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!

Much Ado About Microlearning

MightyMouseMicrolearning (1)Much is being made of the concept of microlearning these days, and perhaps rightly so. Microlearning products and collections, assembled and offered by learning and development organizations, fit into available time slots and busy work schedules. If available on mobile devices, they can also be used in performance support applications at the time and place of need.

From the producer’s perspective, they are also relatively quick to produce, and both easier to create and maintain then their larger, more complex e-learning counterparts.

But microlearning is not new at all. Countless how-to videos on YouTube have helped millions of people repair appliances or learn to better perform tasks or even hobbies. More interestingly, most of these products were created by people with no instructional design background, and yet we learn effectively from them.

So how can learning and development organizations use microlearning products to meet the needs of organizations? What can we learn from YouTube to encourage the participation of large numbers of employees? Discuss this and more about microlearning products in learning and development at #chat2lrn Thursday, 09 April at 16:00BST/11:00EDT/8:00PDT.

Making the most of Performance Support

This week’s post is written by Judith Christian-Carter, crew member of #chat2lrn

Performance Support

Many pundits would agree that Performance Support is witnessing something of a renaissance. After all, it’s been around for a long time (aka coaching and mentoring), so what’s really new?

The answer probably lies in the convergence of two major forces:

  1. how many organisations are now seeing L&D, how it’s practiced and how it gets done; and
  2. the continuing rise of technology and its increasing use in allowing organisations, and the people that work within them, to work and learn in very different ways to those prevalent in the late 20th Century.

Then, today, there is the curse of information that really highlights the need for performance support, such as:

  • information overload (too much information for people to organise, synthesise, draw conclusions from, act upon)
  • information underload (insufficient information upon which to act confidently)
  • information scatter (required information is in different locations and therefore can easily be overlooked)
  • information conflict (information is duplicated and different, and difficult to trust and easy to ignore)
  • erroneous information (information is downright wrong so if used could lead to varying degrees of failure).

Assuming you are on the performance support boat or are thinking of boarding it, just how do you/can you get the most of it? For example, do you/can you use the five cascading levels of performance support to address all instances of learning need (Conrad Gottfredson, Bob Mosher, 2012) and if so how? i.e.:

  1. When people are learning how to do something for the first time (New)
  2. When people are expanding the breadth and depth of what they have learned (More)
  3. When people need to act on what they have learned, eg planning what to do, remembering what they have forgotten, adapting their performance to a different situation (Apply)
  4. When problems arise, items break or don’t work as intended (Solve)
  5. When people need to learn a new way of doing something, which requires them to change skills that are deeply ingrained in their current performance (Change)

So, how do you or can you use performance support in your role? Is performance support embedded into your organisation’s infrastructure and workflow processes? If not, should it be and how could it be? Is it a whole organisation ‘thing’ and not just a L&D one and, if not, why not?

Join in the debate and discuss these and other questions on 8th May 2014.

For more ideas, examples, etc. see: