How to Ace Learning Technology Implementation


You’re ready to take the leap. The new XYZ learning technology is going to “Wow” your learners and you carefully aligned it with business outcomes. Your pilot group responded well to the new technology and it’s time to launch it company-wide. You know that the learning content is instructionally sound and employees will probably even enjoy themselves a bit once they give the new program a chance.

Still, you can’t shake the fear in your gut. What if this all goes wrong? What if it turns out to be a colossal waste of money? What if it all blows up in your face?

Design and Technology is Just the Beginning

We work with organizations all the time who are rolling a new learning technology. Whether it’s a custom app we developed as part of a blended learning curriculum or a series of games created with our Knowledge Guru platform, it is often our job to help our clients evangelize a new approach to learning within their organizations. Change isn’t easy for any of us. For large companies, it can be like trying to make a sharp left turn with an ocean liner.

What sets successful learning technology implementations apart from the rest is usually not the new technology itself, though that should obviously be good and suitable for the target learner. The real difference-maker is implementation.

Seven lessons from Successful Organizations

Next month, I’m giving presenting a webinar through Training Magazine Network where we will discuss the approaches four different organizations used when introducing a serious game to their learners. These organizations come from three very different industries (technology, health care and financial services) and the initiatives targeted very different functional areas (sales reps versus call center reps versus HR associates), yet their approaches to implementation were remarkably similar. Some of these organizations even won awards for their approaches.

I looked for the commonalities shared between these four case studies and turned them into seven implementation tips that I think apply to many different learning technology implementations.

If You Build It, Will They Come?

Since the four case studies I looked at all dealt with a serious game implementation, I make that the specific focus of the webinar and corresponding white paper. The session is called Serious Games + Smart Implementation = Win! and the white paper is called 7 Steps to a Successful Serious Game or Gamification Implementation.

And while some of the content is specific to serious games, such as the adoption rate of organizations currently using games for learning and their plans for using internal vs external resources, most of my suggestions are fairly universal. Here are just a few:

1. Require it (at least at first): If you are rolling out a brand new learning technology, don’t just assume people will flock to it. Make it a part of the required training that people currently take. Requiring usage, even if just during an initial roll-out, ensures learners will at least give your new approach a chance. The organizations I have seen take this approach have had the most success with uptake.

2. Analyze it: Smart organizations use every opportunity they can get to assess the effectiveness of their learning technology implementations. Knowledge Guru customers use the analytics the platform provides, for example. Whether your new tool provides analytics or not, I highly recommend surveying learners after they have used it. You might be surprised at what you learn.

3. Promote it: This one may sound counter-intuitive after I just told you to require people to use your new learning technology, but promoting your initiative internally is critical. You have to think like a marketer and find ways to consistently encourage people to interact with your new tool or platform.

Get the Tips and Hear the Case Studies

You can register for my Training Magazine webinar and download the white paper with implementation tips below.

Four Emerging Technologies that L&D Leaders Need to Consider

I attended the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show two weeks ago with an eye to seeing what technologies have potential application within the L&D industry. I came away with notes on five areas that I think will impact L&D in the future.  Some are “near-term” ones that I think merit 2015 focus; others extend out a few years. Keep in mind as you review this list that I am fully aware of how L&D is is notoriously slow to adopt new technologies. “Modern” browsers have been around since 2009, but many huge corporations still mandate compatibility of web and eLearning applications with Internet Explorer 8, which is a dinosaur in technology years. Other organizations are just now “getting into” eLearning, though the tools and technology have been around for 15 years.

With that said… if I were a Chief Learning Officer inside a big organization, these are four technologies I would want to know more about.

Mobile in Cars… Really

Let’s face it. Mobile adoption as a learning and performance support tool has moved at the pace of a very slow snail. It’s been “emerging” since 2008… and still only a handful of organizations are using it in a meaningful way. (Qualcomm is a great example.) Per the 2014 ATD State of the Industry Report only 1.47% of learning solutions were delivered via a mobile device. I think 2015 is the year we actually see some shift beyond snail status in its adoption.

One intriguing use case will be in cars. At CES, auto manufacturers featured “smart cars” with technology built into the car that leverages the mobile phone. As smart cars emerge, and hands-free becomes the norm, I think CLOs may want to engage in new discussions of how to best use an employee’s “windshield time” (a term coined in the 1980s to describe the time sales reps spend behind the wheels of their cars traveling to customer sites). Audio cassettes were used in the 1980s to deliver product info, industry insights, etc. They were clunky, easily lost, and not very interesting. However, with podcast apps and audio books exploding in growth, I think CLOs may want to revisit how mobile + well-produced podcasts + windshield time can yield a great solution to helping uber-busy sales reps stay on top of products, trends, competitor insights, and more.

