My first visit to China:The keyword is control

This week I was in Beijing for the launch of the Chinese edition of Easygenerator. It was my first visit to China and I will try to reflect on all the impressions I had; not on eLearning but on the country.

Kasper Spiro presenting on the e-learning conference in BeijingWe launched Easygenerator at an e-learning conference in Beijing. I had the honor of being one of the keynote speakers. I talked about trends in e-Learning in Europe and the USA. One of the trends is that the learner is taking control over his own development, and the learning department is losing control. The word control was probably the keyword for the week; both in my speech and in my China experience. The government in China controls a lot of things. I knew that I would not have access to Facebook, Twitter and Google because they are blocked by the Great Chinese Firewall, but it goes much further than that. China is not a socialistic plan economy anymore and it is obviously not a democracy. I would describe it as a controlled society. The government clearly indicates boundaries where you have to operate within. Within these boundaries you do have ‘freedom’, although that freedom is mostly economically defined.

Tiananmen Square and the access gate to the Forbidden city

Tiananmen Square and the access gate to the Forbidden city

This became most clear when we visited the Tiananmen square. The square is located in the center of the city. The Forbidden city, Mao’s tomb and a bunch of important buildings are located there. We know the square of-course as the place that played a key role in the democracy movement of 1989, ending in the Tiananmen massacre. Now more than ever this square is the symbol of China. If an incident would occur here, it would show that the government doesn’t have complete control. The square is fenced of completely, you can only access it from one of the four corners via a pedestrian tunnel. In those tunnels you are checked as if you are entering an airport.

The firemen at Tiananmen Square

The firemen at Tiananmen Square

On the square there is a lot of police. I also noticed that people in civilian clothes are standing watch, they are equipped with a fire extinguisher and a shield. All I can come up with is that this is due to the incident in 2001 when 5 members of the banned movement Falun Gong set themselves afire in front of the entrance to the forbidden city. The police has a strange habit by the way. They always have their flashing lights on, making sure you will notice them and stressing the fact that you are being watched. When I walked passed the square I asked my Chinese companions: “Are these security measures still necessary, is the government still afraid for a new upraise like in 89?” That was clearly a question I was not suppose to ask. After some hesitation they explained that nobody ever talks about the events of 89, but that at the same time everybody knows it. This is an indication that the control of the government extends into the minds of people (but of course that is also the case in our society).

China has a very different and also much more ancient history than Europe or the VS. The written history dates back to 2100 BC. And even then they had an emperor and and a long lasting dynasty. The last dynasty ended in 1911, it was followed by The Peoples republic of China; so no democracy at all in 4000 years of history. In the West we always asume that democracy is the best way to organize your country, but if you just look at the numbers you can have some doubts if it is the most effective way; the economic growth in 2014 in China was 7.3%, compared to the US (2.5) and Europe (1%). I found it very interesting to talk to people who do have this very different background. The cool thing was that in these conversation it was not a contest (who has the better solution?) but an exchange of thoughts. It is clear that we can learn a lot from each-other. The other thing I concluded was that China will not try to copy our capitalistic model. The will look at it, take the things they like, but apply it in their own manner. China is not a copycat, they will do it their way.

In a way Beijing is a city like any other. 20 million people, a lot of traffic-jams and bad air. But if you visit some of the relics from the past it is something else. I had the opportunity to visit both the ‘Forbidden city’ and the ‘Summer Palace’. At both places the old emperors would dwell. And these places are incredible. I did not have enough time to really see a lot but already I do not have words to describe it. So I will just share some pictures and videos.

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#LSCON John DiMarco creativity 101: Integrating high level cognitive objectives in learning

Great session about using creativity and focusing on the higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. I wasn’t able to capture all learning activities for each level of Bloom’s during the session. I will update the mind map when his presentation is available.


#LSCON Nick Floro, the future of elearning in 2015

An incredible amount of trends and tips. There is something for everyone here.




