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

3 June 2015

Disrupting Education

Clark @ 6:01 am

The following was prompted by a discussion on how education has the potential to be disrupted.  And I don’t disagree, but I don’t see the disruptive forces marshaling that I think it will take.  Some thoughts I lobbed in another forum (lightly edited):

Mark Warschauer, in his great book Learning in the Cloud (which has nothing to do with ‘the cloud’), pointed out that there are only 3 things wrong with public education: the curricula, the pedagogy, and the way they use tech; other than that they’re fine. Ahem. And much of what I’ve read about disruption seems flawed in substantial ways.

I’ve seen the for-profits institutions, and they’re flawed because even if they did understand learning (and they don’t seem to), they’re handicapped: they have to dance to the ridiculous requirements of accrediting bodies. Those bodies don’t understand why SMEs aren’t a good source of objectives, so the learning goals are not useful to the workplace. It’s not the profit requirement per se, because you could do good learning, but you have to start with good objectives, and then understand the nuances that make learning effective. WGU is at least being somewhat disruptive on the objectives.

MOOCs don’t yet have a clear business model; right now they’re subsidized by either the public institutions, or biz experiments.  And the pedagogy doesn’t really scale well: their objectives also tend to be knowledge based, and to have a meaningful outcome they’d need to be application based, and you can’t really evaluate that at scale (unless you get *really* nuanced about peer review, but even then you need some scrutiny that just doesn’t scale.). For example, just because you learn to do AI programming doesn’t mean you’re ready to be an AI programmer.  That’s the xMOOCs, the cMOOCs have their own problems with expectations around self-learning skills.  Lovely dream, but it’s not the world I live in, at least yet.

As for things like the Khan Academy, well, it’s a nice learning adjunct, and they’re moving to a more complete learning experience, but they’re still largely tied to the existing curricula (e.g. doing what Jonassen railed against: the problems we give kids in schools bear no relation to the problems they’ll face in the real world).

The totally missed opportunity across all of this is the possibility of layering 21C skills across this in a systematic and developable way. If we could get a better curricula, focused on developing applicable skills and meta-skills, with a powerful pedagogy, in a pragmatically deliverable way…

Lots of room for disruption, but it’s really a bigger effort than I’ve yet seen someone willing to take. And yet, if you did it right, you’d have an essentially unassailable barrier to entry: real learning done at scale. However, I’m inclined to think that it’s more plausible in the countries who increasingly ‘get’ that higher ed is an investment in the future of a country, and are making it free, and make it a ‘man on the moon’ program. I’m willing, even eager to be wrong on this, so please let me know what you think!

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

Machinima?

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.

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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.

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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.

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