Thursday, September 28, 2006

Voting with your feet


Dion Hinchcliff, in his post Can Web 2.0 be Adapted to the Enterprise reminds us that end-users "vote with their feet" and prefer tools that are simple and familiar.

"Key to this discussion is that unlike the Web, users tend to have very few software options in the enterprise and are usually prescribed the tools to use to get their work done. And when faced with a dizzying array of features and capabilities in their shiny new, sophisticated enterprise IT systems, they tend to default to the tools that are easiest for them, over which they have the most control, and are most familiar with." He calls e-mail and Microsoft Office examples of "Comfort Apps".

The trick, Hinchcliff explains, is to seed the organization with the tools and make them the easiest, default way to get things done.

With some of the issues our organization faces as we move from a loose confederacy of independent fiefdoms to a integrated corporation (an increased number of interdepartmental projects, shared drive access issues, loose e-mails of unversioned documents, etc), I may have a greater opening for incorporating web 2.0 technologies into the enterprise than I thought. My co-workers just don't see it yet.....

Arguments for Open Source in a Corporate Environment

On moodle.org, there is an informative thread debating the pros and cons of implementing Moodle over a commercial solution (Blackboard the example most discussed since most of the forum members are in higher ed).

Many of these arguments are the same ones heard about any open source solution vs. corporate. It also highlights some of the misconceptions about Moodle and open source software in general.

I'll be studying this as I prep for the big meeting with the senior managers.

Note: You may be asked to log in. Click Log In as Guest and you should receive access to the Using Moodle forum.
- At the Course page, choose Comparisons and Advocacy.
- Find the Implementing Moodle - Countering the Opposition thread.

OR copy and paste this link once you have logged in:

http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=53541

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Searching for Answers

Rod Boothby, at Innovation Creators, has found some tools that help people find information. The step beyond Google.

The first is Yedda - essentially a knowledge exchange site. Looks easy to use. Has many of the features Web 2.0 folks expect from a social networking site. The big issue, Rob points out, is the behavior change required to incorporate Yedda into the workflow. You have to go to their site. I can also see how a person (like me) kills lots of time digging around for stuff unrelated to the original purpose. I'll be curious to see how this thing evolves and whether it begins to suffer from the credibility issues Wikipedia suffers.

The second - interesting as a model since it is still in Alpha - is Boorah. Currently, the technology is being used to organize restaraunt reviews in San Francisco. Rod sees potential for other applications. Admittedly, he has a vested interest. I'm signing up to see exactly how this thing works since I won't be in San Francisco anytime soon... I'm hoping to see that the search and results are more sophisticated than the "list of pages" model seen on most sites. Maybe the actual articles? I'll let you know what I find.

Monday, September 25, 2006

What keeps me up at night....

In a timely (to me) post, Kathy Sierra discusses why people don't upgrade (if they don't have to). She approaches it from a developer perspective. As a trainer - my goal is to minimize the time the end user spends in the "I suck" zone with whatever the developer/vendor hands me.

In the process she describes - I have control over the following:
- Making sure the users KNOW it is worth it (the pain). A more difficult task if I don't believe in the product. And I am a HORRIBLE liar....

- Going over the top with documentation. In my case, enough paper to make the end user feel cozy. People like having something to take with them - even if it promptly goes into the circular files. Movies for the meat and potatoes (because my end-users really LIKE movies). Interactive movies - even better. Keeps their fingers occupied.

- Telling people what cool things they can do with the new version. What my end-user thinks is cool may not necessarily match what the developer thinks is cool. Or what the documentation thinks is cool.

- Set the tone for future upgrades. Yeah - I should be perky and positive. I'm not. And a healthy dose of realism/pessimism seems to make the process go much smoother. My end users wind up with a "Gee, that wasn't as bad as I thought" moment rather than a "This sucks, it should have been easier" moment. The lesser of two evils.

- Start the buzz early. I've been breaking in my end-users on both the new online learning system and this major new upgrade every chance I get for the past 2 years with subtle hints and seed planting. Is that early enough?

The other stuff - I am at the mercy of the software vendors. I can only work with what is in front of me. This includes all bugs, glitches, and weird user interfaces.

