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Godzilla vs. DemoFest

After attending my second DevLearn, it was only inevitable that my face would eventually end up as promotional fodder for the eLearning Guild. It’s a wonderful picture! </sarcasm>

But thank goodness Bianca Woods was there to save me from my self-consciousness:

Inspired by the Dinosaur Comics presented in her session, I came up with some captions! If you’ve got  your own Godzilla quotes, make sure to add them in the comments.

"I think your next button needs more green."

"Does the text to speech handle Japanese?"

"But can I use the webcam to see if they're not paying attention?"

*Actual product. Complete madness.


Day Three at DevLearn 2013

The final day of DevLearn had me sitting in sessions led by Clark Quinn, Conrad Gottfredsson and Neil Lasher. Since there were so many overlapping concepts, I’ll just cover them based on the two overriding themes I saw rather than by session.

Start at “apply”

The problem that instructional design seems to face is that requestors bring us in to situations that don’t always require instruction. So instead of creating unnecessary instruction, start design by trying to understand what the end user needs to do to perform a behavior. If the design demands the introduction of new knowledge, introduce that knowledge within the relevant context, then provide the ability to apply that knowledge in practice and offer appropriate feedback. But if performing doesn’t require instruction, don’t force it. As Clark Quinn mentioned earlier in the panel discussion, “build knowledge into the world, not in the head.”

In terms of deciding what needs instruction and what doesn’t, Conrad Gottfredson presented a beautifully simple system for sorting it out. While performing your task analysis, determine the negative consequences your learners face should they fail and rate it on a scale of 1 to 7, 1 being no effect, 7 being catastrophic (I would probably add a level 8, just in case failure leads to a zombie apocalypse). Anything rated 5 or higher gets the most instructional attention, anything rated a 3 or lower gets mostly performance support. It’s so simple, but it’s a brilliant way to make sure our end users get the support and practice they need to perform (and not cause a zombie apocalypse).

I like the emphasis at this conference on building smaller bits of content as performance support instead of courses. I never went to school intending to become a technical writer, but somehow when I landed my current role as one, it seemed to be a pretty natural fit. I think if instructional designers better understood the things technical writers produce (help systems, job aids, documentation) and if technical writers understood the skills that instructional designers can leverage (user centered analysis and design, multimedia instruction) both professions would be in a better place.

I think since my department has a history of delivering on these things, most of our requestors are willing to be talked into performance support solutions, even if their initial inclination is to request training. There are other challenges, of course, namely how do we respond to requesters demanding a small forest’s worth of printed documentation (destined to go out of date almost as soon as the training ends)? And how do we optimize documentation so that it covers everything that needs to be covered while being attractive and not intimidating for the user?

Then there’s problem of managing and tying all of these things together, which leads us to…

Build an ecosystem

When it comes to supporting performance, elearning is just the start. As Art Kohn mentioned on the first day of DevLearn, nothing can be taught in one pass, as the learner will almost immediately forget it. Instead the goal should be to build an ecosystem of learning and support by using all of the tools at our disposal. This means EPSSs, job aids, pocket cards to support performance as well as mobile delivery and context to support instruction. Additionally, managing it requires content governance to ensure the most relevant things are easily discoverable and not lost beneath a mountain of outdated content.

Neil Lasher displayed a brilliant example that tied in some of the transmedia storytelling ideas in Lee Lindsey’s session on day one. He presented a simple scenario of a top sales employee at a retail outlet angrily tossing a customer out. You’re then presented with several options:

  • Verbal Warning
  • Written Warning
  • Suspension
  • Firing

Making the wrong choice (in this example, a written warning) causes the employee to storm out and quit. Later on, you’ll receive an email or SMS offering additional information and coaching. A couple days later you’ll get another SMS, saying there’s a situation developing with another one of your employees. It leads you into another scenario where you have to deal with an employee causing problems because they saw the other employee quit angrily a couple days ago.

It’s a real time scenario. Like Animal Crossing for new managers! 🙂

As more scenarios are developed and new content is required, more pieces to the ecosystem (both instructional and performance support) are added. It’s important to note that at no point is any “score” information provided, as simply receiving feedback from the scenario is enough. Score data is only used on the backend to calculate what the system should send the user to next.