#LSCON #ECOCON Keynote @MFurdyk: The future of learning

This was another awesome keynote. I have to confess that I had never heard before of Michael, but he is an impressive guy. He created his first website as a teenager and sold it when he was 17 and became a millionaire. But that is not what impressed me. He decided to put a part of his money and energy into TakingItGlobal. A not for profit organization he started with Jennifer Corriero aimed primarily at youth to raise awareness and discussion on a number of global issues and encourages youth to take action that affects their local and global communities. To do that at the age of 17! That is special. From their website:

“Our Vision: Youth around the world actively engaged and connected in shaping a more inclusive, peaceful and sustainable world.
Our Mission: TakingITGlobal empowers youth to understand and act on the world’s greatest challenges.”

Impressive. It makes you think and wonder, what did I do for meaningful things with my life. On top of that he gave us a great keynote. With insights and also a lot of great practical examples and apps. He shared his presentation through learning exchange, If you are not a member, here is my mind map.

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#LSCON @marcjrosenberg: The training to competency myth

Marc presented the journey to competency. Key message: the level of competency determines what kind of learning facilities people need. Competency is not a fixed thing, you need to take the levels into account. I added a photo of one slide, because I could not capture that in my mindmap.

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#LSCON session @bbets: From content to curation, moving your strategy beyond creation

Good session. His key message is content is only the start of a leaning process. he uses a Lego metaphor: Focus less on the blocks (content) and more on the learning. Here is the mind map.

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#ecocon #lscon session @JD_Dillon: How Kaplan build a smarter learning ecosystem

A great presentation on the 5 year journey Kaplan took from old school training to an integrated ecosystem. Inspiring story with great lessons to be learned and practical tips as well. Here is the mind map.


#LSCON and #ECOCON day one

The end of the first day of LSCON and Ecocon. Time for a first retrospective.

Tom Wujec
The highlight of today was the opening keynote by Tom Wujec. I wrote a post earlier on this presentation, but it made me think a lot. So I checked him out in more detail. Here is a link to his Marshmallow challenge. My research did not help me much, so for now the conclusion is: He tells us everything will change and that means that we are educating people for jobs and roles that do not exist today. Therefore there is litle sense in training them in the job skills and knowledge. We need to get them ready for a life of life long learning, enabling them with skills for that. On top of that the role of the computer will increase dramatically forcing us to focus on the creative side of things.

Panel and ecosystem

Both the panel on performance support and the ecosystem session I attended were interesting. But there was much more to this day.

I started the day with a morning buzz session of LINGOs. The organization that helps great people doing even greater things, they support 80 NGO’s with eLearning facilities and knowledge. I’m an ambassador for them. We as learning community should support them as much as we can. You can meet them at LSCON (they have a table close to the registration desk) chek in and see what you can do. Not on Orlando, check out their website, especially their volunteer section.

I had a whole bunch of other meetings, some business meetings with which I will not bore you. But I also spoke with Bill Brandon about publishing some articles in the Learning Solution magazine. We came up with some nice ideas. But again, you can do this as well. You can write for the magazine or the twist blog or just publish your content at the new Learning exchange platform that was launched today by the guild. Don’t be shy, your experiences are valuable to other members, so start sharing!

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#LSCON session, Catherinne Lombardozzi: scaffolding learning in the ecosystem

Cool session. Practice vs theory. The theory of ecosystems will tell you that you have to facilitate the learner providing them with all the resources and tools they need to do their job. Catherine has a very practical view. She thinks that you will just overwhelm the learner with information. She sees an ecosystem as a fish tank, an artificial environment set up for a specific purpose. A ecosystem is a scaffolding method for learning. She also has a list of 7 pillars that you need for a succesful participation of the learners.

I do have mixes feelings about her approach. On the one hand it does feel like a practical approach and a great first step in the world of ecosystems.mbut on the other hand it feels like you are patronizing your learners.



#LSCON performance support panel

Panel about performance support. They were in agreement most of the time. it is about changing behavior, in the workplace, by using context and without interfering in the work. Here is my .

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