Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The happy selfscanner: lessons about introducing new technologies

My supermarket introduced self-scanners. I'm not someone who is at the forefront of any new technology. For instance I'm secretly against the microwave ... Yet I've thrown myself into the self-scan adventure because it seemed a good experience. I would like to experience and compare myself with anyone in an organization that does not feel like using a new tool. In the supermarket I am the one not really interested in a new tool.

The first day after the opening as self-scan supermarket there was immediately a girl at the entrance who invited me to try out self-scanning. She explained how easy it was. I went first to the bananas to walk immediately stuck there. There was no code to scan on the banana ... and there was no one around. I chosen for other fruits. For the rest it was easy enought, although I felt quite stupid with such a large scanning device in hand. At the exit again there was someone to help me with the payment and exit. This was nice because I could ask her about my banana problem. She told me I could weigh bananas at the end.

The second visit I had real doubts about continuing to scan, it seemed pretty easy just turn to my old way and get my own bananas. I also did not feel that the self-scan had saved me time the first time. You do not have to wait at the cashier, but the lines are not very long. Scanning and searching the code also takes time. Perseverance helped me: I was nevertheless happy when the scanner indicated by sound when a second item was half price. Normally I wouldn't bother much, but now I went for the discount. When scanning a second article, I heard KATCHIENG a cash register sound. I made another banana mistake: I put the scanner back before weighing and I had to leave them behind... What I noticed is that I felt weird about loosing contact with the cashier. Even though I never have long filosophical dialogues with them. The third time I learned that you can pack up your bag during your shopping time which saves packing time. And you avoid the most stressful moment in the store: to pack your bag before the groceries of the next client are coming.  The fourth time I did this and I felt totally awesome! For the fifth time, it felt like a new way of shopping.

If I look at my experiences from a distance:

  • It helps if there are people to help and explain at the right times, but there are always moments when you have to fix it yourself.
  • The moment I almost pulled out was the second or third time. The first time I wanted to give it a try and try something new. The second time there was real reason. It felt good to shop in the old way.
  • I was when I found out I could put things in my bag while shopping that I saw an advantage. However, no one had told me about this advantage.

This scientific experiment (with n = 1) leads to the following conclusions about introducing new media in an organization, for instance a social intranet or a team tool like Slack.
  • Make sure there is enough help and support available to assist people, especially after the initial period. It is not difficult to convince people to give it a try, however to persevere? 
  • Do not underestimate what it takes energy to develop a new routine. It help to search motivations (which may be different for different persons). You could also point out that at the start it may demand more time, but saves time later.
  • Looking at the benefits. Which can be different for everyone, but you may beforehand test it, find out the benefits and emphasize those.
ps I hear now also other self-scanners with katjieng! I'm not the only crazy person anymore ...

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A new focus for my blog: the new social learning

In 2005 I started this blog around communities of practice. It was a great way to investigate, learn and share my steep learning curve about communities online. I still love to work with communities (facilitate the LOSmakers), but somehow my work has become much wider.  I have been writing about many things which interest me, though mostly about learning and learning technologies. Going back to my first blogpost I became nostalgic about the clear focus I had. I decided to think through a new focus and I found it in the term: the new social learning. It is wider than communities of practice, though communities would still fit in as one of the learning interventions. I call it the new social learning (coined by Marcia Conner and Tony Bingham) not to confuse it with the fact that all learning is in fact social. It is funny when I read the book some years ago, I didn't like the term at all.

My key interest is in how the way we learn is changing because of the internet and all social technologies and which new forms of learning evolve. When I worked in Chile, Mali and Ethiopia I was basically inventing everything by myself with a few key colleagues. I used to carry certain pages from books around. I had supervisors, but they were not all very interested and even if they were interested they were only interested in the progress, but couldn't help me with all my practitioner questions. Now I am inspired by so many practitioners from all over the world.. Through the 100 blogs I read, Twitter and LinkedIn groups.

Here's a video I made in the beginning of this year interviewing people at the learning and technologies conference. Answers include - is has become self-directed: it not about what you know but about what you can find out; where, when and through what means we learn is changing; dealing with information overload become important, we can instantly find out what we need to know, and the question of whether we will even be learning if artificial intelligence can take over?

The new social learning

My questions to explore are:
1. How does the knowmadic learner think, work and reflect? and what are the new challenges? What are the differences amongst different generations?
2. What is the impact of new social technologies? What are new technologies like learning record stores and what can you do with those technologies?
3. How does learning in (online, open) networks work? Changes as a result of technological changes?
4. What are new learning interventions? Experimental or effective?
5. What are practical examples of social learning in organizations?

In short my categories will be:
  • Knowmadic learner
  • Social technologies
  • Networked learning
  • New learning interventions
  • Practical examples
Sounds very structured isn't it? I hope this will also help you to make a decision to follow my blog or not. It will give me inspiration to look with curiosity for developments I see online or experience myself. 

