Posts Tagged ‘mobile learning’
In late October I attended Elliot Masie’s Learning Conference. I’ve blogged extensively about each individual session, but want to use this post to lift out the larger themes that I saw at the event and to ask the corporate learning departments a few challenging questions that relate to these themes.
A few years back Wayne Hodgins and Eric Duval started talking about the Snowflake Effect. They gave examples of media channels providing personalized offerings (think Last.fm) and could see this coming for learning too. Every learner is different (just like a snowflake) and has individual needs. Richard Culatta did a talk on personalized learning that resonated with his audience. He had a simple definition of what it means to personalize: you need to adjust the pace, you need to adjust the learning approach and you need to leverage the learner’s experiences and interests.
I would like to pose the following challenge to the corporate learning department: For every learning experience that you design, do you ask yourself: How would I design this if I had an audience of one?
Mobile and Video
The two hottest technologies at the conference clearly were mobile and video. Mobile learning technology is still in the early stages. There was a lot of debunking and few excellent or even interesting examples. I guess you could say that mobile learning is in the “through of disillusionment” from the perspective of Gartner’s Hype Cycle.
Video seemed to be further along the curve as there were many more concrete examples of video being used for learning (my personal favorite was how Masie kept connecting “over video” to people who were standing in the room next door). I was disappointed to see that most debates were very practical (e.g. about what equipment to use and how to create good quality audio) and often did not discuss how best to use video in learning. The practical debates occasionally lacked a bit of depth too. I didn’t hear anybody talk about searching, annotating and indexing video for example.
A few challenging questions for the corporate learning department: Have you invested in a platform to deliver video? Can this platform deliver to mobile devices? How do the videos get (socially) contextualized? Is there a way to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) into the company, are you connected with the team that works on this?
Do-It-Yourself or Self-Directed Learning
Two trends are pushing this forward:
- Many companies are turning into information companies with knowledge workers doing complex tasks. These knowledge workers are the only people who can understand their job (barely!). This makes programmatic (i.e. curriculum based) learning offerings designed by others largely ineffective.
- The world is incredibly connected and the tools for collaboration can, for all practical purposes, be considered to be free. People can organize their own learning groups.
My challenge to the learning department is the following: Which of the five DIY imperatives (devolve responsibility, be open, create experiences rather than content, provide scaffolding and stimulate reflection) are you practicing?
IT Development Methodologies for Learning Content Development
I attended two sessions that explicitly talked about IT development methodologies applied to learning content development. One was about using hackathons and the other about Agile. There is a lot of inspiration to be found in how people write software that can be applied to how people develop learning (yes, I do understand the irony of this if you compare this to the previous point: but I still think designed experiences are useful for many occasions). If you look closely at the principles behind the Agile manifesto, then you see how easy these can be translated to learning: learner satisfaction by rapid delivery of useful learning experiences, welcome changing requirements (even late in development), learning experiences are delivered frequently (weeks rather than months), sustainable development (able to maintain a constant pace), close and daily co-operation between business people and developers, face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location), projects are built around motivated individuals (who should be trusted), continuous attention to technical excellence and good design, simplicity (the art of maximizing the amount of work not done) is essential, self-organizing teams, and regular adaptation to changing circumstances.
So here is my challenge for the learning department: Do you know and understand the cutting edge IT development methodologies like Agile, Scrum, Extreme programming? Have you thought about how these could be applied to your learning development process?
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
At the beginning of the year barely anybody had heard about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Today this seems to be the hottest topic in the educational technology field. Any Masie attendee that hadn’t heard about MOOCs before they came to the conference certainly had heard about it by the time they left. I attended an interesting session by Curtis Bonk. Audrey Watters has probably done the best write-up so far on how they work and what they mean (don’t miss all her other posts on the Ed-Tech Trends of 2012). I also enjoyed this podcast with Arnold Kling which discusses some of the issues with how MOOC in their institutionalized form work.
