Blended Learning – Without the numbers!

In the early noughties, when online learning (okay e-learning, but I am trying so hard to lose the “e”) started to take off, the shiny new thing was Blended Learning.

Right from my earliest days selling Computer Based Training (CBT) – this when the internet was little more than an idea – I would say to my customers “Using only CBT is as bad as only using Instructor Led Training”. Because it was always only common sense that there had to be some sort of mix or blend.

Then some smart aleck coined the term “Blended Learning”, and I was often amused when people said “E-learning doesn’t work – that’s why we need Blended Learning”. My standard retort “Well actually, when I was taught how to deliver classroom training, one of the good principles of Instructional Design was to use a variety of media, choosing the right medium for the learning objective”. So other than the fact that we now have computers as a delivery medium, what has changed. The basic principles stay the same. Read more


Seminar – Driving Business Results with Workforce Strategy

IITPSA / SABPP Human Capital Strategy Seminar 15 October 2013

Driving Business Results with Workforce Strategy, Information and Metrics

SABPP and IITPSA, in conjunction with TalentAlign, are delighted to announce our first combined HR and IT Strategy event, taking place on 15 October 2013 at The Wanderers Club in Illovo.

  • Do your IT, HR and Business Intelligence functions interface to create Human Capital analytics?
  • Does your HR data and information provide knowledge and business intelligence for improved decision-making on human capital?
  • Do you have the measures to understand and communicate the connections between HR investments, their effects on the workforce and organization, and the impact on sustainable strategic success?
  • Does your workforce measurement system motivate the conversations that drive strategic change?

This seminar will show you how to align human capital analytics with business and HR strategies, leveraging the data you have to build and deliver workforce and HR metrics that will improve results.


Terry Meyer, Strategy and Leadership Consultant looks at “The Art of Strategy: Why bad strategies get made and good ones fail”.  He will cover areas such as:

•             Strategy, leadership & change – the golden triangle

•             Strategy in a turbulent world – the future is not what you think

•             The power of “why” – how purpose makes the difference

•             The leadership lens – how leaders see the world

•             The art of strategy – it’s a political process

•             Why good strategies fail – capability is key

•             HR & IT – a marriage made in heaven or hell?


Rob Bothma, Industry Specialist – Human Capital Management Solutions at NGA Africa, looks at HR Informatics, whose stated goal is to fully integrate HR with Information Technology through data. There is an essential need to transform HR data into information and then transform this information in knowledge. The value lies in being able to use this knowledge in the decision-making process, which will assist the organisation in achieving its goals.

Organisations have been collecting huge amounts of data over several years through their traditional transactions systems, HR Informatics now provides a mechanism to transform the HR Information System into a Decision Support system by enabling users to analyse their data to identify trends, inefficiencies and assist in predictive analysis.

This session will cover the background to Informatics, how it can assist HR and the challenges and benefits HR can achieve by investing in the latest technologies available.


Gail Sturgess, A Senior Consultant, owner of TalentAlign and an IITPSA Director will cover key aspects of linking Human Capital to business success.

For many years, theories have existed about the contribution of people to company performance.  Some theories focus on productivity measures and how productivity increases and reduced costs are the consequence of adding more physical capital (e.g., computing technologies and smarter systems) to a company’s balance sheet.  Physical capital got all the credit and return-on-investment calculations for physical capital were widely used to show strengths and weaknesses of business performance.  Human capital was relegated to a secondary position and as a result, even basic headcount reporting practices can be widely inaccurate.

Recent research investigated the relationship between human capital management practices and the financial impact that those practices have on organization performance.  In the analysis it became evident that the key question to answer is not “does it matter if organizations manage their human capital well?” rather, it is, “how much and in what ways should companies invest in talent management practices to maximize shareholder return?”  In a nutshell, what level of resources should be devoted to managing or optimizing human capital?

The objective of this presentation is to stimulate discussion, create a rationale for greater interest in human capital metrics, and increase availability of human capital data.


Marius Meyer, CEO of the SABPP, will cover People Management, Human Capital and Technology: Integration, Alignment and Optimisation:

•             Organisational capabilities

•             Technology as an HR competency and standard

•             Workforce analytics and metrics

•             The 10 V’s of HR Technology Management


Event Details:

Date: 15 October 2013

Time: 08h30 – 13h00 (Registration from 08h00)

Venue: The Wanderers Club, 21 North Street, Illovo, Johannesburg

Cost: IITPSA and SABPP members: R798.00 – Non-members: R890.00

For more information, or to register, email Lerina Nel (

Driving Business Results with Workforce Strategy, Information and Metrics

Small Business Social Media Marketing

Until a few years ago, start-ups and small businesses, marketing was a pipe dream. There just was no budget and let’s face it, marketing was expensive. And sometimes out of desperation some money was spent on advertising, but because it did not form part of an integrated marketing plan it was a waste.

bigstock-Scratched-cardboard-card-with--31961567But now, an abundance of social media and the opportunity afforded to business for marketing and even public  relations, it’s a new dawn. Small businesses can take advantage of social media at little cost, and compete with much bigger businesses.

The phenomenon is experiencing incredible growth, so it is vital to have an online presence and a social media strategy.

You can find yourself wasting a lot of time though: to guard against this, and to make the most of the opportunity, you need a marketing plan which details how you will roll-out your strategy.

Some of the questions that might crop up are:

  • Is my business interesting enough? Of course it is, you would not put all your passion into a boring business would you? (It’s also peculiar that no-one asked this question when it came to traditional marketing.)
  • There are so many brands out there. How do I get my business noticed?
  • What’s so difficult about Social Media? (The “social” part of course!)
  • Which social media platforms should we use?
  • As a small business, with few people, how do we create content?
  • How do we get leads from social media?
  • How do we integrate social activities with our website and brochure ware?
  • How do we measure success?

Social Media Marketing is not rocket science, and there are literally hundreds of resources available to help you learn more. But it  still takes time. Get some help with the marketing and implementation plan. Without a plan, you’ll waste lots of time and have little success.

Without a social media strategy and team, even the best brands fail. Let me become part of the team that makes you successful.  Find out more.

5 Pieces of Good Advice for Sales People – from a gambler!

Yesterday I heard the song “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers on the radio (yes, we still have one).

In the years that I managed a sales team, I often used to quote from this song as it is such good advice for sales people. We often hang onto prospects because we have invested time and energy in them, and just believe that the product or solution we are offering is “so right” for the customer. Persistence and tenacity are fine qualities for a sales person, but sometimes we just don’t know that we should let go.

The refrain of the song goes (and it is advice to a poker player): “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run. You never count your money, when you’re sitting at the table, there’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing’s done.”

Let’s unpack this and see how it relates to selling.

  1. You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em – These are the qualified prospects who are ready to buy. They have the budget and you are talking to the right people at the right time.  They are worth “holding” and putting the highest percentage of your effort into because the odds are high that you will close the deal.
  2. Know when to fold ‘em  – These are the “no, not now” prospects. They are not ready to buy yet, but will be at some time in the future. Put them on a “maintenance plan”, where you contact them regularly by sharing useful information, sending greetings for special occasions, and  calling them on an agreed to schedule to find out whether the situation has changed.
  3. Know when to walk away – These people are not going to buy from you in the foreseeable future – if ever!  Remember, these are usually nice people who don’t like saying “no”. Just don’t waste any of your time on them. You have to accept it and give up, although you can keep them on some a CRM system, that automatically stays in touch.
  4. Know when to run – As with those you walk away from, these people are not going to buy from you, but they are very good at wasting your time. They often want things for free and ask for favours. They are potentially damaging because they turn nasty when you stop agreeing to their one-sided requests. So they’ll waste your time, and drain your emotional energy, but always dangle the “one-day” carrot in front of you. Learn to run from these guys as soon and as fast as you can.
  5. You never count your money, when you’re sitting at the table, there’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing’s done. – This last bit of advice is for when you are sitting in front of the prospect. You should be asking the right questions and listening to what they are saying to get a clear understanding of their needs. The you get agreement on the way forward. You should not be sitting there  figuring out what deal to offer to realize the highest commission. There will be time to do so when you have left the meeting and considered the solution that best meets your prospects needs.

