Monthly Archives: January 2015
To round-off the ATD TK 2015 conference in Las Vegas, keynote speaker Katie Linendoll takes the stage. Linendoll is a global technology consultant, speaker, writer and media personality who contributes regularly to TheToday Show and The Huffington Post. Linendoll says that her work in media can provide several tips for the learning professional, to help us to a better job of improving people. Here is what she has to say…
Be a social chameleon
This line comes from Red Bull, where Linendoll started her career in marketing and sales. Going around the country meeting lots of different people, her mission was to educate people on the drink, at a moment when no-one knew it. The key for her was “creating rapport”.
If you want to connect to people, you need to “read the room” and adapt to people. If they say “awesome”, you say “awesome”. In short, like Covey told us with habit 5: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.
Get trained yourself
If you want to be an expert in your space, you need to be able to walk-the-talk. This is not just about gathering and understanding the content, but about truly understanding the reality and the issues of the learners you are working with.
Comparing this to Robert Todd and Laura McBride’s session on the context conundrum, I was slightly critical of this point. I agree that we need to know what we are talking about. But in 2014, I think learning professionals have so many opportunities to not do this work themselves. The real experts are the learners themselves and the experts in the organisation. Surely they are better placed to bring that context to the learning initiative, or create and deliver content?
Clarify and simplify
Working for a shopping channel, Linendoll’s job was to get her message across in anything from 30 seconds to 1 hour. Feedback was immediate: If she couldn’t make it clear, there were no sales.
Work on your marketing and presentation skills. Even if you are a designer not delivering training yourself, the ability to make your point is key.
See also Connie Malamed’s work on how to really make your point with visuals.
…clearly the running theme of a conference called “TechKnowlege”, but still worth reinforcing one more time. The technology is there. Use it!
Too often in the learning world, we try to create clever things from scratch to achieve important goals. Linendoll reference the challenge of delivering books to Africa to help build literacy. Where some villages don’t even have good roads to get in there,, how are you going to deliver piles and piles of books? The answer: Don’t!
I’ll let you think of better tech solutions yourself…
Get your own style and have fun
People want to be entertained. Throw out your materials and forget the PowerPoint, says Linendoll. Bring some fun to learning and be authentic. Some people won’t dig it, but most will appreciate having an authentic real human in front of them.
…thanks for reading. Catch you at ATD ICE in May!
Links that for some reason WordPress wouldn’t let me add…
Scope: Big company, diverse functions, lots of data, regulatory + compliance needs, large geography, reduction in budget and a need for quality training.
ATD TK 2015 speakers: Kimberly Green and Erika Steponik of Blue Shield California.
Several years ago, Blue Shield took the classical approach to training:
Build something in-depth to deliver in a classroom and invite everyone there for a day.
If you have ever made such training, you know what the issues are: Time, budget, lost opportunities, attention, travel…
Today, they have opted for Nano Modules:
According to the speakers, these modules have multiple benefits: They are repeatable, scalable, flexible and much more economical.
To make it work, we were told to standardise the look and feel of the modules and catalogue them well. This leads to a good, secure and trustworthy feel for the users. In addition, it is important to have an intuitive centralised system that reduces barriers to access and learning. In short, once again, form sells function.
If I understood what Blue Shield is delivering to their learners, we are however only talking about giving pockets of knowledge.
I say “only” because I am not convinced that delivering knowledge = learning. But that doesn’t make the session irrelevant.
In Belgium, one of the organisations I work for is working hard to create a truly flipped-classroom experience. The concept is simple: Put the knowledge-acquiring part of learning out of the classroom so that training time is us to better effect. It works much better than before.
If we could further reduce and compartmentalise that knowledge-acquiring in the way Blue Shield have done, maybe we could make it even better.
Food for thought…
Thanks for reading
Tan Le is the founder and CEO of Emotiv Lifesciences, a bioinformatics company inventing and innovating technology to do amazing things with the human brain. Since an early age, she has been fascinated with the brain, which is for her one of the most amazing machines we have at our disposition. Having failed to achieve true Jedi status (moving objects at distance didn’t work!) Tan Le look for other solutions…
In the last few years, man’s merging with machines has become very trendy: Bio-sensing devices that observe, measure and record activities and experiences have gone to market and their applications are impressive; GPS, wearable devices and smartphone accelerator can already give us massive amounts of information about our movements, health and even mood. For Tan Le, this is already a big leap. But the real potential is not yet realised. Things will get really interesting when we can merge technology with the human brain.
