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CLENE HAPPY HOUR AT ALA
Friday, July 10th, 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Potter’s Lounge in the Palmer House Hilton Hotel
17 East Monroe Street, Chicago 60603

Calling all CLENE members, and all those interested in staff development and training.

You’re invited to the CLENE Happy hour at ALA for a few hours of networking, conversation, and a whole lot of fun!  Our Happy Hour coincides with LITA Happy hour, so you can hang and network with two great groups at once!  Hope to see you there. (Cash Bar)

I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to participate in an online chat about e-learning best practices with our own Paul Signorelli.  As I answered questions for Paul, I had the opportunity to reflect on my experiences in introducing blended learning at Gwinnett County Public Library, an organization, that until a couple years ago, relied almost solely on classroom-based ILT for training.  In my ferver to get e-learning off the ground, I took a few lumps along way that could have been avoided had I taken more care to address early on a few fundamental questions in implementation regarding physical assets, supervisory needs, and administrative concerns.  I volunteered to Paul that I would be happy to compile and share a general e-learning preparation checklist for libraries considering e-learning, or for those that are relatively new to it.  Here goes (or visit the Google group T is for Training for a printer-friendly version):     

E-Learning Preparedness Checklist

Physical

□  Does each work unit have an adequate number of PCs to be used primarily for e-learning?

□  Are the PCs in an area away from potential distractions?

□  Does each training PC have the necessary equipment and configuration for e-learning?

  • Consider equipment such as:
  • Headset microphones for webinars
  • Webcam for video conferencing
  • Browsers correctly configured (i.e., Java, Flash Player, Active X controls, popup blockers, software applets, etc)

□  Is there a Help Desk/Tech Support system in place?

□  Are there bandwidth bottlenecks during peak times of PC use in the branches?  

Supervisory

□  Do employees have scheduled off-desk time to participate in e-learning?

□  Is training viewed as an essential job function and supported as such?

□  Are policies/guidelines in place to restrict hourly employees from accessing e-learning off the clock?

□  Will concepts taught in e-learning be modeled and reinforced in the workplace?

Training Administrator

□  Will e-learning offerings conflict with branch/department scheduling?

□  How will new e-learning opportunities be advertised?

□  Which, if any, e-learning classes count toward CEUs for your professional staff?

□  Have you communicated your vision for e-learning so that staff know what to expect?

□  Do you have the buy-in of key stakeholders, such as the Director, the IT department, line managers, etc?

□  What evaluative criteria will be used to determine the success of e-learning initiatives?

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.

 

A big thanks to Janie Hermann for bringing this great article to our attention: How to Present When People Are Twittering.

twitter2Olivia Mitchell goes against the conventional wisdom and points out eight benefits to having an active twitter back-channel among your participants and then she takes one step further and suggests that there are even benefits to having your own Twitter back-channel while presenting!

Mitchell has some great advice for managing that back channel and concludes:

Presenting while people are twittering is challenging. But isn’t it better to get that feedback in real-time when you can do something to retrieve the situation – than wait till you read the evaluation sheets a few days after the conference – and find that you bombed?

Where the heck have you been? I mean, it’s been like, what, six months since I saw you!

I’ve heard this a bit lately, but somehow I’ve managed to not seriously reflect on the importance of these statements. Like many of you, fellow learning lieutenants, I’ve been shepherding several sizable projects — rewriting policy, developing new guidelines, implementing programs, teaching new technologies. As Billy Pilgrim would say, so it goes.

A reality that I now recognize is that as learning professionals our work is highly visible, but we, as individuals, often work in solitude. Trainers in libraries, or whatever we are called that week, are sometimes departments of one. Sometimes we are departments of nothing. Sometimes we work in offices completely removed from people. Sometimes we work out of the back of computer labs with no windows. I am puzzled by these arrangements considering that most of us in the land of learning are gregarious people with a touch (and need) to interact with others.

The dearth of stimulation atrophies the mind and siphons the soul. Idle in these doldrums for, say, six months and your creativity and drive are running on empty. We all occasionally suffer through these professional maladies. Consider shaking up routine by driving to work a different way each day. You’d be surprised, I might add, the number of route permutations you can construct for an eight-mile drive.

Also consider adding a midday lion hunt into your routine. A lion hunt is simply taking five or ten minutes each day to speak with a few persons with whom you normally do not interact. It can be as simple as asking, “What are you working on?” or “What do you think about…?” You will learn things about people that you ordinarily wouldn’t know. You might even learn something about yourself.

But even taking new routes to the same destination, or talking new topics with the same people might not remedy all your challenges. The key is expanding the lion hunt, so that you are getting intellectual and social stimulation from others like you – lifelong learners. Be sure to lion hunt in your professional jungle. Talk to other learning professionals to see what projects they are working on or what they think about x. Five to ten minutes with fellow professionals might help you see the forest instead of the trees.

So I challenge each of you to expand your lion hunt, and as Pat Wagoner suggests, allow yourself to be useful to others.

Over at Walking Paper, Aaron Schmidt has started a great conversation on how to give a good presentation.  Pete Bromberg (aka moi) has added his perspective over at the Library Garden blog.  Brenda Hough also weighs in on her blog, Librarians with Class (great blog name!)

So CLENIACS, what are your tips, best practices, double-secret tricks, etc. that you rely on to give kick-ass presentations?

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