Through the Looking Glass Darkly

Admittedly, I have been hesitant to wade into the AR/VR/MR world (augmented, virtual, and mixed realities) primarily because it’s a massive body of knowledge for which I feel I just don’t have the bandwidth to comprehend given everything else going on in my life.

I guess I believe it’s so far down the road in the future that I’ve got time to learn about it later. But Craig Weiss’s post,  Special Report – Hacking in the MR World — The Craig Weiss Blog has me wondering if I may be wrong.  I’m sure it’s the futuristic science fiction fan in me that makes the topic of Craig’s post so chilling to me:

Mixed Reality will become the leader in immersive experience. But what no one is paying attention to is the hacking potential.

Craig provides three mixed reality hacking scenarios that seem simple to execute by a hacker and certainly would dupe me by utilizing socially trusting moments (social conversations, a date).  In each of the scenarios, I definitely can see myself falling victim to hackers without a clue that my data was being stolen.

Craig has called upon the corporations who are driving this new technology platform to build in safeguards to protect our data.  But what do we need to do to protect ourselves?

Two major questions come to my mind.

When I do enter into these new realities what do I need to be aware of?  As we started using the internet, we all learned to not put our phone numbers our websites and how to conduct e-commerce safely.  As I wrote 10 years ago in ,the darkside reaches the blogosphere on eelearning, every technological advance has afforded con men the opportunity to take advantage of adopters of that technology.

But the case of Mixed Reality feels radically different. In the past, a healthy distrust of the technology was, in general, enough to protect us.  How do I come to trust a hologram?  What are the telltale signs of a malicious hologram?  Is this one out to get me?  Or is it really my best friend?

The second question is my decision to adopt this technology. When, why will I be compelled to adopt this technology?  I’ve been a “curiosity adopter” with much of the technology that has been introduced in my lifetime. I also do get a kick out of being an early adopter. The ability to access more information and to communicate more effectively where the two drivers of my adoption of the internet.  Voluntarily providing my credit card number in a secured form is very different than exposing my deepest secrets to a hologram I’m on a date with.

While I think I would argue with Craig’s statement that we are just a few years from the widespread adoption of MR, I do think that we need to begin thinking through what it will mean for us who will end up using it.  What do we need to know?  How do we make sense of a mixed reality that may not always be looking out for our best interests? We know how to protect ourselves in the real world.  We can’t assume that it will be the same in a manufactured mixed reality.

What do you think? Are you ready for AR/VR/MR?  How should we approach these new realities?  Should we?  What will compel you to adopt it?  Please share your thoughts below in the comments to this post.

Featured image: “Gamescom 2015 Cologne Sony Morpheus Virtual Reality”
by dronepicr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Ahoy Matey!

I am happy to announce that I am joining Julian Stodd and his merry crew at Sea Salt Learning as an Associate Consultant.

Sea Salt Learning is committed to helping executives and their organisations get fit for the Social Age. In the Social Age We are experiencing:

  • a new nature of work
  • the democratisation of creativity and technology
  • the rise of communities
  • emergent types of power
  • the new nature of knowledge itself, dynamic, adaptive, co-created and on demand

We must adapt our organisations to thrive in this new space: this is a significant challenge. The things that got us this far will not get us the rest of the way.

Julian’s work regarding the nature and ramifications of the Social Age is compelling, thought-provoking, and a blueprint for a future that is more dynamic, agile, and community-based.  The crew he has assembled to sail these uncharted waters with him are a seasoned and hardy lot committed to innovation and transformation.

Besides probably ruining my spelling forever, this new association with Sea Salt Learning will provide me with an opportunity to work on cutting-edge projects , I’ll be working on various projects as needed on an as needed basis.  But more exciting, in my mind, I’ll be advocating the ideas Julian writes and speaks about and seeking new business opportunities for Sea Salt Learning to partner with organizations that wish to understand what success in the Social Age means for them, their leaders, employees, customers, and partners.

For more information, go to Julian Stodd’s Learning Blog where he works out loud developing his ideas.  I’ll also be posting here on new eelearning with my take on Julian’s ideas and related thoughts.

Come Explore with Us!

If ye be curious about setting your course in the Social Age, please contact me via the form below. There be vast treasures beyond the new horizon. Let’s set sail today.

 

Ask Why before Measuring

Recently I had the following scenario put forward to me:

If someone asked you: “How do I get started thinking about and moving towards a measurement-based approach to training?” How would you answer them?

Why?

My first question to them would be “Why?”
“Why are you feeling the need to move towards a measurement-based approach to training?”
To be honest, it’s a trick question.  Seeking to have a measurement-based approach to training is wrongly focused.  Training (and all learning) should be focused on improving specific and measurable organizational and/or individual performance.  Measurement (and data collection, metrics, and learning analytics) is in service of a performance-based, data-driven approach to training and learning.
However, there is value in the question of why a measurement-based approach to training is desired.  The answers, some worse than others, will reveal how much work is to do be done.

Nice Try, But Try Again

The really bad answers will be along the lines of:

  • My supervisor asked me to look into it
  • Every other department has great looking graphs and charts
  • At DevLearn/ATD-ICE/HR Tech Conference everyone was talking about measurement and metrics
  • xAPI enables us to measure all kinds of

The problem with these answers should be obvious.  Taking on any initiative to “keep up with the Joneses” or to meet an unrationalized task given by a supervisor is a waste of time and money.  Without a purpose, you’re simply taking stabs in the dark hoping to land on something valuable.   My response to these answers is “don’t waste your time. ”
Go back to the drawing board and determine if there is a business need to drive your exploration of measurement or forget about the initiative completely.  With no real rationale, it’s doomed to failure.

That’s Better, but…

There is a set of “middle ground” answers that are headed in the right direction.  But yet they fall short of providing an answer to the question “Why?”

  • The stakeholders for our new sales training want to measure the success of our solution by sales metrics (percentage of deals closed in first three months, overall increase of sales per representative)
  • We know we aren’t capturing Fitzpatrick Level 3 and 4 data and have to figure out how to do that quickly.
  • Finance won’t accept our budget requests without an explanation of how we are going to determine if each program is meeting its operational and financial goals.
  • We keep reading industry reports that say senior leadership of most organizations feel they aren’t getting adequate data from learning and development.  We approached our senior management and found out they feel this way as well.  But we don’t know what data we need to gather to satisfy them.

At this level of understanding,  the push for measurement is coming from external (to L&D) agents – various stakeholders, industry thought leadership,  organizational gatekeepers (finance/IT), and others.  These answers still reflect a reactionary stance regarding how we report on our initiatives.  Input from these external agents is important.  But it should be input, not strategic direction.  We need to synthesize this input and build a coherent and achievable strategy for projects and learning as a whole.

This may seem a little overblown, but generally, it’s not.  We are just at the beginning of the transformation of L&D to being evidence-based and data-driven.  Most of us don’t yet understand the nuances of performance measurement tied to business objectives

Purposeful Strategy

Asking “why?”  to this point in answering the original question has been posed in order to identify 1) a lack of true business goals, 2) a scattered, unfocused approach to data collection and measurement, and 3) to unearth the potential resources and roadblocks to performance-based, data-driven reporting and decision making.

But the real “why?” (or why’s) gets at the heart of the purpose of each initiative and the desired change in organizational and/or individual performance.  Once this purpose is fully understood and a preliminary learning strategy and supporting measurement strategy can be developed.  Data collection, measurement, metrics, performance evaluation, and learning analytics are in support of the overall learning strategy. They are the means to an end, not an end in themselves.

It Comes Down to the Data

With all of this said, I still haven’t answered the original question, which re-written to address my initial concern would be:

If someone asked you: “How do I get started thinking about and moving towards a performance-based, data-driven decision and reporting system to support learning here at XYZ Corporation?” How would you answer them?

In general, I advocate choosing one or two new projects that are small-to-medium in scale to serve as a pilot and/or guinea pig.  One, if something goes haywire, it will have less of an impact. Two, you’ll be able to cycle through it faster – validating your new approach more quickly – so you can replicate your success rapidly.

On a more specific level, my response would be: Do you have a Data Strategy?

Do you know the answers to the following questions?

  1. Figure out who are the stakeholders in your project’s success. What role will they want to play in the project? Who is ultimately responsible for achieving the desired performance change?
  2. Make sure that the requested intervention has a clearly identifiable expected impact upon the business. If the stakeholders can’t define the benefit the change will have on the business, how will you create appropriate learning or performance management experiences?
  3. Understand how the stakeholders for this intervention expect to determine the project’s success or failure. What is the measure of success? Some may be qualitative.  Some may be quantitative.
  4. With your stakeholders, determine how each measure of success should be measured and set a SMART goal. If the measure of success is “increased sales” will it be measured by region? individual? company wide? Will it be recorded in units? currency? signed contracts?  Will the goal be an increase? a raw number?  a percentage over last period? 
  5. Determine the specific data that is needed to complete each measurement. What is it? Where in the process would it occur? Is it quantitative or qualitative? How might you measure it? Does the measure of success have component points of data that much be collected separately then calculated together? This should be done in an “ideal world” exercise.  Don’t worry about technologies, policies, collection methodologies, etc. at this point. What data would you need to provide the best information possible?

At this point, if not before, I’d stop and let them know that while there is much more beyond this, I’m guessing that their head is reeling.  My point is, it all has to begin with the business purpose behind the initiative which needs to be analyzed down to the data points needed.

The five steps I’ve outlined above, are required if you want to establish valid measurements that meet the business objective(s) of the initiative.  You will have powerful stakeholder buy-in and a foundation for valid and accepted reporting.  You’ll have the basis for ROI figures that are supported by senior management.  You also will be on your way to becoming a trusted business partner.

Determining the data you need to collect before you begin the design phase of your project is crucial, otherwise your design may leave out critical moments that are needed to generate the correct data.

