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Archive for April, 2004

So! What I missed?

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Completely swamped with projects now. Missed bloging, reading, reflecting. Manage to squeeze out couple of hours today to speed read everything. In one post trying to consolidate all. I know, I know it’s not blogging etiquette. But…


D. Keith Robinson posted a comprehensive list of “A Rant and A Few Resources For The Well Rounded Web Craftsman”, a must read for all of us.
Design, accessibility, Web standards, ROI, people, aesthetics, usability, CSS, information architecture, content and the rest are all-valuable and deserve attention.

Nick Wreden wrote a nice article on 10 Rules for Corporate Blogs and Wikis, also complete the loop by following the link to his blogpost The Corporate Weblog Manifesto.

AIfIA has just released a new Information Architecture Library, which links to a pile of information architecture resources. (thanks: Column Two)

James Kirk and Robert Belovics pointed us to great resources for game based learning in a learning circuits article.


David Wiley told us a nice story about “The Polo Parable

The moral of the story is that the concatenation of English words “move my class online” is perhaps the most preposterous sequence of syllables ever to escape the mouth. And yet we all unconsciously fall prey to the subtle wiles of the siren’s song – “just do what you always did… those tried and true techniques you have battle tested in the classroom will serve you well online … trust what you know… do what you have always done… that’s the responsible thing to do.” Imagining that classroom teaching techniques can be successful transplanted into an online environment is even more ridiculous than assuming that the water polo play book will, unaltered, lead to a winning polo season on horseback.

Yesterday, Maish pointed us to a great site,, resources for storytelling in organizations. Need to spend some time, there are plenty of stuff there.

David Pollard posted a interesting article: a story is like a gift
To quote –
Good stories, like good gifts, seem to have one or more of five qualities:
Evocative – they provoke a profound intellectual, emotional, or sensual response.
Transporting — they ‘carry the recipient’ to another place, another time, by imagery or memory or resonance
Persuasive – they cause a fundamental shift in thinking or perception
Memorable — they leave something behind that the recipient will hold for a long time
Useful — they make something the recipient needs to do easier, faster, or more pleasurable

Lets stop now, and get back to work.

Written by anol

April 23rd, 2004 at 11:53 am

Posted in Wanton Posts

Learning experience design

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Inspiration from out-of-the-box (Part I)
I am one of the people going through the metamorphosis from information design (from wild- wild web days!) to learning design. The fact is always haunting me is the mindset of all learning designer working towards “I teach you learn” process. ADDIE or CISCO RLO seems more like a software development life cycle to me too. There must be some better way(s) to do the things here.

Here what I planned to do – First doing a research on “Things what we can learn from out of the box in learning design”. For example from online storytelling and info-graphics designers, advertising/product designing world (how they analyze the user and work towards creating an experience), information architectures (over web and other places). Taking couple of interviews of –
A) Some of the advertising world
B) Some of information designer
C) Some of Learning designer, who doesn’t speak about SCORM or ADDIE when it comes to learning content design, and come up with some better method for design learning content or at least start the discussion.

Of-course I am going to blog every steps of my journey. Here is the first part –

Inspirations from online interactive storytellers -
Second Story creates informative and entertaining interactive experiences including media-rich storytelling presentations, online collections, interpretive installations and database-driven applications.
Since its founding in 1994, the Second Story team of creative artists, producers, writers, animators and programmers has developed over 60 award-winning interactive projects. The studio takes pride in providing clear and intuitive access to archives, artifacts and information as well as staging compelling storytelling features for the Web, kiosks and other digital media.

Here is the quote from Brad Johnson, Creative Director of Second Story –
“The evolution of interactive media means the story no longer flows in one direction, from the one to the many. We provide the characters, the stage, music, information, imagery and atmosphere that visitors use to weave their own story. The narrative is only visible in hindsight, when we piece together the visitor’s path through our work—the path that was their history, their story. This is the second story.”

