I nearly did not take up the offer of a free ticket for this year’s conference as I was not hugely optimistic about the session line up – yes there were some great presenters but nothing that really stood out.
The introduction to the day, from Donald Taylor, said the summer event tries to be more conversation than presentation (unlike the winter conference) but I felt ‘the best of the usual suspects’ might be a more apt way of describing the line up.
In the end, I chose to take up the offer of the ticket, primarily, for the opening keynote from Dr Itiel Dror, who I have not seen present before.
Unfortunately come the big day, after being awoken at 3am by the ‘song’ of the local urban fox population, I set out somewhat wearily. Conversations around the event were mixed, in part as I was needing a caffeine drip, but a couple of first timers that I spoke to really seemed to find it useful. More regular visitors had the usual hit and miss feel it seemed, indeed one overheard conversation in the gents went as far as someone saying “f*ck that’s an hour of my life I’m not getting back”, [yikes!]. I think you can always take something away from a session though – even if it’s just a reminder/refresh. I always remember a few years back walking through the ExCel conference center and overhearing a delegate from the Oracle show that was on (I think I was there for BETT that was running in parallel) explaining to a friend: “sh*t I’ve become the old guy in the corner who doesn’t know anything”. If nothing else, at least going to conferences and other networking events should help you reflect where you are on that particular journey!
Personally I found the keynote excellent and other sessions/conversations around neuroscience interesting in so much as the industry seems to be seriously trying to take a more scientific approach to things – ending a model of being “naive” as the keynote described L&D – rather than just replication of old models/approaches with new tech. The science in this space is increasingly amazing and there really is a world of research out there I feel like I’m still only scratching the surface of, for example, this podcast is fascinating on David Eagleman’s inventions around cognition.
Brief notes from the sessions I attended below (as always I’ve not edited these much from OneNote so there will be obvious errors). As always there are plenty of other good reviews/reflections online including from Kate Graham, Learnovate and Unicorn.
Focused on the presenter’s research into “real learning”, work that has been done with various groups including surgeons and nurses, a two day workshop converted into a really funny and informative one-hour session. It focus on some tools that could be taken away across three perspectives:
- acquire – aka need to understand/do
- memory – aka need to retrieve in the long run
- apply – aka use it back at workplace
The point being that, for the brain, these are different – albeit intertwined [see my previous post for some more on this]. How can we help the brain deal with having limited resources, tips included not wasting brain power on:
- inconsistent navigation
- pointless images
- exaggerate distinctiveness – simulations don’t have to be reality: focus on features want to.
Remember – brain is active. Not a camera. A few nice, quick, activities were run through to show how we presume and add our own meaning. As the brain is active allow development over time – learning objectives are boring and not suitable as a result.
We are creatures of habit so, as we all probably know in learning, change is difficult and ‘relearning’ more difficult that learning. Brain built not to like this rewiring aware from habit – this is why change is hard. Relates to terms people will have heard like “plasticity”. However, that is two fold: neuronal (‘hardware’) and cognitive (‘software’).
So can you teach an old dog new tricks? Perhaps predictably the response was “it depends”. The science behind this being about how the previous was engrained – for example, you become very familiar with driving but can still switch relatively easily to driving on the other side of the road when on holiday.
There were some of the more familiar recommendations and what you would expected about encouraging the use of mental representations and chunking. The latter at least seems to be one evidence based item that is well ingrained in learning practice. Again familiar to (I presume) most learning professionals was the stress put on the importance of learner motivation, but there were recaps of some good studies showing that financial reward can kill internal motivation whilst external motivation factors (such as KPIs) rarely work. There was the valuable point that Training Needs Analysis are often just wrong – as they ignore motivation (the M of KISME of course), if people do not believe in it, if they do not want to change, then there will be no change. People have to be on board, not just about learning but important for them (not just the company).
Motivation killers we can all relate to include being forced to do learning from a LMS. The argument for breaking this was to increase the tension/risk – treat as a “kick in the ass” or the “terror of error”, with the latter allowing for learning from your mistakes. An example of a solution he helped design/support was for sepsis with Australian medics. Misdiagnosis in this area is rife and training failed to improve it as people would diagnose sepsis if they knew it was a sepsis course. Therefore, instead they set participants up to fail by ‘sabotage’. A memorable learning experience was created by treating it as “Low Blood Pressure Training” in which medics would lose their patient to sepsis as they were not anticipating the correct ‘answer’. This is a really great example of how to create a salient mental point. Some other good examples were run through – for example how you tend to remember bad dates more than good ones!
Another medical example was at a hospital in Boston where he deliberately did not use the provided hand sanitizer. He then challenged the clinicians he was with as to why they did not challenge his as they walked around – again it created an emotional situation much more effective than the previous of having static posters that people ignored. Other examples can be more on the fun scale than the difficult and challenging – for example kids playing a version of twister where the floor play area is replaced by a colored map to teach geography.
Certainly plenty of things to consider in how we might do things differently.
David Kelly: The now and the next of learning and technology
A wiz through some of the tech that is impacting on the way we with live and learn. It was deliberatly high level after his winter conference session went deeper in AR/Vr.
I personally came along as I like David’s online stuff (loved his meme-ing L&D) and do not think I’ve seen him present before. It was good to not have (m)any “gosh I’ve not heard of this” moments, the most standout bits really being:
- Data in business and for decision making is changing: Whoever you are (not just L&D specifically), you need to be part of the conversation of what this means for your org.
