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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Gadgets, Games and Gizmos: Informal Learning at

There is a blog entry titled Biases that eLearning 2.0 Faces (or What are we Up Against) over on Tony Karrer’s eLearning Technology blog. Tony quotes a post by a person who raises some concerns about eLearning 2.0.

Like… how can you prevent garbage from being posted on blogs, do companies need to hire professional announcers for their podcasts how will organizations incorporate the next “hot” technology into their learning toolkit.

The overall concern I have seen on this post and others is the same. It is basically a question of how can we really use these Web 2.0 technologies for learning…isn’t this all just a bunch of hype created by a bunch of blogging pundits with nothing else to do but contemplate blogging for the sake of blogging while they blog.

You can hear the critics:
“Why don’t the learning technology folks get serious about learning and create ‘good content that the audience might be interested in reading and referencing’ instead of hyping all this new fangled Web 2.0 technology. Its got the potential for a lot of problems you know.”

The answer can be found in a visit to is “the place in cyberspace where fans of Nickelodeon (a television network for kids) can come to find out more about their favorite Nick stars, play games and have their opinions heard.” It is a site set up to attract and appeal to kids ages 9-14 (give or take a year or two.) is promoting an active community for kids to share information.

Now here is the interesting (or scary) part, the site seamlessly incorporates:
  • Mash Ups
  • RSS feeds
  • Chat boards
  • Podcasts
  • Blogs
  • Vidoe Feeds
  • A customization option called MyNick (like MySAP or MyYahoo)
  • An Online Calendar option
  • An Email System
We can contemplate whether “real” learning happens with Web 2.0 technologies, we can be philosophical about the value of informal learning versus formal learning, we can tout the virtues of “collective wisdom” but in the end…none of that matters.

What matters is that kids (gamers) are already using Web 2.0 technologies comfortably and effectively. If we old folks (over 30) don’t figure out how to effectively use these tools to help the younger generation learn what they need to be successful in our baby boomer-run companies, government agencies and other large organizations then we learning and development folks will be irrelevant. Conducting traditional classroom lectures for these gamers is not going to cut it and neither is our page-of-text, page-of-text, page-of-text, multiple-choice question, page-of-text e-learning module format.

We better stop bad mouthing Web 2.0 or eLearning 2.0 and start using these technologies or be passed up by the “digital natives” as Prensky calls them.

If you want to get up to speed on these technologies, visit the web site and have your kids show you how to log on.

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