I think this song and it’s application as advice for a sales person resonates with me because it is easy to remember,  if you know the song. If you don’t know the song, find it on YouTube and listen to it several times (it’s quite catchy so you’ll pick it up quickly). You might also want to learn a little about the game of poker if you have never played.

Think about the prospects you are working on. I’ll bet you will find  people who fit into the above categories. If you only have “Hold ’em” prospects, then you are very good at your job! Every time you start working a new prospect, decide whether you should hold, fold, walk away or run.  You’ll get a better return on your time, and have an odds-on chance of making your numbers.

Happy selling!

Are we getting the “be an entrepreneur” message wrong?

We all know that there are too many people for too few jobs. These are some of the several reasons suggested, and my riposte to each.

  • Poor education – this is certainly a problem, but there are an alarming number of unemployed graduates around the world
  • Companies need people with experience – right, I get this – but how do the unemployed actually get this experience?
  • Job seekers don’t have the right skills or are not work ready – maybe this is the case but if you really need to employ people surely you can make a plan?
  • Job seekers don’t know what’s out there – if anyone still believes this, just do a Google search on jobs or career opportunities. There are literally dozens of sites with job postings. I understand that not everyone has a computer or mobile phone with internet access, but there are several places where people can access the internet, such as libraries and internet café’s.

But the fact remains – whether these reasons are valid or not – there are far too many people without jobs. Unemployment creates all sorts of social problems, such as crime. So we encourage people to become entrepreneurs. Great idea, but in the next breath we suggest that this means they can create jobs. But that must be scary. If you have never held a job of any consequence, the idea of not only putting yourself in work but also employing a whole bunch of people might just be a bridge too far for a budding young entrepreneur. First of all you have to register the business – not for the fainthearted, as I know from experience. Then you have to employ people with all the administration that goes with that, mange the finances, rent office space, and so on. Many potential entrepreneurs also don’t have any financial resources. Wikipedia defines as entrepreneur as “an individual who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on financial risk to do so”. I think we put too much emphasis on employing people, and too little on the fact that you can be a one-man show. With the right knowledge and passion, an individual can start a small business and make a living. Surely in the first instance that is enough? If he or she is successful and there is an opportunity to grow the business, the entrepreneur can decide whether they want to continue to run the organization and develop the skills they need, or sell the business as a going concern and move onto the next startup. Another opportunity to be master of your own destiny without needing to build an empire is to be an independent contractor to one or more other businesses.  This provides a person with an opportunity to be a sole proprietor without the administrative hassles of running a business. This might all sound obvious, but I wonder if it is to the many individuals who are looking for a way to provide food and shelter for their families. We must change the message, There Is nothing wrong with having big dreams, but if it becomes a barrier to doing something, then maybe we must start off by dreaming smaller. If I wanted to climb Everest (big dream, but not mine), I would first need to tackle several much smaller climbs. Let’s not make becoming an entrepreneur an Everest in the minds of people.  It’s okay to start small. Decide what is right for you!

Jolene had just been on the best training course – and nobody cares (a fable )

Jolene, a Personal Assistant at Hightech Inc, has just been on a Productivity Improvement training course. She is very excited about what she has learned, which includes Time Management, dealing with E-mail effectively and much more. She can’t wait to start applying some of the new skills and ideas she has learned into practice.

On her return to the office, she has to play “catch-up” on the work and e-mails that have piled up in her absence: she finds this frustrating because she is so keen to use her new skills to change for the better. Michael, her boss, breezes past her desk and says “How was the course?”  “Fantastic, says Jolene, “I learned….”  “We’ll talk later”, Michael says as he dashes away.

Later on, when an opportunity presents itself, Jolene makes another attempt to share with Michael some of the Time Management techniques she learned, because she is sure he will also find them useful, but he really doesn’t seem that interested.

She realizes that it is going to be difficult to implement and use most of what she learned,   because the workplace is just not conducive to transferring the new skills  to the job. And as all L&D practitioners learn, when you don’t use what you have learned within a relatively short space of time, you lose it.

What a waste of company money and opportunity cost. What a waste of Jolene’s time! Perhaps she was sent on the course as a “perk”, but she ends up feeling disheartened and de-motivated.

