Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Who Owns “Microlearning?” The Learners Do. Not Grovo.

Grovo, Inc. (founded 2010) has trademarked the term “Microlearning”, reported by Chief Learning OfficerCLO states this is currently on a Supplemental Status.

This is another attempt of a Goliath overshadowing the small folks made up of many Davids.


Microlearning is too fundamental both as a process and for its value. Its core principles, practices and methods have been "owned" and implemented by numerous professionals globally even in early 2000. Sadly, Grovo is claiming ownership of “water” and “air”, in this case.

In my humble opinion, Grovo is being high-handed about running its business. It appears to ignore the needs of its market and clients for open-thinking and open-sharing. It is acting so “UN-Microlearning.” By its actions, it claims their brand is the only way to do Microlearning. I predict, just like other earlier companies that have tried to trademark generic terms, Grovo may not live up to its lofty exclusivity goals especially with the learners.

It’s about the Facts

2006 - First book on Microlearning (Before Grovo was founded)

The book 3-Minute e-Learning: Rapid Learning and Applications, Amazingly Lower Cost and Faster Speed of Delivery, Ray Jimenez, PhD (2006) (ISBN ISBN 978-0-9791847-0-3) Published in Lulu.com.

In many instances in this book, I referred to the definitions and applications of Micro-learning, Microlearning, Micro-Content, Micro-Context, Micro-Coaching and many other applications of Microlearning.


Grovo Even Cited “3-Minute eLearning” in a white paper


More on Ray Jimenez’s Works

Ray Jimenez and others have been researching, espousing and innovating systems and software with the Microlearning principles.

2007 Micro-Learning Impacts - Training Conference Study



Published in the Internet by UPFEL

2014 Microlearning Workshops Started



2017 Micro.Expert Deep Dive Learning System

Micro.Expert is a "Digital Learning Platform" following the principles of Microlearning and Expertise Development.


These following works, videos, blogs, webinars, and presentations have continued to be published since 2008







eLearning Guild

Training Magazine Workshops

eLearning Guild Devlearn

Conclusion

Microlearning should not be a proprietary term to be claimed by any single organization or individual. Rather, it should be a learning approach that should be easily shared by learning advocates who believe in its usefulness, employed by organizations  and utilized by learners/workers for immediate information access for efficient on-the-job results.



Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, December 4, 2017

Microlearning Leapfrogging - How to Succeed Against All Odds - Tip #160

This year I've had projects that I would classify as instances of leapfrogging.

Leapfrogging means vaulting from traditional, basic brick-and-mortar (classroom) learning into the rapid and instant Microlearning approach.

What the client wanted was to have their group of instructional designers and classroom trainers “leapfrog” into the world of high-speed and technology driven Microlearning. From classical instructional learning to largely self-driven, micro-actions, on-the-job learning. The leap may seem risky because the team has no prior experience in any form of technology supported learning: NO skills, tools and aptitude on elearning, webinars, LMSs, authoring tools, and implementation.
This is like shooting your team through a cannonball.
Is this irresponsible and reckless?

At first glance, this looked challenging because I saw plenty of blind curves due to the lack of exposure to actually using technologies. For example, the company has no LMS, hence, the team has never published elearning, has not done tracking of learning, and has never done a webinar. But they just want to move quickly from classroom training to high-speed learning for their organization.

All against my consulting mindset

Considering my years of experience and implementation of learning technologies, I could sense that the leadership may not exactly understand what they're getting into. Being a consultant, I want to succeed in the implementation and help the client avoid death traps. This simply means there are risks of failure involved.

So the biggest question in my mind is: How do you help a client and their instructional designers and developers, and technology team to carefully maneuver the process so that they recognize the daunting task? At the same time, how would you help them allocate their resources and aid them to shift their mindset and skills so that they can do a leapfrog.

Leapfrogging succeeds in these conditions

In the end, I learned more from the client about how to apply Microlearning. Here are my eye-opening insights:

The goal and benefits are so vividly clear; compelling

When leaders gain vivid clarity about the pressure and opportunities involving the shift from brick-and-mortar to high-paced learning, they recognize that they are behind the curve. Customer and organizational demands become the triggers and drivers of change.

Also, armed with a clear understanding of specific financial benefits, workers and customers can be trained faster without having to wait for a scheduled and delayed classroom training. Providing them with online learning allows them immediate access to information whenever they need it. This would drastically reduce the time needed to launch a product and therefore increase adoption and product usage. Furthermore, this increases the company’s cash flow.

