The Rapid Elearning Blog

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Last week I was at the Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando and got to spend a few minutes with my mentor, Dr. Werner Oppelbaumer.  I asked him for a quick interview to share what’s happening in his world of elearning and business in general.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Tom

The last time we talked, you were working on some new technologies at Werner Labs.  Is there anything that you can share with us today?

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Dr. Werner

As you know, we’re a research lab and many of our projects are confidential.  However, there are a few that are close to completion that I can share with you and your readers.

With the current economic conditions, every business is trying to cut expenses and maximize the money they make.  This is especially true for the airline industry.  If you’ve done any recent travel then you’ll know how tight the seats are getting.  It’s so bad that you can hardly breathe, let alone do any work.  There needs to be an easy way to capture more personal space.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - cramped airplane seating

We’ve developed a solution that we’ll be marketing as the Toot-N-Scoot™.  Whenever someone sits too close to you, all you do is press a button and it emits a flatulent sound.  The immediate response is for the close-sitter to scoot away from you—giving you plenty of room to work or eat.

We’re currently working with a few companies like Scentsy to make a fragrance to go with the Toot-N-Scoot™.  We believe that this could be a winner.  We also feel that it can be used for more than just travel issues.  So we’re exploring other industries and have already gotten it into the hands of some movers and shakers.

 The Rapid E-Learning Blog - movers and shakers testing the Toot-N-Scoot


The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Tom

That sounds interesting. I sure could have used it on a recent flight.  But, I have to ask, “How does that relate to elearning?”

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Dr. Werner

Good question.  We believe that the device has many potential uses.  For example, the current rage in the training industry is informal learning.  This means that many organizations will abdicate the responsibility to train you.  In turn, they will be unleashing a horde of ignorant and pesky co-workers who will be seeking you out for information.

You’ll need a device like the Toot-N-Scoot™ to maintain your privacy and personal space so that you can remain productive.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Tom

Interesting concept.  You mentioned informal learning as something that’s currently hot in our industry.  Do you have any advice for those who want to implement informal learning programs in their own organizations?

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Dr. Werner

I’m glad you asked.  While there is a lot of conversation about informal learning, there are few who are offering practical tips on implementation.  With today’s technology, the successful implementation of informal learning programs is critical to most organizations.

Here’s a recent presentation I gave on how to bring informal learning into your organization.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Dr. Werner's presentation on informal learning

Click here to watch Dr. Werner’s presentation.

With the increased use of social media tools, it’s inevitable that the burden to be trained falls into your lap.  Make sure that you stay on top of the emerging technologies and how to manage your organization’s informal learning.

If you want to learn more about Dr. Werner, check out these previous interviews:

If you want to learn even more about informal learning (although from a less pragmatic perspective) check out Informal Learning by Jay Cross.

What tips do you have for starting informal learning networks?  Share them by clicking on the comments link.


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53 responses to “Here’s What You Need to Know About Informal Learning”

April 1st, 2010

Change is slow in many corporate organizations, so starting with small goals has really helped justify our collaborative efforts.

In one organization, we first started substituting one of our weekly meetings with a round table like teaching session. I led the first two or three and showed the group some tips or tricks I was using in my creation. As we progressed others contributed what their own tips.

Our progress has not gone unnoticed. While we don’t have the cubicle walls down yet, we are learning, collaborating and sharing…just like we were taught in kindergarten.

Screenr creation is my next goal. With the larger organizational use of Bloomfire or similar internally.

April 1st, 2010

Hysterical! Great blog for April 1st Tom.

Thanks again Tom!!!

I didn’t have time to really read your email yet, but
I know this is a hot topic so I sent it around to all the leadership in my organization. Since I am new here hopefully it will get me noticed.


April 1st, 2010

I think a clicker counter is an essential tool to add to your eLearning toolbox. Just the other day, I saw one of our desktop support guys laying on his stomach, and I didn’t record it. I’m setting a goal to keep more accurate informal learning records!

Thanks for the great laugh!

April 1st, 2010

Enlightening Tom! Implementing today!

I heart APFD!

Thank you for starting my day off on such a comical beat! This was very funny 🙂

Thanks for the great example. I especially liked the reference to cubicles!

