This post is the first in an occasional series in which I will share my book recommendations on a variety of topics. Stephen King has said, “when you stack up the years we are allowed against all there is to read, time is very short indeed.” In these Bibliophile’s Bookshelf posts, I’ll be offering a short list of books for people with limited time – books that I think get to the heart of the matter and offer great advice. Enjoy!


The role of a consultant varies widely, and the competencies necessary to be effective also constitute a long list. Learning to be an effective consultant requires gaining expertise, strategizing a process that works, becoming skilled at data gathering and analysis,  developing a wide range of communication and influence skills, and more. Of course, having one’s own consulting practice requires yet another set of skills in business development and marketing – but that’s a subject for another post. For now, here are my picks for consulting books to have on your bookshelf, whether physical or virtual.

Consulting in Uncertainty: The power of inquiry
Ann K. Brooks and Kathy Edwards
Routledge, 2014.  On Amazon here.

This book takes a unique – and thoroughly modern – look at consulting as an action learning project instead of as an advice-giving enterprise. Brooks and Edwards suggest that the best outcomes will come from a collaboration between consultants and clients with each bringing their areas of expertise to the table and engaging together to define questions and seek answers. They also advocate experimentation along the way – testing theories and validating approaches before going all-in on a particular response to an organizational opportunity or issue. Consulting in Uncertainty is a small book, but it covers all the bases: a consulting model (the inquiry model), methods, needed skills, and consulting challenges.

“Consulting as inquiry assumes that (a) consulting must be outcome oriented rather than problem oriented; (b) consulting must be focused on the co-creation of new knowledge rather than expert knowledge; (c) consulting and client relationships are personal rather than just professional; and (d) dynamic rather than static knowledge is needed in a diverse and uncertain world.”

~ Ann K. Brooks and Kathy Edwards, Consulting in Uncertainty

The Trusted Advisor
David H. Maister, Charles H. Green, and Robert M. Galford
Touchstone, 2000.  On Amazon here.

The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook: A comprehensive toolkit for leading with trust
Charles H. Green and Andrea P. Howe
John Wiley & Sons, 2012.  On Amazon here.

The Trusted Advisor provides practical advice on building trusting relationships with clients – the kinds of relationships in which you can truly be a valued collaborator, sought-after advisor, and business partner. Maister, Green and Galford do a great job laying out different levels of relationships (service-based, needs-based, relationship-based, and trust-based) and readers can imagine when each level might be appropriate. If you want to reach the trusted advisor level, the book offers a trust equation and a trust development process that provide guidance on how to engage with clients to build deeper relationships. There is also plenty of advice on practical skills. The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook supplements these ideas with helpful checklists and spotlights on specific aspects of consulting engagements (e.g. pitching ideas, managing risk, communicating at the C-suite level).

“While outstanding technical competence (or content) is a nonnegotiable, essential ingredient for success, it is not sufficient. Trust is a lot richer than logic alone, and it is a significant component of success.”

~ Charles H. Green and Andrea P. Howe, The Trusted Advisor

Consulting on the Inside: A practical guide for internal consultants
Beverly Scott and B. Kim Barnes
ASTD, 2011 (2nd Edition).  On Amazon here.

Many people who work in learning and development roles are employees of the organizations they support – that is, they consult from the inside. Scott and Barnes’ book speaks to the dynamics of that particular role, and readers will recognize the joys and the challenges inherent therein. This book offers a take on the consulting process that is more traditional, although Scott and Barnes take pains to point out that it is an iterative and complex one. There is solid advice on all of the typical process activities – contracting, gathering data and giving clients feedback, strategizing change, implementing, and evaluating. You’ll also find several chapters dedicated to exploring the skills needed to be effective. In addition, Consulting on the Inside is very readable, with many sidebars, bulleted lists, and summaries.

“Becoming a master consultant is the result of a long journey. No matter how well educated or intelligent you may be, mastery is not given, but rather earned through courageous action, thoughtful reflection, and the discipline of learning from both success and failure.”

