Marc Rosenberg, Ph.D.
Marc J. Rosenberg, Ph.D., is a management consultant, writer, educator, and expert in the world of training, organizational learning, eLearning, knowledge management and performance improvement. He is the author of the best-selling books, E-Learning: Strategies for Delivering Knowledge in the Digital Age (McGraw-Hill), and Beyond E-Learning: Approaches and Technologies to Enhance Organizational Knowledge, Learning and Performance (Wiley/Pfeiffer). Marc is past president and honorary life member of the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), and a recipient of the eLearning Guild's "Guild Master" award. He holds a Ph.D. in instructional design, plus degrees in communications and marketing, and the Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) designation. Dr. Rosenberg has spoken at The White House, debated eLearning at Oxford University, keynoted dozens of professional and business conferences, authored more than 50 articles and book chapters, and is a frequently quoted expert in major business and trade publications.
Knowledge doubles every year, and the shelf life of that knowledge gets smaller all the time. The amount of “stuff” on the Internet is overwhelming, and we could wear ourselves out trying to keep up with the new, refresh ourselves on the old, and keep track of what’s no longer valuable. A good content-curation strategy is your best hope, and here is a checklist to help you develop one.
If learners have the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in a course, doesn’t that mean they are ready to learn? No! They must actually be ready to learn. Here are the key things you should find out about and deal with before you answer that question.
Marc My Words: The xAPI Breakthrough April 12, 2016
The xAPI is a specification for building tracking mechanisms into applications and systems. A growing number of innovative products for adaptive and experiential learning support the xAPI. If you aren’t excited about the possibilities, this column explains why you should be.
Marc My Words: Revisiting Knowledge Management March 9, 2016
Knowledge management (KM) has had a rough go of it. Hot topic one year, dead the next, repeat. KM is important, so what can we do? This month’s column from Marc offers a start on gaining better understanding of what KM is, and what it can and can’t do. This time, we’ll think big but start smaller, learn as we go along, be ready to scale when needed. Here’s how!
Marc My Words: Ten Steps to Building a Learning Culture February 9, 2016
We all like to think we work in a positive learning culture, but that’s not always the case. Here are 10 key steps to building a positive learning culture that will succeed!
Marc My Words: This Will Revolutionize Education! January 12, 2016
Have you heard someone utter those words? “This will revolutionize education, training, and/or learning and development!” How has that worked out for anyone? Technology may make learning more efficient, but that’s not the same thing as “more effective.” Here are Marc’s thoughts on revolution, evolution, and what makes the real difference.
Marc My Words: Out with the Old and in with the New December 8, 2015
It’s the time of year when the experts weigh in with their pronouncements about what’s “out” and what’s “in,” so here is Marc’s totally non-scientific take on the ins and the outs for our field in 2016. Enjoy! (And feel free to leave your own prognostications and reactions in the Comments.)
Marc My Words: The Three Laws of eLearning Failure November 10, 2015
Few things in life are certain. Even though we are sure that eLearning is certain to succeed, there are, unfortunately, lots of examples to the contrary. However, Marc says that you can count on three laws of eLearning failure. They are not beyond your control if you know what they are.
Marc My Words: Why I Hate LMSs October 13, 2015
Modern-day LMSs were born out of the new transactional capabilities of the Internet in the late 1990s. They are as much eCommerce as eLearning. LMSs can offer many products, process thousands of transactions, handle payments and delivery, and keep track of it all. This is a great value of LMSs. Without a good LMS, there would be chaos in the eLearning world. Why does Marc say he hates them?
Marc My Words: Back to School—Asking Schools About Learning Technology September 8, 2015
The new school year has started in many countries, and that means it is also time for parents to take an interest again in how the massive industry called public education is using learning technology. Here are a dozen questions to ask. Listen carefully to the answers you get, including the non-verbal responses, when you hold educators accountable.
Marc My Words: Don't Call Them Learners! August 11, 2015
What word do you use to describe or name the people who use the content you labor to create? How does a name affect the way you relate to the person(s) named? It probably does more than you think it does. Here are some thoughts about labels.
Marc My Words: LinkedIn and Lynda—Perfect Together? July 14, 2015
LinkedIn, the online social media giant that focuses primarily on professional career development, communities, and networks, has acquired Lynda.com, an online eLearning provider that focuses on skill building. Will this marriage work from a learning perspective? Here is an examination of that question, from the point of view of eLearning managers.
