Raytheon Symposium 2016

My first Raytheon event – it was the 4th annual – looking at “Innovative Blended Learning”.

Presentations from Raytheon Professional Services, Dixons Carphone, Yorkshire Building Society, Totara, Coca-Cola Enterprises and British Airways looked at a number of topics, including:

  • blended learning case studies
  • aligning business success with learning and development
  • gamification
  • mobile learning
  • innovations in social learning
  • ROI

I wont do a blow-by-blow of the event as, whilst all the presentations were good, I don’t think there was anything really earth shattering or, for me, too much in the realm of ‘oh I really need to try that’.

A few nice things:

  • Raytheon’s General Motors case study.  Similar app for car sales folks as have won awards for Jaguar/Land Rover and others.  However, the technical solution here sounded intriguing – an HTML5 micro-site talking back to the LMS but making use of a CMS for always up-to-date content.
  • ‘Learning Journeys’ as a naming convention to articulate paths for people [I’d agree they sound better than plans, paths, etc].
  • Need to target learning based on analytics [LinkedIn Learning is of course making much of personalisation via algorithms – the in-house L&D team can add value through understanding the business].  Use data and evaluation to determine needs – not just reaction and evaluation.
  • The gamification session was great for setting out a lot of the boundaries and tips, I especially liked the points that gamification is not the same as game-based learning.  Yorkshire Building Society also have a neat idea in creating Mandy and Tory as characters for more narrative driven compliance training.  Physical badges for open badges were also a nice idea – as a way to get people talking about badges around the company to make them ‘real’.
  • The gamification talk had a nice approach to thinking about motivation types with gamification: achievers (badges, leader-boards), explorers (take time, own approach, Easter eggs, etc), socialisers (personalise, play with others), killers (destroy things, push to fail, etc.)
  • The session on social learning focused on ESNs [this really got me thinking again about the problem of system proliferation with multiple profiles on different corporate systems.  Are badges the way to finally nail this and decrease redundancy between LMS, intranet, etc?]  An interesting point was the need to open up to your extended enterprise and external learning providers [doubt many do this?].

Kineo Connect event

I recently attended this event that allowed Kineo customers to get updates on:

  • Totara LMS and the new ‘version 9’
  • what Kineo are doing around modern learning design best practices
  • their consultancy services.

These were followed up with a really good session from Boost Evaluation, considering the importance of evaluating learning projects and initiatives.

My summary of items of interest:

Totara improvements

  • As suggested, these are mostly general and about tidying up the interface, including internal consistency of the product.
  • The two new blocks (last course accessed and my current learning) are both sensible – the immediate fear for me though is that ‘last course accessed’ may often be one you’ve finished and not of interest and ‘my current learning’ could include too many links if you use Totara with a lot of ‘courses’ (for example if they are different resources banks, modules, etc).
  • Question marks, for me, over the new multiple job functionality, with split manager support for when it comes to appraisals rather than booking management (it sounded like it has been mostly built around the latter).
  • Seminar Management replacing the Face-to-Face tool.  Thankfully isn’t just semantics and the new multiple events within a session logic makes sense.  Devil will, of course, be in the detail and it says something that still tweaking session/room/resource booking is a priority at this stage of the product’s life-cycle.
  • Learning plans will now work with dynamic audiences, making them a far more realistic piece of the puzzle in terms of solving the distribution challenges.
  • Going forward there will be a major annual release on the same date every year but also ‘evergreen’ continuously evolving core product updates.

Kineo content and consultancy

  • Started with a bit on general trends in the market and workplace learning in general (for example resources not courses).
  • There were a few nice things shown for what they were doing with TUI and Dominos – including the use of testimonials (staff video) and quality web style interactions/visuals.
  • I did quite like the WISE approach that was set out: web style, interactive, self-directed, erudite.
  • Showed new filter menu in Adapt content to create personalisation within a piece of content, this looked quite nice but I think I’d typically do that outside of an item via the LMS – really comes back to how you are distributing.
  • Have developed own interactive video technology – goes beyond branching with hot-spots, scoring, tracking and drama.  Showed some nice examples from Rolls Royce and Compass.
  • The consultancy piece pointed out that video is, in part, a return of old tech now that Internet delivery has caught up.
  • Argued a few different points, including: The 10%/f-2-f still has a role and remains popular in surveys but needs to be thought about as facilitating the business, not owning knowledge.  Consultancy services working with clients to setup appropriate structures and solutions.
  • Difficult to argue with a lot of the points: such as the need to design for experiences and make use of appropriate curation.

