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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Mid-Continent Shale Gas and New Opportunities through e-Learning


Some have called the Barnett Shale the new Austin Chalk, while others draw parallels with coalbed methane. In each case, new technologies are making what used to be an uneconomic venture a highly profitable one. Further, the technologies can be learned at a distance. Shale gas is now being produced from the Barnett Shale and the Fayetteville Shale, while companies are starting to drill and produce gas from the Caney Shale. In other parts of the country, the Antrim and the New Albany shales are of interest.

Finding Overlooked Reserves

The technologies include new methods of processing well-log data. These new computing techniques take well logs that contain information on the rock characteristics and reprocess them using new algorithms. The analysis can reveal overlooked reserves, or possible extensions to existing fields. One such program is called Geologic Analysis via Maximum Likelihood System (GAMLS), and it is available through Eric Geoscience.

GAMLS is a software program which allows geologists, geophysicists, engineers, and petrophycists to evaluate old fields, look for step-outs, and to analyze the potential of new producing zones. In many cases, the new zones have been overlooked because technologies to determine the zone's potential, and then to successfully drill and complete a well in the the hydrocarbon-bearing formation, did not exist.

Such a situation was often the case with tight gas and shale gas, including the Barnett Shale and Fayetteville Shale, where permeability was measured in the milli-darcies. Technological advancements have led to the ability to economically produce shale gas, but it is very important to understand the lithology and petrophysical characteristics of the formations, as well as to be able to detect the presence of commercially viable quantities of hydrocarbons. Perhaps one of the most cost-effective ways to explore for shale gas within an existing field is to utilize programs such as GAMLS to do the following analytical tasks (from the website):
  1. Analyze digitized wireline well log data, plus core data if it exists.
  2. Cluster datasets into modes (= clusters = rock types = flow units) using a model-based, maximum likelihood system wherein each sample is assigned to each mode with a fractional probability (mode probability assignment). Therefore, samples (depths) assigned to the same cluster have similar log properties.
  3. Permit correlation of rock units between wells.
  4. Generate graphics (plots) and tables that show the relationships among variables for each mode.
  5. Permit predictions of missing data using the statistical relationships computed during a previous clustering run.
Software programs that model petrophysical characteristics can be learned fairly efficiently via virtual training. Learners can quickly begin to use the software with real field data, and even begin to design and manage an exploration and production program. The program can be used to help with project management.

These are just a few of the new ways to use e-learning to develop skills that directly lead to positive economic results.

Arkoma Basin

Fayetteville Shale - February 2006 - AAPG Explorer -

"Barnett May Have an Arkoma Cousin"

Barnett Shale - February 2006 - AAPG Explorer --

"Barnett Shale a Stimulating Play"

Other shales -- Woodford shale gas / Coalbed methane -

PTTC Network News - 2004

Potential Gas Shales in Oklahoma --

Oklahoma Geological Survey - 2006

2006 Gas Shales Modeling --

upcoming in May 2006, sponsored by SRI Institute

Petroquest -- Woodford Shale test -- 2005 financial results

Petroquest Financial Information -- Lafayette, LA

Friday, April 14, 2006

Leadership and the E-Learning Organization


susan in Koper, Slovenia. Photo by Andraz Gombac.

The book is here!!

Leadership and the e-Learning Organization

It's here!!!! I'm thrilled. Yes, it's rough, and all I have are uncorrected publisher's proofs, which make great review copies (despite the rough edges). It's a compilation of more than 50 articles, most of which appeared in earlier forms in edublogs, ejournals, and here. I have updated them and placed them in categories that correspond to elements in the e-learning organization that can be useful to everyone struggling with growth, change, and development in online and distant learning.

If you are a library, I will send you a complimentary review copy, particularly if you think you may wish to order a copy once the final version is out.

Please e-mail me if you'd like a review copy or more information.
susan at beyondutopia dot com.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Using Virtual Internships to Set up Rural Microfinance Institutions


This articles describes a way to use virtual internships to help set up microfinance organizations for rural communities that need the help. This could apply to hurrican-affected rural communities, developing nations or communities. The interns are graduate students who are in an MBA, economics, or interdisciplinary program. The beneficiaries are the communities. The project is guided by an expert mentor.