Keynote: Talent Anarchy

Though I found the Talent Anarchy keynote on hacking to be a useful tool that I’ll be implementing on an almost daily basis, I don’t know how much I can add to the conversation around it. Instead, I defer to Bianca Woods and Cammy Bean who have posted excellent recaps from the session.

And that’s it!

I want to thank everyone for another great DevLearn where I learned new things, gained tons of inspiration and met people doing some very exciting work. Rather than being an end, DevLearn last year was a real kicking off point. Many of the things I’m only just putting into practice were inspired by those sessions, and I suspect it’ll be similar this year.

DevLearn 2013

It’s late October again and you know what that means… I’m headed to Vegas!

View from the Aria

Whereas last year was a desperate attempt to capture every bit of knowledge from every session I attended, my goal this year is to absorb the things that I see and hear and actually create something that’s a little more coherent. Things have been a little hectic of late, and I haven’t had as much writing or reflection time as I’d like. Leaving work to focus on my own learning and development offers up the chance to spend some time doing just that.

And let’s be honest, no city inspires quiet reflection like Las Vegas 🙂

If you’re not attending (or attending and sitting in other sessions), stay tuned to this site or my twitter for the information deluge (as well as the conference backchannel!). My tentative session schedule for the conference looks like this:

    How Museums Use Mobile Technologies to Shape User Experiences – Nancy Proctor
    Transmedia Storytelling: A New Strategy for Learning – Lee Lindsey
    Transfer Learning and Become More Profitable: The Science of Behavior Change – Art Kohn
    Is eLearning Broken? Challenges for Innovation – panel
    Not Just for Superheroes: Exploring Learning Through Comics – Bianca Woods
    Portfolios As Tools for Professional Learning – Sylwia Bielec, Thomas Stenzel
    AGILE Instructional Design: Keeping Pace with the Speed of Change – Conrad Gottfredson
    How to Deliver Measurable Behavioral Change Using Technology – Neil Lasher

With so many interesting sessions, it’s been a lot harder to narrow things down this year so, as always, it’s all subject to change.

Notes from Dayna Steele’s DevLearn keynote

Rockstar is someone who is at the top, doing what they love and doing it on their terms
Cocky, confident, trying new things and believing in themselves
“Life is too short to not have any delusional notions of yourself”
Gives you the passion to try, fail and keep going
Implement the new ideas, some will work some won’t
Constantly change, but know the passions of their audience
Mick Jagger loves jazz, but nobody sees him to play jazz
Did she seriously just say she worked for KLOL? LOL.
Babysitting course – original was a corporate site; they changed it to fit their audience
Just listen
Find the smallest person in the room and bring them to the front; this made the Rolling Stones look taller in pictures than they really were
Do your homework
Sammy Haggar was always prepared for interviews, he watched local news and newspapers
When the interview was interesting, the audience stayed engaged
Continue to read
Keep up with everything
Gene Simmons attributed his success to reading, everything he could get his hands on
Don’t stay in your own world, read other worlds
Pick up a magazine you know nothing about, or a subject you don’t like
She doesn’t like NASCAR, but learned a lot about marketing
Read the news before you do anything
Cites the NRA tweeter who tweeted about shooting after the Aurora shootings
Do things for other people w/o expecting anything in return
David Crosby who got out of prison after 9 months; she helped him w/o requesting an exclusive interview – it was the first time he had been sober since he was 12
A year later CS&N went on a tour for the first time, David Crosby helped introduce her to her husband
Went out and asked for a dollar
Networking – got right to the point “give me a dollar”
Just ask and people will help with no questions asked
Keep it brief and relevant
Success in networking is not for sissies
Appreciation – remember to say thank you to those help us
Thank everybody, above below sideways
Keep a bowl of candy on your desk; people will stop by and talk
Do nice little things for people
Do things because you know in your heart it is the right thing to do
Help people, because people will never forget that you helped them
Kevin Hindon, kid with Cystic Fibrosis; his favorite band was Van Halen
So she helped get Van Halen get in touch with him and they made him their special guest for the show
He got sick before the show, and VH abandoned the soundcheck to visit him in the hospital
Your personal brand = your reputation
You gotta let the world know what you want and who you are
Just registered for online classes to finish her degree
Educating + fulfilling dreams

Matthew Cross & Judy Unrein’s DevLearn session on designing an effective business model for training

Designing an effective business model for training
Business model canvas – template for thinking about your business, customers, what you offer
Business model generation – book by Alex Osterwalder
Mapping out 9 building blocks
Speaking language of business and showing results
Business Model Canvas Explained – Youtube
We get myopic about what we do and not think about the revenue and partners that we need
Need to do this with your team
Generate lots of ideas; and then converge on what you need to do
Brainstorming, design thinking (Ideo) – design thinking toolkit
Reinventing the shopping cart – 60 minutes segment w/ Ideo
It’s not just about the box – Ideation, rolestorming, bodystorming, visual thinking
Gamestorming (book) by Gray, Brown, Macanufo
Post up activity
Everyone writes who your customers are on post it notes and puts it on the wall
will find out you have more customers than you think – customers who are indirectly affected
Or find you get more focused – depends on your purpose
You might have a completely different canvas for each group of customers
Forced Ranking – rank your customers by importance
“they’re all important” – what is the criteria? if this is hard to determine, just make an assumption – this might come up with different lists based on different criteria
Anxiety might surface at this point – if needed have everyone do it individually and then come together
Empathy map – connect with the customer in a more emotional way
Write the person’s name on the map so they actually think about a real person
Get a persona, an actual image of the person you’re designing for
How do we make the learner feel about the rule? How do we make them buy in? Giving technical information doesn’t always result in behavior change, though it may be a componenet of it
Business model alchemist .com
Value proposition designer
Business Model Generation (book)
Business Model YOU (book)

Tin Can API panel at DevLearn

Aaron Silvers; Clark Quinn; Mike Rustici; Stephanie Doll
Much more than next generation of SCORM
Support for mobile; everyone else has been doing it for 5 years
Now have the interoperability
With AICC announcement, they can move forward with AICC to combine resources
Tin Can is one technology in portfolio of learning architecture
CMI5 (AICC’s) will be an extension of Tin Can
Opens up experiences for learners; allows biz to understand gaps in learning
Learning experiences; a shift in the industry, we no longer have to be just a good provider of information, this is going to be increasingly devalued; what is our value proposition if everyone has access to information all the time?
Giving a good feedback loop – where does the learner go next?
Learning is not about connecting to info – about action and reflection
Learning as activity instead of content****
Just registering activity itself is not enough – but sequence of activities is a path to competency and track it that is meaningful
Starts the foundation of where we want to go
IT can be like what a mentor will recommend as a learning path
Tin Can is plumbing; just how we move data around
Where do you start? Start small. We all have something we want to do, but we can’t
Mobile, sharing across systems
About 30 vendors who have already adopted TC
When you do classroom training, you get a lot of feedback immediately
A rich feedback loop for elearning – you can find the content that was ignored, the thing that was clicked wrong
Force vendors to enable TC customization – should not be “you can make 6 TC statements”
Data mining + analytics
Content delivery not the way to develop people, allow them to make choice
How to develop people’s learning in ways that are much richer
Sequence of activities as a curriculum***
We have to space out information dump over time
Are instructional designers no longer going to be part of this, since mentors are now key?
Remove the box we’ve been in for 10 years
Like the plug on the wall
Need to make web service calls – webpage, app
It’s not just about training anymore we can embed TC calls in lots of different systems to give a picture of how a person’s activity ties to performance
Inspired by activity streams – ie Facebook
The vocabulary that was predefined is very limited; you can now extend the vocabulary in lots of ways; there is a registry of verbs
As the complexity increases, new solutions will arise
YOu can find the pieces that aren’t being utilized by learners
Can also find the places where users are having trouble with software; use for usability
YOu can look at a person’s record when they call you for help; so you can see what they’ve done, tried, haven’t tried to optimize what you do for them
You can actually build into the software how users use it
Biz doesn’t care where data comes from; LMS or whatever
Users can also save out the information from a course that they want to keep
ie in Sexual Harrassment you can save out definition of “quid pro quo” and copy it to a job aid
Does both transport and format of the information
Highly structured data
Rest, JSON
Doesn’t define database schema just how it comes in and out
ADL hosts mailing lists; LinkedIn
How do you get IT buy-in? Bypass IT and just do it. Create a business case for doing it
Big Data + Analytics + more information to find out what’s working
Informal learning + performance support
Based on a non-learning specific spec
Vendors can adopt it at different levels – at the lowest they can do it at the SCORM equivalent level
Demand vendors support what you want

