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We believe in being up front. Honesty. Transparency. Frankness.

So we’re a bit disappointed that we won’t be joining you guys for some conferences this year. We could, but … well, we’d have to pay to be there. I’m not talking about the registration fee. I’m talking paying to be up on the stage.

Yep. There were several conferences we looked at that were eager for us to speak – as long as we were willing to pay for the privilege. Whether we had something good to say wasn’t the criteria, and that just didn’t sit well with us. Kind of a switcharoo on those who want to hear from people of substance and not just those of means and opportunity.

That kind of wheeling and dealing certainly doesn’t increase credibility for vendors who do take the stage. And hurts attendees by not focusing on what makes for good content first. Our call to conferences would be to cut the games and judge presentations on the fit for the audience first and foremost and only. (And for you, the attendees, to demand and expect that!)

Understand, we’re not trying to whine about it… or whinny. We’re just sorry we won’t have as many opportunities to “spread the gospel” of learning standards and meet as many of you as we originally hoped. However, we will be able to catch you at a few places in the next few months:

  • Learning Solutions – Not a speaking gig, but you can hook up with Mike next month in Orlando.
  • e-Learning DevCon 2010 – Mike gets the really technical, heavy-lifting presentations. He’s got two at this conference, one talking about what to include about SCORM in an RFP for an LMS (based on his white paper) and a hands-on technical session showing how to take advantage of our open platform to develop modules and plugins and extensions that take learning anywhere.
  • International Conference on e-Learning in the Workplace – Tim and I (or one or both) are scheduled to present here. Two sessions, one explaining SCORM in plain English (as plain as I can make it) and one looking at the kind of reporting you can get out of SCORM.
  • Campus Technology 2010 – Mike will be in Boston for this one with a longer version of our SCORM in plain English presentation. Check him out on Wednesday afternoon (July 21) and be sure to ask a lot of questions.

Got something specific you’d love to see us cover in a session? Let me know and we’ll make sure to answer it! (Well, OK, I’ll try to make sure it’s on the agenda. Can’t control what happens after that sometimes.) Going to be at the same conference? Definitely let us know because we love putting face/voices/reality to online connections.

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Paul Saffo has some interesting things to say, but nothing that jumped out at me until he started talking about Facebook. According to his Stanford students, “Facebook is so over. It’s for 30 year olds.”

Has sentiment on Facebook turned?

__________________________

Next great thought from Paul…

We are each creating for Google when we pass them a search string. That search string leads to the ads they are able to display. Great way to think of it… We create something that they can sell.

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Everybody is talking about Facebook… I mean, the blogosphere is just obsessed with it… Me? I’m not totally sold on Facebook as the killer app, but I am fascinated with how cultural/internet phenomena intersect with SCORM and eLearning.

Shon Bayer from Enspire Learning in Austin led a session this afternoon on Facebook. It was really interesting to watch a diverse group of learning professionals ponder its impact. Truthfully, more of the people were grasping Facebook’s impact on their life than were pondering their learners’ lives, but it was still interesting.

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I spent part of the morning with a topic near to my professional heart… Session 110 was titled “A Web Service Architecture for Integrating SCORM and Experiential Learning”. Yes, it’s a mouthful.

More or less, Ginny Travers was presenting BBN’s solution from an ADL prototype that extended ADL’s Sample Runtime to allow for non-JS based interaction with the API. See more information on it here.

I won’t bore you with the details of it here. There were aspects of the solution that bothered me. Proposing a non standards based solution to a standards problem seems counterproductive in a sense. The majority of people in the session seemed to believe this was a present, available solution… It is not that…

I agree, however, that a web services layer of SCORM is needed. We most often see this manifest itself in a desire for a teacher to grade a student’s essay. SCORM simply doesn’t allow for any communication outside of the browser session. If this additional pipe were opened, it would greatly open the functionality that could be implemented. The student could submit the essay, the teacher could grade it later, and the score/information could be submitted to the LMS without the learner reopening the session.

One last thought… LETSI needs to do some marketing. From our association with the group, we know well that its intentions are spot on. But messages are getting around that SCORM will be stripped back (removing sequencing and navigation) and that the concept of “CORE SCORM” will result in a moving target for the standard. LETSI will certainly consider these issues carefully, and change will come. It is unfathomable to me, though, that so many earnest standards contributors would allow it to drift from a path that they have pursued for years. Interoperability and access will continue to drive the people of LETSI, and the result will be an improved standard.

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I’m often impressed by the visionary keynote speakers at these conferences. The themes are relatively similar, but they often express them in insightful ways. Sir Ken Robinson spoke today on the importance of creativity among other things. First, I’ll share a couple of pearls he offered…

  • Our imagination is our defining difference from other creatures… our ability to consider things that are beyond our senses.
  • Divergent thinking is suffering in our education system. This one reaches me personally, as I consider my oldest daughter’s (a first grader) path through the school system. Robinson quoted a study on Divergent Thinking where a group of kids were tested at three different times as to their ability to achieve at a genius level in divergent thinking.

    • At age 3-5, some 98% qualified as geniuses in this regard.
    • At age 8-10 (same group), that number had fallen to 32%.
    • By age 13-15 (same group), that number had fallen to 10%.
    • And a similar group of people over the age of 25 measured a mere 2%.
  • Conformity is a huge concern for me with school. I absolutely feel like my daughter’s ability to think creatively has been crushed by school. To a shocking degree, first grade has been all about how to conform. Robinson echoes this… obviously this elimination of diverse thinking is not the intent of the school system, but it is a substantial effect.
  • So, what then? Well, the big thought is, “What’s the responsibility of the organization?” Robinson points to an analogy. The company should be like a farmer. Farmers don’t make plants grow, they simply provide an environment in which the plant can flourish. His challenge to us is to make our organizations and teams conducive to growth of creativity. This leads me to my thought…

How does this apply to products? How does it apply to SCORM? Well, it’s a bit of a stretch, but I’d like to find products and evolutions of our products that allow our customers to be creative in our context. Our work is about removing the painful roadblocks in creating useful online learning. It’s a good challenge for us as we define our product roadmap and as we help guide the evolution of the standards.

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