Quick Last 2017 Post

Christmas is finally over, and to all of my friends, who went out of their way to send me cards with extra glitter, just know that revenge is a dish best served cold…or a candy dish with smarties and skittles mixed together. Don’t test me.

As I was putting away my one Christmas decoration, I started thinking about 2017. For me personally, this year signalled a lot more speaking engagements and connecting with an entirely new calibre of creative thinkers in the L&D space. Regarding the former, those events were not by my efforts, but rather by invitation which indicates there is a widening space for new ways of looking at learning. As for the latter, I have a massive appreciation to all you undercover learning renegades, and you know who you are. The covert Skype conversations, WhatsApp groups, and off-the-record coffee talks, are so immensely valuable. In 2015 I wanted to run away screaming from the industry. Not now. Thank you.

So what is changing? Well, I do not think there are any real spoiler alerts for the new year. We have the usual suspects of curation, adaptive learning, personalisation, and so forth. I will not write about any of those. Last year, I thought we would see the end of the traditional LMS. Whilst it did not happen in 2017, it is beginning. The way people access learning is more important than the actual content. Eleven click epic searches on an LMS render modules useless.

As for 2018, my personal prediction is not remarkable, but something I have been banging on about for quite some time: we will no longer measure digital learning in terms of completions, but engagement and sentiment scores.

Some have misaligned the term sentiment with the happy sheet evaluation. This is not what I mean, so perhaps I need a better term. Sentiment is a demonstration the person found the content of value. Did they share it, comment, spend a reasonable amount of time, bookmark it? All of these cues mean more than passing a test. Achieving 80% does not mean a change in behaviour. It means your learning taught someone to pass a test. If the content has high engagement, there is a better chance of adoption.

I suppose I look at it this way: when I was in high school, I had an amazing English teacher and a terrible Biology one. These factors ultimate set me up on a path of English major, when, as I have gotten older, I appreciate how much I love medicine. I read medical textbooks and watch surgeries for fun. Maybe I would not have been a doctor (a thousand would-be patients are nodding in gratitude this did not happen), but I may not have studied English Literature. My sentiment was strong towards the first teacher (who graciously tolerated my Doc Martens and surly attitude).

I 100% admit this is an over-simplification of a lot of learning and behavioural theory, but I am not seeking to replace any of that. All that still has an important place. But to get to the actual learning, we have to engage. In a digital environment, we can start to track that. But we have to measure beyond the next click and instead, how quickly they reach for that button. Yay for xAPI!

This is a pretty lack-lustre bombshell prediction, but one I hope does come true. As for what else will happen in L&D, I think the speed and momentum will accelerate quickly. I hear from so many, some in whispers, others in sidebars, that learning needs to change. These rumblings are the cracks before the earthquake. I look forward to the ground shifting.

It would not be New Years if I did not end with a few resolutions, so I here is my big one: I will personally boycott any learning content with the following graphics:

  • Bean people putting together puzzle pieces, or any variations on that theme
  • A bullseye beside learning objectives. In fact, screw both the target and LOs
  • A path or roadmap. For those old enough to remember, the Talking Heads had it right with Road to Nowhere

Happy holidays to one and all. Thank you everyone for the talking, connections, and sharing of ideas. It has been brilliant. If you are about in 2018, look for me on January 31st doing a webinar for CLO Media on Blended Learning, or find me at Learning Technologies UK, or TICE (TBD). More to come….hint, hint….