Colleges and universities are engaging in virtual projects with developing countries throughout the world. Such projects give faculty an opportunity to collaborate with their peers, to conduct research, and to strengthen their organizations. Students who enroll in virtual internships or who participate in the project are able to gain experience in employing "appropriate technology" e-solutions in places where information sharing, education, training, and community and health support are desperately needed. Funding for such projects may come from transnational organizations such as the United Nations, or various relief or developmental agencies. The following example could be used for a business or information management class which seeks to help rural microfinance institutions in hurricane-ravaged areas, areas that have experienced environmental or war damage, or lesser-developed nations or communities.

The Elements in a Virtual Business Class Internship / Collaboration Project to Use Web-Based Education in Rural Microfinance Institutions

Basically, the intern identifies the need of the community and assembles the component parts that will be used to operate the microfinance institution. The intern provides technical assistance and consulting, while simultaneously gaining experience as he/she works under the tutelage of a mentor.

Web-Based Resources Open to the Public
a Multi-use, multi-function web-logs for collaborations, information sharing, announcements, press releases, public relations
b Website portal pages and/or a site map that shows an inventory of resources, including links to directories, library resources, training materials, white papers, technical assistance. Some are sites that are linked would be password-protected. Others are available for sharing, particularly ones that contain "yellow pages" type directories and calendars of upcoming events.
c Portal for gateway to shared or collaborative information. This would include bulletin boards, announcements, threaded discussion boards, and public weblogs.

Web-Based Resources with Private Access Only
a Proprietary information and information resources
b Log-in and access to central server to the central information hub, which would include high-level applications (accessed remotely from personal computers and network hubs using thin-client software)
c Information management / project guidance through integrated customized "umbrella organization" portal
d Financial services provided via out-sources services -- payments, funds transfers, etc.
e Resource bartering provided via e-store, e-commerce solutions
f Open-source courseware for online training and education // distance collaborations

Web-Based Resources Open to Public in "Lite" Version, Restricted Access to "Full" Versions
a Virtual library of white papers
b Training materials: worksheets, procedure and policy guidelines, legal forms
c Educational materials: lessons, educational materials, workbooks
d Curriculum and online courses

Information and Resource Networking
Philosophy: The primary objective is to utilize a team effort in order to share resources, gain insight, enable programs to work effectively, and to train local and regional personnel. Sustainability is emphasized, as well as the development of productive linkages.

-Step 1- Directory of microfinance institutions
The directory provides online information for individual who often have difficulty locating information. It should be made available in English as well as the language of the country.

-a- Provide address, overview of services
-b- List key contacts
-c- List of loan products, services, support
-d- One-paragraph overview of the economy and communities served
-e- Overview of growth areas / challenges

-Step 2- Set Up Virtual Libraries
Virtual libraries allow the sharing of valuable information. Ideally, the interface for uploading will allow qualified individuals to classify the article and upload it onto the correct directory on the server.

-a- Develop a classification scheme, or numbering / filing protocols
-b- Organize existing white papers, technical manuals, documents, online journals, etc. within the classification scheme developed earlier
-c- Create a portal page with site map
-d- Develop protocols for meta-tags and links
-e- Determine which directories and files are to be password protected
-f- Develop "lite" versions of information to be made available for free
-g- Create forms and templates to be used in training and in the administration of loans. Examples include loan worksheets, loan flowcharts, secrets to successful lending and borrowing, borrower's handbook.

-Step 3- Weblogs
The weblogs are intended for the individuals at the individual microfinance institutions to stay in touch with each other, and to communicate with the virtual interns.

-a- Administrator selected for weblog
-b- Categories of topics selected
-c- Links to other blogs
-d- RSS feeds established
-e- Contributors selected to write weekly updates and provide information releases on new developments

-Step 4- Microfinance Institution Cooperation and Collaboration Task Force
By establishing a task force, concrete projects can be identified and implemented. Ideally, the participants will make a commitment that virtual internship lead to ongoing cooperation.

-a- Select participants from regional centers and mentoring university
-b- Define responsibilities and identify achievable goals
-c- Set deadlines
-d- Develop tactics, with an action plan and concrete steps - assign individuals to complete the tasks

-Step 5- Training and Education
The transfer of skills, knowledge, and philosophy is not possible without a robust training solution. It is not economical without utilizing online resources.