I want to create two different challenges for the learning department around MOOCs. The first one is based on the approach by the big universities (xMoocs): Have you thought about how the principles behind MOOCs around scaling the normal educational process can be applied to your company? Could this be an efficient way to scale a 20 person classroom to a 2000 or 20000 person “classroom”? The second challenge comes from the original MOOCs (cMOOCS): Can you create a corporate course which is divergent, distributed, virtual, exploratory and scales at the same time? What would that course be about?
Most learning profesionals don’t spend enough time looking at how our brains work and how that could be used in designing learning experiences. A few years ago John Medina wrote a very readable book translating the current state of brain research into actionable insights:
This year’s Masie conference had two keynote speakers that have created popular science books riding on top of the advances in neurology: Susan Cain on introversion and Charles Duhigg on forming habits. After reading my posts on these, Bert De Coutere connected me to Tiny Habits, a brain science inspired approach to changing behaviour.
Another challenge for the learning department: How many of your design heuristics are based on opinion, mimesis or history rather than on brain science? How do you keep up to date on the latest developments in brain science?
Focus on Cultural (and Organizational) Change
Even though I can’t pinpoint a session that I attended on this topic, I could feel how a shift towards organizational dynamics rather than personal dynamics was underlying many of the discussions. Learning in corporations often is about changing the behaviour or attitudes of large groups of people (I propose to rename the learning department to “the indoctrination department”). Making the organization rather than the learner the unit of change would change many things.
Even though it is early days for this, I would like to put out the following challenge: Imagine that your job is not to make an individual competent, but to change the culture inside an organization (e.g. maybe to become more innovative or to go from a “service provider to a consultative mindset”. What will you do differently?
Data as a Mystery
Learning analytics is all the rage. Also at the Masie Learning conference. Nigel Paine said the following for example:
Data is important. You should have the data from your organization and try and get some insights from it. Most people never take the trouble to go through the data.
I have serious issues with the current approaches to learning analytics:
- Learning analytics is nearly always seen as a top-down initiative that can be used to steer and manage. I believe it should be used as an empowerment tool to speed up and enrich the feedback cycle for learners (also see my post on a talk by Erik Duval).
- Everybody seems to be focused on capturing as much data as possible and using fancy (preferably iPad enabled) graphing and dynamic visualization technologies. Nobody seems to be asking interesting questions that can be answered by analyzing data.
My challenge to the learning department is related to that second point: What interesting (and difficult) learning related questions can you get an answer to, now that data capturing and visualization tools have become ubiquitous?
Patents and Licensing
I was shocked to hear Elliott Masie talk about a patent troll in the learning technology space. An article by Steven Levy in this month’s Wired gave me some more ridiculous examples. The law is important and if you don’t think about patents, copyright and trademarks then they might come and haunt you later on.
Very few corporations think about the license that they use for their learning content. Often the copyright of any work will just be with the company and all rights will be reserved. This might not be the best or smartest thing to do. Creative Commons licenses are one of the enablers of Open Educational Resources. Creating OERs could lead to much more flexibility around corporate content and might even create synergies in industries that can transcend individual corporations. This is a dynamic space with interesting debates (see the discussion on the non-commercial clause for example ,via Downes).
This is probably the most “advanced” challenge in this post: Have you thought about turning your learning content and courses into open educational resources (OER)? What could be the business case for OER in a corporation?
I would love to hear from you which challenges you’ve decided to pick up. Will you please share them in the comments?
My first session for this second day of Learning 2012 started with a session of shifting trends in buying learning.
Masie has been involved in a survey aroud the learning market place. According to him there is an anomaly: there are more dollars to buy learning than robust providers/suppliers that can deliver to their needs.
