In our book Leren in tijden van tweets, apps en likes there is a clear call for people working with learning, change and innovation processes to dive into technology. Everyone sees that technology is increasingly taking an important place in our lives- ...

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"The new social learning blog" - 5 new articles

  1. Why as an L&D professional you should even be interested in artificial intelligence
  2. To conference or to unconference?
  3. Learning poses or learning to model?
  4. Knowmads: the battle of generations
  5. My first Squigl
  6. More Recent Articles

Why as an L&D professional you should even be interested in artificial intelligence

In our book Leren in tijden van tweets, apps en likes there is a clear call for people working with learning, change and innovation processes to dive into technology. Everyone sees that technology is increasingly taking an important place in our lives- even people who are not into technology. I did intakes with vocational teachers this week and I heard that they experienced daily competition with mobile phones. The attention span of students got shorter. If you compete with technology you might make technology work for you and help you? My advice is be curious about technology and get started. But how deep do you dive into different technologies and tools? and why? There are so many developments, think of blockchain, of which I do not know what it actually is. Sometimes it feels like you are in a tsunami of new developments and you let it flow by. For learning professional e-learning seems a clearer need than knowing about artificial intelligence and blockchain.

the allerhande recipes
Artificial Intelligence- What the heck?

A great example of such a what-the-heck development is artificial intelligence (AI). Artificial intelligence is a collective name for software that manages creative thinking by the computer: the learning computer. I've heard about AI regularly, but a lot of it is at the level of 'HEEE, it's coming'. What can you really do? What's going to change? It doesn't click for me unless I get to work with it and start to apply it. A clear application of AI are chat bots. I have written about chatbots before. Those crazy puppets are everywhere if you have an eye for! Especially in Facebook messenger there are many chat bots to follow. I follow Poncho for the weather and a joke, and the allerhande chatbot with a daily recipe. For Slack users: the Slackbot helps you with all your questions about Slack. By the way, there are also chatbots which are not driven by AI, but those will be less smart in their conversations.

What is the influence of AI on the L&D profession? 

During the L&D unconference in Rotterdam I hence threw the  above question to the group: I thought I would be alone in my group, but there were 8 people with interest in the topic. Additionally, those who did not attend seemed to regret it :). The nice thing was that there were concrete experiences in the group with AI applications. The first was the experience of a bank to have Watson analyze credit applications. You will have to teach Watson how to do this, but then you can save a lot of time. Another application shared: At a factory in Japan, a robot runs around (powered by AI) that connects with employees and coaches workers, for example, to take a break. It's not a big brother, but a very helpful robot. The time saved by the use of AI can be put into more creative tasks. A third example was an application that receives information from the internet to make predictions about the market.

The Calimero effect

The AI group acknowledged that you as L&D-er might be afraid of this type of development or may think it's got nothing to do with your business. The famous Calimero effect: What can we do as advisers / trainers / facilitators? This too big for us and something for the ICTs and decision makers and visionaries in the organization. It's not for us but for others. Perhaps AI will take over L & D's work by doing performance support tasks, for example. There is already one AI online teacher doing a great job. Or people are scared of the smart youth who understand it all. Look at the example of  Tanmay Bakshi a 12-year old programmer of IBM.

You will only see it when you get it

This famous quote by Cruijf applies to AI.  You can only imagine or dream up an application if you have seen enough examples and those examples inspired you. Because I opened my eyes (with a group of colleagues), we see different applications. For example, we will experiment with an online confession box for reflection. We could not have thought of this AI application if we had not followed the developments and many examples. In addition, many applications already use AI, think of your news feed on Facebook (does it?) Or your results in Google search. The danger here is that we are increasingly dealing with filter bubbles, you are getting more and more closed in the same line of thought.  Think of the Netflix bubbles. It might be another role for L&D? Ger Driesen calls this the bubble bursting role.

So what to do as learning and development professional?
  • Read, watch, follow. Read an article, attend a summit or start to follow some chatbots. This is a dutch article by Ger Driesen over de invloed op HRD van AI.
  • Investigate whether there are AI projects in the core business and try and learn from those. 
  • Help people in the organization to prepare for robotization.
  • Brainstorm applications of AI to support your work and make it easier. Think of the selections of CVs, relevant chatbots or analysis of online learning data. You might be able to start an innovative project together with others. 
  • Take up a role in the consciousness about algorithms. Burst the bubbles.
Are you working with AI? I'd be happy to know about it in a reaction. 
    

To conference or to unconference?

I was hesitating for a long time whether I would attend the L&D unconference, organized by Ger Driesen in collaboration with the L&D connect community. The unconference costs you a whole day of your time and follows the open space method. There was a theme: the future of L&D. With open space it is very unclear what you will get in return for your time investment. But ..... I have been going to the learning technologies conference in London for 3 years, and people (including me) always complain that the program is organized around the sage on stage. At such a conference, you do not get to talk to your fellow practitioners in the same way. What a dilemma to go or not to go. Eventually, I decided to go based the fact that it was in Rotterdam (which is really close to my home). By subway through the rain to the office of Anewspring. I soon met someone from the UK whom I knew of the Londen conference but we had not changed more than 20 words. Already a nice start to hear what he does.
And yes, the rest of the day was delicious (google translates lekker with delicious :) as well. It felt like a long break during the entire day, where you can talk to interesting people endlessly about interesting subjects. It started with a brainstorm in small groups about the subjects you would like to discuss. I put up: the influence of artificial intelligence on L & D and new forms to stimulate self-directed learning. Already during this exchange I learned about a nice example (from Philips) where people were tested on a particular subject. On the basis of the answers they were directed to certain new sources or courses. A form to stimulate self-directed learning for people who do not know what they do not know. I was familiar with open space in organizations, but not with open space with a group of unknown people. In open space, the 'law of the two feet' means that you have to make sure that you have interesting conversations, so you can also change groups. The first time I walked away from a group, however, it felt like a rejection of the group, but I was glad I did. So I really had good conversations all day long by taking care of myself.

Changing relationships
Two conversations that had a lot of impact on my thinking were about relationships: depth in relationships, networks and how that changes over time over the internet. For example, there are elderly who have a strong network of 10-12 friends who support each other through thick and thin. The disadvantage is that this can be a really closed network. When you are a member of a closed network, you start to put everything which is said and done under a magnifying glass. Your world is small. I myself have a large network through my work abroad. Whoever I'm following online is by chance, one invites me to Facebook, the other on Instagram, the third I have on Whatsapp, I don't have a conscious strategy. You have to make choices with who you really want to make contact. Many of my online networks I follow from afar, but sometimes there is an invitation to go for lunch, meet again or work together. It has become much more fluid. The disadvantage of a fluid network may be that it becomes superficial. Do you care when someone in your larger network falls ill or looses a job? See also this documentary by Gino Bronkhorst. Gino is going to send all his facebook friends a message to inquire how they are really doing. Some answer: "Why do you want to know?"

 

The assumption is that you are a Facebook contact, which is not the same as a close friend really caring about you and showing interest. But there are also real friends on Facebook, and half friends, and former friends. My conclusion is that there are many shades of friendship, more than before. Friend networks have become much bigger. We don't get rid of people, they will still be there on some social network. Changing the categories of friendship is also faster. Even a best friend can move to the outside of your network.

We also talked about the future: imagine that all you do is supported by augmented reality as in video below. You can read emotion analysis during your date. You get the suggestion to smile or change topic. Who are you in this future world, what happens to your identity?

 
 


This reflection on changing relationships can also be transferred to describe changes in professional networking. These networks have also become larger than before the internet because we connect with more people online as simple contacts: I currently passed the 1000 line at Linkedin. Your network is more in motion than before, more fluid. And the day still has only 24 hours. So we need to learn to develop the art of networking when networks are fluid: what contacts do we want to invest in and which contacts remains at the edges?. What levels of colleagues do you distinguish? Is your network sufficiently diverse? Do you invest in the right contacts? I think almost nobody really does this consciously and well. Or?

The subject of Artificial Intelligence was also very interesting - I will write a separate blog about it. So I got home with lots of food for thought, renewed enthusiasm for open space and also a number of tool sites to look out like Degreed. The next time I hear someone complain at a conference I will ask why they do not go to an unconference ...

    

Learning poses or learning to model?

Every Monday evening at 20.30 I install myself in front of the television with my daughter for a program called Hollands Next Topmodel, to continue with Models in Paris: The real life. My husband doesn't like it at all, but I really enjoy a view into a completely different world. A world where looks and poses count. This is the first year men have also joint the candidates for Topmodel.



The first episode something funny happened with Chris. During the Go See - a session with potential clients the Dutch often pronounce this as Gooshie - he had to walk on the catwalk. Since he had been in an official model course he knew all kinds of poses like looking at your watch at the end of the catwalk. However, this did impress the clients who detested the poses as unnatural. Chris had to leave the program, despite or even due to his model course.

A beautiful example in my opinion of the difference between what learning tips and tricks in a course or short training compared with learning in practice and learning in networks and communities. In a (bad?) course which focusses on tips you are not provided the room to develop your own style and practice. In a community you can get the space to develop your own identity as a professional and your own style. Therefore, in the Ennuonline curricula, over time we provide more and more space to participants to choose form and content. In the third block, the participants define the important issues and using the online block to deepen their understanding jointly.

Now, of course, I wonder whether I sometimes fall into this trap of teaching tips and tricks when I facilitate a workshop. I notice people quickly ask for the tips when the session is short and the field wide. They like to get away with shortcuts. With the workshop includes online tools, I try to avoid this by providing a whole range of tools, rather than one tool you should work with. For participants this is sometimes difficult and they have the idea that they are thrown into the deep. They really like me to show them the 'poses'. I think that it is very important that you go through your struggles yourself and seek tools that support your practice. A longer road that leads to more profound learning as professional. So that you avoid exiting like Chris.

    

Knowmads: the battle of generations

Generational differences in the workplace are debated. On the one hand you have the people who believe there are differences and that every organization should be responsive to those differences. Especially the millennials are seen as a different breed, for instance I read the book by Jamie Notter: When millennials take over. On the other hand there are those who think it is a myth that generations would adhere to other values, see eg. Cut the crap: the make up nonsense about generations at work.  Stassen, Anseel en Levecque have analyzed several studies. They state that the research structure of most studies is not capable of making a valid verdict. An important methodological problem is the distinction between the effects of three different factors: age, period and generation. Either way: it's hard to proof. 

The battle of the knowmads

I attended a festival in the north of the Netherlands called Beleef de zandbak. It offered me the opportunity to do an experiment: the battle of generations. My own curiosity is with different uses of technology in the workplace: I see that there are differences, but somehow people are sensitive to generalizations. What differences? I'm pretty fast online, but I see that youngsters are much faster. On the other hand I did sessions for students, but very few students knew what social bookmarking was. That's why I was eager to organize an experiment with practical knowledge assignments to see whether different generations would tackle the assignments differently. The assignments were arranged in such a way that there was a winner for each question. I had about 18 people in my workshop and used the following generations to group them:
  • Babyboomers: born between 1940-1955
  • Generation X: 1956 en 1970
  • Generation Y: 1971 en 1990
  • Millennials born after 1990
Because not all generations were represented I ended up with three groups. In each group one person was appointed as observer. 
  • Generatie X  - old (1956-1963)
  • Generatie X -  young (1964-1970)
  • Generatie Y and one millennial (after 1971)
Generation Y and millennial
Generation X 1956-1963
The winner(s)

The winner was ... generation Y (with one millennial). Generation X-old was occupying the second place. I must say: observing from a distance I saw little differences between the three groups. . However, the observations of the researchers and the teams showed quite some differences; with very interesting conclusions!

Striking observations

  • The two 'older' groups were smarter in using online media. All groups used online media to find answers to a network assignment (collect responses to a statement). However, the younger generation used only Twitter and then especially to search. The other groups also used Facebook and Whatsapp. My personal observation is that nobody thought of starting a poll, which would be my way to collect responses online. In the exchange everyone agreed that if Y's uses their online networks they will probably get faster responses. 
  • All groups also used offline networks in the same way by sending group members out to collect answers face-to-face. No difference.
  • Generation X had more ready knowledge within the group. Generation X-old won at the first question because they simply know all the answers by heart. Googling could not beat that. Furthermore, the observers of X knew the answers but were not allowed to participate in responding. 
  • Generation Y was faster. This lead them to the victory at the third question. According to the observer, "they were enormously fast in shifting from team communication to individual google searches and back to team collaboration". However, in two cases, the speed lead them to the wrong answer. In one case, they searched for NPO2 instead of NVO2. In another question they had an answer which was not logical at all. Critical thinking would have helped to know this.
  • Both generation X groups were very critical of questions and answers, really thought about it, and sometimes criticized the questions. Generation Y was fast and less thought-full. A trade-off between speed and critical thinking?
  • Generation Y collaborated very smoothly, much better than generation X-young. The discussion revealed that not everyone in the room had learned to work together during their education, and this translates into current practices. Generation X-young seemed to have a more solistic approach. But this depends on your type of education, for instance I have worked half of my university time in Wageningen in groups. 

    Conclusions 

    This is not a groundbreaking research, but a nice experiment. I draw three key conclusions.


    1. A first conclusion is that both generations show their own strengths in this experiment. Generation X has logically more knowledge of the top of their heads, which can be very useful. In addition, they think critically about questions and answers. Generation Y googlet faster and can switch quickly, but sometimes this is at the expense of critical reflection and may therefore put them on the wrong track. Ultimately, it is good to work together among generations to take advantage of everybody's qualities. Don't be shy to discuss them. 
    2. A second conclusion is that Generation Y is by definition not that good in leveraging online networks and using online tools. That could be a pitfall if you think they are good because of their presence on social media. Basic collaborative skills are taught during your education, and most millennials were not taught to leverage online networks.
    3. A third conclusion is that there are equally differences within generations (contribution Mirjam Neelen: as a result so you can never generalize the conclusions and apply them to individuals. 
        

    My first Squigl



    I have made my first Squigl, a whiteboard animatie (these videos with drawings). You probably know them from RSA animate. Whiteboard animations are quite popular, but if you want a professional one, you will probably need over 1000 euros. This took me 3 hours of time to develop. In this blog I will explain how you can make a Squigl yourself (in Dutch or other languages!).

    Scribology I had bookmarked Squigl by Truscribe as whiteboard animation after I had seen the link on a LinkedIn group. Truscribe uses the scientific methodology of scribology.  The drawings help to retain attention and increase the retention rate of information. Personally I would like to stimulate people to think rather than memorize the main points of the video, but I do think that watching a drawing has a different effect on your brain than watching a so-called talking head. My personal experience is that when I watch talking heads I often start multi-tasking, even when the topic is interesting. Often I notice the video has ended and I realized I missed the second half.

    Reinventing HRD I am preparing a session about reinventing HRD on the basis of part 4 of our book. I thought it would be a nice idea to introduce the 3 major changes in HRD by means of a whiteboard animation. In the session, more practical examples will be shared and discussed. In addition, I can easily reuse this video. Here is my Squigl, or animation. Feedback is welcome because it is a first attempt.


     

    A short introduction into Squigl 

    You create your account on Truscribe.com to create a Squigl. After that, it is all very easy. There is a short video explanation, then you simply click + to get started. I liked the way you could get started right away. It is basically a 3 step process.
    1. Type or paste your text on the left hand of the webpage. 
    2. On the right hand side your can record the text by voice, using the microphone of your laptop or ipad. 
    3. Click Finish to prepare your video. Or in Squigl language: "this is where the magic happens!".
    To produce the video Squigl analyzes the written text on the left hand and picks its own words to highlight in images. Unfortunalely Squigl doesn't speak Dutch so you will get this type of pictures when you have the word VAN. (meaning from in Dutch)


    Squigl for the Dutch

    Still, it is possible to make a Dutch video. A few tricks:

    • Make sure you have a few words in English in the text. Then Squigl is more likely to pick up on these words. The written text is only to help Squigl and people will not see this text. I just think that you may also be able to charge the entire text in English and speak in Dutch.
    • Change images when editing. The biggest job producing a Squigl animation is during the editing. After watching your video, you can write down which images you may want to delete or change. Suppose you want to see a professional instead of the bus, then you can change this image and search for the word professionals. You will see all the pictures that other users have made and can choose from these images.
    • Or create your own pictures. When editing, you also have the option to click on 'draw your own gliph'. I quickly drew 2 pictures with my laptop's touchpad, this is not perfect. I would like to see if you can improve this if you use an ipad and pen or stylus.

        

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