Why “70:20:10” Is Not Enough


In a recent article, Bill Brandon speculates that we’ve hit a tipping point in the workplace. Learning demands placed on workers have exceed workers’ capacity to meet them. In other words, we are inundating today’s workers with training and asking them to complete all of it while still maintaining high levels of productivity. This really struck a chord with me… because I see it happening again and again in our clients’ organizations.

I liked Brandon’s article and tweeted it out, saying it was a nice piece… and it was. However, I found myself going back to it and feeling like Brandon neglected a very important point. He advocated for us to think about three elements that all contribute to our accomplishments and performance in the workplace:

  • Our skills and knowledge
  • Our shared experience (things gleaned from others, informal learning we do via social networks, interactions with peers, etc.)
  • Our individual experience (things we learn by doing)

Brandon felt that if L&D professionals thought less in terms of “courses” and used the 70-20-10 “rule of thumb” to consider how to help someone build competence, then we’d be better off. (Caution flag here: 70-20-10 is NOT a proven model; it is described by the person who originally coined it as “folklore.” See page 5 of this journal article written by the originator of 70-20-10, Morgan McCall.) Brandon advocated that we embrace social learning and learning pathways as the means of reducing the stress and burnout so many are experiencing.

The Elephant in the Room

While I do not disagree that avenues other than courses can be hugely valuable in helping build people’s proficiencies, I realized that the article failed to mention the elephant in the stress/burnout room. The elephant is time, or rather lack thereof. Learning takes time, whether we do it informally or formally. In today’s workplaces, we’re pushing people to do more and more. We are failing to acknowledge what this “more and more” often means: we are asking people to go way beyond 40 hours in their work week to do the learning required to build and maintain proficiency and to do the work that contributes to company profits.

Harold Jarche had it right when he said that in today’s economy, work is learning and learning is the work. THAT is the model employers and employees have to get into our heads…that learning on the job is simply part of doing our jobs.

To manage stress and minimize burnout, we have to incorporate “learning curve” into the work people do. We have to factor this learning curve into the time things will take to complete and the amount someone will accomplish in a day or a week. And because people are constantly figuring out how to do something while they are working on their projects, we have to build in this constant “learning curve” into our expectations of what people will accomplish and how fast they will accomplish it.

In My Experience

I run a business and our formula for billable time is not 40 hours a week. Depending on the team member’s role, we estimate that 80% of their time can be devoted to billable tasks. The remainder is allocated to learning and administrative tasks. Giving people time to learn on the job is essential in an industry where we need to stay on the leading edge of what’s possible re: learning solutions. We have communities of practice that people are part of, we have weekly link-sharing and discussions, we have periodic all-company “demo-fests” where we share out projects with each other. On top of all that, we have periodic formal courses that people will attend to build skills in niche areas. All these things take time…in addition to the constant learning someone does in the course of executing projects.

So Bill Brandon, I most definitely agree that we can and should think beyond formal courses in helping people build proficiency. But we cannot do so – even via informal means – if we fail to acknowledge that we have to build the time in for people to learn. Even looking something up requires time.

eLearning Trends That Will Fizzle, Sizzle, or Simmer in 2014

2014 eLearning Trends

Our industry is notorious for chasing after trends. We all enjoy reading the summaries of the past year – and seeing predictions for the new one. Most folks want to know: which trends are worth pursuing and which ones are going to fizzle? Is gamification going to go the way of Myspace and Foursquare? Will social learning be replaced by “isolation learning” (okay, I made that up)?

At any point in time, there are trends that sizzle, others that simmer, and ones that fizzle out. The really, really good ones become “best practices” over the long haul. So let’s see what’s on the stove right now.

First, the sizzle

This is the stuff that I see TRULY taking off inside organizations. It’s not just talked about…it is happening:

Experience API (aka Tin Can API): Considering the fact that “xAPI” was just introduced in 2012, I think this trend is sizzling. There is no question that companies – particularly large ones – love to track data. If they can’t track it then people didn’t learn… or so the feeling goes. Experience API allows for tracking of all that stuff that has been so hard to track – use of social media, for example. So – just as SCORM took several years to get to a point of critical mass, I think Experience API will – but I do believe this type of tracking is going to be a force for the future.