Boost Evaluation Session

  • The genesis of the service, helping people with learning industry award submissions where the submitter hadn’t done enough on evaluation is interesting in itself – showing the tendency in the profession to jump to solutions or to evaluate need without thinking about quantifying and checking progress on the ‘to be’ situation.
  • I like Boost’s approach in arguing it is not about maths – more about thinking who you are doing the valuation for and developing a hypothesis.  This makes sense to me – not least as I used to help people develop their hypothesis based consulting skills in a past role!
  • The key thing really is to have a plan to evaluate and not leave it as an after thought – of course this is the classic criticism of ADDIE and the need for evaluation at the heart of the ADDI, ideally with more agile development, than at the end.
  • We ran through a speedy version of the process (normally they recommend a workshop including a wall with possible measures on post it notes).
  • Overall, it was useful in my thinking around if I can continue to argue against ‘numbers for the sake of numbers’ and really try to build quantifiable measures be it for engagement, performance improvement or another area.
Microsoft Display Dock

Initial thoughts on Continuum

A couple of months back I was given the chance by Vodafone to upgrade early. The choice was then clear, stay with Windows (‘upgrading’ from a Nokia to latest Microsoft phone), go back to Android (same as my work phone) or switch to Apple (work phone up-to about a year ago).

I fundamentally prefer the Windows phone/mobile/Windows for phone interface so opted to stay put.

One tempting advantage of moving to the new device (beyond the fresh battery as my Nokia was struggling to last a day) was to try Continuum.

I got very excited about Continuum on release. Here are my pros and cons from a month or so of (attempted) use with the display dock:

·        Very simple to use and setup using the ‘gadgets’ feature which I’d previously not really seen the point of in Windows 10.
·        The dock itself (see pic) is nice and has a ‘paperweight’ kind of feeling – not too light to feel flimsy but light enough to carry easily.
·        Using the phone for control (mouse trackpad and typing) work nice enough.
·        The dock comes with two cables, one with wall connection for power and one for connecting to phone – this has become my home charger with the Microsoft original now at my work office desk.
·        Great at offering functions when my primary home device (iMac) isn’t available – for example going through emails, browsing, etc.
·        I didn’t manage to pick up a dock for free (as has occasionally been the offer) so had to spend a little extra for one on eBay.
·        You don’t get a HDMI cable with the dock, so it has added to the switching on my home TV (2 HDMI ports) between PlayStation, Apple TV and Sky Box. This is another thing you’d have to find and carry when traveling (I didn’t take one on holiday and the gite’s TV only had scart cables so I couldn’t use it).
·        The Store.  It’s perhaps the information manager in me, but the Store is awful. The lack of an easy filter (currently just a limited Microsoft controlled collection/listing for Continuum enabled apps) is a glaring gap. That so many sites and user forums have listings of games and other apps that work with Continuum shows people are having to work around Microsoft’s own approach.
·        Existing non-Continuum apps. It would be really nice if these just appeared in phone dimensions, rather than not being accessible at all.
·        If I was to carry a mouse and keyboard on the go, are you really saving much space from a laptop? Perhaps, but probably not from the netbook I would have used on the go c.10 years ago.
·        The dock to phone cable included is fine for desk usage but not so great (length wise) for working with my TV and wanting to be sat back on my sofa.

·        The sound comes through the phone speakers not my TV. Admittedly the speakers are better than in my last device but it seems, from searching help forums, that audio output is a little random in terms of which monitors/tvs/etc. respond to c’ connections.

Overall, still huge potential.  However the App issues, which normally don’t bother me as I’m happy with what my phone device can do (phone, podcasts, contacts, messaging, Facebook, browsing, maps), become acute when trying to take the phone device to the next level. With the larger screen you want more games and apps.

I would recommend it though for organisations where staff are on the move and could hot desk using Word and other core apps as they go. Perhaps best for those who work in environments such as journalism, consultants (although they may want their own dock for when at client sites) and where you don’t often need to be at a desk but do want to check emails, etc. when you do – perhaps in a retail or factory environment.

My vote for the Top Tools for Learning 2016

Here’s what I submitted to the annual poll (http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/voting/).

  • Tool 1: Name and (optionally) reason for choice: Old Reader – personal RSS reader of choice for news, sharing and current awareness.
  • Tool 1: How do you use it?: Workplace Learning, Personal & Professional Learning

  • Tool 2: Name and (optionally) reason for choice: Xmarks – bookmarking for personal knowledge library and sharing of folders/topics with contacts and colleagues
  • Tool 2: How do you use it?: Workplace Learning , Personal & Professional Learning

  • Tool 3: Name and (optionally) reason for choice: YouTube – still most used video platform in terms of access to recorded webinars, tutorials, etc.
  • Tool 3: How do you use it?: Workplace Learning , Personal & Professional Learning

  • Tool 4: Name and (optionally) reason for choice: Articulate Storyline 2 – authoring tool of choice for content distribution and for developing support tools.
  • Tool 4: How do you use it?: Workplace Learning

