Category Archives: Hot right now

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

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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 (lerina@iitpsa.org.za)

Driving Business Results with Workforce Strategy, Information and Metrics

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!

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.

Grade 10 learners shine in Programming Olympiad

Officially the subject “Information Technology” only starts in grade 10, but two learners gave themselves a head start and made the finals of the Programming Olympiad.  Usually learners in grade 10, who have only had a few months of programming tuition, do not make it to the Programming Olympiad Finals.

Peter Waker,  Manager of the Standard Bank Programming Olympiad explains “For a grade 10 learner to make it to the Finals they must have started programming on their own before they reached grade 10. Essentially these learners are self-taught.”  Darren Roos of the Pretoria Chinese School confirms this. “I started programming when I was in grade 6. I have learned much at the Final Round and cannot wait to share it with my friends.”

His school principal Liséttè Noonan is impressed by Darren’s enthusiasm “I am presently looking at how we can introduce an advanced program on IT.”

Reuben Steenekamp from Reddam House Constantia in Cape Town has a similar history. His father explains “Reuben was very keen on programming from primary school days. When he reached the limit of what he could teach himself we were lucky enough to find a group at the University of Cape Town that he could join.”

The Standard Bank Programming Olympiad is an annual event that this year attracted 4,848 entries. The First Round is held at schools all over Southern Africa. The top performers in that round are invited to Cape Town for the Final Round. The finalists for 2012 came from the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.

The Finals are held over two days. On each of these days the participants has to write the programs that would solve three problems.  Their solutions are tested with different datasets and were expected to provide the answers within as little as half a second.

Robert Spencer, a grade 12 learner at Westerford High in Rondebosch earned the Gold award, the Standard Bank trophy, R37,000 for himself and R5,000 for his school by having the highest score in the 2012 Standard Bank Programming Olympiad. This is the third time Robert has taken part in the competition. He won a Bronze medal last year.

A learner from Pearson High in the Eastern Cape, Stephen Barnes (grade 12), earned Silver. The other Silver medal went to Paul le Roux, a grade 12 learner at Parel Vallei High School in Somerset West.

Bronze awards went to Janneman Gericke a grade 12 learner at De Kuilen High, Guy Paterson-Jones in grade 11 at the Diocesan College (Bishops) in Rondebosch and Shaylan Lalloo in grade 11 at Pearson High in Port Elizabeth.

IT billionaire, Mark Shuttleworth, provided a total of R100,000 in prize money for learners using the computer language Python.  Python is the language Mark used to write the software that made him his billions, and he wants other young South Africans to have the same opportunity.  Most of the finalists, and all but one of the medal winners, used Python.  The last Python prize of R10,000  went to the highest ranking runner-up, Grant Zietsman of Pretoria Boys’ High.

Peter Waker commented  “What is really remarkable is that none of these learners use Python at school. For the competition a few used Java which is taught in some provinces, but most chose to learn a second language.”

Let’s hope that both of the Grade 10 learners go from strength to strength to be in a good position to win medals at the 2014 International Olympiad in Informatics.

For more information,  contact info@olympiad.co.za

(Moira de Roche is a trustee of the South African Computer Olympiad trust)

Charged by a gift book

Have you ever noticed how things come to you at the time you most need them? This happened to me recently when I received Brendon Burchard’s new book “The Charge” – but let me give you some background first.

I follow Brendon and receive his e-mail newsletter. I can’t quite remember what I had to do to receive his new book, but do know that it was something simple like a Like on Facebook or a retweet. I was a little sceptical about receiving the book – after all, I live in Cape Town, South Africa, and wondered whether the offer would be honored when there are additional costs. It’s one thing to get an e-book for free, but an actual hard copy of a book? But because I have a deep love of books – developmental and fiction – I thought there was no harm in giving it a go. So I did the necessary, and forgot all about it.

So receiving the actual book was like receiving a belated Birthday present – not only getting the book but realizing that honourable men like Brendon do exist And it came to me at a time when I knew I needed to make some changes in my life from a professional perspective. I am far from finished with the book, because it’s not something you simply read – if you want to change your life there is work to be done, and I am going to do it.

Yesterday there was a lively discussion about Leadership on Skills-Universe (www.skills-universe.com), prompted by the death of  Professor Tobias. As I was engaged in the discussion I found a paragraph in “The Charge” about competence and leadership, which I duly posted because it was so appropriate to the discussion.

So “The Charge” is a gift that keeps on giving! For more information about the book and it’s author go to http://www.brendonburchard.com, or maybe just go to Amazon and buy the book! You won’t be sorry.