Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Ukulele Learning" Devlearn Session Recap

“Ukulele Learning” session recap: 

Update: This has proven to be a popular session and has been on the annual DevLearn program since its inception in 2015.  Shawn and I will be offering it again on Thursday, October 24, 2019.  In the past, after the conferences, ukuleles used in these sessions are donated to the Children's Hospital of Nevada. This year the idea expanded into a "Guild For Good" initiative with DevLearn attendees asked to bring additional toys and craft materials to contribute to the hospital. Many thanks to the eLearning Guild for the support. 

Devlearn  2015 Session Recap: 304 (will be repeated Thursday Oct 1 as session 518)
Jane Bozarth, Shawn Rosler, Ellen Wagner

Ukulele Learning:  Music and the Brain
Since so many colleagues of mine have taken up the ukulele recently I wanted to have a uke jam at Devlearn.   We could play together and offer introductory lessons to those who wanted to learn to play. Knowing that people might not want to add a uke to their travel loads, I asked David Holcombe and David Kelly if the eLearning Guild might buy a few to have around.  They said sure, but with a catch: The experience needed to be tied to a concurrent session with a topic related to learning. We did the first session today to a packed house: 15 ukes, 24 maracas...and 72 kazoos. What a good time! 

So I recruited helpers Ellen Wagner and Shawn Rosler, and together we developed “Ukulele Learning: Music and the Brain”.   The session focused mostly on ways music can be used to enhance our work by taking advantage of its affordances:

1. Memory and Retention.  Music has powerful uses as a mnemonic, from tying new vocabulary and ideas to familiar tunes (see students reciting the Chinese dynasties to the tune of “FrereJacques"), to helping fix an idea (see Conjunction Junction), to tapping into prior learning. Oliver Sacks, in his years of work with patients with dementia, said: “Music memory remains when all other types of memories have failed.”

2.  Mood. Just as setting and color can visually affect the mood of, say, an elearning course, so can music “color” an approach or an idea. Compare the mood in this piece to this one

3. Attention. Listen to a song like “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Notice how you listen for the shifts in voice and speed? Or when you have a playlist on “shuffle” and perk up a bit to notice which song comes up next? Music – particularly when it is used strategically, and not just as background noise -- invites us to focus and attend.  

4. Motivation and reward. Likewise, music can be the reward for paying attention, releasing a hit of dopamine to the brain. Music can also provide a sense of urgency or motion, important to learner persistence and encouraging the learner to keep going.

Discussion in the session involved tying ideas to specific work projects:  You’re developing a module on customer service. What kind of music might represent an angry caller? What might suggest the mood created for the service rep during a difficult interaction? How could you use music to convey a sense of urgency about responding quickly to a safety issue? What role could music play in a banking scenario about fraudulent activity?
Important:   We do not advocate for using music as auditory wallpaper. Music should not serve only as noise but be used judiciously as a design element. As Tom Kuhlmann says: “Adding an audio background to your boring elearning course only makes it boring and danceable.”

We then moved on to a fun basic ukulele lesson, working on a simple strum and forming a few basic chords to play a couple of songs. 

Thanks again to the Guild for purchasing the ukuleles, which will be donated to the Children's Hospital of Nevada LV.

The session is being repeated tomorrow, October 1, at 1:15, session 518 in room 201. Here is some foreshadowing:

Session resources including the music playlist are at

Be sure to check out posts from all the DevLearn Bloggers! 

9 Critical Elements of Performance Improvement: Devlearn Session Recap

Session Recap:
“9 Critical Elements of Performance Improvement”
Devlearn 2015 Session 111: Jane Bozarth & Jeannette Campos

In January 2014 my husband, Kent,  was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  The experience -- from diagnosis to surgery to complications to recovery -- served as an excellent reminder that learning does not happen in a vacuum, that “training” is rarely enough, and that learners are actors in a system with many moving parts. This session explored 9 key points of performance improvement in the context of Kent's story.

1. “A problem well-stated is a problem half-solved.” ~Kettering
Kent presented with occasional blurry vision.  He thought he needed glasses. Our family doctor sent him to an opthalmologist. 

What evidence do we look for to confirm our understanding of the performance problem? How often do we treat symptoms versus performance problems?

2. Prepare your learner and others.
We were provided with only the most general information about what to expect from the surgery and during recovery.

How well do we prepare our learners for successful outcomes?  How often are our training interventions designed in response to specific and targeted performance problems?  How do we design for “personalized” learning experiences?

Do we even know who our learners are? What shortcuts do we take around getting to know our learners?

3. The long tail of performance improvement
We expected that Kent would return to work in about 6 weeks. It ended up being a year. 

Discussion: The long tail of performance improvement. Training has ended but the performance hasn’t yet begun.

How do we link/pair the training intervention with extended support for performance improvement?  Why is training (as an intervention) almost never enough?
How do we resist (or help others resist) the idea that the initial event – training – is the end when it is only the beginning?

 4. All learning is about relationships.
Performance depended on a network of support staff, from medical personnel to neighbors helping Kent take his first walks around the neighborhood.

When trainers/training aren’t enough (and they almost never are) … how do we think about the relationships that best support performance after learning? Well-designed performance improvement interventions involve many people from different parts/areas of the learner’s natural environment that exist well beyond the classroom. 
How do we as workplace learning practitioners design performance improvement strategies that extend beyond trainers and the classroom?
How do we promote learner-to-learner relationships? Or, said differently, how often do we involve a learner’s manager or co-workers in the success of a performance support intervention?   

5. Consider the five moments of learning need.
Unexpected outcomes forced Kent to have to learn new things, like managing with a walker and navigating a shower stall by palming the walls. 

This speaks to the classic five moments of learning need: When learning for the first time, when trying to remember, when trying to apply, when things change, and when things go wrong.

 6. “You and the cause of all of your problems are part of the same system.” ~Senge
Kent’s recovery depended on many moving parts, from transportation arrangements to visits to additional facilities such as outpatient PT office and the eye center.

What other parts of your system influence your ability to achieve optimal performance outcomes?  How do you incorporate  systems thinking into your design of training and learning events?

7. Allow for the graduation of a skill.
Time spent at inpatient rehabilitation involved hours of work toward successfully (without falling) showering, dressing, and performing basic life tasks. The facility had a working kitchen and things like freestanding steps and  a replica of a car that allowed practicing getting in and out.

The degree to which the learning environment replicates the performing environment.  How often are we able to do that in training?  How often do we try to do that in training?  What is the benefit of supported practice prior to application?

8. All people present with 4 basic tendencies
Based on the work by Chris Argyris, we know that all people present with four basic tendencies; 1) maximize winning and minimize losing, 2) remain in unilateral control, 3) appear rational, and 4) to suppress negative feelings. 

How much do you know about basic human behavior? How often do you think about predictable human behavior when you design, develop, and deliver training or learning interventions? 

9. What is measured matters.
The initial goal of “surviving the surgery” was a noble one but, given the outcomes, not enough. Given the complications many people in the system set other goals for Kent’s recovery.

What is a successful outcome of training? What is the goal of the intervention? How do we stay focused on the “true goal” of improved performance for our end-user instead of the artificial goal of “learning at training”.

I hope one thing people took away from this session is that "performance" is a concept far, far beyond someone completing an elearning course, passing a test, or even performing a discrete task correctly in the moment. There are 1,000 things between the learner and successful performance. The learner is an actor in a system and it's up to us to start seeing the nodes and connectors and other elements that will support performance improvement.

For more on Kent’s story see Bozarth, J. (2015). Performance Matters, or, Guy Walks Into A Brain Tumor Clinic. Learning Solutions Magazine June 2015. ce-matters-or-guy-walks-into-a-brain-tumor-clinic

Be sure to check out posts from all the DevLearn Bloggers! 

Update: Several hours after the presentation I received this from Kent: 

Keep Up with Your Conference Learning with this Template! (#devlearn)

Devlearn Bloggers Update: 

The September 24 #lrnchat focused on learning from conferences. Participant @MichelleOckers took away this idea for keeping up with conference learning. It’s a template she’s shared with us as a Google doc. Looks like a great tool, and I love the final colum's reminder to share learning with others. I hope  #devlearn folks find it useful.

(Don’t forget to join us for #lrnchat this week, coming LIVE to you from the Devlearn Demofest floor. Theme: Show Your Work, of course. Be prepared to share an example of something you do, something about your workday, even a photo of your office. See you then!  Thursday October 1, 8:30 pm ET, 5:30 pm PT. In Australia? That's Friday morning 10:30 AEST. Follow the @lrnchat account and use the #lrnchat tag.)

Elements of Working Out Loud at a Conference (#devlearn)

DevLearn Blogger Update:

Half the fun of a conference is participating in the backchannel, so friends back home, people who chose other sessions, and colleagues everywhere can keep up with the happenings. It's also a nice way of making notes for yourself. 

 Here’s Helen Blunden’s (@ActivateLearn) “Elements of Working Out Loud at a Conference”. Which ones will you try at #devlearn? 

Monday, September 28, 2015

The DevLearn Mobile App: A Lesson in Motivation and Reward (#devlearn)

One of the components of our upcoming Devlearn "Ukulele Learning" sessions is some conversation around motivation and reward.  A great example is happening right now in the DevLearn conference app, available to attendees. There's a swag shop with stuff like fun tshirts and sunglasses; app users can earn points toward purchases as outlined below. Notice the relative value of posting and filling out evaluations compared to just checking in or tagging something.
There aren't limits on what can be posted;  everything doesn't have to be "work related". Many posts are about sessions participants attended today; some are from presenters sharing tidbits from their upcoming presentations; some are pictures of the hotel pool, quick meetups, or pets and kids left at home. There's a lot of fun and engagement and people are making new friends. That's important when you're at a conference, especially alone, and helps to sustain engagement beyond the event. 

All behavior is purposeful. There's a great lesson here for those wanting to encourage use of collaboration tools and those who have goals like seeing more completed evaluation forms. I hope attendees recognize the app's activity feed as itself a valuable conference takeaway. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Coming to Devlearn 2015?

Coming to DevLearn 2015? I'll be there with 2 new sessions and a refreshed visit to a fun one from last year.  Some prep has involved extensive new research. Some has involved rethinking something I may have changed my mind about. The best thing? Prepping for these sessions gives me a chance to collaborate with some of my best friends in this business, bright people who bring energy and passion and fun to creating something together.

1. First, with the ever-glamorous and wicked smaht Jeannette Campos, is "Designing for Performance: Nine Critical Elements" (Session 114, Wednesday Sept 30, 10:45 am). This one starts with the story of my husband's brain tumor -- my most-read written piece ever-- and our ensuing experience with the healthcare system. From there we'll look at critical learning elements, from the importance of a system view to the criticality of identifying the correct problem, and how we as learning practitioners can support the performer as an actor in a system, not just as a "learner" who takes a course or two.

2. Next, Shawn Rosler and Ellen Wagner join me for "Ukulele Learning: Exploring the Relationships Between Music and Learning" (Session 304, Wednesday, Sept 30, 3 pm; repeated on Thursday: Session 518, 1:15 pm).  Paralleling current trends, L&D has a lot of folks who've taken up the uke, and lots of them will be at DevLearn. Join us for an overview of how music can support learning, a discussion of ways to apply that to improve the experiences we design, and a short ukulele lesson that will have you playing a couple of songs in no time. There is rumor of an impromptu ukulele band jam after the Wednesday session so new players and singers will be welcome for that, too.

Kudos to the eLearning Guild for providing the ukuleles for this experience. After the conference they'll be donated to the Children's Hospital of Nevada UMC.

3. On Thursday, October 1 at 3 pm I'll be joining up with Cammy Bean, Jeannette Campos, and David Kelly for "Reignited: Meme-ing the Innovative World of Learning". Last year's experience with this was a riotous, provocative hour of poking at sacred cows and affirming a shared vision of what our field could be.

4. Even if you're not attending DevLearn, don't miss "#lrnchat LIVE!", which we do every year from the Demofest floor. (Thursday October 1, 8:30 pm ET, 5:30 pm PT.) #lrnchat is now in its seventh year. More than the average Twitter chat, #lrnchat's fun and spirit of community span time and space.

And don't miss other DevLearn highlights, with great keynotes from people like Mythbusters' Adam Savage, the Demofest experience, and a panel on gamification with Julie Dirksen, Koreen Pagano, Bianca Woods, and Sharon Boller. (Extra credit to the Guild for supporting women in games!)

Finally: I love that the eLearning Guild wants presenters to try new topics and new strategies. As a presenter at many of their events I love the conversations about how to put a new twist on a popular theme like social learning. I do hope "Ukulele Learning" grabs hold of a few new players for us to join up with at future Guild events. The eLearning Guild Futureama Uke Band has a nice ring, don't you think?

See you soon!

Friday, September 04, 2015

Social Media for Learning, Part 1: Extending, Including, Supporting

This month's Nuts and Bolts column is the first in a series updating ideas around using social media for learning. I'm looking especially at the rise of new tools for user-generated images and video:  

“L&D is great at creating and delivering content. But emerging and evolving tools give us the opportunity to engage with our learners in new ways, to help move us toward making workplace learning more a process and less an event. Consider where you have needs to extend the reach of a course, stay in touch with alumni or people in particular work areas or jobs. Chances are there are easy ways of solving a problem, enriching conversations, and making L&D’s work more visible and valuable.”

You can access the rest here