“We begin each project by immersing ourselves in the content and identifying the most effective and compelling way to stage the story. Then we select the technology and media that best feature the content, heighten usability, and enrich the user experience. Only later in the process is the overall visual treatment established. This approach results in an experience where viewers build an emotional and intellectual connection to the content through their intuitive interaction with the story.” —Julie Beeler, Studio Director

I blogged their works before, catch them on – America on the move, Anne Frank the writer, The Valley of the Kings. But this time I got hold of one of papers on their process, philosophy and product at work kind of behind the stage story.

Beyond On-line Collections: Putting Objects to Work

There are two case studies of visual online museum collection display – The Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s exhibition America on the Move and the Peabody Essex Museum’s ARTscape – that go beyond the inquiry-retrieval model of an on-line collection as an end in itself, to one that provides the foundation for dynamic, extensible and diverse interactive offerings.

On-line collections offer an unmediated alternative to exhibitions and interpreted interactive presentations staged by museums. On-line visitors can directly access what they want, how they want, when they want. Visitors can select from a multitude of different pathways and a variety of perspectives; every image that appears in the site itself becomes a hub linking to every other instance (and hence context, story and perspective) of an object. Individuals can forge new, personalized paths through the site, finding new connections and meaning in the objects to reflect their own interests, experiences and curiosities This interconnected, cross-pollinated approach provides many intersections for interactive exploration to any subject matter.

The first step in extending the utility and value and of an on-line collection is to help audiences discover what they weren’t looking for. Interfaces that go beyond traditional inquiry-retrieval paradigms facilitating unsolicited discovery and meaningful browsing serve wider audiences and more diverse user experiences. When vague curiosities are rewarded as effectively as focused inquiries, an on-line collection can migrate beyond the mere ‘tool’ and start to be thought of as an experience.

ape – the fruits of every journey (online!) through the collection can be saved, shared and connected with visits to the physical museum. Across the top of the ARTscape interface is a persistent zone where visitors can ‘bookmark’ objects that they want to include in their personal collections. Results are selected and records are bookmarked, thumbnails of which are visible in the Bookmarks. If visitors are logged in, their sets of bookmarks can be saved for later retrieval, or e-mailed to friends, students or colleagues. This feature helps curators assemble exhibitions, teachers gather artwork for lessons, and visitors revisit their trips to the museum.

It’s interesting to call it a journey and being able to “breadcrumb” the journey is awesome. Here “breadcrumb” doesn’t mean only a usability paradigm, the context and experience is much deeper.

This record screen provides interpretive information and links to additional media for the object, including a narrated audio segment from the audio tour.

Here comes the best part. For long time we are buzzing around “blended learning”, but not quite able to establish the flow between online, offline and informal learning. These guys did it! I’ve never seen such a seamless flow before.

Bridging the Onsite and On-line Experience
As part of their admission to the museum, every visitor receives an Acoustiguide audio wand to use throughout the galleries. In addition to the traditional audio segments available for some works on view, these modified wands have an additional ARTscape button. Every single object on view has a five-digit ARTscape number clearly visible on its respective interpretive panel. Throughout a visit, audiences can enter the ARTscape number of any object of interest to them – hence bookmarking them – and their entries are recorded in the wand. When the wands are docked in any of the kiosks deployed throughout the galleries, visitors can interact with ARTscape where every object they bookmarked in the museum will be represented. Before leaving the museum, visitors can enter their e-mail address in a kiosk and an e-mail is sent to them with a link to ARTscape. When this link is retrieved on the home computer, the visitor can log into ARTscape and see a personal bookmarked path through the museum!

A visitor “bookmarks” a painting by entering its ARTscape number into the modified Acoustiguide wand.

At one of the kiosks deployed throughout the museum a visitor places the wand in a docking port and can learn more about the works earlier bookmarked.

Before leaving the museum, the visitor can enter an e-mail address in the kiosk with the wand docked and the bookmarks of the visit will be e-mailed to them.

At home, the visitors can retrace their steps, revisit their bookmarks, share their visit or find new connections to related objects in the ARTscape on-line collection.

