Learning 2.0: Everyone is trying to figure it out…and someone boldly proclaims Twitter to be dead

I’ve been reading tons of posts lately on “Learning 2.0.” Folks have been talking about “Web 2.0” since 2004 – it’s taken the learning community until 2009 to get onto the band wagon. The big question everyone is asking is, “How can we use Learning 2.0/Web 2.0 to facilitate informal learning in our organization and enhance the formal stuff we do?” Interesting to me that the question is HOW and not SHOULD WE. (Okay…I know opportunities exist to leverage it – but I think people are trying everything without fully evaluating which options are BEST.)

Thus far, there doesn’t seem to be a huge consensus on what works, though there are lots of folks trying lots of things. One interesting post I came across today detailed a pilot project where a university professor decided to make use of Twitter a requirement for his Shakespeare class. He does a nice job outlining is pilot – and documenting the results he got.

His students were less than impressed by it. One big comment I noted as I reviewed his results was that, for most students, their preference was for Facebook. They weren’t resistant to social media tools for learning – just having to ADD another tool onto one they already used daily.

Any implications for corporate training?

I think so. I’ve long been concerned that we’re so gung-ho on using Learning 2.0 that no one is stopping to ask 1) how much is too much, and 2) what’s most viable and least intrusive to learners. People only have so much time. We want their social learning to be meaningful – not a burden. My biggest sensation after attending the MarchSALT conference was that people are trying everything…and finding that even our digital natives (those in their teens and 20s) aren’t embracing nearly as many tools as folks imagined they would.

I’d love to see a robust discussion of what works and what doesn’t. I’d particularly like to hear from LEARNERS THEMSELVES. That was the power of the Kingston University pilot. They spent a lot of time gathering data from the learners to find out how they perceived Twitter as a learning tool. There’s lots of learning designers who are raving about the potential – but less data from the perspective of learners who have leveraged Web 2.0 as part of a learning experience.

Let’s hear from the learners!

BLP to speak at ISPI

Headed to the ISPI conference in a few weeks? Be sure to check out “Learning Technologies: Finding the Right Fit.” Nancy Harkness, BLP’s Learning Services Director, is conducting a 40-minute session on evaluating technology for use in learning. She’ll walk through BLP’s scan and focus evaluation process. She’ll also discuss some of the most common Web 2.0 tools and their potential use in learning. As part of the session, you will get a copy of the evaluation tool to use within your organization.

Her session is one of nearly 200 education and networking sessions at THE Performance Improvement Conference in San Francisco. This year’s conference focuses on adapting to the current external environmental forces and applying and implementing innovations. If you’re in California April 19-22, be sure to say hello to Nancy.

For more information on Nancy’s session or the entire ISPI conference, visit

The Age of DIY

Due to budget restrictions many people are tackling projects on their own, including everything from home improvement, car repairs, landscaping, and yes, even corporate learning.  DIY in corporate learning is a growing trend and from what I’m hearing, it’s gaining momentum.

Where’s Eric Stromer when you need him?
DIY should be taken on with a grain of caution. Eric Stromer is the host on HGTV’s Over Your Head – he rescues overwhelmed homeowners on their DIY projects. Sometimes, I’m afraid when I watch shows like this – do you ever wonder what might be lurking behind your walls thanks to an overzealous DIYer? Do you think DIY in learning is a good thing? Last fall I reported in SMEs as Developers that I had some trepidation in this area. I could envision endless content dumps, limited structure, and confused learners.  While a SME on their own as content developer still makes me nervous. For the most part if you have the know-how and the time then go for it. As long as we all can recognize when to call a pro. In an upcoming kitchen project, I know my husband and I can do some demo, drywall, and painting, but we’ll need to call an electrician for some electrical work. In developing learning solutions, maybe you can do the analysis but need help with the design. Or perhaps your content is brilliant but you need help implementing appropriate technology. The point is to leverage resources in the most effective means possible.

