Leicester City, Brexit and Pokemon Go: 2016 mid-year review

This week’s post is from #chat2lrn crew member Ross Garner, an Online Instructional Designer with GoodPractice in Edinburgh. 

2016’s been a crazy old year. First Leicester won the Premier League, then the UK voted itself out of Europe. Now, children and adults alike are walking in front of cars and crashing into lampposts as they use their phones to hunt virtual Pokemon.

If you’d put money on any of the above, you’d be very rich indeed.

But are we any wiser this July than we were back in January? Or has the unpredictability of the past six months shattered our confidence?

On this week’s #chat2lrn, we’ll be asking how this year has been for you? How have your expectations compared to reality? How have your ideas changed? What has gone well? What failures have you learned from?

Here are three ideas to get you started:

We operate in complex systems

How did Leicester City overcome 5000-1 odds to top the Premier League? Sure, training played a part. But so too did management decisions, the culture at the club, the mistakes made by opponents, and no small amount of luck.

When you are designing learning interventions, how much do you consider the system within which you operate? Is training the answer, or are there other factors at play? Can the success of one team be replicated to another, or are other factors like environment, team dynamic or luck skewing the results?

In complex systems, where we have a big impact on some areas but less of an impact on others, do you need to nudge rather than lead?

Emotion trumps facts

Throughout the UK Brexit debate – and the US Presidential race – facts have been cast aside in favour of sweeping generalisations. Why do these generalisations stick? Because they chime with the real-world experiences of voters. Because voters have an emotional connection to the candidates and to the ideas.

When we’re developing a new learning initiative, is it enough that we think it will improve the performance of our colleagues or clients? Do our learners believe that? Does it make sense to them, in their context, without knowing what we know? How much do you consider our learners’ hopes, fears, or even their workplace happiness?

Fun matters

Pokemon Go had as many users in its first week as Uber had in 7 years. It makes over $1million in revenue every day. As we look at the seriousness of the world around us, it’s encouraging to see hundreds of people gather in one space to catch a pikachu.

But how does this help us as learning and development professionals?

Well, it tells us that fun matters. Yes, we do a serious job. And yes, performance at work is important. But that doesn’t mean that developing a team, and striving towards a common goal, can’t be fun. What can we do to promote fun? Can fun improve productivity?

We’ll be discussing this, and your own ideas, at our #chat2lrn mid-year review. Thursday, August 28, at 8am Pacific, 11am Eastern, 4pm BST. See you there!

It is time for learning to get back to messy

Messy learning

This week’s post is from chat2lrn crew member, Fiona Quigley, who works with Logicearth Learning Services based in Ireland. 

I don’t know about you, but I love a bit of a mess – or more to the point, I love working through a mess to make sense of it, structure it and tidy it up in my mind. To me that is what ‘real learning’ is. To have to make sense of something that you are unsure of, to have to put in a bit of effort and to have a bit of angst about it all until the penny finally drops – that is the best of learning for me.

So does this type of thing happen in or get facilitated by corporate L&D departments? Not in my experience. This is not a blame game though – I think it is more to do with the business environment that we are currently operating in. Often L&D get blamed for not ‘providing’ the best learning experiences – but in my opinion, many times they are just responding to what the business is demanding. Business needs people to learn fast and many of us mistakenly think that organising it centrally will be quicker. Quicker isn’t always better.

Getting lost in translation

And the other problem is this – we lose the nuance and complexity; we distort, reduce and obfuscate real learning. We dumb things down and complex learning topics like leadership, communication skills and working well with others often get lost in translation. How many organisations these days continually speak of difficulties in ‘training’ leaders or helping people to communicate and work together better. Maybe it has something to do with trying to make the messy much tidier than it needs to be?

So join us in this week’s messy chat2lrn and share your thoughts on this topic.
Thursday, July 14 at 8am Pacific, 11am Eastern, 4pm BST.  See you there!

On Our Love-Hate Relationship with the Next Button

Anchal is the founder of Design Storm (www.designstorm.in), an e-learning company that provides innovative, simple and effective corporate learning solutions.

“Click Next to Continue.”—This seemingly harmless instruction describes e-learning in ways that nothing else does. It says that e-learning:

Continues to be Linear
Linearity has its benefits, and that is why we’ve loved the Next button.

