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.


Bots, Bots, Everywhere Bots

John Bruner, O’Reilly Media, does a nice job in his article Bots: What you need to know of providing a real beginner’s look at what bots are, how they are being deployed, and what role they will play in the near future

Much like Robot from Lost in Space, these bots are ready and able to have conversations with us, answer customer service questions, look up information based on our location, and other AI enabled feats of magic.  But unlike Robot, they don’t have tractor treads for getting around and a glass dome with whirling thingamabobs for a brain.

No, these bots are invisible, but ever-present in tools we are already using.  Slack and What’s App have a veritable army of bots to meet various needs.  Siri and Cortana are super bots.

Bots use artificial intelligence to converse in human terms, usually through a lightweight messaging interface like Slack or Facebook Messenger, or a voice interface like Amazon Echo or Google Assistant.

Bruner points to three use cases that bots may have a significant impact on: Customer Relationship Management, Productivity, and Publishing and Entertainment.

To those, I would add workplace learning (well any learning, I blog about workplace).  A bot could be created to help employees find the right resource in a curated library.  Another could be programmed to understand the process and activities of an onboarding program to help keep new employees on track and help them find important resources and people.

There are numerous tools designed to make building bots easy.

Microsoft’s Clippy was born in 2003.

Bots can be the ultimate guide on the side.  Always waiting for that moment to cheerfully chime in.  Hard to believe that the natural language conversational bots of today owe their heritage to Microsoft’s Clippy.

Hopefully, none of today’s bots will be as annoying as Clippy was!

What do you think?  Are Learning Bots part of our future?  Where would you deploy bots in your learning ecosystems?  What potential efficiencies do imagine they could drive?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.  And don’t forget to share this post, if you found it helpful.

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.


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.

Do As Marketing Does – Part 3 Channels

It is very clear that the changes that will impact learning and development in 2017 and beyond will require very different skills than what we depended upon in the past.   We need to look to other fields for practices we can borrow.  Learning from our colleagues will not only accelerate our abilities to serve our learners and organizations better, but the collaboration will enhance our efforts to integrate with the businesses we serve.

In 6 Things That Learning Professionals Can Learn from Marketers, Todd Kasenberg provides ideas that we can learn from our colleagues in Marketing.  I think he’s dead on with these suggestions.  The 6 things are:

  1. Address learner motivations to get engagement
  2. Be relevant
  3. Get your channels right
  4. Manage cognitive load
  5. Get then trying out (“trialling”) behaviors quickly
  6. Anticipate and handle the objections

Over the next six days, I’m going to flesh out each of these topics and how they fit into the work we do in Learning and Development.

Get your channels right

Marketers know that you match the message to the stage of the buying cycle, and then figure out what channels will get the message delivered most effectively. There are whole toolsets that help marketers figure out “channels” and “channel enablement”.

Kasenberg isn’t very articulate in making his point on this concept, but he’s right.  Marketing, particularly social media marketing, has the understanding to deep drill on customer data to understand which channels speak to each customer.  We all witness now with the ads that are delivered to us in every online environment we work in.

The know the right time to post the right content to the right sites to enhance their exposure to the right customers.  Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer help them schedule engagements with their customers.

L&D understands that there are multiple channels to deliver.  A recent #lrnchat Twitter Chat was dedicated to discussing how multiple channels will impact our work in 2017.  But many of us have fallen into an assumption that delivering to multiple channels means delivering the same content to each channel so that learners will have the same experience regardless of how they access it.

I believe this is missing the mark.  I blame part of it on responsive design efforts that assure content renders well on any device – desktop, tablet or phone.  When content needs to be rendered across all platforms, responsive design is awesome.  But not all content needs to be rendered across all platforms.

Devices aren’t the only channels available to us.  Email, enterprise social networks, communities of practice, newsletters, manager’s team messages, any form of communication in the organization could be a channel for learning.

We need to get to a point where we develop our learning experiences to be multi-modal delivering different bits of content, assessment, review, and reinforcement in different channels that we know will have the best possible impact.  Imagine if we created a microlearning module on team communication and used the company calendaring system to know when each individual was heading into a team meeting and sent the module to them 1/2 an hour before their meeting.

There are folks like Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping and Catherine Lombardozzi’s Learning Environment Design Framework that are leading the way, but overall we have much to learn and our social media marketing colleagues have solutions that we should be borrowing.

Next: Do as Marketing Does – Part 4  Manage Cognitive Load

What do you think?

  • Do you use multiple channels to drive learning?  Which ones?
  • What’s the coolest experience you’ve had using non-standard channels?

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Leading the Target: Challenges for 2017

Having grown up in a hunting family, Bill Brandon’s article in Learning Solutions Magazine entitled Leading the Target: Challenges for 2017 caught my attention.  His forecast for 2017 is on the mark.

When you are seeking to hit a moving target with a rifle or bow and arrow, the first thing you are taught is that you must “lead the target.”  If you aim for where the target is when you fire, your shot will be woefully behind the target when it gets there.

If there were ever a moving target in Learning and Development, what we will need to accomplish in 2017 is one.  Brandon points out that while the challenges we face are not new to us, the coming year will be focused on 4 key topics:

  • Learning Analytics
  • Bring Your Own Device and Security
  • Authoring Tools
  • Accessibility

They are being enabled and/or changed by a number of innovations in concepts and technologies:

  • xAPI and cmi5
  • The “realities”: virtual, augmented, mixed
  • Cloud uses for learning
  • Multimodal learning
  • Mobile microlearning
  • Spaced learning
  • Personas

And for good measure, he throws in the fact that the Gig Economy will likely be a disrupting factor in how we go about doing all of this.

