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  • The Technology Guy 09:07 on April 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: e-learning, , , , , , ,   

    Reflections from #LSCon 2012 

    I have had a short week to get my feet back under the desk after a whirlwind trip to Orlando.

    Such a great week amongst some of the clever people in our industry, so much to listen to and so much to learn from other’s ideas.

    Of course they tweet the same about being with me and listening to my presentations, I just get embarrassed in the normal way.

    What was clear in this week and in reflection since leaving the hot sun in Florida is that there are a number of interesting changes taking place across the world in T&D. The first is that T&D is on it’s very last legs in large corporations. If you are still working in a department with this name or have a business title of L&D Manager, get ready as sweeping changes will knock you off your feet if you are not ready.

    The changes are a distinct move towards the Business Performance Department, delivering a set of technologies that include training where required but more of acquiring and rolling out technology that assist your workers to make more money for the organisation. The talk in the back rooms and of course on the backchannel were about revenue and profitability, not about good LMS scores or completion rates. Jay Cross almost had it right last year with ‘Work Smarter’ concept but I think in times of economic downturn that we are all experiencing, Work Leaner may have been a better term. But I take my hat off to Jay as he was ahead of the game on this one.

    Those who understand business and how to generate higher revenue through capability and capable staff certainly have the edge. (Check out my paper i2 that was launched at #LSCon which aims to replace ROI with an Incapabiity Index. Paper available at http://www.thelearningcoach.co.uk/media.html)

    The tools being spoken of were more of performance support, remember how that came and went, it was just too early and is making a huge comeback. Other technologies in the frame are those that provide a social lounge for the workforce to talk about what is important to them, where they can dip in and out learning materials and use new concepts like IVR (see http://www.phone2know.com) to deliver contextual information in numerous ways.

    New products were in the expo to deliver to mobile devices, the imminent product from Articulate, Storyline, is the first of a new breed of tools to help deliver this type of learning. I have used the beta of this product, the latest version includes mobile and html5, very exciting prospects for the future.

    The second big thing to come out of #LSCon was the concept of Conversation in learning. I was not the only person presenting or talking of this. Conversation in communication is key to creating a platform where people can learn. The presentation I made ‘Conversational Learning’ is available to watch in a cut down form from http://bit.ly/HesHMt

    I have come home very enthused about this coming year. I have launched a great service at Phone2Know using the latest technologies to add conversation to learning, eLearning, mLearning and delivered as an addition to face to face training. Some cool concepts that will grow over the coming months.

    The next conference I attend is Congreso de Recursos Humanos in Mexico City later this month http://www.congresorh.com.mx/ where I will be presenting what can be achieved using conversation and mobile learning. Then I am onto mLearnCon in San Jose for June to host the Mobile Tools and Tech Stage. By this time we should be seeing some very cool additions to the mobile scene.

    • Aleymi 09:44 on May 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Right on BJ! I also can see mLearning as an additional recourse to classes, instead of printouts that rest in shelves, wouldnt be more useful to provide main ideas in nuggets (memory cards type) that learners could access via cell phone when needed, thus,extending learning beyond classrooms and real performance?

  • The Technology Guy 13:33 on April 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , e-learning, , , ,   

    Stop training your staff – or have you already? 

    The Truth- like it or not – measurable income from day-one!

    In times of economic downturn the first budget often to get hit is the training budget.  Of course trainers will say this is short sighted, however the truth is that like it or not, training is a cost. The feeling from the people holding the money strings is, there is no tangible income one can attribute directly to training.


    There have been too many promises, especially with eLearning spanning almost 20 years, which have not really delivered. The board is no longer interested in this magical fix and therefore the capital expenditure willing to be made in years gone past, is no longer available. Your budget has just become a part of someone else’s budget.  Time to turn that around, don’t you think?


    We can fool ourselves and you can think Kirkpatrick, however Kirkpatrick never wrote a single word about ROI.  What is thought of as Kirkpatrick level 5 was written by Jack Phillips of the ROI Institute and don’t get me wrong, it’s a great set of tools to evaluate training already delivered, with 3000 people having spent good money to get accredited in how to calculate it.


