Thursday, August 18, 2011

Reflections on #Lrnchat: What if HR was solely focused on human resources?

Image use courtesy of lrnchat and Kevin Thorn (@LearnNuggets)

Each week that I am able to participate in #lrnchat discussion I post a summary of the discussion to my blog. I do this both for my personal development as well as sharing with the Learning and Development Profession at large. This summary is based on my own interpretations of the chat; others who participated may have differing opinions or interpretations of the discussion. I welcome those that do to add your ideas to the comments.
The topic of this week's #lrnchat session was “What If…?".
I always find looking at the questions that are used to loosely guide the chat as a nice way to see the overall theme of the chat. Here are the discussion questions that were presented to the group:
Q1) "What if" is today's theme. What if HR was all focused on human resources (not just policies, benefits, liabilities)?
Q2) What if the "Learning" department only focused on learning, rather than training, course development, schedules?
Q3) What if managers really managed? What could they be managing more of & what would they be doing less of?
Q4) What if supply actually followed demand? How would orgs be different? Especially L&D, HR, mgmt & leadership?
Q5) What if you could ask the rest of us a "what if" question? You can! Please do!
These are all great questions to ponder, so I’m going to explore each of the four questions in a separate post.  This post looks at the first question: What if HR was all focused on human resources (not just policies, benefits, liabilities)?
I have a 2 year old son, and he is ALL BOY.  Like many youngsters, his enthusiasm is well ahead of his coordination. It’s part of the reason that when you see my son, he will likely show you his latest band-aid or “boo-boo”.
Every parent has to decide how they react when their child falls.  It took my wife a while to get used to my reaction.  When my son falls, I usually run over and quickly mimic a baseball umpire giving an enthusiastic “SAFE” call, as if he just slid into home plate. 
Many people look at me a little strangely when I do this, especially when I do it in a public place.  I recall a mother at the park lecturing me for being an ‘uncaring parent’ when my son wiped out and instead of scooping him up I gave him the ‘safe’ call.
I had only one response to this woman. “Did you notice that he was smiling when he looked up at me, and got up and continued running as if nothing happened?”
There may even be people reading this now thinking “What a horrible father!”, so let me explain.  I love my son and do not want to see him in pain.  At the same time, I do not want him to think that every time he falls, he’s been injured.  More often than not, when we fall we can get back up, dust ourselves off, and move on. 
My son doesn’t understand that yet.  He’s still learning what it means to fall down, and his greatest learning is through observing my reactions.  If he sees me running over the second he falls, he’s going to react the way he sees me reacting: as if something was wrong. I would rather take a quick moment to see if he’s OK – because he would react instantly if he were not – and then congratulate him on the fall.
In short, I want him to realize it’s OK to fall.  It’s in falling that he learns to get up.  It’s in falling that he realizes that a fall isn’t something to be terrified of.  The alternative is to raise him in a way that may lead him to be afraid to ever run, for fear he may trip and fall. 
To me this very much mirrors some of the challenges that exist in Human Resources today. 
The very name “Human Resources” implies that people are a valuable resource to an organization, so much so that we have an entire departmental function dedicated to managing it.  I’ve managed lots of different resources - including people - and one of the things I am always focused on is how I can get the maximum amount of value from my use of a resource.
If one of the primary goals of resource usage is to get the maximum amount of value from the resource, than many Human Resources functions are failing miserably.  Think about it. One smart use of any resource is to ask yourself “What can this resource do that other resources can’t?”, and then allocate the resource to that task. 
So what can a human resource do that non-human resource can not?  The immediate list that comes to my mind include things like creativity, innovation, and reflection.  And yet, in many cases these are the very things that Human Resources departments restrict.
Human resources has become increasingly focused on policies, liabilities, and legal issues.  The function is still focused on what employees can do, but the definition of ‘CAN’ has mutated.  'Can' has become less about what employees are able to do and more about what employees are allowed to do.  It would be great if we could tilt the scale back to the other side, and start enabling employees to tap their true potential.
After all, my son will never know what he is truly capable of if I never give him the chance to test his limits.  And that’s why I let him run, and congratulate him when he falls.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

#140EDU Conference 2011 Backchannel - Collected Resources

Last Update: 8/7
The conference may be over but the backchannel continues!  I will add a 'Date Added' to each new resource that is added to make it easier for return visitors to see what has bee added since their last viewing. If you know of any additional resources not shown here, please let me know.

