Thesis v1: Bespoke elearning will never be produced by robots. Artificial intelligence is simply not going to replace the blood, sweat and tears of instructional designers, graphic designers, developers and project managers.
And when it does, we will find other things for them to do.
Let me explain. An algorithm can put text and pictures together and format them. An algorithm can assemble meaningful questions from raw content. In other words, an algorithm can probably do what a bad instructional designer or a bad elearning developer can do.
But the algorithm cannot choose the best picture. The algorithm cannot devise the right question. It cannot do what a good instructional designer can do. And as soon as it can, the good instructional designer will go one better.
I’m being deliberately contradictory. And this blog post is not the place to solve the conundrum of what endows a digital object with value. But I suspect it’s human effort, not software.
Four surprising reasons why you need to personalise absolutely everything (and see my session at the ELN conference)!
On 11 November at the exciting and brand new eLearning Network Conference I’m going to be giving a session entitled: “The tyranny of Taylorism and the digital citizen: a manifesto for a brave new kind of learning and performance environment” as part of Stream 1. “Strategy and Tactics for Digital Learning”. It is going to be a belter.
Not just because of my aggressive presentation style, but also because it’s the second session of the morning – just when the audience’s first strong cup of coffee usually kicks in.
My manifesto is directed primarily at a man – F. W. Taylor – who died exactly 100 years ago. His famous theories on manufacturing efficiency are, of course, obsolete, long since replaced by better ones like Kaizen.
But Taylor’s ghost lives on the Human Resources practices that his pseudo-scientific management theory gave birth to. They stopped building cars like Taylor thought we should decades ago. But we still build the kind of learning programmes and learning software he would appreciate.
It’s all summed up in his phrase: “the one best way”: everyone has a separate goal, and there’s one best way to achieve it.
So he wouldn’t like personalisation. Because personalisation requires the opposite: everyone shares the same goal, but there’s no best way to achieve it.
I can’t possibly hope to explain myself without a list of four surprising reasons which miraculously came to me whilst I was putting my slides together.
So here we go with my preview: four reasons why you need to personalise absolutely everything (“everything!?” I hear you cry). Yep, you heard me: everything.
A recent email campaign from our friends over at Training Industry promises big things from small learning:
“Microlearning is a training method that solves the challenges of aligning and educating organizations in the 21st century. Carefully designed 60- to 90-second lessons deliver content in bite-size pieces to increase learner consumption, retention, and performance gains. In an era of shrinking attention spans and rapid technological change, microlearning is the most effective way for organizations to give their employees the skills they need.”
(If you don’t have time to read this whole article, jump to the summary)
I think the idea of micro-learning is pretty great for learners, for designers, and for stakeholders. And we are big exponents of ‘quick’ here at Saffron. Over the years our typical unit has got shorter, the amount of text on the screen has fallen, the platforms have got snappier, and the devices themselves have got smaller.
This reflects the way the digital environment is changing our brains and it’s no bad thing.
But the radical proposition of replacing everything with “carefully designed 60- to 90-second lessons” is even more alluring. Learners like it because it sounds short. Designers like it because it sounds quick to make. Stakeholders like it because it sounds cheaper.
When was the last time you spent a day without receiving any performance feedback?
I don’t mean just at work (that was probably quite recently). I mean generally.
Such as: when was the last time you walked down a street with no awareness of how you were affecting other pedestrians, motorists… street furniture? Or how about the last time you received no ‘performance feedback’ at all from a nagging partner about an annoying habit you have? Or the last time someone rolled their eyes instead of chuckling at your particularly dull anecdote and you completely ignored the put-down, and told another boring story? Without the vital impact of performance feedback in the latter two cases you would be a very lonely human. And in the first case, you would more than likely be a very dead one too.
Saffron’s free, interactive seminar with IBC takes place in Theatre 1 at 10.15am on 28 January at the Learning Technologies exhibition.
I like to think that 2015 is the year that most of us realised we were now, in fact, living in the future. As I drunkenly yelled for several hours on New Year’s Eve, 2015 is in fact ‘the future’ of Back To The Future.
Lists. Often when talking to clients about designing a dashboard for an LMS, we have to gently remind them that ‘at the end of the day, guys, it’s just a list’. A list of courses, a list of action points, a list of statuses or a list of things to do. That’s not a bad thing, as lists are also deeply satisfying things – they are how we throw a hoop around our complex lives so we can sit back and say: ‘that’s under control.’ And as BuzzFeed’s success demonstrates, absolutely any content is immediately more appealing if it’s in a numbered list.
On Tuesday I was invited to attend the Parliamentary launch of a new report which has found that that our failure to fully address perinatal mental health problems carries a total economic and social long-term cost to society of over £8 billion for each one-year cohort of births in the UK. Of that, £1.7 billion is borne directly by the public sector. It would cost a mere £337 million to raise perinatal mental health care standards to recommended levels.
This post is part of a sequence of articles which draw upon a book called the Six Disciplines of Breakthough Learning. This month, I’m exploring one of my favourite chapters: Deliver for application. The most prescient part of this chapter is all about reflection, a key to retention which all too often we do not retain! To understand why it’s so important, we first need to revisit some fundamentals.
Missed Saffron’s free seminar at the Learning Technologies Summer Forum last month? Don’t worry! A full recording, with all the slides, has now been posted.
