Thursday, June 30, 2011

Learning about The Declaration of Independence

This week the Learning Explosion traveled to Philadelphia -- the birthplace of the United States of America.  As you walk through the doors of Independence Hall, you realize that this is where the founding fathers learned -- and taught -- some of the hardest lessons in human history.

This is where they wrote the Declaration of Independence -- a document that began a movement to free these early settlers from the unjust restraints of the King of England. In the square behind the building is where they read the Declaration to the people for the first time.

Trying to imagine what this must have been like, I pulled out my iPhone, searched for, found and read this document to myself. It was a surreal experience. This was the exact spot where this text was written 235 years ago by a quill on parchment and then read to people out loud so they could learn. One of these people included Benjamin Franklin -- the father of electricity. Today I sit in the same place, reading the same document on an electronic device. (I think he'd be quite impressed at our progress with his discovery!)

If you haven't read the Declaration of Independence in a while, I recommend it this weekend as citizens of the U.S. celebrate the birth of their country. You can view the full text here: As you read it, you'll learn something you never knew before, or something you'd forgotten. When you find it, post a comment and let us know.

You can also learn about the Declaration at

Friday, June 24, 2011

Power Friending with Amber Mac

We met Amber Mac this week at the mLearn Conference in San Jose. She's the author of Power Friending a guide to "demistify social media to grow your business." In the book she does a good job deconstructing a lot of tools and techniques to use social media. The premise is simply to use the same social skills online that you use offline.

We really enjoyed her presentation. She provided some great statistics around online learning. For example:
  • 51% of organizations will be doing more mobile learning in 2011.
  • 68% mobile penetration by the end of 2011.
  • Only about 10% of followers will ever actually go to your Facebook page (meaning you need to be on their wall).
  • Younger generations are going to EXPECT online learning as part of their lives.
You can find her complete presentation as a PDF on her company's site.

But the one thing that stood out for us was the fact she practices what she preaches -- that is being a friend.  We spoke with her briefly after her keynote remarks at the conference and again at her book signing where we were able to ask a couple of questions. She was genuinely interested in what we were asking and made us feel like friends. We exchanged business cards and within a couple of hours she was following us on Twitter.

We recommend buying her book and taking her rules into your organization. Also, be sure to follow her at

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

eLeven Social Media Learning Fragments

1. Man tweets from top of Mount Everest
2. How Cisco uses social media to empower resellers.
3. Morgan Stanley first on Wall street crack social media code. 
4. IBM used social media as part of its learning strategy.
5. US Government will use Facebook and Twitter to issue terror alerts.
6. 9 companies doing social media right and why.
7. Social media lessons from Coke vs. Pepsi.
8. How social media is reshaping U.S. politics
9. Wealthy turn to social media for investment help.
10. Social Media now reaches the majority of Americans 12+, with 52% having a profile on one or more social networks. (see Edison research report)
11. Take 2 minutes a day to review social media news, and celebrate Social Media Day on June 30 with   

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Community is the New Expert

There are so many people arguing about where online learning is headed. On one end of the spectrum you have Luddites expecting it's demise, whereas on the other hand you have technological innovators proclaiming that it's the heir apparent.

In a recent article found in The Atlantic, Derek Thompson dives deep into this debate. His premise is that universities should be more innovative with online learning. They are starting, but have a long way to go.

He quotes Gagan Biyani, Udemy's cofounder, as saying, "It was a big step for the universities like Yale and MIT to open up their content. They proved that people want to learn. But filming somebody teaching isn't disruptive."

Thompson continues by saying, "You know what's disruptive? A math genius creating a full online course -- with YouTube lectures, downloadable readings, interactive practice questions, and a global community of students commenting throughout. The closest person doing this on a massive scale is Salman Khan..."

We also found many of the counter arguments left by readers especially enlightening. One of these stated, "Self-directed learning has been available since the invention of the Gutenberg press. The value-added is the guidance of an expert."

We agree that the guidance of an expert is a fundamental need, however, we believe that today's expert is not a single person. Guidance and instruction is now found in the combined wisdom of the community. In the past, the assigned "expert" may have had 10-to-20 years of experience. But how much of that was real-world vs. academic experience? Today's experts, which we define as "the community," have exponentially more experience--real-world and academic. 

Being a member of the right community for your needs has never been easier. Gone are the expensive tuition and elite fraternal memberships. Now all you need is an internet connection and a willingness to learn.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Broadband and Priorities

The Learning Explosion hits Sao Paulo, Brazil

I just returned from Brazil where, between discussions about soccer, I had the opportunity to speak with business leaders throughout Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

When I talked with them about launching online learning in their markets, the biggest problem they are faced with is bandwidth. Even in big cities it's "grinding to a halt" slow. And even when there is a dedicated satellite connection that delivers 10mbs, there are intermittent delays and problems that keep it from working smoothly. So what's keeping them from fixing this problem?? I think it's simply a matter of priority.

Think about this for a moment. What if the only way they could see a soccer game was over the Internet? How fast do you think every home would have a dedicated satellite connection?

Certainly there are major infrastructure issues in developing countries, especially in South America where cities are so spread out. But there are new satellite companies like Atrexx that are trying to bridge the divide which will certainly speed up the need adequate consistent quality in their major cities. In a couple of years I suspect some of the more developed countries like Brazil and Argentina will have decent coverage. But if they really wanted to speed up development, they really need to re-prioritize.

Korea has done this already. They have the world's fastest internet connections to nearly their entire population. They believe that their education depends on the Internet.

An excerpt of a CNN article supports this:

"The South Korean government has encouraged its citizens to get computers and to hook up to high-speed Internet connections by subsidizing the price of connections for low-income and traditionally unconnected people.

"One program, for example, hooked up housewives with broadband and taught them how to make use of the Web in their everyday lives.

"Parents in Korea, who tend to place high value on education, see such connections as necessities for their children's educations, said Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation.

"These cultural differences mean Korea has a more insatiable demand for fast Internet connections, he said. That demand, in turn, encourages telecommunications companies to provide those connections.

"Faris, of the Berkman Center, said no one society has a stronger appetite for Internet connectivity than another. Korea's government simply has whetted that appetite, and provided the incentives to make high-speed connections accessible to a large segment of society."

So, although many parts of the world still don't have high-speed Internet, it doesn't mean you should wait start your online learning. You should start today so that when the access becomes available you will already have a strong understanding of your users and and even stronger hold on the market.

Even more importantly though, is to come up with a concept that will force the population to prioritize your product (requiring high-speed Internet) over something else. To win in the short term you may want to focus on an idea that includes soccer.