Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning

Since I became CEO of easygenerator I wanted to have a clear vision and mission on what we do and why we do it. This led to my blogs on our vision and mission, ‘Output learning’ and ‘bringing learning to the workplace’. At easygenerator we use these ideas to give direction to product development and our market approach. Over the past year I joined these ideas, tried to develop them further and I renamed it to ‘outcome learning’.

Although I developed these ideas to give direction to easygenerator I believe that they apply in a broader context. I want to improve these ideas and by sharing them I hope to get some feedback. Therefore I decided to work them out in more detail in a series of post and I will give presentations about this subject at the DevLearn conference in Las Vegas in November and the Online Educa in Berlin in December.

Outcome learning
Outcome learning is an approach for learning in corporate environments. It can help organizations:

– to steer the learning processes differently,
– decide what kind of learning opportunities to offer
– to measure the effectiveness of learning
– make learning smarter
– connect learning to the day-to-day work.
– improve the ROI of learning efforts

It can help the e-Learning developer to:

– make e-Learning of higher quality
– align e-Learning more with business needs
– connect learning to the workplace
– get better insight in the results of e-Learning

It can help the learner:

– to set his own learning path
– shorten the time he spends on learning
– improve on his learning results

Starting points
I based this approach on the following starting points:

– e-Learning is ready to move to the next level.
– we must use learning objectives instead of page progress.
– we need to bring learning back to the workplace
– we need to tune learning more to the learners needs
– e-Learning development is a collaborative process

Three perspectives
The learning process looks very different depending on the view-point you take. Therefore I will describe it from the perspective of the manager, the e-Learning developer and the learner.

This post is part of a series of post on this subject:

  1. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (This post)
  2. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (2)
  3. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (3): The managers perspective
  4. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (4): The developers perspective
  5. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (5): The learners perspective
  6. Make e-Learning work: Outcome learning (6): The vendors perspective

Ukrainian visit

This week I have visited the development team of EasyGenerator located in the Ukraine and it was great. Christiaan de Visser (Business development manager) and Jeroen de Haan (system architect) joined me. Goal of the visit was to get acquainted with the team and to work on the EasyGenerator road map. We had some sessions with the complete team, but most sessions where with both Alexanders. Alexander Stulov is our lead developer and Alexander Chernenko will probably take on the role of product owner.  In addition, we met with Artjom Serdyuk (our scrum master) and of course with Dmitry Antonyuk who is director of ISM Ukraine. Since we only had two actual working days, you can imagine that the were crammed with all kind of session and talks.

I came back tired but very inspired. In the short time we had, we came up with a first version of the road map, a vision on e-Learning, a clear mission for our company and even a possible new concept for handling e-Learning content. There have been months in my working life that where less productive.

In the next few weeks, we will work out our Vision, Mission, and roadmap in more detail. I will write blogs on these topics in the coming weeks. The coolest thing is that I’m only preparing for my new job just now, I will start working for EasyGenerator on December 1 (At the online Educa in Berlin). I’m looking forward to it more and more.

When learning is the answer, what then is the question?

It’s sunday morning, it’s very early, I’m sitting in my garden. It’s very quit, the only thing I hear are birds. Three weeks of holiday lay before me, a moment of contemplation. What is it all about?

The question in the title of this blog comes from a conference on Management and organisation I attended two weeks ago.  And it is a very good question. Unfortunately the conference focussed more on how we learn and not on the why. So I didn’t get a clear answer.

A day before the conference I attended a meeting of the BVLT (the Dutch industry organization for e-learning companies). Since Ed Botterweg left Stoas I represent Stoas in this body. There was a very interesting discussion. The BVLT stands for ‘Industry organisation for Learning Technology and the question was, does Learning technology describe what we do?  Are we not just e-learning companies, should it be E-learning technology or is it about the learning solution we deliver.  Why do we work in the field of learning, what is our added value, what binds us together? More or less the same question as at the conference: “When learning is the answer, then what is our role in it?”