This story is intended to show that any Management and Personal Development training that is provided in a vacuum is wasteful and counter-productive.  Such courses should be run in-company, so that the new skills and behaviours are understood by several people. Moreover, the training must be linked to organizational objectives.

An Aberdeen report on Learning and Development (2010) lists the top three ways “Best-in-class” organizations align their workforce with organizational objectives:

  • Link Learning Programmes to development plans – this prevents learning from happening in a vacuum, or being provided as a “perk”;
  • Link development plans to career paths, which are essential for organizations to achieve a positive return on the investment in their human capital’ ;
  • Measure learning against organizational objectives – does learning result in achievement of business strategy?

If you are part of a small company, you are probably wondering what you can do. You don’t have enough people to run an in-house course, so you have to send employees on public courses. There are ways you can make it work for you though, with a bit of planning. Some suggestions:

  • Ensure the Manager understands what the course objectives are, and has a plan for providing a workplace that is conducive to the employee using newly learned skills and behaviours.
  • Using a training provider who is prepared to offer coaching to the delegate and the manager for a period after the training has taken place, to deal with issues that may arise.
  • Use e-learning courses instead of sending delegates out to courses, but make sure there is an opportunity for the skills learned to be practiced in a safe environment. The suggestions in points 1 and 2 still apply.
  • Encourage staff to access on-line materials for refresher and remedial learning.

Irrespective of how big or small your organization is, you must measure at all five levels as described by Kirkpatrick & Phillips:

    1. Level 1 – reaction – how did they like the course?
    2. Level 2 – Learning – measured by both formative and summative assessments.
    3. Level 3 – Job application – were the participants able to apply what they learned in the workplace. This is where the problem often lies. Management needs to be provided with tools that allow them to observe and measure transference of skills, and also might need an outside consultant who can assess whether the environment is conducive to applying new skills, and suggesting corrective action if it is not.
    4. Level 4 – Business results – did successful on-the-job application produce business results (this won’t happen if the training plan is not aligned to the business objectives).
    5. Level 5 – Return on Investment – did the monetary value of the results exceed the amount of money spent on the training?

If you don’t measure the results of your learning, you are wasting time and money. You also run the risk of having disengaged employees, who only want to go on courses to get out of the office.

If you need to help or advice on anything discussed in this article, please contact me for an obligation-free consultation.

Confessions of a Yo-Yo dieter

Over the years I have lost my total current body weight. And then I go and put  it back on again, with interest. I have always been on the heavier side, and really like eating sweet things and drinking those glasses of pink wine. Funnily enough, I don’t like sweet drinks, but I love chocolate, cake and cookies.

My Mother was one of those naturally slender, although curvy, women. She never dieted a day in her life. My weight carrying genes come from my Father (thanks Daddy). If I could bottle my Husband’s metabolism, I would be a rich woman. He can – and does – eat whatever he likes, and just doesn’t put on weight. His weight has remained more or less constant since he was 18. Fortunately he loves me whatever shape and size I am, but he is always proud when I do lose the weight because he knows it makes me feel good about myself.

I could write a book on dieting. My journey has given me a lot of knowledge on good eating habits and what does and doesn’t work for me. What I do know is that I need a support system, and most of all I need the discipline of standing on the scale in front of someone else.

So let’s take a look at my ups and downs and back up again (maybe more like a roller coaster than a yo-yo now I think about it).

In my early 20’s I went to a Naturopath, who taught me to eat only healthy foods. The eating plan was quite hectic, and was more about getting healthy than losing weight. I did lose weight, but don’t remember how much.  I did learn a lot about how food relates to health.

A few years later I went to a French beautician who ran a weight loss program. A friend, who was getting married, went to her and lost weight quickly. As an interesting aside, this friend went to a dressmaker to get her wedding dress made. The Dressmaker told her to lose some weight and then come back again – almost as if she wasn’t prepared to make a dress and have it look less than perfect! The French beautician insisted I had a very “Chanel” figure, meaning I was the right shape but just needed to lose a few pounds. In those days I had a small waist and carried all my weight around my hips and thighs. She put me on a calorie reduced diet. I lost those few pounds but of course inexorably I found them again – with interest.

When my Husband and I started living together I put on a lot of weight. I guess it was contentment. We moved to Cape Town and the sight of a picture of me in a bikini was enough to motivate me to join Weigh-Less. The Weigh-Less eating plan is very useful in that it teaches a balanced diet. I was a real evangelist for a while, and even considered becoming a group leader, but at the time they only wanted women who did not work. I lost 19 kg’s in total, and kept much of it off for a few years, but slowly the weight crept back up. Anyone thinking of going to Weigh-Less should do so. It does work. Some of the Group Leaders are better than others: find another group if you don’t like yours. I have to say though that I did best with a group leader who did not seem to take to me – being as contrary as I am I think I was determined to prove to her that I could do it. I did try going back to Weigh-Less a few years later, but found I was bored.

Fast forward a few years, and having now regained all the weight I lost – plus interest, I joined Weight-Watchers. I really loved the flexibility of the eating plan and think that psychologically it’s really good to be in charge of your own eating, with tools to measure and control your daily and weekly intake.  Once again I lost approximately 19 kgs, once again I stopped going because I was bored, and true to form the number on the scalecrept back up.

I had a small flirtation with the Atkins Diet. Lost weight quickly, put it on – with interest – twice as fast.

In the early 2000’s, because I was downhill skiing annually at the time, I knew I had to be fit. I went to join the gym, and signed up for the Body for Life program. I have to say that it really worked for me. I never followed their eating program (but by now I did know how to eat LOL).  I was weighed and measured monthly, and the exercise regime was increased in intensity every month. Although it was necessary to go to gym six times a week, the programme only lasted 20 minutes at a time. So it was really easy to fit in, and once I was in the groove, I became very dedicated. When the program was over, I signed up for a Personal Trainer, but eventually I just did not have the money or the motivation to continue.

In 2008 I hit an all-time high weight-wise and for the first time my blood pressure was higher than usual, my cholesterol count a little worrying, and after eating my way around Milan, the time had come for drastic action. A friend introduced me to a dietician who helped me to detoxify first, and then put me on a low GI diet. Five meals a day and no carbohydratess allowed after lunch. I also learned what foods my body does not tolerate. The great thing was the dietitian measured me as well as checking weight, BMI and body fat percentage. I really got into the zone and once again lost 19 kgs (what is it about this number?).  Moreover, apart from having a too thin face, my body was probably a better shape than I had been for a long time (no more thunder thighs)  I stopped my visits just over a year ago, and despite knowing exactly how I should be eating, I am gaining centimeters around my stomach, hips and thighs at a scary rate.  Part of the problem is that I work from home building my business, and so don’t get nearly enough exercise. I joined the gym again last year, but have now acknowledged that I really don’t enjoy gym – this means I always find excuses not to go.

There is a saying in weight-loss circles “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels”. I don’t believe this – if it was the case I would simply stay thin!

I decided to write this in the hope that I would learn something about myself, and maybe help others do the same. At the very least, many women out there will know they are not alone. After thinking about and writing the piece, what I now know for sure is:

  • As you grow older, it gets harder and harder to shift the weight. And each time you lose and then gain, you gain a little bit more.
  • When I am motivated to lose weight and shape up, I really do “get with the program”. In fact, I realize that I probably bore my friends going on about my latest diet and how well it is working for me. I become a bit fanatical. I bet they all have a quiet laugh as I grow larger. I do have a sense of letting people down, but it’s not enough to keep me on the straight and narrow..
  • As my GP pointed out, all of these weight-loss programs do work. It’s the motivation that is difficult.
  • I get bored easily (I already know this about myself). This is why I never go back to the same program.
  • Gym is not for me, I need to find a dance class because I love dancing.
  • I need a support system.
  • As much as I enjoy online communities the commitment level is not the same. Although maybe if I ran such a community I would be conscious of needing to be an example.

I need to find the next viable weight-loss program and then “keep it off”. If I could find a weight-loss coach who could also be any exercise buddy, that might help. The Coach would have to challenge me an keep me stimulated. Any suggestions or volunteers?

(I’m also trying to get into the habit of writing – the experts say “Just write anything to get into the habit”. So this is me doing just thaT)

Ethics in ICT Professionalism

(This paper was compiled by Moira for IP3 ( , with significant input from Donna Lindskrog, CIPS. It was edited by IP3 Directors  from Brenda Aynsley & Stephen Ibaraki).

The purpose of this paper is to explore the genealogy of ethics in professionalism generally, how they apply to ICT and how they are enforced, and why ethics in ICT is important to society.

1.     Introduction

Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behaviour. This may involve articulating the good habits that we should acquire, the duties that we should follow, or the consequences of our behaviour on others

Society has attached a special meaning to the term Professional. A professional is expected to conduct his or herself at a higher level than most other members of society[1]

We might at first consider Professional Ethics to simply be moral conduct, which is the case for society as a whole. However, Professional ethics is related to any work that a person does for an occupation and his concern towards the society. Professional ethics carries additional moral responsibilities. Professionals have distinctive qualifications which make them unique in a society. [2].

Professions often enshrine these responsibilities within a Code of Ethics or Code of Good Practice.  ‘Profession’ means a type of job that requires special training and that brings a fairly high status, for example – work connected with medicine, law, education, and engineering. Professional ethics are the rules governing the conduct, transactions and relationships within a profession. It’s important to note that Professional Ethics have a mechanism where non-compliance can be disciplined. [3]

Simply put, a Professional is a person who:

  • Demonstrates competence, and strives for excellence
  • Is committed to a code of conduct
  • Takes personal responsibility
  • Shows public accountability
  • Shares a common Body of Knowledge
  • Commits to Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

Where a Profession is mandated by legislation of some kind, there is also a registration process required to keep a record of the Professionals.

2.     ICT as a Profession

The aforementioned Professions are regulated by  statute in almost every country, mainly because of the potential for harm to be caused to society by unethical practice. With few exceptions the ICT Profession has not been legislated, and it has been left to Professional Bodies to mandate a Code of Ethics, and offer a disciplinary process for non-compliance.

However, the model used to develop the ICT profession in the latter half of the 20th Century is no longer fit for purpose. The drivers for change include:

  • ICT touches on every other profession and industry
  • Criticality of ICT and forces of globalisation
  • Governance and security requirements
  • Maturation of IT industry
  • Increasing importance of Information as an asset
  • The need to assure competence and integrity

Because ICT is truly a global profession, with its practice being largely the same anywhere in the world, coupled with the lack of appropriate registration in many countries, IFIP IP3 was formed. It is global programme promoting professionalism; led by the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP); defining global standards and creating international infrastructure; recognising and certifying professionalism delivered through member societies.

IFIP IP3 is a vigorous program to promote professionalism in IT with the vision of a truly global and international ICT profession, equal in prestige and structure to other established professions.  Furthermore, IFIP IP3 envisages the creation of a worldwide set of professional certification schemes.  Given the global nature of the partnership, IP3 will also have the effect of facilitating  ICT capability in developing countries.

The goals of IFIP IP3 were ratified at the World Computer Congress in Milan in 2008, where the “WCC 2008 Declaration on ICT Professionalism and Competences” was signed by several ICT Organizations. In summary:

  • An International ICT Profession should be founded on essential elements of professionalism
  • Assessment of competence should include technical and non-technical competences, and should take into account international ICT certifications; vendor neutral, industry certifications and formal qualifications
  • Purpose of an international profession is equally to recognize professionalism itself, and to support those that develop professionalism
  • The structure of the international profession must be “multi-layered”.

3.    Ethics in ICT

In the case of Information & Communications Technology, or ICT Ethics, this falls as a subset of that definition as “the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc”[4]

In trying to determine if people have good ethics, we believe we need a definition of a line that should not be crossed.  “Good habits”, “duties” and “rules of conduct” do not seem as black and white as would be useful.  ICT is just beginning to describe “best practices” and the various roles in the industry and what their duties should be.  Whilst all the changes that are happening and how much progress is being made is encouraging, it is also difficult to get consensus on a set of duties or habits.  “Rules of conduct” imply that there has been discussion and agreement about a set of rules.