Take a look at the explosion of interest in the podcast Serial produced by National Public Radio. This is a true-life story told in a compelling way. It is replete with tons of data, trial testimony, and dry facts combined with human drama. Hence my belief that mobile will start to experience an uptick if we can think outside the box on what “mobile learning” means. Combine the storytelling technique with info people need to know—and deliver it up hands-free in a car during drive time.

Timeline to usability: This can happen now and it doesn’t require lots of budget to make it happen.

Interactive Video + Mobile

Continuing on my mobile bandwagon, and why I think the pace of adoption will finally accelerate, is all the technology exploding around video and interactive video. The CES displays from Sony and Panasonic got me very excited about all the ways we can start to produce first-person perspective videos. Sony and Panasonic are both introducing competitors to the GoPro camera that were impressive. They can film in 4K as well as HD. Both manufacturers expect these cameras to be available in the first half of this year. They will retail for a measly $349.

Even more exciting to me than the cameras I saw are the interactive video creation tools I am seeing. These tools make it very easy to turn a standard video into one that lets the viewer interact with it. This lets a trainer create simple branched scenarios very quickly. Two I’ve seen and liked are:

  • HapYak (focused on marketing but could easily be used to create interactive videos for education/training)
  • Branchtrack (specifically for creating branched simulations)

People love consuming content via video—and in short snippets. This makes mobile a terrific distribution device. Consequently, I think it makes sense for learning leaders to be asking themselves how they can integrate video, interactivity, and mobile together to produce just-in-time solutions and practice activities.

The 4K technology for video also excited me because I think it lends itself to designing a very immersive learning experience—one in which you can make viewers feel as though they are there. These emerging technologies make me think we can have simulations that are more video driven than computer-code driven.

Timeline to usability: Interactive video and mobile can be happening now with tools already on the market or tools coming out this year. 4K usage will be slower. I predict 3 to 5 years before we see wide-spread adoption because of cost.


Many of you have probably heard the term “big data” before and wondered what the heck it is. At CES, I felt I got my best perspective on its value. In essence, you aggregate data (information) on thousands of people (hence, the term “big” data) and you extrapolate meaningful trends and helpful individual responses based on it.

The example I saw at CES was from Ford Motor Company, which tracked hundreds of thousands of drivers. The data helped them identify useful programs such as a car swapping program, a car sharing program, a web app that lets drivers in big cities quickly locate parking spaces, etc. My mind immediately shifted to the possibilities of aggregating data on hundreds or thousands of new employees to figure out ways to make a new employee orientation program more efficient or effective. You might also aggregate safety data to see if you can design new programs or systems to minimize or eliminate common safety errors.

Timeframe to usability: Three to five years. It requires lots of thinking about data to collect, how to collect it, how to analyze it, and then how to generate meaningful learning solutions from it.

Sensor Technology

Sensors were intriguing as well—as is the software development kit (SDK) that Intel is releasing with its sensor to encourage software developers to think of uses for it. I saw two demonstrations of the technology. In one, the sensor was embedded into a basketball. In the other demo, the sensor was in a tennis racket. The sensor provided data on the user’s handling and use of the ball or racket and then provided feedback on adjustments to make to improve performance.

If we translate from a tennis racket or basketball to a forklift, a piece of lab equipment, or some other tool, we can take the adage “learn by doing” to an entirely new level.

Timeframe to usability: Three to five years. I don’t see quick adoption of this, but I do think it is very intriguing to consider.


A lot of cool tools and technologies were on display at CES, and several of them have potential to help us elevate the quality and effectiveness of the learning solutions we deliver. However, as my esteemed colleague Lou Russell loves to say, “A fool with a tool is still a fool.” The tools are only part of it; you still need knowledgeable people using those tools to design appropriate solutions.

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The Corporate Learning Starter Pack (Free Download)


The status quo is no longer working in Learning & Development.

Rapid authoring, agile learning design, game-based learning platforms and mobile have made their way into our field, along with other innovations. Stakeholders who understand the impact training can have on the business are asking L&D to measure this impact based on real business outcomes.

And then we have our learners, who increasingly demand engaging, interactive learning solutions that truly help them improve their performance.

It’s time for a new plan.

For nearly 20 years, we have partnered with our clients to design and deliver the right learning solutions for their training and performance needs. While every project is different, we have evolved a set of internal tools that help us analyze the current situation, design a single course or blended curriculum to meet the need and select the right technology.

We’ve simplified these tools to create the Corporate Learning Starter Pack. Use these tools to jumpstart your planning process and create learning that meets and exceeds your goals!