Compliance training is popular, attractive, and often required by law. But is it enough? More importantly, are you doing compliance training in a way that is actually dangerous? Here is a discussion of the four shortcomings of many compliance training programs, and recommendations that will help you avoid those dangers.
Marc My Words: What Exactly Is Mobile Learning? May 12, 2015
How do you see mobile learning? As a context? A device? An ecosystem? Is the way you think about mobile learning inhibiting your application of it? The thought-provoking scenarios in this column may help you resolve these questions.
Marc My Words: Just How Awesome Is the Internet Anyway? April 14, 2015
Even though we act like it’s been here forever, the Internet has only been of practical use for about 20 years. Nothing has changed our lives so much, so fast, as the Internet. Herewith a meditation on the bigger picture, beyond the online learning world, and some mind-blowing revelations.
Marc My Words: Learning Technology—Proceed with Caution March 10, 2015
The problem with learning technology is not the technology itself, but how well it’s used. Here are seven cautions to keep in mind as you develop and implement learning technology solutions of all shapes and sizes, to assure that you don’t jump into things blindly and that you see the bigger picture.
Marc My Words: A Matter of Time February 10, 2015
Time plays a huge role in what we do. Put time in the right perspective, and time to make an impact on your organization is no longer a problem. Here are 10 timely ideas!
Marc My Words: fLearning! January 13, 2015
Classroom training just doesn’t seem to get much respect. But it should. It still has an important role to play in the learning ecosystem, for at least four significant situations, and this month’s column points out just what those are—and what they aren’t.
Marc My Words: 'Twas the Night Before Rollout December 9, 2014
A cautionary tale for the holidays, with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore.
Marc My Words: In Learning and Performance Ecosystems… Part 2 November 11, 2014
You will be hearing a lot from The eLearning Guild and in Learning Solutions Magazine over the coming months about learning and performance ecosystems. This column expands on Marc’s introduction of the concept last month. Between these two columns and the white paper linked at the end of this one, you will gain a more complete understanding of this vital and emerging concept.
Marc My Words: In Learning and Performance Ecosystems, the Whole is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts (Part 1) October 14, 2014
Training is not enough! We must move away from individual, siloed, “one-off” solutions to an ecosystem comprised of multi- faceted options that enhance the total environment in which we work and learn. Here is your high-level introduction to the ecosystem concept, and why it is so critical to your future.
Marc My Words: Back to School—Technology Is Changing Learning, but Is It Changing Schooling? September 9, 2014
Has technology in our schools come upon a significant barrier? Is it the schools themselves? Technology can improve learning, but we may never reach its full value if the context where it is used—the school—does not significantly change as well. There are efforts underway to change schools, but we still have to ask if they are enough. Read here about what it will take to change the game!
Marc My Words: From Interactivity to Engagement August 12, 2014
We hear a lot about giving the learner something to do through interactivity and we hear a lot about engaging the learner. They are not the same thing. Interactivity does not necessarily create engagement, and engagement does not necessarily require overt interactivity. Learn about the difference here, and about the “Four T’s of Engagement.”
The Knowledge Management Genius of Amazon.com July 29, 2014
How does Amazon.com so effortlessly connect “zillions” of people with “zigabytes” of product information? The answer, in part, is through using advanced knowledge-management (KM) techniques. In the eLearning field, we can learn a lot from how Amazon approaches the relationship between customers and information.
Marc My Words: Selling Performance Support July 8, 2014
Selling performance support comes with unique challenges. Whether you are just getting started or have some performance-support experience under your belt, here are ten approaches to employ when planning to sell a performance-support project.
Marc My Words: The Power of Focus Groups June 10, 2014
Focus groups can provide invaluable insight when used strategically for many analysis activities in the eLearning field, from needs assessment to usability to evaluating course effectiveness. Here is a complete, yet concise, guide to the what-when-how-who details that shape a focus group that will be a key resource for better decision-making.
Marc My Words: Training Sees a Shrink May 13, 2014
If the training department were a person, it might be having an existential crisis these days. So Marc set up a counseling appointment for the department with a professional therapist. Here’s a transcript of the session.
Marc My Words: When Training Gets into Trouble April 8, 2014
In organizations facing difficult times, training is often the third thing that’s cut, right after travel and free coffee. It’s obvious to most of us that investment in quality training is a good bet. So why can’t we sell it? Here are three key “failures” to avoid.