    Bob Mosher wrote in CLO Magazine:


    … the journey to true ROI is actually divided into two parts:

    • Mastery, or a learner’s ability to demonstrate gained knowledge.

    • Competency, or a learner’s ability to effectively apply what they’ve learned to their job or work environment.



    I have been pushing the three stages of real learning as ‘Information – Comprehension – Application’ not too dissimilar from my esteemed friend.


    Both of these views however are quite clearly after the event. So promising an ROI to your purse string holder, before you start out on the road to delivery, is as far as they are concerned, a bit of a long shot.


    Further we have seen huge cuts in staffing levels in some industries.  Public Sector in the UK has reduced by a factor of 10 in some departments.  Let’s face the truth; there is just very little money to spend on new training at the moment.


    So how do we convince the stakeholders that there will be a measurable return? That we can offer training that will hit a spot so directly that they will be able to measure the income from day one?


    Measurable Return

    Now my title today may seem somewhat controversial.

    Stop training your staff: or have you already?

    Before I explain, I want to be upfront and say the concept I offer does not work across the board, (this won’t work in system training, but for that I have alternative views) but there are real places where it can be invaluable and can turn an intangible training cost into a measurable return. 


    Shall I say the heading again a little louder so the boss can hear it? Yes I did say ‘measurable return’ on every penny you put into your new-style training budget.


    There will be some pain of course with some not so simple changes, more like sweeping change to be honest. That probably sounds scary, but the time has come that we all need to make big changes and if we are going to do so, then why not just do it once and properly. These changes are easily manageable and should start to show results very quickly.



    Stop training your staff


    Yes you heard me, I am not crazy, why train your staff when you can spend the valuable budget to train your potential clients instead?


    The scenario…


    Consider what would happen if your clients or potential clients had available to them everything they needed to know about your product or services, really understood them and were willing to apply them to their own businesses? You would make a sale! Would you need to provide anything else to your own staff other than the same material and a backchannel for communication?


    For those of you who knee jerked and said, ‘don’t be ridiculous, of course you need to train your staff more fully…’   let me give you a couple of examples of customer training with measurable outcome.


    First let’s take a look at Apple Inc. and namely the recent launch of iPad2.


    • Apple staff had no sight of the product or any more details than the general public until the day of release.
    • Apple started an educational rumour machine some weeks earlier with what became general knowledge on the release date.
    • The papers, magazines, websites all had details of what the pundits and media commentators thought the new product would contain.
    • On release day Steve Jobs stood up in his black shirt with blue jeans and told the world what it already knew.
    • On the day the product hit the shops, they queued from 2am outside most stores.


    Not one of the people in the line was there to ask about the CPU, they all knew it was the A5. (who cared what an A5 was or what it did, but it had one and they knew it)


    None of the people in the line were there to ask about resolution, memory, carrier, Smart  Cover  or anything else about the product.


    They were in the line to purchase a product (or even two) they had never even seen.  Each and every one was so happy when they found out they were to get one of these products, some jumped for joy.  Three weeks later the lines still continued with arguments outside shops on a daily basis.


    Could Apple Inc., measure the success of their client-training program? You bet they could. They did no other form of actual advertising before release.


    Apple Inc., sold 1.7 million iPhone 4’s in the first 3 days and 3 million iPad 2’s in the first month. (They would have sold twice that number if they could have made them)


    Compare this to Motorola’s Xoom Android tablet, hoping to topple iPad’s supremacy, advertised with normal old fashioned techniques, which was outsold some say by 260:1 in the first 3 days.  Not heard of a Xoom?  Think I may have proved a point!


    Second, let’s take a look at Toyota in the USA.


    Their site is very clever. It is based on a good old CMS and some cleverly designed learning material.


    When you go to the ‘build a car’ part of the site, you are first asked for your zip code. Then you choose your course…  sorry car type…


    You then follow through the material and make some choices. Engine type, Colour, Trim, Extras…  The whole time the car is being graphically built, you are given information and explanations of the benefits of each area and the price is being shown.  You learn all about hybrid, and other technical terms and all of this from your armchair at home.