- Create experiences: Email phishing example from room, similar to the sepsis idea in the keynote, send people spam emails and see how many people open them: make people learn not do something in a realistic way but via a safe scenario.
- Mobile apps increasingly splitting between Motivating and Manipulating: how is your org encouraging people?
- Curation: needs a purpose [i.e. don’t do it for the sake of it – yes, yes, yes!]
- VR: Example where starting to replicate old issues in new. Similar to how Second Life went wrong (lecture theatres in virtual world, etc). Mention particularly emergent in healthcare but other areas need to be careful.
- Daqri helmets were new to me: huge possibilities here in remote support, work and AR spaces.
- IOT: Interesting point about it being a combination of tools, not about the value of one IOT item. An example could be a headset getting data from IOT devices, all interacting and IBM Watson powered. Some of this will lead to job elimination.
Fosway group: Making sense of the digital learning market
A useful reminder/recap of sensible practice (I even got on the mic at one point) via a number of surveys with people using the app/website to respond in real time:
- UX needs to be considered in conversations:
- Importance of search engine within systems should not be underestimated.
- Make use of focus groups and end users.
- Changing from massification to personalisation.
- Partner with IT to ensure big enough to wag tail.
- Think about transition from implementation projects to day-to-day from day 1 (such as reliance on vendors and contractors – implementation team will face questions more seriously if they sticking around to live with the consequences!).
- Articulate user personas and scenarios.
- Useful point that somewhat went against some of my previous thoughts: Harness analytics for individual not organisation – use to make AI intelligent.
- Included positioning of Fosway model:
- Innovation plan (photo about) [I wondered if it was sensible to pilot or wrong to look from tech lens?].
Stella Collins: Mind shift – moving people to a positive learning state
- Mind shift: Moving people to a positive mindset.
- How get correct internal environment for learning.
- Don’t have to be neuroscientist but helps understanding, own interest and your own designs (the below takeaway was very useful)
- So what can you do as a facilitator and designer? The answer is lots:
- movement can help,
- can’t learn new things whilst asleep (you do not learn languages if listening from tapes at night) but will automatically have learning stick overnight (‘let me sleep on it’ is true),
- be on edge to learn from experience (i.e. not repeat same old stuff),
- Unhelpful states: Argumentative, avoiding, not looking, depressed.
- There was a good bit on what happens in the brain with neurotransmitters: chemicals transmitting in brain.
Went on to ask tables to consider some scenarios and then was a debrief on how we can use the science in the above table and what we know [tends] to work
- Increasing curiosity: Dopamine. Often tilt to head to side: If hang posters on tilt can encourage more curiosity to look at them. Like slimming can make u more happy.
- Curiosity (ideas from table): Personalize, small tasks, text to side, music, new information, suspense and stories, branching and differences. Exercise, almonds, bananas, motivation, reward. Link learning to gaming. Start conversations with questions, not answers. Guessing gets brain going (shown to promote long time learning). Click bait. Slow reveal. Escape rooms.
- Increasing creativity to release dopamine, serotonin, Oxycontin. Dark chocolate start trigger for serotonin. Oxycontin can come from things like hugs. Alpha waves in brain – can help with creativity: Dreams, walking, etc. – i.e. More creative when not thinking specifically about task.
- If think creativity there will be. Set up challenge and give responsibility. Get audience to do work.
- Graveyard slot: Let people relax and rest in afternoon or get them doing something [i.e. think about what you want to encourage in the brain for relevant learning states]. Allow relaxation can be useful – people tend to stop questioning so this can be the opportunity to throw ideas into people in more didactic approaches.
- Graveyard: Make clear what engagement expectation is. Could increase activity. Rewards/sugar – or activities. OR could relax, mindful, stretching, dark choc. Mindfulness could be in eLearning. Reflect, mind gym, team work – more reflect: Shorter videos to deliver messages. Choice and reflection time on what doing.
- Long term memory: Glutomate, serotonin, cortisol.
- Long term memory: Guide reflection, time kind or guided questions for reflection, sleep rooms in organisation, space and intential repetition,
- One major challenge is you do not know how things are triggering in other people. You never know states going to create.
Donald H Taylor: Your learning technology implementation checklist
- Don admitted there are perennial problems and the same kind of things hit again and again: his book is part of trying to fix this.
- Checklist provided in session today helps with people doing implementations but also to ask right questions. Focus, as in book, is “processes and people over tech”.
- Challenges include ownership, networks/infrastructure, varied people, how persuade usage, etc.
- To be success: Got to be right thing for job and fit in the environment and with people.
- Checklist – mindset, skills, method (pic below):
- Perspective grid (pic below): Nothing new – being connected key. People still not talking to organisation. Best implementations build on IT relationship – not create new relationship.
- Need element of conscious incompetence. Get perspective of what need. Consider L&D role in organisation.
- Need to be connected in org: Can even do network analysis. Get your ambassadors.
- Nemawashi principle: (comes from preparing tree roots for tee transport) Talk around topic, get people on board, rather than presenting something to them, get shared ownership in advance [this was great and one of my big takeaways for the day that there’s a useful name for this!].
- Need to performance consultant – do not ‘solutioner’ with latest shinny thing.
- Online focus groups can help: Strict time limit. One person facilitate, one person notes and record. Limited questions – get people on call to trust (this one of the bits of advice and examples that are mentioned in the book).
- Six step implementation method [relatively logical].
- Rallying cry to finish: St Paul’s story again. L&D enables individuals and organisations to fulfill their potential.