Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Content Becomes Its Own Context

“How much of our training budget goes to things that have nothing to do with ‘learning’? Why does the LMS cost more than the whole L&D department? How many organizations invest in more authoring tools and asset libraries than they do in people who know how to use them to design more effectively? Why have we fragmented learning into shards of ‘objects’ rather than craft whole, robust learning experiences? We’re supposed to be in the learning business, not the ‘object’ business.”

More: http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/1070/nuts-and-bolts-content-becomes-its-own-context

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


"How would different beliefs about learning affect our practice? What is the prevailing belief in your own work culture? In thinking of my own past and present workplaces, and the types of instruction I’ve most often been asked to build or facilitate, the belief seems most often to be that learning happens as people acquire discrete pieces of data—which we hope they’ll apply as needed. This in turn affects the way in which the instruction attempts to tap into prior learning and tie to other, related pieces of instruction."

For the full article, see: http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/1054/nuts-and-bolts-metaphors

The Pinterest board referenced in the article is at http://pinterest.com/janebozarth/learning-teaching-metaphors/

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Assessing the Value of Online Interactions

In looking for value in online interactions, try to get past the idea of a magic metric. I can’t tell you that my spending x hours on LinkedIn and tweeting y times per day will get you the result I got in the example above. I can tell you that my choice of when, with whom, and how to engage is what helped drive that result.

For more, including an overview of a new framework from Wenger et al, see: 

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


One of the givens in working with adult learners is the importance of helping them access prior knowledge and building on what they already know. But what if that prior knowledge is no longer useful, or the skills no longer applicable, or it was never very accurate in the first place? 

See more in this month's "Nuts and Bolts" column: http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/1000/nuts-and-bolts-unlearning

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Narrating Our Work

"By sharing what we are doing and how we are learning, we distribute the tacit knowledge otherwise so hard to capture; invite feedback and encouragement from others; invite others to learn with us; document our work and learning for future use; and tie our learning to the efforts of others. Here’s a true story about physical rehab turned learning turned hobby turned community of practice turned two successful businesses, all via informal, social means. And all within six months."  

See this month's "Nuts & Bolts" column:  http://www.learningsolutionmag.com/articles/984/nuts-and-bolts-narrating-our-work

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

"Selling It": Encouraging Change

This month's "Nuts and Bolts" column takes on a common problem: sometimes in our enthusiasm we may be creating the very resistance we're trying to overcome. "What we find cool, others find intimidating. What we find useful, others find threatening. What we find magical, others find scary. And sometimes the very benefits we tout are exactly what others fear." 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blog Book Tour: Karl Kapp's "Gamification of Learning and Instruction"

Blog book tour stop 3: I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy of Karl Kapp’s new book, “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction” (Pfeiffer) (also see the book's Facebook Pagejust in time for a long plane ride. What a delight! In an age when there’s so much confusion about this in the field, Kapp offers a timely, common-sense view of realities and possibilities.  Among my own frustrations are those in L&D (and, ahem, marketing) who are swept away on tides of badges and points without really understanding the instrinsic motivation and factors critical to successful, meaningful gamification.  (More about that? Take a look at the incredibly popular new game Draw Something, in which the only "rule" is an implicit one and successful play requires collaboration, not competition. Fifty million downloads within 50 days of release. And there isn’t even a winner, ever. )

Kapp pitches the book at just the right level, making material relevant for more experienced gamers as well as for those to whom all this would be rather new.  Several chapters offer basics about game elements and play, while others offer reviews of theory and research regarding games for learning, player types and patterns, and snapshots of ways games can support workplace performance of particular types of tasks. Chapters open with  questions, which provides a nice advance organizer for the information to come.

The author has called in some big guns in terms of expertise, with Alicia Sanchez providing a chapter-length case study from Defense Acquisition University, and a chapter on virtual reality games from expert Koreen Olbrish.   I love that Chapter 11 is written by high school senior Nathan Kapp, the author’s son, who  brings a particularly relevant perspective as  he “has been playing video games his whole life."

This is an excellent resource for those seeking to make sense of the gamification craze and apply gamification principles to create better learning experiences. 