One example is the market for Learning Management Systems (LMSs). There is an increasing frustration from members of the Learning Consortium that their LMS cannot deliver video very well. People are ready to buy technology to create, edit and deliver video, but they can’t find the right vendor to buy it from. Another area where people want to spend is Performance Support. There isn’t a perception that there is a large number of solution providers who can deliver this. Ironically content is also hard to get nowadays. There has been a drying up of content providers (all of them are very verticalized). New ways of doing assessment (e.g. badging models) are also hard to buy. Most people want to use mobile learning as an on-the-job performance support and also see it as a way to connect staff. 87% of the respondents are interested in mobile, but the percentage of companies really doing something in the space is in the teens. A similar thing can be said about social and collaborative learning.
Masie also made an argument that e-books will be very prevalent in the future. Everybody has a tablet, but there is no decent model for corporate learning e-book creation. He is pushing Adobe to start creating software that will allow people to author their own learning e-books.
All in all this means there are massive opportunities for vendors in this marketplace.
After Masie’s introduction we had a small discussion on the topic. One thing that came up was the disconnect between relatively young and agile companies with innovative solutions and the traditional procurement processes of big companies. The panel also discussed that it is often difficult to make the step from a small pilot or proof of concept to the larger implementation. Unfortunately nobody seemed to have a really sharp idea on how to solve the conundrum.
My blog, as one of the preferred outsourcing partners of my mind, will serve as a keeper of some of my notes and thoughts on Online Educa 2009 in Berlin. This will be a relatively disorganised post with a lot of different short bits of information, apologies in advance.
Earlier, I wrote a couple of blog posts about this year’s Educa:
- Will it Blend? A Presentation at Online Educa 2009
- Open Source: Getting Failure for Free (Online Educa 2009)
- Did You Know Moodle 2.0 Will….? (Online Educa 2009)
- Mobile Language Learning with Learnosity (Online Educa 2009)
- Online Educa’s Platinum Sponsor Fronter is a Closed Source Proprietary Product Part 2
I used Twitter a lot this year trying to capture some choice quotes and thoughts. Twitter does not give you an easy way to show all your posts with a particular hash tag (why not?), so you can view my past tweets through Tweet Scan. Here are some highlights:
- Atkins: “Girls are using technology to get better, boys are using technology to get into trouble. Not that I have a gender bias.” #oeb2009, 2009-12-03 09:51:55
- The new comments API is probably the most welcome new feature when it comes to strengthening #Moodle pedagogy. #oeb2009 2009-12-02 15:19:59
- Jon Husband: “When you implement an ERP system you are putting electronic concrete on your business processes.” #oeb2009 2009-12-03 11:16:35
- Thanks @jonhusband for this article: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/199910/information-revolution. #oeb2009 2009-12-03 11:21:29
- I had never heard of Aric Sigman before. Good to hear from somebody who sits completely outside my belief system once in a while. #oeb2009 2009-12-03 17:10:38
- Ok, promise to self: Only attend presentations of true stars and use the rest of the time for talking to interesting people. #oeb2009 2009-12-04 12:12:56
I wasn’t the only person tweeting at the conference. The tag was #oeb2009 and Twubs provided a nice hub.
- Moodle is a better product.
- Staff and students prefer to use Moodle over Blackboard (see this report).
- Moodle has a lower Total Cost of Ownership (see this report).
Alex made a lot of people laugh with his graphic showing how Blackboard is gaining market share through acquisitions and how Moodle still manages to trump that:
Brochures that I picked up
There were a lot of exhibitors all handing out brochures. These are the companies/services of which I kept the brochures:
- CELSTEC, the Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies. This Centre of Expertise is part of the Dutch Open University and does a lot of original research in the technology space. I would love to explore how I could work with them in the future.
- Quick Lessons. I like how this company has all the right buzzwords in their marketing: they allow you to do “rapid e-learning development in the cloud” (!). They even have the famous Web 2.0 badge on their site. There is one thing I really like though: the concept of a web-based development tool. I do think there is a lot of potential for those, regardless of whether Quick Lessons is the best option. Does anyone have any experience with using Udutu for example?
