Blog Archives

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



Big Data for Learning in a Call-Centre

Whilst researching for a conference speech I will give soon for a Belgian government organisation on new learning trends, I have been checking out some of the ideas and literature around Big Data. This is a hot buzz-word with a lot of applications in the world of marketing and sales, but I am wondering about its application to learning. I don’t know yet what is truly possible today, but I wanted to share an idea that came to me of how Big Data could help learning and performance improvement in a specific environment: Call centres…


When I was Training and Development Manager for Sitel in Belgium (2002-2006) I would regularly meet with my colleague Peter to discuss learning needs. Peter was the head of the quality department. If you’ve ever called a call-centre before, you know those guys exist. They are the ones listening to your calls that may be recorded for quality and training purposes.

At the time, there were around 15 quality monitors for something like 600 call agents. In order to “assure quality” and “assess learning needs”, Peter’s team would spend half of the day listening to calls and assessing quality against a check-list of standards. The other half of the day would be spent side-by-side helping the call agents with whatever issues they had.

Suppose a call lasts 3 minutes and the after-call assessment/admin time might take a quality monitor another 3 minutes. One call treated in 6 minutes. 10 in 60 minutes. That means that in every half-day, 1 QM would hear 40 calls. 15 QMs would hear 600 calls. If we had 600 call agents each taking only 4 calls an hour, that’s nearly 10000 calls in a half-day. Of those 10000 calls a day, 600 are being heard by the QM team. That’s 6%. Heard and helped.


What could Big Data principles do to help here?

Imagine that instead of a Quality Monitor listening to only 6% of calls we had a voice and speech recognition tool listening to every call. Programmes within the QM analysis software would recognise key words or phrases, questions or objections and analyse their frequency or position in the call along with changes in frequency or volume and many other data. These data packets would then be laid out against data concerning call-times, frequency of calls and all other previous customer data, time of day, absenteeism in the call-centre, seasonal information and any other data about employment of the call-agent or his team members…. With all the data collected, the machine would run queries on the data, assessing trends. The Quality Monitor would then pull out his report and analyse further, perhaps dipping into more specific and targeted and useful moments of a call-recording in order to bring the all important human ear and evaluation to the data already provided.

In some cases, the machine would recommend specific learning points all by itself. It might, for example, instruct sales agents to use keywords X, Y, Z in sales calls concerning ______ in order to close more sales. It could even provide predictions for staffing and potential quality problems for future promotions or services offered by the company.

In many cases, the quality monitor would be able to spend more time working with the people who need on-the-job training and less time listening to the generic call moments that bring no added-value to performance improvement. We cannot imagine that the work of the QM would be redundant. Absolutely not – those people will be required to make (emotionally) intelligent evaluations that the machine cannot and to analyse in further and more creative ways the data collected.

But in all cases, it is clear to me that such voice-recognition software and Big Data computing power along side good statistical analysis and human evaluation would in this example create improved efficiency and could have a massive impact on learning.


Larger and more diverse sets of well-collected and organised data, better needs analysis, with clearer trends and more time to focus on understanding and improvement. Big data for learning.

What do you think? Where could your organisation innovate its learning needs analysis if all the available data could be efficiently captured and quickly organised and treated?


Thanks for reading



5 Tips for Game Design and Learning, from Julie Dirksen

During the Wednesday morning ASTD2013 session with Karl Kapp, we were “sold” on Gamification for learning. Session W306 with Julie Dirksen filled in some of the design gaps.

If, like me, you believe gamification for learning is worth exploring, you might be getting started on your first attempts at game design. When you have your basic idea for a game or how to bring game-mechanics into a learning initiative, what do you need to keep in mind to be successful? What specific game design principles must be followed? Julie Dirksen suggests the following….


Feedback mechanisms have to be used well

Dirksen says that to create good learning you need to give extremely frequent feedback, in diverse ways.

EA sports games are designed so you have to make a decision every 1-2 seconds and you get feedback on this every 7-10 seconds. Knowing where you are and how your behaviour has impact on results is important to keep players in flow. Flow is one major reason why gamified learning is more motivating than non-gamified learning.

As your game starts, build in feedback mechanisms that help players to learn how the game works and how they can progress. This approach is also used a lot in video games. The player is taken through simple situations in order to learn the rules of the environment and how to control her actions. When enough feedback has been given to really understand the basic principles, we can throw in something to take them to the next level of the game.

