Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

16 April 2015

Road trip(s)!

Clark @ 8:11 am

Several events are coming up that I should mention (“coming to a location near you!”):

If you’re anywhere near Austin, you should check out the upcoming eLearning Symposium May 7 and 8. I’m speaking on the L&D Revolution I’m trying to incite, and then offering a half day workshop to help you get your strategy going.  There’s a nice slate of other speakers to help you dig deeper into elearning.

I’ll also be speaking on Serious eLearning at Callidus Cloud Connections in Las Vegas May 11-13.  If you’re into Litmos, or thinking about it, it’s the place to be.

If you’re near Atlanta, I’ll be busting learning myths in an evening session for the ATD Chapter on the 2nd of June, and then running a learning game workshop on the 3rd.  You’ll find out more about learning and engagement; you can and should add game elements to your learning design.  I’m serious when I say that “learning can, and should, be hard fun“.

And I’ll be touting the needed L&D Revolution up in Vancouver June 11, keynoting the CSTD Symposium.  There’s a great line up of talks to raise your game.

I would love to meet you at one of these events; hope to see you there (or there, or there, or there).

27 March 2015

Juliette LaMontagne #LSCon Keynote Mindmap

Clark @ 9:39 am

Juliette LaMontagne closed the Learning Solutions conference with the compelling story of the Breaker project, connecting kids to real world experiences.

26 March 2015

Michael Furdyk #LSCon Keynote Mindmap

Clark @ 7:01 am

Michael Furdyk gave an inspiring talk this morning about his trajectory through technology and then five ideas that he thought were important elements in the success of the initiatives he had undertaken. He gave lots of examples and closed with interesting questions about how we might engage learners through badges, mobile, and co-creation.

3 September 2014


Clark @ 8:03 am

As a fan of comics and animations (read: cartoons) in learning, I was pleased to see a small mention of comics in a twitter discussion (triggered by this post). When I lauded the claim, I was asked what I think of machinima, and I had to think for a bit.  My feelings are mixed, so it’s probably worth it to think them through out loud.

So, first, machinima are animations made by using characters in 3D virtual worlds or computer games.  They share the look and feel of whatever platform is used, which can range from cartoon-like to quite complex.  Similarly, their speed can range from quite slow to pretty fast.

One particularly attractive feature, which I hadn’t really thought of, is that they may be easy ways to create animation.  As Karl Kapp (professor at Bloomsburg College and clear thinker on games, virtual worlds etc) mentioned in the exchange, they can be great for inexpensively creating animations. And that’s a good thing, if you get the animations you want to use.

My concern has to do with the output of the animations. Many times, I find the complexity of computer graphics containing too much unnecessary detail.  And when surfing the web for some other examples, I found ones where the dialog was too slow (which I’ve seen in other animation forms as well, I confess).  So I worry about matching the detail of output to the need, despite the cost.

Now, as Karl also mentioned, they’re good for procedural tasks. This certainly could be true, as the extra detail would help contextualize. However, is it better than a video?  Certainly if you can expand or contract the scale, so you’re seeing it at the necessary level of detail, not the only real one that video can provide. So for minute details, this would be really good!

As the original respondent suggested, it’s better to be there (e.g. in game) rather than watch, and I’d certainly agree to that, as you can negotiate some of the other issues that might be confusing.  And of course social learning adds value in and of itself.

So, the question is, when is machinima useful?  I wouldn’t want to use it just because of cost; if you’re not getting the right characteristics, it might be a false economy. If it’s producing output within a range of acceptability at a reasonable cost, or really capturing the affordances of virtual worlds, I think it makes sense.  And I’m willing to be wrong. What are your thoughts?


1 July 2014

Wearable affordances

Clark @ 8:10 am

At the mLearnCon conference, it became clear it was time to write about wearables.  At the same time, David Kelly (program director for t he Guild) asked for conference reflections for the Guild Blog. Long story short, my reflections are a guest post there.

