The Last 4 Years

Posted by on 05 Aug 2013 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

It has been a while since I posted anything on this blog because my life has gone through a lot of changes in the last 4 years. First of all, my husband and I moved to West Lafayette, IN from San Diego, CA so he could pursue his career as a computer science professor at Purdue. Because of the move, my career changed directions. I wanted to find an instructional design position; however, those are hard to come by in such a small town. So, I changed directions and instead pursued some consulting opportunities with both Scantron Corporation and the Educational Technology Department at SDSU, specifically working with Fred Saba. I conducted a variety of different tasks for both places — creating graphics, writing standardized test items, editing standardized test items, aligning content to state curriculum, designing and developing educational technology courses, assisting with the delivery of online educational technology courses, and teaching an educational technology course. Through these endeavors I learned a lot about working independently and meeting expectations without having face-to-face communication with my employers. Each job was different and required a different skill set, which I enjoyed because it kept my job interesting. It was a different kind of work than I had done previously, and I really loved the new experience.

Then, in February of 2010, my husband and I got the most amazing news anyone could ask for…we were adopting a baby boy. At that point, as all parents know, my life changed forever. The consulting work took a back seat for a few months and I focused solely on being a Mom, which I found was the most amazing and demanding profession. I learned patience like I had never had before and learned to love something more than anything in the world. However, after a few months, I decided I needed something I could do for myself. So, I went back to the world of consulting on a much more part-time basis. Because I had a good relationship with all of my employers, they were very flexible in my hours and schedule.

I continued on this path until 2011, when we got some more amazing news. I was pregnant with our second child and due in February of 2012. In addition, during this year, my husband decided to change career paths and began a search for a job in the computer science industry.

I continued my consulting work until I had my second child in February of 2012. I spent the next few months adjusting to life with two children and getting our house ready to sell. I did continue taking on one consulting project at a time throughout the year. That fall, my husband decided to take a job at Google in Mountain View, CA. We set off, back across the country in January of 2013 with two small children and many bags. We are now finally settling into our new home and I am beginning to delve back into my consulting work and the world of instructional design. I am getting involved in the local ASTD chapter and hope to make some more contacts through this organization. I would love to have some more instructional design work, even if it is in small pieces. My goal this year is to develop contacts and relationships in the field and learn more about the latest best practices and technologies that are serving our training and development world. We will see where this year leads and I will keep this blog more updated than I have in recent years. Thank you for taking the time to read about my pursuits.

The World Is Flat – Part 3

Posted by on 21 Nov 2007 | Tagged as: The World Is Flat

Here are my last thoughts on the book. I basically just reflected on ideas from the last third.

Developing Countries in the Flat World

I thought it was really interesting that China is doing better in this flat world than Mexico, considering how close Mexico is to the U.S. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that Mexico has an upper hand in the world economics and yet they are not doing as well as China. They need to look at their country and see what needs to be changed. They need strong political figures to guide their country into this millennium. According to Friedman, countries that have open and competitive markets are the ones who get out of poverty. When they have this market structure they can begin to do business with industrial nations and begin to receive work and grow their abilities. But, the leaders of the country must have that vision and those goals in order to accomplish this economic success.

Companies in the Flat World

There were some basic ideas that I drew from this chapter that I could really relate to. First of all, the idea of creating an environment where employees can stretch their imagination reminded me a lot of Google’s policy. Google states that each employee is guaranteed 20% of their time to work on whatever they want…relevant to Google’s goals of course. What a phenomenal idea to get new ideas. They don’t force their employees to only work on projects that they assign; they can work on other projects as well. In fact, Google Mail was one of these 20% projects. They foster an environment for imagination and innovation which helps make them so successful.

Another idea I found interesting was small companies acting “big” by using different collaboration tools. So many companies today can reach so many different people just because they have the ability to make themselves as available as those big corporations. Small business owners have so much more visibility in this flattening world and so many more opportunities to prove themselves and build their customer base. This puts big businesses up to a new kind of challenge that they must deal with. Their competition is more than just the other big businesses.

Creating a company that allows individuals to serve themselves is another idea that Friedman writes about in his book. Dell Computers is the first company I thought of when I read about this. I can go to their web site and create my own computer, with my own features. This idea can also be applied to training. We need to give our learners many different options to help them learn that content. Customize and tailor!!

Outsourcing can be used to grow a company’s economic success faster than if they don’t outsource. Outsourcing is not necessarily a “bad” thing. Outsourcing can actually help a company grow. This idea goes back to when Friedman talked about labor being outsourced and innovation staying inside the company.

Companies are more transparent now. Companies cannot hide behind their walls now. What they do is seen all over the world in a matter of hours or even minutes. They are now visible and their employees are visible. They have to be much more careful about their actions and how that will affect their customer’s perception.
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Rating Facial Expressions

Posted by on 01 Nov 2007 | Tagged as: Future of Technology

I found this neat article on Rating Facial Expressions. This technology rates a person’s facial expressions to see when they have the broadest smiles. It mentions in the article how this could be used for customer service training. What an amazing concept. It can capture the best practices used in different situations by reviewing the expression of the customer to find out when they are most pleased. In addition, it could be used within training seminars to capture the expression of those being trained. Instead of a “smile sheet”, we could actually find out when they were the most pleased with what they were hearing. I’m sure in the future, a technology will be created to detect all kinds of emotions. This could revolutionize ILT evaluations. Part of the evaluation could be measured based on how the trainees reacted to each aspect of the training. Of course I’m sure this is just one of many ways we could implement a technology such as this into a training program.

Alternate Forms of Fuel

Posted by on 21 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Future of Technology

I just found an article on Slashdot called Mutant Algae to Fuel Cars of Tomorrow? Basically, it talks about how there is a certain amount of hydrogen produced during an algae’s photosynthesis and scientists are creating mutant algae’s to produce even more hydrogen. According to the article, if “if 50% of the algae’s photosynthesis could be directed toward hydrogen production, an acre could produce 40 kilograms of hydrogen per day. At the price of $2.80 a kilogram, hydrogen could compete with gasoline.” If we could actually use this type of energy source, we could really change the future in a lot of ways. We could have a reliable energy source that wouldn’t rely on other countries. This could be produced right here in this country. When we talk about major problems facing our world, a sustainable energy source is one of the most important and one of the most devastating.

Further down in the comments for this article, there are other energy sources listed, sugar & corn being two of those. So, if there are these other sources that already exist, why aren’t they being used more frequently? This is also true with wind and solar power. From what I’ve heard/read, it’s all about cost and politics. We have to get past these problems before we’re going to be able to move past the use of gas and electricity.

In addition to the problem of sustainable energy, there are problems in the environment. This algae energy source could also be a much needed change in that respect. It could reduce the carbon produced and hopefully, in the long run, reduce the greenhouse effect. All of this relates back to using new technology and scientific theories, we can change the future from the doom and gloom of the depletion of oil and the devastation of the greenhouse effect.

The World Is Flat – Part 2

Posted by on 21 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: The World Is Flat

So, the first part of the book discussed the 10 flatteners, while the 2nd part began by discussing the three convergences, one of which is the ten flatteners converging. In addition to this, there is the convergence of new habits working in a flatter world with the flattened world itself. Finally, the convergence of a new set of people (China, India, previous Soviet Empire) with this new flat world. I think it’s interesting that the the first convergence leads to the 2nd and 3rd convergence. The flatteners basically created a chain reaction that change our world completely. These convergences created a more collaborative world and collaborative workplace. As I know from experience, collaboration on projects across countries will be a commonplace occurrence in the future. I think it’s kind of ironic that Marx (of all people) was one of the first people to state that this breakdown of barriers could happen.