In February I reflected on the Learning Technologies Exhibition 2014 with a post called ‘Design the complete experience’. Thinking about the end-to-end learner experience was a major theme of the show, and my title was inspired by the continuing relevance of The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning, which was first published in 2006 and republished in 2010. The idea behind this book is to provide a toolkit for learning professionals who want to design programmes that make a genuine business impact, summarised in the six ‘Ds’.
To coincide with Ragnarok, the predicted Viking apocalypse, on 22 February 2014 (along with Viking events up and down the country) Saffron Interactive asked leading members of the learning and development community to tell us what they thought (or hoped) would be wiped out in 2014.
Recently I’ve been rereading The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning, first published in 2006. It’s a fantastic toolkit for learning professionals who want to design programmes which make a genuine business impact. Pleasingly iconoclastic, the book challenges some of the bad habits and received wisdom which limit the scope of our ambitions. Most importantly, it also offers an easy-to-use framework for implementing breakthrough learning strategies. Those tools can be summarised in the six disciplines, as follows.
It’s probably time to abandon those New Year’s Resolutions….Researchers believe that Ragnarok, the Viking apocalypse, is finally happening on 22nd February – just one short month away. Suitably inspired, we decided to find out what the L&D community felt (or hoped) would be the biggest L&D ‘extinction event’ of 2014.
If you were a Viking, right now you’d be sharpening your best sword in preparation for the end of the world! Experts at the Jorvik Viking Centre in York believe that Ragnarok (which translates in modern English as the ‘Doom of the Gods’ and inspired Wagner’s climactic opera, Gotterdammerung) is finally happening on 22nd February – just one short month away.
In a recent post, I mentioned that the order of the training transaction is currently the wrong way around. We treat learners as passive consumers, and don’t recognise their potential as producers. It’s an idea which is underlined in an excellent recent post by Steve Wheeler, from whom I’ve borrowed the first part of my title (although I suspect that Walter Benjamin got there first). Wheeler points out that.
The ‘endowment effect’ is the well-known theory in behavioural economics that a sense of ownership makes a big difference to how we think and act. On a transactional level, it means that people will pay more to retain something they already own than to obtain something similar which is owned by someone else even when there is no real cause for attachment. Put simply, a coffee cup becomes more valuable when it is my coffee cup.
As reported in the Metro last week, the latest figures from the National Office of Statistics show that a record one in five Britons is suffering from anxiety or depression. Mental health is now a national emergency. Taboos and stigma (which are often promoted by organisational culture) may prevent us talking about the problem, but they don’t alleviate the harm it causes.
These days, whizz-bang platforms in the world of e-learning are aplenty. The problem is that great content isn’t. In fact, the typical experience of e-learning content remains so negative that to many outsiders the word itself seems somehow doom-laden and ill-fated. (Forget this preconception at your peril, by the way.)
Prejudice against those experiencing mental health problems is rife. In one study, 58 per cent of people felt unfairly treated by mental health staff. Yet one in four people will experience significant mental distress at some point in their lives. Now Saffron Interactive is helping Amnesty International Ireland produce a remarkable e-learning course to change things for the better.
Last night’s Learning Awards saw Saffron Interactive win the coveted award for the second time in four years – the only e-learning provider ever to do so. Beating stiff competition from Mind Click, Dell and Unicorn Training, Saffron’s Moira Nicolson took the prize for an extraordinary e-learning course on mental resilience created for Transport for London.
This week Saffron Interactive explains the methodology behind a forty minute e-learning course on mental resilience which delivered a £7.8 million return on investment for Transport for London.
Paul MacCartney speaking for Saffron Interactive at Learning Technologies Conference 2013.
What is crowdsourcing and what does it mean for your organisation? Paul MacCartney, former president of global talent development company MindLeaders, will answer this question when he speaks on behalf of Saffron Interactive at the Learning Technologies Conference on 29 January 2013.
This year the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) tightened up its guidelines to prosecuting the Bribery Act 2010. This means that as Christmas gifts begin to arrive, so does the threat of unwelcome legal action. Saffron Interactive, a provider of premium Bribery Act training, is warning businesses not to be complacent.
It’s that time of year again. Good food, apocalyptic weather, spending time with the family and finally getting the tablet you’ve been dreaming about. But it can also be a risky time for many organisations. Putting the office party compliance ‘nightmare before Christmas’ to one side, there also is the issue of bribery.
‘It’s about making a difference’ says Saffron Interactive designer shortlisted for Learning Awards 2013
Moira Nicolson of Saffron Interactive has been shortlisted for ‘Instructional designer of the year’ at next year’s Learning Awards for designing a course on mental resilience with Transport for London (TfL). The award recognises the instructional designer behind the most ‘innovative learning intervention’ which delivers a ‘demonstrable performance improvement.’
I hear that, day by day, the popularity of Moodle is spreading further. In Paraguay, doodling schoolchildren are building custom analogue model Moodles (think pulleys, index cards and paperclips) and there are rumours that in Poland the first Moodle-for-monks is being developed (on a completely silent server).
Dynamic… end to end… pro active… imagineer… synergy… innovate… synnovate. In the technology business, when you can justifiably use one (or all) of these words in a sentence you know you are doing a good job.
A lot of people in e-learning and beyond have been asking us about Moodlerecently. They’re curious about this funny word because what was once a little-known verb is now a global movement: forty million users in 216 countries and fifteen books written about how to use it so far. And it’s no longer just universities, colleges and schools which are using Moodle-based online learning environments. Increasingly, the corporate LMS is a Moodle-based LMS.