Friday, April 06, 2012

How Can We Know What We Don't Know?

Last month's "Nuts and Bolts" column "Buy or Build? and hte decisionmaking folwchart included there, sparked an interesting comment from a reader: " Sometimes organizations go to great trouble and expense to build (often inferior) eLearning in-house becasue they don't really know what their other options are." I explore this further in this month's column:   How Can We Know What We Don't Know? 

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

eLearning: Buy or Build?

So often I see organizations struggling to develop eLearning in-house when, really, outsourcing would result in  a better product that's really less expensive in the long run. This month's "Nuts and Bolts" column for Learning Solutions Magazine explores this: Buy or Build? 

Saturday, March 03, 2012

What Does Learning Look Like? This.

3 Birds, One Stone

Bird 1: I do lots of workshops on using social media for learning, and I struggle to help participants see the possibilities of using images rather than text-based approaches in their work. Thanks to email and discussion boards, we tend to fall into "comment here, post there, respond to that" kinds of interactions. But now, with so many workers armed with cell phones, nearly all of which have decent cameras, there are so many more possibilities for using images and video in our work. A plus: This can level the playing field for people with low-literacy or second-language issues.

Bird 2: I struggle with helping learners recognize when they are learning. They think of it instead as "solving a problem" or "getting an answer". They don't say, "Gee, I'm a motivated, self-directed adult learner, and I think I'll become more mindful of that." They instead say, "I'll just Google 'spreadsheet tutorial' and see what I find." And if they don't recognize when they're learning, it may just not occur to them to share their new learning with others, or mention it to the boss, or include it in their weekly status report. 

Bird 3: My whole career I have struggled to help managers and HR Directors and supervisors and workers understand that "learning" rarely looks like "school". Because of their experience with education, they believe learning happens at tables (or in front of a computer) while an expert talks. 

One Stone: 
This morning (thanks to Dan Pontefract @dpontefract sharing something via Valerie Irvine @_valeriei, who were posting this, the brainchild of Jeffery Heil  -- that's how Twitter works, see?) I ran across the most wonderful big stone that hits squarely on all 3 birds: being mindful about learning, while showing what it really looks like, all done via sharing photos on Pinterest on a board called "What Does Learning Look Like?"  

Fabulous answer to a fabulous question. And worth much more than 1,000 words. 

Friday, March 02, 2012

From Traditional ID to ID 2.0

I have an article in the new issue of ASTD's T+D, "From Traditional Instruction to Instructional Design 2.0". It's excerpted here if you'd like to take  look. Some highlights:

Social learning is learning with and from others by moving within one’s culture, workplace, and world. It’s often unconscious and unintentional, and it often looks more like solving a problem or working together to make sense of something. Social learning is how most of us learn most things: through living in our cultures and interacting with others there. It’s how babies learn to talk and how we learn the basic rules of getting along on the playground. It’s all around us every day, from water cooler conversations to asking a co-worker for an opinion.

What are some ways to help support the new learning as people work to implement it? Some ideas include
  • an online leadership book club to sustain learning beyond the confines of the organization’s structured leadership academy
  • a networking group for graduates of a particular course, which can be a great way to support transfer of new learning from the classroom event
  • a dynamic, evolving frequently-asked-questions webpage for new hires, created by new hires, or a webpage with tips from top sales staff
  • a wiki for group projects
  • a site for “critical incident” discussions related to training topics such as customer service or ethics
  • a microblog-based live chat for all the leaders in your organization, or all leaders in the pharmaceutical industry, or all leaders everywhere
  • a Twitter hashtag assigned to your training sessions so participants can tweet key points and takeaways to those who were unable to attend.
Check here for the excerpt, and the actual publication for the full text. 

Social Learning and Etc.: In Conversation with Jane Hart

Jane Hart and I got together to talk about social learning, social media, change management, and measuring engagement in online communities. Here's the recording: Her audio's not great so she let me do most of the talking. I didn't do anything to cause that-- I promise.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Not Everything Requires "Instruction"

New "Nuts & Bolts" column today: Watch for opportunities to quickly solve a performance problem or encourage use of a new idea, approach or tool. Warning: this may not have a thing to do with your job.