Learning to reconnect….and people respond

October 25, 2007

My personal career transition has awakened by senses and heightened my awareness on a whole range of issues.  I feel liberated and enlightened as I take the time to think and learn about what will “make things right” for me in my personal life and professional career pursuits.

Over the past few weeks, I have been actively “walking the talk” about reconnecting with people-family, friends and colleagues.  I have been overwhelmed with the response when I’ve taken the initiative to reconnect and to “open up” about what was happening in my world and to learn more about others.  I have renewed energy and vitality to share and reflect with people who have always been willing to respond and to help with a a kind word or idea.

Personal learning is indeed a life-long journey and not a destination.  As the saying goes: “enjoy the ride”.  My journey to reconnect and to share continues.


Career Transition: A small reflextion…..

October 15, 2007

A career transition, whether voluntary or involuntary, is a time for mixed emotions that can ebb and flow from fear and uncertainty to relief and exhilaration (and numerous other emotions in between). The transition impacts not only the person themselves but their family, friends, former work colleagues and all others with whom they have made a personal connection.

To quote a phrase: “A PERSON IS NOT AN ISLAND UNTO THEMSELVES”. This resonates very strongly as the reality of the career transition stirs focused action to reconnect with others in order to share the news and learn what has been happening in each others lives. A transition is a change and an excellent opportunity for renewal of energy and a re-discovery of what energizes and enlivens a person’s personal and professional life.

To quote another phrase” “ITS PEOPLE THAT MATTER”. How often is this phrase stated with little or no real meaning in our everyday lives? However, during the career transition, this phrase takes on a whole new meaning as family, friends and colleagues empathize and place themselves in the other person’s shoes. One has only to reach out to others to receive guidance and support-people do care and are willing to help.

In the end a career transition is a time of change just like the seasons. Changes are necessary for growth and development and a career transition is a part of life that must be embraced and shared. To quote another phrase: “NOTING VENTURED, NOTING GAINED”.

Learning from the Seasons

October 15, 2007

The crisp air of Fall 2007 awakens the senses as I hike down our long, winding street. I marvel at change in vegetation colors as the carpet of maple leaves continues to grow under foot. This is a great time to reconnect with the beautiful outdoors and to marvel at what we can learn about ourselves as the seasons change.

A few thoughts to ponder:

  • We are a product of our natural environment as well as our upbringing and life experiences.
  • We need to listen, observer and feel the change in nature in order to awaken and enrich our creativity and energy
  • In respecting the natural envrionnment, we are respecting and enriching ourselves.

Nature is one of our greatest teachers bu will we open our minds and hearts long enough to learn from her lessons? We must change to grow and changes in the seasons are an ideal time to reflect on who we are and how we can rekindle our personal connections with our family members, friends and colleagues in order to enrich and expand our horizons.

Learning 2006: Laughter is the BEST Medicine – Loretta LaRoche

November 18, 2006

One of the most uplifting and energizing general sessions at the Learning 2006 Conference was presented by Loretta LaRoche who is “an international stress management and humor consultant whose wit, and irreverent humor, has, for over 30 years raised the humor potential in all of us.” 

Over the past 10 years, I have attended three conference sessions presented by Loretta and each time I have been brought to tears through belly laughter and timeless humor that pokes fun at the lunacy of the human experience.  Can you imagine over 1,800 learning professional loosing their inhibitions and voluntarily  holding hands, dancing, and singing to Dean Martin’s timeless tune “That’s Amore”?  Well, Loretta is guaranteed will open your mind and give you a new lease on life that will spark your playfulness and energize the child within.  We are all too serious and definitely need an occasional jolt in order to open our minds to different activities that will not only enhance learning but also reduce stress and prolong our lives. 

Here is a selection of Loretta’s quotes and wisdom for a fun-filled energetic life:

Ø      Break the spell with “juicy” words: “I’m feeling BRILLIANT today!”

Ø      Be in the moment every day

Ø      Engage not enrage

Ø      Look at the bless in the mess

Ø      Disarm and defuse the tension by saying: “Get off the cross and stop complaining-someone else needs the wood!”

Ø      Stop “squeezing” when faced with situations you cannot control

Ø      Do a little twirl to reduce stress as you say with puckered lips: “Oh no!   What am I going to do about it?”

Learning 2006 Conference: Online Collaboration Rules!

November 14, 2006

Last week I attended Elliott Masie’s Learning 2006 Conference in Orlando, Florida.  I joined over 1,800 learning colleagues from around the world for an energized and fun experience based on the theme “Learning in a Flatter World”. 

Amongst the plethora of online pre-conference experiences, the social networking colleague community really stressed the point of online dialog, exploration and collaboration around personal profile pinpoint connections for My work, My style, My topics, and I’m seeking.  I connected with a number of overseas colleagues with similar interests via e-mail then physically met a number of these folks at the conference. 

At the conference, various session attendees (including myself) volunteered to act a “scribe” and then made the commitment to place notes on the wiki page/s for the session.  Over 150 PCs and Macs were set-up in the Exploratorium for conference attendees to access all online resources and to continue adding comments while also checking work and private e-mail accounts. 

Since leaving the conference, a number of people whom I met face-to-face have invited me to join their network on the LinkedIn social networking systems.  Once again, this is another powerful online learning and collaborative experience to extend post-conference activities. 

I intend to write additional blogs about my experience at specific conference sessions that I attended.  Stay tuned.

Revisiting the (Learning) Paradigm: Think inside the box!

