odd-lot thoughts

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Study: Training Executives Believe Interpersonal Effectiveness Training Works

Now this is getting scary! From Chief Learning Officer

A research study released reveals business trends in Interpersonal Effectiveness Training (IET). Interpersonal effectiveness is the ability to create productive interactions and maintain positive working relationships. The study of corporate training executives confirms their belief that IET is effective. Most researched companies integrate IET into a broader program such as leadership development and use Social Style, Myers-Briggs or DiSC as a tool for IET training.

Are we that starved for metrics that we need to put up bogus numbers like these?
  • 73 percent of training professionals believe Interpersonal Effectiveness Training works.
  • More than 94 percent confirm the importance of interpersonal skills in building and maintaining co-worker relationships, communicating effectively, managing conflict and retaining valued employees.
Emphasis mine. What about the numbers that show this stuff actually works?

Sorry, I just don't buy it.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Why train if there's no purpose?

I just read this in the latest Training Directors Forum e-net, and it just made me want to smack someone. This is a subscription newsletter (but it's free) so I'm quoting the entry here:


"After seven years, 99 percent of workers have been trained with mandatory and beginning computer classes," a reader says. However, the reader also teaches intermediate and advanced computer classes, and most employees are not taking these classes — for the following reasons:

  • They do not feel they will need or use the features covered in the courses.
  • It is hard for trainees to find time to attend classes.
  • Trainees' bosses say that they do not need to take the classes.

The reader says classes are free of charge, so money is not a factor. Can others help with ideas regarding:

  • How to generate interest in intermediate and advanced computer classes?
  • How long should the classes be (one hour, two ... )?
  • Typical saturation points for such courses?

Come on, folks. Get real! If a) they have no time and b) they don't need it, why is someone trying to get people to want this?

This is a symptom of the typical competency-driven approach. Somebody decided that employees needed to have a certain skill level, and they're gonna make them train and train, until they get it, or they get the checkmark that says they got it.

If employees don't think they need it, they obviously don't. Believe me, they'll tell you want they need.

And there's plenty more things they do need that they're not getting to worry about unneeded stuff like this.

This is also a symptom of some poor schnook trying to justify a job as a trainer, instead of focusing on the larger goal of helping people do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

I don't entirely blame the person who wrote this plea -- the system is broken. Time for organizations to get a clue.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Keeping an Opinmind

I recently ran across an interesting new blog search engine, called Opinmind ("opin" as in "opinion"). This is a site that gathers opinions from blogs, and sorts them into pros and cons. They include a "sentimeter" to gauge the overall reaction.

I thought I'd check out some terms used in the instructional design field and see how they did. This is a new search engine, so the results vary widely and wildly. But it was fun to check out.
Terms not found:
  • web-based training
  • informal learning
  • connectivism
  • performance support (sigh)
  • workflow learning

If you're blogging, you can submit your site at the bottom of any search results page.

Let's get to work, people!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Be careful out there -- a blogger gets sued.

There's some controversy swirling around the blog world the last few days. Apparently, a blogger is being sued over comments someone left on one of his blogs. Amy Gahran's post on this subject is one of the most comprehensive I've found. This issue is understandably making a lot of bloggers nervous and concerned, and has sparked a lot of conversations about liability, libel, and free speech. Some bloggers are seriously considering turning off the comment function in their blogs.

We bloggers do have to be concerned and aware of this problem, but turning off comments in an effort to play it safe would be a mistake. Here's why.

  • Comments on blogs are one of the ways we hear what others want to say to us. Yes, we'll also hear from a few wackos, spammers, and other internet creatures of the night. But those problems can be mitigated and they do not outweigh the value gained.

  • We can't play it safe, anyway. There's just no way of knowing who will be offended by something and no way of completely bullet-proofing your blog. Even staying silent has its risks, as the Kryptonite lock company discovered.

Blogging is still a new phenomenon and there will be problems, like this bullying by lawsuit, which will arise and be worked out in the days to come.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Blogger takes steps to combat spam

I've noticed that Blogger blogs have started being hit by peculiar spam messages about stock picks. They're peculiar because they have no links in them, and no URLs are mentioned, either. Instead, they consist of long screeds about how important it is to snap up shares of some stock that's poised to "REVOLUTIONIZE" some industry or other.

I'm sure the lack of links is due to the different anti-spam protocols, such as Spam Karma. These use the number of links in a comment as one way of filtering out possible spam.

Well, Blogger isn't ready to implement blacklists or spam filters yet, but they're taking a step in the right direction in at least stopping bots from spreading destruction, with their new word verification for comments.

I can't figure out what these peculiar spams are supposed to do, though. Do spammers really think they're effective? Don't they know that on the web, no one will ever read the comments because they're just too long!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Blogger and FTP

I recently created a weblog using Blogger, but I thought I'd try hosting it on my own site. Yes, I've plunked down dollars so that I could have a neat sandbox to play in and explore stuff such as blogs, wikis, whatever.

The Blogger interface for creating a weblog can't be beat. It gets a little more complicated when you want to host the blog yourself, however. I thought I was doing everything right, but I couldn't see the blog -- just that directory view you get when there's nothing at home, and no index or default html page. I hate seeing that -- it's like seeing underwear.

It turned out that I had the ftp path incorrect. I should have omitted the "www" part in the path name. But Blogger gave me no indication that anything was wrong. It seemed to publish fine, and gave me success messages! So where did those uploads go? I wonder if there's a server somewhere out there with my initial efforts stashed away?

Once I corrected my ftp path, I was golden. The weblog is now up for all to see, except that it's in stealth mode at the moment. I haven't linked to anyone, or pinged anyone, so I haven't been "outed" yet.

I imagine Google could spider my site and find it, though. I'll have to see if that happens at any point.

I'm also experimenting with Word Press. It's an open source blog app, and it's pretty good too. But the posting interface is a bit more techy than some people would prefer. No wysiwyg editor, or "compose" mode, as Blogger calls it.

That's fine with me, it's still got little buttons to save on that tedious typing of code. For example, it has buttons for creating bullets and numbered lists. However, they're labeled "ol" and "ul."

Luckily, I know what those mean. And there may be a more novice-friendly posting interface in WordPress that I just haven't found yet. But I wonder -- how useful would a "ul" button be to the novice? And is that a barrier that we want to keep up? If I wanted a group blog for students, for example, I think I'd go with Blogger over WordPress.

But WordPress does have features, and more control. That's always the trade-off, and probably always will be.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Keeping the blogging conversation going

I use an aggregator (Bloglines) to read my blogs, and one of the problems I have with it is that I tend not to read the comments very often, since I don't visit the actual site. I miss this, but find I'm addicted to the speed at which I can check my 68 blogs in an aggregator.

Some blogs have RSS feeds for comments, but they don't make much sense to me either, since they're not attached to the post.

I've noticed that what some folks do when comments on their blogs get interesting, is create a post about the comments. This is a clever idea, and one that almost always gets me to click on the post and read.

I ran across one great example of this in Michael Feldstein's blog, e-Literate.

He posted his opinion about the LMS Sakai. I don't really know much about this and it's not something on my personal radar at the moment, so I only quickly read the article. But then, a few days later, he posted about the great comments he'd been getting from some of the Sakai developers.

Then my interest was piqued. I had to check it out.

Ok, I still don't get a lot of the details about Sakai, but I loved the way people were posting comments. There was some great back-and-forth, with developers offering their views, Michael posting replies which acknowledged them, and continued the conversation.

An excellent example of the way these things should work!

I'm still thinking about how to nudge myself to check out comments more often. If you're not reading the comments and commenting yourself, you're missing out on half the fun in my opinion.