There is so much evaluation and planning that goes into training, from a simple course to a full curriculum. Your budget and needs will ultimate shape your decisions, and the tools we’ve created will help you organize all of that information together in one place. With tips, questionnaires, checklists, and more, you’ll feel better equipped to tackle your training needs.

What’s inside

In the Starter Pack, you’ll find some of our most popular eLearning resources:

  • Needs Analysis worksheet: Ten simple questions that get you to the root of the training need.
  • Self assessment for your training program: A chance to be honest about the current state of training in your organization.
  • Template for planning your training program: A structured approach to sketching out the various learning solutions you must include.
  • Technology evaluation checklist: A shortcut for evaluating what technologies should be included in your approach.

Is Wearable Tech a 2014 eLearning Trend to Watch?

Consumers will continue to adopt wearable tech in 2014… there’s no doubt about it. It’s coming, and in some ways it’s already here. But if the last few years have been any indication, we cannot assume the buying behavior of consumers will have a significant impact on the eLearning tools used in corporate settings… at least not right away. wearable-tech-2

Just because a “trend” appears to be growing in the consumer world does not mean it will have a real impact in corporate learning during the same calendar year. Just look at mobile learning, social media, gamification, serious games and the like. These have been trends for years now, and some organizations are still just getting started. Many of the “2014 eLearning trends” being touted as new by various websites are really just recycled from 2013, 2012, or earlier. BYOD? Big data? Responsive design? Been there, heard that.

Mobile learning uptake is a prime example. Despite all the hype surrounding mobile, and the fact that there will soon be more mobile devices on the planet than humans, most eLearning is still completed on a desktop or laptop computer. We wrote in early 2013 that mobile learning uptake is more like a glacier than a waterfall: slowly but surely changing the landscape, but not at the pace some vendors would have you think.

Mobile Learning - Glacier, Not Waterfall

So while wearable technology brings with it significant promise to remake some old processes and provide previously impossible opportunities for data analysis, feedback, accountability, and personal tracking… what we can expect to see from wearable tech in the 2014 L&D mix is more akin to “baby steps.”

If wearable tech is really going to grow slowly in the workplace in 2014, and we know that the other hot trends are just a continuation of the gradual movements our industry has been making over the past several years, what trends should we be watching for? Where should turn for new ideas? What’s really significant in 2014 is not so much the “hot new trends” coming to be, but rather a collection of several trends, technologies, and opportunities that have come to be over the last few years starting to coalesce. We’re taking all of these new technologies and starting to integrate them into learning strategies that are proven, practical, and actionable today.

What are most organizations doing today?

A growing number of organizations are developing a set of best practices for their corporate learning programs that takes all of these “trends” from the past few years and turns them into a set of tools that can actually be put to use. Are most organizations exactly where they want to be? Of course not! What they’re doing is using the resources and tools they have to position themselves for the technologies of tomorrow, while gradually integrating new tools and methodologies when it makes sense to do so. Here are some examples:

  • Most organizations are still using eLearning courses and delivering instructor-led training, but they’re making those courses tablet-friendly and using smartphone apps for just-in-time reference tools and content review.
  • They’re not in a “100% responsive design” world yet, but 2014 learning solutions are increasingly designed with responsive in mind… and the top authoring tools are adding responsive elements.
  • A growing body of research supports using serious games for learning, and there are finally enough solid case studies and examples available to show organizations who have not yet used games how they can start. More and more of our own clients are including games, or gamified eLearning courses, in their large curriculums. We believe this is a trend for the industry as a whole.
  • Organizations still mostly use SCORM, but they’re asking about Experience API and looking to see that any solutions they add in 2014 will work with the new standard. They’re starting to think about all the data points they could collect or would like to collect when Experience API fully replaces SCORM.
  • They’re sending learning out in smaller chunks and, in some cases, setting up intranets and internal social networks to connect learners to these resources.

What about wearable tech?

In 2013, 96% of the connected wearable tech market was in the form of “activity trackers” (source).This includes popular products like FitBit and Nike Fuel that track your physical activity and provide apps for monitoring your own performance. In the business world, wearable tech has started to peek into retail sales environments.

Take Theatro for example: it’s a wearable device that helps sales reps stay in touch across a large show floor, provides GPS tracking to easily locate other reps, and collects various data points throughout a rep’s day that managers can use to assess productivity and make staffing adjustments during a shift.

How much information do employees want their managers to have? That’s up for debate. Conversation our own team had on this topic at last week’s #TalkTech showed that most of us are not looking to embrace an Orwellian future quite yet. But there’s little doubt that wearable technology can and will provide some useful metrics on employee performance in the future. Even if those data points are only used for self-evaluation and self-correction, they could still be useful.


