A Reflection on Eight Years of Moodling

I’ve been more engaged in corporate e-learning as of late and away from the academic side of e-Learning. But recently I have been exploring options for blended learning activities, more specifically a hybrid mix of instructor-led online programs. It got me going back to one of my previous areas of expertise: Moodle.

I logged into Moodle this morning to finally get acquainted with Moodle 2.0 and I realized my profile has been active for 7 years 345 days. How time flies! My first experience with Moodle was in graduate school, developing a group project in 2003 for a Human Performance Technology course. I remember the awe on everyone’s face when they saw the application. I also recall them not understanding completely when I told them that I had not hand coded the whole site but rather was using an open-source system.

And how Moodle has evolved over the last 8 years. The interface is flexible and robust, the modules and plug-ins are extensive and cover all the bases. The new Moodle 2.0 has integrated many of the strong user generated plug-ins such as the feedback module, which I always found lacked in the standard Moodle installation. And I have only just begun rediscovering it and all the possibilities it offers. Moodle most certainly is a strong argument for community developed systems and how the strength of many practionners advance a concept or a system.

2011 Resolution Reality Check

As I gleaned my Google Reader for interesting things to report to the Workplace Learning Today readers, I noticed a few predictable patterns in early January posts. I found could classify about 50% of the blog posts I surveyed into 3 categories: the past year in review, predictions for the new year and of course, new year resolutions. The latter category was the one that really caught my attention, as it seems to be the one area where I see many people, myself included, shooting themselves in the foot.

The following are a sampling of the well intentioned personal and professional improvement 2011 resolutions posts that I found:

There are even smart phone apps that claim to help reinforce new year resolutions. But I couldn’t help wonder if making resolutions is such a wise thing to do. So I kept searching.

I came across a post by corporate consultant Stephen Shapiro who discovered in his research that New Year’s Resolutions just don’t work.

According to our study, only 8% of Americans say they always achieve their New Year’s resolutions. The way it seems to work now, setting a New Year’s Resolution is a recipe for defeat.

He goes on to write that people eventually put an end to the misery of trying to keep up the resolution and call the whole thing off. One of the core issues, according to Shapiro’s research, is that when making a resolution, people focus on where they want to be rather than enjoying where they are right now.

We sacrifice today in the hope that a better future will emerge — only to discover that achievement rarely leads to true joy.

Now Shapiro isn’t against self-improvement, but rather provides detailed guidelines for making more sustainable resolutions. The headlines are:

  1. Choose a broad theme rather than specific measurable goal.
  2. Choose an expansive and empowering theme.
  3. Reflect on the previous year.
  4. Develop your theme jointly.
  5. Remind yourself of your theme.
  6. Remain open to new possibilities and to changes in direction at any point in the future.

Personal growth blogger Tina Su echoes this type of resolution in posting how she will approach and envision her 2011 year:

The commitment I will make today is to relinquish an idealistic definition of perfection that has bubbled up empty goals, with only a façade of meaning. I can, then, wholeheartedly make room to embrace true commitments that honestly serve who I am; even in all of its imperfection.

These are truly phenomenal tips for steering resolutions down a more successful path. In addition, I’d add the following bit of advice from Derek Sivers: Keep your goals to yourself.

I guess that I already broke that rule once, stating that one of my resolutions was to blog more.

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Rules and Incentives are not a Substitute for Practical Wisdom

In a recently posted Talk on Ted, Barry Schwartz shares his reflections and finding on the power of virtue, or what Aristotle called practical wisdom, and how it is the key element required for real change and the betterment of our society.

Through poignant examples, he demonstrates how in today’s society, the change agents must work against the current system managed by a script which is tightly controlled by rules and incentives. He also claims that this way of making small, incremental change is not only slow but that it isn’t sustainable in the long run.

Let’s see if some of Schwartz’s wisdom might rub off on all of us in 2011.

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Dare To Be Unrealistic

Jacob Sokol asked the following question to 48 online experts:

What is the most “unrealistic” thing that you’ve ever accomplished and what did you learn from the process?

