jump to navigation

Have LMSs Jumped The Shark? March 20, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
14 comments

I constantly hear people (across many organizations) complain about their learning management system (LMS). They complain that their LMS has a terrible interface that is nearly unusable. Upgrades are difficult and cumbersome. Their employees’ data is locked in to a proprietary system. Users hate the system. It’s ugly. (Did I miss anything?) I think LMSs may have jumped the shark.

If LMSs are going to survive, they’ll need to change drastically. We’ve recently seen LMSs shift to include more functionality, such as wikis, blogs, social networking, etc. I think they’re heading in the wrong direction. I don’t really understand why LMS vendors are now thinking they need to build in every possible 2.0 tool. If I want a great blogging platform, I’m going to download WordPress (it’s free and has a huge support community). If I want a great wiki platform, I’m going to download MediaWiki or DokuWiki (also free and they have huge support communities). And when it comes to social networking, as a co-worker put it, “Do they really think I’m going to create a ‘friends’ list in the LMS? Seriously?”

Maybe LMS vendors are taking advantage of the people/organizations who don’t have the technical resources to install these free open-source systems on their own. I think it’s a big problem; by using these tools within the LMS, people are now locking even more data into a closed system. One of the few LMS add-ons that I think may have merit would be a talent management module, mainly because it could integrate well with the data in an LMS. That seems like a good fit to me.

Instead of adding all this new functionality, LMS vendors should concentrate on better connecting and integrating with open standards and technologies. User data should be 100% portable. RSS feeds should be available both ways: people should be able to subscribe to a feed to monitor when new resources are added in the LMS, and the LMS should be able to import and act on data fed to it. The systems and the data should be mashable. The LMS will need to become one of the building blocks within the enterprise, rather than remain as a standalone system that doesn’t play well with others.

I don’t mean to sound pessimistic; I’ve made a good living in the world of learning and technology working with LMSs. I think I’m most frustrated because other areas of software and technology seem to have progressed at a much more rapid pace in terms of usability and flexibility. I believe there is a future for the LMS, but only for the vendors who are able to see the changes on the horizon and adapt before it’s too late.

Advertisements

Using Toolkits to Aggregate Learning Resources February 7, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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?

Learning 2.0 Is Like Punk Rock September 12, 2008

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
11 comments

I had a fun discussion last night with several friends / colleagues. We were trying to hypothesize why so many (e)Learning 2.0 initiatives don’t get the traction we would expect, both at our organization and at other organizations. Several of us learning tech geeks see such great opportunities with learning 2.0, but it sometimes feels like others just don’t get it. We have fantastic tools at our disposal, like blogs, social bookmarking, wikis, RSS, etc. – and many of these tools are free. However, it feels like we’re pulling teeth when we try to make a business case to show the value and possibilities for these tools. To get around this, we’re seeing more grassroots movements take place. Instead of waiting for top-down direction, employees are installing learning 2.0 tools/technologies and experimenting with them on their own.

Peggy Gartin, a friend and colleague, came up with a great simile: Learning 2.0 is like punk rock. Punk is a music genre that defies the mainstream. It grows from people wanting to express themselves and share their work; they don’t wait for an executive at a record label to provide them with ideas. Punk embraces a DIY (do it yourself) ethic, with many bands self-producing their recordings and distributing them through informal channels (A bit of that definition was borrowed from Wikipedia.). This resonates with what I’ve seen related to learning 2.0. If you try to harness it, control it, and direct it, you’ll lose its magic. It won’t have the same effect. If you force people to use social bookmarking, they’ll ignore it. If you force them to blog, they’ll get writer’s block. On the other hand, if you provide these tools and let people run with their ideas, I believe you’ll see much better results.

Many executives are still in the early stages of hearing about learning 2.0 and they’re still trying to get their hands around it. From what I’ve seen, the key may lie in the everyday learning and technology professionals like you and me. We should continue to test-drive tools and technologies. Experiment on your own and find out what works best for you and your organization. Don’t wait for some suit in an executive office to tell you what to do. We need to be the rebellious ones. Now go forth and rock. 🙂

The Business Value of Web 2.0 Learning Tools August 20, 2008

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Jay Cross cracks me up (in a good way). When he’s not sharing gorgeous travel photos (including pictures of some of the most unique food you’ll ever see), he comes up with gems related to informal learning and educational technology. One of his latest offerings is a chart that outlines a variety of Web 2.0 tools, including a brief description of their business value. This is great! I appreciate that Jay is able to succinctly articulate their business value, especially because many people still don’t take these tools seriously.

Click below to view the table:

Found via: http://informl.com/2008/08/15/web-20-learning-puzzle-pieces/

A Speedbump for Social Learning May 24, 2008

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

Whether you call it Learning 2.0, eLearning 2.0, or Social Learning, there’s a relatively new wave of tools and technologies that allow people to communicate and collaborate in a surprisingly easy and effective way. Some of these tools and technologies include wikis, blogs, social bookmarking, and social networking. Well…I’ve run into a situation recently that I believe will be encountered more and more by people who try to implement social learning at their organization: I’ve realized that you need to be very careful of how and where your organization’s information is stored. If you’re not careful, you may end up accidentally leaking confidential and/or proprietary information out to the public.

Most social learning tools are web-based, and the social (or sharing) aspect generally means that the information you submit is likely to be available to other users that may or may not be affiliated with your organization. So if you’re using these tools to store or communicate sensitive information, you may be in for a big (bad) surprise. Make sure you clearly understand all aspects of the tool before using it at your organization. I know, this seems like common sense for many people, but I think it’s important enough to bring it to light. People that aren’t technically-savvy may not think in these terms, and this is an area where one small mistake could lead to a large problem.

In terms of being ready for business use, blogs and wikis appear to be ahead of the pack. It’s very easy to find blog and wiki software to install behind-the-firewall, where your organization’s information will be safe. But social bookmarking and social networking tools are lagging behind a bit. This means that we may find wonderful social learning tools that we unfortunately cannot use safely at our organizations. Some examples are Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook; to my knowledge, these applications don’t have a separate, secure, option for private business use. I hope this is just a speedbump for social learning, and I hope we start to see more options for social learning tools that can be considered safe for business use. These may be open-source options, behind-the-firewall installations, or even protected/secure options for internet-based applications. But either way, just make sure you do your homework before rolling out any new tool that communicates out openly to the internet.

Does this ring true for anyone? Or can you suggest how we can use social learning tools without these risks?

AG08 – Day 1 – Summary April 16, 2008

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Day 1 of AG08 was busy and completely wore me out – but it was all worth it! The day started with an early discussion at one the Breakfast Byte sessions and ended with dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant with some great newfound friends.

Here are the sessions I attended:

  • Positioning your Careers in Social Networking and Collaborative Learning (Ray Jimenez)
  • Learning 2.0: Harnessing the Potential of Contextual Informal Learning (Janhavi Padture)
  • Mobile Learning Today and Tomorrow (Judy Brown)
  • (Briefly attended) Tips & Tricks for Adobe Captivate and Presenter (Silke Fleischer)
  • (Briefly attended) Storyboarding for e-Learning Video Production (Steve Haskin)

Here a quick wrap-up of the various thoughts I picked up throughout the day:

  • Keith Sawyer’s opening keynote was pretty good, but I think many of us were expecting more specifics. He discussed innovation and how we can better hone collaboration efforts to be more innovative. Much of his discussion covered high-level education concepts that I think many instructional designers have mastered. I wished we could’ve seen more examples or heard more tips for applying this to our organizations. Still, it was pretty good. And he is a professor at Washington University in St. Louis (not too far from where I grew up ).
  • I twittered about this, but I get the feeling that the overall world of eLearning is shifting more toward learning and performance, with technology in the back seat. We’re no longer as thrilled and ecstatic over the latest tools. We’re now looking more closely to see how tools can better help us achieve our goals. And we realize that technology won’t solve every problem. I think eLearning is maturing, in a good way.
  • I found out there’s an Enterprise version of Facebook. Interesting. I know many companies are interested in Facebook, but are afraid to let their employee data outside of their firewall. If the enterprise edition can be installed locally, I think this’ll interest many people. (Note: I didn’t have time to verify or research this, so take it with a grain of salt for now.)
  • Many people are wondering if the LMS is dead, or will die soon. I think the role of the LMS will shift to become less important in the next few years, as people realize the value of social learning tools, such as wikis, tagging, social bookmarking, blogging, etc. We’ll probably have LMSs around forever to track important training, such as compliance, legal, and safety training. Legal departments have to have that information somewhere.
  • I visited with Judy Brown and David Metcalf. They’re both doing great things with mLearning, and I would love to somehow work with them. Judy has many of her presentations posted on her web site. Great stuff!
  • One interesting note related to mLearning: People will scroll vertically on their mobile devices, but they hate to scroll side-to-side. Simple observation, but impactful. Need to keep that in mind… Also, check out this mLearning page validator: mr.dev.mobi.
  • I keep running into Mark Chrisman of the badsquare blog. We’ve yet to sit down and have a good conversation. I’m hoping we can meet up soon.

