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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Interview with Patti Shank, Innovators in E-Learning Series

Welcome to an interview with Patti Shank, a learning programs innovator whose ability to bring clarity to the design and implementation process is extremely useful in a time of rapid technological change, and a context of constantly shifting knowledge needs.

1. What is your name and your relation to e-learning?
    Patti Shank, PhD, CPT.  I got into e-learning before there was an "e." ;-) We just called it using technology to support learning or digitally enhanced learning or something like that. We simply had a need (in health care) to reach people who were busy (clinicians, patients) and started using technology (mostly video, at the time) to reach them. The Internet was just becoming available but it was complex to use and not ready for prime time.

    BTW, I think it's long past time to drop the "e." The technology piece is just part of the solution. It's never the entire solution. It never should have been split out in the first place.

2.  How did you get interested in e-learning?
    When the Internet became more widely available, I started  looking into it. But in some ways, we went backwards before going forward again. The Internet was mostly text at first.

    And we're finally getting to the point where we can move social interaction into place where it should be. Learning from and with each other is a natural part of learning. I'm hoping that purely asynchronous learning will start becoming more hybrid in the near future.
3.  What are the most overlooked issues in developing good learning programs?
    Using good instructional practice is the most overlooked issue! It's sad how much "instructional content" (text, video, audio, etc.) is not sound from a learning perspective. A recent research project I worked on showed that learning sciences may not be as available or easy to read as we think. Practice certainly shows that it doesn't get used as much as we'd hope. (I hope to change that, one person at a time.)

4.  What are key questions to ask when putting together an educational program?

    The key question for organizations is:

    1. What business and human performance outcomes are needed? 

    Here are some others:

    2. How do you know this is a problem? (What are the signs and symptoms?)

    3. What would you consider a "fix" for this problem?
    These are very high level. There are ton of others and I could go on for hours.

5.  What is your latest book? What is it about?
    My last book isn't on learning so might I talk about what's coming out soon? I'm working on how to easily apply learning sciences in everyday instructional content.

    We're taking the most common problems of learning content (text, video, audio, etc.) and showing how to apply learning sciences to those problems. And we're writing it so anyone who writes learning content (teacher, trainer, subject matter expert, etc) can do it.

6.  What are some of the things that you have found out about yourself and life in writing the book?
    We found it's hard to make difficult topics easy. (Duh. We know this!) So it took us a while to figure out a good process. But it's been super rewarding with many eureka moments!

7.  How can the ideas in the book help the individual reader?
    We want the materials to help the average instructional content builder build instructional content that makes it easier to learn. A lot of instructional content doesn't, which we know by the number of frustrated people.

8.  What are the key secondary messages in the book?
    There are some key ideas in the learning sciences that when applied well, make it FAR easier for people to learn.

9. What are your plans for the future?
    Expand on what I am talking about in 5-8. I'll be rebuilding my site ( in the very near future (next 3-4 months) to make this project available to all who need it. We want to make it easy for all people who teach others to make it easier to learn. Simple as that. I feel like it's the culmination of my life's work.

        Thank you!!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Success During a Downturn: Interview with Steven Tedesco, Running Foxes Petroleum. Innovators & Entrepreneurs Series

Achieving success during downturns is a function of vision and leadership, and it requires a person to think creatively and independently. These are just a few of the insights provided by Dr. Steven Tedesco, Running Foxes Petroleum, in the two interviews presented here -- written, and also via YouTube. Welcome to an informative interview with a successful entrepreneur who has used science, technology, strategic thinking, and pro-active environmental responsibility to innovate and create a dynamic, thriving company.

1.    What is your company and its primary focus?
Running Foxes Petroleum Inc.  Our focus is shallow conventional oil and gas, waterflooding, coal bed methane and shale gas.  We focus in Eastern Kansas, Western Missouri, Southeast Colorado and in eastern central Utah.  Our goal is to target reservoirs that are simple in nature and do not require complex fracking and drilling.  Geologic risk is minimal.  The real risk is proper execution which is easier to control.

Dr. Steven Tedesco
2.    What is your background?
Geologist by training with three degrees.  BS from Northeastern University, Masters from Southern Illinois University and PhD from Colorado School of Mines.  33 years’ experience in the oil and gas business with over 2 years of experience in nuclear, mining and geotech.  I have also become very will versed doing petroleum engineering, land, marketing and contract negotiations.

3.    What are some of the lessons / insights from hard rock geology that apply to petroleum geology?
The use of technologies, such as surface geochemistry and aeromagnetics, that can be successfully applied to oil and gas.  The earth is a dynamic process and both metals and petroleum accumulations have very similar characteristics to each other.  Therefore all technologies work to some degree on an type of deposits.

4.  How would you characterize a successful entrepreneur?

 Interview with Dr. Tedesco on LifeEdge, October 15, 2015.

A successful entrepreneur has to have vision.  Seeing opportunities where others see nothing.  For example distressed gas assets can be acquired very inexpensively.  Most of the industry does not like gas.  But as history shows both oil and gas products go through cycle.  By buying gas assets now, improving them either with working over or drilling new wells at lower costs will only benefit the value of the assets when prices go higher and costs to rework and drill new wells will also rise.

5.    What are some of the opportunities that an entrepreneur would identify during a downturn?
Looking for distressed properties.  In a downturn multiple companies and individuals get over extended and this presents opportunities to acquire assets at minimal cost.  Many of these assets will be like diamonds in the rough.  With a little work their value can be greatly improved.  The difficulty is to finance these opportunities.  It requires companies to take a contrarian attitude despite the overall thought of low prices for a perceived extended period of time.  History shows those that identify the bottom of any cycle enter and exit the next boom very successfully.  Also the entrepreneur has to be committed to the vision.  People tend to follow in herds in industry.  The visionary needs to ignore to some extent the people around him or her who attempt to dissuade them from pursuing the vision.  The vision and opportunity does need to be well thought out from all angles such as geology, engineering, operations, land, regulations, costs, IRR, etc.  

6.    Do you have any books / key thinkers that you would recommend?
I believe we can learn a lot from past leaders.  I read books on George Washington, Robert E. Lee, George Mitchell, Lord Thomas Cochrane, Patton, Kennedy, General Rosecrans, Woodrow Wilson, Ho Chi Min, Churchill, Reagan, to name a few.  These are leaders despite some eventually being on the wrong side exude commitment, resolve and leadership in both good and bad times consistently.

Note:  Steve Tedesco will be presenting a paper at AAPG's Revitalizing Reservoirs Geosciences Technology Workshop in San Antonio, December 1-2. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Multi-Disciplinary Mini-Competency Certificate Programs: Unique, Customized, with Real-World Value

The problem with most degree and certificate programs is that they tend to be expensive, cumbersome, slow-to-acquire, and uniform. And, it may be difficult to show you have knowledge in a unique area, say, “Geochemistry and Corrosion Control in Carbonate Reservoirs,” or “Fire-Themed Festivals for Economic Development.”

While uniformity can be good for a general education and for obtaining grounding in basic skills, it’s not good if you’re trying to differentiate yourself from the competition, and also to showcase what makes you uniquely you.

Further, if you’re trying to create a career path that is unique and explores interesting new areas, you will need to acquire a range of skills and abilities that cross categories, and which encourage you to think of things in new ways, and to relate different areas to each other.

You’ll also need to combine traditional learning activities (courses, elearning, projects) with prior learning and what you learn in teams and by applying concepts in order to solve a problem.

A way to give individuals an edge in a competitive job market is to develop a multi-disciplinary certificate that shows multi-competencies (which is to say that these are blended competencies). Customized, personalized curriculum in more than one discipline, can help the individual  transcend the limitations of conventional education and training, and to position oneself to enter unique employment areas, and also to apply knowledge in new and satisfying ways.

By making sure that the mini-competencies are flexible and quick-to-complete (as quickly as a month), it’s possible that a person will be continually creating and recreating himself or herself in a way that could be truly breakthrough in terms of human capital and a community’s ability to achieve sustainable growth.
Combine Courses with Collaboration, Applications, Demonstrated Knowledge
Learning is more than taking courses in a face to face or online setting. However, it’s easy to lose sight of that when we confine ourselves to traditional curriculum, and only track traditional coursework.

Instead, we need to find a way to officially track the knowledge that is gained in on-the-job or mentored learning, and also in teams. We also need to track what happens when the knowledge applied and shared, as in during a presentation or demonstration of a new product or process.

So, we need to make sure that we include learning events and we do it in a systematic way in order to establish quality standards and rubrics.

Incorporate Multiple Categories of Learning
To begin, let’s create categories of learning, and assure that there are measurable outcomes in order to successfully complete each one.

1.    Training/Education: Discipline 1 – include measurable outcomes (quizzes / questions / problems)
2.    Training/Education: Discipline 2 – include measurable outcomes (quizzes / questions / problems)
3.    Experiential Learning: Supervised work / mentored experience, with measurable outcome as the end product (map, report, video, etc.)
4.    Collaborative Learning: Project-based work that addresses solving a problem or investigating an emerging topic, with an outcome that could include a portfolio (joint report, video, audio)
5.    Application / Demonstration:  A paper or product / process demonstration presented at a refereed conference, convention, workshop, or symposium

Example -- Geochemistry and Corrosion Control in Carbonate Reservoirs:

1.    Face to Face Short Course in Discipline A (Engineering):  Corrosion in Mississippian Wells
2.    E-Learning Course in Discipline B (Geology):  Geochemistry of the Mississippian Lime in Oklahoma and Kansas
3.    Internship / Research Project: Talk to oil field chemical companies and discuss the different problems that occur with produced water in the Mississippian Lime (where / how / when)
4.    Attend Conference / Discussion Group (which requires interaction):  Attend an SPE Discussion Group in which corrosion control and production problems are discussed, create a report of what was discussed, along with initial literature review
5.    Make a presentation at a conference / workshop / convention: Present a paper on “The Relation between Geochemistry, Corrosion, and Declining Production in the Mississippian Lime”

Propose Your Own Curriculum, Get Sign-Off from the Sponsoring Organization
The first step is to identify your interests, and then to select learning experiences that fit the correct categories.

The sponsoring organization will provide guidance, will help identify learning experiences, will identify subject matter experts, and will issue certificates, and will archive the records.

As you complete each learning experience, you’ll provide the required documentation to the sponsoring association and then they will review and approve them (under the auspices of a subject matter expert).

The association will issue a certificate for each learning experience successfully completed, and then a certificate for the entire mini-competency. They will also collect recommendations which you can post in social media sites such as LinkedIn.

The Flexible Future of Self-Defining Competencies and Professional Identity
Organizations that are willing to work with each other and cross disciplines will be taking the first step to helping their constituencies and their communities in the development of human capital.

Key is to this is respecting the fact that individuals must find ways to differentiate themselves from others, and to customize themselves to build on their strengths and interests.

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