Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Bathtub Management Model

Have you ever wondered how much engagement you should have in your team’s projects as a leader and supervisor. This short video on the Bathtub Management Model gives you a new perspective on how hands on you should be with your teams.

5 Things I’ve learned or been reminded of this month

Hopefully I’ll have time to elucidate more later.
Continue reading ‘5 Things I’ve learned or been reminded of this month’

#dl09- Formalizing informal learning

Preso Description – NA couldn’t find one.

Dublin presented.

See chart I will add reflection later.

This was a particularly helpful session.

Some of the key takeaways:

  1. The concept of  “Informal Learning” is not new.
  2. Between Formal and Informal Learning there is a Grey Area that when asked if a learning piece should be “Formal” or “Informal” we respond… “It depends” (on context, audience, nature, etc.).
  3. Process for Formalizing Informal Learning Includes:
  • Step 1: Get Organized
    • Agree on problem and what success will look like
    • Determine metrics
    • Identify key stakeholders/audiences
    • Formulate approach
  • Step 2: Get Oriented
    • Agree on scope
    • Understand organizational factors
    • Identify weaknesses in current state
    • Identify milestones
    • Recruit
  • Step 3: Get Smarter
    • Architect solution components
    • Develop detailed design
    • Integrate into larger system
    • Mobilize
    • Test, learn, iterate
  • Step 4:  Get Real
    • Continue to learn and iterate
    • Listen and communicate
    • Check your metrics
    • Support and institutionalize

Miyamoto Mushashi’s Rules for Work and Living


Miyamoto Mushashi Miyamoto Mushashi




  1. Think of what is right and true
  2. Practice and cultivate the science
  3. Become acquanted with the arts
  4. Know the principles of the crafts
  5. Understand the harm and the benefit to everything
  6. Learn to see everything accurately
  7. Become aware of what is not obvious
  8. Be careful even in small matters
  9. Do not do anything useless

I was on the train the other day and I started re-reading The Book of Five Rings. The nine rules that Mushashi notes are the key to learning military science seem to apply to all endeavors as well… including living. In a way I think most of the problems we face in both life and work stem from the fact that we don’t follow such a set of rules (not necessarily his).  That day, I spent time reflecting on two of my favorite rules.

My first favorite of the rules is ” Become aware of what is not obvious.” Though, you must have a good objective eye and awareness. I don’t think we train enough children and young people today to really wait and notice things. Think about it, we’re all walking around with headsets in our ears listening to our music or podcasts and living in our own encapsulated bubbles.  During my morning walk the other day, I purposely left my headsets at home. I wanted to hear what was going on around me, notice more. Besides there’s part of me that feels that when you’re wearing the sets, you’re a bit vulnerable because you are not really paying attention to what’s going on around you. 

Many of us at work operate in such encapsulation. Sometimes we work in a dysfunctional workplace so we remind ourselves to focus only on ‘our part.’  At the very least, we miss opportunities to function better in our roles, at the very most we don’t see the causes for the dysfunction or how possible solutions for fixing it.  In the cases of some companies or workplaces this the growing dysfunction can lead to financial ruin or bankruptcy. If my experience in life so far has taught me anything, it’s the value of  understanding how the details fit into the larger picture. However, sometimes seeing this picture and using it means you have to do a lot of work.

Still, I can see Mushashi’s rules, like any set of rules,  being misapplied or perverted in the sense that certain individuals can become paranoid and nitpicky when it comes to rules such as “Be careful in even small matters.” There are some people, including myself, who tend to overthink things given enough time on their hands. Perhaps that’s where applying a Zen philosophy towards living comes in. Again, it’s about achieving a certain balance, and observing some unwritten rules of nature. This often stumps us here in the West because we almost always need to have everything explicitly stated for us unless we’re operating on blind faith.

Understand the harm and the benefit to everything. This is so important to me, to understand both the good and the bad sides to the things that enter or influence my life. For example,  why is the Internet great? It puts a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips. Why is it bad? There is so much information I can easily get overwhelemed or side-tracked and I require a greater amount of focus to get my work or even thinking done.  

Still, asking these questions to probe both the ‘good and bad’ of things has served me well throughout my life as long as I can use the information to make decisions well. Plus, there is a part of me that questions blind adherance to anything. Last night at dinner my brother (and husband) spent a bit of time dissing things like twitter and social networking. In their discussion I heard messages like:

  • It’s a waste of time
  • It might be good at first, but once everyone does it, it all becomes noise
  • Why do I care what other people think?

