eWeek has an interesting article this week on how Yammer is integrating with Microsoft Office.
I have been thinking about this:
Yammer also showed off its planned Office Web app integration, which [Yammer co-founder and general manager of the Microsoft Office division Adam] Pisoni describes as his favorite. “We have this amazing ability to let people connect and communicate and collaborate, but they still have to go somewhere else to work on documents,” he said.
Users will soon have the ability to edit Word documents or PowerPoint presentations directly within the browser. Devised as a way to get employees to work collaboratively on a single copy of an Office document and reduce the number of attachments clogging up inboxes, the capability will soon allow Yammer users to edit and save changes in Office documents without leaving Yammer.
A very large number of us spend our days working with other people on the creation of documents, using a range of strategies:
- There is the classic asynchronous approach – As the document owner, I write my version, send it via email to others for comments, they turn on track changes and send it back, I have to manage several different versions, and we do this through several revision cycles.
- There’s the synchronous approach – we have a meeting, I display my doc, and I edit it as people in the meeting make modifications.
- There’s the chat-enhanced approach – I write my doc, pausing every so often to skype/instant message/tweet/yammer/chatter my questions to people who know and incorporate their input that way.
- There’s the forum-enhanced approach – I post my draft in the forum, and request comments. Others download the draft, and turn on track changes, and repost their edits, or if they are just commenting, they might just post some comments in the forum.
No matter which approach I use – and to be honest, I switch among all of these, because I’m rarely working solo — for the time I’m actually drafting, I would describe the process as “living” in my document, and reaching out from there to other resources. The resources I consult tend to be other documents, which may live on my local drive or in shared organizational repositories, web sites, which I go to from my browser, or other people. How I reach out to those people depends on a whole range of factors, which include
- Whether the folks are internal to my org – If they aren’t, I’ll use email or the phone, because that’s what most of my external colleagues respond to.
- Whether the question I have requires a quick off the top of the head answer or a bit of a conversation – skype text chat is great for the top of the head, but if I need to talk for a bit, then I’ll want to consider
- Do I want to be able to refer back to this discussion? – if so a post to the organizational forum is probably my best bet
- Do I need to provide lengthy background info for my question? – again, the forum wins for this.
- Am I hoping for an answer which is a link to another resource? – I’m going to want the forum, so I don’t lose the thing in a chat stream somewhere.
- Do I need to defuzz my thinking in order to even get to the right question? – in that case, a voice conversation using skype or phone is probably the place to start
So I guess I’m not sure it matters whether I have to “go somewhere else” to access a document. For the time I’m composing it, the document is the center of my world, and my main goal in collaborating with others is to reach them wherever THEY happen to live. To the extent I’m assisting with somebody else’s document, I pretty much expect to have to “go somewhere else” to get to it, but I expect the requester to find me where I am and to make accessing that doc simple.
An effective collaboration platform is one which makes it easy to reach out to others, from wherever one happens to “live”, and easy for them to respond. For us at Q2, our Q2 eLearning System forums are our primary communication and file sharing platform, because we depend heavily on the institutional memory we’ve built there. But we are enthusiastic skypers and emailers and telephoners, because we need to meet everyone we work with where they “live.”
There’s a lively discussion in the CLO LinkedIn group about how to build trust in our organizations. It’s heartening to see how many people in the learning community have thought deeply about this issue.
And it makes sense, because as learning professionals, we exercise significant influence over the propagation of our organization’s culture. The learning experiences we facilitate for our coworkers speak not only of our own vision, but of that of the organization writ large. What are we communicating, and how does that communication promote trust?
- Are our materials current, reflecting accurately the situation in the field?
- Are our materials relevant, dealing with issues central to our colleagues?
- Are learners freed from line responsibility while in training, so they can concentrate on what they are learning?
- Is there followup to see how learners are faring in implementing new skills on the job?
- Are learners’ managers involved with the training process?
I could probably come up with a dozen more questions, all of which get to the extent to which our learning organizations demonstrate competence in our field, and respect for our learners. We can’t build trust without these elements. And who pays attention to training deemed untrustworthy? Who should?
