The top consumer technology transformations were revealed by Dr. Shawn Dubravac, Research Director, Consumer Technology Association. These trends will impact enterprise technology over the coming months and years.
1. The Next Computer Interface is Voice
The word error rate is now at human parity, meaning the graphic user interface will disappear ushering in an era of faceless computing. Voice will be the command function for digital devices including robotics, A.I., etc.
2. Increasing Intelligent Systems will Connect Diverse Objects
Software is now found in hardware out of the box, and hard- ware is eating software. Alexa is found in refrigerators and automobiles. While google’s newest smartphone is embedded with AR/VR software out of the box. “This creates a ‘physical manifestation of data’ in our lives,” says Dubravac.
3. Transportation Transformation
The self-driving car was the catalyst for intelligent systems. With connected systems reporting to other cars, the vehicles can respond and react without human intervention. This is a model of many “robotic” type activities that may complement or replace human interactions.
4. A.I.’s Infusion into Real Life
Blending data from diverse devices is improving signal, functionality, and recommendations for users to follow. Hub de- vices will be used for vocal computing. A.I. will boost informa- tion processing geometrically. For example, Google cars have already driven more miles than a human can in 75 years. The speed, experiences, data collection and sharing has increased geometrically.
5. Digitizing the Consumer Experience
From wearables to smart home, online and mobile characterizes consumers tastes. Drone purchases reached 1.1 million units in 2016; VR 700,000 units; smart watches 5.5 million units and fitness trackers 12.6 million.
—Source: CTA.tech bit.ly/CES2017TRENDS
BY PRADEEP KHANNA
The other day, I went to meet someone in downtown Sydney, Australia. On my way, back on the local train, I looked at my mobile to check my emails and found a message asking me whether I would like to meet the person I had just connected with on my LinkedIn network. So, was this some form of artificial intelligence (AI) at play?
Yes! We now live in a brave new world where AI is the next frontier. We keep hearing about bots, chatbots, teacherbots, digital assistants, machine learning, deep learning and many more such words and often wonder what do they mean.
Just like virtual reality (VR), AI has been around for quite some time. In fact, I remember taking AI as a subject when doing my second master’s degree in computer science at University of Technology in Sydney 17 years ago. So, why so much fuss about AI now? AI will reshape how we live and work, but will AI also reshape the way we learn?
ABOUT BOTS, CHATBOTS, TEACHERBOTS AND A.I.
A bot is software that is designed to automate repetitive tasks. Bots have been around for quite some time. An example is use of bots for searching and cataloguing Web pages for search engines. Another example is shopping bots which pull out prices of an item from different vendors from the Internet. Some recent examples are bots making dinner reservations, adding an appointment to the calendar, or fetching and displaying information.
Chatbots are bots that conduct a conversation mirroring potentially a real-life conversation. Chatbots can either be simple rule-based or more sophisticated AI-based. AI-based chatbots get smarter as more interactions take place. The popularity of messaging apps has been lifting the demand for chatbots. Another way to look at the rise of chatbots is the user migration from Web to apps and now from apps to chatbots.
What are teacherbots? Just like a bot or a chatbot, a teacherbot can be a simple rule-based or smart AI-based. Simple rule-based teacherbots can automate simple teaching tasks whereas a smart AI-based teacherbot can become a teaching assistant (TA). A yet smarter AI-based teacherbot can also be personal tutor.
TEACHERBOTS AT WORK
There are two well known instances of teacherbot pilot projects at the University of Edinburgh in the U.K. and Georgia Tech in the U.S.A. The University of Edinburgh teacherbot project was led by its School of Education in collaboration with the School of Informatics and the Edinburgh College of Art. It was launched in April 2015 by Siân Bayne, professor of Digital Education. “Botty,” as this teacherbot was affectionately called, was created to engage on Twitter with students of Edinburgh’s e-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC on Coursera. This MOOC has had 70,000 enrollments across three course runs. The teacherbot’s primary role was to act like a TA. It could answer simple questions on deadlines, course content, etc. It was also able to answer some complex questions as well, based on AI that had been developed on stored tweets with Twitter hashtag #edcmooc. In “Botty’s” case, the students were aware that a teacherbot and not a human being was answering their questions.
