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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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It's very simple, really. They brought me this: I make jokes about awesomeness all the time. That is truly awesome. The dad in that video is a friend of mine from college.Why Facebook and YouTube are cool

Dove I'm probably way behind the times on pointing this out, but I just found this link and needed to post it. It's a one-minute movie showing the [tag]transformation[/tag] of a modelThe disfiguration of beauty

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

So today I had an eye doctor's appointment. Apparently I have totally awesome vision while I'm wearing my glasses. The lady was actually joking when she put up the lineIt just seemed odd

"Can you tie this to my eyebrow?" [referring to a balloon] After throwing a blanket over her own head: "POOF! She was gone." 3-yr old: "You can't tell me that!" 2-yr old: "Why?" 3-yrThings overheard in my house lately

Lee posted his "Nerd badge" score recently. He failed to get it, and rightly so. Not because of any lack of nerd-dom on his part, but because of the idiocyThe Nerd Badge is invalidly valid, therefore I get one

As I off-handedly mentioned, I went paintballing on Saturday. This was a group outing with a bunch of men and teens from our church. It was also the first timeBattle wounds

A couple of days ago I received a coupon in my email for a free pizza from a local pizzeria. It was a one day deal - a free medium pizza"Free Pizza!!" or "How to completely bungle a marketing campaign"

[article no longer available]Thomson Announces Strategic Realignment of Operations; Company to Sell Education Businesses - MarketWatch [tag]Thomson NETg[/tag] and [tag]SkillSoft[/tag] have been trading 1st and 2nd place in the [tag]enterprise e-learning[/tag]SkillSoft buys NETg

This concept video was apparently leaked from Peter Jackson's production of The Hobbit. It's an exciting early look at the controversial direction Jackson may take, thematically: [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/XC73PHdQX04" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent"Leaked Pre-production video for The Hobbit!

Okay, I've been remiss in getting the Doctor Who news out lately. 'Cause I know you all depend on me alone to let you know what's going on with thatDoctor Who/Torchwood news

I'm pretty sure my wife will have no problem confirming this: I'm addicted to The Sing-Off.  Last year's show blew my mind with the talent involved. This year matches thatThe Sing-Off: recap and predictions

Yesterday I read an article in the ZDNet Tech Broiler attempting to make the case for the studios to release first-run movies direct to streaming options (specifically Netflix and iTunes).Movie Theater vs. Home Theater (part 1)

[caption id="attachment_730" align="alignright" width="300" caption="The Dark is Rising sequence"][/caption] When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back; Three from the circle, three from the track; Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone; FiveThe Dark Is Rising, except on film (Review: The Seeker)

Well, this week was the one to launch three shows I'll be following this year (Heroes, FlashForward, and Smallville) and close out the opening season for a summer series IPremieres/Finales Fall 2009

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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