Learning Corner: Monica Savage – Expectations of Learning Solutions

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Learning Solutions Conference 2016 – expectations before the journey

This month’s ‘Learning Corner’ guest contributor is Monica Savage, President of Obsidian, who has a MonicaSavage_headshotstructured yet flexible approach to efficient organization and successful management of complex processes and organizations. She gained most of her 18 years experience in Process and Quality Management, Process Improvement, Systems Implementation, Root Cause Analysis, and Teaching and Training within the chemical industry. Her straightforward, collaborative approach to communication—both internally and with customers—and her creative problem solving abilities are fundamental to Obsidian’s delivery of out-of-the box learning programs. Monica shares her insight and expectations of this year’s Learning Solutions Conference, which is being held this week, March 16-18, in Orlando. Join her on the journey this week!

As we are fast approaching the end of the first quarter of 2016, it’s time for the Learning Solutions Conference. Fittingly, this year’s theme at #LSCON is “Sharing what works”. Not only I am a huge proponent of sharing, but if it works, it’s even better. LSCon_SharingWhatWorks

So, what to look for at #LSCON? Like any industry in full development, our learning world can expect numerous trends and changes. Some of these trends will be natural extensions of existing strategies, while others will emerge from the use of new technologies. Given the diversity in learning tools, approaches, audiences and needs, it’s difficult to focus on one learning avenue. I have several tracks of interest at #LSCon; here’s a sampling:

Mobile learning

What remains to be said about mLearning? Its status as an accepted learning strategy has achieved industry-wide consensus. Do we all know how to do it right? Not really. It is important to look back before we look forward, especially when trying to implement a newer technology. In the complex world we live in, knowledge is more fragmented and dissipated, there is uneven expertise and an overwhelming sense of urgency as regards knowledge acquisition. Learning in a competency context is more difficult and uncontrolled. New devices and technology are not making any of this easier. So, the long view has to be taken – we must understand the alternatives, trade-offs, the resources required, and the consequences of decisions. Implementing mobile learning has to follow a solid strategy.

Looking ahead to #LSCON, I hope to hear about real-world examples of both successes and failures, and participate in a rich exchange of what works.

Brenda Enders will host a full day workshop about Mobile learning: Determining the strategic fit. The main questions to be answered in the workshop will hopefully be: Where do we fit mobile learning in the existing corporate learning strategy? What does good mobile learning look like? How do we make it happen?

A couple of additional mLearning sessions I am considering attending are:

At Obsidian, we are currently working on a white paper focused on mLearning as part of the broader learning strategy. I will share it when finalized.

xAPI and cmi5, LRS, LMS

All of these acronyms can be quite confusing. I am lucky to have the in-house expertise of Steven Westmoreland, and to know folks like Art and Duncan from RISC Inc. But what is the rest of the world supposed to do? Following industry leaders and reading a lot is important – here are my suggestions: RISC Blog, Tin Can API Blog, and this summary.

Of course, we have SCORM requirements for basic tracking, but as instructional designers we need to know more about learner’s behavior, so we can design better and more targeted courses. xAPI and now cmi5, bring a whole new world to our aid. With this new technology, we can answer basic questions such as: How much time did a learner spend on a page, on a learning check, on a video, on an interaction? How many times did they access the link imbedded in a reference material? More importantly, we are now able to track learning experiences everywhere, not just on a certain course when deployed from the LMS. Very useful stuff.

Some related sessions to watch at #LSCON are:

Blended/distributed learning

No more 800-slide PowerPoints! I really do hope it will happen in my lifetime. Creating rich, engaging, targeted blended learning programs is what good instructional designers do. Our adult learners are impatient, pressured, stressed, and exposed to a continuous swirl of information. It is our job to make it easier. It is our duty to create the learning ecosystem that benefits our audience and fosters collaboration and growth. I came across this excerpt on blended learning by Charles R.Graham from a decade ago and it’s quite fascinating to see how things have and haven’t changed. What is undeniably true in both this material and our own white paper, is that technology plays a key role in the future of learning. To access the material by Graham: http://ow.ly/YI8Dg. To access Obsidian’s white paper on distributed learning by Stephen Victor, Ph.D., please go to: http://ow.ly/YI913

With this in mind, we have to keep learning, keep asking what’s changed, and keep challenging ourselves and learners. I am sure #LSCON will not disappoint:

There are, of course, more topics to discuss, watch and follow. I will be “Sharing what works” live from Orlando, and you can follow me on Twitter at @mpsavage.

Happy Learning!

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