Another important element in giving feedback is to make it seem more “consequential”. This means that the feedback style itself is linked to the context or impact of the behaviour that leads to it. The example given is of a safety/security training: Instead of giving a simple verbal or text-based feedback that says “wrong answer”, players get a big noisy “BOOM!!” sound with a scary message about having just blown up the facility. In this way, the feedback style is linked to the desired learning and the environment in question.

According to Dirksen, these kinds of feedback approaches are far more effective than random badges and points that go no-where.


People only give their attention if they want to

When Dirksen asks “How long can you pay attention to something?” the participants of session W306 are careful not to give big numbers. Thinking of our own school experience and what trainers tell us in “Presentation Skills” training, we know it can’t be too long and we answer “about 10 minutes”.

“But it’s not true”, says Dirksen, adding that “some people watch all 3 extended “Lord of the Rings” movies back-to-back at the cinema.”

The fact is that if you give players/learners/spectators what they want, they will give you their attention. In my opinion, the following 3 ideas will help:


People respond best to relevant rewards they get now

Dirksen spoke to us about the way rewards should be used in gamified learning.

In much training, participants don’t really realise “what is in it for them” until quite late in the process. And the rewards that are given for learning or game performance (feedback or other rewards) are not given until quite late, maybe only after the game. But psychology and everyday life show many examples of how people focus more on immediate rewards and less on rewards that comes later. The obvious example is of smokers who choose to have un-healthly pleasure now over health (or lack of bad-health) later. The major exception to this basic rule is that if the reward appears to be very high, we will be willing to wait for it. (And the further away the reward is, the bigger it needs to be.)

So unless you have a really good pay-off, bring in game rewards early on.

Rewards also have to be meaningful to the learner. Random badges, points and prizes do not improve game performance over time. Dirksen gave the example of how the inherent reward of the learning itself in a maths class could be better tailored to fit participants by using problems and examples that are related to their own reality. For example, for future entrepreneurs who need maths training, rather than creating a random maths game, you could create a maths-game around the ideas of successfully running a business.


This last point reinforces another Dirksen tip: Match game deliverables to desired behaviours and business deliverables

Dirksen showed as a simple game created for call-centre learners who needed to remember not to give away sensitive information to competitors who might call them pretending to be clients. In order to achieve this, they were asked to play a game where different logos floated down the screen and they had to shoot the ones of their competitors. Although the first look might suggest this is fine (it reinforces the idea that competitors are “bad”) Dirksen said it failed on several levels:

  • In reality, call-agents do not see the logos of their competitors when they call. The game did not involve the actual behaviours they should look (or listen!) out for.
  • Most call-agents do not have guns at work 🙂 The winning game behaviour did not match the desired real-life behaviour.
  • The game-behaviour was very aggressive and might encourage call-agents to be aggressive towards any competitors they did encounter in their calls.


Challenges must be incremental and in line with the players current competence

If I place my daughters by the tennis court opposite the Williams sisters, not only will they lose, but they will likely find it very stressful and not learn very much. To be effective with gamified learning, challenges must fall within the “flow-zone”…


According to Dirksen, much traditionally training falls into the boring side of the chart, not because it is inherently boring, but because of the lack of challenge. Using a gamified approach, we can create challenge, but we must be careful not to go too far too quickly as this can bring stress to the learner. And as competence rises, so must the gamified challenge…


Having listened to Dirksen and Kapp at the ASTD2013 ICE, I had the opinion that many elements of my own training could be dramatically improved by the use of game. But even if I don’t want to gamify things, I think it is important to align training with these principles of feedback, attention, reward, deliverables and challenge.



Karl Kapp on Gamification

Session W209 of the ASTD2013 ICE featured Karl Kapp, world leading expert on gamification talking about how gamification can improve learning.


Gamification is the use of game-based mechanics or game thinking to promote learning, motivate action and solve problems.

In the US, the military have used massive open online multiplayer games to define military strategy in Somalia, combatting problems with pirates. Others, like the fun theory folk, have used game mechanics to encourage people to use the stairs or recycle bottles or stop speeding. The applications are numerous. What can we do with this in learning?

According to Kapp, many of the things we do in learning do not inherently tap into the natural motivations of the user. We invite people to partake in static learning environments and hope that they will get involved and change behaviour. Sitting in a training room, experts share models and ideas, we take part in reality-based exercises and try to integrate what we are learning. It can be a struggle to learn or keep the attention and effort of participants, many of whom would sometimes rather be elsewhere. If we used some game-mechanics in the same way companies like EA or the Angry Birds people did, we could do so much better.