Friedman also discusses how traditional governments, businesses, and organizations will have to change and work with new virtual communities, emergent businesses, networks of people to create a new culture of business. Because these walls will no longer exist, there are changes that will need to be made to how we deal with each other and how our government works. Our government will have to look past their own front door to establish relationships with those countries that are coming into this new global, flat communities.

There is definitely a negative attitude in the US among “regular citizens” about outsourcing, but I think it’s interesting that Friedman brings up another point-of-view. He explains that the Indian’s perspective on globalization is that it can empower them to build up their skill set and enables them to move up in their economic class. As he puts it “one person’s economic liberation could be another’s unemployment.”

However, Friedman also explains how the US can deal with these problems. First of all, he discusses the importance of having a government that will support this new global integration. As we discussed in class last week, it’s important for our government to have a focus and a cause. They have to explain to US citizens how this globalization can help them and what each person can do to be successful in this type of society.

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Second Life and Other Virtual Realities

Posted by on 30 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: Future of Technology, Games & Simulations

I was introduced to Second Life last year and found it very intriguing but, I never really felt like it was something I’d spend a lot of time doing. To me it was just a neat tool; however, for some it is a money-making business. I’ve read two articles in the last few weeks on Second Life and other virtual realities. Security in Virtual Worlds: Blurring the Borders and Griefer Madness: Terrorizing Virtual Worlds Both talk about the idea of making money in a virtual reality such as Second Life. This really made me stop and think about this phenomenon in a new light. Someone can make real money in a world that doesn’t exist. How completely bizarre!! And yet, this is where the future of these technologies is heading.

But, like any new technology, problems have arisen. Both articles also discuss the security issues that have come to light in these worlds. First of all, there’s the small problem of those “people” that don’t play well with others. In Second Life, those are called griefers. Basically, they go around wreaking havoc on the virtual world. Just like in the real world, the virtual world has to deal with vandalism and petty crime. However, unlike the real world there is no virtual police…at the moment. Could this be where these virtual worlds have to turn in the future…actually having a legal body to deal with these types of issues? If the problems get much worse, they may have to.

In addition, there are bigger issue that have come up in these worlds. There is always a security risk when you type personal information into a website. These virtual worlds are no different. The potential for identity theft is real. People steal this information to use for crime in the real world. Since real money is exchanged, many users have credit card information in their Second Life accounts which could end up in the wrong hands and cause serious financial problems.

Finally, there is the problem of fraud. As the articles point out, there is no regulatory body in these virtual worlds. There is no good way to track the money changing hands, nor to know who is receiving that money; therefore, transactions could be happening in Second Life that no one knows about. This could also present serious problems in the real world.

So, what does this mean for the future? Well, security may become tighter in these worlds; regulations may need to be established for money exchanges; and for all intents and purposes the reason for using a system such as Second Life may change. This may become more than just a game for many people and those that just want to play, may find that these security measures are too much to deal with. The whole dynamic of this other reality may change into a marketplace for corporations to do business, rather than a place to just get away from the real world for a few hours.

The World Is Flat – Part 1

Posted by on 23 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: The World Is Flat

So, I have finished reading the first third of The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century by Thomas Friedman and I found it very interesting and very relevant to our field. The first chapter of the book discussed the flattening affect of the world in the last few years. One quote says that “In some eyes, homesourcing and outsourcing aren’t so much competing strategies as they are different manifestations of the same thing: a relentless push by corporate America to lower costs and increase efficiency, wherever that may lead” (pg 35). I found this to be the core to the flattening affect…corporations are trying to produce more at a lower cost than they are currently doing so they find new methods to doing business, including moving their operations to different countries. This idea extends to training development and people development as well. If a corporation is trying to work at peak efficiency and save time and money, then they won’t want their employees sitting in training sessions all day. They want employees who know how to find information and how to use that information right then. They need performance support tools and smaller segments of information that are just-in-time training instead of long coursework. Another quote that promotes this same sentiment is from pg. 45 “I loved the concept of a company with only two offices – ‘everywhere, and right next to you’ – because it captured perfectly the way the flattening of the world allows companies to be more global than ever and yet, at the same time, more personal than ever.” Isn’t that what companies want in their training also? They want the information where they are, when they need it, and tailored to their individual needs.

