the Outbrain rating stars still don’t appear on the posts. And post contributors will need to log on to their Blogger Dashboard to be able to create a new post on the blog till I figure out how to get back the top Blogger navigation bar.
Like it, hate it, have suggestions for improvement? Do post your comments on the new interface. There is also a new poll about the interface. Do drop by and provide your feedback.
Update: eCube has moved to Worpress platform on an independent domain: http://e3cube.co.in.
I attended two sessions of the Blogging and New Media Workshop organized by Indian Blog and New Media Society. I was actually surprised to see a relatively large turnout. There would have been approximately 100 people. That’s not bad for a Sunday evening session and a working day Monday evening session. The audience was very varied in terms of their experience as a blogger and I commend how the presenters, Ajay Jain and Abhishek Kant, handled the audience questions with patience. There were also a significant number of women in the audience so it’s not just the men who are blogging in India.
Quite honestly I thought the audience would be really interested in blogging, learning through blogging and exploring new avenues. Most were interesting in knowing how to make money through blogs. No harm but whatever happened to learning and personal growth through blogging...
The sessions I attended were on Marketing your blog, Benefits of Blogging for Executives, Business and Professionals, and How to Make Money as a Blogger. I found congruence in many of the tips in the sessions and in one of my previous posts on blogging. A part of the session was dedicated to corporate blogs and how companies can benefit through blogging. Companies should not only use blogs but also other social media sites to manage their brand and monitor what’s being said about their brand. Some important tips of companies were not to outsource blogging, and have people other than just CEOs and PR/Corp Communication Manager to communicate with the readers. There are some examples of corporate blogs. I had posted some examples in my earlier posts on corporate blogging and tips on running a team blog.
There was an interesting session on SEO, SEM and generally marketing your blog. I didn’t know that links to authoritative sites like Wikipedia improved your search ranking. And that broken links on you site can have an adverse effect on your search ranking. When Google search engine searches your blog, it also adds links on your blogs to its search. So having inbound links (links to your own blog pages) are better than outbound links. However out-links to relevant blogs does increase your search ranking. What statistics to measure was also discussed. I found an interesting post on a quick primer on various web metrics and how to use them.
It was good to see a large turnout for the workshop and to see the audience interacting in the workshop. With the Indian blogging scene growing exponentially, I am sure groups like IBNMS will make a significant contribution. Here’s wishing IBNMS all the very best for their future workshops.
Here are my two videos that I shot during my vacation. These were shot with a digital camera meant for stills and not a video camera, so the quality isn't the best video quality.
1. Beetle inside a flower
2. I am not sure if this is a humming bird.
One week on "No Network" vacation has been great. I didn't miss the complete lack of connectivity until the last couple of days of my vacation. I took a trip to the hills, visiting Nainital, Binsar and Corbett, traveling by road.
Returned to 154 unread posts in my Google Reader. eCube Facebook group membership has grown to 89. The unofficial salary survey I started has 39 responses now. I discovered that someone had copied content from my blog and pasted on another site without acknowledging the source. I was flattered but not happy. So I added a Creative Commons button on my blog.
The My Flickr application on Facebook hung on me and I uploaded photo on Facebook AND Flickr individually. In the process I discovered that Flickr wants me to pay for membership for adding more than 3 photostreams while I can add as many albums on Facebook for free (though limited to 60 photos per album). Both probably give about the same user experience though I prefer Facebook's navigating through the photos in the album experience. However not everyone can view my photos on Facebook without being a member and a "friend". So I will try the Flickr application on Facebook again and maybe, just maybe, make my first payment for using an online service.
I started tracking stats late September 2007. An anonymous commenter on my blog introduced me to Feedburner in Jan 2008. So far, my blog has had more than 4,000 visits and 6,400 page views. About 40% of traffic comes from referring sites, 30% from search engines and 30% direct. The blog has about 65 RSS subscribers. eCube has had more than 2,700 visits with more than 5,100 views, and has about 35 RSS subscribers.
The top 5 most viewed posts on my blog have been:
- eLearning and Content Development Trends for 2008
- Unofficial salary survey for elearning/content development jobs
- iPhone – The Dumb Blonde of Phones?
- Death of the Instructional Designer
- Tare Zameen Par
My personal favourites over last one year:
- Two posts inspired by recent movies in India: Chakde India Coaching in Corporate India and Tare Zameen Par. I find it hard to choose between these.
- My post Why Workplace Learning Is Largely Learning 1.0 got the most comments. I summarized these in my subsequent post.
- I wrote Tips for Running a Team Blog as a guest post on Michele Martin’s The Bamboo Project.
- It was great fun hosting the second edition of the Working/Learning Blog Carnival – April 2008. This post had 15 gem posts from various bloggers.
- I did quite some research in writing CEO and Corporate Blogging. This post has links to many sites that you might find interesting.
Thank you for reading and contributing with your valuable comments.
Thank you for reading and contributing with your valuable comments.