Three Steps to Teaching Decisionmaking Online

Here’s another line of thought spurred by my ongoing cross-blog conversation with Maish R. Nichani of elearningpost – which I’m enjoying immensely.

In his Dec. 16 article It’s all about rich e-learning experiences, Nichani wrote: “Amy Gahran points out that a task-oriented approach is more effective in most e-learning than an information oriented approach. My point is that a decision-making or an execution-based approach is even better. Decisions are what business organizations are about. The need to perform a task or to acquire information really depends on the decision you are trying to make. Thus, know-how is equally important as know-why or know-what, it really depends on the decision.”

That’s a very good point, and I’d like to respond to that. I think we might both be circling around the same goal here…

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How to Pronounce My Last Name

Just a quick note: I apologize for leaving podcasters stumbling over how to pronounce my last name.

“Gahran” sounds like the first two syllables of “guarantee.” It also rhymes with “Karen” and “barren.” Despite the oddly placed “h,” do not confuse it with “Graham.”

UPDATE: I’ve added an MP3 audio file, so you can hear it for yourself and enjoy a little family myth about my last name. (Right click that link to download it to your computer or MP3 player.)

Text, Audio, and Editing: I Stand Somewhat Corrected

In my recent article, The “Pod Peopleâ€? Are So… Human, I wrote something that I’d like to retract, clarify, and take another stab at.

Here’s what I wrote: “Listening to unscripted speech provides a more direct experience of how the speaker is thinking. It’s about the act of thinking, rather than the product of thought. There’s less opportunity to edit. (Well, you can edit the audio, but that’s generally less surgical than editing text.)”

Kristopher Smith, who does the podcast Croncast, called me on this remark – and rightly so…

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The Highlights Approach to Corporate E-Learning

NOTE: Don’t miss the two Dec. 16 updates to this article on e-learning narrative and teaching decisionmaking online.


My recent posting Corporate E-Learning: Focus on Tasks has attracted a surprising amount of traffic, mainly because Maish R. Nichani blogged it in elearningpost, and added a good idea to my theme.

Nichani wrote: “I would simplify it even further and focus on the decision-making. For example, providing learners the answers to ‘The 10 most important things you need to know about this task’ or ‘The 5 most important decisions related to this task’ will help the them to focus on the execution of the task. These checksheets can also be linked to detailed documents for the learner to dig into if he/she wishes.”

…That definitely could be one approach to packaging corporate e-learning content. I can see some pros and cons about this…

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In Boulder Today? Come Say Hi!

If any CONTENTIOUS readers are in Boulder, CO today and feel like venturing out (it isn’t really cold, just crisp), I’m working this afternoon from Caffe Sole in the south part of town. Just had a nice walk here from my house. Feel free to say hi!

I’ll be here until about 4pm mountain time. I’m sitting at the counter in the back room, typing madly on my iBook, with a great view of the Flatirons and wireless internet. I’m the one wearing the t-shirt that says “I hear voices and they don’t like you.”

The \”Pod People\” Are So… Human

For the past two months I’ve been listening to podcasts. Almost every day. Lots of them, about all kinds of topics from many viewpoints. Everything from highly polished professional productions to simple low-tech recordings with plenty of uhms and ahs, crackles and hisses, and the occasional burp or barking dog.

Having ventured this deep into the world of the pod people, I’m surfacing to tell you this: They’re human. In fact, they’re us…

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Online Plagiarists Are Easy to Catch

Back on Sept. 14, I explained why it’s stupid to post plagiarized content online. Basically, it’s incredibly easy to get caught stealing someone else’s intellectual property. It’s also likely that you’ll be publicly humiliated for this transgression, and possibly fined or sued. It’s just not worth it.

Speaking of online plagiarists, I just came across a perfect example…

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Internet & Society Grab Bag, Dec. 12

A few items loosely related to the theme of how the internet is affecting society…

TOP OF THIS LIST: Web Won’t Let Government Hide , by Ryan Singel, Wired News, Nov. 29. Excellent overview of valuable resources on government information in this age of shrinking access to such information through conventional channels.

Excerpt: “Governments at every level these days are providing less information about their inner workings, sometimes using fear of terrorism as an excuse. But it’s precisely times like these that mandate citizens’ rights to check the efficiency of their government and hold those who fail accountable, open government advocates say. The government itself won’t make it easy, so an increasing number of websites and data crunchers are stepping in to provide information about the inner workings of government.”

A good complement to this article, coincidentally also published Nov. 29, is Activists Crawl Through Web to Untangle U.S. Secrecy, by William Fisher, Inter Press News Agency.

Read the rest of this list…

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