Thursday, February 26, 2015

Let's improve our learning language as learning professionals

If the Sami eskimos have 180 words for snow - how come we as learning professionals have only one word for learning? OK, we have learning and development (L&D) so we have two words. I think we are way too sloppy in talking about learning. Improving our language- being more precise- would help advance the practice. I understand why the Dutch have only one word for snow, because we had only one day of snow this year (see picture) and rather thinnish..  but why do we keep on talking about learning without being precise what we are talking about?

Why this idea about sloppy language? I am currently in the Exploring Social Learning MOOC by Curatr and it is great. It is the first MOOC which keeps me engaged because of the content and the people (and the leadership board?). There are many interesting articles and videos to explore, including the twitter chats. The MOOC really makes me think more deeply about what I understand by social learning and how I translate it into practice. For instance it made me think about the importance of individual thinking and individual experience in social learning. I observe how sloppy we use the term 'learning'. It is not to blame the organizers, I am also guilty myself. I feel somehow that over de last years my use of words has grown sloppier because of my personal online network. Just like my English has deteriorated when I lived in Ghana because you start to speak Ghanaian English (which has its charms ofcourse :).

The objection by learning professionals may be that there are almost 180 forms of learning - informal learning, social learning, workplace learning, formal learning, non-formal learning, e-learning, multimedia learning, online learning, bench learning, mobile learning, collective learning, invisible learning, networked learning, a live long learning. brain learning, whole brain learning etc. However, this is often about the form of supporting learning processes, and not about the learning process itself. We say e-learning but basically we talk about e-teaching.

Some observations about sloppy language (not from the MOOC but also in general) and please react if I'm wrong!

Learning processes and learning interventions
Is all learning social? This was for instance a question we dealt with. This question confused me, because it may be about the learning process, as well as the intervention. The difference is that a learning process takes place in a learner's head or within a group and a learning interventions is undertaken by learning professionals to stimulate learning processes. It is almost like intervention is a dirty word like teaching or lecturing. Interventions can be assignments, but also facilitation of workshops and communities. Even doing a social network analysis and identifying thought leaders is an intervention. Often people talk about learning and it is unclear to me what we mean. When we talk about formal learning - I think we don't talk about learning but more about the formal learning interventions.

Social learning = not learning with social media
People often equate 'Social learning with Learning using Social media' which is a very narrow definition. Social learning's definition from wikipedia is learning that takes place at a wider scale than individual or group learning, up to a societal scale, through social interaction between peers. It may or may not lead to a change in attitudes and behaviour. Well we can debate about the exact definition but it can definitely take place face-to-face too. You get weird conversations if two people exchange about social learning from two different angles.

Social learning is not the same as a group process and interactive methods
I notice many people also use the term social learning when they talk about group processes and interaction. If we simplify social learning to interaction within a group - it is better to use the word group learning. Social learning is a theory about how people are influenced by social norms and learn how to act from their social-ecological systems. At times I also use social learning without explaining what my definition is because it is not easy to explain. An understanding of social learning will lead to different interventions with more attention to for instance, building social capital.

Single, double and triple loop learning
Is it old-fashioned to use single, double and triple loop learning? The terms are first coined by Argyris and Schon. Here's a nice explanation in one page. Single loop is learning within the current frame of work for instance, how to use a new software program. Double loop is about changing the way you think, your frame of mind. Triple loop is about learning to learn. We had a nice discussion about critical thinking, but when we talk about single loop learning - critical thinking may not be necessary at all. The paper states "key breakthroughs in helping people understand the dynamics of learning are the concepts of single loop, double-loop and triple-loop learning." I agree but somehow we moved to 70-20-10? Is single, double and triple loop not practical enough?

I often hear - "I want to buy an e-learning". Somehow we should forget the term e-learning (I try to avoid it at least) because it has become synonymous with page turner modules and courses for individual use. I see e-learning as any process supported by technology but don't think I will every be able to change the definition.

70-20-10 versus directed/self-directed learning 
The usefulness of 70-20-10 model is that it brings attention to the 70% informal learning processes, learning on the job. However, people are talking sometimes about 'moving from the 10 to the 70'. It has become the norm to support the 70. And even if directed, instructional learning is moved online it is seen as part of the 70 whereas in my opinion it will still be part of the 10 because it is still a formal learning intervention. The discussion in my opinion should be more about self-directed learning processes within the organization versus directed learning interventions and compliance training. There is a nice blogpost about the importance of formal learning interventions by Ben Betts which you can read here. Especially the last part is important where he argues that putting efforts in formal learning interventions may speed up the informal learning processes lateron.

More sloppiness?

Friday, February 13, 2015

(almost) Everything about video for learning professionals

January was our #videoleren theme on Twitter with the Ennuonline twitter tips. In this blogpost I will try to wrap up this theme. There is a lot of attention for video and use of multimedia online, after all youtube has almost 300 million view hours per day...Gemma Critchley talked about the importance of involving our emotions while learning: "people will forget what you said but they will not forget how you made them feel". Another nice quote on the Learning en Technologies conference in london was: "online learning at times seems emotionless and video is covering that niche". That partly explains the recent attention for video as a medium for learning. Video is thus an intriguing medium and very popular. Furthermore with smartphones, filming something and uploading film is within everyone's reach. First, a mindmap of the main elements of importance in 'video for learning'. Mapping the field.


On the one hand video for learning is a theme with lots of practical questions that deal with searching, editing and creating videos for learning situations. On the other hand, there is a strategic perspective on the changes in learning initiative launched by the fact that there are so many videos are available to learn from / to imitate and the fact that everyone can now film.

