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eLearning Thought Leaders: Jane Bozarth – DevLearn Preview October 29, 2010

Posted by Eric Matas in eLearning, Interview.
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Jane Bozarth likes social media. She lives on Twitter and Facebook whether online at a computer or connected through an app on a mobile device. Her latest book is Social Media for Trainers. Bozarth will be at DevLearn, November 3-5, so we thought it would be good to interview her as a preview to such an industry leading conference, hosted by the eLearning Guild.

North Carolina governor Office Tweets about EarlWe had an eclectic conversation hitting topics from book publishing to SCORM to the future of the LMS, but she kept coming back to social media. Like me, she is amazed   and frustrated by all of the questions about companies blocking social media sites. In her work for the State of North Carolina, she is supposed to be using social Media. North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue used Twitter to update her state on Hurricane Earl in early september. The people and companies who have embraced social media are moving fast and finding innovative ways to sue the tools. In our interview, we focused on social media for training…and for other related business purposes.

eLearning Weekly Interview: with Dr. Jane Bozarth, Elearning Coordinator, North Carolina, USA, Office of State Personnel

eLW: In 2005 you published the book E-Learning Solutions on a Shoestring and now your latest book is Social Media for Trainers. Is there a common theme or themes with these books?

JB: I work for state government so will always face working with a limited budget and limited access to support staff like graphic artists or Flash experts.  A common theme in my books as well as my work is making good use of free and low-cost tools, and figuring out ways of doing things yourself. 

 eLW: Do you think social media tools serve better for classroom training or for online elearning?

JB: I think that’s something of a false distinction. Social media tools are useful anywhere we want to incorporate collaborative learning activities. 

 eLW: The social media tools for the classroom are great for collaboration, so do you see or want to see those tools used for other aspects of corporate work?

JB: We know that the preponderance of workplace learning occurs not in the classroom, but in those spaces between formal training events. Social media tools can provide excellent means of supporting social in-work learning. They are wonderful for performance support, mentoring and coaching, and peer-to-peer learning. 
eLW: So if social media tools are used in training practices and for other business processes, could you see social media tools causing traditional training to merge into the business processes?
JB: Yes, but I think that depends on workers, managers, and organization finally recognizing that most of what we call “learning” does not happen during training. 
eLW: What is your daily routine when it comes to internet use? Do you regularly visit certain sites? How long are you online every day?
JB: I am online, via a laptop or my iPhone, pretty much during every waking hour. I keep Facebook and Twitter up all day but don’t post much during work hours. I try to stay on top of blog feeds but find I often just have to make an hour a week to review everything. I’m also a Googler, though I find that I am now using Twitter more for getting answers. 
 eLW: What were you doing before working for North Carolina?
JB: I worked in retail and in the standardized-test business for a little while, but nearly my whole work life has been spent in state government. I was with NC Health and Human Services and the NC Justice Department before moving to my current job in the central personnel office. 
Now for a few personal questions that will really give readers a chance to get to know you.
eLW: Think rock-n-roll / pop music, specifically live music–what was the first concert you ever attended and what was the most recent?
JB: A mega show at Carter-Finley stadium with Aerosmith, Van Halen and Poco when I was 16. I went to the Asylum Street Spankers farewell Raleigh show night before last. The last big show was Heart a few months back.  
eLW: I know you love your iPhone as much as I love mine–do you have a favorite app?
JB: Oh man, that depends on what I’m doing. Lately it’s Netflix since I can now stream movies via iPhone. I like Shazam for music ID. For travel I love Gate Guru. I like Photogene for editing pictures. For mischief I love Fake Call.  I like Angry Birds and Rolando. I also prefer the Facebook mobile app to the desktop view.  

 eLW: What is your favorite sports team?

JB: How many innings are there in football?  

 eLW: What was your most unusual job?

JB: Running an upscale toy store. 
eLW: Thank you, Jane. And for our readers who like networking, one final question: Where will you be appearing and where can people find your schedule for conferences or events?
DevLearn 2010JB: I’m at DevLearn 2010 in November, Training 2011 in San Diego, the 2011 Learning Technologies Exhibition in London, and the eLearning Guild conference in March. My speaking schedule’s on my blog at www.bozarthzone.com. And folks can always find me on Twitter @janebozarth or on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Bozarthzone . 
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What’s Your eLearning Class Size? October 13, 2010

Posted by Eric Matas in eLearning, Theory.
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Can you make elearning that successfully serves 100 students?

When I think about my experience in college classrooms and, as a parent, about my children’s classrooms, ideal class size has never been 100.  My daughter’s elementary school averages 18 students per teacher according to Trulia. Although, that ratio, 18:1, might mean that a class with two teachers could have 36 students. With elearning–self-paced, web-based training–there is no teacher, so the ratio is imaginary and moot. But is class size insignificant?

Seth Godin Blog Getting Smart Dreyfus ModelThis week, Seth Godin’s blog referred to the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition. The Dreyfus model shows how learners acquire skills from various training. It reminded me that the more students you aim at, the more vast their skill levels. And with elearning, the skill can be with three elements:

  1. the learner’s skill with the content of the training
  2. the learner’s skill with the computer on which they view the elearning
  3. the learner’s skill navigating the elearning itself

When elearning is developed for 100 or more, how can it serve all the different skill levels of the learners? Does such elearning even cover a significant percentage of learners? Can we call elearning a success if it serves only 70% of the learners? How about 60%, 50%, or 40%?

More and more, I think elearning must suit its audience. So, I get a little freaked out when I’m told that elearning is needed for a team of 200, or even just 100 people.

Perhaps no elearning should ever be made for as many as 100 people.

When elearning is developed for large audiences, it seems to end up as two things: generalized for most and annoying for most. When elearning is that generalized, washed out,  or otherwise watered down, it might be better just to send a long email. Perhaps with a couple of links or job aids.

What do you think?