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.

    Dr Kella Price on How to Use QR Codes for Training and Learning

    Dr Kella Price is giving us the low-down on the added-value of QR codes in learning. As an experienced user of many-things internet, I’m looking forward to seeing what’s new and how to get the best out of the QR principle. Everyone in the room has at least scanned a QR before, so we are all ready to learn more….


    A QR code is basically a link. You’ve surely seen one before somewhere. They look like this. At my children’s school, all the kids have QRs on a keyring attached to their bags for 2 reasons: In the case of an emergency, it is linked to contact details of their parents; when they stay at the crèche late at school, it is used to automatically create invoices for the service, based on the check-in/check-out time.


    Why use these QR codes at work? What is the real value? Where should I put them?

    The first thing to know is that people do scan these codes. In 2013, 181 QR codes were scanned every minute. Training participants today have mobile devices and they like to use them. Letting them use their devices in a training environment should therefore be…. (wait for it) …. engaging.

    And the application possibilities are enormous. You can give them resources and information and create real-time interactivity.

    According to Dr Price, the biggest value in any activity we do with these codes is the conversion rate of request/action. For example, if you send an email to people asking them to do something like enroll for a training or take a survey (request) you might get a conversion rate (action) of “X”. Price says that if you to integrate QR codes in other media you will get more than “X”. What kind of media actions are we talking about? Where can we add QR codes?

    • Add to a pay-check
    • Put on a poster, flyer or newsletter
    • Give new joiners in your company a key-ring with a QR code on it
    • Put on a business card
    • …or the photocopier
    • … or anywhere else!


    What kind of actions can these QR codes produce?

    Here, Dr Price is quite clear: The possibilities are endless. If you have an internet resource to share, put it in a code.

    Some learning examples include:

    • Adding additional resources to training materials
    • Running a survey with tools like SurveyMonkey or
    • Pushing people to your blog or YouTube channel


    …what ideas can you think of to bring value to your training?


    Where can I make a QR code? Can you do something special with your code?

    There are lots of free QR code-creation sites online. Some are better than others because they create good value images or can be customized.

    • Personally I use because its easy
    • Today I found in Dr Price’s session, which allows you to create custom codes including rounded-edges, different colours and even a logo or photo. It also has some templates with integrated logos for classic sites like Facebook, LinkedIn etc…
    • We also discussed using which when used with an account allows you to store all your QR codes for future use and (BIG added value) run analytics on the number of times your code has been scanned and via which sources
    • With you can create 1 code that links to various sites at once (cool!)


    Best practices?

    • When adding pictures to your QR code, do not make it bigger than 30% of the code size
    • Never cover up the “eyes” in the 3 corners of your QR code and don’t add anything in the bottom-right corner
    • Avoid light colours
    • Use colours for meaning. For example, if you split training content into 4 sections, use a distinct colour per QR codes found in each section.
    • When using the QR code in training materials, put a link underneath for those who don’t have a scanner
    • …and customize that link to make it short and keyword friendly


    Other resources and ideas can be found here:


    Thanks for reading



    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

    Thanks for reading!

    The Unique Affordances of Mobile Learning

    Chad Udell, Managing Director of Float Mobile Learning and author of “Learning Everywhere” is telling ASTD TechKnowledge 14 participants about how awesome mobile really is.

    “There is SO much possibility”
    I’ve heard this message before.

    I wondered why I would join this session. I was a non-believer. Finally, thanks to Chad, I get it…

    For the last 2 or 3 years, Tony Bingham has been opening ASTD conferences saying that mobile is important. Personally, I didn’t get it. Today I realise this was my fault. There was I thinking that “the Americans were stuck in the past, over-focused on delivering more knowledge content via a screen”. I assumed that what was meant by mobile learning was “pushing mini e-modules and video with mobile screens”; my own investigation into what apps I could make myself showed only glorified websites with a few buttons and a few screens.

    I could not have been further for the truth. And it is my own fault. I almost feel guilty for being so short-sighted. I had a limited vision. Mobile is not about screens at all…

    Mobiles can do a lot of stuff.

    Here are some functions that many of today’s smartphones contain…

  • Camera
  • Motion detector
  • Geolocation
  • Portable memory
  • Microphone
  • Notifications
  • Touch screen
  • …to really get the most out of mobile, you need to think of the different possibilities mobile affords us.

    ..and then ask: What can you do with these affordances?

