Usability - Productivity - Business - The web - Singapore & Twins

By Date: August 2010

XPages - the "other" skills

In most of the XPages trainings I conducted in 2009 and 2010 there were participants with no prior exposure to Notes and Domino other than using it as a user. They all however had experience with web development. XPages' JavaScript, CSS and HTML was like their natural environment and they had no problem catching up with "the old Notes nuts". The later however, especially the "client only" developers struggled. They struggled not with DDE or XPages per se, but with the open standards it embraces. So it is back to school (unless you have a medical condition) for open standards. This is my cheat sheet for the different technologies: For all the books you actually might consider a Safari book subscription.
I know - it is a lot of stuff. On the upside: these are all mostly platform independent (OK, not the Java stuff, but that's at least vendor independent). And: you don't need to know all these to get started - it is rather the master's list.
As usual YMMV

Posted by on 31 August 2010 | Comments (a) | categories: XPages

eLearning in the enterprise vs. eLearning in education

I had an interesting chat with the IT teacher of Catholic High about eLearning. I'm following the subject for a very long time. In the early eighties I bought one of the earliest eLearning authoring tools called OpenICE from Dialog Video (a Swiss company which seems to be history now - the only trace of OpenICE I could google was in a document in the download section of The Morrison Company.
There is a lot of money spent on eLearning both in enterprises and in academic, but the stellar success stories are few and far between. A common fallacy I observed is to spend a lot of money on a LMS or LCMS and have no budget, time and energy left for content. When you hear statements like "Once the LMS is in place we'll ask our SME [Subject Matter Experts] to contribute content" you know your eLearning project is doomed.
Creating good eLearning material is hard and time consuming work. Brian Chapman published research findings in 2007 that put the ratio for slideware to eLearning conversion at 33:1, the creation of lightly interactive courseware at 220:1 and the creation of full fledged simulations at 750:1. So that tiny water cycle simulation of 10 minutes took more than 3 working weeks full time to be created. The study is currently to be updated and you can participate.
Another fallacy is the failure to integrate eLearning systems into the infrastructure. In corporate learning that means eLearning needs to be accessible from the tools I use in the job (a great widget to have is "related learning") and get away with enrolment procedures for short term learning (that enrolment is carried over from academic). In academic eLearning the failure lies in the lack of integration into other delivery methods. If enrolments, progress control, time planning etc. are not fully integrated into presence learning it will not fly.
There seems to be very little fruitful cross breeding between corporate and academic eLearning, which isn't surprising when you look at the core differences:
Enterprise learning Academic learning
The main purpose of employees is to contribute to enterprise goals (mostly: make money). Learning is an expense, not an outcome The main purpose of students is to learn. Knowledge and skill acquisition is the main outcome (not grades in case someone has forgotten)
Learning works well in homeopathic doses: 10min here and there related to a current job need Learning works best with multiple avenues of delivery (watch for a later post on this)
Learning is very skill focused, so the main delivery is training* Learning is wider and education focused*
Learning has no priority, its purpose is to "get the job done" Learning is the top priority, its purpose is to "get the job"
Learning is focused around a career Learning is focused around a curriculum
Learning needs are only partly planned (mostly by the HR department) and a lot of needs arise based on the nature of job roles and projects. Learning goals change more often as careers and market demands change Learning is planned out well in advanced, often by an external body (e.g. the ministry of education) for multiple years
Success is indirectly measured: can the learner implement in the day job what (s)he learned in the training? Did the ability arrive? Success is measured by passing exams. This is a challenge since learning to pass an exam is only loosely related to the acquisition of ability
Collaboration is strictly encouraged. Good working teams adopt "no comrade gets left behind" attitudes. If you collaborate during an exam you are out, so there is a natural tension.
* In case you don't see the difference between education and training: Most parents should be OK if their teenage kids come back from school and state: " Today we had sex education", but rightly will go berserk if they would hear: " Today we had sex training in school". --- and yes I know that sexual education is the most controversial topic in education, an epic battleground between enlightenment and denial.

I'll share more around eLearning in upcoming posts.

Posted by on 28 August 2010 | Comments (1) | categories: eLearning

Boys and their toys X

Huawei topped their already impressive E5 device
Huawei E5

with a new entry, the E583C
Huawei E583C

On top of being a mobile hotspot for 5 devices it spots a OLED display and via microSD up to 32G shared storage. So a small team working away easily can share what they are working on and access the Interweb at the same time using a good looking gadget.
(via godevice.com)

Posted by on 23 August 2010 | Comments (1) | categories: Buying Broadband

Visualize using Mindmaps

Mindmaps are an incredible tool to collect and share thoughts on any topic in a very compact and comprehensive format. Just look at the sample Ernest did for Water (his current topic in science):
Mindmap about water, click for a larger version
He used iMindmap which has the most natural look from all mindmap software offerings I've seen so far (and is available on Win, Linux, Mac and iPad). It is the commercial offering of Tony Buzan who claims the invention of mindmapping. If you like eProductivity, you might want to look at MindManager, which is primarily Windows (there's a Mac version that's usually behind and there's no Linux version) and can be imported into eProductiviy. Notes user will find MindPlan intriguing. It is available on all Notes client platforms, can show data in MindMaps and Gannt charts and uses NSF as its storage engine. Sharing and collaborating on MindPlan is a breeze. For fans of OpenSource there is FreeMind also available on many platforms. A very different approach is used by The Brain, which allows to dynamically navigate the map and put any topic into the center. Once you are ready to get frequent updates on what's up in the mindmapping software scene, subscribe to the Mindmapping software blog.

Posted by on 15 August 2010 | Comments (6) | categories: After hours Software Twins

Speed boost for your Notes client on Linux

You need enough RAM. Follow these steps (adopted from here):
  1. Stop the Notes client
  2. Create a new directory: mkdir ~/notestemp
  3. Edit your notes.ini and add:
  4. Edit the mounting table: sudo gedit /etc/fstab
    Add this line (one line, tab separated values):
    tmpfs /home/[yourid]/notestemp tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=1777 0
    and save the file
  5. Mount the new directory:sudo mount -a (a restart would do too)
  6. Start the Notes client
  7. Optional: Move more temp stuff to tmpfs
(Don't forget: [yourid] stands for your login name, don't take it literally). As usual: YMMV.

Posted by on 01 August 2010 | Comments (4) | categories: Show-N-Tell Thursday