Web 2.0 – Ripe for DIY
Web 2.0 is an area that I think is perfect for DIY learning. By nature, the informality readily facilitates capturing and sharing organizational knowledge. User generated content requires less time and intervention from L&D since all employees are responsible for the content. Although, L&D ought to play a role in the architecture and implementation of Web 2.0 tools. I came across a quote in the Chief Learning Officer article Five Learning Trends for 2009 that puts this point of DIY into perspective. The article quotes Allison Anderson, manager of learning innovations and technology at Intel, as she comments on the need for rapidity in knowledge sharing, “Because of this immediacy, learners must have access to dynamic content from the best experts, whether they are in the next cube or half a world away. To get to the best content and the right expert, employees must be contributors, as well as consumers, of learning content. The training group no longer can be the only funnel for knowledge or dictate the way each individual employee learns.”(1)

In closing, whatever path you take in developing the best learning solutions for your organization recognize the options and resources available to you and don’t hesitate to ask for help.


1 Brandon Hall, Take Five –  Five Learning Trends in 2009 (Chief Learning Officer, Jan. 2009)

Technology and learning: From cooooool to implementation

The past few weeks have given us several exciting technology announcements and rumors, most notably the new android phone from Google and the Apple iTablet/Slate.  It’s easy to be excited by tools like these as well as augmented reality and other technologies. But as learning professionals, how do we go from “that’s really cool.” to “this is how I am going to use this as a learning tool in my organization.” My concern is that the cooler the technology is, the less we think about how we’ll actually use it in our organizations. We just assume that we’ll be able to use it somehow, and that we’ll figure it out once we have it! There are a couple of consequences to this behavior:

  • Our stakeholders think that we don’t possess  evaluative, decision-making skills.
  • We lose focus and spend time flitting from one new thing to the next.
  • Our learners don’t end up with a tool that meets their needs.

So, what’s the solution?

  • Keep any eye on the trends, but always with a healthy dose of skepticism. For example, here’s a compilation of the mobile trends (in general, not related to learning) for 2020 as predicted by leaders in the mobile industry. Do any of these folks really know what will be going on in 2020? No, but it is good for us know what they are at least thinking about.
  • Try stuff out. But I think we want to avoid using our learners as our testers as much as we can. If they think that you’ll be moving onto the next great thing within a month, they won’t embrace what you’re giving them now.
  • Create a concrete implementation plan including how it will be used, by who, and how you’re going to evaluate it’s success.
  • Be willing to pull the plug. If your learners aren’t using it, and people aren’t learning – it’s not working! Set a hard timeline for how long you’ll give the technology or tool to get up to speed before you abandon it.

Sharon Boller and Lisa Meece from BLP recently did a presentation on what comes before implementation, evaluation – below is a very helpful graphic they created to outline the evaluation process learning professionals should work through. If you’d like the full evaluation worksheet, post a comment here asking for it and I’ll send your way.

What do you think? Do you agree that learning professionals need to take more time to think throuh evaluation and implementation when it comes to new tech tools? Or do you think I’m just being grumpy and the only way that we can determine if it has learning potential is to try it out?

Looking for a computer help?

I don’t know about you, but I frequently finding myself asking “Now, where did they hide the properties button?” It seems like I can’t always find what I’m looking for in Microsoft products. And the help search engine? Don’t even get me started.


Sample video from uTIPu on adding a watermark in Word 2007.

Sample video from uTIPu on adding a watermark in Word 2007.


Enter a great Web 2.0 tool, uTIPu. The site allows users to share recordings of their desktop and offer tips to the community. A quick scan of the videos available shows everything from creating a fish-eye look on photos in PhotoShop to drawing equilateral polygons in Windows (if I wanted to, I know now how). The videos are organized into several categories; I find the Graphics and Design section really helpful.



Are the videos the same quality that you’ll find on or another paid help service? Probably not. But they do the trick! And they’ve inspired me to upload some of my own tips. Look for one on locating Properties in Microsoft 2007 soon! I’ll launch my ScreenToaster application (although uTIPu offers a similar application) and record my desktop. Then it will only take a few clicks to share my knowledge with uTIPu. 

Take a look. What videos could you share with your learners? Maybe you won’t have to create a BlackBoard tutorial, you could direct new users to one from uTIPu.

Web 2.0 – A Tool for Driving Performance

Performance management is a top HR challenge. Driving performance and increasing efficiencies is a top concern of management. Yet there is fear and lack of knowledge in implementing and harnessing the power of one of the newest performance management tools – Web 2.0.  My message to L&D – start educating your HR and operations managers on Web 2.0 technology and how it can be used to drive performance.

