Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Learning in a time of abundance - In Response to Erik Duval

Erik Duval talked about the information revolution and how it impacts our learning, in his presentation. What he is talking about is a topic that forces people to really consider the implications of all the information and how we as humans filter it effectively.

One example of how the information has caused issues for us as learners is that we need to double check our research. So if we were to google something and on one website, we read a fact, the second step is to find the exact fact on other resources (other websites, books, etc). The reason is that not all the information is true or correct or altered. Due to the amount of information that is availble on a topic, it really causes us as learners to pause and ensure during hte learning process that the information is correct and up to date. As a result, the amount of time spent looking for information and resources can increase...

Digital Scholarship - In Response to Martin Weller

Martin Weller presented Digital Scholarship as an alternative to traditional academic scholarship. Here's a link to see what Digital Scholarship is all about: http://www.bloomsburyacademic.com/view/DigitalScholar_9781849666275/chapter-ba-9781849666275-chapter-005.xml;jsessionid=543AAE770E2327FAFF05AA94554E28FE

I think Digital Scholarship is a great idea, as it has significant benefits for the learners. Anyone around the world can access something that they wouldn't otherwise be able to access via traditional scholarship. The only problem as a learner that I identify with is the credibility of the scholar, as we have seen with a resource like Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not considered among the academic world as a reliable source of information, mainly because anyone can go in and edit the content.

I do hope that as technologies develop, we will see significant developments that would allow for removing the unreliable information from the reliable information.

Mobile Learning - In Response to Zoraini Abas

Zoraini Abas presented his experience with Mobile Learning at Open University Malaysia. You can view more details of what he presented here: http://eyeonlearning.blogspot.com/

Basically the University took some classes as a sample and had the professors/Tutors communicate via SMS with students upcoming assignments, test, and other course related information. At the end of the semester, the students were asked how their experience was and most were happy with receiving text messages of updates in the course. It provided them with an assignment.

My take: I think this was a really good example of how mobile devices can be used effectively in a learning organization. Students were given a sense of motivation and encouragement by the professor and allowed them to feel a sense of belonging within the course. Often, with distance education, it isn't easy for students to stay motivated and complete the required work, as most are working full time. And the technology used is very simple and not very new anymore, but the use was effective. In other instances, we have seen examples of social media being utilized for distance courses and face to face courses, as a supporting tool for students.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Video Conferencing Example

I used to work at a College in Northern Alberta, Canada, they had campuses scattered all across Northern Alberta. The challenge was to offer classes to the students in these locations. The solution was Video Conferencing. So the instructor would be in one location and have the other students attend using a Video Conferencing System. So in theory and for the most part this worked well. Instructor was able to see and hear the students and vice-versa, instructor would have a PowerPoint and present to the students, watch a video with the class. Some of the issues experienced were, Video Conferencing would not work smoothly, system would breakdown, bandwidth was limited at times, and prompt support wasn't given. In addition, when the instructor is delivering Video Conferencing classes, some didn't know how to do it properly, as there are etiquette one should follow when delivering, but some of the instructors weren't that experienced with delivering via Video Conferencing and instructors weren't trained much with using Video Conferencing. In Northern Alberta region, the government has fiber optics hooked up and extremely high speed Internet (SuperNet), which enabled Video Conferencing. The future for Video Conferencing especially in a rural region like Northern Albert is very bright and if the technical support is provided, it can be a solid substitute for face-to-face delivery.

Here's a sample video to KhanAcademy.org founder, it's published on TED Talks. http://www.khanacademy.org/video/salman-khan-talk-at-ted-2011--from-ted-com?playlist=Khan+Academy-Related+Talks+and+Interviews

Monday, October 31, 2011

Audio Based Technologies

Benefits of audio based technology
- It connects people in different locations
- It allows you to share your windows, word documents, etc with other participants
- People are able to work together on projects
- Reduces costs, as travel is not required as much
- This is essentially how an multinational organization like mine does meetings, via Live Meeting.
- Our trainers deliver webinars via Live Meeting to clients, this has been a popular delivery method amount the clients, it is cheap for them and cheap for us, compared with face-to-face training

Shortcomings of audio based technologies
- They are limited by the bandwidth of the participants, so not all participants experience the same thing, depending on their internet connection.
- I've found that people still don't utilize all the functions of audio-based technology, and that is a shortcoming as the training is not provided to the users
- And like most technologies, the key limitation is that it crashes from time to time or doesn't perform the way we are used to it performing.

Future of audio based technology
- I see it as a replacement of video conferencing, as we get higher bandwidth, which is a limitation to audio based technologies to using video effectively

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why Print works

In my company, print is used for all purposes, as it was 15 years ago. We don't follow the current trend of avoiding printing as much as possible. And it has been working well. Here are some uses for printing our documents for:
- Printing day to day documents, i.e., emails, excel files, etc
- Manuals for internal and external training
- Trainers printing manuals when reviewing them

Our manuals account for around 100+ pages each, so if we have 6+ students for a class (webinar and face to face), it adds up. Once I remember printing around 3000 pages of manuals for a face to face class of around 8 students.
The reasons we print, rather than using the web are:
- Trainers need to review the material and so write notes on the paper (they are very old school, in my opinion)
- Clients prefer printed material, as the training we provide is they pay for it
- Our organization is very conservative and so change is not easy or quick, this is one of the traditions we still follow
- Not enough people are against using print

Personally, I don't think printing is a good idea, and web based documents are the ideal way to go and would provide significant benefits. For example, searching for key words would be possible and so you can skim and jump to the sections quickly. You save the cost of paper and ink.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Learning Organizations - Why aren't they all good at it?

I have done some research previously on Knowledge Management and comparison of tacit knowledge transfer vs explicit knowledge transfer. I've included a chart of IT project success/failure for 30 different cases, where you can see the more tacit the knowledge is the less success you see and the more explicit it is, the more successes you see.

Source: Grant, K. & Qureshi, U. "Knowledge Management Systems -- Why So Many Failures?" Innovations in Information Technology. 2006.

In order for an organization to become a true learning organization, it has to have the following:
- low employee turnover
- good knowledge transfer practices between teams, employees, departments, etc.
- effective information technologies that support in storing information and knowledge within the organization
- quick response to the needs of external and internal stakeholders
- more centralized organizational structure

I think when we are talking about learning organizations, we need to investigate their knowledge management practices as well. In the organization I work at, at least in our department, there is a high degree of employee turnover and the result is:
- we are putting out a lot of fires with respect to problems occurring with previous work that was done
- we are lost a lot when looking for documents, as the previous employee kept the file where no one else knows where it is

Because we are spending more time looking resolving issues that shouldn't have occurred in the first place if we hadn't had such a higher employee turnover or better knowledge management practices, we are spending less learning as a team, keeping up with the organizational vision, and learning new skills as individuals.