I had to jump in on their piss parade and say, you cannot really make judgements about things until you truly try them. And I suggested that trying Twitter meant more than just loggin in and checking it out for an hour. It means participating in larger conversations or joining groups or communities or doing several searches for keywords and information.  I did acknowledge that this particular social media has become inundated with marketers and advertisers which make it harder to separate the wheat from the chaff, but that there are tools and aps that help you do that. Moreover, I noted that the limitation of expressing yourself in less than 140 character might have an appeal to many people who seek to express their experiences and states of mind succinctly.

So there is a good and a bad to everything. You simply have to take more than a second look.

Epiphany, but too late? Maybe.

Okay so I will confess, I had a job interview the other day and one of the tasks was to create a short training example centered around a learning objective. I actually really enjoy tasks like this so strangely enough the interview process was more fun than something to be feared.

I developed a storyboard for a fairly simple training presentation with an audio sample followed by a reflective activity using guided questions and a worksheet. I was working with the material already presented to me, so having such a short period of time, I decided to leverage what I had.

Now that I think of it, I could have presented the training in a number of different ways, including a Comic Strip or a “Choose Your Own Adventure” type interactive scenario.  The whole experience reminded me that I am reflective. I can come to a situation with a number of ideas and even make a decision on one, but then I will ruminate later on how to do it differently or better. I guess I need to build this reflective time into my project time lines, and actually I think I do this automatically by inserting a ‘draft period’ into everything I do.

Big Question: What Should Learning Professionals Know Today?

Here’s the Learning Circuits Question for July:

In a Learning 2.0 world, where learning and performance solutions take on a wider variety of forms and where churn happens at a much more rapid pace, what new skills and knowledge are required for learning professionals?

Here’s my list of four things I think are most important:

  1. Valuing and working with company and organization leaders to build a “Culture of Learning” or “Learning Organization” via Peter Senge’s Model. Forget being able to launch the next best thing in social networking or Learning 2.0. If this is not a huge part of your company or organization’s mission and culture. You may find an uphill battle in introducing change. In my experience companies who work without a “Culture of Learning” often end up making reactionary moves  instead of ones built around a vision, achievable goals and a realistic plan. They hire reactionary managers and staff, and at the very worst the company devolves into an environment where ‘fires’ are contantly fought and nothing new is really developed.  How can any group or individual really inspire real change in learning let alone innovate in these types of environments?
  2. Understanding possible flows of learning using social media. The Internet has made us incredibly social and increasingly connected with each other. The problem with this is that there are so many avenues for learning and it may be difficult to assess learning that comes as a result of social learning.
  3. Applying constructivism & collaboration to learning online/offline as much as possible. I think developing both collaborative and constructivist activies is going to be necessary for higher-level educators, many of whom are still bent on the traditional methods of teaching via lecture, and for people who develop training for higher education.  The Internet, Web 2.0, Learning 2.0 foster constructivist (websearches, social tagging, forums) and collaborative learning activities (wikis, online discussion) through the media available online. These are the types of activities that not only engage learners, often they reinforce the knowledge and skills so that they’re more likely to be applied effectively in the future. Plus, I’m sorry folks. Learning doesn’t have to be boring and passive like it used to be in the past.
  4. Accepting that you can’t learn everything “2.0.” It’s too easy to be overwhelmed by the rapid rate of development of tools in Learning 2.0. I think being able to develop a strong set of learning goals and objectives for yourself, your company, or your group is a good place to start. Say you need to market your courses better online, then you probably should start looking at how to effectively use social networking sites like Twitter & Facebook. You probably should also read books like the Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell as a primer.

Why Cracker Jack Virtual Teams Matter During Emergencies


Don't turn your back on it

Earlier, I posted on what the Ideal Virtual Team looks like, but lately I’ve been thinking that virtual teams will become more and more important to the workplace.  In my last job I worked for a group that had an “Emergency work plan.”  This Plan required all employees to state how they could connect to work if an extended emergency took place  that made access to the workplace impossible. We were also assigned VPN access or Virtual Private Network access to insure that we could log in to work from home.

Over the past few years, I’ve realized that having such a plan is imperative to business and since the outbreak of the Swine Flu or H1N1 earlier this year, I’ve been considering how important it is to be able to work virtually if possible. Companies that have virtual tools available and who have trained (and selected) employees who can work effectively virtually will find it easier to keep business going as usual than the companies that require constant face to face contact with their employees.

