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A Comment on Bob Mosher's article in CLO Magazine "Moving from One to the Many."
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
I read through Chief Learning Officer Magazine for July 2006 (see yesterday and was impressed with their articles on blended learning (2 articles), simulations, innovative technologies (Brandon Hall), and the democratization of content (Elliott Masie). I was perhaps most moved by the article from Bob Mosher (who has a chapter in my blended learning handbook) entitled: "Moving from One to Many." See page 15 of the July issue or see

I just zipped off an email to Bob. Here is what I said to him:
"I appreciated your article in CLO this month. There are masses of hypocrites out there who espouse problem-based learning, virtual teaming, collaboration, and online communities of practice, yet the tools for training remain centered at discrete knowledge bits of individuals. My e-learning and blended learning surveys indicate that it is the boring LMSs which have caught everyone’s attention. Why? Well, they can track learners and their learning that way. I am reminded of my accounting exams back in undergraduate days that sacrificed many a student with such tests but those who eked through the slaughter were no more prepared for the real world interactions and collaborations that were needed.

Yes, LMSs place learners in silos as you say, in a time, when learning is viewed best as a social event. We learn from our interactions with others—trainers, supervisors, experts, peers, team members, SMEs, guests, mentors, coaches, semi-intelligent agents, etc. Yet we continue to push learners into these silos and drool over mindless data that an LMS provides—minutes or hours online, tasks completed, time of day online, throughput, etc. As a former accountant, I see this computer log data as nearly meaningless. It took minutes to program into the system. When are vendors going to start to build tools and tasks for human learning and collaboration? Tools for brainstorming with team members, tools for mapping out one’s thoughts and ideas, tools for evaluating thoughts or ideas suggested, tools for comparing or categorizing ideas, tools for teaming, tools for timelining, tools for role play or debate, tools for juxtapositioning of ideas, and tools for mentoring and coaching? What say you?

We are in a learner-centered world using learning “management” systems. It is still the preprescribed behavioral approach that is winning out not an active or constructivist learning one. How come few people see this and raise the red flags as you have done? Why? Well, because they have done the easy part here—they can map out the learning of factual knowledge among individual learners. We must do better.

Nice article Bob. Think that the hypocrites will wake up? Me neither. Keep writing this good stuff!"
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 11:27 AM  
  • At 11:18 AM, Blogger Askinstoo said…

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  • At 11:31 AM, Blogger Askinstoo said…

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  • At 10:49 AM, Blogger Mossy Stone said…

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  • At 10:50 AM, Blogger Mark said…

    Dr. Curt:

    I'm inclined to agree with the "silo" content. Corporate earning is, as you note frequently, driven too much by management and not enough by the learner.

    BTW, I'm re-reading the "Perfect e-Storm" paper. The timing and the guidance are particularly welcome with everything that's happening at work these days.

  • At 6:41 PM, Blogger A Swede in Singapore said…

    I am an employee at NIE in Singapore. I agree on the restictive force that LMS have on the educational development (even though it can be useful). I think the main problem mis the fear of lot control, decentalization of learning. Another thing is, to collect data the set up for education need to be contolled. The paradox of it all is that this demands from the research community, might restrict development instead of promoting it. And that kind of contradict the purpose of the resarch. This is why me personal are a proponent of more ethnographic research in these cases. Then you dont have to rely on quantitative data (like loggs, matrixes etc)instead you can gather true human information, get the details that will be absent in the statistics. this will later become input to re-design and improvments of the systems (or develop multipel channels for learning).

  • At 9:18 AM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    I was recently at NIE in Singapore. Did you come to my talks? I will be back in February.

  • At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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Click here for information about my recent book, The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education.

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