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Feel free to quote from any of these, in whole or in part, so long as you credit Jay Cross or Internet Time Group and link back to this site. I write about learning and performance because I enjoy it, it helps me shape up my thinking, and sometimes it leads to writing assignments from outside organizations. Starting in 2005, I post the article I wrote for publication; the version that appeared in print may differ.
Foreword to The Handbook of Blended Learning. Is it not nutty for a learning strategist to ask “Why blend?” The more appropriate question is, “Why not blend?” Imagine an episode of This Old House asking, “Why should we use power tools? Hand tools can get the job done.” For both carpenters and learning professionals, the default behaviour is using the right tools for the job. Storytelling, PowerPoint's New Friend. CLO 12/05. it makes no more sense to blame PowerPoint for boring presentations than to blame fountain pens for forgery. Podcasting: Broadcast Your's Organization's Knowledge. CLO 10/05. Recent advances in information technology, such as podcasting, will profoundly impact knowledge management, corporate training, and in-house communication. Just as blogging gave us all a personal printing press, podcasting gives us an inexpensive, personal broadcasting studio. The Learner Lifecycle, CLO 8/05. Most people arrive at adulthood having built the foundational skills, mental models and working knowledge they need to get along in the world. Adults learn when they need to solve pressing problems. They don’t have patience for superfluous material or rehashing what they already know. Curriculum is for kids—exploration is for adults.
Useful Things, CLO (2005). Working smarter. The New Yorker once published a cartoon titled “Useful Things.” Pictured were a paperclip, a nail file, a Swiss Army knife and $10,000 in cash. This month, I’ll update the list and share a few things that may lift a little of the burden from the CLO’s shoulders. Enterprise Collaboration Integration, Internet Time Blog (2005). People are an organization’s most valuable asset but many companies miss a great opportunity to leverage their people’s abilities. Individual performance is rewarded with bonuses, promotion, and advancement. However, individuals do not create profits; profit comes from people working together. Few organizations take advantage of readily-available technology to make it simpler, faster, and easier for their people to work with one another. Extreme Learning: Decision Games, Chief Learning Officer (2005). Until recently, extensive experience was the only way to become an expert. It took decades to develop and hone one’s craft—you couldn’t teach it in a classroom. That’s about to change. An Alternative Pattern Language, Internet TIme Blog (2005). We unearth new patterns during a visit to Christopher Alexander's house. Meta-Lessons from the Net, CLO (2005). Before the dot-com bubble burst, enthusiasts loudly proclaimed, “The Net changes everything.” They were right. It has. In fact, the Internet is such a powerful metaphor that it has shaped our expectations of response time, around-the-clock access, self-directed action, adaptive infrastructure and other aspects of learning. R&B and Workflow Learning (2005). Before long I was flipping through Rummler and Brache's Improving Performance: How to Manage the White Space on the Organization Chart. Intuition told me it was time to dig into this book.Performance: How to Manage the White Space on the Organization Chart. Intuition told me it was time to dig into this book. Workflow Learning Gets Real, with Tony O'Driscoll, Training (2005). This same 80/20 rule applies to training. Ask workers where they learned how to do their jobs, and 80 percent of the time the answer is "at work." Most learning takes place on the job, outside the purview of formal learning. When we do conduct formal training, 80 percent of it is wasted effort: Workshops progress at the pace of the slowest participant, content is dated, the learner needs little of what's being delivered, the method of delivery is not tuned to the needs of the individual worker, motivation is absent, or timing is off. The half-life of newly learned material is three days; if learners don't use it immediately, they lose it. The Transformation of IT, Training (2005). Web services and services-oriented architecture are utterly geeky terms for describing the most important advance in computing since the byte. Finally, computing is going to serve business instead of enslaving it. How will this sea change in IT come about? By applying the same principles that fuelled the titanic growth of the Internet: interoperability built on simple, common standards; flexibility; faster cycle times; decentralized control; incremental development; repurposing of content; network effects; the promise of wealth; and the collaboration of countless true believers. A Brief History of the Term eLearning and A Lesson for Portugal, Nov@ Formação (2005). People tell me I coined the term eLearning when I started writing about it on the web in 1998. In the spring of '99, nine of the top ten links on Alta Vista for e-Learning connected to Internet Time Group. What is Workflow Learning? (2005). Let's look at that in the context of: * Performance-Centered Design * Exponential Acceleration * Living Information Systems * Dense Interconnections The Roots of Workflow Learning (2005). I doubt this cast of characters had ever appeared beneath the same roof before. SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle, Saba, Docent, Click2Learn, Plateau, Knowledge Products, Siebel, Sun, Thinq, vCampus, and Global Knowledge (now OnDemand) all sat at the same table. On Demand, In the Soup, on the Path to Glory (2005). When every business is getting exponentially quicker and more connected, who's to say we should evaluate future potential by the conventional calendar? Permit me to describe the inevitable convergence of some very powerful forces from the perspective of the Workflow Institute.

