You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2008.

Sarah pointed us to a collection of leadership videos that you may like. Its called The Leadership Hub.

My favourite was this clip of Micheal Eisner talking about how you must accept failure if you want big successes. The only other way is mediocrity.


For most people, getting one thing done a day would be an improvement. By done, I mean completed.

For all the complexity in time management ideas it often seems the simplest ideas are the best. If you can get one thing done everyday – you are way ahead of the crowd.

How many times today have you been left fumbling around for a word which you know instinctively is rattling around somewhere inside that void of a mind?

Lifehacker points us to this video which claims to be able to help us.

4d 4 dimensional cube

Picking up from The Gorv’s comment on yesterdays post I think there is more to “learning 387.0” than meets the eye.

Generally everyone loves a term, something catchy, a container that describes what’s inside in a quick, snappy phrase.

Does “learning 387.0” cut the mustard?

I quite like it.  It has a certain lovely, meaningful yet sarcastic ring to it.  Ok, so probably not quite the buzzwords we are looking for.  

Let’s have a look at learning’s journey (a bit like the title of this blog may suggest), and give it a scientific twist.

Imagine a classroom filled with pupils and a teacher at the front with a blackboard. The teacher has a set lesson plan and teaches the class by telling and showing. There is no listening from the teacher, no questioning allowed and no feedback on whether the training works or not. As an alternative the teacher could wheel in a TV and video to the front of the class, stick a tape in, press play and walk out again.  

This is one way learning.  It’s one dimensional with information only traveling outwards from the assumed subject expert.

Adding another dimension means information suddenly goes both ways in the form of questions from the students and answers from the teacher.  It may also feature tests which are an obvious and effective way of measuring learning. This is effectively 2D but as with anything 2D it’s a rather flat experience.

3D learning occurs when we have information going both ways on the 2D plane and there is a third source which is referred to from within the classroom and delivered from the outside.  Think of this as every student having a computer connected to the internet and using it as a library to support and increase the knowledge given within the class.  This form of learning has a much greater depth.

In science terms the forth dimension is all about space and time.  This is similar for learning too. 4D learning is all about the ability to bend and distort the learning experience and sometimes fold it all the way back into itself.  It’s about coming at learning from all angles.  Now in our classroom we still have our teacher and our students but the teacher isn’t the only expert in the room and they are also open to furthering their knowledge on a particular subject.  Learning here is all about sharing.  What happens in the class doesn’t stay in the class and on the outside the whole world can share, participate and add to the learning experience.  

Let’s take an example of a wiki on dog training.  The teacher kicks the wiki off by adding some core content.  The students then begin to add to the wiki maybe with what they already know, maybe with what they discover en route.  This wiki can be seen by the whole world and suddenly you have other dog handlers and trainers adding to it.  Sometimes information given can be incorrect, maybe not now but maybe in the future.  Say for example a chihuahua will always perform a trick for a juicy bone, somebody makes a note of this on the wiki and the information is shared.  Maybe in 100 years time the whole chihuahua breed has become vegetarian and that information is void but the wiki still exists.  No problem, time is bent, the wiki is adjusted and then the information is up to date again.  The beauty is that everyone who is subscribe to this wiki via RSS will be updated when a change happens so the learner is never left behind.

So you see 4D Learning is all about being user driven.  It’s about a multi-way experience which is constantly changing, evolving and responding to learners input and support.

Can you get any better than 4D Learning?  Will there be a fifth dimension?  Absolutely not.  By it’s very nature 4D Learning in itself is also constantly changing, evolving and improving.  As a result it is a term that adapts and grow as and when necessary.

This is obviously just my opinion, not news.  Is it just fluff or do we actually need a term to create hooks?  If I’m going into a client meeting with either the term “learning” or “4D learning” I know I’d have much more success with generating excitement from the latter.

Marton House’s patent for the term “4D Learning” is pending… in my mind at least.

Image from wikipedia

Advertising is a price companies pay for being unoriginal.

Yves Behar, designer of the laptop for the ‘one laptop per child project’

The diagram you see above is taken from a post over at Learning Circuits.  In it Tony Karrer discusses the transition from e-learning 1.0 to 2.0 and demonstrates the changes.

When you look at the table you’ll notice in the middle column the heading E-Learning 1.3. Is this a half-baked bridge between 2 landmarks in e-learning history?  Actually no, moreover it’s probably the place where e-learning actually found it’s feet.  I’d also argue that LMSs didn’t really occur until this stage either, leaving e-learning 1.0 being stuck with delivery methods such as CD, which would have made it truly one way and top-down.

To be honest most e-learning is still being created at the “1.3” level, and I can assure you development time is not rapid in most cases.

The right column is the intriguing one as the ownership has flipped.  Now learning is bottom-up and learner-driven with some of the best learning coming from colleagues and peers.  In the most recent release of The Platform we deal with learning and training, with a view to getting our audience to understand the benefits of traditional and non-traditional learning.

Looking at the right column again we can see wikis, social networking, blogs, and mashups. Utilizing all these forms of learning requires a high level of interest from the learner and a deep-rooted curiosity.  We termed this form of learning as “beachcombing” and you can see a video we made all about that below.

Now after watching that video surely our minds are opening up to the possibility that all those learning tools listed under e-learning 2.0 expand much further outside of the electronic world?

Has e-learning evolved so far that we should ditch the “e” like The Gorv mentioned in his comment yesterday?

Tomorrow we’ll look at this “learning” revolution.


learning from elearning

Are we out of date by even mentioning the term e-learning here? Is it even necessary these days? Let’s look at the facts.

According to learning entrepreneur Jay Cross he coined the term “elearning” in 1998.

Then Blackboard Inc. were awarded a patent for the term “e-learning” in January 2006.

A web backlash against Blackboard Inc. came about shortly after and a wiki was formed which attributes e-learning to Vannevar Bush all the way back in 1945 when he wrote an article about a proposed hypertext-like machine called the Memex.

Does this mean that if we offer “e-learning” as one of our services we run the risk of infringing on a patent set by a competitor?

Elearning, e-learning, electronic learning, enhanced learning  whatever it’s called it would appear to have been around for a while now.  Does this mean elearning is an old term though?  Does the term e-learning have any place in this technologically advanced world?

Our company, Marton House is of course synonymous with the term e-learning as it is a massive part of our company offering.  Though we quite often recommend instead a blended approach to learning, with facilitators and trainers supporting the material or vice versa with the materials supporting them.

So does that mean e-learning as a stand alone product has had it’s day?  On the whole probably not as the benefits of e-learning still outstrips many more traditional approaches.  It’s cost effective, it can be simultaneously rolled out in multiple locations world wide, it can feature data and accurate result tracking which is very difficult and slow to achieve in more traditional forms of delivery, and it can replicate and simulate complex systems during the learning process which means training mistakes do not occur on live customer facing systems.

Is it evolving though?

I’m currently doing some e-learning myself in the form of learning Spanish via my Nintendo DS.  Suddenly I find myself as the student rather than the deliverer and as much as I have every belief in this game and what it can offer me on my path to speaking Spanish there is sadly one thing that is sorely lacking – the human touch.  I met up with a buen amigo of mine at the weekend who speaks Spanish and for the first time I could put the individual words I had learnt into sentences.

Having someone to quiz and bounce off is sometimes the most vital need for the learning process.

The trick to effective training and learning is all about support.

So we mix e-learning with more traditional methods of delivery and we get “blended learning”, a term that does the job but doesn’t exactly get everyone in the room jumping up and down with excitement.  It’s not a new term either.

Then we have feedback and peer learning as an extension to that approach.

So should we be pioneering a new term?  Maybe it’s just me but electronic learning does make me think of the children’s learning aid machines from the 1980’s such as Speak ‘n’ Spell and blended learning makes me think of learning how to make cocktails.

We are dangerously close to the term “e-learning 2.0” cropping up and that makes me shudder.  It’s too easy these days to strap on the term “2.0” to anything which is new but, as the evidence shows it is happening across all areas (see web 2.0, business 2.0, Jake 2.0 etc.)