Ignite panel at DevLearn

Big idea, 6 minutes, 20 slides

Robert Gadd
Mobile Learning in the moment of need
Am I sick, I need to make an appt on my phone, hit a speed bump in life
Found out he had cancer; how to balance – chemo radiation or robotic surgery – pick 2!
Used mobile devices and apps to get him through
Social media provided no value in his quest
Other apps ended up being very useful for connection organization education and engagement
Native apps were way better than the browser
Tracking his progress was essential

Judy Unrein
Bill Bauerman, founder of Nike
He spent a lot of time customizing training for athletes for their abilities and goals
One athlete told to run 10 miles after coming back from injury
Ran 10.25 and broke his metatarsal which resulted in the shoe
Manager / Training dept
Is there anyway for us to know our learners in the same way?
Get to know your audience before designing for them
What context? What content is most important? What background knowledge do they have? What inspires them?
Let the learner be self-directed, the coach doesn’t make the athlete, the athlete makes themselves
Get started with learning analytics; not easy

Chad Udell
What happens when Tin Can rules the world?
10 years ago, CSS was going to rule the world, now it does
Bring fire to your organization
YOu can measure any thing; real world results are what really matters
You’ll need to hold on
Gain a new perspective; become a strategist, curator, content specialist
Flexibility, understand business operations and performance
Not a magic bullet, you need to be clear about what you want to get out of it
There will still be issues
“keep your learning stuff out of my software”
You’re going to track everything and some of this will be meaningless
Need to be accountable
Mistake data for information, data is insight into change
There might be conflicts in information; someone might fail a task but succeed in a course
Support from Tin Can spec community

Megan Bowe
People change jobs often, have no way to own the data they have
62% of people leave a job in one year
Changing jobs is how they get ahead
Need to give them easy ways to move from place to place
Degrees and paper doesn’t show what a person has accomplished
Employees must be self sufficient; job titles and descriptions don’t show what someone has done
Top down hierarchy does not let org move fast; let people be self-sufficient at the bottom
We can pull connections more than ever before
If you do something outside your job description, the data of your experience is not shown when you want to leave your job
We have to give people a way to express where they want to go and give them the bits
Take things out of LMS and HR systems so people can own it

Jane Bozarth
What does learning look like – none of the pictures look like a classroom
They look like people doing stuff
Show your work
People are in silos, you don’t know how you overlap – links will subvert the hierarchies
Abstract, formal models
Narrate what you’re doing throughout the day
Not everyone is a writer, narrate, use video
Everyone has a cell phone, take pictures of what you have been doing
Show me what you know
Stop the “tell me what you’re doing” help them show it

Kris Rockwell
Trinity in the Matrix saying she wants to know how to fly a helicopter
But when she disconnects from the Matrix she doesn’t know how to fly it
In Neuromancer, jacking in
by 1999, they had full simulators tracked by an LMS
By 2011, they had static images and next buttons
Developers and designers no longer design for experience, they make it easy and cheap
Sherry Terkle – Alone Together, we focused on e not Learning
Excitement and wonder
Humans are curious
Mobile devices, why mimic what we do on the desktop
Can we use the capabilities of these devices?
These are game pieces on a broader game board?
Why not use analog with an electronic backend?
Need to let designers design and developers develop