The first things Kapp told us is that great games are about interactivity and immersion. They are not about awesome graphics, or franchises linked to movies. In fact, some of the most expensive-to-develop games are vey disappointing for the user and do not result in much flow or satisfaction. In reality, game-based activities can be very simple. Like my experiment with gamification at the dinner table.


So: It’s not about points

Although games like Adobe’s “Level Up” up can work well, the first thing to know is that gamification is not (only) about adding points or leaderboards to show progress or reward people for their efforts. In a comedy conference moment, Kapp noted that if that was true, progress wars would be the most popular game on the planet. On a more serious note, he asked us to think about what happens at home and in schools when gold-stars are used to motivate children to behave well: It works at the start, but before you know it you are negotiating more-and-more rewards to get the same behaviour. If money, sweets, stars or points are the only tools you have to motivate people, you are doomed to fail. Gamification is much more than that. That misunderstanding is the reason why Gartner says many gamification attempts will fail.


What can you do to use gamification in learning?

The possibilities with gamification are enormous, ranging from using one or two simple game mechanics to enhance the learning experience, to creating complete games as the entire learning solution, to simply piggy-backing on a non-relevant game to pass across important messages. Regarding this let option, Kapp told about one company that asks their people to play a simple online game for 2 minutes a day and during the this seemingly random game, a mini-quiz question related to safety and security pops up to remind them of important procedures. Nobody minds this corporate intrusion, because they are still having fun for 99%.


What kinds of game-mechanics are we talking about?

Again, there are SO many options. When I spoke at the Epsilon conference on the topic of gamification, I noted 9 game-mechanics that could be interesting to integrate in learning programs. The Wikipedia entry on game mechanics offers others.

Kapp spoke about a few in detail. These are listed here… Concrete applications for your learning tracks and training are discussed later…

  • Context and story is used a lot in games. Players are immersed in appealing environments that makes sense to them. You can read about my user-experience with “Zombies, Run!” in this short article on the ASTD blog page: “The Gamification Experience – What Does It Feel Like?”
  • Missions and levels are used to “up” the challenge and give players something to strive for
  • Open-ended problems and mystery create learner intrigue
  • Fantasy is used to get learners out of their known environment. A game like “Merchants” can be used to create negotiation skills, whilst playing a venetian trader
  • Immediate feedback is used in games like Pacman to let you know all the time where you are and how you are doing
  • Characters and avatars can be used to improve motivation


Simple game-based ideas for trainers and instructional designers to implement today

  • Don’t start training with learning objectives. It is a closed-loop that tells you what you need to know. It doesn’t intrigue. Try instead to start with an open-loop. Create a challenge that gets people involved and motivated. For example, give them a question or activity that gets them thinking immediately about a problem they have to solve.
  • Give people lives to lose. This gives permission to fail. When we get 3 lives at the start of a game, we immediately understand the assumption that we are going to die and that it’s OK.
  • Give feedback in different ways. This could be points and progress bars. Or it could be sound… Kapp spoke about security compliance training that used a big “boom” sound and the image of an explosion to reinforce incorrect behaviour and “scare” participants into not wanting to do it again!
  • Use characters and story in exercises that take people a little bit out of their natural working context
  • ..but don’t forget that those activities must be linked to the actual learning. Don’t use random challenges or ice-breakers.
  • When you use a game-based exercise in training, be sure to introduce it in the same way you would do any other exercise: Introduction, play, debrief.
  • Be sure to test, dry-run and retest your game efforts to get feedback on how they work and be sure you are using them to reinforce the right behaviours.


If like me, you are wondering how to actually INVENT games, Kapp gives some simple advice in this short interview I conducted for Kluwer at ASTD.


For more resources, check out:


Bring some Disney magic to your learning customers

The ASTD2013 session M319 with Disney is packed. It’s hot (it’s Texas!) and there is a promise in the air of a great session on the importance of customer service in business and in learning.


Disney is famous for its customer service. Many years ago, dear old Walt said that his people should “give the public everything you can give them”. Is this relevant for learning? If so, how?


Firstly, a question: What is customer service anyway?

The classic definition is about having the highest standards and meeting needs. At Disney, it’s about exceeding expectations through attention to details. In order to achieve this kind of service, you first need to have a clear idea of your own customer service values and mission. And then you need to act accordingly.


