2005-12-23T14:10:28.336-08:00(image) A new Internet Time Blog has opened up at http://www.internettime.com/wordpress/
Global Learning: Mr Cross, currently you are working on a book about informal learning. How do you define informal learning?More
Jay Cross: Well, I had to redefine all learning in order to write the book because the world is changing so fast. The concepts we had when knowledge was fixed in place, like something you could put in a library, don’t work anymore. So I look at all learning as adaptation to the communities that matter to you, to your ecosystems, if you will. Informal learning is simply that, which is not directed by an organisation or somebody in a control position.
2005-12-18T23:04:58.216-08:00I'm planning to shift Internet Time Blog to Word Press. Setting things up was easy.
2005-12-18T11:14:41.550-08:00I cannot count the times I've heard some PowerPoint jockey explain wisely that the Chinese character for Crisis combines the ideograms for Danger and Opportunity.Today's New York Times explodes this myth. The characters of weiji mean "a genuine crisis, a dangerous moment, a time when things start to go awry. A weiji indicates a perilous situation when one should be especially wary. It is not a juncture when one goes looking for advantages and benefits. In a crisis, one wants above all to save one's skin and neck!"Saying something is so doesn't make it so.Which brings me to our president, who justifies illegally spying on citizens because we are at war with terrorists. War? What war? The U.S. has not declared war on terrorists. This is merely incendiary language to get us riled up. The War of Terrorism is like the War on Poverty; it's a metaphor. Duh.W and his cronies conjured up the War on Terrorism because Americans are traditionally loyal to wartime presidents. I suspect the invasion of Iraq follows the same logic. Maybe W. shirked military service, but now he's Commander in Chief, so you're expected to salute (unless you're unpatriotic).Homeland used to mean "the country where somebody was born or where somebody lives and feels that he or she belongs." Now the accent is on home. Imagine these rag-top terrorist bastards invading your house, smashing your stuff, raping the women, killing the children, and blowing the place to smithereens by detonating a truckload of plastic explosive in your driveway.Be Vigilant... and report any suspicious person or package to local authorities or TSA personnel, warns the Transportation Safety Administration. The TSA is using money that could otherwise go to improving education and healthcare to pay more than 50,000 people to frisk passengers and search suitcases. They put thousands of federal air marshals on tens of thousands of flights each month.In the last 30 days, I've been searched like a suspected smuggler, patted down, and asked to remove my shoes, undo my belt, and hand over my luggage for inspection. Many times. As if a terrorist is going to walk into this rather than simply blowing up an unguarded post office or university administration building. Since putting one passenger out of a hundred through this wringer would achieve the same deterrent effect as doing everybody, the TSA either does not understand statistics or is just fanning the flames to remind us we're at war.I don't like to see the government wasting my money. I don't like being lied to. I don't like having my country look stupid on the world stage. I don't like alarmist propaganda putting people on edge. I'm mad as hell but I guess I'll have to wait for the next election to do anything about it.Which brings me to the Bay Area Rapid Transit district (BART). These are the guys who hired an aerospace company to design a subway and ended up with non-standard gauge rails that only accommodate expensive cars manufactured in France.BART's ace security team has mounted posters like this one just in time for the Christmas season.A poster like this is highly unusual but I haven't figued out who to report it to.[...]
2005-12-17T00:24:07.523-08:00Curt Bonk and Charlie Graham's The Handbook of Blended Learning is being released today.If you know my thoughts on the whole blended business, you'll be surprised to find that I wrote the foreword to this tome. I'll share the unedited version:Foreword to The Handbook of Blended LearningBy Jay CrossMonday, 27 December 2004When Curt Bonk asked me to contribute a chapter to this book, I flat out refused. As you might guess from the quantity of top-notch authors who appear here, Curt is persistent. He asked me again, and again I turned him down, this time with an explanation.I told him I considered blended learning a useless concept. To my way of thinking, blending is only new to people who were foolish enough to think that delegating the entire training role to the computer was going to work. I could not imagine unblended learning. My first-grade teacher used a blend of story-telling, song, recitation, reading aloud, flash cards, puppetry, and corporal punishment.Is it not nutty for a learning strategist to ask “Why blend?” The more appropriate question is, “Why not blend?” Imagine an episode of This Old House asking, “Why should we use power tools? Hand tools can get the job done.” For both carpenters and learning professionals, the default behaviour is using the right tools for the job.Since I have made it to my fourth paragraph without a footnote or a passive sentence, you have probably already figured out that my perspective is corporate, not academic. My bottom line is organizational performance, not individual enlightenment. Not that I am dismissive of research. In nearly thirty years in what we used to call the training business, I have read my share of Dewey, Kolb, Bransford, Gagné, Schank, and John Seely Brown, but as a businessman, I also pay allegiance to Peter Drucker, Stan Davis, and Harvard Business Review. And I hobnob with least a dozen of the authors you are about to read.Here are a few issues for you to consider as you ponder this fine collection of observations and advice from learning pioneers around the globe.What’s a blend?First of all, these are not useful blends:· 40% online, 60% classroom· 80% online, 20% face-to-face· 80% workshop, 20% online reinforcementAfter reading a few chapters of this book, you will see these for what they are: oversimplifications.Four or five years ago, it was commonplace to hear, “We’ve tried eLearning. People didn’t like it. It didn’t work very well.” This is akin to saying, “I once read a book. It was difficult to understand. I’m not going to do that again.” The book in your hands describes rich variations and applications of eLearning. After reading it, you’ll find that you can no more generalize about eLearning than you can generalize about books. Consider this description of a blend from Macromedia’s Ellen Wagner.“Evolving blended learning models provide the essential methodological scaffolding needed to effectively combine face-to-face instruction, online instruction, and arrays of content objects and assets of all form factors. For example, in such a blended learning scenario, a student may find him or herself participating in a face-to-face class discussion; he or she may then log in and complete an online mastery exercise or two, then copy some practice exercises to a PDA to take advantage of what David Metcalf calls “stolen moments for learning” – those times between classes or meetings, while on the train, or waiting for an appointment. Think about sending a text message with results of your practice sessions to someone in your virtual study group using your mobile phone - and getting a voicemail with feedback on your results when you arrive at the end of your flight.”People don’t know what they like; they like what they know. For example, many assume that face-to-face instruction is the one best way to teach and that online learning is inherently inferior. They seek ways for online initiatives to support[...]
2005-12-15T21:24:29.146-08:002005, the Year of Physics, is drawing to a close. There's still time for a breezy overview of Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein from this entertaining site called Einstein Light. I wish this had been around when I studied physics.
Last year's conference on empathy in the brain and in art was one of the more meaningful days of 2005 for me.
Understanding how chocolate, champagne or Channel No. 5 can elicit intense reactions and enhance long-term memories promises to guide scientists in their research of how pleasure centers and the memory system in the brain are connected. Likewise, chefs, vintners and perfumers can learn from scientists how our brains respond to their products.
At the day-long conference, speakers will range from Yale University’s Dana M. Small, an expert in how the brain processes flavor, to San Francisco Zen Center’s Ed Epse Brown, a priest, cook and author.
2005-12-13T06:42:00.580-08:00This morning I delivered a half-hour presentation on Natural Learning to the Finnish eLearning RoundTable. It's a balmy 32° F in Helsinki at the moment. Thank goodness for Macromedia Breeze and Skype, for they enabled me to take part from my office in Berkeley.
2005-12-10T17:11:06.590-08:00Storytelling: PowerPoint's New Best FriendCLO Magazine, December 2005Slide after slide of bulleted sentence fragments is an awful thing to sit through. If the speaker giving the presentation reads them to you word for word, it makes a bad spectacle even worse. Regardless of these unpleasantries, PowerPoint has become the language of business. PowerPoint also happens to be learning’s most popular authoring tool. Many software packages enable learning and development leaders to narrate a PowerPoint presentation and upload it to the Web. The problem is that if live lectures are ineffective, prerecorded ones online are going to be even more ineffective. Unfortunately, being a subject-matter expert doesn’t necessarily make someone an expert public speaker. Sadly, many experts think the purpose of a PowerPoint presentation is to expose the audience to content and pure information—as if emotion plays no part in getting a message across. However, it makes no more sense to blame PowerPoint for boring presentations than to blame fountain pens for forgery. Steve Denning, the author of several books on storytelling, recalls not being able to get fully engaged into someone’s PowerPoint presentation. He recognized that