ECO 2.0–Online Learning Opp from Encore Tampa Bay & WLS

…it is vitally important that we are constantly sharpening our skill set in order to stay competitive and relevant in a volatile jobs market and rapidly changing world. Skills that were cutting edge five years ago are likely out of date now, and the jobs that we will perform in the next decade or two may not even exist yet. What are some of the ways to develop new skills?  –Ann Mehl, Executive and Business Coaching, September 1, 2015

ECO 2.0 is one VERY GOOD way to develop new toolsets, skillsets, and mindsets.

Lisa Levinson and I are proud partners with Bevan Rogel and her talented crew at Encore Tampa Bay to bring encore seekers together in Encore Connect Online 2.0.  ECO 2.0 supports encore seekers with:

  • 21st century digital skills that help you compete in today’s job market or land exciting community service opportunities
  • an online network to clarify personal direction and make new friends
  • freedom to explore key encore issues with peers
  • personal & group coaching from us WLS learning concierges–Lisa and Doris–to overcome barriers to using new technologies and online routines

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Powering Up Offline in New Zealand

Two seagulls seem to be scolding me . . . it sounds like they are saying “Where is my lunch?”  “Don’t you have food to give me NOW?”

I am sitting at a small table outside a studio unit on a Pacific beach in Hahei, New Zealand, an end of the road driving destination, yet ironically, far more connected than I have been for the last week to people and activities back home in the states. I am using the next few days to recover from my holiday of last week–a guided walk along the Milford Track–one of the 20 best walks in the world in the Fjordland of New Zealand.  The Track is officially 33.5 miles long, spread out over three days of walking through beech tree forests, up and over Mackinnon Pass, and undulating temperate rain forests.

Doris starting the Milford Track

Doris starting the Milford Track

For a novice walker like me, it offered adventure and challenge–narrow, slick zigzags up the mountain; rocky, steep declines & flooded rock beds to cross going down; cold temperatures (hey, I’m from FL–45 degrees is cold!) and 35 MPH wind gusts as I approached and crossed Mackinnon Pass.  Did I say that I carried a 15 pound backpack and liter of water/camera (3 lbs+) with me everywhere?  Although I walked mainly by myself (my husband did not go and I was on a different pace from the 23 hikers in our group), at critical times, suddenly, quietly, one of the three guides would appear–Logan, Fe, or Akiko.  They would raise my flagging spirit with frequent “Well done” encouragements, entertaining  conversation, offers of hot chocolate, hot tea and respite from the elements in “huts” along the route, and showed me how Read more

Sighting Leadership Networks in Action

At the Studio, we try to “work out loud” whenever possible.  We agree with Harold Jarche that “The most effective learning in the new world of work will be when engaged individuals regularly share their knowledge. Working out loud is the primary way people can share in their networks, communities, and workplaces.”  This blog is part of our workplace and where we share our insights most often. If you are reading this post, you may be part of our Studio network or a first-time visitor.  Welcome!

Doris_birding_300px_1991While working on an unrelated project, I became excited like a birder sighting a rare species in an urban parking lot, when I spotted the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation role modeling how to work out loud online. I saw a CEO who is quite transparent about redoing their leadership development work to foster a national “culture of health” in the United States. This huge organization exemplifies (IMO) how to encourage its thousands of associates, most of them not employees, to work out loud through its blogs AND Twitter, Google+, podcasts, and discussion groups online among other social media.

I’d like to share what I have learned so far. There are lessons here for big and small organizations as well as for DIY learners who are connecting online to ultimately make big differences offline. Read more

5 Steps: Transform your organization into a learning one

What do member organizations, small business, and large corporations all have in common (no, this is not a joke!)? They are all experiencing the changing world of work, from cloud technology to web meetings to social media campaigns and marketing. They are all also trying to keep up with new tech devices and ways of communicating, which seem to change every day.

In last week’s blog, Doris presented an infographic, based on Jane Hart’s new approach to learning, that outlined some basic needs organizations have in regards to working with and attracting members and competent staff to fulfill the organizational mission and goals. A large part of attracting volunteers and staff is the learning opportunities the organization provides and keeps providing to equip people with the skills they need to work towards and achieve organizational targets. Here is the section of the infographic that shows the learning gamut from structured to unstructured, guided to Do It Yourself (DIY) learning: Read more

Online Projects: Solutions for Learning AND Doing

In her most recent blog post, Doris talked about online projects as a tool for collaborative learning. In that blog she described a valuable process for collaborative projects that included identifying a challenge that matters to you, seeking people who share your passion, reframing goals and mission, and establishing a timeline, target milestones and regular sharing rituals.  