Georgia Tech’s teacherbot was developed by Ashok Goel, a professor of Artificial Intelligence at Georgia Tech. Typically, the 300 students at Georgia Tech’s online AI course posted around 10,000 messages in online forums during a semester. Many of these questions were repetitive in nature. This was enough of a driver for Ashok to initiate work on the teacherbot. Leveraging IBM Watson’s technology platform and a databank of 40,000 questions and answers from past semesters, Ashok developed the smart AI overlay for the teacherbot, calling it “Jill Watson. The students were not told that TA “Jill Watson” was a teacherbot.
“Jill Watson” was launched in Jan 2016. As expected, its responses were not very accurate in the beginning, so responses were moderated by the human TAs before posting in the online forums. But by April, it had become sufficiently “intelligent” to answer the questions without human intervention.
The table on the following page compares the two pilot teacherbot projects.
Many factors determine the accuracy level of any AI project, including the AI technology layer at the infrastructure level, the size of the database, and the contextualizing smart AI layer. Looking at the above comparison between the two projects, the Georgia Tech project does have an advantage of using IBM Watson as a technology platform and having a database of 40,000 questions and answers from previous courses. No wonder, it performed better.
AI NEXT IN LEARNING?
The potential of AI to disrupt education and skills training sectors is immense. As Microsoft’s Bill Gates remarked sometime back, we already have online tutoring services where humans provide the services while the platform is online. Smart AI-based teacherbots can replace the humans to provide personalized learning. This has special relevance in lifelong learning scenarios where we will be dipping in and out the learning continuum all through our life.
Automated assessments are a natural application of AI in education and skills training. This application gets further amplified when large number of assessments are being done in an online environment. Use of technologies like Facebook’s facial recognition technology and proctoring are classic examples.
Are we already there in the brave new world where AI is reshaping the way learn? IN these early days, where we are seeing AI-based projects being rolled out in different parts of the world. In the first instance, the focus appears to be on automating routine teaching tasks. This is akin to the Robotic and Process Automation (RPA) implementation onslaught we are seeing in other industries.
“Jill Watson” is estimated to have taken 1500 hours to develop. When many “Jill Watsons” are produced in 15 hours is when we will see real disruption in education and skills training.
Developments in AI in education and skills training will to an extent follow the developments in AI in general. With all major technology innovators investing heavily in AI, it appears certain that our working and learning will get reshaped by AI in future.
6 STRATEGIES FOR MAKING YOUR TRAINING STICK - BY DEAN PICHEE, CEO, BIZLIBRARY, INC.
THE SCIENCE OF LEARNING
Many professions use science to improve the outcomes of their work. For example, architects use the principles of physics and math to design buildings that will function safely and last decades or even centuries. Architecture is often equated with art, but it's the science behind the art that truly makes it work.
In much the same way, we as learning and HR professionals need to understand and use our knowledge of the science of learning to improve the outcomes of our efforts in training employees. What does science tell us we should do to improve the way employees learn?
Here are six things you can start doing today:
1. Make learning bite-sized. Use short, relevant, video-based training (microlearning) focused on individual concepts.
2. Space training out over time. Employees should use the information they learn during training within the first 24 hours after the training event and in the days and weeks to come. Time is on our side here!
3. Add post-training reinforcement. Use quizzes, polls, videos and other resources to reinforce key concepts.
4. Mix it up. Combine training of multiple related skills rather than focusing on one skill at a time. Scientists call this learning concept interleaving.
5. Make it difficult. Resist the temptation to make training easy for learners. Challenging them actually increases the learning impact. One of the ways to make it more difficult is to increase the amount of time between testing and retrieval opportunities.
