Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Race to Develop the Future of E-Learning Communities--Part VI

In the previous post, I proposed an organizational structure for a Global E-Learning Community made up of collaborative business oriented networks. One thing that distinguishes this organizational structure from others is the new vision that it serves. One interesting item that should be noted that reflects this vision is the symbiotic relationship that now exists between education and business. Unlike in the past Industrial age economy in which business defined the vision and therefore the purpose of education, a needed paradigm shift takes place because the new currency of a learning and knowledge age is now information and how to learn to master it. This also means that a necessary re-definition of the roles of educators, trainers and ID must take place in order to meet new societal needs on a global scale. In a later post, I will show how the organizational structure would change when looking at the new goals of higher education.

The Global Learning Community: Network Functions and Relationships

[Again, remember that the term "Global E-Learning Hub" has been changed to "Global E-Learning Portal"]

Global Corporate Trainers, ID & LPE Network: This network is the area where Trainers, Instructional Designers and Learning Principles Experts collaborate to create and test irresistibly engaging learning experiences. The focus is on creating and testing such vehicles of learning as interactive scenarios and branch scenarios, interactive problem focused simulations which require collaborative team efforts and serious gamification scenarios. It should be noted that this network has a reciprocal relationship with the Business and Education Innovation Council. These two networks exchange information. The nature of the relationship would be that the Business and Education Innovation Council would send new innovative ideas proposed and defended by collaborative employee groups as being worthy of being shaped for use to the Global Corporate Trainers, ID & LPE Network. This network would then take the idea and design it into an irresistible learning experience and test it This would then be sent back to the Business & Education Innovation Council for final presentation to corporate decision makers. The final product, if approved, would then be sent to the Global E-Learning Portal and made available to all employees who can access it during a time they have set aside for informal learning. It should be scaleable to any device mobile or standard and be available on a 24/7 basis from any place on the globe. Authenticated login would be portal sensitive which means that an individual from another global portal group would not have access without a reciprocal agreement in place granting such freedom and under which conditions.

Business and Education Innovation Council: Since it is the goal, in accordance with a new
 vision, to foster and encourage systemic innovation in the learning culture of business
 organizations and also to create an atmosphere of employee engagement that promotes
 innovative thinking and life long employee commitment to learning, this council represents a
 forum where collaborative employee groups can present innovative ideas and defend them
 before a cross disciplinary panel of leaders and decision makers.

Innovative ideas that have been well thought out and have potential merit, are passed on to the Global Corporate Trainers, ID & LPE network for development into an irresistibly engaging learning experience,which is also tested out. The final product is sent back to the Business and Education Innovation Council for final presentation to the panel of leaders and decision makers. Any new updates made by this council is then forwarded to the Global E-Learning Portal to keep employee groups entering the portal up to date on new innovative products. It should be noted that the Business and Education Innovation Council has a relationship with the Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Network. The nature of this relationship is to foster a dynamic nature of ongoing innovation to be found in the Business and Education Innovation Council. This means that the Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Network would pass along new areas for innovation exploration. If an employee group would like to be involved in active innovation projects but they don't have one of their own, they could choose to collaboratively explore new potential innovation areas from a list supplied by the Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Network.The Business and Education Innovation Council could then give direction and approval to proceed.


 One last thing that I should mention is that the naming protocol for these networks are not set in stone. If someone comes up with a more efficient and representative naming system, it is welcome.

To avoid the new malady of  "Cognitive Overload", the description of the other networks will be continued in the next post. A new and more exciting role for SME's will be presented.

I would like to leave you with a question that I am struggling with and will be the focus of a later article which is:

"In this brave new world of technology and learning, has technology become the new opiate of the masses?"

With the craze over Pokemon Go, I fear that technology is being used to distract the masses from facing real world problems that need solutions. Augmented technology is an awesome new technology that needs to be harnessed for powerful real world purposes.

"If you were Aldous Huxley in today's world, what would you think?"

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Race to Develop the Future of E-Learning Communities---Part V

If a business organization wishes to take the steps to developing their own online global learning community that will capitalize on the learning paths that their employees are presently following, two questions that should be asked are:

"What would such a community look like for the learning culture of our business organization?"