It may be too soon to say how wearable tech will ultimately come to fruition in the workplace. Our advice?

  • Keep an eye on the new products released this year.
  • Pay special attention to products like Theatro that are specifically geared to the workplace.
  • Start thinking of the type of data you would like to collect, or feedback you would like to provide, if wearable tech was a viable option for you.
  • When the tools and technologies being released come close to matching your needs, run a small pilot.

Got questions or ideas? Contact us!

Technology Evaluation Checklist for Learning Professionals (Free Download)

We are living in the digital revolution and, much like the industrial revolution, progress is truly exponential. We hear about a new smartphone, new app, new technology every single day. With so many new technologies on the market, how do you sort through the irrelevant and the junk? There are some amazing things out there you could be missing… but other “technologies” just turn out to be a waste of time.

Assessing New Technology

Why do we have a checklist?

Bottom-Line Performance President Sharon Boller developed Technology Evaluation Checklist for herself to help the company make smarter technology adoption decisions. Lots of new tech sounds exciting… but all that glitters isn’t gold. We needed away to objectively evaluate technologies and separate the good from the bad. After having some success using the checklist internally, Sharon presented on evaluating technologies with the checklist to the Central Indiana chapter of ASTD… and the responsive was positive. It turns out others were looking for a tool to evaluate new technologies, just like we were.

Technology Evaluation Process


Scan:The process starts with scanning for technologies that are even relevant. Make sure you’re connected with blogs, social networks, colleagues, conferences, etc. to see what’s hot or making people curious. You should also follow thought-leaders to see where their energy and discussions are focused. From what you gather, pay attention to the tech that relates to things you do most.

Focus: It’s still about need. You need to be concerned with specifically aligning new technologies with needs you have. Just because everyone is buzzing about a hot new app, that doesn’t mean it’s right for your organization. If you don’t have a need for it, it’s just a waste of time and effort. You need to match hot technologies to your needs, efforts, or emerging issues. Don’t try to focus on everything at once. Note: Find a tool to help you track what you’re focusing on—Evernote, Pocket, or a shared writeboard of some kind. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

Evaluate: Once your focus is established, you can do a deeper dive on relevant technologies. Start researching pricing options and sign up for free trials if possible. This is the primary stage for using the checklist. Here is where you consider the costs, risks, gains, etc. Make sure to talk with your colleagues when evaluating. Much like when you’re play testing a game, a fresh new perspective can help you catch things you may have missed.

Decide: Based on your evaluation you can decide to implement the new technology, ignore it, or monitor it for possible re-evaluation later—maybe a tool would be great for your company if you grew slightly larger in the next year or so.


Interview With Mobile Learning Thought Leader Mayra Aixa Villar

Mobile Learning - Glacier, Not Waterfall

Mayra Aixa Villar

Mayra Aixa Villar

I had the opportunity to interview Mayra Aixa Villar, instructional designer and thought leader in the mobile learning space. Mayra has authored articles for ASTD and Learning Solutions Magazine and writes frequently on her personal blog.

If you are interested in where mobile learning is headed, or in how mobile learning is different from “regular eLearning,” read on!

How did you get started in instructional design, and what sparked your interest in mobile?

In 2009, as I was writing my M.A. thesis on Applied Linguistics, I focused my research on a field called Computer Assisted Language Learning. My research findings on how to develop effective educational applications led me to complete an internship at the United Nations Headquarters in 2010. My tasks consisted in assessing online as well as instructor-led courses and to carry out an in-depth research on training course design and training needs. It was at that moment when I fell in love with eLearning and instructional design.

A year later, a sense of curiosity and eagerness to leverage the latest technology in order to design enhanced learning solutions sparked my interest in the potential of mobile for educational purposes.

What tips would you give a learning designer new to designing for mobile devices?

In my opinion, it is crucial to observe how the target audience behaves in the context of performance. When designing for mobile, the ability to understand the environment, the habits, the problems and the needs of the learners is far more critical than in any other training initiative. All these factors heavily influence on the activities and goals that learners seek to accomplish though mobile devices and therefore, they will determine the relevance and usefulness of mobile learning solutions.

When is a learning experience really mobile learning… and when is it just eLearning on a different device?

As Scott McCormick stated in his recent presentation at mLearnCon 2013, 10 Essentials for Successful Mobile Learning Implementation, re-imagination is the first and the most important aspect to consider. When we take advantage of mobile devices built-in capabilities to enhance learning and stop talking about “clicks” to start exploring how touch can free up our interactions with content, we can make our design utterly mobile. I´d also like to add that a really mobile learning experience should integrate seamlessly into the task the learners are trying to perform and help them attain their goals without all the hurdles and constraints that traditional eLearning or instructor-led training usually pose.