Gamification/learning games: This trend is at full sizzle right now. We are having LOTS of conversations with folks who want either a learning game developed or would like support in creating a gamification strategy related to a large endeavor or program. I fear that over-use or inappropriate use could lead to it falling out of favor by 2016 because a lot of efforts may fail due to poor design or implementation.

The same reasons games and gamification are being used should be reasons to keep them around: they tend to structure learning experiences into challenges and provide feedback loops, two things that engage people and help foster behavior change.

Storytelling in Training: This trend/topic began peeking its head out last year, and seems off to a roaring start in 2014. Almost every recipient of the “Best” awards at the 2013 eLearning Guild DemoFest featured the use of stories within the learning solution. There is a nice body of research that points to the value of stories in helping us remember. It’s harder to remember discrete facts, for instance, than it is to remember those same facts when they are woven into a narrative. Check out John Medina’s Brain Rules book for info on this.

Agile development: This one got very hot in 2013, and I think interest in it will remain strong in 2014 and beyond. Why? Because a linear approach doesn’t work when you are designing highly interactive web-based solutions; you need to iterate. The skills people will want to acquire are skills in creating rapid prototypes on paper and digitally.

Visuals and graphics: Along with the use of storytelling, the winners at eLearning Guild’s DemoFest featured heavy use of visuals. Designers are wisely shifting away from screens filled with text to ones dominated by visuals. Check out this YouTube video that showcases the World Wildlife Fund’s new educational app for an outstanding example of how visuals can be used to help educate people on facts and “build awareness.” We’ve put together a comprehensive guide for using graphics in eLearning, available here.

Here’s what’s simmering

…With the potential to reach sizzle status:

Mobile Support in lieu of “mobile learning:” This one is just now creeping its way out. There’s no question that mobile has NOT taken off as predicted. The 2013 ASTD State of the Industry Report tells us that only 1.39% of respondents are actually distributing content via mobile even though we’re very close to reaching market saturation with SmartPhones (predictions vary from August of this year to early next year).

I think the concept of mLearning needs to fizzle as we’re not seeing people really wanting to take entire courses on their phones. BUT – we are seeing that people use their phones for tons of stuff – in short chunks – and they love to use phones to find/locate information. Hence, I think more and more corporate L&D people are going to want mobile solutions that help people with these find/locate tasks or with quick two-minute reviews of concepts.

Video: This one has been on simmer status for awhile. I think 2014 will have it burning brighter – but for very specific uses, not broad use like “Click NEXT to continue” did in eLearning.

The low price of the technology is quite a driver. The GoPro lets anyone take amazing video for about $300. Today’s SmartPhones enable high-quality video shooting AND post-production, right from the phone. Video is no longer something you have to consider too expensive to do or leave to professional videographers and editors. It lends itself to storytelling and it allows people to share. In fact, the “homemade” quality videos have become quite acceptable, courtesy of YouTube. Its limitation will be that it’s best suited for the 2 to 5-minute support function rather than a formal course-like learning solution…and lots of companies don’t have a good infrastructure for deploying videos yet without making folks log into an LMS to view them.

Spaced Learning and Repetition: The research is compelling in these two areas, and I am getting phone calls from folks who are telling me they are actively researching these topics – and trying to figure out what they need to be doing differently within their L&D functions to help people really remember what they supposedly “learn” in training courses. I think this one could go from simmer to sizzle at some point in 2014.

What Will Fizzle?

Here’s my big fizzle prediction – and I know I’m going to upset the people who passionately support the concept. I, personally, am an avid user of social media for learning, however…

Twitter-style tools for “social learning:”  I will stop short of labeling “social learning” as the fizzle because I personally am an ardent fan of it… and it’s a natural part of how people have always learned, no matter what L&D has to say about it. I love content curation tools such as Zite, Flipboard, and Feed.ly, though I believe I am in a small minority of people who DO consume content and gather information with these tools.

I sense – based on watching my various Twitter feeds –  that the Twitter fascination is ending – at least in corporate settings. Twitter feels a bit like yesterday’s news. So many tools have entered the landscape that the landscape is starting to feel overwhelming. The number of social tools out there is massive – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, Vine, etc.

