Recommended Reading: Learning on Demand by Reuben Tozman

Posted by Jim Farrell

I don’t know about you, but I often feel spoiled by Twitter.

Being busy forces me to mostly consume short articles and blog posts with the attention span similar to my 6-year-old son. Over the course of the year, the pile of books on my nightstand grows, and I fall behind in books I want to read. My favorite thing about this time of the year (besides football and eggnog) is catching up on my reading.

One book that I’ve been really looking forward to reading, since hearing rumors of its creation by the author, is Learning on Demand by Reuben Tozman.

For those of you who are regulars at e-learning conferences, the name Reuben Tozman will not be new to you. Reuben is not one for the status quo. Like many of us, he is constantly looking for the disruptive force that will move the “learner” from the cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all model that many of us have grown up with to a world where everything revolves around the context of performance. I put the word learner in quotes because Reuben hates the word. We are all learners all of the time in the 70+20+10 world. You are not only a learner when you are logged into your LMS.

Learning on Demand takes the reader through the topics of understanding and designing learning material with the evolving semantic web, the new technologies available today to make learning more effective and efficient, structuring content for an on-demand system, and key skills for instructional designers.

Each chapter includes real-world examples that anyone involved in education will connect with. This isn’t a book that tells you to throw away the baby with the bath water: There are a lot of skills that Instructional Designers use today that will help them be successful in a learning-on-demand world.

Even the appendix of case studies has nuggets to take forward and expand into your everyday work. My favorite was a short piece on work Reuben did with the Forum for International Trade Training (FITT). They called it a “J3 vision” which goes beyond training to performance support. The “Js” are:  J1 – just enough, J2 – Just in time (regardless of time and/or location), and J3 – Just for me (delivered in the medium I like to learn in,) (Notice I did not say learning style: That is a discussion for another time.) To me, this is the perfect way to define good performance support.

I think it would be good for Instructional Designers to put their Dick and Carey books into the closet and keep Reuben’s book close at hand.

Innovations at DevLearn DemoFest: The Experience API

Posted by Jim Farrell

While flying high above the Grand Canyon on my way home from this year’s eLearning Guild DevLearn Conference, I took some time to reflect on how much I learned there.

Being a former instructional designer, I’ve always regarded DevLearn as one of my favorite conferences to attend. This year’s conference returned to the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas, where Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman were shooting a movie — but that is a story for another time.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Embracing Technologies for Training and Development”. The opening keynote was delivered by the famous movie producer John Landau (Avatar, Titanic, and many more). At first glance you might think, “What does a famous movie producer have to do with learning?” But Mr. Landau found the connection very quickly: it’s innovation. He told stories of James Cameron and how he did not let the technology of today limit the dreams of a better tomorrow. To see how they took James Cameron’s vision of Avatar and created technologies to realize the dream was truly inspiring.

The best part of the DevLearn Conference is DemoFest. If you have never been lucky enough to attend DevLearn, let me briefly describe it to you: Attendees submit proposals to show off their coolest stuff. This year the ballroom was full of innovative ideas, and we were lucky enough to be invited to show what we are working on. We demonstrated using the Experience API with Questionmark Assessments.

Before I get into the Experience API, let’s talk about a problem facing most organizations: tracking informal learning. If you are frequent visitor to this blog, you know I am big believer in the 70+20+10 model.

This model states that only 10 percent of our learning is from formal study — and in most organizations, this learning is locked away in the Learning Management System (LMS). Seventy percent of our learning occurs from experience basically doing our jobs. The last 20 percent comes from working with others, be it coaching or conversations. If 90 percent of learning is happening outside of the Learning Management System, how do we capture information on performance, social and informal learning?

The Experience API is the next generation of SCORM led by the ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning) and built by a consortium of companies including Questionmark. The Experience API goes beyond the launch-and- track world of the LMS and allows learning content to send activity statements about a learner and activity to a Learning Record Store (LRS). The LRS can be used to create visualizations of data or analyzed to determine how informal learning is shaping a workforce. If you want to learn more about the Experience API, visit this ADL site.

So where do assessments fit into this? Let me give you two quick examples:

  • You could use the Experience API to send activity statements when someone visits an internal white paper, knowledge base article or help file. Does this really tell you if the person understood or better yet even read the information? Not really. Using our auto-sense, auto-size technology, you can embed a short quiz within the learning material. This does not show the visitor mastered the information, but it will give you an idea if the material was understood.
  • One of the best tools an organization can implement is regular quizzing. So let’s set up a scenario. Your business partner approaches you and says that a new error code has been introduced. There has been training but your partner is not sure the organization is truly ready to apply it. A short quiz can be sent via email (or embedded in a business portal). Using the Experience API, responses to the quiz could be sent to the LRS and a visualization of the organization’s performance could be posted to a website. This would reassure your partner that the organization is ready or it can identify knowledge gaps that need to be addressed.

Questionmark has been a longtime supporter of Open Standards including AICC, PENS, SCORM, HR-XML IMS QTI and now the Experience API. You may also be interested in the recent announcement of AICC/ADL collaboration.

Working with ADL on enabling developers to create learning activity streams

Posted by Jim Farrell

Questionmark has decades of commitment to designing our product in accordance with industry standards including AICC, ADL SCORM, .NET, HR-XML, and IMS QTI.

Next week at the eLearning Guild’s mLearnCon conference, Questionmark will continue that commitment by supporting a new ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning) initiative that we think  will help drive how we learn for years to come.

Why are we so excited about the ADL initiative? At Questionmark, we love how the 70+20+10 model explains that 90 percent of learning is done outside of the formal learning environment. We learn by doing and by working with others. In this world, you are challenged to know if people are learning and if their performance is better because of the learning.

In other words, how do you track learning without launch in a formal learning situation?

Welcome to the ADL’s initiative, Project Tin Can. Although currently working under just a project title, this initiative gives content and app developers the power to create activity streams that can be sent to a Learning Record Store (LRS) and later analyzed. The activity streams are made up of an actor, verb, and object — as in this statement: “I did this.”

Here are some examples of what the activity streams could look like:

  • John Smith engaged the knowledge base article, “How do I embed a video”
  • Tom Brady attempted the simulation on How to Throw a Football
  • Sandy Pine visited the customer Apple Computer

None of these activities are typical launch-and-track activities, but they could help you understand what makes a top-performing contributor.

Questionmark is extremely excited to be part of ADL’s initiative and will be demonstrating the production of activity streams from a Questionmark assessment at mLearnCon.

Please stop by and say hi if you are going to be in San Jose next week.