Archive for August, 2007

I’m taking a hiatus for a bit

elton-john.jpgBecause I’ve got a lot of other things to work on… for work, for myself. It’s also time to let the ideas I got from all these conferences and from the internet sit and marinate for a while. I’ll probably keep on looking at other people’s blogs and maybe start a draft post or two… but I think I need a break from all the stimulus.

I have to laugh because I think of what Elton John said recently…

“I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole Internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span…. Let’s get out in the streets and march and protest instead of sitting at home and blogging.”

http://news.com.com/8301-10784_3-9753530-7.html

This is so cool! Virtual Interpersonal Interaction

I am robot…? I am telecommuter.

I bought a copy of the Economist for reading on the plane. I read about HP’s attempts to develop Virtual Telepresence so workers wouldn’t have to commute thousands of miles. The technology can be applied as a virtual interactive environment/room or as a personal mobile unit. Looks like Cisco is actually using some of this technology today in the form of a Telepresence room. It’s not cheap at $350,000 a room and $18,000 a month for maintenance, but still they claim that it’s cut down costs for transatlantic and long-distance flights.

If you visit HP’s site you can get a glimpse of one of their personal mobile units. When you use this unit, your image and voice travel around via a little robot on wheels. You can see everything via the semi-panoramic cameras on top of your virtual head. Now, I think this is pretty cool looking because it looks like it rolled off of Terry Gilliam’s movie Brazil, but I can see that some people might find it aesthetically unappealing and impersonal or just plain weird. Okay, I’m a geek and I’m the first to admit it, and while the technology posted here is a bit clunky looking still I really appreciate the work and effort that went into pushing this concept forward.

http://www.hpl.hp.com/research/mmsl/demonstrations/etravel.html

telecommuterfuturesm.jpg

Future-teach

Why we still need teachers despite the internet

As I was sitting and listening to lectures at the SALT conference I heard a comment that most of the younger generations don’t have the patience to sit through lectures when they can look up answers and information so quickly on the internet. First, let’s note that not all lectures or lecturers are as painful to sit through as listening to someone conjugate Latin verbs in all tenses. You can still get valuable information from a lecture; however, it’s nice to be able to learn via different media or methods. Second, I’m a little wary of the idea of just expecting students of any age or discipline be able to search for information via the net without little or no guidance. If you read any of the Edgar Rice Burroughs stories or comics from the Tarzan series, you’ll remember that there was this assumption that Tarzan learned how to read on his own by reading through the books without the help or guidance from a teacher. Can we assume that students can learn everything they need to know by just having the almost all the information placed in front of them via the internet? Of course, after many trial and error attempts they might be able to function or apply the information they absorbed correctly. Even with all the information and resources in front of you, you still need a teacher or instructor as a guide to help you determine what’s good information and what is not.

Even within the university setting, this type of learning and validation from an expert must occur. Pre-Net we had libraries. Students would often use the libraries to compile information in the form of papers or studies thus augmenting what they learned in class. Now this will probably date me, but I used the index card method of gathering information from my sources. The professor, instructor or teacher would verify if we got things ‘right’ by giving us a grade on the paper. Though, that’s not always the case if you have a professor who is incompetent or even one who dislikes you and gives you a bad grade as a result.

I still believe that teachers are absolutely necessary to perform this function of validator and guide. However, the traditional model of teacher lecturing and students verifying that they got the information via a paper needs to be augmented. Note, I did not say get rid of writing papers. We all need to learn to form our thoughts and apply critical thinking in writing. It helps integrate what we’ve learned as well as learn to articulate our thoughts in a structured format. I do think that the written paper assignment tends to be overused in learning situations because it’s easy for the instructor to assign, and not so bad to grade as long as you have a teacher’s assistant.

socrates.jpgIf educators of the future are to follow a model I’d say let’s follow tradition way back and return to Socratic Methods of teaching your role must evolve from the guy or lady who likes to talk a lot at the front of the classroom to the mentor who watches the students progress, prompts them with though-provoking questions that would help them learn to apply the information that they’re learning successfully. But this is hard work isn’t it? And in a normal classroom environment of any age level it’s logistically impossible to get to all students and personally monitor their activity and ask them these questions.

I believe the answer to this lies in harnessing collaborative learning with student peers. At SALT I attended an excellent talk where the professor/instructor actually had students work together to post their learnings (and subsequently discussions) on topics via a wiki. The result was that students were able to quickly share what they learned and provide examples via links (if the information was available via the net) to each other. Using this method of collaborative/peer learning is powerful, especially if you couple it with assignments of well though-out questions that get students to think about applying what they’ve learn as well as looking at it with a critical eye.

computer_group.jpg

Social and collaborative learning is the key, but the instructor need to trust the students and let them drive their learning for a change.

Notes from Karl Kapp’s Talk on Games and Gizmos for Learning

http://karlkapp.blogspot.com/

Digital Natives want electronics….

Kaybee, FAO Schwartz and Toys R US have all declared bankrupcy (NL: That’s sad…having manipulative toys is a key part of childhood, not to mention developing hand-eye coordination and motorskills)

Information and knowledge are the thermonuclear weapons of our time.

Era of Baby Boomers and their technology

  • Color Television….
  • Disney’s wild world of color… technology that drove things… 1 way broadcasting
  • Passive ways of absorbing tech

Need for War Stories in the Workplace (Knowledge Management)

  • Lockheed Martin hiring 14,000 in a year
  • US Defense department will loose 500,000 people
  • Average age of retirement is going down (59)

Learning Styles

  • Characteristics of Baby Boomers… formal learners
  • Gamer Generation… informal learners

Games, games, games

  • Casual games à Example you don’t know jack
  • Girls play games
  • 43% of gamers are female.
  • Play PC games a lot more.
  • Women over 40 fastest growing segment
  • 70% use of Sims users are women under 25 (I am)
  • Grounding kids - don’t send them to the room… Say…No Screens.

Multitasking and Absorbing all that information

  • They like to think that they can multi-task… we don’t think so but they can…
  • ADD??
  • Kids can wipe out background distraction? Is this true?
  • They have to deal with massive amounts of information. They’ve always had a lot of information.

Net-gen communication preferences

  • Kids go to instant messaging from e-mail.
  • E-mail is too SLOW. Again… e-mail is for old people
  • Generation wants to share all the time and be virtual. Example: Twittr
  • 85% of the kids have a media device
  • 44% have two.
  • 15% of 2-5 year olds have a cell phone.
  • This kids are linked in…
  • Internet has been around for 14 years

Gamers Characteristics

  • Problem solver à can solve problems in game… some cases can apply outside of game
  • Confident
  • Resilient
  • Social à Online social via games and electronica
  • World of Warcraft make Clans of people
  • Multitasking
  • Informal Learners
  • Don’t want to sit through 45 minutes of class when they can google to get the answer.
  • 3D world where you get your own stuff.

My thoughts….There’s a diy movement right now I think that there’s no coincidence that this is happening as technology is moving us more into a virtual world.

People want to make physical things.

More games examples

  • Laundering money in Second Life… Hey, vinny don’t forget the virtual cannoli…..
    Protosphere… 3D business environment.
  • Kids are getting into these games earlier.
  • Disney.com… kids get involved in games where they build their own business.
  • Nobelprize.org… learn about history via games

What the teacher should be today…

  • More of a guide rather than a lecturer
  • Not my best friend
  • Socrates was a really great example of a guide
  • We should Teach young people to be observant.

Mobile Learning Examples:

  • Example settting up a display in a store
  • Taking SOP’s and putting them in a video with audio that can be viewed on a hand-held device
  • Note some things translate better to video than others
  • Flight simulator game…
    • Demonstration mode
    • Practice
    • Test
  • Sales rep game
    • Teach a doctor how to sell pharmaceuticals
    • Choose your strategy

Our presentation on wikis and podcasts

The official abstract… of my presentation with Celeste Spencer.

Podcasting and wikis provide a vehicle for corporations to explore social and collaborative learning in a non-traditional manner, while including the major principles of adult learning theories. Wikis make an excellent collaborative tool for project communication allowing a team to conduct real-time content development with subject matter experts. Some of the benefits of using wikis this way include asynchronous collaboration between global teams and an easily accessible way for training developers and subject matter experts to work on content together. As a living project knowledge base, wikis provide a way for teams to collect and track collaboration from project inception to deployment and beyond. Podcasting is a convenient, easy, on-demand media tool that allows learners to find solutions or learn from the experience of others across the global divide. With minimal time and financial investment, podcasting allows for a rapid training deployment, experiential learning and the passing on of tribal knowledge.

This presentation will discuss examples of how a training team designed and applied wiki usage to collaborate and communicate during a project. Emphasis will be on how to leverage the features and the ‘informal’ nature of wikis to both the training team and subject matter expert’s advantage. This presentation will also recount how an instructional designer utilized podcasting to leverage U.S. based management and technical leadership expertise. Experiences and key learnings of senior leaders were captured and provided in a ‘pull’ format to employees in 2 international sites. Emphasis will be on the benefits of collecting leadership expertise and broadcasting it to a wider audience allowing the listeners an opportunity to learn from leaders regardless of their physical location.

podsandwikis.pdf

(Ideally I’d like to post and .swf with audio of this presentation- considering my time and project constraints, I won’t be able to do this for a little bit)

Some other clever things I overheard at the SALT Conference

Some of these things we all know or are familiar with… but it’s good to hear them again:

  • Don’t call it “Mobile Learning”… (sotto voce) call it Distributed Performance Improvement
  • The people who are blocking technological change often hold the purse-strings in companies and organizations (some Baby Boomers… not all)
  • When trying to get people to adopt new technologies start SMALL… small groups, smaller nugget-like projects
  • Give people choices… if they don’t want mobile, podcasting, video, audio… let them print things etc

I hate my laptop

It gets too hot on my lap… I mean that’s great in these over-airconditioned conference rooms, but still, unless I’m having knee problems, I don’t want a heating pad on my lap.

Also, this keyboard typing thing… I officially feel like I’m done with this. Keyboard shortcuts are so 90’s.

I want to be able to easily draw, mind maps, diagrams.

I miss writing things out.

And I want to interact with the web interface. Isn’t Ajax making this possible?

Stop making me fill in forms.

Tablet PC

The other thing… I want this thing to fit in my purse, my sweat-shirt pocket. This 5 lb thing… it’s not cutting it. I mean when I need a big screen and I’m not away from my desk, I will watch or use any web interface you develop that requires me to pay more attention to content, writing and details… but in terms of being a tool that helps me in the field or when I’m networking with people in person. This laptop sucks.

Is anyone out there developing a tool for me?

A tablet PC might be nice, but even that is too big and clumsy. I don’t want to read tiny print. I just want to be able to skim the internet and find what I need when I’m away from my office. I aslo want to listen to stories case studies with simple visuals and share these with my colleagues. If they (and I) want details, we’ll go back to the website for the company or organization later and check out the details.


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