Everyone in the computing community understands the importance of recognizing and promoting ethical behaviour in the profession. Instruction in ethics is rapidly becoming a part of most computing-related curricula, whether as a stand-alone course or infused into existing courses. In 2009, seventeen faculty members and industry representatives from a wide range of institutions began to address this open problem by forming The Pledge of the Computing Professional. This initiative was spearheaded by the ACM SIGCAS (Special interest group on Computers and Society). The Pledge exists to promote and recognize the ethical and moral behaviour and responsibilities in graduates of computing-related degree programs as they transition to careers of service to society. The Pledge does not seek to define or enforce ethics – this is the role of other organizations. The Pledge, which follows below really encapsulates what is expected of ICT Professionals by the communities and the professional bodies they will be members of going forward.

The Pledge “I am a Computing Professional. My work as a Computing Professional affects people’s lives, both now and into the future. As a result, I bear moral and ethical responsibilities to society. As a Computing Professional, I pledge to practice my profession with the highest level of integrity and competence. I shall always use my skills for the public good. I shall be honest about my limitations, continuously seeking to improve my skills through life-long learning. I shall engage only in honourable and upstanding endeavours. By my actions, I pledge to honour my chosen profession.” [5]

CIPS (an IP3 member) has defined a set of ethics rules [6] for IT and they are summarized quite succinctly in 5 principles or imperatives:

  1. Protecting the Public Interest and Maintaining Integrity;
  2. Demonstrating Competence and Quality of Service;
  3. Maintaining Confidential Information and Privacy;
  4. Avoiding Conflict of Interest; and
  5. Upholding Responsibility to the IT Profession.

Apart from the strictures that are or should be placed on an ICT Professional, there are additional special responsibilities facing computer professionals – even those who are not considered Professionals in the strictest meaning of the word – which include:

  • Maintaining relationships with and responsibilities toward customers, clients, co-workers, employees, and employers.
  • Making critical decisions that have significant consequences for many people.
  • Determining how to manage, select, or use computers in a professional setting.

Additional guidelines for ICT Professionals, which are not necessarily written into Professional Codes, but are nonetheless important include:

  • Understand Success as more than just making something work
  • Design for real users and test for real users
  • Conduct thorough planning and scheduling, and pay attention to details

4.     Impact of Ethics on Society

We would live in a wonderful world if everyone could be held to ethical standards. Unfortunately though, there are different interpretations of what ethical values are. Unless there is a clear Code of Ethics, and sanctions that can be imposed for breach of Ethical standards, this will remain a Utopian dream.

Society therefore relies on the Codes of Ethics and Good Practices set up and policed by Professional Bodies. These Codes must not violate any civil law or institutional policy, and must be able to be enforced.

Possibly the most important value of Codes of  Ethics is the level of trust you can bestow on the individual professional.  If, for example, you need help from a medical professional, you trust him to know what he is doing (Education and CPD); to be honest with you in his assessment of your condition and the treatment thereof (conduct and personal responsibility); and is accountable to the Council that oversees the Medical Profession (Public accountability).

An excellent example of a Professional  is that of the Australian Computer Society  (see ACS Code of Ethics).

This code is exemplary because it emphasizes the impact of the Professional’s behaviour on society at large, rather than just the work of the professional per se.  Many Professional Codes also include that of Service – the duty to “give back” to the community and society by doing voluntary “good works”. This could include volunteering for their own Professional Society.

5.     Conclusion

It is clear that Professional Codes of Ethics are essential to assure Society that the Professionals they deal with will not cause harm.

Because ICT practitioners are employed in all industries, and the impact of their work can be detrimental as well as beneficial, as the profession continues to mature, it is vital that these impacts are recognised and risks managed.  Professional Competence in practice and Codes of Ethics and Good Behaviour should be certified, as is being done by IFIP IP3, then in future work performed by certified ICT Professionals around the world can be trusted by anyone and everywhere that has subscribed to this certification process.

