November 22, 2005

New Journal

Current Issue of Human Technology: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Humans in ICT Environments

A new journal, which has a number of ed tech articles. Thanks to Mark for posting to the IU IST email list.

Posted by Rovy at 10:47 AM

November 19, 2005

Online Time Capsule

The E-Mail Time Capsule -

Cool site posted by Terri to the IU IST Student email list.

Create an email time capsule that will automatically email back to you in 1-20 years. Could make for a fun classroom project!

Posted by Rovy at 1:59 PM

November 17, 2005


Thanks to Jay's recent post, I now have yet another tool/toy to play with: SuprGlu. A cool kind of aggregator that creates a webpage on the fly from multiple RSS sources.

Here is my entry:

I only have a few sources so far but this might make an excellent default home page. I am not sure whether there are restrictions or not but, I would like to have a couple of different SuprGlu pages (one for my personal use, one for my class, etc.)

Posted by Rovy at 7:23 PM

What makes a good conference?

Seth's Blog: How to Run a Useless Conference

Seth needs to stop by Learning 2006 next year (maybe Elliott should consider having him speak?). Learning 2005 was atypical, it made a difference.

It is interesting to compare this post to the raging discussion on the AECT Division of Distance Learning (DDL) email list right now (that has also been discussed on Nate’s blog about how or whether to run a virtual conference. The issue has been raised about whether we can even have a good face-to-face conference and what that really means to people.

Good conferences are about connections, human connections. They are also about the experience, not an individual session. That is not to say that you might not hear or see a session that has an impact on your thinking, only that such a session is not why you attend. So, to add to the DDL fodder, how would you make a virtual conference a connecting, unforgettable experience?

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Posted by Rovy at 6:48 PM

November 16, 2005


Well, maybe I'm the last to see this, but Current.TV is Al Gore's new (as of May) venture geared to viewers with rapid-fire news, stories, and video. I guess it's already available on satellite TV (I have cable) and the clips are on the web. The stories are all about 5-7 minutes, perfect for those with very short attention spans. Although, 5-7 minutes might be 4-6 minutes too long.

And it's All set for iPod video!

Posted by Rovy at 2:23 AM

November 15, 2005

New Podcast Interview

Learning 2005 University: Rovy Branon on The Learning Professional in 2008

I was intervierwed a second time for the Learning 2005 conference and the podcast is now available via the Learning 2005 University. This interview, conducted by Mark Oehlert, was a follow-up to my session: The Learning Professional in 2008.

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Posted by Rovy at 2:41 AM

November 14, 2005

Difference of One

Well, as you can see from the previous post, I have a new phone. Anyone who knows me realizes I do not make such decisions lightly. Even more important than the phone, I changed carriers for one reason: customer service.

I have been a SprintPCS customer for 5+ years. To date, I can remember few, if any quality interactions with a real person, a phone tree, or worst of all, their website (they had a great opportunity to get the site right when the Nextel merger happened - they failed miserably -have they EVER heard of usability testing?). Still, I do not like to change something as drastic as phone service if I do not have to so, I headed to the Sprint Store with broken phone in hand. When I arrived, I was told by a nice young lady that she didn’t know much about the Treo650 and she would get her manager. She came back and said her manager has to "get some work done" and cannot talk to me. Then she walked off and began helping college students looking at 19.99 throw-away phones.

Time for a change…
According to, there is little difference among customer satisfaction among the big three carriers so I had little hope of finding anything better. Maybe if I could just get lucky and find one person with good customer service skills...

Went looking for Cingular Wireless Stores via the website and found two listed on the site. Both of which, upon arriving at the location, were empty with signs noting that they hade now moved somewhere else on the other side of town (update your website!).

I headed home and just happened upon a Verizon wireless store and decided to pop in. There, I was immediately greeted by a helpful young man who knew his stuff about every product. I had not planned on making the switch but, after prompt and knowledgeable service from this one person, I made the switch. I have a family account so, this meant I needed a new phone and so did my wife. He did all of the paperwork to let us keep our current number and even went online, downloaded a program onto my Treo600, and transferred all of my PIM info to the VX9800 - he did not have to do that.

