Thursday, December 15, 2016

Trends in Learning - No LMS Left Behind [LSG Webinar Notes]

These are my live-blogged notes from a Learning Skills Group webinar, hosted by Donald Taylor. Forgive any typos or incoherencies.

Nag Chandrashekar, VP Products Learning Mobile and Assessment, Saba 

1. Learning where you work:
  • Embedding learning launch points – in company portals, crm apps (salesforce, support portals (zendesk)
  • Access learning at the point of need – through apis/web services
  • Capture learning activities of theuser – wherever they may occur (bookmarklets, learning record stores)
  • Tie learning access to skill assessment – workflows

“The rule for Learning Management Systems is we shouldn’t call them Learning Management Systems.” Do it at the point of need. Don’t even call it learning anymore.

A learning platform used to do – it had the ability to target a specific group of learners and provide a nice catalog, dividing into groups of courses and targeting groups of people to push out the right content. That can be accomplished very well from today’s learning systems.

The “invisible LMS” – the engine for learning stays, but the way it manifests to the user is key. If you can decouple the back end engine from the front end interface, then there’s a lot of benefit.

Learning can be delivered where you work.

Accessing learning at the point of need – for performance support or general knowledge discovery.

xAPI/Tin Can – takes people away from the notion of packaging content. Lets the creators of the learning – the catalogs – let them be where they are. Learners can go there – just make sure you capture that activity.  Activity capture – making sure as a company you should understand where people are going to find what they need.

Tie learning to skills assessment. Some done formally, some on the job, some informally. Learning tied very specifically to skills assessments makes for immediate prescription for the learning need.

Notion of an Invisible LMS (Bersin) going from:
  • In your face à stealth
  • Creating à enablement
  • Programmatic à systematic
  • Event-based à infrastructure based

2. Personalization:
The key to the success of many learning initiatives. It’s not enough to just provide a great content to learners and say “go figure out what you want…” That won't meet your objectives. With every learner – there’s a few things your department/manager expects of you, then there’s also the learner’s own innate curiosity to keep up with what they need to do. Marrying these two is so important.
The paradox of choice – we use smart or intelligent systems when choosing movies and shopping. Why not for learning? How can we provide intelligent recommendations for learning?

You have to USE the system. E.g., the more you watch Netflix, the more it understands what you like and can provide recommendations. And they’re not perfect, but they make an attempt. And it’s better than having nothing at your disposal…at Netflix, we tend to lean a lot on the trends and recommendations on the home page. And then it suggests things that you might like based on past choices.

For this to be effective, you have to have usage in your system. The goal of intelligent recommendations is really personalization. The more people use it, the smarter it gets. Making systems easy to use and consumer-grade experiences – that just enough notion – these are key to driving usage.

This is very much a work in progress. Hopefully we’ll see solutions getting better and better at this.

Intelligent learning platforms matter: the system works for you. It’s proactive, dynamic, personalized (no two learners get the same recommendations), engaging. The more you interact, the better the system works for you.

3. Mobile Learning

It’s not about taking ALL of your content and resources and shoving them onto a mobile device.

How can mobile learning reinforce? Draw people into the system? It maybe isn’t always about content consumptions.

Let’s look at mobile NOT JUST for content consumption. Let’s complement the courses you’re taking elsewhere. Instead let’s go bite-sized.

Mobile devices provide endless learning possibilities:

  • Livestreaming for coaching and mentoring
  • Push notifications to trigger learning behaviors
  • Location based searches for specific classes (built in GPS in our mobile devices)
  • QR code scans for document search or attendance tracking
  • Allow user to share links, articles, and docs easily
(not a complete list, by any means…)

4. Content Aggregation & Curation

the job of the learning platform to start providing curation – these are the systems that know about the employee/the learner.

The consumerisation of education – a slew of different generations of platforms doing aggregation – democratizing content – making training available to different orgs (MOOCs, etc.)

Curation, personalization, a rich profile – these are all related. The more you know about learners and their usage patterns, you can make that learning more prescriptive and specific to them.

And managers have a role to play here. Who knows better about the employee than their manager?

5. Actionable Insights & Benchmarking

Analytics – have moved from operational reporting to more advanced/predictive analytics.

