2012-08-15T07:32:11.258-07:00This month marks the end of an era. After nearly a decade and 500+ posts, we are shuttering the Learning Circuits Blog and posting exclusively on the ASTD Learning Technologies Blog. It has been a tough decision, especially with the LC Blog getting some of its highest traffic ever—thanks to the amazing group of guest bloggers who have contributed their ideas and expertise over the past 10 months.
2013-01-30T10:57:40.553-08:00I think I may have mentioned this before, but I work with researchers - people who spend time living in data and coming up for air only when they have actionable insights in tow. In some ways this has been a bracing change of pace for me, and for the most part it has been very interesting to witness. I don't think any of my colleagues in Rosslyn would put it this way, but I like to think that the unspoken refrain in this kind of work is:look -- really look -- at what is in front of you.stop pretending that things are otherwise.act accordingly. Rinse. Repeat.I like this idea a lot. I think I like it so much because we are living in an age of unprecedented access to data and potential analysis. It's flooding into our living rooms, our classrooms, and our conversations, threatening to knock over our television viewing habits and aborting our actor sighting arguments into trips to IMDb. Never has it been easier to elicit the right answer, even taking into account the number of wrong answers that doggedly flank our prey. In the interests of taking stock of the world in which we're working - in light of all of this (and inspired by this unconference update) - let's stop pretending.Let's stop pretending that the answer to 70-20-10 is to double down on formal learning hierarchies.Let's stop pretending that 'social learning' is something new (or something that can only be achieved using social media).Let's stop pretending that what you're collecting with your LMS has a lot to show in terms of learning analytics, ROI, or business intelligence.(While we're at it, let's stop pretending that you need an LMS at all to capture information about meaningful learning experiences.)Let's stop pretending that online learning can only be canned, disembodied public access TV-style instruction with no connection to universities' missions and students' needs.For starters, let's stop pretending that live instructor-led or online education are the only (let alone ranking) games in town.Let's stop pretending that the university will be killed by online education.Let's stop pretending that we don't know (better than most) that the ones most responsive to change will survive.Let's stop pretending that the solution to crafting excellent learning experiences is going to come from Silicon Valley....or from a tool....or from a tool....or from a tool. (it bears repeating.)Let's stop pretending that tools are anything more than tools.Let's stop pretending that elearning and mlearning should exist as terms.Let's stop pretending that we even know how to spell eLearning e-learning e-Learning elearning.Let's stop pretending that any part of our value comes from shrouding our methods and knowledge in mystery.Let's stop pretending that the transparency of a common language for what we do is anything but potential #winning.Let's stop pretending that any of this is about anything other than GTD.Pelo amor de deus, can we please stop pretending that catering to learning styles is something that we should be talking about in 2012?Let's stop pretending that bowing to business pressures from stakeholders is helping anyone, in the long run.At the same time, let's stop pretending that we are not in a business of production.Let's stop pretending that some part of us didn't wish that we could please everyone.Let's stop pretending that we don't have the scars to prove that much of our value is in our spirited, educated opposition.Let's stop pretending that, somewhere along the way, we didn't allow marketers to make us look kind of dumb.Let's stop pretending that we can get away with not knowing how to work with visual and user experience design teams.Let's stop pretending that we have nothing to learn from visual and user experience design teams. (for starters, they tend to be more comfortable with the concept of design thinking than we.)Let's stop pretending that badges = fun.Let's stop pretending that this game from 2006 isn't mo[...]
2012-08-07T07:38:10.158-07:00I think it's okay to admit one of the things that attracts us to something like curriculum design and the world of knowledge management is the idea of achieving elusive goals. While we often profess to be striving towards something measurable, 'learning' is still a deliciously vague term for what we are trying to cause or create. I think part of becoming an instructional designer is loving (or learning to love) the craft of creating conditions and designing experiences. I could probably go on for a bit to talk about the virtues of pursuing systems excellence, but I want to spend a bit of time talking about the flip side of that interest - the part where what we create is rightfully situated in the corporate or academic contexts. The part where what you create is considered a component of a product.Do you think of what you do - what you contribute - as a product? For a long time, I didn't. I thought of myself as exercising a honed skill, and it didn't really matter where I was doing it. I didn't think a lot about how things would be acquired, and the term 'product' seemed a little too crass for what I was trying to do. These days, one of the more challenging and clarifying parts of my job is to focus on the product aspect of what I do. I say product because my design is a functional piece within a larger unit that is sold. Today, I say that thinking about instructional design (in my case, e-learning instructional design) in product terms helps me to create more useful solutions. In a way, I am becoming a product manager. For me, this means three things:Focusing on the contextIn my experience, we instructional designers can at times to look at 'the business' as basically a set of limits on what we can do: not enough funding, not enough freedom, not enough appreciation for what we can really do. (If only I had that really good authoring tool, you all would see something...) There's a bit of comfort in that position, of course -- the best solutions can't be properly leveraged due to limits, so we are cleared to make do with a lesser design -- often a design pushed by those with business concerns but no instructional design experience. That is one option. Another is to look past the minor limits and focus on what your business is trying to do. (I learned the term business acumen while working for CEB. It should probably already have been in my vocabulary.) Using the desired business outcome as your north star -- continually asking what the stakeholders want the learner to do, not learn -- means that you can stay rooted in how valuable this whole endeavor (e.g., your project) really is. Maybe your approach will change. Maybe your stakeholders' resolve will founder. Either way, we shouldn't fear this kind of interaction -- we should embrace this kind of practical analysis and strive to be known for it. We are partners in creating, rather than agents of stakeholder notions, and we have to be OK with (advocate for!) destroying in order to create. Thinking about product means thinking about how we want something consumed; focusing on the context means focusing on why you are making something before getting caught up in the how.Focusing on the positioningI am not a marketing professional. I do not want to be a marketing professional. Additionally, brief summer jobs selling vacuum cleaners and steak knives taught me that I really, really hate selling things. I just want to help people do what they do better. Most of us are taught that the target audience -- the end user -- is the most important profile is the cavalcade of people who will lay hands on the end result of our work. I still believe that this is true, but thinking about the product as a whole - as something to be sold and consumed - means that sooner or later, I start thinking about who's doing the shopping. In other words: when all is said, done, developed, and set on the shelf, who or w[...]