PowerPoint can be too concrete, and therefore, he abandoned PowerPoint in his own presentations in favor of telling stories. No one missed it. When you hear a powerful story, you internalize it. Your imagination makes it your story, and that’s something that will stick with you. It makes no more sense to blame PowerPoint for boring prsentations than to blame fountain pens for forgery.Cliff Atkinson’s book “Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft PowerPoint to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate and Inspire” shows how to use Hollywood’s script-writing techniques to focus your ideas, how to use storyboards to establish clarity and how to properly produce the script so that it best engages the audience. Atkinson recently told me the story of a presentation that made a $250 million difference. Attorney Mark Lanier pled the case against Merck in the first Vioxx-related death trial, brought by the widow of a man who died of a heart attack that she believed was caused by the painkiller. Before preparing his presentation, he read “Beyond Bullet Points,” and invited Atkinson to Houston to lend a hand in putting his presentation together. “We used the three-step approach from the book,” Atkinson said. “Then (Lanier’s) flawless delivery took the experience beyond what I imagined possible. He masterfully framed his argument with an even flow of projected images and blended it with personal stories, physical props, a flip chart, a tablet PC, a document projector and a deeply personal connection with his audience.” Fortune magazine’s coverage of the trial describing Lanier’s presentation said, “The attorney for the plaintiff presented simple and emotional stories that strongly contrasted with Merck’s appeals to colorless reason.” Fortune reported that Lanier “gave a frighteningly powerful and skillful opening statement. Speaking…without notes and in gloriously plain English, and accompanying nearly every point with imaginative, easily understood (if often hokey) slides and overhead projections, Lanier, a part-time Baptist preacher, took on Merck and its former CEO Ray Gilmartin with merciless, spellbinding savagery.” Lanier’s technique was persuasive and aimed to get the jurors to believe in his “simple, alluring and emotionally cathartic stories, versus Merck’s appeals to colorless, heavy-going, soporific reason. Lanier is inviting the jurors to join him on a bracing mission to catch a wrongdoer and bring him to justice.” The Texas jury awarded the widow $253.4 million. You may be thinking, “I don’t have time to[...]
2005-12-10T10:32:40.170-08:00How the Brain Works is a beautifully simple interactive depiction of brain functions.
2005-12-08T14:16:29.676-08:00Ten days ago in Berlin, I came down with the flu or a bad sinus infection or more likely both. Come evening, I began to shiver. I was running a fever. I spent the night in a semi-conscious stupor. The hotel radiator was not as hot as it might have been. I put on a sweatshirt and returned to bed. Dazed.
2005-12-08T13:06:43.703-08:00Normally, I would not expect to get many chuckles from a 186-page report entitled Learning styles and pedagogy post-16 learning A systematic and critical review, 2004, by Frank Coffield, Institute of Education, University of London; David Moseley, University of Newcastle; Elaine Hall, University of Newcastle; Kathryn Ecclestone, University of Exeter. This is an exception.This marvelously tongue-in-cheek report looks at 800 studies of learning styles and concludes that there are better uses for educational funding. “Learning style awareness is only a ‘cog in the wheel of the learning process’ and ‘it is not very likely that the self-concept of a student, once he or she has reached a certain age, will drastically develop by learning about his or her personal style’.”The authors at the Learning and Skills Research Centre doubtless had a rollicking good time coming up with conclusions like “Research into learning styles can, in the main, be characterised as small-scale, non-cumulative, uncritical and inward-looking. It has been carried out largely by cognitive and educational psychologists, and by researchers in business schools and has not benefited from much interdisciplinary research.”And how about this? "The sheer number of dichotomies in the literature conveys something of the current conceptual confusion. We have, in this review, for instance, referred to: convergers versus divergers verbalisers versus imagers holists versus serialists deep versus surface learning activists versus reflectors pragmatists versus theorists adaptors versus innovators assimilators versus explorers field dependent versus field independent globalists versus analysts assimilators versus accommodators imaginative versus analytic learners non-committers versus plungers common-sense versus dynamic learners concrete versus abstract learners random versus sequential learners initiators versus reasoners intuitionists versus analysts extroverts versus introverts sensing versus intuition thinking versus feeling judging versus perceiving left brainers versus right brainers meaning-directed versus undirected theorists versus humanitarians activists versus theorists pragmatists versus reflectors organisers versus innovators lefts/analytics/inductives/successive processors versus rights/globals/deductives/ simultaneous processors executive, hierarchic, conservative versus legislative, anarchic, liberal. "The sheer number of dichotomies betokens a serious failure of accumulated theoretical coherence and an absence of well-grounded findings, tested through replication. Or to put the point differently: there is some overlap among the concepts used, but no direct or easy comparability between approaches; there is no agreed ‘core’ technical vocabulary. The outcome – the constant generation of new approaches, each with its own language – is both bewildering and off-putting to practitioners and to other academics who do not specialise in this field."The question at the end of the 186-page report asks whether government doesn’t have better things to do with its money, “Finally, we want to ask: why should politicians, policy-makers, senior managers and practitioners in post-16 learning concern themselves with learning styles, when the really big issues concern the large percentages of students within the sector who either drop out or end up without any qualifications?”[...]
