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Democratizing Innovation

In this video lecture, Eric von Hippel discusses innovation by the users of a product or service to come up with something better (e.g. Lego robots case).

Wicked Problems: Naming the Pain in Organizations

This is an interesting article that analyzes solving wicked problems - complex, ill-structured problems with slippery variables!

Accidental learning: Some insight into how and when it occurs

We usually learn even when we are not consciously trying to (called accidental learning). So how and why does it happen? Apparently it all has to do with relevance! Read on...

Some Principles of Effective E-Learning

Stephen Downes describes three principles that can help build effective e-learning -- "By ensuring that e-learning content is interactive, usable and relevant a designer can be virtually sure that the e-learning outcome will be a success. or at the very least, appreciated by the learners. Who are, after all, the final judge."

What is information architecture?

Step Two Designs has published a new article that "provides an introduction to information architecture, discusses the evolution of the discipline and provides a 9-step guide for how to create an effective information architecture."

BBC on the psychology of risk

BBC Frontiers takes an in-depth look at risk and analyzes how coping with a certain amount of risk can actually be beneficial. I like the term' creative risk taking' as used in the program to denote the likes of Einstein and Da Vinci.

Distance Learning is Closing the Distance

Here's another article talking about the 'rise of e-learning':

Young students across the globe today are growing up with online learning as a natural part of their education. As these students grow and move from the world of school to the world of work, their expectations and skills will naturally complement the 'just-in-time' learning environment of the corporate world.

A conversation with Jack Welch

MIT World has posted a video recording of their conversation with Jack Welch. Here are some excerpts:

“You’ve got to believe that the team that fields the best players wins. If you tell the bottom ten where they stand, that it’s time to look for something else, that’s considered cruel management. But, it’s far crueler to let people hang on and then get cut later in their careers when they’re less likely to find other work."

Using stories to communicate - the Singapore casino decision

Around a year ago, the Singapore government initiated a discussion with its citizens on whether or not to open casinos in the country. A strong debate ensued where the focus was mainly on the social ills associated with casinos. The government, however, wanted them to consider the facts of not opening a casino, and to trigger these thoughts they came up with a fable:

Forty years ago, Siamese twins were born. One of the twins is Economy, Singapore Economy. The other twin is Society, Singapore Society. One mind enhances Singapore's competitiveness, the other, its cohesiveness. As they share one heart, if Economy doesn't survive, Society also can't survive and vice versa. One day, Economy said, "If I go on like this, I may suffer a problem." Society asked, "What's the problem? You're not going to die tomorrow. Economy explained he was trying to exercise every day but the competition was getting intense and he may not have much stamina left in five to 10 years. So, he saw a doctor who could provide a medicine which would give Economy the impetus to gain strength for the next five years. Economy was worried, as the medicine would have side effects for Society. But Society said: "In the long run, if you are finished, I am finished. So, take the medicine and I will take my own preventive medicine."

The final decision, made last Wednesday, went in favor of opening the casinos (don't know what impact the fable had on the decision). Come 2009, Singapore will have two integrated resorts with casinos designed to exceed those found in Las Vegas and Macau. More on the casino decision here.

‘Info-mania’ dents IQ more than marijuana

More perils of the attention economy:

"The relentless influx of emails, cellphone calls and instant messages received by modern workers can reduce their IQ by more than smoking marijuana, suggests UK research."

User experience is quality, not a discipline

Peter Merholz is right on the mark with his new perspective on user experience design or UXD (he initially proclaimed UXD dead):

"User experience should not be just about interactive systems -- it's a quality that reflects the sum total of a person's experiences with any product, service, organization. When I walk into a store, I'm having a "user experience." When I call an airline to make a reservation, I'm having a "user experience." And innumerable elements contribute to affect that quality of experience."

Innovation Moves From the Laboratory to the Bike Trail and the Kitchen

More evidence that innovation and knowledge is local, i.e. it resides at the source:

"But a lot of significant innovations do not come from people trying to figure out what customers may want. They come from the users themselves, who know exactly what they want but cannot get it in existing products."

Can video games stimulate academic learning?

Cognitive Daily writes about the impact of games in the classroom by describing a study done in Chile. The study also draws attention to the type of games that are likely to have an impact (as opposed to plain edutainment types).

"The children who played video games were more motivated, more likely to pay attention in class, and substantially less likely to be disruptive. Teachers, even those who were initially skeptical of the program, recognized significant improvements in the classroom, and asked to be able to continue using the games in all their classrooms."

