The case for showing your work (Jane Bozarth at ASTD2014)

Fresh out of the ASTD2014 ICE Expo hall lunch and a fine moment of ukulele rock with a little help from her friends, Jane Bozarth is here for session #TU208 to talk about the value of showing your work. She feels that L+D is missing a lot of opportunities. Busy developing courses and running training, we are not really releasing the potential within the organisation…


Learners know that if they need to learn something, they don’t need to wait for a course. They’ll find a colleague to help them learn a little spreadsheet thing; they’ll jump on youTube when they want to see how to change a lightbulb. The knowledge and skills and experience is out there in the organisation. We need to help bring it out.

Jane told us about a friend Gloria Mercer, who started to narrate her bakery efforts. Starting from the principle that someone out there might profit from the sharing, Mercer started sharing photographs of learning about baking.

In another example (formal learning this time), Jane mentioned what Mark Britz set up as part of the onboarding process in his company. He asked new joiners to share something they had learnt and what it meant to them.

In a third example, Jane showed us a teacher who did an RSA-style project with his students and documented all the steps. As a result, we get a better sense of what was actually done and the steps required to achieve the project. Other teachers would be able to adopt the idea and implement it in their schools.


What are the benefits for the organisation of showing work?

  • It’s cheap
  • It helps break down silos
  • It documents knowledge without having a formal knowledge-documentation project
  • People learn from each other
  • It creates self-esteem and satisfaction for those who are sharing
  • It can reinforce sense of purpose for specific things people have done, for example during a change process
  • As we saw in Josh Davis’ NeuroScience session on Monday, metacognition (thinking about how you are thinking) creates new neural connections and leads to better memory and learning
  • You can save time and not it reinvent the wheel
  • It creates more sociability in the organisation




Tips for showing work

Getting started with this kind of work + learning narration is not difficult, but people may need a little push, or some tips. Have a look…

  • Photos – pictures speak louder than words. If you are doing something, take a snapshot.
  • Text – encourage people to write about what they are doing. It doesn’t have to be a book, or even a blog. Just a paragraph on a tool like Yammer will do the trick.
  • Film yourself doing something you have learnt and post it (on Youtube or elsewhere)
  • Ask people to keep it simple and familiar in style
  • Don’t worry about the “quality” or “form” of what you are sharing – if you’re making a film to show something you figured out, just think about it a little and then pull out your smartphone
  • Ask a question to your network. This helps people understand what’s going on with you… …and you get answers!
  • Answer questions! Showing your expertise to people who ask for it is not arrogant. They need help, you have it. Share it!
  • Narrate your work as you go. You don’t need to wait until it’s all over and then publish the result. For example, create a discussion feed on a Yammer network group and add comments as you go.
  • Ask for feedback on something you have done. Tell people you want to improve and see what they can tell you.
  • Make an sport folio of your work
  • Share your internet favourites with a tool like
  • Make a YouTube playlist of things that you found useful and share them. Example: See my blues-guitar playlist on my youtube channel
  • Don’t worry about “showing off”. It’s OK to share.
  • But it’s not OK to share everything. Be aware of keeping private what should be kept private. (One of my clients, a large complex multinational company in the food industry, has a strategic intention to share whatever can be shared)


It’s a simple concept and personally, I would like to see it happening everywhere. In my own Belgian experience, I find that many people don’t “dig it”. Whereas I like to share everything, put it out there and talk about what is going on for me, many of my Belgian colleagues find this too “in your face”. It seems that the culture of private/public space and introvert/extrovert is very different. Jane says it is important show a good example of how to do it in a any that suits them. Don’t ask them to talk about themselves, ask them to talk about the problems they haveq encountered and solutions they have found. Also, don’t forget that things don’t need to be all shared on a large open-to-all platform. Start small and a bit more “private”…


Go forth and share!


See also:



Why your coaching is failing and what you can do about it (David Rock at ASTD2014)

David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute is here to tell us about the 2 most complicated things in the world: The Brain and Change. ASTD2014 session M202 is underway…


Understanding the brain makes better coaches

If a part of your job is to “make people better”, you are a “coach” says Rock. And although we’ve all been doing it for years and have some expertise, Rock says that unfortunately even if the coach thinks things went well, many coachees say that the coaching was not successful (only about 1 in 20 are, says Rock).

Rock starts with a story of his own experience with being coached, some 16 years ago. He noticed that when his coaches were asking questions, they were often doing it as some kind of “ego-full double-guessing” of the coachee. He had the feeling that although the coach was supposed to avoid giving input and solutions themselves (directive leadership), very often they would still somehow be leading people towards their own (coach) ideas and over-directing the conversation. Rock thinks it would be far more effective to really make the coachee think for themselves and help them to generate insight themselves. That’s what coaching is is for Rock: Facilitating positive change by improving thinking. The role of the coach is to help people to create new unconscious habits to achieve the things they want. And he adds that if you understand the brain, you can do that better.