The Business Singularity, Chief Learning Officer (2004), The structure of business, the role of workers and the architecture of software are changing before our very eyes. Business is morphing into flexible, self-organizing components that operate in real time. Software is becoming interoperable, open, ubiquitous and transparent. Workers are learning in small chunks delivered to individualized screens at the time of need. Learning is becoming a core business process measured by key performance indicators. Taken together, these changes create a new kind of business environment—a business singularity.

Improv Education, Chief Learning Officer (2004), Walk into the sales department, the warehouse, the call center or the executive suite, talk with the people there, and you know what you’ll discover? The members of the organization are known as “workers.” They are blue-collar workers, knowledge workers, hourly workers, commission-only workers and contractors doing work-for-hire. Nobody calls them “learners.”

What Counts?, Chief Learning Officer (2004), Training directors bemoan not being able to demonstrate significant business results. If they remain entirely within the training function, they never will, because they don’t own the yardstick that measures business results. Who owns that yardstick? Generally, it’s training’s sponsor, the person with authority to sign off on large expenditures.

Who Knows? Chief Learning Officer (2004), What would you think of an assembly line where workers didn’t know where to find the parts they were supposed to attach? Absurd, you say. Heads would roll. Yet for knowledge workers, this is routine. Consider a knowledge worker stymied by a lack of information—hardly an uncommon situation. In fact, in many professions, knowledge workers spend a third of their time looking for answers and helping their colleagues do the same.

Emergent Learning Chief Learning Officer (2004), Before the World Trade Center attack, the world was more predictable. Knowledge was power. Adaptability has now taken its place. Our requirements have changed. Corporations and government agencies are on permanent alert. Networks have taken the slack out of the system. Timing is the critical variable. The performance metrics for troops on a plane headed to a new hot spot and for systems engineers countering a new competitive threat are the same: How soon will they be ready to perform?

Personal Intellectual Capital Management Chief Learning Officer (2004), Ultimately, you’re responsible for the life you lead. It’s up to you to learn what you need to succeed. That makes you responsible for your own knowledge management, learning architecture, instructional design and evaluation.

Connections: The Impact of Schooling Chief Learning Officer (2003), "Your 16-year-old daughter says she’s going to take sex education at school and you’re relieved, but she tells you she plans to participate in sex training and you’re unnerved. Why? Because outside of education, you learn by doing things."

Informal Learning: A Sound Investment Chief Learning Officer (2003). "Workers who know more get the most accomplished. People who are well connected make greater contributions. The workers who create the most value are those who know the right people, the right stuff, and the right things to do."

Blogging for Business Learning Circuits (2003). "Four million people write blogs, and blogging is growing faster than the web at its high point. A customer blog enables a company to make announcements to its Web customers immediately. All customers can benefit from a question asked by only one. The intimacy in blog culture conversation enables customers to get to know workers-and vice-versa. Affiliation breeds loyalty. Customers begin to talk among themselves. A typo that would be an embarrassment in an advertisement becomes a sign of authenticity on a blog."

Informal Learning -- The Other 80%. DRAFT. eLearning Forum (2003). This paper addresses how organizations, particularly business organizations, can get more done. The people who create the most value are those who know the right people, the right stuff, and the right things to do. People learn these things through informal learning that flies beneath the corporate radar. Because organizations are oblivious to informal learning, they fail to invest in it.

How E-Learning Professionals Learn About E-Learning Most of the respondents said that they place a higher value on information from individuals: friends, fellow bloggers, authors, and people who send them email or that they meet at conference. As a group, they didn’t put much stock in information from organizations: suppliers, magazines, and conference sessions.

eLearning: You Built It -- Now Promote It, eLearning Developers Journal (2003). "Your elevator pitch is what you say when your CEO steps onto your elevator and asks what you're doing. You'll probably include the three basic elements of marketing design: your brand, your position, and your target segments."

eLearning: Apples and Oranges, Learning Circuits (2003). "Perhaps corporations should consider how small an e-learning application can be and still get the job done rather than try to create monster centralized e-learning systems. In doing so, would companies lose economies of scale? Maybe. But consider this: As many as half of all grandiose, enterprise software initiatives fail to live up to expectations. Many simply fail."

See What I Mean, eLearning (2002). "In the 20th century, we confused reading words with learning. Learning is a multisensory, both-sides-of-the-brain experience. Pictures unlock the imagination. Yet, most books do not contain a single illustration." More legible jpg here.

The Value of Learning About Learning, with Clark Quinn (2002). "If Olympic athletes approached running the marathon the way business people approach learning, they would show up for the race without having trained. Learning is a skill, not a hard-wired trait. The discipline of meta-learning seeks to re-invent learning as a self-correcting, ever improving process. Its measure of success is not effort, but business results."

The DNA of eLearning, with Ian Hamilton (2002). "eLearning technologies, as platforms for business-critical training needs, simply don't do what companies need or envision them to do. The fact of the matter is that different companies need them to do different things. Lacking the ability to purchase an effective eLearning technology platform, companies certainly cannot be convinced to purchase third-party eLearning content to play on these platforms."

Tomorrow's Too Late LiNEZine (2002). How would you describe an elementary school principal who didn?t conduct fire drills? Irresponsible. And how would you describe a chief operating officer who didn?t prepare for crises? Typical.