Marc My Words: Why I Hate ADDIE March 11, 2014
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”—Albert Einstein
Marc My Words: The Training to Competence Myth February 11, 2014
There is an assumption that training provides enough learning and support to launch someone right to proficiency and competence the moment they leave the classroom. If the training is great and the learners learn, we are told, they ought to be able to perform competently from day one. This is hardly ever the case. Here’s why, and what to do about it.
Marc My Words: Training Hubris January 14, 2014
Training activity that doesn’t produce business value is primarily wasted. Here is the story of a training organization that believed it was creating value, but saw it in terms of its own desires, rather than servicing and supporting the key needs of the business, as defined by the business. Scary stuff. Don’t try this at home.
Marc My Words: Holiday Training Treats; or, Let Them Eat Bagels December 10, 2013
Does everything that’s done in the name of learning always make sense? Here are 11 stories about performance improvement gone awry, from getting away (far, far away) from the office to total makeover to the edifice complex and more. Enjoy!
Leo Performance Assurance Solution November 26, 2013
Performance support is in the midst of its second revival. The first time around, every performance support project was a custom development job. Today, a new category of tools makes it much easier to create resources that support work at the moment of need. In this review, meet Leo, a proven way to help people get their work done.
A house is no better than the foundation under it, and the same is true for eLearning: if the infrastructure won’t support it, you’ve got (expensive) trouble. Learn from this example that is currently creating so much concern in the US.
Marc My Words: Don't Dismiss Level One Evaluation October 8, 2013
”Smile sheets.” “Happy sheets.” We often hear level-one evaluation (the learner’s reaction to instruction) dismissed as trivial or unimportant. But maybe we’ve been asking the wrong questions. Here’s why level one is important—and how to do it in a way that provides insights that matter and that supports correct assessment of your work.
Marc My Words: Back to School (Killing and Reigniting the Learning Flame) September 10, 2013
Sometimes a trip down Memory Lane is worth making. The differences you remember between the best and the worst educational experiences you’ve had can be excellent guides to making better experiences for the learners in your organization. You can even turn the memories into a course- improvement checklist. Here’s a guided tour through those experiences.
Marc My Words: Own the Assessment, Not the Course August 13, 2013
Some instructional designers write the assessment (the criterion test) first, and some write the test after they have finished designing the course and creating the content. Which way is right? Here are six key points you should consider as you plan your next eLearning project.
Performance support—simple tools that guide and support people as they carry out tasks—is an effective, low-cost complement to instruction. Here are five quick points that you can use as the basis for your “elevator speech” that explains the concept to your colleagues and stakeholders, and three valuable resources that will help you implement the concept.
Google Glass is getting a lot of attention, but will we use it, and if so, how? It has features that might make it a viable performance-support technology in many settings, and it also creates some significant concerns. Read about the pros and cons here!
Social media played an incredible role in reporting the events at the 2013 Boston Marathon and assisting in its outcome. There are some lessons about the power of social media in learning we can take away from those events. What are the benefits and what are the pitfalls?
Marc My Words: Practice Makes Mastery April 9, 2013
How do people become high performers? Here are three ideas from one of the keynote speakers at last month’s eLearning Guild Learning Solutions Conference. Plant these ideas into your programs and watch your learners grow!
Delegation is a key skill for instructional designers, especially when turning content development over to end users and subject matter experts. However, just as in any other management effort, it is vital to delegate with control. Here are some key errors you want to avoid.
Marc My Words: eLearning vs. eKnowledge February 12, 2013
Is it necessary to communicate all content in the form of courses? There are real reasons to deliver some content as well-designed information instead of instruction. Marc invites us to think critically about what fits the eLearning paradigm and what doesn’t.
Marc My Words: So You Want to Get Into the eLearning Biz? January 8, 2013
Looking for a new career? Think you have what it takes to be an eLearning specialist or manager of eLearning? Here are the nine things you need to know on your first day in your new career … or maybe the nine things it would still be good to know even if you’re already on the job.
If you thought 2012 was an action-packed year, get ready for 2013, because it will be more of the same. Marc looks ahead to what he sees as the key trends, offers some advice about what you can do about them, and suggests where you should remember to learn more.
Marc My Words: Testing Your eLearning Strategy November 13, 2012
Is your eLearning strategy sustainable? Here are eight points to consider as you work on making your strategy clear and set up for success.