Rock says that coaches who understand how the brain functions get better results. He says that objective measurements show this. If you look at the change in behaviour and it’s impact on results following the coaching initiative, you can see things are better with a brain-understanding coach, than one who does not have these insights.

OK David, I’m sold. Now tell me what I need to know!


4 steps to get people to a new (unconscious) habit

For people to create new habits, they need to take repetitive action over time. And to actually want to take that action, coachees need to have an insight moment or “ah-ha” moments. This creates better connections in the brain and motivates them for action. And to get that insight, they need to be in a “toward” state.


In general, says Rock, much of what happens in the brain at a neural level is about the brain’s perception of whether or not what is going on is good or bad. If it’s good, we want to move toward it and do more (create more neural connections). If it’s bad, we want to move away from it (the brain stops getting involved in things). Rock says quite simply that you cannot create “insight” if the person is in an “away” state.


To create the “toward state” we have to create positive SCARF.



Rock says that there are some simple things we can do to create a more positive SCARF:

  • Tell people how long you are going to talk to increase certainty
  • Ask a question before you say what you want to say creates more status, relatedness and a sense of fairness
  • Avoid anything that might seem like an attack
  • Focus first on creating more relatedness by spending time listening to the goals of the coachee
  • Understand that different people might have different SCARF profiles (ie CEOs might be more interested in autonomy; project managers might focus more on certainty)
  • Don’t use sentences like “tell me about the problem” – this puts people in an away state, because they are focussing on things they don’t like, or want to avoid
  • Use thoughtful, inward-directed and neutral questions
  • Pay attention to people around you. If you understand SCARF (see book link below), Rock says you will quickly spot who has a preference for what.
  • Try to let coachees come to their own insights themselves. This will increase status, which will be more motivating.


What can we do to create more insights?

  • Create some quiet time. Give time to the coachee. As a coach: Shut up!
  • Allow the coachee to look inward. If your brain is being bombarded by light and sound and other stimuli, there are less chances of having insights.
  • A slightly happy state is better than a slightly unhappy or anxious state.
  • Not working directly on the problem creates more insights than directly trying to solve it.

Regarding the last point: When I hear David Rock saying this, I am thinking about my own coaching sessions and how I use the GROW model. Typically, we might discuss goals and reality before moving toward looking for opportunities to improve things. But Rock says that generally, real insights don’t come when we are trying to have them. They come later, when we are quiet or when we are feeling good (which is generally not when I’m being interrogated by a coach!).


Don’t focus on the problem, focus on how the coachee is thinking

The final lesson I took away from Rock’s session today is that coaches need to change the way they look at what is going on in their coaching sessions. Too often, even if we are not offering solutions (directive style) , we are still there with the coachee trying to solve the problem. We need to stop this. Let the coachee look at the problem we should be looking at the coachee and how he or she is thinking, “going toward” and discovering insights.




See also:




Storytelling across different media – high-budget learning solution or small addition to your training?

Anders Gronstedt is here to tell us about storytelling, how it is evolving and how it is interesting for learning. Let’s go with ASTD2014 session SU313…


Storytelling has been around forever.

Literally, forever. We tell them to our kids, we transform them into songs and movies, and we sit around campsites sharing them and transforming them. According to Gronstedt, human memory is story-based and stories can be very persuasive.

Almost all stories follow similar structures that help to draw people in. Joseph Campbell told us about “The Hero’s Journey”, 12 steps that all good myths (and many a modern movie) follow. Such story structures have been shown to create engagement and attention.

So why aren’t they really used in learning? Gronstedt says that many trainers use some little anecdotes to make their point. But learning solutions (training or not) are rarely built learning around story or presented across different media. If we were to use transmedia storytelling more, we would create better engagement and better recall of learning.


Transmedia storytelling is about telling a story with video, games, mobile devices and social-media.

Two-thirds of mobile data consumption today is video based. People watch a lot of television and spend a lot of time playing games, or working on computers. They are ready to consume your story across different media.

By way of example, Gronstedt talked to us about the “iTent Story” at Kimberly Clark. Transmedia storytelling in action:

  • Kimberly Clark wanted to create learning around management issues related to diversity and teamwork
  • Large scale: To be followed by thousands of learners
  • Budget = 200,000
  • The basic story turns around 6 distinct characters
  • Kick-off with a Hollywood-style trailer (which took most of the budget) for a documentary-style story, introducing the different characters on a team-building trip and in the office
  • Professional, actors (not stars, but full-time actors nonetheless)
  • Podcasts “covering” specific learning points were made in the form of a radio broadcast, with a presenter, guest expert speaker and occasional phone-ins from some of the story characters
  • Posters were placed around offices to advertise the story
  • Bonus content was distributed via gimmicks like QR-code, presented across different media
  • Learners could follow in their own time, although some managers actually planned “viewing parties”
  • 3 month campaign, although Gronstedt is currently discussing Season 2 with his client..


