Online 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) webjunction.org attn: gutsche)

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Webinar: Libraries as Learning Organizations
When: Tuesday, May 26, 2009, Time: 2:00pm – 3:30pm (EDT)
Co-sponsored by CLENERT and WebJunction
Registration Link: http://evanced.info/webjunction/evanced/eventsignup.asp?ID=1592

What makes a library a learning organization? What does it take to build an organization-wide commitment to team and individual learning? Why make the effort, especially in these economic times?

Our panelists, representing libraries at different mileposts on the road to becoming learning organizations, are finding their own answers to these questions and will share challenges, strategies, and successes about the four Bs of the journey:

  • BENEFITS of a learning culture
  • BUILDING the environment
  • BEING a learning champion
  • BEYOND to sustainability.

Hear ways to use technology appropriately to enable faster, more personalized learning and to institutionalize knowledge sharing. Because most learning occurs on the job, at the point of need, you will discover ways to create a positive performance environment.

Even if your library is not yet moving in this direction, you will take away ideas that you can use immediately to implement learning solutions individually and organizationally.

Panelists:

  • Sandra Smith, Training and Development Manager, Denver Public Library
  • Michele Leininger, Information Experience Director,Pierce County Library
  • Elizabeth Iaukea, Learning Manager, Pierce County Library
  • Julia Lanham, Human Resources, Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

Registration Link: http://evanced.info/webjunction/evanced/eventsignup.asp?ID=1592

For several years now – at least since the advent of Second Life – learning professionals have been intrigued by the prospects of constructing immersive 3d worlds (metaverses) for training.  It’s easy to understand why: one of the first things I learned in communication theory in undergrad is that aesthetics are powerful.  Even the most astute and discerning among us form initial impressions from outer appearances.  Ooh!  Shiny, shiny!  Let’s go buy the new tech-toy.  I’ll hand it to those wily coyotes at Linden Lab – even this roadrunner was attempting to fast track a Second Life implementation at my library.  Instead of diving off the cliff with nary a look, I decided to hold a magnifying glass up to the app first.  Well, the bloom fell off that rose pretty damn quickly.  I won’t air a laundary list of complaints here, although Wapedia does a decent job summing them up for me.  

 

I’m not here to skewer Second Life, or any of the myriad pretenders to the throne, such as There, IMVU, or Kaneva.  I firmly believe that immersive 3d worlds are a viable learning medium, especially when good rhetorical practices are utilized.  For example, I love the art gallery critique that Michael Connors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison set up a couple years ago.  Beyond teaching in a traditional sense, 3d environments add more interactivity to e-learning experiences, and we know that fully engaged students walk away better equipped to do their jobs.

 

If 3d training is indeed the way of the future, as experts have been extolling for the past few years, why aren’t more organizations taking the leap?  In my opinion, there are two fundamental flaws to most 3d metaverses: the clients needed to run the applications and the metaverse structure itself.  A typical metaverse requires that a client be downloaded and installed on the user’s computer.  For instance, Second Life requires a 21MB client download and then a PC that is decently equipped for gaming.   And let’s not forget that these 3d spaces are bandwidth hogs.  As students of Web 2.0, we have come to expect instant access, simplicity, and portability with online content – things that are conspicuously missing from online 3d worlds.

 

Aside from the technical issues associated with fat clients, the sprawling, unregulated structure of a metaverse is not congruent with fostering an environment for learning.  I acknowledge that you can restrict access to your piece of a metaverse, but the idiocy of a virtual world gone mad is still out there.  Seriously, who wants their 3d library orientation on ABC Island interrupted by some perv bunny rabbit avatar wanting to cyber???  In my estimation, the ideal 3d training environment needs to be self-enclosed and completely removed from a larger world. 

 

There are flickers of hope piercing the matrix.  Big brother Google made strides in tackling the fat client/wide-open world conundrum a little less than a year ago with its ephemeral Lively experiment.  Lively operated as a thin-client, strictly through a web browser.  There was no software to download to participate in this 3d world.  Simply sign in, customize an avatar, and hop into a room if you weren’t inclined to spend five minutes making your own.  If you constructed your own room, you could close it off and make it available by invitation only.  Finally, you also had the option of embedding your room into your webpage.  While Lively is offline (and sorely missed!), Vivaty is a thin service that allows users to create 3d chat rooms that can be embedded in other webpages.  Finally, VastPark has an open source toolset that empowers moderately savvy users to author self-contained 3d environments that can be accessed exclusively through a web browser. 

 

The products that have come from Google, Vivaty, VastPark, and their ilk demonstrate that significant changes have occurred  since Second Life launched six years ago.  Maybe in another three, 3d learning environments will be reality in many organizations.

 

Elliott Masie has just released his Learning Resources Barometer, the results of a survey to determine how learning budgets and resources are enduring the tough economic times.

The survey measures the increase or decrease in:

  • learning budgets
  • learning departments
  • volume of elearning modules
  • volume of f2f classes
  • amount of employee travel for learning
  • use of social learning
  • and more…

Check it out to see if there are any surprises. While you’re there, take a look at the Social Learning survey results. Where do you think your staff training sits on the scale of things?

There’s a great online social bookmarking service that recently came to my attention (Diigo.com) that the CLENE community (and all interested in staff development and training) can use to share bookmarks of interest with each other

diigo logo

diigo logo

Playing around today, I set up a CLENERT group at: http://groups.diigo.com/groups/clenert and added a few of my own bookmarks.

Diigo has many nice features including:

  • RSS feed for new content (http://groups.diigo.com/rss/clenert/bookmark)
  • Ability to comment on and discuss bookmarks
  • Automatic caching of bookmarked pages!
  • Ability to view new bookmarks as a slideshow (great for those of us who are visual)
  • Browser based bookmarklet (which allows highlighting, commenting AND virtual sticky notes–so you can annotate those bookmarks!!)

If you want to try it, simply go to http://groups.diigo.com/groups/clenert, click join and add a few bookmarks.  I highly recommend adding the “diigolet” bookmarklet to your browser toolbar–it makes bookmarking and annotating a snap!!  If fact, Pandia Search Engine News just listed it as #1 among the top 5 bookmarking tools.

There are many more possibilities here… I think Diigo lends itself beautifully to collaborative working/learning projects.   So, whaddya all think?

Here’s a 4 minute intro video:


(If video doesn’t play, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RvAkTuL02A)

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.

What happens when graphic designers try really really hard to be boring and to put the viewer to sleep? Check out Before&After’s Bedtime Book Cover challenge for a bit of light diversion before the holidays.

156 designers responded to the challenge to be boring. And many of them did not succeed.

I wonder what the contest results would look like if online instructional designers were given the same challenge. How high do you think the percentage would be of successfully sleep-inducing course modules?

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