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Training or learning? Or training and learning?

ATD conference Techknowledge 2015 Learning Technology Applied January 14 till 16 Las Vegas.


Choon-Neo Siow and Ton Voogt attend this conference in search for 'the state of art’ on e learning. We present our impressions and evaluations. The conference promises learning. In the preparation to visit this conference I and Choon Neo Siow formulated our criteria for learning. A self-exploration-motive leading the discovery process with feedback loops to include data and positive reinforcement.

Impressive Future

Speakers in the General sessions gave perspectives on technology developments. Aaron Dignan explored the future developments like the use of big data and social networking technology. Tan Le demonstrated the use of EEG technology to give control over movements outside and, very impressive, control over the body after a severe injury. This presentation moved many participants and gave hope to those who have family members suffering from brain damage.

We are convinced there is much promise in the use of technology, with the only problem being the use and development of it being curtailed by humankind's level of creativity.

More on Tan Le

Practice new technology

Participants explore and practice new software for creating own games, videos, graphics or other animations. in classes with 70 participants sitting in long lines of ten behind tables on which for each a screen. All connected to a program to learn how to handle the program to create a prepared game. On the screen the opening page of the software. Four bars with different signs, many, many variables to adjust to get a simple game prepared. The teacher instructs step by step on how to do. I sit next to a young lady and watch her practice. All actions are simple, it is like programming, not by writing lines but by clicking on 1/0 answers. Many actions to get a simple game created. It takes two hours to create the instruction of a three step game with two alternatives on each stage, and most work is done by the instructor before class. The instructor knows all the details of the program.

I reflect, 'Who will use this software, who will buy?' The package costs 1300 dollar. Even building a simple game must be designed in detail before it can be put into software instructions. Many, many instructions needs a computer. I estimate it takes many, many hours to realize. Only by daily practice one can get on the level to fully take advantage of all the possibilities. Business opportunities for someone in a smaller city for schools, musea, shops, companies, clubs.

Other software can help you to create the most impressive graphs, videos, animations. 100 firms on the expo demonstrate their contribution.

Low cost applications

Three other participants at the conference, teachers of a primary school of Quebec, create simple games themselves with the help of parents who have a lot of free time.

The director of a museum in a smaller city presents how they, having a low budget, experiment with technology that enables kids to explore museum following their own impulses. The technology follows them, each new display connects a signal to the kidware and remembers this kid and the actions it did before.

A wonderful, creative and useful innovation!

Massive, Open, Online Courses

A research done by the ATD, on Massive, Open, Online Courses (MOOC) promotes these to replace the travel intensive and costly instructor led training. 20% of the companies use this training. 30% of the companies prepare to use these courses. A huge collection of courses by the American Open University exists. Tens of Learning Management System (LMS) platforms and specific tools to get more information out of it have also been developed, it seems. Virtual classrooms software and the use of mobile technology were also displayed, no doubt trying to push the boundaries of delivering training in a cheaper, more fun way.

Micro, Nano teaching

A firm concentrates on micro teaching. In a twenty minutes presentation in an open box of 30square meters, while on a distance of ten meters another company-man presents his products and ten meters further on a lady concentrates on telling her own story while the listeners in the hall can hear two presenters at the same time. Indeed a crowded and noisy market place. The micro teaching man tells that our span of attention gets shorter and shorter. He demonstrates movie scenes of 30 years ago and the ones now used. The pace now is much higher.

He develops 'one minute’ knowledge. He demonstrates two ‘one minutes’. You want to decide if an egg is fresh or boiled? Two ten second videos of turning eggs. The other answers the question: 'does air have weight?’ Two videos: one ten seconds of a empty ballon on a balance. The second video the full ballon on the balance. The numbers on the scale differ. The company produce hundreds of videos a day. A total collection of 30.000. Easy to produce, easy to have on the cellphone and to consult.

Micro teaching is a tool that must be stitched together appropriately for bigger courses such as customer service training. How to identify what content in such a training can use micro teaching is not explained or explored. The micro teaching that was displayed used videos to teach. Videos are a powerful mean of teaching, but what to shoot, who to show, when to pan scenes, etc. could be important for effective learning. Unfortunately, we were not able to learn some of these things.

Caterpillar and Blue California

These two companies began to develop e-training for two reasons: lower the cost of trainers and have the knowledge just in time at a specific spot. Caterpillar put all knowledge and technical instructions online. Apple is helpful with cloud hosting and ipad/ iphone applications. All technicians and dealers have access to this closed environment. The assurance company Blue California re-designed all knowledge and applications in ten minutes courses that are in the cloud. They engage their employees with email, messages to connect, read and test their knowledge in a tight time schedule. The short course time make it possible to study and read in between other work. The time and cost savings reach out the investments. A complete new knowledge centre is built to produce, reshape and execute the online trainings.

Implementation obstacles?

A moment of truth. “At a moment we were ready for implementation we were massively blocked by our trainers", the Blue California lady confesses. "Why?” “We did not involve them in the development of this new direction so they feared they might lose their job. And that is what happened. We went on and now the program is running.”

We search for e-learning, this was e-teaching

What is the state of the art of e-learning? It was e-teaching Training is practiced as telling and the participant has to show he can repeat the right answers. The look and feel is very variable. All can be very attractive. All knowledge is available on three devices: computer, ipad and cellphone format in ‘just in time’. Animations, graphics, gaming, videos, all more easy to use by specific software packages.

Focus of the conference was more on the technology of training than technology of learning. Unfortunate we did not see how those two can be connected. The technology of training, as in tools for gamification, LMS, video-production, etc. are important for efficient organization and delivery of training. A bit more of how these technology of training enhances learning or bring about effective learning would have been nice and more convincing. The attendees now have to still figure out themselves under what circumstance to apply what technology.

There is much value in the use of technology, but it is necessary to differentiate who gains - the individual learner, the trainer or the organization.

All presentations and presented software and other tools did not come up to our criteria.

A project that includes learning: A large transportation company

We reflected on the project Choon-Neo Siow did in the large transportation company she works for. I suggested: it should have been presented here. It is much more on how i-leaning is used in self exploring, discovery and feedback loops that includes positive feedback.

Read more on this innovative project ...

Choon-Neo Siow, Ton Voogt

Las Vegas, Houston, Zaltbommel

January 2015

© 2019 TonVoogtConsultancy ~ Recent Update 24-08-2017
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