For Le, one of the obstacles to bringing brain-linked-technology to market is the level of expertise required to just put EEG sensoring equipment on the subject. EEGs help us to better understand what is happening in the brain and that is the first step towards the kinds of goals Le has. EEG machines have traditionally been limited to qualified (hospital) personnel using expensive bespoke equipment. Enter Emotiv Lifesciences and Tan Le’s easy-use wearable EEG…
In a stunning display of true keynote awesomeness, we moved to a live demo (or parlour trick?). Learning Geek @CammyBean took to the stage and was hooked up to Tan Le’s EEG. First she looked at a video of a flower blooming and tried to focus on what was happening. Then came the amazing part: She thought about the flower blooming and made the video advance by itself.
Tan Le’s mission is to democratise EEG devices, making them available and easy-to-use for normal people. Does this mean we are really going to get our hands on technology giving us some kind of FireFox-style-ability to control objects (fighter planes?) with our minds? In short, it is clear to me today that the answer is “yes”.
During the session, we saw examples of things that are already happening with wearable EEG devices:
- In Australia, the RAC has created an attention powered car. The driver is hooked up the EEG. If attention is good, the car moves normally; if it’s poor, it slows down. At the moment, this is being done to sensitise drivers to the importance of attention. But Tan Le’s organisation is already collaborating with Volkswagen to create mind-driven cars.
- In supermarkets, studies are being done to see how consumers give their attention and focus when shopping. Where and how we look at things will give marketeers a lot of data to improve the shopping experience. (Yes, more marketing!)
- In classroom environments, we can see how we focus on what is being learnt, how mood affects recall and use this information to create strategies to improve learning.
- Personally, I was moved to tears by the “DJ Fresh MindTunes” work. People with physical disabilities were hooked up to the EEG machine and created music using thought. Watch the video… it is really outstanding. What a beautiful gift to the world!
…and guess what? Tan Le says that we will be able to get our hands on a wearable brain-monitor for $300 in a near future. How long will it be before we get an app for that device that lets us do some of the amazing Jedi mind tricks we have seen today?
Bring on the revolution!
- Tan Le on TED : http://youtu.be/fVhggGSjXVg
- Australian RAC attention-based driving : http://www.forthebetter.com.au
- Mind Tunes making music with the mind : http://youtu.be/PgfxKZiSCDQ
Thanks for reading!
ATD TK 2015, session TH304 is about content wrangling. The word (wrangling) seems to fit the first speaker, Aaron Silvers. A very peaceful looking man, I can imagine him coming in to put order into the mess and bring everything together. As a learning designer, technologist and strategist, he has worked with the NFL, US departments of defence, homeland security and education …and plenty of others. His equally cool co-speaker Megan Bowe works at Knewton, is a principal at consultancy company “Making Better” and co-created the “Up to All of Us” community.
Would you like to audit all the content in the organisation to know what is out there and to organise it better? Or set-up a platform to improve social learning and sharing of expertise and content? Or make existing materials more easy to search and digest?
If the answer is yes, you need to do a good job of content wrangling: Find what you have and make it usable for your people.
Megan tells us the primary steps for getting your content in order:
- First, you need to get everything together (inventory) and know what you have, what you can delete and what you need more of (audit)
- Next, think about how your people search for content, so you can create an effective “tagging taxonomy” to improve search of that content. Megan’s suggestion for doing this effectively is to do a card-sorting exercise with the users/stakeholders in the organisation. Together, they will create the right structure for the content.
- Now think about how small you can make content, so that it is effective, but easy to swallow (granularity)
- Then make things modular, so that content can stand alone. This will allow you to put things in the right order and also re-use content for multiple uses.
Once your content is broken down into the right collections of granular and modular well-tagged pieces, it’s time to think about how and where you will put it all together.
Back on the mic, Aaron Silvers says that when we do this, we must remember the mission of our work and the context of today’s business: Our aim is to make it easier for a responsive organisation to pull out content, even when the context or environment changes. We have to be sure that what we make is effective today, as well as sustainable for the future.
Silvers suggests that we take a lean approach to this work, focussing on what really matters: Where are our users? Who are they? What are they trying to do? And why?
Rather than get into the technology of content platforms at this point, the formal part of the session came to what seemed to be an abrupt end, opening the floor to any and all questions.
Not being a real techy guy and never building systems for corporate learning, I wondered why I was in this session for a while. But when I looked a little closer at what was being discussed, I realised that what Silvers and Bowe have done is give an effective and lean approach to consulting with customers and organising things (anything) in a given context.