~ Beverly Scott and Kim Barnes, Consulting on the Inside

Additional books on the topic of consulting abound, and I welcome suggestions as to your favorites if you want to comment below. Nearby on the same bookshelf are books on consulting as a business, performance consulting, and assessing needs. But those are posts for another day.

I read some really interesting work from one of my favorite authors over the weekend. Brandon Sanderson, who writes amazing fantasy novels and stories, just published an anthology with three colleagues that demonstrates how they supported one another in developing a set of short stories. The book is called  Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology, and in addition to the final piece, the anthology contains transcripts from brainstorming and critique sessions as well as “track changes” documents that show the differences between the first draft and final version.

From what I’ve seen, many novelists have strong writing groups that they rely on as first readers and candid critics for draft material; the writing groups point out flaws and help authors think through writers block. They help each other to learn the craft. Brandon Sanderson has said that he has a reliable group of fellow authors and prime readers who know his writing, his characters, and his complex world-building as well as he does, and they help him shape his work. The involvement of this group doesn’t diminish Brandon’s brilliance, or make his novels co-authored works.

Reading Shadows Beneath got me wishing intently that we did more of that kind of workshopping in our own field. Even in organizations that have large learning and development teams, I haven’t often heard of practices that include regular sharing of works-in-progress. And it can be very difficult to get deep reviews and critiques when you are relatively independent in your work.

The idea of workshopping our work is in alignment with the “working out loud” mantra (see Jane Bozarth’s Show Your Work) and advice offered by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace in Creativity, Inc. (longer discussions of each forthcoming).

Working out loud (often by posting about projects in social venues) gives others the opportunity to support our work and opens the door to collaboration on areas of mutual interest. Just as importantly, it exposes the thought process – the why of work – so that others may learn from (or influence) that as well.

In Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull shares the “brain trust” practice at Pixar where emerging material is screened and discussed at length, often dramatically changing films from original concept to final project. These discussions are not seen as “slowing down” the process or as interfering with a director’s creative vision, but they are largely responsible for the exceptional quality and innovation of Pixar’s products.

The value of this kind of critique is well-known. Back in 1987, Donald Schon advocated for a practicum approach to teaching professional practice in Educating the Reflective Practitioner:

“Perhaps, then, learning all forms of professional artistry depends, at least in part, on conditions similar to those created in the studios and conservatories: freedom to learn by doing in a setting relatively low in risk, with access to coaches who initiate students into the “traditions of the calling” and help them, by “the right kind of telling” to see on their own behalf and in their own way what they need most to see” (p. 17).

Schon’s advice might be directed at those who teach graduate programs in our field, but Ed Catmull shows us that the same kind of environment can be created in the workplace. In truth, we need both – our graduate programs often need more embedded practice and critique, and our workplaces need to have safe avenues for collaborative creative discussions.

While we might agree a workshopping process would be beneficial, there are actually a lot of headwinds. Most professionals in our field are rewarded for their individual efforts, and are working in environments characterized by tight deadlines and scant resources. Graduate courses educate people with a wide range of backgrounds and practice areas in the same course, so defining projects and scoping them within the confines of a term can be tricky.

I can see the barriers that need to be overcome in my own work… the fact that I have a solo consulting practice, the particulars around some of my course design work, and the time constraints I am under (and that potential collaborators are under as well).

Nonetheless, it’s worth considering how we might workshop our designs and our writings more often and more thoroughly. The practice would support the development of professionals in our field , improve the quality of our outcomes, and accelerate adoption of new techniques and tools. I’d love to hear how you find ways to workshop your work.

We can do more, I think, to help each other learn our craft.



The last set of readings in my emerging technology class was on the “maker movement.” The Horizon Report subtitled that as “shift from students and consumers to students as creators.” Those of us in learning and development are usually appreciative of ways to engender active, hands-on learning, so “making” is a trend we should watch.

Online, we had a lot of discussion about whether people who created intellectual products (e.g. writing, plans, designs) were included as “makers,” and we discussed whether we had to see “making” as usually about new ways to make money. I liked Hagel, Brown & Kulasooriya’s definition of maker as “someone who derives identity and meaning from the act of creation.” I can tell you that I certainly feel that way about all the slide decks I create!

