Yay Teams! The #1 Way of Learning in the Organization

In a new article on Modern Workplace Magazine, Jane Hart reports the latest results of her ongoing survey of worker opinions about the way they learn in the workplace.  The results point to the trend toward more self-reliant learning methodologies.

Jane asked respondents to rate how important each of 10 ways of learning are to them in the workplace.   The ten are:

  • Company training/e-learning

  • Self-directed study of external courses
  • Internal company documents
  • Job aids
  • Knowledge sharing within your team
  • General conversation and meetings with people
  • Personal and professional networks and communities
  • External blogs and news feeds
  • Content curated from external sources
  • Web search for resources (e.g. using Google)

Knowledge Sharing within your team, Web search for resources, Conversations and meetings with people, and Networking and communities are clearly the four top ways identified as important.  L&D can and should leverage these channels for learning.

That the work team is #1 is encouraging.  I believe that creating learning activities to be performed by teams and facilitated by their manager is an untapped channel for learning.  Average to great teams have a high level of trust amongst each other, a common mission, and more contact time with each other than with others in the organization.  The manager can coach/mentor and build the learning objectives into their performance management efforts.  They have common work products to reflect upon and learn from.

I’ve written about how I feel conversations are so important to learning (see Oh, The Conversations We Will Have).  L&D can do more to scaffold conversations around key learning needs of the organization.  “Marketing campaigns” can be used to initiate work of mouth sharing of ideas and concepts.  Special events (ie, meetings) can be arranged to discuss key issues, challenges, or to brainstorm new ideas.  There any number of ways work conversations and meetings can be influenced to be about or include learning experiences.

Helping employees to build their personal, organizational and professional learning networks and communities needs to be a role that L&D embraces.  Helping employees to understand how and why they should be continuously building their networks and joining communities that will help them grow professionally will have benefit in building a learning culture in the organization and in overall capability of the workforce.

Two other interesting results from the survey are that 1) L&D’s bread and butter – face-to-face training and e-learning come in dead last and 2) maybe self-directed learning and content curation might not be as well accepted as some would like to have us believe.

The fact that face-to-face and e-learning come in last isn’t a big surprise.  It’s pretty well understood that L&D needs to look a 1) moving much of learning out of these formats and into more social and informal formats and 2) what content is left that is best delivered via these formats needs to be looked to improve its quality.

While I do have my own reservations about how motivated overworked employees will be to be self-directing in their learning and how many will want to curate content, I also wonder if these two ways of learning may see an upswing in the years to come.  I’m not sure about how many employees 1) know what these ways of learning are or 2) how to learn through them.  Both are very new ideas and how they are best delivered hasn’t settled out yet.


xAPI Resource Center Update

I’ve added 10 new resources to the xAPI Resource Center, including a subsection on Talking to Your Techies on the Statements page.  Your IT contacts will be amongst your most important stakeholders on an implementation of xAPI.  The resources I’ve included are written to be a bridge between non-technical L&D folks and the technical professionals who will have to endorse projects like this in order for them to move forward.  These resources should get them to a point of feeling like they know what xAPI is and to make a decision of whether they are ready to dig into the technical side of the spec for you.

Several new resources regarding cmi5 profile for content update that section including the launch of the SCORM Cloud Testing Utility.  The remainder are various items I think fit the criteria for inclusion in the Resource Center.

I’m working on two other Resource Centers that I hope to launch this spring.  Watch for opportunities to help me with those as i have a couple of “Work out Loud” activities that I’ll be seeking input on.

As always, your thoughts on xAPI or suggestions for resources I should include in the Resource Center are welcome in the comments section below.

cmi5 in SCORM Cloud

Last week, Rustici Software launched cmi5 in their SCORM Cloud utility. While this isn’t the most scintillating news, it is a major step.  The SCORM Cloud implementation and support provides vendors and content developers with a place to test cmi5 launchable activities.  The ability to test in an environment like this is vital to assure that cmi5 and xAPI have been applied correctly in new tools and new functionality in existing tools.  For commercial vendors, this testing is vital.

Setting up a SCORM Cloud account is easy.  Check out details on xAPI on SCORM Cloud.  Initial use of SCORM Cloud is free.  The free version is great for individual testing and small implementations.

What is cmi5?

cmi5 is a profile that sits on top of the xAPI specification and helps control content in the xAPI ecosystem.  It allows content to be loaded to LMSs, but doesn’t require an LMS.  Many people short cut the explanation by saying it’s the SCORM replacement.  But that really limits the understanding of what it is.

