Keynote at Masie Conference

This morning I had the pleasure of doing a keynote session with Elliott Masie. True to form we agreed to just riff…and that we did.. I think it went quite well and I had a lot of folks come up after the session to say they got something out of it.

Elliott is pulling out all the stops this year. There is an ARG (Alternate Reality Game) that David Metcalf and his crew are running called Dream Corp. Also, Ann DeMarle’s students at Champlain college are building a game in real time during the conference to deal with the issues of teleworking.

Finally, being the king of last minute, I just signed into the social networking site that the Masie folks have provided and found it to be very user friendly. Here is a screenshot of the social network view. I am the blue dot closest to the middle:

I am very much looking forward to soaking it all in and leaving with more questions than I came…that way I know I have learned something ; )

Over and out for now from Orlando.


Blog Book Tour Stop: Gadgets, Games and Gizmos

I am honored that Karl asked me to participate in his Blog Book tour. I have had the good fortune of working with Karl on a few projects and I have always found that our interactions really pushed my thinking in new directions when it comes to how the relentless pace of technological evolution creates gadgets, gizmos and games for learning.

In many ways, Karl’s latest oeuvre is a proxy for interacting with the man himself. If your experience is like mine, as you read through the chapters your mind will be stretched in all kinds of new directions as to the as-yet-untapped potential that all this technology affords us as learning professionals.


Being the Web 2.0 guy that he is. Karl also has a companion site to the book that should not be missed. Click here to check it out.

In this book, Karl really has his finger on the pulse of what I believe is a strategic-inflection point where emerging technologies will fundamentally recreate how we conceive of and conduct learning within and outside the enterprise.

I also particularly enjoy Karl’s strategy of learning how this future will become manifest by looking at it through the eyes of his kids. I have two boys that are five years younger than Nathan and Nicholas, but already I am beginning to see signs that the tables will be changing very soon for me where I am the learner and they are the wise ones.

If you have not read this book you are missing out in a big way. Actually, you are really getting two books for the price of one as no-one told Karl that he should stop after 200 pages.

So go ahead, click here, press “buy” and let the games begin ; 0

Virtual Worlds Going Mainstream!

I know, I have been a bad bad blogger lately. But rest assured, I have not been idle and now you get to share in the fruits of my labor!

At Training this year I delivered a presentation entitled Games and the Future of Learning at 8:00 AM on the opening day of the conference. To my pleasant surprise, the room was packed and the energy palpable.

I won’t go into the whole story about Tony’s typical last minute shennanigans in pulling together pitches, but suffice to say that I pulled this one off with very very little sleep the night before. That being said, the response to this pitch was overwhelming. Folks were truly pumped about the possibilities for games and virtual social worlds.

Since that pitch much has happened both internally and externally. The e-Learning Guild published their report on Immersive Learning Sims, I wrapped and IBM study on Leadership in Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing games and Lisa Neal at e-Learning Magazine asked Jay Cross, Eilif Trondsen and I to do a piece on VSWs for this months edition (good timing right ahead of the first Virtual Worlds conferece in NY next week).

The e-Learn article is up right now so please have a read and see let us know what you think.

If you liked it, and you did not make my session at Training, I have been working like a maniac to condense this message form this pitch down. I bought some video editing software and hacked together a 9 minute piece that I really believe will leave you with a true sense of the incredible possibilities that the 3D internet offers to learning. I spent over 30 hours to get this thing together, between learning how to film in virtual worlds, to learning how to edit video and audio, to scouring the web for good examples of the sensibilites and audio clips from visionaries like Jimmy Wales from Wikipedia.

Take a look, the first two mintes are talkie, but then I get into some very cool machinima clips from inside virtual worlds that bring the sensibilities alive. To completely mash up some of Jay’s eloquent writing, my latest one liner is “Avatars are Free Range Learners and Virtual Social Worlds are the Learnscape within which they learn.”

So go get a coffee, sit back for a 10 minute break and take a look at movie director debut ; ). More importantly please respond here in this blog so others can share in your widsom.

UGH, unfortunately it seems that this billion dollar lawsuit is causing some drag on our Google pals. For whatever reason, access to this video intermittent. As a backup, I have posted a slightly longer,ergo more detailed version of this video on Acid Planet. The benefit of this site is that you can download the file for your own use, the downside is it costs you two more clicks!

Click HERE to view and/or download.

In the Web 2.0 world is all about Rip, Remix, Resubmit, Repeat. Let me know how to make this better of if you are better at video editing than me, rip it, remix it, resubmit it and lets get the power Wikiography (as opposed to videography) going.