A very specific and clear objective enables leaders to make that  great leap of faith -  a LeapFrog.
Leapfrogging Microlearning implementation

As I observe the desire of this client to LeapFrog, it became clear to me after reflection that the implementation process also needed to get a semblance of a leapfrogging process. It wasn't clear to my mind how to implement this because I got hung up on my own thought process - which is keeping the consulting mindset.

Instead of using ideal models - take stack of what the clients have

No LMS

The client has no LMS. But is it really required in order to achieve the results they have in mind? They have a portal and a website. They also have Sharepoint for internal file sharing and collaboration.

The truth is, for the client, there was no need to even talk about an LMS.

No Captivate or Storyline

What if the client has no authoring tool, like Captivate or Storyline? Although this may shock some of us, should they be required to purchase one? How vital is it to their implementation process?

After a number of interviews, I learned the client produced a lot of PDF eBooks for their documentation.

Brilliant idea! Why not use it? No learning curve is needed.

Smartphones and tablet

A significant number of teams and employees have smartphones and tablets. So, why not let members submit images to Sharepoint or portal to show their work and share ideas on how to solve problems immediately?

Without realizing it, they have access to  free software for screen capturing to readily share learning. So they used Monosnap - a free software - that captures videos in screen motion. They concluded that they can use this to create small references by narrating and showing software actions.

Tweak as needed - No need for perfection

One key characteristic of Microlearning is the focus on usefulness, not high production quality products. Hence, useful knowledge is more important than perfection or “eye candy” quality presentations. The client had no high-quality video production studio nor the staff to run it. Yet, they know videos are useful. So they use them and it worked! They tweaked the Microlearning as they discovered and got feedback.

Conclusion

Leapfrogging means focusing on the desired results which are doable within the means of the organization, at the speed that they want to achieve it. This is not about selecting, implementing and learning the right tools. The passion, drive and clarity of the end results and benefits are so compelling that the ignorance of all of the implementation details was understated and the benefits magnified. This environment is fertile ground and favorable conditions for Microlearning leapfrogging.

Tip References

How to avoid eLearning paralysis and get moving with your projects
Tip #105 - Breaking 10 Training Rules Using Microlearning
Tip #123 - Micro-Instant Learning
Tip #157 - Microlearning Is the “It’s-Always-There” Solution



Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, November 27, 2017

21 Things To Do Before a Webinar - Tip #159


These are some important items on my checklist that I go through to prepare before a webinar. And when I follow these religiously, I succeed!

1. Design a truly interactive and no-lecture webinar.

2. Prepare primary and secondary exercises or questions to allow “what if” situations.

3. Test and prepare all the links to demos, videos and websites to make sure they all work.

4. Test the timing of each section of your presentations and interactions.

5. Run a survey to get more background information about your participants.

6. Determine prior experience of the participants on a given topic.

7. Prepare your examples and illustrations based on the participant profiles.

8. Provide online access to advance readings and materials, videos and lessons.

9. Have participants test their video and Internet speeds.

10. Send in advance or ask participants to join a prep session to practice the webinar tools, specially if it is their first time.

11. Find a way through a group portal or social learning site or others like Sharepoint and LMs or Wiki to allow participants to introduce themselves and get to meet their co-participants online.

12. Ask participants to preview an advance video of your welcome message.

13. Set up the webinar room.

14. Meet up with your webinar moderator to plan, practice and prepare both of your roles.

15. Practice and rehearse your presentation using the webinar platform.

16. Do a technical dry run of your webinar tool.

17. Notify participants of very specific instructions on how to access session, schedule, and other reminders.

18. Have a technology backup plan or emergency plan when issues like lost connectivity, frozen keyboards, etc happen.

19. Keep a positive outlook and do your best but be prepared for the worst.

20. Psych yourself up that you are helping others gain value from your session.


Conclusion

A successful webinar presentation needs attention to certain significant details for it to succeed.  This  ensures that learners have a meaningful learning encounter; you facilitate rapid conversations and encourage experience-sharing to achieve the eventual goal of spurring learning and better job performance.



Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, November 20, 2017

What Happens If There Is a Chip On Your Windshield? Cases of Microlearning Impacts - Tip #158

Monitoring the impacts and contributions of Microlearning is like figuring out how fast you are falling while you are actually falling from the sky.

