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Attending AG09 Remotely February 27, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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7 comments

As I’ve mentioned before, I won’t be able to make it to the upcoming eLearning Guild Annual Gathering conference, but I’m already starting to figure out my plan of attack for keeping up with the conference from 2,400 miles away. If this conference is anything like past eLearning Guild conferences, many social media and social networking sites will be buzzing with updates on a regular basis. I plan on using the following sites/tools to keep up with everything:

What else? What am I missing?

And please let me know if you’ll be there – and if you’ll be blogging from the conference. I’ll be sure to publish a list of AG09 bloggers. Thanks!

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Social Learning Question of the Day February 19, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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2 comments

Kevin Jones, author of the Engaged Learning blog, has set up a Twitter account called Social Learning Question of the Day (@slqotd). David Wilkins is also a contributor on Social Learning Question of the Day.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Get a (free) Twitter account, if you don’t have one already.
  2. Follow @slqotd and it will follow you back.
  3. Each business day a new question is asked. Add in your two cents: Start your tweet with d slqotd.
  4. Your tweet will be sent to all those following @slqotd.

This is an excellent example of collaboration among a group of users. I will admit that I’ve only been a spectator of SLQOTD, but I think it’s fantastic and I plan on participating in the future.

You can see a summary of all questions and answers for December and January (PDF files).

Great job, Kevin and David. This is very cool!

Reducing Costs in Precarious Times February 14, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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9 comments

It’s no secret that we need to do more with less at work, given the financial mess the world is in. I’ve recently taken several steps at work to reduce costs and improve the effectiveness of our department’s offerings, and I thought it would be a good topic to discuss this week. Below are a few of my ideas. Please chime in with your ideas by adding a comment.

Ideas for Reducing Costs

Go to fewer conferences (or none at all)
I chose to not go to the eLearning Guild Annual Gathering in March (even though I was approved to go). I’m bummed about this, because I’ve learned a ton at this conference in the past, but I think it’s the right decision. I may try to make it to DevLearn later in the year depending on how things go.

Use free / open-source tools
Our team is doing more with free tools and open-source systems. Specifically, we are using WordPress, MediaWiki, and Scuttle. There are tons of great tools out there for free, so make sure to do your homework before purchasing any software/systems. Take a look at Jane Hart’s Directory of Learning Tools if you’re not sure where to start.

Build more from scratch
Build what you need from scratch, rather than always considering a vendor for a particular solution. This may be a course, a web site, an application to serve information to your learners, etc. Home-grown prototypes may not be as flashy as vendor solutions, but they often do the trick. You can also consider partnering with other groups within your organization if you need help building something (see the next section).

Create partnerships
Look for allies and discuss your projects together. As cliche as it sounds, look for synergies. You may find a contact in your IT department who is willing to help you create the systems you need. Or, you may find a peer outside of your organization who has similar interests and goals. You may find ways to work together and save money. Seek out these partnerships – and offer your help to others as well.

Negotiate with vendors
Both new and existing contracts can be negotiated during times like these. Make sure you talk things over with your organization’s legal department first, but I’m willing to bet you can (re)negotiate better deals with your LMS vendor, content providers, etc. I’m sure a bunch of them are giving me the evil eye right now for saying this, but I look at it this way: During times like these, I would rather renegotiate a deal at a lower price – and continue to use a vendor – rather than drop them completely. They have to understand.

Use social networks
Stay up to date on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. Build relationships, connect with peers, and I believe you’ll be very pleased with the results. You may find that you’re able to do more research once you are better connected with peers (rather than always having to pay for expensive research reports). Plus, I find that my social networks help me keep my finger on the pulse of our field, and ithey have helped me meet some very smart (and extraordinarily helpful) people.

Stay sharp
Don’t freak out because of the recession/depression and crawl into a hole. Look for ways to continue to improve your skills. It benefits your organization if you keep up on the latest tips, technologies, and trends. Most information related to our industry is freely available on the web, so dig in, and keep reading and sharing information.

Your Turn!

What are you doing to save money at your organization?

Using Toolkits to Aggregate Learning Resources February 7, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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7 comments

I wrote about learning portals a couple weeks ago as a solution for aggregating learning resources in one place for an organization. I still think learning portals can help with the big picture, but I’m finding additional help is needed when organizing content one level deeper.

I’ve recently seen a trend (ok, maybe it’s just new to me) where training departments create toolkits for employees in order to aggregate learning resources for a particular topic or project. Essentially, the toolkit is a web page containing a ton of great information, links, etc. This way you can send learners to a "one-stop-shop" to get the info they need. It could be something wide-ranging (ex. engineering resources) or something specific (ex. presentation skills). In my experience, we used to send out training documents or point people to the LMS to access an online course when they needed information. (And we would send out an email if an instructor-led class was available.) Now we can point learners to a web page (a toolkit) that may contain the following items:

  • Articles (Word documents, PDFs)
  • A calendar of upcoming events, instructor-led classes, etc.
  • Links to internal and/or external web pages
  • Links to online courses
  • Recommended books
  • Social bookmarking tags
  • Links to wikis / forums
  • Embedded videos
  • …and more

I’m not saying this is a huge breakthrough, but you have to admit that we have more and more information available for learners. This seems like a good way to keep it organized. What do you think? How are you handling mass amounts of resources for your learners?