"How would such a community help us to take advantage of global business opportunities  and new emerging markets that are being driven by technology?"

In pursuing this path, it is important to keep the vision in mind. The global societal needs define the nature of the purpose of education. The purpose of education within this vision is to create effective agents of change who will collaborate on a global scale to create new knowledge and skillsets that will enrich the quality of life of all people. You would have to believe that your business organization has a very real stake in this vision. In order for this to take place, we need a digitally educated work force who will bring about systemic innovation and be able to solve the complex real world problems that are starting to destabilize the anchors of modern civilization. To ignore these problems is to condemn future generations to lives of misery without any hope.

Going Through the Global Learning Portal---Collaborative Business Networks

If our employees use our VPN (Virtual Private Network) to enter the Global Learning Portal, what would they see there? 

Upon being granted authenticated entry, they would have access to a number of virtual business networks whose characteristics would have the following qualities:
  • Among the business networks would be very well defined pathways or links for collaboration and also reporting of big data.

  • The existence of a forum where employees who work collaboratively on innovative solutions to real world problems affecting business organizations, have the opportunity to "pitch" and "defend" their innovative thinking to decision makers.

  • The existence of a mentoring network that is linked to important areas of knowledge important to the advancement of the business organization. This network could be led by SME's who have the new role of mentoring employees in the investigation. It is also within this network that you would have the "technology sandbox" where employees could go to try out different technologies with the purpose of improving their performance in the roles they have within the business organization.

  • All the networks are part of a  Global Learning Community. There are six global learning portals that cover the globe. When appropriate, global learning communities could collaborate with others on important projects that impact more than one region of the globe.
A Proposed Organizational Structure for the Global Learning Community
One of the first steps is that the business organization should have a newly defined position that could be titled the "Learning Principles Expert (LPE)". Since we are trying to re-organize our corporate learning culture to fit a new vision based on the realities of an age that places a high priority on knowledge, learning and innovation, it is important that we have someone on staff who has the experience and knowledge in learning to take leadership in this area. He or she would be the onsite individual who would manage the learning activities of employees in accessing the virtual learning community and would keep progressive learning profiles on all employees.

A Global Learning Community

[ One revision---Change the Global E-Learning Hub to Global E-Learning Portal]

Starting with the actual Global Learning Portal, even though it performs a function similar to a railway station where people can move from there to one of four identified business networks, it is also an information hub, where people can access updates on the activities of the four business networks that are constantly updated much like real time travel information at railway stations. People are enabled to gather pertinent information on the current status of activities of these networks and then can decide on which to enter. 
"The portal also provides secure information exchange between the actual business networks that make up the Global Learning Community. Data security receives the highest priority!"

As you can see from this rough organizational diagram, once a collaborative group of employees or individuals who are tasked with an important and meaningful problem enter their Global Learning Portal, they access updated information pertinent to what they have been tasked with.
Obviously, one of the prime business considerations is how much will it cost in immediate capital outlay to set up an online global learning community to serve business needs for one global regional portal and who will pay for this?
 One of the interesting lessons we can learn from the trading blocks that exist in the world today and is especially being discussed in regards to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is that when such a proposal involves business interests in more than one nation, it really comes down to the collective question:

"What is in it for me and my people?"

The very same discussion fits with the questions above in regards who would pay for the establishment of a Global Learning Community in our designated region. The necessity is to look at such a proposal as a mutually beneficial partnership. Both subscription and sponsorship might be vehicles to consider.

Next--An updated description of the business networks, their functions and responsibilities to the business organization, the other business networks and to other global learning communities

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Race to Develop the Future of E-Learning Communities--Part IV

In the previous post, the suggestion was made that the 70-20-10 framework for learning that many learning cultures in business organizations adhere to, may not be giving enough notice to the growing impact of informal learning. With the growth in the availability of WiFi zones in many sectors of our society from the coffee shop to the place where you have your automobile serviced, more and more opportunities are open outside the walls of the place of employment to personalize learning. The arrival of mobile learning technology combined with learning modules in many subject areas now allow learning to take place anytime and anywhere. The opportunities to make learning adapt to personal daily schedules are increasing weekly. As attractive as this sounds, it also causes us to ask some sobering questions such as:

" Are learners ready to delve into such an environment without the needed tools to adapt?"