Envisioning Learning (2002). "It's right before our eyes, but we're so habituated to it that we can't see it. We've confused reading and writing with learning. What's the problem with line after line of type? They're linear. This is not the way we think. We think associatively. Thinking resembles freeform conversation, hopping from one subject to another, changing in emphasis, delivered with emotion, forever an engaging assortment of choices and surprise. The written word conveys but one of the options." Blogs Learning Circuits (2002). Blog is short for web-log, an informal personal website. Half a million people have blogs. "...blogs are destined to become a powerful, dirt-cheap tool for learning and knowledge management.

The SunTAN Story (2001). "Appropriately enough for a company whose motto is 'The network is the computer,' Sun Microsystems started using eLearning to train newly hired sales people long before the term eLearning was invented.... The time it takes sales people to achieve quota dropped from 15 months to 6 months. What's the value of 9 months of additional sales from 1,440 people? Given that the people have $5 million quotas, that's in the neighborhood of $5 billion in incremental revenue."

A Fresh Look at ROI Learning Circuits (2000). "Where you stand on ROI depends on where you sit. Different levels of management make different sorts of decisions, so it's appropriate that they use different measures of ROI. In a nutshell, traditional accounting recognizes nothing but physical entities; intangibles are valued at zero. Vast areas of human productivity--ideas, abilities, experience, insight, esprit de corps, motivation--lie outside the accountant's field of vision. Accounting fails to recognize that people become more valuable over time."

Frontline: eLearning Forum Learning Circuits (2001). "Cliff Stoll caught everyone's attention by loudly proclaiming, "E-learning is a fraud!' Unquestionably, Stoll took control of the floor. He asked the group, 'If you were hiring a plumber, which would you choose: one with an online degree in plumbing or one who learned firsthand?' Muttering that simulations were a great way to avoid the person sitting next to you, Stoll said that the designers of flight simulators spent more time making the clouds look right than getting to what the pilots really need...."

Being Analog LiNEZine (2001). "Computers are bipolar. A bit is on or off. 1 or 0. Unless you're a digital processor, this binary thinking can trick you into oversimplifying what's going on. The human world is not yes or no; it's a sea of maybes. Most decisions aren't black or white; they're shades of gray. Are you liberal or conservative? Perhaps like me, you're a little of each. Treating the world as an open-or-shut case leads to thought crimes like "The Internet changes everything." In my work, I struggle with the knuckle-headed assumption that learning must be either instructor-led or computer-delivered rather than a blend of the two. Few things in life are really all or nothing."

The Changing Nature of Leadership LiNEZine (2001). "Wide, ever-shifting boundaries change all the rules. We once rewarded compliance; today we reward innovation. We once praised obedience; today we praise ad hoc solutions. Yesterday?s subversive employee is today?s innovator. Leadership?creating value by hopping outside boundaries?used to be the province of a well-paid, well-educated few somewhere near the top of the pyramid. Turbulent times have converted leadership into a responsibility shared by all members of the organization."

Food for Thought LiNEZine (2001). "Treat the learner as a customer. Make it easy for the learner to buy (learn). Use interactivity, relevance, wit, and excitement to keep the learner/customer engaged. If the customers aren't buying, it's your fault, not theirs. The learning revolution is over. The learners won. Take control by giving control. Problem formulation often counts for more than problem solution. School always gives you the formulated problem; life does not."

eLearning (1999). "In the training jungle, corporate performance is the elephant. Training's only function is to hunt the elephant. Focusing solely on employees' needs does not bag elephants. The "e" in eLearning is not only for electronic; it's also there to remind you about the elephant. Remember, corporate performance is what you're hunting for."

Vendors commission us to write white papers and articles, for example: Time Matters, Profit Returns (for X.HLP, 2001). "While training directors may have different objectives than CEOs, everyone in today's business world shares one need: they want it all now. Benefits you don't see until two years from now are hardly benefits at all. Given enough time, a million monkeys at a million terminals could develop your entire curriculum, with Flash animations and a repository of SCORM-compliant learning objects. Nobody's got time to wait."

Leveraging the People Value Chain (for SmartForce, 2000). "Companies looking for workers who take orders, understand discipline, and put the welfare of the company above their own will be disappointed. Workers like this no longer exist. While some companies decry high turnover, others turn the mindset of the new recruit to their advantage. After all, they want innovators, not followers. They prefer self-starters who will do what's right rather than waiting for instructions. They need people more concerned with getting the job done than punching the clock. For too long, we've looked at investing in people through the wrong end of the telescope. Instead of trying to keep the cost of training and development down, what if we were to try to keep it up?"

Converting Intellectual Capital into Competitive Advantage< (for Avaltus, 2001). "Success in the knowledge age requires new tools. This paper describes a unified approach to creating, maintaining, and exploiting intellectual capital, the knowledge platform. The objective is to deliver the right information at the right time to the right person, simply, economically, and immediately."

Learn Fast, Go Fast. (for SmartForce, 1999). "eBusiness needs an eBusiness approach to learning itself, something we call eLearning. eLearning is to traditional training as eBusiness is to the five-and-dime. eLearning puts the learner in the center of the equation instead of the trainer."


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