OMG! I can’t even tell you how much I love that video presentation!!!! You made my day. =)

April 1st, 2010

Thanks for the giggles!

April 1st, 2010

I’ve played the song three times already. It’s my new favorite! Thanks for making me smile today!

When you see your mentor, Dr. Werner Oppelbaumer, again thank him for this informative interview. I am always impressed with his take on the field of education. I especially like the idea of documenting informal learning events.

As a teacher to teacher, I am constantly looking for ways to have these educators record snapshots of “actual” learning. I feel the standardized tests we currently use are really not the way to know if students are learning. Thanks again Tom, for the insightful interview.

Where on earth did you find the Friedal footage? OMG – Hilarious! You struck this post out of the park!
Please give my regards to the Burgermeister.

April 1st, 2010

ROFL! This was the best 4/1 ever; Der Friedal was truly magnificent, second only to
Hans Groiner, Johnny “Bowtie” Barstow, and the incomparable Shooby Taylor

And of course compliments to the SME himself!

You made my day! Your posts always make me stop whatever I’m doing to check them out…but this one…oh my. You have outdone yourself! The only problem now is that I need to use my lunch break to go see my analyst and get that singing/yodeling/laughing vid out of my head….

And…thanks for a another great example of creating a simple yet meaningful presentation/lesson.

Thanks for the laugh.

I surely cannot be the only person reading this blog who found the example childish and offensive. Really, is that the best “funny” he could find? That put me off from the beginning, so much so, that I didn’t even bother to read the meat of the article.

Sorry, Tom. WAY below your usual par…

Love it! That Der Friedal video is going to give me nightmares. Does anyone know who that really is?

Not sure what Kira is talking about, but I thought it was really entertaining. BTW, I think I recognized those cow cubicals.

April 1st, 2010

@Kira – It’s absolutely your right not to find the joke funny. But good grief…there’s no reason to be so judgmental and put someone down like that. I hope you don’t receive such brutal criticism for your work.

@Kira – no need to read or comment if you couldn’t appreciate the joke. Tom clearly put a lot of time into this and most of us appreciated the April Fool’s joke.
@Scott – you are sure to be noticed in your new position. I see big things in your future, my friend 😉
BTW – Most don’t know this, but Der Friedal was actually the original inspiration for both Mr. Bean and Milli Vanilli. Goes to show how broad his influence really is.

April 1st, 2010

HA! You used that crazy Russian singer video… hilarious Tom

Ein prosit to Dr. Werner!
But wait … if I order within the next 10 minutes, can I get two Toot-and-Scoots for an amazingly low price … plus shipping and handling?

April 1st, 2010

Tom, A happy April Fools day to you too!

Just to let you know that the video of Dr. Werner’s “other” occupation was very surreal and frightening. So much so that I was compelled to watch all of it. Now the image is indelibly etched in my subconscious, and has left me in an emotionally scarred state with nightmares to come. LOL…Still smiling and shaking my head as I write this.

In the end I have one question and one comment. First, did Dr. Werner star in any Ed Wood horror films? Secondly, I advise Dr. Werner to ditch the wig and stick to his day job.

As I cannot trump your April 1st offering, its back to my informal learning….

Personally, I don’t mind the criticism. Humor’s just one of those things where something’s funny to one person, and not to the other. That’s fine.

Loved the video! I just happened to stand up and stretch out at the same time the singer came on. Accidentally pulled out my headset so everyone in the office got an earful as I tried to stop laughing and turn down the volume! Great way to start the day off. Made my day (and certainly everyone else within earshot of my desk). Thanks Tom.

April 1st, 2010

OK . . . the dude singing definately creeped me out a little bit . . .

April 1st, 2010

. . . but thanks for the laugh!

April 1st, 2010


Wasn’t meant as criticism. Guess my humor got lost in the translation…

I actually watched the music video to the end. This one will possibly rival the fame of Thriller. (just as scary!)

You have too much fun for any one person, Tom. It’s really not fair. Maybe you can give us all a discount on the latest Scentsy fragrance for use at the next Learning Solutions conference?

Wow. This was funny, but also had some really great insights. The ROI bit on informal learning was right on point and a real hurdle I have in my organization.