5 May 2014

Ariana Huffington #ASTD2014 Keynote Mindmap

Clark @ 6:23 am

Arianna Huffington kicked off ASTD’s international conference with a very engaging presentation covering the four pillars to thrive. Alternately funny and wise, it was a great start.


2 April 2014

It’s (almost) out!

Clark @ 6:42 am

My latest tome, Revolutionize Learning & Development: Performance and Innovation Strategy for the Information Age is out.  Well, sort of.  What I mean is that it’s now available on Amazon for pre-order.  Actually, it’s been for a while, but I wanted to wait until there was some there there, and now there’s the ‘look inside’ stuff so you can see the cover, back cover (with endorsements!), table of contents, sample pages, and more.  Ok, so I’m excited!

RLnDCoverSmallWhat I’ve tried to do is make the case for dragging L&D into the 21st Century, and then provide an onramp.  As I’ve been saying, my short take is that L&D isn’t doing what it could and should be doing, and what it is doing, it is doing badly.  But I don’t believe complaining alone is particularly helpful, so I’m trying to put in place what I think will help as well.  The major components are:

  • what’s wrong (you can’t change until you admit the problem :)
  • what we know about how we think, work, and learn that we aren’t accounting for
  • what it would look like if we were doing it right
  • ways forward

By itself, it’s not the whole answer, for several reasons. First, it can’t be. I can’t know all the different situations you face, so I can’t have a roadmap forward for everyone. Instead, what I supposed you could think of is that it’s a guidebook (stretching metaphors), showing suggestions that you’ll have to sequence into your own path.  Second, we don’t know all yet. We’re still exploring many of these areas.  For example, culture change is not a recipe, it’s a process.  Third, I’m not sure any one person can know all the answers in such a big field. So, fourth, to practice what I’m preaching, there should be a community pushing this, creating the answers together.

A couple of things on that last part, the first one is a request.  The community will need to be in place by the time the book is shipping.  The question is where to host it.  I don’t intend to build a separate community for it on the book site, as there are plenty of places to do this.  Google groups, Yahoo groups, LinkedIn…the list goes on. It can’t be proprietary (e.g. you have to be a paid member to play).  Ideally it’d have collaborative tools to create resources, but I reckon that can be accommodated via links.  What do you folks think would be a good choice?

The second part of the community bit is that I’m very grateful to many people who’ve helped or contributed.  Practitioner friends and colleagues provided the five case studies I’ve the pleasure to host.  Two pioneers shared their thoughts.  The folks at ASTD have been great collaborators in both helping me with resources, and in helping me get the message out.  A number of other friends and colleagues took the time to read an early version and write endorsements.  And I’ve learned together with so many of you by attending events together, hearing you speak, reading your writings, and having you provide feedback on my thoughts via talking or writing to me after hearing me speak or commenting on my scribblings here.

The book isn’t perfect, because I have thought of a number of ways it could be improved since I provided the manuscript, but I have stuck to the mantra that at some point it’s better out than still being polished. This book came from frustration that we can be doing so much better, and we’re not. I didn’t grow up thinking “I’m going to be a revolutionary”, but I can’t not see what I see and not say something.  We can be doing so much better than we are. And so I had to be willing to just get the word out, imperfect.  It wasn’t (isn’t) clear that I’m the best person to call this out, but someone needs to!

That said, I have worked really hard to have the right pieces in place.  I’ve collected and integrated what I think are the necessary frameworks, provided case studies and a workplace scenario, and some tools to work forward.   I have done my best to provide a short and cogent kickstart to moving forward.  

Just to let you know that I’m starting my push.  I’ll be presenting on the book at ASTD’s ICE conference, and doing some webinars. Bryan Austin of GameOn Learning interviewed me on my thoughts in this direction.  I do believe in the message, and that it at least needs to be heard.  I think it’s really the necessary message for L&D (in it, you’ll find out why I’m suggesting we need to shift to P&D!).  Forewarned!  I look forward to your feedback.

