jump to navigation

My 2010 Challenges, Plans, and Predictions January 30, 2010

Posted by cjescribano in experiments, social networking, training industry.


In response to the Learning Circuits Big Question for January, here are my challenges, plans, and predictions for 2010:

My Biggest Challenges:

Same old challenges as always:

  • Finding enough time to do everything I want to do
  • Scheduling too much stuff so that even the fun feels stressful

But I just went to a Productivity workshop, and if I really am able to save 11 hours a week, I just may get some stuff done this year. Stay tuned.

My Major Plans:

For the past two years, just coincidentally, the projects I’ve worked on have all been in leadership development. Somehow, magically, my path has led me in that direction. So, this year, I’m going with it. I will continue to work on the Defense Senior Leader Development Program. In addition, I’m going to read, research, and compile knowledge on leadership development. Hopefully, this will give me a solid foundation from which to write articles and give presentations.

Also, I want to read more this year. As a starting point, I’m going to try to speed read Newsweek every week and Fast Company every month. And for fun, read the novels that my friends recommend.


Based on what I’ve seen in various blogs and publications, I predict that we will see greater integration of social media into blended learning and e-learning products. Also, this adoption of technology will continue the move away from event-based learning toward more just-in-time learning. Learning professionals need to broaden their skill set to include an understanding of all the new technologies and how they can be used to help people perform more effectively.


You Never Know Until You Try! November 30, 2009

Posted by cjescribano in experiments, social networking, Web 2.0.
add a comment

(Photo: Daniel St.Pierre / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Imagine trying to “communicate the value” of sushi to someone.

You could make a case for it as a health food. After all, it is high protein and low fat. But ultimately, you’re going to have to address the fact that sushi is basically raw fish, cold rice, and seaweed. It’s a tough sell, and yet there are lots of people who LOVE sushi. The only way to know about sushi is to try it.

The same is true for social media.


And so, in response to this month’s Learning Circuits Big Question on how to communicate the value of social learning to people in your organization, there is one simple message:

You never know until you try!

Fortunately, social media software is easily accessible and typically free, so it isn’t hard to try it.

Rather than arguing with doubters and naysayers, tell them that perhaps they are right. Perhaps social media is just a waste of time—despite examples and evidence to the contrary. But they could also be wrong. And they’ll never know until they try. Then, get them to agree to do a 30-day Experiment.

The 30-Day Experiment
The 30-Day Experiment has been my personal learning tool for figuring out social media, how I can use it, and how it might help my clients. Basically, for 30 days, I commit to daily immersion in a specific social media tool or site, and I capture my observations about the experience and what I learned.

Here’s how you could use the 30-Day Experiment with clients, colleagues, and management to help them see the value of social media for themselves:

  1. Determine a critical business need that social media could address.
  2. Use social media to create a solution to meet that need.
  3. Assemble your test group and tell them:
    -How important their input is for determining how social media might help their organization
    -That you need daily participation and honest feedback
    -The value of an open mind
    -How to use the site
    -How to capture their experiences and insights so that they can send them to you (You can give them a feedback form for this, or better yet, use the social media tool to collect their feedback)
  4. Begin the experiment. Send regular reminders and suggestions for things the test group can try on the social media site. Stay as curious and scientific as possible. Demonstrate the value of an open mind.
  5. Collect the feedback, analyze the data, and put together a report of your findings.
  6. Assemble the group and share your findings and discuss people’s experiences during the experiment. Find out:
    -What surprised members of the test group
    -What they liked about the social site
    -What other ideas they have for using social media in the organization
    -What they found difficult or unpleasant and how to avoid those negatives in the future

There’s no guarantee that your 30-Day Experiment will sell the people in your organization on social media. But it will give you valuable information for overcoming objections. And my experience has been that getting people to try something and to think objectively about their experience can save a lot of time and energy that would otherwise be spent arguing, persuading, and “communicating the value.”

P.S. The 30-Day Experiment is also useful for groups who have already bought into social media. It’s a great way to get a group to focus on learning more about a specific tool or method.

Lessons Learned on Social Networking May 9, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in social networking.
add a comment


(One of My Social Networks)

We’re over a week into Social Networking month here at the LifeLongLearning Lab. Lots of activity so far, not as much blogging as hoped for.

Here’s a quick recap of some lessons learned:

1. Social Networking is Hot
Last Friday, my colleague Jenifer Lippincott and I conducted a Webinar on Social Learning. In preparation for this Webinar, I decided to Google the terms “social network,” “social learning,” and “social networking” to see how many hits were returned. Here’s what I found:

  • Social network–71 million hits
  • Social learning–54.6 million hits
  • Social networking–39.4 million hits

By way of contrast, I found that “Angelina Jolie” returns just 37.3 million hits. Her husband, “Brad Pitt,” returns a mere 20.7 million hits. So, I think it’s safe to say that social networks and social learning are BIG. (But not quite as big as Britney Spears, who returns a whopping 96.4 million hits–I don’t even want to consider what this says about our society.)