I am a huge proponent of backchannel learning.  There are many conferences I would love to be able to attend, but my budget can only accomodate one or two each year.  The backchannel is an excellent resource for learning from a conference or event that you are unable to attend in-person.

I find collecting collecting and reviewing backchannel resources to be a valuable learning experience for me, even when I am attending a conference in person.  Sharing these collections on this blog has shown that others find value in the collections as well.

This post collects the resources shared via the backchannel of the 140EDU Conference 2011, being held August 2nd and 3rd in New York City.

Official #140edu ConferenceResources
Conference Website Home Page
Conference Program Schedule
Live Video Stream

Conference Summaries and Recaps
Open Google Doc - Wednesday August 3rd created by Ann Oro
Mobile Tech Learning: Reflections on #140edu Day 1 by MobileTechLearning
School needs to reflect real life...not a prison life by Mr. Lau
#140 Edu Day 1 by Write to Learn
#140 EDU Day 2 by Write to Learn
#140edu: Exploring the State of Education NOW by Sarah Fudin
#140edu Day 2 Recap: Links & Resources by Sarah Fudin
#140edu Morning Session August 2, 2011 Storify by Mo Krochmal
Part II: 140edu Aug 2, 2011 Storify by Mo Krochmal
Part III: 140edu Aug 2, 2011 Storify by Mo Krochmal
Part I: 140edu Day 2 Storify by Mo Krochmal
Part II: 140edu Day 2 Storify by Mo Krochmal
Education + Social Media = #140Edu by RuckusHolly
Top resources from the #140edu conference by SnappSchool Blog
Reflections from #rscon3 #ntbootcamp #140edu #lifeingeneral by TJ Houston
Lessons From a Tech Savvy Education Conference 140edu Day 1 by Jennifer Wagner (Added 8/7)
Education and Technology #140edu Conference Day 2 by Jennifer Wagner (Added 8/7)
#EDU140 Rocked by Tracy Brisson (Added 8/7)
Reflections on #140edu Day 2 by MobileTechLearning (Added 8/7)
Getting Off the Dance Floor by Mary Rice-Boothe (Added 8/7)

Session Specific shared by Lynn Langit
Show & Mel YouTube Channel shared by Mel Rosenberg
Stop Dissing Me facebook page shared by Mark Ecko
The Innovative Educator Blog by Lisa Nielsen
The #Edchat Wiki 
Dance Floor Theory and Using Social Media to Increase Student Engagement slides by Tom Krieglstein shared by Kim Sivick
Storytelling Alice Motivates Middle School Girls to Learn Computer Programming study mentioned by Lynn Langit shared by Wendy Brawer
movingeducationforward webdoc shared by Shelly Terrell
Mel Rosenberg session YouTube video shared by Mo Krochmal
George Haines session YouTube video shared by Mo Krochmal
Adam Bellow session YouTube video shared by Mo Krochmal
Dale Stephen session YouTube video shared by Mo Krochmal discussed by Kelly Sutton discussed by Mike Karnjanaprakorn
teachersteachingteachers webdoc shared by Shelly Terrell
Ed Camp NYC being held October 1st, 2011
EdCamp Wiki
Philly Youth Poetry Movement discussed by Gregory Corbin
Teaching Kids to Program Around the World: #140edu via Down the Avenue
Randi Schneeberg session YouTube video shared by Mo Krochmal
Gregory Corbin at 140edu Conference YouTube video shared by Mo Krochmal
#140edu: Buzz Books by Patrick Higgins (Added 8/7)