These features transform an on-line collection into a powerful tool enabling museum visitors to revisit, extend and enhance their experiences on-line. A ‘breadcrumb trail’ is saved of their physical tour so more in-depth information about bookmarked objects can be accessed at any time. Through the Show connections fuzzy logic functionality, visitors can discover other objects that are similar or related to their bookmarks, such that each bookmarked object on view becomes a launching point for new journeys through the collection. As more records are added to the database over time, visitors figuratively weave between the exhibition walls and the storage stacks where every work of art – on-view or off-view – is an equal stepping stone in a unique personalized pathway.

Written by anol

April 14th, 2004 at 11:50 am

Stocks and Flows – Articulation

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Lee LeFever finished his great 3-part article in CommonCraft about Stocks and Flows in online communication.

Introduction to Stocks and Flows in Online Communication (part 1 of 3)
Introduction to Stocks and Flows (2 of 3): Weblogs, Wikis and RSS
Introduction to Stocks and Flows (3 of 3): Back to Basics

My takes, comments and articulation on the above posts in a online learning context:

Flow: Information flows to the user; timely, emergent and engaging
Stock: Information exists at a specific location, static, archived and organized for reference.

Lee stated a community example, which started as a simple e-mail list. As the volume of messages grew, the need for stocks became apparent – the members couldn’t keep up with the flow and needed a back up in the form of message archives. The emails provided the flow, the message board provided the stock.

Weblogs, according to Lee are predominantly flow resources. Once a post is made to a weblog, the information has a shelf life and often begins losing pertinence and value over time. For this reason, weblogs are best viewed as flows – a resource that is timely and engaging. I can’t agree totally with you in this matter Lee. Blogs are useful for conceptualized and categorized stocks also. Categories and archives are what for? I was going through all of your posts in “Technology in Plain English” category after reading stocks and flow series. I think it all depends on the type of the posts and housing technique. One good example would be elearningpost, where Maish uses news-publishing format for regular and time sensitive posts and article format to archive features.

Could it be that the biggest difference between weblogs and traditional websites is that weblogs enable flow?

Blogs also allow smooth flow because of RSS. We cannot mention the flow of weblogs without mentioning RSS. Thanks to RSS, a person can visit a web site and subscribe to an RSS feed – which ensures that they are notified the next time the website is updated.

In his post Lee mentioned wikis are predominantly stock resource, again a matter of debate, I think wikis can be used for conversation too. But I totally agree with Lee about, the potential of using wiki along with blogs.

While most weblogs automatically archive (stock) weblog posts, it is challenging to archive and organize posts from multiple weblogs in an online location not organized by time or author.
As information flows through the weblog world, the need arises to stock this independently produced information in an easy-to-organize format that can be shared by a group as an online reference resource. Wikis can fill this need.
Because wikis are very easy to update and organize, they can be a perfect tool for stocking the information produced by the weblog world. As weblogs flow, wikis can be used to pluck out pertinent information and organize it for easy reference. Wikis stock the weblog world’s flow.

More collectibles from Lee-
The key point about flow and online communication is ongoing engagement. When a person engages in a flow, their attention is captured in small increments as communication flows by them over time. These short bursts of information can enable a person to manage a large number of communication resources at once. People have quickly learned to manage many forms of flow everyday on the phone, instant messenger, email, newsreader, etc. A real-world conversation is perhaps the essence of flow.

stocks organized intuitively? Can visitors search the stocks productively? What are visitors looking for? Why aren’t they finding it? Do the stocks have a shelflife? Should they expire and become inaccessible at some point?

This reminds me of the eternal problem of life cycle management of RLO’s in a content repository. Problems become more prominent when interdependencies and linkages increase.

Overall great post Lee, I think looking at any content and communication at stock and flow perspective is great for information and learning content design.

At last, a comment from Peter Caputa
I think you should expand beyond wiki’s, weblogs and discussion forums to try to explain other web tools such as IM, Chat, Email, Search in this context.
IM and chat are interesting because they are all about flow. No Stock About it.

Written by anol

April 12th, 2004 at 11:47 am

Posted in Social Media

Individual vs. Collective learning

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In a recent post – how we learn, and why we don’t, David pollard mentioned -‘collective learning’, a subject I was already skeptical about even then: I was, and remain convinced that learning is an intensely personal, individual experience, and that we all learn differently. He also mentioned that – The purpose of learning is ultimately Darwinian.

