Wednesday, July 23, 2014

21st Century Learning - Let's Leave 20th Century Education Behind!

I'd like to restate something I've learned over the years living through and participating in the latest significant historical, world-changing event: The Internet. And you may find this to be obvious but here it goes...


And if that statement seems a little vague then let me attempt to clarify it a little.

Pre-internet there were gate keepers for everything: 
  • Newspapers and big TV networks were the gatekeepers of news, 
  • publishers were the gatekeepers of books, 
  • record companies were the gatekeepers of music, 
  • universities were the gatekeepers of knowledge,
  • corporations(and government) were the gatekeepers of jobs, and so on.  

If you don't fundamentally believe that the internet, the cloud, and connected devices, together, are powerful enough to have changed ALL of those things...and more...then stop reading right now.  

Because the internet, the cloud, and connected devices, have handed you the power: 
  • You can report news, 
  • you can write and publish books and other digital content,
  • you can create and publish music,
  • you can learn anything, and teach anything,
  • and YES, you can even earn a living from any/all of these activities.
There are no excuses, no "yea, but...", no gatekeepers other than owning a computer, and an internet connection.

And in this new world we should not be trying so hard to apply 20th century theories, and models, to the 21st century world. Or desperately try to apply 21st century technology into 20th century classrooms. Shouldn't we start fresh? Ya know, remember and respect the past, but create a new future.

And when we do begin to create NEW theories, models, and frameworks, we should be careful in how we choose our words. Words like pedagogy don't necessarily apply to a 21st century world because of the baggage it holds from the 20th century.  

In the 20th century a person would spend the majority of his/her life being a student before a large, gatekeeper, institution would bestow upon them the right to be a teacher in that institution where only teachers are able to teach. Schools and universities put the teachers on a pedestal, in front of the class, and the class would, in theory, learn. Understanding and applying a method or practice of teaching was important and so it was given a name: Pedagogy. 

But in the 21st century, when everyone is empowered to be both teacher and/or student, pedagogy only addresses the former.  Shouldn't there be a fancy word for this new model of life long learning where teaching is a part of the process and not reserved for only the select few?

Actually, I don't believe that it really matters. I still hold my iPhone in my hand, at times, and just marvel at the how empowered it makes me feel. And the insane reality that I hold in my hand access to the sum of the world's collective knowledge.

It continues to blow my mind that schools seem so stymied by this. High school math classes still require the use of a "graphing calculator", but won't allow students to use the more powerful version on their phone.  And kids still forced to carry 40 pound backpacks filled with books. And they think crying out for more funding for computers in the classrooms is going to help.

And don't get me started on the laughable courses that still exist, and are mandatory, for corporate employees to suffer through.  We know these courses don't change behaviors yet the laws still force their existence and we pat ourselves on the back as if we've cured some major problem.

The 21st century world of learning isn't coming. It's HERE! NOW! Large bureaucracies will take decades to embrace it...if they ever really do at all. The internet doesn't just enable 20th century systems to "go online".  The internet empowers you to opt out of those systems and do better!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mobile Learning - No Pedagogy Required!

I've published a few blog posts at over the last 3 months.  Most of the conversations around those posts occur in other places other than the blog, like Twitter, or Google+, or LinkedIn, etc. I started responding to someone in the comments today and realized it was getting very long and it would be better to share this thought as a blog post.

The following is in response to my blog post The Two Paths to Mobile Learning

I love academic times. But after 20+ years in the corporate world I've learned to take it in with a healthy dose of skepticism.  Actually, that's not true. I'm not skeptical of the research or the authors, but I do question the practical applications of these learning theories, models, and frameworks. And it bothers me that we put the technology as the focus point.

Despite the technology being the catalyst for changing everything, 21st Century Learning is about People, NOT technology. It's about the shift in power and control.

Pedagogy is defined (according to a quick Googling) as a method or practice of teaching.  Mobile learning is not about teaching.  Mobile learning is about...well...learning. What's the word for "a method or practice of learning"? Most of what the world learns via mobile devices is not created by people who studied pedagogical theories of mobile learning.  It's just common citizens sharing their knowledge with others.  Do we have a fancy word for that?

It may be important for some people to understand pedagogy, but in the corporate world employees and customers just want convenient access to the information they need to be productive: No pedagogy required. 

And in my experiences what you end up with then are two options: 1) existing content capable of being delivered via mobile devices, and 2) Specific learning content/experiences created with mobile device delivery in mind. In either case, no academic understanding of pedagogy is required...despite our best efforts to make it so.

Remember: Social media is a conversation. Give it a try.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Reviewing the Week: Knowledge Brokers, mLearnCon, Rock and Roll, and Apps

The week leading up to the July 4th holiday weekend was very quiet around the office. It gave me some time to think and write quite a bit.  The first 2 of 4 blog posts written during that time were published this week:

What Learning and Development can Learn from a Rock Band and YouTube - This post started out as a review of mLearnCon 2014 but quickly took a left turn at my stage presentation.  I realized that I've never really explained my thinking behind why I tell the Arnel Pineda story and so, as my blogs tend to do, it became a post about that in the end.

How Corporate Training Professionals Add Value as Knowledge Brokers - I really like the term Knowledge Broker....always have.  Some have said it connects to closely with the Knowledge Management world, but I didn't think anyone even talked about KM any more.  I like to keep life simple and so the post boils down to this...

Knowledge Brokers connect those that have the knowledge with those that need the knowledge.

