Corporate E-Learning
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Corporate e-learning trend

A UK research on corporate e-learning adopters show that the e-learning procurement is maturing. Four key findings are:
  • Greater focus on driving high recurrent usage around a narrow set of generic titles; often linked to specific major business projects or changes, which may cycled over time
  • Rapid growth in adoption of non-traditional forms of e-learning content, particularly on-line reference material, driven by significant increases in perceived relevance and value from an often e-learning skeptical audience
  • More focus on industry-specific (vertical) or job-role-specific (horizontal) content, often from niche providers with a proven understanding and brand in their niche
  • Increased desire for flexible adoption of e-learning content, embedded within mainstream learning programmes (the so-called ‘trend to blend')

The researcher concluded that corporate are focusing on the value proposition of e-learning.

I see that as a stage into another stage. The value proposition here seems to me is still primary focus on the internal processes and development of their human resource to better handle the task at hand.

The next stage would be using the e-learning initiative and infra-structure to deliver value proposition linked to the corporate's core business activity. Building on the continuous human resource development, the next stage will see corporate using their e-learning infra-structure to help their partners in the various part of the value chain. By understanding better the processes of procurement, for example, a supplier can better fine-tune his own stock to meet the demand of the corporate. By tapping into the internal process of the corporate, the supplier will be able to obtain time-sensitive information and benefit from such information.

Such integration of business process is not a one-side process. The corporate needs to help provide training to its suppliers staff in order to see the benefit flows through.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Corporate Blogger guidelines

Different corporate has different vision and value system. Hence, I won't see a general guideline which can apply to all. Here are some corporate guidelines which may serve as a starting point for you to create your own for your company.

Thomas Nelson spells out the objectives of encouraging employees to blog:
we want to encourage you to blog about our company, our products, and your work. Our goal is three-fold:
* To raise the visibility of our company,
* To make a contribution to our industry, and
* To give the public a look at what goes on within a real live publishing company.

and continue to list out 10 points:
# Start with a blogging service.
# Write as yourself.
# Own your content. Employee blog sites are not Company communications. Therefore, your blog entries legally belong to you. They represent your thoughts and opinions. We think it is important that you remind your readers of this fact by including the following disclaimer on your site: “The posts on this blog are provided ‘as is’ with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.”
# Write relevant. Write often.
# Advertise—if you wish. While there is no requirement to run ads on your blog, you are free to do this if you wish. ... The only thing we ask is that, to the extent you have control, you run ads or recommend products that are congruent with our core values as a Company.
# Be nice. Avoid attacking other individuals or companies.
# Keep secrets. Do not disclose sensitive, proprietary, confidential, or financial informa-tion about the Company, other than what is publicly available in our SEC filings and corporate press releases.
# Respect copyrights.
# Obey the law.
# Remember the Handbook. As a condition of your employment, you agreed to abide by the rules of the Company Handbook. This also applies to your blogging activities.

Here is a version from Sun
Many of us at Sun are doing work that could change the world. We need to do a better job of telling the world. As of now, you are encouraged to tell the world about your work, without asking permission first

After setting up the tone, here are the advice:
#It’s a Two-Way Street. ... Whether or not you’re going to write, and especially if you are, look around and do some reading, so you learn where the conversation is and what people are saying.
#Don’t Tell Secrets.... There’s an official policy on protecting Sun's proprietary and confidential information, but there are still going to be judgment calls.
#Be Interesting
#Write What You Know
#Financial Rules. There are all sorts of laws about what we can and can’t say, business-wise. Talking about revenue, future product ship dates, roadmaps, or our share price is apt to get you, or the company, or both, into legal trouble.
#Quality Matters
#Think About Consequences
#Disclaimers.... a disclaimer on the front page saying who they work for, but that they’re not speaking officially. This is good practice, but don’t count it to avoid trouble; it may not have much legal effect.