In a second example, we discovered what Gronstedt’s company developped as a transmedia learning solution for Microsoft, to support a more classical learning moment:

  • Storytelling used to support a more classical “classroom based” learning moment
  • Trailer prior to the session (similar to the Kimberly Clark example above)
  • Gamification of the formal “classroom based” session with scavenger hunts, challenges or leaderboards
  • Animated videos in “scribe style” (like Dan Pink’s famous RSA video) were used to introduce key learning points during the day
  • Subgroups of learning participants worked from specific character points-of-view throughout the day to solve challenges, discuss and learn specific lessons


If you are interested in transmedia storytelling, some tips to bear in mind:

  • Focus first on learning objectives and basic timeline for learning points
  • Don’t resolve the story too quickly – follow the 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey if you can
  • Don’t think of re-telling the story across different media, but using different types of media to tell different parts of the story
  • Get participants involved in creating the story. For example, you start it, they finish it..
  • Recuperate some of your costs by reselling your creation to other companies


Finally, by way of side-notes:

1. It’s difficult to give a good idea here by text only of the result this work at Kimberly Clark. But it’s awesome! Don’t believe me? Contact Anders Gronstedt and see for yourself….
2. Don’t have 200,000 to spare in budget? Look for creative ways to bring story into your design. Character and plot are important, but you don’t need professional movies made for learners if you can have sock-puppet stories told by learners 😉


Thanks for reading!



Ger Driessen’s Vision of Big Data for Learning and Performance Support

The man from next door (OK, The Netherlands) Ger Driessen kicks off ASTD2014 session SU210 by telling us that we won’t leave with concrete ready to implement tips today, but what he does want is that we be ready for the future of Big Learning Data…


What is big data?

Obviously it’s big, says Driessen. But when we talk about big data today, we mean something specific. It’s big, it’s second hand, it’s messy and it’s all about correlation.

In 1439, Gutenberg introduced the printing press. In less than 100 years, more than 8 million books had been printed. (More than in the previous 12 centuries!) This number kept growing at a ridiculous rate until the year 2000, where digital content started to take its place. Today, there is less than 7% of analogue data compared to 93% digital. To be more precise, 1200 exabytes. This number is enormous! Translate it into books, and you can cover the USA 52 times. Burn into onto CD-Roms and pile them up and you’ll get 5 times from Earth to the moon! So, big data is BIG!

The data we have is also very messy and second-hand. As an example, when the USA used to correlate information on pricing into a nice tidy report, they had to spend 250 million to collect data from many many offices. It was a big job. And inefficient: Between the time they had collected the information and the time they had out it all into a report, the data was old and out-of-date. With big-data potential, this will be a problem of the past…

Finally, Driessen underlines that when we talk about big data, we are not thinking in old-fashioned ways about causation, but rather concentrating on correlation and trends. If we can capture trends, we may have useful input for various applications. Like learning.


Data is available and applied everywhere

Data can be collected from reports, Internet, tablets and smartphones, GPS and location sensors, wearable technology and pretty much everything! What was the internet for sharing between computers became the internet of things, and now the internet of everything. In the future, we will hook up to the “internet of brains”.

The data collected is being used by Google to find out about flu trends in the USA, by Obama in his election campaigns and by Netflix to feed audience reactions into plot and script-writing of future episodes. Think of an application and you can probably use big-data to bring results.


So, what about learning and big-data?

Driessen starts by underlining that in the last few years, the learning focus with big-data has been on evaluation of learning, with a large focus on level 1 and level 2 evaluation. but he says that other examples are far more interesting, because they feed into learning activities, rather than pulling conclusions out of (about) learning that has already take place.

The first interesting example shared by Driessen is of the Bank of America. Faced with a problem in productivity in their call-centre, they were thinking about giving some training to their people. But first they decided to run some people analytics. Using wearable technology, they tracked the movements of their staff to look for trends at work. They quickly realised that most of the staff had extremely limited social contact at work. With the hypothesis that social-contact might lead to better sharing and learning (venting, discussing) they decided not to focus on training, but simply change the shift pattern in the call-centre to get people more in contact with each other. Result? Better productivity!

When it’s not people analytics, companies are using predictive analytics to look at what is currently happening (online) and make predictions. Facebook knows what you and your friends are looking at (and liking) and drives publicity to you that is likely to be interesting. Could the same kind of predictive analysis proactively help people to improve performance at work?


What kind of data could we collect to feed into learning + performance support?