Social Bookmarking Tools

This paper explores the tagging phenomenon in social bookmarking sites:

"In many ways these new tools resemble blogs stripped down to the bare essentials. Here the essential unit of information is a link, not a story – but a link decorated with a title, a description, tags and perhaps even personal recommendation points. It is still uncertain whether tagging will take off in the way that blogging has. And even if it does, nobody yet knows exactly what it will achieve or where it will go – but the road ahead beckons."

[via Stephen's Web]

Apple’s VoiceOver

OS X Tiger "introduces VoiceOver, an accessibility interface that gives you magnification options, keyboard control and spoken English descriptions of what’s happening on screen. If you have a visual impairment, VoiceOver enables you to work collaboratively with other Mac users or work on their computers without assistance."

Reflections on Making Decisions

This is an interesting article on the changing nature of decision-making in the healthcare industry. Not surprisingly, the changes are in the area of interpersonal communications: "Increasingly, a growing body of studies supports the fact that poor physician-nurse communication leads to negative patient outcomes."

Podcast: Negotiating tip of the week

The Otter Group is experimenting with podcasts for e-learning purposes. Every week, they publish a 2-3 minute talk by Josh Weiss, Associate Director of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation. This week's topic is on Salary Negotiation. You can subscribe to the RSS feed here.

Tapping the power of analogy

This article, which appears in the latest Harvard Business Review, is a comprehensive read on understanding and using analogies to make sense of new or unpredictable environments -- be it for strategy or for learning purposes. It explains why the case based method of business instruction is so effective -- it provides managers with a repository of analogies they can draw from to make sense of uncertainties in the real world. Much of the article, however, focuses on techniques to avoid shoehorning analogies to fit your bias. [Note: full article available for purchase online.]

Teaching as performance

This First Monday article continues the debate on knowledge as a thing vs. knowledge as performance. The author beautifully captures the futility of trying to textualize everything:

"Despite this centuries–long trend, however, upper–end management skill has tended to remain in the realm of the interpersonal and of instinctive know–how. In this realm, information technologies have tended not to function as automating technologies, extracting human knowledge and enshrining it in more or less "expert" systems. Instead they have functioned as what Zuboff calls "informating" technologies. Informating technologies feed ever richer streams of data to human beings who still cannot fully explain their ability to sort, manage and manipulate this knowledge for managerial purposes. Managers perform their duties every day in ways that can’t be fully captured in text."

The author also explores this tension in relation to online courses and explains the pressures of balancing one with the other.

Info overload functions as roadblock to better memory

This is a fantastic article that not only points out that the lack of focus and attention is the cause of many memory failures, but it also offers a handy guide for making your brain healthy.

"The problem is people are losing their ability to pay attention. Attention - focus - builds memory..."

Is Phoenix the Future?

This is a nice interview with Gary A. Berg on the University of Phoenix model. Gary is dean of extended education at California State University Channel Islands and actually taught a course at the University of Phoenix in order to understand the model.

"The University of Phoenix and other for-profits argue for a practitioner model claiming that part-time faculty usage can actually lead to higher quality in particular disciplines such as business where real world experience rather than research is especially valuable to students."

[thanks elearnspace]

Quality Personas

This article (PDF) describes an extended use of a persona -- user behavior:

"The best personas will also go the extra step to describe key behaviors such as a decision making process, an information browsing approach, or a shopping mode—the drivers that affect how people approach a given solution."

The emerging mind

The 2003 Reith Lectures from the BBC profiled Professor VS Ramachandaran, a noted neuroscientist and the Director of the Centre for Brain and Cognition at the University of California (San Diego). The Prof. talks about how the "activity of the 100 billion little wisps of protoplasm - the neurons in your brain - give rise to all the richness of our conscious experience, including the "redness" of red, the painfulness of pain or the exquisite flavour of Marmite or Vindaloo."

These audio files are in .rm format (RealMedia), but if you are on the Mac, you can use WireTapPro to convert them into .mp3 format and download directly into your iPod.

A new approach to conference learning

This article describes an engaging approach to devise workshops and conferences where participants' specific pain-points and objectives are targeted:

"Instead of using third-person case studies as the context for a problem-solving exercise, we drew from our participants’ actual needs. A template was e-mailed to early registrants, asking them to identify key points of their business challenges--the challenges that would form the basis of the team’s case problem."

Paired Interview Technique

StepTwo Designs has a new briefing on the paired interview technique:

"A paired interview is a method of collecting information from several people at the same time who represent the target audience. The paired interview is not two interviews being conducted simultaneously. The emphasis of the paired interview is to create a dynamic in which the participants interact with each other. In so doing, they validate or clearly identify differences in working practices and terminology."

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