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REN nyhetsbrev nr. 3, 2005

24. februar 2005
1: Supporting informal learning
2: Learning on Demand - From Bulletins to Viewpoints
3: Learning at Work—The Fundamental Principles
4: Nytt og nyttig
5: På kalenderen
1: Supporting informal learning

One of the most popular links making the rounds is this New Yorker article. (The article details how the US Army had trouble adapting to new arenas of warfare using traditional means, and how an informally created community of practice served to fill the gap. 

Communities of practice are one of the emergent phenomena that John Seely Brown (identified as part of the Social Life of Information (excerpts here: The point being, that sometimes we have to give people access to tools and let them self-organize.
It is these elements of self-organization around meaningful tasks that are the hallmark of informal learning (  As Jay Cross noted in his paper, the other 80% (, organizations are addressing their efforts in the wrong places. 
Can we do better at supporting informal learning? Certainly there are lots of efforts I’ve previously mentioned; such as knowledge management software that either catalogs documents, or people’s knowledge.  Google has now got a desktop engine that searches your hard disk based upon content, not just titles or format (  It’s Windows only, at least right now, but Apple intends to bring such a capability in their next version of their operating system (

I’ve already mentioned ‘under design’ as an approach to supporting people, and I think it’s going to increase.  Already people are using tools in new ways, such as podcasting.  Even trying to keep up with what people are doing gets difficult.  One new site with educational relevance is Edugadget, which is predicated on Engadget. Engadget reviews the latest new and cool tech toys, and Edugadget does that from the perspective of ways to do things relevant to the classroom.

An article on KM for informal learning lists the following categories of types of tools: knowledge repositories, expertise access tools, e-learning applications, discussion and chat technologies, synchronous interaction tools, and search and data mining tools.  My colleague, Jim Schuyler, built his own knowledge base that you could stash URL’s in ( as one approach.  I think my bookmark file, a folder called “Whitepapers”, and a file called “Refs” (references) serve as my own knowledge repository.  Informally, expertise access is the network of people you know.  I use IM and email as discussion and chat technologies, as well as the phone. As an independent, I have clients on multiple systems including AOL, Yahoo, and MSN, so Fire ( is a very efficient, and free, cross-platform IM tool for the Mac.  Others exist for Windows, e.g. Trillian ( 
I currently don’t do much with synchronous collaboration, though I have experimented with Groove ( in the past.  For asynchronous work, I’ve used Yahoo Groups ( with some success.  And, of course, my search tool is Google (
All these tools I mention are cheap or free. I’ve set up an inexpensive, eclectic, but effective suite of learning and collaboration tools that allow me to be productive. There’s a cost, of course, in that I have to be able to install and maintain this environment without IT support.  (By the way, I’d love to hear your solutions!

So, of course, there are advantages to full suites such as Lotus, such as security, support, integration of several of these tools, connections to mobile devices, etc.  When you have people who might not be self-supporting across the organization, you might want an institutionalized solution that can support those people.  However, how do you keep from blocking innovation?  Interoperability is going to be the key, moving forward.  Too rigid, and it will break in many ways: people won’t use it, or will find ways around it, or…
Innovation is the key here.  We want to support people having the access and communication to be able to make up new answers on the fly.  At the bottom of the experience curve, we have formal learning, but as people get more experienced, there’s less formal fixed understanding and it’s an ongoing dialog of negotiation (Tony O’Driscoll generated an image in a journal article, and I’ve found it useful so I’ve reproduced it here:  eLearning addresses the formal part, but we need to address the informal.  We would also like to have an elegant segue between the two, and that is still missing, to my knowledge.
I guess the take-home message is to be proactive in trying to support innovation by providing tools, either a formal system or assisting your users in getting access to tools (depending on size of organization and IT sophistication).  Whatever you do, don’t stifle those emergent experiments that will happen, but see if they can be leveraged!

2. Learning on Demand - From Bulletins to Viewpoints

This month, the Learning-on-Demand (LoD) program is transitioning from the quarterly LoD Bulletin to a monthly publication, LoD Viewpoints. The change is in response to client comments that more frequent (and briefer) analyses of important topics would be preferable to the longer, quarterly Bulletins. The new monthly LoD Viewpoints will therefore be easier and quicker to read--and will allow LoD to expand coverage to a wider range of learning and learning-technology topics. As always, we welcome and appreciate your input and suggestions for topics and issues you would like to see us address.
LoD Viewpoints February 2005:  eLearning Content:  The Role of Offshore Outsourcing. Les hele artikkelen på våre medlemssider

3: Learning at Work—The Fundamental Principles

Denne artikkelen, skrevet av Tom Atkinson og Jocelyn Davis er hentet fra Chief Learning Officer.

John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach whose teams won championships and set records with regularity, introduced new players to his coaching philosophy with an important lesson in fundamentals. He would instruct the players how to properly tie their sneakers. In order to win, he argued, you had to score, pass and defend. In order to score, pass and defend, you had to run. In order to run, you had to prepare and care for your feet. And to do that, you had to tie your sneakers properly. The lesson: Basketball is a fast game, requiring a mastery of fundamentals to succeed.
The same might be said today of learning organizations. The pace of business has become exceedingly fast, and the stakes for learning organizations and the people who lead them have become increasingly high. There is more pressure to deliver results and more demand for meaningful impact.
Les hele artikkelen her:

4: Nytt og nyttig

SkillSoft Releases LMS Search-and-Learn Connect
SkillSoft PLC, a provider of content resources and complementary technologies for integrated enterprise learning, announced the availability of Search-and-Learn(TM) Connect, an adaptation of SkillSoft's powerful search engine specifically designed for incorporation into AICC-standard learning management systems.

Largest Virtual High School Opens
Virtual Sage, announced its first major project - a new online virtual high school commissioned by James Madison High School.
LTI Magazine

5: På kalenderen

Seminar om Opplæring innen HMS og Teknologi, 9. mars 2005, Stavanger
Seminaret er rettet mot alle som jobber med HMS opplæring eller Teknisk opplæring.
Arrangør: Mintra AS

Training 2005, February 28 - March 2, 2005 New Orleans, LA
At Training Conference and Expo, you'll find everything you need to create, deliver and manage training and online learning in your organization.

COMET (Colaborating and Managing the Educational Uses of Technology)
17 March 2005
Ormskirk, Lancashire, United Kingdom

43rd Annual International Performance Improvement: Process, Practice & Productivity, April 10-15

Training Director’s Forum, May 22-25, 2005 Phoenix, AZ
Training Directors' Forum, the premier networking event for training, learning and knowledge executives, is your annual opportunity to rejuvenate, rethink and re-energize your work.

ASTD International Conference & Exposition, June 2-8
Orlando, FL

Training Fall Conference and Expo, October 17-19, 2005, Long Beach, CA
At Training Fall Conference and Expo, you'll find more resources, more expertise and more opportunities for you to accelerate your professional development and online learning curve.