6. Write to remember. Your brain will recognize more of what's important when you write what you learn.
We call microlearning and post-training reinforcement "Burst and Boost Training." Using a combination of "bursts and boosts" is a proven way to get more ROI from your employee training program. Bursts of microlearning have been proven by cognitive psychology to be the most effective way learners receive information. Cognitive load theory states that we have mental "bandwidth" restrictions. The brain can only process a certain amount of information before reaching overload. To improve training content, chunk it down into bite-sized bursts to lower the cognitive load. Microlearning is very popular today and is a key component of BizLibrary's online training solutions.
Boosts, or post-training reinforcement, has been shown to increase long-term memory. Testing can actually INCREASE learning more than any other study method. Scientists call this idea "The Testing Effect," and numerous studies have shown that long-term memory is increased when some of the learning time is devoted to retrieving the to-be-remembered information. Incorporating tests and quizzes into employee training programs is more than just measuring the amount of learning that has taken place ... it's a critical part of the learning itself. Resist the temptation to skip testing and boost learning!
THE GREAT TRAINING ROBBERY
Stop the great training robbery that occurs when we deliver programs that are too long, too boring and easily forgotten. Microlearning is the first step. It's also crucial to add on-going reinforcement. Think of post- training reinforcement as the deadbolt on the door of your house, keeping the valuable information you're delivering to your employees from being forgotten and ultimately, maximizing the ROI of your program.
Is your workforce prepared for tomorrow’s challenges? Maybe you’re thinking -”my workforce isn’t even prepared for today’s challenges, let alone future challenges.” Regardless, providing employees with the knowledge and skills they need has never been more important – or challenging. And the stakes couldn’t be higher… organizations who deliver the best, most engaging, effective employee training today are going to be tomorrow’s winners in the marketplace.
TODAY’S TRAINING CHALLENGES
The modern worker has changed. The average worker is checking their smartphone nine times an hour and are typically interrupted every 5 minutes on the job. Since the year 2000, the average attention span of a person has dropped from 12 to 8 seconds – 1/3 of the attention span of workers has completely disappeared (Time).
The modern workplace is also changing rapidly. We are running our organizations lean and mean… so managers often feel that they can’t afford to have their people “off-the-job” and training for long periods of time. Fitting in training is often viewed as a secondary objective.
Finally, the shelf life of knowledge and skills has shortened dramatically. Today the shelf life of knowledge is much, much shorter with technological changes and other factors. Experts believe our knowledge and skills must be updated roughly every 18 months or we risk extinction. It’s never been more important for workplaces to use technology to blend learning new skills into their employee’s jobs and create a culture of learning.
ENTER MICROLEARNING AND LEARNING TECHNOLOGY
Thanks to YouTube and other streaming video platforms we now understand that not only do employees desire to learn, but their preferred format for learning is video. We also know they prefer shorter videos to longer ones. Research shows the ideal length of an online training video is 6-7 minutes. This type of microlearning creates 50% more engagement than other training methods.
Microlearning also works well because the programs offered by many online training providers today are designed for any device and any size screen. This is important as many organizations and industries need training available in remote locations where a traditional computer setup is not available or feasible. Fortunately, most of us carry our little video players (aka smartphones) at all times. And since we’re checking them nine times an hour on average, training has never been more convenient!
LEARNING RETENTION AND SCIENCE
So you’ve found an online training partner with a large library of microlearning content and you’re working on a marketing initiative to roll it out to your employees. Great! Isn’t that all you need to create the behavior changes and performance improvements your organization expects to see? Unfortunately no, research by neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists tells us that no matter how great our training programs are, employees will forget about 70% of what they’ve learned within 24 hours of learning it.
Don’t throw your training plan out the window just yet, however. Let’s talk solutions – solutions based on what science tells us about learning and retention.
