Strategies for Making Content Accessible for Learners

Yesterday, I blogged about making content accessible to learners so that they might access it when they are ready to learn. Now the question is: how do we make this content accessible?

Ross Dawson has a few ideas. But they aren’t new ideas. He’s actually pulled them from his Living Networks book which he wrote 8 years ago to show how applicable they are today.

Positioning For Content Distribution
1. Build evolutionary business models
2. Define and refine strategies for standards and interfaces
3. Develop and implement aggregation strategies
4. Enable versatile syndication models
5. Rework your product versioning

His first two points address concerns about ever evolving technology interfaces to view content as well as the quickly changing landscapes of technology. His third and fourth points focus on the way content is gathered and distributed. His fifth point builds an argument for keeping content fresh and up-to-date.

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Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

The 21st-Century Workplace is a Cognitive Battleground. What’s Your Training Strategy?

Ever feel completely wiped at the end of of a work day? According to Nemo Chu, a neuroscientist might offer the following explanation:

The brain, despite being just ~2% of our body’s mass, actually accounts for ~20% of our body’s total energy consumption.

What is 20%? To put that in perspective, that’s like having a 20-watt light bulb burning in our heads. And that’s when we’re doing nothing. In other words, our brains are burning 20% of our body’s energy while we’re in our resting state.

Not only does our brain demand a lot of energy, but much like the rest of our body, it has been biologically programmed to try and conserve energy. But in today’s knowledge economy, more and more demands are being put on our brains and, in turn, the more and more our brains want to conserve.

So how does this impact trainers? According to Chu:

The 21st-century workplace is a cognitive battleground, and if training and development professionals want to do battle there with their workshops and PowerPoint slides, be ready to face a lot of opposition.

For some organizations, knowledge workers simply aren’t ready to learn in the workplace.

Chu advocates making learning material accessible for individual to learn when they are ready to learn, when their brains are more rested and not being sollicited by whatever else is going on in the workplace. In fact, Chu advocates developping learning content for mobile devices for anytime, anywhere access.

References:

Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

Who Else is Working On What I’m Working On?

Yesterday, I blogged about the use of microblogging to improve productivity in an organization. Today, I focus on microblogging to improve connectivity within an organization.

In a recent blog post about using a microblogging application such as Yammer for communities of practice and knowledge management practices, Renata Gorman writes:

This feeling of connectedness creates more engagement on your part so you continue to answer Yammer’s question: “What are you working on?” Soon, people see your updates and reach out to help you, you see others’ updates and reach out to help them. It is like you belong to one big Borg brain (if you are a StarTrek fan).

Gorman pegs Yammer as a tool that captures context, content and experts and she is right on the money. In my opinion however, it has one small little drawback: you have to search Yammer to get the entire picture of who’s working on what.

Enter Enterprise Collaboration Tools from Brainpark which aim at making the workplace more collaborative, transparent and efficient by injecting information into the workflow. You no longer need to search for who is working on the same thing as you; the right information is pushed to you at the right time, creating what Brainpark calls business sense. The Brainpark model is making waves, earning the technology industry’s prestigious Red Herring Global 100 Award.

References:

Microblogs (Yammer) for Communities of Pratice (CoP) and Knowledge Management (KM) | Renata (Reni) Gorman’s Blog | 10 April 2010
Enterprise Social Networking Startup Wins Red Herring Global 100 Award | Brainpark Blog | Mark Dowds | 26 January 2010

This post is cross-posted with 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?

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Strategically Implementing Microblogging in your Organization To Boost Efficiency

In a recent blog post, Harvard Business Review’s Jeanne C Meister and Karie Willyerd advocate using microblogging to enable the members of an organization to communicate and share information with one another more rapidly and efficiently than ever before.

So what exactly is microblogging? It is the practice of posting very short statements, commonly 140 characters or less, via a microblogging service such as Twitter.