However, adults learn non-linearly, from colleagues, from our own experiences, searching on Google, and referencing various resources. If you’re in the “adults don’t learn linearly” camp, chances are that you hate the Next button.

Is Pushed Top Down
Learning professionals are the creators and owners of content. The Next button is a crucial enabler here. There’s a satisfaction in knowing that we’ve given them all the information they need to do their job. Sometimes we even block the Next button to ensure that they go through everything.

On the other hand, haters of the Next button have been asking—Do they really take our content seriously? What about making the learning learner-centric? Learners should be the creators and curators of their own content. Break the Next button, only facilitate learning.

Is Following the Tried and Tested Navigation Methods
There used to be courses made in Flash with a neat GUI and instructions on how to use the GUI. We believed in the myth that a “scroll” is not user-friendly. A lot of e-learning still follows this tried and tested navigation method. The Next button is king.

When we, however, optimize the content for mobile devices, the Next button loses its charm. Responsive courseware lends itself very well to a more web-like experience. In mobile devices scrolls, swipes, hyperlinks etc. define our online experience. For courses to be linear, do we really need the Next button? Are there other, content dependent, navigation methods we need to incorporate even in linear e-learning?

Is Instructivist to an Extent
We like to inform, provide knowledge and carry our learners through the courses with instructions that will prevent them from feeling lost. The Next button enables this journey.

We ask—What happens to the Next button when we move away from instruction? How does Next button based e-learning adapt when we look at learning by doing, or learning through constructing our own meaning within the context of formal online learning?

Is a One-Way Stream
Online learning can enable a few different types of interactions, such as:

  • Learner to content interaction
  • Learner to learner interaction
  • Learner to expert interaction

Next button enabled e-learning definitely allows “learner to content” interaction. It can be engaging, entertaining, and gripping. Sometimes this content allows learners to comment and rate too.

However, this approach is mostly a one way stream. It’s great for content consumption. Many haters of the Next button feel that by allowing only one type of interaction, e-learning misses out on a lot more that the online medium can do.

I personally feel there are certain topics that should be taught linearly. However, it’s time we started choosing that content carefully. E-learning needs to break some moulds. It does need to utilize the online medium better by allowing people to learn in the way we work—through chaos, through human interaction, and through a collision of several ideas.

Is there a balance we can strike between linear learning and the chaos of the real world? How can that be achieved?

Recap of FocusOn Learning Conference: Interview with Candelario Lopez

Today’s blog post brought to you by crew-member Meg Bertapelle, Sr. Instructional Designer of Clinical & Product Education at Intuitive Surgical.

The FocusOn Learning Conference, formerly known as the Mobile Learning Conference, was held in Austin, TX last week. My team member, Candelario Lopez, a fellow Sr. Instructional Designer of Clinical & Product Education at Intuitive Surgical, attended and brought back some great insights for our organization. He’s happy to share his impressions and takeaways with us today:

What tech were you most excited about?

Augmented reality – bringing the user interface and display out of the monitor & into the real world. Keynote from Wired Magazine’s Editor in Chief, looking at companies’ roadmaps for future technologies – lots of investments in augmented reality, virtual reality & mixed reality. (Mixed reality is sort of like some combination of realities.)

Interactive video – branching and assessment/scenarios in video format, allowing the user to dictate their learning path & allowing assessment/evaluation at the time of consumption. Provides more user control and engagement. Study: interactive video provides engagement opportunities through a delivery method that is easier to access and consume (vs. e-learning) and the study saw positive results in terms of retention.

Performance support – access to the right content at the time of need. Make sure that you evaluate the end-users’ process to make sure the performance support content is delivered effectively & is the right amount for that task/need. Case study: threw stuff together to be performance support, but was wrong medium, so couldn’t access it when they needed it.

The Good, The Bad, the Ugly & Beyond

The Good:

Path-based conference organization strategy:

  • Video
  • Mobile
  • Performance support

This allowed you to attend sessions geared toward what you want to accomplish in your organization.

Quality of speakers & sessions was very good. The speakers had real-life experience, sharing case studies and real experience or research & planning for future implementations. This allowed you to take away lessons learned from their experience to implement in your own organization. Both keynote speakers were well-respected in their industry: Scott Dadich, Editor in Chief of Wired Magazine, and Big Data analyst Soraya Darabi. They provides insights into their respective fields & where the industry is going in the near & distant future, helping to future-proof your training strategy at your organization.

