I had the chance to spend one day at the Learning Technologies 2014 at Olympia London a few days ago. Compared to last year it seems clear that somehow the economy is recovering and some companies are keen on re-investing in L&D : queues were longer and some stands much bigger – especially where the words “social” and “collaborative” were attached to new technologies.
Related article : 2014: the year for change in L&D? (Personal Today).
While some happy few were attending Brian Solis’s keynote speech, I was waiting for the first free talk to start and I was skimming through #LT14UK (btw that hashtag entered UK Top10 during the week) on my phone when I bumped into one ex-colleague, who moved to the Learning Tech industry last year. Something she said about one challenge L&D providers are facing today caught my attention. “It is really hard for our developers to make the right choice in terms of which technologies they are going to use as the industry is moving so fast. By the time your product is on the market, clients want something else”.
Right at the same time, the “digital anthropologist” Brian Solis was pointing to the lack of urgency most businesses demonstrate in their adoption of new technologies… Hmmm.
“Digital Darwinism” says B. Solis should be a call to action to embrace new technologies at work : “We need to use new tech at work as we use them as human beings in our daily life”. Learning comes more and more “from the outside in”, as networked workers learn outside of the organisation to apply their insights internally. “70% of business leaders think introducing MOOC in their organisations” he continued.
Later that day I heard someone else saying L&D professionals should take the role of “MOOC’s curators” – by facilitating access to external open online learning experiences and then re-framing the learning internally on social and collaborative platforms. I liked that idea.
Another promising (realistic ?) approach underlined by Solis is the “Reverse Mentoring”, where younger staff help managers catch up with technologies. “Digital literacy is something leaders need to learn to keep and increase credibility in their organisations” he said.
One of the most retweeted slides during Solis’s presentation was a picture challenging the view that new tech make us anti-social.
Solis also talked about “Generation C” – C for “Connected”. An ageless group of people who have adopted the right mindset for a digital lifestyle. The “digital citizens” as Jane Hart name them.
More snippets from this presentation were curated here by Martin Couzins.
During the rest of the day I attended several free talks. Here below some takeaways from two of them :
1) Cultures of contribution : how to motivate engagement with online learning communities (Brightwave)
Engagement is build up on 3 pillars :
– User experience
What can we learn from the consumer space? Learners benchmark e-learning offers in their organisation with what they see or use in their daily life, and we can’t blame for that. Netflix is one famous case study of that user experience (UX).
Related article : How Netflix Reinvented HR
Strategies should be elaborated in order to transfer that consumer experience into the workplace. It is crucial on enterprise social networks that content is easily archived and made searchable though, unlike most public social networks (Facebook being champion of non searchability).
The active users are the ones who share and contribute, by creating but also by “curating” content.
How technologies can feed social learning? It is essential to integrate Tin Can API technology in an informal learning platform to capture the learning experiences.
That links to the role of curation (by a community manager or facilitator) in order to make sure important “learning moments” can be made visible for everyone and give opportunity for even more discussions and sharing.
Synchronisation with Mozilla open badges can be a good system of recognition and motivation for the social learner. Other systems can also be integrated in the platform itself with reputation/experience points, gained when your resources are shared and commented. Which can lead to more visibility for Subject Matter Experts.
Informal learning on a social platform seems to follow that 4 step dynamic :
Capture / Share / Curate / Motivate.
Andrew Clare, Head of Learning Technologies at KPMG, offered a few more insights from their collaboration with Brightwave on a specific virtual classroom project:
– Spend enough time on the “business requirements” before even meeting the potential vendors.
– Paint a compelling vision. Stick to it by communicating continuously and being flexible.
– Offer enough support for employees – especially senior leaders and decision-makers. Even take them by the hand and go with them step by step through the platform. Prepare a quick start guide with clear instructions and a “help-desk”.
– Be explicit about the types of behaviours you expect and define role model behaviours.
– Focus on user centric technologies and find your early adopters.
Related article : The 6 Pillars of The Digital Workplace
2) Making your first MOOC (Ben Betts – HT2)
The main reason I wanted to attend this session is because of #dcurate MOOC set up by @bbetts, @burrough and @martincouzins, which I followed during January. It was a great occasion for a non virtual handshake and a quick chat with these MOOC “wranglers”.
Their session was about what defines a MOOC and the experience with #dcurate.
An important distinction needs to be made between xMOOC and cMOOC. That last one is called “connectivist MOOC” and is the type of MOOC I am personally interested in.
In cMOOC, the only real indicator of success is the number of connections and the conversations shared. No real timetable, set platform or instructions…Even the content is secondary and functions more like a trigger for the participants to engage in conversations online.
A cMOOC should be open and people allowed to drop in and out, with no pressure on completion. Some MOOC’s, like the #dcurate, can also integrate a gamification system, which needs to remain flexible though.
Related articles on #dcurate MOOC:
Something I noticed clearly that day is the term “curation” was highlighted in each of the sessions I attended, as a crucial ingredient for successful online and social learning.
Eventually, talking about curation, David Kelly is certainly the curator “par excellence” if you want to discover more on the Learning Technologies conference :
— David Kelly (@LnDDave) January 29, 2014