A plea to the developers from an end-user trainer: PLEASE give me something that helps my users kick ass. It will make my job SO much easier. Thank you for listening.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

So why is the LMS such a big deal?

As of October 1, our entire organization is going to be using an Electronic Health Record called TouchWorks. We no longer have paper charts.

The next upgrade of TouchWorks (v.11) contains a MAJOR user interface change. Essentially, it is a brand new program.

If we do not get the 250 attendings, 300 residents, 100 med students and 2,000 support staff trained correctly- the practice will be PARALYZED!!!!

Legitimately, we only have a 2 week window to train everyone. Anything more than that and, guaranteed, they will forget.

Of course, no one if going to play with the test system if they don't have to....

Since last year - we are now supporting computers and staff not only at our outpatient clinic, but also at the hospital and 5 remote locations around the DC Metro area. This makes it even MORE difficult to get people into the classroom.

There is one classroom with twelve computers and 5 people who can train on this program. 3 of whom (Marcela, Diana, and myself) also need to do the configuration, testing, and user-setup of the program. The other 2 have to continue to perform their primary jobs during this process. Unless we do training 24/7 in 1 hour shifts and ensure that the right people are in each classroom, it just ain't gonna happen.

You can see where I'm going with this.

You can also see why I am rushing to get this LMS in place. This is going to be the ONLY way we are going to be able to do a successful upgrade.

People who can't get into the classroom or prefer to learn on their own time will have that option. People who want face-to-face handholding will get that. It's all about CHOICE.

I'll know more about the strategy once I get the new version in our systems. Here is my current thinking:

- As soon as we get the upgrade into the test systems - 1 week of figuring out how the upgrade works and some initial configuration.

- Build an introductory movie to post on the LMS/Intranet. "The marketing piece." I have 1 week to build this and get it posted.

- In parallel - build upgrade documentation. Post as draft and make changes as the configuration is finalized.

- Once we have something resembling a final configuration, start holding Town Meetings at one of the university lecture halls- led by the Applications Team (probably me, since I am the only person in the group who has lecture hall experience). The CEO has been very supportive with these projects, so he will probably be there. The face to face question/answer stuff.

- Build upgrade tutorials with testing once each piece of the final configuration is finished.

- Train-the-trainer sessions (we have departmental champions of various strengths in our organization). This needs to start at least 3-4 weeks from go-live. We are going to encourage them to hold training themselves during the departmental meetings (I'm personally hoping for some sort of enforcement). We also need these people because IT will not be able to address the "how do I" questions immediately after the upgrade. We will be spending our time troubleshooting computers.

- Classroom training availability - in parallel with the LMS -during the 2 weeks before go-live. For those who would rather do this in a classroom setting with the IT staff. More general "how-tos". I'm hoping that this will only be a supplement to the departmental trainings. But that's being REALLY optimistic.

If we build the LMS tracking right, we can see who did what and how successful each approach was.

I'm currently hearing mutterings of "60 days" and "90 days" for the entire process. With the scope of the changes I've seen thus far on both the front and the back end, I think that is incredibly unrealistic. But that is not my call...

Next step - convincing senior staff

So now that we have the boss' go-ahead, it is time to do the permanent install. The to do list:

- Wipe out the old intranet test server (we got the go-ahead! Yay!) and re-install Moodle (Ta and I)

- Get our network user data to feed into our Moodle user database. Working towards a single login for all non-clinical systems.

- Redo the site theme so that it looks more professional. I wish we had a graphic designer.

- Show the IT Applications staff how to use Moodle. Build a project course for our next major system upgrade (coming this fall!) and have them play with it for feedback.

- Create 3 job-based courses to demonstrate to the senior staff in one month with tracking and some testing. Once we get the approval and feedback on what properly should go in each course, we will restructure. This is for demonstration purposes.

+ Residents (because of all of the groups - this one is the hardest to get into the classroom).

+ Front-desk staff

+ Nurses

The presentation to the senior staff will be in one month.

Convincing the boss - A Successful first benchmark

The planned 1 hour "presentation" wound up being 30 hurried and distractable minutes. But, the boss was pleased.

I think his mind was already made up, since he has been watching me bound around the office the past week - about as excited as he's ever seen me. He's watched me work long enough to know that I am pessimistic about most software (since I'm the one who has to do the change management on the end-user).

He had been running late to the meeting because he was talking to HIS boss (the CEO). I suspect that he was discussing this LMS project because the first thing out of his mouth was - "Do you need a consultant? What would you want him to help you with?"

The corporate world is odd because people don't place value on a project unless a lot of money was spent on it. Ta, Gesine, Michelle (our primary end-user tester), and I could pretty much do what we want to get done on our own with enough time and fewer distrations. The documentation is good enough, and the community robust enough, that a consultant really isn't "necessary."

Furthermore, I personally don't like bringing in "consultants" unless there is a specific, concrete thing we want to get DONE and that consultant will help us build the appropriate skill-set so that we don't have to call him/her back in.

So here is what I need that consultant to do:

- Help us configure the Moodle databases (LDAP authentication) and show us how to link any external databases,and databases created by the Moodle Database module into the main database.

- Show us how to configure reports out of that database.

- Help us with optimizing our Captivate tutorials and SCORM publication of these tutorials so we can get good data to feed into Moodle.

I'll be digging around the Moodle forum on Monday to start looking for this person/company....

Friday, September 22, 2006

Thoughts on Sharing Knowledge

Not mine, I'm still trying to come up with a plan...

But Richard Brunton is writing a 7 part series on Knowledge Retention with some thoughts.....

I know I'll be doing a lot of research on Change Management in the interim as I try to come up with a plan.....

Fear of Blogging

Within the blogs, I am starting to see discussion on why people don't use collaboration tools (or LMSs for that matter). The big question is WHY?

Dave Pollard did a little experiment in August 2006 trying to get people to help him edit a Writley document. Sadly, he gave the process a failing grade.

Shawn at Anecdote and George Siemens at elearnspace both add their 2 cents regarding the reasons for the failure of collaborative tools. So the question in my mind is....with what we have to work with, how can we encourage adoption of these tools? Especially since the buzz in knowledge management and training circles is COLLABORATION.

All three bloggers hint at something that came to the fore for me when I started blogging - fear.

How many of us have risked answering a question at school (elementary --> grad school)? How did you feel when you found out you were wrong?

In the corporate world, how many of us have had ideas stolen by others? How did that make you feel?

How many of us have had a great idea only to be told how stupid it (and, by extension, you) are?

Is it any wonder that we all hesitate to collaborate? Particularly in a corporate environment?

We are essentially asking our end-users to put themselves out there with no net, no reason, and no reward. In most organizations it is in the best interest of the individual to keep their ideas and knowledge to themselves. That individual's information is what makes them valuable. Why in the WORLD would they want to share if sharing means idea theft and potential downsizing?

I had to fight through ALL of these emotions when I started blogging.
- Will I be accepted or rejected?
- How much criticism will I get?
- Will others discover that I am a phony and realize that I have absolutely no clue of what I am talking about?

I am sure that I personalize things more than others. Still - if I am feeling this, certainly others go through the same thoughts when they put themselves out there for others to view.

And maybe THIS is one of the key factors that prevents collaborative tools from being adopted by an organization. How do you get people to work through the fear?

The picture above is from Frank Wright. It is part of George Washington University's collection.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

More breadcrumbs...


This link from Brent Schlenker's blog within Harold Jarche's comment. After digging through the site Harold gave Brent, found this article.

6 degrees of separation.....

Versioning Learning

I was absolutely THRILLED to see some of my favorite bloggers comment on my posts. You have NO IDEA how validating that is....

Tony Karrer, in his blog comments on my site eLearning Technology: In the Middle of the Curve: So what do we do now? mentioned that I am probably building something that is Learning 1.3 than Learning 2.0.

I think he is dead-on with that assessment. His comments got me thinking (beyond the comment I placed in his post). Though I am afraid my thoughts are still chaotic on the issue.

I’m just going to throw these disjointed thoughts out there …. hoping that you all can help me make sense of them and give me some ideas for applying this information in a concrete way.

- What does a Learning 2.0 system actually look like? Versus, say, a knowledge management system or a collection of collaborative tools.