However, because the objective is to communicate internally within an organization, Twitter, which broadcasts in a public realm, isn’t going to be very good for sharing enterprise information. Enterprise social software such as Yammer will allow you to recreate a private social network for your organization and keep the information contained.

Meister & Willyerd suggest that if you are considering implementing microblogging within your organization, there are three lessons to consider:

  • Start small and monitor results.
  • Provide training to employees.
  • Integrate Microblogging into your workflow.

By strategically implementing microblogging in your organization, you leverage the social media savvy of your Tweeters and cut down on the time and effort to disseminate and gather enterprise information. Two birds, one stone!

References:

Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

How to Use Skype as a Community Platform

This is absolutely a fantastic tutorial on Skype which goes beyond functionality and looks at applicability by Community of Practice expert  John David Smith.

You probably already know that Skype is a great tool – especially for community leaders. If you are a technology steward, it’s not only a great tool but it’s also a handy example for illustrating some of the use and integration issues that we have to deal with and be able to talk about.

Smith's provisional placing of Skype tools on the digital landscape

 

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How to Avoid Presentation Overload

I’m a huge fan of clean, streamlined presentations with just a few key points. Not yet an expert myself, I have made huge efforts in reducing the amount of content in my presentations, as well as on my support slides.

So how exactly does one go about fighting the urge to overload their audience with everything they know about a subject? Olivia Mitchell offers a few tips to start you off:

  1. A presentation is the worst possible way to deliver lots of information
  2. Just because you say it doesn’t mean they will get it
  3. The more points you make, the less points they’ll get
  4. Stop seeing your presentation as a one-off event
  5. So what is a presentation good for?

Above and beyond face-to-face presentations, Mitchell’s tips are applicable to Webinars. I can also see them being extremely useful for planning and delivering face-to-face and online synchronous training sessions.

In addition, Mitchell offers “The Quick and Easy Guide to Creating an Effective Presentation“, an excellent step-by-step guide for planning your next presentation and your first step in being a more effective presenter.

References:

Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

5 Ways to Use Social Media for Professional Development

It is interesting to see Byrony Taylor’s take on how to use social media for professional development. I personally don’t listen to podcasts (number 3) but I do all the others most definitely. I would add that I also use Amplify, Twitter and LinkedIn as professional development tools.

  1. Be part of an online community
  2. Attend a conference or an event remotely
  3. Listen to podcasts
  4. Take part in a tutorial or watch a video
  5. Start writing a blog

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Joining the Brandon Hall Workplace Learning Today Blogger Team

Brandon Hall Research has invited me to join their group of bloggers. Workplace Learning Today is a group effort by senior Brandon Hall Research analysts Janet Clarey, Richard Nantel, Tom Werner, Gary Woodill, and now yours truly, to provide readers with a daily summary of news, events, commentary, and research on all aspects of workplace learning.

My first blog post entitled Filters to Avoid Being Flooded by a Wave of Content is a first step in presenting strategies for dealing with content and information.

I look forward to contributing weekly and hopefully getting to network with a whoe new group of readers there!

Filters to Avoid Being Flooded by a Wave of Content

When I was approached two weeks ago to be part of the Workplace Learning Today team, I was both flattered and thrilled to take on a new challenge. In preparation for delivering weekly insights, I decided to do a major cleanup of my Google Reader Feeds. And before I knew it, the wave of content hit me and I was flooded. There had to be a better way.

And then the perfect article pop-up this morning thanks to one of my strategic filters: Filter or Be Flooded: Do You Need a Content Strategist?

Though this FastCompany blog posts refers primarily to content for Website design, the lessons learned are transferable to our own Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) strategy as well as larger organizational Knowledge Management (KM) strategy.

Some of the key criteria for a good content management strategy which are pulled from Kristina Halvorson’s book Content Strategy for the Web include

  • Content purpose (i.e., how content will bridge the space between audience needs and business requirements)
  • Content gap analysis

Instructional designers, sound familiar?

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Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today