2005-12-07T10:17:20.756-08:00Soft morning light from the bedrooom window nudged me awake this morning. I lay still, enjoying a fuzzy state between sleep and consciousness. The window framed an abstract painting, a high-contrast pastiche of thick black lines and fractal branches against a glowing gray background.
2005-12-06T19:35:33.176-08:00Last week at Online Educa in Berlin, Brenda Sugrue, Tony O'Driscoll, and I led a session on Establishing the Value of Learning in the Workplace.
2005-12-10T18:20:54.453-08:00I arrived in Berlin yesterday morning, checked in at the misnamed but reasonably-priced Hotel Berlin Plaza, plugged in my laptop, and tapped away most of the day as I watched the snow drift by. The Plaza does not have internet connections; in fact, they charge 2,5 Euros an hour to use Microsoft Office on the one public PC in the "Business Center."
2005-11-27T06:02:05.513-08:00My noggin is filling up with learning fluff from the net, the street, books, conversations, and subscriptions. think I know how Johnny Mnemonic must have felt. He's the William Gibson character with a hard drive implant in his head. If he doesn't download after a while, well, let's not go there. It's not a pretty picture.We live in surreal times. I have no doubt but that we just passed the knee of the exponential curve of everything, the ride up the hockey-stick handle is getting faster, and soon the nose-cone of our vehicle will begin to glow from the heat. I told a professor today that our culture train is whizzing along at about 600 KPH, way past the speed where the wheels were predicted to fall off. Sorry for the mixed metaphor. It's late. And the acceleration just slammed me back in my seat. Abu Dhabi can be truly beautiful. We stopped by the city fish market to buy shrimp for dinner. Unlike New Orleans, here it's okay to eat Gulf shrimp. These two guys cleaned out my pockets very smoothly, and I have lots of trinkets to prove it. In fact, I'm way out of luggage allowance and will probably send FedEx some business tomorrow. Tomorrow night I am off to Berlin. The mercury there has fallen to 32F. For a wealthy country, Abu Dhabi has its bargains. I took a $1.25 taxi ride across the isthmus in front of my hotel, visited the Heritage Village ($1.25 admission), and later bought a nice-sized package of safran for, you guessed it, $1.25. The UAE is also an amazing national rag-to-riches story. The photo of Abu Dhabi at left was taken about the time I was a college student. Almost all the buildings were huts made of thatched palm fronds. The sheikh's fort, in the lower right foreground, had a couple of stucco houses inside the walls. Now Abu Dhabi looks like lower Manhattan (if it had all been put up in the last 25 years. And maintained.) These are an antique pearl scale and size-checker. Until the 1930s, the locals dove for pearls. Then the global depression and the Japanese invention of cultured pearls wiped that business out. The Heritage Village is a mini-Williamsburg or Mystic Seaport. This fellow lowers a goatskin bag on a pully down into the well. He throws a line over the ox's hump. The ox swurls around 180 degrees and lumbers along for 15 or 2o feet. Water gushes out into irrigation ditches that water several small plots. I had just finished Verna Allee's The Future of Knowledge before I saw this. She explains how little has changed in human commerce over the years. We could not have picked a better place for a World Cafe. The Emirati have lots of practice. I have learned the intensity of meetings in a "third place," neither work nor home, but rather a place to gather for honest conversation. It was beginning to heat up. When it's too hot for camels to stand, it's way over my limit. When the old, historic souk (market) burned down a while back, it was not rebuilt. I imagine a gleaming bank tower stands there now. I wandered around this six or seven stall replica. Then I walked along the road (nice Gulf breeze making it comfortable), past a few pricey-looking boats, and into the Marina Mall, the home of IKEA, Carrefour, and a nine-screen multiplex cinema. It's like walking a thousand years in 15 minutes.This morning a woman dressed head-to-toe in black, full head scarf -- looking through the one-way gauze -- walked by me at the mall; she was jabbering into a cell phone. A more daring young woman was in black, but her skirt had a slit almost up to her waste so when she walked, you saw a flash of her scarlet pants underne[...]