It turns out that testing knowledge isn’t just a way to measure how much your employees know, it’s also a great way to increase their learning, and their long-term learning retention. When the brain is asked to retrieve information, it tags it as important and is less likely to forget. In practice, asking employees a series of quiz questions and other memory “boosters” related to the training they have taken, spaced out over strategic intervals, can increase learning retention by as much as 300%!
THE RIGHT MIX
We certainly have challenges as HR and workplace learning professionals today. Combining a library of microlearning content that is curated and updated, and a post-training reinforcement plan is the perfect foundation for your training program. Get the mix right and your on your way to preparing your workforce for tomorrow.
--Dean Pichee, Founder and President of BizLibrary
Many of you have never heard of fractal organizations. I hadn’t until I talked to a colleague working on the Hyperloop project, which was described as a “fractal organization.” The fractal organization may be your future collaboration ecosystem. Most organizations today are top-down command-and-control hierarchies that have to grow through acquisition rather than expanding from within. Oracle is a great example of this (having just recently acquired NetSuite). In nature, mathematical constants are both random and scalable. Look at the leaves of a fern, or the organizational patterns on some seashells. Even vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli. Fractals are often thought to be infinitely complex, because, at all levels of magnification, the pattern is the same.
With about 100 years under our belts around command-and-control hierarchies, we know that they might work well for the Army but are not agile or stable enough to work well in today’s chaotic business environment. On top of that, they tend to create “silos” and foster miscommunication, and in essence are not great for collaboration no matter how good the technology.
Hierarchical organizations create harmful stress and internal competition, because there are only so many spots at the top of the organization. This causes the members to hoard information. I witnessed this directly in the big five consulting firms when I did research on them around collaboration in their organizations. The stress can cause absenteeism and employee turnover, and creative individuals got tired of corporate politics and found more creative environments.
FRACTAL SYSTEM CHARACTERISTICS
Author Janna Raye identifies the properties of the fractal system:
1 Emergence: Agents in the system interact in random ways. Interaction patterns emerge from these behaviors that affect the agents in the system as well as the system itself. A good example of this is a termite hill.
2 Co-evolution: Systems are in their own environment, as well as being a part of another, larger environment. As the larger environment changes, the system does also, but because it is part of the larger environment, it also changes the larger environment. For example, think of a person as a system in a larger system (environment) called a business. As a person changes his or her behavior, it also changes the behavior of the business, showing a co-evolution of these systems.
3 Sub-optimal: Fractal systems do not have to be perfect to thrive in their environment, and only have to be slightly better than their competitors. Putting additional energy into making the system better tends to be wasted energy, as these systems tend to trade off increased efficiency for greater effectiveness.
4 Requisite Variety: The greater the variety in the system, the stronger it is. That is why diversity in our organizations is so important — not just of races, but of thought, approaches to problems, attitudes, etc. Fractal systems have lots of ambiguity and contradictions, but rather than seeing these as “bad,” they are seen as a way to create new possibilities to adapt to a changing environment. Democracy is a good example of this.
5 Shared Purpose: Like ants, honeybees, geese or schools of fish, all of these organizations have shared purpose and shared values among all their members. These create pattern integrity, and often high levels of participation in ideas and solutions for continuous improvement, which helps with decision-making at functional levels. Leadership is universal, which enables the competition energy to be directed outward instead of inward.
6 Information Sharing: Hierarchical organizational structures cause information silos. In a fractal organization, all members share information iteratively and make decisions collectively in response to constantly changing conditions.
FRACTALS AND ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES
One major feature of fractals is their “self-similarity,” meaning different sizes of similar attributes within the larger whole, ad infinitum. In nature, you can have individual actors (like a school of fish, or a flock of geese) all working together for the common outcome. Both fish and geese display interdependency, relying on each other. Systems in nature also have scalable structures at every level, and at each level, there is a different organizational pattern. Some examples of this type of system are living organisms, a nervous or immune system. a corporation, and economy or even a society.