According to Driessen, it will be very easy in the future to use devices to collect interesting data on position/metrics, biometrics, use of tools and hardware, social media usage etc… We will be able to track what people are doing and provide proactive input to help them perform better. Although it might be a bit early today, the future is coming….


See also:


Thanks for reading!



Josh Davis on “The NeuroScience of Learning” : How to make learning stick

Session SU101 of the 2014 ASTD ICE is proof that you really DO need to get there on time. As the fire marshals hold fort on the main door, I sneaked in around the back to secure one of the final seats in what is clearly a popular session: Josh Davis on the “NeuroScience of Learning”, which promises to supply general design principles for how to create behavior change in leaders…


Davis is interested in why many one-shot training sessions don’t stick and don’t make the change they were designed to achieve. Asking the audience, we can see that almost everyone finds that people learn at their training events, but then never use what they learn and end up forgetting it. Why is this? The NeuroLeadership Institute has been trying to find out why.

At the root of the problem is the hippocampus, which deals with attention, generating links, emotions and spacing. Due to its central position is the brain, the hippocampus is responsible for coordinating the neural connections required to create memory and habit. To create a rich web of connections in the brain, you need to engage the hippocampus.



Davis starts by telling us about attention. Attention is not designed to last. It is designed to keep looking around and being aware of what’s going on. If you don’t, you die. Simple.

Attention can last about 20 minutes. And of course, in the training game, we tend to work a lot more than that! But in today’s learning environment, we must be aware that we are fighting more-and-more for attention from participants. According to one study, today’s multi-tasking high-media users have significantly diminished capacity for attention. Even when asked to remember something for just 1 minute, they do a lot worse than their non-connected single-focused colleagues. But it’s worse than that: Their multi-tasking tweeting, iPhoning activities is making it harder for the others to pay attention.

What’s the point? Single focus of attention is required to tell the hippocampus that what we are looking at is something to recall. Divided attention doesn’t do that.


Once you have attention, the ability to generate links to what you already have in your brain becomes important…

Don’t forget, the hippocampus is trying to make links in the brain. It tells puts together everything that is going on about feelings, visual stimuli, thoughts, previous knowledge and memories etc.. As learning professionals, we need to help it.

If you want to help the hippocampus to do this, there are a few things to do:

  • Metacognition (or thinking about thinking) is a great approach. Self-reflection on the learning process generates more connections, which will make the content more easy to recall. For example if we were trying to remember a specific word, we could think about how it looks on the paper, or how it sounds in our ears when we speak it out loud. We try to get the brain more aware of what is going on while it processes the information.
  • Retrieval strategies are all about practising recall of what is being processed. If you don’t test retrieval, your chances are significantly lower of remembering than if you practised remembering several times.
  • Insight activities or moments help to promote memory of content. If you can create real “ah-ha” moments, where people finally “get-it” your participants will be more likely to remember. Davis says that this is because the “ah-ha” insight moment adds a level of emotion to the experience.


Davis offers some simple strategies you can use in training: Polling, guided reflection on personal experiences, note-making, explaining ideas to others (and creating tweetable messages or mini-presentations) and hearing ideas from others.


Third tip: Scare people!

…OK, not really. But kind of! Davis explains that because of the proximity of the amygdala to the hippocampus, if we can create emotion in learning, there is more chance to build attention and lasting memory.

As we are more emotionally aroused, the amount of catecholamines released into the brain by the amygdala changes. Davis says that we need to find the sweet spot of optimal-arousal that improves attention, but not so much that things get scary.

Tactics for trainers to influence emotion in the room include those covered by NeuroLeadership Institute CEO David Rock in this paper on SCARF. During the session, Davis asked us to look for other ways. He gave us 90-seconds and told us to write hem down. Afterwards, he added that he did this to create a little pressure. That little bit of negative-emotion can improve attention. So can sweets, humour, music…


Finally: Spacing in the learning process

It’s not enough to just throw something into the memory and hope it stays there. We have to grow the memories. By building in moments of rest and reactivation, people are more likely to remember things. Three strategies:

  • If you come back to them later (repetition) with questions and reinforcement of content, they are more likely to remember.
  • If you can change the context of what is being learnt (or even where it is being learnt), this is also more likely to make sticky learning.
  • Sleep! Yes, really!

I had contacted Josh Davis prior to the session to ask him if the session was going to be very “deep” and heavy on facts, figures, statistics and studies (all of which I am allergic to in conferences). He told me that the session was scoped for starters, people with not much knowledge about NeuroScience. I am pleased to report that that was the case and as a very positive outcome, I have learnt something: If you want to make learning stick, you need 4 strategies to engage the hippocampus.


Thanks for reading!


ASTD2014 Content, Community and Global Perspectives: Getting the most out of your conference

Washington, we are go for learning!