" Will this type of learning make learners superficially knowledgeable in many subject areas but be masters of none in any sustained depth?"

 Gibbon's quote emphasizes the dilemma that we face in regards to informal learning. If the "winds" and the "waves" represent disruptive change in education, then only those who are best equipped to navigate into these unknown waters will be able to not only enrich their own learning but more importantly contribute solutions to the powerful real world problems that we presently face that are in fact destabilizing our civilizations. We do not need learners who have been shaped and now defined to be masters of superficial knowledge or trivia. We do need learners who are thoughtfully engaged to understand in depth. Learning needs to be deep, collaborative and sustained or pervasive. In other words we need to create a sense of community in the online world.

It is in the best interests of a business organization to develop a learning community for its employees from the CEO down to the lowest level employee level for the following reasons:

  • Innovation development within the learning culture of  a business can only develop if the employees are provided with an environment that it encourages creative and innovative thinking. We know from the ways and reasons adults seek learning opportunities that it is really only meaningful to them if it helps them advance in the role they have within the organization.
  • Creating such an environment that is available to employees when they are not working helps combat the mindset of superficial sampling of  areas of knowledge without learning anything in depth. When employees are provided with a defined task, they can be directed to the community to help arrive at a solution.
  • Creating such an environment will promote collaboration among employees and in doing so, create unity and support of the company brand
  • Creating such a community will provide a forum for employees to present and defend innovative ideas before decision makers. This is a "win-win" scenario because communication is more open between employees and decision makers and decision makers are able to map out the potential talents within their work force that they were not aware of before. In an age of learning and the growth of technology, the greatest assets that an organization has lies in the intellectual capital found in the work force.
  • Creating such a community also can include a "technology sandbox" where employees can go at any time to try out new technologies or web tools that might help them perform their roles in a smarter fashion.

The Path of Pervasive Learning

If we are to promote the important skillsets in employees that will help the business organization grow in a globally connected workplace, the mindset of thoughtful engagement or deeper pervasive learning in an online environment needs to be a defining characteristic in advising learners how to use their informal learning time.

"Make the company learning community be the one place where employees want to spend their time of informal learning."

 This will require the identification and coordination of the most important elements in informal learning. There is also the question of what part formal learning will play in this scheme. We might see a radical change in the 70-20-10 framework especially if we really want to encourage and nurture innovative thinking within the organization. This framework will have to become more fluid. I believe that Charles Jennings would agree with this given the seismic changes occurring in the growth of knowledge and technology.

Credit: Jessie Chuang
Right now, with regards to the life-cycle of online communities we are not doing as well as we could if we weren't shackled to an outdated purpose and model for education.

For a learning culture of a business organization, there is a need to create an online community that is devoted to the needs of developing the learning profiles of all members of the organization. It needs to be a series of networks that make up a learning community that can be reached by learners within the business organization through a global learning portal. Remember, that in  the previous posts this was divided into 6 global portal zones.

Next post ....I will provide and describe the networks relevant to business that would make up the global learning community

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Race to Develop the Future of E-Learning Communities--Part III

In the race to create global E-Learning communities, there are two main societal institutions that are affected by these changes which makes them majority stakeholders in how these global learning communities are designed. As pointed out in the last post, because of the new age of learning and information we are living in, it is reasonable that both these societal institutions share a symbiotic relationship because a change that impacts one also has ramifications for the other. These two institutions are:

  • Global business organizations
  • Formal education organizations


The Shape of Learning Cultures in Business Organizations

How a business organization handles change determines the future health of the organization. When you listen to the concerns of businesses, the following are some of the most often repeated:

  • We want to be an innovative company but we are afraid that it will be too disruptive to our client base, our product and service lines and to our employees.
  • We want to fully engage our employees so that there is visible growth and improved performance for our company but it seems that the external motivators that we use such promotions, pay raises...etc does not seem to take us where we want to go in terms of being globally competitive within our specific sector.
  • Our budgets are stretched to the max and each department guards its allotment jealously. By the time the smoke clears, there is very little capital left for L & D.
  • Too often when we have to decide between compliance training and innovation initiatives, compliance training wins hand down
"What is wrong with this picture? What is really going on here?"