2. Considerations for Running a Social Network
During the Webinar, we had some good questions about social learning. And these are some considerations I plan to think about as I work on some social networks for clients:

  • If you are asking questions about an area outside of your usual knowledge domain, how can you be sure you’re using the right search terms? For example, you may not be finding a lot of helpful information because you’re not using the right term.
    Cindy Rockwell of CustomerVision mentioned that you could use forms so that people could select from lists to pick keywords.
  • Is there a way to search on experts? How do you find who has the expertise?
    The response to this is to provide a means for people to identify their areas of expertise in their profiles. If it’s in their profiles, then you can search on it.
  • How do you control information creep in wikis? What should you do if you have so many wikis that you’re not sure where to start looking?
    The group agreed that wikis really needed some type of facilitator to keep things organized. If a group uses multiple wikis, perhaps they could provide a main page with descriptions and links to all the wikis–something like a wiki portal.
  • Do the characteristics of the group determine the amount of participation on a social learning site? The participant hypothesized that if you had a more informal, less hierarchical group, you would get more participation. No one on the call knew the answer to that question, but the hypothesis makes sense to me. If any of you know of any research in this area, please comment to let us know.

3. Remember, Your Family Is Your Original Social Network
Last night, I realized that all my research into social networks is hurting my original social network–my family. So, instead of blogging last night, I read in bed with my daughter. It pays to remember that social networks do NOT have to be technology enabled. In fact, most are not–at least right now!

4. Expanding My Definition of Social Networking
Last night, I started to write a blog post about expanding my definition of social networks so that it would include my family and friends. Right now, when I hear that word, I tend to think “Facebook or LinkedIn.” So, I think if I did expand my definition, I would see even more possibilities.

But that line of thinking made me realize that unlike the kids who spend every possible second out on MySpace, most of my social network is not yet out in those technological social networks. That’s why I haven’t been as motivated to spend time here yet. But if someone told me that there was something I’m doing today either without technology or with a different technology that could be done more efficiently on a social network, I’d be ALL over it. So, I think that’s the place to start in helping businesses see the value–find a business process that can be done much more quickly and/or cheaply on a social network.

5. The Structure of Social Networks
I sketched out the structure of ning, and this week, I plan to sketch out Facebook’s structure, so I can compare them. Stay tuned!

May Is Social Networking Month at the LifeLong Learning Lab May 1, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in social networking.


(Note: Image created by Judy Loftin of Vangent, Inc.)

For the month of May, the LifeLongLearning Lab will be focusing on social networks. I actually belong to several: Facebook, LinkedIn, and ning. I rarely use them. Mostly because I don’t feel like I have time. But also because I’m not quite sure what I’ll really do out there.

But this year, I’ve discovered that month-long experiments are a really good way for me to focus in an area and learn a lot, without that fear of having to commit to something forever.

So, for May, I will spend at least 30 minutes a day in a social network. I’m also planning on sketching out the functionality so I have a map of what’s available and how it all relates, and how various social networking tools are alike and different. In addition to the networks I already belong to, I’m going to try out some new ones–like Elliott Masie’s learningtown, which my colleague Judy says is very good.

And to kick off this Social Networking month, my colleague Jenifer Lippincott and I are going to lead a Webinar tomorrow on Social Learning.

Buzzin’ on the Biz March 6, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in blogging, e-learning, Learning, social networking, training industry, Web 2.0.

As a service to the company for which I work, I’ve been doing a biweekly summary of hot topics of conversation on learning-related blogs. It occurred to me, with a little help from Michele over at the Bamboo Project blog, that this information might be valuable to people outside my organization as well. So, here’s the first installment of Buzzin’ on the Biz for the worldwide audience.

Buzzin on the Biz

This week’s hot topic on learning-related blogs:  Good Design, with a number of posts providing tips and showing examples of good online learning design.

Games and Web 2.0 as always were big topics of discussion. Also, since ASTD had just had their TechKnowledge conference, there were a number of posts about that, as well as a post about ELearning conferences in general.

Miscellaneous topics covered everything from Shakespeare to ELearning as a green solution.

Buzz in the Professional Organizations
  • ASTD Learning Circuits: March’s Big Question: What Is the Scope of Our Responsibility as Learning Professionals?
  • E-Learning Guild: Review of serious gaming software developed by IBM.
  • ELearn Magazine: Graduate student experiences of how they learn through blogging.
  • Training and Development Blog: Big brother is watching your Internet use.
  • The MASIE Center: Use of emerging technologies in the political campaigns; and a video about the Starbucks training shutdown.
  • Training Day: Make sure you’re not trying to solve every problem with training.
  • Educause: The value of feedback; and how people can experience the flight deck of the Space Shuttle in Second Life.
  • HCI featured blogs: So many Internet postings—does anyone work anymore?; result-Performance Management; d-Future business blog; reference to a blog with ideas about creativity, marketing, advertising, branding, interactive, social networking, web 2.0, design, democratization of the web etc.


Check out these top-notch posts:

100 Ways your iPod can up your IQ
Need some ideas of how to use iPods for learning? Prepare to be overwhelmed with GREAT ideas!!