I’m sorry they took a blanket approach at Yahoo. It seems clear that something is lost when people don’t run into one another in the halls, and in the cafeteria, but also that there are times when one needs to be heads-down on a project and avoiding the distraction other people provide. Creating an office environment which supports both modes is a challenge which often goes unmet.
I think that’s true for learning situations, as well. I’m a big believer in social learning – that we humans learn best within a context of other humans comparing notes on how things work. But sometimes, we need to be heads down, concentrating on written material. Sometimes, we need to be alone in our own heads, reflecting on what we’ve learned, making the connections to the other things we know. That’s what writing papers was about in school. And it’s often what writing analyses and recommendations is about at work.
When I’m training somebody, I’m usually doing it via computer. And I often recommend that they see whether they might work from home for the training. Because I have a MUCH better chance of full learner focus when there won’t be co-workers stopping by to drop something on my learner’s desk.
I find it interesting that some of the discussion centers around whether a given individual is equipped with the skills which enable productive work when unsupervised. Self-management skills are indeed critical to success in this environment. Are they something the organization might be able to nourish?
Bill Bruck will be delivering this awesome webinar:
Click here to reserve your Webinar seat for Thursday, March 14, 2013!
Too much eLearning replicates the worst practices of education electronically – lecture and multiple choice test. It was hateful in college, and it’s hateful in corporations.
Are we getting ready to repeat this mistake on our tablets and smartphones? If we’re not careful, the answer will be yes.
Years ago, Marshall McLuhan insisted that “the medium is the message.” mLearning opens up two new media to us – smart phones and tablets. How should we package the message in order to maximize value to the organization?
In this interesting and informative webinar, you will learn:
- Where to start in developing a mobile strategy
- How to leverage the critical distinction between instruction and performance support
- Requirements you MUST discuss with your learning technology vendors
Title: Mobile Learning: Beyond the Hype – a free webinar
Date: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer
Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet
Michael Echols at Chief Learning Officer has a post this week urging learning leaders to do the research to check whether “best practices” for improving performance which are articles of faith in their organizations are more than myths. It’s shocking how much of what guides common practice has no actual scientific basis, but is merely “the way we do it here.”
Some best practices really do depend on corporate culture– what works for some organizations may not work in others. Others, though, depend on more universal parameters, like, say, human cognitive function, and hence can be widely applied in different organizations.
Way back in 2003, Ruth Colvin Clark and Richard E. Mayer published e-Learning and the Science of Instruction, an extremely practical book which reviewed the research on how various design elements in e-learning modules affect learner retention, and distilled that research into best practices for authoring these modules.
Ten years later, we’re still seeing uneven adoption of good design. For example, we’ve known for at least a decade that learners retain less when we have the audio narration channel “reading” the text on the page. For reasons probably related to limits to the aural and visual cognitive channels (not to mention that the speed with which individuals can read text is generally different from the rate at which they can understand the spoken word!) we have study after study which demonstrates that it is better for retention when the audio channel is used to elaborate on the information presented to the video channel, not replicate it. Nevertheless, the how-to videos Adobe publishes for use of their Captivate authoring software not only “narrate” the text on the page, but use a robotic voice which mispronounces both technical and not-so-technical words!
When a major vendor to the profession demonstrates unawareness of good design, (or, at the very least, the willingness to compromise design in the interest of showing off spiffy new features like that robotic voice!) I think we have a problem. I suppose it’s probably not the worst thing for those of us involved in instructional design to have to take Really Bad Training every once in a while, in order to equip ourselves to empathize with our learners. But we’ve been building multi-media computer-based training for a while now. It’s time that designers getting the basics right was something our learners, and the organizations which pay us all, could count on.
Bill is going to share his 10 principles today — 2p.m. Eastern. It’s free, come check out our latest thinking…
10 principles for selecting the right Learning Management System
The Masie Center recently released its Mobile Learning Pulse Survey. Taken in the Fall of 2012, It’s a worthy read, taken from responses from 823 organizations.
The headline finding is that implementation is at its very beginning.
Approximately 80% of organizations reported at least a moderate interest in mobile learning. So far that interest has primarily translated into projects to explore and test mobile learning and developing some content designed for mobile devices. At the same time, less than 30% of organizations have an enterprise strategy for mobile learning.
Without a plan, it’s sort of unsurprising that thoughts about WHAT to put on mobile devices are all over the place…
While there was no single stand out element, 5 had the highest percentage of “strong interest”: access to eLearning modules, access to corporate internet content, access to video and audio content, and access to checklists. Second to those areas, organizational aspirations for mobile learning include making greater use of social media.
Overall, these responses demonstrate the interest in many responding organizations to be more effective in providing on-the-job performance support and shorter, more focused learning activities.
I wonder what’s driving what, here. “Micro-learning” is a trend (my exploration of it is here) – are we looking for tools on which to implement micro-learning because we think it’s good pedagogy? Or trying to figure out how to squeeze stuff onto these new platforms we think look cool?
It’s a little tricky, because “mobile” appears to mean both tablets and phones in this context, but often refers to very different use environments. The needs of the phone user on the bus pose more constraints than those of the tablet user on his/her couch. The small form factor of the phone demands the reformatting of text-based information into shorter pages with fewer words. The gaps in connectivity which phones face on-the-go means that any streaming content needs to be short in order not to be entirely annoying.
Masie points to the lack of a proven mobile pedagogy as an inhibitor, alongside the usual cost and security issues. I doubt we’ll have that proven pedagogy until there are some experiments which are great successes, and others which are colossal failures, and it’s not surprising that enterprises are not lining up to create those case studies!
It seems to me that the modality most likely to pass into the “proven” realm soonest is performance support. We’re already seeing printed references in airline cockpits and sales vehicles being replaced by tablets which can access the up-to-the minute version of procedure manuals and catalogs.
I wonder, as tablets become more affordable, whether the demand for access via smartphone will fade. How many of our workers will need to use something they can carry in their pockets, vs something they carry in small case? What’s it worth in terms of usability to have a larger screen, with more information?
Kellogg has LONG been identified with a collaborative approach to the teaching and learning of management skills, so this is an obvious fit. As a loyal alumna who has been part of that economy for the last decade or so, I am pleased to see this focus. I’ve met Sally Blount, Kellogg’s new dean, and think highly of her – she’s very sharp, a dynamic speaker, and seems to have her mind around an extremely dynamic environment. So I was disappointed to see that in her article describing Kellogg’s focus on aligning with and driving the collaboration economy, that she repeats the notion popularized by our least critical technology enthusiasts — that trust is something that is somehow embedded within collaborative technology. As a professional in this field, I have sad experience with the powerlessness of collaborative technology to build trust where trust is not already part of the culture of the humans using it to work together.
The Collaboration Economy is also rooted in an emerging human culture of access, openness and trust. When people enter the digital world through their computers, smartphones and other devices, they ask questions, share information, and reach agreements with a fluidity seldom seen before in human history
A new global culture is emerging that transcends national, ethnic, and organizational boundaries – the old institutions that used to develop and regulate our shared, taken-for-ranted rules for interaction. It is a culture that assumes 24/7 electronic access—for emailing tweeting, posting, and texting.
This new culture is particularly powerful in the norms of trust that it engenders. Markets require trust to operate effectively, and the old rules of building trust over long periods of time have softened. Over the Internet, parties with limited histories of personal interaction readily connect, communicate, and take risks together.
Perhaps one of the earliest and best examples of this phenomenon is the “open source movement,” founded in 1998 by a group of free software advocates. Through that movement, the Linux operating system was created and is now widely adopted by corporate computing managers as a hig-performance, lower-cost alternative to propriety software from Microsoft, Sun, and others.
Kellogg is where I learned about how fundamental trust is to the efficient functioning of markets – it’s where we explored what happens in the Real World when the “perfect information” assumed by economists isn’t available, and people have to make leaps of faith.