2012-08-07T07:36:56.293-07:00So...this whole week I was pretty excited about the idea of riding the interest from my last two blogposts. I was all set to mount a rousing defense of Google+ as a social media tool worth greater interest from learning folks of all kinds. I really was. Maybe one day you'll get to read that blog post, replete with breathy exhortations and compelling infographics....and then, I got distracted by something shiny and buzzy. A colleague of mine who is headed to business school sent me this article, in which Robert F. Bruner, Dean of UVA's Darden School of Business, meditates on the hurdles that online education will have to surmount in higher education. I'm going to admit that my first impulse as an e-learning instructional designer after reading perusing hastily skimming the article was to fall into a bit of defensive confusion, especially with passages like this:But it’s possible that what iTunes did for music and Netflix did for films will be what online education will do to traditional colleges and universities—not a pretty prospect.(Is what iTunes and Netflix did for music and movies bad? What was that, again? Are they the same thing? Can media forms like music and movies be equated with institutions? While we're at it, has iTunes U not been a successful venture? I have questions.)After a re-read, I realized that Bruner isn't so much pooh-poohing the coming digital transformation of the traditional college experience so much as he is scoping out the roadblocks that donors might throw up when called to empty their wallets for their alma maters. Fair enough, but I'm still not convinced that the investments necessary for improving the quality an accessibility of education are getting a fair shake.Still, as an educator who has never worked in higher education, I think I may be missing something here. To explain my disconnect, I've matched Bruner's five points of potential investor balk with what I hear and think when I read them.I read: Learning platform experimentation will "require ongoing investments through time," and obsolescence is a constant danger.I hear: Educational technology is evolving, and such evolution will be expensive and full of dead ends.I think: Dot matrix printers still print. Haven't seen one in a campus library in ages.I read: While online courses may result in more effective learning experiences for students, they may not result in greater productivity for professors.I hear: Our professors may have to spend more time developing their curricula, not less. If so, what's the point?I think: This kind of thinking seems to fall into the familiar trap of trading cost for quality. It also calls into question what a given university might see as the primary role of professors.I read: Economies of scale may allow one professor to reach thousands of students. While cost effective, this sort of mass dissemination is antithetical to the 'high touch' personal attention that is the hallmark of liberal arts universities.I hear: We're afraid of separating the content and delivery from the institution itself.I think: Is the synchronous, traditional higher education classroom consistently living up to its 'high touch' potential? Is 'high touch' a thing that all higher ed institutions actually value? Also, would not innovations such as the flipped classroom allow for professor time to be further partitioned into virtual office hours? Again, this is more work for the professors, but I believe it might allow for better experiences for the students.I read: A "'star system' of well-known instructors" will "amplify the arms race for talent that already exists among colleges and universities."I hear: We'd like to state again that we're really not comfortable with the idea of separating the content and delivery from the institution itself.I think: The only way that I see on[...]
2012-08-07T07:37:18.148-07:00(The Learning Circuits Blog is moving. Please add this bookmark to keep up-to-date on all of our new posts: http://www.astd.org/Publications/Blogs/Learning-Technologies-Blog.aspx)One of the best things about being an instructional designer right now is that now more than ever we feel that our field is in the zeitgeist of what's happening in the media and technology worlds. What we do (rather, how we do it) is influenced greatly by technologies that support more flexible means of communication and collaboration. Social media and mobile technologies have turned the spotlight on social learning concepts, which in turn have made more of us think about the large, ill-charted dark matter of culture: informal learning.Of course, our response to this turn of events should be elation - finally, Charles Jennings can stop talking about 70-20-10! We can explain communities of practice without once using the phrase "well, no, that's not really an example of what i'm talking about..."! (bonus: we can avoid awkward tittering by wholly avoiding the name 'Wenger' in a classroom setting). Everyone in the Internet Time Alliance can retire to tropical islands. Their work here is done, because everyone in your care now understands the value of social and informal learning.Except maybe they don't. Maybe you're having trouble convincing your boss that her task force is not a community of practice. Maybe your top-down Yammer implementation has yielded more tumbleweeds than users. Perhaps it's because, in fact, no one is making the connection between the breakthroughs in networking that they can plainly see and whatever it is that you do. Maybe you should brag about your personal learning network.In this new world, those in our care probably find it harder - not easier - to square the existence of this wikiHow entry and your job as conductor of whatever they've been led to think formalized training is. Do you exemplify the benefits of social and informal learning in your own work life? Do you document successes of social learning? Are you watching and listening to the concerns of your co-workers, providing the right nudge when needed, and openly sourcing your information? Are you connecting your peers with relatable thought leadership or community resources that you've found valuable? How about using technology to make spaces for serendipitous learning - loosely organized, de-escalated learning, free from expectations but endowed with purpose?As I've said before, I love our kind of people, and not just for their unfailingly sparkling personalities. Every day, they are useful to me in my work, and every day I make it known that I am bringing fire to those in my care because of my associations. In design meetings, I nip errant learning styles talk in the bud. I stay up-to-date on the development of Project Tin Can and use what I know to rethink learning management systems. I experiment with Google Hangouts. I make it easy for myself to be a node in the network and I make sure that people know that part of my value is being as connected as I am.While I probably spend more time talking about #lrnchat than I do participating in it these days, I've been known by more than one boss as 'the Twitter guy.' I'm proud that I eventually stopped being 'the Twitter guy' - that is, I stopped being just a tolerated, quirky evangelist for the platform when I stopped telling people how valuable Twitter is and started using it very publicly to inform my discourse in the workplace. (As Jane Bozarth says, "Google gets you links. Twitter gets you answers.") As a result, the questions that I get around social media are less of the "what good is Twitter?" variety and more about how to use social learning tools to their best effect.As I rely on a large, diverse learning&nbs[...]