There is a lot of interesting material on this trend – enjoy these readings.  And please share other references if you like.

If you’ve been following along, this post is the final one in a series which reading lists for the overview of emerging technologies, social media, MOOCs, and learning analytics. Thanks for following along.


When you first start looking into the “maker movement,” you might think that it is especially important for modern day entrepreneurs and not necessarily of interest to corporate learning and development strategists. But the movement at its core is about the freedom to create, and from a learning perspective, the depths of learning that comes out of that creation.  (See the Maker Manifesto, under recommended readings, and notice that making, learning, and playing go hand-in-hand.)

There is a lot of discussion about “making” in the education arena, and it will, I think, eventually come to the T&D space as well. Corporations already try to encourage innovation by giving employees a chunk of time to do their own projects – they know that the employees will come up with great ideas that the company might never have developed otherwise.

The constructivist and constructionist learning theories would strongly endorse this approach, and some of your readings dig into those theories a bit more deeply. I would encourage you to pull out your adult learning texts and remind yourself of constructivist theories as a way of understanding how learners as creators makes a great deal of sense.

In T&D, we should look at how making can be an important learning and teaching technique – and consider what hands-on projects might really help our learners to more fully understand key concepts and approaches. Some of our existing techniques, like problem-based-learning, action learning, and other “hands on” strategies fall in alignment with the spirit of “making” I think. But I’ll be interested to hear how you see it.


A Movement in the Making. By John Hagel, John Seely Brown, & Deleesha Kulasooriya. (Deloitte University Press, 2014)

What Is the Maker Movement and Why Should You Care? By Brit Morin (Huffington Post, May 2, 2013)

What’s the Maker Movement and Why Should I Care? By Gary Stager (Scholastic Web Site, Winter 2014)

The Maker Movement and the Rebirth of Constructionism. By Jonan Donaldson. (Hybrid Pedagogy, January 23, 2014)

How the Maker Movement is Transforming Education. By Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary S. Stager. (We Are Teachers web site, nd).  See also the links provided to the left of the article.


What We’re Reading.  (Making Things Happen, Agency by Design project, Harvard Graduate School of Education)  This post lists quick reviews of a variety of books on the subject of “making” – great for bibliophiles! The Agency by Design web site is worth exploring.

The Maker Movement Manifesto. (Sample chapter PDF available here) By Mark Hatch.

A Defense of Constructionism: Philosophy as conceptual engineering. By Luciano Flroidi (Metaphilosophy, 2011) Available through Penn State’s databases – Wiley Online Journal Library.

Mapping Digital Makers: A review exploring everyday creativity, learning lives and the digital. (PDF) By Julian Sefton-Green

Learning Creative Learning (MOOC-like course). By MIT Media Lab and P2PU, supported by the MacArthur Foundation. March-May 2014, materials still available.


This is the fourth in my series of posts sharing the reading list from my summer emerging technologies course. So far, I’ve posted the overview, social media readings, and MOOC readings – and up this time is BIG DATA.

The conversation online focused quite a bit on privacy issues, and students were surprised about how much data is already collected and how it is being used. We didn’t reach any conclusions, of course, but several of the students have chosen topics for the final white paper, and I’ll be interested in seeing what they have to say in that context.

Enjoy these links, and feel free to share additional ones if you have recommendations.


Evaluation has always been an important part of the process in training and development; the ubiquitous Kirkpatrick model was proposed in the 1950s. Many training and development organizations, however, have a difficult time identifying, capturing, analyzing, and acting on the kind of data that can measure outcomes and prove value.

Enter big data. In the last several years, the business world has been clamoring for the power of “big data” – the practice of analyzing huge data sets and mining them for information about customers, human behaviors, correlations, and other valuable insights. HR and training and development organizations have been responding to this trend by thinking about the ways we might use big data to provide insights on learning and performance. Educators at all levels (K-12 through university) are analyzing data to discover ways to improve outcomes as well.