I think people will continue to use a variety of social tools for personal learning – but I’m not seeing wide adoption or interest in it inside corporations – despite heavy conversation on it within the L&D world for the past several years. In fact, I see active resistance to it – not from corporate leaders but from employees themselves. The landscape has become overwhelming; when people feel overwhelmed, they opt out.

mLearning: So I identified mSupport as a “simmer” status trend. I think mLearning is going to fizzle as employees let us know they do not want to take courses on phones. MOBILE won’t fizzle… but the idea of entire courses distributed via phones will. The landscape shows us that we use our phones in very short bursts, though the phones are constantly present. My one caveat to this would be mobile games – people will spend lots of time playing them. If we can design a full-blown course that is as immersive as a mobile game, we may be able to get some sizzle going.

Virtual Worlds: These fizzled a couple years ago, but it’s worth mentioning here only because I still hear others mentioning it… as a tool that fizzled. Second Life had so much buzz back in 2008… and, while the tool still exists, you do not hear organizations talking about how they will use virtual worlds in training anymore. The technology curve was too steep in terms of the hardware and systems requirements to use it – and the learning curve simply to function in the world was too high.

So I’ve gone out on a big limb to predict my sizzle, simmer, and fizzle trends. I would love to hear others’ views on this one. This is a topic that begs for lots of diverse opinions and discussions.

How We Use Social Media for Informal Learning

Vendors talk about social learning like its something revolutionary, but I’m here to tell you its not. Informal learning is an everyday thing. Social media tools are just another platform we use to learn from each-other and find information serendipitously.

For every sales pitch you hear about social learning, for every shiny social network logo you see out there on the web, you should be looking for real use cases and stories of social media being used in a real world setting… with tangible benefit to an organization.

How to use social media for learning

We’ve found our own niche in the social media solar system… and it takes our team 30ish minutes a week to fully participate. It’s become part of everyone’s work flow, widely accepted in our company culture, and a launchpad for each individual in our organization to find their own social media and informal learning sweet spot.

We call it #TalkTech. It’s a 30 minute chat we hold once a week on Twitter.

Swaying the Skeptics

Many organizations hit a roadblock when a group of people, or one high-ranking person, resists using new social media tools. They either can’t see the value or simply don’t want to have to learn a new “thing.” Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand why people are resisting social media tools in your organization. The possible reasons are many:

  • It seems like more work: We spend enough time sending emails, meeting, IM’ing and (imagine this) actually working as it is. Who wants to add a new mode of communication to our work day?
  • It’s hard to remember to participate: When companies encourage participation on an internal or external social network, they sometimes forget to provide a regular reminder to participate. Other times, they neglect to post mission critical information in the new location. Without incentive to participate, people will soon forget the new activity.
  • They don’t feel comfortable participating: Some people just don’t like sharing their thoughts unsolicited on social media. Whether in our working lives or personal lives, opening up on social media is not everyone’s idea of a good time.
  • There’s no structure: How do I complete the required training when what’s “required” is to continuously participate in something ongoing? There’s no box to check when learning socially with peers. There’s no course to complete. Without that sense of structure, people will be even less motivated to complete something they may not want to do anyway.

Social Media Chats Jumpstart the Conversation

We decided we wanted to start encouraging our team to use social media tools for personal and social learning late in 2011. We had just given everyone an iPad, and wanted to encourage lots of new learning and exploratory activities people could do on their new devices. We also wanted to learn how to advise our clients on how to best use social media for their own learning initiatives… so we used ourselves as a pilot program.

We started a weekly chat on Twitter focused on emerging learning trends and technologies. It’s called #TalkTech, and it happens once a week.

We take turns finding interesting articles and curating them on the BLP blog. We identify three key topics that relate to the articles and pose them in the form of a question during the chat.

Our team gathers on Twitter whenever they are available and discusses the topics, 10 minutes each, for 30 minutes. We log on, we converse and learn something new, and then we’re done.

#TalkTech exposes people who often work virtually on their own separate teams to new ideas that expand their awareness of the industry as a whole and emerging trends that are often later integrated into client work. The chat gives everyone at BLP an easy channel for informal and social learning that they can tap into on a regular basis.