October 25, 2006

Sun Microsystems recently unveiled the elegant prototype of a evolutionary virtualized datacenter design named Project Blackbox.  In classic engineering design a blackbox is a small and inconspicuous module that records critical operational information that can be electronically retrieved during routine maintenance of after systems failure.  We’ve all seen footage of the NTSB searching for the elusive blackbox following a catastrophic airline crash. 

Well, Sun’s Project Blackbox is hard to miss.  It’s the size of a regular cargo shipping container but that where the comparison with a traditional blackbox dramatically diverges.  As distinct from its smaller cousin, Sun’s Blackbox is a fully functioning and self-regulating high-end datacenter that is optimized to deliver extreme energy, space, and performance efficiencies. 

According to Sun:  “Designed to address the needs of customers who are running out of space, power and cooling, Project Blackbox gives customers a glimpse into the fast, cost-effective datacenter deployments coming in the near future–where thinking out of the box means putting an IT infrastructure in a box.” 

In comparison to massive brick and mortar corporate datacenters, Sun’s Project Blackbox is easily transported, positioning and powered-up wherever the need for massive computing power is required by companies who do not have the space or funds to build traditional datacenters, or during civil emergencies or national disasters (to name just a few potential applications). 

Conceptually, Sun’s Project Blackbox is a direct challenges to the time-worn adage: Think outside the box!  Well, Sun has now proven that introspection and contrarian thought can revolutionize conventional wisdom on datacenter design and operation in the Participation Age. 

Perhaps Sun’s Project Blackbox can serve as a useful analogy for plug-and-play technology and reusable learning objects used in online course development.  We can now simultaneously think both outside and inside the box to create a whole new paradigm for design and learning.

Storytelling for Personal Learning: Andy Andrews

October 17, 2006

I just finished reading the Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews which is a New York Times Best Seller.  Please ready a synopsis of the book here.

This is no ordinary self-help book of the usual genre.  It is truly inspirational and uplifting to the point that I could hardly wait to read more each day.  What impressed me most about the book was Andy’s ability to tell a series of stories that combine historical facts from the lives and times of such luminaries as Presidents Truman and Lincoln and Anne Frank with unforgettable life lessons that awaken the mind and engage the heart. 

How often we forget that history has so much to teach us and that the art of story telling is probably one of the most influential ways to impact learning and to foster behavioral and attitudinal change.

Milton Hershey: Visionary, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

October 11, 2006

Last weekend my wife and I visited Hershey, Pennsylvania.  This was our first visit to the “Sweetest Place on Earth”, the home of Hershey’s Chocolates, Hershey Museum, Hershey Amusement Park, Hershey Gardens, plus other institutions and interesting attractions. 

Apart from the glitz and commercialism of Hershey Chocolate World, we were very impressed to discover details about Milton and Catherine Hershey’s love for learning and their desire to create a philanthropic legacy that continues to this day: the Milton Hershey School Trust.   Read some background here and here

One very interesting detail we learned about Milton Hershey from the Hershey Museum was that following a trip to Europe and Egypt, Milton was due to return the USA on the fatal voyage of the Titanic.  However, at the last minute, he forfeited his $300 deposit and booked package on a German ship.  This vessel arrived safely in New York one week ahead of the Titanic’s planned arrival.  It’s interesting to ponder what may have occurred to all of Hershey’s endeavors if Milton continued with his original plans to board the Titanic……

UMBRIA Market Intelligence from Online Communities

October 4, 2006

During some research today on the topic of market intelligence, I learned about UMBRIA who pioneered the mining of data in online communities using proprietary natural language processing and machine learning algorithms. 

So what? (I thought).  Then I started to ponder how a process “that transforms the unstructured and chaotic data of the online community into actionable market insights account companies, products, issues:” could be used to prove the value and benefits of all types of online and mobile learning implemented by any company. 

I searched further on UMBRIA’s web site and read a number of FAQs and case studies.  The ah-ha moment came when I read: “Whether it’s tracking awareness, satisfaction, or the effectiveness of an ad campaign or new product launch, Umbria’s Buzz Report provides rich and robust insights into the attitudes and behaviors of your target consumers.”  I immediately thought of classic Level 1-2-3 evaluation techniques for training courses.  However, I also thought about the HUGE opportunities for evaluation and feedback that are currently being missed if a product such as Umbria is not being used to analyze company blogs, wikis, message boards, etc. for intelligence that is relevant to learning programs and performance initiatives. 

The training/learning and education markets are not currently listed as ones that find value in Umbria’s services.  My response is: Why not??

Hands-free Online (Learning) Possibilities: EYCIN

October 3, 2006

Today I read another thought-provoking post from the futureismic blog

EYCIN is the abbreviation for Eye-Controlled Interaction system that was developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Research in Stuttgart, Germany.  As reported in the Engineer Online, EYCIN “could lead to software applications for disabled people, or professionals, such as maintenance technicians or chefs, who need both hands free to carry out their work while accessing information (online).”  The Fraunhofer Institute also reported on EYCIN in their Research News

How often have you thought it would be great to have an extra pair of hands when working or learning online to click forward and back browser buttons while scanning pages of information and also trying to click on links to jump from one page (or web site) to another?  Now, try to imagine doing the same tasks if you are physically impaired without the use of arms or hands, or need to keep your hands firmly on tools or implements while accessing and reviewing critical information online. 

The EYCIN project has uncovered limitations with standard Windows interfaces and GUI design, problems with miniature jerk-like movements made by the eye, and a lack of available hardware that will delay a marketable version of EYCIN for one to two years.  However, let’s hope that the project continues to be funded as the potential applications and benefits are limitless as we continue to expand online learning and performance possibilities in the Participation Age.