November 29, 2004

Vulcans and arrogance and constructivism

Bill Bruck recently suggested that online discussions aren't just for Vulcans.

I agree. Of course, I work for the guy, and consider him a friend, so I have a tendency to see things his way!

A recent thread on the GT-Families mailing list got me thinking about how people so often characterize those of us who feel at home online as vulcanesque and arrogant.

The GT-Families thread was about how gifted kids, who sometimes do display arrogance, are sometimes perceived as arrogant just for talking the way which comes naturally to them. A personal style which thrives on the use of precise, (perhaps advanced) vocabulary, and on adding precision and detail to the observations of others can sometimes clash with social expectations. There are times and places in which it is more appropriate to simply refrain from amplifying on the subject at hand.

There are many more degrees of freedom to do that sort of thing here in the blogosphere, and in online communities...partially because by changing a subject line to start a new thread, or by starting a new discussion item, or by picking up a thread on a different blog, we carve out new turf, rather than take too much space on someone elses.

It makes me wonder whether as venues for constructivist learning multiply, some social constraints around contributing just might break down a little.

Posted by vbock at 04:41 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2004

What did you learn?

We're running a course right now in which professionals assess a case and are coached on documenting it.

We are running into all of the usual problems with overworked folks not taking the time to read instructions, waiting till the last minute to do work which is designed to be spread out over two weeks, etc. etc.

But there are, as in all human endeavors, moments that make you smile. Some guy called tech support complaining that he couldn't get into the course. When we determined that it's because he is not signed up to take it, he shrugged and said "no problem, I just got this email from my buddy who wanted to know if I'd seen this cool course"! This is the first time we've had unauthorized folks trying to get into a course. Kinda warms a designer's heart.

Ultimately, the test of how effective we've been will be in how much improvement in the documentation of their files our learners display, and in how much more profitable the company is because people are able to more effectively manage cases.

But of course, we seek more immediate feedback in the short run. And we like to give people a chance to reflect. So we ask them to tell us one thing they've learned. The results are mixed. Some folks seem sincerely to have gotten some new insight into what their employer is looking for in terms of documentation and why. Others take the opportunity to snipe about what a waste of time they feel this sort of training is. And then there are those responses which just leave you wondering...

I learned about making sure is complete.

Posted by vbock at 09:34 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2004

Groupjazz eLearning Chautauqua

I learned this morning that Groupjazz is having another one of it's free virtual Chautauquas, this time featuring Brian Alger of the Experience Designer Network.

I'd never heard of this guy or his network before, but I'm awfully glad I meandered into his Chautauqua!

It's just so refreshing to read a guy who writes stuff like "Knowledge isn't Power" and has a handle on the corporate training scene.

Within the Chatauqua, he's saying stuff like:

As for e-Learning, it doesn't exist, except as a collective hallucination. We might call it e-Training and in some cases e-Education if we mean that the very same processes we were using previous to the technology are now embedded in the technology then itís true. Learning is a much bigger idea than education or training. The other problem with e-Learning is that it has largely come to us through the corporate sector - a sector that is highly biased to achieve a specific end through imposed training systems and has developed a huge repertoire of rhetoric and some eloquent phantasmagoria to describe it.

The initial attempts at e-Learning have been a failure. Do people really want to sit behind a computer and take courses? I've heard of entire degrees completed this way. Now we are witnessing a collective rally around some new ideas for e-Learning that will take it to its "next phase." I recently saw some hocus-pocus written by a leading expert about how e-Learning has now reached the "final frontier" - the affective domain (Bloomís Taxonomy). Trite nonsense to the tune of Star Trek. I must have missed the first two domains altogether. We're also starting to hear about how simulation will save the day. Doubt it. It's the old can't see the forest for the trees, or in this case can't see learning for the technology.

All this, and a reference to the process of marketing as creating quality conversations! I'm hooked.

Posted by vbock at 10:27 AM | Comments (1)

April 17, 2004

Down in the trenches

I'm sort of right down in the eLearning trenches these days. I work at Q2 Learning with a bunch of great people, including Bill Bruck.

We are doing some pretty exciting Blended eLearning stuff, giving people a chance to actually build their skills in that hallowed "near-transfer" mode. But it often feels like we are slogging through glue to get there.

This week, in getting our latest course delivered, we've dealt with:

1. Learners who have only a limited command of English.

2. Learners who are getting conflicting messages on how to access the course through their email and from their boss.

3. A [quickly fixed!] program glitch which resulted in a situation very close to opening the doors of the school, and then herding all the students into an empty auditorium, instead of ushering them into the different classrooms where their teachers were waiting.

I've been living in email and on the phone this week, getting these various issues resolved. Well, number 1 is a little beyond my control, but we did get the limited-English speaker to her classroom successfully. It's always scary for our purposes when such folks seem to understand spoken English better than written, since so much of what we offer is text-based.

Posted by vbock at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)

Hello World!

I've been sort of a late entry into the blogosphere, though I've been reading avid bloggers talk about their blogging for a few years now on Brainstorms.

I started reading the things in earnest maybe 2 weeks ago, when I discovered Bloglines and have sorta dived in headfirst, because I really like the interface there and I'm so darned sick of the way mailinglists start looking like spam when you have no time. Now I have some of 'em piped to my bloglines email address and read 'em there.

As will be obvious to anyone who has set this stuff up themselves, I have just started to play with Movable Type. The site might look better soon, if I continue in my current coding frenzy. Or it may stay very spare, because I don't really have time to fool around with this stuff anyway.

Posted by vbock at 06:18 PM | Comments (0)