Why Social media chats work for learning

We’ve found social media chats to be the perfect way to get even the most skeptical participant at least a small amount of exposure to social media as a learning tool. I identified some of the common objections people have to social media for learning above, and now I will show how social media chats meet each one of those challenges:

  • It takes very little work to participate: People are able to take a 30 minute break from whatever task they were completing on a Thursday afternoon and spend time chatting with co-workers about topics of general interest. Since the articles are curated for them, it is easy to participate, learn something new, and be done in 30 minutes. Participation is optional, so no one feels forced to participate if they don’t have time.
  • The weekly chat is a regular reminder to participate: #TalkTech is a recurring weekly event on everyone’s Outlook calendar. Everyone in the company knows it’s happening and the chat serves as a constant reminder to take advantage of social media tools for personal learning, even if that just means logging in for 30 minutes a week.
  • It’s easy to chat, or just read: People start to feel more comfortable participating in the chat when they see co-workers doing it. Since the topics are posted in our blog and we create a transcript of the chat afterwards, even people who prefer to absorb the content at a slower pace can access the information and benefit from the learning.
  • The chat provides structure: It’s easier to know “what to say” on social media when everyone is discussing the same topic for a set period of time. Instead of trying to figure out what to post about, the chat provides direction… and a clear start and stop time.

Results of #TalkTEch

The longer we have kept up #TalkTech, the more positive benefits we’ve found. Ideas discussed in the chat make their way into client projects. Information shared by the Learning Services team gets passed over to Multimedia, and vice versa. Virtual team members get a chance to connect with a group they may only see once a week or less. Best of all, we have all gathered firsthand experience participating in “social learning” activities and can share that knowledge and experience with our clients.

eLearning Guild Online Forum

I’ll be co-presenting a case study on our use of #TalkTech and social learning for the eLearning Guild’s Online Forum in August. We’ll share testimonials from team members, describe how to set up a social media chat, and give you our top lessons learned. Learn more here.

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.

This Week on #TalkTech: Big Data for Online Learning, MOOCs and Distracting Mobile Devices

#TalkTech is the “flipped” approach to Twitter chats. We publish all the topics a few hours before the chat so you can show up at 3 pm EST / 12 pm PST on Thursdays ready to discuss. We discuss three topics a week and the chat lasts around 30 minutes.

We’re shaking things up in 2013 here at #TalkTech! Every couple of weeks, a guest curator will be picking our topics and leading the discussion. Not much will change format-wise… we’ll still publish the weekly post here and the topics will still be tweeted by @BLPIndy, but a guest curator (besides yours truly) will pick the topics and be ready to lead the conversation during the chat. If you are interested in being a guest curator for TalkTech, let me know!

Topic #1: Can big data fuel an engagement index that will improve online learning?

CourseSmart - Big Data engagement index

A tech startup called CourseSmart has partnered with publishers like Pearson and McGraw Hill to collect data on how students interact with textbooks. The pages they read (and skip), passages they highlight, and activities they complete will all be fed back to the teacher and create a CourseSmart score. This score may help teachers predict which students will fail and find what areas of the course need more reinforcement. With version 1.0 of the Experience API (formerly Tin Can API) coming soon, these same tracking capabilities will soon be available for eLearning. How can an “engagement index” of sorts improve online learning?

New York Times: Teachers Know if You’ve Done the eReading

Topic #2: What are the pros and cons of MOOCs?

MOOCs. Some people love ’em… others love to hate ’em. We think the value of a MOOC is entirely contingent on the learner’s motivation and the quality of the content. Several of our team members have taken Kevin Werbach’s popular Gamification MOOC and have found the content highly valuable. Other thought leaders such as Justin Marquis at OnlineUniversities have given MOOCs less than stellar reviews. Read the reflection of a recent MOOC participant and consider the pros and cons of this learning medium.

Reflections of a MOOC Virgin

Topic #3: Do constant distractions from mobile devices make us less creative?

The whole world is just a click, tap or swipe away. While this can enable insane productivity and learning opportunities, it can also keep us stuck in the same place. Online distractions make our brain feel stimulated and keep us from being bored, yes. But boredom is a prerequisite of creativity… and we simply don’t give ourselves a chance to come up with new ideas if we are constantly just checking tweets and emails on our phones. Do these distractions make us less creative? What’s the best way to manage distractions from mobile devices?