    At the end of the course, sorry sales pitch, you are given a quote for your car, and asked for your personal details. You then choose your nearest dealer and book the experiential test drive at your selection from given times and dates.


    Sounds like a fun interactive site? Yes it is, I learned loads about a Toyota.


    Well there is more to it than you see on the surface. The salesman is ready for you when you arrive.  He knows from the reporting of the CMS, or was it a LMS?, exactly what you looked at, engine type, trim, colour etc..  Bet your bottom dollar that exact vehicle is sitting outside the showroom, engine warmed up ready for your experience. The print out he has from your visit to the LMS shows the dealer everything they already taught you. What you looked at , the decisions you made, how you reduced the cost by taking out the things you may have wanted but could not afford. All he has to do is let you drive it and talk about finance options. While showing you all those lovely extras you already removed for the upsell.


    How did the dealer learn about the car? Using the very same software you did online.  How do I know? I was involved in the building of very similar software for another Japanese carmaker.


    Two different scenarios of learning, and both very measurable in sales, profit to the bottom line of the company. This is what the CFO is after when you want a slice of the budget. Some have forgotten, we go to work – to work, not just to do eLearning and become more efficient!


    So what’s the change? Seven steps to success…


    Time to be a little controversial for some, for others this may be the breath of fresh air you have been waiting for.



    1. Resource Identification. The people in your organisation best suited to creating materials for customers, from which they learn about your products and services, are not the marketing or sales department. It is the training department. This department spends all day creating learning so others are better informed, have comprehension and can apply what they have learned. Typically today the sales and marketing is conducted by people with no knowledge of how to transfer learning in this way. Identify those who will make the best team.
    2. Move your trainers. Move this team from your training department now under the control of HR to be under the control of MarCom. This is the area where customer-facing material is made and they will have a very different input and budget to HR.
    3. Decide your assessment tool. The methods you are going to assess results of your new customer training are very important. Consider at this early stage the methods you will use to prove success of your material. This type of training is measure in real results not numbers completing courses.
    4. New techniques require new methodology. Delivering material to the end user or potential customer requires a slight change in mindset for the trainer. New instructional design techniques and knowledge will be required. Give your team the education they need.
    5. Understand the user. The expectation of the user is going to be different to that of a staff member and you need to understand the user from a sales and marketing place. So spend some time to identify who the user is. Working under MarCom will give you a wealth of information in this area that already exists and was never used by the training department before. However remember, the end user will learn in exactly the same way.
    6. Make your LMS friendly and exciting. Your LMS was probably designed for internal staff, it looks and feels like a learning space. The front end and delivery needs to reflect who is receiving the content. Go look at Toyota’s site, you would never believe you were on the front edge of a LMS.
    7. Don’t forget your staff. Your staff still needs to learn from the same material, they need to know what the client or potential customer is finding out. Use their questions to tailor a backchannel and offer them the social links required to discuss the content and clients methods of using the content, without too much restriction.







    The truth is already out there, however we can continue to bury our heads in the sand or we can become proactive to make change. We are all aware that there is a vast difference between training and learning and not everything can be delivered so the user self learns. We still need to deliver training, many are returning to what I heard referred to as ‘old fashioned’ training. How funny they were considering reusing the classroom. Some of us never stopped!


    We must be willing to accept that we have all made mistakes by trying to cut costs and create cheaper delivery. It has been one of the biggest selling points over the last 10 years.


    We have to accept that lower budgets should not mean poorer content. The statistics available from end users is quite clear as to what they like and what they do not. What they will spend time doing and what they consider is a waste of time. Look at this information and make great decisions for the future.


    Understand how your clever competition will make use of tools you have already in your procession and turn these tools to work for you to create a measurable return on your investment in your business, be it by starting with those who bring the money in or not.


    Have you stopped training your staff? Are you ready to start now?



  • The Technology Guy 15:16 on February 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: e-learning, , , , , , ,   

    Finally fixed my blog… 

    Oh boy, got hacked, lost a couple of posts and then everything redirected to a chinese website.

    I am honoured that they thought my lille ol blog was worth hacking.

    Back to blogging tomorrow….

