Learning Tech Summer Forum 2017 #LTSF17

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 GrahamLearnovate and Unicorn.

Keynote

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:

  1. acquire – aka need to understand/do
  2. memory – aka need to retrieve in the long run
  3. 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.

Resources from his blog will probably be more useful than me listing out what was covered.

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:
Fosway innovation model

Fosway Group innovation 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)
Brain related hormones, triggers and impact

Stella’s brain guide

  • 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):
Mindset, Skills and Methods for learning techs

Checklist for learning tech implementation – sorry for the awful photo!

  • 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.
External v Internal and L&D v Wider Org factors

Key considerations

  • 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.

CIPD L&D SHOW MAY 2017: Part 2

Following on from my last post about the CIPD show, a couple of interesting things from the show floor that (I think) were new to me:

Zoho Showtime

I used Zoho apps years ago when they were as well developed as any SAAS solution (guess they would inevitably be called ‘cloud apps’ now).  This included their rather excellent database tool (Forms I think) that allowed for my team, at the time, to create what was (effectively) an institutional digital repository for past exam papers.  Now this was limited in functionality, compared to what you might get with, say, a full library management system tool, but it did the job of record keeping with a searchable interface for end users. So it was interesting to see Zoho ShowTime being advertised at the show.

ShowTime seems like a really interesting attempt to combine presenter elements (Slideshare-esque sharing/presentation), audience interaction (a busy market place considering the remaining audience response system market players, mobile orientated like Socrative, virtual tools like Blackboard Collaborate that can be used in f-2-f too, etc.) and, of course, data and analytics.

Certainly something to try next time I do a presentation and a shame I missed out at my conference presentation last week.

Ixxus

I have some history with LCMS projects so it was interesting to see a new player on the exhibition floor.  Ixxus is, seemingly, a well developed product moving into the learning market (presumably with the likes of Xyleme and Exact in their sites) from a publishing background.

For big content authoring teams it certainly seems to offer a lot – although the tool as a way to “move away from monolithic courses…toward, flexible, personalized and ‘bitesize’ content” is a bit of a hard sell given the challenge many organisations would face in moving towards a CMS approach.  However, certainly interesting to see a player I was not aware of in this space.

CIPD L&D Show May 2017

Not too much to report from this year’s show as I left after only about 4 hours and only a couple of the learning sessions.  However, I did have some good chats with people on the floor and it was pretty clear what the main growth area was from last year – apprenticeships providers, levy support, etc etc.

I left early partly as I was full of cold but also as the first session I sat through, from the Open University, had a narrower focus than their sessions in the past and did not really answer the topic (“How to Make Your Digital Learning More Engaging”).  A nice cartoon fell in the trap of many such eLearning examples – repeatable production values.  Yes the concepts are true – humor, animation, bite-size, storytelling, etc but it worked as an example due to the quality: most of us are not going to get David Mitchell to do voice-overs on our eLearning.  It then reverted to being much a pitch for making use of their content platforms – OpenLearn and FutureLearn – i.e use their digital learning not your own.  Which is an argument you could make of course.

The second session I attended, was from Bolt From the You Ltd, on “Making it Stick – Turning learning into real change”.  This was better and considered why change does not happen: lack of engagement (needs to be fixed by being linked to the individual, think about how measure for impact), lack of learning culture (need ownership and partnership from sponsors to drive through) and to close gap:

Attention density:

Exposure + repetition + application = permanent change.

Reflections on #LT17uk

I only had around 6 hours in the Learning Technologies exhibition this year (for those who’ve never been – that’s not a lot!) and it helped me stay focused – mostly just walking the hall and meeting people (I stuck to the plan and spent much less time in the free seminars).

Your experience of such shows is, obviously, influenced by current personal/workplace concerns – but here are some of my takeaways…

wp_20170207_12_18_10_rich-2

Listen to the fortune cookie!

