My last 10ish years on Twitter

Twitter’s current problems have made me think again about how I have used the site over the years. Therefore, I decided to have a look at all my tweets…or at least what I can see via the UI.

Expectations: I have been very stop-start on Twitter and would expect, before looking at the historic tweets, for this to be obvious. The more active times will include event tweeting which I have tried at times – having appreciated the tweets of others in creating useful back channels around conferences and the like.

Via the main UI, the scroll of past tweets, seems to cap at around 10 years…


Some general sharing on professional topics – including libraries, teacher training and online learning. Particular focus on my LMS of the time (Blackboard) and the Higher Ed market in general.


2012 started with my attendance of the Blackboard User Group conference in Durham (that I attended a number of times back then) and was followed with a clear attempt to be sharing interesting news. I was not adding a lot of my own thoughts to posts, more just picking out tweets of particular interest.

June 2012 has a tweet saying I have joined the LSG Ning ( – to be honest that feels longer ago than 10 years ago!


The first tweet of 2013 refers to information on Tin Can (which has arguably not really reached its potential although the resulting rise of LXPs will have led to adoption).

There are a few tweets for an event I also blogged about. Followed up by some similar tweets from that year’s learning tech show and BETT. These soon followed by a sad one about the death of Google Reader.

The rest of the year is a mix of learning tech news, as well as some excitement from me on the potential of Open Badges. Some companies mentioned, such as Grovo, having gone on to be bought by other players. There are also an annoying amount of broken links to sites like Chief Learning Officer that don’t really have an excuse for breaking archive links.

A July 2013 tweet advertising that I had used the LPI Capability Map must have been when that went live? I also tweeted to comment on when I setup a FutureLearn account.

Late in the year a couple of tweets from a Learning Pool Live event still hit home – one suggesting we might have to be more honest about the type of staff we have (hostages, disconnected, mercenaries, apostles +the fence sitters) and another talking about Andrew Jacobs work with L&D at Lambeth council moved away from courses (apart from for health and safety).

2013 ends with me saying I was considering leaving Yahoo Mail. Somewhat amazingly I am still actively using it.

In hindsight the news I was sharing is interesting to look back on in this format but as an archive would I ever really use it? I guess there has been the odd time when I have tried to remember something and then remembered I tweeted it.


More BETT thoughts as well as general workplace learning and technology interest. That includes a few tweets about MOOCs and market plays, most of which have not probably been worth the investment for players involved!

Useful picking up of a few old sources I have forgotten about. As well as a welcome reminder of this from ON24:


Begins with some learning tech show tweets but also an interesting one where I wonder what the penetrating of name recognition would be for “webinar”, guess that has changed in the last seven years!

I retweeted one tweet about the 2015 election and I have used Twitter a lot in more recent times to lurk in the political space to try and comprehend Brexit, Trump, Johnson, Truss and other political topics. There is also the first sign of some football related tweeting, another topic/community where Twitter has brought me value.

Overall, a huge amount of dead links – even on big stories like Adobe launching an LMS.


A work focus, with a greater interest in apprenticeships shown in some tweets on that topic. Meanwhile Office 365, Zoom and other current tools all start to appear more obviously.

Overall 2016 is not a hugely engaged year for me (likely a reflection that I was busy enjoying a new job).


More on apprenticeships and learning technology.

AI in learning gets a mention (I think for the first time).

March 2017 is noteworthy for me saying I had just used Microsoft Teams for the first time (and it must have been pretty quick that I adopted it for my team). Microsoft Stream launch gets a mention later in the year.

Also a tweet for an event I went to at the Design Museum – slightly surprised there are not more of these types of post but probably due to me tending to keep my Twitter mostly work related.

Nice to see some tweets from an internal learning conference my team (at the time) helped organise and an external event where I presented on some of our work.


BETT makes an appearance again (I really should have invested in phones with better cameras for pics) as well as some sector (health) specific stuff for the time.

Again, mostly events (I did quite a good job at tweeting from UNLEASH18) and the like with the 2012/13-style news sharing mostly having dried up.

The earlier interest in Open Badges had led to some work where I was presenting on a webinar about my use before some tweets on me moving on from that role.

Later in the year some general workplace performance stuff and a little on apprentices.

I also tried to make LandDoh “a thing” to have some fun with the world of learning. Needless to say that has not really happened.


Quite a general mix of tweets on things of interest from football, learning theory, social stuff and more. Not quite as random as it might look at first glance as some related to the work I was supporting at the time.

The bit that might be important for the future are some recommendations for podcasts, covering Project Cortex and what the future of a Microsoft-powered learning ecosystem might look like.

The November 2019 election event of the UK Conservative party rebranding itself on Twitter as “factcheckuk” is a low point even within the terrible environment of much social media.


Still not sure how it isn’t 2020 today but it would seem that year mostly saw me use Twitter for the “normal” mix of learning tech, some podcast/webinar comments and some waffle. A reasonable amount amongst it all on remote work related productivity topics given the year. Of the pandemic related stuff a tweet on the 1957 flu was one of the more interesting things.

However, a mention for this retweet which remains the most standout amazing thing I have probably seen on Twitter:

2021 & 2022

Alas I did tweet on January 6th 2021 whilst in shock at the events in America.

Elsewhere tweets directly related to my employer here, including about our use of Helpscout. Otherwise digital skills, digital workplaces, etc. I also got into perhaps my nearest thing to a Twitter argument in disagreeing with DTWillingham on the limits of games for learning.

“Totally unrealistic”? Reflecting on categorising learning topics within games

This post was triggered by the below Twitter thread. Nuance is of course often lost in Twitter character limits, but, was my immediate response on reading @DTWillingham’s article fair or was I being too emotional (given my work in learning and time spent in the world of video games)?

Trigger thread

Firstly, lets all agree games are hugely powerful for learning. Indeed, I often blame Sid Meier for my choice of History for undergraduate studies (although, of course, a number of good teachers and other factors were at play).

Second, I would recommend you look at the original article. The idea is a really interesting one. The numbered points below are mostly where I disagreed with the article on first read through, with some reflections included below each point. Many of these have little to do with the (knowledge and skills) learning specifically but are important in terms of the framing of the learning environment and motivation (if we consider based on KISME). “Design for motivation” arguably being a skill in itself, as articulated in this new learning designer competency framework.

  1. “if my kids are representative”
    1. I appreciate this is a newspaper opinion piece but anecdotal starting points are not great. I also appreciate most of my views are very anecdotal based on my own experiences 🙂
  2. “I gave in to increased gaming time but gravely told my children they should choose educational games”
    1. This is a hugely “first world problem” problem statement. When I was in the age bracket being discussed (8 to 18) I got one game for my birthday and one for Christmas. If gaming is a concern for a parent then I would rather see an article encouraging them to be active in choices, either choose the games or be active with the children in the selection.
  3. “it’s usually impossible to know what, if anything, kids will learn from a video game based on a simple description of it
    1. I really like the opening of this part but not the bit I have italicised. Yes, a description will not likely cover this but a gaming experience is intensely personal. There are so many levels of competence to gaming skill, many games are non linear and players will pay differing levels of attention. Therefore, just like in an education environment, it is incredibly difficult to say what people “will learn” – only what we are encouraging and supporting them to learn. This also counters some game design – for example deliberately open design in the latest Zelda game.
  4. “The Entertainment Software Rating Board rates games for objectionable content like sex and violence. That’s helpful, but it should be as easy for parents to guide their kids toward enriching games as it is to shield them from unacceptable ones.”
    1. Surprisingly, given the author, this massively over simplifies learning. The ESRB, the BBFC, etc. are dealing with a very small taxonomy – for example, I just looked at GTA V on ESRB (presuming it would be the game with the most ‘warnings’) and it is only rated on 7 items – albeit that their are levels to this model (“intense”, “strong”, etc which is probably how we get to the 30 categories the article mentions). If we were to map “topics” as mentioned earlier, what would be the appropriate taxonomy? Cataloguers and librarians the world over would be quick to tell you this is difficult, video games themselves were an example used in my Librarianship MA as an example of how difficult it is to fit things into Dewey Decimal Classification – under games, technology, etc.?
  5. “boring”, education-first, games
    1. I previously considered if podcasts were the rebirth of “edutainment”. I don’t think we would say that as a concept is entirely bad. Indeed most people will remember their more “fun” teachers over some of the others. However, I would agree that “chocolate-covered broccoli” learning design isn’t very helpful in general, similarly to forced gamification in workplace learning. At the most recent school I worked at, most made for education “games” tended to frustrate the kids as they are the first to see when learning is being ‘forced’ into a game environment. Similarly potentially educational games, like Minecraft, were misused by what can probably be best described as ‘di**king about’. However, the experience of course varied enormously between the games and the children in terms of preference and practice. That said, some serious games undoubtedly do work and the science has been worked on for a long time, even if just thanks to the age old learning paradigm of simulation and practice of activities in safe(r) environments.
  6. “To make them fun, game creators either make the content less academic (and claim education will still benefit) or remove the tests (and claim kids will still learn). But the effect of either change on learning is unpredictable.”
    1. “learning is unpredictable” – I think this is the nub of the matter. It is unpredictable and difficult which is really why I was saying it is unrealistic to try and rate learning in such media. Indeed the article references the evidence that some games designed to help with memory do not work (which is in part why I said the vast majority of game driven learning is really accidental).
  7. “playing Tetris, do improve spatial thinking skills, an ability linked to success in math and science”
    1. But the designers probably did not anticipate this and the evidence becomes clear over time. It would be very difficult to classify such outcomes at the point of publication.
  8. “not quiz players on it”
    1. This is of course a very education way to talk about learning (going back in part to the original reason this site was called what it is). It probably doesn’t help to reinforce parental expectations of testing everything. It does double back to say learning is “because you thought about it, not because you were quizzed” but I would say it is weak on the fact that repetition to counter the forgetting curve is key here. For example, I learned Caribbean geography from Pirates! (like the other article mention in the thread but with Black Flag rather than Pirates!) as I played for many hours over a long period of time, however, I also had that knowledge reinforced through following football/soccer, looking at maps, watching the Olympics, etc. We know who “Prince Harry is married to” due to constant exposure to that content, I know very little about less exposed celebrities/royals.
  9. “They have to think about it, and that’s guaranteed only if the information is crucial to playing. Even then, “will they think about it?” isn’t always obvious.”
    1. I wouldn’t say it is guaranteed even in that case, repetition, interest, existing level of knowledge, etc. would all impact this. Also you do not necessarily think about spatial thinking skills. That is more incidental when benefiting from the Tetris example, etc.
  10. Roller Coaster Tycoon
    1. As the article suggests, the gamer would need an interest to pick on the more scientific elements rather than playing for fun/crashes. It would also depend a lot on existing knowledge, this would be impacted by age, literacy levels, etc.
    2. This could revert to something like sticking a recommended reading level on a game, for example, I loved Shadowrun but got bored with Shadowrun Returns as there was far too much reading text. A text rating would help parents and gamers of all ages. The text could also be potentially exported from code and analysed away from the game. This might help people determine if the game is too complex, for example if they are going to have sit through a huge tutorial reading activity. That said, in another context I would happily play more ‘interactive book’ type experiences.
  11. “Someone who understands cognition needs to evaluate gameplay. The video gaming industry could arrange for that.”
    1. This is the really difficult bit from a practical perspective. You may understand cognition but could you get through the game? Your analysis is unlikely to map to the possible variations in relation to the experience. Would you be better analysing pro players (for example on Twitch or YouTube)? I doubt “Game makers submit a detailed description of a new game, which is then evaluated by three professional raters”, as for the ESRB, would be anywhere near sufficient for the complexity of knowledge, skills and behaviours a game may change.
    2. There would also be potential cost implications – gaming is notoriously a low price inflation industry (even though the tech involved and size of games has transformed) with small and big designers regularly disappearing into bankruptcy.
  12. “they owe parents that much.”
    1. A nice way to wrap up the article. However, if we take that a parent would have to be at least 16 years old I would say the industry does not really owe you anything unless you have chipped in by playing games yourself within those years. As with film ratings and Parental Advisory it would also only be of use for the small number of parents who care.

The ease at which this information would appear to parents/purchasers is also perhaps giving more credit than due to some of the systems involved. The PlayStation store, for example, does not even offer a ‘wish list’ or ‘save for later’ type of option. The Steam Store allows various tagging but again we would come back to how difficult a taxonomy would be. The article and Twitter thread both mentioned Assassins Creed, if we take Valhalla you could argue you would learn a rough idea of:

  • English and Norwegian geography
  • some (stereotyped) Anglo Saxon and Norse cultural aspects
  • elements of medieval religious practice
  • different weapon types
  • and probably some other knowledge pieces.

However, as with learning from films and other media perhaps the most interesting point is away from such obvious content. Instead Valhalla’s approach to same-sex relationships could be a transformational learning experience, for example, if a sexist homophobe played the game then maybe, just maybe, they might have some of their beliefs and resulting behaviours changed. That said, did Ubisoft consultant with relevant bodies to ensure their representation was appropriate? This could be a challenge cast at many sources of information of course, for example if the The Crown should come with a health/education warning.

As I tweeted, I would love to work in gaming at some point, indeed one of those ‘sliding doors’ moments in my younger years was turning down a job at Codemasters. However, on reflection, I still don’t think the article’s suggestion is the best way to go. Indeed education consultants working for the developers would seem preferable to external rating and verification. DTWillingham is, of course, a luminary in this area (hell the LA Times publishes his articles!) but whilst I love the idea of this job existing I still feel it would be incredibly difficult to bring to fruition in a way that is of value to parents or anyone else.

The inevitable Brexit post

This post isn’t really for a particular audience (I guess even less so than normal on this site!).

Indeed I’m hoping writing it may simply be cathartic. 

That all being said, I’ve also been asked regularly why the UK voted the way it did (yes, okay England and Wales voted the way they did) and, more recently, how it has made such a mess of things since the referendum. This has obviously all been covered elsewhere in various levels of detail (I’ve tried to avoid it on Twitter but did put some previous thoughts up there) but, as I say, I thought putting something down might be helpful for at least my own mind.  Nuance is the challenge here as in many ways Brexit is about a multitude of things yet, at the same time, inherently a reaction to badly managed change.

First up an admission

My pencil lingered over the Leave option.

Not for long, but there was a linger.

Now, I was very much in the Remain camp all the way up to the vote but there were a number of factors why I considered Leave on the day and some of those issues are still very much in play. However, a key reason I did vote Remain was that I thought it would be close, closer than the opinion polls on the day had suggested and when I saw two women leave the polling station basically saying to each other “there are too many of them we have to vote leave” (despite clearly not being of British Isles heritage themselves) I thought that Leave could well win.

It was clear in the run up to the vote that there was a generational divide and whilst the narrative since the vote is that old people have ‘robbed young people of their futures’ it should also be recognised that some sympathy should lie with those who have seen the original 1975 EC referendum result morph progressively into today’s globalised EU with representatives that the people feel do not represent them and on issues (like foreign affairs) that many feel the EU never needed to deal with. 

The referendum in the ’70s set a precedent that political parties have not followed through with in more recent changes to the EC/EU. Indeed one of the nightmares of the Brexit result is that it almost certainly has killed the desire for more referendums in Britain (due to the difficulty of putting complex questions into a poll-able vote) rather than encouraging more direct democracy where ‘the people’ would feel less distant from the ‘political classes’ (the role of representative and masses breaking down across the political spectrum).

The political (cl)ass

This bit is one area where it feels like the mainstream media continue to miss a trick, in part as they are too caught up in their own importance and the ‘Westminster bubble’.  The vote was, for some, two fingers up at the Cameron government.  For others it was two fingers up to the European elite for be unwilling to do more with regards to what Cameron wanted and other issues. However, whilst the media continues to focus on the impact of their own (predominately) anti-EU stance and the impact of Facebook advertising, etc. the reality is that the referendum campaign will have made no difference to voting intentions.  Most people will have known what they were voting well in advance – as shown by the fact the %s have not changed much in opinion polls since (even with post Brexit implementation showing Leave had no real plans and that the EU is now so all encompassing it is incredibly difficult to leave) .

The previous UK-wide referendum, on changes to the electoral system, increasingly feels like a missed opportunity.  That would have allowed for voices from UKIP, the Green and other parties to be heard to challenge the prevailing narratives in the media and the two main parties without giving Farage and others hero/outsider status.  Alas many people argued against vote form, not least because of the likely increase in coalitions and the inevitable politicking that follows.

Yet we have seen Theresa May and the DUP in effective coalition, going against both of May’s 2017 promises that there was no ‘magic money tree’ and that she offered ‘strong and stable’ government.  Ultimately it feels like a failure of the system and, in May, a cold and ineffective leader who has helped highlight the competence of previously derided predecessors such as John Major, Gordon Brown and ‘failures’ such as Ed Miliband. This thread is good on some of the crazy moments in the last 5 years of politics for quite how bizarre things have got.

The man who in many ways led the Brexit campaign was, though, Boris Johnson, already seen as an ass by many at the time of the Brexit bus tour his political failings are now transparent to many more people.  That he still holds apparent sway over many in the Conservative party shows a respect for arrogance (and admittedly some intellect) that laughs in the face of good government (considering his waste in the form of water cannon, London buses, ‘garden bridges’ and more). Of course the laughing at Boris, his fame created on Have I Got News For You as much as anywhere else, is nothing new. It is just more tragic now.

The EU’s arrogance

Britain of course isn’t alone in all of this.  Grexit for a long time looked like a real possibility whilst Italy and other nations have expressed their concerns. 

Alas, the face the EU has put in front of the cameras to deal with this challenge to the post WW2 order in Europe amounts to a line up of ‘pale, male and stale’ in Juncker, Barnier and Tusk.

Whilst Tusk has shown quite a generous touch of late (not least on Twitter) the EU has failed throughout from a public relations perspective. Juncker is a personification of the EU’s failings in the eyes of many, being from a small country given disproportion levels of representation. That he is adjudged to have aided ‘bad’ globalisation with generous tax arrangements for corporations in 20 years as Luxembourg Prime Minister (a period of power that would not even be allowed in many sovereign states) makes him a target for left wing Brexiters. On the right meanwhile, whilst his opposition to the likes of Nigel Farage has often been correct, it has also failed to recognise the reasons for UKIP’s support and the popularity of the anti-EU block in European elections across the continent.

The ‘left behind’ in society therefore feel they have seen little from the EU or globalisation that benefits them – the volume of areas receiving EU help funds but still voting Leave showing the lack of impact of the EU’s good work with regards to dealing with societal issues.

British arrogance

Part of the issues leading to Brexit has undoubtedly been legacy snobbishness over British quality and exceptionalism.

The supposed superiority of British banks, universities, etc. is often laughable in the face of evidence and advantages they did have are fast fading away such as:

  • language (English is now the business language in many organisations and cities worldwide, you do not need to be in London),
  • facilities (undermined by austerity and with only really Crossrail to aid London in the coming decade),
  • societal (violent crime and other issues up due to multiple issues including Brexit and austerity). 

In some ways this feels a little like a British version of late Byzantium – still referring to itself as Rome but in reality a collapsing power, still with lots of fancy gold and jewels on show in the capital but a shadow of its former (large/imperial) self – with even Parliament no longer able to keep up the pretext as the roof, literally, falls in.  If World War 2 and decolonialization were the ‘loss of the empire/west’ moment it feels like Brexit might be the sack of Constantinople by the Venetians (aka foreign interests funding Brexit giving what is left of the empire a good kicking under false pretext).  The UK will struggle on even with a No Deal scenario but independence for, at least, Northern Ireland and Scotland could prove to be the equivalent of 1453.

Of course mentioning 1453 might not be very helpful given that the vote against remaining in the EU was, in part, thanks to anti-Turkish sentiment.  Yep, folks, we’ve moved on a long way in 500 years… but not that far.

Foreign interests

Now we really get onto the nub of the matter.  Foreigners. 

Whatever anyone says, Brexit has been driven in large quarter by anti-immigration feeling (see my comment about the two ladies departing the polling station above). 

Britain’s seeming failure to deal with the latest wave of immigration (starting with riots against Portuguese people and then opposition to Poles, Bulgarians and more) is in part due to the drive for small government since Thatcher. Britain simply has not had the infrastructure to handle change management at the local level – and there are close links between immigration, crime and other issues in some areas. Even when very real issues like multiple occupied housing have been raised you suspect the will to enforce rules and laws simply doesn’t exist, in part due to lack of resources for the police and other agencies.

Britain has not put in place the rules around 90-days immigration that she could have, and you suspect it was in part due to the admin. An admin burden and cost now dwarfed by the huge expense of Brexit and ‘bringing back in-house’ functions from Brussels – or at least paying Kiwis and other consultants huge sums for consultancy to help Britain ‘go it alone’.

If then we acknowledge that this is about a complete failure of British society to absorb the latest wave(s) of immigration the question is why has this happened?  Well, immigration in the post war period was largely recognised as needed (see Italians rebuilding large parts of the country) or a pay-off from the empire/commonwealth (Windrush, etc.).  However, there are obviously still huge issues with racism (as visible in football recently) even when there was also a recognition of the part Indians, Africans and Antipodeans had played in both world wars. So perhaps it is simply a case of the volume combined with stagnant (or declining living standards). Indeed you suspect the Corbyn/left-wing view in support of Brexit would be protection of works and better wages – as unlikely as that seems with current problems.

The failure to deal with immigration and resulting change is not anything particularly new and of course not unique to the UK. President Trump (for example) has built on long standing issues with his ‘wall’t – as Limp Bizkit said:

“[be]Cause hate is all the world has ever seen lately “

Take a Look Around, Limp Bizkit (2000)

Lets not forget that immigration controls were one of the “Ed Stone’s” promises. This ongoing desire (and another reason for the Leave vote) remains a strong view of British jobs for British people – of course the issue there is time to align what skills we need: another thing not very well done and the positive of immigration has been that it has covered over the cracks. As someone who spent a week looking through trade union archives from c.1900 as part of his university degree, whilst we’ve come a long way (a lot of the union pamphlets were unbelievably racist to modern eyes) some of the sentiments from the early 21st century are very similar to the early 20th.

Of course the other foreign aspect that lingers large is if Russians (and/or others) have had their fingers in the pie to disrupt the EU/UK/etc. The fact the British political system can be so funded by one man’s £9m is surely wrong no matter what (never mind the apparent dodginess of all as shown in this German investigation). Whatever happens politics needs to change, from funding, house/expense rules, etc. Unfortunately Farage and others have the opportunity to express this in completely the wrong language, failing to remember Jo Cox’s memory and ignoring that the whole point is that we vote for them as representatives – it is not ‘them and us’.

What next then?

Personally it feels like voting reform needs to come back on the agenda, the House of Commons needs to move to a new location, the house rules need modernising (watching Brexit through the House of Commons and the modern EU voting systems really are chalk and cheese) and much more.

Politicians, i.e. the new PM when May finally goes, needs to acknowledge that societal and structural reforms in the post-Thatcher era have failed – with far more needing to be done to reduce wealth inequality between the richest and poorest. Changing these issues was what encouraged support for Corbyn in 2017, that so many people seem to have not realised his pro-Brexit approach to this shows how limited engagement with politics is. Thus the press and other media need to reengage in a more positive way, focused on issues/facts and not personality. That said, politics is complicated (I’m sure not all of this post will be correct), lots of people are confused by what the referendum was meant to be, mending wounds is going to be difficult (not helped by all the name calling), etc.

As for Brexit, a second referendum seems the only sensible way forward – ideally followed up by further votes and more direct democracy. With the run-up to any second vote needing to be far clearer on growth for the UK, with clear means to deal with the issues people feel are limited by immigration (pressure on the NHS, house prices, school places, crime, etc.) via an end to austerity.

Some more on what learning needs to pick up from gaming

So another post on the lessons from the world of gaming.

This one was sparked by an article considering if the latest Legend of Zelda game is the greatest ever in terms of design.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time already in this iteration of the world of Hyrule and it is difficult to disagree with the arguments in the article.

The closing paragraph should particularly resonate with learning professionals thinking about how to support their organisations:

the job of the designers is not to hold your hand and guide you around a set path. It is [to] reach out hundreds of hands and leave it up to you which you grab first.

Wow! There’s a topic starter for instructional/learning design debate!

Whilst in the past people may have talked about things like “learning styles” to warrant different approaches we are now, instead, in a position where we consider the different approaches we might drive performance and support learning for people at different starting points and existing levels of competence.

Now the counter argument would be that the multiple, even unlimited, permutations of many games are not feasible in instructional design.  Instead we end up with versions of relatively simple board game constructs when gaming or fairly restricted ‘serious games’.  However, with dynamic algorithmically driven learning there is the potential for an explosion in personalisation.

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 20.33.00.png
Winning a battle with only your general left may not be recommended. But a win is a win.

Now the above image is an example of a counterfactual gaming experience, crusading as the Byzantine Empire.  Traditional L&D has of course made use of just such counterfactuals, through role plays, business modeling, simulations, etc.  If you can create an appropriate model then the variations are possible – with different focuses possible across, say, finance, marketing, etc. – all in the ‘safe’ environment of not impacting actual bottom lines, patients, customers, etc.

By thinking through game constructs there is the potential to think about what you want to achieve in a different way.  For example, the battle focused historic counterfactual (such as Total War games in the above image) and more character focused such as the grand strategy Crusader Kings 2 (images below) are effectively giving you the same goal (rebuilding the empire) but in very different experiences.

Expanding (and renaming) the Byzantine Empire across c.100 years (of game time)

The storytelling in a scenario such as the above is prompted by certain actions (for example Byzantium becoming large enough to reclaim the title of “Rome” as an achievement) but is not as structured as, say, a linear first-person-shooter game like Call of Duty.  The latter, more linear style, offers up the potential for set storytelling, with some games much better at this than others.  Which leads to an argument that future instructional designers would be best sourced from graphic communication or creative writing backgrounds.

Traditionally simulation has, of course, taken many forms in workplace development – from table top games to computer scenarios.  The challenge with simulations remains the balance between ‘keeping it real’ (i.e. actually useful in the workplace environment) and maintaining interest through the storytelling/fun and other components.  Meanwhile this post makes good points about balancing complexity versus needing to know ‘now’.

So what to takeaway?

  1. Think about how much hand holding is appropriate – it’s not always a bad thing.
  2. Have the plot/narrative/story drive motivation.
  3. Reward with hidden achievements.
  4. Use users/learners to determine if you are hitting the right balance between reality and gaming elements.

The (Work)Force Awakens

There has been a lot of interest recently in the importance of engagement in the workplace.  My view would be that this is not as generation influenced as some commentators would believe and has to be looked at as part of the bigger picture.

Emergent trends such as the rise of holocracy, and apparent disappointment with it, can be seen as part of a growth in thinking, again, about the nature of work.  Even if it is easy to see holocracy, itself, as the latest management fadThe Workforce Awakens

The rise of the ‘manager class’, seen in many fields (including Chinese Higher Education), seems to be slowing through association with unnecessary bureaucracy.  Therefore, we are left with valid questions about what the alternatives may be.

Some politicians would have you believe that workers are no longer exploited, the argument from many quarters would no doubt be that without some kind of partnership model for all staff there remains inequality and a lack of engagement.

If we consider organizational knowledge management, in the format it has emerged around SharePoint solutions at least, as reinforcing silos in organizations through endless permission setting.  The ‘circles’ of holocracy and alternative structures offer an appealing alternative.  Indeed If we consider the future to be that of ‘learner workers’, not ‘knowledge workers’, then we can perhaps go so far as to say the individual finally moves to the position of prominence beyond any kind of team structure.

There would be additional options here, data can now be gathered and presented in so many ways that an appeal by the workforce for more engaging workplaces and better representation will likely come at a cost of closer (and often automatic) scrutiny.

This is all in an environment where the ‘war for talent’ might be hotting up with demand outstripping labor supply in some markets.  In the UK at least this will likely result in further brain drain from public sector austerity and then more finger pointing when public expenses come in over budget, projects delayed and seemingly using never ending streams of temporary staff (from high-end consultants to the large volume of agency nurses plugging NHS staffing gaps).

There are plenty of suggestions for ways to engage the workforce, such as opening the books, to make people better understand their influence on the bottom line.  The challenge is that many options come back, again, to the ownership model and if that supposed end to exploitation sees a future of joint ownership rather than one of zero hour contracts, freelancing and uncertainty.

This all obviously has huge implications for any local learning and how fit for purpose models such as PLC will be going forward.  L&D can play their part, but the post-recession awakening in high demand jobs is only likely to lead to your people following the dark side (of more money at your competitors) if you can not fundamentally consider them as equals.