- If the audience is expecting a Learning 1.0 solution, will Learning 2.0 be effective? Or will the students not be able to accept new roles? Shoot, I’m happy the people where I work are finally using the computer to look things up. It’s taken me 2 years after the development of our Intranet to get people used to looking THERE for answers and information – and I currently have only (optimistically) 10% usage. For adult education – how much does prior expectation color the effectiveness of a learning experience? Especially when you are trying something new that really SHOULD work better.

- There is some research coming out regarding the acceptance and effectiveness of online training based on prior-knowledge and computer experience.

A paper in the July 2006 issue of Educational Technology and Society got me thinking about this issue: Students’ Preferences on Web-Based Instruction .

Cagiltay, Yilirim, and Aksu studied an adult Beginning Turkish class. None of the students came in with prior knowledge of Turkish.

There seems to be an interesting shift in the progression from child learner to adult learner. Previous research has shown that children are more successful with non-linear, learner-controlled educational programs as they age. Furthermore, the less prior knowledge a child had of the material, the less successful the child was with non-linear learning systems.

As adults, the researchers discovered a shift. The average age of the students preferring linear instruction was significantly higher (41) than the students who preferred non-linear instruction (28). The preference was also driven by prior knowledge and comfort levels with the COMPUTER, not the subject.

Hmmm......

- Are we mis-stating the issue entirely in the drive to “version” learning? I personally think of educational technologies and techniques like a construction worker thinks about new tools. Construction workers (at least the ones I know) love nail guns (new technology). Nail guns make nailing things up faster and more fun. But every construction worker I know still has a hammer in their toolkit – where a nail gun just won’t do.


Dr. Karrer was kind enough to correct my spelling of his name. Embarassing since I can READ his name on his COMMENTS. duh....... Dr. Karrer - thanks for your comments and your patience

Convincing the boss - The Demo courses


For this project, I built 4 different demo "courses". Only 2 of them are courses in the traditional sense. The other 2 are project work areas. I got that idea from Michael Armacost (who I'm going to contact to see if I can post a few slides from his Moodle presentation addressing this structure).

Patient Communication Policy Group - an open project area. Demonstrates the news forum, assignment (for private document submissions), and wiki modules. Assumes 1 leader.

Testing Secret Project - a project area no one can view unless they are a member of the group. Demonstrates the Database module. To have these closed groups - all members need to be facilitators. That could be interesting....

TouchWorks Charge - an online course. Testing the link between Captivate's SCORM publication and Moodle

New User Day 1 - a blended course (online tools for the face-to-face course). Testing how Moodle handles other formats.

Of course - none of these structures are final and I will fine tune as I receive feedback and learn more about my new toy.

Another change I made was changing the name of the teacher and student permissions to facilitator and participant. They sound kinda businessy, but I wanted terms that focused on the collaborative nature of the system. I'm sure someone will come up with more elegant names later.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Convincing the Boss - The introduction

I am a very lucky woman. I have a boss who likes technology, encourages me to experiment, and serves as a teacher and supporter (rather than a dictator).

He was willing to spend significant $$$$ for a high-end learning management system. Talking around eLearnDevCon 2006, however, the only system I heard ANY excitement about was Moodle. Whenever I asked about other LMS or LCMS, I heard implementation horror stories.

I already deal with one unwieldy enterprise system. Last thing I (or the rest of the IT department) wanted to do was deal with another.

Moodle impressed me four ways:
1) It was modular. I could implement pieces as I wished and it seemed really flexible. Very important since the requirements for what the LMS should do are maleable (to put it kindly). I want the LMS to track our pre-existing eLearning tutorials and provide reports. The rest of the organization seems to want a complete HR system with credentialling database, presentation tools, and anything else they can dream up at a moment's notice.

2) It was free. So if I am COMPLETELY wrong about this technology - the only money wasted is the money they pay me and Ta for the few hours we've spent on this.

3)It had great documentation. It also has a very active user community. I don't have to wait for the vendor to come up with an answer (or ask us to solve our own problem).

4) End-users were EXCITED.

It has been a long time since I heard a group of people excited about a technology. Particularly a learning technology. I sealed my decision with a series of presentations and side conversations with Michael Armacost . The link will lead you to his small Moodle installation.

