Our Job Is Not To “Develop Learning”

As software developers, we often think our job is to develop software, but, really, that is just the means to an end, and the end is to empower businesses to reach their goals. Your code may be elegant, but if it doesn’t meet the objectives (be they time or business) it doesn’t f***ing work.

Leon Fayer: “Your Code May Be Elegant”

The same goes for the field of learning. Our job is not to “develop learning”, but to empower businesses and/or individuals to reach their goals. Your eLearning course may be elegant, but if it doesn’t satisfy the real business or performance objectives (notice I did not say “learning objectives”), it doesn’t f***ing work.


Scale images up with fractals and Perfect Resize
This has been around for a while. But it’s still awesome, and useful when you get those crappy 400-600 pixel images from clients or family members.

How to automatically incorporate edits into your course (via Tracy)
Export and import “translation” Word files. SMEs and content reviewers can update text (on-screen and in Notes section) and you can import the changes right into Storyline. This is wonderful for large course reviews and even better because the reviewer only gets to review the content, not images or styles. In other words, they can’t complain about the gray box you’re using as a placeholder and ask you why it’s not yellow or green.

“The preview button is a lie.” This. Exactly. I’ve loved pretty much everything Karen has written for ALA, and I get to see her next month, keynoting Penn State’s Web Conference. Yay!

There Are Only Four Jobs in the Whole World (via Dave) Interesting read. I agree, mostly. But I think you can be decent at more than one of these four, and even be happy in more than one of these four. For instance, I consider myself primarily a Thinker, but I work a lot as an Improver, and I enjoy both roles.

Textastrophe (via Robin)
“That dude is not even in the Black Eyed Peas, asshole.”

And Acquaintances Turn To Friends

And acquaintances turn to friends
I hope those friends they remember me
Hold the night for ransom as we kidnap the memories
Not sure there is a way to express what you meant to me
Sit around a table and use those years as the centerpiece

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: “Cowboy Boots”

This is my first full day back from Up To All of Us 2013, an unconference focused on “Co-creating revolutions in learning and technology.”

I chose that verse from Cowboy Boots because this event was all about connections: making new ones and strengthening old ones. We learn from each other and share experiences, like telling stories of risk around a campfire. We can encourage and say “do it”, or respectfully disagree (“yes, and”) and move on to the next topic. It’s an open format, and almost anything is acceptable, except excessive negativity.

Comic Panels

How does something like this come together? How does something like this work? Planning and good people. This kind of event does not happen with out fine human beings. Herding those humans? Coordinating the event to make sure each of these complex, brilliant beings has his or her needs met? That is a challenge, and one that Aaron and Megan met head on for the second year in a row, with great success.

Brian's DuckI’m amazed at the talent I’ve been connected with over the last two years at these events, and the willingness they all have to help me solve a problem, work through an idea, or simply draw a duck. After last year’s event, several attendees took new jobs, made the leap into entrepreneurship or freelancing, or did something else that made them happy. I can’t wait to see what comes out of this year’s event.

How does one come down from this high? For many of us, it’s back to reality, back to the grind, back to chores and articles and research and development. This is the time to keep cranking. To build upon what we’ve already built. To finish those projects we demonstrated. To learn even more about topics that we were introduced to. To find a way to make that thing we want to do actually happen.

I quit my job last September, but it was last February that I made the decision. I don’t have a job to quit this year, but I do have things to build and people I want to work with. I’m not waiting until September. This is accelerating.

The Seven
Photo courtesy of Kris Rockwell

“Not sure there is a way for me to express what you meant to me…”

But I know we’ll all sit around a table next year and use last weekend as a centerpiece for what WE built in 2013.


ASTD TK13: Ellen Wagner on Analytics

My notes from Ellen Wagner’s presentation introducing big data to ASTD.

  • We’ve accumulated 2.8ZBs of data. That’s an insane amount of information.

  • People are willing to give up some privacy for convenience – tracking on sites like Amazon, Netflix – all recommendations based on “data breadcrumbs” you’ve left behind.

  • Learning organizations need to be more like businesses – looking at data, metrics, optimization.

  • Enterprises must do what’s in the best interest of their stakeholders/shareholders.

  • Analytics gives us the information we need to show value at the c level, demonstrate accountability.

  • We can, and should, learn from trends in business optimization.

  • eLearning Optimization – measure what we’re doing. We have to show what we’re doing or we won’t survive.

  1. Measure
  2. Execute
  3. Automate
  4. Extend
  5. Innovate
  • We now have expectations of accountability, transparency and quality.

  • Question: how do we speak in the language of the business?

    Answer: we now need to be authentic – okay to speak like L&D if we have metrics to back it up. Ask the right questions – what are we looking for ?

  • Even if you think you have silos, the data probably shows differently and exposes the connections. “All analyses and stakeholders are interconnected.”

  • Where do you begin? No best practice yet. Folks are worried about what the data will show/expose.

  • Data driven decision-making is aimed at making better decisions.

  • Data tells us what happened and improves strategic planning.

  • Model building is an iterative process. 70-80% of efforts should be spent on data exploration and understanding.

  • Use data to improve decision making:

  1. Collect it
  2. Predict
  3. Implement
  4. Monitor
  5. Decide
  6. Refine
  7. Start over
  • Where is your data?

    ERPs, LMSs, HRIS, Surveys/end of course data

  • What are people actually using and how? Not just launches and completions but how people are engaging with the content. Figure that out and you’ll have a better idea of what people want, need and what you should spend money on.

  • Lots of talk about evals, but we rarely actually do it or do it well.

  • Get it at the front of the convo instead of at the end.

  • LMS are messy – never built for the data we now want.

  • Analytical solutions:
    Don’t buy the term, make sure you know what you want, and what you want to do with the information, and use features or request features that allow you to do that.

  • Start simple – Google Analytics, use that data to show value in data collection and get more/better analytics.

  • Look at marketing and advertising. How they use metrics and tracking. Learn from them.

  • Adobe now using LearnBench – tracking data.

  • Creation of middleware db should be priority for all institutions.

  • SQL or Hadoop for unstructured

  • SPSS or SAS for structured

  • People resist new ideas if it clashes with what they already know. Be prepared for that.