The mindset that seems to be at the core of these concerns is that of maintaining the model that we have had for decades and "add on" these new ideas that seem to be the trend. This is a mindset that says:" lets keep doing things the way we have always done things and just tweak it with these new ideas!" When questioned about how to meet the new challenge for companies to become more innovative, companies with the present mindset will claim that they are innovating "incrementally".

The mindset that should be adopted by business organizations should be one of empowering transformation to meet the needs of societies that are transforming because of the exponential changes in technology and information. Business has to ask itself the question:

"In light of the greater emphasis on knowledge building and life long learning for all people, including everyone from the CEO down to manual labourers within a business organization, what framework do we need that will fit these goals?"

The 70-20-10 Learning Culture Framework

Charles Jennings is one of the world's most leading thinkers and practitioners in innovative learning and capability development. He is also a leading supporter of the 70-20-10 learning framework for business organizations.

Essentially, the learning framework which has been around since the 1990's suggests that learning within a business organization happens in three interconnected paths:

  • 70 % of the learning that employees are engaged in is experiential (learning by doing)
  • 20% of  the learning that employees are engaged in is informal (learning through social means)
  • 10% of the learning that employees are engaged in is through formal means (learning through formal classroom training)
In the 21st century, an age that emphasizes life long learning, exponential growth of knowledge and societal needs for effective change agents, innovation and global collaboration, this framework leads to some very thought provoking questions such as:

  1. Given the rise of the Internet, does this framework still fit?
  2. Does this framework really take into account the increasing growth of informal learning, the rise of social media and mobile learning?
  3. Should the interconnecting percentages be agile and fluid rather than set as they have been from the beginning? 
  4. Given the fact that this learning framework is not based on well established empirical evidence, does this framework itself need to be transformed to fit the new realities in the use of technology, current research on learning from cognitive science and the growing emphasis on creating global business networks?
[ Sorry for the odd font changes in the article. Sometimes the technology is more temperamental than me!]
Next----Forms of informal learning, Pervasive learning and creating links between Global Learning Portals and Specialized learning and innovation networks

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Race to Develop the Future of E-Learning Communities--Part II

This post is a continuation of Part I which dealt with the need for a renewed vision for E-Learning which was posted to LinkedIn recently. If the drivers to develop global E-Learning communities are no longer the ones that were tied to the Industrial economy mindset, then we are faced with the question:

"What should the new drivers be for such a new vision and does this mean that business no longer has a viable stake in this enterprise?"

To answer these questions, we need to think in terms of a new paradigm that says that the main driver should be the quest for a new level and form of education that is dedicated to the enrichment of the quality of life for all societies regardless of their socioeconomic status. Given the state of the world, we can not afford to be protectionist in our viewpoint and look out for number one. History is filled with the descriptions of assaults on fortresses and more importantly, what drove these assaults. Global needs must be the new drivers for change. Right now, global societies need:
  • Citizens who have been educated with the goal of them becoming effective agents of change within their own region of the world.
  • Citizens who are effective problem solvers when confronted with the complex, real world problems that impact every facet of human life on the planet.
  • Citizens who know how to collaborate with others in the world on a global scale when tasked with a problem.
  • Citizens who are creative, entrepreneurial innovators who can create new knowledge and skillsets to the benefit of all people.
  • Citizens who have the mindset of putting "WE" before "ME" in their dedication to enriching the quality of life for those who they relate to and work with.

If business organizations were to look at the above list would they not concur that the values they see would also be important core values for them to adopt for their own learning cultures within their businesses? The new paradigm changes the relationship of business to education from the previous decades old viewpoint that business defines and dictates what outcomes should be the end results of education to a new viewpoint that is more symbiotic in nature. Businesses need to see that the ROI is far greater in a forged symbiotic relationship with education because this age, an age of knowledge and learning really sees healthy progress in the promotion of systemic life-long learning for all citizens and especially those citizens who will lead and work in the new global businesses of the 21st century. Far from businesses being left out, their role needs transformation to reflect a new relationship that is more in sync with this age.

