Learning Technologies day 2 reflections

Day 2 was a lot more enjoyable at Learning Technologies, which probably had to do with having a plan and more defined number of people to and organisation to check out. One thing that fascinates me at exhibitions is how often the people representing an organisation actually don’t want to meet with interested people or totally lack the art of striking up a conversation, anyhow I will come back to the stereotypical types another time.

When I presented myself to some of my target organisation to find out more about their capabilities in social learning and gamification, I received a very varied approach, some because the organisation on my name tag read “looking for work” completely ignored me and sent me walking with a brochure, others did take a genuine interest and gave me white papers and others again thought my honesty was refreshing and even offered to help me find a role. In any case this time I found out the Saba and Cornerstone very likely had the social learning capability on offer that I fancied and spoke about in yesterday’s post, my only unanswered question would be the kind of budget needed to make it happen, but they wouldn’t disclose that without a real project in mind but their showcases did look interesting and worth exploring further.

The twitter feed, which I contributed to occasionally, had me visit QA purely because they had actually replied to a tweet I posted yesterday while I was on the way to a meeting and they had invited me to the talk by one of their representatives, unfortunately the talk was only on yesterday and the gentleman in question was no longer at the show, but they promised to send me his presentation. So in a way it shows me that a lot of the organisations at the show do promote social learning but very few are connecting on social media and this kind of target public would be a prime audience if you ask me. a bit of practice what you preach, is always good in my book for trust building and integrity.

Thanks to the conference twitter feed I managed to catch glimpses of one highly recommendable futurologist Gerd Leonhard and I managed to watch a good bit of his keynote recording at the end of the exhibition. And his point about information overload really meaning that we need filters, will give people like me a chance to act as a filter for the most relevant information to feed forward to my target audiences based on the needs analysis I would have conducted. I agree looking beyond the obvious is going to be totally key, I am also looking forward to catching the full presentation online, because it is bound to have great data and suggestions.

My biggest highlight of the two days and a very refreshing in terms of content and very engaging talk was by Ben Betts of Curatr on “Playing games with quality”. Not only did Ben echo my own thoughts that there was pretty damn little about gamification of learning available at the expo, but he also gave a fantastically balanced view of how to introduce game elements in non-game environments. My top take away piece from him was to not make gamification compulsory but instead to reward the right behaviour. As an experienced learning and development professional getting the desired new behaviour out of managers is often a challenge, but once you get them to think along those lines also very powerful and seriously brilliant to work with from a training perspective. I was also fascinated by his statistics on contribution and usefulness, which means more thought and encouragement is required than just traditional training thinking, but it does suit the social media generation down to the ground if you ask me. Being part on a number of collaborative learning groups on Facebook, proved it’s value to me a few times over where I as a participant was able to help other participants in addition to the main tutors who totally encouraged helping each other forward.

Ben’s 3 top tips when looking at gamification were as follows:
1. Find the right behaviour
2. Shape the right behaviour
3. Measure the right behaviour

I have to say Ben’s presentation made the whole day worthwhile and tickled my fancy to explore the topic further and as a result I am contemplating another book project or as the Cranfield University people suggested potentially a DBA on the topic and practice of gamification. It was fun to have a good and interesting academic debate on executive development, it always brings back my MBA days of theory versus practice debates, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

So in conclusion, it looks like what I believe is essential in terms of social learning is only in it’s infancy in terms of both technology and probably organisational readiness, but I do concur with industry experts that it is the way forward for the coming generations of learners. When it comes to games for learning I definitely feel like I am ahead of the pack in terms of thinking and experience, but it is a hot topic not to be overlooked to keep your audiences engaged. I believe if social learning is still in it’s infancy, then gamification is currently premature based on what I saw and heard at this exhibition.

Thank you to all of you who shared great wisdom, good conversation and white papers, I will be going over them in the coming days.