Yes, cmi5 has all the capabilities that SCORM has to launch content in an LMS. But it goes well beyond what SCORM has been capable of delivering

ADL developed cmi5 with the following goals:
  • Interoperability – not only can cmi5 conformant content be launched in an LMS,  but it can be launched by various tools as long as they have been programmed to accept cmi5 data.
  • Extensibility – because it sits on top of xAPI, cmi5 extends the capability to collect data on learning experiences outside of the LMS and through the xAPI extensions, provide extensive detail on results and context of the activities within the course,
  • Mobile Support – cmi5 content can be accessed via mobile devices

The ADL cmi5 work group is developing a document which goes into detail regarding what cmi5 can do versus SCORM.  You can view their working document here.

A major benefit of cmi5 is that most of the attributes are content-specific.  The xAPI statements carry all of the information about the content with the content.  SCORM content depended on the LMS to keep it organized.  (cmi5 content is self-aware).  What this means is that the content doesn’t have to sit in the same place as the LMS.  In our cloud-based. distributed content world, this is huge.

With Rustici’s adding cmi5 to SCORM Cloud, we should see more and accelerated development of authoring tools that support the creation of rich xAPI/cmi5 content.

To learn more aboutcmi5, go to the xAPI Resource Center.

What do you think?  Have you explored cmi5 and/or xAPI?  What are your thoughts on cmi5?  Please share your thoughts by replying below in the comments below.

Hey L&D! Your Underpants are on Fire!

This is the second of a 2-post series on the challenges L&D faces and solutions to overcome them.  In the first post, I addressed the challenges.  In this second post, I offer a suggested solution.

In my last post, Hey L&D, Your Underpants (gnomes) are Showing!, I discussed the black box that training and development has historically worked in.  Mimicking a South Park episode, I suggested that we have utilized the following model:


If we get honest, we don’t have any real clue if what we create actually will increase the ability of our learners to do their jobs better and impact business goals in a positive fashion.  We’ve gotten away with it because senior leadership knows that talent development is crucial to the organization’s health and ability to deal with ever more complex and changing markets.

But they are being pressured to justify every expenditure in the budget to ensure is is driving business priorities, goals and profits.  The free pass we in L&D have been receiving is about to be revoked.

We need to overcome what Matthew Syed calls “Black Box Thinking.”  We have been enabled by our organizations and the general culture to cover up and hide from our failures. One example.  If we don’t look at long-term retention of information, ignoring the forgetting curve, we can be satisfied with Kirkpatrick Level 1 and 2 responses that say our training was “great”, “just fine.”  Our learners don’t want to point out that they don’t remember what they learned a month ago – because it might make them look stupid.

We have to open up that black box and determine how to work in a new way and we don’t have much time.  Now a full-scale overhaul of L&D will take time and I’m sure that most senior leaders will work with us. If we set out a strategic plan to transform learning in our organizations and get working on the needed changes to make it so, they will give us the time to do it.  But the time to take action is now.

So what do we have to do now that we haven’t been doing?  (NOTE: these actions are interrelated.  This is not a step-by-step process.)

Data, Data, Data

And I don’t mean a compilation of smile sheets. We need data-driven evidence of the business impact of learning.  As CEB put it in a Learning Analytics whitepaper last year:

You can’t defend L&D activities to executives with anecdotal evidence, buzz from hallway conversations, or surveys that show program participants liked their instructors and were satisfied the learning experiences.

We need to build a comprehensive Learning Data and Analytics Strategy that will enable the collection, storage, analysis, and reporting of data.  Data about training efficiency, learning effectiveness, target behaviors, and business results.  Some of this data doesn’t exist today, some exists but our stakeholders “own” it (ie; sales, performance data), some might be at our fingertips, but we don’t know how to access it) and we may even need benchmarking data from outside sources.  It is vital that we work to develop an understanding of what data we need in order to answer the questions and then figure out where it will come from – is it collected manually or automatically?  where will it be stored?  who will analyze the data?  who needs to see reports of what? when? how?

We’ll have to understand how data, particularly big data, is handled, warehoused, and managed with our organizations.  What software tools do we need?  Are there IT resources to connect APIs?  to write scripts to link programs?

Change and Promote a Learning Brand

Even if you don’t think your learning has a brand, it does.  Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”  More importantly, the quality of a brand determines how much people will trust you, how loyal they will be to you, will they have your back when others attack.

What do you want L&D to be known for in your organization?   A trusted business colleague?  A problem solver?  A group that uses evidence to make decisions?  A brand is a consistent message of who you are.  That consistent message is built through conversations and commitments fulfilled.  It is enhanced by actively listening and collaboratively determining business goals with your stakeholders.  Using data to drive decision making and in reporting results.

A Learning Culture focused on Continous Learning

Move away from event-based training and toward socially energized learning experiences.  Executives and Managers need to understand that helping their employees to enhance their knowledge and skills both specific to their current job and as professionals is a part of being a leader.  L&D needs to provide support, tools, and training so that managers can fulfill this role.  If you can get learning objectives incorporated into the performance management process, all the better.

Help employees to become self-directed learners.  Our employees know that in today’s world it is imperative that they expand then knowledge, hone their skills, take on new challenges, and become better professionals.  We need to aid them in this process.  Help them to learn how to learn.  Scaffold social learning experiences online and in their everyday interactions. Reflect on their work – on their own and with others.  We need to provide them with easy access to the resources they need to do their jobs.

Change Everything about L&D

We need to take a deep and honest look at how we are, or more likely aren’t, meeting the needs of our organizations and ourselves.   This will require the courage to face the fear of admitting past deficiencies and proposing radical change.

This goes to how we design our learning experiences which need to be grounded in business goals and data-driven decisions.  How we deliver learning needs to move to a multi-faceted, extended multi-c0ntact sequence of experiences.

We need to take the time and make the effort to learn the businesses we work in.  We must become peers with our stakeholders by understanding how they contribute to the success of the business.  We need to be able to engage in conversations that explore the details of their goals and the knowledge and skills necessary to meet them.  We need to walk the walk of a true business partner.

We also need to open ourselves to new ways of thinking about learning and living in a new world that is fast approaching. The science of learning, neuropsychology, big data, learning analytics, artificial intelligence, the internet of things are changing the world around us.  Think about how mobile devices has changed not only how we need to design and deliver learning, but also how humans interact with each other and the information they need.  The changes coming are even bigger than the impact of mobile.

Partner with Stakeholders as Never Before

Any major change in an organization that affects all employees (as learning does) is going to be disruptive, difficult, and met with resistance.  In order to effect the changes discussed above, we will need partners who are committed to our success.  Partners who trust that we have their best interest in mind and who will in return have our backs when things get rough.

Change the conversation.  Let them know that you know what their goals are and that you understand their needs.  We need to find an outcome or set of outcomes and related measures for learning that they can feel co-ownership because they tie to their business goals.  We have to be consultants to their business.

But simply setting agreed upon outcomes and measures isn’t enough.  We also must demonstrate a knowledge of the influence chain within our organizations.  Who do they listen to?  Does their boss delegate authority or do we need to help them advocate to their boss?  Do they defer to another manager or operations group (if IT says it’s ok, then….).  Are there roadblocks that they may not be aware of?  Knowing the political terrain around the solution will help both of you.  Because L&D isn’t siloed, you may have an oversight of the organization that they don’t have.

Communicate Early and Often

L&D should have a comprehensive, well articulated Communication Plan.  How do we plan to promote individual programs?  How do we plan to share our brand? What reports or dashboards can we provide to our stakeholders? sponsors? learners?

We need to be transparent with the organization about would we are doing, why, what our goals are and the results.  Reports and dashboards for our stakeholders and sponsors that show how we are contributing to their success.  Work out loud.

What “Phase Two” Should Say

In the end, we want to be able to say what Phase Two involves.  It won’t be easy, but we need to break the cycle of accepting less than we are capable of.  Our new model then would look like this:


What do you think?   Do we need to stop being underpants gnomes?  Can we make these changes?  What do you see as obstacles to making these changes?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.  I’d love it if you used the sharing buttons below to share this post with your social network. 

Hey L&D, Your Underpants (gnomes) are Showing!

This is the first of a 2-post series on the challenges L&D faces and solutions to overcome them.  In this first post, I’ll address the challenges.  In the second post, I’ll offer a suggested solution.

In Season 2, Episode 17 of South Park, the animated bitingly satirical cartoon on Cartoon Network, Cartman discovers that gnomes are stealing his underpants.  He and the boys follow the gnomes to their village and demand an explanation.  The gnomes provide the following explanation:

For a very long time, Learning and Development has worked with a version of this business model that goes something like this:


We spend millions of dollars creating and delivering ILT courses, e-learning, blended learning, games, simulations, job aids, webinars, etc. After delivery, we do limited evaluation (mostly at Kirkpatrick Levels 1 and 2), check with our stakeholders to see if they are happy (which the general answer is some form of yes/maybe when they really mean “I have no clue”), and we hope everyone believes that we’ve added value to the organization.

But we don’t really know. We don’t know if the experiences we deliver are effective at the learning level or the organizational value level.  The crazy thing is Leadership knows we don’t know, but knows that learning is important.  So the conclusion is that we must be having some impact and they approve next year’s budget.

Then there are things we do know.

Like the Forgetting Curve research that evidences that learners will forget nearly everything they learn within 90 days if it isn’t reinforced regularly.  In past practice, this would include just about everything we’ve tried to teach people.  There are those who refer to this as “Training’s Dirty Little Secret.”

We also know that by defaulting to an “order taker” mode of operation in which we build the training or tools we’re asked/told to create, we are creating training and tools that won’t impact.  We fall into this default because we don’t have the time to do a proper needs assessment, we lack the relationship with stakeholders that allows us to challenge them, stakeholders don’t value what L&D does, and/or we don’t understand how the business works.

We know that butts in seats and course completion rates have no actual bearing on learning outcomes or business goals, but we report them earnestly and leadership humors us, then gets back to real business.

This has recently been documented by two research reports released by LEO Learning and LinkedIn Learning Solutions.

In the LinkedIn Learning Solutions report, the No 1 desired result of training for leadership is proven business impact, but only 8% are seeing this reported.  The No 2 desired result is ROI, only 4% are receiving this on training.

Learners aren’t any happier either. 46% of L&D leaders say they have a hard time engaging learners.

The ability to report business impact is driven by four key challenges that L&D faces:

  • Having a limited budget
  • Getting employees to make time for L&D
  • Having a small L&D team
  • Demonstrating ROI (lack of data)

Perhaps the most shocking finding in the LinkedIn study is that less than 1/4 of L&D employees would recommend their own offerings!  Yet we are expecting our organizations to see enough value to keep funding us next year.

The LEO Learning report shows that 85% of L&D and talent leaders want to be doing the data analysis to demonstration Learning’s impact on the organization.  77% believe it is possible.  When compared to the LinkedIn numbers in single digits regarding how much leadership is seeing such impact data, the difference is shocking.  Why the huge discrepancy between desire (85%), intent (77%), and execution (8% and 4%).

The LEO Learning study also asked about how L&D was evaluated.  The results were all over the board – including 14% reporting the weren’t evaluated at all.

Data from LEO Learning, Measuring the Impact of Learning at Work, FEB 2017.

Only 35% of the LEO Learning respondents indicated they are feeling pressure to report on the impact of learning. They quote Mike Rustici, CEO of Watershed, “I think a lot of business leaders just don’t know what’s possible. …They’ve set their expectations very low in terms of what they can hold L&D accountable for and what kind of results they can expect.”

In addition, drawing data from the 2016 Towards Maturity Benchmark Report, while 93% of L&D leaders say data analysis skills are important, only 31% feel their departments have those skills.

Finally, LEO Learning identified 7 categories of difficulties in measuring the impact of learning:

Data from LEO Learning, Measuring the Impact of Learning at Work, FEB 2017.

The Towards Maturity 2016 Benchmark Report identified this list of barriers to change in L&D:

66% – Cost of development, set-up and maintenance
62% – lack of skills amongst employees to manage own learning
59% – Lack of skills amongst L&D staff to implement and manage e-learning
58% – Reluctance by line managers to encourage new ways of learning
57% – Unreliable ICT infrastructure/low bandwidth/technical restrictions firewall
54% – L&D staff lack knowledge about the potential use and implementation of technology

Towards Maturity also reported that 35% of learners find eLearning content uninspiring and 26% say it’s irrelevant to their needs.

To show that these are not new concerns, I went back to an ASTD (now ATD) study sponsored by IBM from 2006 – C-Level Perceptions of the Strategic Value of Learning Research Report.  That report found the following   (Note: CXO is used to refer to any C-Level executive other than the CLO). 

CXOs and CLOs agreed on the following:

  1. Learning provides strategic value at the enterprise, business unit, and individual capability level of an organization.
  2. Learning’s value contribution is seen primarily in business outcomes and human capital.
  3. It is difficult to isolate and measure learning’s value contribution to business outcomes.
  4. Perceptions of stakeholders (employees, business unit leaders, and executives) are a key indicator of learning’s value.
  5. The strategic value of learning is increased by strong governance processes for planning, allocating, and managing learning investments.
  6. Learning’s alignment with business needs is indicated by integration, proactivity, and responsiveness.
  7. The learning function’s efficiency can be increased by streamlining and standardizing processes, leveraging technology, and selectively outsourcing components of the function.

CXOs and CLOs differed in the following ways:

  1. CXOs are less concerned than CLOs with quantitative metrics that show learning’s value contribution to business outcomes. CXOs are more concerned with qualitative alignment of learning investment with the changing needs of the business, and with the perceptions of employees and business leaders, than they are with data from ROI studies.
  2. CLOs are more focused than CXOs on improving the performance of business units, through understanding business unit goals and performance gaps, and identifying learning and non-learning solutions to close the gap.

While stated in a different way, you can see the same themes running through these. #5 and #6 clearly show how all parties “agree” to gloss over real inadequacies.  Planning, allocating, and managing a budget are not factors in strategic value.  Integration, proactivity, and responsiveness are not business needs that L&D should align to (they are operational efficiency and relationship building goals). The issues and challenges for L&D haven’t varied much in the past 10-15 years.

For Learning and Development, the black box that is Phase 2 in the Underpants Gnome model glosses over:

  • Apathy of leadership toward holding L&D accountable in a real business sense.
  • Resource allocations that are “ballparked”, often ending up insufficient
  • Managers who don’t understand the need or role of learning in day-to-day business.
  • Learners who don’t value L&D offerings because they perceive them to be boring, irrelevant, and wasteful of their time.
  • L&D staff that are not capable of the skills needed and aren’t properly trained to do the jobs they are supposed to do.
  • Lack of business acumen amongst L&D staff.
  • Lack of learning acumen amongst operational staff.
  • Urgency overrides strategic need in L&D resource deployment.

There has been a mutual understanding between all stakeholders that these things are unimportant, too hard to address, or irresolvable.  L&D tends to be cordoned off from the rest of the organization.  And we’ve enjoyed the perceived autonomy it provides.

But there are signposts warning us that this way of operating isn’t going to last much longer.  We need to address this issues – starting yesterday.  Many feel it is an adapt or die situation.  But I blogged about this very issue in May of 2004 (adapt or die on eelearning). And we’ve not addressed it yet.  Will we now?

What do you think?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.  I’d love it if you used the sharing buttons below to share this post with your social network. 


xAPI as lingua franca

As I’ve come to understand the xAPI standard for learning experience data interoperability I’ve found it interesting that many people misunderstand what exactly xAPI is and is not.

  • xAPI is not an instructional design methodology, although it will impact the ability of instructional designers to do their jobs better.
  • xAPI does not analyze or evaluate learning experiences, although it enables the creation of metrics and analytical tools that L&D has not had to date.
  • xAPI does not replace the LMS, although it enables learning done on any platform to be tracked and evaluated.

In my mind, it can be explained as two things:

  1. it is a technical standard to enable the creation of data about learning experiences
  2. it enables a common language(s), a lingua franca, to talk about that data

I’ll talk about #1 in a future post.  In this post, I’ll address #2 and why it’s important.

Wikipedia provides the following definition of a lingua franca:

A lingua franca (/ˌlɪŋɡwə ˈfræŋkə/),[1] also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language or vehicular language, is a language or dialect systematically (as opposed to occasionally, or casually) used to make communication possible between people who do not share a native language or dialect, particularly when it is a third language that is distinct from both native languages.[2]

via Lingua franca – Wikipedia

The key to this definition as applied to xAPI is the phrase “systematically used to make communication possible between people who do not share a native language or dialect”.

A lingua franca answers some of the key questions raised by skeptics of xAPI.

“Why do we need a standard like xAPI when various vendors are addressing or can address the analytics within their own system?”

Actually, there is no need at all for a lingua franca if you are going to work with tools all created by one vendor who has applied a common methodology across all their tools.  But in this BYOD (Bring Your On Device), self-directed learning reality of today’s workplace, the ability to merge data from various systems and devices is facilitated by a common set of descriptors.  To begin watching a video did you “start”, “initiate”, “play”, “begin”, “hit go”?  What verb tense would you use – play, played, playing?  In Big Data, these things matter and can be the difference between being able to build valid analytics or not.  (FYI: the xAPI video community prescribes “played” for having started watching a video.  All verbs in xAPI are in past tense.).

The same consideration goes for the programming language used to express the data.  If some data comes to you in HTML5, some in XML and various other languages each applied differently by each vendor, your chances of ever cleaning it up on an ongoing basis in order to do regular reporting is very slim.

An agreed upon set of vocabulary that is systematically applied enables data from multiple systems to be merged and analyzed quickly and accurately.  Ultimately, if well implemented widely, xAPI will enable industry-wide learning analytics.

“Why is it necessary to purchase a Learning Records Store in order to use xAPI data?”

There are open source LRSs that can be used for free.  Vendors can build LRSs as stand alone or part of their tools (ie, LMSs).   LRSs are built to assure that any data that resides in the LRS is in the form of valid xAPI statements.  If the preferred vocabulary for a learning experience has been used, the data extracted from an LRS for analysis will have a very high level of validity.  Validity is a major issue with Big Data.  The xAPI LRS addresses this issue.

Data can be exported from an LRS to any data storage or analytics tool that is being used.  Although many of the commercial LRSs available have analytics tools built in “out of the box”.

“How can a standard determine a singular vocabulary for all learning experiences?”

xAPI does not prescribe a single vocabulary.  This course of action was dropped at the end of 2015 because it was seen as being too restrictive.  In reality, the xAPI specification does not specify vocabulary.  It enables various communities of practice to establish a list of vocabulary that is appropriate for reporting data in their domains.  These vocabularies are listed by ADL and the Tin Can Registry as recommended vocabulary.  Users of xAPI are highly encouraged to

  1. use already established vocabulary whenever possible
  2. join or start a community of practice in creating domain specific vocabulary
  3. as a last resort, create their own vocabulary and share it via ADL/Tin Can Registry.

It is through this collaborative process that an appropriate, systematically applied vocabulary will be established.

The xAPI standard establishes a structure for the data and parameters for various components enabling flexibility for necessary variations from domain to domain or device to device.  This balance is the power behind xAPI.

“How will xAPI enable non-Learning data to be used in our analysis?”

With a common vocabulary established, data from non-xAPI systems can be easily mapped and connecting APIs can be written.  Many of the major business systems like Salesforce, Slack, and HRMS systems already have export APIs established.  xAPI can match up to these systems easily to create xAPI statements from their data and store them in the LRS.  Thus only one connector is needed for each external tool.

A final benefit in the xAPI standard is that it is being developed in JSON using human-readable language.  Built on common linguistic structure, it is understandable to non-technical practitioners of learning and development.

Establishing a common way of speaking about learning experiences, our lingua franca, will provide benefits to individual L&D departments, the organizations we serve, the industries we are part of.

Do As Marketing Does – Summary

Last week, over six posts I looked at six concepts that Learning and Development can adopt from our colleagues in Marketing to do our jobs better:

Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of my peers were put off by the title of this series or the idea that those pushy, party-loving marketing people could teach us anything about how to help educate our employee base.  Marketers want to figure out how to make us buy stuff we don’t want.  Workplace learning is about helping people better themselves…..STOP!

Workplace learning is about changing behaviors to meet organizational goals.  Often we need to get employees to give up their old comfortable ways in order to take on new behaviors that are uncomfortable and stress inducing.  I’m surprised more employees don’t run when they see us coming because we’re there to ruin their day.  People don’t like change and we’re all about change.

These days, Marketing works on the assumption that there are folks out there who want to purchase what we are selling.  The hard part is finding them or, better yet, helping them find us.  Marketing is about making and building authentic connections with individual customers.

Motivation and Relevance are really about getting to know customers intimately.  Why do they do what they do?  What excites them?  Who do they want to be?   Learners will take on any challenge if it resonates with what drives or inspires them.  If they understand how it connects with their work today or what they will need to do tomorrow, they’ll seek out how to change on their own.  If we’ve done our work to know them, we can anticipate that need and help them.

