24.03.2014

Reflections on Learning Solutions Conference 2014 (Part 2)

Reflections on Learning Solutions Conference 2014 (Part 2) Fresh back from sunny Orlando, Unicorn CEO Peter Phillips reflects on the key themes of LS Con 14. Theme 2 Performance Support Perhaps the most pervasive theme throughout the conference was the need for learning to be seen as an investment not a cost, and that this will only be possible by ensuring that learning is focused on improving the results of the organisation, and being able to measure the impact. Currently, most LMSs do not measure improved performance. Instead we measure the learning activities themselves –e-learning completions, assessment scores, and the rest of the SCORM data set, and of course classroom training through “happy sheets”. But research shows no correlation between happy sheet data and business performance, and the Will Thalheimer curve (see part 1 of this blog) demonstrates how the learning from single events  quickly dissipates without regular reinforcement. The Thalheimer Curve popped up again in Bob Mosher and Con Gottfredson’s session on Performance Support, with the same theme of how to ensure we transfer and sustain learning to support on the job competency beyond the initial formal learning. On a side note here, a large number of learning modules, delivered in a short time period, largely by PowerPoint with little interaction, no spaced reinforcement, and success measured by happy sheets is a pretty good description of LSCon J But wait, help is at hand. The cavalry, armed only with TinCans are about to appear over the ridge.  I attended two excellent sessions at LSCon on the potential of Tin Can (or the xAPI). The first was with Andy Whittaker of Rustici, who are of course at the heart of the TinCan project. The second was led by Glenn Bull, CEO of Skilitix a charismatic exponent of an ROI led future for learning. Given all the hype around TinCan over the past two years and more, one surprise is how early we are in the adoption cycle. According to Andy, few  LMS’s have the xAPI integrated, and those that do (which includes Unicorn’s SkillsServe) have yet to go beyond replicating SCORM, due to lack of data sources. In fact, Glenn argued that SCORM itself has been a major inhibitor of innovation. Research shows that most LMS customers don’t like their LMS much, and top of the list of complaints is reporting. But within the constraints of SCORM data, there is no scope for better reporting.  To break out we need better data. This was a key takeaway for me. Most of the discussion to date around the benefits of TinCan has focused on more sophisticated measurement of learning activities and broadening data capture to a wide range of off line activities. But the real benefits will come from relating experiences to outcomes – more sales, fewer complaints, improved medical outcomes etc. Tin Can opens the door to this whole new world where learning becomes an integrated part of Business Intelligence. Hence the sessions at LACon on BI and Big Data, including a sparkling keynote presentation from Douglas Merrill former CIO at Google. But there is a long way to go. Andy referred to a couple of early limited case studies including one in the UK National Health Service. His advice for pioneers is to start with a specific focused project. The implications for the future of eLearning are potentially huge. For instructional designers it impacts what, when and how they deliver. Performance support implies learning activities are embedded, readily available, contextual, and just enough (small granules). For LMS platforms the implications include single sign-on data links with other BI systems, the potential to create personal or role based learning pathways, and more meaningful, outcome based reporting. For Unicorn these reflections will inform our current project on providing a portable CPD “learning locker” for UK financial advisers. Perhaps we will have inspiring results to present at one of those breakfast sessions next year J

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