So if this is true for mountains, coastlines, tree bark and even wiggles, why not organizations?
What this implies in organizations is the application of complex systems theory, with tight feedback loops, autonomous cooperating actors, and a simple and limited set of rules governing the system. This is the basis for the agile movement in programming today. It also seems to be one of the best approaches to how large organizations can stay creative and innovative. Fractal organizations can do so by climbing “the fractal ladder,” enabling the sustainability of innovation.
According to Raye, a “fractal” is a way of thinking about the collective behavior of many basic but interacting units, and in a macro sense have the ability to evolve over time. A fractal organization is the embodiment of “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”
A fractal is a pattern, a form of sustainable ordered chaos, while an organization is “an ordered arrangement of things (people).” Fractals have self-organizing principles, and fractal organizations are seen as “an emergent human operating system that mimics nature in its capacity for creativity, adaptation, vitality and innovation.”
Switching from a hierarchical to a fractal organization supports more cooperative work, provides better information flows, more room for advancement, lower turnover, and eliminates the view that there is a scarcity of resources.
People in these organizations are seen as “complex adaptive systems” and emergent behaviors arise out of organizations like this.
Self-organization is the key to self-adapting systems evolve and adapt to new challenges. In living systems, we see cooperation and symbiotic interactions (like in an ecosystem). We also see that reflected in many organizations today; for example, both Salesforce and Slack have created large ecosystems of developers that add value to the original product.
Some fractal companies are like Pixar — core leaders in the center — and all firms are arranged as arms around the leader. Then in the arms, each team has a leader, and info is funneled to the center of the organization to the leaders, needs for resources, and then allocated flow back out.
Although we are just starting to see these fractal organizations as we move from the industrial age to the information age, we are starting to see the demise of hierarchy and the flattening of organizations. One type of these flatter organizations are fractal organizations, which are inherently collaborative. This bodes well for more modern organizations that are adopting the fractal nature.
—Sources: “Fractal Organization Theory” by Janna Raye, The Journal of Organization Transformation and Societal Change. http://www.fractal.org/fractal-systems.htm
Insights into the Future of Work
Much like serial entrepreneurs, serial learners are intellectually curious, always reaching beyond their current role to learn something new, make connections out of seemingly unrelated topics, and seek out new networks and experiences. Companies are providing access to MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) and other free learning assets as a way to encourage employees to take ownership of their learning and development. As Randall Stephenson, CEO and Chairman of AT&T has publicly said, “If you don’t develop new skills, you won’t be fired, but you won’t have much of a career.” This notion of serial learning is becoming crucial to career growth, and companies committed to understanding the future workplace are getting out in front of this!
Three macro trends are leading to an increase of serial learners and they include:
I. LIFE-LONG LEARNING SECTOR OF EDUCATION MARKET PROJECTED TO GROW 30%
The higher education marketplace is going through a seismic shift. The size of the education market in the USA as estimated by GSV (Global Silicon Valley) is estimated at $1.6 trillion. This is projected to grow to $2.0 trillion by 2020. We also see that the life-long sector is projected to grow 30% over five years. This sector ranges from 38 MOOC providers like Coursera, EdX and FutureLearn, plus a host of organizations offering personalized learning experiences such as Degreed, PathGather, EdCast and CAEL. Today, what you learn directly impacts what you earn, and as the shelf life of knowledge for all roles grow shorter, the need to be a serial learner has never been more important. This trend is driving organizations to supplement their corporate learning with a host of free learning assets, from MOOCs to Ted Talks and podcasts.
II. MILLENNIALS AND GEN Z DRIVE PERSONALIZATION IN THE WORKPLACE
Millennials (born between 1982 and 1993) and Gen Z (born between 1994 and 2009) are estimated to be more than 60% of American workplace by 2025. Members of these generations expect the workplace to resemble how they live their lives: on-demand and personalized to their needs. This means companies are differentiating their employer brands by offering Millennials and Gen Zer’s not just a job but a workplace experience. This experience includes access to smart technologies at work, on-demand learning personalized to their individual needs, a culture which inspires growth and development, and a workspace which nurtures community, enables choice and promotes health and well being.
III. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE ENTERS THE WORKPLACE
Artificial intelligence is poised to transform the workplace. Today it is a $15 billon dollar industry and it is expected to be more than $70 billion by 2020. We are half way through a century long transformation moving us from automating physical work to automating knowledge work. This will mean some jobs will be lost. The World Economic Forum anticipates a loss of over 7 million jobs by 2020. But, new jobs will also be created like Data Scientist, YouTube Content Creator and Learning Experience Designer. In addition to impacting jobs, AI will leverage machine learning and natural language processing to improve such HR processes as recruiting new employees, on-boarding and developing employees. A host of AI empowered bots are entering the workplace; such as Talla, for handling recruiting, x.ai for scheduling and calendar coordination and Gridspace for meeting follow ups.
Over the next five years, the combination of these trends will change the workplace in a way we have never witnessed before. These trends will propel employees to take charge of their learning and become serial learners, to grow their skills and avoid job obsolescence.
—Jeanne C Meister is partner in Future Workplace and co-author of “The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules For Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees."
Veterans from across the country began a new career journey in the VA Acquisition Academy (VAAA) Acquisition Internship School’s Warriors to Workforce (W2W) Program. They came into the program not knowing what to expect. Many of them had their military career cut short by battlefield injuries and were left to answer the question, “What’s next?” The W2W Program was created to answer that question and provide returning wounded veterans an opportunity to apply military experiences and highly transferrable skills to the contract specialist career field within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other federal government agencies. The holistic program leverages GI Bill benefits to meet mandatory college education requirements and provides extensive technical and business skills training, advanced biofeedback work, and mission service. It utilizes a cohort model that provides a built-in support system and network that mirrors the team environment and camaraderie veterans experience in the military, easing the transition to the civilian professional world.
In their first year, the interns earn 36 college credits in business courses. To date, W2W participants have achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.5 in college level courses. At completion of year one, participants transition into existing career development programs, such as our award-winning Acquisition Intern Program (AIP). Through AIP, they go on to complete the education requirements to achieve a Federal Acquisition Certification in Contracting (FAC-C) Level II, which is recognized throughout the federal sector as evidence of a solid education in the professional career field.
More than 120 wounded warrior veterans have been hired into the W2W program to date, which includes VA as well as three other government agency participants. Ninety-four percent have completed the W2W Program. Three cohorts have successfully transitioned to the VA’s Acquisition Intern Program (AIP) and one to the VA’s Project Management Fellows (PMF) Program. One-hundred percent of the inaugural W2W cohort that graduated from AIP was placed permanently in the acquisition workforce across the country. They come from all across the country, represent all branches of service and, between them, earned 27 Purple Hearts, 46 Combat Action Ribbons and six Bronze Stars.
Veterans display many of the attributes that are important in contracting like trust, integrity, teamwork, problem solving, and leadership. Supervisors in the field offices where they conduct job rotations and are ultimately integrated into the acquisition workforce often remark that they wish they could be cloned.
The undertaking supports VAAA’s mission of recapitalizing the acquisition workforce and the VA’s commitment to veteran employment.
The program offers new optimism and confidence to returning wounded warriors and provides a great source of talent for the federal workforce. It’s mutually beneficial and rewarding.
More information about VA’s Acquisition Academy is available atwww.acquisitionacademy.va.gov
By Stephanie Belella, Acquisition Internship School Program Manager, VA Acquisition Academy
Neurolearning Is ‘the Harmonious Blend Of Cognitive Psychology and Adult Learning Theory, Built Upon the Foundations of Modern User Experience.’