I highly recommend reading through the whole post but here are a few of the most inspiring highlights for me:

When you choose the “unrealistic” choice every day, you’ll be surprised how uncrowded and welcoming it is.
Derek Sivers ··· CD Baby

I learned that if you REALLY REALLY REALLY want to do something and you’re committed to going for it and willing to work on it thru the inevitable “WTF am I doing moments” you can pretty much do anything.
Brian Johnson ··· Philosopher’s Notes

What I learned (or rather, an affirmation of what I knew before that): Focus on value, and money will fall in place itself. While I track my income, I have never once set income as a primary goal and have always focused on coming up with best ideas that will bring the best value for my readers instead. This has translated itself into results in all areas.
Celestine Chua ··· the Personal Excellence Blog

You have to take the first step. Then, do that everyday until you reach your goal. If you keep moving, you can do anything – write a novel, be a good parent, quit your day job, get out of debt, lose weight. Just focus on one step. Repeat.
Melissa Gorzelanczyk ··· Peace and Projects

As for myself, I feel some unrealistic things brewing. Last year, my Master’s thesis was reformatted and published as a book. Now I have the desire to author more content. I got more serious about blogging and found myself as a guest blogger on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today. This is just the beginning for me and it has opened up other opportunities which I am exploring.

Another relatively unrealistic thing I did was a few years back when I lost a great deal of weight, 75 lbs in fact, and I felt fantastic. Unfortunately, life took over and I lost that focus and I gained quite a bit of it back. But I’ve done it once and I can do it again. But this time, I’m wiser, I’m stronger and I can anticipate hurdles. I’ve got practice and experience on my side and there is no reason why I cannot do this.

The most common question I get is: How did you manage to accomplish this? and the answer is simple: I set a goal and just do it. I combat resistance daily, but I keep my eye on the prize. Also, I reflect regularly on what kind of person I want to be. The following quotes are some of my mantras:

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
― Seneca

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
― Gandhi

Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.
― Steven Pressfield

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Successful People Work at Being Successful

Doug Belshaw wrote a great reflection piece yesterday on the qualities of being successful.

Talent doesn’t make you successful because talent is just a word which sums up three different character traits. These can all be developed; they’re not ‘innate’.

People who are successful tend to be:

  1. Confident
  2. Tenacious
  3. Articulate

I quite like Doug’s perspective as it suggests that if someone applies themselves, they have the capacity to be successful. I compare this perspective the Roman Philosopher Seneca’s quote:

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

Equally as powerful is a quote from motivational speaker Bob Nelson:

The biggest mistake in life is to think that you work for someone else. True, you may have a boss and you may collect a paycheck from a company but ultimately, you are the master of your own destiny. You decide what potential you reach in your career and what you will eventually accomplish in your life.

The bottom line is that people aren’t just successful or lucky, but rather they work at it.

Reference:

Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Influences on our Digital Identit(y/ies)

Great reflection piece by Andy Coverdale about Digital Identities.

I’m convinced that both the intrinsic (critical practice) and extrinsic (confessional practice) influences are necessary for properly forming identity. I’m still wondering what the particular influences are in the digital realm. I might have to dig out Sherry Turkle’s Life on the Screen

Coverdalle's Diagram of Postmodernist Social Practices

In researching approaches to digital identity, I recently came across a model which i found particularly interesting. In their schema of experiential learning, Usher, Bryant et al. (1996) describe how lifelong learning can be understood in relation to two continua (autonomy to adaptation, and application to expression) which create four specific contemporary social practices: lifestyle, confessional, vocational, and critical.

The idea of identity formation is particularly evident in the two opposing practices of the confessional and the critical

So how does identity formation within these two practices translate to the formation of digital identities and reputations, and to the representation of self on the social web?

Reference:

The New Paradigm of Advantage

Great take by Umair Haque on the necessary paradigm shift that companies must in order to be agents of change rather than simply agents of opportunity. Author Umair Haque writes that the 21st century demands from firms of all stripes: a paradigm shift in the nature of advantage.

Here’s something you might not know. There’s enough food in the world to feed pretty much everyone. So why are more than 1 billion people — nearly 20% of the world’s population — either starving or malnourished? And why, over the last two decades, has global hunger steeply risen?

The answer has everything to do with the past — and future — of advantage.

The past of advantage was extractive and protective. The future of advantage, on the other hand, is allocative and creative.

Allocative advantage asks: are we able to match people with what makes them durably, tangibly better off — and can we do it 10x or 100x better than our rivals?

Creative advantage asks: is our strategic imagination 10x or 100x richer, faster, and deeper than our rivals?

Extractive advantage asks: how can we transfer value from stakeholders to us, 10x or 100x better than our rivals?

Protective advantage asks: are buyers and suppliers locked in to dealing with us, 10x or 100x more tightly than to rivals?

He even makes a Prezi about it.

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