We can only catch glimpses of moments of impacts rather than substantive end-of-the-year “bean counter” ROI studies. I am uncomfortable about ROI because is it a buzzword and wholly different in context and issues we are trying to improve on. Moments of impact might be more valuable to Microlearning impacts. “What would happen if...?”

When we speak of impacts in the L&D world, we tend to think of ROI as an accounting of payback for expectations or process of using Kirkpatrick's Four Levels of Learning Evaluation. However, in my discussions with clients, workshop participants and partners of The Club, many report more of the "Operations" of insights. They are more informal and like snapshots. They are instances of impacts and contributions rather than methodical assessments. I suspect that capturing snapshots of impacts is mostly anecdotal because of the very nature of Microlearning. Nonetheless, we learn a lot from these snapshots to guide us if we are creating some good returns of our efforts. These trends and patterns could guide us when incrementally tweaking our Microlearning approaches.

In reviewing the snapshots, watch carefully for these elements:
  • Where does it happen?
  • What are the drivers?
  • What are the impacts?
Case # 1 Large Multi-Manufacturing Operations

"Maintenance Pills"

"What would happen if you missed your maintenance pills or medicine?"

According to a client:

"We started sending out to our teams very simple and tiny content messages; snippets. It was as simple as an update of a procedure in a section of an equipment. After a few dozen times of sending our snippets we started getting feedback that those snippets we describe as Microlearning, are actually saving team members time. The snippets raised their awareness of a potentially critical issue, if unattended, may cause damage from a loss in the yields of the equipment or even cause a downtime."

"It is like maintenance pills. It is as if we are sending daily vitamin C supplements for maintenance."
Case # 2 - Large Hospital Network

"Missed to Apply"

What would happen if you have a small chip on your windshield?

According to a client:

"Hospitals have been going through many major software upgrades due to legislations and operational needs. These changes are so frequent that calling team members to come to a classroom briefing does not work. It takes too much time to assemble and organize them, and they require a coordinated schedule. So, many of the team members don’t get the updates on time.

However, we begin to notice that when we send out Micro-Videos on these software and procedure updates, people receive them immediately. We have calculated that because of this timeliness of the Micro-Videos, we reduced certain costs that could have been due to errors and non-application of the updates.

This we call avoiding the "missed to apply" opportunities. Without the Micro-Videos, many of the tasks that nurses, doctors, technicians and others may be skipped, delayed, and applied wrongly - causing major issues in hospitals. The SKIPPING of applying new knowledge is like a chip or crack in your windshield, it could hurt you and your family if you don't take care of it while it is still small."
Conclusion

Microlearning impacts do happen most of the time when we observe the operations where the knowledge becomes part of a solution to reduce errors, lower costs, avoid risks and improve solutions. Unlike large ROI studies, Microlearning impacts are small - which is its nature.




Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, November 13, 2017

Microlearning is The "It's-Always-There" Solution - Tip #157

What happens to the behaviors of learners and workers after they have been accustomed to Microlearning?

For over 10 years I have seen early adoptions and maturing implementation of Microlearning. They all come in different forms and shapes, which is great. However, with the abundance of approaches, it is fairly difficult to establish and see patterns, especially in my interest to study and record the adoptions of Microlearning.

“Microlearning Adoption Behaviors” - An Observation

But the good news is that I can formulate a general trend which I illustrate in the chart above on “Microlearning Adoption Behaviors.”

To clarify, what I am more interested about Microlearning is not the FORM (videos, lessons, messaging, chatbots, spacing, smallness, etc.) of the content. What piques my curiosity is the VALUE (usefulness, low effort, fast, applied quickly) that it brings. I see many approaches focus on the FORM which is about the delivery and not the VALUE which delves into contributions and impacts. My preference is primarily focused on IMPACTS and VALUES. In my workshop, we distinctly separate Forms from Value.
Insights from “Microlearning Adoption Behaviors”

The behaviors are non-exclusive. In one moment, it is dynamic and overlapping or coalescing at a certain point. It is also situational depending on many factors like complexity of the problems and issues and the nature of the need and type of FORM being used.

1. “What is this?”
  • Very early adoption with some skepticism and reluctance.
  • The more Microlearning focuses on FORM and not VALUE, the slower the adoption of Microlearning or it may be aborted early.

2. “Let me try it.”
  • Willingness to try and test. When useful answers present themselves at the moment of need, it encourages self-testing. The discovery starts.
  • The worker and learner says “After all, this does not require attending a course” or “I can access it when I need it.”