Predictive analytics = development of predictive models, scenario planning.

Benchmark – compare, act, improve.  A lot of data available to managers where they can benchmark many talent management processes. And they can take action to improve company performance and organizational objectives.

Many companies do have enough data at a higher level to compare against other companies in the same space.

Need to start with better reporting and dashboards.

6. The Engagement Gap

Employee feedback and survey tools – and the talent management platform on the other side. However, the feedback tool has been disconnected from other systems and processes.

Need to have feedback tools that are tightly connected to organization and employee performance (according to Brandon Hall).

Collect feedback à diagnose problems à take action à prove impact  à (loop back to feedback…)

Most orgs don’t have a lot of time to create content, push it out, send a survey after six months or a year and then revamp content. We need quicker creation and authoring. We need smaller loops. Ways to tailor and calibrate faster.

Employee engagement/pulse systems will get simpler, more personal – leaders at every level will be able to target this. And then connect learning back to employee performance.

Make the connection of continuous learning and development with engaged, high performance business.


The recording, slides, and web chat will be available afterwards at:

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Join me Dec 8 @ ATD Boston Shark Tank: The LMS Edition

Boston Area! Are you swimming in a sea of LMSs? Are the feeding chum to all the vendors out there and the waters have started to churn around you? Want to make some sense of these treacherous seas?

Join me at ATD Boston Shark Tank: The LMS Edition on Dec 8. (I'll be one of the sharks and I promise to make a lot of corny shark references).

December 8, 6 pm
Babson Executive Conference Center

More info and to register.

In case you haven’t heard, ATD-Boston is closing out the year with a big splash and you WILL NOT want to miss this one!  Three of our local sharks will be sinking their teeth into presentations from three very popular LMS vendors -- then you’ll get a chance to wear the shark hat as well.  All this takes place at a brand new venue (Babson College) and at this prestigious institute of higher learning, we promise that you will leave with an excellent education about the world of LMSs.
  • Cammy BeanVP of Learning Design, Kineo eLearning: A premier thought leader in the eLearning industry, frequent presenter at local and national events, and author of the Learning Circuits and Learning Visions blog.
  • Barry RichmanSr Manager of Global Learning Systems, Dunkin Brands:  A veteran in the eLearning industry with a deep background in LMS operations who has most recently helped Dunkin Brands with their deployment of a new LMS for their 100,000+ users.
  • Jean Marrapodi, Illumina Interactive:  Winner of a 2016 eLearning Guild’s Guild Master award and 2014 awards from Brandon Hall and USDLA for best learning team and best learning program, frequent presenter at local and national events, and recent addition to the staff at Illumina Interactive.
You and the sharks will be figuring out a way to attack:
  • Cornerstone on Demand:  An industry leading LMS that has rapidly become one of the most popular learning environments in the world.  Cornerstone is used by almost 30 million people in 191 countries.
  • Grovo:  An “edgy” LMS that focuses on modern learning in today’s workforce by embracing micro-learning and customized packaged content that is delivered in bite-sized chunks.
  •  eLearning Tool LMSs:  LMS environments that are already at your fingertips if you use eLearning development tools from vendors such as Articulate, Adobe, Lectora, and iSpring.  Do they have enough power to meet your needs?  That will be up to you to decide.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

"Building a Smarter Learning Ecosystem" w/ @JD_Dillon at @ATDCore4

These are my live-blogged notes from a concurrent session at his week’s ATD Core 4 happening this week in New Orleans. Forgive any typos or incoherencies.

Building a Smarter Learning Ecosystem

 JD Dillon, Principal Learning Strategist, Axonify @jd_dillon

Intermingling networks….

The components that make up your org’s ecosystem is different than another org’s ecosystem. (the nature of the organization and the way that work is done).

Getting out of the training bubble – taking a holistic look at all of the things that impact how we learn.

A lot of L&D teams think they “own learning.”  Hah!

Instead, lets look at all the ways we can support learning in all the ways that it happens.

Shifting from a content focused mentality to a world focused on creating an immersive experience.

6 Steps to building a smarter learning ecosystem:

#1: Diagnose your Get a greater understanding of your organization
Resources: What are the tools people are using to do their job? Maybe it’s something you can leverage.

Information: how does info move through this organization? Where are people going to get the information and how does that information flow?

#2: Map Your Learning Ecosystem
How are we supporting learning? What are we prioritizing?

What’s the foundation of our learning ecosystem? Is it the formal stuff? Are you using performance support?
  • Formal
  • Informal
  • Manager support
  • Shared knowledge
  • Reinforcement
  • Performance support

How available are these resources to individuals? (Formal training is NOT readily available and yet that’s the foundation/priority. And yet the things that are readily available aren’t being prioritized and are actually left of the table. So not doing much beyond the training. They didn’t have an AFTER the training – which is what people say REALLY matters – the transfer and the sustain piece.

So what should the learning ecosystem look like?
Put the most available ones (e.g., shared knowledge) at the foundation. Put our priority on the things that are most available: at the base = shared knowledge – and then going up: performance support, continued reinforcement, management support, on-demand training, formal training.

Also take into account criticality – what happens if this goes wrong? If a person can’t do this on the job, what happens? Will you lose a customer? Will someone get hurt? Those things might need a more formal structure.

Think about criticality, content, motivation, behaviors.

Make a shift: “I don’t care if people can learn; I care if they can do their job.”

3. Identify your tactics
Your tactics for shared knowledge and performance support may be different from mine.

Shared Knowledge: the foundation for everything in learning.

The reality of everyday problem solving is GOOGLE.
They left behind their SharePoint and built a WIKI – a single source repository – it’s searchable and it looks like Wikipedia, which everyone uses. (this was their approach)
Introduced the idea of curation…

Go out and find all the team  members who are making those extremely useful job aids and PowerPoints. Gave these peoples admin access to the wiki…

People get concerned about sharing knowledge publicly. But here’s the thing – it’s already happening across cubicle walls, in break rooms, etc. So the wrong stuff is being shared, but you don’t know about it. When you put it on a shared system, that wrong info can be corrected.

In 2.5 years their Wiki went from 500 initial pages to 70,000 pages.

Performance Support: how do people get help? When they don’t know what to do, how do they get help?

How do you leverage the power of the crowd in the wiki environment? Use the comment capability – let people ask questions – and then go prowling around and answer the questions. Initially used Community Managers. And over time, the Community Managers were no longer necessary.

Continued Reinforcement
Remember: AFTER the training is what really matters.

Reinforcement came from an options system -- users logged in once a day for 3 minutes – short videos, questions – adapted to what the employee was doing – if you were supporting this program, you got content targeted to that role. We gave people the option to do this – but average is people logging in 3 x a week – 75%. (Axonify does this)

Management Support:
The most important person is the front-line manager. They own the day – what you have time for, etc.

How do we enable managers – as part of their existing job – help their team members do their jobs better?

Provide the manager with actionable data about their employees. Who was leveraging the resources we were providing? A dashboard of data…

Behavior observation – how do you know if people are doing their job well? Enable a simple observation form. As part of the managers job (e.g., listening to calls in a call center) – give them a form to document when they see good and bad behaviors. So managers are now feeding an insane amount of data about performance.

Turn managers into data thieves. (and to help them coach more effectively)

(This tool was made available – not required.)

On the backend, JD’s team would monitor the data – who’s participating, etc. – and then just share the list (here’s who’s participating a lot – and send that to senior leaders. No one wants to be the bottom of that list!)

On-Demand Training
Moving up the ladder to the more structured stuff.
Dump all the old bad training content in your LMS. Clean it out so the old stuff can’t be discovered.

All the way they were serving up content aligned to the behaviors they were trying to drive.

Wanted to get into video to provide more structured learning opps.  Took people with credibility on specific content – took videos of them and uploaded them to the video. E.g., a 12 video playlist of people talking about how to support new students learn the first week (so hearing directly from the top performers).

Formal Training

Don’t stop classroom training. Instead, make everything that gets done in formal training better because of the infrastructure you’ve put in place. (everything was searchable, easily found, and you could ask questions) – so when asking people to do elearning or ILT, that time could be more valuable and concise.

4. Apply Your Framework
Objective to create a consistent way to help people (e.g., when new programs are released, this is how we do it) – make learning a predictable/consistent thing.

Continuous Learning experience:
Inputs: Did events, online content, experience, messaging
At the foundation was the community of knowledge (employees could grab info as they needed it).

And they could feed that back into the community – knowledge growth.

Then a reinforcement aspect to make sure you’ve retained that info. They leveraged games and rewards and points. How do you leverage motivation?

Analytics – getting meaningful data. Enabling manager feedback.

And ultimately tying everything back to business results.

Create a consistent experience so the user/learner understands how they’re being supported.

If you’re trying to solve for a low criticality problem – the learning professional recognizes the base tactics: shared knowledge/performance support.

Let’s say it’s a safety/compliance issue. Might leverage different layers of the ecosystem.

Leverage the right layers and the right tactics.
  • Define business goal
  • Determine criticality
  • Establish context
  • Define performance objectives
  • Identify layers
  • Identify tactics
  • And only THEN do you build content

First ask, “what information is already out there about this?” If the answer was none, they wrote a wiki page. If the answer was “well, this junk”, then they fixed it. That often solved the business problem.

#6 Get started
Talk ecosystem
Think person first, employee second
Run a diagnostic – look at the organization and the context in which you’re supporting performance
Map your learning ecosystem – are you off balance? What do you need to change?
Identify your tactics (for JD it was a wiki; for you it might be something else)
Start small; think BIG.

Escape the training bubble – get outside the typical toolbox and mindset.

"Why Learning is the New Work" with Melissa Daimler @mdaimler - opening keynote @ATDCore4

These are my live-blogged notes from the opening keynote at this week’s ATD Core 4 happening this week in New Orleans. Forgive any typos or incoherencies.

Why Learning is the New Work
Melissa Daimler, Head of Learning & Development, Twitter @mdaimler

Work IS a learning lab and the daily experiences are the curriculum.

To create a great learning lab at work, we need to focus on 3 things:
  1.         Design more iteratively
  2.         Lead more holistically
  3.         Learn more intentionally
1. Design more iteratively
We’re all familiar with ADDIE; part of our DNA. It’s a very sequential process. How can we take a more agile approach to design – to take more of a Design Thinking approach.

Design Thinking – the 5 Steps:
  •          Empathize (with your stakeholders)
  •          Define the problem
  •          Ideate
  •          Prototype
  •          Testing
There are critical differences and nuances between ADDIE and Design Thinking:
  •           Empathy – about connecting with our stakeholders, focusing on the person. It’s a more human-centered approach. Don’t just fix the problem, also focus on how people feel.
  •           Co-creation – how do we together, with our stakeholders, come up with a solution. “Go where the people are” – figure out with them as you go.
  •           Rapid Prototyping – instead of planning and then six months later you launch, you iterate as you go.

Focusing on these 3 aspects of design thinking = better solution, less time, more buy-in


Feedback has gotten a really bad rap lately. It’s not feedback that needs to go away and that’s dead – it’s the feedback process. How can we reframe feedback as something more useful.

So they talked to a lot of people at Twitter about what they were experiencing and how they were feeling. We asked employees things like “how do you learn? How do you develop? When have you gotten really good feedback that you can use?”

(When you ask really good questions, you get much better input).
We asked managers, “what kind of information do you need?” (A lot of companies are throwing out their performance ratings and numbers – and that’s daunting, because leaders are so used to having those numbers.

Worked with a lot of stakeholders, asked good questions, understood what they felt.

Identified a lot of shifts they wanted to make (there were about 15) – and they wanted to narrow that down to the top 3.

So it’s a shift –
  •         From Performance TO Development + Performance
  •          From 2 x Year Review TO Always Feedback (in the moment)
  •          From Manager Led TO Employee-Driven
Focus on progress vs. perfection.

