Richard Presley's Meandering Missives

Occasional thoughts on learning, training, and the business of both


March 2013

Everything Old Is New

Just pulled up this FastCompany artilcle on the new Instagram Polaroid camera.
Not too long ago the news was that Polaroid was dead. It was an ancient technology that had served its purpose and was headed for the ash heap of history, nothing more than a quaint museum piece of long-forgotten technology. Why? Because the ability of folks to share photos through Instagram easily coupled with the ability to add cool effects without any Photoshop skills made it the latest new thing. No matter that the bulk of Instagram photos were girls making duck faces in the bathroom mirror or people posting pictures of food. This was THE app to have on your phone. But now Instagram may be partnering with Polaroid to create an Instagram camera. And it looks sharp.
This got me to thinking. What other “old” is new? Especially in the training and education world? Blooms taxonomy is old but has been revised of late so it is new. I’ve seen discussions here and there about folks either pronouncing it dead or staunchly defending it. Maybe it’s time to match Bloom up with something new and different and see what comes out?
I had an interview this week about a project to increase usage of a client’s Data Warehouse application to generate reports. When I was talking to then about measurement, they suggested maybe we could measure how many people click on the training or complete the course. I suggested that we look at database usage instead. Seems to me like Kirkpatrick is something old that needs to be made new. 
So am I just talking the talk here or is there a place for me to walk? I’m working with an individual looking for new opportunities outside her current job and she asked me for help with her cover letter. Part of what we needed to include was basic – she needed stronger accomplishment statements that focused on measurable outcomes. Instead of “Managed XYZ program and increased donations” I told her it needs more punch. So I pulled out of the dark recesses of my minds some Instructional Design Theory – Mager’s and Gagne’s methods for writing performance objectives – and used the ABCD method in the new context of job seeker cover letters to marry one thing with another. Who would have thought that ISD theory was a part of a career search strategy? This is what I sent her on Wednesday: 
Here’s your cover letter. What I need for you to do is to go through the red items and write them in more specific terms. Remember your ABCD’s: Audience, Behavior, Condition, Degree. 
Oh, wait, that’s for writing performance objectives. Still, it will work for you:
Audience – Answers the question “Who?” in the form of a problem statement. Could be donors, management, or even patients in the hospital
Behavior – What specific steps you took to solve the problem.
Condition – What were the obstacles you overcame? 
Degree – What were your success criteria, usually in terms of dollars made, dollars saved, units collected, loss prevented, new donors added, etc. Something quantifiable, even if it’s a percentage.
We did come up with a nice set of statements focusing on her five key skills that she wanted to promote using the above formula. And just like the Instragram Camera, it was a little bit of both and a lot like neither. We just need to be on the lookout for ways to bring the old (think tried-and-true) into the new.

Cloud-Based Authoring Tools

This list runs the gamut and I would really like to see some reviews or comments on these. Have any of you used them and if so, what did you think?

Today’s Meanderings

If there is a theme to today’s post, it would be “out of my mind.” While you all might agree that I have a few screws loose, here are a few distractions from this morning that fell out of my head so to speak:

I was visiting Ologie’s web site today. They are a Columbus area design firm and they had some very good advice for writers. While this may be particular to them, I wish more companies had the puckishness to list something like this as the basis for their style guide.

And when it comes to the value of design, it’s no mistake that eBay is starting to look a lot like Pinterest. In a visual medium, you gotta catch the eye.

And for those in the job search, if you’re looking for an infographic on what skills employers are looking for, this is the place to go.

So if the internet is graphics heavy, why none here? I’m a writer, not a graphic artist. Although if any of you readers want to volunteer and send me some pictures to use, I’m more than happy to oblige.

I picked up Daniel Pink’s latest book, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, from the library and started it. I’m limiting myself to a chapter a day. His first chapter concludes that we all sell. However, he also defines selling as “non-sales” selling. How does he do that? By defining sales as persuading or educating someone else to do something in exchange for something else. I’ll keep you all posted on what I learn. At this point, the jury is still out as to whether this is a profoundly seminal book or a mere statement of the blooming obvious.

Work From Home – The Great Debate

FastCompany is apparently watching this discussion with some interest. They’ve posted a follow up article that has a pros and cons list with each bullet item leading to an article. If you want to join in the fray, just comment on any one of the threads related to the articles. Have fun and play nice. 

Same thing only different

FastCo published an article on The Future of Education Eliminates the ClassroomThe author avers:

“Socialstructed learning is an aggregation of microlearning experiences drawn from a rich ecology of content and driven not by grades but by social and intrinsic rewards. The microlearning moment may last a few minutes, hours, or days (if you are absorbed in reading something, tinkering with something, or listening to something from which you just can’t walk away).”

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? But what does it look like? Mostly people standing or sitting around talking and if someone has a question, someone else whips out their smartphone, clicks an app or browser link to ascertain the facts and then reports back to the group. A family using the Internet Movie Database to settle a dinner-time argument qualifies as a “microlearning moment.”

Even better, a bar bet settled with the Guiness Book of World Records or Ripley’s Believe It Or Not qualifies as well.

Somehow I don’t see the ability to settle bar bets or end family quarrels as presaging the end of the classroom. We’ve had “microlearning” for centuries. And we’ve had classrooms for about the same amount of time. I look for neither to vanish any time soon.

Let the Games Begin

It looks like the Game Wars have begun at Learning Solutions Magazine.

Ruth Clark posted this last week on Why Game’s Don’t Teach.

Karl Kapp joined the fray this week with: Once Again Games Can and Do Teach.

Ruth’s big throw-down was this:

“A couple of recent technical reviews have carefully evaluated documents on games, looking for credible evidence of what works. The consistent conclusion is that there is insufficient well-designed experimental research on which to base many conclusions. For example, Hays initially identified 274 documents on the design, use, and evaluation of games. Of these, he discarded 62 percent because they were opinion-based rather than data-based. His final review included 105 documents, of which 48 reported empirical evidence of game effectiveness. Based on the 48 studies, he concluded that there is no evidence to indicate that games are the preferred instructional method in all situations, allowing, however, that some games can provide effective learning for a variety of learners for several different tasks such as math, electronics, and economics.”

Karl’s response was:

“In a paper titled “Does Game-based Learning Work? Results From Three Recent Studies,” the author, Richard Blunt of the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) group, reported on three causal-comparative exploratory studies. ADL, founded in 1997, works with business and university groups to develop consensus around standards for training software as well as associated training services purchased by federal agencies.”

In a word, it looks like a Difference of Opinion. Officially. Would love to get these two heavyweights in an ID cage match and see who comes out on top.

FastCompany posted this article by a disgruntled telecommuter:

I am convinced that some people need a “how to” on effective WFH. However, like many things in life, those who need it the most will benefit from it the least. So here are my thoughts in a FWIW catch-all post and feel free to join in the rant.
  1. WFH is for responsible adults. Period. If you are the kind of person who needs someone standing over your shoulder making you work, then WFH is NOT for you. If you like surfing the internet, watching cat videos, checking facebook, and re-tweeting pithy comments from others more than you like doing your job, then WFH is NOT for you. Don’t start. You are not a responsible adult and cannot be trusted with this level of responsibility.
  2. WFH is best in a “results only work environment.” See: for information on this. If you are a manager who believes that most of the people who work for you are slackers who need someone to crack the whip and keep their noses to the grindstone, then having WFH employees is not for you. If you look out in the parking lot at 5:00 p.m. to take note of those who leave on time so you can identify who “doesn’t have enough work” then WFH employees are not for you. As an employee, if you work for a manager who feels it’s more important for you to “be there” than it is for you to get things done, then you will have a hard time succeeding in a WFH environment. On the other hand, if you have a manger who cares only about the quality and volume of your work, then by all means, see if WFH is for you.
  3. WFH is for time/location independent work only. Or mostly. If you do work that is not necessarily tied to a specific time & place, then you may have an ideal WFH job. Writers, editors, instructional designers, graphic designers, and others who work in an environment with intermittent or indirect stakeholder contact may be ideally situated to a WFH arrangement. If you absolutely, positively do NOT have to have it done right now, then WFH may be for you. But if you have to have constant direct interface with your stakeholders, then maybe you should go in to the office.
In summary, here are Finerman’s gripes about telecommuting:
  • Inability to focus on work when at home
  • Lack of work/life boundaries
  • Inability to trust staff to do their jobs
The comment steam is particularly informative since she has nearly 100% disagreement at the time of this posting. Suffice to say, when it comes to telecommuting, “your results may vary.”

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