There are many ways to do that, but the true essence of what we do in the T&D and L&D world is just that.
I'd like to give a shout out to the Train Like a Champion blog and the post Hello! My name is Brian, and I'm a Training Snob. Brian mentioned me in his post, but more importantly he's blogging. I'm always happy to see new names and faces stepping out and expressing themselves in the bloggosphere.
I look forward to reading more about Brian's experiences as a training professional in the corporate world.
And I'd also like mention my friend Steve Crawford from ASU who gave a presentation at a conference and then tweeted some great App ideas.  Follow him @srcrawf2.
His list was long and I already use most of the apps but for me there were a couple nuggets that were either new to me, or I had forgotten about.

Adobe Voice - This just looks fabulous! I'm definitely going to try it out.  And its a free app so why not?
Doodlecast Pro - This looks very interesting as well.  You gotta see the video to really understand.

For the rest of his app suggestions just check out his twitter stream.

Monday, June 02, 2014

6 Lessons in Powerpoint Design You Should Apply to eLearning Design

I am fascinated by designers...not just good, or great, designers either.  I'm talking about the designers who seem to just be born to be designers.

I found another one today and have added him to my list. Emiland De Cubber redesigned the epic 2014 Internet Trends deck by Mary Meeker and I was amazed by the results.

Lindsay Kolowich at Hubspot does a great job in highlighting and explaining the critical design features that make De Cubber's presentation more a appealing and I'll guess easier to learn from as well.

Just highlighting this makes me cringe at the thought of another communication vs. learning conversation. So, just to play it safe I will restate my montra:
Training is an event
Learning is a process
eLearning supports both
With that said, good design should be important to ALL the media produced for ALL of your training, learning, and eLearning efforts. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New Integrated Iterative Training Development Process

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /
I've been thinking a lot about how the management, design, development, and delivery of training happens these days.  One thing I know for sure is that the old, and current, processes for getting training done don't work in every situation.

I've written a couple blog posts about it:

I know that many training organizations have done training the same way for many years.  And if your culture still supports your processes there is no need to change.  In fact, attempting a new process might drive your company culture crazy.  So, if you are in a business that has been around for a long time and expects their training events to be just so...well, you will definitely need to do some change management communication work.

Let me know what you think.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

Quick Thought: The Importance of Learning Org vs Training Dept

I don't normally get much activity on LinkedIn, however this Jack Welch quote seems to resonate with many.
I have never seen Mr. Welch deliver a keynote, and I don't think I've ever read any of his books. With that said, I'm hoping you might be able to clear up for me exactly what he is referring too.

I'd like to think that the Training & Development industry relates to this sentiment for reasons other than the importance of the training department in an enterprise.  Does this statement still hold true for smaller organizations that do not have a training department? I believe we would all say yes.  But my concern is that maybe...just maybe...we read quotes like this from important people and instantly feel validated in the work we do and elevate our standing in the corporate org chart of importance.

An organizations ability to learn is more dependent upon its culture and less dependent on the training department.  Even though training departments support organizations with strong learning cultures as well as weak learning cultures, it might be wise to understand that training departments are more necessary and important to the latter. And, if this is true, we might now see Mr. Welch's quote as not so flattering to our chosen career and/or field of study.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Top 5 New Training Manager Situations

I've been contemplating the role of the training manager quite a bit.  We all know about the Accidental Instructional Designer (hat tip to the author Cammy Bean), but what about the accidental Training Manager? I'd argue they are just as common.  But there are several other common situations one find themselves in as a training manager.  Check them out below...

Top 5 New Training Manager Situations

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Brent Schlenker Joins the Litmos Team

Today I announced on the Litmos blog that I am now the Chief Learning Strategist for Litmos.  This is an amazing opportunity that I've been looking forward too for quite a while.  You can read the post here.
I've been less active on social media over the last couple years, with a couple attempts to jump back into the game only to fizzle out shortly after (re)starting. But now I can say with certainty that you will be seeing a lot more of me on the internet and at industry events. And, of course, with my new friend Lenny.

And I'm certain some of you are scratching your heads and wondering "why Litmos"? the post on the Litmos blog first.
But the REAL reason is that any company willing to let me bring a magician/entertainer (the amazing +Brian Brushwood ) to their booth and drive a nail through his nose...well...those are fun people I want to work with. :)
Brian Brushwood and the amazing nail-in-the-nose trick!
I look forward to meeting the Litmos customers and continuing to help the industry move forward in new and exciting ways. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Twitter Conversation Types and Learning

I've often wondered how much learning really occurs via twitter conversations and can the learning be measured. Twitter is fabulous for supporting your loosely joined networks.  And many in the eLearning community list Twitter as one of their favorite "Learning Tools".  But can we really say its Twitter that's truly responsible for the learning, or is it the ongoing conversations and connections to content that matter more?

I saw a tweet from @eGeeking (Bianca Woods) today with a link to the new Pew Research report (Mapping Twitter Topic Networks) that identifies The Six Structures of Conversation Networks. Of course my first thought was, how does learning fit into these structures.  And then I started wondering if learning even SHOULD fit into these structures.

It's a very interesting read and will no doubt spark conversations for a while, and supply information for many social media conversations to come.

Friday, February 07, 2014

If School was Like a Jam Session

If only enterprising entrepreneurs would build an authoring tool that enabled the creation of real world work simulations.

I started down that path in the mid '90's and got close with some pretty cool simulations for manufacturing and logistics activities, but my coding skills could only get me so far.  What I ended up creating was the interactive 3D version of "click next learning".  Don't get me wrong, it was awesome! and effective! But what I really wanted to create was something a little more dynamic.   A simulation that changed inputs/outputs based on user inputs or predefined work procedures.  This is not hard to do. The hard part is financing it...productizing it.

What I'm looking for is the authoring tool equivalent of Jammit.