I can imagine (I know, I’m a geek) going home to my DVD collection like a character from “High Fidelity” and getting all that film in order, searchable and chunked down into “all the best bits” for consumption by friends and family. But their work is much more than that…
When they talked about card-sorting, it reminded me of courses on metaphysics, Pirsig’s books (“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and “Lila”) and how the structure you give to something defines the experience you have of the world. There is beauty in this functional work. Silvers and Bowe are not wrangling content at all. They are defining purpose and values for the organisation, creating the space for breathing creativity and innovation.
Humans like to categorise and structure things. It brings comfortable order and a sense of safety. But the way these categories and structures are defined can change the way we experience things.
For example, if I look out of my window to Las Vegas Boulevard, I may compartmentalise what I see into buildings, water, people and lights. If I were thinking about making changes to that environment or its processes, I might then think of how the space is used and the efficient flow of traffic. But if I break down that same vision into entertainment activities, advertisements and mood, I would have a completely different vision. And that vision could lead me to work instead on improving the user experience or linking publicity to user emotions.
Our perception defines our reality and our subsequent behaviour.
And so, the work of “putting things in order” is not to be overlooked. Get it wrong and you may have an impossible mess that no-one can deal with. Or you may have a specific vision that leads to specific (potentially undesired) outputs. Get it right and you will give people the power to see new things, find more value and create change.
You might also find the answer to the questions that opened this blog-post.
Thanks for reading!
ps For more “how-to” information on content wrangling, go here: http://eepurl.com/LpdwD
Humans have selective attention. And they have a bad capacity for processing information. But: If you can get their attention and help them process what you show, humans have excellent long-term memory. Professional Explainer Connie Malamed is here to give tips on how to use visuals to really pass across your message.. Welcome to ATD TK15 session W400.
According to our speaker, there are 3 basic (good) ways to pass across information: Story, graphs or data representations, and diagrams.
Stories are good for creating emotion. If it really IS a story. A real story has a situation, complication and resolution, with a character/protagonist that achieves a goal. That IS the story: How the protagonist deals with the complication. During the session, Connie showed us some beautiful examples of comic book style stories.
Graphs are an excellent way to show data. If you get it right. According to Cleveland and McGill, our understanding of data changes dramatically depending on the type of graphic used. Humans can deal with position and length easily, but not so well with volume.
Malamed says that, although very fashionable, info-graphics are actually pretty bad for recall. They look nice, but they don’t serve the basic purpose of a data-driven graph. If a graph is to get and keep attention and create recall, it needs to SHOW the viewer the shape of the numbers. Personally, I found Zelazny’s book on charts quite handy.
Diagrams are also really good, if you use the right one.
Our speaker noted 5 different types of diagram and gave some basic rules to follow.
As I write this blog-post, I realise that as a reader it might be tough for you to get some real learning from it. Connie Malamed’s session was quite simply brilliant. But it’s difficult for me to summarise all the guidelines here (live). Look below and you will find a lot of references to help inspire and instruct you.
The basic message is this: How you visualise things DOES make a difference. As a trainer, I pay a lot of attention to my flipcharts, even if they are mostly text based. Connie has got me inspired to go further…
Further references you might like:
- Katie Stroud’s 2014 ICE session on “How to convert your learning into story, step-by-step” : https://dansteer.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/how-to-convert-your-learning-into-story-step-by-step
- Technical explanation of comic book visual layout terms and “guidelines” : http://www.bigredhair.com/work/comics.html
- Cleveland and McGill’s research on graphical perception (what works and what doesn’t) : http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~tmm/courses/cpsc533c-04-spr/readings/cleveland.pdf
- Book “Say It With Charts” by Gene Zelazny : http://www.amazon.com/Say-With-Charts-Executives-Communication/dp/007136997X
- Some of my nice flipcharts, in case it inspires you : https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B6bnuojL6SjLWU02VUt1d2NoY1E&usp=sharing
- Massive amounts of content from Connie Malamed: http://www.thelearningcoach.com/explanations
Thanks for reading
One of my clients is very serious about intellectual property and copyright. As a research-driven company creating innovative products, this is their whole business. When I have to make some training materials for this client, they almost always get sent back (you would think I would learn!) for an update. Why? Because I shamelessly steal and use everything I find on the internet. Sometimes not even intentionally.