While some analytics have been spectacularly successful (notably in sports and politics), talent data is just beginning to get attention, and the industry is sorting out possibilities. The readings this week will give you both an introduction to key concepts related to “big data” and an overview of where the training and development industry may be heading.


Big Data in Corporate Training and Development / Talent Management

The Age of Big Data: A progress report for organizations and HR (preview edition). (PDF)  (i4cp, 2013) here

Talent analytics in practice: Go from talking to delivering on big data. By Josh Bersin, John Houston & Boy Kester. (Deloitte University Press, March 2014)

Introduction to Talent Data Reporting (PDF). By Dave Vance and Peggy Parskey (Center for Talent Reporting, 2012)

The Growth of Learning Analytics: Five identifiable stages of learning analytics in the learning reporting market. By Stacey Harris and David Grebow, Brandon Hall Group. (Training, August 2013)

New Learning Analytics for a New Workplace. By Reuben Tozman. (T+D, February 2012)

Big Data in the Education Sector

Improving the Quality and Productivity of the Higher Education Sector: Policy and Strategy for Systems-Level Deployment of Learning Analytics. (PDF) By George Siemens, Shane Dawson, and Grace Lynch. (Society for Learning Analytics Research, December 2013)

The Rise of Big Data in Higher Education. Webinar by Louis Soures. (EDUCAUSE, 2012) Summary available.

inBloom to Shut Down Amid Growing Data-Privacy Concerns. By Benjamin Herold (Digital Education, April 2014)

The Future of Ed-Tech is a Reclamation Project. By Audrey Watters (Keynote at the Alberta Digital Learning Forum May, 2014)


Big Learning Data. Edited by Elliott Masie.  (ASTD & The Maise Center, 2014) – this is a short book that does a terrific job giving an overview for training and development professionals, and it contains a number of case studies. Highly Recommended.  On Amazon here.

Big Data: Seizing opportunities, preserving values. (PDF) (web site)  A report from the office of the President of the U.S. (Executive Office of the President, May, 2014)

From invisible to visible . . . to measurable: Social analytics extends enterprise performance improvement. By Eric Openshaw, John Hagel & John Seely Brown. (Deloitte University Press, March 2014)

8 Realities Learning Professionals Need to Know About Analytics. By Ellen Wagner. (T+D, August 2012) ASTD members can view online here.

What’s the Big Deal About Big Data? By Gail Dutton. (Training, Mar/Apr 2014)

The Role and Function of a Learning Analytics Leader (PDF). White paper by Knowledge Advisors (2013)

Web Sites

Center for Talent Reporting

Society for Learning Analytics Research

The Journal of Learning Analytics

IBM’s Big Data web pages (the conversations page has links to a number of articles and reports)

McKinsey & Company’s Big Data and Advanced Analytics web pages.


I’ve been sharing the reading list from my Emerging Technologies course. So far, you’ve seen the overview and the social media lists. Here’s the reading list about MOOCs, which was our next topic of conversation. The students debated the relative merits of xMOOCs and cMOOCs and the “vote” at the end of the week favored the cMOOC variety, primarily because the students felt there was more opportunity for interaction.  Here’s the (very long) list that got us started.  Enjoy!


Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a Maze of Myth, Paradox and Possibility  (PDF). By Sir John Daniel (Journal of Interactive Media and Education, 2012) – solid review of xMOOCs, without much attention to cMOOCs (see Stephen Downes critique in comments here).

The MOOC Model for Digital Practice (PDF). By Alexander McAuley, Bonnie Stewart, George Siemens and Dave Cormier (2010) – long article; read the executive summary and skim other parts.

MOOCs: Expectations and Reality. (PDF) By Fiona M. Hollands and Devayani Tirthali. (Columbia University, 2014)) – Read executive summary, Introduction, and Conclusions and Recommendations.

The Scoop on MOOCs. By Catherine Lombardozzi (4 Your Development, 2013) – this brief describes the important distinctions between cMOOCs and xMOOCs.