(Don’t forget – I’m micro-blogging about the conference on Twitter…)

Free eBook: Learning 2.0 for Associations February 7, 2008

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Michele Martin over at The Bamboo Project Blog recently posted about a free eBook titled Learning 2.0 for Associations (PDF). The eBook was written by Jeff Cobb over at the Mission to Learn blog.

Michele puts it best, so I’ll let her tell you about it:

In a little over 100 pages, Jeff does a fabulous job of describing the tools of Web 2.0 and how they can be used for various learning activities. He also has some nice concrete examples and a long list of resources at the end. Definitely something to check out and add to your reading list.

And Jeff’s summary of the eBook starts like this:

This report considers how approaches to learning have evolved and what impact the new technologies dubbed “Web 2.0” are having. In it you will find examples of ways in which associations are using these new technologies and what possibilities they may represent for your organization’s professional development and other learning initiatives.

I’m always anxious to hear more people discuss (e)Learning 2.0, but I really like how Jeff goes into detail about how people interact, collaborate, and learn together. It also looks like this eBook is a great intro for people who are relatively new to the learning 2.0 world; Jeff’s writing is very clear and easy to understand. He also uses simple, but effective, graphics to illustrate his points. Great stuff!

Teacher Training Videos October 10, 2007

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

I ran across a great resource today: a web site that provides free tutorial movies that can help you better integrate learning and technology. The site is Teacher Training Videos, created by Russell Stannard. Russell is a principal lecturer at the University of Westminster.

Some of his tutorial movies include:

On the site, Russell says, “Look out for the new videos on Moodle, Facebook & social networks and 2nd Life.” I look forward to them. Thanks, Russell!

Free PDF: Top 100 Tools For Learning 2007 September 11, 2007

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
3 comments

Jane Hart, from the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, released a free PDF summary report of the Top 100 Tools For Learning 2007. Jane did a ton of work to gather, research, and organize this information – and it shows. This is a great reference for anybody who wants to learn about new and exciting tools for sharing and teaching information. You will undoubtedly learn about several new tools, and there’s an excellent breakdown that shows which tools are free, which cost money, and which platform each tool utilizes (ex. PC, Mac, or online).

The report is a fantastic resource. Take a look – and share it with your co-workers! (I did!)

Also, here is another reminder to take a look at Jane’s directory of over 1,700 learning tools. I’ve written about it before, and I continue to be a big fan. Thanks, Jane!

How to Use Wikis June 7, 2007

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: , , ,
2 comments

Wikis are an interesting creature to me. I know they can be incredibly useful for collaborative work, but I’m trying to figure out the best ways for implementing them within an organization. I’m struggling to define their role.

Here are my questions:

  1. Should you use wikis in training? For example, in instructor-led or virtual-classroom training, do you have the learners split into teams and work on a project together using a wiki? If you do this, is there any value to keeping the wiki around after training?
  2. Should you just provide a wiki platform to your entire organization and let them do with it what they want?
  3. Do you create a wiki for an entire organization? Or just a smaller group (ex. department)?
  4. If a group of people wants to focus on a particular topic, should they create their own wiki or contribute information to Wikipedia? For example, if a group of trainers wanted to create a wiki dedicated to training and development, how do they decide where the best place is to post their information?

Maybe these questions will answer themselves when I implement my first wiki. Until then, I’m going to explore the different types / brands of wikis and research as much as I can.

Here’s a great video from CommonCraft called "Wikis in Plain English." This is a must watch if you are new to wikis. Great stuff.