19 March 2014

Soren Kaplan #LSCon Keynote Mindmap

Clark @ 6:51 am

Soren Kaplan gave a keynote on innovation that nicely pulled together a number of strands around how to break through some of our cognitive traps.


22 January 2014

Jeff Dyer #ASTDTK14 Keynote Mindmap

Clark @ 9:14 am

Jeff Dyer presented an inspiring talk on innovation (a favorite topic :) at ASTD’s TechKnowledge conference, with great ideas buttressed by data. A nice kickoff to the conference.


31 August 2013

Esther Quinn (1924-2013) RIP

Clark @ 10:16 am

EstherQuinnEarly this morning, my mother died.  She’d been wanting to go;  having lost one leg to bad circulation and with continuing pain in the other for the same reason, her quality of life wasn’t great despite the loving care my brother and family provided.  She needed help to get around, and hated to impose.  She’d already outlived all her siblings, and fortunately her passing was relatively quick and painless.

She had led a most interesting life; she grew up in Germany in a slightly privileged family (with a few servants), including during the time of World War II.  The war was tough on the family; while one of her two twin brothers was lost to leukemia, the other lost his life as a fighter pilot.  Her firm but loving father was briefly imprisoned for not being an ardent proponent of Hitler, but as a community official the local townspeople advocated for his release.  Their house was bombed during the course of the war, but they had escaped to the countryside home of their family friends.  I remember my mom telling me about heading with a friend to that region, and ducking under trees at times to avoid planes machine-gunning the field!

She was anorexic for a time, and so had to spend time in the hills of Czechoslovakia to recuperate, escaping some of the war. She also studied nursing in Switzerland, again avoiding some of the carnage, and felt remorse in both cases.  She was also embarrassed about getting credit for not participating in a war-hawking May Day parade because the real reason wasn’t principled objection but instead that she didn’t want her birthday preempted.  For the rest of her life she was always looking to help others.  She was sympathetic to the disabled, as her father had lost his arm in the first world war, yet never let that slow him down.

After the war, she headed to the New York to stay with her aunt, and worked taking care of an elderly lady.  She grew tired of being cold, and headed west by bus. She almost stopped in New Mexico, but ended up continuing on to Los Angeles, where she worked in a hospital, and ended up meeting my father, Nives.  She never regretted leaving her native land and family, though she did miss them.

My folks got married, and she subsequently became a mother to me and then my brother Clif.  With no proximal family of hers, she had to become quite independent, also as my father worked long hours.  She kept us well fed, becoming a good cook and a strong advocate of natural foods long before such became popular.  A good education was also a priority, and she took us to museums regularly as well as advocating for summer school and other activities.  Frugal too (and occasionally penny-wise and pound-foolish, as she’d laughingly admit), our regular vacations were camping except for the occasional trips to Germany to visit her family.  And she was capable: she knitted us sweaters, sewed, gardened, and had a ‘can do’ attitude.

She eventually went back to nursing when we were old enough, and was a revered fixture in the local emergency room for many years (though we had to restrain her from telling injury tales at the dinner table).  She and my father remained active in politics and social efforts; after retirement they did considerable traveling but also volunteered time when home. She was always heading off to go shopping for the abused women’s shelter or to deliver something for somebody in need.   She also was continually restless, courtesy of an overactive thyroid gland, and it was a family joke that she’d say she was finally going to sit and watch a movie, but soon she’d be up making snacks or doing some other thing around the house.

The thing that I grew to recognize and appreciate was how much my mother was a people person. Our house regularly had visitors, often from far away.  My mom had the gift of really listening – she loved hearing others’ stories about life – and the next time she met you she would remember and ask.  And help if she could.  As a consequence, my folks always had invitations to visit, and people they met on their travels were always stopping through on their way elsewhere.

She never thought she was smart or wise, and yet she was both.  She cared and her varied experience and endless curiosity meant she often had something useful to say.  Her brain remained strong long after her body began to fail her.  Despite the travails of infirmities, she continued with good cheer.

She was gentle, kind, thoughtful, and good, and we were very very lucky to have her.  Rest in Peace.

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