The second chapter discussed the 10 forces that flattened the world. I never really thought of the Berlin Wall collapsing as a flattener to the world. I have to wonder if this is in part due to how young I was when it happened. I remember it, but it didn’t feel like it actually affected my life. However, in hindsight it probably affected my life a lot more than I thought. On pg 58, Friedman says that “the political constraint on individual reach collapsed with the fall of the Berlin Wall…and the practical constraint on individual reach collapsed with the rise of the Apple and Windows-enabled, modem-connected IBM PC.” Both of these events led to the world we live in today…a connected world where we can work with others in foreign countries without fear of oppression. There are still barriers of course, but the bottom line is that it’s possible and wouldn’t have been otherwise. I guess I take for granted what the world would have been like if the Berlin Wall had not fallen.

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Wii and Motion-Oriented Gaming Systems

Posted by on 19 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: Games & Simulations

So, the other day I had a conversation about the Wii game system and how neat it is because it’s “motion-oriented”. Then, I read a blog today about the same system. This got me thinking about the way we could use gaming systems like this in a training environment. I think something like this would be a great way for somebody to learn how to perform a function with a machine or even a new system of sorts. Because the person would actually have to perform the function using the remote controller, it would be a more effective learning tool, very much like a virtual reality situation. However, unlike a virtual reality system, this seems like it would be significantly cheaper and still have a great effect on the learning of the new machine or system. Immersive simulations would take on a new meaning if the user actually had to move while learning instead of just answering questions about a situation.

Social Networking

Posted by on 15 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: Social Networking

I was scanning the blogs I have subscribed to and ran across this short Captivate video on how an organization is using social networking to connect their members before a conference. As I’m watching this many ideas start coming to mind about how people could use this in their companies, in their college programs, and in other organizations they’re involved in.

In work settings: I was thinking about the fact that many companies have people spread all over the country, as well as the world. How great would this type of technology be for all of those employees to connect to one another. They could share ideas about what is working and what isn’t. They could share best practices about everyday activities. They could even connect with another employee near them if they have a job they need help with.

In addition, I thought of international conventions that many companies have. This type of social networking could be used with all of the participants for that conference in the same way that it’s used with this organization. It could help employees network before even coming to the convention.

In school settings: The most beneficial idea I thought of for an educational program is to help people network with each other before coming to the program. It would be a great way for students to get to know each other before actually meeting each other. For any education setting, the first day or even the first few weeks, it’s sometimes difficult for people to feel comfortable speaking out in class when they don’t know the person sitting next to them. (I know this from my experience being a teacher.) Because of this, discussions sometimes lag and not as many ideas are voiced. A social networking technology could help with that problem. If people are talking and have at least been introduced before walking into the classroom, there is more of a chance they will express their opinions and insights on a particular topic to the class at large.

Other organizations: In the same fashion as this organization has used a social networking technology, so could most organizations, especially those that expand to the far reaches of the world. I would love the opportunity to get new ideas in the world of training from more experienced trainers in different parts of the world if the organizations I’m involved with used something like this. It would be an incredibly beneficial learning experience.

Dilemmas: However, there are some dilemmas I’ve thought of as well. The largest hurdle any organization has to overcome is the fact that some people are resistant to new technologies. So, there would need to be much thought involved in how to present and roll this out to any type of group. Another deterring factor is the amount of time it takes for users to feel comfortable with not only a new technology, but this whole idea of making information about yourself available to someone you’ve never met. There has to be some time alloted for people to get used this new way of connecting and networking. Most people are used to networking in face-to-face situations, so if they have never used any kind of social networking tool before, there will be an adjustment period.

Despite the dilemmas and hurdles that would need to be overcome, a social networking technology such as this one, would help people grow and build relationships that would have never formed if this application were not available.