Wei Wang, ASTD’s Director of International Relations, is kicking off the 69th ASTD International Conference and Exposition. The room is full of delegates from around the world. Some have travelled over 25 hours to get their yearly fix of content, networking and learning inspiration. I’m sitting one row down from Patricia Bal and her colleague of the Belgian Federal Government and I suspect my friend Kristof of Stimulearning may be in the room.




With speakers from 28 countries, there are 250 sessions in 9 tracks over 4 days. Which means choices, choices, choices. As I said in my 2nd Daily DC Weather Report this morning, making those choices is a little like committing to a marriage: Are you going to get what you want? Will it live up to expectations? Tough choices!


Personally, I’ve decided to take it a little easy this year and see what comes. My mind as open as it can possibly be after a transatlantic flight, I bumped into fellow speaker, Professional Coach and CPLP certified Master Trainer Marsa C Myers, who I already met 2 years ago in Denver. We talked about the importance of open-mindedness and this got me thinking about how we choose what to follow. On one hand, we look for something new and inspiring. But on the other hand, having only session titles and speaker names to go on, it’s difficult not to gravitate towards things that already mean something to you. Perhaps things you already know. The old Citroen Xsara Picasso effect again…


But have no fear! With the Twitter-hashtag-feed already in full swing, you can be sure to find info from all the sessions as they happen. Just search #ASTD2014. Or you can find recordings of some sessions. And if that’s not good enough for you, check out “King of the BackChannel” LnDDave‘s awesome curated page of conference posts and resources.


Me? I’ll be tweeting, live-blogging and interviewing people as much as humanly possible. Today, I will follow the session on the “NeuroScience of Learning” with Josh Davis to see how we learn, the role of memory and how to make things stick. Then I’ll follow Ger Driessen from the Netherlands talking about “Big Data for Learning and Performance Support”. And I’ll finish my day of sessions with Anders Gronstedt‘s session on “Transmedia Storytelling”.


Turn in soon for a content-full update…


Thanks for reading!


ASTDTK14: Experimenting and Engaging to Create Effective Learning

As the days distance me from Las Vegas and the ASTD Techknowledge Conference, the eternal presenter in me is looking for the message, the one big takeaway, the answer to the 3 most important questions: “What is the point? What do you want from me? What’s in it for me?”

My answer today is that learning effectiveness is all about experimenting with learning initiatives and engaging the learner…


Both innovation and even real knowledge come from experimentation

In the opening keynote at TK14, Jeff Dyer told us that one of the keys to innovation is experimentation: We have to try new things if we want to get new results. If, as Donald H Taylor told us in Brussels last October, “the goal of learning is to be … agile enough to keep up with an ever changing environment”, then we need to stop throwing traditional training solutions at our business problems and approach things differently: Using open “what if?” questions and associative thinking, we must create hypotheses for the causes of business problems (and their solutions) and then set about designing new learning experiments that can test the validity of those hypotheses and lead to effective results. This approach to dealing with problems is key to any science or research process. But the learning function is not often seen as science and research…

Rueben Tozman said we must start by thinking about business in the same terms as our customers … and then define data models that tie behaviour, processes and learning activities to bottom line results. Based on those models, we can create data-driven-learning initiatives that can truly assess the situation and improve it. Too much of what we do in L+D (particularly training) is either unmeasurable or unmeasured. At the best, we can only say how people reacted to a training, but we cannot say that performance issue “X” is due to reasons “A”, “B” or “C” or that “A”, “B” or “C” can be resolved by specific (and effectively measured) learning initiatives “1”, “2” or “3”. While the rest of the business reports on almost everything, learning stumbles along on hope and faith.

To help us out, things are changing in the world of learning measurements. The traditional LMS and its “who followed what training” statistics will be replaced with advanced learning record systems, using experiential APIs like Tin Can, that could link pretty much any learning or performance activity to a data model that provides real insight to the learning profession.

And so my first conclusion is as follows: Know what makes the business run, be open to something new and be able to design data-driven learning experiments to assess effectiveness and really improve performance.


When it comes to creating something new, think “engagement”

Technology conferences tend to focus on new approaches to learning; TK14 was no exception. Starting with quite basic “enhancement strategies and tools” like QR codes for training, video learning initiatives and social media for formal learning and moving past transmedia storytelling to more granular MOOC-based learning strategies or attempts to gamify the learning experience, the thin red line of it all was “engagement”.

Amy Jo Martin kicked-off TK14 day 2 with a message about engagement and sentiment: “What connects people to you is not what you do, but why you do it”. * Extrapolating, I thought about why learners engage with other learners, materials or specific formal initiatives: They do it because they want to improve, to find solutions, to get good at something and because they “dig” it. In all our efforts to support this, we need to keep that basic engagement alive.

* This week, the London Learning Technologies Conference was opened by Brian Solis, known for his message about “the secret ingredient to engagement: empathy” and the importance of the user-experience.