Friday, December 02, 2016

Online facilitation inspired by car dealers

autoWe have recently bought a different car, a used car. We started with a search on the Internet. Then we went one afternoon to some dealers to watch the cars. We met the first salesman there.  Fortunately he fully matched my preconceptions of a car salesman :). He was a man who was already retired, and was selling cars for fun during weekends. He questioned us and soon realized that my husband was sensitive for station models and I had a crush for colors, my daughter wants to have a red car. So he pointed at a red Citroen station model. He told us we were very lucky, the car was € 1,000 cheaper because "no one wants a red car" .. But we had to decide quickly, actually today. We could make a test drive immediately . I heard a strange sound during the test drive. When I told hem about the sound, he went with us for a drive in the car. He started the engine full gas and said: "Hear, hear what  a wonderful sound, a very strong engine. I wished it was my car" Eventually he heard the noise and explained that would entail only a 5 minutes repair. Long story short: we have not bought this car. We purchased the car at another dealer. Who really surprised us when we arrived: He had packed up the car and we could unpacking it as a gift :).

Learning is not the same as selling cars is it? 

I was reading a blogpost by Wilfred Rubens today in which he argues that you can not transfer lessons from Greenwheels and Thuisbezorgd.nl to education. Because education is more than just making content available. Thus facilitating is really different than selling cars. Yet I believe we also copy and learn from car sellers. Long ago I thought marketing specialists were sellers of hot air and were no craftsmen. However, since the social media age I started following more and more marketers online. They embraced social media earlier than learning professionals so that alone is something we can learn from. They are also good at studying people and their behavior and how to influence their behavior.

A famous marketing model is the model by Cialdini with 6 strategies to influence people. The 6 strategies are:

  1. Reciprocity - We like to return favours. We started with a cup of coffee at the car dealer's.
  2. Scarcity - when something is scarce people want it. According to the car salesman this car offer was only valid for this day.
  3. Authority - you believe the professor rather than the postman. The car seller stressed that he had sold cars his entire life. (Unfortunately that was a minus for me :)
  4. Consistency (and commitment) - once people have put the first step is the next easier. A test drive ...
  5. Consensus (Social evidence) - one sheep over the dam.. and others follow. Stories about other people who also opted for this type of car.
  6. Sympathy (liking) - If you like someone you are quicker to award him something than when you don't like someone(this factor had my car salesman then not again!)
In the Dutch learning trajectory about learning technologies we investigated how you might apply these principles to online and social learning.

This prompted a discussion on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. My own conclusion is that you have to look and observe what drives people, what motivates them. So my car salesman quickly realized that would still like to have a red car and my husband was prone to a station model. How did he get there? By simply asking what we seek, by asking and observing which cars drew our attention. If you realize this, the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is less relevant. Is ultimately about influencing people. What trigger can you use to motivate them?

From car sales to learning online

The link between Cialdini and online learning is that we are learning online with a lot of added distractions than in a  face-to-face setting. In an online workshop or webinar for example, you're always just one click away from your email. I myself have just facilitated a three-week online course on business and human rights, the involvement from week one to week three went down, from high to low. It's quite a challenge to keep the attention of busy officials. I still find it a nice challenge to fascinate people, and keep them engaged online. Relying on their own motivation of participants is not enough.

Motivating people to engage in online learning - tips from car salesmen

  • Be the first to share a story which will incite participants to share as well, they also want to share a story or make sure that there are already interesting documents before asking participants to share documents online. You can also advance if something interesting partsn
  • Give participants a gift, eg. a fact sheet before asking if they want to do something, for instance complete the evaluation

  • Limit the number of spaces. Select participants on the basis of criteria
  • Open a platform, content or activity for a limited period of time. For instance I participated in a MOOC on digital badges which was open for only 48 hours
  • Make sure the platform closes immediately after the course instead of keeping it accessible 
  • Invite respected experts as guest speakers, or to provide feedback or give a master class
  • Invite important, authoritative people to place a cal for participation and finish
  • Use a positive evaluation of an online course or MOOC to recruit people for the next edition
  • Start with simple questions online, for example to make a simple introduction online.
  • Inviting people to introduce themselves and ask a question for the next in line works well for instance 
  • Ask participants in advance a number of questions, such as whether they want to share online and if they are going to finish the course for example. After this they be more committed to do so 


  • Behind the scenes you may invite a number of people to respond or engage online. This will make it easier for the next to follow
  • Emphasize positive behaviour, eg. "80% participated in the first webinar", instead of "I hope next week more people will participate"
  • Work with or likes or best content - so you can show what content is valued 
  • Make contact, such as through the mail and be genuinely interested in the questions and circumstances of your participants
  • Make sure you are visible online, eg by placing a video or photo of yourself and display a positive attitude and tone in your communications
  • Give compliments

Can you think of other actions based on these principles?