Blog Archives

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!

D

 

 

Amy Jo Hart on Education to Ensure Value from Social Media

Amy Jo Hart is one of the top five Twitterers in the world, New York Times best selling author and leading expert on the monetisation of social-media. Kicking-off day 2 of the ASTD TechKnowledge 2014 Conference, she is here to tell us that social-media value and “Return on Influence” comes from its humanisation and that if we want it to work, we need to educate our people …

Millions of people are active on social media. Billions even. And the potential for business, marketing and learning is huge. Amy Jo Martin knows it: Activities like her “random acts of Shaqness” have helped sports-people and big-name companies around the world to create social media influence and to humanise their brands. She believes that social-media based communication is relevant to every part of your business and as such, you need to make it work right.

According to Martin, social-media success is not about what you do, but why you do it. People don’t care about your products and services. People connect and stay connected to you (and your brand) because they believe what you believe. Her formula for SoMe influence is a blend of cold metrics (reach, followers, fans etc) x warm metrics (sentiment and engagement).

As Charlene Li has told us before, different people use SoMe in different ways. The aim is therefore to get real engagement from real fans and followers.

If we measure the payback of this engagement, we can start to see real value. Martin measures that ROI payback as revenue per available fan and followers on social media. Count your revenue and divide it by the number of fans or followers. If we can increase our influence and humanise the brand, we can increase our revenue.

So the question is: “What should we be doing around social-media in our companies?

One of the key messages Martin brings is that everyone is involved in our brand success: All the employees and all the customers. Everyone can be a brand-champion. And those same people might equally destroy the years of hard-work that have gone into creating your brand equity. If we want to get things right and create real SoMe ROI we need to educate our own people on how to do it well and give costumes good reason to say and share the right things about our brand.

In our own organisations, education on how to use social-media effectively helps us to decrease the liability of social-media based mistakes. It helps to create brand-ambassadors out of our employees. It can help people to develop within their profession. And of course it can save money for the company.

From teaching employees how to use a hashtag properly 🙂 to community management, crisis communication or social-media for HR and recruitment, education of your people is key to social-media success.

In Belgium, many of the large traditional organisations (banks, governments, insurance companies) are starting to understand the value of this education and are rolling out programmes across the organisation. I have been invited by Kluwer Training to deliver retraining on a variety of SoMe topics, from its use in marketing to its use in learning + developing itself. Hopefully they will see the results that Martin expects.

Looking for ideas for social-media education? Check out www.digitalroyaltyuniversity.com

Thanks for reading!
D