    During our awesome interactive session with Chad, the audience did a lot of brainstorming on possibilities per those functions. Literally, we came up with 100s of ideas and Chad has promised to release those ideas (capture with via the #astdtk14 Twitter hashtag later this week. (Watch this space, I will add to the comment section) For now, a few ideas of things you could do…

  • Ask questions (eg Jelly)
  • Measure physical human movement data and correlate with performance (eg Nike Fuel)
  • Find an expert (literally, in the building)
  • Collaborative bookmarking
  • Receive advice from your phone about how to improve performance, based on previous performance and current situation
  • Let people know about changes in processes
  • Give safety alerts or facility information based on location
  • Learn anything from guitar to morse code via touchscreen
  • Practice hand-eye coordination for specific tasks
  • It was impossible for me during this session to capture all the different ideas and I wish I had, because without them here it is difficult to share my enthusiasm. So, try for yourself: Look at your smartphone or the list of functions above and just ask what is possible and what (and how) you could learn with these functions.

    Mobile is awesome. And even if the “everyman” amongst us can’t develop very good apps ourselves today, the future is bright…

    I believe in mobile learning!
    Thanks Chad 🙂

    How the Tin Can API could revolutionise the link between learning and performance, according to Tim Martin

    Tim Martin has been working with SCORM for years, listening to people’s experience and problems and thinking about its limitations and future. Given his experience as a key player in Project Tin Can, Tim is here today to advocate the values of Tin Can, share a few concrete project examples and show us how the future of Tin Can is going to be awesome…

    First things first: What is Tin Can?

    Tin Can is the answer to SCORMs problems.

    SCORM is a two-party system consisting of an LMS and some content, with standards about how it all fits together and how it works. SCORM is able to report in a simple way about the formal learning activities a formal learner undertakes. For example, tell us how many people followed a particular learning module. That’s it.

    What is wrong with SCORM?

    SCORM is limited because it can only tell us how or when one particular learner logged into an LMS to take a prescribed piece of training in an active browser session. If you read back the last sentence, you will see that it is fully loaded with all the problems of SCORM. That is not how we learn and that is not how we as organisational L+D people want learners to learn….

    With all the hype around 70:20:10 and non-formal learning that takes place in the organisation, it seems clear that the majority of what people learn doesn’t come from classical training or formal learning solutions like the e-modules or video that SCORM has been measuring. The majority of learning is not coming from one person (alone) logged into one specific LMS system (if any) to follow a prescribed event (eg training) at one specific moment in time. People getting a lot of content from a lot of different places, sharing a lot of ideas and they are definitely learning in a less formal way.

    And many L+D people today don’t want to oblige people to login to one particular LMS system to control their learning in a formal way. Martin cites the example of Google who told him “We don’t want an LMS. We don’t want people to have to do specific controlled things in a specific controlled way. We just want them to go out and learn.” But Google also wants to be able to see what is learnt and how it impacts performance. Enter Tin Can API…

    How does Tin Can work?

    Tin a Can API is a shared language for systems to talk to each other about the things that people do. It consists of an “activity provider” (whatever system it might be) telling what people did (whatever it was) and an LRS (learning record system) that listens and records. It does this with a simple noun-verb-object approach that records all activities and puts them in the LRS.

    This modern web-service based system easily allows different systems to collect information. Here is a list of use systems that have already adopted Tin Can as their standard. Theoretically, Tin Can API can capture everything that is going on. And then correlate those activities, run analysis and give insights about what is going on. Across different systems.

    The “activity provider” will report on (learning) activities across a variety of systems, which will then be stored in the LRS. This information can then be compared to data about performance from other non-learning systems. The LRS will be searchable (“bigdatable”) and could be used to draw all sorts of conclusions about learning and performance.

    SCORM can only tell us a little bit about learning activities, mostly about completion rates, sometimes about test results (eg Tim followed training module X). Tin Can will go much further, allowing us to capture almost anything at any level. Martin gives an example, comparing to a SCORM system that can (only) tell us that 6 learners completed a CPR module and scored average 68%: Tin Can will be able to tell us how many times one learner compressed the CPR test dummy during the simulation, where he put his hands and the impact that had on the reanimation process. It will be able to produce a massive amount of (big) data and analyse everything, looking for trends and giving full reporting on the correlations between different learning activities/results and, eventually, performance.

    But it goes SO much further than this still formal learning reporting…

    It may be awesome, but give me a practical example of this awesomeness please…

    Imagine the following: Google employees pick up content from across a variety of systems. They search, they consume and then they share content on platforms like LinkedIn, Yammer (or whatever Googley thing Googles use). Let’s pretend they are sales people. They then go out into the sales world and makes sales (or doesn’t).

    Tin Can will allow the Google L+D people to run analysis at a very detailed level on all the different (learning) content that was picked up by all the different people. Add into the mix reporting on who searched and shared what, how, where and when. Who liked something they read or retweeted it. Tin Can will then allow us to correlate all that information with sales performance activities and data (again from different systems) in order to draw conclusions about the acquisition of knowledge and skills and the impact on sales.