Recruiting Women To The Burgeoning (But Mostly Male) Host Of Angel Investors by Douglas Crets social media curation calendar from #edtech20
#140EDU Flickr Photo Album
Matt Damon Defending Teachers to the Media YouTube video shared by Mary Beth Hertz
New Service From Harvard Aims to Replace Classroom Lectures by Marshall Kirkpatrick
Speak! The Miseducation of College Students by Kyra Gaunt
Missouri Outlaws Student-Teacher Facebook Friendship by Eyder Peralta
Building Empathy for a "Trouble-Maker" by Alice Yang
Summer PD: New Teacher Boot Camp Week 5 - Using Blogs by Lisa Dabbs
The Students,The Senator, and The Power of Twitter by Angela Maiers
Photo Album shared by Social Media News
New Classroom Tool Uses Laptops & Phones for Instant Assessment by Sarah Kessler
What Exactly is a Twitter Chat? by David Kelly
A non-fanatical beginner’s guide to Twitter by Deanna Zandt
On Education, Scouts, and Badges by Aaron Silvers
ZUMBA Dancing YouTube video shared by Alan Weinkrantz
Gamification video by Extra Credits
Entrepreneurship and Education by Ariel Norling
Why a School Designed by Game Designers Works for Kids by Katie Salen
Passion-Driven Teaching and Learning: Presentation and Resources by Angela Maiers
Google Calendar of Educational Twitter Chats
Video recording of morning sessions from Day 2
NYU Prof Vows Never to Probe Cheating Again—and Faces a Backlash by Marc Parry
The Educator's PLN
Taking Care of Your Digital Self by Steve Anderson
What Will Education Be Like in 100 Years? by Liz Dwyer
TEDxNYED shared by Karen Blumberg
Facebook and Twitter 101 for Educators by We are Teachers
@webdoc Video Walk-through from #140edu Conference by Richard Cassella shared by Douglas Crets
What Kind of Misfit Are You? by Umair Haque
Embracing otherness, embracing myself TED Talk by Thandie Newton
Digital Literacy and Citizenship Classroom Curriculum from Common Sense
Educator Spotlight: Adam Bellow, eduTecher by Debra Eckerling
RSCON3 Recordings, Days 1, 2 & 3 Google Docs
Cheating Scandals Intensify Focus on Test Pressures by Christina Samuels
The Concentration of Aspiration: Why It’s So Hard to Get Into College [Infographic] by Jon Bruner
Zumba at #140edu YouTube video shared by Mo Krochmal
Pedagogy v. Andragogy by Patrick Higgins
Social Media Brings the World to Rural Schools via Down the Avenue
College Students: Is Twitter Hurting Your Grades? (InfoGraphic) (Added 8/7)
Why Educators Should Join Twitter shared by Thomas Whitby (Added 8/7)
The quiet revolution in education by David Wees (Added 8/7)
Flickr Album by Kevin M Gong (Added 8/7)
Walking the Walk by Nicholas Provenzano (Added 8/7)
Introducing The Conversation Prism by Brain Solis (Added 8/7)

Dedicated Backchannel Queries [Tool and search terms shown in brackets]
Access the up-to-date #140edu backchannel [Twitter: #140edu]
Photos shared via the #140EDU backchannel [TwiPho: 140EDU]

I will be adding to this list as I continue to review the backchannel transcripts and find resources.  I will tweet updates occasionally as additional links are added.  If you know of a valued resource I should add to the list - or if something is inaccurate - please add it to the comments or tweet me a link to @LnDDave.

If you find these collections of value, I have posts that consolidate the backchannel resources from other conferences.  An archive of all of these posts can be accessed by clicking the link below:

Click here to access the archive of backchannel resource posts.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What Can BlockBuster Video Teach Us About Learning & Performance?

True story: When I was a teenager my first job was at Blockbuster Video.  It was a great job for a 15 year old.  I got to watch all the movies I wanted, and people thought I was cool because I could hold new releases for them.  It was the type of job that an immature 15 year old could see himself working at for the rest of his life.

Good thing I'm not 15 years old anymore, otherwise I'd likely be out of a job right now.

