Sunday, October 01, 2006

Monday, July 31, 2006

When Does the Pathfinder Part Begin?

So far, this has been a pretty typical blog. But that was by design as the previous posts were designed as an introduction. Look out! Here come some serious paths now .... (Check links on right side of this site.)

You Say WebQuest -- I Say Web Quest.

So, exactly what is a WebQuest?

It is ...

an inquiry-oriented activity in which some of all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the Internet or an intranet.

A WebQuest may be short-term (one or two short sessions) or long-term (multiple sessions over a longer period of time). The goal of a Webquest is knowledge acquisition and intergration.

During a short-term Webquest, the learner is required to acquire a significant amount of new information and make sense of it.

The goal of a long-term Webquest is for the learner to extend and refine their understanding of a subject. A learner satisfactorily completes a long-term Webquest when she is able to analyze a body of knowledge, transform it, and demonstrate an increased understanding in some way.

Various thinking skills are used during a Webquest:
    • Comparing
    • Classifying
    • Deducing
    • Inducing
    • Analyzing errors
    • Constructing support
    • Abstraction
    • Analyzing perspectives
The critical attributes of a WebQuest include:

1. Introduction – should orient the learner as to what is coming and raise interest

2. Defined task – a description of what the learner will do during the Webquest and of a final deliverable (presentation or product)

3. Defined process – clearly defined steps learners should use and appropriate learning advice

4. Resource list / information resources – a list of web pages and other resources the learner is expected to use (the learner may also be required to locate additional resources on their own)

5. Evaluation methodology – how the Webquest will be evaluated or results measured

6. Conclusion – to bring the Webquest to an end, remind learners of what has been learned, and encourage learners to extend methodology for learning to other domains

[Adapted from WebQuests in our Future, the Teacher’s Role in Cyberspace by Kathleen Schrock. Accessed on July 20, 2006.]

What's a Trainer to Do? (Learning Strategies)

OK, we've decided that self-directed learners despise lectures, true/false and matching questions, and dull PowerPoint presentations. What's a trainer to do?

There are excellent learning strategies that lend them selves to the technology (or perhaps the technology lends itself to the learning strategies?). Either way, there are options.

Learners can be challenged to:

  • Debate
  • Analyze
  • Recommend
  • Justify
  • Plan
  • Prioritize
  • Propose
  • Argue
  • Conclude
  • Reject
  • Solve
  • Create
  • Critique
  • Invent
... and that's off the top of my head! Wow, this is starting to sound interesting.

Is It Web 2.0 Learner, or Learner 2.0? (Audience Analysis)

Or What Does the Target Audience Analysis Look Like?

I suppose it really does not matter, except we must acknowledge that when traditionalist trainers do target audience analysis (jargon for a description of the characteristics of trainees), they think in terms of what and how trainees need to be taught rather than how motivated, self-directed learners prefer to learn.

Here are some characteristics of Web 2.0 learners:

  • Thrive on processing information quickly
  • Simultaneously use multiple learning resources (one study shows a typical Web 2.0 learners consuming 20 hours of media within 7 hours through multi-tasking; think of the Bloomberg TV news with multiple screens and text crawls)
  • Have a need for speed and want answers to their questions quickly
  • Feel empowered to learn and actively exercise that authority
  • Have little patience for reading the manual, attending a lecture, or attending dull meetings
  • Take pride in being well informed and actively pursuing knowledge
  • Prefer pictures, graphics, diagrams, pictographs accompanied by text rather than text with accompanying graphics
  • Expect a payoff for learning (job is easier, quicker promotion, recognition from the boss, etc.)
  • View technology as a friend and willingly embrace technological advances

So what are their preferences for learning? Well, they ...

  • Want a choice about the topic, the time, and the place of learning
  • Prefer to learn in small groups and at their own pace
  • Want the result of learning to solve real-life problems
  • Want to learn things that can be immediately applied
  • Don't want their learning sessions to be interrupted whether short or long
  • Prefer learning resources that are multi-sensory

Wow! That's really different from the typical target audience analysis.

What is Learning 2.0?

Seems everyone is tacking 2.0 on to indicate the latest, greatest, newest technology. It has even happened to learning.

I define Learning 2.0 as applying Web 2.0 technologies to learning. Some examples of Web 2.0 technologies include ...

  • Blogs
  • Vlogs and Podcasts
  • Flickr (or other sites where digital images are shared)
  • VoIP (such as Skype)
  • Public posting and sharing of favorite links (such as
  • Wikis
  • Discussion Boards with group mail (such as Google Groups or Yahoo Groups)
  • Webcasts (such as Microsoft On Demand)
  • WebQuests (used originally in education, but not migrating to the corporate training world)

... and joining on-line social networks, the most famous (and infamous) of which is MySpace.

There are other terms for Learning 2.0. George Siemens refers to the convergence of information, elearning, and knowledge management on his blog elearnspace. Jay Cross, who blogs at Internet Time prefers the term Informl Learning for his Unworkshops and UnConferences.

The very idea of Learning 2.0 can be offputting to training traditionalists (of which I count myself) because it turns on its ear the notion that learning can occur even when training is not. Imagine -- sometimes no learning occurs during training, and quite frequently, learning occurs when there is no training.

Research suggests that learning occurs naturally in the workplace all of the time, and when compared to learning in a classroom, the workplace wins hands down. It's estimated that over 80 percent of all work-related learning happens spontaniously on the job! One can surmise that some of what is learned is right while some is not.

So the question is:

How do we training traditionalists approach our work differently so that we facilitate and improve spontaneous workplace learning?

Hum-m-m, I feel a blog coming on.

What is a Pathfinder?

A pathfinder is a guide for on-line learners. It is like leaving breadcrumbs so that the author (and others) can quickly retrace their steps and easily locate important resources. Pathfinders have been used by librarians and researchers for many years. Really good pathfinders are useful as reference tools and to guide those who are motivated, independent learners.

On this blog, I will attempt to do thorough job, be creative, and find the best possible resources about Learning 2.0. Since I want to be able to demonstrate the usefulness of a pathfinder and to be able to show others what one looks like, it is my intention that this will an example of good pathfinder.