The Great Divide
Consider these statistics:

  • 82% of HR leaders at 100 of the largest corporations cite “Implementing Talent Planning Initiatives such as better training and development, talent management and/or performance management” as a top change initiative (1).
  • Despite this goal, 23% of HR decision makers are unfamiliar with Web 2.0 and 42% are familiar with the sites but do not use them. Only 34% actively use Web 2.0 technology (2).

Further challenging the use of Web 2.0 is that 64% of U.S. companies deny employees access to social networking sites and 54% of HR decision makers have encountered or have had to discipline employees for wasting time on the internet(3). These fears are shared by HR and operations – not to mention Legal. I worked in HR for years and I’ve had to discipline employees for inappropriate use of email or spending too much time chatting with their cube mates. There is no greater risk of Web 2.0 impeding performance than any work tool. We aren’t about to see organizations ban email because it is sometimes used inappropriately. What the statistics show us is that Web 2.0 is not viewed as a tool to drive performance – in fact it’s just the opposite. It’s viewed as a time waster or a liability. Mainly because leadership and HR decision makers do not understand how Web 2.0 can be used to drive performance.

Web 2.0 to Drive Performance
Many HR leaders and operations managers haven’t made the connection that just as Web 2.0 can be accessed to interact with friends, family and loads of useless knowledge, it can also be leveraged to connect with peers, subject matter experts, practice leaders and relevant information that can help team members enhance performance.

The performance review is one area that can be improved by Web 2.0 and it’s a source of pain for HR and management alike. Sadly, performance management is too frequently a top down approach narrowed to the annual performance review. What should be a culmination of multifaceted feedback throughout the year becomes a scramble to write what is effectively a limited summary of the last 6 weeks of a person’s performance. Web 2.0 can facilitate the process of obtaining performance feedback in real time from multiple sources.

According to T&D magazine younger workers are already using social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook to ask for and obtain performance feedback long before their managers sit down and have a formal meeting. New software allows this to be duplicated internally. For example, Rypple software allows employees to import relevant contacts from their email and post Twitter-like questions regarding their performance (3). For instance, a sales person may post questions after a client sales call such as “What did you think of my presentation? How well did I address the clients concerns? What can I do better next time?”Their contacts may include their direct manager, a senior sales representative, and a marketing rep: people who have the expertise to provide fast accurate feedback. Perhaps, the best part of these tools is that they’re employee driven (user driven). It’s all about them and they’re actively engaged in managing results and getting feedback from people they trust. Also, you can’t underestimate the importance of real time feedback; quickly receiving positive feedback is important to people and reinforces desired behaviors. Quickly receiving constructive feedback helps employees make corrections faster. HR people will like it because it provides documentation of performance feedback throughout the year.

Web 2.0 tools are also an ideal platform for launching just-in-time training and facilitating collaboration. If you’ve ever posted a question to any online forum or read about a topic on Wikipedia then you have an idea how Web 2.0 can be used to glean information. Wikis, blogs, and discussion forums can be used in the workplace to provide informal learning opportunities as well as more formal interventions such as e-learning courses, toolkits and job aids that are available on demand. Business partners can post questions and find answers in particular areas of expertise and learn through the shared experience of others. Performance is improved through knowledge sharing and greater efficiencies are achieved as information is available when you need it.

I encourage you to read the article Social Networking: A Force for Development from the July issue of T&D magazine. The article describes how IBM has successfully utilized Web 2.0 tools to implement discussion forums, a peer review system, and a cool messaging tool in their learning function. It also shows how IBM not only leveraged these tools to increase collaboration and knowledge sharing, but they addressed quality control by rating contributors based on their skill in a certain area. The ratings are verified by management to ensure people are getting the right information.

The Tip of the Iceberg
These few examples are the tip of the iceberg as to how Web 2.0 can be leveraged to drive performance. Sure, what lies beneath the surface of the water is scary, but, the future is already here. Educate leadership that Web 2.0 is a tool just like any other. Yes, there is risk. However, the tool can be managed to mitigate risk and the benefits of developing quality user generated content to increase performance is worth it. It’s better to start experimenting in unknown territory then to be left behind.


(1) HR Transformation: Driving Business Results, Fidelity Employer Services Company LLC

(2) Keys to a Successful Talent Management Strategy, TrainUp

(3)Dude, How’d I do? by Pat Galagan, T&D Magazine (July 2009)

(4) Social Networking: A force for Development? by Marjorie Derven, T&D Magazine (July 2009)

The Future of the LMS

We started the month talking about the features and functions of learning management systems. It’s only fitting we end talking about the changes the future holds for those features. Soon, it won’t be enough that the LMS tracks formal learning like instructor-led training courses or e-learning modules; the future is here, and learning management systems are changing rapidly to keep up.