3. “Can I have more?”
  • Familiarization with Microlearning starts and early experiences encourage asking for more of “same-like” solution.
  • “I need more” is a “pull” behavior. A positive sign that workers or learners are requesting for the “same-like” solution.
  • The “pull” allows the designer to know the nature of the need and therefore can deliver highly relevant Microlearning. I call this “Microlearning Dynamic-Needs Collection” - a method and software that constantly collects Microlearning “pulled” requests.
4. “This is handy.”
  • Now workers and learners are moving to the realization of the abundance of Microlearning answers in the “River of Ideas” eCosystem.
  • They begin to notice the abundant supply of different FORMS. From YouTube, to texting, to Slack, to FAQs, Google ..  they go wherever they may be found - they become “The Seekers”.
  • Although they consume different FORMs of Microlearning, the driver really is the VALUE of Microlearning.

5. “It’s always there.”
  • This is about “not-to-worry behavior” where workers and learners build confidence and reliance on Microlearning solutions.
  • “It’s always there” behaviour tells us that Microlearning FORMs are accepted and that VALUE is ubiquitous and normal and usual things we go to, for answers.
Time, Strategies and Types of Microlearning

I submit that the above are observations from my experience and as my clients and colleagues report might be limited. It serves as a framework and construct. The major elements that are hard to observe are the impacts of time, strategies and types (FORMs) of Microlearning.


Microlearning is “to add VALUE” first and foremost, then the FORM follows
Furthermore, the biggest plus for me about “Microlearning Adoption Behaviors” is a framework to capture the abundance of methods and approaches. Abundance of Microlearning approaches is a great strength. Although it is perplexing for those who wish to put Microlearning in a “box” and label it as an approach - it is not. Rather, it is more of a standard and principle on creating VALUE. What matters to me is that we want workers and learners to apply answers and solutions that create impact.

A significant trend I observed is that when Microlearning is introduced with serious consideration of Values as guiding principles, the Forms - the tools we use - become more effective. The more we stick to our “preferred” or “favorite” Forms, the more we will see slower adoption or failure. I can attest to such proof from what clients tell me. Those companies that develop Microlearning with clearly-defined intent and VALUES can readily report. This would be a subject for another study.
Conclusion

In Microlearning, values should take pre-dominant consideration and serve as guiding principles. The intent for the implementation of microlearning needs to be clearly defined so the forms become an effective tool from which to draw results.




Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Friday, November 3, 2017

Five Sure Ways to Prepare for High-Impact Webinars - Tip #156

How do you grab your audience’s attention? How do you make your webinars relevant, meaningful and useful?

When you read newspapers, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other media, one gets overcome by an overwhelming amount of information. How do we sift through them?
You probably developed the skill of sniffing around and pick out what you estimate to be useful information or knowledge. This sniffing process gives us a clue as to how we can prepare for an engaging webinar.

How to prepare

The standard tip of “know your audience” is a good one. However, what do you actually do to get to know them? When preparing for a webinar, I go through these steps and see which ones would engage my participants. You prepare by applying the following techniques.

1. Think like a newspaper reporter

The newspaper person thinks of an “angle” or a “spin” to a story. Why is that? An angle is a point of view that attracts readers.
Is it “newsworthy?” As this phrase suggests, there is a need to look into recent developments around particular situations or your intended audience, specifically related to your content. For example, “This year, the Nobel Laureate for Physics was awarded to two Caltech professors for their work on Gravitational Waves.” Or, “There is a most recent case of a client returning twenty palettes of our product and reminding us about how listening to customers is so important.” Bringing the content into a recent event moves the timeframe and the value of the content.

2. Think of life-changing events

Life-changing events are life impacts that change one’s life, point of view, experience and even behavior. It can also mean a shift as a result of a  before-and-after perspective. Here is an example on a sales topic. “How many of you have experienced sending dozens of brochures to a prospect who never responded? However, when you asked for someone to refer you to him, he received your call?” The before-and-after encounters always shift the minds of the audience in a webinar.
3. Think of an impossible feat

“How did your team win the research grant? This must be a difficult and challenging feat. How did you do it?”