2005-11-25T02:51:56.103-08:00A printed manuscript of my book on Informal Learning just arrived. Four hundred pages of characters and runes. It's intimidating. Maybe that's why none of the people I sent it to for comment are responding. A Dutch writer who saw the manuscript wrote back less than a day later. "That's a BIG book you have put out there. This informal learning thing is interesting. And just like last year, I find your writing inspiring, not very practical, but inspiring and that is often more important, at least, it is more important to me than practicalities of daily problems."I'm trying to finish up a section on ecological systems approaches, comparing living organizations to other biosystems. Did you know that were it not for the lowly dung beetle, Africans would be waste-deep in dung in a month? Or that if the bees and butterflies diappeared, so would your food. Take away the worms, the soil will turn acidic, and plants would not grow. Watch out for corporate DDT!The FlickR Blockade here is now in its fifth day, so this is the only place you're going to see these photos!To cut down on accidents, the Interior Minister of Kuwait has announced that ex-patriates in Kuwait will not be allowed to drive unless they have a college degree and an income of more than $1,200 a month.Paul took this picture of his wife Cathy and our group at Finz Restaurant last night. Next door, an ersatz Cuban band was blasting Buena Vista music to the delight of a thousand writhing Latinos and friends.The open kitchen at Finz. I took this from my seat.Toni Luskin's nails. A computer graphic of her Gucci scarf was sprayed on her digits.Not cheesecake. Or beefcake. I wanted to show you a feature all bathrooms should mimic. The mirrored wall is all steamed up, save this portion over the sink. I assume a rear-projection heater lies behind the mirror.If it published in the Middle East, the Friday New York Times would be the fat one. It's our one-day weekend.[...]
2005-11-24T05:51:44.263-08:00Pictures from the FlickR free zone. This feels so strange. I resized these in MS Paint and uploaded them via Blogger.
2005-11-24T05:36:41.726-08:00The old Joe Walsh song is thumping in my forebrain.I have a mansionForget the priceAin't never been thereThey tell me it's niceI live in hotelsTear out the wallsI have accountantsPay for it allThey say I'm crazy but I have a good timeI'm just looking for clues at the scene of the crimeLife's been good to me so farI’ve been a little under the weather, so I’m eating light. Last night’s supper was a small shellfish salad. This morning I ordered the Japanese breakfast from room service. I've drunk three litres of San Pellegrino in the last 24 hours. And no alcohol.Around one o’clock this afternoon, I figured I needed some sunlight, so I walked across the street to the Vasco’s, the Hilton’s beachside restaurant, thinking maybe I’d order a light salad.The maitre d’ suggested I sit inside, as a large banquet had taken over the entire patio. I grabbed a seat in a little nook by a window. Soon a familiar fellow in a dishdasha was by my side. “Did I want to join the banquet?” I didn’t think so. He said he remembered me from the conference. I asked if he'd attended the conference. Only when Sheikh Nahayan was there. The banquet was another lunch hosted by His Excellency. Now I could see him sitting at the head of the table. They were just finishing up, but His Excellency wanted to treat me to lunch.The Sheikh and I talked briefly as he departed. Tayeb was surprised to see me but greeted me warmly. Mustafa, the Syrian fellow I'd had lunch with at the Sheikh's came along. They were off, and food began to arrive. My Maserati Does one eighty-five I lost my license Now I don't drive I have a limo Ride in the back I lock the doors In case I'm attacked I'm making records My fans they can't wait They write me letters Tell me I'm great So I got me an office Gold records on the wall ust leave a message Maybe I'll call Lucky I'm sane after all I've been through (Everybody sing) I'm cool (He's cool) I can't complain but sometimes I still do Life's been good to me so far A salad of radicchio, butter lettuce, arugula, prawns, and lobster chunks appeared, soon accompanied by a spicy lentil broth drizzled with crème fraishe. The main course consisted of a lamb chop, spicy chunks of hamoor (a Gulf fish), some savory camel, a great langoustine tail, and I forget what else. Desert was tiramisu with chopped nuts, its chocolate container surrounded by swirls of pistachio cream and apricot coulis. Good, strong coffee.Now I’m going to take a nap. I go to parties Sometimes until four It's hard to leave When you can't find the door It's tough to handle This fortune and fame Everybody's so different I haven't changed They say I'm lazy but it takes all my time (Everybody sing) Oh yeah (Oh yeah) I keep on going guess I'll never know why Life's been good to me so far.Yeah, yeah, year.[...]
2005-11-23T21:54:25.100-08:00Work is moving right along here in my writer's cottage hidden away in the Abu Dhabi Hilton. My book now tops four hundred pages and that's before adding the graphics.