BY ANDREW FAYAD
It was author and education expert John Dewey who said, “We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.” It’s surprising to think that such a radical idea came from someone who was born in 1859. Dewey probably didn’t know it at the time, but his ideas were firmly rooted not only in human nature, but also in neurology. Today, we know much more about the brain and the way it adapts and learns, proving correct what may seem like an old-fashioned theory. Taking what we now know about the brain’s response to information, the 2015 approach to neurolearning hinges not on amazing graphics, high-tech modules or excellent delivery methods, but on the power to draw insight from your learners. Dewey was right: It’s insight — not experience — that propels education.
INSIGHT INTO NEURAL PATHWAYS
When learners grasp a concept with a deeper level of understanding, that insight actually has a biological effect on the brain. Insight activates the largest part of the brain: the cortex, which is responsible for both thought and action, so activation is a necessity for truly impactful learning. Most people think of the brain as a hard drive, where pieces of information can be stored individually and accessed when necessary. But the brain isn’t a hard drive, it’s a spider web. Each layer of learning connects to previous experiences, memories and past insight, creating an entire web of knowledge that is supported and connected to other parts of the brain. When you cause learners to go deeper than a shallow understanding, you physically thicken those connections between topics and memories for better recall. The stronger the connections, the better recall the learner has and the more effective the e-learning.
As Dewey said, there’s no learning without refection. But what does that really mean? In short, many e-learning initiatives are simply wasted because administrators and facilitators fail to give learners sufficient time to think about what they’ve learned, gain insight on the topic, and strengthen those neural pathways for later recall. When an e-learning module is over, learning managers simply move on, setting their learners up for “learning amnesia.”
Time for reflection doesn’t necessarily mean a quiet period for thought. Reflection refers to any activity or task that causes learners to reframe what they’ve learned in order to create a personal connection to the subject matter. Here are some modern ideas to apply to Dewey’s vintage advice:
>> Ask different questions. You know what you want your learners to get from a training session, so ask the right questions. What are the three objectives of a lesson, for example, or how could this be applied outside of the classroom?
>> Make engagement a choice. Forcing learners into the same learning path as everyone else can result in a tenuous connection at best. Instead, make engagement a choice: Offer different avenues for learning, so each type of individual has the chance to learn at his or her own pace and choose the topics and information that most interests him or her.
>> Find learning moments. The classroom shouldn’t be the only place for learning. By finding learning moments and encouraging learners to recall what they know, you cause them to reflect on their experiences and continue strengthening those neural connections.
A piece of advice that was uttered so long ago by Dewey may seem outdated, but when applied to modern neurolearning, it results in new insight and understanding. By pushing learners to autonomously do more than simply go through the motions of training, the post-class reflection, discussion and practice become the most important factor in turning learning into understanding and action.
—The author is CEO and managing partner of eLearning Mind.
Interview with Rory Cameron, EVP of Litmos by CallidusCloud - Leader and disruptor in the corporate learning space.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST TRENDS YOU ARE WITNESSING IN THE LEARNING INDUSTRY?
We see a couple of interesting trends in our own business and across the sector. Firstly, small Medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and corporate silos, that would have previously found it technically and cost prohibitive to set-up structured corporate learning programs, are now benefitting from rapid learning platforms. I believe that this is one of the biggest growth drivers in the market and is expanding use cases across customer, supply chain, compliance, channel and employee learning. Secondly, interoperability; historically learning management systems have been closed proprietary platforms designed to be administered and worked on in a vacuum. We were an API first platform and over 40% of our customers are either using the API or one of our over 25 packaged integrations. This has allowed learning to be seamless, embedded and automated across the day to day operational workflow.
HISTORICALLY YOU HAVE BEEN VOCAL ABOUT THE CLO ROLE. WHAT LIES IN STORE?
They are becoming relevant once again and clearly do not belong in HR. In the past 5-6 years, the major growth in uses cases is for extended enterprise and outside of the firewall. HR is an internal organization and not outward facing to customers, partners and supply chain. We are seeing the CLO office more and more becoming a strategic function similar to IT. It is similar because departments are managing their own tools and platforms but the CIO office provides strategic advisory, program management and governance. I firmly believe the CLO office will replicate this model.