Now that I've had a chance to play with it, the next step is showing the boss. The next few posts will show you the demo courses I've built for the different types of things we'd like to do with this system.

Super Datacenters and Education



Dan Farber interviewed Mark Anderson on the super datacenters being built by Google, Amazon, Microsoft, et al. Anderson sees these data centers as having the capability to do more than just help us find information, ”Large scale server farms have the potential to solve much more supercomputer-like problems, on a custom basis, throughout our lives”

One potential use: “Learning how we best learn.”

So if these server farms are able to collect THAT information, then maybe there will be a way for those of us who educate to collect that information. Much like what corporations do now when they purchase customer information. Instead of using all of the collected information to encourage people to buy things they don’t need, maybe we can use that information to create more useful education.

I also sense that if Anderson’s vision comes to pass – we may find that EVERYTHING we learned in Education school was wrong.

BTW: The picture is from the Human -Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland - Kids Design the Future project. Letting the audience help you design the product - what a concept!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Transformational Experiences

Charles Halton gives 18 characteristics for creating transformational experiences.
Never the Same: How to Create Transformational Experiences

The 1st characteristic resonated: Inspire Passion or Go Home. There are 2 facets of this characteristic:

1) Be passionate about the stuff you are teaching
2) Love the people you are teaching the stuff to.

So what happens when the love dies?

How do you get it back?
Is it even worth getting back?
Is it time to teach something else?
Teach another audience?

I grapple with this from time to time - especially after difficult implementations or long stretches of training difficult people.

What do you do when burnout looms?

Moodle from localhost to DNS


Ta - one of our fabulous Network people - has been helping me with the
more complicated aspects of setting up a Moodle server within a
corporate environment. One of the issues we initally ran into was
accessing Moodle from computers other than the server.


Our install steps - in Ta's words:

Downloaded executable from Moodle.org, then expanded the folder, copy
Moodle to the root of C: drive. Note: *In a production environment,
will install to a separate partition. Renamed the Moodle folder to
xampplite. Then Started the batch file for APACHE and MYSQL.

Commands:
c:\xampplite\apache_start.bat to START Apache
c:\xampplite\apache_stop.bat to STOP Apache
c:\xampplite\mysql_start.bat to START MySQL
c:\xampplite\mysql_stop.bat to STOP MySQL

To automate this process, add the XAMP to the services of Windows
server

Run c:\xampplite\service.exe -install (it is set to start automatically
when the server starts)


Once we completed these steps - the site ran cleanly. Only problem - no one else could get to it.

Originally, we used localhost and could not access the site
outside of the server. To fix this, she changed the Config.php file in the Moodle directory c:\xampplite\moodle

One of the reasons why we are trying Moodle is the strength of the documentation available from the community. Even better, most of the documentation is written so a liberal arts major can understand it.

When we do our permanent install - we will change the name to something other than moodle. I found that using moodle as the site name sends people to the moodle.org rather than our LMS. A brain fart on our part. Thank goodness we are doing a test run first.

BTW - the picture above is Ta's little girl. She wanted to show her off.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Generalist Scanners


I finally found the link to the scanner articles of Barbara Sher. These are both off of the Talent Develop site.

Both are excerpts from Refuse to Choose.
Are you a Scanner?
What is a Scanner?

Thanks to David Seah for pointing me to these links.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Innovation

elearnspace.org posted a link to an article by Jason Pontin 10 Ways to Think about Innovation. I was struck #4 - "Innovators find inspiration in disparate disciplines."

My instinct is to gather information - much like a squirrel will gather interesting objects for the nest. The information may not necessarily have anything directly to do with what I am (or should be working) on.

Case in point - the book I am currently reading - Will Write for Food. I love food writing. How someone can come up with interesting ways to say "Dinner was yummy" or "this dish was disgusting" over and over again fascinates me. The lessons in base-line writing skills don't hurt either. Even if most of my professional writing consists of step-by-step instructions. At some point, I will figure out how to apply the lessons I'm learning from all of this information.

A great thing about blogging and bloggers is that it is much easier to find people of a similar mind. David Seah's blog addresses issues surrounding productivity, creativity, and being a generalist in a specialist's world. I wish I could find the original article in his archives where he talks about "scanners" - people who compulsively gather information. Still - what impresses me about him and many of the other blogs I find myself bookmarking is that these people are not afraid to gather new information or ideas - even if they do not have an immediate use for it yet. It is comforting to find kindred spirits.

