2016 A.D. – the year of ‘Smart Learning’?

analytics, CPD, Learning, smart city

One of the trends that appears to have gained traction in recent months is Learning Analytics (LA). It has heavily featured in conferences right across the world, most recently at DevLearn.

Now I know LA strikes fear and loathing in some of you, but like it or not, it does appear to be here to stay.

Wikipedia defines analytics as ‘the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data.’


Technology has made data ubiquitous and, if Edward Snowden is right, more open than we had perhaps estimated. Data and the rights to privacy can be argued back and forth, but I do believe in the sharing of data for the social good.

One example of this is with Smart Cities.

For those not familiar, Smart Cities harness smart technology and data to tackle issues ranging from the economic to environmental. I live quite close to one – Milton Keynes.

Here’s an example of how they are using tech and data.

Energy systems for smarter cities

What the video shows you is consumer becoming a producer of data and then actively surrendering that data for the greater good. But they go beyond that. They go on to co-create by changing their behaviour. They call it Consumer to Prosumer, a top-down/bottom-up approach.

So, if people are comfortable doing this within cities or communities, why shouldn’t organisations be any different?

I get the trust, culture, WIIFM, Big Brother thing, but in the same way that we might relinquish control of our data for the social good, why wouldn’t we back in the workplace? Would opening data create conversation, create innovation and ideas, enable behaviour changes for the better? Would it enable co-creation within your organization? Isn’t this what xAPI and AI are there to assist with?

This leads me to Professor Everett Rogers and his theories documented in his wonderful work, ‘Diffusions of Innovation’.   Aspects around ‘Properties of Innovation’ and ‘Adopter Types’ may provide some clues as to the ‘whys’ and ‘why nots’ of Big Data.

Here’s my retrospective VLOG that explores this.

I just wonder if Smart Cities will become a benchmark for more openness in data-sharing within other areas of our lives. Could it influence what and how we learn in our schools, our communities, our workplace?

Will 2016 be the year of ‘Smart Learning’?


Am I Willy Wonka?

#outstandingMOOC, CPD, MOOC

Yep you read that right, so let’s keep this brief.

I’m currently participating in several MOOCs, one of which is “How to Create an Outstanding MOOC” hosted by HT2. We are currently on Week 2 of a five-week programme which includes the opportunity to design and develop one’s very own MOOC using the Curatr platform. (Still time to come and join us)

As found with some MOOCs, the experience has moved into different spaces.  Last night, the conversation was hosted on Google Hangouts by MOOC ‘wranglers’ Craig Taylor, Martin Couzins and Sam Burrough. I like to call them ‘el tridente’.

Before I go any further, I have a confession to make.

I’ve only used Hangouts a coupe of times before, and despite its technical hiccups, I think it’s a great way to connect.  I should use it more often when the opportunity arises.

But here’s my second confession. It makes me feel exposed.

Blogging and tweeting are safe.  I can air my thoughts without fear.  You, the consumer, make your choice.  But there’s something NOW about Hangouts.  Stupid thing to say I know, but there’s no real ‘Save/Edit Draft’.  Does Hangout scare you? Sure does for me, but life is not always about A>B>Live.

Anyway, Willy Wonka.

I’m sure you are all familiar with the man, the story.  Here’s a quick recap based on the musical.

  1. Wonka seeks heir to run his chocolate empire
  2. Launches and broadcasts competition
  3. Engages audience
  4. Finds winners
  5. Does the tour thing
  6. Charlie and Wonka win.  Smash through glass roof!

Wonka is a mishmash-diddlyumptious.

He’s a Brand and Community Manager.  He’s a spokesperson, a relationship builder.  He lets the winners explore, meet others unlike themselves, make sense of it all….make mistakes.  Without giving too much away, the Curatr MOOC talks about pointing the way, about flexibility, about ‘swinging’ and ‘dragging’ people.  That got your attention didn’t it.

For me and my early steps into this field, designing and delivering a MOOC feels like being Wonka.  And so I return to the MOOC…..

As the crazy man said: “The suspense is terrible…I hope it’ll last.”


#peerwatch, CPD, Learning

Last week on #LDInsight Tweetchat(Fridays, 8am BST), the following question was posed.

Who could we be talking to that we aren’t at present?

Here was my response.

LDINSIGHT response

Now perhaps Peer Observation was probably not the right terminology, but my comment did resonate with some people, including respected colleagues Michelle Parry-Slater (@MiPS1608) and Jo Stephenson (@Jostepho).

Within my most recent organisation, my experiences of observation were either provoked by an HR process (e.g. appraisal/performance management), change (e.g. imminent restructures), or a combination of both.  It strikes me now that we just sat and waited for these triggers.  We weren’t agile, we weren’t really benchmarking ourselves sufficiently and possibly against the wrong things.  Frankly, I feel we got a little lazy.

Your practice (and perhaps definition) of observation might well be different within your workplace.  In this social age, we actively ‘observe’ our external peers through conferences, blogs, Meetups, Tweetups etc, but are we missing out on some useful CPD by partnering with an organisation and periodically observing each other’s day-to-day environment and practices?

Yep, the idea of external observation scares the heck out of me too, and I know it’s not easy, but how much value would both parties gain from spending time (and little budget) with each other, especially if your industries and/or sectors are at polar opposites?

So anyway, I’ve decided to put this to the test.

I plan to approach some individuals and organisations over the next few weeks…. speak to other LnDers, Developers, Architects, Marketeers, Product Managers.  I have no idea what to expect (neither do they), but I’m confident it will be time and (little) money well spent.

Finally, in the spirit of recent hybrid hashtagging trends, I will today launch this campaign (of one) under the HT of #PeerWatch.

Would love you to join me on this.


CPD, Learning

You remember that hilariously classic TV moment from the 70s involving boy scouts on a roller coaster?  Y’know, the one from ThatBastardMonster’ll Fix It .

The unknown. The expressions. The mess. Great viewing.

That was me, yesterday, at the CIPD 2015 exhibition in London (Day 2).

Let me take you on a snapshot of my ride.

  1. Arrive [climb into car]
  2. Want to leave [car climbs]
  3. Meet Kevin (@donnyboy71) [Kevin is next to me. His arms are in the air]
  4. We share an experience [Kevin holds on to his lunch]
  5. Again! Again!

And so it continues. People jump on. People jump off.

Fear is a bugger, isn’t it. I know that one day very soon, Reader’s Digest will come through my door. No, sorry……I will unknowingly subscribe digitally.  Fear was something that the quite incredible Julian Stodd observed and blogged recently.

My fear yesterday was about where L&D would continue to add value in the medium term. Yes we scaffold, we curate, we analyse, we play Acronym Bingo, but how long will this last? In this age of PLE and PLN (Bingo!), how long before Millenials, BBoomers, Gen X etc (by the way, it’s a load of tosh) just work it out for themselves?

They already have, haven’t they.

But then I spoke to someone who gave me hope (*stirring music*).  He of identified gender shall remain nameless, but Martin reminded me of that work that ‘falls under the other areas of HR’ – Talent Management, Recruitment and Retention, Performance etc.

We co-own that. We so bloody co-own that….with everyone.

Clearly I haven’t got a clue, and my comments are indicative of the organisational setup I’ve been part of in the last few years. (Colleagues, if you are reading, I have much admiration for you. Sincerely. Truly.)

We all need to let go a bit. Put our arms in the air.

And this, dear friend(s) is when I turn to Toto – they of hits such as ‘Africa’ and ‘Rosanna’ (still one of the tightest, funkiest, most difficult drum beats ever).

Let us pray:

“I’ve been waitin’ for your love, and it’s been here all the time right in front of me”

Now, I didn’t say this to Martin (nor do I have a need to), but thank you Martin. For me, it’s added to my purpose.

Yesterday was about overcoming some of my fears: networking, socialising, punching way way way above my weight.  It’s reminded me of what I still need to do. I’m comfortable with that. I even accepted the ‘Knob’ comment on presentation of my badge.

I’m a better person for the whole experience.

I want to congratulate Andy Lancaster and all at CIPD for finally grabbing my attention again after seven long years. Well done. I wish you great success.

For those who gave me your time, your ears and your wisdom, thank you.

Lead on.
‘Knob’ out.

#cipdLDshow #ldinsight