2012-08-07T07:37:34.770-07:00(Please bear with me. This has been percolating for a bit, and i'm airing it on a larger stage than I had originally intended.)I have been a few things in my life, but I really, really like being an instructional designer. I love the idea and practice of helping people learn better - to do better. This is pretty fortunate, as people are willing to pay me to make this happen. However, I've come across a problem with my feelings about instructional design: I find myself in quiet moments thinking that instructional design is the domain of a 'certain kind of person.'If you're reading this, I think you know who I'm talking about: the autodidact's handmaiden, the unapologetically pedantic, the learning architect. Those who love to to think about learning knowledge transfer performance support so much that they put books like Design for How People Learn and 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People on their pleasure reading lists. Those who get into internet arguments about Alton Brown's instructional method. Those who will cut you at the mention of 'learning styles'. You know, our kind of people.I love our kind of people. I love meeting them at conferences and online. Perhaps more than anything, I love meeting novice instructional designers who seem to have more sense than I did at their stage in the game. The idea that more of us can be made intentionally (rather than "accidentally", even if it seems that's how most of us got here) is really appealing.Which leads me back to my problem. In the last few years, the responsibility for helping budding intentional designers has crept up on me - an direct report here, a correspondence mentorship there. Pretty soon I really started thinking about what it means to have an ordered introduction to our industry. I also quickly found out that maybe not everyone who is serious about learning knowledge transfer performance support name drops Vygotsky. Maybe they just want to get things done and not meditate so much on the deep roots. (Also, it's possible that they just don't care that much about Alton Brown.) I'm learning that intentional designers like to worry about sensible things, like what tools they should learn to use and what learning theories are most applicable, or how they should really feel about ADDIE. This is bemusing for someone who didn't even know the term instructional design until after he had created two elearning courses for actual money. I started to think that maybe my real problem is that my idea of what an instructional designer should want might not have a lot to do with what an instructional designer has to do.So it is with this mental about-face that I started listening more closely to some voices who have been talking about a particular problem related to the creation of our kind of people - we don't have good ways to talk about what it is that we're supposed to be doing. Our kind of people are they way they are because they had to figure it all out and create tools and guides and strategies from scratch without the benefit of routines. The fact that they relished doing so...well, that's how you knew. But in the service of being intentional, maybe we can say that there's simply more romance than virtue in reinventing the wheel. This is where people like Susan Devlin and Julie Dirksen and Steve Flowers are advocating the most sensible way for us to help intentional designers: to put our experience and solutions into patterns of instructional design so that it's less of an educated guess as to which interventions to employ. Maybe we I need to spend more time leaning the ladder against the wall to scale the problem than worrying about making the kinds of people who would build their own ladders.I'm really excited about the idea of helping to create an inst[...]
2012-06-26T05:08:10.646-07:00Last winter, I was on a cub scout camping trip with my son. Me and a bunch of dads. The inevitable “what do you do for a living conversation” came up over pancakes. I hadn’t gotten too far into the “I design corporate training programs that people take online” description before one of the dads started hissing at me. Literally. He formed his fingers into a cross and said, “You’re the CBT Lady!” Visions of a hair-netted lunch lady serving up sloppy joes. Is that what I am?He went on to describe the true horrors he had suffered while forced to complete hour after endless hour of boring, locked down elearning programs: “They make us sit through this long audio and you can’t click next until it’s over and then you get to the end of the quiz and you have to take all twenty questions over again because you got one question wrong!”I attempted to defend myself and our profession. “We try to do it better than that! That’s not what we’re about!” I protested. My words fell on deaf ears. This man had suffered and would hear nothing more.Weeks later he introduced me to his wife and I got the exact same treatment. She works in the pharmaceutical industry and had similar tales of woe and suffering at the hands of elearning. “Honey, she’s the CBT Lady!”The point is, this is what a lot of people think of this profession and the work that elearning designers and developers put out there in the name of training. Is this what you want your name on? Is this how you want to be known? So before you go out and spend another minute planning your next learning initiative, go out and find out just how what you’re already doing is being perceived. Do you know how the people in your organization currently view your formal learning offerings? Is classroom training seen as punishment for poor performance or a careless slip of the tongue? Or is it a breezy day or two out of the office with free lunch? What about elearning? Is it a task to be endured while otherwise multitasking? Conduct surveys or get an informal feet-on-the-street view of what’s really happening. You may want to walk around and check out the kitchens or break rooms. Are the answers to the latest compliance elearning assessment posted on the fridge for all to share? The message here is that this elearning is just a box to tick rather than an activity with any actual value—or any connection to improving any one’s performance. Ask people what they think. If they’re really being honest, you might get responses that will take your breath away: “You’re the CBT Lady!” While you’re on this fact finding mission, find out what people really value in a learning experience and find out if your organization is providing that. If not, how? Ask people how they like to learn on their own time. Ask people what you could offer them to help them do their jobs better.Find ways to provide support and tools that give people what they need and when they need it. Can you embed performance support tools and job aids into the work flow? Can you use social business tools to connect people directly to the experts in your organization or provide a platform for asking questions and sharing knowledge, information and best practices?Look at your data and see what you can uncover. I heard a story of an organization that developed an award winning elearning program with game-like features and goal-based scenarios. They got lots of hits and uptake from their European and Asian audiences—an unexpected outcome—while the intended American audience stayed away in droves. Why was that? And then why was this organization now designing a very similar program for their Ameri[...]
2012-06-11T11:33:15.123-07:00I met for coffee this past week with someone who’s looking to break into the elearning industry. She wanted to know where she should be looking and what the hot topics out there are. I was giving her my 12,000 foot lay of the land, this is what I see going on kind of a thing. It was so interesting to step by and take stock of what’s happening. Here’s where I see elearning going down these days:Corporate Training and Performance ImprovementInternal L&D departments and vendors designing and developing online learning programs for use within corporate organizations. This is 90% of what I do and I imagine the case for a lot of you people reading this post.Leadership Training for Corporate:You look at the ASTD ICE expo list and it’s filled with loads of leadership consulting and training companies. The Franklin Coveys, Ken Blanchards, etc. This is it’s whole behemoth sector in the market – it includes a lot of classroom training and increasingly elearning programs as part of those solutions.K-12:Lots of elearning happening in the school sector. Although, I haven’t seen much of great quality. My son has to do some of his math homework online: really basic games. He says, “I’m not learning, I’m just getting bored!” Hopefully there’s a lot more than that going on. Higher Ed:Want a master’s degree or a BA? Chances are these days you can take some, if not all of your degree program, online. And of course there’s the latest MIT/Harvard online education initiative EdX. eLearning design for semester long courses is a different beast than your corporate training elearning design where you’re creating a 30 minute course on the latest policy. I suspect making a jump from higher ed to the corporate world and vice versa would be a big change -- and quite possibly a completely different skill set.For Profit:We’re starting to see the for-profit universities offering their curriculums up to the corporate market. At Corporate University Week, I heard the story of the Verizon degree program for store managers being offered in partnership with Bellevue University (here’s my blog post on the Verizon/Bellevue story from last November). The Consumer Market:Just bought a fancy new camera? Maybe that company has some fancy elearning to help you learn how to use it. More and more we’ll be seeing companies striving to increase their market share by creating value added programs like online learning to help people use their products better. Because the better pictures you take with that fancy camera, the greater your loyalty AND the more you’ll get out there and evangelize about that camera. Health Care/Mental Health:I think this is a niche area that’s only going to continue to grow. It’s getting specific resources, information and strategies out to the general public – either through an insurance company as part of their overall benefits offerings, or as programs individuals can purchase online with a credit card. I’ve been involved in two such programs in the past two years and I think it’s a really interesting space. Want to help people and make a difference in the lives of individuals? Start poking around here.I just pulled this list out of my head. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of big buckets and welcome your additions in the comments.The bottom line is that elearning/online interactive ‘stuff’ is increasingly accepted. Who hasn’t searched on YouTube to figure out how to stop a leaking toilet? It’s just what we do. And while more and more of the content out there is user generated (power to the people!), organizations are paying attention.Organizations in all se[...]
2012-06-04T13:51:50.701-07:00Once upon a time, I worked at a small company. Because I knew the business and had helped design our software package, and because I was pretty good in front of a crowd, I ended up doing the training. One thing led to another and a couple of years later, I got hired at a small multi-media production company that developed corporate training programs delivered on CD ROMs. My new job title: “instructional designer.” I’d never even heard the term, but here I was—off to the races—in what’s turned into a rather healthy career in elearning. 16 years later I’m still at it, designing elearning programs for the (mostly) corporate market. It’s what I do – and, hopefully, what I do well. But I got here pretty much by accident.What about you? How did you find your way into this role? How did you end up designing elearning programs? Is this what you wanted to be when you grew up?Me? I had visions of becoming a high school English teacher or a writer of fine American novels. And while elearning design isn’t all that, it’s sometimes a whole lot more. In my role, I teach, I write, I schmooze, I share, I design, I create, and I learn.Because although I’m here completely by accident, I’ve tried to invest myself in this business with passion and spirit. I walked into this field not knowing how to spell instructional design. And while I’ve never taken a formal class or gotten a fancy graduate degree in instructional design, I have spent a LOT of time learning the basics and honing my craft. Maybe it’s some deep rooted inferiority complex, but my desire is to do my job to the best of my abilities.Here are three things I regularly do to learn more about this profession and keep my passion for what I do at a gentle boil:Read, read, readI get geeky and read instructional design textbooks. I learn about learning. I read up on visual design and design in general. I read books about business and consulting. And I also read novels and poetry and non-industry stuff to make sure I’m continuing to fill my creative cup. Over the years I’ve created a reading list for Instructional Designers. What about you? Are you reading about this stuff in your spare time? What books or resources have you learned the most from?Conferences I speak at a lot of conferences. As a speaker, I need to know my stuff, otherwise the crowd starts throwing tomatoes at me. Speaking keeps me on my game. And while I’m at these conferences, I get to go learn myself. Good stuff. And not just at sessions, but while connecting with peers and colleagues over coffee or late night karaoke. Elearning people tend to be pretty passionate. Find your people and learn from them!ASTD’s TechKnowledge (coming up January 30-February 1, 2013 in San Jose) is a great place to learn more about elearning and connect with other learning geeks. Are you going? If it’s not in your plan yet, make it happen! Speaking proposals are being accepted until June 10. Make this be your inaugural year! http://old.astd.org/content/conferences/techknowledge/RFPtk/CommunitySpeaking of people, there’s a lot to learn from each other even when we’re not in the same room together. When I was first getting my ID passion on, it was all about the blogging community and man-oh-man did I connect to a lot of great people through blogging. It’s been a great place to document and process my own learning journey, and a fabulous way to connect with other elearning professionals.These days, a lot of the community activity is on Twitter, where you can be up close and personal with great learning minds like Jane Bozarth (@janebozarth), Clark Qui[...]
2012-06-05T18:19:06.730-07:00TODAY's BLOG BOOK TOUR STOP: June 6: Live appearance at the 8th ANNUAL INNOVATIONS IN e-LEARNING SYMPOSIUM.
This presentation details the trials and tribulations of selecting, implementing evaluating and teaching within a 3D virtual World. The presentation is based on the experience of DAU as the organization journeyed down the road of 3D virtual world implementation. From cataloging hundreds of virtual worlds to working with a vendor to create a browser-based virtual world solution to preparing learners to enter a virtual world, you'll gain an understanding of the entire process from start to finish. Join your tour guides who will describe the process undertaken to choose a vendor, work out technical details, prepare instructors and conduct a pilot program learning within a 3D virtual environment. This engaging, exciting session highlights lessons learned from a real live implementation. You will be provided with tips and techniques for selecting your own 3D virtual world for learning, advice on conducting a pilot and a few pointers about what to avoid during the process.If you are there at the conference, please stop by and say "Hello." I am speaking at 10:00 AM ET.
2012-05-24T04:36:35.125-07:00TODAY'S BLOG BOOK TOUR STOP:May 24: Webinar event with Dan Bliton who challenges attendees to the game "Are you smarter than Karl Kapp". Dan Bliton will be hosting the game and conducting an interview with me on the 24th of May during BAH open webinar at 1:00 ET.