Tomorrow we take a look at the journey from “e-learning 1.0” to “e-learning 2.0“.  How did we get here and how on earth did we end up versioning everything?

Yesterday I wrote about the fact that our current content charts are great, but perhaps can’t tell the full story. And as Julian commented on, these are useful for sign off with clients – but I feel that perhaps they don’t give a full enough overview of the whole thing.

Why do I think that?

Because I am holding many things in my head that sits above this chart and therefore these thoughts and ideas aren’t getting discussed and improved. So here is my proposed idea for increasing engagement by planning a secondary layer – an emotional / engagement / experience graph.

I picked up this idea from Bruce Block, a visual structure expert who teaches at USC and is the producer of films such as The Holiday. His use of this graph was limited to screenplays, as I wrote about on my own filmmaking blog.

It’s a simple, very simple, graph showing your target level of engagement over time. ‘Over time’ could mean the length of the workshop, or the CD-ROM.

Flat graph

This graph shows obviously a flat experience. A good level of engagement, but constant. But with no variation this course would probably not be very memorable.

Decline Graph

This graph shows a poor experience for the delegates – the course tails off.

Doing the graph neat and electronically as it is here is perhaps over blown. I see these graphs being used much more as a drawn sketch initially to help our discussions. But still, why do it? Why would this actually help? What would you do differently? This graph might show our first draft for a course. 

Clearly we can see it is too front heavy. And then the second half has low engagement for a long time. That would result in poor feedback for all. But what should we do about that?

Firstly, if we changed the order we could create a course that had more variety, had more engagement. However that might cause a giant slump as we go into the competencies detail. It’s clear now that this set up needs to create hooks and perhaps almost cliffhangers that set up difficult questions but offer no immediate solutions right then. So we may write that introduction in a very different way.

Secondly, our skill drill now lifts up the audience again.

Thirdly our reflective conclusion is too limp for a climax. If we did an active conclusion in the form of a game or getting people to move around the room that would lift the end of the day. Result…

Now I believe these are things we all do anyway in our minds. But in our minds makes it hard to share and hard to pitch.

This idea is coming out early so I may be off in the implementation or the value of it. But I’m going to try and use it on the next project.

Sony has recently announced its plan to offer elearning tools for the PSP and e-learning software developer Atlantic Link has developed the software to allow courses to be designed specifically for the Sony PSP Slim and Lite.  Traditionally courses on the PSP has been designed on a big screen and shrunk to fit the PSP screen – and it doesn’t always translate that well.  This new software however allows you to author e-learning at the native screen size of a PSP.


Sounds okay but I was wondering however what you can achieve on such a small screen and how easy it is to actually do e-learning in miniature.  Now I’m probably a bit more gadget-shy than some so using my ipod or mobile phone to watch video or use the internet doesn’t really appeal to me because i’d rather see it on a bigger screen for fuller effect.  However as Atlantic Link has put up a sample of PSP e-learning I thought I’d check it out:


OK so now I’m really convinced that I couldn’t do e-learning in miniature – is it just me or is some of this just far too small to be of any significant use.  You decide if you’re game.  Maybe I just need some glasses…….


See the full article at:

This may be the most important blog post that I’ve written so far. The reason is – it is about our work and how we can make it much more effective.

We are lucky in a certain regard. We don’t directly charge our audience. If we have a workshop or rollout a piece of e-learning we don’t also have to convince people to pay £10 to do it. But our audience does have to pay. Every one of them. They have to pay with their attention. The more attention they give the more they will retain, the more they will remember, the more successful the training will have been.

So getting and keeping people’s attention = successful training.

We all know that or accept that. We maybe call it the delegate experience. We ask questions like ‘what will the delegate experience be like’ or ‘what will this feel like to work through?’ We want to get it right. And yet our planning for a piece of learning looks like this…

My content chart

It’s all about the content. And I count myself in this way of working. This chart outlines the latest Platform module. But is this enough?

How would this chart showing the content highlight when we should intrigue people, when they should be drawn in, when they should feel demands are being made of them, when they should feel supported?

The emotional track is missing. This, to me, seems like we have an opportunity to do more in this area.


That is the subject of tomorrow’s post.

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