  • Tool 5: Name and (optionally) reason for choice: Totara – simplifies our L&D management requirements for regulators, government, etc allowing more of our time on performance support and career development.
  • Tool 5: How do you use it?: Workplace Learning, Personal & Professional Learning

  • Tool 6: Name and (optionally) reason for choice: LinkedIn – learning via groups and 1-2-1 communication. A source for news and useful links (but less so than Old Reader or YouTube).
  • Tool 6: How do you use it?: Workplace Learning , Personal & Professional Learning

  • Tool 7: Name and (optionally) reason for choice: WordPress – for reflection and sharing my learning.
  • Tool 7: How do you use it?: Workplace Learning , Personal & Professional Learning

  • Tool 8: Name and (optionally) reason for choice: Prezi – started using it again this year to share messaging where the templates/zooming helps.
  • Tool 8: How do you use it?: Workplace Learning , Personal & Professional Learning

  • Tool 9: Name and (optionally) reason for choice: Firefox – as the entry point to other tools remains essential. Used over other tools for speed, plugins, etc.
  • Tool 9: How do you use it?: Workplace Learning, Personal & Professional Learning

  • Tool 10: Name and (optionally) reason for choice: Grover Pro – Podcast app of choice for learning on the go.
  • Tool 10: How do you use it?: Workplace Learning, Personal & Professional Learning

learndirect Policy Exchange Session – July 2016

Last week around 50 learning professionals braved the hotest day of the year and a room with no air con to listen to an update on apprenticeships, mostly from Sue Husband from the Department of Education (recently moved over from BIS).

The overwhelming message was really “we’re not quite there yet, there will be more soon” – the latest raft of levy information unsurprisingly being held up by the changes resulting from the referendum result.  Therefore, I wont include everything from the day here as a lot was what we already knew.

There were positives though – rough notes below [with some of my comments included]:

  • There is clearly a belief that it will work (although the CBI is still pushing for a delay/rethink).  [Hence the apparent lack of contingency planning.]
  • Focus is on apprenticeship quality [although you suspect that will be under challenge from the ‘claim back’ employers – no doubt a test for the new Institute for Apprenticeships].
  • NI contributions abolished for under 25 apprentices.
  • 2.3% of workforce target now in place for government to encourage them to support the policy.  Recommended that people look up the 5% Club.
  • Post code of person will be determining factor on which pot money goes to – so good for English people working in Scotland/Wales, not so much the other way around [so employers may be forced into decisions that go against equal opportunities].
  • Funds will expire after 18 months – system is clever enough to know how ‘old’ a pound is and move into general pot at correct time.
  • Levy online tool is available for people to pilot [still awaiting my access after requesting last week following the event].  April 2017 will only be available to levy payers – smaller orgs later [makes sense and should help with stability].
  • Pooling funds and granting to supply chain are on road-map [potentially] but issues with potential for misuse of funds [payments for favours, etc].
  • They expect employers running own apprenticeships to grow [good that not just about supporting a market for the FE and skills sector].
  • The current advertising [which is all over my train route in South London at least] is young person orientated – the next raft will highlight that it is about all ages and current employees too.
  • Graduations now underway for people coming through apprenticeships designed to new standards [presumably a good thing but no doubt some questions over quality versus the old frameworks in some areas].
  • Acknowledged higher qualification [degree] cap does not make sense, as funding going from government to employers now looking at it from different perspective. More in next publications. [Might be a real game changer if this removes the blocker on graduates training into a career via an apprenticeship].
  • About half of all standards in development are at degree level [watch out HE!].
  • ‘Use levy wisely’ was the response to the question from the room about why the levy is being forced on those who already do good people development.  [Guess the challenge might be that the room was clearly people engaged with the agenda – no doubt the % of employers who currently under invest in L&D will be the more vocal in complaining about the levy].  20,ooo firms will be paying in; 5,000 of those will be new to apprenticeships.
  • Definitely don’t have to have ‘apprentice’ or similar in your job title [but good for your apprenticeship brand if people realise that is what they are doing – plus they do have to know they are an apprentice as part of the rules].
  • 20% off work can be blended, do not think about as 20% in classroom.  They recognise that continuous learning makes the best programmes [yay!].
  • Will be information coming for employers looking to do some of the training and back charging to provider.
  • Brexit may be good for apprenticeships [if cuts on immigration].
  • May encourage permanent employment [this is me extrapolating from the amount of people in the room unhappy that their temporary staff will be included in the levy tax but not in those who can be apprentices – presumably also the likes of SportDirect wont be happy with that one].
  • Digital Apprenticeship Service screenshots [It’s Alive!!  Will comment more on this when I get access].