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Inspiration from the Learning Technologies Conference

We arrived last Friday at Rotterdam airport with a head full of inspiration from the Learning Technologies conference and fresh air from our walk along the Thames. In this blogpost we compile some reflections and provide links to all our liveblogs, so that you may choose which ones to read.

Something which struck us when we reflected on all different sessions:

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

If you’d like to read our liveblogs, choose one or several of the 13 liveblogs below:


Liveblog #LT15UK: The value of MOOCs

Sam Burrough and Martin Couzins facilitate my last session on MOOCs and the value of it. The room had several round tables so it looked like this session will have a bit more interaction then the sessions 🙂

What can you use a MOOC for:

  • Personal learning and own development – why wouldn’t you do this?

  • Curating & Connecting – suggest MOOCs to other people. (Here a list of MOOCs, organized by Sam and Martin)
  • Applying MOOC approaches – scaling learning, social interaction around content, collecting data, reflection.
  • Running real MOOCs

MOOCs are an iteration on the path to more web-like learning experiences

How do you design a MOOC? Some learning experiences from Sam and Martin: Start with the end in mind. Sam and Martin used Curatr as the platform for their first MOOC. This platform allows you to use several game mechanics. (If you don’t know Curatr it is worth a try! And a great opportunity coming up.. on Monday 2 February a MOOC is started there on Social Learning!) Think about three C’s: content, conversation and connection (people connecting with each other).

What if you could collect useful data for all three c’s?

We had a short discussion around this question on my table. And I have to admit that I don’t have much with such a question around data. But there are a couple of people on my table, working in large corporate organisations. They all have a LMS and collect lots and lots of data… but lack the right capability to make good use of all these data. Same message as we came up with last evening, when we were talking about Xapi. New world to explore!


Liveblogging from London: Leveraging games for business impact

Lynda Donovan and Mark Reilly head this session about games together. Lynda is working for Learnovate in Dublin and has research evidence for the impact of games. We are scraping the surface of the technology innovation hence research is very important to know what works. The challenge for organizations in 2015 is dealing with the skills gap and identifying skills. The 21st century skills are multi-dimensional, hence we have to look beyond the traditional assessment methods. Enter GAMES – ilearn. While playing games, people get immersed and leave traces. iLearn is an immersive learning environment for collaboration and problem solving. Within ilearn there is a team task to improve the energy usage of Ecostreet. You can earn gold, silver or bronze levels and collaboration badges.

iLearn had various trials. The engagement evidence was very high, by statements like: “This is deadly”. “Brilliant”. “So much fun.” The task completion was 79% which was higher than expected. 80% was engaged in task related chats. The problem solving evidence showed that people were searching for the best solution “trying to see what the best buy is”. Collaboration evidence was also high, 95% voted more than 15 times, 89% tagged more than 15 times. Participants expected technology to work as social technology. Team 3c for instance was highly systematic, divided up tasks, focussed and driven.

The role of coaches

There was an in-world coach who provided scaffolding like monitoring the chats and having private chats. The effect of the in-world coach was evident because a higher percentage of the Gold and silver medal winner had chatted with the coach. The next step will be to go to the corporate world.

What are the implications for corporate learning? 

We have the practical example of McDonalds, the largest employer of young people. They way they learn is very different. They use technology which is part of their soul, and bombards them with lots of messages. The challenge McDonalds was facing was to introduce a new tool for orders and servicing customers. The subject is dry, it is technical and workers need just in time support. Shoulder to shoulder training would be too expensive. They searched for something fun and engaging. So the game ‘Crew challenge‘ was designed (see picture). You have to serve customers in the game, beat the clock and there is an individual score. There were 3 different levels and in every level the customers are more demanding/difficult. They should the games live to us, and we heard several orders for milkshakes :). We then had to choose the right answer for multiple choice. Feedback to the players comes from a customer score and visual customer expressions. The scores really kept people coming back, with 1200 daily plays. The crew starting using the score boards and posting it on Facebook for instance.

The business results

The results were extremely good. The service time decreased and customer complaints decreased, and the average cheque was increased with 15 pence. The game provided 90.000 hours of training and the players didn’t realize it was training. The beauty of the game is also that it is still up and being played. It was also relevant for older staff – we shouldn’t forget that the highest population in certain games are middle-aged women.


It is easy to get excited about gamification but don’t forget it has to be right. Gamification is an important part in the blend of learning. It can create a pull for learning rather then a push. Furthermore it is fun to develop too. You can play the game and test it if you like, just go to Kineo and play.