Now a week later and sitting in my garden at half past eight in the morning it all seems very clear. It is not about technology, that is a means to enable learning and not a goal. Learning is also a means, I don’t learn to learn. I learn in order to change, to develop. There you have it,  it is simple as that. We learn to develop and we as a company are facilitating a process of development of people. So it’s not about the content, not about the technology not about the solutions but about people, the process and about development.

Therefore I propose that we change the name of our industry organisation to BVLD, which stands for Industry Organisation for Learning Development. Maybe I have to change the title of this blog in ‘Change to develop’.

25 years of working experience in 8 simple lessons

On may first 1985 I began my first official job, this means I now work 25 years. Time for a quick overview of my career so far and the lessons learned.

I was still studying when I was asked for my first job:  training unemployed to become a bookkeeper. It was not only the theory but computer bookkeeping was a part of the training. During  my study I did some work on a mainframe;  so I thought how hard can it be. I was hired on Friday, the course started on Monday. So I decided to check the computers out on Saturday. My wife (then she was my girlfriend) joined me. The computers turned out to be Corona’s, we installed them and switched them on, the screen turned green and a small square was blinking, but that was all.

After two hours of struggling, we discovered that you had to insert a floppy with the operating system (Dos) on the left and a program disk on the right. Then I was ready to start teaching.

Despite the fact that bookkeeping is probably on of the most boring professions in the world, I did this for 5 years and with great pleasure. The people I was training were guaranteed a job after six months of training. This made them  motivated to the bone. That was the most important lesson of these 5 years; It doesn’t really matter what you do, if you work with motivated and passionate people it’s always a pleasure.

I was asked to write a series of books for these kind of courses and I did. In my mind this made me a writer too. I applied for a job as a technical writer at Informaat, but after a few interviews I was hired as an information designer. It was my job to design knowledge and documentation systems and to implement them. That’s lesson two: You can do anything if you put your mind to it. I stayed at Informaat for eight years. I was the initiator of  the creation of our own content management system, designed to aid subject matter experts in creating great on-line documentation. This system still  is available today. Some of my former colleagues continued with this systemand they have a company who develops and sells this tool (sevensteps). That’s lesson three: It is great to leave something behind thats viable without you. Informaat  allowed me to do an intensive  training in the field of change management, this training pivoted my career. I discovered that I was more than a professional, I was a manager as well.

I discovered this during a session on strategic thinking. We were asked to fill in a survey which determined what you were. there where four types, they ranged from a professional (consultant) to a strategic leader. In my survey I scored clearly as a professional. We were also asked to indicate a type for our fellow students, the majority of them rated me as an strategic leader, I was very surprised. That’s lesson four: The convictions you have about yourself limit your personal development.

To see if I could really do this, I started working at Locatienet as general manager. Locatienet was an  internet startup in the middle of the internet bubble, a sort of precursor of Google earth. Within two years we were one of the top ten websites in the Netherlands, and we had developed a business model that made us into a profitable enterprise. I learned a lot of lessons in the four years that I worked at Locatienet, but the most important is probably: keep your feet on the ground. I’m not sure if this is an English expression, but in Dutch it means stay sober, don’t get overexcited.  Bearing lesson three in mind Locatienet still exists today.

After Locatienet I worked at two companies who were in financial troubles and I worked a few years as an independent consultant. This lesson was very basic: if you don’t make enough money, you have a problem. By the way during my work as an independent consultant I created a tool that enables Sme’s to develop blended learning, tis tool is  still available (see Writeplace). This is the third time rule three applies, which reminds me of an other lesson or rule I discovered.  I call it the eastern egg rule: In Holland we have an eastern poem which goes like this: One egg is no egg, two eggs are half an egg, three eggs are an eastern egg. I don’t have a clue where it comes from, but it is true if you apply it to knowledge and experience in your company. If you want a position filled in permanently you need to have three people who can do the job. If you have one person and he leaves you end up with nothing, if you have two and one leaves, you lose knowledge and experience, if you have three you have a solid base, therefore Three is an eastern egg….

Now I work for Stoas since January 2007 and this leads to rule eight, which is an extension of rule one: If you are truly passionate about what you are doing it is even more fun.

There you are: 25 years of working experience in 8 simple rules.


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