    Example: Do people who learnt how to ask specific questions in a sales meeting close more deals? Do people who called back their prospects within 2 weeks of meeting them close more sales than those who didn’t? What key words are top sales people searching on their browsers? Is there a correlation between the number or type of sharing on social media platforms and the sales closed. If so what?

    The possibilities for data collection and analysis with Tin Can are endless, given the simplicity of the way in which the “activity providers” report on what is being done (see below…). With such information, learning people (and managers) will be able to focus more on the learning the organisation needs to bring the results it is missing.

    Personally, I find this very exciting (others more cynical might imagine the scary dark-side applications of such systems). I already wrote about “Big Data for Learning in a Call-Centre” but didn’t realise the standards were there. Even though Tim Martin has repeated several times today that it’s not all there already and that we need to move slowly, it is clear to me that this will go very far…

    Thanks for reading

    Screen Video: 17 Best Practices (Regardless of the Tool) from Matt Pierce

    Screen video is on the rise. As people flip their classrooms, use mobile devices and seek new ways to get knowledge, learning professionals will need to master the art of screen video. Tips from Matt Pierce at Tech Knowledge in Las Vegas…

    First, what is useful to record?

    If you go online and try to see how tools work, there is plenty of content about the basics. These “how-to” lessons tell us the basics and answer the common questions. Focus your efforts on the difficult stuff, the errors, the specific things your people are trying to achieve. FAQs.

    Ask questions to define your audience

    Before you start recording, think about who is going to watch, when, how, where. Take your time to think about how this will make your content and format different. Is there one good way to do things? No… Adapt to all this!

    Storyboard your screen video

    If you ask Pixar or the rest of the movie world where they put the most effort in making movies, the answer is the storyboard. Think about what you are going to do in what order.

    Make a script… If you need to

    According to Pierce, the need for a script is proportional to your level of expertise. If you are an expert, you might be able to “wing-it” a bit more. But if you are less sure of your content, write a script. As a disclaimer, Pierce notes that the better he scripts his screen video, the more likely he will be able to tell his 5 minute story in 2 minutes. Script leads to minimum effective dose.

    Remember, length is an issue

    There is no correct answer to how long a screen video should be. But as a general rule, the shorter the better (provided it is effective). Focus on key messages. If you need to make 3 short films, this might be better than one long one. If you can provide references in your video where people can get more info, this is also a good way to shorten the video.

    Bad audio ruins good video

    According to Matt Pierce audio IS an issue. If you have taken the time to capture the screen well, put effort into the audio too. Get a USB microphone for your PC to avoid the fan sound. If you are using a headset (and don’t need to listen as well) flip the microphone around so its underneath your mouth, not in front of it. And get rid of as much noise pollution as possible…

    Don’t worry about the sound of your voice

    Options number one is to simply get over it. This will be easier if you realise that what you hear is not what others hear. But there is another option: Get someone else to speak!

    Don’t show big chunks of text in your video

    People don’t expect a lot of text in screen videos. They like image and movement. If you must put text, keep it short and build it up. Whatever happens, avoid big text!

    Use your voice as a tool

    No-one wants to hear you talking like you read. Your voice has volume, intonation, speed and articulation. Use these elements to modulate your voice and bring attention to specific parts. This will create better understanding and keep attention. Just like in a presentation…

    Be careful with humour… it’s subjective

    The best way to gauge humour is to get pre-back or feedback. See what works with your audience. Ask them. Do a dry-run or publish for 1 or 2 people before you release for everyone.

    Think about screen size

    According to Pierce, most modern devices will have a wide screen. But in reality, people use different devices to look at different content. Again, there are no golden rules. You need to know your audience.. Whatever you do, start with good quality and be consistent in size-usage across the record/edit/produce cycle. Pierce suggests 1280*720 (or bigger) for all steps. You can always make it smaller later…

    Be mindful of what you show around the things you are actually teaching

    Get rid of other applications so people can’t see what else you are up to (Facebook!). Turn off any and all notifications – you don’t want to ruin all your best efforts by having an email pop-up while you record your screen. Pierce suggests even having another computer used only for screen recording to avoid any issues.

    Balance translation efforts to expected ROI of the learning

    If you work in a multinational environment, you might have different languages in your target groups. What are the options for dealing with this? What can you do to reduce viewer effort?

  • Add subtitles
  • Make it again in the other language
  • Dub it eight another voice
  • Provide text translation in a supporting document
  • Encourage people to pause, take their time or even slow down the video
  • Provide channels for support outside of the video
  • Break down your video into smaller, easier to swallow chunks
  • Slow down with your screen captures
  • Be careful with music

    Jingles are very popular for the marketing department, who want to put it at the start and end of every educational video. But the user will soon get sick of it. Transition music between main chunks of information is good to create and re-win user attention. But whatever you do, don’t fill the video background with music. It doesn’t work!