Liveblogging from London: Mobile learning in Qualcomm

I decide to attend a session with one speaker – hoping that will allow us to dig a bit deeper than in the sessions with 3 speakers.. Geoff Stead is from Qualcomm – who make the chips in our phones – and will work with us on Enterprise Mobile Learning. Qualcomm is an organization with 31.000 employees.

Four things for today!

  1. Guerilla learners
  2. Moving to mobile
  3. App stores for learning
  4. New tools new tricks

Guerilla learners

These are the people who don’t have the patience to wait for L&D activities, they solve their own issues and find their way. The room recognizes these people. Currently they are not well served by L&D. They go to Google, use their LinkedIn groups and social networks. The guerilla learners and self-conscience, already mobile. See the graph about the modern learner below.

Moving to mobile

In Qualcomm content evolves very rapidly. “We used to teach aging things”. Qualcomm adopted BYOD (bring your own device) and new generations of employees and coming onboard. All these changes make it harder for L&D to keep up. The outreach of Qualcomm has shifted – elearning which does not work on mobile has been eliminated, so elearning has to be multi-device by definition. Shift from longer training sessions to smaller sessions with domain experts. When we talk about mobile learning we don’t talk about the older courses squeezed onto mobile devices. “Think beyond courses“.  The things people do on their phones is part of learning.

There are two approaches basically:

  • the approach of the Swiss army knife – there is one platform you go to with many functionalities
  • the approach of the toolbox – a distributed set of tools

Developing your own appstore

If you have an app developed it doesn’t really scale. Hence Qualcomm has developed its own appstore.It is important that apps in the store can be available through single sign-on to make it easy to access them. In the employee app store there is a wide variety of apps. Examples are compliance apps, video learning apps, performance support apps, games, performance support, social learning apps. It is up to the room to choose! The most popular game is flappybird which is just for fun… however, this helped to get people into the appstore. A more serious game is a car racing game. It helps to learn cultural things about the company. In the videolearning app there is the Lynda app, and a subscription for the whole organization was negotiated, half of the employees have used Lynda. Some apps were developed for Qualcomm. An example of social learning is Pathgather- a sort of internal Facebook where you can create paths. About 50% of learning is via mobile, yet their are also face-to-face trainers, or employees may go to an external training.

The most popular app is the map app, called Qmaps, which uses Google maps with a layer of data. QC Lingo is a company jargon learning app. In California every manager has to take two hours sexual harassment training. It doesn’t matter whether you learned anything as long as it is two hours long… :). It is now offered on mobile which is a huge success. There is another app with the faces of the top 15% people. Another example is Qspeaks to learn business phrases in languages, like mandarin, which is actually made by Chinese colleagues in the company.

Obstacles for mobile learning 

Organizations haven’t gone far with mobile learning. In groups we discussed obstacles for mobile learning in organizations. Some of the issues experienced are:

  • security issues – when the IT department doesn’t approve because they can’t put it behind the firewall
  • infrastructure – people need smartphone or ipads
  • cultural and generational issues – different generations and have different aptitudes and ideas about mobile learning

The largest obstacle is plumbing – the systems don’t easily work together. Geoff offers some Barrier-Busting approaches (I like that word!) like start small, with a small budget and grow into success; security models may need to be revisited; start new partnerships with IT- departments, in Qualcomm there is huge interest to go jointly into mobile. The new model for security goes from high via medium to low and NONE. Then you have to make smart decisions about what should go where.

New tools – old tricks or new tricks?

Think: What can mobile offer we can’t do at the moment? Knowing where people are.. iBeacon is a way of figuring out where you are in a store. This is an example of indoor positioning. Qualcomm developed an app for a museum sensing where you are and giving you information. Think augmented reality too with examples like hollow lens, word lens, etc. The photo booth is fun – it allows you to take a picture with a celebrity (fake) and very popular in South-East Asia. It is not the old serious learning – but it is helping employees to get excited about the app store.

Want to browse more? You can visit


Liveblog #LT15UK: Why wearable technology will change learning forever

David Kelly, interesting.. sitting in the first row.. I was googling around on his website when I read this: “While the northeast snowstorm in the US has prevented me from attending in-person in London, we have made arrangements to have me share the session virtually.”. See how this will go!!

Great blog by the way, with all kinds of resources accompanying his presentation. To be found here.

David starts with a comparison.. going on vacation a couple of years ago: you made a plan, searched on a map, took mysterious pictures and wrote letters to Grandma. Now we use google, email and make digital photo’s and video’s. The technology is changed, but we still do the same things.

There is already more wearable technology available then we think. From watches to cloths. What are some examples of applications?

  • Monitoring the condition of your baby;
  • Recording experiences (for example by wearing Google Glass);
  • Responsive coaching;
  • Connect and communicate at a distance (e.g. virtual meeting with the doctor in a hospital);
  • Authentication (e.g. secure transactions);
  • Augmented Reality (e.g. translate written language to your own, using an app)
  • Physical Restoration
  • Environmental Alignment (think about the smart ‘thermostaat’)

Now, how can we use this technology for learning? David first mentions narration of work: watching an operation from a distance, and maybe even commenting on the way the operation proceeds? Second is virtual support: support from a distance while working in the field. Contextual learning…

..and we lost connection with David. Too bad. In a short wrap up by phone, he advises all of us to play with the wearables, try out new approaches. That is the way to develop this area. Because, it will definitely influence learning, work, life.


Liveblog #LT15UK: Expanding your mind

Second day of the conference. We were both a bit disappointed about yesterday. But we’ve started this day with fresh energy! Our key note is Robert Winston, professor Science and Society in London.

The human mind is developing so rapidly. Robert talks about: Hamlet, telescope, steam engine, portable computing, moon landing, synthetic biology. Where will we be with learning in 5 years from now? We don’t know.

What happens in our brain? The brain is the most complex object in the universe. He shows a very nice video about hoe we learn:

(If you are interested in more from Robert Winston, please check his video collection on YouTube. From ‘how can we get pregnant’ to ‘how to sleep better’).

He shows a picture of four nobel price winners. With his comment: every two of us have more brains then one of these nobel price winners. We should collaborate more!

We learn by watching other people. Imitating is so important. Think about small children who don’t have the ability to speak yet, but can ‘answer the telephone’ and ‘have a conversation’ 🙂

He introduces to us the example of Rebecca Still who needs to learn a new movement on the bar. The coach: I need to fill her brain with the new movements’. It shows the power of visualization: you can go through the new movement in your brain, and it helps to perform better. The pathways in your brain are already in place, before you start the movement with your body,

How do we remember things? How do we use our minds when it comes to creativity?

We copy the behavior of someone talking to we find friendly and nice. We want to belong to his or her way of communication. Robert showed a good video to illustrate this point, with a nice and nasty boy…

Well, this was a nice and inspiring start of the day! Especially the way Robert presented his story to us: with great video’s, music and his personal touch and style to the story. For me, the elements in learning: modeling, visualization, copying, experimenting, are in the picture again!

Liveblog: sharing (in-company) knowledge

After a bit of a disappointing session, I now hope for a very inspiring and innovative story. I have chosen this session because of my curiosity towards knowledge sharing processes (difficult to support!) and communities of practice.  This session promises to be practical in the sense that is build around one to two cases.

Edward Gallier (hotel group Jurys Inn) and Kandy Woodfield…

Beating the silo trap

Ed’s story starts with the aim of doing the work more consistently and efficient. Therefore they developed ‘Grow online’ as the online platform for new employees. Available 24/7. And we needed the ‘noisy’ ones to like it. We organized management support, and the opportunity for people to provide feedback. There also is a very close link with the Sharepoint environment we used.

The developed 2000 courses and it was a real success. What happened as well was that people had the impression that Learning & Development ‘had all the knowledge’. For this reason they started working with the people in de organization itself. Get more people involved in creating content. Start small. Pick the project. Pick the audience.

For example: How to make an excellent cup of coffee: Who is the knowledge holder? Who is really good at this? What was rather static content they translated it to video, online discussion, exercises. We have great consistency now. We have improved our culture.

Kandy Woodfield works for NatCen Social Research, and this organization is in a very competitive market. They had formal trainings, but were looking for knowledge sharing mechanisms, closely linked to the work.  How to get people out of the silos?

They introduced four communities if practice, with activities like action learning, presenting practical cases, asking each other questions. What made the communities a succes?

  • Let the members drive the agenda: what keeps them awake at nights?
  • Rotate the meetings
  • Ensure a good cross section
  • Set up a portal to share and continue conversation
  • Feeling “this is created for us”
  • “go and fish where the fish are”
  • Work hard!
  • Think about your role as L&D: facilitate, enthuse, engage
  • Support people in learning how to use social media tools (e.g. 23things)
  • Don’t make assumptions as if you know what the community wants.. ask questions!
  • Reach out. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. In this way you also bring different voices in.

Good tips to take home!

Liveblogging from London: Putting learning data to work for you

Phillip Price van PSA Peugeot Citroen, works there already 24 years and introduced a new way of learning in a period of 4 months.

The challenges faced in Learning and development in Peugeot were amongst others poor attendance, high dealer cost and lack of consistent network connections. Peugeot went from 4 physical training sites to one solution, the virtual academy. Are keen now to match every training to a virtual version via a webinar. Also used high definition broadcast (livestreams) and Academy app and TV. In 2013 32% of training courses virtually, up to 64% in 2014. The variety in sessions give flexibility in timing, for instance there are sessions within and after worktime. Furthermore a lot of it is recorded and hence available afterwards. The trainers went through the BBC academy to get training in presentation.

For example the 4-days classroom based course titled ‘Picasso consultant technician update‘ was transformed into 4 virtual training sessions and 2 days training. Some impact figures: prior to the training the response time to work requests was for instance 19 minutes, after the training 12 minutes. The employees are also happy with it, because if they sit in a 4 days training, they miss their sales bonuses. Now, they have the flexibility to do it virtually, continue working and when deals are closed enhance their income. Question: how do you deal with a variety in preferences? The answer is if you are really interested in the content – you will be willing to participate and overcome dislikes. The next move is into serious gaming.

The floor is then given to Rafe Ball from Colt technology services. Rafe has some good advice for using learning data effectively from his own experience.

  • Are we asking the right questions? See the usual questions in the picture (on the left) versus the most important questions (on the right).
  • Move beyond happy sheets (!) – you should track them, but you must set up your alarms, some issues must be acted upon promptly, otherwise the happy sheets are useless.
  • Measuring behavioural change – use questions that predict behavioural change and verify those on the job. Use this data to drive learning application. Use 360 feedback or peer assessments.
  • Measuring business impact – what does success look like? identify standard impact categories like sales, then ask en measure and use this data to demonstrate results.
  • Make sure the data is coherent, integrated and reliable. Keep for instance questions consistent. consider other causes of change and seek out benchmarking comparisons. Lastly when you present make sure it is short and relevant.
  • The challenge of ROI… Monetary ROI is complex, however can be useful for large learning investments. If you do use it, make it more robust by accounting for other contributing factors. Few in the audience are ever asked about ROI (about 10% in the audience have been asked this question).

The response rate for after event surveys is 45%. How did they reach this high response rate? We now give them a roll up survey to a manager for the team as a whole. We have changed the methodology from saying this is the after the end of the course survey to introducing it with how we are using it. We inform people about the changes made, this increases the chances of filling in out the next time. We have also set up some face-to-face interviews to get quality data. We only do this with high profile courses.

Liveblog from London: Video techniques for learning through storytelling

Mark Davies from @seelearning is a visual anthropologist. He start by saying that the best job a learning professional can do is to make people cry.. This is proof that you engage people. In this session you will not learn how to produce hollywood films, yet you will learn how to creating stuff that is relevant for your organization.

What is a story?

A story must be found, when you find it you will know.. If the story doesn’t emotion and doesn’t stirr, it is not the right story. However, it should be real and authentic. Hasson put two people in a MRI scan. The scan resonated the brain of the storyteller, which shows the impact stories have upon us. Video stories can fill the gap between the emotions you experience in face-to-face training and online.

How to develop videostories?

Bad practice is just replicating the content of a face-to-face training. Don’t be afraid of emotions even though it doesn’t have to be a tearjerker of course. Sometimes an interview form may work or another person telling the story. Talking into the camera gives another dynamic and may be scary for people. It is important that the story is integral to the design of the learning content, in that case the video can also be longer than the 2 minutes recommended by the marketing department. A summary of the tips:

  • Find your story
  • Look for the right people to tell and ask
  • Plan how the content will connect to other resources


The best camera you’ve got is the camera in your pocket. You can even use smartphone if you want to use storytelling within your organization. However, audio is important. You may use a rode smarlav for instance with your phone, a cheap microphone. A Konig Tripod will help for stabilization. Stabilization can also be established with GLIF.