Case studies that directly applied to our organization. Specifically, the Nature Conservancy laid out their strategy for learning materials, talked about the strategy as a whole, as well as planning and implementation, the tools and training delivery methods they used. They were also able to share evaluation outcome data: higher use of performance support materials, users’ knowledge of topic increased, reduced troubleshooting calls from users, have been asked to use same structure for other applications & topics.

The Bad:

If you have experience with these topics, getting to the real meat of what you’re looking for – like more advanced topics – was more difficult, have to outline your own agenda using the session details.

The Ugly:

Couple of sessions that focused on the “clicky-clicky bling-bling” aspect of the technologies, but no meaningful applications.

Couple of sessions that were all theory & research with no real-world application discussions.

The Beyond:

The way we consume content is leaning more and more towards performance support, and just-in-time content. Augmented reality looks to be a leader in supporting this transformation.


Performance support is the right way to go, assuming you evaluate the users’ job processes & support them effectively.

Augmented reality is real. Companies are investing resources into creating real, serious approaches to learning solutions.


Did any of you attend the FocusOn Learning Conference? What would your answers to these questions be?  Please share during #chat2lrn on Thursday, June 16 at 8am Pacific, 11am Eastern, 4pm BST.  See you there!

Is assessment a necessary evil or a blessing in disguise?

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


As a learning professional, do you regard assessment to be part and parcel of your job role? If you do, then you aren’t alone but why is the learning profession so obsessed with assessment? Is it by desire, or as a result of coercion from line managers and senior executives? Even if the reasons are largely historical, this still doesn’t make the need for assessment to be right, or serve as an excuse when it’s done badly, which, alas, is all too often the case.

Testing, testing and yet more testing

Today, in several countries there is much controversy surrounding the excessive testing of school students. However, for some time there has also been a growing groundswell of criticism about the use and frequency of assessing adult learning. Does the love of measurement lie at the root of the obsession with assessment? After all, just think of all those quotes and saying extolling the value of measurement: “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it”, “If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it” and “If you cannot measure it, it doesn’t exist” – so it must be a good thing, mustn’t it?

Okay, many people do want to know how they are doing, be they a learner, a manager or the organisation as a whole. So measurements that inform them of what they want to know are a good thing. However, there are two aspects to this: the first is what is actually being measured, and the second is how it has been measured. The truth is, that what you measure is what you get! So, does the fact that I have scored 100% on a compliance or regulation-based test mean that I am competent to perform either in the workplace? If all I’ve been assessed on is knowledge and not understanding or the application of that knowledge, then probably not.

Designing assessment is far from easy

Designing valid and reliable assessments is an extremely skilled and experienced activity. As with other aspects of learning provision, there are far too many who assume that anyone can design assessments. It is largely this assumption that has led to assessments being used when they are not needed and, when they are needed, being designed so poorly.

Putting assessment in its place

Do you think that the time has come for the learning profession as a whole to acknowledge that assessment has got totally out of hand, as well as being conducted extremely badly in far too many instances? Why should assessment be assumed to be a given when people are learning? Instead, should its use be questioned and challenged in each and every situation? Measuring and collecting data are just fine, as long as there are reasons for doing the former and collecting the latter. If no reasons can be provided, then should we leave well alone and just get on with helping people learn what they need in order to do their jobs better? 

Lots of questions, so join in and discuss these and others on 2 June, 2016 08.00PDT/11.00EDT/16.00BST  to see to what extent assessment is viewed as a necessary evil or a blessing in disguise.



Guerilla Learning!

