Cleaning House and Taking Stock: Past, Current, and Future Trends in L&D

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This week’s #chat2lrn comes from crew member Andrea May, Vice President of Instructional Design Services at Dashe & Thomson based in Minneapolis

January is typically when we try to pause for a moment to reflect on where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. We look at this journey not only from the perspective of individuals, but also from the perspective of our respective organizations and the entire L&D industry.

Depending on the exact nature of each person’s work in L&D, a year can see an instructional designer develop and deploy countless deliverables for use in instructor-led training, eLearning, blended learning, and online help systems. They may produce videos, quick reference materials, games, activities, test questions, exercises, animations, graphics, and a number of other items to support learning objectives.

For another instructional designer, a year can barely contain a detailed job/task analysis and curriculum recommendation for a highly technical job role in a heavy industrial situation. This designer may only produce a grand total of one deliverable by the end of the year and that deliverable can layout the work to be done for several years to come.
Most of us fall somewhere in between on this continuum with plenty of work to keep us busy, and little time to sit and really consider new ideas you have seen or read about, and how they might be used in your organization. Retiring old methods, software, processes, and materials also takes time away from development and the voids left by those items need to be filled with new ideas, new software, and new processes.

In the interest of helping this process along, #chat2lrn invites you to take an hour at 8am ET/10am CT/4pm GMT on Thursday, January 26 to join us to discuss the L&D trends that have seen better days and are on the way out, the trends and ideas that are currently working for us, and finally what we envision on the L&D horizon. We will clean house, take stock, and think about what will be filling the L&D shelves in years to come.

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Does Game-Based Learning Work?

Today’s post is written by Anchal Manocha, #chat2lrn crew member and Founder of Design Storm (www.designstorm.in). Anchal has a background in psychology and is a new media expert. She is dedicated to helping organizations make learning fun and meaningful.

Game-based learning has been all the hype for the last two years. Requirements for game-based learning usually come in the form of:

  • We want people to collaborate more with each other. Can we add points for collaboration and reward them for it?
  • Not enough employees are interested in taking our learning offerings. Can we create game-based learning to increase enrolment?

As we know, game-based learning and gamification can resolve some of these issues. However, as the hype subsides, there are many voices that speak against it. What are the pitfalls of game-based learning that we should avoid?

  1. Content in the Garb of a Game

If we ask learners to “hit the football to answer the questions,” in one glance people can see the wolf in sheep’s clothing.  If we’re trying to push content by engulfing it in the skin of a game, we should be prepared to be disappointed.

Learning is in the very fabric of games. People enjoy games because slowly they learn to ace the system, to bend the rules, to work with other players, to resolve conflicts, to repeat their efforts till they’ve mastered the game and much more.

Games for learning should take advantage of these mechanics. Game design should facilitate interactions that lead learners to actually “use”, “explore” and “apply” the information or content we want them to learn.

There’s rarely room for presenting detailed explanations in a game. Learners should be the creators of their own meaning. Content should either emerge from play or it should be the context of play. It could be constructed by the player and formalized as the game progresses.

  1. Focusing Too Much on Extrinsic Rewards

We should ask ourselves: If I remove the external reward, does my solution still stand ground? Would people participate in the absence of rewards?

For example, playing a game of chess is its own reward. Through games, humans seek pleasure, mastery, competition, learning, collaboration, conflict, meaning, problem-solving etc. Incorporating this into our game-based learning solutions may bring out their true benefits.

Monetary rewards, relating results to performance or gamifying core work may, in fact, have a negative impact. This is because it takes away learners’ freedom to fail and try again.

  1. Creating Puzzles Instead of Games

Many times we fall into this trap. We end up with puzzles instead of games. So what’s the difference between the two?

Puzzles are something that people solve by themselves. The level of interpersonal interaction in solving a puzzle is low. Puzzles may be tests, while games are the learning environment.

As Eric Zimmerman, a game design theorist points out, a good game-based solution will include:

  1. Playfulness/fun
  2. Low stakes/Freedom to fail
  3. Gradual mastery and repetition
  4. Emergence of play, emotion, meaning, interaction and so on
  5. Winning and losing—usually an end to the game

Keeping the spirit of games alive, let’s keep learning!

Open Badges: A record of achievement or a childish gimmick?

This week’s post comes from Ross Garner, #chat2lrn crew member, Online Instructional Designer at GoodPractice and Digital Education student at the University of Edinburgh. Find him on Twitter @RossGarnerGP.

Badges have been used to signal identity and demonstrate achievement for thousands of years. Examples of the former include battle scars, flags and charity pins. Of the later, we’ve seen military medals, Scout badges and, more recently, online badges.

But are online badges here to stay or are they just a passing fad?

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“There must be an easier way to demonstrate achievement!”

Proponents of online badges, particularly supporters of Mozilla’s Open Badges technical standard, claim that they are a way to recognise the informal learning that takes place throughout our careers. They are an alternative to formal education, which takes time, and an opportunity to demonstrate mastery of soft skills like teamwork and collaboration.