I’m in agreement with Brandon in both the fact that none of this is new.  But I also agree that all of this coming together is going to make 2017 a difficult year to hit this moving target.

2017 is going to be all about agility.

Take a look at your personal learning network now.

  •  Are you in touch with the thought leaders in your areas of specialization?
  •  Do you know how the concepts and technologies mentioned above will impact your work?
  • What do you need to learn to be better prepared?

Don’t look at what is being done today.  Lead your target so that you’ll be ready to do what needs to be done tomorrow.

The Role of Humans in the Future of Work

This past July, McKinsey published Where machines could replace humans—and where they can’t (yet),an article on its automation study, which examined the technical feasibility of automating 7 different occupational activities. (The results are presented as a percentage of the time spent in these activities that can ben automated by current technologies):

  • Predictable physical work in e.g., manufacturing, packaging, warehousing, food service: 78% automatable;
  • Data Processing, e.g., billing, payroll processing, bookkeeping, insurance underwriting, delivery route optimization  69% automatable;
  • Data collection, e.g., customer and product info, maps and addresses, health insurance claims, 64% automatable;
  • Unpredictable Physical work  e.g., construction, trash collection, agriculture: 25% automatable;
  • Stakeholder interactions, e.g., customer service, personal financial advising. patient care: 20% automatable;
  • Expertise in decision making, planning, creative tasks, e.g., scientific and technical services, goal setting, education leadership,: 18% automatable;
  • Managing others, e.g., management, law enforcement, social services, educational: 9% automatable;

While there are other factors involved in what is automated and how much of a particular job can be, this data, along with a myriad of similar reports on the future of work, clearly demonstrates that there is a large amount of work that humans currently do that will be done by machines in the near future.  Jobs will disappear, others will be radically changed, and there will be new jobs needing new skills.

Last week, Dataconomy.com posted AI is Disrupting Everything and These 3 Industries are Next that discusses how some of these changes are happening already.

So what does this mean for Learning and Development professionals?  How do we prepare individuals and organizations for a world that is changing this radically, this fast?

Ross Dawson, a futurist who writes and speaks on the impact of technology and social networks, has developed a Framework: The role of Humans in the Future of Work in which he differentiates what work will be done by machines in the future and what will remain uniquely human.   Expertise, Relationships, and Creativity are the broad catchalls that define the capabilities that Dawson sees as uniquely human.  The framework also addresses the structure of work.  Many of these concepts are part of every day conversations amongst L&D folks:

    Machine-human complementarity
    Fluid work roles
    Location independence
    Serendipitous connections
    Job sharing
    Emergent collaboration
    Continuous learning
    Analytics feedback loops
    Aligned values
    Diverse perspectives
    Ad-hoc networks
    Internal work markets
    Culture of participation
    Mutual trust development
    External work ecosystems
    Open peer communication

I believe the L&D community is aggressively driving the items I’ve highlighted in blue through various initiatives like communities of practice, social learning, working out loud, personal learning networks, learner-generated content, collaborative learning, 70:20:10, personal knowledge mastery, etc.

While the challenge that we are faced with is daunting and will create a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety in the workforce, I believe that our profession is poised to lead the necessary change to adapt to the future of work.

I’d love to hear your perspective on all of this.  Please comment below.

A New View through Social Learning

On this cloudy day in Chicago, a ray of sunshine came bursting through my Feedly list of readings to catch up on. In Social Learning: A Window Into What’s Really Going on in Your Business, I was expecting to hear how Big Brother can keep an eye on all the minions in the organization.

Instead, Janet Lanee Effron outlines three positive outcomes that can be gathered now with  the advent of xAPI and social learnings tools: Continue reading “A New View through Social Learning”

Adaptive LearnERS, not LearnING

In an interview with EdSurge ‘Our Technology Is Our Ideology’: George Siemens on the Future of Digital Learning, George Siemens discusses his belief that the current emphasis amongst edtech companies and universities on better and better adaptive learning tools is a wrong direction.  These tools are helping students to execute learning routines that won’t be needed in the future as machines take on more and more processes for us.  He argues learners need to prepare for careers that employ uniquely human traits like self-regulation and communication. Creativity, complex problem-solving and coordinating with others are examples of the skills needed.  There is greater detail on George’s Blog elearnspace.org.

But let me tell you about one of my personal stories that led me to believing in this new world of digital, networked learning. Continue reading “Adaptive LearnERS, not LearnING”

Where are the learners?

In a post on elearningindustry.com, Kali Blunt outlines her Top 4 Reasons Your Workplace Needs Social And Collaborative Learning Technologies.

  1. Support virtual teams
  2. Provide a centralized content repository
  3. The ability to support and track informal as well as formal learning
  4. Connecting people through communities

My second biggest issue with this, and many other justifications for learning technologies (social and non-social), is that the argument is tool and functionality focused.

LMS’s are great because they can track grades and attendance.  I’m sorry, Miss Hull did just fine without an LMS when I was in 4th grade. Continue reading “Where are the learners?”