Exceeding customer expectations

Stu Levine shared a story about a small boy who lost his teddy bear at Disney, unknowingly leaving for home without it. When the staff found the bear in room 217, their customer-centric values came into action….

Classic (poor) service would have meant putting the bear in the lost and found and waiting to see if the family calls. Unrealistic and unsustainable customer service would have been sending the top employee to drive the bear back to the boy’s home 1000km away and hand-delivering it to the boy with full-on Disney movie music and heavenly lights.

What did Disney do? They took the bear to 2 or 3 attractions in the theme park and took a few pictures of it on the rides. Then they printed the pictures and put them in a box with the bear and a note saying “Sorry I was late home. Had a great time at the park.” Then they sent the box back home to its owner. The motivation for this? Well, for Disney, “even if its not our fault, its our problem.” According to Stu Levine, this “little Wow” is what Disney is thriving for in their customer service. They go the extra mile because they have a clear idea of their customer service values and mission. And then they act accordingly.


It’s all in the details

A major principle that Disney uses to deliver magical customer service is that in everything they do they put the customers’ needs and context first. In order to do that Disney relentlessly studies their guests and what they really want. And then they act accordingly.

For example, one of the most regular questions that Disney theme park employees receive is “What time is the parade?” A bad customer service would be to answer that “It’s in the brochure you received on arrival.” Classic service would be to answer “It’s at 3pm.” Good customer service would be to answer that “The parade starts at Frontier Land at 3pm and it’ll be here by 3.15 so you want to be standing over there by the restaurant by about 3pm.”

The Disney approach is to think about what the customer really wants (their situation, values and needs) and then to go the extra mile to deliver what really counts for them. This means not focussing on facts and process, but focussing on delivering real value to the customer: “The parade starts at 3pm in Frontier Land and will pass by here by about 3.15. But if you have the time to go over to Frontier Land now, there are less people watching the parade there and you can get some shade from the sun with your kids. The tram is over there, just about to go, but I’ll get them to wait a moment for you.”


Listening to Levine, I want to propose 6 simple ideas to help you deliver this kind of service

When you read these notes, ask yourself: “What does this mean to me and how will I use it to improve my learning offer…?”

  • Know your values and priorities and use them as guiding principles to make service choices. In a Disney theme park its all about (in order of priority) safety, courtesy, show and efficiency
  • Do an outstanding job of getting to know your learners
  • Be aware of the impact you can have on the emotions of your customers. People might forget the details and might forget what happened, but they won’t forget the feelings they had.
  • Create the customer experience from the very first second
  • Pay attention to the little details. No one of them is by itself going to ruin the show for everyone, but every one of them has the potential to be noticed one of your learning customers. For better or for worse.
  • Make sure you can always deliver the answer to your learners most important 3 questions


To wrap the session, a few wise words from Mr Disney himself:
“You don’t build it for yourself. You know what the people want and you build it for them”


Good luck!



Analysing and evaluating informal social networks

ASTD2013 session SU301 is all about informal networks. Many learning professionals have heard that informal networks are extremely influential, also “producing” the vast majority of learning in an organisation.


Yet HR people traditionally put most of their efforts into formal processes, communications, learning or training initiatives and well-defined communities of practice or functional/organisational charts. We like to control and measure things and when we hear about anything informal, we imagine ourselves as potentially helpless.

But in fact, HR and learning professionals can really have impact on organisational performance and development by taking the time to analyse these informal networks and use findings to support succession planning, engagement, knowledge sharing…. Shari Yocum tells us how.


Learning and HR professionals have a lot of tools at their disposition, but key business results still need improvement

Our speaker tells us that despite the myriad of tools available for learning and development (performance reviews, to training, succession planning, coaching and assessments…) many business leaders still don’t see HR as a trusted partner who actually gets things done. They say that HR needs to better focus on the key business areas that create value. As Kevin Cope might say in session W310, they need more business acumen. And according to Shari Yocum, effective analysis of informal business networks will help those same HR people to become strategic partners who lead change, developing leaders and cultivating the organisational culture. Sounds good! Lets go…


Why are we talking about informal networks and social network analysis today?

We are shown a video of Gini Rometty, CEO IBM, who reminds us that we are now in a knowledge era and that it is not processes and conveyors belts that create great results. It is people. We need to “understand the social network not as [our] water-cooler, but as [our] new production line.”