2012-05-18T13:59:57.523-07:00TODAY'S BLOG BOOK TOUR STOP:May 1: Games Teach!Also, today would be a good day to revisit some of the great posts of this week. Stop by and see the post at Designing Digitally about the book.Check out John Rice's stop on the tour, I want to thank John as I included some ideas on understanding elements leading to higher learning in videogames which he outlined in a paper published a few years ago in the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education. And don't forget Christy Tucker's stop Research in Gamification of Learning and Instruction and also check out her posting Ruth Clark Claims “Games Don’t Teach” part on an interesting debate I plan to weigh in on tomorrow.Stops for Week FiveMay 14: Andrew Hughes Designing DigitallyMay 15: John Rice Educational Games Research May 16: Christy Tucker Experiencing E-LearningMay 17: Gamification Happenings at PinerestMay 18: See my post, "Games Teach!"Plus we have added a few new dates and stops (stay tuned) we are also having a webinar event with Dan Bliton who challenges attendees to the game "Are you smarter than Karl Kapp". Dan will be hosting the game and conducting an interview with me on the 24th of May during BAH open webinar at 1:00 ET.Recap of Week Four Week Four was an exciting week. We had many activities going on related to the tour. We had a very interesting stop with Mike Qaissaunee's post Gamification of Learning and Instruction. Mike gave the perspective of a technology educator and someone who is not an instructional designer and explained how gamification impacts him and the difficulties associated with gamification when your teaching load is heavy. Koreen Olbrish's The Shamification of Gamification posting discussed how we should "focus on the challenge of educating the market, not vilifying a word." She also commented on the chapter she contributed to the book.Larry Hiner at drlarryhiner talked about the Intersection of games, learning, and organizational psychology providing an interesting and thought provoking perspective.Catherine Lombardozzi at her Gamification Whistle Stop discussed what someone will learn when they read the book and what people mean when they talk about “gamification” and the factors that transform engaging learning into game play.Zaid Ali Alsagoff created a post called Gamify to Amplify the Learning Experience. He talked about gamification to of personal learning and sharing and the gamification of teaching. As always, he provided great graphics and visual insights.We also had two book reviews one by Connie Malamed at eLearn Magazine and another book review by Jennifer Neibert of Learning Solutions Magazine. Allison Rossett mentioned Gamification in her interesting post titled My Commencement Address for the Workforce Learning Class of 2012.And I somehow missed this before but Ruth Clark wrote a provocative piece called Why Games Don't Teach which discusses one research article that found the game used for learning didn't teach what it was supposed to teach. There are other studies, of course, that show that games do teach (many are cited in the book) and even serveral meta-analysis studies (studies of studies) that show games do teach. So, right now I say it depends on the study and research design as well as game-design as to how effective the game is for achieving desired learning outcomes.One thing that Ruth Clark did bring up that I think is important is that "we [need to] cultivate a more refined approach to categorize the features of games that best match various instructional goals." I agree and have put such a hierarchy into chapter 8 of the book. That is where I identify types of games and which type is best fo[...]
2012-05-14T05:19:44.103-07:00I admit it. I love when people seek my opinion. That happened a lot in Denver, at ASTD 2012:I am entering the field. What do I do to make a success of it? Let’s pretend that somebody asked me to deliver a commencement speech in response to that question, preferably on a lush, ivy covered campus, near amiable watering holes. Thank you for inviting me to share this wonderful occasion with the workforce learning graduates of 2012....Let me begin by congratulating you on your career choice. I am sure you and your family are delighted—after all you could have chosen to go to law school. After years of clamoring for a seat at the table, C-levels are increasingly intrigued by what we can do for them. Pressure for growth, technology, and a competitive landscape create abundance and opportunity for workplace learning people. Every sector, from higher ed to pharma, is seeking candidates whose heads are screwed on right. What do I mean by right? I am talking about heads with an unrelenting focus on performance and results.Everything I say then is from the vantage point of celebration. I think this is a bountiful time to be in our field. I think you can get in the door. That's not the primary challenge. What's difficult is to make the most of it once you are in place.My advice to you as you commence this tasty career…. · It’s not about how. It’s about why. Several years ago, I served on a committee to review submissions for awards at an international conference. We considered a four-day course for engineers soon to be tasked with serving as instructors. The course devoted itself to teaching them Instructional Design 101, with half of the first day spent writing letter-perfect, four-part objectives. And so on and so forth. My eyes glazed over. The engineers’ eyes would close entirely. Wrong stuff. A more recent example came from online compliance training I was dragooned into taking. The topic was information security. Screen 3 listed the objectives. Only three of the eight had anything to do with my work and life. How would I endure the next 73 screens? Even animated pandas could not make this e-learning successful. Wrong stuff. In our business, we begin with the end in mind. Heaven help us when those ends are wrong-headed. · It’s not about us. It’s about them. Sounds obvious, I know. But I can’t tell you how often I hear people say they want to put the program in the classroom because they themselves like to learn in the classroom. Or they are going to try out avatars because they are engaging. (Are they?)One twenty-something told me that she intended to do coaching for supervisors and managers. I asked why. She said she thought she would be good at it and that coaching was a good way to help people. While eloquent about her preferences and capabilities, she never mentioned evidence. Would coaching work in this case? Shouldn’t she review the literature on that matter? And what of her lack of experience as a supervisor and manager? The fact that she likes people is good but by no means sufficient.It isn’t what you want to do. It’s what the work, worker and workplace demand. There’s the challenge and the opportunity. · It’s not any one thing. It’s many things, aligned, in systems.Forget shiny pennies. Mobile learning is an example of just such a penny. ASTD’s chief Tony Bingham loves it. I love it too. I’ve written about it. I see ample potential. But it is no slam dunk in and of itself. No single solution, not mobile or webinarsor games or even gamification, is [...]
