The past month has been a rich learning experience that has caused me to pause and look closer at the idea of learning transfer and performance support. This has led me to ask, where does your instruction on a topic stop, at the classroom door or weeks later when the learner has demonstrated proficiency? Do we support the learner enough once they have left the classroom? Have we done our job if we do not ensure they can demonstrate proficiency weeks after the lesson?
This line of thought originated at a recent American Society for Training and Development conference I attended. During this conference, I sat in on a number of fascinating sessions. During the sessions, folks like Tony Bingham and Bob Mosher talked about extending the classroom and providing performance support through mobile devices. Andrew Jefferson and Cal Wick talked about performance support and learning transfer using tools, job aids, and checklists.
These sessions resonated with me so much that I was compelled to pick up some books to learn more. If you are interested in this topic, I recommend that you read The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande; The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning: How to Turn Training and Development into Business Results by Calhoun W. Wick, Roy V. H. Pollock, and Andy Jefferson; Job Aids and Performance Support: Moving From Knowledge in the Classroom to Knowledge Everywhere by Allison Rossett and Lisa Schafer; and Designing mLearning: Tapping into the Mobile Revolution for Organizational Performance by Clark N. Quinn.
Here are some of the takeaways I picked up regarding learning transfer.
The discussion of learning transfer was a central topic throughout the conference. It seems we do a good job training; however, we need to improve how we ensure learning transfer has occurred. Wick and Jefferson stressed improving instruction from the very beginning with the invitation to the training session. In the invitation, you should address what is in it for the learner, what is in it for the organization, what is the learner expected to transfer. They recommend providing a timeline for the complete experience. This includes time when learners are at their office. Training doesn’t end with the completion of the formal session but should extend through a learning transfer period. One of the more novel thoughts was changing the course completion certificate from certificate of completion to certificate of commencement. A certificate of completion indicates that training is done. Home Depot hands out certificates and trophies only when learners report back on how they improved operations based on the training. Educators can also support learning transfer by providing support content in both push and pull formats. With pull formats, learners visit your content and download it. With push content, you send it to learners. For example, it is possible to schedule email messages to go out to trainees on regular intervals reminding them or encouraging them to work on different tasks. Finally, training and support must also be provided to managers and supervisors. Basically, everyone stressed that organization leadership had to have buy-in and be directly involved or learning was going to suffer.
I believe closely related to the idea of learning transfer is the idea of performance support; a key piece being mobile support. Performance support can take the shape of planners, job aids, checklists, or software help screens. These performance support aids can be print or digital depending on the need. Expect to see an increased emphasis on mobile learning in the coming years. Mobile learning in the United States is on the rise. There were 1.6 billion mobile devices sold in 2010. More time is spent outside of the classrooms, yet only 15% of organizations are supporting mobile learning. Mobile devices are so important that business leaders would rather lose their wallet than their phone.
“You can’t teach people everything they need to know. The best you can do is position them where they can find what they need to know.” ~ Papert
Mobile learning should support formal and informal learning before, during, and after a learning session. Mobile learning is a great tool to augment learning and tasks. Checklists are an example. In order for learners to use performance support aids outside of the classroom, they should be used during the entire lesson from beginning to end.
Mosher points out that there are five moments of need when learners need job aids or performance support. The first two are used primarily in the classroom; however, most learners are using the last three items. Disney, for example, designs for three through five and back fills with one and two.
- When learning for the first time
- When wanting to learn more
- When trying to remember and or apply
- When things change
- When something goes wrong
We should be pushing out reminders, new content, and collaboration opportunities to subscribed learners. We need to be flexible because learners are gathering information through a number of different devices and programs. When people list tools, none of the tools listed were specific learning tools, e.g., Twitter, YouTube, Google, Evernote, etc.; however, they were used for the purpose of learning.
Clark Quinn, a leader in mobile learning, stresses that the key to supporting mobile learning and mobile support is to start designing and implementing now. We can build native applications, web applications, or both. Quinn recommends starting slowly with pilot projects and then design for a specific platform. He does not recommend designing courses specifically for mobile devices. Instead, he recommends crating mini lessons or modularize content.
After listening to others and reading what others had to say, I came to the conclusion that I need to do a better job providing performance support. What are your thoughts?
The 2011 Horizon Report from the New Media Consortium Horizon Project is on the street, and like usual, I am not disappointed. Each year, I look forward to reading their report to get a glimpse of trending topics. Each year, they seem to be right on the mark. This year is no different.
The report focuses on six trending topics that are expected to be adopted in the following time frames: one year or less, two to three years, and four to five years. Here is a run down of this report’s topics:
- One year or less
- Electronic books
- Two to three years
- Augmented reality
- Game-based learning
- Four to five years
- Gesture-based computing
- Learning Analytics
When the team put together this report, they also highlighted a couple of items worth noting. They noted that people are expecting to be able to learn from wherever they are with whatever device they have. They also noted that more individuals are using cloud-based computing to help them accomplish tasks in work, pleasure, and learning. Personally, this is where I am going with my computing. Increasingly, I am using my phone and iPad to accomplish tasks I would normally carry out on my computer. I am also subscribing to more cloud-based technologies such as Diigo, Evernote, Dropbox, and Zotero. The authors noted that a transition to a more mobile, cloud-based system would have growing pains among administrators and faculty. Hoping to be a leader in the use of technology, the Horizon Project is setting an example with its Horizon Project Navigator.