Jane Bozarth and Mark Oehlert said that learning communities exist everywhere and our job is not to convince people of their value, but rather to convince them to see the value of “formalising” community activities at work using specific platforms (like Yammer or LinkedIn) and more open sharing or learning narration. If we start small, think big and move fast (Oehlert – video) with community activities, we can create a river of information flow that has real value for the organisation.

What really stood out for me (and kept me awake at night!) was the unique and numerous possibilities of mobile, as outlined by Chad Udell. Coming to Vegas as a mobile learning cynic, I was thinking only of more boring e-learning delivered on small screens. Leaving, I am convinced that since more-and-more people love to play with their phones and phones can do more-and-more things, there are real opportunities to engage and create learning effectiveness. Bring on the mobile revolution!

What did I miss at TK14 on “engagement”? Augmented Reality. I am running my own experiments with Aurasma for training, orientation exercises and onboarding experiences and I know that David Kelly shared his experience with Google Glass at LT14uk. I am sure that in the future such tools will allow us to shorten the distance between the learner’s own reality and more layers of knowledge, skills and future enhanced performance. Fingers crossed for ASTD ICE 2014 in May…

Either way, my second conclusion is simple? Let’s find better ways to make the learning experience awesome, natural and effective.


Experimenting and engaging – that is the message for me from ASTD TK14.


See you next time!




Enhance Training and Other Formal Learning with Social Media

During my own ASTD Techknowledge session this year, I discussed various ways in which trainers and formal-learning facilitators can enhance their initiatives with social media. The possibilities are endless and this post outlines tools that I find very useful, in addition to some best practices and other guidance. My PPT from the session can be found here on SlideShare


Why enhance your training (or other formal learning) with social media?

Using SoMe in training should not be done because it can, or because its fashionable, although some of my clients ask to enhance their training for that very reason. Another interesting by-product for the trainer or organisation is the impact on Google SERP results – use of well-tagged social media applications can be good for marketing.

Social media should be used in formal learning for the following reasons:

  • To create more longevity of learning
  • To enhance the reach of learning, by pushing content out (to others) and pulling content in (via participant networks)
  • To motivate participants
  • To find more knowledge, share attitude and best practices
  • To encourage and profit from more sociability
  • When learning objectives suggest the need for a social intervention (eg: identify “best” practices)


Social media learning activities can bring value before, during and after classical formal organised “learning moment”

For the purpose of this post, I will mention now things to do with social media to enhance a classical training, although all examples could be applied to a non-training based initiative. For an example including no formal training session, read this post. The following uses of SoMe are designed to increase the minimum effective dose of learning activities. Despite my classing them “before”, “during”, “after” you can interchange as you see fit…


Before training

Share expectations, agenda and content and introduce yourself

  • I like to do this via video, using an iPhone to film and my YouTube channel for storage and sharing
  • Example introduction video here
  • If necessary make your introduction video unlisted, so only people receiving the link can view it
  • Share ideas on how you will work, the added-value of training and expectations/pre-work
  • Participants tell me they like these videos simply because they see my face before they arrive
  • For an awesome and different example, contact Rick Lozano or follow his ASTD ICE 2014 session in DC this May


Help participants to get to know each other

  • I like to use LinkedIn for this, as many of the people I meet in training already have active accounts
  • You can close your group if you want to, so only the people you want are present
  • Example group here, as used for ASTDTK14
  • Find out how to do pretty much anything with this free book “How to Really use LinkedIn
  • You may notice that my example group doesn’t have much action – probably because I didn’t have participant names/emails prior to the session to invite them to take part
  • Tip: Be sure to ask good questions and give pre-training assignments, where participants can report back in the group


Share knowledge and get people thinking prior to the course

  • Create a playlist on YouTube or share a blog-post or other online resource
  • Use a story-based tool like InkleWriter from InkleStudios to allow participants to discover the content by themselves in an interactive way – example from my leadership training


During training

Ask participants to make notes together

  • I am now using the GingkoApp tool, which is free to use and can be simultaneously accessed by multiple people on different devices
  • See a well-used example here
  • Notes can be exported nicely to MS Word (and other formats) meaning you can easily create a bespoke participant training book after your session


Quiz, vote and get feedback during the session

  • During tk14, Chad Udell did a great job of using to collect ideas and brainstorm during his session
  • Other tools like Socrative are easy to use and have a mobile app available on both iOS and Android


Ask the network

  • Since participants have their own (vast) networks, why not get them to ask people for opinion or references via Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook – this can take time, but over multiple day sessions, input can be valuable
  • Use Skype to invite an expert to “attend” the session


Document your flipcharts

  • If your flipcharts are worth looking at, they are worth keeping
  • Take pictures and upload them to a sharing/storage platform like SkyDrive or GoogleDocs
  • Example here
  • You could also consider using Vine to make that sharing more interesting – example here


