Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Free and nifty development tools thrown around in workshop discussions:

Wirecast (video capture and cleanup)
Pagesucker (grab anything and tag it)
CAM Studio
Audacity (audio recording & editing)
Percourse (web development)
Fullshot (screen capture)
Tiddly Wiki (easy wiki creation)

...and these, provided by the LDS Church:

A photo from DevCon by Mark.
Here's the key nugget from my July keynote presentation: as learners and the web evolve, how do our strategies and tactics evolve with them? The LMS is dead, long live the LMS.

Here's an image of how the web may (or may not) evolve. From Web 1.0 to 4.0 and a more artificial intelligent agent.

My thoughts: our current approach to the Internet is akin to monks trying to track all printed material after the invention of the movable type printing press: first, overwhelming, then, impossible. Likewise, even the creators of the Internet think there is so much out there, even the best search engines like Google barely capture a fraction of it all. We feel overwhelmed by information; it is impossible to predict where learners will go and what they will learn.


Let's work WITH the web and our students as they evolve, not against the change. Like monks trying to put our arms around a river of printed information, our efforts to "control" or manage Internet-based learning experiences is futile. They are ubiquitous, unplanned, informal, and virtually on every device. Perhaps we should begin by planning to track our learners' experiences, as opposed to pre-planning their every online experience or locking them into small, contained, and predictable Internet experiences.

In 1933, a mechanic simplified the complexity of the London Tube map. The same schema is still used to this day because it simplifies a very complex system. We need a revolution in learning; we need a way of mapping online learning that helps learners map their online experiences, not by planning their every move, but by creating a more "simplexic*" and less "sage on a stage" way of placing learners at the center of the learning experience.

* see "Symplexity"
At DevCon 2008, I facilitated a workshop where about 67 of us tried to nail down specific challenges in creating the type of work we want to do, and opportunities for working around them. I asked everyone to focus on the first of 4 parts to successful projects: the global project strategy.

Here are some project Challenges and Opportunities we discovered through our C.O.P.E. strategy session:

Challenge / Group Defined Opportunities

Challenge: Defining Success
Group Opportunities: focus on desired business results, identify technical and soft skills to be used/developed, create incentives for learners, use collaborative tools and sites, share lessons learned after each project, align PO’s with strategic goals, use a robust PM tool and documentation tools

Challenge: Defining Effectiveness
Group Opportunities: Create a consortium of experts, justify requests (process), compare LOE / tools / projects with competition or other projects

Challenge: SME Participation and Performance
Group Opportunities: create a course “charter”, finding and documenting SME needs, create a written commitments, set clear expectations at kickoff, confirm LOE/buy-in, create course-level incentives for SMEs, define role and expectations (days/ways)

Challenge: Time Required or Invested in Projects
Group Opportunities: Bring training into planning sessions, define deliverable (possible) within time allocated, document level of effort expended on every project - by role

Challenge: Unrealistic Project Expectations
Group Opportunities: Always create a baseline of team performance through good documentation of previous projects, know when to add/amend time on project, confirm LO’s and PO’s follow-up evaluations on every project

The next day, I shared my Project Strategy: general opportunities using a COPE approach as step one of four in key steps toward better courses:

Agreement: every learning project has its share of ups and downs. We can reduce the highs and lows by creating a set of useful tools that can support our efforts and provide a little due diligence on every project. Here are some project-level C.O.P.E. tools my team uses on a general (varies by project) basis:

Tool/Technique: Reason:

Policies & Procedures: defining the practices/tools you will or will not use
R.E.D. Paper: Roles, expectations, and definitions for each role/stakeholder
BaseCamp (or other): a project management tool that helps individuals collaborate
MS Project (or other): some method to track time and effort on very large projects
Weekly reports: essential for maintaining communications
Change orders: essential for keeping projects within scope (as defined by client)
QA process: (MS, AP and organizational style guides) assures that projects meet style and usability guidelines, as well as basic spelling and grammar.