It’s weird when on the night of March 31st, I fall asleep wondering what you’re going to post for April Fools Day! LOL See what you’ve done to all of us, and the expectations you’ve set up?

I enjoyed your take on the informal learning LMS… the scary thing is there are organizations around that would want that. Document, document, document informal learning!

I’m hoping your blog post will be read by a few CLOs who will ponder your musings… and… then allow the results of informal learning to blossom and reveal themselves in valid, measurable business results.

Informal learning has been taking place for a very long time, and a wise informal learner will make sure s/he does document learning and results in an informal manner (email to the boss), and makes sure those results are documented at annual review time.

The “squeaky wheel” (informal learner) gets the “grease” (recognition, raise, bonus, promotion… etc.).


@Jenise: a few of those things are based on real experiences, such as the informal learning journal. I won’t mention the organization, but they had this lame-brained idea of giving out these three ringer binders that were at least 4″ thick. We were supposed to document all of our learning and then calibrate it to the org’s competencies.

They actually had a a committee come up with that nonsense.

The community names for cubicles and inspiring street names are based on real experiences, too.

Love Dr. Werner! Hope he continues to educate us like this in future too. Cheers!


I have it on good authority that it was really your wife recording you singing in the shower.

But I have a question for the good Dr. Oppelbaumer. How did he make the slide advance automatically at the end of the video, particularly after it took several moments to load at the front end?

April 1st, 2010

Your post was soooo funny. We had streets like that in the school where I used to work. Thanks for lightening my mood today!

Not gonna lie, Tom. Your April 1st post was like 100 times better than Google’s. I think CNN should start reporting on your stuff every year too!

Has anyone found the original source of the video? (Tom?) It might come in handy on a future project where we need to insert a little humor and fear all rolled into one.

Or Tom, was this captured from your personal favorite video collection?

I thought this was great. The video of the singer is very funny, who is he really. Whether this has any merit or not for “e-learning” in some people’s mind, it is a reminder to “keep it simple” and not bore the hell out of your students! Thanks Tom

Most people just know that guy as the Russian Singer. But his real name is Eduard Khil. There are all sorts of videos and remixes n Youtube.

April 1st, 2010

G’day Tom,
Firstly, please pass on my best wishes to Dr. Werner; such erudition!
I’m new to your blog. I’ve just read your free eBook.
It would please both Bob Mager and Tom Gilbert. I’m a bit of a curmudgeon
myself so I might be slightly biased.
I have an old friend who plays the banjo. I call him “my old banjo plucking mate.”
He’d just love to meet the Good Doctor.
When I first became a ‘Training Officer’ nearly 40 years ago I was told that
“learning should be fun.” It’s great to know, as the Masters golf approaches,
that the tradition continues.
Best Wishes

Leon Noone

Hah that’s funny Tom! I really believe informal learning is effective in driving home the main message, as long as it doesn’t distract from the core ideas. Loving this blog!

P.S. Just retweeted to my followers!

Thanks for the hysterical and much-unexpected April Fools joke! Great blog.

[…] You’ll also want to take advantage of the other creative resources that folks in the Community shared this week. Below are some highlights, including an exclusive interview with Dr. Werner: […]

[…] Last week I was at the Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando and got to spend a few minutes with my mentor, Dr. Werner Oppelbaumer.  I asked him for a quick interview to share what’s happening in his world of elearning and business in general. The last time we talked, you were working on some new […] Original post […]


I was blown away, I shamelessly stole Dr. Oppelbaum’s work and have since been promoted to CTO of Locksteed Mortan!!

Keep up the great work!!

[…] learning and steps organizations can take to organize their informal learning. I got this link from an interview on the Rapid E-Learning Blog. […]

April 15th, 2010

Can I get a link to that video of Dr. Werner singing? That was priceless.

@Sweet Lou: here’s a Google search with plenty of options to view the original video, as well as some humorous remixes

June 7th, 2010

This was priceless, I’m still laughing. Haha, thanks 🙂

January 5th, 2011

The idea of tracking informal learning and considering parameters like ROI and Cost was great.It did make me think of the effort that one could make to ensure informal learning is effective.

[…] Blogging Dr. Werner Vogels, CTO, Amazon – The State of the Cloud AddressBlack Invention MythsHere’s What You Need to Know About Informal Learning […]