Jeffrey Ma’s DevLearn Keynote

Emerging market for a card counter – opening of a casino
3 types of people at the opening of any casino – celebrities, card counters, hookers
Opening night of Bellagio, playing blackjack with Kevin Costner
When he started losing his friends said “this is like Water World all over again”
His defining moment: 21 and making objective decisions at the casino
Had $50K on the table with 19-19-19; dealer hit 21 lost the money
Decisions can’t be influenced by emotion
Omission bias we would rather have something harm us from inactivity
Following the correct objective strategy means fighting this bias
His mom had a bad stroke and the treatment was to do nothing with a 22% survival rate past 60 days
Decided on aggressive approach that worked
The fallacy of “gut feeling” – your stomach doesn’t have brain cells that makes decisions
Use the data
Separate the decision from the outcome – his friends ask him what to do; if he tells them to hit and they get it wrong, they blame him
If there’s a lot of high cards left in the deck it’s in the player’s favor
Bet more when the odds are in your favor, less when not
The most important thing in building your team is that you trust them
Give people small steps using game mechanics to increase motivation
Nobody wanted to be the “donkey boy” guy carrying chips and cash, wanted to move to the next level
Communicate – using codewords in the casino to find the best table
Metrics – measured everything, wrote down every situation to understand their own performance
Transparency – So everyone knew how everyone else was doing
Competition within in an organization; aligned incentives, when you win everyone in the team wins
Had trouble splitting 10s (something you shouldn’t do) despite the mathematical evidence to the contrary; people all around thought he was an idiot
You have to make the tough decision; do follow the groupthink just to please people who don’t have the same information
Loss aversion – we’re impacted by a loss more than a gain by the same amount
It causes us to make bad decisions
Invested in Apple at $60, his partners decided to sell at $120 despite the fact that they thought Apple was still a good buy
Invest long term
Facebook took the same risks at 30mill users as they did when they had 500mil
What if athletes didn’t know their stats?
Barry Bonds obsessed with chasing the HR record, Michael Jordan obsessed with championships
What if employees know their stats? Even microstats?
His company, show people to be 10x better by showing people their data
After his biggest loss $100K in 3 minutes, decided not to continue inaction
Why would he let 2 hands change his belief? He made the right decision but had a poor outcome.
Went back to playing and won all his money back and made $70K
We need to stick with systems we believe in even when things are hard

John DiGiantamasso’s DevLearn session on eLearning that supports the classroom trainer

Mistakes were made in computer based instruction in the 70s
Old timers thought television was going to revolutionize education
TEachers under analyzed, the initial elearning model was just present, test and evaluate
Not compelling not fun, had to be forced to do it
Play a game to make it fun, this didn’t work either
Building a bridge to let a truck cross the bridge, do a math problem and build a brick of the bridge; turned out the kids got the questions intentionally wrong to watch the truck crash
Next they learned about learning Knowledge > Comprehension > Application
They couldn’t control the user applying and comprehending, so they just focused on the knowledge dump and testing to see if that info got into the knowledge box
The brain can receive content, but on retrieval failure, the brain remembers
You have a memory of the failure and it reinforces the memory
Better memory = better chance of retrieval success
Eventually you start applying that content, since it’s always there
If you don’t access that content, all of it gets purged
What clothes were you wearing one month ago?
The purge is critical to the human brain; don’t fight it, understand it
These 6 different events are the tools of the trade
Mentor / Apprentice – the master baker who explains and demonstrates (receive content). Then questioning, giving immediate feedback when apprentice gets it wrong (retrieval failure/success).
Where’s the multiple choice test? Doesn’t exist, based on actual performance
Coach / Athlete – all about the game, getting ultimate technique in a game
Drills that have nothing to do with anything in the game; all for preparing for the game
Teacher / Student – formalized classroom instruction model newer
Homework, Labs forcing you to apply content
Quizzes and tests – are now at the end, isolated from the learning process
no immediate feedback, the only memory that builds is the grade itself
Testing does not reinforce learning in and of itself
eLearning – focus is only on Receive Content
When we decided to computerize learning, the only model we looked at was the classroom model
All computers have input, output, calculations; this mapped to the presentation, assessment and pass/fail for elearning
Look at the attributes of computers > same as teachers
Why can’t you look at an elearning experience where people say “it changed my life” like they would with a teacher?
eLearning not about content – that’s eBooks
not about credentialing – that’s eVerify
The 6 steps is “neural embedding”
You don’t think about hitting the curveball you just do it
This can be done with elearning
Cezanne’s the Card PLayers example – video of people asking question to build the anxiety
Then read the best practice response, watch the best practice and practice
“I learn by watching someone do it” or “Just give me the cliff notes”
provide content for those who want to read, listen and watch
Then have the trainer sit with them to do the assessment, the assessment tracks all the key skills and the trainer is there to give immediate feedback
Great teachers are great, whether human or computer
Rely on neural embedding
Focus on the learning, not the little e