An effective Emergency Work Plan might answer the following questions (this is just a start):

  1. How will my employees connect?
    • What sort of VPN do we have in place?
    • Are my employees adequately trained to access it?
    • Have they used it recently?
  2. Will they have the tools they need to work from home? (Laptop, or virtual workspace accessible from their own computers, necessary basic software, office tools, etc.)
  3. Are they capable of working effectively from home?
    • Do they know how to participate effectively in virtual meetings or other collaborative activities?
    • Have we trained or modeled these behaviors effectively?
  4. How am I communicating and implementing this plan?
    • First line managers?
    • Do we have a website or hub for information on the program including FAQ’s?
  5. Are my managers trained to assess whether employees can work effectively virtually?
    • Are the expectations for effective virtual work clearly stated or shared with all employees who work virtually?
    • Do they track the completions of their projects and quality of their work?
    • Did they hire people who can work effectively both in an outside of the physical workspace?

I’m sure that after asking these questions and doing what’s necessary to prepare adequately, smart leaders and managers will get feedback from their employees to see if the emergency plan worked effectively. That is if they ever had to deal with an emergency.

I wonder how many companies have developed contingency plans to deal with the Pandemic.  I know to some that it may seem like a morbid thought, but in some ways I’d rather have morbid thoughts that keep me alive and working than glossing over problems and ignoring them.  Also, I wonder if companies can get energy conservation credits for having employees telecommute.

Examples of Emergency/Virtual Work Plans:

How do you find and implement a new Learning Management System (LMS)?

I’ve been trying to think of some of the projects I most enjoyed over the past few years. I know Christy posted this already in her blog, but I’d thought I’d share our journey to selecting a new Learning Management System with all of you.   This was quite a journey we took to find a new Learning Management system. I have to say it’s been one of the projects I’ve been most proud to work on during my entire career. I learned much more about working effectively with a virtual team on this project than during my seven years at a technology development company.  Of all the highlights of this journey I’m most proud of the work we did to provide a usability test and develop a comprehensive training package that prepared our users for the transition from our old LMS to Sakai.  Overall, we’re very happy with Sakai and our contract with rSmart to house and maintain our LMS (not our content).  As we noted in the presentation we reviewed and tested several LMSs and even several vendors before we found one that met our needs.  For me this was a lesson in the value of thorough planning rather than making snap and uneducated decisions about choosing any type of system or vendor.

A fun note, we used ToonDoo to create slides around a narrative about our story, and we told our story to the slides. Christy even opened our preso by playing the Star Trek theme. Fun times!

Evaluating Social Networking Tools for Distance Learning

Ellen S. Hoffman

University of Hawaii at Manoa

Using Ning

Tag cloud resource:

Point of presentation:

  • Why use social networks for distance learning
  • Evaluating social networks
  • How She’s used it in a class herself.

Formal definition

  • You have a profile
  • Have a way to relate to other users
  • Can leave persistent comments
  • Share content/Collaborate
  • Personalize Visually tools & widgets
  • Boyd & Ellison definition… include things like Youtube and Flickr… though this paper focus on only tools that are social in nature and doesn’t focus on content sharing.

How does it fit into Distance Learning?

Interactions with content/other students/ instructor

If it was easy to learn using a textbook… then you wouldn’t need universities and college.

Distance learning is unique and powerful. IT SHOULDN”T BE A Replication of what is done in the classroom.


  • Student is the center of attention.
  • It’s easy to get too fascinated with the technology.
  • Need to focus on the environment you want to conduct learning.

Evaluating Distance Learning Tools.

  • Students use social networking outside of classroom for social activity. Doesn’t mean they would know how to use it in a learning context.
  • Some students don’t like using it.
  • Some are there only because they have to use distance learning.
  • Sometimes courses have structure with specific learning goals and social networking may not be appropriate.
  • Sometimes people value anonymity.
  • Permanence issues. Sometimes things disappear online.
  • Intellectual property issues.
  • Advertising – sometimes not appropriate

Social networking that works for me.

  • I can learn from what others have to share
  • I can see who has what experience or expertise
  • People share opinions and content on various subjects
  • I can have open discussions with others.

Effective use of VLE Infokit. Jiscinfonet.

  • How to choose good appropriate tools.
  • How does the tool benefit you and the students and how does it help achieve learning goals.
  • Does it support the particular content you need to use in this course.
  • Elgg – server based – Eduspaces is an example
  • Ning -

Case Study:

  • Teacher education course in educational technology
  • Asynchronous – tougher to create a feeling of connectedness. Social networking can help
  • Mixed Technical Abilities
  • Most limited DL experience
  • Ongoing action research.