So Michelle Lentz‘s ATD TK15 session on “Finding Free Stuff For Your Training With Creative Commons” seemed interesting to me. This blog post outlines some simple tips for trainers…
note: having trouble with my WordPress app putting in links right now … all reference links at end of this post
If you want to make it clear what people can and can’t do with your own work, materials, images, blogs etc.. add the right Creative Commons license information. This affirmation can be as simple as adding the corresponding image to your content.
If you want to help other people find your shareable Creative Commons licensed work via the Internet (blog, images, sound etc) you need add the right license code. This is because the Creative Commons search engine looks for code, not pictures.
If you want to find content you can use, use the Creative Commons search engines to search by license type.
If you want images, Michelle recommends http://www.flickr.com – you don’t have to be a Flickr user to search, find and copy images and… … wait for it… you can search by license type. We saw some of the available images for a simple search (“guitars”) and they were great!
If you are using things CC licensed by others in your work, you need to attribute the work to them. But you don’t have to literally put that attribution under everything you use. Consider putting a “credits” page at the end of your document.
-> Video introduction to copyright and “Creative Commons” : http://youtu.be/io3BrAQl3so
-> Overview of Creative Commons license types and what they mean : http://creativecommons.org/licenses
-> Get your Creative Commons license image and web-code here : http://creativecommons.org/choose
-> Creative Commons Search Engine : http://search.creativecommons.org
-> Michelle’s ATD TK15 Presentation : http://bit.ly/CCTK15
-> Get free sounds here : http://www.freesound.org
Thanks for reading!
Stephen Earnest of ATD kicks-off the 2015 ATD TechKnowledge Conference. Next up is Aaron Dignan, author of the book “Game Frame”. He’s a disruptor, working with some of the world’s leading companies on digital strategy and he’s here to tell us about the responsive organisation and what it means to us…
Opening his speech, Dignan tells us about the creation of “MakerBot”, one of the world’s first financially viable 3D-printers. The maker of this printer wanted something awesome for printing real-life objects. But the 300000 dollar price-tag was simply was not viable. So he went out to make it himself. A few years later, that printer sells for 2000 dollars and the company making it has been sold for millions.
Dignan says that these sorts of innovations are so much easier in 2014 bring than they were 10 years ago. Finding the people you need to bring an idea to life and scaling up into to something viable is.. well, it’s not easy, but it’s possible. Much more than every before.
How is this possible? According to Dignan, 3 things…
Moore’s law tells us that the power of computing doubles every two years. Today, almost every smartphone user has a personal computer in their pocket that is more powerful than the one that sent a rocket to the moon.
Secondly, the platforms available today are so much better than ever before. Everyone is a potential creator, developer and entrepreneur.. their products can get to markets with ease thanks to the multitude of platforms available.
And finally, the 21st century is networked. The six degrees of separation are apparently now 2.4. If you need people or expertise, you can get them via Twitter or any number of open-source communities. In a click.
Dignan says that if we can’t harness these 3 things, a kid in a garage with an idea will put us out of business. The fundamental challenge of the next decade is to rise up to this challenge before someone else does. But we can’t just train people to be innovators and change. So what can we do?
According to Melanie Mitchell, what you need is a large network with no control, with simple values and rules. If you can nourish this environment, you will get effective “complex behaviour, sophisticated information processing and adaptation via learning or evolution”. Three examples…
Example 1: Take a lesson from ants. Really!
Drop a thousand ants in a new environment and they will organise themselves for experimentation. It starts as chaos: The ants will spread out, check it out and see what they see. No rules, just experimentation. And when they find something good, they will naturally organise themselves around that.
So get yourself a queen-ant that can recruit (make!) new ants, give them a simple set of rules to follow and leave them to it.
Example 2: Share like an immune system.
Your immune system keeps you competitive by adding investment to experimentation. Things-whose-names-I-forget go out into your body and look for new clients, things that need their help. When they find one, they latch on and get to work quickly. And then they work some real magic: They send out a quick and strong signal to their immune system buddies saying “I’ve got something”. And what does the immune system do? It sends help quickly. Communication + responsiveness + investment. Now.
Example 3: The internet
Need I say more?
OK, got it. What next? Dignan is working to help companies transform themselves into responsive organisations. He says we need 6 things….
- 1.Focus on purpose, not profit. This point really got my attention, thinking about my own work. Focussing on profit only leads to fear and static behaviour. You might get more of what you have today, but you won’t get anything new. When new ideas come up, you won’t have the proof required to know you will get profit, so you won’t do it. Focus on purpose and its a whole different game.
