Here we go again. Day 3 in Denver.
First up another top notch Keynote speaker, Brené Brown. You may well have seen her on Ted Talks, over 25 million people have.
Brené managed to be both entertaining and thought-provoking as she spoke about leadership, vulnerability and courage. The key message is that vulnerability is not a “soft” skill but a very hard one, in fact it is the very definition of courage, and it is essential to leadership.
We spend much of our lives building defences against being vulnerable, because that way we can avoid the associated feelings of shame, fear, anxiety. But we also cut ourselves off in the process from the emotions and experiences that we crave. Most of us choose comfort over courage and see vulnerability as weakness, in ourselves and others. So to expose ourselves to risk, uncertainty, failure takes great courage.
But Brené believes passionately that courage is an essential element of successful strategy and culture change. Leaders need to be able to excavate what is going on below the surface and instigate change, you need to choose courage not comfort, and vulnerability is the shovel.
She argued the need for clarity of values, and living those values. Trust is a theme that has recurred throughout this conference. Trust is built in small moments. If you don’t trust someone they will not trust you, nor follow you. Brené then talked us through 7 elements of trust – Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non-judgement and Generosity.
A dramatic change of gear for my next session, Karl Kapp, an acknowledged expert in gamification for learning, treated us to the Zombie Salesapocalypse. Well, what he actually did was to talk us through the journey he and his team have taken in developing an unfinished learning game in an immersive 3D video game style, complete with zombies. Karl was refreshingly honest in revealing the hurdles, false turns, and trial and error process as the game developed.
It was fascinating to see the parallels with our own progress in developing serious games. Unicorn has managed to leap over many of the technical and design hurdles that Karl has faced by partnering with a world class games development studio (in fact we bought them). For me, the holy grail of learning games is to embed the learning into the game such that the two are one. I don’t think the zombie game does that, the zombies are an entertaining device for engagement, but they are also a distraction from the learning. But I’ve seen much worse and very few thus far that are better within the budgetary constraints of Karl and most L&D professionals.
After lunch and another tour of the expo, I joined Megan Torrance’s session titled “Adventures in xAPI”. Megan was very good at explaining the many benefits of xAPI as it breaks us out of the constraints of SCORM. But it was also clear how little real practical progress has been made in applying the new standards. At Unicorn we have had xAPI (TinCan) embedded in SkillsServe for 18 months now, but SCORM still dominates. I’m optimistic that as more companies take up mobile learning and social learning, the corner will be turned, and when it does Unicorn will be at the forefront.
After a return to the Expo hall for the afternoon ice cream break, our final session was another change of gear – Josh Davis on the “Neuroscience of Bias”. Having read Daniel Kahneman’s seminal “Thinking Fast and Slow” and more recently Richard Thaler’s (almost) equally influential “MisBehaving” I was looking forward to this session and it did not disappoint. Karl’s theme was the power and ubiquity of unconscious bias (it even applies to hurricanes), and the demonstrable and striking benefits of diversity in the workplace. He introduced some strategies for recognising and countering our biases. Main takeaway – I must buy his book.
One more day to go tomorrow. The bear has not managed to break in yet but he looks like he’s getting closer!
In the latest part in his blogs from last month’s NextGen LMS conference, Unicorn’s Stuart Jones asks how do we create a continuous improvement culture?
Aaron recently set up his own company called Making Better to help organisations improve their learning and development.
Aaron opened with a wonderful quote: “Perfect is the enemy of better” –Voltaire, La Bégueule
This works on a number of levels, not least that if you wait for perfection you will never deliver anything good. And secondly, without the ability to improve, nothing gets better.
Aaron’s entire talk mirrored a lot of the discussions we’ve been having at our Agile South Coast get together over the last few months – and that is get something out there, test it, improve it based around Lean Start Up and Lean UX principles.
Interesting to me that the eLearning industry is catching up with thinking from the software development industry – assuming Aaron can make this stick.
Aaron did make some interesting points about using Tin Can statements to capture the analytics for testing eLearning content.
I’m a little conflicted by this.
Tin Can is about the learner experiences, and if we are starting lean as Aaron’s talk introduced, then we should focus on the most important information we can use.