Why did her school look at this technology?

  • Lower student satisfaction in Distance courses
  • Week discussion tools in course management system
  • Goal of modeling use of newer tech.
  • Instructor interests.

They selected Ning:

  • Liked the discussion tools – could create a private site soley for their class.
  • Students wanted a private discussion area.
  • They start by creating a profile page. They can post images if they want.
  • They have required discussions in the social networking site.
  • Give them the freedom to choose how much they want to use the Social Networking site.
  • Some students were very social adn some were lurkers.
  • Improved the course ratings :)
  • Some initial confusion but they eventually got it.
  • They have open ended question…what did they like about it. They liked the level of interaction provided  by the social networking tool.
  • This is awesome stuff! :)

Interesting Observations:

  • Older students like instructual support.
  • Older students more likely to put up photographs.

The Tao of Online Faciliation

From my notes from the 2009 TCC conference.

NOTE: I will add my own notes and links later.

Presentation by Scott Robinson – Chair of Dept of Humanities at Kaplan University

There is a natural flow of energy in teaching

Yin and Yang -represents harmony, balance, good vs. bad.

Taoism –> West vs. East.

We’re dualistic hard to get away from that “Good Bad” mentality.

What about balance? Moderation?

Taoism two forces that work together to create balance. Nature and life reflects this. Yin and Yang refers to this natural balance in nature. The more we understand this flow of energy the better we can work in this flow.

  • Feminine side is dark side –> Rest and nurture, rest and restoration
  • Light (Masculine) we find –> Productivity, Work, Doing.

QUESTION: Can we put this to work to our advantage as facilitators?

Define Facilitate: What does the word mean?”

  • Let’s take the term “Make Easier.”
  • Easy –> Four letter word for educators
  • Hard –> Four letter word for students. Avoid instructors because they’re hard.
  • What  if we could find a balance between hard and easy.

Facilitator –> Conductor.

  • Faciliation is related to the flow of energy.
  • Facilitators direct the flow of energy.
  • Positive facilitation directs energy to the learner.

Chi –> energy, breath, life-force

What are some examples of learning as flow of energy?

  • Conversation online
  • Sharing on a wiki
  • Building knowledge online

Sometimes the flow is so strong

Westerners are tuned into action … hard to ‘not act.’

Wui-Wei –> actionless action. Non-action.

  • When we are actionless in the West it is often associated with laziness or weakness.
  • Wu-wei nonaction takes a great deal of self discipline and knowledge.
  • You must go with the flow. Trust the flow of energy and go with it.
  • Paying attention to the signs in an online class of student feeling/work… learning environment.
  • “Go with the flow” –> Positive facilitation is working with the energy of the student, or class, to produce the learning outcome.
  • Sometimes in a classroom there’s a ‘dangerous rip tide.’ Sometimes we take it on and try to nip the destruction at the bud. Correct the wrong assumption. Instead we should recognize the learning opportunity and go with it. Example some students might go off on a tangent and want to talk about building wikis…

Instructors as Judges.

Can’t escape this role. Sometimes this role makes us arrogant. Taoism helps us practice non-judgement.

Practicing Non-judgement

  • Suspending judgement to create space for the flow of energy
  • Non-judgement does not equal no judgement
  • Positive facilitator creates a respectful environment for learning

Here comes the Professor

  • Sage on the stage
  • Pompous
  • All knowing

Practicing Detachment

  • Releasing one’s personal attachment to the outcome
  • Positive facilitation keeps the learning process a the center by removing the (arrogant) presence of the facilitator

Tao and Constructivism

Constructivism adult learners construct meaning from previous life experiences. Positive facilitation uses the energy built into adult-learners life experiences.

Tao and Andragogy

Power is in the hands of the student or learner

Positive facilitation uses the student’s energy to fuel the learning experience.


Tao of Asynchronous Learning

Diverse energy sources occurring at a variety of times

Positive facilitation keeps the energy flowing 24/7 through frequent efforts to validate and generate learning.

Tao and Cognitive Economy

Cognitive economy adult learners invesnt in education based on their return on investment.

Positive facilitator creates positive energy by rewarding learning.

QUESTION: How do you do this?

Tao of Online Learning

Make learning easier by

  • Suspending the need ot judge the students
  • Building meaning from the student’s life experience
  • Allowing student to fuel the learning experience
  • Frequently kindle the fire of asynchronous learning with affirmations, illustrative stories, and clarifying questions.
  • Feeding student’s hunger for learning.


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