SECRET: You Already Know How to Do This

You are doing stakeholder analysis already.  You’re already talking to your stakeholders doing a needs analysis, you’ll just add a few questions about their dreams and aspirations (and ask them to quantify them if they haven’t already).  You do task analysis of the process to be taught. You’ll add a few columns to your task analysis table for information regarding the related data.  You already know how to set SMART goals.

What do you think? Is this doable? Do you agree that sweating the data is worth it?  What would you change?  Why?  Please add to the conversation in the comment section below.

Top Ten Learning Tools for 2017

It’s time for Jane Hart’s survey of Top Tools for Learning.  My list for 2017 are all tools I use for my personal learning (versus at work or at school – the other two categories Jane aggregates).  I’ve listed 6 new tools in my list.  Probably the biggest “a-ha” is that I’ve now truly joined the Twitterverse.  Twitter has always been near the top of Jane’s aggregated list, but it wasn’t until this year that I finally “got it.”

I’ve also added two “little” tools (Office Lens and Grammarly) that have both had a surprising impact on my learning and work this past year.

My Top Ten Tools for 2017 are (in no particular order):

Here’s Why They are My Top Ten

Twitter – in the past year, Twitter has become one of my most powerful tools. Of course, I share my thoughts and retweet posts by others that I find interesting and relevant to my work.  But this year I’ve been leveraging the lists functionality to create news feeds specific to topics core to my work. (thus far only one is public but I’ll make the others public in the next several weeks or so.)  I have also fallen in love with Tweet Chats. These dynamic forums are dynamite learning experiences. (see my blog post about Tweet Chats).

Diigo – This tool has become the centerpiece of my personal knowledge management process.  The Chrome extension, the live highlighting, and Outliner functionality make it a powerful tool for storing and organizing the content I consume on a daily basis.  I use the Outliners to create the content for the pages in my xAPI Resource Center that appears on neweelearning.com. There’s a nice tool that makes it very simple to post to neweelearning.com an up-to-date list of the most recent items I’ve posted to Diigo.  Feel free to take a look at my library.

WordPress – Is my primary place to consolidate my knowledge and share it with others.  To date, it has been primarily my blogs (now neweelearning.com, previously eelearning.wordpress.com), but I’m about to launch a full website via WordPress.  They have recently made it easier to use 3rd party widgets and themes, which is on my to-do list to explore.

MindMeister – I’ve always liked mind maps for organizing my thoughts and projects and MindMeister has been my favorite tool for some time.  I don’t know how I would do my preparations for the CPLP exams without it.

LinkedIn –  Of course, LinkedIn is still the #1 tool for professional networking.  But the changes to its news feed UI has opened it up to become a great center for professional discussions.  The purchase of Lynda.com and its transformation to LinkedIn Learning has been powerful.  The integration of Slideshare is ok, but could use some work.

Google Drive – While I also use Microsoft OneDrive, I give Google Drive the advantage for a number of reasons.  I find it easier to share documents with others, it’s integration with Docs and Sheets is better (and they are better collaborative tools), and it’s easier to access from any computer.

Google Chrome – In my mind Google Chrome has surpassed Firefox as the best browser out there.  The extensions available to integrate an endless list of tools with your browsing experience makes Chrome a focal point of my online experience.

Microsoft OneNote – My OneNote account has become such a repository of content that I really can’t imagine changing away from it.  It searches tools are solid and it’s easy to move pages, tabs, and notebooks around to reconfigure the content to my liking.  Using IFTTT, I even sync everything I put into Diigo into OneNote automatically.

Microsoft Office Lens – A quirky tool to list, but I love it.  This mobile app enables you to take a picture of a presentation from anywhere in the room and then squares off the resulting image.  It has totally changed my experience of learning in presentations.  You can also “scan” documents without worrying about lining them up perfectly – Office Lens will do that for you.  You can directly save to OneNote, OneDrive, or your device storage.

Grammarly – Another quirky choice, but I have to say this in-the-line-of-work tool has improved my writing over the year that I have been using it.  It’s constant monitoring of everything I type, in just about any environment I’m working, helps assure that my writing is accurate. Because it’s not “autocorrect”,  I’ve found that errors that I had consistently made in the past are things of the past as Grammarly’s gentle coaching has changed my writing behavior.  Grammarly also sends you weekly email reports about your writing and the errors you have made.

Last Year’s Top Ten (repeats in 2017 highlighted)

  • Google Docs and Sheets
  • Google Drive
  • Gmail
  • Feedly
  • Blogs (now listed as WordPress)
  • Powerpoint
  • MindMeister
  • Microsoft OneNote
  • YouTube
  • Internet Search

Docs and Sheets have been subsumed under Google Drive this year.  Honestly, Gmail was victim to wanting to include Office Lens and Grammarly in this year’s list.  Feedly has been replaced by Diigo.  I just haven’t used YouTube as much this year.  In my mind, internet search is now covered under my listing of Google Chrome.

What do you think of my 2017 list?  What would you add?  What tool(s) do you question my inclusion?  Feel free to sound off in the comments below!  (And submit your list at http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/voting/ before September 22 to be included in Jane’s lists!)