2012-05-07T12:48:39.953-07:00This is one of those topics that never goes away. It reigns supreme in just about every needs study for workplace learning professionals. We say we want to do more and know more. We are eager to check out more tools, and get a better handle on the situation. The topic—evaluation. We speak fluent Kirkpatrick. When workplace learning and performance (WLP) professionals are asked about the four levels of evaluation, in the USA and beyond, they respond in unison: “Level 1 is reaction, 2 is knowledge; 3 is behavior in the workplace; and Level 4 is results.” But knowing is not doing, not even close.An ASTD benchmarking study looked at course evaluations by Kirkpatrick level. It turns out that while almost every course is examined for Level 1 and a third (a third?!?) are checked for Level 2, only 13 percent of courses are examined for Level 3, transfer behavior. Only about 3 percent of courses are held to questions about influence in the field—Level 4. That data was collected five years ago.Is it different today? Technology has changed the shape of workplace learning and performance, shifting learning, information and support into the workplace, and enabling new ways of capturing and communicating data and meaning. ASTD’s own studies of practice, and others, show steady increases in the use of technology for learning and performance. Might this change the current landscape for metrics in learning and performance? Jim Marshall and I set out to find out. These findings are preliminary. They scratch the surface. Only 110 people responded to our request for participation. We are eager to capture more views from diverse settings. We are eager to find out what you are doing.Let me tease you with snippets our findings:When we asked WHY our respondents gather data, most often they do it to determine participants’ satisfaction with their offerings. Sixty percent reported that they do this habitually. No surprise here. We also measure to fulfill compliance obligations, reported as a habit by 48% of respondents. Only 25 percent of respondents habitually assess to find out if the learning transfers to performance, and 11% have a habit of seeking data about strategic results. Chew on that. No matter the keynotes or magazine covers devoted to integrating talent management with the learning enterprise, only 4% of respondents are investigating this matter. Our curiosity extended to barriers to metrics.Just over half of our respondents said they don’t because nobody asks for this data. Their customers are satisfied with participation numbers. Another constraint is the pushback that comes when line managers and executives are asked to play an active part in answering questions about the influence of performance on the field. These are interesting findings, I think. But we dare not consider them conclusive or actionable, not yet. The sample is too small. You don’t want to spend too long reflecting on findings generated from the practices and opinions of just over 100 colleagues. We need you to add heft to this work.Our study focuses on why workforce learning people gather data today, how they hope to change and improve those practices, and what gets in their way. Please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/learningmetrics to participate. Your responses are anonymous and very much appreciated. Participation will take only 10 minutes. One other thing—the questions should be interesting to you and will provide you with options for ways to think and talk about our work.Again, thanks.Allison Rossett Website[...]
2012-05-11T06:16:40.485-07:00TODAY'S BLOG BOOK TOUR STOP:May 11: Zaid Ali Alsagoff Zaid Learn And if you missed a couple of recent stops, check out Mike Qaissaunee's post Gamification of Learning and Instruction and Koreen Olbrish's The Shamification of Gamification . And Larry Hiner at drlarryhiner as well as Catherine Lombardozzi at her Gamification Whistle Stop.The Gamification of Learning and Instruction blog book tour has been a lot of fun, with interesting comments and exciting dialogues and some in-person stops. Here are the stops for week four and a recap of week three.Week Four:May 7: Mike Qaissaunee Frequently Asked QMay 8: Larry Hiner drlarryhinerMay 9: Catherine Lombardozzi Learning JournalMay 10: Brent Schlenker Elearning Development May 11: Zaid Ali Alsagoff Zaid Learn Recap of Week Three During the week, there was a review of the book published at Learning Solutions Magazine. You can read the review here. Enid Crystal of the New York Chapter of ASTD started off the week by summarizing my in-person visit to the joint NYU Higher Ed and eLearning SIG joint meeting. The meeting was a lot of fun. We started the evening by playing a game to get everyone familiar with the various elements of games such as challenge, roles and feedback. We then discussed various examples of gamification. You can read the posting here.Next, the tour stopped by the Word of Mouth Blog, sponsored by Articulate. The tour stop was titled Using Gamification To Transform Your Learners from Angry Birds into Learning Ninjas. The post had to be moved from its originally scheduled date because of the long awaited release of Articulate's Storyline which was scheduled on the same day as the original blog tour stop on Word of Mouth. So we did a little switch. The posting is great with several clever examples of using game-elements to enhance instruction.Cammy Bean at Learning Visions was the next stop. Cammy, as always, gave an insightful look at the subject of Gamification in her stop called Karl Kapp Book Tour: The Gamification of Learning and InstructionWe then skipped a stop. Hey, it happens.And moved right to Friday which was an in-person tour stop date. I stopped by the UL Eduneering event known as the Knowledge Summit and spoke about busting e-learning myths as we played a game called "Fact or Fishy". A link to my slides and resources from the presentation was posted on the UL Eduneering blog in a posting titled Busting Learning Myths: Fact or Fishy Here are some images from my in-person book signing.If you are interested in the book, you can purchase a copy at the ASTD Book Store.[...]
2012-05-04T06:03:59.838-07:00TODAY"S BLOG STOP: May 4: UL EduNeering Online Compliance Training BlogThe blog book tour has been a lot of fun, with interesting comments and exciting dialogues and some in-person stops. Here are the stops for week three (with a few changes) and a recap of week two.April 30: Enid Crystal New York ASTD Chapter BlogMay 1: Jeanette Brooks Word of Mouth blog.May 2: Cammy Bean Learning VisionsMay 3: Koreen Olbrich Learning in TandemMay 4: I am appearing "live" at the Eduneering Knowledge Summit in Baltimore, MD. Complete with book signing. The blog for the day will be UL EduNeering Online Compliance Training Blog which will have slides and information from the session.Recap of Week TwoClark Quinn started the week off at Learnlets with a discussion of the word "gamification" (he would prefer a more meaningful term like "engagification" especially since "gamification" does seem to carry some negative connotations. He provided a balanced and well described critique of the book. You can read Clark's post Kapp’s Gamification for Learning and Instruction.Next Karl Grieb of the ASTD Philadelphia eLearning SIG provides a description of the content of the book. He describes the break down of the elements of games and points out the section describing ADDIE versus Scrum as a development process. He also highlights the writing about different types of motivation including John Keller's ARCS model. Read the post here.Then Debbie Richards from Take an e-Learning Break wrote about four themes from the book including "matching game results with game design. She also talked about the Cisco Binary game. I also did webinar for the Houston Chapter of ASTD arranged by Debbie. You can see the slides here.The week ended on a fun note with Connie Malamed of The eLearning Coach creating a game/post called Are you a gamification wizard? Play the game. See how well you can do. There were also some live appearances. New York City I traveled to New York City and presented at a joint ASTD Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting of the NYU Higher Ed SIG and the eLearning SIG. It was a great time and I met some wonderful folks. Here are a few pictures of our interactive session. I'd like to thank Amy Lui Abel and Enid Crystal for making that meeting happen. Here are some pictures from the event.You can see the slides for the presentation here.Lehigh ValleyAs part of the tour, I severed on a panel about gamification for the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals. The title was "The Computer Game Industry: Not for Kids Any More." We had a great panel discussion with lots of questions and engaging conversation. The panel included myself, Jason Brozena of Caronet which is a hosting company that provides data center services to organizations, including numerous game companies. Having a data center's perspective helped to broaden the attendees understanding of how games are being hosted and other back-end services/technologies. And Larry Wolfe of LiquidInt. Larry will introduce Liquid Mobility Bridge™. This tool was designed to work across various mobile platforms. Larry will also discussed the concept of gamification of business applications. I'd like to thank Mary Rasley, Steve Steven Weitz and Thiep Pham for including me as a panel member. [...]