Detractors, however, argue that they are a gimmick, easily forged, childish and mostly unrecognised by employers.

There are, of course, examples that support both camps, but what does the future hold? Will badges become a globally recognised record of our achievements? Or exiled to a dusty corner of the internet, home to collectors and hobbyists?

This week, you’re invited to share your views with the #chat2lrn community!

Join us for #Chat2lrn this Thursday, December 15th 8:00am PDT/11:00am EDT/4:00pm GMT to discuss.

Does Game-based Learning Work?

Today’s post is written by Anchal Manocha, #chat2lrn crew member and Founder of Design Storm (www.designstorm.in). Anchal has a background in psychology and is a new media expert. She is dedicated to helping organizations make learning fun and meaningful.

Game-based learning has been all the hype for the last two years. Requirements for game-based learning usually come in the form of:

  • We want people to collaborate more with each other. Can we add points for collaboration and reward them for it?
  • Not enough employees are interested in taking our learning offerings. Can we create game-based learning to increase enrolment?

As we know, game-based learning and gamification can resolve some of these issues. However, as the hype subsides, there are many voices that speak against it. What are the pitfalls of game-based learning that we should avoid?

  1. Content in the Garb of a Game

If we ask learners to “hit the football to answer the questions,” in one glance people can see the wolf in sheep’s clothing.  If we’re trying to push content by engulfing it in the skin of a game, we should be prepared to be disappointed.

Learning is in the very fabric of games. People enjoy games because slowly they learn to ace the system, to bend the rules, to work with other players, to resolve conflicts, to repeat their efforts till they’ve mastered the game and much more.

Games for learning should take advantage of these mechanics. Game design should facilitate interactions that lead learners to actually “use”, “explore” and “apply” the information or content we want them to learn.

There’s rarely room for presenting detailed explanations in a game. Learners should be the creators of their own meaning. Content should either emerge from play or it should be the context of play. It could be constructed by the player and formalized as the game progresses.

  1. Focusing Too Much on Extrinsic Rewards

We should ask ourselves: If I remove the external reward, does my solution still stand ground? Would people participate in the absence of rewards?

For example, playing a game of chess is its own reward. Through games, humans seek pleasure, mastery, competition, learning, collaboration, conflict, meaning, problem-solving etc. Incorporating this into our game-based learning solutions may bring out their true benefits.

Monetary rewards, relating results to performance or gamifying core work may, in fact, have a negative impact. This is because it takes away learners’ freedom to fail and try again.

  1. Creating Puzzles Instead of Games

Many times we fall into this trap. We end up with puzzles instead of games. So what’s the difference between the two?

Puzzles are something that people solve by themselves. The level of interpersonal interaction in solving a puzzle is low. Puzzles may be tests, while games are the learning environment.

As Eric Zimmerman, a game design theorist points out, a good game-based solution will include:

  1. Playfulness/fun
  2. Low stakes/Freedom to fail
  3. Gradual mastery and repetition
  4. Emergence of play, emotion, meaning, interaction and so on
  5. Winning and losing—usually an end to the game

Keeping the spirit of games alive, let’s keep learning!

The Importance of Buy-in

Today’s post is written by Andrea May, #chat2lrn crew member and Vice President of Instructional Design Services at Dashe & Thomson in Minneapolis, MN. Andrea is an instructional designer, project manager, wife, mother, Girl Scout troop leader and theater artist. Find her on Twitter @andreamay1.

Buy-in. This is an easy concept to understanding in terms of investing money. You find a company whose product you love, or that you agree with in terms of fiscal or, perhaps, environmental policies, or that has buy-in-2just historically provided a great ROI, and you buy-in by purchasing shares in that company.  The company gets an influx of cash and you get to share in the profits.

Buy-in is a little more difficult to define when it comes to selling people on a necessary change. Even though change is one of the only constants in life, we human beings don’t like change and generally resist it at every opportunity. We have cognitive biases that lead us to keep the status quo. We are even more likely to resist a  change when “WIIFM” is unclear.

So let’s say your organization or client is implementing a new system company-wide and training is required to get everyone up to speed and ready for the change. You should be able to sign-up everyone for the appropriate training, get them through their courses, and have everyone ready to start using the new system day 1, right? Nope, not right. In fact, that approach is practically guaranteed to fail.

The reason it would fail is buy-in or, more specifically, a lack of buy-in at one or more levels of the organization. In this scenario, a handful of people at the top levels of the no-buy-inorganization have bought-in to the idea that a new system will improve efficiency, eliminate redundancy, and have a positive impact on the bottom line. They have bought into this idea to extent that they authorized a large sum of money to purchase and implement the system and have assigned the project to the folks below them in a position to make the project happen.

This is the first place where buy-in can start to break down. If the executives don’t make the effort to get buy-in from those below them, all the way down to the people the front line, the change will be an ongoing struggle at best and an outright failure at worst.  A lack of buy in from the project team can cause delays in the timeline and corners being cut. A lack of buy-in from middle managers can cause little or no enthusiasm for the change in those below them. A lack of buy-in from those on the front line will throw a wrench in system adoption and can easily turn a multi-million dollar investment into a very expensive lesson about the importance of buy-in at all levels of the organization.

