by Rich Mesch
I remember years ago, sitting in a presentation by Nicholas Negroponte, where he insisted that in the not-too-distant future, we would all be wearing our computers. He was envisioning complex eyepieces and finger sensors with wires running up your sleeves. He had the right idea but the wrong form factor; he didn’t foresee that we’d be carrying our computers in our pockets and calling them “phones.”
Mobile learning is on everybody’s to-do list, and why not? Who wouldn’t want learning that could follow an employee no matter where she went? But like so many emerging technologies, we need to look past the gloss of the possible to the reality of the useful. Today’s smart phones have nearly as many capabilities as our desktop computers, but that doesn’t mean we use them the same way. And when we try to deliver learning to a mobile device the same way we deliver it to a desktop computer, we miss the point of having a mobile device to begin with.
When it became clear mobile learning was a reality, the first thing many organizations did was look at “re-chunking” their current content. If something made sense as a 30-minute e-learning program, they reasoned, it could be broken down cleanly into, say, 5 bite-sized e-learning programs for a mobile device. There’s a bit of tortured logic going on there; if something is brief and bite-sized, people will be happy to use it on their phones. And while there’s some truth to that, it misses the point. Mobile applications aren’t just about brevity, they’re about applicability. People “learn” from their mobile devices all the time, they just don’t call it training. Whether they’re pulling sports scores, GPS-ing the next leg of their trip, or sending some quick texts, people use their mobile devices to gain knowledge. So as learning professionals, why would we think they should get little e-learning courses? Why not leverage the methods they’re already using?
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by Sherry Engel
How do we expand our relationships with our clients from “order-takers” to trusted advisors? First, and foremost, we need to begin by changing our mindset that we always need to say “yes” to our clients. When our clients approach us about a specific training need, transition the conversation from solutions to open-ended probing questions, targeted to identify the true performance and business need. After all, what value are we providing to our clients if we provide learning solutions that do not impact their business results?
Try something like this….
“I want to be sure that we provide you a solution that solves your business need. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions so I can fully understand the performance concerns that you have?”
To engage in a consultative interaction, we must think like our clients. Check out the book titled What the CEO Wants You to Know by Ram Charan. This book provides insight into the business acumen necessary for learning professionals to think like their clients and “talk their talk”.
Becoming a trusted advisor doesn’t happen overnight. We must gain credibility and trust with our clients through proven results. Don’t let your relationship with your client to “chance”. Plan how to grow and nurture your relationship. Think of ways to demonstrate the value add you can provide to them. Check out David Nour’s book, Relationship Economics for techniques on how to grow and nurture your client relationships.
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by Jean Marie Tenlen
I have been thinking about an essay I read that I had originally heard about on NPR called “The Internet is Killing Storytelling” by Ben Macintyre. The essay was referenced by Tina Brown, who runs a news aggregate site called The Daily Beast. The essay argues that with the advent of the internet, we are losing the ability to attend to and create narratives. Macintyre argues that the internet is creating a reader who is only able to attend to a rapid and truncated style of communication – the ultra- soundbites of instant messages, Twitter, etc. Macintyre has a good turn of phrase, stating, “The internet has evolved a new species of ma gpie reader, gathering bright little buttons of knowledge, before hopping on to the next shiny thing.” I liked this metaphor because the process by which I found this essay was evocative of a person finding and passing along shiny bits: written by Ben, found by Tina, discussed by Steve Inskeep, and now I am handing it off to anyone who reads this essay.
“But stories demand time and concentration; the narrative does not simply transmit information, but invites the reader or listener to witness the unfolding of events,” says Ben. I think Ben is a little reactionary. I am guessing folks have been bemoaning the audience’s ability to attend to narrative every time a new form of storytelling emerges. I can imagine bards concernedly talking about the lack of their audience’s ability to attend to their song-stories with the advent of print, and the theatrical folk worrying about the infringement of movies, and the movie folks worrying about TV sit-coms, and so on.
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by Dawn Francis, Ed.D.
In my previous entries, I defined transformative learning and discussed how companies can apply it. This entry will focus on examples of transformative learning in practice.
First, I’ll briefly review transformative learning in case you’ve just joined this series.
For learning to be transformative, it must provoke a shift in mindset. Acquiring knowledge, developing skills – these pursuits serve an important function in any training curriculum. However, if an organization wants to foster a change in culture, establish new ways of working, and grow its managers into leaders, then knowledge acquisition and skill development are only two components of the overall equation. What’s missing is the third and most crucial component—critical assessment of one’s own frame of reference.
Think about it…if our frame of reference or mindset is based upon our unexamined assumptions and expectations…and this mindset guides our behavior…we will continue to behave in the same way and come up with the same results. But if we challenge this mindset, call into question our assumptions, dialogue with others about the validity of our assumptions, shift our mindset, and act accordingly – well, we’ve just changed our behavior and came up with very different results. Real business value can be achieved through transformative learning. (more…)
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by Dave Darrow
For the longest time, we’ve had to avoid using the “g-word” when describing things like business simulation and virtual worlds. As proved by Clark Aldrich and Karl Kapp, the tide is turning and the value in game-like experiences for learning is becoming more evident. This mindset is somewhat obvious for people like me who have played video and computer games since gradeschool so it’s nice to see it being validated. Because of this, I often try to look for common ground between game development and elearning design.
Recently, I read an article on The Escapist, a gaming blog, titled The Incredible Disappearing Teacher that described the challenges that game designers face in training end-users on how to play their games. The problem they faced was that the end-users don’t want to go through tutorials, yet would be unable to enjoy the game unless they obtained the information contained in the tutorial. With a catch-22 situation like this, they have devised clever ways to engage the end-user and keep them motivated to finish the tutorial. Sometimes the tutorials are woven into the storyline of the game, other times they are incentivized with in-game currency, additional in-game inventory, or rewards like badges of achievement. One particularly good example was Valve Software’s excellent Portal, which spends nearly half the game teaching you all the skills you need to complete the second half. It does not play like an extended tutorial, since the levels are carefully designed to help lead the player into discovering skills and solutions without spoon-feeding them the answers. This gives the player a sense of accomplishment each time, which does not seem much like “training”.
Do businesses face similar challenges? I think they do. Like game players, employees clearly benefit from the knowledge and skills they can learn in their employers courses yet are often reluctant to do so. If game designers have discovered ways to make training enjoyable, we should be examining them and finding new ways to do it for our own design challenges.
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