In that culture, the informal networks that exist across the functional and divisional organisation charts found on the intranet have a massive impact on the way things actually happen. They can make or break change initiatives. They can communicate for you. They learn by themselves. A “conversation with Jim” affects me more than anything I might receive from HR or the CEO.

At the moment, according to Yocum, many HR tools help us to understand individual employees and their function, problems and needs. But they don’t get far enough into the network to which the person belongs. Yet that network is massively important.


OK, it sounds good, but what exactly are we talking about here? Let’s define some network terms…


Yocum defines a network as a structure made up of a set of actors (such as employees) and a complex set of ties between them. This network consists of:

  • A node, which in human organisational terms would be the employee
  • Links that may be weak or strong, direct or indirect, reciprocal or not
  • Hubs, which can be considered as a node with a lot of connections going through them

Different parts of the network are considered as more central (relevant or important) than others. This might be based on proximity to others or their position in the network “flow”.


Specific nodes within a network can be seen as:

  • Bottlenecks to success, which is considered here as how things flow through the network
  • Unsung heroes who do invisible work” that supports the network, but may not be seen in the organisational charts
  • Key people on who others depend. If removed from the network, others in the network find themselves without the connection they need.
  • Brokers connect 2 or more others who would not otherwise naturally be connected
  • Isolated people, that seem un-connected


Networks within themselves can be evaluated in terms of (non-exhaustive list):

  • Density, sparsity or clique-y-ness
  • Cohesion: Highly cohesive = a high-level of reciprocity
  • Structurally unsound, because there are holes in there
  • With multiple attributes of varying importance
  • ..etc etc…


For more information about the different elements of a network, here are some references:


What can be done with social/informal network analysis?

According to Shari Yocum, effective network analysis can show many extremely important things in an organisation. Without much analysis skill, you could easily see:

  • Who is likely to be dissatisfied due to insufficient network (no-one to go to for answers, blocked from important functional nodes)
  • Who has a lot of influence in a network
  • Who represents a risk to business success, should leave the organisation (structural hole)
  • Where business results are slowed down (bottlenecks)
  • Which parts of the organisation are most likely to grow and learn “all by themselves”
  • Which departments are thriving and which are slowly dying
  • Where and how human resource deficiencies are having an impact on performance
  • What might be the impact of relocation or promotion
  • Which people could create better results in another part of the organisation
  • Which departments or people should be “copy/pasted” into other areas of the business

My own feeling listening to Shari is that this list of applications could go on and on. The concepts of network analysis seem very important to me today. AND I am starting to see a trend today on “seeing the bigger picture” in terms of the organisation and its performance. More on this later…


Thanks for reading.
Please leave a comment or subscribe to the blog.


And don’t forget to check out my Daily Dallas Weather Reports fresh from the ASTD2013:



Google’s experience with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

MOOCs are gaining popularity. During session SU111 of day 1 at ASTD2013, Julia Wilkowski and Phil Wagner took us thought their experiences designing and delivering MOOCs at Google.


A colleague of mine just followed a MOOC on Gamification with @kwerb and Coursera. She had a great opportunity to gather a lot of information and learning on a new topic that really interested her. (You can read my mini Twitter interview with her on this post) In Belgium, we just had a great MOOC on how to use Internet for learning. But if you want to set and run your own MOOC what are the key steps to take? How can you ensure success? What are the key competences required of a MOOC facilitator? What are the challenges for MOOC participants to really learning? And are MOOCs only interesting for large multi-site organisations? Let’s see what Julia and Phil had to say…


Why is Google interested in MOOCs?

Google’s mission is to organise and make available all of the world’s information. Clearly MOOCing is linked to that. But why is it interesting? What is the added-value?

When the very first MOOC went online, over 100 thousand people got involved. Some of the online students did better in the course than the people who followed it IRL at Stanford. Why? Google’s own evaluations showed massive satisfaction from the learning population. They loved the format. They saw more search results related to the content during and after the MOOC (engagement)…


What is a MOOC?

A MOOC is a massive open online course. To be massive, you have to have at least 100 learning participants and maybe as many as 10000. MOOCs have instructors, instruction (content) goals and schedules. It may be as simple as delivering knowledge to the masses, or it may include discussion forums or Q/A sessions with experts, testing and certification. At Google, they used several of their own branded tools to create interactive, measurable learning activities (eg Google Hangouts and YouTube). MOOCs can be used to learn specific knowledge and skills, but may also be an opportunity to have crowds of people learn together to solve complex human problems, like traffic problems in Tokyo.