Human beings are always enamored about how people change difficult circumstances into winning outcomes. We love adventures and one way to be part of it is to listen to how someone went through their own experience.
4. Proof of a useful impact

Start your webinar by stating a proof that what you are about to share has some value and benefit hence, being a reliable issue. You may say, “This solution was near impossible to use. But after repeated trials, the positive results skyrocketed to 300%. There is very significant reason why and this is what I want to share with you.”

When people pay attention to proofs, it is because we want things we can rely on or has been proven and has a track record.


5. Final point - Ask the learners to fill in the answers

Armed with the knowledge that people respond to the aforementioned technique, I usually don’t furnish the complete answers. Instead,  I motivate the audience to fill in the rest of the stories.

For example:

“This solution was constantly failing, but now it created 300% positive results.”

Why do you think so? Type in the chat or use your pen to encircle your answer.

Option 1 - the errors were fixed

Option 2 - the approach was simplified

Option 3 - limited the use

With this method, you prepared one more step; you designed an interaction utilizing the techniques. This is how you optimize your preparations.
Conclusion

When embarking on a webinar, there is a need to prepare.

The goal of every engaging webinar is stirring up your captive audience to focus, engage and interact. The learning experience then shifts from a mere online session (ergo complying to requirements) to an exciting and meaningful virtual experience resulting in the desired learning goals.


Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, October 30, 2017

My Transition to Quality Webinar Delivery - Tip #155


In my early years as a learning professional decades ago, face to face events were my go-to learning delivery approach. Then my own journey led me to the discovery of webinars. That's not to say that I do not value classroom training. However, with its primary benefit of reaching more people, virtual delivery enabled me to connect with more learners globally. I was ecstatic!
So, my new life now revolves around providing more refreshing, yet provocative approaches to quality webinars and virtual learning. Equally important is that I am now able to share my experiences with others through the Masterful Virtual Trainer Workshop.

Let me share with you how I reinvented myself.

1. First, I needed to deeply reflect
First question I asked myself was, “Why do I love doing classroom and face to face sessions?”

I realized that I really love it because of the warmth of being with people. There is no substitute for the catharsis and exchange of moving emotional conversations.

The face to face conversations are sweet moments I cherish. The experience of hopping on airplanes and the opportunity to travel to other locations and just to be with people is exhilarating. It is what I primarily appreciate about it.

Then it dawned on me that there were these “me” moments that were the reasons I enjoyed these in-person sessions.

I love...
  • hearing myself talking with people and entertaining them
  • the sound of laughter
  • the jokes
  • seeing smiles
  • the warmth of rapport with learners

But are my learners really learning?
This insight I gained may or may not be true but let me share it with you. You let me know.

Sometimes the warmth, entertainment and the fun side of face to face and classroom learning GETS in the way of better usage of learning time. In essence, it may not necessarily result in learning.

This awesome discovery has helped me gain a huge change of perspective and approach to my learning sessions.

2. Here’s my next question

How then can I help learners learn more and yet experience the fun side of learning?

AHA… Eureka!

I can accomplish more in virtual learning and webinars, because I can PROVIDE LEARNERS MORE TIME TO REFLECT AND APPLY IDEAS THROUGH ACTUAL PROJECTS.

WOW! This impacted me so hard. It was an amazing discovery!
In the classroom...
  • the day is cramped
  • the schedule is so tight
  • very little time is spent on applications and reflection
  • there is not enough time for reflection
  • there is no room or space to distance oneself from the noise
  • one’s energy is drained by the end of the session

In webinars, if the workshop is divided into 5 sessions spaced over a few days, learners now have ...

  • time to breathe with spaced schedules
  • experience some silence / almost no noise
  • time for reflection
  • time to rethink
  • an opportunity for application time
  • time to check with their company peers and bosses
  • have enough time to focus and practice on the projects
3. My life as a learning catalyst is forever changed

I still miss doing face to face events. Yet, deep in my heart I know I need to give up certain side benefits of the classroom setting for the sake of my learners.

Looking back, I am thankful for the other benefits gained from my virtual sojourns.
  • My family (wife and kids) is happy because I am home more often.
  • My back no longer aches from having too many plane rides...(and no need to worry about being yanked out of my United flight - *smile*)

Conclusion

In-person events have their own benefits and purposes.  But the world of virtual delivery and webinar presentations provides an opportunity for those of us who have gathered wisdom through our years as learning sojourners, to share this with other professionals in the field of learning that otherwise we would not be able to do. It is both a privilege and a responsibility we take seriously so we all can become masterful virtual trainers.





Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"