What is and what is not a MOOC: A picture of family resemblance (working undefinition) #moocmooc. By Dominik Lukeš (blog post, August 2012)

xMOOC Communities Should Learn from cMOOCs. By Michael Caulfied (Educause blog, July 2013)

Multiple pathways: Blending xMOOCs & cMOOCs. By George Seimens (Blog post, May 2014)

RE: Corporate MOOCs (or why those of you in corporate T&D should care about an academic phenomenon)

How MOOCs Will Revolutionize Corporate Learning and Development. By Jeanne Meister. (Forbes, August 2013)

Putting MOOCs to Work. By Josh Bersin and Todd Tauber (Slideshare. December 2013)

10 big reasons for rise of corporate MOOCs. By Donald Clark. (Blog post, December 2013)



What is a MOOC?

Terrific “explainer” videos by Dave Cormier:
What is a MOOC?
Success in a MOOC
Knowledge in a MOOC

Theoretical Base

A pedagogy of abundance. (PDF) By Martin Weller (Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, 2011).

Rhizomatic Learning by Dave Cormier (2012) – video recommended!      Rhizomatic Education : Community as Curriculum by Dave Cormier (From Innovate – Journal of Online Education 2008)      Rhizomatic Learning – Why we teach? By Dave Cromier (blog, 2011)      See also materials from Dave’s 2014 P2PU open course, Rhizomatic Learning – The community is the curriculum

What is the theory that underpins our moocs? (connectivist) By George Siemens (blog post, June 2012)

On the “blogosphere” (primarily about xMOOC phenomenon)

What is a MOOC? By Cathy Davidson (HASTAC Blog, August 2012)

If We Profs Don’t Reform Higher Ed, We’ll Be Re-Formed (and we won’t like it). By Cathy Davidson, HASTAC Blog, January 2013)

If MOOCs are the answer, then what is the question? By Cathy Davidson (HASTAC Blog, Februarly 2013)

Let Them Eat MOOCs. By Gianpiero Petriglieri (HBR Blog Network, October 2013)

Some things MOOCs are good for. By Dave Cormier (Blog post, October 2013)

The Spectrum of Opinion About MOOCs – A MOOC Round-Up by Doug Holton as of November 2013

Also Recommended

Open Univerisity’s course on Open Education (free standing content). Materials found here.

Educause coverage of MOOCs: Search results here.

Chronicle of Higher Education coverage of MOOCs. Search results here.

MOOC News and Reviews online magazine

MOOC Platforms

MITx:  http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mitx-related-courseware/

EdX:  https://www.edx.org/

Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/

Udacity: https://www.udacity.com/

P2PU: https://p2pu.org/en/

Intrepid Agile Corporate MOOC product: http://intrepidlearning.com/what-we-do/learning-technology/corporate-mooc/

As promised in my last post, I’m sharing my reading list from my graduate course on emerging technologies. The first topic we took up was social media learning, since I thought it might be somewhat familiar even if students weren’t able to use these kinds of tools much as yet (entirely possible given the roles they play and the kinds of organizations in which they work).

Here’s the reading list. Enjoy!  And please share any resources that are your favorites in the comments.


Minds on Fire: Open education, the long tail, and learning 2.0. By John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler Educause Review, Jan/Feb, 2008.  A classic article.

Social Networking Theories and Tools to Support Connectivist Learning Activities. By M.C. Pettenati and M.E. Cigognini. International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 2(3) (2007)  Download from here.

A Framework for Social Learning in the Enterprise (PDF). By Harold Jarche. Inside Learning Technologies and Skills, December 2010

The Social Economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies. McKinsey Global Institute, July 2012 (executive summary recommended, but full report also available)

Playlist: Our Digital Lives, Collection of curated TED Talks Please review: Beware Online “Filter Bubbles” by Eli Pariser (March 2011, 9 minutes) and Connected, But Alone by Sherry Turkle (February 2012 – 20 minutes).  Transcripts available.