Due to his "helpfulness" we also bought some add-on services and spent more money. Two lines, two relatively high-end phones, a Bluetooth headset, other unneeded peripherals, a much lighter wallet and I headed off and was actually happy to have spent the extra money.

This guy graduates in a few months. VERIZON: Someone wake up and keep this guy from leaving (he wants a long-term job with you all)!

If any retail outlet doubts that service sells in this age of abundance...

Posted by Rovy at 9:19 PM

November 13, 2005

New Phone, New Service LG VX9800

I have been a long-time Treo 600 user and, when my 600 died this week, had every intention of buying the new 650. I decided, however, to broaden my search and look at some of the newer phones coming out. For a number of reasons, I decided to by the new LG VX9800. I also changed wireless providers and will detail that story in another post. On the surface, the VX9800 appears to be a rather plain, candy bar style phone.

LG VX9800 Pic 1

Pop it open, however, and a new device emerges:


Flip it over and two more devices are revealed (camcorder, 1.3 megapixel camera):


Despite the multi-functionality of the device, I was impressed by how simple it was to operate. It is almost as if each of the major functions is ergonomically separated so that rather than one over-complicated device, it seems like three different devices. Though not as full-featured as the palm-based Treo, it does just about everything I want a mobile device to do (and more). It also has other functions, mp3 player, and it has a crippled version of Bluetooth.

After 24 hours of playing around with the phone, I am impressed. I still have 14 days to return it and exchange it for a Treo650, if I do not find that it meets my needs.

One major drawback at this point is the lack of an email client. Though Yahoo, AOL, and MSN email work out of the box, I have not yet found support for POP3 or IMAP. I have heard that it might be in the works. I was able to get to GMail by setting up a web link and I could forward accounts there in a pinch. Another issue is no java support, which kills .jsp sites (like my bank web teller).

I found myself missing the Treo touchscreen at first but I am already getting used to the simple controls and menus. I am not in an EVDO-supported area in Bloomington but it should be here soon. I did add the EV package to get unlimited web access and should be able to try out the EV stuff when I am up in Indy (though I am not sure why I need to watch TV on my phone, I don't watch TV at home very often). We'll see, it is more exploratory than anything else right now...

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Posted by Rovy at 7:48 PM

November 12, 2005

Wisdom of the Crowds?

Here is a link to a great entry in Wikipedia in which errors in the Encyclopedia Britannica have been corrected in the Wikipedia.

Posted by Rovy at 8:08 AM

November 10, 2005

Thoughts on A Whole New Mind

I just finished Dan Pink’s new book called A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. It is one of those books that aligns to my sensibilities so I give it a high rating. One of the aspects that struck me about this book is how similar it is to the 1999 book by Rolf Jensen titled: The Dream Society: How the Coming Shift from Information to Imagination Will Transform Your Business. While the latter is more futurist- and marketing-oriented (and it is always fun to look at books on the future after it has occurred), both authors are making similar arguments.

Essentially, the argument is that we are already in the final days of the information age. This age has moved much more quickly than the previous industrial age and the movement away is accelerating. Part of the reason is that information is becoming ubiquitous and is no longer a differentiating factor. The idea is not that information is going away, but that it is not going to be the element that determines success (in my view this is similar to the transformation from the industrial age to the information age-industrial components did not go away, they became subservient to information and have become commoditized).

Pink reasons that is the ability to use information in a more conceptual way that will be transformational. 6 key right-brain directed (or R-directed) aptitudes will be crucial to success in this new age: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning.

Learning professionals should pay close attention to all of these components. It is about integration, synergy, and differentiation of what we do. If it can be done easily, it can be done elsewhere for much less money. Aligning instructional objectives to content is not going to be the sweet spot for learning professionals in large companies. Those who can see the interplay of multiple diverse learning technologies and use them to move the organization forward (i.e. symphony), or those who create learning environments which are more than structured content (e.g. rich stories that help people understand the meaning and purpose of what they do) will stand out above others.

The book is a quick read and worth the time to provoke some interesting thoughts. The activities that Pink gives to help readers improve their R-directed abilities are a bit light but I see these as secondary to the more thought provoking aspects of the book.