- The market for capturing presentations is maturing. A presentation or a lecture might seem old-fashioned to some, but there still is a space for this type of teaching (if it is well done) and by filming the lecture, you can turn this into on-demand content for students. Through my work at Stoas Learning I already knew about Presentations 2 Go, but I hadn’t heard of Lecturnity before.
- The rapid browser-based sims of Thinking Worlds are very interesting to explore further. A little while ago I did a course which used a game developed with their 3D engine and I thought it had a lot of potential. Their worlds run in the browser and only require a Shockwave plugin which should be available on most systems. What I really want to know is how quick and easy the authoring process is. How do you design interactions and scenarios? I will check that out in the near future.
- Geanium delivers “Interactive Chronological Visualisations”, another word would be timelines. Their product looked nice enough: you could put events not just on a timeline, but also on a particular place in the world. I can see some niche applications for this service.
- I have quite a bit of experience in using Adobe Captivate to do rapid development. I like certain things about the software, but would be interested in finding out how it really compares to the other rapid development tools from Articulate (check out the excellent Rapid e-Learning Blog by the way) and TechSmith (of SnagIt, Camtasia and Jing fame). The latter has a new product out called UserVue, which could be very useful in usability testing. I wish I would have easier access to installed trial versions of these applications.
Lord Puttnam and We Are The People
Lord Puttnam keynoted on the first day. He talked about his latest video project titled We Are The People We’ve Been Waiting For. The basic point of the movie is that we are not preparing our children for the future that is waiting for them. You can get the DVD you for free when you order it online. I ordered and watched it and thought it made a good case for making a step change in our educational system. My favourite talking head in the movie was Ken Robinson. If you have never seen his TED talk, then you should rectify that situation immediately.
An unconference with Jay Cross and his Internet Time Alliance friends
Jay Cross organised a couple of unconferences with his Internet Time Alliance friends. I always admire Jay for how he manages to utilise the Internet to his and his clients advantage. His self-published “unbooks” are a great example of this. His sessions were by far the most interesting and engaging at this year’s Online Educa. Jane Hart and Charles Jennings were in the room and Harold Jarche and Jon Husband were available through video conferencing.
The main question of the session that I attended was: What are the major challenges/vision/issues that we see moving into the 21st century when it comes to learning? Jarche thinks organisations will have to deal with more and more complexity. Everything that is simple or can be commoditized will move to the lowest bidder or will be an automated process. What is left is complex. The training functions are currently not able to deal with this complexity. Cross considers the global downturn a symptom of the end of the industrial age and the beginning of a truly networked world. In that world intangibles are much more important than tangibles. Our training metrics will have to change to reflect this.
Then followed a selection of models and ideas that are mostly familiar to me, but are valuable enough to share again:
- A hierarchy of employee traits in the creative economy: passion, creativity, initiative (these cannot be commoditized) followed by intellect, diligence and obedience (all of these can be commoditized).
- Jane Hart’s five types of Learning: Intra Organizational Learning (self-directed, organizational), Group directed learning (self-directed, group), Personal learning (self-directed, individual), Accidental & Serendipitous learning (undirected, individual) and Formal structured learning (directed, individual). These are interesting in that they show that they are other ways of delivery than the traditional face to face workshop, but they start at the wrong end of the learning question. I would like to start on the demand side when it comes to creating a learning typology (actually I am working on exactly that: a corporate learning typology, more to come).
- The concept of the wirearchy: a dynamic two-way flow of power and authority based on information, knowledge, trust and credibility, enabled by interconnected people and technology.
- John Husband shared this great paragraph from Peter Drucker (the full text is here):
Bribing the knowledge workers on whom these industries depend will therefore simply not work. The key knowledge workers in these businesses will surely continue to expect to share financially in the fruits of their labor. But the financial fruits are likely to take much longer to ripen, if they ripen at all. And then, probably within ten years or so, running a business with (short-term) “shareholder value” as its first—if not its only—goal and justification will have become counterproductive. Increasingly, performance in these new knowledge-based industries will come to depend on running the institution so as to attract, hold, and motivate knowledge workers. When this can no longer be done by satisfying knowledge workers’ greed, as we are now trying to do, it will have to be done by satisfying their values, and by giving them social recognition and social power. It will have to be done by turning them from subordinates into fellow executives, and from employees, however well paid, into partners.
