Blog Archives

ASTDTK14: Experimenting and Engaging to Create Effective Learning

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

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

 

Both innovation and even real knowledge come from experimentation

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

See you next time!

D

 

 

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 padlet.com
  • 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 tiny.cc because its easy
  • Today I found unitaglive.com 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 bit.ly 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 http://www.youscan.me 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

D