Friday, September 08, 2006

So what do we do now?



Since the eLearnDevCon 2006 conference, I have been thinking about how to structure our training programs to get the most "bang-for-the-buck". The shift is obvious. The application - not so much.

I've read many blogs addressing Web 2.0, eLearning 2.0, Learning 2.0, Knowledge 2.0, and other 2.0(s). This is what I've gathered so far:

- "2.0" = social interaction and group knowledge construction. For good or ill.
- "2.0" = everyone is an expert. Whether they know anything about the topic or not.
- "2.0" = a collection of technologies that provide access to more information and opinion than you will EVER be able to absorb.
- "2.0" = opening yourself up to the whole wide world on the assumption that good things will happen if you do. The new transparency.

The next issue is how do I apply this? In my attempts to break all of this new information down and apply it to the training program I am developing, I started asking questions:

- What am I seeing in my workplace? I've noticed some trends:

+ It is progressively more difficult to get people to agree to spending training time with me. Even if they DO agree to the face time, I am never given enough hours. Heck, we can barely get people into meetings (but they are not shy about complaining about the decisions made while they were out).

+ The doctors and staff PREFER just-in-time training. They'll worry about it when they need to know it. Tell them before they need it - in one ear and out the other. No matter WHAT instructional design technique you use.

+ The people I work with prefer information in very small chunks. "How do I do this one task?" I can capture their attention with the answer for 5-10 minutes if they can get their hands on it. 1-4 minutes if I do the driving.

+ Many (not all) want only ONE way to do something.

+ The ones who want to see ALL ways of accomplishing a task also want a say in the content of the education, the configuration of the program, the design of the workflow....

Seeing this, I have started looking at some of the technologies available.

In one of my current experiments, I am implementing Moodle as both an LMS and a collaboration tool.

As I set up my "proof-of-concept" site, I've decided to develop 3 general course types:
- Project: a collaboration area with a wiki, chat, and upload resources

- Online only: a place to organize all of the short online tutorials Gesine and I have developed and to do tracking and scoring of these tutorials. Since the tutorials are broken up into task-based chunks, I hope to be able to build "courses" using the same pieces.

- Classroom supplement: a place for documentation and testing materials for the New User class. We are going to keep face to face training for first exposure to new systems and for all new employees.

- I might try to build a 4th - "report your continuing ed" type course.

I haven't finalized the structure of these course types yet since I am still figuring out how Moodle works. I'm also not confident that this is truly a "2.0" implementation or that I am even on the right track building the Moodle implementation this way.
____________________________________________________________________

My sources for learning more about 2.0 stuff (I know for FACT there are others):
Innovation Creators
Brent Schlenker's Corporate eLearning Development blog
eLearn Space
Cognitive Edge
Confused of Calcutta
Trends in Web 2.0 by Dawn Foster
Tim O'Reilly's widely cited article on Web 2.0.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Implementing Moodle

Ta, Gesine and I started our Moodle installation for our organization yesterday.

We are doing a small 3 course installation on our old intranet test server. Once we get the settings just right and test out some items (LDAP authentication, reporting, test score imports), we will wipe out the old server and make the whole server our Moodle server. Thank goodness for leftover hardware.

We did the Moodle + Apache + MySQL + PHP v.1.6.1 install. Because the machine we are using currently has a bunch of junk on it, we ran into a couple of issues with the installation.

- The installation uses Port 80. We knew we weren't using Skype - so it took some time to figure out which program was using that port.

- For whatever reason, we are having problems accessing Moodle through Internet Explorer. This is more of an issue with our network and that server than with Moodle. I hope to post a solution and a better description of the problem later - as soon as we fix it.

Once Ta gets the installation stable - I am going to begin playing with the configuration. The Moodle site has excellent documentation.

Despite the huge library of information on the Moodle site, I am a book junkie - so I HAD to purchase the two books that have been published on the topic.

William H. Rice's Moodle:E-Learning Course Development focuses on how the various administrative settings impact the end-user experience.