Why Your iPhone Addiction is Snuffing Your Creativity

If you’re new to Twitter chats, don’t forget about awesome tools such as Tweetchat.com that automatically save the hashtag and help you focus on the conversation!

This Week on #TalkTech: Microsoft Touchscreens, Developing HTML5 Apps and March Madness Apps

#TalkTech is the “flipped” approach to Twitter chats. We publish all the topics a few hours before the chat so you can show up at 3 pm EST / 12 pm PST on Thursdays ready to discuss. We discuss three topics a week and the chat lasts around 30 minutes.

We’re shaking things up in 2013 here at #TalkTech! Every couple of weeks, a guest curator will be picking our topics and leading the discussion. Not much will change format-wise… we’ll still publish the weekly post here and the topics will still be tweeted by @BLPIndy, but a guest curator (besides yours truly) will pick the topics and be ready to lead the conversation during the chat. If you are interested in being a guest curator for TalkTech, let me know!

This week’s guest curator is Kirk Boller, CEO and VP of Multimedia at BLP. He finds and posts great articles every week on his twitter account.

Topic #1: How might touch screen walls change the learning environment?

Microsoft Touch Screens

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Microsoft seems to be spending more money and talking about R&D more than anyone these days.  New ideas and competition have to be good, right?  This article talks about their increased focus on R&D and specifically on one new technology that could revolutionize our walls!  We could see whole walls becoming touch screens (replacing white boards).  What do you think of Microsoft’s increased R&D efforts?  How might the “touch screen walls” change the learning environment?

Microsoft is Talking About the Future A lot

Topic #2: What are the key differences between HTML web apps and native apps?

The ongoing debate between Native versus web apps for mobile continues. This article focuses on the web app development experience with HTML5… and how it is not necessarily a better solution than using native apps the way some say it is. The article argues that native apps (apps that are designed to run in the computer environment) are cheaper, faster to iterate with and more capable than web apps, which are accessed over the internet. We want to know what YOU think: Which is more expensive?  What other factors do folks need to know about when deciding between the two?  Are web apps more difficult to produce using HTML5?  Is HTML5 the best solution for a web app or should tools be used to generate them such as PhoneGap or Corona SDK? We’ll discuss all of these topics and more.

Accounting software startup Xero ditches HTML5 in favor of native iOS and Android apps

Topic #3: How is the growing app ecosytem changing the way we enjoy March Madness?

Hey, if we are going to hold #TalkTech on the first day of the NCAA tournament, we better have some discussion about March Madness, right? Apps have forever changed how we interact with the tournament. The official March Madness app has offered live streaming of games for a few years now, with fees increasing each year. Now, the app is free… if you already shell out for cable. Take a look at the various apps for March Madness and discuss how these apps change the tournament experience.

March Madness! Hashtags, Apps to Manage Your 2013 Brackets

March Madness Live App in the Apple App Store

If you’re new to Twitter chats, don’t forget about awesome tools such as Tweetchat.com that automatically save the hashtag and help you focus on the conversation!

This Week on #TalkTech: Gamified Brainstorming, Digital Etiquette and Poor Game Mechanics

#TalkTech is the “flipped” approach to Twitter chats. We publish all the topics a few hours before the chat so you can show up at 3 pm EDT / 12 pm PDT on Thursdays ready to discuss. We discuss three topics a week and the chat lasts around 30 minutes.

We’re shaking things up in 2013 here at #TalkTech! Every couple of weeks, a guest curator will be picking our topics and leading the discussion. Not much will change format-wise… we’ll still publish the weekly post here and the topics will still be tweeted by @BLPIndy, but a guest curator (besides yours truly) will pick the topics and be ready to lead the conversation during the chat. If you are interested in being a guest curator for TalkTech, let me know!

Common Game Elements

Topic #1: Is gamified brainstorming a good way to inspire creativity?

It seems there is a gamified tool for everything these days. This one looks pretty neat, though… it’s a gamified approach to generating new ideas. It’s called the Blitz Brainstorming Gamification Tool  and it’s designed to help people think creatively when they find themselves in a rut. A “Blitz” session is a 5 step process with a twenty minute time limit. At the end of the session, points are awarded. It sounds a bit goofy at first, but putting constraints on creativity often make us more creative. Read more about Blitz and share your thoughts on gamified brainstorming. Is it a good idea?