The Harvard Law school provides 6 points:
1. Rights in the Content You Submit
2. Conduct
3. Disclaimer of Warranties and Limitation of Liability
4. Privacy Policy
5. Modification of These Terms of Use
6. Copyright Complaints

A short and sweet 11-point guideline from IBM originated from James Snell and summarised by InfoWorld.
1. Know and follow IBM's Business Conduct Guidelines.
2. Blogs, wikis and other forms of online discourse are individual interactions, not corporate communications. IBMers are personally responsible for their posts. Be mindful that what you write will be public for a long time -- protect your privacy.
3. Identify yourself -- name and, when relevant, role at IBM -- when you blog about IBM or IBM-related matters. And write in the first person. You must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of IBM.
4. If you publish a blog or post to a blog and it has something to do with work you do or subjects associated with IBM, use a disclaimer such as this: "The postings on this site are my own and don�t necessarily represent IBM�s positions, strategies or opinions."
5. Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.
6. Don�t provide IBM�s or another�s confidential or other proprietary information.
7. Don't cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers without their approval.
8. Respect your audience. Don't use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, etc., and show proper consideration for others' privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory -- such as politics and religion.
9. Find out who else is blogging on the topic, and cite them.
10. Don't pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes, and don't alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so.
11. Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective.

Here is a corporate weblog manifesto by a microsoft geek blogger.

On the other hand, Herald Tribune requires editor approval:
Web log postings will meet the same standards of journalism expected for articles published in the pages of the newspaper. This includes the same standards for objectivity, sourcing and ultimate accuracy.

An editor must review entries written by the blogger/reporter before being posted live online.
Monday, May 09, 2005
Wiki This- A Model for Customer Support Using Blogs and Wikis

Lee Lefeved has this wonderful post on how to use blog and wiki together to provide
a persistent feedback loop for the decision makers and a timely support resource for customers.

While it is not an automated process, it has the advantage of having real human intelligence in organising the information in the wiki for future use (I am thinking organising the wiki like wikipedia) so that timely information will be searchable both internally for decision making and externally for customer-support. Of course, there may be sensitive issues which need to be sorted out for "internal" and "external", the idea is brilliant.

In the following, I am extending this idea for use in corporate e-learning.

In a teaching and training environment, the same idea can be used throughout the training sessions to capture the questions and issues arising from the course material from the learners. I would suggest that the learners should also be able to edit the course wiki (not just the instructor) so that they will own both the questions AND answers to the issue.

When the course is over, the wiki should be incorporated into a support wiki where employees who have finished the course may refer to on a just-in-time fashion for on the job support.

I would also suggest that for each cohort of learners/trainees, a new course wiki should be created. Learning is a process. If we start the current course with a previous course wiki (or the general support wiki), we are denying the current learners from the opportunity of first attempts in rising an issue and providing a solution to the problem.

There will be significant overlaps among course wikis. The overlaps signify the areas that instructional design should be focussed in the next iteration of the course. The non-overlapping issues among course wikis, when incorporated into the support wiki, will provide a rich "FAQ" for just-in-time problem solving on the job.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Chain Letters from the Boss - cont'd

Dealing with a conflict with the boss is not easy and there is NO ONE solution. Different circumstances call for different approach.

Another thing I need to make clear is that the solution suggested below is from the point of view of human resources. It is more about improving whole organisation rather than solving the grief experienced by any particular person.

When there is a conflict between a senior executive with a lower level manager/worker or a breach of policy by a senior executive, it is easy, from HR's angle, to lean towards the senior executive, or do nothing. The post yesterday described a situation in which OneShoe's HR department seemed to have chosen the "strategy of doing nothing".

In the case described yesterday, HR cannot claim ignorance. The chain letters originated from the CFO must have included HR department, if not, it will soon arrive at some HR staff inbox anyway.

Chain letter of this kind also falls into the category of "crime without obvious victim" and hence HR cannot expect any formal complaint from anyone. OneShoe, as the Network Admin, felt annoyed. However, it is also pointed out in the first post that OneShoe has no desire to make a major issue of this.

Choosing the "doing nothing strategy" is like burying one's head in the sand and hope that the storm will move away and things will get back to normal. In some situations, this is exactly the best strategy.

The "doing nothing strategy" also demonstrates the weakness of the HR department and damages the morale of the company. Waste of resources aside, it also created a precedence for further break of corporate rules and policy.

Confronting the CFO is not a strategy any HR should consider without significant evaluation of the situation. While many leaders claim to accept criticism, the chances of find one who can REALLY accept criticism is near zero.

The inspiration of a solution comes from the scenario of a role play we called "xmas party from Hell", this link to a particular instance of that role play.

