Asynchronous Learning

Visualize a solution that not only allows you to chat with other participants, but also enables you to view their social profiles and “friend” them. Imagine a solution that also lets you add your own links and related information, which then become part of the final archive.

-David Wilkins, Learning 2.o and Workplace Communities
T&D Magazine, April 2009

Social learning paradiseGuess what? WebJunction already has those essential elements to build a rich social learning environment. Back in March, I announced an e-learning experiment at WebJunction, in which we focused our social tools on an online course about customer service. The results are in and summarized in The Social Learning Puzzle: Putting the pieces together.

Wilkins and I share a vision of “establishing a true learning culture where all employees are actively engaged in both the teaching and learning processes.” But what the Wilkins article misses in its enthusiasm is the reality that providing nifty tools is not enough. There are barriers to the adoption of the whole notion of engaged online learning. As I said in my summary,the active participants in the cohort had an enriched learning experience, but the majority of the initial group did not engage.

I believe in the vision and I’m taking it step by step toward social learning paradise. If you have anything to share on the topic, please let me know. (info (at) attn: gutsche)


We’re conducting an experiment over at WebJunction. And you can help us discover the answers. It’s called the Learn Together Project.

The challenge: can we take a self-paced, online, non-library-specific course and give it meaningful, social engagement with library context?

The course: The Customer’s Voice, a course in improving our anticipation and satisfaction of customers’ (patrons’) expectations

The setup:

  • We (WJ) create a group as a virtual classroom.
  • We invite people in the library world to join the group and sign up for the same course at the same time. (This is where you come in.)
  • We have a live-online kickoff meeting to get the learning juices flowing.
  • We proceed independently through the course.
  • We share our insights and comments in the discussions, and share library-relevant resources with the group.
  • We feel increased motivation and energy to learn and to apply our new knowledge to improve customer service on the job.
  • We learn together.

If you want to participate in our social learning experiment, join the group, enroll in the course, and we’ll see you at the kick-off meeting.

Connective Knowledge tag cloud from ManyEyes

I finally read David Wienberger’s latest book, Everything Is Miscellaneous –the one everyone was buzzing about awhile back. While I admit to a catalogically geeky fascination with the evolution of knowledge organization, the aha! that I took away from the book relates to how we learn, how we ingest real meaning from bits of knowledge, and how randomness feeds that meaning. The key to learning is connectivity.

Our society’s traditional notion of knowledge acquisition is that it’s a solo affair, as Weinberger posits in the chapter on Social Knowing. Most of our educational system is built on that assumption—just consider the weighty standardized tests imposed on high schoolers, where each student sits in a cone of mental isolation and searches for the relevant bits of information swimming around in her solitary brain. One of the great challenges of online learning is how to socialize self-paced learning, which by nature fits with the solitary model.

Steven Downes’s essay on E-Learning 2.0 (Oct 2005) suggests the potential for online learning to break out of the isolation ward and into the rich sphere of socially networked learning.

“What happens when online learning software ceases to be a type of content-consumption tool, where learning is ‘delivered,’ and becomes more like a content-authoring tool, where learning is created? The model of e-learning as being a type of content, produced by publishers, organized and structured into courses, and consumed by students, is turned on its head. Insofar as there is content, it is used rather than read … And insofar as there is structure, it is more likely to resemble a language or a conversation rather than a book or a manual.”

The success of Learning 2.0 had as much to do with the social interaction among the participants as it did with the exploration of the cool tools. As we design instruction for staff development, let’s focus on the connectivity between people, whether electronic or f2f.

btw, if you don’t have time to read Weinberger’s book, you can spend 57 minutes watching the video –the YouTube generation’s version of Cliff Notes.

Thanks to Pete and Gail for inviting me to add my words of wisdom to this blog (whatever those words may be I’m not sure yet!)

At SOLINET, we are busily creating asynchronous classes using Adobe Captivate.  We used to use a product called Toolbook and unfortunately when the one person at SOLINET who knew how to use it and update it, left the company, we decided it wasn’t worth our time to re-learn it.  So for a couple of years we haven’t really had any asynch training.  It has been an interesting road to deciding on a product.  It took a long time to finally decide on Captivate – and most of it was a money issue.  I personally wanted something a lot more robust and complex but those cost a lot.  So we did a lot of testing internally and finally decided on Captivate.  There is a new version coming out (#3 to be exact) in August and I have high hopes for some of the quiz functionality.  I’m curious to see if anyone has any specific tips to share about creating content with Captivate.