What are some of the biggest reasons to transition from desktop eLearning to mobile?

Many people talk about stats that refer to the massive adoption of mobile devices, the impact of devices in our daily life and so on. While I think these facts are very important because they portray the habits and expectations we need to cater for, I truly believe that the biggest reasons to transition from desktop to mobile lay or should lay on the type of experiences we can create and how we can meaningfully respond to learners real needs in order to help them successfully accomplish a task within their performance context.

At Bottom-Line Performance, we often refer the uptake of mobile learning tools and uptake as slow and steady rather than a sudden spike. What’s your take?

I agree. I see that many companies are too attached to old systems and solutions, which is completely understandable as they have invested time and resources in their development. There are also many misconceptions around mobile. Some may think that “mobile learning is too complex and expensive to be implemented” while others prefer designing their own solutions and end up with a bunch of PPTs delivered through mobile devices. This last option is fine as long as it helps learners at the moment of need. Otherwise, why would you want learners to go over 20+ slides of irrelevant content when they just need to know the specific function of key components or equipment?

Many companies want to transition to mobile, but still require eLearning courses to work on desktop and mobile. What are some ways to make the best of this situation?

I have been working for an American company in the health sector during the last couple of months. At the beginning, they asked me to create eLearning courses without mentioning mobile delivery at all. But, I decided to optimize all the courses so they can also be consumed from the iPad even though that was not part of the client´s requirements. This has helped me not only to introduce new approaches to design and information organization but also to start conversations about the need of envisioning mobile learning solutions. Even though this is not the ideal, unique mobile experiences I described in previous answers, it is a good starting point to pave the way for a future multi-channel training strategy.

Organizations invest lots of time and money in deciding which mobile device to deploy across their workforce. What are some best practices for evaluating which device to choose?

Every mobile solution is different. Therefore, a thorough analysis of the convergence of factors and priorities can better guide all your decisions. As I said in one of my posts, the three key elements that we need to consider are the learner, the need(s) and the context. If we concentrate on which mobile device to deploy from the very beginning, we will not be designing a solution from a holistic, more effective approach. In other words, we will not be designing for a dynamic learner with specific needs in a specific context. We need to stop thinking about the device because this may lead to unnecessary constraints and also, ineffectiveness.

What role will adoption of the Experience API play in the adoption of mobile learning?

In words of Megan Bowe, now with xAPI, we can focus on different activities and track different interactions between the technology and the user. Designers are not constrained to create only courses any more. Now, xAPI allows for a comprehensive view of activities across all the systems.

Also, as a linguist, I see great potential in application of Natural Language Parsing techniques in order to extract information from the types of statements generated by this wide range of activities, which, in turn, are delivered to a LRS. This information could help me define behavioral patterns of users and possible influences from the environment and therefore, design more learner-centric experiences.

What do the popular authoring tools (Storyline, Captivate, Lectora, etc) need to do to improve their mobile learning capabilities?

Tools are just tools. It is our approach to design what needs improvement, adaptation and evolution. Some tools are better suited for some projects while fall short for others. Again, everything depends on what needs and priorities you have identified. I could argue that rapid authoring tools cannot offer the benefits of responsive design to deploy content across multiple screens, or they don´t take full advantage of HTML5 technologies.  But, what if those approaches are not the best solutions for a specific project? For this reason, I am always exploring new tools that can help me accomplish every project´s unique goals and requirements in the most efficient way.

What formats and interactions work best on mobile devices and why?

Video is one of the most ubiquitous media formats, and this makes it extremely practical to deliver relevant content at the right moment and virtually on any device. We can also add layers of interactivity that allow for quick search and exploration or we can integrate social interactions. In this way, we could leverage mobile users´ typical behaviors too. I have also seen great examples of mobile applications which make use of AR and 3D simulations. These are ideas I am particularly interested in and I am planning to research in the near future. As regards interactions, simple touch-based gestures that allow the user to quickly perform a task and attain his/her goals will definitely work best.

Are certain types of content better suited for mobile devices than others?

I think that performance-support solutions and jobs aids have become the “wild cards” when talking about mobile learning initiatives. However, I think that rather than content types, there are interactions and ways of presenting information which are better suited for mobile devices. In fact, any type of information could be delivered through mobile devices as long as it is mobile-enabled content and relevant for the end-user.

What are you to now? Any big projects?

Aside from developing eLearning courses and testing platforms and applications, I have been appointed by a local Scientific and Technological Center to be part of a research project in the field of Computational Linguistics. My first task is to design and develop an application aimed at assisting university students and researchers in the processes of grammar writing and text generation. The project involves a web-based as well as a mobile component. So, in spite of its complexity, I am highly motivated to start and also, to contribute to the advancement of mobile learning from my side of the world!