Alison Levine’s DevLearn keynote


Mt. Mckinley, her favorite mountain
Doing more with less, getting job done with the resources you have on hand
Karsten’s pyramid, most challenging
climbed while there was a separatist conflict in the region
Couldn’t get in, so was escorted by the Indonesian army
Ask the right questions, it’s always easier for someone to say no than to help you find a solution
Keep asking questions until you get to yes
American Women’s Everest Expedition
Turned down the captaincy role because of the feeling of inadequacy
After 9/11, realized not to let fear keep you from what you want to do
It’s not just about technique and ability, it’s about willpower
No money, got sponsorship from Ford, funding entire trip because it coincided with launch of the Ford Expedition
Didn’t want to be sponsored by the Chevy Avalanche (ha)
Doesn’t do you any good to be on Everest with the best climbers if they don’t care about the team
Skill, experience & team players
Breaking down the expedition into smaller parts – Get to basecamp, base 2, etc
If you have a stretch goal, break it down
You don’t just go from camp to camp, lots of other logistics
Basecamp > 1 > Basecamp > 1 > 2 > Basecamp > 1 > 2 > 3 > Basecamp
To allow body to acclimatize
Psychologically draining to climb back down every time, even if you’re going backwards you’re still making progress
Progress doesn’t happen in one direction
Nothing like “Vertical Limit”
Kuumu Ice Fall, ice chunks in constant motion that makes it dangerous + crevasses
Climbing across crevasses in ladders
Fear is OK, complacency is what will kill you
Can’t afford to sit around and not react
How do you go to the bathroom on Everest? Pee funnel (!)
Build relationships so when things go bad, the people around you help out
Being strategic with other teams you need to call on for help
People who struggle on Everest, while other teams walk right past (because they don’t want to lose their summit bid)
Relationships with other teams increase liklihood they will help
Peter Ragat who was climbing ahead of them, slipped and fell
No matter how good you are and how prepared you are, things can still go wrong
Tragedy can blow up or bring your team together
Mitigate risks by learning from those who paved the way; not just successes but missteps
When you have a responsibility to a team, put a smile on your face and do your job
Can never expect those around you to endure something you won’t endure
The mountain is always changing and you have zero control
The storms are always temporary
The key to surviving them is you have to take action based on the situation and not the plan
Focus on executing based on the situation at the time
At 26K feet, the “death zone” the human body can no longer survive
5-10 breaths for every step, slow travel
Forgot about the summit and just focused on a rock in front of her
Oxygen tank malfunctioned at the summit, concerned she had cerebral adema
If you’re thinking you have cerebral adema – you don’t!
Rescues at that elevation is near impossible
A storm cloud started to come in, used proper judgment to turn back down
Very tough decisions when conditions are not perfect
Every move you make affects others around you
If it’s not right, cut your losses and walk away; one person’s poor judgment can take down an entire team
Got caught in white out on the way down
You only have enough supplies to take one shot at the summit
Going back down the mountain there was still risk
Even when things feel easy and calm there is still risk, climb isn’t over until you get home
8th time through Kuumu Ice Fall (7 previous times were OK), there was a a big ice fall
Other guy from NG saw them from above and told them to stay still, ice stopped 5 ft from them
After article came out it read “I told them to stay calm becuase I knew we were going to die.”
Meg Owen – soccer player who had to quit because of reduced lung function
Became a cyclist, going San Diego to Washington with Lance Armstrong
Passed away from flu due to lung
Her name engraved on her ice ax on her second time up Everest
Found herself in the same situation, decided to climb a little of the way despite bad weather
Finally summitted, “wasn’t that big of a deal”
Completed “Adventure Grand Slam” one of a dozen people who did it
It’s not about standing at the summit, but about the lessons you learn on the way and what you’re going to do with those lessons
The failed experience helped her know her risk and pain tolerance
Lack of failure tolerance keeps us from doing our best
The photo is a lie, no one gets to the summit alone
There will always be more mountains to climb, tomorrow you have to be even better