[4]              Baase, Sara , A Gift of Fire:Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues for Computing and the Internet (Third edition),Prentice Hall,  Page 30

[5]              SIGCAS Newsletter (August 2012)

Speech to text – WTF

I was at WSIS the week before last. One of the sessions I attended was on Ethics in the Information Society, sponsored by

I’m happy to report that Ethics is becoming a key issue on the UNESCO and ITU agendas.  As a Professional Member of Computer Society South Africa, I subscribe to, and try to live by, a code of ethics. But I digress.

The aforementioned meeting was addressed by authors and others who take a keen interest in Ethics. Most of them were European, and so spoke English with an accent.

I am an Evernote fan. In fact I could be President of the Evernote fan club, I love it so much. However, it’s never easy to type fast enough when taking notes on a Tablet or SmartPhone, so I decided to use the record facility in Evernote for the purpose. What follows is a verbatim transcript of what was recorded in Evernote.

2 years ago we used for young chat to make them pierced they have the weight of a b**misuse** getting her and there young people seem to have a problem talk b havier wuth parents Using air we have all been there many times and there just recently luther king beaver street hi lindsey easy twitter understand
How will society be organized especially education
Mornington volumes thank you for your kind invitation so I will pass out there is still a stop to this is an erection least we were fortunate enough to self listen balls are freezing free Internet and I was born what is the cervix is 6 oz are in a minute experiments ends up when I was old enough and mature enough to understand it up wrestling tonight jane so where is the main generations in a little experiment ends up straight understand what this is all about so I like?

I don’t have any clue how some of these words and phrases were what the device “heard”. It’s a little like some little devil is sitting in the device and typing in words that are almost the antithesis of what the speaker is saying. Is there an Android devil I don’t know about? 🙂

So it strikes me that when I want to take notes quickly, I will still go back to the writing on paper, or using an App that lets me write on my tablet (I have not found a very effective one yet but keep looking).

Education – getting past the myths about learning

Whenever I read an article or blog, or view a TED talk on Education, I’m always struck by how the problems are similar around the world. Some developed countries get it right –Scandinavian countries certainly seem to – whilst others such as the US seem to be engaged in the same struggle as the rest of us. Similarly some developing nations, such as South Korea, seem to have the winning formula. It’s clear that the amount of money spent is not the key issue: Education is not a problem we can simply throw money at.

In South Africa blaming the Education Minister is almost a national sport, and yes I have been as vocal as the next person.  If we can get the educators frame of mind right, then maybe we will have a chance of improving the situation.

I was thrilled to be sent this Infographic “18 Myths people believe about Education” from Dyeseka Budac, Community Outreach Specialist , Open Colleges.

Dyeseka was a member of the team who developed it.  Get the Infographic and read the explanations of each myth here.

The explanations on the aforementioned site are sufficient. But why I wonder do these myths prevail? I believe some reasons problem might be:

  • Teaching instead of facilitating learning. Pedagogy by its very definition is teacher-centric. Teachers should engage the natural curiosity of their learners. Children are all different, so the process should engage different kids in different ways.
  • Teachers are too bound by the syllabus and the assessments. When we teach to improve pass marks we are focused on numbers instead of learning. In business we say “You get what you measure” – doesn’t the same apply in education?
  • Sir Ken Robinson points out that STEM education is very necessary, but not more so than the Humanities, Arts and Physical Education. All of these are important for the creative process.
  • Teachers should be treated and compensated as Professionals. As Professionals they must subscribe to a Code of Ethics, and embrace life-long learning.
  • Learners should be made to believe they are capable of learning and succeeding. So the teacher has a critical role to play in building self-esteem.
  • Class sizes must be manageable (despite the contention of Myth 15). If the class has more than 35 learners, it’s not teaching it is crowd control!
  • Technology can be used very effectively for delivery of content, and self paced learning does help with the natural learning of curious kids. However it is not effective if it is not provided in an enabling environment.

In my view we have to stop embracing the myths, which are simply excuses which are not factual. We need to focus on enabling teachers, and providing a more flexible environment where the focus is on learning.

Benjamin Franklin contended that there were three types of people in the world: Immovable people, who can’t and won’t change; Movable people, who with some encouragement will change; and Movers who are the people who drive change. Let’s ignore the Immovables, and be the Movers who bring the Movable’s around.