Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Tool and tips for the online flip

The whole world is aiming at 'social distancing' As a facilitator, trainer are you going to cancel lessons and workshops or do you opt for online? It may sound challenging, but now is the time to try that online approach, or experiment more than you did before. We are all looking for ways to continue work and learning as well as possible. So take a stab!




The good thing: flipping your lesson or workshop is a creative process. Plus the flip can have advantages...  Things that are difficult in a physical setting may work out better online. A good starting point is the question of what you want to do asynchronously online (each person in his/her own time) and synchronously online (together online at the same time). Brainstorm input, questions or experiences can be collected asynchronously in tools such as Flipgrid, Padlet, Answergarden or IdeaBoardz. You can offer theory through a video or short online lesson. Or you make a quiz with Quizzes or Mentimeter that each takes on its own time, which you then discuss at a synchronized moment. Tools for synchronous online are Zoom, Skype, Google Meet or a tool that is known within your organization. In addition, there are many tools that are less known with which you can create fun online lessons:

  • Eduflow is free the coming months
  • Google classroom is the free tool of Google. You can do a lot. A downside is that everyone should have a Google account.
  • Blendspace  for online lessons
  • Blackboard collaborate for schools already working with Blackboard 
  • Edpuzzle for video lessons with quizzes. Here you will find an explanation
  • Microsoft teams is also a good basic tool. Here you can learn more. 

Ofcourse there are many more options.... We often use Ning because of the social features.


A short checklist 


  1. Do I flip my activity to online or postpone? Is there urgency to do it? Will participants have time and energy to do it online?
  2. What activities do you want to do online? Distinguish between activities with the whole group, subgroups and individually
  3. What do you want to do synchronously, what asynchronously? Look for a good balance
  4. Which toolset do you need? Think of a good synchronous tool (Skype, Zoom, Google meet etc) and good asynchronous tool (Ning, Microsoft Teams, Facebook for work etc)
  5. How long will your program last? Synchronous sessions max 1.5 hours
  6. What do you need to facilitate well? Think of help from others, scripts for the sessions, paid accounts, estimated time to prepare yourself

Example of a flipped session

Here you find an example of a flipped work session with 10 organizations and about 5 participants per organization. The session was originally scheduled for an entire morning. The aim of the work session is to share experiences in work with disabled children. The idea is that people work on small products in groups. How is that possible online? We came up with the following form: The online work session lasts 2 to 3 hours and has a theme defined upfront.  

  1. In the run-up to the session, we invite all participants to share an important experience with the theme on an online brainstorming wall like Padlet.
  2. When the session starts, we meet online in a webinar room (e.g. Adobe Connect).
  3. We get to know each other (name on map of the Netherlands, answer some light-hearted poll questions and interaction in chat) and make a substantive start by discussing the results of the online brainstorm.
  4. Then all participants work on the theme in small groups for half an hour. Each group gets its own online workspace and the chat is open to questions in between.
  5. With "screen sharing" we view each other's result. We briefly place two groups together in an online "room" to exchange and give each other feedback.
  6. At the end we harvest. We do this by collecting important insights and immediately processing them in an infographic. A tangible product at the end of this session.


Friday, February 21, 2020

Design thinking for blended learning


I participated in the Masterclass Design thinking for learning designers by Connie Malamed, organized by Anewspring. It was a nice experience to go through all design thinking steps in a structured way for a chosen case study. I had already experienced the value of working with personas and prototypes, but not yet followed all design thinking steps in a structured manner. Our group made a design for managers of retail organizations to motivate employees to stay with the organization for longer (we made the objective smart ofcourse - 25% longer retention by the end of 2021 :).

What is design thinking and why is it interesting for designing blended learning? 


Design thinking is an emerging trend to shape innovation in a creative way. Central is the experience of the customer / user. There are 5 steps: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test.



Design thinking has long been used to design products. However, it is quite new to use design thinking for the design of learning interventions. The differences with "regular" design processes in my eyes are:
  • Design thinking is "human-centered". Hardly a not a new element, because when designing a training or course, needs assessment is fairly standard practice when designing. Or designing together with the target group and stakeholders. Design thinking, however, offers specific tools such as personas and empathy maps. 
  • It is an iterative, creative process. Making a design in a day was great for a fast start, getting everyone on board and having the outline. After prototyping you will go back to the drawing table with the feedback on the prototype in your pocket. The iteration - refining, tweaking etc instead of sticking to decisions simply because they were made in the beginning is very appealing to me. 
  • Prototyping! This is something I will start to use more often. It seems more difficult to prototype a training than eg a new teapot. What I learnt is that you can be creative in prototyping: think of a mock-up of a new learning environment, an infographic, a video in which you explain the set-up, a role play between trainer and participant etc. The rapid prototypes ensure that you visualize your ideas. As Connie shared: with one client she hadn't made a prototype, and as a result people said very late in the process: oooooh now I understand what you were talking about! Without prototype it is very easy to talk, agree and have different understanding. 
  • There is a large toolkit with tools that you can apply. What makes me very happy is that it is not a blueprint approach, it is not prescriptive, you can choose the tools that fit your process.

Resources



My main take ways


Currently I discuss with content experts and teachers whether we have to do interviews or whether they know the target group. Connie does insist on the interviews with the target group. Although content experts sometimes know the target audience very well, there are always judgments and impressions that may be incorrect. An example is a group that appears to be digitally skilled, but may not have a sound card in their computers at work. This still has some consequences for your choices. I'm going to be stricter when organizations say there's no need to do interviews.

In addition, my biggest eye-opener was to create prototypes. What can you do to show and request feedback? In the session we had built a prototype of an online platform, and in the feedback it became clear that safety is very important. Safety to be able to practice with coaching conversations with employees. Super useful for quickly sharing your design and getting responses.


Curious about our design? Unfortunately I did not take a photo but it is a process where managers start with a study of the motivation factors by conversations with employees. Then there are face-to-face and online sessions. We conclude with gamification: prices for the branches with the longest-serving employees.