Blitz Brainstorming Gamification Tool

Topic #2: Why is it important to practice digital etiquette?

Have you ever given someone long winded directions to a restaurant when they could have just looked it up on a smart phone? What about leaving a lengthy voicemail when a short “call me back” text would do? Younger professionals may completely miss out on the value a handwritten card has, just because it is not something they value. Depending on what generation you belong to and how “current” you are with digital trends, your concept of etiquette may be drastically different. Why is it important to practice digital etiquette and how can we learn how to best communicate with everyone… not just the folks who share the same preferences we do?

Etiquette Redefined in the Digital Age

Topic #3: How do poor game mechanics derail game based learning?

Connect Four

Ever played a painful game of Connect 4 or Battleship with a kid? What about a painful rendition at a family gathering? Games like these are engrained in the family lives of many Americans, yet most agree they are pretty boring to play. There are actually some pretty good reasons why: the underlying game mechanics in all of these games does not leave much up to chance. As it turns out, each game only has one repeatable strategy that will virtually guarantee victory, every time. (Two if you’re lucky). As you look at this games, consider the importance of creating game mechanics with multiple strategies and paths to success to keep players dialed in.

6 Board Games That Ruined it For Everyone

If you’re new to Twitter chats, don’t forget about awesome tools such as Tweetchat.com that automatically save the hashtag and help you focus on the conversation!

This Week on #TalkTech: Technology in Instructor Led Training, Corporate Cyber Security and Design for Many Devices

#TalkTech is the “flipped” approach to Twitter chats. We publish all the topics a few hours before the chat so you can show up at 3 pm EST / 12 pm PST on Thursdays ready to discuss. We discuss three topics a week and the chat lasts around 30 minutes.

We’re shaking things up in 2013 here at #TalkTech! Every couple of weeks, a guest curator will be picking our topics and leading the discussion. Not much will change format-wise… we’ll still publish the weekly post here and the topics will still be tweeted by @BLPIndy, but a guest curator (besides yours truly) will pick the topics and be ready to lead the conversation during the chat. If you are interested in being a guest curator for TalkTech, let me know!

This week’s guest curator is Leanne Batchelder, VP of Client Relations at BLP. You should probably follow her on Twitter, because she’s really awesome.

Topic #1: How can technology make classroom learning more engaging?

Triptico app

We’ve all sat through “Death by Powerpoint” instructor-led workshops where sharing of content trumps providing learners opportunities to interact with the content. Most facilitators I’ve worked with aren’t opposed to making their workshops more interactive; they’ve just run out of ideas beyond a Jeopardy game. Triptico is a web tool that helps teachers create and use lots of different classroom activities, tools and quizzes in their classrooms. This online toolkit is full of free apps for teachers. How could this type of app-based toolkit help corporate subject matter experts and facilitators?

Triptico: A Powerful and Free Instructional App

Topic #2: How can information accessibility needs and cyber-security policies work together?

The U.S Defense Department recently announced they are opening their communication networks to iOS and Android devices, beginning February 2014. They have created a “commercial mobile device implementation plan” that is NOT a BYOD policy. Essentially, Defense personnel who’ve purchased their own iPhones and iPads will be allowed to use them to collaborate and share information rapidly to support “mission success.” Will the Pentagon’s device-agnostic approach lead other global organizations to do the same? If so, what are the pros and cons to any organizations’ “missions”?

Pentagon Opens Network to Apple, Google

Topic #3: What can we do to create mlearning solutions that “fit” the variety of phone screen sizes on the market today?

Mid Sized Phone Screen

About a year ago, The Samsung Galaxy introduced a phone with a 5.3 in screen, and we thought that was big! Turns out, that was just the beginning. Get ready for more plus-sized screen options in devices that most people are no longer using for “voice calling.” How should mlearning solutions adapt to this “big” new world?

Plus-sized Phones Dominate Wireless Trade Show


If you’re new to Twitter chats, don’t forget about awesome tools such as Tweetchat.com that automatically save the hashtag and help you focus on the conversation!

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 Paper.li) 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 Paper.li and Scoop.it 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 Lynda.com, 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.