WHAT DOES 2016 HAVE IN STORE FOR THE LEARNING TECHNOLOGY LANDSCAPE?
We are going to see some major changes in the technology landscape. There are still over 700 [LMS] vendors in the space; many of which have not added a single line of code in years. Not only are they vulnerable, but companies that are stuck with these vendors are vulnerable to very low user engagement that could have serious business impacts. Secondly, in a hot market like technology with so many vendors and, now private equity companies, buying some of the largest players, I expect to see more and more consolidation.
WHAT DO YOU ENVISION FOR THE FUTURE OF LITMOS?
I really feel that Litmos will become the corporate standard for learning management, just like Salesforce has become the corporate standard for CRM. We are following a very similar trajectory. We have seen silos and business units deploying on their own, but we are now seeing the corporate division making us the standard in the organization.
Why is most corporate learning not optimally effective? Many long-time L&D experts including Elliott Masie, Clark Quinn and Will Thalheimer have frequently lamented that much of the corporate learning they see is not really effective learning, because it is not mentally challenging.
By Bryan Austin
Like them, I’ve found the issue is not that learning professionals don’t know how to create learning that is challenging enough to be effective. Instead, it’s usually the harsh reality of the time, resource and cost constraints within which most learning professionals work.
Every organization provides training to its workforce primarily to improve performance and drive business growth. So let’s discuss some brain science and how to leverage it to create learning that really engages learners and actually improves performance.
BRAIN SCIENCE FOR LEARNING EFFECTIVENESS: A.G.E.S.
A.G.E.S. is an outgrowth of neuroscientific research that examines the link between training retention and how strongly each learner’s brain is activated during training. The A.G.E.S. model focuses on four key categories that reduce distraction during training and dramatically improve retention:
Attention (focus) - Are your employees prone to multi-tasking during training? For the brain to fire at the level required to transfer learning from short-term memory to long-term memory (that is, necessary for retention to happen), learners need to pay close attention during a learning task. Deep focus is a critical factor for learning retention. Employees will engage if they intuitively understand how the learning is relevant to their success. Engagement is making the learning (and the brain!) active, not passive.
Generation (each learner makes his or her own meaning) - This means taking the “active” learning described above to the next level. Learners must generate their own mental links as they learn, not just passively listen. Training will be highly retained when learners create their own mental context to embed the knowledge.
This is most effectively done by involving multiple senses during learning. Not watching or reading, but thinking, listening, speaking and doing. If our training uses multiple senses (like playing an interactive game), we are activating different sets of the brain’s neural circuits to more tightly embed the meaning each learner creates during that learning.
Emotions (better recall) - The stronger the emotions each learner feels during training, the higher their retention of the material will be. These emotions can be either positive or negative. How can your training engender feelings of success? Or fear of failure? Are the majority of your employees inherently competitive? Trigger that competitiveness to create learning experiences that makes them want to win. Or avoid losing.
Spacing (learning blocks) - Remember how you “crammed” for that big test in school? This was effective in massing a large amount of knowledge, but only for short-term memory. Long-term recall/retention improves dramatically when we learn over several sittings. The longer employees must remember the knowledge that makes them successful, the more learning must be spaced out.
How often does your training initiative include a reinforcement strategy that extends well beyond the foundation training? Unfortunately, most strategic corporate training initiatives are more of a “Big Bang” with little to no reinforcement. Spaced repetition is key to learning effectiveness and retention.
The A.G.E.S. model in neuroscience is essential to create more effective learning. The best part: there are now technology solutions built around A.G.E.S. that can enable your organization to produce “A.G.E.S.-level learning” within the time, resource and cost constraints you face.
—Bryan Austin is vice president at mLevel, which produces award-winning game-based learning. More info: www.mlevel.com.