Experience (Tin Can) API: What to Expect from Your LMS Provider

Tin Can. Experience. TIN CAN! Experience! We’re all hearing about it… but what is it?

For starters, the official, government-sanctioned name is “Experience API.” It’s the next generation of SCORM… an API for distributed learning. You’ll probably still hear it called “Tin Can” sometimes, but that was a working title. We’ll use its proper name from here on out. ADL, or Advanced Distributive Learning, is the government agency behind the spec.

Tin Can API and Experience API are the same thing

API’s (that stands for Application Programming Interface) are not nearly as scary and complicated as they sound. An API is a language two software programs or databases use to talk to each-other. Ever created an account on a third-party website using your Facebook account? That was thanks to the Facebook API. Ever had an app that uses Google Maps to log what route you ran? That communication comes courtesy of Google’s API.

SCORM, You’re Looking Weary

eLearning has been signed, sealed and delivered via SCORM for years. The SCORM API is tested and reliable for tracking of basic information such as course completion, time spent taking a course, completion date, and post-test score. This works great, because the only learning interactions anyone has ever thought of hinge directly on how learners do on a post-test, right? Wrong!

Learning designers have been forced to design their eLearning to work within the tight constraints of SCORM for too long. As stable as the API is, it has a number of limitations:

  • Activities must be launched from the LMS. Courses, courses, and more courses, please.
  • Activities must have a constant internet connection to be recorded. Sorry, mobile workforce.
  • A limited number and type of activities can be tracked. Exciting metrics like completion, time spent, pass/fail and a final score are as good as it gets.

How is Experience API better?

Experience API brings us a number of improvements to take advantage of in L&D:

  • It can track learner progress without a constant internet connection.
  • It does not need learning experiences to be launched from the LMS in order to track them.
  • It can record information on social interactions.
  • It can track learner activity from a variety of informal activities. One example given by ADL is a “bookmarklet” that can be installed on a web browser and be used to track informal activities such as web pages visited.

Differences between SCORM API and Experience API

Since Experience API does not need the LMS to report activity, content from Wikipedia, Youtube, TED Talks, Coursera, Kahn Academy and more can all be integrated into formal courses without a hitch. Progress from these sources can be reported in the LMS right alongside formal courses.

These new data points are all collected by a new database called a “Learner Record Store.” These are currently stand-alone products, but ADL predicts they will eventually be integrated right into LMS’s. A Learner Record Store, or LRS, is where Experience API sends all the data from mobile apps, informal learning, social conversations, and more.

That’s great, but when will my LMS Support Experience API?

Experience API reached version 1.0 in May 2013. Now we can all complete our required training while skiing in the Andes with no internet, right? Not so fast. LMS’s will all have to adopt the spec before it can be used in eLearning… at least, by companies that require all training be housed in an LMS. And while enabling Experience API is one thing, taking full advantage of the spec will take more time.

Authoring tools such as Lectora and Articulate Storyline have already announced support for Experience API, and this is certainly a necessary step in the adoption process. However, these tools have really just added Experience API as an option for delivering the same data that was already being tracked via SCORM. Sure, you can start using it now, but you’ll probably still just be tracking course completion, Pass/Fail and the like.

It’s sort of like hopping in your new Ferrari to drive 20 mph through your neighborhood. It sounds great, but you aren’t using the vehicle any differently than you used your old Camry.

Even if a major LMS vendor adopted Experience API tomorrow, it would not have much to offer you if you still plan to deliver the same “click next” eLearning courses. Sure, one potential advantage would be allowing you to record the completion of a mobile app or game created by a custom provider like us. But this hypothetical Experience API LMS still would not be doing anything to interpret all of the new data points it can now collect.

New Analytics and Reporting capabilities Needed

In order to take advantage of Experience API’s ability to collect data from informal learning activities, detailed results from games and mobile app usage data, LMS vendors will need to build robust new analytics, reporting, and data visualization capabilities. The data we collect is only as good as the means we have for processing and interpreting that data.

Experience API-enabled learning solutions

Experience API gives L&D the ability to design and develop more engaging learning solutions… but we still have a long way to go before we are really harnessing all this new potential. The technology we use to deliver and manage these solutions has a great deal of catching up to do… and that catching up requires significant time and financial investment. So while Experience API-compliant LMSs will undoubtedly start popping up next trade show season, an LMS that is really using Experience API for all it’s worth is farther away than we think.

And while just adding “Experience API support” is not the final answer for LMSs OR authoring tools… it’s a positive first step that prepares our industry for the dramatic leap that will happen when we really start measuring learner experiences instead of course completion.

How can I get my LMS to be Experience API compliant sooner?

Ask for it! Talk to your LMS provider. Let them know it’s a priority for your organization. The sooner a critical mass of customers are asking for Experience API support, the sooner LMS’s will get on board.

2013 Corporate Learning Trends: Where Are We Now? (White Paper)

In January, BLP President Sharon Boller published a white paper exploring the trends in the corporate learning landscape. She forecasted where she sees the trends going… while also revealing six “truths” about what the current state of training and development really is. The contrast is fascinating.

The white paper focused on 7 trends we expect to see grow in 2013 and beyond. We’re halfway through the year now, so it’s time to check in with these trends and see how the industry has progressed over the last several months. Based on what we’ve seen through industry conferences (ASTD ICE 2013, Training 2013 anyone?), recent client work and the latest eLearning Guild research reports, Learning Trends, Technologies and Opportunities remains on track with most of its predictions. You can download the white paper here.

Learning Trends, Technologies, and Opportunities - White Paper by Sharon Boller

Click the image to download the white paper!

Revisiting Sharon’s 2013 Learning Trends

1. Less desktop and more mobile…but not that fast. Clients still want desktop eLearning, but they want it to work on a tablet, too. We’ve been asked to use rapid authoring tools to design iPad friendly courses, for example. Most people who demo Knowledge Guru are quick to make sure it is HTML… and not Flash. Even if companies are not deploying mobile learning solutions now, they hope to be doing so in the next 2 or 3 years. Read more.

2. Fewer full-sized courses. More learning snacks, ePubs, videos, and reference tools. Almost every eLearning project has a performance support component now. For example, one of our largest active projects includes a flashcard app and other mobile performance support component to help sales reps practice what they’ve learned. Learning and development is more aware of the forgetting curve than ever before… and people are motivated to make sure learners do not forget what they’ve learned so quickly. Read more.

3. Less focus on the LMS; More focus on Tin Can API. The survey results in the recent eLearning Guild research report, Evaluating and Selecting a Learning Management System, are telling. While SCORM is still the most important standard for practicioners, over 68% of respondents rated Tin Can API (now called Experience API) as either “Extremely Important” or “Very Important” as an LMS feature. Another 22% rated Experience API “Somewhat important,” meaning 90%of respondents are considering Experience API when selecting an LMS. Experience API just reached version 1.0 in 2013, so most LMS’s are not yet compatible. But with 90% of LMS customers considering Experience API as an important feature, we expect to see a huge spike Experience API-compatible LMS’s as the year progresses. Read more.

4. Less Tell; More Games and Gamification. According to a recent report by global research company Markets and Markets, gamification is a $421 million dollar market today… and it will grow $5.5 billion by 2018. Those of us in the L&D field have been reading bold gamification predictions like this all the time, but how is it translating to true gamification adoption? We have fielded more requests from clients for “gamified eLearning courses” than ever before. Even when traditional eLearning is still the primary delivery method, clients are turning to gamification to make it memorable. The high level of interested we received in the Knowledge Guru Game Creation Wizard at ASTD ICE is also telling. Read more.

5. Less PPT-only; More Cool Interactive Tools within Lectures. We use our weekly #TalkTech chat on Twitter to unearth new trends and tools. One gem we discovered and discussed was Nearpod, a fantastic iPad app for instructor-led courses. Nearpod enhances the classroom experience by allowing the instructor to guide a lesson on the participant’s iPads. Nearpod has primarily been marketed to the K-12 sector, but we have hosted Nearpod training sessions for our corporate clients in 2013. The demand for interactive tools like these continues to grow. Read more.

6. Less Formal Training; More Informal Social Learning. “Social learning” is tough. Of all the trends we predicted in 2013, informal/social learning as a true company initiative is growing the slowest. Interest in fostering informal learning is still strong… but most L&D professionals are still looking to gather more information on how to leverage these tools in a “controlled” way. For more information on how to integrate better social learning into an organization, consider attending the eLearning Guild’s online forum, Collaborative and Social Learning: Best Practices for Learning With Others. Sharon and I will present a session on our #TalkTech social learning chat as part of the virtual event. Read more.

7. Less Trainers; More Community Managers and Curators. Managing a community of learners is still foreign to many trainers. Transitioning from delivering eLearning to creating a portal of resources (which may include eLearning) where learners can take what they need can be difficult. It’s happening, sure… but not in a way that is radically reshaping our work environments. Read more.