I agree David, but I think this individualism is not in built in our learning psychology. It is something our ranking and certification based education system implanted into us. And the same learning culture is carried forward by people into organizations after “warming the seat in classroom” type learning for 16+ years.

If we consider four phased organizational learning – Introduction, Assimilation, Translation and Accumulation*, every phase could be enhanced (specially the accumulation of experience) by collective learning.

*Charls L.Fred

Let me share an experience from my own life. 16 years of my formal education taught me nothing! Not even how to learn. I got moderate ranks and collected all piece of papers which only help me to get a job, not in doing one. After my collage days I joined a post graduate diploma course in computer science. That was a complete different learning experience for me. There the ranks and certificates don’t matter much; instead the actual application oriented knowledge took precedence. 5 of us formed a group of learners and started collaborative learning. Each of us used to study different topic and teach others in the theory and lab sessions. We were able to cover more with less time. We were also amazed to notice the depth we achieved by sharing knowledge.

Going back to David’s post – He quoted David Kolb from “Experimental Learning” – where he described a four-phase learning ‘cycle’: Experiencing, Reflection/Observation, Conceptualization, and Experimentation/Application. If this is indeed how we learn, it is not surprising that ‘on-the-job’ learning trumps ‘book’ learning. If we learn by doing, it is hard to imagine a worse learning environment than the classroom or boardroom. And it also explains how stories, which are so engaging, so participatory, are such effective teaching tools: You are sharing your experience in the story, not merely your observations and conceptualizations. It also explains the popularity of Case Studies in the classroom and best Practices in the workplace, though both of these are extremely poor substitutes for first-hand learning. Kolb describes four basic ‘Learning Styles’: ” Diverging: most learning comes from experiencing and reflection ” Assimilating: most learning comes from reflection and conceptualization ” Converging: most learning comes from conceptualization and application ” Accommodating: most learning comes from application and experiencing.

But my greatest take from this post where David listed top 10 constraints to learning in our modern culture:
1. We don’t allow ourselves (and society doesn’t allow us) enough time for wonder.
2. Our workplace activities and our home routines are often repetitious and stimulus-poor.
3. We don’t do anything together anymore.
4. We get too much of our life experience second-hand (from books & movies, and online).
5. We suffer from imaginative poverty — we won’t let ourselves imagine, and now we’ve largely forgotten how to imagine.
6. Our lives are too organized and too scheduled to allow serendipitous experiences and hence serendipitous learning.
7. In this world full of terrible knowledge and awful realities, we are becoming afraid to learn. We cannot bear too much reality, too much bad news, and we don’t want to accept the awful responsibility that knowing and learning brings with it.

8. Everything about the current Western educational system impedes and discourages learning.
9. The media have addicted themselves, and us, to facts rather than meaning.
We have ‘desensitized’ ourselves — we process everything mainly with our left brain, so we no longer really see, really hear, really smell, really taste, really feel.

Before going back to original Individual vs. collective learning let me mention another post by David Wilcox about Why people don’t share what they know where he suggested some key cultural change in an organization to enhance knowledge sharing –

  1. A culture that encouraged bottom-up ideas development and sharing
  2. Some online enthusiasts – existing or potential
  3. People with influence and resources in the organization prepared to join in, even if they weren’t leading
  4. Preparedness to take a few risks and get out of their boxes

Recently Jay Cross posted “Collective Intelligence” originated by George Por’s “The emergence of CI, an online experiment” where he asked – How can a group of individual intelligences become truly collective intelligence? How can they escape into a more complex and capable collective intelligence, without sacrificing their autonomy? “Collective intelligence is a distributed capacity of communities to evolve towards higher order integration and performance through collaboration and innovation.”

What’s necessary to foster this collective intelligence (CI)? George suggests it’s

  1. Shared learning agenda
  2. Trusted relationships among members,
  3. Frequent opportunities to participate in conversation.