“The Horizon Project Navigator is a dynamic social media platform that allows users to fully exploit the Horizon Project’s extensive collection of relevant articles, research, and projects related to emerging technology and its applications worldwide. Users can contribute new information, add their own commentary and analysis, configure and save custom searches, and rate anything in the dataset.”
The work of the team can be viewed on the Horizon Report Wiki. Here is what resonated with me.
More and more people are purchasing electronic books or ebooks. Amazon reported they were selling more ebooks compared to traditional books at a margin close to two to one. Personally, I have increased the number of ebooks I have purchased, this is in large part due to owning an iPad. Ebook publishers are not only converting books into digital replicas but they are also extending books with audio, video, and links. Expect this trend to continue. The report notes ebooks are more popular with the general population compared to those in academia. Fortunately, book purchasers have an option in more and more cases; I can typically choose between an ebook and a traditional book. The authors also mention programs like Flipboard, which transform regular RSS or Twitter feeds and converts them into magazine type viewing. Scholarly journals are continuing to move to digital formats. Personally, I am a strong advocate for having a digital option for books and journals. Here are a few links noted in the report worth reviewing:
- Page2Pub – “Page2Pub is a pair of applications that collect content from the web and reformats the content for publication across a wide range of medias.”
- Horizon Report 2011 Delicious: Bookmarks
- What publishers can and should learn from “The Elements”
- Yes, People Still Read, but Now It’s Social
- The Future of the Book
In the Horizon Report, the authors pointed out that more people are now using mobile devices as their primary tools to access the Internet. I am finding myself grabbing my iPad as I settle in for the evening. I typically scour my Facebook, e-mail, and Twitter feeds as I watch television. More and more faculty are also engaging students through mobile devices by using programs like Twitter and Polleverywhere. I found one example of mobile usage to be particularly interesting.
At Abilene Christian University, attendees at a recent performance of Othello were asked not to turn their phones off during the performance, but instead to use them to receive messages throughout the performance. Cast members behind the scenes sent messages to clarify Shakespearean language, share scene summaries, and interact with the audience through a live blog.
Here are some links for additional information:
- Horizon Report 2011 Delicious: Mobiles
- Global mobile statistics 2011
- Pew Internet Research Report: Mobile Access 2010
“Augmented reality (AR) refers to the addition of a computer-assisted contextual layer of information over the real world, creating a reality that is enhanced or augmented.” The authors describe two types of AR methods; using a visual representation, and geo-locating. At the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service, we are exploring the idea of QR codes to help tie the physical world to the virtual world. I also participate inFoursquare, which is a mobile game that relies on geo-location. Here is one nice example of AR mentioned in the report:
The Museum of London, for example, released a free iPhone app called StreetMuseum that uses GPS positioning and geo-tagging to allow users as they travel around the city of London to view information and 3D historical images overlaid on contemporary buildings and sites.
Interested in augmented reality, then check out these links:
- Augmented Reality, Blogs and Geo-Tagging to Connect Students with their Environment Abroad
- Horizon Report 2011 Delicious: Augmented Reality
I was happy to see the game-based learning section in this report. As the authors point out, games can range from paper-and-pencil to massively multiplayer online games. Once a week, I join my guildmates on World of Warcraft as we learn how to use WoW to support training. This research project was started by a couple of ASTD friends. If you are interested, please check out our guild, Azeroth Training Society. Research on games have identified principles which can be leveraged in support of education and learning.
Here are a few links with additional information:
- Horizon Report 2011 Delicious: Game-based Learning
- DICE 2010: “Design Outside the Box” Presentation
- Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world
These last two sections are just beginning to appear.
Basically, this focuses on interface options other than a keyboard and mouse. My only experience with gesture-based computing is with the new Kinect for the Xbox; it does take a little time to learn how to use it. I believe this type of computing will be able to help a lot of people with different disabilities. Here are some links with more information:
Last but not least, the Horizon Project took a look at learning analytics. I personally think this is an area that needs a lot of attention. Students are falling through the cracks unnecessarily because we have not developed a system which will identify negative trends in a student’s performance in real time. The authors point out that there is research and product development in systems that would send an alert when a trigger was activated. Better analytics can also be used to improve courses. Metrics were important when I was in the Air Force, they seem to be less so since I have been out.
Here is the last set of links to visit:
- Scribd Stats
- 7 Things You Should Know About Analytics (PDF)
- Horizon Report 2011 Delicious: Learning Analytics
- What Are Learning Analytics?
I hope you are as pleased with the list as I am. I told you a little bit about how these topics relate to me. How do they relate to you? Is there anything on the list that excites you?