Six social-media skills every leader needs. By Roland Deiser and Sylvain Newton McKinsey Quarterly, February 2013

What is Social Business Really About? By Thierry de Baillon Future of Collaborative Enterprise, 2013.

Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. By George Siemens (2004).

Teaching in Social and Technological Networks. George Siemens Blog post, February 16, 2010.

The Seek-Sense-Share Framework. By Harold Jarche. Inside Learning Technologies, January 2014. (See this post as well.)

Social Media Basics

CommonCraft Explainer Videos (2-5 min each).  Navigate to the Social Media tab.

7 things to Know About… (from EDUCAUSE):
Personal Digitized Magazines
Social Content Curation

Social Media and Social Learning for Learning Professionals (resource list) plus Additional Thoughts – David Kelly

Why You Need a Personal Learning Network and How to Develop One (resources) – David Kelly

Personal Knowledge Mastery (resources) – Harold Jarche


Social Media for Trainers. By Jane Bozarth.

The New Social Learning. By Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner (ASTD, 2010)

Social Learning Handbook 2014. By Jane Hart (Jane Hart, 2014)

Social Media for Educators. By Tanya Joosten (Jossey-Bass, 2012)

The New Culture of Learning. By Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown (Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown, 2011)  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


This summer, I am privileged to be “teaching” a graduate course on emerging technologies for Penn State Harrisburg’s Training and Development master’s program. I hesitate to say I am teaching it because I’ve designed it more like a graduate seminar / MOOC (with only 14 people).

In that vein, I am providing a list of readings on specific trends as a starting point, and we go wherever the conversation goes. It’s an online course, and we begin each week with everyone contributing a “411” post: based on the readings, they summarize 4 key points, 1 implication for their practice / career, and 1 discussion question for the group. These have been a real treat to read and ponder – I’ve learned a lot already, and have enjoyed engaging in the conversations.

The readings have provoked a wide range of reactions and comments back and forth, so I thought it might be interesting to share the reading list with my blog readers… assuming you all might be interested in some of the same topics. There are five major technology-enabled trends we will discuss before we move into student-selected topics: Overview of emerging technologies, social media and learning, MOOCs, learning analytics, and the “maker movement.”

I am posting the readings that gave us an overview of emerging technologies below, and the rest of the topics will be posted one at a time in the coming days. We will be happy to hear what you all think of these trends as well! And it’s not too late to share some of your own favorite references on these topics.

Overview of Emerging Technologies


2014 Horizon Report and 2013 Horizon Report, New Media Consortium

Deloitte Tech Trends 2014 (skim, with particular attention to Inspiring Disruption (video), digital engagement, and exponentials)

How Disruptive Innovation Changes Education. Martha Lagace Interview with Clayton Christensen, Michael B. Horn, and Curtis W. Johnson Harvard Business School Working Knowledge, August 2008

Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Learner in the 21st Century. John Seely Brown. Keynote for the Digital Media Learning conference 2012. John Seely Brown is a leading expert on the new culture of learning – the one that is unleashed by 21st century technologies. This speech gives a sense of his insight into the disruption we are seeing in training and education. Transcript / Video (skip ahead to 14 min mark; speech is approximately 45 minutes, followed by Q&A)


A New Architecture for Learning.  Rob Abel, Malcolm Brown, and John J. Seuss. Educause Review Online, October 2013

Top 10 IT Issues 2014: Be the Change You See. Susan Grajek. Educause Review Online, March 2014

Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design. Mizuko Ito, Kris Gutierrez, Sonia Livingstone, Bill Penuel, Jean Rhodes, Katie Salen, Juliet Schor, Julian Sefton-Green, and S. Craig Watkins. Digital Media and Learning Research Hub, 2013

Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom. Antero Garcia, Christina Cantrill, Danielle Filipiak, Bud Hunt, Clifford Lee, Nicole Mirra, Cindy O’Donnell-Allen, Kylie Peppler. Case studies of connected learning from the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub, 2014

A New Culture of Learning. Book by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown. 2011

The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age (pdf), Book by Cathy Davidson and David Theo Goldberg. MIT Press, 2009