Building Global E-Learning Communities
Since we are talking about global E-Learning communities, we need to make sure that we lay a solid foundation for implementation. If these communities are completely online, this means that we would have to define what we could use to host these communities. Our choices range between using the Cloud or creating VPN's (Virtual Private Networks). Here is one area where business finds its opportunities because regardless of whether you use the "cloud" or a "VPN", subscription to the service would be required. My choice would be going with a business that can host the creation of VPN's because of what I would suggest is better security. When working in an online environment, security should be a number one priority.

Establishment of Global E--Learning Portals: When we understand that it is the global communities we want to reach then we know that we need to establish global E-Learning portals set to serve 6 defined regions in the world.
What I am about to suggest comes with a number of disclaimers:
  • This is conceptual and its purpose is to get you to become involved in useful conversations as you consider the possibilities. It is not my intent to suggest that these are THE configurations and the only ones to consider. These concepts are the product of my thoughtful engagement with E-Learning.
  • The titling of these portals again are open to revision but I think you will also discern my thinking behind their choice.
  • The composition of the families of countries are again not something that I intend to dictate but I would welcome the thoughts of others as to other pertinent criteria to be considered in the choice of participants in each global E-Learning portal.
Portal #1: The Northern Hemisphere Pacific Portal
Portal #2: The Southern Hemisphere Pacific Portal
Portal #3: The Northern Hemisphere Atlantic Portal
Portal #4: The Southern Hemisphere Atlantic Portal
Portal #5: The Mediterranean & Central EU Portal
Portal #6: The Indian Ocean & Middle East Portal

With respect to the first four portals, the equator is a determining factor. Also, I am not so naive as to not recognize that the selection of which countries belong to what E-Learning portal will require cultural, political, historical,and economical relationships among them to be considered. This requires the great desire to really try to understand the world from each others point of view and be comfortable enough to discuss it to develop strong ties in developing a unified vision for E-Learning.

A typical portal would be akin to a lobby with a number of doors similar in concept to the drawing below.

 To avoid the new malady of "cognitive overload" which I have mixed emotions about, more on the new global E-Learning portals and the importance of a new symbiotic relationship between business and education in the next post....

Monday, July 4, 2016

E-Learning Educator As An Agent of Change

For individuals who are educators, trainers, instructional designers and CLO's, the greatest challenge that they face is to unlearn a good part of their training. The reason for doing this is because all of our training in our individual areas of expertise was based upon the premise that the vision and goals of education would not change at an unmanageable rate because that had been our past experience. However, with the rise of the world wide web and rapid changes in technology, the whole face of education, training and instructional design was disrupted and new skillsets were required in order to function effectively in the new environment of the online world. Whether you are part of a business organization or formal education, standing at the front of a classroom or training room, lecturing and reading bullet points off a slide is no longer conducive for preparing learners for the world that they will live and work in.

 "WHY? You Ask?"

 All learners, adult and younger, need to be engaged as partners in their own learning. We can no longer treat them as a passive audience hanging on our every word. In order for deeper learning to take place, learners need to be engaged in challenging, inspiring, and intriguing conversations where their own intrinsic motivation drives them to seek to learn more.

E-Learning Educators: The Exponential Growth of Knowledge and Professional Knowledge Silos

With the advance of technology, access to the world wide web became much easier and also very useful for the important skillset of "collaborative knowledge work". Knowledge across the disciplines advanced at an exponential rate to such a point that professional knowledge repositories were needed in order for the various disciplines to collect, authenticate and share knowledge with members of a particular discipline anywhere in the world. In the past, this type of knowledge sharing was very time sensitive because the methods of distribution via letter, telephone and even professional journal were hindered by the technology limitations of the times. The Internet changed all of that for business organizations as well as for formal education. The sharing and transmission of discipline knowledge from anywhere in the world became much, much faster.

Although transmission of knowledge is faster, it is not perfect since we still need to overcome the "synchronous vs. asynchronous" dilemma and the problem of antiquated infrastructure in many parts of the world. 
At this point in time, most scientific disciplines have their own online silo of professional knowledge complete with blogs, journals and discussion areas.