This weeks post was written by Adam Weisblatt, a Learning Technologist focused on creating environments for great learning experiences. A specialist in the selection, deployment and optimization of learning infrastructure and tool sets that support the delivery of online and in person training, Adam is a creative problem solver with an in-depth understanding of the workflow and business drivers that Learning Professionals grapple with every day. He has over 20 years of experience in all aspects of corporate learning, and he has a proven track record of implementing the infrastructure required to consolidate training efforts across business units and country offices. Adam learned about business from his father’s electrical contracting company. He expressed his creativity and leadership by running a Performance Art Troupe while at art school and he fueled his passion for learning by being an instructor, an eLearning designer, and a blogger. Adam writes about the intersection of technology and learning and how it is reshaping business. He promotes a business-driven learner-centric approach to using learning technology. He believes in opening up the definition of what learning can be.  Reach Adam at: Twitter  @weisblatt or    Email  adamjweisblatt@gmail.com

I was on #chat2lrn a while back and we were talking again about how difficult it is to get buy in from our organizations on all the innovative things we learn from our online community and the conferences we go to. A phrase popped into my head and I typed it into the Tweet Chat window: Guerrilla Learning. Suddenly there were a ton of retweets with people saying, “What a great idea.” But it wasn’t an idea. It was just a clever phrase. I had no idea what Guerrilla Learning was.

Later on I thought about the problem. Why is it so hard to implement new ideas in an L&D environment? After all, as learning professionals, we are expected to find out about the latest innovations. That’s why we go online and attend conferences. We get all revved up on the possibilities of transforming learning. We see the future impact of technology on work. But when we come back to our teams and share our enthusiasm with them, we get nothing. “Oh that sounds great, but it won’t work for my program.” You know how learning people are. The project they are working on today is the most important thing to ever happen in this company. They don’t want their high priority, high visibility, high stakes project to be your guinea pig.

The problem is that without a guinea pig, your new ideas are not going anywhere. I thought more about what Guerrilla Learning would look like and how it might solve the problem. What if I became a rebel? What if I created learning programs under the radar? What if I asked for forgiveness rather than permission? I could create programs, deploy them without anyone knowing and then declare success.

Of course, I would have no content, no resources, no audience and no budget.


  • Think small. If you run a small program, you don’t need much content.
  • Be a junk collector. Dig deep into the bottom of your LMS and pull out some old content that’s been sitting there for a while. No one will mind you using that.
  • Curate content instead of creating it. Use content that already exists. But don’t just make a link farm. Put some context around the content to give it relevance to the learner.
  • Let the learners create the content. Set up a place where they can contribute their own ideas and resources.
  • Create experiences instead of content. Give instructions for learners to go out on their own or in a cohort and experience the learning through activities.


  • Use what you have at hand. Your phone has a video camera in it that is better quality than a top of the line camcorder from 20 years ago.
  • Use free tools and resources. Cloud-based tools usually have a free version. Use this just to get started.


  • Start with your network. Every viral video had to start somewhere, and that is usually with your friends. Get them to be your conspirators.
  • Use social media. First though, you need followers. Go on your company’s social media tool and post about yourself, your work and resources you’ve found. Then, once you get a following, you can post about your programs.
  • Use reverse psychology. Tell people that no one is supposed to know about this and people will want to be involved.

Once you’ve created the program and ran it successfully, you can present to senior leadership like it was a planned, sanctioned program. You will already have an audience that you’ve built for the full version. Just remember to talk to them about their experience. You are innovating and by definition you will make mistakes. Take advantage of people’s willingness to help you find and resolve them.

You are well on your way to creating Guerrilla Learning. Viva La Revolution!

Go to my Facebook page to access resources and examples: http://www.facebook.com/awspeaking

Please share your thoughts, experiences and opinions. Join us for #chat2lrn Thursday, May 19th, 08.00PDT/11.00EDT/16.00BST and let’s chat about it!



Death to Learning & Development! Fact or Fiction?

This weeks post has been written by Ajay M. Pangarkar CTDP, CPA, CMA (a member of the #chat2lrn crew) and Teresa Kirkwood CTDP are founders of CentralKnowledge.com and LearningSourceonline.com. They are renowned employee performance management experts and 3-time authors most recently publishing the leading performance book, “The Trainer’s Balanced Scorecard: A Complete Resource for Linking Learning to Organizational Strategy” (Wiley), award-wining assessment specialist with Training Magazine, and award-winning writer winning the 2014/2015 prestigious TrainingIndustry.com Readership and Editors’ Awards for the Top 10 most read articles. Help them start a, “Workplace Revolution” at blog.centralknowledge.com or contact: ajayp@centralknowledge.com

Is workplace learning and development (L&D) dying? Does it deserve to continue to exist? What should L&D become to survive? These are some of the questions people have recently been asking. My friend and colleague, Tom Spiglanin, just blogged about a significant change in the workplace learning space. Tom knows his stuff and I encourage you to read his post, “It’s Happening” first before reading this. But also, Tom (and me too) is open to discussion so please share your opinions.

