Learning 2008: Wrap up of day 1

I have already written two posts about the Learning 2008 conference. This last post about day one will just be some random things that I noticed and want to highlight:

  • The session on Mobile learning with industry leaders from Chrysler, Accenture, Microsoft and Merril Lynch was surprising to me. Mobile learning was mostly used by these companies to make their learning more efficient and thus drive down costs without losing effectiveness. Basically a matter of ROI. Existing learning materials and courses are converted into on- or offline materials for the Blackberry or Windows mobile. Their employees can then do some of the required business curriculum while they are on a plane, on the way to their car or while playing with their child (yep, that last example was actually used). They were after the holy grail of learning designers: design once and deploy everywhere. The problem with this is that they do not take the affordances of the mobile device into account. The fact that this is a cell phone which could be used for audio, that it is a communication tool that has rich possibilities (e.g. location awareness through GPS) was not taken into account. To me that is a shame.
  • Richard Culatta works for the CIA and gave a presentation titled: “Two Brains are better than one: Leveraging social networks for learning”.  He talked about a whole bunch of free tools which can be used for social learning. The CIA uses these tools in different ways (e.g. the Intellipedia, a Mediawiki implementation). What I liked about Richard’s presentation was his enthusiasm and his energy: he covered a lot of ground in a short time and was very interactive with the audience. Maybe because he is well aware of the concept of the attention economy. I wish all presenters would take the cost of my attention into account!
  • Wayne Hodgins is working with Erik Duval on a book about the Snowflake effect. His job title is “Strategic Futurist” and works from his sailing boat in which he sails around the world. He talked about how everybody is a snowflake, a metaphor for the uniqueness of everybody. Different music services (e.g. Pandora and Last.fm) already take this uniqueness into account. Why don’t we apply these principles to learning activities? Finally he talked about mashups as a generic concept. Why don’t we use the unique qualities of humans and mash them up when we create a project team?
  • Sue Gardner, the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, talked about the Wikipedia in general, which is currently the number four website in the world. Masie asked her about how neutrality is ensured. Her idea is that transparency is the answer to everything. By being clear that someone thinks A, but somebody else thinks B, you actually add to knowledge and make things clear. The foundation will be working on improving the interface for editing articles which can be quite difficult for complex pages. They might also try to look at what they can do with video and audio, although we have to realise that they are not as easily collaborated with as with text. Masie wondered about students using information from the Wikipedia for their assignments. Is that something we should encourage while the information might not be correct? Sue answered by talking about the most accepting country for Wikipedia: Germany. Professors in Germany are starting to see it as their duty to make sure that Wikipedia is correct and updated.
  • Finally an interesting link: Learning for International NGO’s (Lingos).

On to day two!

Learning 2008: How and why Novell chose Moodle

Novell Training
Novell Training

Novell will launch their new Moodle based LMS this November 4th. In a session called “In the Moodle: How Novell Chose an Open Source LMS” they outlined the process of choosing an LMS that could fulfil their needs. When they needed a new LMS, they first listed their requirements and then used a cross-functional team to look at 9 proprietary and open source LMS’s (Sakai and Ilias).

They will use the LMS internally (for training their employees) and externally (for their partners) and their learning materials are mostly SCORM based. They chose Moodle because it fit their needs the best and because it is pliable. They were able to skin it completely into Novell’s brand and use Moodlerooms (a US based Moodle partner) to make some minor code changes and host Moodle for them.

What surprised me is how narrowly Novell defines training. It is a strict content -> participant relation. They currently have no specific plans on using the rich Moodle functionality that will allow participants/students to be in contact with each other. I realise that it is very hard to design corporate self-paced online training which still maximises the opportunities for participants to collaborate and create, but shouldn’t our leading businesses also lead in this quest? Who knows examples of big multinational companies using tools like Moodle for truly interactive online training.

I noticed that Moodle is becoming more and more pervasive in the corporate world. In the sessions today I learnt that Google uses Moodle for (some) of their internal training needs and so does the CIA.