The Evolution of Professional Knowledge Silos to Cross Disciplinary Learning Networks

If we are to move away from the industrial economy mindset with its viewpoints on the purpose and vision of education, we need to look at areas that exist online that are still tied to this anachronistic model of education and training. The creation and use of separate subjects within a brick and mortar schools were designed that way to serve the industrial economy which stated that the purpose of education was to create efficient workers within designated disciplines which had distinct borders and to create generations of perpetual consumers. Therefore, creating and maintaining online versions of these professional silos of knowledge maintains a bondage to this type of mindset.


Two realizations that shone a spotlight on the inadequacies of this mindset were based on the changing needs of a rapidly developing digital society:

  1. Many of the real world problems that we face today and some that have defied solution require a cross-disciplinary approach if we are to arrive at viable solutions. This means that in order to solve a complex problem, the skillsets required may involve the professional knowledge of mathematicians, geophysicists, and cultural anthropologists if the problem deals with saving artifacts from ancient excavation sites in the Middle East near active earth fault lines. The options are: (a) talk to each of these specialists separately, or (b) have these specialist collaborate with each other. One of the problems that arises with option (b) is the "protectionist professional mindset" in which the professionals guard their silo of knowledge jealously. In other words, free and open collaboration with people of other disciplines is guarded.
  2. In order for innovation to grow in a healthy manner, the purpose of education should reflect the needs of the times we live in. This means that education needs to prepare learners to become effective agents of change who are tasked with the creation of new knowledge and skillsets.

Some disciplines have already began the necessary transformation to become cross-disciplinary learning networks. The professionals who now support the STEM initiative (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) now collaborate and share knowledge in an attempt to solve complex real world problems. Some have taken a step further and support the STEAM initiative which recognizes the great contributions that the Arts can make to STEM. The need for the skillsets that involve creativity is an essential to helping learners innovate in a digital world.
There is a growing movement in the research communities at universities to collaborate with other disciplines that might help shed light on a tasked problem. The process starts by making a comparison between the traditional versus the cross disciplinary approach.

Credit: Lina Markauskaite

In the quest to represent disciplinary knowledge in a cross disciplinary format it is important to make sure that you are not just creating large knowledge silos. What makes the difference in this instance is inter-network collaboration where relationships exist between the various knowledge networks. This is what lays the foundation for global learning communities dedicated to open collaboration and innovative thinking. Perhaps a simple analogy would be to consider the global learning community to be like a large sandbox in which when one learning network is tasked with solving a complex real world problem, it invites other learning networks to join them in solving the problem. These learning networks are not restrained by geography or time.

The question that needs to be asked is:

"What steps needed to be taken within formal education and business organizations to help bring about the development of cross disciplinary online learning networks?"

To begin to answer this question requires that we start with changes in formal education because it is here that learners receive the training to enter various professions, including the profession of education:

  1. At the university and college level, there needs to be a re-evaluation of the vision and purpose of education within the context of the needs of 21st century societies that more and more live in an online world. This is the world that they use for satisfying the basic needs of life, for seeking information on world events and for building their knowledge and skillsets in areas that are personally of interest to them. They want the flexibility of having more control over their everyday life.
  2. The concept of M.O.O.C.S needs to be re-evaluated as to who is best served by this construct in its present form. If it serves the bottom line of the university or college more than the learners, then we have a serious problem. If the pedagogy used within the M.O.O.C. is merely the same pedagogy that has been used for decades in brick and mortar schools except now it is transferred uncritically to the online environment then it is misrepresentation of the worst order.
  3.  Faculties of education need to replace the industrial mindset of treating learners as a "tabula rasa" or blank slate to be filled with information and need to systematically teach learners how to learn and collaborate in an online environment. They need to foster the idea of collaboration with professional cross disciplinary networks to create new knowledge and skillsets and to be instigators of effective change. 
  4. This cross disciplinary knowledge process must be one that is systemic through the higher education learning community because the learners that seek out higher education need re-assurance that university and college education is in sync with the real world they will work and live in.

 I would edit the above quote to state:

 "if (collaboration within an organization) could be decided by engineering or scientific or mathematical means alone, it would have been. (In other words) 21st century complex real world problems can not be effectively solved using knowledge silos and professional protectionist mindsets."

Next--the exciting developing world of learning networks, learning communities and learning portals.