Join us for #Chat2lrn this Thursday, November Nov 3rd 9:00am PDT/12:00pm EDT/4:00pm GMT to discuss the importance of buy-in to the success of your projects.

Preparing for the future of learning

This week’s post comes from #chat2lrn crew member, Judith Christian-Carter B.Ed (Hons), M.Phil, FLPI, Chartered FCIPD. Judith is a Director of Effective Learning Solutions, a UK-based learning services company. You can find her on Twitter @JudithELS

Are you preparing for the future of learning and if so, how?   We all know of L&D people future-of-learning-jlswho stubbornly refuse to let go of what they hold dear, most of it historical and deemed to be safe. Some will say that “if it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it”, but the growing consensus is that L&D is broken and in desperate need of being fixed!  So, just how can it be fixed and how can we prepare for the future of learning? Inspiration for this post comes from an excellent Towards Maturity* report published earlier this year.

The fast changing world of work

Here’s the thing: we live in a world in which new working practices are fast emerging, new technologies are being adopted, flexible working patterns are becoming the norm, people are working in different locations and often in multi-generational teams. The upshot of which means that how, when and where people learn is also changing, which, in turn, leads to a new and different learning landscape. It is this new landscape that requires an accessible, agile and flexible approach to be adopted by all L&D professionals, as only will such an approach ensure that L&D plays a major contribution to the performance and productivity of all organisations.

For most L&D functions small tweaks will not suffice, it is major shifts that are required: “But for these shifts to take place, learning professionals must also address their own knowledge and practice, and to upskill and reskill themselves. They need to make sure they have the skills to listen, observe, question and reflect how learning can best support the delivery of organisational goals. They need to understand where and how learners are learning, and to understand the potential for all the different forms and channels for learning, and when to create and when to curate. They must be role models in the new learning agenda where close alignment to the business operation must be the norm.” (Peter Cheese, CEO of CIPD, 2016). So, what exactly do these “shifts” entail and, even more importantly, how can they be achieved? This is the focus for our chat.

What does L&D need to do?

We need to:

  • let go and move on
  • change our attitudes towards learning
  • ditch all those learning traditions that are downright unhelpful
  • always stay relevant to the needs of our learners
  • become facilitators, creators of network connections, social mentors, curators of knowledge and learning resources.

How can L&D achieve this?

We need to:

  • improve our “business” credibility
  • demonstrate our value, and help people to develop and build the skills they need to do their jobs
  • move to a more customer-activated strategy
  • respond quickly and work fast, and be accountable to our customers
  • demonstrate key behaviours – all based on actions and not just words. 

This is your task, if you will accept it, to join in and discuss these requirements on 20 October, 2016, and let’s see if we can generate ideas for some much needed changes in true #chat2lrn style.

*If you have time, check out:

http://www.towardsmaturity.org/article/2016/05/09/in-focus-preparing-future-learning-2016/

 

Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) about to replace us all?

This week’s post is written by Ross Garner (@RossGarnerGP). Ross is an Online Instructional Designer at GoodPractice and is studying on the University of Edinburgh’s Digital Education programme.

We already use Artificial Intelligence (AI) every day, often without  realising it. Google learns from our search habits; Netflix shows us recommendations; and banks identify odd transactions on our accounts and flag them up as potentially fraudulent.

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“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.” – HAL 9000

But while these AIs are tremendously helpful to us, do they also present a threat?

Historically, advances in automation have devastated some industries but created others. A fall in agricultural labour pushed workers into factories; the loss of manufacturing jobs across the developed world was followed by an increase in ‘knowledge workers’.

The danger today is that technological change happens so quickly that we might not be able to find new jobs fast enough – a danger John Maynard Keynes warned us of in 1933!

In a 2013 study, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A Osborne of the University of Oxford predicted that 47% of US jobs are at high risk of being computerised in the near future. These include transportation (driverless cars), logistics and admin workers (machine learning and pattern recognition), production jobs (robots), service jobs (cleaning robots), sales jobs (cashiers, telemarketers) and construction jobs (prefab homes built largely in factories).

Three years on, with driverless cars already being tested on public roads, it looks like their prediction is coming true.

According to the study, the jobs at lowest risk to some form of AI are those that require ‘fine arts’, ‘originality’, ‘negotiation’, ‘persuasion’, ‘social perceptiveness’ and ‘assisting and caring for others’.

So what does this mean for us, as L&D professionals? If some or all of our work tasks are about to be replaced by AI, how will we we adapt to that change? What responsibility do we have to help our colleagues develop new skills that will keep them ahead of the robot revolution?

And, perhaps more optimistically, might we be at the point where we no longer need to work at all?

Join us in #chat2lrn on Thursday, October 6, 0.8.00 PDT/11.00 EDT /16.00 BST to share your thoughts on Artificial Intelligence and it’s impact on work. Twitter Bots welcome (if they have something to add!)

References

Frey, C.B. and Osborne, M.A. (2013). The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?’ http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf