#Mlearncon Keynote: Karen McGrane: Wysiwyg is dead!

A really great keynote. Based on the description of the Keynote I assumed that she would speak on responsive design and stuff like that. But no, she addressed the real issue. We need a new paradigm for authoring! This is really what we as a vendor of an authoring tool are struggling with. The cool thing about this presentation was that I sort of knew all she was telling, but at the same time it is an eye-opener for me. I had all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and she showed me the total picture. Things are falling into place for me. I think I can begin with solving the puzzle now.

What her story comes down too is that with the way we edit and mark up content still is like we are creating a paper document. We are creating pages with book like mark-up. But with the rise of the web and especially mobile, we no longer know what kind of device or platform our content has to show up on. This means several things.

We have to structure our content in a different way and we have to use semantic metadata. This means that we need to replace our current styling info with a meaningful mark-up. So not a ‘Heading 1′, but ‘most important title’. Not normal but ‘central message’ or something like that. The third thing is that we need to create content packages. For example the title of a piece, or the introduction need to have different versions (short, medium, long), so we can use the most appropriate one for the device the user has. The short one will be used for a smart phone, the medium one for a tablet. And finally our big challenge: a new authoring experience. At Easygenerator we moved away from the wysiwyg editor we had and went for a ‘Wysiwym’ (what you see is what you mean) approach. I knew this is the right direction, but at the same time I was having doubts, because our users are demanding Wysiwyg. She cleared my doubts, we just have to find the proper form for the authoring interface, a new paradigm.


#mLearncon Featured session: David Kelly. Featured session. Wearable devices and the future of mobile learning

Great session by David Kelly. Wearable devices are much more than google glass. Bracelets, watches, smart clothes, sensors in your body all fit the definition.
David gave a lot of examples on applications of wearable devices in our live and for learning. Right now the technology is still in his infancy, but it will develop fast. For 2015 the consumer market for wearable devices is estimated at 30 Billion. Again a mind map and you can check his presentation and resources at http://bit.ly/1jLETJg


#mLearncon Joe Ganci, Which tools to use for desktop and mobile development

Joe talked about a ton of authoring tools in this presentation. Too much to list here, go to the conference download for the complete overview (http://mlearncon.com/handouts). I will just go over some of the things he told us. Joe also has his column on tools: http://Www.learningsolutionmagazine.com/authors/4/joe-Ganci for more info.

Joe states that authoring tools are either powerful or easy to use. The combination doesn’t really exists. He divides tools into three categories: power plug plugins, installed tools and cloud based tools. In general he says that the plugins are easy to use but not that powerful, the installed tools are the most powerful and complex and the web based tools tend to be easier to use. The other trend he sees is that everything will be moving to the cloud sooner or later.

Mobile does affect the type of content that is being created. Lessons are becoming shorter, delivered just in time and more social.

Flash vs HTML5. Flash still isn’t dead despite of the problem on mobile platforms. But it will be HTML5 in the future. Html5test.com is a site where you can test how compatible your course is with HTML5. Big problem with HTML5 is that still many people use old browsers like Internet Explorer 8 that don’t support HTML5.

Finally his advise. Probably you need more tools and use each tool to its strength.

#mLearncon session report: Robert Christie, content as an API

Interesting session. Instead of publishing your content as a package (that contains the information like SCORM) you can leave it at the source and use an API to show it in any application. I do believe that this will be the future. It gives more flexibility, is on demand, you can create device specific apps that can use the features of that device and so on. At sessions like this you realize how ‘old school’ the current default elearning approach (authoring, uploading a SCORM package to your LMS) is. Check the mind map for details. BTW you can click on the mind map to enlarge it.


#Mlearncon keynote Larry Irving: education doesn’t need innovation, it needs disruption

The opening keynote by Larry Irving started out a bit dull for me. He took us along all the impressive numbers of the growth of the web and mobile. What I liked most is his conviction that everybody has a right on education and that Mobile learning will make this possible. He gave examples on changes and developments in education. What I liked most was his end: Education does not need innovation, it needs disruption. I tried to capture his talk in the mind map.


Mlearn conference preview: #MLearncon scores 2.375 on the ‘Spiro index’!


mLearn logo

An early post on MLearncon in San Diego, the eLearning Guild conference on Mobile learning. I know it is still a week before it starts but I will be leaving for the USA already this Thursday. First a few days New York and then San Diego and Mlearncon. I will probably not have any time to blog before the conference starts. I will be blogging from the conference on all the sessions I attend.

The fun for a conference always begins with viewing and selecting the sessions. While doing so, I took some notes, they should give you an idea about what the conference will be like.

How does MLearncon score on the Spiro Index
I’m becoming a real conference veteran. This will be my fourth major eLearning conference of 2014 (Learning Technology London, Learning Solutions Orlando, ASTD ICE Washington, and now Mlearncon in San Diego). Before I go to any conference I will download the app, go through all the sessions and add all interesting sessions to my Agenda. When I have double bookings on time slots I will make a second selection per time slot. Works like a charm. I also discovered that the number of double (or triple, or more) booked time slots is a good indication for the conference quality. Based on this I came up with the “Spiro index”; the average number of sessions that I have selected for a time slot. Two or higher is a good score. Mlearncon scores a 2.375 so that is a good sign! I will also rate all the sessions I attend and based on that I will create a final score. I will also do that for future conferences, it might be interesting to see if this helps to compare them.

MLearnCon Session topics and trends
I’m also always looking for trends at each conference. Step one in finding them is grouping all the sessions in categories. At MLearnCon there are approximately 100 sessions in total, here is my division in categories:

MLearncon sessions








What does stand out is that there are 33 tools and technique sessions, that is one-third. Add the 14 basics/getting started to that and a part of the strategy/framework sessions and it means that about 50% of the session aim at organizations that are starting up with mobile learning. That looks like a trend. The other thing that stands out is that there are 14 Case studies, that is more than last year. This shows that more and more companies have deployed MLearning.  Finally a newcomer for MLearnCon is the performance support (6 sessions), I can’t recall any from last year. This means that the ‘ePerformance’ trend has also reached to mobile space.  I will check  at the conference if these trends will be confirmed or that I detect other trends.

MLearnCon Keynotes

The guild conferences are known for their great keynote speakers, I loved last years Keynote at Mlearncon by Tamar Elkeles. I have to say that I’m not convinced yet by the descriptions of this year’s keynotes: Larry Irving, on the mobile revolution and the fact that this is the first technical revolution that is taking place globally. Karen McGrane about the fact that there are so many devices out there that your content should adapt to all these devices and that you have to develop a matching content strategy (cool title by the way “Content in a Zombie Apocalypse”). And a panel with: Imogen Casebourne, Clark Quinn and Chad Udell on the successes and failures of MLearning. Interesting but nothing mind-blowing or surprising, but who knows….

Follow MLearnCon
As said, I will be blogging on all sessions I attend and I will write a conference recap at the end. Summery reports will also be posted  in the easygenerator blog. But the best way to keep track is the back channel by David Kelly.

A week in Ukraine; What is it like at the moment?

Last week I spent a week with our development team in Ukraine and many people ask me what the situation is over there. So I decided to share my last week experience with you.

I arrived at the main airport from Kiev and it was just a normal situation. No extra police or military in sight. The first change that I noticed was when we arrived in Zhitomir: The statue of Lenin on the central square was removed. 20140602_200748The pedestal is still there and they have put a poster on it with the names and images of people who died at the Maidan square in Kiev. During my last visit things escalated on that square and in Zhitomir people stormed the city hall and took over the (pro Russian) city council (see my previous post on Ukraine). One of their first decisions was to remove the statue. These posters and flowers are found on more places.


But that was the only change that I noticed on arrival, everything else looks like business as usual. On Sunday I toured the area with two colleagues, we visited some nice landmarks. A bit strange while 500 miles to the east people are fighting and dying. Of course we talked about the situation and they shared their concerns. In that conversation it became clear that although everything is quiet and it looks the same on the surface, some fundamental has changed. Before the annexation of the Krimea Ukraine was divided into two groups, Pro Russia and pro Europe. That division was the start of this unrest; the former president making a deal with Russia instead of the EU. Now Ukraine is still divided but the groups are: Pro Ukrainian and Pro Russian. People are (for the first time) proud that they are Ukrainian and the common ‘enemy’ Russia is uniting them. People are also showing this. You see cars with Ukrainian flags.


Ribbons in the Ukrainian colors attached to antenna’s and to handbags.


Or just a flag outside the window.20140605_124139

This is really new to Ukraine, I never saw this before. It is a change for the good I think, it unites people. The question of course is, what will happen after this crisis. There is a big chance that new divisions will arise.

An important change is the economy, this situation hasn’t helped the already weak economy. The biggest change is that the local currency (Hrivna) has lost 40% of its value in just a few weeks. This means that all imported goods have become much more expensive in the local currency, a big problem for many people. It also undermines the trust in the Hrivna, I noticed that a wholesale company that sells imported garbage bins now changed their prices from Hrivna to Euro’s, a dangerous development.


And there now is a new president: Petro Porosjenko. I don’t know what to expect of him. He is a billionaire (he has huge chocolate factories). People see that as a big advantage: “That means he doesn’t have to steal our money”. He is anti corruption and pro Europe so those are good things. But he wasn’t elected on a real program. They chose him on his personality and experience: “If you can run a billion dollar company, you can also run a country”. Let’s see what he will make of it. Next to solving this crisis the fight against corruption will be crucial. I do believe that corruption for the Ukraine might be a worse enemy than Russia. He has his work cut out for him, and I wish him all the best.

A How to Guide on the Principles of the #elearningmanifesto: Target Improved Performance

150x150xSerious-eLearning-Signatory-line5-150x150.png.pagespeed.ic.DXeP5kemTe “We will help our learners achieve performance excellence; enabling them to have improved abilities, skills, confidence, and readiness to perform.”

This principle  closely relates to principle number 3 which  states  we need to tie learning to individual performance  and organizational goals. In professional organizations, the goal of learning is performance improvement, which means a change in behavior. Doing something differently or doing something else which is more effective. In my previous post on prinicple number two, I already wrote about the approaches of  Bob Mosher,  Conrad Gottfredson and Clark Quinn. The essence of what they say is that the most effective learning takes place in the workplace, at the moment of need.  I can’t add much to that.

I  attended the ASTD ICE conference in Washington DC which  gave me some new insights on this topic. It is not only a  question of how to change the behavior of an employee,  but it is of course also about what is most effective. Charles Jennings (see my full session report) mentioned in his presentation a survey that said: Improving the learning function can result in a performance improvement of 4%, improving the quality of middle management can result in a performance increase of 20%. And this was clearly a trend at the conference. I never saw so many presentations and expo booths on ‘Leadership development’. The assumption is that change is driven by  middle management, so if you facilitate them, they will drive the change into your organization. Interesting, because we are talking more about the personal development  of middle management with the  goal to enable them to drive the change in the organization. This also means  they are the group of employees that can frustrate change. So skilling them, motivating them and taking them along on the path of change is crucial for success.

Making the most out of your middle management

 I found this post which drives home the importance of bringing middle management along.  The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) (www.shrm.org) recently released the annual “Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement” research report, which found that employees rated their relationship with their immediate supervisor more important to job satisfaction than either compensation or benefits. Ensuring that middle managers are on board with the company mission and vision plans will likely result in their subordinates achieving high levels of job satisfaction and engagement – a key contributor to business success.”

See the overview article for other published posts of this series.

#astd2014 Conference recap and trends

ICE2014 logo

Here is my recap of the Washington DC ASTD ICE 2014 conference. This was my second ICE conference (I attended Dallas last year) it was huge and it was interesting. Most of the sessions were very good (just a few disappointed me). I did find it different from last year. I’m always looking for trends and found four major ones: Big-Data, Speed of Change, Leadership Development and Retention. I did check my recap of last year. The trends were workplace learning and informal learning.

Big Data

Big data was all over the place, and it is connected to the personalization trend. The message is that we, L&D people, can do for learners what Google and Facebook are already doing for us. Collecting and analyzing learner data in order to get to know learners so well, that you can offer information and learning experiences when you think of them, which may be before the learner even realizes they need it.

Speed of change
This is the main trend I see at the conference; the speed of change is becoming faster and faster and companies are struggling to keep up. It is what Stan McChrystel (see keynote report) calls the ‘adaptability gap’. Therefore companies are in need for a higher speed of adaption and change. Changing your company means changing your people, changing your people means changing their behavior. Two ways of doing that faster and more effectively are: Leadership development and better retention.

Leadership development
There were many sessions on leadership development, and this focus was also seen at the expo. I haven’t counted them, but leadership development tools, programs, books and training were all over the place. The key to this trend is that research shows that change is initiated by senior management, but carried out by middle management. I heard somewhere that improving training can lead to 4% improvement of production, improving your middle management can lead up to 20% increase!

Retention – Forgetting curve
Another trend driven by scientific research which Hermann Ebbinghaus found long ago, is that if we learn something once, we will forget 80% in no time. So in order to increase retention you have to repeat it over and over again. There were many many referrals to this fact in presentations, but also at the expo there where a lot of tools that were claiming to solve this problem: Mindgym, Mindmaster, Mindsetter, and Memo trainer to name a few.

What is in a name?

ATDDuring the conference ASTD announced a new name, it is now ATD the Association for Talent Development. They had a special session announcing it and they have re-branded the whole conference overnight. They really made an effort. I made that mistake once as well. In the nineties I was CEO of a Dutch Internet start-up, called Locatienet. It was a sort of Google Maps before Google Maps was there. I started as a one-man business unit in another company and then we got some shareholders on-board and we became a separate company. For us that was a huge deal, we re-branded, launched and did a lot of things, but the public could not care less. It didn’t affect the services at all, so why should they. It is the same with the ASTD; they will continue doing the same things, so ASTD or ATD, what is in a name? But I did love this conference. I will be back next year at the ATD ICE in Orlando.

I will attend Mlearncon in San Diego next month (June 23-26). I will blog again, so if you want my perspective on that conference and mobile developments, come back in June to this blog.

Session and Keynote reports from me on this conference:

#ASTD2014 keynote: Kevinn Caroll: Play

ICE2014 logoAn inspiring keynote that is hard to catch in a blog or a mind map. He is an inspirational speaker so you should see him. He gave a great presentation, sharing the story of his life. Growing up as kid of two addict parents, saved and raised by his grandparents. Learned his life lessons at the play ground. Went into the army as a translator for 10 years, than became an NBA coach and ended up with Nike in a free role he called ‘Katalyst’. A role where he helped others turn ideas and dreams into practice.He now has his own company Katalyst (http://kevincarrollkatalyst.com/). He promotes the idea of play to solve problems, innovate and many other things. On his website you will also find an interesting reading list of books he quotes a lot in his talk.

I found a Ted video from him, that is probably the best way to share his thoughts. It is worth watching:


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