Thursday, January 31, 2013

Where I'm at Now: Authenticity in the Moment

I haven't blogged in awhile. I don't write that to apologize, or to try and appease my seven followers. In fact, I know from reading all my blogging-blogger friends that I should never apologize for gaps in publishing. That being said, I am at a point where I can look at my journey and feel good about where I'm at. For any of you who read my career exploration posts during the last year (University of Me, and Straddling the Introvert-Extrovert Line), you know that I began my exploration into the L&P field last year. I meandered through eLearning and Instructional Design, facilitation vs. development, and a crazy foray into an unsuccessful Flash class.  All of sudden, in July, I knew something felt off. Instead of forcing  myself to find a job in eLearning or Instructional Design, I backed off and attempted to let my inner self figure it all out. During that quiet transition, I wrote the post, Listening to Myself, then I withdrew from the blogging and Twitter world.  I felt sort of inauthentic and strange that the eLearning person whom people had come to know wanted to pursue a different direction.

I realized that the entire time, I had wanted to focus on organizations as a whole. It is what I love, and what I do best. And yet I was terrified to admit this. Every OD person who I'd encountered seemed to have an MBA, and I knew this would be a crappy fit for my energy-empathy-compassionate-non-finance-thinkin' self. So instead of trying to figure out how to be an OD person without an MBA, I moved on to the things that I felt I could do without going back to school. My education degree would help me get into ID, while my library degree had offered enough technology experience that I could fake things. 

But in July, I hit a wall, and I realized that I don't mind doing ID or eLearning, but I like it because of the context of developing organizations and making them better. 
Once I embraced my joy for this, I stopped trying to put myself in a box, and instead I got inspired to go back to school and become even better. I'm in love with my current program and my inspirational classmates. I'm learning that I can always open a new door, and that branding myself once doesn't mean that I'm stuck with that definition forever. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Is the Windows 8 Confusion All About Organizational Authenticity?

Imagine the xB without Scion
I played with a Surface tab the day it was launched, and I upgraded my desktop to Windows 8 during the first week. I didn't do this because I was an avid Windows fan--I just was curious, and a little excited by the color palate. After a few weeks with Windows 8, I am fully comfortable using it, but maybe not for the reasons Microsoft thought I would be. It's fast and it's pretty, but I'm not embracing many of the features Microsoft wants me to use. I'm not integrating my mail into the start page because opening Gmail directly is more productive due to archiving. Nor am I incorportating the "people" feed because I use all my social media in different ways and I use better apps on my Android device to manage this. Even though I am ignoring many of those apps, I do enjoy scrolling through the New York Times, and clicking through All Recipes. Yet something feels off.  When I use these colorful apps from the start screen, I have to be honest; I doesn't feel like I'm using Microsoft. Microsoft, to me, is traditional, reliable, but pretty much, no-nonsense. Instead, the start screen feels like a fun plugin that changes my Windows Experience and confuses me a bit because it doesn't fit with the Microsoft brand. In all honesty, it instead feels inauthentic. 
When Toyota wanted to come up with a fun, zippy car line, they realized that they had to develop a new public-facing company. If they had launched the Toyota xB instead of the Scion xB in 2003, it would have been directed to the wrong audience.  Reliability is one thing, but a car that looks like a box? Just plain weird. If Microsoft had been smart, they would have launched Windows 8 that looked like Windows 7 but was EVEN faster, then launched the tile interace under a different brand as a plug in. Now, I am not a programmer, and I don't even know if this is possible, but I do realize that the "pretty" tile interface doesn't jive with our image of Windows and it has consumers shaking their heads. Instead of being able to separate the tiled interface of the start screen from the speed and productivity of the back end of Windows 8, both are being branded together as one product and has many of large organizations questioning the payoff of large scale adoption. Had Windows 8 just been about speed and virus protection, I think it would have done well. But instead, it is an incongruity that has its loyal consumer base looking to other options.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why I'm a little depressed about eLearning

Good eLearning still requires resources
The reason might surprise you.
And I'm probably going to have a few people disagree with me. 
It's not because there isn't good eLearning out there. In fact, in the last year of exploring this field, I've seen some absolutely phenomenal examples of great m and eLearning. Creative people are using gamification, graphics, interactivity, flexibility, and performance objectives to create flexible learning models that increase employee productivity. So why am I so depressed? Because I am going to fall into a camp of people that believes strongly that good e and mLearning still needs to be thought of with the same seriousness as website development--otherwise, it's just not fair to the people who have been asked to create the learning. Even with flexible authoring tools such as Articulate Storyline and Captivate, I argue that the end product will be better if approached using agile team-based design. That means, your company's eLearning team should include a project manager, a storyteller (this could be an ID), a (graphic) designer, and a developer (either schooled in html5 or very savvy with the authoring tool). This sounds different than what I usually hear, as it's often one person who is responsible for the whole process who is then asked to liaise with the IT department. Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not suggesting the good eLearning is impossible to create--what I am saying is that the impact of it will grow if the process itself is supported.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 and the Curation Invasion