I Love Web 2.0

The more I steep myself into the Web 2.0 and 3Di domain the more amazed I become.

Throughout today grabbing 5 minutes here and there to upload snippits and about 2 more hours this PM after everyone was in bed, I was able to put this picture/video montage together on Jumpcut:

Movie Link

Movie Thumbnail
It's Up to You!

This was literally thrown together per per Brent Schlenker and Mark Oehlert’s RIP, MIX, FEED, repeat, repeat…infinity ideas…thanks guys ; )

Take a look and let me know what you think. It is my first attempt to demonstrate the key Synthetic World Sensibilities and at the end I ask you whether you are willing to be like Neo and take the Red Pill. I need to learn how to use/import audio etc…but it is a start.

I got to get some sleep…over and out from Cary

Second Life = Experience Economy Platform?

For years I have been teaching MBAs about Gilmore and Pine’s notion of the Experience Economy and how it could well become the primary source of value creation in the future.

Here is how the authors characterize the difference between the Agrarian, Industrial, Service and Experience Economies:

I was in 2L over the weekend hanging out with a pal of mine (Stae Young). Stae and his wife created the very popular Agora Ballroom in 2L. He was telling me a story about a “regular” guest at the Agora who asked him if he could rent the place for an hour and if he could have the song Lady in Red piped into the ballroom at the appropriate time.

Stae, being the kinda guy he is, happily obliged. When his guest arrived at the pre-defined time, it was clear to Stae that the woman with him was new to this world. His Guest very patiently helped her navigate the space in order to get up to the main ballroom area. They then proceeded to dance the night away, culminating with his request to Stae for their favorite song, Lady in Red.

Stae said it was wonderful for him to be able to create this EXPERIENCE for his guest. But wait, it gets better. Later he found out that the woman was his guest’s wife and that she has been confined to a wheelchair for quite some time. His guest also told him that the EXPERIENCE they had in 2L that night could NEVER be replicated for them in RL.

That AHA took me right back to the awesome Machinima called Better Life that just viscerally drives home the fact that these kind of environments can really deliver out-of-this world experiences. With the Agora, Stae has created a place within which he can stage memorable personal experiences for his guests that evoke emotions and sensations that might not even be available in the real world context. Stae also shared with me that a number of his guests are soldiers in Iraq who wanted to feel closer to their loved ones on the other side of the planet.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. In the future Content may be still be king but Context will be the Kingdom. All of us need to become far more adept at creating contexts that engender true generative learning experiences. 2L is a true Context Creation platform. Let’s promise each other not to leverage 2L or any other 3Di platform for what it is and not just apply this incredible technologty to create fancier 3D page-turning environments.

Stae works for IBM as a Learning Architect. We are in the process of building out a showcase for IBM that shows what can happen when you apply 3Di sensibilities to create contexts where learning happens through a series of experiences. Stay tuned for more on this in a later post.

This is the entrance to our showcase. We’re still in our Tuxes as we had just ported over from the Agora.

Stae and Wada at Learing Showcase

The Big Question

The Learning Circuits Blog posed “the big question” and it sent a meme ripping through the blogosphere. I have really enjoyed the posts around this topic and thought I might throw my .02 into the mix.

The Big Question

The big question this month is what questions should we, the learning profession, be asking?

Here is my unfiltered stream of consciousness on this:

Why do we dismiss learning that is not within our jurisdiction by calling it INFORMAL?
The workplace is where learning happens. Furthermore, the work context itself it is where the motivation to learn or “teachable moment” becomes manifest (i.e. Oh crap I need to do this and I don’t know how…let me Google it real quick).

What will happen to the training profession if we continue to apply our understanding of how to help people learn ONLY in the FORMAL context?
If we to be truly honest about the state of learning today it is pretty grim. I have identified 7 scary problems in learning today. As you read through them and ponder their compounding effects, you gotta ask youself why we continue to paint ourselves into a corner.

Autonomous Learner – Web 1.0 and 2.0 technologies are making it easier and easier for people to become free range learners. They are no longer bound by the classroom and we need to start thinking about our audience as clients rather than captives. I know within our own context at IBM the search engine gets hit way more than the front end of the LMS/LCMs. We need to go where the clients are at and find ways to apply what we know to help them where they’re at.

Routinization – We have really only applied technology to pave well trodden formal learning cowpaths to date. We have applied technology to increase the speed with which we do what we have always tone…teach and train. Technology knows nothing about quality but will speed up anything you apply it to. We know that traditional training has a big set of issues in terms of impacting performance and transfer. Speeding this process up within a digital context is only rendering the inadequacies of traditional training faster.