2012-04-26T09:03:47.254-07:00Designing the program is only the beginning - data are even more valuable in enabling you to consistently improve your learning programs. This week, we’ll discuss the “red meat”: Implementation, data analysis, and program improvement. Baseline AssessmentOnce you have completed your program design, start the implementation phase by taking a baseline assessment. This means using the tools and measurements you have identified to assess your target audience’s current status and performance - and your organization’s status and performance. Remember that throughout the assessment process, you will likely identify administrative, logistical, and structural problems that can’t be solved through training. While this can be frustrating, it is an opportunity. You may not be able to solve all the organization’s challenges through your work, but as you isolate the factors you can change through training, you can share your findings on needed change within your organization. You can document the administrative, logistical or resource obstacles that are interfering with learning and productivity in your organization - and position yourself and your department as an internal consultant to your organization. Program ImplementationThe theory of change, once articulated, provides the metrics of your success. Your goal, as you implement your learning initiative, will be to collect assessment and performance data, and continually compare this data to your program goals. Iteration and ImprovementYou will know you have succeeded in generating positive change once you can demonstrate the uptick in the metrics you planned to address through your theory of change. Conversely, if you aren’t seeing positive movement in your targeted metrics, you can move into higher level analysis: Evaluation of possible causes for the lack of success, and experimenting with possible means of improvement.There are two crucial characteristics of the iteration and improvement phase: 1) Lack of success is not failure. If the first incarnation of your learning program is not successful, that means you have useful data about what doesn’t work. Don’t lose heart, but refocus on where the connections between your activities and desired outcomes broke down.2) It’s never over. Improvement of a learning initiative lasts as long as the program’s goals remain in place. As circumstances change, it will continue to be your responsibility to respond to feedback, improve the program and respect your learners’ needs.Lessons LearnedIn closing, here is my most important lesson learned: When you’re working hard to improve your program, you won’t be overwhelmed by too much data. In contrast, you will be thrilled to have access to great data and may even regret all the questions you didn’t ask. Building processes for collecting and analyzing performance data in your organization will empower you to make informed decisions, allocate training department resources effectively and focus on the changes that will make the biggest improvements in your organization.Further Reading: “How to Translate Training into Results”, Ron Ashkenas“Why Measure Training Effectiveness?”, Business Performance“The Three Reports: Talent Development Reporting Principles”, Dave VanceImage credit: logos noesis on Flickr[...]
2012-04-27T04:15:43.221-07:00TODAY'S STOP:April 27: Connie Malamed The eLearning Coach: Are you a Gamification Wizard This week promises to be an exciting second week of the Gamification Blog Book Tour. Here are the stops for this week.
2012-04-21T11:50:28.822-07:00Week One Recap The first week of the blog book tour has ended and it has been a fantastic week with informative blog posts, information and opinions about gamification and even a bit of controversy. The week opened with a posting of the tour stops on the Learning Circuit’s Blog and the Kapp Notes blog and then introduced everyone to the Facebook page for the book and then the discussion really ramped up with Jane Bozarth talking about the how the book takes a common sense look at the subject. Next, New York Time’s bestselling author Kevin Kruse told us how articles appearing within the last year in notable publications such as BusinessWeek, Forbes, Fortune and even the Harvard Business review are talking about how gamification is impacting marketing, service and employee satisfaction (notice training seems to be absent.)Then on Friday Judy Unrein discussed how the book can benefit instructional designers and Rich Mesch made us all hungry when he reminded us that just like Chocofication (adding chocolate to everything) is not a good idea, neither is gamification of all content a good idea. In some areas it doesn't work or even make sense to add "Gamificaton". We need to be careful how we apply "Gamification." It is not a universal cure-all. Issues with Gamification and It’s ImplicationsAnother guest on the tour, although not a scheduled stop, has been Kathy Sierra who is a self-confessed gamification curmudgeon and author of a widely popular series of test preparation books to help people pass Java tests to become certified and not only does she prepare people to pass those tests, she has created certification exams that are used to certify programmers. Her test preparation books are some of the best selling on the topic. Kathy has brought the perspective that gamification is not good--at all. She doesn’t like the word “gamification” and she had her “heart broken” because so many people that she respects are involved in this tour talking about gamification. She is worried about my insistence on using the word "gamification" (including my urging of others to "take back the word").” She states that “nearly every game scholar and professional game designer (real games, not just Zynga game-like things) is adamantly opposed to the word for many reasons including how misleading it is by including the word 'game'".She was also “offended” that during the tour I offered a whitepaper for anyone who wanted to leave a comment on every blog entry. She felt that was a crass use of gamification and that I was clearly using an extrinsic reinforcer offering a reward in a feeble attempt to market the book. She felt that in an industry where knowledge is valued that withholding knowledge to shape behavior or action was wrong. Kathy felt that technique was “LEAVE a COMMENT for POSSIBLE WIN scheme” and that it appealed to the basest aspect of Gamification.In Defense of the Term GamificationHer concerns are not without merit but I think there is another perspective to consider, especially with her dislike of the term“Gamifiaction” While “nearly” every game scholar and professional game designer is against gamification and some who initially were proponents of the term have backed off, these people are not controlling the discussion about gamification within businesses and corporations. The CEOs, Vice Presidents, executives and managers are not tapped into the game developer i[...]