  • The Technology Guy 07:42 on October 13, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: e-learning, , Leaning, social networking,   

    How many tweets make overload? 

    I’ve been looking at Twitter as a learning tool. Convinced that there is some way we really can make this tool work for us and not just as a noise that gets in the way.

    This morning a well know US pundit started to follow me after a post I made that they obviously liked. I was astonished to see they were following over 3000 others.

    So I started to look at everyone and how many they were following, was I lacking in playing this game, not following enough and therefore missing something?

    Some stats!

    British gurus seem to follow far less than our US peers.

    The average guru here follows less that 200 people, in the USA it averages at almost 1000.

    I saw 127 tweets in the last 24 hours and I follow 60 people. So my hypothesis is that there is a 2:1 ratio of how many tweets you see to how many people you follow. Love to know if anyone can confirm this!

    With that in mind, the guru following 3200 people must see 6400 tweets every 24 hours. Whoa!

    I spend about 15 minutes, 4 times a day looking at twitter and following the odd link I find interesting. 1 hour a day. So another off the wall calculation says 1 minute per person being followed per day?

    So for the guru following 3200 people they need to spend 53 hours a day to get the same level of information as I do from Twitter.

    Some others I looked at!

    Donald Clark, following 47. 47 minutes very manageable.

    David Wilson following 162, does David spend 2.5 hours a day on Twitter?

    Clive Shepherd follows 190. 3 hours a day? Maybe!

    At what level does it get to be unmanageable? How many is too many to be able to see all of the information?

    And, if we just skim the information, what do we miss and/or learn incorrectly!

    If we want to use tools like Twitter in the workplace, can we limit the number of people our staff follow.

    My crazy calculations would suggest an 8 hour day is equal to following 480 people and doing no work!

    Have I got it wrong….

    • Liz Cable 08:04 on October 13, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Neil,

      There’s some Twitter stats included in my blog post at http://www.reachfurther.com/2009/09/22/dont-twitter-just-tweet.

      Unfortunately its very difficult to split out the Uk from the US statistics.

      I think the point you are missing is that Twitter is like a restaurant. You go in and start a conversation with friends who happen to be there. If there is someone you know who isn’t there, it doesn’t matter. There’s no obligation for them to catch up on missed tweets.

      Twitter is an instant tool, unlike email or linkedin messages, there’s no assumed obligation to respond. You are either online at the time, or you’re not.

      If however someone leaves me a message – via an @reply or a direct message (DM) – then I can pick it up next time I’m in, and respond then, if appropriate.

      While I’m in the restaurant, I can listen in on other peoples conversations, and if I like what they’re saying, I can join their table and
      join in. Getting some new friends and followers along the way.

      And when you follow lots of people, that’s when you start using the tools to help – like tweetdeck, refollow and socialoomph. For example, tweetdeck allows you to divide learners into cohorts so you can follow the groups conversations easily.

      So in conclusion, I spend about half an hour on twitter a day – this updates my facebook, linkedin, website and other profiles – as well as the social interaction, so its time well spent. 🙂

    • Clive Shepherd 12:11 on October 13, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Well I may follow 190, but I doubt if I spend more than 15 minutes a day on Twitter. Most tweets pass me by. I’m only guaranteed to look at replies and direct messages. Having said that I do find the process useful both for disseminating information and finding interesting stuff from others.

    • Mike Morrison 12:40 on October 18, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Hi, great blog
      I have a few more followers and following than most – but to me its about 2 main factors, which are unique for each user of this medium:
      1) why tweet? – what is your goal or business objective?
      2) what is your personal objective?

      I use a lot of different software solutions to help me find content I am interested in – so for me investment in designing the ‘tool’ pays off in less time on the solution.

      It also depends what your purpose of tweeting is for.
      Like Liz I use my tweets to drive LinkedIn and other vehicles – I get more from the other channels than i do directly from twitter – but twitter is a useful starting point – one which can ‘fan out’


    • Jacks 19:32 on November 4, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks! The site has very much liked. Tell, I can use this material in our magazine? We guarantee the royalties!

    • mark oehlert 13:09 on November 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      hi Neil!