Does video change the way we learn and facilitate learning? 
Even monkeys learn from how-to video's So we can not really stay behind ... You can learn a lot today itself by following instruction videos or a MOOC. Tie a tie? That is simply answered on Youtube. But besides do-it-yourself learning video is also a means which now gives everybody the power to make a video with your phone and put it on Youtube. Seth Godin formulates it very neatly 'video is driving culture' and 'this culture-driving ability now belongs to everybody who can make a video that the right people choose to watch'.

An example: Jasmin Patheja, is the initiator of the Blank Noise project (in India), fighting eve-teasing by putting videos of eve-teasing online. In this way they created a whole movement, see the blog.

Within education and training a lot more is done with video. The lowest use of video by teachers is probably motivating the class with choosing a nice song on Youtube when they finish their tasks. The didactic approach is a challenge, an example of didactic approach is the well-known "Flip the classroom". View Salman Kahn's TED talk Let's use video to reinvent education below. He has a clear vision realized in the Khan Academy. Video changes the role of the teacher or trainer/facilitator. Instead of explaining theory, you can refer to videos and you therefore focus much more on the practicing or individual support.

Some interesting links:
Video's zoeken, inkorten, pimpen en bewerken
It's an art in itself to find the right videos for your learning purpose. One idea is if you watch television and relate it to some of your topics you might bookmark them after searching them online. Some fragments you can find them right away on Youtube. See my example of the burger eating Remi at Expedition Robinson. There are also many cool tools that will allow you to add content to existing videos, eg. Questions. Zaption is such a tool that lets you ask a question at one time that viewers must answer before they can continue with the video.
  • Good source are Youtube,  but also Teachertube and Tedtalks
  • Cut youtube videos with Tubechop
  • Start a dialogue with Vialogues, or a lesson around a video with TedED
  • Educanon allows you to add information just like Thinglink allows you to add links. 
  • With or a Youtube channel you can make a video list, a library of videos. 
Producing videos
When you want to produce videos you have to choose between professional or 'the beauty of imperfection' = amateur video. The advantage of the amateur films is that they are spontaneous, accessible and inexpensive. There is of course a lot to say about producing videos. For this blog I suffice to say that you can screencast (make a movie of your computer screen), on-the-fly videos (amateur quality with iphone, ipad or simple camera), professional videos, web lectures and live stream (let online follow a meeting by people who are not there). Of course there are also vlogs, video blogs. I almost forgot that there are also new tools with which you can quickly create an animation as PowToon. A number of sources if you want to dive in one of these topics:
Video in meetings: webinars en videoconferencing
Almost all webinar software, Google Hangouts and Skype will allow you to use video/webcam in your online meetings and workshops.
Innovative uses of video
Finally, a few innovative applications and questions about how video is changing our world.
  • Augmented reality videos
  • Filming with drones. Look at the below drone video of the Dom in Utrecht. This use of drones has been forbidden in the Netherlands. A beautiful video! 

Please add any other interesting resources or perspectives. Want to scroll through more resources? Have a look at our Pinterest board about learning through video.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Sharing our inspiration from the Learning Technologies conference with links to all our liveblogs

Sibrenne and myself arrived last Friday at Rotterdam airport with a head full of inspiration from the Learning Technologies conference and fresh air from our walk along the Thames. In this blogpost we compile some reflections and provide links to all our liveblogs, so that you may choose which ones to read. Something which struck us when we reflected on all different sessions:
  • People are aware of 70-20-10 and talk about it as if everybody should just know what it is. 70-20-10 is the model for learning in the workplace by Charles Jennings. However, the understanding of the 70 varies. For some doing things online means moving to the 70%, for me an online course is still in the 10%.
  • There were a lot of instructional designers in the group; professionals analyzing learning questions and developing learning programs. I was very much interested in their ideas about whether technology changes the work of instructional designers? Because I do think that people have much more influence on their own learning environment. Nowadays we are not that dependent of a course of training, anymore. When we have a question, we start googling or asking our network. My impression from this session and some conversations is that the core of instructional design (from needs analysis to training development) is still there. But the focus has become more on online, e-learning and in that sense on developing attractive assignments in a visual and creative way.
  • The big buzz is about 'beyond classroom training'  and companies are taking various directions to go beyond classroom training. The directions are: social learning, mobile learning, learning from sharing videos, blended learning and serious games. Personally I've attended sessions with the experiences of larger organizations like Qualcomm, Marks & Spencers and Peugeot, and they have really moved beyond the idea of offering standard courses.
  • There are valuable case examples to listen to. In order to learn from these cases, I'm always curious to hear more about the underlying concepts and principles. From what learning perspective is an online learning initiative designed? What were important design principles? And I missed this level of reflection. Is that typical Dutch?
  • Interestingly, whether organizations invest in social learning or mobile learning or video doesn't seem to be driven by a thorough analysis but by a vision by somebody or a group within the organization. In some cases there is proof it works, in other cases the approach is to experiment.
  • A new topic is the use of wearable technology in a learning context. Think about digital watches or Google Glass. The technology is there, and now we have to think about the wat we can use it in our learning approaches. I found it inspiring and I truly believe in the fact that the technology is already there. What we need to do is experiment with it and think about possibilities to apply.... go!
  • Another topic that popped up in several sessions was the issue of big data or learning data. Many organisations are using a LMS in some way, and all these LMS's (as well as wearable technology) collect data. But what do we want to do with this data? How to link it with other data available? And how can we use data for performance improvement?
If you'd like to read our liveblogs, choose one or several of the 13 liveblogs below: