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.

Takeaways?

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.

vr

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.

Producing Videos for Training

Today’s post is written by Andrea May (@andreamay1), #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. 

video_IconOver the last decade on the professional front I’ve created my fair share of screen cast
videos with voice over for a variety of eLearning programs and provided script or other input for a handful of live videos. Traditionally, I’ve shied away from live videos unless in was a true necessity because of the rather large costs involved.

In my personal life over the same 10 or 15 years, I’ve seen the video cameras I’ve owned go from a clunky unit that weighed several pounds with fairly low quality, to a smaller, more streamlined unit, to a combination digital still and video camera, to just one of the many things we can do in fairly high quality with the smartphones in our pockets. Not only that, but we can shoot a video on the fly and have it uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo to share with the world in mere seconds.

For some training or eLearning programs, that type of video might be appropriate, but generally I think the preference is for high quality edited video with good lighting and sound, whether that is audio recorded with the video or added later as a voice over. Until the last few years, that often meant hiring specialists to light, shoot and edit the video. Now those lines have blurred. Low cost equipment is now available that can produce high quality results. Editing software is readily available and much more intuitive than it used to be. In short, amateurs with a little money, and some practice and good planning, can produce the videos they need for their training and eLearning programs.

At the eLearning Guild’s DevLearn conference a few weeks ago, I attended a session that opened up even more possibilities in my mind for producing training videos. The session looked at how GoPro cameras could be used to cheaply produce high quality videos for training, particularly in situations where it would be dangerous or otherwise impossible to get a camera crew in to do the shoot.

GoPro on Hard HatFor the last several years, I’ve been working on developing and maintaining both classroom and eLearning programs that train propane industry employees all over the country. I could immediately see a ton of applications for shooting video this way that would have been difficult and/or cost prohibitive before.  These amazing little cameras are cheap, easy to use, produce high quality video, and best of all, hands-free. I can see endless possibilities that I had never really considered before.

What about you? Do you use video in your programs, and if so, how do you produce them? How do you make decisions about when and how to use video? Have you ever used or considered using GoPros for shooting your videos? Join us on October 22nd, 8:00am PDT, 11:00am EDT, 4:00pm BST for a #chat2lrn discussing these and other questions.

 

Learning Management Systems: Do we need them?

LMS 1This week’s post comes from #chat2lrn crew member, Judith Christian-Carter. Judith is a Director of Effective Learning Solutions, a UK-based learning services company. You can find her on Twitter @judithELS

 

The LMS conundrum

Seldom in our community have I come across a topic anything more sharply bipolar than that of Learning Management Systems (LMS). ‘For’ and ‘Against’ camps are formed, with each side arguing passionately one way or the other. The LMS has become the ‘Marmite’ of the corporate learning world!

LMS2

Some arguments for …

  • If learning isn’t tracked and measured via a LMS then it’s not learning
  • We need to know what people are learning, what content they are accessing and if they are completing their training courses
  • Saves on administrative and paperwork costs, as well as saving employees’ training time
  • If you aren’t using a LMS, you aren’t operating your business as efficiently as possible
  • You can control the content that your employees can access
  • “What you do not measure, you cannot control.” (Tom Peters)
  • You can consolidate all training content for all employees into one central location
  • Course content can be bundled with online tests, enabling administrators to gauge easily learning levels
  • A LMS facilitates learning and the retention of content
  • A LMS allows administrators to create a culture of compliance, promoting safety in all situations
  • Detailed reports such as course completion, regulatory compliance training and employee statistics, allow managers to identify and track easily the progress of a large group of employees or individuals when needed
  • A LMS delivers a secure exchange of learning data

Some arguments against …

  • The LMS no longer fits into the corporate learning model of the 21st Century
  • The old corporate learning world of command and control is changing to one of understanding and facilitation, and so with it the LMS becomes redundant
  • We have no choice, we have to use it for all courses and this imposes major constraints on us
  • I can’t use the learning tools I want to because the LMS does not support them
  • From an instructional design point of view they are a nightmare, as they so often dictate the learning design instead of the other way round
  • If formal learning, such as training, only accounts for around 10% of what people learn then why bother to spend so much money and time measuring such a very small part of the total – it doesn’t make sense
  • “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” (William Bruce Cameron)
  • Whilst our LMS captures so much data, very few people look at this and, if they do, then they don’t do anything with it
  • I want people to create their own personal learning environments, to exchange ideas and to build their own communities of practice, none of which is possible with a LMS
  • It’s only administrators who like and want a LMS, simply because it makes their lives easier
  • The LMS is the ‘Big Brother’ of learning in the corporate world
  • Employees are not in the driving seat when it comes their learning mainly due the power and control of the LMS
  • The only thing that counts is that people can apply their learning in the workplace so that their performance improves, and no LMS can measure or control that
  • Work = Learning and Learning = Work, so where does a LMS figure in this equation?

In other words …

“Prescriptive, governed, instructional approaches that drive cost reduction and competitive advantage through better productivity and compliance are the sweet spot for LMSs. But what organisations really need to do is nurture skills and activities that computers cannot yet master and link these not to productivity and compliance, but to innovation and intrapreneurship.” (David Becker, September 2014, of “Kill the LMS” workshop.)

What next?

Well, there is always Experience API (xAPI or Tin Can API) to consider, as this new learning-technology specification claims to overcome all the limitations of the existing LMS, by bringing ‘tracking’ into the 21st Century. That is, if you wish to track any digital interaction someone has with content or other people, for therein lies the rub.

So, where do you stand on the LMS question? Join in the debate and discuss these and other questions in #chat2lrn on 2nd October 2014 08.00PDT/11.00EDT/16.00BST

Kathy Kruse of Expertus has provided some additional reading which you can find on the Links and Resources page.  If you would also like to provide additional resources for this, or any other chat, please email a member of the #Chat2lrn crew.

 

 

 

 

Using Analogies and Metaphors to Enhance Learning

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.

warning-analogies13

My mom was a junior high and high school home-economics teacher when I was a kid. She made sure that my sister and I knew our way around the kitchen and a sewing machine, whether we wanted to or not.  I distinctly remember helping her bake a scratch cake for my sister’s birthday one year and she used a metaphor to explain the difference between cooking and baking. “Cooking is an art, and baking is a science,” she told me.  A light bulb went off in my head. I suddenly understood that you have a lot more license to be creative with cooking. Baking, on the other hand, requires precision and attention to detail if you want things to turn out right.

The use of analogies and metaphors in learning programs can have a powerful impact on a learner’s understanding of new or complex concepts.  They highlight the similarities between knowledge we already have and that which we are trying to learn.  Analogies and metaphors create a scaffold in the learner’s mind allowing new information to be added on top.

In a recent post by Annie Murphy Paul The Key to Innovation: Making Smart Analogies she explains analogies and how they work for learning:

A useful analogy reveals the deep commonalities beneath superficial differences. We can think of analogies as having two parts: the base and the target. The base is the thing you know about. The target is the thing that’s new. Analogies are created by elaborating the similarities and the differences between the base and the target. When we us
e an analogy, we take what we know about the base and move some of it over to the target. Northwestern University psychologist Dedre Genter calls this process “bootstrapping the mind”—elevating ourselves into the realm of new knowledge, using the knowledge we have already to pull ourselves up.

For example, if we look back at the metap4196897_orighor my mom used to describe the difference between cooking and baking, the base is art and science.  I knew that art is all about creativity and making something new out of whatever materials you choose as
your medium.  Science on the other hand is much more rigid and focused on proving theories with repeatable results.  So if art is the base and cooking is the target, the commonalities are the ability to be creative, try new things and improvise where needed.  On the other hand with a base of science and a target of baking, the commonalities come down to following strict procedures to ensure repeatable results.

If you think back to your school days you might remember some common analogies and metaphors that your teachers used to help you understand a new concept.  Fractions are often taught by visualizing a pizza or pie with some of the slices removed.  Radio waves are compared to the ripples on water when you drop in a stone.  And electricity is often compared to water flowing through pipes.  These simple ideas that we all understand provide a context for the more complex ideas to take root.

As an industry, we need to use all the tools available to us to increase understanding and retention. Using analogies and metaphors is a great way to do that. In short, if we can find an example that is common knowledge for our learners that can be used to effectively draw comparisons to a new concept, half the battle is already won.

Join us this week for #chat2lrn to discuss your thoughts on using analogies and metaphor to enhance learning. Join #Chat2lrn this Thursday July 10 at 08.00PDT/11.00EDT/16.00BST and let’s chat about it!

Additional reading on this topic:

Skills Practice | Understanding and Making Analogies – by Jonathan Olsen, Sarah Gross and Katherine Schulten

Learning To Learn: Embrace Analogies – by Kalid Azad

Using Analogies – by Akron Global Polymer Academy

How to Write Better Analogies for Learning by Connie Malamed

 

Survey Says…

Most L&D professionals have heard of surveys, of course. Market research professionals develop them to gather data in order to help companies make informed decisions about what to sell to the public. As a result, the buying public has taken tons of them. But the average L&D person probably hasn’t give a ton of thought to using surveys in their own work. If you have, you’re ahead of the game.

We’re continually told that we need to use more evaluation and measurement methods in our work as well. But data collected by the Learning and Performance Institute through their Capability Map shows the field doesn’t have very deep skills in this area. The first 6 month Capability Map report showed that, out of the 983 people who completed a self-assessment, only 319 assessed themselves against Data Interpretation and the average competency score was 2.36. Compared to 738 assessments in Face to Face delivery which had an average score of 3.36.

Typically the reason to use a survey is to get information to help with decision-making. What kinds of decisions do we need to make that a survey might help with? Here are a just few:

  • What are the biggest skill gaps?
  • How do they currently fill those gaps?
  • What performance support tools do they build? Need?
  • Who are their best internal team trainers?
  • What instructional methods work best for them?
  • How would they “grade” our efforts?
  • What would we need to do to better serve their needs?

One of the problems with surveys, however is that that they look deceptively simple to build but it’s easy to write surveys that are poorly written, which means the data you gather is mostly useless. Poorly developed surveys yield poor data or worse, data that points to the wrong solutions. So it’s critical that surveys be developed and analyzed well. There are some great articles and books on the topic and it’s not rocket science. And once you know what you’re doing and if you use a survey tool that allows you to do good analysis, you can get some great data.

One of the chat2lrn facilitators, Patti Shank, wrote an article for CSTD on the topic, which recommends valuable articles and books on the topic, and provides some concise guidelines on good surveys. It’s on page 15 of http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.cstd.ca/resource/resmgr/clj/clj_spring2012_final.pdf.