Less Trainers; More Community Managers and Curators

This is an excerpt from Sharon Boller’s newest white paper, Learning Trends, Technologies and Opportunities. The white paper describes today’s learning landscape… then predicts 7 trends for the next 12 – 18 months. Here is Trend 7:

Less Trainers; More Community Managers and Curators

Lots of us are already curating content for others. At BLP, we’re doing it with learning technologies, processes and tools. We “follow” several others in the learning and development community who curate content – via blogs, online newspapers, orby sharing links to resources via Twitter.

Here’s a few:

RJ Jacquez consistently “curates” content about mLearning. He writes a blog called The mLearning Revolution Blog and he publishes a weekly online “paper” (using theservice that aggregates blog articles on mLearning from others who have expertise in the topic. He shares content with people who follow him on Twitter.

At BLP, we curate content on learning, categorizing it for easy viewing on our blog called Lessons on Learning. (yes, you’re already here!) We share out content via our Twitter account: @BLPIndy.

BLP Lessons on Learning Blog

Lots of other folks have started online newspapers to share content on a specific theme or topic. Web tools such as and let anyone start an online newspaper. They identify thought leaders whose blogs and tweets provide the content for their online papers. Chris Saeger, the executive director of the National Association of Simulations and Games, publishes a weekly online paper about learning games and other related educational topics.

Formal training can’t (and never did) meet the needs of a workforce. Information changes quickly – and often we need information, not training. Numerous tools now exist for rapidly creating and sharing content with other like-minded people.

Instead of remaining afraid of social learning tools, organizations – fed by a younger workforce that is already well versed with many of the tools – can begin to use these tools to make it easier for employees to find, locate, and share content and ideas with each other. When privacy IS a concern, there are tools for that as well – enabling companies to keep content behind their own walls. The eMagazine shared as part of Trend #3 is a good example of a tool that curates content and makes it
easy to share out on a specific topic… without sharing it to the entire online universe.

The skills of today’s trainers need to morph to include skills at content curation and distribution. Rather than training people formally, the curator will gather useful resources and content, organize it well, and distribute it out. They will oversee an ever-changing landscape as opposed to trying to define and formalize everything people need to know and do.

Click the image to download the white paper.
Learning Trends, Technologies and Opportunities White Paper

That’s a wrap on our white paper excerpts. Feel free to download the entire white paper now.

Less Formal Training; More Informal Social Learning

This is an excerpt from Sharon Boller’s newest white paper, Learning Trends, Technologies and Opportunities. The white paper describes today’s learning landscape… then predicts 7 trends for the next 12 – 18 months. Here is Trend 6:

Less Formal Training; More Informal, Social learningTwitter chats, Twitter lists, massive open online courses (MOOCs), YouTube channels and blogs devoted to highly specific topics, resources such as, CodeAcademy, etc. are all examples of resources that enable people to build highly customized “personal learning networks” for themselves. Given that the average employee only spends 31 hours PER YEAR in formal training, staying current requires employees to develop skills in social learning tools and strategies.

Social learning has been touted by a brave few for a long time – Jane Bozarth and Jay Cross are two big names who’ve been beating the social learning and informal learning drum for the past few years. The official recognition of the power of social learning – and the adoption of social learning initiatives inside organizations — has been even more glacier-like than mobile uptake. As more people who were born after 1980 get into the work world, though, social learning initiatives will become more and more commonplace – because this generation lives and breathes social.

What it might look like:

At BLP, we are our own “Learning Lab.” This means we test out new tools and techniques on ourselves before advocating their use by clients. Twitter chats have been around almost as long as Twitter – and they are now occurring with greater frequency. We started a chat in January 2012 called #TalkTech. The goal was to promote conversation and increase understanding and awareness of learning technologies that we – and our clients – might find useful. We host the talk on Twitter to encourage participation from non-BLPers. That’s right – we WANT the perspective of outsiders, who can share technologies and ideas with us… and we want the ability to share our perspectives, too.

The premise is pretty simple. We have a “content curator” who monitors a “hashtag” we titled #TalkTech. Anyone – BLPer or larger world community member – can submit links to articles about learning technologies, tools, or ideas using this hashtag. The curator selects the best three each week, publishes them to a blog, and we meet every Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. EST to discuss the three articles.

We’ve discovered a ton of new tools via these talks and we’ve also picked up new ideas for methods we could employ. (See a recent blog on how Jerry Seinfeld writes a joke and the correlation to interaction design.)

Participating in the weekly chats is easy using a web tool called TweetChat.


If you miss the live chat – no problem. You can get a transcript of the conversation via another great web tool called Storify, which lets you create an online transcript of your chat. Storify lets you create stories from a variety of social media resources.

Storify - transcript of social learning chats

Learning Trends, Technologies and Opportunities White Paper
Click the image to download the white paper.

Check back next week for Trend 7, or download the entire white paper now.