Sunday, October 07, 2007

eLearning Definitions

Over on eLearning Technology Tony Karrer wrote about definitions of eLearning in eLearning Technology: eLearning Defined. I commented about his post there but wanted to write more here. To start, here is what I wrote to Tony.


A few years ago I came up with a definition of training for the Philosophy page of my e-Portfolio. I wrote that "Training is getting the right information, to the right people, at the right time, using the right medium and methods." Granted this is somewhat simplistic. Maybe that is not bad.

It is, however, also broad enough to encompass eLearning. As a subset of this definition I would define eLearning as any learning delivered by some electronic means. This covers all CBT and WBT plus the range of KM and EPSS solutions. Granted this is also quite simplistic. Nevertheless, perhaps this is good.

What do you think?

Tony included a few definitions of eLearning which he took from glossaries of eLearning related terms. A few of those definitions are similar, though probably more complex, than mine. I like my definitions precisely because of their very simplicity. Although it is needful to be more precise in some circumstances, I am not sure this is one of those circumstances.

Any comments?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

RSS and Aggragators

In one of his posts on Tuesday, eLearning Insider available via RSS, Brent Schlenker wrote about using Learning2.0 and Web2.0 tools. One point that caught my eye was,

While its great that you might implement blogs, wikis, and RSS for your school, company, or organization, its even more important that you start using these tools yourself as personal development tools. Its up to YOU to investigate changing your daily habits and workflow.

This is particularly interesting to me because over the past few months I have been trying to update my use of these tools as I seek to gain control over my learning. By so doing I will know both cognitively and experientially how to best recommend these tools to others for whom I work. I have been using bloglines now for a few years and it works quite well for me. However, as Brent went on to write, "Consuming it all requires new forms of organization and scanning." This is something that I continually struggle with. I have been a slow reader since youth; or at least I am never satisfied with my reading speed. There always seems to be more material to try to consume than time to devote to reading. Consequently, I was very pleased to see Brent's recommendation to check out Pageflakes. I tried it and very quickly decided it is a tool which I need to add to my Web2.0 arsenal.

I recommend you give it a look.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Note Taking Tools

The other day I wrote about Personal Learning Environments (PLEs). I mentioned there are several tools, commonly known as Web 2.0 tools, which people can now use to help them establish and maintain their PLEs. Over the coming days and weeks I am going to be writing about many of these tools. The first group of tools I want to address is note taking tools. As the name indicates, these tools can help users improve their productivity at taking notes. I used to be one of those people who wrote out all his notes with pen and paper. If I decided to use technology, I would fire up Microsoft Word and take notes with it. Or maybe if I did not have my laptop with me, but had access to another computer connected to the internet, I might compose an email to myself using webmail and take notes with that. Both of those methods were improvements over pen and paper; however, they were a far cry from what is currently available to those who desire to be most productive.

Now days I use Google Notebook as my primary notebook tool. I like that it is a web-based tool - one of the many Web 2.0 tools - and available to me from any computer when I log in to my Google account. Of course I usually have my notebook computer with my wherever I am. However, in those instances when I do not have my computer with me I can easily log on to another computer and access my notes. I can also easily share my notes with others and they can collaborate with me. This provides huge benefits that are not as easily achieved with a non-web-based tool. Google Notebook also allows me to have multiple notebooks and to search all of my notebooks similar to how I search the web with Google. One of the most attractive things for me initially was that it is free. I really dislike spending money on software only to find out it does not do what I wanted it to do.

Of course there are a number of other notebook tools available. In her Directory of Learning Tools, Jane Hart lists over 40 Note Taking/Sharing and Whiteboard Tools. I also looked at some other Web 2.0 tools which combine note taking capability with other functions. I briefly tried both Backpack and Zoho; they seemed more complicated to use than Google Notebook, though admittedly I did not spend very much time with either of them. Perhaps if I were to give them time I would find that they had extra functionality which I could use. Then again, maybe I would not.

For now I will keep using Google Notebook. If you don't currently use a notebook tool, try it out.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Innovations In Learning (IIL07)

Christine Martell was one of the presenters at the Brandon Hall Innovations in Learning conference in Santa Clara last week. Several of my other favorite bloggers were also there. Christine wrote about a presentation she facilitated at the conference. In "What is innovation in learning?" Christine writes about using what many would consider a low-tech approach to training. She split her participants up into four groups of 3 to 5 people. She gave each group a series of photographs and tasked them with creating a shared vision of "What is innovation in learning?"

Each group approached the problem differently and each came up with a unique, innovative solution. What is most interesting to me about her approach is that, in Christine's words, "it allowed a group of strangers to get to the underlying issues in an innovative way and in less than ninety minutes." She used a simple tool that made it possible for several people to share their own education and experience to arrive at answers. She also commented that one of the recurring themes in the conference was "‘it’s not about the technology, it’s about the learning’."

Christine finished up her article by writing,

"As trainers, course designers, e-learning specialists, etc, we cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into thinking that technology is going to solve the problems for us. A thirty year-old bicycle will get you two blocks down the street just as well as a Ferrari. The real challenge is knowing how and when to use the different technologies to deliver the most impact."

I heartily agree with her. Although I love technology and often endeavor to use a technological solution, I want to be sure and match the best solution (considering time and budget constraints) to each situation.

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