An interesting discussion in our group: would we have come up with something completely different if we had not gone through these steps? Maybe not. But now you know for sure that it is well thought out and I suspect that interviews give you a better sense of the learners' context. However, it also shows that the process does not guarantee a consistent design. It requires empathy for the design to fit reality well. 

Friday, January 24, 2020

Do you morph? About professional identity and the importance of doing new things

Judge Willem Korthals Altes (70 years old) is challenging his retirement. He gets an honorable pension because of his age but he doesn't want to stop at all. "My work is part of who I am," he says. The Dutch singer Rob de Nijs (76 years old) has Parkinson but is determined to finish his tour. After this a farewell tour, a CD and a farewell concert and then he intends to stop. Two examples of professionals who, in the words of Jef Staes, are "in sync with their talents". Working no longer feels like working. Suppose you have to give yourself a percentage between 0-100% for being in sync with your talents, what percentage would that be? And many of your colleagues?


The importance of morphing


Photo by Jack Leeder via flickr
Morphing is a gradual transformation into a new version of yourself (see morphing illustrated in the images). A colleague increasingly felt that her work was not important, got a burnout and decided to change the focus of her advisory work. During her burnout period, she has invested in a new direction by, among others. going to conferences. In this way she has found a different focus in her work and is currently capable of making more hours than before her burnout. Your focus and talent is not something you "know" at the end of your studies and work with until you retire. You must take steps in your professional development. Lynda Gratton, a professor of management practice at London Business School, analyzes the future of work. She calls for shaping your craftsmanship yourself: "create the space which will enable you to write a personal career script that can bring you fulfillment and meaning", but not only that: you have to move with the market and developments in your environment. She calls this “sliding and morphing.” The reason for morphing is two-fold: on the one hand the developments in the market, but also changes in your own interests.

How to morph? Keep on doing new things


How to morph as a professional? The Dutch writer Peter Ros gave me a number of ideas with his book Warorde. According to Peter preparedness for change is a learnable skill. Don't wait for a crisis until you change. Stimulate yourself (or colleagues) with new things. Consider for instance:
  • Work in a different place 
  • Change jobs regularly 
  • When self-employed: develop a new service or product 
  • Look for people who think differently (for example, if you work for the government, go and see a school) 
  • Start again from scratch: how should I do it now? 
  • Read blogs from dissenters 
  • Make an appointment with someone that annoys you 
  • Meditate 2 x 20 minutes every day 
  • Provide "fiddle time" 
  • Do something you never dared
  • Listen podcasts 
  • Travel to an unknown destination (sprs.me)

An example of staying prepared are the people in Netflix who developed a
chaos monkey A tool to derail the working of computers. A great way to challenge employees to get everything right again. Another example are de monkey milestones van AFAS. These are creative assignments for new people within AFAS. The name monkey apparently works well for shaking things up :).

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Tool of the month: game-based learning with Seppo.io

About 5 years ago I was brainstorming with a group of colleagues to design a workshop. Someone shouted: a traffic jam workshop!. I didn't have a clue what that was, but immediately had a vision of a workshop in the train to avoid the traffic jam. It has always stayed in my mind as something I would like to organize one day. A traffic jam workshop with a start in the train. But yes, it is difficult to organize this because there are always people who still want to get in the car.



Last year I found myself again in a brainstorm, but this time to organize the celebration of the 10th anniversary of Ennuonline. The traffic jam idea was tweaked. Not starting on the train but in groups at a different location and then have them walk via assignments to the place of the celebration. Seppo.io turned out to be perfect for this purpose.


How does Seppo work?


"Teach with a game. In a fun and easy way." That is the motto of Sepp.io. You can create a treasure hunt by adding assignments at locations on the map. You can create different types of assignments:

  • A creative assignment in which participants share a photo, video, text or a spoken message
  • A multiple choice question
  • Enter a word in a phrase or an exercise where you have to match elements

The latter is more suitable for school assignments, so we mainly used the creative assignments. One of the assignments was for example: "convince the director of this building of the usefulness of technology in learning". Or: "exchange the weirdest response by a participants to the idea of online learning". Below you can see it was a day with a lot of wind: Beaufort 7.


What makes Seppo so great is that is it really easy to create assignments. When the groups start to walk you can see them walking online and monitor their progress live. You can set the assignments so that it opens when the group is within 50 meters of the place. This forces the groups to walk everywhere to be able to do the assignments. What is also fun is that you can see the groups walking. We first saw a small group go in the wrong direction. Tip: walk the route yourself at least once to test the instructions and place of the markers on the map and remove errors.


Seppo for learning


In this case, our goal was an energetic start and participants getting to know each other in small groups. Both were achieved! The tool is certainly also suitable for other purposes. Suppose you start a scavenger hunt and then have a face-to-face session. During the hunt you can invite participants to exchange on a topic and share the results during the search, as in the example of convincing the director. You can aggregate and show this afterwards and further analyze it. Which arguments will convince the most and why? After this you could also do a role play in which people practice again. The value of Seppo is in the stimulation of creativity and spontaneity. Do you also see other applications? It's nice if you share it in the comments because I definitely want to do more with Seppo.


Free or paid?


We used the paid version of Seppo.io. You can also use it for free, but in that case you cannot use certain functions such as ask the groups to share photos and videos. An alternative to Seppo is Goosechase. You can use this for free up to 3 teams.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

How to develop effective multimedia for learning? The 10 principles of Richard Mayer

Are you looking for principles for creating videos and other learning materials? Before the summer I organized a meetup about interactive video in the Netherlands (with interactive video the viewer can, for example, answer questions or choose what he / she will continue with). It was really an eye-opener for me. In any case, multimedia like video, animations and infographics are becoming increasingly important in online learning and you have to dive into it when you design online learning. But what is a really good video? I often get the question how long a video can be, but of course it's not about the length but about the content. Mayer has developed 10 principles for multimedia learning.


I read the book Multimedia Learning van Richard E. Mayer. The book is entirely based on research and therefore is a slightly boring read, but has a solid basis. I have the crazy habit of reading all books from cover to cover and have therefore read it all. I think you can summarize the practical lessons in one blog post, so you are lucky :). My advice is to read this blog post and not the entire book.

Mayer defines multimedia learning as presenting material in both word and image for the purpose of learning. What I liked a lot is the distinction between:
  • No learning (nothing is withheld from it)
  • Rote learning (people remember but cannot apply it)
  • Meaningful learning (remember and apply)
The goal is hence to facilitate meaningful learning by developing multimedia material. He highlights important principles, all supported by research. I will explain the principles here. After that I will explain that one principle does not work in the context of intercultural trajectories.

The 10 principles of Richard Mayer

Principle 1. The coherence principle The coherence principle states that people learn better when interesting but less relevant words or pictures are taken away from a presentation. Less is more actually. This also applies to background music.

Principle 2. The signaling principle People learn better from multimedia if you help guide the attention of the learner. This can be through the use of arrows, colors, or an element that will be placed under a magnifying glass. I immediately applied this principle to video interviews I was working on by adding the most important words here with text. In my opinion, this is not in contradiction to the following principle:

Principle 3. The redundancy principle This principle means that you should not offer the same text in words and audio: that would be redundant. There is evidence from research: participants who saw pictures and a heard an explanation scored better than participants who received the same pictures and story but also had the explanation written in text. For video this simply means that you should not subtitle with the same text as voice.

Principle 4. The spatial contiguity principle People learn more easily when the accompanying words and images are close to each other. We are just lazy people and would prefer to be offered everything on a silver platter :). We don't like to search for the explanation.

Principle 5. The temporal contiguity principle And this also applies to time. It is more convenient to see the pictures about the origin of a storm at the same time when a voice explains it, instead of first seeing the pictures and then the explanation (or vice versa). This explains the success of animation and other instructional videos.

Principle 6. The segmenting principle Multimedia learning is more effective when the material is divided into different segments and learners have control over following the steps. This is often the case with interactive video, but can also simply be done by dividing a 15-minute video into 3-4 videos which allows people to choose when they continue with the next one. Here, of course, we see the power of interactive video. Although you may also argue that a good question in a video has a signal function.

Principle 7: The pre-training principle People are better able to learn from multimedia when they already know the most important concepts. We applied this, for example, by ensuring that before a client SPOC (Small Private Online Course) starts, the participants can go through an e-learning with the basic knowledge. This means that everyone is aware of the most important concepts and we can go into depth during the SPOC.

Principle 8: The modality principle People learn deeper from images combined with spoken word than from images and written word. This means that spoken explanation with an animation works better than all text on the screen. Indeed I sometimes see animations with text only and I always have the feeling that it would be faster if I could simply read the text. This principle is actually just a little too logical for me: it says that you should use both eye and ear smartly, right?

Principle 9: The multimedia principle People learn better from word and image from from text only. Yes ... so visualizing helps! Fortunately but otherwise we would have to go back to uploading PDFs as online learning. Uhmmmm I really saw that once? An online course where you had to download and read around 20 different pdfs in Moodle ...

Principle 10: The personalization principe I find the personalizing principle the most sympathetic somehow. It says that people learn better when a conversational style is used instead of a formal style. This has always been a basic principle in our courses: make it personal and engage in an online conversation. Mayer translates it as: in spoken text in an animation use direct speech: you, your. Furthermore, a friendly voice helps. Good to know: research shows that the face of the speaker (eg with a screencast) does not automatically help for better understanding. This would help only if the face contains relevant information, for example due to facial expressions.

Which principle does not apply in an intercultural context?

Yes, what do you think? It's the redundancy principle. I experienced an exception to this rule which makes sense to me. After reading the book, I immediately wanted to apply my knowledge to a video interview, so I had an argument not to subtitle the video in the same language as the interview (English). However, it is an intercultural context, with many non-native English speakers. It appears that in this case people really like literal subtitles, because the accents are not always easy to understand. After seeing the video with subtitles, I got more out of it myself, although I'm quite used to different accents in English. That brings me to the boundary conditions.

The boundary conditions. When do the principles apply? 

In each chapter there is a discussion of the 'boundary conditions'. These are the circumstances in which the principle applies. For example, you can deduce from the examples in the book that a lot of research has been done using instructional materials. The example of explaining the occurrence of thunder and lightning is widely used. Many of the principles apply most strongly to inexperienced participants and complex material. I think this is something to keep in mind, for example, more experienced learners can handle more superfluous information.

So for instance, for the redundancy principle the condition is that this is especially true for groups who speak the same language, as mother tongue. Mayer has not investigated whether this also applies to non-native speakers. It is therefore important to realize that there are always exceptions. Don't apply the principles too rigidly. 

Conclusion

What can you learn from Richard Mayer? You can benefit a lot from these principles if you develop learning materials on complex issues for starting learners. Provide a clear message, visualize where possible. Use voice. Avoid duplicating the same information. Make it personal and make sure learners have control over the speed to go through the material.

PS. Do you live in the Netherlands? Want to learn about multimedia? Participate in onze eigen leergang over blended leren

Friday, May 31, 2019

Organizations: keep an eye on your high speed learners

A participant during my master class on learning of the future shares: "I was learning a lot through the online world and would be at the cutting-edge in my field, this learning was logical part of my work as recruiter. Now I have a new job and it is not a logical part of my function. I don't have the time anymore to be active online. I see that I am no longer aware of all the new developments in my field". You will not get better proof of the power of online, informal learning. And at the same time it shows what the biggest bottleneck is: organizations do not have an eye for self-learning professionals and do not facilitate this type of learning either. The focus is still on courses.
The masterclass started with my definition of the knowmad: "someone who learns continuously and thereby makes smart use of the online world"
The first part of the masterclass I focussed on skills for knowmads, including developing (online) identity, networking, smart use of tools and technology and application in practice: translating the online world and applying learnings. The second part I discussed the organization as a learning environment for the knowmad. Although I do know that many organizations do not actively facilitate informal learning, it was quite shocking (but interesting of course!) to hear stories from the participants.

Two important things struck me:

The big challenge for professionals is to deal with information overload: people indicated that they continuous flow of all information and via various channels (emails, apps, Linked) makes them feel bad. The consequence of this is that they withdraw from the flows and start to avoid information, get rid of Twitter and only follow what is needed (emails). This is a logical response if you start to feel bad because of the flows of information, right? The entire group felt that they had no control over the many information flows. No participant worked in an organization that supports employees to take back control over the information flows.

Organizations do not have a keen eye for inquisitive employees, the high speed learners: that is why professionals often do informal learning in the evenings. This means, for example, that someone who works in a high-tech environment and constantly keeps up to date via podcasts and youtube videos may look for the new job after a few years. To what extent has the organization benefited from this knowledge development? As long as the employee works in the organization, he or she will apply this knowledge. However, it remains personal knowledge but does not become organizational knowledge unless there is a conscious focus on collaborative learning and sharing this knowledge.


An interesting question from a participant: innovation seems to be a keyword for knowmads who learn continuously, but not everyone needs to focus on innovation? I think it's a good question and I am not sure about the answer. There is definitely a difference between functions in their focus on innovation. A high tech environment for instance will have an inherent need to innovate. Personally, I think that actually there is no single function in which innovation is not necessary.  Contexts and technology are changing. The customer also wants something 'new'. What do you think?

The slides of this master class:
 

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Tool of the month: interactive video

This time the tool of the month is not one but no fewer than five tools. I co-organized a meetup about interactive video in the Netherlands. My own experience with interactive video had been adding questions to videos with the help of Zaption (which no longer exists) and Edpuzzle. I also experimented with Vialogues to facilitate a conversation around a video source.

However, the meetup opened up a whole new world of interactive video. It is much more than just adding a question to a video. In this blog I share the 5 tools that were central to the meetup, with examples. The examples are in Dutch, but I think you can catch the interactions. It is very nice to see what is possible and it definitely opens up your creativity.

What is interactive video?

Interactive video is a video in which the viewer can take various actions. Hence it gives more room for engagement and personalization. The viewer can click for more information, answer a question or make a choice. With his action, he determines the course of the film: a different order, or a question appears to answer. What I learned during the meetup is that it is useful to distinguish between Three types of interaction:

  1. navigation - a viewer chooses the path him or herself
  2. questions - speak for themselves
  3. hotspots -you can add information in text or video

Tooling: een overzicht van 5 tools

We have looked at 5 different tools. Listed from simpel to more complex (or advanced) to work with:
Behalve H5P zijn het allemaal tools van Nederlandse grond!

H5P

H5P is an open source program that you can use for free. You can upload your own video and make it interactive. Create an account, choose ‘interactive video’ and upload your own video (max. 16 MB). You can add questions and polls, and additional information via hotspots. You can also use H5P directly from Moodle and Wordpress if you have installed the plug-in. Here you see an example video made by Göran Kattenberg from Kattenberg Learning Innovation Consulting and The Blended Group.
H5P is actually a 'suite' of tools with which you can create learning activities with and without interactions that you embed in a learning environment. The newest is 'branching scenario'. With that you glue videos together with interactive branches.
  • Cost: Free
  • Difficulty: *
  • Basic layer: can be video from YouTube or your own upload
  • Hosting: Your video is on H5P (or on Moodle / Wordpress if you use the plug-in) but you can embed it on other sites
  • Interesting because: it is free and therefore a great way to start interactive video

Hihaho

Hihaho is a very simple program that you can get started with right away, you don't need any special video editing or other experience. You can create a free account and then click on + new Hihaho and then you can import a video from for example Youtube or Vimeo. Then, you can start to add your interactions via 'Enrich', for example a jump, a question or a break. As an example, an instructional video that was recorded with a smartphone. There are a number of questions. 



  • Cost: 10 videos and 100 viewers for free. Then from 19 euros / month
  • Difficulty: *
  • Basic layer: from YouTube, Vimeo, JWPlayer or Kaltura but also Media site, Blue Billywig and own upload
  • Hosting: Your video remains hosted at the location of the base layer. You could see it as HiHaHo putting an interactive layer over your video. Both layers are merged into a link, embed code, Scorm package or xAPI. HiHaHo videos are used a lot in learning environments. By using SCORM or xAPI, results in the video also become visible in the LMS.
  • Interesting because: it is a very easy program. There is almost no learning curve, you can get started right away.


Explorit

Explorit allows you to add questions to your video and also provide feedback to the viewer. You can import from Youtube, Vimeo but also from Blue Billywig. You can export the edited video again via a full export, or you can also embed it on your own site or, for example, in Moodle. It is fairly intuitive to learn. Clients with an enterprise account receive 4 hours of training and can then get to work. View an example below about the provincial and water board elections. The Provincial election part is mainly based on interactive video, the Water Board election part is based on interactive images.
  • Costs: Basic account 25 euros / month, Professional account 125 euros / month
  • Difficulty: **
  • Basic layer: not only a video, but also an image is possible as a base layer. Video must be on YouTube; soon a video from Vimeo can also be linked
  • Hosting: You can either export your video as html or use it directly from the site.
  • Interesting because: you can also add feedback to questions and you can also make interactive pictures

Ivory Studio

Ivory studio describes itself as 'the online editor for interactive video' and that is actually a very good name. It is very similar to video editing programs such as Imovie or Windows Moviemaker. It is widely used by filmmakers. You can also do more with Ivory Studio than with the aforementioned tools, such as uploading your own media, adding different videos, choosing from 5 different interactions. Last but not least you can personalize by linking to databases. An example: a company that does DNA analysis for babies sends the parents a personalized result. Parents of babies with blue eyes receive a different video than parents of babies with brown eyes. View the example below to get an idea.
  • Costs: 1 video for free, then flexible prices, eg 65 euros / month for 5 videos
  • Difficulty: ****
  • Basic layer: own video
  • Hosting: Your video runs on the Ivory Studio player
  • Interesting because: you have many options and can personalize using data sets

Blue BillyWig

Blue Billywig is also both a hosting platform and an editor for interactive videos with which you can do a lot and have a lot of options. It is used for marketing but also for e-learning modules. You can  use 360-degree videos, personalize and ask questions.
  • Costs: on request
  • Difficulty: ****
  • Basic layer: own video
  • Hosting: Blue Billywig is the hosting platform
  • Interesting because: you have many options, you can personalize and you can use 360-degree videos

Conclusion

There is a whole world of interactive video tools and toys to explore. You can use the easier tools yourself to get the viewer to think for a moment. At Ivory Studio and Blue Billywig you really have to dive into the tool, but then you can produce wonderful material. These tools are much more like an editing program. In addition, it can be an entire project to make an interactive video, devising the storyboard, filming the various scenarios and compiling. The options are endless.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Meet Beau, a reflection chatbot

Working in a small group to design a blended training I felt very annoyed. I had the feeling we were investing too much energy in defining the goals and was worried that the team was not going in the right direction. Usually I can put my finger on what we need to do, but this time I did not know exactly where it had gone wrong. I decided to use our own "Beau the reflection chatbot". Beau asked me a number of questions such as: "What did you do in this situation?" "How did it work out?" It gave me a different insight: that I have to think more about the role of goals in a certain process and to communicate more clearly about this. You have to play with the importance of learning objectives and the level of detail, depending on the situation. In an open and social process, for example, you formulate your goal more openly. Make goals / learning objectives also the subject of conversation. Thanks to Beau!

Who the hell is Beau?

Beau is the chatbot I developed together with Kirste den Hollander and Steven van Luipen,  a prototype. We wanted to see if you could use a chatbot to support reflection. And you certainly can! I am enthusiastic about the possibilities, although I also see the limitations of Beau. Beau is a scripted bot, in which no artificial intelligence is used. However, talking to specialists I learned that sometimes a scripted bot is all you need.

Beau was tested by 51 people and these are the results

Our conclusions:

  • Most people are positive about the use of Beau, the tone and the language used in the conversation. But more importantly, half of them have gained a new insight through the conversation. 
  • Talking to a text chatbot instead of a person, and typing instead of talking often helps the reflection process. It gives people time to think and enables them to determine the rhythm of the conversation themselves. 
  • In the live confession the reflection of a confessor is central and the confessional taker only asks questions. That role can perfectly be played chatbot. 
We see different possibilities to use a chatbot for reflection. You can encourage people to do this on a regular basis or you can meet as a team to use a reflection bot and exchange them at regular intervals. It is important, though to take into account that a (small) group of people has a lot of resistance to reflecting with a chatbot.

Do you want to read our article about Beau?


Or download
Meet Beau the reflection chatbot

Curious about the chatbot design process?


I have learned and read a lot about the design process, including experiences and got training with IBM Watson. Do you want to learn about bots yourself and maybe even do a first exploration of possible bots? Have a look at this workshop I may facilitate for your organization. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Using personas in design of online and blended learning

Why would you work with personas when designing online or blended learning? In this blog I will share my enthusiasm about working with personas. Working with personas is not only useful for marketing professionals but also useful in a design process for learning trajectories.
Abdel lives in the capital of Mali, studies journalism and is eager to learn. He has internet access via the university network on his Huawei smartphone. He would like to learn how he can get in touch with other students in other cities in West Africa and as a journalist he would like to share developments from Mali with the rest of the world.

Hawa lives in the countryside of Mali and buys cards to access to the internet on her mobile, so she has an internet access roughly three times a week. She would like to learn how she can make short videos about her life for the NGO she works with. They have asked her to record and share how she lives and works. 
Abdel and Hawa do not really exist but are personas we have created and discussed during the design of an online citizen journalism course for people in Mali. The names Abdel and Hawa often come back: if Hawa only logs in 3 times a week, shouldn't we allow a full week for the photo assignment instead of 3 days? It also leads to the discussion whether we can actually design one course for Abdel and Hawa. In this way we come to the solution of weekly bonus assignments because Abdel might drop out if the course is not interesting enough. Abdel and Hawa prove their usefulness in this design process because the use of these two personas allow us to get into the skin of our target group. We can continuously test the design against "real personas".

Aren't personas rather used for marketing purposes?

Working with personas has its background in marketing and design thinking. A persona is a very detailed description of a user of a product or service. Marketers use it to develop products and to think about marketing a product. The dutch Albert Heijn was critized by the UN because of their personas. The customer profiles would lead to stereotypical images of customer. That is the first pitfall of working with personas. It can lead to a stereotyping of the practice. If you have that feeling, it may be good to talk more/again with the target group.


How to develop personas?

It is best to developing the personas in an interactive session with a design group consisting of various stakeholders, often content experts and other actors. A first step is to discuss the most important (sub) target groups. Then you divide the target groups among your design group. Ask your design group to crawl under the skin of a participant. In small groups you ask them to make a persona by going through the following steps:
  • Make a drawing of a person
  • Give a name
  • Add a global description of his / her life and work
  • How does he / she use the internet? via which devices?
  • Why does he / she participate in the course, training or community?
  • What does he / she want to learn?
  • What is he / she allergic to?
After this invite the groups to present their persona in the I-form (I am Hawa and I live in Sarafere) so that people can really empathize. I have experienced that some people will make a caricature of the persona, especially if they have a difficult relationship with the group the persona represents. Try to ask for positive aspects. In fact, this exercise also gives you a sense of whether the design group has sufficient knowledge of the target group. Ofcourse, you may adjust these questions yourself or use an empathy-map.
An interesting tool to start personas may be Thispersondoesnotexist. The site will give you a random photo. Similarly uinames will provide you with fake names. You may select a country and then by clicking on the spacebar you get a fake name, that's how I get Camiel de Ruyter born in 1989. I have not tried this yet, but it might stimulate creativity.