  1. Authoring tools – is it now time to move away from Articulate (see my previous posts on the trial of 360 and problems with Rise for more)?
    1. The ramifications of the changes with Articulate have been identified as one of ten eLearning trends and this infographic actually does a fair job of summarizing the big topics that were evident at the wider LT show.
    2. There remain a vast number of options and its perhaps now the case that one has to look at multiple tools – splitting out software simulation, VR, presentations, etc?
  2. LMS or HR platform – after almost a year in role I feel in a better position to consider the pros and cons of the current setup and possible alternatives.  Stick or twist?
    1. Interesting to hear Harold Jarche’s views that whilst there is rebranding and changes to the companies involved there remains not “a whole lot of new” – I would agree.  VR/AR/MR was more prevalent but still lots of stalls with content, platforms, etc.  An in the platform world there remain the big players (like Cornerstone) and lighter touch options – as well as multiple Totara partners.
  3. L&D capability – I’ve got a Kirkpatrick certification course with DPG coming up (I’ll blog in more detail why as I appreciate that’s a controversial choice!) and it was interesting to consider where we’re strong and where we may have gaps beyond that topic.  Should we all do DPG’s new 70-20-10 programme?
    1. I wouldn’t really think about 70-20-10 approach as something to be workshopped/developed but it looks an interesting approach to rolling up performance consulting, modern design and evaluation all in one development package.  The challenge, I guess, is if this should be topics new for people or is really certifying existing knowledge and behaviors.  Also if this is of value over the existing 70-20-10 Forum, etc.?
  4. Future of learning and performance – I mention above about VR/AR/MR but there was still a lot of content and blended learning talks.  What is the future?  How do we balance individual knowledge/skills growth with shorter term engagement/empowerment?  What should be the balance of individual career development, long term wider workforce planning and short term performance?
    1. There still seems to be a lot of push on concepts that have been around longer than I have.  However, it is difficult to challenge this considering I am more than aware that even my own organization is still very face-to-face orientated!
    2. There were more interesting bits though – including TTS and their performance support system (that offers some interesting possibilities for exposing knowledge out to the point of need – not buried in an LMS or Intranet).
  5. Future of Learning within organizations.  The Learning Tech show always involves some navel-gazing and there continues to be the feeling of a split between the “performance” element and more of the “corporate university” type model.  Are they mutually exclusive?
    1. To do my own bit of gazing, I’d say not.  An approach for, say, leadership development can incorporate formal learning and certifications.  Indeed there’s the option to revenue generate if you open your doors.  The apprenticeship levy will also influence how L&D teams tackle these issues and it was interesting to see the likes of bksb and Tribal on the exhibition floor.
    2. Curation remained a theme but it is one that remains a concern for me.  Kate Graham puts it on her blog “In L&D we trust”, however, I fear this may be wishful thinking considering what has happened to library/information teams.  This comes back to my own view on the need for merging/bleeding of skills between marketing, learning, knowledge and more.  Curation is of value but how this works in practice must add value and capture the needs of the organization.  Again, the TTS style approach may be a useful way to break from the “LMS first” dynamics of too many L&D teams.

Avoiding cynicism during tradeshow season

This week and next I’ll be doing my usual pilgrimages to the BETT and Learning Technologies exhibitions.  Some of my notes from previous years are on this site (BETT16; BETT14; LT16; LT15; LT14).

On reflecting about what I want to get out of these shows this year I realised the growing levels of cynicism in my previous reviews.

I then read Laura Overton’s mind shifts for 2017 piece and realized that it is perhaps as I’ve just now just been around a while!  Obviously I don’t hold Laura’s level of experience but her fourth point resonated:

I’ve been going since it started years ago and it is great to catch up with old friends. However it’s a time when cynicism can abound, particularly with those who have been around a bit.

After all, we’ve been talking about how the latest tech will change the world, about performance, the need to get managers on board, to communicate more for decades.

These are not new ideas but our cynicism and fixed mindset thinking kicks in when we believe we see no change.

Whilst the concept of disruption is all the rage right now in L&D, fundamentally we need to apply the idea of radically transforming the norm to our own thinking, especially our cynicism. A growth mindset will ask – why no change? Was it that the time wasn’t right? Is the time right now? What can I do to make a difference now?

One weakness I have is that I perhaps do not take enough positive feeling from the change and impact I’m having – instead frustrated by the slow pace (or lack of) clear change.  Rather than just thinking “yeah, heard this before” I’m keen, this year, to get more out of the events:

  1. Get a feel for what may be possible from BETT – 3D/VR/AR are of real interest to me at the time being as the practical skills in my workplace would lend themselves to these types of technologies – making virtual learning far more real whilst maintaining a safe learning environment (well VR would at least).  If Microsoft don’t have a Hololens, to try their take on AR, I’m going to be disappointed.
  2. More generally BETT should be a good opportunity to get a feel for what is happening in schools – as I’ve argued before: an understanding of this is essential for workplace learning pros who want to build suitable inductions and optimize future readiness.
  3. At Learning Tech I’m going to be more of a ‘guide’ as I’m taking my head of department to the show and she will be a ‘newbie’.  As we have a meeting in the morning we’re likely to be restricted to about half a day in the exhibition so I suspect it will be something of a whistle-stop tour – that should be good as it will stop me listening to as many of the free presentations.  I think last year, in-particular, a number of those sounded like broken records.  It should be a great opportunity to drive home some key messages and some of the things I keep banging on about…

and on that last point – Laura’s 6th point (“believe in yourself”) is another worth reflecting on.  This time last year I was looking for work and was increasingly frustrated – both with (only some it has to be said) agencies (due to lack of contact/followups/etc) and with conversations/interviews where I felt I could contribute to an organisation but the recruitment processes were frustrating or annoying.  Thankfully I’ve found an organisation where my skills and experience are a good fit – now just to avoid the cynicism and keep on driving on performance improvement and employee empowerment!