Welcome to Creepy Valley – Motion Portrait – 3D Facial Animation
This is absolutely amazing technology that converts a static image to an animation. The face actually follows the movement of the cursor. You can output the animation to PC, TV, Game Console, and Mobile devices.

5 Ways to Make Linear Navigation More Interesting
There’s a great slideshow here that provides 5 great tips for making learners WANT to click that Next button.

Wikiful Thinking
Talks about considerations for making wikis successful as enterprise tools.

Instructional Design Conversations
For the past month or so, there’s been an interesting discussion about whether or not people need a degree to be an instructional designer. This post adds to the discussion, but provides links to other parts of it. Really interesting!

Are Social Sites Good for Educating? 
This is an old post from last fall, but provides some insight into 1) how schools are handling social networking and 2) the online and social networking usage of the 9 – 17 age group. Fascinating stuff. The link to the report in this post is wrong. Use this one instead:

Overwhelmed 2.0 February 14, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in social networking, tools, Web 2.0.

Overwhelmed 1.0
During Overwhelmed 1.0, I was bogged down writing storyboards for converting hundreds of hours of instructor-led training to e-learning. Then, when learners couldn’t stand taking that much e-learning all at once, I was busy combining e-learning with classroom sessions and job aids to create a “blended solution.”

Too Many Possibilities
With Web 2.0, I’m overwhelmed all over again, but in a different way. Now, I’m overwhelmed with all the possibilities for blending–so many tools and technologies to deliver content, training, and information to my target audience. Just when I’m starting to figure out to use a blog or a wiki in my training solutions, I discover that perhaps I should find out about Twittr. Then suddenly, all my friends are inviting me to join their social networks on LinkedIn, Facebook, and ning. Oh, and I can’t forget the whole new world that text-messaging opens up.

Learning Takes Time
I love these tools. Their potential excites me. But to really use a tool well, you need time to play with it and get to know it. My colleague, Rob, is a genius with Adobe Presenter (formerly Breeze). We’ve worked on several projects together, and he never ceases to amaze me with the clever ways he works around the “walls” of the tool. If someone says, “Presenter doesn’t do that,” Rob takes it as a challenge to figure out how. He refuses to take “no” for an answer. And because he works with, and more importantly, plays with Presenter almost everyday, he knows its rules well enough to break them.

But There Is No Time
You can’t know a tool that well if you’re trying to learn 12 different tools at once–at least I can’t. I get overwhelmed. And yet, it’s my  job to know enough about these tools to help my clients use them to meet their needs.

So, what’s an overwhelmed person to do?
Well, my answer to that question is to use my network. I don’t have to know all about every tool because I have colleagues who do. I can specialize in one or two, learn their rules (so I can break them). Then when I need help with LiveWriter, I can turn to Dennis. Or I can ask Cindy about wikis, Laura for Facebook, Joe for Flash, and of course, Rob for Presenter.

That’s the beauty of a social network, right? It’s like a zone defense. If we each cover a couple of tools, we’ll have the whole field covered. And we can still sleep at night.

So, what’s your answer?
How do you keep up with all the new tools?

Webkinz as Learning Tool January 29, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in e-learning, Learning, social networking, Web 2.0.

Webkinz–the Social Networking Tool for the Youngest Set
For the past 6 months or so, I’ve watched over my daughter’s shoulder as she played in the world of Webkinz. If you’ve never heard of it, Webkinz is probably the most brilliant marketing scheme ever. Your child buys a stuffed animal for about $12 to $15 and can then participate in a whole online world geared toward those “pets” and their owners. While not a true social networking site, Webkinz is the first step in that direction. But what I’ve been impressed with, as I watched my child become totally absorbed in this world, is how much she’s learning.

What Can Kids Learn on Webkinz?
On Webkinz, my daughter “earns” KinzCash by playing games and doing jobs. And she can shop for virtual items she’d like to “buy” with her KinzCash. She has to take care of her pets or their health and happiness meters go down. She takes her pets to school where they work on various skills. And at Quizzy’s Question Corner, she can work on her own science, math, reading, and other academic skills. Also, scheduled events help her learn to keep an eye on and manage time. There’s no one telling her any of this, but the types of things she’s learning include:

  • The value of taking care of things
  • The value of a job well done
  • How to manage money
  • How to manage time
  • Not to mention all the little pieces of knowledge she picks up in games and quizzes

She’s learning in a very real way by the results of her own actions. And the good news is  that learning in Webkinz translates to the real world. For example, it isn’t such a large leap from saving KinzCash to buy virtual items to saving allowance money to buy real items.

Webkinz Motivates Reading
About the time that I was checking out Webkinz and composing this post in my head, I stumbled on an edublog post about how Webkinz motivates younger kids to read so they can do more in Webkinz world.

For the most part, the commenters, most of whom seem to be educators, agree that Webkinz is a powerful learning tool. One teacher even had her 10th graders use it to teach safety to younger kids.

What Ideas Can Translate to Adult Learning?
As a parent, I think WebKinz is a good learning tool. As an e-learning developer, I’m impressed as heck. And I’ve been looking at it pretty closely to see what strategies I can use to keep my learners as engaged as my daughter is on WebKinz.