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?


“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.

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.


“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!)


Frey, C.B. and Osborne, M.A. (2013). The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?’

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!

The Learning Technology Ecosystem – are we there yet?

Today’s post comes from Fiona Quigley (@fionaquigs), chat2lrn crew member and
Director of Learning Innovation for Logicearth Learning Services.


The term learning technology ecosystem has been around for a few years now but I’m not seeing much practical application of it. It could be one of those newish ideas in our industry – we have to talk about it for a few years before we decide we can actually embrace it successfully (hello social learning and mobile learning!)

But after giving this some more thought, I now think the time is right for us to be thinking about a set of integrated tools, content and processes that should work seamlessly together to support organisational learning. eLearning (content) has been around long enough now for us to both want and expect more. And as for the LMS, well that debate will run on and on.

What I do know for sure, is that the trend to have the LMS more and more hidden, is a very real one. It seems that while other technologies have developed – curation tools, user generated content tools, enterprise social learning tools, not to mention the myriad of learning and productivity apps now available, the good ‘ole LMS, even with a shiny new talent management badge on it, remains quite traditional and dare I say ‘locked down’.

The new open systems – LRS, xAPI and LTI

If you are anything like me, you’ll probably have heard of LRS and xAPI, but you might struggle with LTI? This term was new to me until a few weeks ago; it stands for Learning Tools Interoperability. So think of third party rich content platforms like Khan Academy, TEDEd, Code Academy etc. These tools can be bolted together to allow single sign-on for all your staff. And no, this isn’t about formalising what some people would call informal learning. And it isn’t about tracking everything your staff does either. It’s about providing easy to access resources in a central location to facilitate self-service learning in its truest sense.

Instead of relying on procuring a complex and expensive LMS that could go out of date quickly, we think in terms of flexible bolt-on technologies. When used together, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. What better way to get to self-service learning than to encourage your staff to use best in class curation or social learning apps that are part of your total learning technology ecosystem rather than just accepting what ‘comes’ with the LMS. Imagine following the high performers in your organisation as they curate the best content paths and share their insights in a way that could never compare to ‘click-next’ eLearning.

So there you have it – some initial thoughts from me on what a learning technology ecosystem could give us. Join us Thursday, February 25th to share your input.

Virtual reality: Can it change how we learn?

This week’s post comes from #chat2lrn crew member Ross Garner. Ross is an Online Instructional Designer at GoodPractice and a member of the eLearning Network. You can reach him on Twitter @R0ssGarner

Virtual reality is back – and this time, it works

If you’ve spent any time on Twitter in the past couple of months, or have attended any Learning and Development conferences, you’ll be aware that the industry is abuzz with the news that virtual reality (VR) is about to go mainstream.

Forget the crummy graphics of the 1990s. For the first time, VR seems like it’s about to live up to it’s name. Realistic visuals and surround-sound audio are creating an immersive experience that can finally trick your brain into believing you are somewhere else.


Woman Using a Samsung VR Headset at SXSW. Image courtesy Nan Palmero on Flickr.

Facebook, Sony and HTC are all launching headsets later this year, and Google Cardboard has made it affordable to try VR in your home.

pMeanwhile, companies like Magic Leap are raising millions in investment as they develop sophisticated augmented reality (AR) devices that combine simulated graphics with the world around you. Think Minority Report, or this YouTube demo.

But what does this have to do with L&D?

To quote blogger, speaker and #Chat2Lrn friend Donald Clark:

“In my 30+ years in technology I have never experienced a heat so intense and shocking as that I got when I first tried the Oculus Rift.

“As a learning professional, lots of applications flooded my mind. But more importantly, and this IS important, I thought of learning theory.

“The big problems in learning are:

  • attention
  • emotion
  • doing
  • context
  • retention
  • transfer

“This technology tackles these head on. We may be on the threshold of delivering educational and training experiences that are compelling and super-efficient, in terms of these positive attributes in learning.

“There’s also a bonus – this is a cool, consumer device that young people love. 2016 is only the start. VR is not a gadget, it’s a medium and a great learning medium.”

NATTC NAS Pensacola

U.S. Navy personnel using a VR parachute training simulator. Image from Wikipedia.

So what’s next?

VR is already used to train the army, pilots and surgeons, but what applications can you think of for VR and AR?

Is this going to be a technology that L&D grabs and exploits? Or will the cost and difficulty of implementation leave us lagging behind the entertainment industry?

Join in using the hashtag #chat2lrn and discuss these and other questions on 11 February, 2016, 08.00 PST/11.00 EST /16.00 GMT.