Why I believe in the power of personas

The main design challenge is to make sure your design suits the needs and practices of the participants. Content experts in particular often think about what is important for everyone to know rather than what the participants need. At the same time, the content experts often know the target group very well. Of course you can also invite the audience or do interviews, but you may use personas if you think the subject matter experts and others know the participants quite well.

I have very positive experiences with working with personas. Making personas is ideal to get the knowledge of the design group about their colleagues or the target group on the table. Often this knowledge is available in the design group. By working with personas the group develops empathy and gets a lively image of the target group. You force your design group to get into the skin of the future participants. Personas are fictional characters and not persons that make it much more neutral to speak about them.

For the best effect, you should regularly look through the eyes of the personas during the design. With Hawa and Abdel, that worked out well, in other cases you sometimes forget to use the personas lateron during the design process. I do not really know how that is. Maybe too many personas? Or do you still start thinking from the content side and is that a pitfall?


Designing jointly with the target group versus working with personas

An alternative to working with personas is inviting the target group to participate in your design process. This is not always possible, as in the case of Hawa and Abdel. If you invite representatives of the target group in the design process, it is important that they can think along from a broader perspective than their own interests. A persona can be a good alternative because you talk about fictitious case and this gives space to play with the design. When 'real' participants say something, it can not be ignored but it may not be representative for the whole group of participants.

Interested in working with personas? Read also:

Friday, January 11, 2019

Tool of the month: do-it-yourself animation videos

Anyone can now create an animation video using handy do-it-yourself tools. In this blog you will find a number of tools and tips to start with. In every Ennuonline course there is someone who proudly shows a self-made animation video. Margreet rushed in very enthusiastically in the previous course: "Is there a timeslot to show my video?" Of course that was allowed. Her video received a lot of praise and admiration from all participants. Hence the question to Margreet was how much time it took to make ... 'I don´t dare to count but twice I continued till 1 o´clock at night

So the good news is that you do not always need a professional to make a video. The bad news is that it takes you quite some time the first time to learn the program. But it is fun and addictive to do. And the second time it's a lot faster.

 

What is an animation video?

An animation is a film without actors, but many drawings in succession provide movement. This is an example of a professional animation video about teamwork.
 

Within the do-it-yourself animations for learning purposes you can distinguish between:
  •      The whiteboard animations
  •      The drawn animations
  •      The stop motion videos
1.Whiteboard animations
The whiteboard animation consists of a narrative and a person who draws along and thus illustrates the story. These are now popular. A well-known animation is the video about motivation from professionals titled Drive by RSA animate.

  Whiteboard Tools you may use:
2. Drawings
There are many tools that already contain drawings that you can select and where you can add texts, often with different characters. See a trial below from me a few years ago.
Tools to use:
In the latter two you can also use video material that is already online and you can use it in your own video.
3. Stop motion videos
Stop-motion is an animation form in which you photograph an object while it is moving. Then you play the frames in a row. This makes it seem like the object is moving.
I have see the stop motion app for iphone and ipad, but I haven´t tried the app. I don´t really know how easy or difficult it is.

 

Does it work?

There is research on the effect of whiteboard videos by Richard Whiteman. The research shows that whiteboard animation is very effective in retaining attention compared to talking head videos. 15% more information was picked up and remembered. More information in this video.

 

Tips to make your own animation videos


The most important work is to think through your key message and your storyline. Make sure you get this right and that the story is not getting too long.
  •  You can start well with a free account. If you use it more often, it is certainly useful to take a paid account because you then have access to more characters and can make longer videos for example.
  • When choosing between making your own animation versus asking a professional, you can look at your available budget, the number of viewers (it pays off) and how long you can use the video. If the content of the video changes quickly, you may want to try yourself.
  • You could also make an animation video before you have a professional video made. This allows you to test and easily show it to a professional animation studio you are looking for.
  • An alternative is to work with drawings. A good idea is to have the drawings made via Fiverr.com. You can also have an animation made via Fiverr.

Do you have any more tips, questions or a nice video you are proud of? Share it below in the comment!

Sunday, December 09, 2018

My takeaways from OEB18: communities, AI and 3D-smarts and some very practical stuff

For the first time in my life I went to the OEB learning technologies conference in Berlin. It was a great conference. I did not feel tired Friday at 18.00 when it ended, but completely energized and full of new ideas! Thanks to Wilfred Rubens for pointing me to this conference and tips to navigate the conference. I followed his advice of doing a pre-conference session with Jef Staes which was one of my highlights. Wilfred also blogged about the conference. He notices people were looking for practical applications, whereas a conference like this is to challenge your thinking. I had both. My thinking was sharpened, but I also took away really practical lessons for the things I am working on (like the idea to embed peergradio in Moodle for instance....) and new relationships. The day after the conference I spent cycling around Berlin with Natasja, which felt both like a 'dessert' and a cooling down.

Communities of practice are powerful but not appealing
A powerful things happened in the very last session at 17.00 on Friday: my last session was about 'defense and security'. I decided to go there because of my work with the Defense academy in Breda to create an Open Defense Academy. We were 8 in the room, the beamer was ready, as were 4 chairs for a panel, but no convenor or speaker showed up. I had already jokingly appointed someone as the facilitator, who then did take up this role. We decided to exchange. People from Denmark, Finland, the US and the Netherlands exchanged working on 360 degree and VR, e-learning, open academy, video in action, micro learning as support for deployed troops. You could see the recognition,  openness to share. It was really an added value to talk about a common sector. I'm sure for some it was the best thing to happen. Still don't know whether the lack of convenor was by purpose or an omission in the program though :).