What I appreciate about Tom’s post is that it brings to light the need for L&D to keep up with the times. Regretfully, I meet too many L&D practitioners who have an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ attitude or are seeking a ‘quick fix’. If you fall into this category then soon say ‘bye-bye’ to your job and L&D role.

Colleagues from the Internet Time Alliance asked, “What would happen if there were no L&D department?” or as I want you to ask yourself, “What if my role becomes irrelevant?” Don’t scoff at these questions, it’s very much a reality, not a possibility. Our position is that L&D won’t die but will evolve significantly. Essentially, death to L&D, as we currently know it and in my professional experience, is as close to being ‘irrelevant’ as you can get.

There are a variety of reasons why I firmly commit to the L&D (r)evolution hypothesis. Those who know me, read my books (recently, The Trainer’s Balanced Scorecard: A Complete Resource for Linking Learning to Organizational Strategy), or participate in my workshops (Learning DevCamp, ‘Gaining Buy-in for Your E and M-Learning Projects‘), know that I’m an L&D hard ass…I like to refer to it as L&D ‘tough love’ and always look at L&D from a business perspective, not from one of learning. This means that I interact with many business leaders, and trust me, they’re desperately seeking more from their L&D people. But not in the traditional context. They need L&D to be innovative and become a leading performance indicator partner.

Another reason that I believe an L&D (r) evolution is afoot has to do with generational progression. What’s that you say? At no other time in modern human history has there been so many generations in the workplace at one time. Think about it, there are the traditionalists (the 75+ crowd), the boomers (the 55+ crowd), the Xer’s (the 40+ crowd) and the boomers’ children, commonly referred to as millennials, (the 25+ crowd). Count’em. That’s four generations. Typically, there are only three. But wait…there’s more! Gen X generation’s children, gen Z or the Facebook gen, are popping-in. Both the millennials and gen Z employee population will soon exceed the combined employee population of older generations or at least they will in some countries, but not worldwide. In the UK, the workforce population is getting older and it’s not just in the UK that things are changing…it is a worldwide occurrence that L&D professionals will have to address.

So, what does this generational progression mean for L&D? Well, you may notice that millennials and generation Z are mobile ones. They were raised with, and using, the Web. Gen Z is even more mobile than millennials as they typically rely on using tablets and smartphones. Worse, they have the shortest attention span compared to any other previous generation. Recently an interesting Forbes article, Generation Z: 10 Stats From SXSW You Need To Knowhighlights many pertinent Gen Z facts but more importantly for L&D are bullets 2, 3, and 4. They say that pictures speak a thousand words…have a look at this infographic… L&D are facing a huge challenge!

There must be some type of (r) evolution considering the options available to deploying L&D solutions that is inclusive. This technology (r) evolution is accelerating forcing L&D to rethink its place and how it moves forward.

Finally, ‘the learning curve is the earning curve’ resonates with millennials and older generations alike. In the Bersin by Deloitte report, “The Future of Corporate Learning – Ten Disruptive Trends“, people are increasingly seeking additional knowledge or education. In the last four years, 35 Million people enrolled in massive open online courses (MOOCs), with 2015 enrolments doubling 2014 (Bersin et al.).

It’s safe to assume that L&D’s is an endangered species and I say, so be it! If L&D can’t evolve with the new need then should we let it die? But what then of the workforce that likes and feel safe in traditional methods of delivery?  Do we need to find a different way – a way that supports all employees? From its ashes what we have is a stronger, more innovative, more adaptable and a more relevant L&D to rise. Be part of the solution and not part of the legacy.  Align with your business leader’s needs, adapt your learning solutions to meet generational expectations, and seamlessly integrate technology to facilitate the learning process. Simply doing just one of these things will make you an indispensable part of the L&D revolution and for your organization as well.

What do you think? Do you agree? Did I miss something that will revive or possibly kill L&D? Please share your thoughts, experiences and opinions. Join us for #chat2lrn this week Thursday, 08.00PDT/11.00EDT/16.00BST and let’s chat about it!