In 1994 Blockbuster video was acquired by Viacom for $8.4 Billion; In 2011 Blockbuster filed for Bankruptcy and Dish Network bought what was left for $350 million.

So what happened?

One of the primary mistakes made by Blockbuster was not recognizing the changing landscape in which they existed.  Blockbuster’s growth was fueled by customers’ desire to bring the theatre experience home.  Video rental was booming, and Blockbuster brought in stores the scale of which local Mom & Pop stores could not compete with.  In almost every sense of the word, they cornered the market in the communities they served.

What they failed to do was look at the future of technology and how it was going to affect the very market they had once controlled. It started with the shift from VHS to DVD.  Suddenly customers had an option to own a movie for a little more than Blockbuster charged to rent it.  At the same time, a little known startup company realized that a DVD (without its case) could be sent via the mail for the cost of a first class stamp… and Netflix was born.  By the time Blockbuster tried to react with their mail-service, it was too late.  Netflix had already cornered the DVD-by-Mail Market, built on the ashes of now closed Blockbuster stores.

Blockbuster’s collapse ultimately comes down to one thing: They failed to accept that the market was changing.  What was valuable to their customers in 1990 became almost irrelevant in 2011.  The world moved forward, and Blockbuster tried to hold on to the past.

There are strange parallels between Blockbuster’s story and the current state of the Learning and Development Profession.  I have seen a growing number of discussions around the question: Is Social Learning Replacing Traditional Training?

First, let me establish my personal foundation for the discussion, because I find that the phrase ‘Social Learning’ is often misused.  Social Learning is simply the ability for people to learn through their social interactions.  Unfortunately, many people have used the label ‘Social Learning’ to describe the facilitation of learning through the use of social media.  That’s not the same as Social Learning, but it IS the core issue being discussed under the Social Learning label.  To me the real question being asked during these discussions is “Are social media tools replacing traditional training?”

In recent years technology has reached a milestone.  Social media applications have advanced to a point that they have become highly accessible both in terms of technology and learning curve.  People are becoming more and more comfortable using these tools as part of their daily lives.  Recognizing this, many organizations are looking at how they can use social media as a means to better connect and communicate with their customers and employees.

 The core of the growing debate is in what impact – if any – social media will have on Learning and Development professionals.  It’s in this debate that I see a link to Blockbuster’s history.

Learning Professionals cannot sit back looking at the changes going on with social media and not acknowledge the impact it will have on our profession.  We’re not simply talking about social media tools here and whether or not they can be used in learning programs.  It’s much bigger than that.  We’re talking about a fundamental change in the way people communicate.  How can that NOT impact learning and performance?

I often say that social media is a great opportunity for learning professionals.  Over time, my thoughts have shifted a bit on that.  I think that learning professionals have a responsibility to at least explore how these tools can be used in their organizations.

It’s not about being an early adopter.  As always, it’s about meeting the performance needs of the organization. Social media gives us an opportunity to provide support IN the work, where the real learning happens.  It’s also usually much cheaper than pulling people away from the workplace for more formal training programs.  If there’s an opportunity to address a performance need in a more effective way – with the added benefit of possibly reducing costs – we have the responsibility to do so.

Many learning professionals react defensively when statements are made that imply social media tools will replace traditional learning programs.  We’re very protective of what we do and what we know.  For many learning professionals, the idea that social media tools could reduce our reliance on more traditional formal programs is a threat they don’t want to acknowledge.

That’s a mistake, because the ‘threat’ of social media is very real. It’s not going to completely replace traditional formal training methods, but it does give us another alternative, one that will become increasingly relied upon as organizations begin to understand its value.   

Learning Professionals that ignore this threat run the risk of repeating the mistake Blockbuster made.  You may wake up one day and realize the services you provide are no longer valued – at least not as much as they once were.

UPDATE 8/4/2011: For another take on how the Blockbuster story relates to the current state of the Learning and Development profession, be sure to check out this great post from Mark Britz: Willingness Vs Ability to Change