Time – The current ISD process is too slow. Bringing knowledge from the edge of the firm, packaging it into nuggets and pushing it back out takes too long. We need to stay on the edge. Knowledge is the lifeblood of organizations….people’s conversations are the transport mechanism….organizational wisdom is the outcome.

Packaging – If given the time (which no-one has today since the average attention span of a human being is akin to that of a ferret on two cappuccinos) everyone would like a five course meal. The reality now is that people only have time to go through the drive-through. Our traditional packaging (i.e. the course) does not meet the needs of our users (yes I said users not students). Courses are organized around topics not tasks. People’s need and motivation to learn emerges largely from a task (i.e. work) context. Oftentimes they just want instructions not instruction. Information in context (i.e. a Google search on negotiation) trumps instruction out of context (i.e. signing up for Getting to Yes course).

Performance – Any way you slice it….people’s lack of knowledge is only PART of the reason organizations don’t perform well. Mix in the wrong set of data, tooling and processes with a dash of conflicting consequences and sub-optimized intrinsic motivation (i.e. job fit) and extrinsic motivation (i.e. greenbacks) and it becomes clear that we simply can’t be held responsible for moving a business performance needle all by ourselves.

Transfer – Even the best courses have a transfer issue. Not necessarily because the learning did not stick, but the resulting desired behavior did not become manifest. Knowing something doesn’t automatically imply that people will act upon that knowledge. My mother knows smoking is bad for her….but still smokes like a trooper. So do we just pass the buck to someone else and say well we did our job…they know the stuff or do we step up to creating the affordances in the workplace that enable transfer, change behavior and impact performance. C’mon people….the clock is ticking.

Value – Many of us seem to be happy that we are finally getting recognition in the executive suite. Learning is getting a seat at the table. Personally I am very frightened about this. Why…lets do the numbers. Training budgets are about 2% of payroll or (.44% of revenue) on average. If we maintain speed and course and throw technology at doing what we have always done, at best we can get to 100% improvement in productivity. We put the same number of butts through learning for half the price or we can put twice as many butts through. If we go with the former, then we deliver a whopping .22% of revenue back to the company. Not something that is going to have the CEO doing summersaults down the executive corridors.

What will happen to the training profession if we keep focusing on HOW to do what we have done in the past faster rather than revisiting at a fundamental level WHY learning matters to the people that fund us?
Too much emphasis has been placed on how we do what we have always done and not enough has been placed on what the fundamental value proposition of learning is to the organization. My work with Brenda Sugrue on the Strategic Value of Learning suggests that hard-nosed business people see learning’s value manifest itself in a number of contexts:

Leadership – Building the organization’s leadership and management capabilities.

Skill Gap Closure – Developing deep expertise of individuals within the business-units that provide a source of competitive advantage

Talent Management – Moving beyond individual skills to managing talent at a systems level. Building a stable of talent that is flexible and nimble and can adapt to rapidly changing business contexts.

Performance Improvement – Applying consultative performance consulting approaches to specific business situations to drive organizational effectiveness and business outcomes.

Business Unit Enablement – Aligning tightly with the operational needs of the business and governing the learning investment to yield optimized business unit productivity

Strategy Enablement – Learning not about creating programs it is about realizing the strategic agenda established by the executive committee. Learning’s job is to implement the people side of the business strategy.

Transformation – Executives are looking to learning to enable the organization to adapt to new business-models, sense and respond to customer demands and change the culture of the business to align with the environment within which it operates.

Globalization – Executives are looking to learning to take on a more strategic role in helping organizations extend beyond geographic boundaries. The accelerated globalization of the workforce requires more innovative approaches to learning.

Innovation – Executives are looking to learning to partner with them to cultivate a culture of innovation that will drive growth. This requires the application of collaborative and generative learning approaches

The first two (Leadership and Skill Gap Closure) are all about our bread-and-butter value proposition…they are focused on Individual Capability. The next three (Performance Improvement, Talent Management, and Business Unit Enablement) are all about driving Business Unit Productivity, and the four (Strategy, Transformation, Globalization and Innovation are about Enterprise Sustainability.
Learning's Value Drivers

Speaking strategically, we are placing the majority of our emphasis (i.e. investment and energy) in the lower left hand corner. We are busy trying to apply technology to increase the speed which we develop individual capability. The problem is, as outlined above in the seven scary problems, the expectations that our executives have for learning are much more grandiose that we are currently capable of delivering.

For me, I think the big question was best summarized by the CFO from a Fortune 500 company who said, and I quote:

“At the end of the day training needs to decide if it wants to continue to be an offshoot of HR or become a strategic part of the organization”

I’m Game…anyone else want to play?