However the topic of building communities of practice or social learning was not high on the agenda of the conference (neither was performance support). Many sessions were about learning in general (learning a skill or memorizing). The example of driving a car, learning a new profession, onboarding was often used. However there are also many other situations which call for learning, like interdisciplinary learning, learning from mistakes, driving innovation, making use of tacit knowledge, reflection. For innovation and sharing tacit knowledge, (online) communities of practice can be a powerful intervention.

I'm not sure why this focus was much stronger. I guess it is because learning in communities is quite invisible and it takes time. And it does happen even when you don't influence it. L&D professionals may not see they can make a difference? People are aware of the power of networking and connections but may think it is automatic. The art of making space, facilitating, identifying the right domains is hence undervalued. I am one of the facilitators of the LOSmakers, but not doing a good job to create that space for real exchange. Will do that more and try to promote community learning more often (many clients ask for online or blended learning design rather than community design). If you see OEB as a community- who are the convenors, the brokers, where does innovation come from?



AI is real and scary for many
Anita Schjøll Brede did a really good keynote about AI and machine learning. She had five examples of how AI might change the learning landscape, for instance having one (AI) tutor per child, which was long thought too expensive. I learnt French for six weeks with one teacher for myself before going to Mali and that was a great experience. She said one of the challenges is not to copy our own biases into AI. I also attended the chatbot session. Cognitive bots have huge potential, the first wave was Frequently Asked Questions bots, but more is possible. Follow Donald Clark.

I hence visited a boardroom session by Inge de Waard about old philosophers and new learning and had an evening-long discussion about the topic. What I noticed that AI and machine learning does scare people.. Maybe because it is invisible/uncontrollable/difficult to understand? I am not scared because I don't believe in the technological singularity theory. My take away is that L&D-ers have to understand more about machine learning and algorithms, that ethics is becoming more important and that more power is going to the AI programmers who define the algorithms. Plus, L&D-ers need to help people to understand algorithms and burst bubbles. (first idea of L&D as bubble bursters by Ger Driesen). We need people who understand both learning and AI. (Elliot Masie said we can forget about AI for now- that might sound reassuring but I disagree!).

We should move to a 3D-smarts organization /knowmadic way of working
Jef was my hero of the conference. Maybe because his ideas of the 3D-smarts are close to my ideas about knowmads. Let me explain the 3D concept. The difference between the 2D world (before the internet) and 3D world (after the internet) is the ubiquity of information. However, many organizations and schools are still working from the 2D concept, with diplomas and function descriptions. Jef thinks we should move to a competency playlist. In a way I see this is already happening. For instance, as freelance consultant I am never asked for my diplomas, but asked for relevant knowledge or previous assignments. 3D smarting is a merger of working and learning. Jef reaffirmed two ideas:

  1. My idea that a knowmad needs to use social media and online. An offline knowmad is simply too slow in a 3D society. 
  2. There is a connection between who you are at home and at work. You cannot be passionate about something and turn that off at home. Sliding and morphing to find your passions and work that fits your talents best. A question for me is that this seems a lifelong struggle? 
The challenge for organizations is the power defect. The hunter passes on the spear to his son, but do we do that now? Do we have red monkeys (disruptive ideas) and how do we manage those? In most organizations the disruptive ideas are killed by the settlers. A lesson about change management: disruptive innovation is a change process in which you start with the pioneers and creators. Respect the settlers and followers though. This is a practical lesson for my work with the ambulances. 

NB: Again something I missed: I heard few people talking and the important of domain knowledge. I think domain knowledge is becoming more important than soft skills like critical thinking. Learning how to acquire domain knowledge rapidly. Maybe knowledge and skills can not be separated really.  
Some very practical stuff




  • Jef Staes had a great idea: 22 posters on stage and everybody who wanted to have a poster will have to make a video to explain the concept on the poster. We do have an online method called "adopt a concept" which is similar but people don't make a video and don't make connections. This is a nice variation. 
  • The reflection session had a nice BINGO model with numbers. Each number would lead to a different reflection question. (didn't attend this session but will definitely copy this)
  • In Jef's session strengthfinder was mentioned as a good tool to help you reflect about your talents and passion. An alternative is the high5 test. I did a great one in 2003 but not sure anymore whether it was the strengthfinder or something with happiness in the name. But number one was love of learning :) 
  • The facebook MOOCbot was a very creative idea too. A bot would ask design questions and students would design a MOOC. After this a peer review took place, also through the bot. I will try to find out more. 
  • There is a gamification toolbox with 20 game ideas. You may use it to design your own game and get inspiration through the toolbox, or you can use it to have groups of learners to develop a game and play eachother's game. 

Friday, November 02, 2018

My session about blended learning in Milan


I walked with three colleagues in Milan. We had one day in Milan before the Hofstede Insights conference in which I had to discuss a number of myths about blended learning. If you only have one day in Milan, you obviously want to see the cathedral. I was afraid that we had the wrong exit from the metro, not the exit where "duomo" was written. However, we came out of the metro and Bam! there was the cathedral of Milan. Really super impressive. The cathedral is so big that every exit from the metro leads to it, you can't avoid it ... It's not every day that I get an invitation to do a session about blended learning abroad. Hence, when I received this invitation for Milan I therefore wanted to add a day of tourism. And it worked! I can definitely recommend Milan. The cathedral, but also castello Sforzesco is really special. 
Getting started with debunking
The next day the real work with the Hofstede Insights consultants group started at 10.00. The group does not have much blended learning experience yet. They advise on intercultural communication a very international group, working in many different countries so there is a lot of potential to work blended.

