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

10 January 2018

And Listen

Clark @ 8:05 AM

Listening is a vital skill.  It’s something that made my mother very popular, because she listened, remembered, and asked about whatever you said the next time you saw her. She cared, and it showed. I wish I was as good a listener!  But it’s critical to really listen (or as some have it, not just listen, but hear).

It’s part of a skillset necessary to innovate. Innovation can be about problem-solving, and design thinking has it that it’s really about problem-finding.  That is, you want to understand the real problem first.  And to really understand the problem, the initial divergence, is to listen. It is listening to people, but also signals in general, what the data tells you.

And so, listening is an important part of communicating and collaborating.  We need to hear what’s being said (and maybe even what’s not being said), to truly hear. And we likely will need to ask, as well.  This is good, because it shows we’re paying attention.  Talking is speaking and listening.

And what precipitated this discussion is that in my new column for Learning Solutions (Quinnsights ;), I asked for any questions, and there was one that will be the topic of my next article for them. And I thought that was a good principle.

So, here’s the question:

Is there anything in particular you’d like me to post about here?

 As it is, I post about what I’m thinking about or working on (usually somewhat anonymously).   However, I could benefit to hear what you’re thinking about.  And post on it if I can.  Of course, you should be posting on what you’re thinking about too (#ShowYourWork #WorkOutLoud), but hey, why not cross-communicate?  As it is, I appreciate the comments I get, but this is just a way to feed my brain.

So, this is me listening.  Anyone want to catch my ear?

9 January 2018

Let’s talk

Clark @ 8:04 AM

“Conversations are the stem cells of learning.” – Jay Cross

I recently read something that intrigued me. I couldn’t find it again, so I’ll paraphrase the message.  As context, the author was talking about how someone with a different world view was opining about the views of the author. And his simple message was “if you want to know what I, or an X, thinks, ask me or an X. Don’t ask the anti-X.”  And I think that’s important.  We need to talk together to figure things out. We have to get out of our comfort zone.

It’s all too evident that we seem to be getting more divisive. And it’s too easy these days to only see stuff that you agree with.  You can choose to only follow channels that are simpatico with your beliefs, and even supposedly unbiased platforms actually filter what you see to keep you happy. Yet, the real way to advance, to learn, is to see opposing sides and work to find a viable resolution.

Innovation depends on creative tension, and we need to continue to innovate.  So we need to continue to engage.  Indeed, my colleague Harold Jarche points to the book Collaborating with the Enemy and argues that’s a good thing.  The point is that when things are really tough, we have to go beyond our boundaries.  And life is getting more complex.

So I keep connections with a few people who don’t think like me, and I try to understand the things that they say. I don’t want to listen just to those who think like me, I recognize that I need to understand their viewpoints if we’re going to make progress.  Of course, I can’t guarantee reciprocity, but I can recognize that’s not my problem.

And I read what academic research has to say. I prefer peer-review to opinion, although I keep an open mind as to the problems with academic research as well. I have published enough, and reviewed many submissions, so I recognize the challenges.  Yet it’s better than the alternative ;).

This is, however, the way we have to be as professionals. We have to understand other viewpoints.  It matters to our world, but even in the small little worlds we inhabit professionally.  We need to talk.  And face to face. It matters, it turns out.  Which may not be a surprise.  Still, getting together with colleagues, attending events, and talking, even disagreeing (civilly) are all necessary.

So please, talk.  Engage.  Let’s figure stuff out and make things better. Please.


3 January 2018

2018 Trajectories

Clark @ 8:08 AM

Given my reflections on the past year, it’s worth thinking about the implications.  What trajectories can we expect if the trends are extended?  These are not predictions (as has been said, “never predict anything, particularly the future”).  Instead, these are musings, and perhaps wishes for what could (even should) occur.

I mentioned an interest in AR and VR.  I think these are definitely on the upswing. VR may be on a rebound from some early hype (certainly ‘virtual worlds’), but AR is still in the offing.  And the tools are becoming more usable and affordable, which typically presages uptake.

I think the excitement about AI will continue, but I reckon we’re already seeing a bit of a backlash. I think that’s fair enough. And I’m seeing more talk about Intelligence Augmentation, and I think that’s a perspective we continue to need. Informed, of course, by a true understanding of how we think, work, and learn.  We need to design to work with us.  Effectively.

Fortunately, I think there are signs we might see more rationality in L&D overall. Certainly we’re seeing lots of people talking about the need for improvement. I see more interest in evaluation, which is also a good step. In fact, I believe it’s a good first step!

I hope it goes further, of course. The cognitive perspective suggests everything from training & performance support, through facilitating communication and collaboration, to culture.  There are many facets that can be fine-tuned to optimize outcomes.Similarly, I hope to see a continuing improvement in learning engineering. That’s part of the reason for the Manifesto and the Quinnov 8.  How it emerges, however, is less important than that it does.  Our learners, and our organizations, deserve nothing less.

Thus, the integration of cognitive science into the design of performance and innovation solutions will continue to be my theme.  When you’re ready to take steps in this direction, I’m happy to help. Let me know; that’s what I do!

2 January 2018

Reflections on 2017

Clark @ 8:07 AM

The end of the calendar year, although arbitrary, becomes a time for reflection.  I looked back at my calendar to see what I’d done this past year, and it was an interesting review.  Places I’ve been and things I’ve done point to some common themes.  Such are the  nature of reflections.

One of the things I did was speak at a number of events. My messages have been pretty consistent along two core themes: doing learning better, and going beyond the course.  These were both presented at TK17 that started the year, and were reiterated, one or the other, through other ATD and Guild events.

With one exception. For my final ATD event of the year, I spoke on Artificial Intelligence (AI). It was in China, and they’re going big into AI. It’s been a recurrent interest of mine since I was an undergraduate. I’ve been fortunate to experience some seminal moments in the field, and even dabble.  The interest in AI does not seem to be abating.

Another persistent area of interest has been Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). I attended an event focused on Realities, and I continue to believe in the learning potential of these approaches. Contextual learning, whether building fake or leveraging real, is a necessary adjunct to our learning.  One AR post of mine even won an award!

My work continues to be both organizational learning, but also higher education. Interestingly, I spoke to an academic audience about the realities of workplace learning!  I also had a strategic engagement with a higher education institution on improving elearning.

I also worked on a couple of projects. One I mentioned last week, a course on better ID.  I’m still proud of the eLearning Manifesto (as you can see in the sidebar ;).  And I continue to want to help people do better using technology to facilitate learning.  I think the Quinnov 8 are a  good way.

All in all, I still believe that pursuing better and broader learning and performance is a worthwhile endeavor. Technology is a lovely complement to our thinking, but we have to do it with an understanding of how our brains work. My last project from the year is along these lines, but it’s not yet ready to be announced. Stay tuned!

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