Marc My Words: Is It eLearning or Something More? October 9, 2012
Imagine a world where the tools we use remove complexity rather than add to it, and are so intuitively easy to use that we can operate them—correctly—the first time, precisely when we need to use them, with minimal risk. The possibilities for this are here. Are you ready for them? Marc talks about performance support, training, and saving lives.
Marc My Words: If We Just Give Kids iPads, They'll Learn More, Right? September 11, 2012
Everything from class size to irrelevant curriculum, from lack of involvement to ineffective teaching, all seem to point to a US education system that at best is treading water and at worst is falling behind the rest of the world. Is technology the answer, or is it more lipstick on the same pig? Marc has some insights for all of us, and not just for American readers.
Marc My Words: The Fall and Rise of Performance Support August 14, 2012
After two decades in eclipse during the rise of eLearning, performance support is returning to become an essential part of business strategy. Marc reflects on the significance of this re-focus in the world of learning and performance.
Marc My Words: Why I Hate Instructional Objectives July 10, 2012
Ever since Bob Mager popularized instructional objectives more than 40 years ago, they have been part of the Holy Grail for instructional designers and the training industry. But are they as valuable as we think they are? Marc suggests a way to add value to the learning objective.
Marc My Words: Seven Questions eLearning Developers and Managers Should Answer … Every Time June 12, 2012
Good design depends on the right answers to important questions, and it is critical to answer those questions at the beginning of the project, not at the end. Here are seven important details you must identify correctly from the start.
We have tended to think of competence as a fixed point: either you are competent or you are not. If that’s the whole story, Albert Einstein was just a competent physicist, Florence Nightingale was a competent nurse, and the Beatles were only a competent band. There has to be more, beyond mere competence. There’s a continuum of performance from novice to master. Learn about it here!
Marc My Words: The End of Books May 8, 2012
As we find new and better ways to create, store, manage, and, especially, share knowledge, what else changes? Perhaps it is that our key role moves from production to decision-making and advice on content and learning quality. Marc reflects on keeping our eyes on what really matters.
Marc My Words: A Salute to ISPI on Its 50th Anniversary April 10, 2012
The International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) has been a pace-setting, research-based professional organization that has influenced so many aspects of what we do in our work that it is difficult to list them all. Here is a salute to this organization!
Marc My Words: Qualifying eLearning Vendors March 13, 2012
No matter how good you are at building eLearning, sooner or later you will likely have to rely on an outside provider. But how do you separate the good vendors from the bad? Here are seven vendor qualities you should look for.
Marc My Words: eLearning Boot Camp February 7, 2012
Traditional roles in training and education are in transition, and perhaps fading away. Specializations in eLearning are merging and morphing. What was current last year is now passé, and what was a blip on the horizon is now mainstream. In a time of constant change in our professions, where do you focus your attention? The answer is continuous professional development, and here’s how.
Marc My Words: Ten Common Mistakes in Building an eLearning Strategy January 10, 2012
Having a strategy is important, and it needs to be a solid strategy if it is to be the basis for a successful and sustainable eLearning effort. Here are ten of the mistakes that people most often make when setting their strategy, and each mistake will weaken the strategy.
All I Want for Christmas Are Some Great Teachers December 13, 2011
Great teachers are still necessary. But there are some characteristics, beyond being impressive lecturers, which make teachers great. Why do great teachers matter in eLearning? It is because great teachers also make great eLearning developers.
Marc My Words: eLearning Myths, Part 2 November 8, 2011
More eLearning myths, folklore, and legends busted this month! Has Marc left out any of your favorites?
Marc My Words: eLearning Myths, Part 1 October 11, 2011
There are so many myths about eLearning that it is hard to know where to begin. But here are five myths about eLearning design, and the truth to counter each one of them.
Marc My Words: Back to School – Tablets in the Classroom September 13, 2011
As students return to school, many of them (and their teachers) are seeing tablet computers in the classroom, a trend that will only grow. Marc looks at what tablets bring to K-12 education, the concerns that they raise, and what we can do to ensure the success of this technology in the classroom.
Marc My Words: Back to Basics – When Training Is the Answer August 9, 2011
After you have analyzed a performance problem and determined the non-instructional components of the solution, it’s time to begin working on the parts that have to be taught. Here are eight fundamental points of instructional design and delivery that you must incorporate into eLearning in order to get the results you intend.