My rationale for the session was as follows: I had heard that many of them were still hesitant about working online and blended. That is why I wanted to unearth myths and misconceptions. Furthermore, I had sent out a message asking for real client questions so that they could work on their own cases. I started the session with the blended learning Bingo to find out the expertise in the group (always more than the group thinks!), then the presentation and discussion about the myths. Then they group worked in subgroups to create a blended design for their own chosen customer request, which they had to pitch to the client. This allowed them to practice immediately with presenting a blended design. Finally there was room to discuss tools and technology.

Here's my presentation. NB. it seems like the insertion of slideshare presentations does not work as well. Here is ook de my presentation about online and blended learning   

Did I succeed in debunking myths about blended learning?

Maybe it is not so much myths, as hindering convictions and ideas. I started to shake some ideas and convinced at least a few people (I hope!). The session certainly made people enthusiastic about experimenting with blended learning. A myth that has definitely been shaken is "you need face-to-face for emotional connection". We talked about online dating online and falling in love online. If this is possible: why should you not be able to involve people at an emotional level online as a trainer?

The idea that online learning is individual and boring was also turned upside down. Many saw online as optimal for transferring information before this session (myth 1). Learning in your own time is definitely an advantage, but this can also be social and interactive. A personal approach online helps with this. Another new (useful) insight to design blended interventions was that it gives you the tools to better support and space the learning process. Do not overload them with an intercultural dose for three days, but start work together over a period of two months. It supports spaced repetition help the process of applying what you have learned. I am glad that I have opted for this focus on conceptions and ideas about blended learning, combined with the practical exercise. The tools and the experimentation phase will come after this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

How to stimulate creativity in online teams: A 100% online process to design a blended learning trajectory



Joehoe! I am very proud of the result of three creative online sessions, resulting in a blended design. Sibrenne and I have just completed a design process for a blended trajectory with WWF. The special thing about this project is that the whole design process took place online. The members of our design team live in Namibia, Switzerland, Suriname, Nairobi and the Netherlands. It has produced a design that has been very well received, we have received many compliments about the process. It was for me the first time for me to do kind of creative process completely online - it was a challenge, but I thought it would be possible with clever design and tough facilitation. My own goal with this project was therefore to try and release online creativity. I used the book Creativity in Virtual Teams Key components for Success van Nemiro,  though the book is writing for semi-permanent teams and we were just a temporary team my experiences were quite similar.

What did we do?

The design team knew each other pretty well. We have planned three online sessions, each of two hours. In two hours you can easily dive into a topic. Three hours would be really demanding for concentration and the work schedules. In between there were a number of assignments, eg searching for cases or information. The sessions took place in a period of one month, if we had longer we could have planned more time in between the sessions, but we had a deadline.
Our tools set consisted of Adobe Connect in combination with Google docs and a Facebook Workplace group. The design team was used to Zoom instead of Adobe, but we chose Adobe Connect because of the whiteboard, and the ability to work in groups. Google docs worked well to prepare an assignment or to work on documents together. In addition, we used a Facebook Workplace for communication between the sessions, the choice for Workplace was made because it was already in use within the organization.

In terms of content we have worked with personas, images about the future, formulate learning objectives, inspiring examples of blended trajectories and building blocks. Although the idea was to shape the goals and building blocks together online, this has proven difficult. It needs thinking time. The co-creation process hence consisted of brainstorming together online in the design sessions after which we, as facilitators, worked out the elements for the next session. The result was discussed within the group.  This worked quite well as a process. Although we had a framework for the three sessions, we dealt with it flexibly. We discovered that the design team needed more time to discuss things than we had thought. In the second and third sessions, we therefore made a planning with the least important issue at the end. This gave the flexibility to drop it.

 What worked to stimulate creativity?

 There are a number of things that are crucial in my experience:
  • Plan synchronous sessions where you can work together. We chose three work sessions in Adobe Connect as central co-creation places, but you could even 4-6 if you don't have a tight deadline as we had. By spreading the design sessions over time, there is time to work together intensively, but also to reflect in between or divide work. For me the fact that the synchronous sessions are key is very logical but in the book they warn that with email stimulates little creativity. Seems too obvious to me. 
  • Make extensive use of "creativity techniques". We did several brainstorms on the whiteboard. This worked well because everyone could share their ideas at the same time. We also provided variety in working methods. Working in subgroups was very well appreciated. This was the modality in which we worked on the personas. One person even asked "can I be with her in a group" showing how enjoyable it can be to work in smaller groups. 
  • Invest continuously in teambuilding. It was a bit of a trade off: investing in getting to know each other and a tight schedule. Hence we decided to start introductions in the Workplace group. We also choose not to invest in the team know each other's private lives, but learning to appreciate each other's professional view. For instance by asking for positive online experiences. The personal approach makes it attractive to participate. If you know each other, it is easier to build on each other's ideas. In the book about creativity they call this "creating the right climate". In the evaluation someone formulated it like this: "it was nice to meet each other"
  • Online you need to structure and guide more tightly than face-to-face. "I appreciated the guided approach" we got as feedback. A tight role for one, preferably two facilitators is important. I wouldn't have liked to do this alone. This was a group that could easily exchange for an hour about content issues. We made sure that we move on and changed the talking modus. It may seems unfortunate to stop a conversation which is important and interesting, but it does benefit the energy. The chapter "leadership" from the book is dealing with this part.
  • Show progress. Each session started with sharing the products from the previous session. This gave the team the positive feeling that the sessions were productive and that together we were in the process of designing of something solid and beautiful. "Keep team members and their efforts visible" is stated in Nemiro's book. In our evaluation participants said: "concrete outputs, great products"
So I'm quite proud with what we achieved in such a short period of time. If I'd had another online design process I would like to have a longer period, with more time in between the sessions. I would also like to try out working with image association, and other creativity techniques from Nemiro. And a very practical tip: make sure you can go offline for a short while after the sessions. Online sessions remain intense and demand a lot of energy. I used to jump on the bike to get a breath of fresh air and exercise.