    Change your mouse settings

    Two simple tips: Make your mouse-cursor bigger and slow down the mouse movement speed. Both of these will make it easier for others to follow what you are actually doing.

    Use transitions well

    First of all: Use them. A visual transition helps to create and re-win attention. But what is most important is that the transitions you use should have meaning (they happen between topics, for example) and be consistent (use the same transitions to show the same structural changes).

    Apply the rule of thirds, especially when filming people

    Read about this here:

    Thanks for reading!

    TKChat: Building Communities, with Jane Bozarth and Mark Oehlert

    Mark Britz is introducing the first TKChat at #astdTK14 on the topic of “Building Communities”. Armed with our 2 experts Jane Bozarth and Mark Oehlert it’s time to find out how to make those communities work…

    To get the ball rolling @britz asks Jane and Mark to first clarify the meaning of “community”. What does this word mean?

    Managers think of communities as another channel to force content top-down onto employees. Others are trying to create teams and better teamwork. But according to our speakers, community is really about purpose and common needs and objectives. With free will, people get together to share and make things happen. When you get started with building a community, you need therefore to first find that shared sense of purpose.

    How do you get started with building an organisational community?

    Oehlert says that the very first thing to do is to see what is already going on in the organisation. Does the community already exist? Learning people don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Take a look at the organisation and see what communities already exist. Then ask yourself: “How can we better support that?”

    See also “Analysing and Evaluating Informal Social Networks

    Once you are ready to go, it is important to be clear about the added-value of creating (or formalising) the community. If you can’t iterate the added-value of the community to people, they won’t use it.

    See also “Answer the 3 most important questions to convince your audience

    What are the keys to making things work with a community?

    First of all, Jane says that we must not just use the tool that comes with the LMS because it comes with the LMS. Look to see where people are currently getting in contact with each other and go there.

    Secondly, realise that it’s not because you build it that they will come. Community building takes time. People are not going to be hyper-active with their sharing and asking just because you made a new tool.

    This leads to the third point: Community management takes time as well. Someone needs to be there to stoke the fire, to encourage people and to show (online) community best-practice.

    How can we encourage people to start using community tools, share and narrate their work?

    Start by finding out what is going wrong in people’s jobs, where they have troubles and how community activity could help. This will give you a way in and direction for content-sharing.

    It would be easy to say that the community doesn’t work just because the culture isn’t ready. Any ideas?

    Despite the fact that young people obviously dig sharing in communities, that doesn’t mean that other people don’t. Oehlert says that everyone is in some kind of community. Maybe not online, but somewhere they are talking with like-minded people, whether it be on a mum-sharing site, a local town community organisation or elsewhere. They do know the value of a community and they probably know how to use one. We just need to get it working at work…

    On the other hand, Jane adds that if your organisation doesn’t share already, having a online community is not going to make it happen. First work on breaking down silos and getting people willing to share.

    Should we be controlling how communities function?

    Mark Oehlert’s first response is that you have to let the community grow in an organic way. If it moves in one direction and that brings value, let it be. And even if people start sharing less business-valuable content, they are still sharing.

    Secondly, it is important to realise that the new community tools we have today are not the issue when it comes to control. Control issues have always existed. If you have email or telephone, you have the risk of people sharing things in ways they should not. These new tools might make content sharing faster or larger (hence the risk is bigger) but if you had this “under Conti,” already and if people were professional, honest and useful already, they will be on the new tool.

    To finish this answer, Mark Oehlert adds that the best way to help things go in the right direction is to “walk the talk”. Share the things you want to see shared. Act the any you want other people to act.

    Should we have a big funky roll-out for the new tool?

    Jane Bozarth says this approach to kicking off a new community tool is dangerous. If you are going to start, start small and build it up. Look for people who have the community spirit and ask the to get involved. Start with content and sharing around something useful, so that when other people come to the tool they will find good content. This will encourage them.

    How can you create the best user-experience?

    Don’t just implement the tool you bought. Think about how people want to interact with the tool. Take the time to customise menu possibilities … after you get lots of feedback from the users about what they want!

    What should we be measuring in order to see if the community adds value?

    If you did the first step well (defining purpose) and if you have a good sense of business acumen then you should already know what you should be measuring. In addition to the usual things to measure (traffic, content and continuity) try to think about what the managers are thinking about:

  • What new innovation did we get since we started all this?
  • What problems have we solved?
  • How has our business grown? Are we seeing better results on the bottom-line?
  • Good chat!

    Other pieces of mine that might be interesting…

  • Online Community Management Tips and Best Practices
  • Use Yammer to Get Personal Value From Your Business Network
  • Making your Yammer Community Work – An Interview with Allison Michels
  • Thanks for reading