Here is a brief background of the role play. Mick Malloy is the Managing Director. He has a young Personal Assistant Josh. The public description of Josh is
Josh is an ambitious sort of bloke and he must be to take on the job as Mick’s Personal Assistant. Everyone can see he's too good for that job. No-one expects Josh to be around for long. He's aiming for higher things, so is trying to keep his nose clean. Some say he only got that position as a reverse equity thing. When the Equity and Social Justice Manager Anna Leska heard that, she squashed it real quick, making it clear that all processes were followed and Josh won that position on merit.

In the scenario, it was the xmas party when John would be given a gift for his retirement. Here is that part of the scenario
Then it's John's turn. He gets up, faces the crowd, sucks his gut in, gives his bum-bag a surreptitious scratch (lucky it wasn't his bum this time) and after a few mindless words, he blurts out....

"Thanks for the kind words and the bummer of a gift Mick me boy!

The one thing I like about Mick is that he never changes. He always calls a spade a spade.

Whether it's Genghis Khan or Marilyn Monroe, his personal assistant will always be 'Girlie" to him.

What you got to remember is he means well..

So, in the role play, the managing director has been calling his male PA my girlie. This is a clear case of harassment. What should Josh do?

Isn't this a similar situation to OneShoe, only many times worse. But, here, there is a clear "victim".

Knowing how effective "xmas party from hell" has been when it was played (at least 5 times now), I suggest a solution to any HR department when faced with similar problems, is to get a role play simulation running, invite a broad representation of the staff to participate (and participate in groups to play a role, e.g. 4 staff to play one role) including teams with board range of seniority. The scenario does not need to address the situation directly. By playing a role play, people will step in the shoes of other and see things from a different angle. Best of all, by playing in team, the pressure of squarely pointing at any particular person is minimized (artificial objectivity!). A solution suitable for the organisation will evolve through the role play and the implementation will be swift and effective! (or the problem will "just disappear")!
Monday, May 02, 2005
Chain Letters from the Boss

Recently there is an interesting discussion thread in TechRepublic. The first post (by OneShoe) is

I am at a loss as to how to handle the onslaught of junk email that is routinely sent internally throughout my company by fellow employees including the executive staff and mostly the CFO, my boss.

This morning I received yet another "John 3:16, Jesus Loves You, forward this to ten people" chain letter email with the animated graphics and all that crap.

OneShoe is annoyed.

The first issue I have with these is the Network Admin side of me that is annoyed that these emails go all over my network, clogging up my servers and taking up space. They are in violation of the company's acceptable use policy and are generally a big waste of company time.

The second issue is my personal opinion that these emails are both offensive and inappropriate in the workplace. The top executives are sending emails throughout the company pushing their religious beliefs on subordinates asking them to come to Jesus.

I have mentioned my issue to various managers in the past, including my boss, requesting they remove me from their mass mail lists yet the emails continue. I have filters setup in Outlook, but many emails still get through because I can't get too strict with my filtering without missing some actual business related emails.

I do not really have the desire to make a major issue of this but I would like it to stop. Any suggestions?
[my emphasis]

Lots of suggestions flow in. Here is a good one.
People are addicted to forwarding that crap because then they can pretend that they are evangelizing without having to put any thought or work into it. Threatening legal action, while within your rights and perhaps a good strategy for long-run changes in the corporate culture, would also have the effect of isolating you from many of your co-workers.

If the people in your company have web access, create a policy in which people setup webmail accounts for personal communications (such as this crap) and restrict the usage of company e-mail accounts to work-related missives. You can spin this situation as positive with a memo to your boss on how to save on network traffic (or something like that.)

Another obvious view is this one:
you realistically have two options - 1) live with the problem the best you can, or 2) find another job, either by suing or just going out and getting one.

Eventually, OneShoe posted this
Well, thank you all for the sometimes constructive and always creative feedback. Here is what I have learned and decided:

1. Religious nuts and people who threaten legal action over every little thing have a lot in common in my book.

2. Managing computer users is a lot like raising children. To get them to stop doing something, you have to redirect their focus as opposed to confronting them head on.

3. I am not going to waste any more of my time worrying about these emails. I have plenty of other things than annoy me much more than this that I can focus my energy on.

Time for some tunes and a fresh cup o' joe. It's Friday!

From a corporate learning point of view, is there a lesson that we can learn? If there is any HR people reading my post, you should think about the consequence this may have.

Any better solution? I think there is at least one. I will reveal that tomorrow.
Musings during my journey into elearning implementations for the corporates

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Conversation With My Evil Twin Learning for 2020  Asynchronous Collaborative Learning Activities

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