2012-04-19T09:52:18.706-07:00In the first two posts in this series, we discussed the value of data and the process for using the theory of change model for learning design. This week, we’ll walk through creating a measurement model for a fictional company, Acme Donuts.As you work through the learning initiative design process, the key challenge is to balance strategy with tactics: Connecting specific actions that accomplish high level goals. The Theory of Change model, which starts with broad goals and asks you to work backwards to specific actions, forces you to make the connections between each step clear. The narrative step also challenges you to explain the connections: An excellent exercise for testing assumptions and discovering gaps.I created this sample narrative to outline the many factors relevant to designing a learning program that includes a measurement model from the beginning.Developing a Program Narrative: Acme Donuts ExampleWhat are your initiative’s goals? To develop functional goals, you need stakeholder buy-in, alignment with organizational goals and specific descriptors. Make sure you’re not developing goals in a vacuum.Acme, Inc. is a manufacturer of donuts. Our goal is to increase profits 15% this fiscal year. To do that, we must meet two key preconditions: 1) Increase the recurring revenue generated from long-term sales agreements; 2) The sales team must develop strong communication, sales and negotiation skills to negotiate and close sales agreements.Whether conscious or unconscious, everyone makes assumptions. A key step in developing a functional initiative is ensuring that you understand what variables you will hold neutral as you target changes in your organization.We are making two key assumptions: 1) The product is appropriately priced for its quality. 2) There is sufficient demand in the marketplace to enable us to increase sales.Work backwards from your goals to the preconditions that must be met. Limit the scope of your discussion to the changes that can be affected through training and development activities. If, for example, Acme’s Donuts just aren’t very good, training sales people more effectively may not do any good at all.Both sales team members and managers have described needing opportunities both to study and practice the techniques of sales and communication and to work together as a team to identify best practices and improve performance over time.Outline specific initiatives you will undertake. Ensure that you outline how those initiatives connect with your preconditions and goals.To reach the targeted competencies of communication, sales and negotiation skills, we will embark on a multi-phase initiative: Participation in online learning courses to expose sales team members to the techniques of diagnosing and creating a sales strategy. Group workshops with their peers to enable them to practice their communication and negotiation skills. Connecting each participant to a mentor who will meet regularly with them to enable them to seek feedback and advice. Creating a social network to enable team members to share successes and resources.Develop specific metrics based on your goals. Ensure that you have a variety of metrics at each level and step of your initiative. Make sure you can assess specific factors so that you can, in turn, make specific improvements to your learning initiatives.We will measure the success of our initiative on a monthly basis with these metrics: - Sales [...]
2012-05-01T08:02:02.436-07:00See below for the entire list of tour stops!The blog book tour has started as ASTD and I kick-off a 25 stop blog book tour for the ASTD co-published book The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education. The book is available at the ASTD Book Store. The tour includes stops at several ASTD chapter web sites including Philadelphia, New York and Houston, Texas. You are welcome to join the tour, no...you are urged and encouraged to join the tour. Leave a comment on this posting linking to your blog and it will "officially" become part of the tour. The tour currently includes some well known bloggers and some bloggers you really need to know but we want to expand it with your input, ideas and concepts related to Gamification. Here are all the tour stop dates. The blog book tour is a virtual tour so you can just follow along stop by stop. If you don't have the book yet, stop by the ASTD book store a pick up a copy. The Twitter hashtag for the tour is #gamiLIThere is a Pinterest page for the tour. And a Facebook page for the tour, stop by and give it a LIKE:)Here are the tour stops, the day of the stop and a link to the stop are indicated below. You can follow along by going blog to blog and leaving a comment. If you stop at every stop and leave a comment, you will receive a free whitepaper "The First Five Steps to Gamification of Content, Curriculum and Courses."Also, on April 26th, Join Karl at the Houston ASTD Chapter's Webinar for a live chat and presentation by the author. Week One:Oops, already had a change in venue as my scheduling abilities appear to have been less than stellar, please see below for today's stop. April 16: Learning Circuits Blog. April 17: Gamification Facebook PageApril 18: Jane Bozarth's Bozarthzone April 19: Kevin Kruse, Keven Kruse Blog. He is NY Times bestselling author of We: How to Increase Performance and Profits through Full EngagementApril 20: Rich Mesch Performance Punctuated and he will be joined by Judy Unrein OneHundred Forty Words .Week Two:April 23: Clark Quinn LearnletsApril 24: Karl Grieb ASTD Philadelphia ChapterApril 25: Webinar Presentation for Houston ASTD Chapter "What Research Tells Us about Games, Gamification and Learning" Join the webinar.April 26: Debbie Richards Take an e-Learning Break And a live appearance by Karl at the NY ASTD Chapters combined SIG Meeting. If you are in NY, you may want to register and attend.April 27L Connie Malamed The eLearning Coach.Week Three:April 30: Amy Lui Abel New York ASTD Chapter Blog. May 1: Cammy Bean Learning VisionsMay 2: Tom Kuhlmann Word of Mouth May 3: Koreen Olbrich Learning in Tandem May 4: "Surprise Blog Appearance" Week Four:May 7: Mike Qaissaunee Frequently Asked QMay 8: Larry Hiner drlarryhinerMay 9: Catherine Lombardozzi Learning JournalMay 10: Brent Schlenker Elearning Development May 11: Zaid Ali Alsagoff Zaid Learn Week Five:May 14: Andrew Hughes Designing DigitallyMay 15: John Rice Educational Games Research May 16: Christy Tucker Experiencing E-LearningMay 17: Justin Brusino ASTD Learning Circuits Blog (we come full circle to discuss the tour and the gamification concept) May 18: Karl Kapp Kapp Notes. The author provides reflections and lessons learned from the tour. So join us for this exciting tour and social media event to discuss the pros and cons of Gamification and what it means to learning and development profession[...]