We know that training is only one solution to performance problems, and that there are several others. So why always fall back on “build a course to fix it” as the default solution? Here’s an aid to help with that particular performance problem, and there’s no course required.
Marc My Words: Vendors Are People Too June 14, 2011
Business ethics apply to customers as well as to vendors. Here’s a look on the other side of the fence.
Early adopters of eLearning more than 15 years ago – before the mass adoption of the Internet and the Web – were already producing innovative programs that can still serve as models for us today. Great design and production values went a long way to overcome the primitive technology. Marc reviews the most successful example, and what it takes to be that effective.
Marc My Words: Is This Recession Good for eLearning? April 12, 2011
You’ve probably heard that every cloud has its silver lining, although it may have been hard to find any silver at all in the current recession. Marc suggests that this set of tough times may actually have been better for eLearning than might at first appear. But don’t wait too long to act on the opportunity.
Marc My Words: Beyond SCORM – A Welcome New Direction March 8, 2011
While the LMS and SCORM may not be dead, they do not address the complexities of new learning design strategies and their transcendence of technical standards. Marc reflects on the history of standards and comments on the new ADL Future Learning Experience Project.
Marc My Words: Want a Free iPad? Get an Equus February 8, 2011
Mobile devices as performance support platforms is a pretty cool idea these days – but only if the designer thinks through the whole problem, from the customer’s point of view. Marc has some words for Hyundai about this.
Marc My Words: Handy Tips for Expo Shopping January 11, 2011
Shopping an expo at a conference can be daunting. So, based on more than 100 expo visits over 30 years, here are Marc’s 14 tips for making your expo time a success.
Marc My Words: E-Dreaming December 14, 2010
Marc’s wish list for the New Year. How many of these are on all our lists?
Marc My Words: The Greatest Mobile Learning App Ever (until the next one comes along) November 9, 2010
Two-dimensional barcodes, also called 2D tags, provide a new dimension for mobile learning, performance support, and printed content. Learn how (and why) to use 2D tags in this informative column.
The Special Sauce of Social Learning October 18, 2010
Social media and social learning are attracting a lot of attention, but don’t overlook the fact that it’s not the technology that makes them effective. Here are the eight ingredients you need to make social learning successful.
Marc My Words: Will Social Media Rot Our Brains? October 12, 2010
Love it or hate it, social media and its compression of expression is here to stay. Marc presents the pros and the cons, and asks the critical question: What are we going to do about it?
Marc My Words: OMG, I'm Tweeting! September 14, 2010
What's the real value of Twitter and other social media? Marc discovers that it's not about the tweets, it's about the context. Whether you're a social media maven, or a total skeptic, this column is for you.
One of the most important things we in e-Learning today can do for the generations to come is to support effective use of technology in primary and secondary education. For the past several months, Anne Derryberry has written about her experiences as a volunteer in her local high school. Now Marc shows you eight more ways you can make a difference in your local schools.
Marc My Words: What Can We Learn from Bartender School? July 13, 2010
High-level simulations, an interactive student guide, student-created job aids, simple memory aids, substantial realistic practice, and a competency-based assessment. Where are you… in a military training center? Medical school? Nope. It’s Bartending 101. Pull up a stool.
As mLearnCon 2010 begins today in San Diego, Marc reflects on the nature of mobile learning and the devices that might support it, and he proposes a new definition of mLearning.
Marc My Words: iPad Envy May 11, 2010
The iPad has done an admirable job of capturing the imaginations of many of us (not to mention the cash of a million buyers – so far). But is it a game changer for learning?
Marc My Words: Farewell, Training Magazine April 20, 2010
Training Magazine made important contributions to our field. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, editors Jack Gordon, Chris Lee, and others, and contributors like Ron Zemke, were unafraid to tackle the tough issues as well as some of the silliness of the training and e-Learning field, and to accept articles that made you think. There is no question that the field has lost one of its most strident voices.
Customers demand more flexibility, less disruption in how training is delivered, and faster, better access. Business demands more frequent updates to training content. Both Training and IT have a vested interest in meeting these demands. Despite their differences, the two groups ultimately have the best interests of the organization in mind and can only succeed when bridges are built between them.
Is instructional systems design (ISD) dead? The arguments against ISD usually center on its perceived inflexibility and the excessive time it takes to go through the process. The arguments for ISD cite its systematic approach and evidence that, if followed, you’re likely to produce more effective training. Maybe there are better questions to ask. Here are four such questions.