What do Google do to get MOOC success? What can YOU do?

  • Have diversity of content offerings/platforms. It is important to give MOOC students choice about how they learn.
  • Measure hits on various content (using Google analytics, for example)
  • Give feedback as quickly as possible, by creating challenges for students to self-test their own learning as they go through the course
  • Google saw that not everyone likes complete freedom in the way they follow through content. In order to account for people who need a little more structure, they offered a “scaffolding” or learning structure/order to follow. Those who found it easily to choose for themselves were not obliged to follow the structure.
  • Let people self-evaluate their learning as they go. Google of course gave people the right answers to things as they were learning, but they also encouraged people to meta-evaluate their own learning approach during the MOOC.
  • Offer an equal amount of text-based learning and video-based learning. In Google’s first evaluations, they saw that the number of hits per lesson was split roughly 50:50 text:visual. We often assume that one or the other would have more impact/success for certain learners or content, but Google continues to develop them both.
  • Work hard to create a good community within learning participants. Google have seen that the completion rate of MOOC courses are significantly higher when there is a sense of community with connection and accountability towards other learners. Include the community aspect in your MOOC.
  • Break learning activities into short chunks. For example, a video should not be more than 5 minutes long.
  • Follow up acquisition of knowledge (lessons) with experimentation and self-testing moments. Julia Wilkowski is convinced this increases completion rates and general engagement.
  • Have a facilitator once the MOOC is online. Look out for spam and stoke the fire for success.


How can normal non-Google people get started with MOOC building?

One of Google’s strategic interests is the ability to easily scale solutions. For that reason, they have created (and open-sourced) Google Course Builder. This free tool can be used right out-of-the-box to make simple MOOCs with content you already have. Phil Wagner repeats: “It could be online this afternoon.” But if you want to make it more sexy or if you have coding experience and time, it is completely open-source.


Great first session with Julia and Phil. Met Rick Lozano IRL and feeling energised for more 😉

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to tune into the ASTD2013 Daily Dallas Weather Reports on during the conference…



@LnDDave David Kelly on Learning Conferences in 2013

As part of my preparation for the ASTD ICE 2013 conference in Dallas this month, I’ve been interviewing people like Tony Bingham, Juana Llorens and Frederic Williquet (coming soon). Today, its David Kelly, better known to his 3000+ Twitter followers as @LnDDave and to others as the King of the backchannel… David is speaking at the ASTD2013 International Conference and Exhibition during session SU210 “Curation: Beyond the Buzzword”. In this interview, he outlines his approach to conference success and the learning and development topics he is currently most interested in.


Q1: In the previous conferences you have attended what have been the most interesting sessions you followed?

I usually break conference sessions into two categories: Sessions that will provide me with knowledge and skills that I can use today and sessions that will expand my skill sets and prepare me for skills I will need tomorrow.

I’m at a point in my career where I probably allocate my sessions to 25% “today” and 75% “tomorrow”. However, I’m lucky enough to have been in this field for about 15 years and have been to more conferences and professional development opportunities than most in the field. The average practitioner has less experience and does not regularly attend conferences, so I would expect their allocation to skew more towards skills they can use today.

Specifically for me though, I usually try to find one or two sessions that break the mould from what you might expect from a learning professional conference. For example, some of the sessions I’ve been interested in at recent events include topics like sketch-noting, looking at design in places outside of instructional design and gaming.


Q2: I know you’ve spoken at and attended a number of conferences in the past few years. What topics do you think still merit more work and attention in 2013?

I recall reading a statistic recently that said the average experience of people in our field is five years. If that’s true, then most of the people in our field are likely novices. As I mentioned a moment ago, a sizable percentage of any conference audience will be new to the field and may actually be attending a conference for the first time. As such, there’s always going to be a need for entry-level programs that help those novices develop skills they can use immediately. And I think that’s very important.

What interests me more though are the sessions that go beyond the basics and stretch the novice skills set. I think conferences need more sessions that make attendees rethink the traditional “training” paradigm; sessions that help refocus our field away from “training” and “learning” as the default and start shifting our focus towards “performance” and “contextual connections”. With that in mind, I’m hoping to see more conferences including sessions focused on topics such as telling better stories with our data, performance support instead of training, experience design over instructional design, and breaking away from the course model.


Q3: What are according to you the 3 biggest challenges that learning and development managers will face over the next 5 years?