Posted by Rovy at 2:38 AM

November 8, 2005

What video game are you?

I am not sure what is more interesting, the post or how long the meme chain can be sustained!

Alec Couros Via D'arcy Norman via David Wiley

What Video Game Character Are You? I am a Pacman Ghost.I am a Pacman Ghost.

I like to hang around with friends, chatting, dancing, all that sort of thing. We don't appreciate outsiders, and do our best to discourage others approaching us. I enjoy occasionally wandering around randomly, and often find that when I do so, I get to where I wanted to be. What Video Game Character Are You?

But I might also be:

What Video Game Character Are You? I am Pacman.I am Pacman.

I am an aggressive sort of personality, out to get what I can, when I can. I prefer to avoid confrontation, but sometimes when it's called for, I can be a powerful character. I tend to be afflicted with munchies constantly. What Video Game Character Are You?

Hmmm...I am not quite sure about the validity of this test, I always considered myself more of a Galaga man...

Posted by Rovy at 4:31 AM

Wiley on Content as Infrastructure

iterating toward openness » Content is Infrastructure

The issue of how to localize content is one that is vexing many designers right now. David's approach is to look at OSS and follow that model:

I think we have to approach educational materials in this same way (and let others approach it in this way). You can’t create educational materials that function effectively in every single context any more than you can write software that runs on every single platform (no Java comments, please). I think we should focus on solving specific instructional problems, and make sure that our solution at least works for someone. Then other developers can "port" our materials to their "platform," or in other words, other instructional designers can adapt our materials to solve local instructional problems.

Thought-provoking post...

Posted by Rovy at 2:50 AM

November 6, 2005

Blogs and Wikis in Business: Finding the "And"

e e learning: blogs and wikis and rss, oh my!

Dave Lee with a good post following his session with Allison Anderson of Intel on use of Blogs, Wikis, and RSS in business.

Even in my session these tools were a hot topic. Business is catching on to the emergence of these new technologies beyond the potential for marketing spin. The might actually *gasp* but used for sharing knowledge.

The common theme, which is a real tension, is how to use such open technologies in an age of regulation, compliance, and legal threat. For higher education, this is much less of an issue because openness is more accepted. What is interesting is that there was little discussion about fear of leaking of corporate info. While a concern, there is an increasing awareness that very little is really a secret any more and, the stuff that is secret, is controlled by limiting the number of people with access. Legal and regulatory concerns dominated the discussion. In an age where lawsuits are rampant and any internal document is discoverable in court, how do we permit open technologies to proliferate?

If a person even asks a question about a topic that is highly regulated (e.g. Sarbanes-Oxley) and that question indicates an ignorance of a particular regulation, has the company now opened itself up for trouble?

In the end, we have to find a way to manage the “and” and not succumb to the temptation of the “or” (either we are open and use open tools or we maintain compliance). Such false dichotomies are what stymie innovation and creativity. In fact, finding the “and” might be the most creative activity instructional technologists face in the next 2-3 years.

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Posted by Rovy at 1:03 PM

November 3, 2005

Learning 2005: Early reflections

I am back in beautiful Indiana, where the leaves change color and pile up in your yard as fast as emails have piled up in my inbox while I was at Learning 2005. Despite the crush of things bearing down, I believe active reflection is a critical part of learning and I am making time for this need or much of the value in the event will be lost. After this event, I think it will take more than one reflection to fully digest the learning.

Learning2005 Rocks

I have started a reflection process on the conference to think about what went well and what did not go well. Overall, I think the experience of the conference itself, rather than any individual event was energizing and enlightening. While I have long been immersed in RSS-based technologies through my academic work, few people in corporate learning functions seem to understand the phenomenon. By the time I delivered my repeat session yesterday, wiki was rolling off the tongues of folks who had, just two days before, laughed at the term. Many were actively modifying the Learningwiki and wondering how to get their organizations onboard. This is one small example of why I believe the format of the conference itself was a learning point and the conference was about much more than RSS feeds.