- 2.Focus on networks, not hierarchies. 3. Focus on empowering, not controlling. These are the 2 key rules of the new world of work that we have been hearing about for several years. Team managers become network coaches, not micro-managers. And with trust in our people, we recruit and leave them to it.
- Drop planning and work on “emergence”. Plans don’t work. As Dignan puts it: “Plans are lies committed to paper.” To allow us to deal with inevitable future change, we need is a spirit of “we don’t know”. An example of this is “cleaning the room”. We could make a awesome plan to get it all in order. But if something changes, we will fail. On the other hand, if we have one simple rule like our ant friends, we can just get to work, naturally dealing with whatever comes up. The key? The ant-queen needs to trust the cleaners.
- Efficiency vs. Adaptivity. You need to get people comfortable with change.
- Privacy vs Transparency. If you want to profit from networks and get that immune-system-responsiveness you need sharing. Jane Bozarth, author of the book “Show Your Work” talks regularly about the benefits of letting others know what you are doing. Later on today, I will hear JD Dillon talk about how Kaplan is working on breaking down silos and releasing organisational potential.
So, if you want a responsive organisation, you know what to do. Get to work!
Thanks for reading!
After a couple of days training in Holland and 2 very long flights, I have arrived in Las Vegas and it’s time for last-minute ATD TK15 planning. As I make my way through the massive amount of session choices for each day, I have compiled my wish-list for the week. If you can help a boy make his dreams come true, let me know…
Wish number 1: Bring some real value to the 6 people who are coming to my pre-conf workshop on “Getting Started with Social Media for Training”
6 people have trusted me with 4-hours of their time on Tuesday afternoon before TK15 goes into full-swing. In my pre-conference workshop, we will discover the value of YouTube, Padlet, Pearltrees and Socrative for training. I want them to walk out ready for action…
Wish number 2: Turn 15 dollars into 30 on the blackjack table.. .. and walk away
Last year, I took 200 dollars to the casino. I wanted to experience the casino (for the first time) but not get too sucked in. It lasted 43 minutes. I am the worst black-jack player ever.
This year, I’m taking 1 $15 chip and going all-in 🙂
Wish number 3: Get a Muppet interview for the Vegas Videos
Every time I go to a conference, I interview speakers and give mini-updates via my YouTube channel. Last year in Las Vegas I spoke with Chad Udell on the amazing possibilities of mobile and Jane Bozarth on building a community culture. At the ICE conference in Washington Anders Gronstedt talked to me about transmedia storytelling and … wait for it … I even managed to get an interview on learning with Sprokit the robot at the Smithsonian 🙂
This year, I will follow a session with Michele Lentz from Oracle on bringing the magic of Jim Henson to instructional design. And apparently a real Muppet will be present. That’s got to be worth an interview, right?
Wish number 4: Make people make more noise than ever before
It’s sad, but true: I get-off on positive auditive feedback. My wife will tell you that even if she sarcastically says “I love you” during an argument, I still take it positively.
Wish number 5: Follow these sessions and learn something new
Having been to 4 ATD conferences over the last 3 years, it seems harder each time to find new ideas. There are some great sessions planned on wider organisational learning topics which I will follow, like:
- How Geoff Stead has created an employee app-store at Qualcomm that get my attention
- ATD board-member Robert Todd of LinkedIn on a new approach to digital learning
- JD_Dillon of Kaplan will share how he has been breaking down organisational silos
To get the best from such a conference, it really depends on what focus you have during the week. I’m also hoping to get some new ideas as a trainer and to that end I will also follow:
- 2 sessions from Michelle Lentz: Finding Free Stuff for Training using Creative Commons and Fearless Instructional Design (with the Muppet !)
- Media Competences for Talent Professsionals with Jonathan Halls
Wish number 6: Make it through the week without being approached with help for any of my “party needs”
You may not know that I am apparently a US-drug-dealer magnet. I don’t know how it happens, but Denver, Dallas, Washington, Vegas, wherever… someone always tries to sell me something horrible. Credit to the last guy, who rather than outright asking “Do you need any crack, brother?” actually chatted me up for a while first with talk about the album he needed money to produce… I made it to my hotel… so far so good.
..and speaking of the hotel, I definitely owe fellow-speak Bianca Woods a beer. I was booked at Caesar’s Palace for over $200 a night, but she told me about the Flamingo just across the street. I have already saved $150 a night on the room. Which, by the way, is still awesome! Thanks Bianca!
Tune in for updates throughout the week.
Go Learning Geeks!