-a- Onsite training with access to distance expert who responds to specific issues, provides customized guidance
-b- Online / distance training
-c- Hybrid solution, with materials and curriculum downloaded from the internet with facilitators onsite
-d- Distance consultants provide feedback via chat and e-mail during the onsite part of the training.

First published in xplanazine.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Authentic Leadership and the E-Learning Organization


Because of the nature of the e-learning organization, marked as it is by constant and perpetual metamorphosis, perhaps the most effective leadership strategy is to employ a combination of charismatic, transformational, transactional, distributive, and authentic leadership. Charismatic leadership will mobilize the organization and the leader will communicate a vision that has the potential to come alive in the hearts and minds of the followers. Transformational leadership emphasizes personal as well as organizational change and growth, while transactional lays out the methods and steps to get from point A to point B. Distributive leadership gives rise to a democratic approach to decision-making and an effective assignment of tasks. However, none of these will work - individually or together - without the "glue" of authentic leadership. Authentic leadership can be characterized as a leadership approach that seeks to find solutions to problems and to achieve objectives by emphasizing the capacity to empathize and understand the needs of individuals within the organization.

As the leader demonstrates a deep connection to the followers, she or he engages in an ongoing analytical process which aligns team member talents and abilities with organizational needs. The leader then works with team members to develop a plan that is both goal-oriented and flexible. Such a task requires the leader to possess a complex set of skills, with effective, active listening forming the foundation. It also requires what has been characterized as emotional intelligence.

Later, the leader must demonstrate credibility through showing competence and the ability to set and achieve goals.

To become an authentic leader requires other qualities as well. The leader must demonstrate that he or she

a) Possesses the capacity to feel empathy;

b) Has the ability to self-regulate, thus can control emotions;

c) Is willing to dedicate time, effort, and resources to learning the needs of followers;

d) Maintains an approach that is underlain by a widely understood moral foundation;

e) Can break large goals into small, achievable goals, and is willing to work individually with units to have success;

f) Acknowledges the contributions of individuals, and rewards in a timely and appropriate manner.

It has been pointed out that the organizational climate since the 1990s has been such that employee trust has been eroded as company after company demonstrated itself willing to freeze salaries, cut benefits, lay off divisions, and spend pension funds while giving executives and board members huge bonuses, salary increases and stock options.

In a negative environment where leaders are perceived as selfish, greedy, or indifferent, employee trust in the leader is low to non-existent. In order to re-establish trust, there must be "relational transparency." L. Hughes observes that

"Continual activation of an authentic moral leader's values and ethical standards as part of his or her working concept will promote relational transparency" (Hughes, in Gardner, 2005, p. 391).

Hughes continues to by developing a four-pronged approach to relational transparency. It requires a) setting goals; b) developing a vision or identity; c) setting shared values; d) engaging emotions (Hughes, 2005).

Emotions are essentially those involved in an empathic approach to human relations. Not only does is require active listening, it also stresses tolerance, flexibility, and a willingness to engage humor in response to frustration.

Even if an organizational head is truly empathic, and possesses the values of an authentic leader, employees are likely to view the leader with skepticism, if not outright cynicism. Without a results-centered approach and effective goal-setting so that members of the organization can see that the leader is both sincere and willing to assume personal risk to better the lives of everyone, the leader is likely to be considered manipulative, insincere, and perhaps even dangerously deceptive. Thus, the decision to pursue the authentic leadership approach is not without its perils.

However, once he or she has obtained the support of team members, the authentic leader will help guide the establishment of an environment of authenticity. The authentic environment is characterized by an emphasis on strengths rather than weaknesses, and by the presence of positive reinforcement. Although it can be difficult to win over the hearts and minds of employees, the rewards are worth the effort. One can argue that it is perhaps the only approach that will work in a time of rapid change, employee fear and disenchantment, and an unstable business environment.


Hughes, L. (2005). Developing transparent relationships through humor in the authentic leader-follower relationship. In: W. L. Gardner, B. J. Avolio, and R. O. Walumbwa (Eds). Authentic Leadership Theory and Practice: Origins, Efforts, and Development. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Science.

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