Twitter was like a gateway drug for me into the world of online professional development. After a couple of months, I was favoriting tweets like crazy and trying all sorts of tools to keep track of articles I enjoyed. For awhile, I was still using Delicious to catalog articles that could be of some use to me at a later date, but I realized it was enough just to favorite a tweet--and adding an extra step to the mix wasn't sustainable.  
Then people I followed began to curate online collections. Especially in the eLearning and educational technology communities, and  collections were published daily by people I respected. Curating seemed like the right thing to do. For a few months, I curated an eLearning collection called Mosaic Learning Design Process. It was more about the creativity involved with the process of eLearning than about eLearning itself. And then, I "scooped" the following post, Why your knowledge-sharing portal will probably not save the world. I realized that I was already following a couple of accounts that were fabulous, and to repeat them would actually take away from time I could spend learning directly from their efforts. Both Mayra Aixa Villar and Ana Cristina Pratas have wonderfully diverse eLearning collections which I can learn from and promote. In the short term anyway, I will continue to curate my People Part of Organizations collection, and I will, as long as it is useful to me.

Monday, November 5, 2012

How Flipboard Saved My Twitter(ing)

I was suffering from Info Overload!
During this last year of transition, I fell into quite a love affair with Twitter. I found that hands down, it was the best way to keep up with trends in the learning community, and to build connections with professionals all over the world. Yet, I found that after following 600 people, I just couldn't keep up anymore. For a couple of months, I let my account passively shift to wallflower status--hanging out as a casual observer in the technology world. I still obsessively checked CNET and Engadget, and tried to stay up on my technology news, but my learning and information interactions on Twitter stopped suddenly. 
Two weeks ago, I volunteered at the Learning 3.0 Conference and I was introduced to the mobile news app, Flipboard. Now, as an self-proclaimed nerd, you would have thought that I was using Flipboard already, but instead, I had been attempting to manage my Twitter feeds using TweetDeck. This worked for me just fine when sitting in front of a computer all day, but I found for mobile, it just wasn't cutting it. So when one of my fine session leaders suggested Flipboard, I went to the app, and immediately feel in love. Flipboard combined with Alicia Cowan's post, How to Deal with Twitter Overwhelm, has made me rediscover my love affair again. Instead of actively following everyone, I now used Alicia's ideas for using have specific lists--one for "regular follows" (about fifty people), other lists for CCASTD members, and specific lists for people who actively tweet about Articulate, Captivate and more. Additionally, Flipboard allows me to add news based on hashtag searches, so during #DevLearn, I was able to add that hashtag and follow the buzz on my phone and tablet. What I like most about it is that it enhances the interface, and I can access it anywhere. We'll see how this works in the long term, but for now it's putting me out there in the world again. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Listening to Myself

And that's my brain, working it out...
I have found myself in a curious hole. I good hole, mind you, but a bit of a hole. After proclaiming to the world, loud and clear that I loved eLearning, I realized that yes, I do love eLearning, but I do not want to spend my life just doing that. I, for one, miss people, and the strange funny-business that goes on at an organization. The challenges that arise from fitting people's strengths into clear-cut job descriptions, and the energetic buzz of being on a creative team. Yes, I can do all of these things both abstractly and literally if I am working on an eLearning team. But I also miss solving small organizational challenges. Intuition is a strange friend of mine. It shows up when it's least welcomed, and makes my life more complicated than it needs to be. I think my answer is slightly larger than I originally expected it to be. I can see slightly broader vision taking form, and we'll see where it takes me...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

eLearning vs. mLearning: Why I've been hanging in the eLearning Camp

I thought I understood mLearning. Or at least I thought I did--because categorizing mLearning is like me trying to call myself spiritual. I might know what it means, but everyone around me has a different definition. For a long time, I'd been thinking about mLearning as "learning for a mobile device." And I waved mLearning aside as being "too cool." I have spent my time working for organizations that are at the trailing edge of the technology curve, so why would I worry about mLearning? eLearning has meant deployment of training on specific company pcs, not an ipad or a cell phone. Plus, I have had a lot of assumptions about mLearning--for example, designing learning for a cell phone is much different than designing learning for a tablet, so how could they be lumped together?
Yet if I had followed the experts in this, I would have come to the realization sooner that mLearning is not about deployment on a phone--it's about flexible and responsive design.  
I've read two post's lately that have really affected my thinking on the issue: RJ Jacquez' recent post, Here's how Adobe Captivate 6 could have been a Game Changer for mLearning and Claire's Dashe & Thomson article suggesting: Mobile Learning: CHANGE YOUR WAYS OR YOU ARE DOOOOOMED! (Via Connie Malamed, the eLearning Coach). Both articles really got me thinking about the true meaning of mLearning.
Perhaps I'm over simplifying things, but the difference between eLearning and mlearning seems to be in the approach, not the design:
        My over-simplified comparison of elearning & mlearning
With this approach of "acknowledge learning will be deployed on multiple devices" mLearning is not about cell phones or tablets, instead, it's about letting go. Maybe we should have called it dLearning (for device-based) versus fLearning (for flexible)!