Leanne talked about Moodle’s ability to categorize those on the system by their expertise in her last post. In a sense, she saw the LMS as more like a social network and less like a database. In this online community, learners can create their own “real” with profiles and list their experience; by searching the profiles, learners can use the LMS to contact others for help and support in a specific subject area.

According to a July trend report published by T&D,

Within the next two years, 45 percent of respondents say they will upgrade their existing learning portal and 14 percent plan to launch a new learning portal. Most respondents use all of the 12 major learning tools and technologies listed on the survey in their portals. These include blogs, online coaching, polls, self-study programs, communities of practice, and more.”

Instead of discussion forums, these new learning management systems provide blogs and wikis to foster collaboration. And in the place of multiple-choice and true/false tests, more complex polling features keep learners engaged. With the addition of informal learning opportunities, hopefully, learners will stop thinking of the LMS as “the place to go to get to the training”  and start viewing it as “where I can find what I need to know.” The LMS becomes a true repository for learning, housing job aids, coaching guides, and courses, along side videos created and uploaded by learners and informal wikis run by study groups.

In researching LMSs and Moodle, I found an article that discussed combining an LMS with a virtual learning environment, Second Life. When I dug a little further, I found Sloodle. It uses Moodle to generate a 3D version of the LMS in Second Life. Want to decide what course to take? Look at the sessions displayed on a calendar in Second Life and “teleport” yourself to the classroom immediately. Sounds like something out of a science fiction novel.

I’m not sure I can even imagine the future of learning management systems; I just know they will very soon be much more than a database that assigns coursework.

Anthropological Definition of Web 2.0 (More fun than it sounds)

I spent the day at an ASTD conference on e-Learning design. We spent a very abreviated time talking about development tools, and HTML and XML came up. (More about what else I learned at the conference later.)

When I got back this evening, I wanted to know a little more about XML. Oddly, I discovered this video among the links, and I’m very impressed. I think this video offers an astounding look at what XML really means, by tracing how society uses it to contribute to all that we call Web 2.0.

Check out what one professor of anthropology has to say about the evolution on the web.


Awesome New Search Tool

I found this search tool completely by accident last week. Middlespot is geared to researchers and functions in a way that is very different from Google. First, it organizes my past searches so that I can see them listed out every time I go to website. Then, it shows the search results two ways, as a list on the left and screen grabs on the right.

But perhaps my favorite feature is the Workpad. It saves the links from my search that I select, allows me to add additional links that I already know, and make comments on what I place in the workpad. That way, I can note what it was that I liked about the link. I find when I typically bookmark items, I sometimes forget why I thought I wanted to go back to them. The notes really help me track what I liked.

Check it out and let me know if you convert from Google!

Do you have time to Twitter?

Last week, as I rushed around the house trying to get three kids and a husband out the door, I accidentally put on my sunglasses instead of my regular glasses. For a moment, I looked around wondering why the house was so dark. Sad but true. The point is we lead hectic real lives, so how much time should we carve out for our online identities?

Not too long ago I read that to effectively maintain your online identity you must dedicate about 20-22 hours per week on such tasks. I’m wondering if that is accurate. I find that number a bit overwhelming. Right now, I’m a pretty casual user of social networking tools. I want to increase my Web 2.0 repertoire, but can I afford the time and energy commitment? Can I afford not to?

Defining the Purpose
First and foremost, I think it is important to identify your purpose for using the tools. If you are using social networking to stay in touch with family and friends then spend as much or as little time as you like. However, if you work in new media, instructional design included; or your goal is more business oriented such as marketing, then you probably can’t afford not to invest the time.

Quantity versus Quality
Andy Kaufman from the Institute for Leadership Excellence & Development Inc, in his blog post “Why Social Networking Matters”, indicated that having a strategy for managing your online endeavors is critical to success. Andy recommends that we start thinking about our personal social networking strategy even at a high level. I completely agree. Certainly, 10 hours of undirected, random browsing and posting is not as effective as 10 hours of directed effort.

This is where I leave you all with more questions than answers. How long are you spending in a week, managing social networking? How are you carving out time in your schedule to do this? What is your strategy?