Jason Cole's Using Moodle gives detailed instructions for using the various tools from a teacher's perspective and tips for developing solid online instruction.

I will continue posting my experience with implementing this LMS in hopes that it will help someone.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Cookie crumbs, Breck shampoo, and a little experiment


Every day I receive newsletters from ZDNet. A tool in my feeble attempt to keep up with technology trends. Dan Farber's post today led to a great blog - Confused of Calcutta containing beautifully written essays on the nature of information. These essays contain links that lead to more potentially useful information which also contain links. I've spent way too much time following these cookie crumbs around the web.

It all reminds me of the old Breck shampoo ad - she tells two friends, then he tells two friends, and so on and so on and so on......

Except the two friends are whoever happen to stumble upon your random musings.....

I'll be curious to see how long this takes to circle back to me and how it gets here.

Monday, September 04, 2006

How maleable is the model?


I am beginning to wonder if the innovativeness change curve is more malleable than Rogers suggests.

If individuals have a natural static disposition towards change, it stands to reason that some groups will be more willing to adopt a change than others.

Academics, being academics, try to codify how this process works. Wilson, Dobrovolney and Lowery figured that the reason why so many models seem to fail is not the models themselves, but the implementation of the models.

VH Carr developed some recommendations for identifying the difference between the early adopters and the majority and how to incorporate this knowledge into real change. Though he approaches this from the perspective of educational technology adoption, his ideas work more generally for any organization moving from a paper process to a computerized one.

Have you found that the makeup of a group impacts the success or failure of a technology implementation? What strategies do you use to work with the various groups?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Individual Innovativeness Theory



Rogers' (1995) Individual Innovativeness Theory suggests that individuals react differently to change based on a stable trait or predisposition. He developed the following categories to define the various groups. From what I’ve observed, members of these groups have a key question they ask when looking at a particular technology.


Innovators - What is it?

Early Adopters - What problem will it potentially solve?

Early Majority - What problem will it solve NOW?

Late Majority - Does it work? (And how well?)

Laggards - Do I have to use this thing?


Depending on the audience, I find myself answering at least one of these questions during any given training. How do these questions impact your change management processes and training?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Hello World

Why do people and institutions adopt a particular technology? How does one encourage those who are resistant to change?

In this blog, I hope to share my take on the process and my experiences with technology adoption – good, bad and indifferent.

Over the past 4 years, I have worked for 2 separate health care organizations implementing electronic medical records and physician order entry systems. As a trainer, I am keenly interested in what motivates people to adopt technologies and how to make the change process less painful for everyone (myself included).

I am also in the process of building an e-learning system for the health care group I work with. 3 reasons:
- The time doctors, clinical, and support staff spend in the training room is money lost. Sad truth: the medical economy is based on the number of patients seen and the number of procedures performed on each patient. Period. If they are with me – they are not treating patients. Therefore, they are not making money.

- Past the initial introduction to a new technology (navigation, answering questions, soothing fears), there is increasing research that just-in-time training is more effective and more cost-effective than 4 days spent in a classroom 3 weeks before you can actually use the technology. I’m certain that with more time, I can find more scholarly articles, but this one seems to summarize the issue nicely:
Article – Enterprise Networks and Servers – June 2005 : http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa4137/is_200506/ai_n14716829

- (Completely personal) – I like being able to see what I have built. With online tutorials, I have something concrete to measure and look at. Training success is much more nebulous. People can SAY you are a “good trainer”, but the only useful measure (in my book) is whether the behavior has changed in the way you intended and is maintained over time. I’m frequently not in the position to observe success. I hear about the failures. It's a bit demoralizing.

At eLearnDevCon 2006 – Brent Schenker gave a fantastic presentation on how technology (particularly the "Web 2.0" technologies such as blogging and wikis) is going to shape corporate training and our need to co-opt the chaos.

Brent's blog (http://elearndev.blogspot.com) is the best resource I’ve found to date on new technologies and potential educational applications. If you are a trainer or teacher of any persuasion – bookmark this!

I am welcoming any comments, observations, recommendations and assistance as I play with new technologies and attempt to restructure my professional world to accommodate the changes that are headed this way.

Thanks so much for your time. I hope you find this blog useful.