Some project skills are the same both online and offline.  As with offline projects, you must continually focus on the mission, reflect and ask questions, make each connection or meeting productive, and remain flexible and open to new ideas. However, working online hones and reframes leadership skills and technical knowledge. Read more

Entrepreneurial DNA and Learning Online

Every week brings me something new.

This week, my copy of Don’t Go Back to School:  A Handbook for Learning Anything by Kio Stark arrived.  The book is about people, and for people who choose to build knowledge and competence outside traditional school settings. It is an easy-to-read handbook that’s meant to be applied. It also bolsters the premise of the Studio that anyone with passion and purpose can learn, lead, and connect online.

Stark’s research revealed four facts about successful learning outside institutions.

  • It isn’t done alone.
  • For many professions, credentials aren’t necessary, and the processes for getting credentials are changing.
  • The most effective, satisfying learning is learning that which is more likely to happen outside of school.
  • People who are happiest with their learning process and most effective at learning new things—in any educational environment—are people who are learning for the right reasons and who reflect on their own way of learning to figure out which processes and methods work best for them. 

Stark initially refers to these out-of-school learners as independent. But she concedes readily that “People don’t learn in isolation,” but rather through “connections they forge to communities and experts and access to the other learners.”  They are really in(ter)dependent learners relying on “other people to learn with and from.” And “The internet has always been good for this kind of community-based mutual aid.”

I was hooked and continued reading.

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Does Your Valentine Need the Gift of Your Presence?

The theme for Women’s Learning Studio this month is Online Overload—naming it and taming it. As I thought about Valentine’s Day this week, I began to consider how online overload and overuse can affect relationships and how people can ensure that relationships do not suffer because of the time spent in a virtual world.

We have all seen people sitting together with each of them focused on a mobile phone or laptop. Maybe we have sat at a restaurant table as a companion answers “just one more email” on his cell phone.

With some research, I found that in 1995 Ivan Goldberg, M.D.1 proposed “internet addiction disorder” as a satirical hoax. However, since that time, some researchers have taken it more seriously. They refer to the problem as problematic internet use  (PIU)2  or compulsive internet use (CIU)3. Read more

‘Tis the season: Top 100 Learning Tools for 2013

The results are in — learning professionals around the globe have voted!

The report on the 100 most valued learning tools in 2013 has been published at the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies.  Jane Hart, the C4LPT founder and leader, built the list from selections identified by more than 500 learning professionals from 48 countries. (Keep reading because this report assists personal learners as much as “learning professionals”.)


The report surprised me because some technologies seemed to fall well outside a learning context. Their inclusion and rankings made me reconsider the many tools I use to aid my online learning and that of others for personal or professional growth. Then I realized two things. These tools are part of my tacit knowledge + skill foundation.  Second, they are vital to my communicating, collaborating, or producing something of value that others may hear, read, or respond to.  These knowledge-building tools are like the ancient Phillips screwdriver or Read more



From its website

ALISON* is the world’s leading free online learning resource for basic and essential workplace skills. … Through the ALISON learning platform we can assist people around the world in educating themselves, thereby creating a more equitable and sustainable global society.

We believe that all certifiable or standards-based learning for every subject can be made available for free online. We also believe that Article 26 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free…” will, through ALISON, become a reality.

* ALISON stands for “Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online”.


ALISON started in 2007 in the UK.  Information Week reportedly called it “the original MOOC.”  (MOOC–Massive Open Online Course)

It offers courses in major groupings including Business and Enterprise Skills; Financial and Economic Literacy; Health Literacy; Digital Literacy and IT Skills; Personal Development and Soft Skills; as well as Language and Diploma courses.  The courses are FREE (but larded with advertisements and time for them to load and clear before you can get to your learning).

After completing the registration, I (Doris) completed an introductory module on Adobe Connect, the same-time meeting application.  It took 40 minutes to complete the module and do the assessment.   The video lecture, offered by a teacher in Great Britain with his own online teaching studio, was clear but might have been better if he had had participants in the room to interact with.  The follow-up assessment was a standard read the question, click on the answer, with immediate feedback on right/incorrect choices.  There could be variations on course teaching methods because there are many different instructors and topics.

ALISON can be used to introduce you to topics via the short modules.  If you like them and are learning, then you could continue with ALISON offerings or one of the many fee-based training/learning options advertised on the same page with ALISON course material.  Do check to see when the ALISON course was launched because it may be outdated.  Second, the advertising distractions mentioned earlier, can be eliminated entirely for a 50Euro annual subscription or reduced to popups between modules for 15Euros a year.    But I would only pay the subscription if I were absolutely sure that ALISON would give me exactly what I wanted.  Why pay a fee when there are many heavy-weight university-based MOOCs that  are free of cost and advertising from the get-go?



Udemy offers the opportunity for experts to craft, sell, and deliver online courses from the Udemy home platform and for learners to take them!  Courses range in topic, price, length, etc.

On the front page alone, its top 20 courses (as indicated by the number of students who have taken or are taking the courses and # of positive reviews) range from a $9 course (46 minutes–12 lectures) on Making PDFs Interactive from InDesign by Paul Cracknell, a  UK expatriate now residing in New Zealand to a course on Making iPhone and iPad Apps  Without Any Programming (185  lectures and 10.5 hours of content) by John Bura  for $497.  A different kind of course also on the front page is Discover The 1 Thing You Were Born To Do In 5 Easy Steps! by Steve Olsher ($49).  Udemy even offers yoga courses and American Accent Training for IT Professionals.

Open Culture

From its website

Open Culture brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community. Web 2.0 has given us great amounts of intelligent audio and video. It’s all free. It’s all enriching. But it’s also scattered across the web, and not easy to find. Our whole mission is to centralize this content, curate it, and give you access to this high quality content whenever and wherever you want it. Free audio books, free online courses, free movies, free language lessons, free ebooks and other enriching content — it’s all here. Open Culture was founded in 2006.

Dan Colman, the lead editor, is the Director & Associate Dean of Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program. He previously served as the Managing Director of AllLearn, an e-learning consortium owned by Stanford, Oxford and Yale.


This site offers entree to over 650 FREE courses online from major universities such as Stanford, Penn State, University of Michigan, UC Berkley, Harvard, and Oxford.  Many of these are “evergreen” courses, meaning that one can start them at any time.  The site also lists 200 FREE online courses (Massive Open Online Courses-MOOCs) that start throughout the year.  Most MOOCs offer “certificates” or “statements of completion,” though typically not university credit.  If you wish to take these as credit classes, you would need to check with your partnering institution.

Open Culture does not build or create the courses.  Instead, “the site highlights MOOCs and online courses created by other educational ventures.” The website also identifies free language lessons, K-12 teaching resources, free online movies, Harvard classics, and life changing books that one can obtain online.  It even lists a philosophy course delivered via Twitter!  Class categories are from A (Archaeology, Architecture, Art and Art History) to P (Psychology and Public Health) to T (Theater and Twitter) to Uncategorized (a grab bag of learning options).




From its website

We are a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. We envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions. Our technology enables the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students.

Through this, we hope to give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available only to a select few. We want to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.


Coursera asserts that it is constantly expanding the range of classes and college partners around the world.  Top universities in Europe, Asia, and Latin America are aligned with Coursera making it possible for learners to study in French, German, Spanish, Chinese, and Italian.  Additionally, it is innovating new methods with its partner colleges for people to learn and earn college credits or documentation for courses completed in good standing.  For example,  Coursera is working with ACE Credit, a company that certifies nontraditional education for college credit.  As of March 2013, Coursera offers five classes in conjunction with the University of California, Duke, and University of Pennsylvania that ACE Credit will deem acceptable for college credit  that could then be applied by degree seeking students at one of 2,000 participating colleges and universities.

Another way of documenting one’s progress and learning is by enrolling in classes via the Signature Track.  This track has special requirements to ensure that your work is being completed by you leading to a verified credit of completion that you could make available electronically to prospective or current employers or anyone that you need to inform of your competence as long as they have a secure URL.  The Signature Track does involve a fee but gives you access to education–knowledge and skill building–regardless of geography or time.

Academic Earth

From its Website

A world-class education at your fingertips.

Academic Earth aims to provide everyone with the opportunity to earn a world-class education by offering free online classes and online learning tools. Whether you’re looking to advance your career or take classes that interest you, Academic Earth can connect you to the world’s top universities and scholars.


This is a repository of FREE university courses and lectures that have been made available online.  (Did we say free yet?)  If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to sit in on a lecture at a prestigious university, this site offers a window into classrooms at UC Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Yale, and more.  The university level content is wide ranging such as business, mathematics, engineering, science, humanities, social sciences, art and design, and test preparation for ACT, SAT, GRE, and LSAT, etc.

The top ranked courses include an introduction to Computer Science and Programming, Introduction to Ancient Greek History and Physics II:  Electricity and Magnetism.  Academic Earth also offers “playlists” that take you to short-term lecture series on You Are What You Eat (3 lectures), The Nature of Evil (6 lectures), Love is in the Air (6  lectures) and Living a Good Life (3 lectures).