They came up with a prototype of a feedback dashboard –
  •        What I’m good at…what I’m working on.
  •        What I’m less good at…How I’m working on it
  •        What I care about…what I’ve done (stuff I’ve shipped)
Today it’s called “Our portfolio” – it’s an internally developed online hub.
  •          Portfolio: give, get, develop.
  •          You can give and get comments.
  •          It’s based on their 17 behavioral org skills.
  •          Manager can see how their team is doing – what types of comments they’ve gotten, the number of comments.
  •          It’s 360 feedback
  •         Now they’re seeing people giving a lot more feedback face to face and then following it up with comments on the portfolio

Metrics they track: they want people to give/get at least 2 comments per month. After you receive a comment, individuals rate how useful a comment was to them (a rating tool from 1-7) – this addresses one of the ways that feedback hasn’t been useful in the past. They provide modeling about how to give good feedback – the anatomy of a comment.

How does this apply to program design?

They had a lot of green managers at Twitter. This was one of Melissa’s key focus areas. And she was interested in all the ways to help people, except classroom training.

She met with a new manager – was an engineer who had just been promoted. She shared all these great ideas she had about using technology and twitter and other tools. And he said, “that sounds really cool, but are we going to have any classes on how to do a one-on-one?”

When people come to us and say “this is what we want” but we know it’s not really what they need.

A lot of managers were asking for classroom training. The irony of this at a tech company. But they wanted to come together with others like them and get validation and connect and practice in a safe environment.

They created a management development program that is more classroom based.

She believes the classroom won’t go away. What we DO in the classroom needs to transform.

Created #TC5. 5 Week program. They came for two hours a week. There were about 5 slides. It was role plays and discussion. And then next week they would come back and talk through their experiences during the previous week.

The program design is always iterating, always in beta. As the company continued to evolve, they needed to make sure the conversations were still relevant for managers. (Don’t iterate just to iterate. Iterate because we want to make sure we’re aligned to what the business is experiencing).

Decision-making was a big conversation as the organization grew to a more matrixed one. The decision-making process changed a bit.

What project are you working on right now?

  •          How can you apply more empathy to your stakeholders?
  •          How could you co-create with your stakeholders?
  •          How can you get to a prototype faster?

2. How do we lead more holistically?

“Business and human endeavors are systems…we tend to focus on snapshots of isolated parts of the system. And wonder why our deepest problems never get solved.” ~ Peter Senge

Instead of doing a project post-mortem, they do “retros” (restrospectives).
  •         What do we want to keep?
  •         What do we want to quit?
  •      What do we want to cultivate?
These questions have now become integrated into the org and made a huge impact.

They also created 17 org skills – what are the actual skills you need to have to be successful? They wanted to understand what made up a successful employee? They met with stakeholders, they asked questions (how can you best be successful?).

They came up with 3 primary buckets:
  •         be a team player,
  •         be execution focused,
  •         be forward thinking.
How do you then create reinforcing mechanisms to help these org skills stick? Wanted to make sure that these skills were anchored against all of the processes.

So the Our Portfolio comment/feedback systems includes these org skills as drop down lists.

“I’d like to give you some feedback.” – those words bring butterflies to our stomach as the person who says them then leads into telling you all the things you’ve done wrong.

If our feedback/comments are more focused and aligned on core skills…

Be execution focused: Prioritizes appropriately to delivery high quality results

“When what we’re trying to learn is connected to a system to support that learning….learning happens naturally.”

3. Learn more intentionally

To have a more meaningful learning experience, both the teacher and the learner have to be present.

We are overwhelmed all the time. The world is becoming more dynamic. (Josh Bersin wrote an article that said 2/3 of employees are overwhelmed.) We have shorter attention spans; we check our phones XX times a day.

As learning professionals, we need to make sure we take care of ourselves.

WE are the intervention. We are the ones who come into the room and bring the energy (or NOT). And we can immediately shift the conversation. We have good days, we have bad days. So critical that we pause and take care of ourselves.

If we’re not doing our own work to improve ourselves, we not only give up our own learning experience, but we give up someone else’s.

We’ve become this DOING machine. If our calendars are not full, we think we’re doing something wrong. But the people who get the most done, have space on their calendars.
  •           Keep at least a one hour unscheduled block every day with NO meetings.
  •           Have one day with nothing scheduled.
  •           As learning professionals, make sure you’re finding time to learn, grow, discover – both personally and professionally. Give yourself time for forced reflection.
  •           Fill up, stay fresh, make space for yourself so you can continue to be intentional.