Ask participants to video-document their most important learning points

  • Do this with a smartphone and create a YouTube playlist or other storage facility to pull them all together
  • Again: Be careful with privacy issues
  • Feeling creative? Why not use ChatterPix for iPhone instead – example here


Augment your training materials

  • Wouldn’t it be cool if participants could scan their training materials and overlay an augmented reality video? You can 🙂
  • Not sure what I mean? Download Aurasma follow “dansteer” and follow “public auras” then scan this image to get a (rubbish, but functional) example
  • Publicise the Aurasma function near the front page of the workbook


After training

Collect L1 satisfaction feedback or references or learning points

  • I use to create a free wall in a couple of clicks
  • Send the link to participants and they can add what they want
  • Example here
  • You can add a password to the wall and change other privacy settings if you want
  • If you create a (free) accounr, you can manage what is posted, delete things etc..


Social internet bookmarking

  • Collect internet references in a cool radial (mindmapping) style using
  • Example here
  • Participants can add references (if you let them)
  • People can “pick your pearls” to take your references for themselves (if you let them)


Create a bookshelf so participants can find your favourites easily

  • I use to create my virtual bookshelf
  • Add a short summary of the book and rate it if you want to
  • ..I don’t bothher following people, that’s not the point for me



To really make all this work, here are a few additional tips…


Good luck!


Other resources related to my ASTDTK14 session can be found here

Thanks for reading!

See you on Twitter?



Reuben Tozman on Learning Scientists and Designing For Effective Data Collection

The final session of the day is with Reuben Tozman of edCentre Training Inc. He is talking about why learning professionals should think of their work as science, then focus more on data as they design their learning initiatives…

The pitch

In the learning world, we often don’t measure the effectiveness of our “learning”. Most of the people present today measure “participant satisfaction” for a specific training module or, at best, the knowledge those participants acquired, or can remember in a test. Some learning people will go further and evaluate (at level 4) to see if business performance has actually improved. But according to Tozman, very rarely do we actually evaluate if it was our “learning” that made the change in performance and if so, which part and how. If we could get that far with evaluation of the “learning” delivered, we could improve the minimum effective dose of learning (strip away what doesn’t have impact) and (more importantly) change the right things to make it work and ensure the performance results we seek.

Why aren’t we doing this already?

According to Tozman, part of the reason we are not doing this is that learning people do not always see themselves as “scientists” in the workplace. They don’t consider what they are doing as “experiments” and they don’t have clear data-models in mind when developing “learning”.

We tend to see ourselves as final solution providers that dump a “learning solution” into the world assuming it will just work. It’s like we are expected to bring solutions, rather than experiments. Half of the time we don’t even look to see if performance improved and the other half of the time, we don’t change anything even when the performance stays the same. We just “failed”.

Tozman suggests that we should change our approach to one where we, the learning professional, do some real science: State the problem, form a hypothesis, create an experiment to test the hypothesis, measure the experiment results and form conclusions about the hypothesis. And if we prove the hypothesis wrong, we move onto testing the next one.

To achieve that kind of scientific approach, we have to be able to design learning with data in mind.

What exactly do we mean by learning science?

If an experiment is going to effectively measure against a specific hypothesis, it needs to have a clearly defined data model, with measurable data point.

For example, imagine the following:

  • There is a problem with engagement, as shown by lack of retention and poor employee satisfaction
  • Hypothesis: People are not interested in the company vision and values
  • Experiment: Re-create the orientation programme to allow (but not oblige) participants to seek out for themselves more information about company vision and values
  • Run the experiment and measure results to see if “yes” or “no” people are interested in the company vision and values
  • Look at the results and conclude if the hypothesis is true
  • If it is, create something to improve the interest in vision and values; if it is not (and we are satisfied with the experiment) test the next hypothesis
  • What does it mean to “design for data”?

    In the experiment above , the “data model” gives us our definition of “engagement”: “People who are engaged proactively seek out information about company vision and values”. The “data points” we will measure might be “types of content chosen”, “time spent looking at that content”, “number of outbound links clicked from within one particular chunk of content” etc…

    When we re-create the orientation program, we might chunk-down all the possible parts on company vision and values and allow learners the chance to self-orientate though the possible options (if they want to). What we are hoping to create is an effective experiment to prove our hypothesis true or false. If we can watch what they do and prove our hypothesis true, then we can do something about it and eventually see better bottom-line performance results (better retention and more satisfaction).

    How will this help to create better learning?

    If we do all this, we will firstly be able to know that we are working on the right things (because we took the time to validate our hypotheses about the cause of poor performance) and we will be able to design something that we know is effective enough to cause a positive desired change in performance (in this case, actually improving our people’s interest in company vision and values). We will use the same data-driven scientific approach to design learning initiatives with lots of measurable data points, so that afterwards we can make associations between what we did and how this impacted bottom-line performance improvement.

