Monday, April 26, 2010

Exploring the Elements of Online Communication

Although we are all connecting with each other online through one medium or another, there is really a small, finite set of content elements that make up the core of what we communicate.  Over at his excellent blog Clive on Learning, Clive Sheperd writes that "all online communication, whether that’s published content, live online events or social media, make use of the same key media elements: text, audio, images, animation and video."  He has put together an e-book of some of his blog posts that cover these media elements to help e-learning designers, virtual classroom facilitators, and online communicators in general to know how and when to use each of these elements to construct effective online communication.

For each element he describes what it is good for, what it is not so good for, how it should be optimized for online delivery, how it combines with the other elements, and how it is represented online.

It makes a handy little reference tool.  And if you are not into e-books, don't worry.  He has assembled the original blog posts with links on a single page so you can access the information that way as well.

Follow the link to Clive's blog below to check it out:

Clive on Learning: Media Chemistry – exploring the elements of online communication

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Who Leads Workplace Collaboration?

Last week a cancellation in my calendar afforded me the opportunity to attend the Chief Learning Officer webinar titled, Enterprise Collaboration: Can You Connect Social Learning and Business Performance? As with most lunchtime webinars, I approached this one with tempered expectations. I go into these things with the hope that I might pick up at least a gem of an idea, or something that sparks my thinking. This session delivered both. Presenters Eric Bruner and Butler Newman of RWD alternated taking the lead on describing the culture shift taking place (or that should be taking place!) in learning and organizations related to the use of social media for business performance.

After walking us through a slide reminding us of Josh Bersin's Evolution of Corporate Learning, from the 1990's through today, they uncovered the gem of the day as they began describing what a collaborative performance workplace looks like. The description contained three key components:

Process Centered Collaboration (PCC) - characterized as taking place directly in the workflow, where workers can get persistent, formal and informal help, in context, to create transparent knowledge - but, in which participation is optional.

Communities of Practice (CoP) - described as being business-driven groups, formed across organizational boundaries that have a common focus, performing measureable, process-related work.

Communities of Interest (CoI) - described as interest-based groups, formed around an area of common focus for the benefit of the individuals or the community - again, in which participation is optional.

So if you wanted to draw this up as a formula, you could say:

Collaborative Culture = PCC + CoP + CoI

As the session continued Eric and Butler went on to talk about key roles in the collaborative work environment. The two obvious ones are community manager and technology steward. Then they followed up the gem, with the spark: They began talking about the leadership needed to sustain performance in the collaborative work environment. They stated that the CLO is in the best position to think about social media integration and therefore has to be the vanguard leader for collaboration in the business. I thought that was interesting. I had always thought someone in Marketing or IT would be best suited to take the lead in the social media arena, but after they said it, it immediately made sense. Who could be better than a learning person to grasp the necessary organizational context, process performance, and people readiness needed to launch and sustain a collaborative work environment?

As the webinar wound down, the presenters shared how the CLO would fulfill that role. It would be done by:
  • providing strong communication
  • becoming the community builder
  • embracing user-generated content (still a tough one in many organizations)
  • managing top-down; engaging all stakeholders along the way
  • making sure that process-centered collaboration is in the work flow; not appended on to it.
For those of us who work in corporate learning organizations, it certainly does throw a challenge our way.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Virtual Team Leadership

One of the topics that has become an important component of the management training we conduct at my company is Leading Virtual Teams.  With the growing trends of agile and mobile workers, it seems to be an issue that comes up in every management training needs analysis we do these days. Ultimately, it ends up as a key component in the training we deliver and the follow-up coaching we provide.

I am constantly browsing for resources on virtual team leadership that I can share with managers in my company.  I recently came across the presentation below on SlideShare. It is from Camille Preston at AIM Leadership.  It is more of a mini-eBook than a presentation.  The core content is built around four things that virtual leaders need to do:
  1. Care to Collaborate
  2. Connect to Communicate
  3. Filter to Focus
  4. Pause for Perspective
The gist of the message is that "to be effective, virtual leaders learn who they are working with, what matters most to that person, and how to set that person up to be successful."  They do this through focus and reflection.   Check it out:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

New Skills for Instructional Designers

The annual Learning Solutions 2010 Conference put on by Learning Solutions Magazine and the eLearning Guild was held this week in Orlando.   Think of it as sort of a "spring break for elearning geeks."  Unfortunately it was not in the cards for me to attend.   But no matter; in this age of social media, it is pretty easy to pick up the highlights of an event through twitter, YouTube, SlideShare, etc.  So the only thing you really miss is the opportunity to say hello to friends that you haven't seen in a while, or colleagues that you have only met on line.

One of the sessions that caught my attention was titled New Skills for Instructional Designers presented by Cammy Bean, Koreen Olbrish, and Ellen Wagner.  They introduced a fresh take on the skills used by instructional designers depicted in the four-quadrant diagram above.  It incorporates Learning & Performance, Creativity, Technology, and Business Insight to describe the role.  Essentially, their message is "to be an instructional design professional, you need to attend to all four quadrants."

I was able to piece together a few items related to their presentation:

Here is a description of the four quadrants, courtesy of Claudine Caro's blog:

I = Learning, Pedagogy & Assessment
  • Adult learning theory
  • Instructional Design theory
  • Assessment and quizzes
  • Curriculum Design
  • Defining learning objectives
 D = Creativity & Production
  • Facilitation/ instructors
  • Writing
  • Video Production
  • Audio
  • Graphics Design
  • Games Design
  • Animation
 I = Business Intelligence
  • Business needs assessment/analysis
  • ROI
  • A seat at the C-level table
  • Project Management
T = Architecture & Implementation
  • Authoring Tools
  • Programming
  • Learning Management Systems
  • QA
  • Tracking and Reporting

Check out the presentation deck from their session, courtesy of SlideShare:

 And check out Ellen Wagner delivering her segment of the presentation on the Secret Handshakes of Instructional Design, courtesy of YouTube.

I thank these folks for their great presentation. I think we are going to be seeing and hearing more discussion about this set of skills in the near future.