Channels and Cognitive Load today are about Big Data and Big Noise.  We’re all flooded with too much information 24/7.  There is no escaping it.  But Marketing has learned that if they listen to the noise there are patterns to be found. It reminds me a bit of Morpheus and Neo in the Matrix.  Our colleagues in social media marketing are doing amazing things by listening to the social media noise and then using that information to reach out to individuals.  We’re about to have our turn as Big Data, by one means or another, is about to hit L&D.

Action and Objections are part of classic sales techniques.  Automobile Dealers have to take ‘er for a spin because they know that once you take a test drive, the chances that you will buy go through the roof!  Real Estate Agents “stage” homes, complete with fresh cookies out of the oven at open houses because if they can make you feel at home they know you’ll be more likely to buy.  Getting learners practicing the new behavior in a safe, but authentic environment before they have to “go live” in their real work is like that test drive of the new car.

Objections are about fear of change and not wanting to be sold.  They are about someone or something unrelated to the actual purchase of what you are selling.  If we’ve done our needs analysis properly, designed a beautiful learning experience, the last thing we want is for some VP to blow it all apart because she wasn’t included in the planning.  Or a Manager telling his team to not worry about doing our microlearning modules because we didn’t provide him with enough background to understand how to mentor them through the experience.

Hopefully, you know someone in marketing that you can reach out to and ask them about what they do.  If not, ask your manager to help you find someone to talk to. Find out how do they build a multi-channel campaign?  How do they parcel out a message over time?  How do they get to know what customers like?  What tools do they use to analyze Big Data?

And it doesn’t need to be a one-way conversation.  As L&D professionals, we do know a lot about how people learn, why the forget, how behavior can be changed, the role of prior knowledge in learning.  Things that would benefit Marketing if they knew.

An xAPI Resource Center for L&D Professionals



Over the past several months I’ve been learning about the xAPI standard for learning experience data interoperability that is gaining traction and is poised to replace SCORM.  This Resource Center is a result of my studies, conversations, and reflections on this exciting advancement for Learning and Development.

My xAPI journey began on September 13 when I saw a Twitter post for something called “xAPI Camp” which was being held that Friday at Lurie Children’s Hospital here in Chicago.  Having no plans, I checked out the link.  The price (free) was right so I sent off a hopefully request for a seat.  What a great happenstance.  The projects that were presented blew my mind.  All because of a standard based on the basic sentence “I did this”?!?!?

Back in the late 1990’s  my boss at Universal Learning Technologies, Barb Ross, was on one of the workgroups developing the IMS (then version 0.4) standard for interoperable content cartridges and she involved me in her review of the early specification.  I sat in that room at Lurie’s thinking, “They’ve finally figured out how to do what Barb and I were wanting way back then.”

Since then, I’ve thrown myself into understanding this new specification.  I’ve attended the xAPI Camp at DevLearn in Las Vegas (where I ended up winning WatershedLRS’s xAPIgo challenge).  I’m completing HT2Lab’s Learning xAPI MOOC (both the technical and non-technical tracks).  I’ve even had the opportunity to have lunch with Aaron Silvers to learn from him directly.  I’ll be participating in Torrence Group’s Spring xAPI Cohort beginning on February 9.

Of course,  I’ve also combed the web and curated what I’ve found.  This Resource Center is the product of that curation.   These pages are living documents.   I’ll be adding and deleting resources.  Please provide your feedback via the thumbs up/thumbs down poll associated with each item.  Let me know what you’d like to know more about via the comments at the bottom of each page or directly to me on Twitter, the Contact page here, or email me directly if you have my email.

I see this Resource Center as the first step in an effort to help the everyday L&D professional understand the power and potential of xAPI to drive true learning analytics that cover a far broader swathe of learning experiences than we’ve dreamed possible in the past.  If implemented correctly, xAPI will enable us to analyze targeted behaviors, to create learning experiences to affect the desired changes, and to measure whether we have met the organizational goals we set.  So click on the image

So click on the image or link at the top of this post and start your journey in xAPI!

twitterI have created a Twitter List of people and organizations that tweet about xAPI.  Please follow it.  If there is someone or an organization that tweets regularly about xAPI, please send me your suggestions (Direct tweet me, use Contact page here at new eelearning, or email me if you have my email.)



Is there something you don’t understand about xAPI?  Questions about something said in one of the above resources? General thoughts on these resources?   Add a comment below.

If you have any ideas on resources you feel should be on this page or in this Resource Center, feel free to use the comment section below or contact me via the Contact page here at new eelearning.