      Lovely meeting you in person at #dl09 last week. Really looking forward to being over on your side on the Pond in January.

      I think of Twitter like a river. If I go down to the river every day and take a drink, I don’t lament the water that passes me by when I’m not there. I also don’t worry about the size of the river – I just drink what I need.

      Twitter and its kin are not like email. I like Liz’s example above – I kinda use a cocktail party to the same end. These are conversations and they swirl and eddy.

      I also think while tools like Tweetdeck and Seesmic can configure these conversations in more granular ways, the network itself is my main filter. I follow about 1500 people but I’m followed by about 2500 people – these two groups and the asymetric follow that they create provides-for me anyway-a filtering network that not so much keeps things out but rather ensures that if I miss something important-the network will swing it back around again until I catch it.

      Make any sense?

    • Michelle Lentz 15:12 on November 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I know you kept after me about this last week, but I hold that it works for me. I’m following around 500, followed by over 2500. My 500 number increases after each conference as well.
      Now, I always check my replies and Direct Messages, but aside from that, I suscribe to Mark’s theory above.

      In one of my classes, a student had a fantastic analogy for Twitter. Her grandmother would turn the TV on a news station every morning and then go about her day. Occasionally, grandma would stop in the living room and see what was happening on the news. The tv was contstantly providing information, but she only paid attention when it was convenient for her.

      That’s exactly how I use Twitter. I “pass through,” and don’t have to be there for every piece of information. It’s information when I want it. Do I miss things? Sure, but if they’re important, they’ll make their way back to me the same way headline news loops its feed.

      Cheers, and it was so wonderful to see you last week. I do miss you!

    • Stephen Martin 16:06 on November 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply


      Pleasure meeting you in person at DevLearn.

      I concur with the comments above and would add to Mark’s comment that the network is the filter. If something rises to the level of being “important” I expect that it will gain some life of it’s own and rise to the surface through retweets and discussion. Using Michelle’s student’s analogy, if it’s just filler on the news channel, it will pass by into the ether. But if it’s important news, you can bet it will be running on the ticker and get repeated every five minutes as breaking news.

    • Steve Howard 16:40 on November 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Columns in TweetDeck make sorting that river into multiple streams of greater or lesser interest really easy. I sort into topics – Adobe, eLearning, Tech, Local etc – then dip in and out of each as I feel like it. Makes for faster/easier scanning, ultimately.

      I also add search columns for various reasons, including conference hashtags, like #dl09 🙂

      I used to have to see every Tweet, but like others here, I can dip in and out to suit myself now. I still learn oodles and get plenty of valuable content. Like Mark Oehlert said, if it’s important and I miss it, it will come back around.

      The biggest downside I see of Twitter is that I tend to surround myself with like-mined people. That means I probably miss some of the more important contrary viewpoints, but I have other resources for those – falling short of buddy-boy Rush L 🙂

    • Neil Lasher 17:41 on November 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I think all your points are great.

      As I said in San Jose, I am the antagonist and I am pleased to have stated this thread.

      You all make very valid points, Mark’s about re-tweeting is very true. There needs to be a best practice on how to use this type of data so that we can educate the masses, by doing this the corporate will eventually embrace social media systems.

      Based on what I learned at DevLearn from networking with others, I am now doing some different research to see if I can argue my own points….

      Keep posting…

      Thanks N

    • Paul Simbeck-Hampson 20:21 on December 6, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Nice blog post, did make me grin.

      I use a nice piece of software for twitter stats called TFF Ratio which calculates your statistics and gives you a rating based on a number of seemingly simple factors…and what’s great about it, you can’t cheat!

      I find it to be quite accurate, in-fact, I think it should be included within every profile allowing users to asses whether they really do want to follow or not.

      I’ve used this tool recently to reconsider my own Twittering strategy (I’m still quite new, but learning quickly!). I’m actually still optimising days later!!! Quality, Integrity, Community and Honesty are now my no.1 concern and are far more important than how many thousands of marketeers are trying to sell you, or worse, your community, something.

      Best regards

    • Darrell Dellajacono 10:29 on March 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you! I definitely desired to indicate in my site.

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