If we capture too much, we generate noise and if we start thinking about usability for example as Tin Can data, we will generate a lot of noise, most of which won’t be useful to anyone than a course builder, whereas one would argue the purpose of Tin Can recording experiences is it is the output we are interested in – what did they learn, what did they experience.
It is tenuous to me to be thinking inputs such as where the user clicked, how they clicked being a good use of Tin Can data. And that data is temporal – it is redundant the next time the course is edited, hence the portability of that information becomes irrelevant.
So Aaron, I have to disagree with these particular points right now, at least until there is a better way of classifying this data without hacking the spec as you suggested to me.
In terms of what Aaron’s clients need from a next gen learning management system, many reoccurring themes are on show:
• Analytics – using data in a way that drives positive change
• Managing competencies
• Badges and gamification
• Content management
• Mobile friendly and accessible content delivery
• Powerful search
This is a slightly different list from what they want:
• Tailored reporting
• Content authoring
• Suggestions and Recommendations
• Smart Offline Capability
• Bundle content (top down) and playlists (bottom up)
• Web and industry standards
Often the “want list” is phase two to enable the clients to get to the MVPs (Most valuable products) first.
Next Iteration of SCORM with Aaron Silvers – catch up on where xAPI is now, how we got there, and what’s next for xAPI.
Missed the rest of Stuart’s NextGen LMS blog this week? Don’t worry you can find them all at the UniChronicles here!
More from Stuart next week.
There’s still a bit of a fog around Tin Can – a.k.a. the Experience API. But Unicorn will help to try to clear that blur as we sponsor the eLearning Network’s ‘LMSs and the Tin Can API’ event at De Vere West One, London on Friday 4 April.
The Experience API (aka Tin Can) has been positioned as the best way to collect, store and analyse learning data. But why? Unicorn’s Director of IT, Stuart Jones, will be amongst experts looking to provide answers to questions including:
• What the Experience API allows you to do currently
• How the Experience API works (in plain English)
• What tools and systems are available to help you use the Experience API
• How to implement the Experience API in your organisation
Stuart said: “It’s likely Tin Can will be the way all learning systems and content speak to each other in the future. It’s a new way for these different things to be able to share learner experiences between them, enabling these to be recorded and reported.
“In one respect it is a modern replacement for existing e-learning technology standards, the most popular of which is SCORM. It also goes beyond replacing basic eLearning integration opening up a range of possibilities for capturing information in ways not previously possible.
“Tin Can basically does the same as SCORM/AICC and is no more scary than either. At the event I’ll be focusing on the short-terms benefits of using Tin Can, in particular Apps, and looking into the future at how some of the benefits will open up learning.”
LMSs and the Tin Can API – what’s on the agenda:
• The vision for Tin Can in large organisations – Andy Wooler (Hitachi Data Systems).
• Introducing LearningLocker: an open source Learning Record Store and Analytics engine, from the creators of Curatr – Dave Tosh/Ben Betts (HT2) • Tin Can Today – what is possible with existing tools? – Stuart Jones (Unicorn)
• The impact of Tin Can on Learning Design – Andrew Downes (Epic)
Visit the eLearning Network website and book online here – http://www.elearningnetwork.org/events/lms-and-tin-can
Here is a taste of what Peter has to say – to read the full article check out our 25 years digital publication here.
“Why are there so few global players in the eLearning development field?
“One key factor is the low entry barriers. These have made for plenty of competition, but also driven down margins and, in the longer term, that constrains growth.
“Another is the low switching costs for customers. Bespoke companies need a constant stream of new business and when switching costs are low and price competition fierce, this is not a recipe for stable growth.
“Over the past decade better communications have exposed providers to global competition, most notably from India, resulting in further downward pressure on prices.
“Unfortunately potential cost savings from offshore and crowd based sourcing are rarely fully realised as the reduced direct costs can be outweighed by additional management costs in ensuring that quality, creativity and cultural relevance are not compromised.”
Peter goes on to discuss the rise of rapid development, merger mania, mould breakers and thoughts for the future. To keep reading click here….