I would argue that what the technology can do in the facilitation of building trusting relationship is not much in its role in facilitating the meeting of people who might find something they can do together. It’s that it makes transparent the reputations of these people. It’s nice to be able to ask questions and share information – what’s even better is that if the information is incorrect, or incomplete, it’s possible to find out quickly and adjust one’s level of trust. What made, and makes Linux such a success is the alignment of the contributors (everyone is in it to make better-working software) and the transparency inherent in software – if your code isn’t very good, people find out right away, and maybe fix what didn’t work so well, and possibly avoid your contributions in the future.
It seems to me that technology can indeed quicken the pace of our experiments with trust, teaching us faster who can be relied upon to follow through and who cannot. It makes it possible, in some situations, to take smaller risks to begin with – when I break a project up into phases, I can judge my collaborators’ performance on phase I before committing to phase II. It is also driving a cultural change in which we have started to expect a higher level of accountability when things go wrong—when the project plan for our joint venture is readable to the entire team, it’s quite clear who it is who is missing their dates!
In the end, though, the path to success in the collaborative economy for any organization is the development of a track record of excellent performance. Technology gives our markets many new windows for observing us, so we need to shine more brightly than before.
There’s a buzz around micro-learning in training circles. A brief survey of the training-oriented discussion groups on Linked-in suggests that as with many au-courant terms, this one isn’t very well defined.
The basic idea is to break training up into very small, highly digestible “chunks” – but what this looks like in practice varies from making 5 minute videos available as part of a performance support tool to editing down a 4-hour(!) webinar to a one-hour one. There seem to be a group of people who regard lessons 15 minutes in length as the typical micro-learning object.
Of course, micro-lessons do not necessarily lead to learning! But the hope is that by requiring a minimal time commitment from learners, that there will be more uptake of the offered lessons. And perhaps that this learning will take place on non-company time, like the morning commute.
I’ve also seen micro-learning cited as a cost-containment strategy for training departments. I’m skeptical – the work involved in assessing learner needs and structuring easily accessible platforms for information delivery doesn’t vary much with the size of an individual unit-of-training. Arguably, scheduling the delivery of numerous small lessons may be more complex that delivering longer training experiences.
It seems to me that there are two obvious places for small learning “snacks”
- In the performance support system. Workers looking up how to do something are grateful for nicely packaged job-aids which focus specifically on the task they are trying to do – and it’s awfully nice to have the more in depth treatment of the topic right at hand in case the small module raises more questions. Meeting the need for just in time/on demand training is rightly the function of the performance support system
- As reinforcement modules, following up on longer, more formal training experiences. Weaving the concepts presented as part of a training program into the daily workflow can be done with a nicely timed email to the trainees, offering a reminder of the content, and perhaps a bit of preparation for the next stage of training.
Where do you see micro-learning serving your organization?
Schectman reports:The tool scoured messages for keywords such as “healthcare” or “education,” and displayed issues on a dashboard campaign staffers could look at to figure out what concerns or questions were surging in citizen correspondences with the campaign. The dashboard also allowed staffers to look at what issues were trending by state, city or town, allowing the campaign to adapt its ground game in real time, according to [Salesforce EVP Vivek] Kundra. Those insights could help staff in the field that had mobile versions of the dashboard. “
I find this development fascinating, partially for its creative use of a tool ostensibly designed for a somewhat different application (sales) and successfully applied to the campaign trail.
More importantly, it’s yet another instance of the “tools that build tools” which were foretold as part of the future back when I was a management grad student back at the dawn of the personal computer.
The quest for human understanding often begins with the search for “a place to stand” from which one can get a new perspective on the situation. Powerful computing tools put to this use produced immersive simulators like the CAVE at the University of Illinois back in the mid 90’s. Now even the CAVE runs on a desktop machine, and regular folks without special grant funding can buy into cloud services on even more powerful servers.
The power is there. Tools like Salesforce make it possible to assemble custom reports and dashboards which report the metrics that matter most to our organizations.
Are people in your organization mobilizing the latest tools for understanding your customers? Are the people who are doing it training others in their methods?
Does your training software give you “a place to stand” to see where your training efforts stand, and where needs may be emerging?