    This is a different approach to the traditional design process. It will create real performance improvement and we will be able to confidently say that what we did had an impact.


    If learning people get in the habit of creating small measurable data-points in learning that correspond to well thought out hypotheses, we will be able to start collecting more and more data to show the link between what people learnt and how it impacts performance. Using tools like “Tin Can API” we will be able to collect and analyse lots of chunks of data from different systems and draw effective conclusions about the link between learning and performance… leading to real improvement.

    Mark Oehlert on Going “Social”

    Having heard Mark Oehlert talk yesterday about building communities in the TKChat with Jane Bozarth, I’m back for more… The brochure says we will discover the real barriers to adoption of “social”, social learning tools or subject-matter networks. Bring it on!

    Introduction to the common things we hear about “social”

    To start things off, Mark quotes a recent study that notes that many “social” initiatives will fail, but adds that this is not because of the tools. It is because of the culture of the organisation or the people in it.

    Secondly, he notes that the common fear of “people going crazy because you gave them freedom” is not justified. Leave a bunch of kids in a room with a football for 10 minutes and you won’t come back to chaos. You will come back to intelligent people who have thought up a game, with rules, and are following a structure to get something from the experience.

    Next, he underlines that you should not go social just because it’s fashionable. Don’t jump on the bandwagon because you can and don’t assume you are going to get million-dollar savings just by adding more “social”.

    And finally, he notes that things take time and should be done for a good business reason. If you have a good business reason to go “social” you are going to have to be patient to see results. Just as it took 2 decades to see the real impact of personal computers in the workplace, “social” takes time too.

    Don’t focus on the tools, focus on the dynamics behind them

    It would be easy to be feel overwhelmed by the number of tools available on the web. Everyday another platform or app is created and if you try to keep up, you will fail. So don’t. For us instead on what these tools can do for your business; , the affordances or added-value of the tool. Answer the famous “What’s In It For Me?” question. The tool will follow and probably even change. Think first about what you want to achieve and work from there. It’s not “Prezi”, it’s raising awareness.

    According to Mark Oehlert, the are 3 major dynamics at play in “social” (network) tools: Listening. Learning. Adapting. Ask yourself what you want to listen to, how you want to support learning and how adaptation is important in the organisation.

    What makes “social” work?

    Firstly, we must realise that the organisational culture is the foundation of “social” success. But as Jane Bozarth said yesterday, individuals all understand the value of community. We need to show the value for the organisation.

    Oehlert adds another important element: We need to change the way we think of knowledge. Knowledge is not something we need to try and stock, store and organise. It is something that flows. We need to think more about facilitating that flow around and through the organisation.

    Thirdly: It’s not about control, it’s about influence. Control comes from hierarchy and power. Leaders like to be in charge of what is said, how and where. Influence is created by how the community “rates” the information being shared. If they like it, they pass it on. If they don’t, they don’t.

    Where should we start getting “social”? Are there some business activities that can show the organisation the value of “social”?

    Mark Oehlert says that individuals “dig it” in their own world, but they sometimes wonder what is the value at work. There are some typical activities that lend themselves to “social” and can show that value to people. Consider starting your social adventure here:

  • Product development and co-creation
  • Market research and seeking out customer insights
  • Generating sales leads
  • Knowledge-sharing and FAQs
  • What are the barriers to going “social”?

    Different people in different functions will respond to the move to “social” in their own way. The IT guys worry about bandwidth (as if everyone is suddenly going to all download HD videos at the exact same moment and is if they wouldn’t be able to do anything about it), the financial controllers worry about people sharing information on the bottom line and the CEO is worried about strategy or commercial leaks.

    In short, like all change, it comes down to fear, control and trust issues. But the risk always existed. If you have email and telephones at your workplace, you are running the “social” risk; if you have lawyers that don’t dare to ask questions to their peers for fear of looking undereducated, you already have a “social” problem. These problems and risks have nothing to do with the technology. The technology is awesome.

    And who in their right mind would hire awesome people who could access awesome tools and then tell them to do nothing or control their every more? Or leave them stewing in their fear of ridicule? Crazy! What we need to do is educate our people for “social”, support people in the shift, and reap the rewards.

    What is the cost of not changing?

    How should you deploy “social”?

    Mark’s message is simple: It is important to start small, but think big and move fast. Don’t roll-out a massive social project for everyone right from the start. But don’t do pointless things for no-one either. Find an added-value “social” activity that is linked to your greater sense of (“social”) business purpose and a group of early-adopters and get them involved. When it works, invite some others to get started and add new activities….

    Good luck!

    Thanks for reading.
    More ASTDTK14 posts here.