- The wonderful Cynefin framework. This models describes five different problem domains and the best ways to manage situations in these domains. Reading Snowden’s original Harvard Business Review article is well worth the price and the effort.
Accelerating the Adoption of Innovations
I had a great round-table discussion with Ellen D. Wagner from Sage Road Solutions (kudos: the first business card with a Twitter name that I have received, maybe pretty standard in the valley?), David James Clarke IV from Toolwire and others about how to accelerate the adoption of innovations.
Rogers’s adoption curve is as follows:
Wagner puts these two graphs together:
She shows exactly in which phase the pain lies and where extra stakeholder support is necessary. The whole discussion reminded me of this great Geek and Poke comic:
David James Clarke IV and Experiential Learning
David James Clarke IV of Toolwire also presented on experiential learning in a plenary. His argument was that in the current information economy knowledge is not power anymore. It is access to knowledge and the ability to turn that knowledge into action and decisions that is power.
He talked about the tension between richness (the depth of the experience) and reach (the amount of people the experience can reach) as first described by Evans and Wurster which, if adapted to the traditional educational field, leads to the following tension between classroom (high richness, low reach) and distance (low richness, high reach) learning:
His point is that technology is now at a point where this tension can be overcome:
This is where experiential learning comes in. Students should have hands-on real world experiences while they are in school. He finished his talk with an example from the Matrix. I quote from the white-paper that he and Charles Jennings wrote on experiential learning:
The movie The Matrix provides an exceptional example of experiential learning in action. In this case, it is literally a matter of life or death. In a scene towards the end of the movie, our heroes – Trinity and Neo – find themselves trapped on the roof of the Agents’ headquarters. Their only escape is via a military helicopter.The problem is neither of them knows how to fly a helicopter … yet. So what does Trinity do? She calls her Learning Management System (LMS), of course. In this case, the LMS is represented by a phone operator named Tank.Trinity requests a specific learning object – Helicopters for Dummies! – and Tank downloads the skills directly into her brain. You can appreciate the experiential learning significance here. Once Trinity has received the skills, she and Neo fly the Helicopter to safety and continue saving the world!This is a perfect example of just-in-time, context-sensitive experiential learning delivered exactly when the student needs it … in 30 seconds!
Clarke later in the day did a Pecha Kucha with 10 movies about learning as his topic:
I have decided that I will invest some time into creating my own Pecha Kucha: a top ten of education philosophers.
Niall Winter: a Framework for Designing Mobile Learning Experiences
Niall Winter is an interesting researcher at the London Knowledge Lab. He talked about the fact that mobile learning has failed to exploit the social practices by which the new affordances of mobile devices become powerful educational interventions. He sees designing mobile learning experiences as one of the key challenges for the technology enhanced learning community. It important to focus on the learning intervention and not be techno-centric. This should lead to socio-technical solutions where the context and the activity determine the success. His goal then is to design activities that are appropriate to the context.
He does this using a participatory design methodology going through the following time consuming process:
- Explore the institutional context: technology, identifying existing practice, participants’ perspective
- Explore the learner context: scenarios, concerns, (un)expected new practices (iterative cycle)
- Deploy and go through the cycle again
Two final interesting links to explore in the future
- LANGblog is an open source adaption of WordPress Multi-User and is ideal for letting people without a lot of technical knowledge do audio-centric blogging.
- Thomas Michael Power talked about new ways of teaching Geomatics. He is part of the GeoEduc3D project which aims to design mobile educational games based on geospatial technology.
All in all it was very worthwhile to go to this year’s Online Educa. I don’t think there is another occasion where that many members of the educational technology community are present.