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I'm a geek working as a distance learning specialist for a large corporation.

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March 2008
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[UPDATE: as you can see below, I'm having some problems with CoolPlayer - like it doesn't work anymore. I've switched to the Anarchy player.] As you can see from the previousCoolPlayer - WordPress media plugin

For me, YouTube is like walking into a hospital with no immune system. I go in with one thing and come out with a hundred others. Lucky for you, IMore Banjo - with Steve Martin & Earl Scruggs

Easy Meal Prep Association and Meal Assembly Directory I'm looking for ways to live cheaper. I got a tip in the comments of another blog to check out a Meal PreparatoryIs a meal preparation service a good deal?

[caption id="attachment_1288" align="alignright" width="446" caption="Look at that fifth set!!"][/caption] Holy cow... this is just insane... What kind of a monster athlete do you have to be to play a single set ofLongest tennis match in Grand Slam history!

Last year, I reviewed the first two seasons of the revived Doctor Who series. At the time, I said the second season finale out-did the first's, and that was aReview: Doctor Who 2007

Woo hoo! I called it! Afro-Blue was surprisingly bad, though, on Monday's R&B episode. I think they got too caught up in trying to take on the judges criticisms and lostThe Sing-Off: The Final Four

So, today's my birthday. 40th, if you're wondering. I'm feeling slightly more like looking back and seeing how things have gone to this point than I have for previous birthdays,Birthday pimpin'

FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH | Bryce Zabel: Superman Returns (2006) vs Superman: The Movie (1978) Here's a great review of Superman Returns in comparison with the original Superman movie (I loveBryce Zabel's Superman Smackdown

Andre Agassi began the end of his professional tennis career tonight with a great match vs. Andrei Pavel. Like many people, I've been watching Andre Agassi for almost his entire career.Agassi's last first round win

Wired News: Orson Scott Card Builds an Empire The above link is an interview with multi-award winning [tag]science-fiction[/tag] author [tag]Orson Scott Card[/tag] on plans for his Empire franchise. [tag]Empire[/tag] was conceivedThe Multi-media Empire of Orson Scott Card (or How To Save the Video Game Industry)

The Wachowski brothers have a firm grasp of visuals and a healthy respect for graphic novels. They also know how to write a script that challenges the viewer's perceptions ofReview: V for Vendetta

Abyss & Apex : Fourth Quarter 2007: Wikihistory Okay, if you've ever participated in an online forum or newsgroup, you've gotta read this mock-forum discussion of the International Association of TimeForum update on time traveling interference with Hitler

No, I haven't read the entire series in the last 12 hours. I have, however, read an excellent article that explains how much of my disappointment in the finale ofReview Addendum: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pt 2 - book comparison

I've felt like I've been neglecting this blog lately, and wanted to get focused on it again. As it happens, I ran across the 7 day Challenge from Andrew Emmett'sIdentity: 7 day challenge

Star Wars: Community | ILM's Greenscreen Challenge Entry Stephen Colbert, of the Comedy Central's Colbert Report, issued a challenge to the public at large to put his lightsaber antics in frontStephen Colbert, a Greenscreen, and ILM

Limits of Responsibility – ASTD’s Big Question for March

The Learning Circuits Blog: Scope of Learning Responsibility

What is the Scope of our Responsibility as Learning Professionals?

That’s the question of the month, and it’s clarified a bit in the above linked post:

  • Do educational institutions and corporate learning & development departments have responsibility for supporting Long Tail Learning? Do they have responsibility for learning beyond what can be delivered through instruction? If so, what is their responsibility? Where is the edge of responsibility?
  • Similarly, does the instructor have a responsibility to help students make sense of or deal with content he or she did not teach the students? In other words, if a student finds information on the Internet or some other place, how much time and attention should the instructor allow for the discussion of such content? Should it be discussed at all if it is non-conventional or generally thought of as not credible or contradicts the instructor? Who determines credible research? Is all non-referred research questionable?

I’m taking “Long Tail Learning” as meeting the ever expanding niche development needs of ever smaller populations in an organization. For most organizations, the training department is stretched pretty thin and has to concentrate on those development needs that either meet the needs of the largest populations or have the biggest impact on either costs or sales (that’s currently where the line of responsibility is set for most organizations). That means some departments are on their own for development needs – sometimes even their most important needs – because the training department doesn’t have the bandwidth to help. Then you’ve got the training topics that fit into that large group, but have variations for each sub-group within the larger population. Where does the training department’s responsibility fall for these groups? How do you design (and should you design) training that covers those needs?

Ideally, obviously, the answer is that in a perfect world the training department would be able to support the learning needs of everyone in the organization at all times. So I’m taking that as my starting point. Ideally, everything an employee needs to know in an organization, from literacy to how to run a business unit, would be the responsibility of the training department.

Realistically, that’s not going to happen, but that would be my ideal goal.

Now, we need to consider what “responsible” means. To some that might mean the training department directly owns and delivers all the content. That’s not what I mean. I mean that the training department is responsible for enabling the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and abilities through any and all means necessary. That could be as simple as making sure an authoritative source for a given topic is available to someone – a book, a website, a mentor, a trainer, a vendor, etc. – to as complex as training a person or persons to be that authoritative source or creating a new course. If someone has a question about where to get training on something, the training department should be able point to a source for that training, whether they created it or not.

This is where the power of community software (or Web 2.0) comes into play. The training department obviously can’t keep track of all those training needs for themselves. Once you reach a critical mass ratio of training professionals to employees, the job just becomes too much to track for the training department by itself to meet the ideal goal. But if the training department can work with the IT department to create and structure community/networking software to enable those connections to be made with input from other departments, with oversight by the training team, then you’re suddenly much closer to the ideal. It’s important that the individual departments feel empowered to make contributions to this site, otherwise you’re back to the training team needing to come up with everything. If someone has a question, you look it up on the community-driven “solutions” site and either point to the right resource, if it exists, or begin to create the plan for getting it.

Now, how do you make sure the sources/solutions derived from the site are authoritative? To some extent you can probably rely on the community to police that itself, but that’s why the training department has oversight of the community site. They should validate the sources, or have the sources validated by a Subject Matter Expert.

To get to the second bullet of the original questions, how much time do you spend discussing information found on non-approved locations? That’s a pretty hard question, because it could be perfectly valid, and possibly even superior, information. I would say that if you’re in a course, you’re generally on a schedule and are teaching a “standard” practice of some kind that has been vetted and agreed upon. Challenges to that standard should be welcomed, but shouldn’t interfere with class time. If a short discussion isn’t enough to smooth over any discrepancies, I’d drop it into a “parking lot” or into the discussion forum or community software for evaluation and validation. If a change to the standard is warranted based on the new information, it should be implemented with thanks.

The really short version of what I’m saying here is that it’s the training department’s responsibility to enable learning, but it’s the individual departments and employees who truly have the responsibility for learning. The training team should make avenues available, but it’s up to the individuals to use the tools and opportunities provided to take responsibility for their own learning.

I think there’s one other thing implied in the original question: how do you prove that you’re meeting your “responsibility” to provide quality sources? What’s the measurement? It’s certainly not “butts in seats,” which is what many executives ask for. I honestly don’t have a quick answer for this part, though. I’m more in the camp of, “if it’s working, you’ll know” but that’s not generally enough for most executives.

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