Tag Archives: lt11uk

Failing to learn

Failure was a recurring theme at the recent Learning Technologies 2011 conference, mentioned first in Roger Schank’s conference opening keynote.

The learning opportunities afforded by failing are great. Failing makes the experience much more memorable than having a plain sailing experience.

I still remember failing self-assessment questions during an online SCORM course many years ago. Unaccustomed as I was to failing things, it stung and certainly took me down a few rungs and I did actually go back and study the material more thoroughly and learnt more. In the end I was grateful, since the course was not free (and I had paid for it myself) and I got more value out of it.

Being an online course, the failure was both private and safe and after the initial sting (I think I even looked up to see that no-one had seen), I realised that the failure had really woken me up and had even made me more respectful of the level of the course materials. It was a proper online course of learning written by pros, and not some mickey mouse course that anyone could breeze through.

During many years of course productions, we have conducted a fair few formative user tests. During some of these tests, it was obvious that some of the test people thought it uncomfortable to not ace the knowledge test questions or final exam (whichever the case may have been). These were almost always employees at larger corporations.

Back then I had neither the opportunity or the experience to ask more in-depth follow up questions regarding their views on personal, online or job related failure.

I also think that like me, they were glad that no-one (of any consequence) had witnessed the apparent failure. It wasn’t registered in the LMS as an attempt and their manager and colleagues wouldn’t have to know.

Failure shouldn’t be in the form of a trick question, designed solely to trip learners up. If it happens, then it must be as a result of a properly challenging scenario or series of questions. If it must be tracked, let the LMS record the highest score only.

Because while failure in private may be a catalyst for learning, failure in public may just lead to humiliation. And humiliating people doesn’t make the world a better place.

How about you? Do you allow yourself to fail? More importantly, does the culture at work allow you to learn in public?

Learning Technologies 2011

The Learning Technologies Conference in London last week was terrific for me. Here I’ll share some of the great experiences I had and some of the trends that I noticed.

The run up to the conference made the expectations enormous. Having followed DevLearn 2010 and Online Educa 2010 remotely, I was fairly used to following the backchannel.

This time I wanted to get as much out of it as possible. The single thing that made that possible was Karyn Romeis blog post.

It really inspired me to meet and greet (“press the flesh” as Craig Taylor put it) some of my personal heroes as well as get to know new people that I hadn’t had contact with. I shared many experiences together with Mattias Kareld and his great post here captures much of how I feel.

I think I was most pleasantly surprised to meet the people that I didn’t know beforehand. I had great discussions with Ollie Gardener, Chris Atherton and Karyn Romeis and had had little or no contact with them before the conference.

Now that I’ve got the namedropping out of the way ;) I can continue with some of the trends and messages that I noticed during the sessions, including the backchannel. Where appropriate, each point will become a blog post in it’s own right.

So the trends, themes or messages, in no particular order:
  • Failure is OK, and in fact is a great opportunity to learn
  • Twitter as PLE, to build PLN
  • L&D has a measurable business impact
  • Link learning objectives to business objectives
  • How to identify and negate the Innovation Prevention Department
  • Detailed discussions of Social Media being used for organisational learning

There are many more great resources and blogs out there covering this. Dave Kelly has the best resource I’ve seen so far and that’s here.

Thanks for reading and there’s more to come!