Just three? I’m kidding. Here are three that immediately come to mind:

  • Redefining data: There’s a lot of buzz around data right now. If you look at most conference programs you’ll likely see sessions including terms like “Big Data”, “Tin Can” and “The Experience API”. Learning professionals need to pay attention to this. The way we define data, in terms of metrics like completions or pass/fail, is going to be replaced with data that tells a much more meaningful story around performance. The question is: Will learning professionals be ready?
  • Learning as part of the work: Traditionally, workers needed to stop work in order to learn or be trained. You needed to either leave the workplace to attend training or stop working to sit in front of a computer to complete an elearning course. That’s changing. Technology now enables learning and skill development to be built right into the existing workflow without the need to have an employee stop working to attend ‘training’. It’s less intrusive and fits better into the model of how workers really learn how to do their jobs. The problem is: The traditional training skill set does not support playing in that space.
  • Shifting from “knowing” to “connecting”: The shelf life of information is decreasing rapidly while the speed in which performance support interventions are required is increasing even faster. In today’s world of exponentially increasing data it is impossible to know everything. What is therefore far more important is to be able to find the answer to anything in a timely manner. With that in mind the role of the learning professional shifts away from building and delivering solutions towards building connections between those with needs and those with the resources that satisfy the need. This involves competencies that are new to the learning profession such as curation and community management.


Q4: People not attending a conference can follow content via your backchannel “hub page”. Do you have ideas on how they can get more actively involved during conference week?

Without question the best way to be more involved in a conference backchannel is to prepare yourself for it ahead of time. Many people want to participate, but don’t regularly use Twitter, where most backchannels today take place. That’s a recipe for failure. The value of a backchannel comes from the sharing and from the connections and interactions you have with other like-minded professionals. You can’t concentrate on “what to tweet” to participate in a backchannel if you’re still struggling with “how to tweet”.


Q5: What are your own personal objectives for conferences this year?

My objectives for conferences are actually pretty consistent when examined at a high level. They include:

  • Learning about the trends that will impact our industry in the future.
  • Looking for sessions that might provide answers to problems I am actively trying to solve.
  • Connecting with attendees and continue to expand my personal learning network.


Maybe you have a question for David yourself? He will be speaking at the ASTD2013 International Conference and Exhibition during session SU210 “Curation: Beyond the Buzzword”.

You can find him on Twitter and keep in touch with his opinion on the ever changing world of learning and development.

Or you can leave a comment here.

Thanks for reading!


David Kelly headshot

David Kelly is the Program Director for The eLearning Guild based out of New York, USA. He has over over 15 years of experience in the learning field, serving capacities of training director, internal learning and performance consultant, social media trainer and community manager. Regularly referenced as king of the conference backchannel, David is also a Twitter chat curator. Learn more about David at his website:

Juana Llorens: ASTD 2013 ICE recommendations

In preparation for the ASTD International Conference and Exposition this May in Dallas, I interviewed ASTD’s Community of Practice Manager for Learning and Development Juana Llorens to get her recommendations for sessions, preparation and follow-up…


What do you expect people from your community are going to be excited to learn about at the ICE this year?

I think that many people in the ASTD Learning and Development Community are excited about taking some practical guidelines back from this year’s ASTD ICE in Dallas. This is a group that loves theory and big ideas, but they also really want to get their hands on those big ideas and put them to work. They are looking for any tools and tips to design learning faster and more collaboratively.

With that in mind, I imagine that Michael Allen’s “Leaving ADDIE for SAM” session and anything on Agile will be quite popular. People also want to figure out how to use evidence and science in practical ways to better engage their learners and get their programs to really “stick.” David Rock’s session (The Neuroscience of Growing Talent), Ruth Clark’s Scenario-based e-learning session, and Karl Kapp’s session on games will be well-attended in that arena. Also look out for the Josh Davis session and Julie Dirksen session. They will be talking about how to do a phenomenal job with brain-based and evidence-based approaches. This is just a sample of what gets the L&D Community going!


How would you advise people to prepare for their visit to the ICE?

There are plenty of tools on the conference website to help you plan your time. Put them to work and research the sessions that will have the most meaning for you. On the other hand, allow for flexibility—stop by a session or two that you might not ordinarily attend. You might be surprised. Also, set at least 3 specific goals for what you want to bring back to the job. That could be 10 new professional contacts, or a new way to perform a major task. And speaking of contacts, bring business cards! So many people travel miles away from home with no way to distribute their contact info. If you want to save trees, generate a QR code that your new connections can scan to keep in touch.


For those that can’t be present in Dallas, what is in place to follow or to get updates at a distance?

If you aren’t able to attend, there are plenty of options to get updates. Follow ASTD on Twitter using the hash tag #ASTD2013, and subscribe to one or more of the ASTD Blogs for news, tips, reminders, and fresh content about what’s going on in Dallas. In addition, the “Conference Daily” will be available online as well at (as of May 19th only).


Juana Llorens

Juana Llorens is the ASTD Community of Practice Manager for Learning & Development. She works with L&D practitioners, writers, and experts and thought leaders from around the globe to deliver meaningful content and best practices to instructional designers, students, training facilitators, and all others interested in workplace learning. Follow Juana on Twitter @ASTDLearningDev, find her profile on LinkedIn or visit to read blog articles and updates from around the industry.



Learning Methods A to Z

There are SO many ways to approach learning. This post is the beginning of a learning methods A to Z, based on ideas I have been collecting and discussing in various conferences and workshops… If you have ideas, please comment and I will add them!



  • Agenda tracking (time-tracking – see when you are most productive etc..)
  • Allowing mistakes
  • Asking auestions
  • Assessment





  • Case Studies
  • Challenge (something to stretch you out of your comfort zone)
  • Coaching (defined here as “helping other people to find their own answers to their own questions” – in contrast to “mentoring”)
  • Collaboration (just working together leads to learning too!)
  • Conferences
  • Conversation
  • Curating content (maybe using tools like Paper.Li or Pearltrees)



  • Digital libraries, virtual bookshelf (like
  • Discussion
  • Documents (templates, company processes)



  • e-Learning
  • Emailing (communication updates, tips and tricks…)
  • Exercise (eg security drills, fire alarms)
  • Experience
  • Evaluation (thus improving self-knowledge…)









  • InfoGraphics (like this one.. you can stick them on walls like posters, email or share via SoMe sites…)
  • Info Sessions (basic knowledge sharing sessions)
  • “In my shoes” (another name for “job rotation“)
  • Innovation (maybe using a tool like “IdeaScale“)
  • Internet
  • Intervision (like “supervision”, but between peers)
  • Intranet



  • Job-aids (eg posters, quick reference guides, cheatsheets and other things on or near the place of work to remind processes or important behaviours)
  • Job rotation
  • Job shadowing
  • Job sharing



  • Knowledge pool (or competence matrix (per person))
  • Knowledge management
  • Knowledge sharing sessions (also known as “info sessions”)



  • Language Lunches (native speakers of one target language eat lunch with non-native speakers in order to improve language skills)
  • Learning Narration
  • Learning Tracking
  • Lecture
  • “Lunch and Learn”



  • Meetings
  • Member associations
  • Mentoring (defined here as “giving people expert answers to their questions” – in contrast to “Coaching“)
  • (Meeting) Minutes
  • MOOC – get some MOOC tips here, courtesy of @elearningPosts
  • Mystery caller (common method in retail/call-centre environment for assessing service and (later) giving feedback)



  • Networking
  • Note-making; note-taking (maybe done socially by a group of people)



  • Observation
  • Onboarding
  • On-the-Job training
  • Outplacement



    • “Parrainage” (when joining a company, a “godfather” is assigned to a new joiner who can tell you simple things like, for example, where the photocopier is or who to speak to about your car expenses…)
    • Peer Coaching (like Coaching, but done in groups between people in similar functions or levels)
    • Personal Knowledge Management
    • Podcast
    • Portfolio sharing – (eg Dribbble)
    • Posters
    • Practice
    • Presentations (which might be shared online using tools like SlideShare or Prezi)
    • Problem solving








  • Satisfaction Surveys
  • Search engines
  • Self-reflection
  • Serious Games
  • Simulations
  • Social Learning (learning that takes place with other people, via connectivity and sharing)
  • Social Media (web 2.0 sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)
  • Social Networking (often done using “social media”, a connected network of people who share and work together)
  • Scrum Meetings
  • Supervision



  • Team Building Events
  • Teaching
  • Television
  • Thinking
  • Time out
  • Tinkering (thanks @rotanarotana for this idea)
  • Trade magazines
  • Traineeship
  • Training
  • Trial and Error





  • Video (eg YouTube or other platforms as used, for example, in “BT Dare to Share“)
  • Virtual reality 5platforms like, for example, “”Second Life“)








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