Think about the framing – camera position. Consider light, location and noise. Show what is there. Constant light is important so avoid moving clouds. Giving a sense of place helps for the feeling of authenticity. Don’t forget the music, can really take video the the next level. Search in The music bed and/or istock audio.


Gemma Critchley @gemstgem on storytelling. What do stories, social media and film have in common? Help people connect and have an emotional touch. As learning professionals we can learn from the marketing industry. People will forget what you said but they will not forget how you made them feel.

Affective context

Nick Shackleton Jones developed a theory of affective context. His definition: “Learning is the process by which people attach emotional (or affective) sense to information.” This is powerful in a learning context. For instance on a train journey, a fight might break out. In that case you may have a much better recollection of the journey. How does this apply?

The hub 

The hub is the video platform of BP. Under 3 years old. 3000 videos. Brought in some externally curated content as well. Half of the people in BP (40.000) have been to the Hub. People spend roughly 5 minutes on the site. How do you create an army of video storytellers? You have to enable people and make them feel they have something to say. Don’t be afraid to experiment since this is really new space. Google analytics has been integrated for data.

Liveblog from London: creating high-impact blended learning

A session by Clive Shepherd,  Sarah Lindsell and Brid Nunn training design manager at Mark & Spencers.

Meet Nicole and James. Nicole is in her 20s landing in her first job for a fashion brand, Lebow. Works in Brighton. James is in also in Brighton working in the call center for an insurance company. Nicole meets James in the hotel where they are both spending their first workweek and he has been sketching her. Nicole shows her ipad with preparations for her new job -using a Google hangout with future colleagues. Nicole had an excellent preparation, James only knows where the office is. After their first day, they exchange and James was put into an elearning module with an enormous quiz at the end. Nicole said not all elearning is horrible. She had scenarios we worked through as a group and got lots of insights in retail management. Throughout the week they compare notes. Towards the end of the week Nicole says she has been shadowing the manager. She asks James to come along to France, and he agrees even though he has to leave his job for this. In the car they listen to Edith Piaf, non je ne regrette rien.. He doesn’t regret leaving this job..

What does the story of Nicole and James have to do with elearning? Nicole had a good preparation with a questionnaire, call and videos and meeting other trainees in a google hangout. She had input with groups sessions, then three days working alongside the manager and six-months traineeship and follow ups with podcasts and mentoring and networking. James only had the annual report to read, had to sit next to one of the experiences operations , an elearning module and a quiz. In the end he didn’t stay in his job.

The learning strategy at Price Waterhouse Coopers

Strategy at PWC we talk about experiencing not about events – should fit preferences and the work. Whenever, however you need to learn you can, across service lines. always anchored in 70-20-10. Some challenges include:

  • it is difficult for people to take time out to learn
  • millenials value learning as #1 benefit

Blended is critical beause it makes learning stick, it’s the preference of our workforce. However it makes training work harder.Here you see the modality mix for 70-20-10 at PWC.

Example shared is the example of the global brand curriculum – used many different means. Some of the activities went viral through the organization. Here you see what mix was used:

Experiences with blended learning at Marks and Spencers

The learning and development challenge is: many different store sizes, up to 5 generations working in one store. Access to a good learning environment is also a challenge. How does M & S deploy blended learning?

  • Moodle site with elearning with accessibility from home. They are happy to do so in the evenings
  • Yammer groups – for instance men’s wear. It is great to discuss actual practice and social networking .
  • Classroom learning – now 20-25%
  • Somei pad and paper-based materials

One case study from Marks and Spencers: M & S had the objective to improve visual merchandising standards in stores. invested heavily in ipads for the centres of excellence. Created 5 visually stimulating modules via Moodle. It had to be visually stimulating. It was important to track learning and send images in for feedback. This made it a two way process and created a lot of enthusiasm.


Motivation is a key part of the story. It has to be relevant to the learner. We say ‘think what you can do in the 70 – if you need training make sure it is really relevant and applicable’. Make it also exciting for a person. What will really hook them? What is the hook and what is going to appeal to them? Personalization in blended is also really key and motivating. Helping professionals is valuable too, for instance with diagnostic tools, curating content.

Cultural change

M & S: In a cost-effective environment we focussed on reducing travel cost to move people around for training courses. However, we are moving to a very different time with more infrastructure in the stores. PWC the more you can do to support leadership, training them to help people to go through their learning journey.

Measuring impact

M & S. We work with regional team of learning consultants and we do a full PIO, we also track through Moodle by some key questions. We also go back to the line managers to ask if the person is performing better.