Tugging in the other direction are these inhibiters:

  1. Ego and turf-battles
  2. Conversations are not connected and facilitated for emergence
  3. The community’s knowledge ecosystem is week or poorly integrated
  4. New technologies are not leveraged to balance the constraints imposed by cultural, geographic, hierarchical and other barriers.

I would like to add couple more points on obstacles on CI -

  1. Organizational culture supports hierarchy based “divide and rule” policy
  2. The fear of being dispensable associated with sharing knowledge (this become more and more relevant when we talk about core tactic organizational knowledge)

Finally I would like to mention an article by Jon Udell The social enterprise where he mentioned – If individuals agree to work transparently, they (and their employers) can know more, do more, and sell more.

Written by anol

April 10th, 2004 at 11:32 am

Things I learned from my blog

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Time passes by, completed one month of my blogging; it’s time to reflect. But before I do so allow me to point out two interesting posts.

The first one is David Pollard’s BLOGGING AND PERSONALITY CHANGE, his reflection on a post in PTypes, which rates famous people, and bloggers, by personality type, and also draws linkages between three well-known personality typing schemas. He was surprised by the fact that ‘How to Save the World’ is identified as an ‘Inspector’s’ (ISTJ) blog’. He decided to re-take the Myers-Briggs test on personality type. You can find details in his post, but his most interesting observation – “my personality has changed markedly since I started blogging. I’ve plotted the shift on the charts above… I’ve gone in one year from iNTj (a Thinker) to eNfP (a Change Agent), after not moving on the test for a decade.” Hmm…Interesting.

A footnote here. The hyperlinking structure of the web has influenced my conversation style big time (in a positive way). I can feel it. Now I tend to branch my conversation from point to point, contextualize them, open a new thread as the main route or a detour (open a new window!) and still am able to trackback to my original topic – much better than before. So I don’t have a problem believing the – ‘How a blog saved my life’ kind of thing.

The second post is by Jay Cross on – The Schizophrenia of Blogging.
It’s a classification of bloggers according to their blogging activity.
“Some bloggers record current events. Others collect information for reference. The first is like publishing a daily newspaper or keeping a journal. The second is akin to maintaining an online reference book or content management system. The two personalities are at odds with one another. “

Now for my personal experience: I do hope my blog is helping out (in some way or other) my few (sigh!) readers, but certainly it’s helping me out quite a bit.

Learning & Resource management
After starting soulsoup, I could feel the pressure of a self- imposed responsibility of and hunger for more focused as well as diversified knowledge, every moment. Now, on an average, I visit 20 blogs and 10 websites per day! Blogging also helps me contextualize and house different post and articles together and add my own take on the matters for future reference.

Filtering Signals from Noise
During my pre-blogging days I used to backflip ( any article that seemed interesting and read them later. Through that process I gathered more noise than signals. Now I first backflip the interesting articles and posts, read them later and then blog the stuff which are really interesting.

Directed thought process
There are 3 different mindsets in action when we read something (borrowed from Stephen Downes) Refer, Research and Reflect. Blogging allows me to support all of them. I cross refer different posts and articles, dig deeper following the infinite hyper-linked web world (also by googling ), and reflect by adding my own viewpoint.

Blog is a proven social tool, I don’t need to talk more about that. It’s amazing how smoothly the thoughts tend to flow form one post to another. Trackback and auto-pinging are two wonderful tools provided by MT. Sometime it even works as a matchmaker service, in the thought- process of course! I blogged two different posts with auto-ping; the next day I found out one is referring another in a new post!

By the power of RSS
In the first point I mentioned visiting 20 blogs. It definitely seems quite time consuming, but actually it take less than half an hour! Beside FeedReader I am also thankful to RSS to JS converter made by Maricopa Learning eXchange. I build my own RSS feed page of my favorite blog sites. I will make it public after some minor face-lifts.

More than all of above I am having a great time blogging. My wife doesn’t have to suffer my chatterbox of wanton thoughts and reflections — I blog them!
Let the quest continue.

Written by anol

April 5th, 2004 at 11:32 am

Posted in Featured, Social Media