LearningLand contained a climbing wall and pottery station. How could these things possibly relate to the serious business of learning? I think most people "got it." The conference was about freeing your mind to think creatively and innovate, not fill your head with the knowledge of experts who already figured everything out. Some folks could not grasp this concept. They grumbled about the on-the-fly nature of the conference design. Sessions were added, repeated, or changed as the conference progressed based on real-time feedback from participants.

Those who cannot deal with such rapid change struggled. Those who saw the conference as a metaphor for what is happening in business today, excelled and left L5 energized and excited. Being able to step away from the lockstep routine of work and see, touch feel, and even break the conference online tools reduced fear and contributed to learning in a very different way. This is what has to happen across all of what we currently think of as instructional design, knowledge management, and business process. We have to find ways to innovate and motivate our organizations to understand learning as a process.

I used the InfoNetworks tool ( to make more meaningful connections in 3 days than I have in attending some conferences in 5 years. People were seeking me out and I was seeking others out based on interests and knowledge needs before the conference even began. Now, if we could just connect this sphere of influence tool to the wiki to automagically sort out the information based on what I want and what those with similar interests are reading…

A few items did not work so well for me at the conference (which is good). I thought the general sessions were too long. Two sessions per day at an 1 ˝ to 2 hours is too much. These should be about an hour and more time freed up for people to play with all of the tools. So, one of my suggestions is to have dedicated playtime when people are encouraged to spend time in LearningLand either in open discussion or on one of the tons of computers.

Another big complaint is one I have had for the last three years and it is that there MUST be ubiquitous free wireless throughout the conference center. I am sure there is some conflict with the conference hotel (Disney’s Coronado) because they charge a fee and would make no money if someone were to set up free wireless access. In order for the sessions and citizen participation to move to the next level, however, such connectivity is essential. Imagine the wiki and simultaneous blogs all being updated by multiple participants in real-time in every session!

More a question than a complaint is one that I struggle with after every single conference I attend: How do I take the energy and excitement I have from what I have learned and convey it to others? This is a tricky proposition because, if you come back and tout lots of wonderful things to people who did not attend, they look at you with contempt (I had to stay here and deal with the real world while you went to play). But, if you come back and say and do nothing with what you have learned, then nothing is really gained from the experience. I have some suggestions for this problem but they are incomplete. I will leave those suggestions to another post for now.

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Posted by Rovy at 2:56 AM

November 2, 2005

Second Session of Learning Professional Future View

The encore session of my session was not quite as packed this morning but the room was still full. We had another lively discussion on a number of topics including: learning professional competencies, design environments, 1-minute learning, and the learning supply chain (from multiple perspecitves).

I hope the folks in the room do as promised and continue to light up the Learningwiki on this topic:

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Posted by Rovy at 8:49 PM

November 1, 2005

Using Game-based learning in technology training Podcast

I was interviewed yesterday at Learning 2005 by Dick Carlson of Microsoft on using games in technology. Check out the Learning2005 Feeds page or go straight to the mp3 file.

Even though he did not quite spell my name right in the description ;), it was a fun 15-minute session!

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Posted by Rovy at 11:42 AM

General Session with Malcolm Gladwell

Just wrapped up what I thought was the best overall general session at Learning 2005. Elliott interviewed author Malcolm Gladwell on stage. That was followed by an interesting discussion among Malcolm, Steven Johnson (Everything Bad is Good for You), and John Abley (founder and CEO of Boston Scientific.

The exchange was interesting because it really represented a contrast in learning styles. Malcolm being, by his own admission, much more "19th-century" in his learning style (I like to wander through the stacks and talk to people") and Steven Johnson being much more of a modern generation learner (I use Google, I want my media to be aware of me).

At my table, we said this is exactly the issue that we (learning professionals) are facing right now. We have generations of learners in the same space. On the one hand younger workers are much more media intensive and on-demand, on the other hand, we have people working until they are much older (often by choice).

This means no single mindset can be the correct one in terms of delivery or style of learning. I know this digs into the whole arena of personalization but I believe this goes much deeper than the way in which personalization is typically described (i.e. adaptive). Personalization also means the right delivery method, the right style, and (most critical), the learner contributes to the process as much as they take away!

More on this later, I just wanted to capture the thoughts before the next sessions.

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Posted by Rovy at 11:11 AM