My education-based entries into EMC’s Innovation Conference

Posted by gminks in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 5 Comments

For the last two years, I have submitted an education-based idea to EMC’s Innovation Conference. Both years the idea was based on a PLE – Personal Learning Environment. Both years, I used information gleaned from the Connectivism courses to shape my ideas. Both years my idea was ignored by the selection committee (cue sad music….). I think that I just don’t position the ideas correctly for the engineer brains that run the conference (EMC’s CTO office). I am working on my cross-functional communication, so maybe next year. 🙂


The idea was an evolution — so let’s start at the beginning.

The first year EMC had an innovation conference was 2007. For some reason, I was nominated to be a judge of the conference. So it was me – an individual contributor (from the education department no less!!) — and a bunch of Senior VPs judging the most innovative ideas at EMC. Boy was that weird. Take away from 2007: Senior VPs are nice people who listen to ICs after all.


The second year of the Innovation Conference – 2008 – I was pumped up. I worked with some folks in my organization who have their PhDs in IS and Performance (one of them from FSU!) on the idea that we should create a customizable PLE (personal learning environment).  We explained the business need for a PLE, defined educational terms, and then laid out what the PLE would actual do.  In the first iteration, we saw two important facets, a PLE with the Portfolio:

PLE Components

Formal Learning

  • Assigned Learning Path: Information pulled from the Education Services Portal about Technical courses as well as EMCU courses

Informal Learning

  • eRooms: A list of eRooms the user should be accessing, based on role
  • Email Distribution Lists: A list of email distribution lists that can be accessed for information, based on role
  • EMC ONE Communities: A list of EMC ONE communities that can be accessed for information, based on role
  • Departmental Learning Resources: A list of wikis, message boards, shares, etc that can be accessed for information
  • Industry Specific Resources: A configurable widget that allows the learner to bring in external information using RSS feeds. This information could be blogs, websites, conference information, message boards, etc.

Demonstrate Competency

This was a way for learners to prove they had gained competency of a skill in all sorts of ways (not restricted to formal learning):

  • Formal Learning: A list of courses that the learner has successfully completed
  • Certifications: A list of certifications that the learner has obtained
  • Link to Employee Blog: Links to relevant posts in the learner’s blog that prove competencies
  • Link to Employee Portfolio: Link to the employee’s portfolio, with a better picture of how the employee feels he or she is meeting the competencies for the role

Description of the Personal Portfolio

We didn’t feel like it was enough to have a checklist of what each employee could do. We wanted a way for the employee to demonstrate skill and comptency beyond the restrictions of the LMS, or even practice groups. We felt that the Personal Portfolio should be controlled by the employee and should include:

  • A blog: The employee can blog about their accomplishments, lessons learned engagements, etc. This will develop the social media skills of EMC’s workforce, and also provide a place to document skills that may not be captured by the formal learning process.
  • Competencies based on role: This should be a pre-populated widget that brings in the competencies that have been determined for the employee’s role.
  • Development Plan: This information is pulled from the Education Services portal. It includes the development plan and a list of the employee’s mentors
  • My 5-Year Plan: The employee should also be able to look at the competencies of other roles, so that they can make personal decisions about what skills they need to develop in order to advance their career. This widget should be personalized by the employee, with their goals and plans for the next 5-years.
  • Other information: This widget will allow the employee to import information that proves their competency from  other social media sites, such as LinkedIn
  • Privacy Settings: The employee should have the option to advertise their portfolio to everyone within EMC. If they choose to keep the portfolio private, the employee’s management team will always have access to view it.


Lets jump to the 2009 Submission. We tried to make the idea short and to the point, I think that may have been our fatal flaw. This is what we submitted:

Practical problem solved:

This solves the problem helping all EMC employees (customer-facing and non-customer-facing) have access to the learning environments that make the best sense to them, so they are able to learn faster and execute better than our competitors.

There are many different silos of learning assets in and outside of EMC. We have official formal training from Ed Services, we have communities, we have documentation on Powerlink. Outside EMC there are blogs, communities, technical groups, etc. How do we enable individuals to create their own Personal Learning Environments to keep up with this data?

How it works:

We need to make it easier for our knowledge workers to build their own Personal Learning Environment (PLE).

This could be done by building a widget-keeper that could be installed on someone’s desktop, their blog, or even their profile on EMC|ONE. The keeper could recommend widgets based on the individual’s role. For example, someone in sales would have an Ed Services widget that is connected to SABA, so their formal learning path is visible. They could also have a widget for relevant EMC|ONE info, competitive info, Powerlink information, etc. They would have an RSS widget to gather their own learning links, as well as other social media links to help them stay connected to the sales (and customer) community.


So will we try in 2010? Perhaps.

I definitely think that a PLE can be enabled from a corporate education group. We are chartered with helping the workforce learn, and to help them be ready to work. We know we can’t do this on our own. Why not provide the workers with a way to get organized, to access the critical information they need to do their jobs in the most efficient manner? And on top of that, give them a way to bring in all the other ways of learning that make sense to *them*?

This is my dream. Maybe one day I’ll be working on it!

5 Responses to My education-based entries into EMC’s Innovation Conference

  1. Ed Webb says:

    Whence the resistance, do you suppose? A lack of understanding of PLEs? A concern about directionlessness or a reduction in the ability of higher-ups to set strategic priorities? Something else? Corporate education is pretty much alien territory to me.

  2. gminks says:

    I don’t think there is any resistance, they narrow thousands of entries down to 30 for the main competition. I honestly think we didn’t sell the idea correctly. The ideas coming out of the conference are way way technical and geeky. I should have tried to build a prototype I guess. Or maybe there were just way more actionable ideas than ours….

    I’ll try to retweet links coming out of the conference – which is next week. I was invited but its one of the weeks out of the year I am actually teaching. Bummer. They usually bring in really great speakers too – the first year Don Tapscott spoke.

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