Saturday, 3 November 2012

Have chance, will learn

EdSurge reported this great story from Ethiopia that demonstrates further the power of the motivated learner:

HAVE CHANCE, WILL LEARN: Amazing preliminary results reported by One Laptop Per Child around a bold experiment happening in rural Ethiopia. Several months after dropping off solar-powered Motorola Xoom tablets, 20 first grade-age children have managed their way from finding the on/off switch to hacking the preventative software installed by OLPC. No instructions. No guidelines. No teachers. Just a single technician to retrieve data from the devices each week. "Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android," reported OLPC’s founder, Nicholas Negroponte at the recent EmTech Conference. Results are hardly conclusive, but the development raises interesting questions around how and why we plan learning objectives (teacher control group anyone?). The story reminds us, too, of Sugata Mitra's experiment of giving village children in India access to a computer via a hole in the wall. For now we'll simply smile about the new learning opportunities enabled by technology.

I'm sure Negroponte will be referring to this again when he keynotes at Learning Technologies Conference, London in January 2013.

Monday, 12 March 2012

#SLCONF 2012–Social Learning in action

Last Thursday I attended the #SLCONF Social Learning Conference in London. It largely practiced what it preached – in that it proved to be a highly social discussion and effective forum for sharing ideas and experiences with an experienced group of professionals and practitioners.


Good use was made of alternative formats and seeding conversation between groups. I think the fact that this was a relatively small group of people (80 odd?) helped ensure that everyone had a voice and an opportunity to contribute.

You can find Martin Couzins review of the event here which covers the key presentations made by Nick Shackleton-Jones (BBC and BP experiences), Tim Drewitt (Eversheds) and Priya Banati and Clare Norman (Accenture). Also Jon Ingham’s audio review of the event.

Ben Betts facilitated a session on Mobile Learning which managed to yield a list of 96 Mobile Learning App Ideas. Not all unique by any stretch, many already covered by existing apps out there, but it demonstrated that there is a real appetite for mobile learning support. There was a subsequent discussion around the difficulties of developing for mobile given the fragmented platforms and software environments, as well as the typical corporate security challenges currently raised by most IT departments. This led to the question of tools that can simplify this process, and Epic’s GoMo Learning platform struck a particular chord, given it’s ability to enable non-technical people to build learning apps – both web and native apps – to all major platforms (Apple iOS, Android, Blackberry) and form factors (smartphone, tablet, whatever next comes along).

Twitter adds value

I was an active user of Twitter to capture key points and contribute my own ideas as they arose from the discussions which I will summarise here. In conferences where this type of immediate social sharing and reflection is welcomed and integrated within the format, then it can add value for all participants and the wider virtual audience. By breaking down the traditional “lecture” format of most conferences, a much more interactive experience is provided for the those present, while offering virtual observers the opportunity to contribute further references and comment that can be fed back into the live event. Indeed, I benefitted immediately as a late train meant I physically missed the first 15 minutes but could contribute straight away with those tweeting and could enter the debate in sync with the room.

So what were my main contributions? Italics indicate some additional explanatory notes:

@shackletonjones talking about #sociallearning and his struggle with understanding what really underpins effective #learning

Emotion is key element #learning RT @bbetts: @shackletonjones I'm a fan of the affective context, check it out #slconf (Nick is right to focus on the emotional connection to lasting learning impact and memory formation)

70:20:10 model misused and misunderstood. Agree with this.

#informal #learning driven by culture. However technology beginning to influence culture. (Just see the effect of social media on the Arab Spring, marketing/advertising, entertainment and increasingly as the primary medium of social interaction especially amongst young demographics).

@shackletonjones another video you can't live without!… (How to peel Garlic in less than 10 seconds) Nick shared a video related to breakfast cereal.

50%+ millennials are contributors not just passive consumers - key difference to productivity generated by #some #sociallearning (what this  means is that we are on the cusp of a big surge in creative productivity that if harnessed appropriately will lead to a huge acceleration in innovation itself but more importantly its real world application and sharing of what works and what doesn’t).

Focus on content generation strategy - need to foster contributors. Go to where the activity already is. Integrate. Seed & excite. (a pithy shorthand for acknowledging the need for some quality content and contribution that will stimulate a wider audience to participate in an authentic and sustained manner).

BP theHub being demo'd - seeded with 800 video clips from across the organisation globally. Works on iPad as well. Good reach. (good example of the Seed & Excite principle).

Unisys found that 3 min leadership videos generated more behaviour change than a 5 day exec training programme. Properly evaluated. (Will now follow this up with Nick for the full case study).

Learning styles brought up and @shackletonjones rightly doesn't believe in it. (that old chestnut came up again…so I promptly clarified…)

Learning PREFERENCES exist but the way we learn most effectively is broadly the same for everyone. The rest is about individual habits, skills, motivation (emotional engagement). (asked the wider HR community for comment)

Thx for retweet see my blog for more RT @CaribThompson: #slconf Lars mantra @larshyland "Less learning more often" (A long standing truism which is only getting more and more relevant)

For those interested I mentioned Lynda Gratton book The Shift - how the world of work is changing. (This book demonstrates the forces in the world that are changing the way in which we work, collaborate, communicate – namely the shift to the East, the disintermediation and connectivity of technology which circumvents traditional hierarchical models.)

@mikecollins WARNING social netWORK AHEAD > quite apt this is published today given the great stuff coming out of #slconf (good contribution from Mike Collins at RBS Insurance injected into the discussion even though he wasn’t physically there.)

Discussed permission and context key to successful mobile learning support - Just in Time, context sensitive and valued content. #mlearning seen as supplementary to other learning support. (There is always a need for a variety of methods delivering interaction over an extended period of time – another of my mantras – Campaign not Course  comes to mind. People liked this at the event.)

Content, Connection, Collaboration, Community - Accenture model for building sharing culture #some #sociallearning (as Ben Betts pointed out “a lot of Cs”)

Accenture case study and book here #slconf


In Summary

A good conference which had the courage to allow a less structured conversation to emerge, collectively generating a lot of practical value amongst the participants.

If you also attended, I’d welcome your comments on this post.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Kraken awakes...slowly

iBook Author 3D version?
Well I awake from a blogging slumber in time for what should be one of the most vibrant Learning Technologies Conference and Exhibitions. The world appears also to have finally awoken fully to the benefits technology can bring to learning and training. Particularly when you take a more fundamental step in redesigning the whole experience so that the technology is at the heart of your solution not just an add on.

The past year has been a busy affair. A large part of it was leading the consultancy, design and delivery of Business Link's My New Business service on behalf of Epic. This provides substantial online learning support for those entering self employment and starting up their own business ventures, a growing band of people as the world economy continues its shift into a new era. You see the free service here - I'd welcome all feedback. You can also read a good article summarising the project by Alex Reeve, who led the Business Link e-learning content team.

Also 2011 saw some good progress on Retenda, an innovative learning reinforcement platform I've developed. More on that in the future.

In terms of knowledge sharing, the year saw me focus more on Twitter as a social Learning tool. It's a great way to quickly assimilate and share useful links to all sorts of digital resources. It's proved a great tool for me and I hope my followers. But I'm ready again for a longer form stint of article writing now. A step at a time though - from micro-blogging, to midi-blogging perhaps. Then see where we get to.

See you at Learning Technologies and Learning Without Frontiers. If you can't make it join in on Twitter using this hashtag - #ltuk12  and #lwf12.