Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Building Effective Interactivity in E-Learning--- A Hybrid Model

In the last post, it was noted that the E-Learning used for training purposes in business organizations and in the education sector was tied to a Skinnerian model that in fact treated learners as passive entities that needed to be conditioned through the application of reward and punishment in order to acquire the desired responses. One point that should be made is that given the industrial economy mindset with regards to what it suggested should be the goals of education, that perhaps it was appropriate for the times. It is also interesting to note that people such as Nikola Tesla who had creative and quite original ideas were considered to be exceptions and odd compared to the conforming majority. Tesla himself summed up the problem quite nicely.


"In order for us to move forward in the design of irresistibly engaging learning experiences that enrich the learning cultures of business organizations, we need to stop living our lives on a bell curve and as I suggested in the last post to capitalize on the gifts and talents of the intellectual capital found in our employees and learners. In this age, having an organizational learning plan is just as important as having a business plan."

A Hybrid Model for Building Interactivity into E-Learning

If you have been reading my posts dealing with the importance of using well designed simulations and scenarios you would have noticed that there are some recurring ideas that lend themselves to making interactivity dynamic and a type of engagement by the learner that is governed by a strong intrinsic motivation. In this digital age, thoughtful engagement leads to deeper sustained learning and an increased level of transference of skillsets to novel situations that require real world problem solving. The posts titled: "The Search for the Emerald Key" (Dec. 27,2014-Jan. 29, 2015) were a first attempt to translate these ideas into a practical scenario. Some of the important concepts were as follows:

Context: In order for learners to see a clear connection between what they learn in theory and its application after the learning experiences are complete, the E-Learning information must be in context. It is important that learners know the relevance to their own individualized life situations. In the "Search for the Emerald Key", the focus was on being able to collaborate with other learners in order to solve a real world problem. Contained within this scenario were opportunities to assess skills both individually and as a collaborative group. Unlike the Skinnerian model, the response of the learners was the factor that developed the story. This involved the development of what is called "Branch Scenarios" and also provided an opportunity for immediate feedback and mentoring. In an adjoining scenario, the collaborative group was provided with a novel scenario which was a "proving ground" used for the learners to test out their newly acquired skillsets. This was also important in building confidence which ultimately impacts on performance as it relates to the employee work situation.

Ultimately, change in the education culture can not take place unless we can demonstrate the necessary entrepreneurial drive that will take us out of our comfort zone and place the educational well being of nations ahead of all our fears and defence mechanisms that are keeping us in place while the world moves on. This begins with having powerful conversations with each other as leaders in our respective sectors. Without that, we are part of the problem and not part of the so desperately needed solution.
[ If you want open and powerful conversations, take the initiative and share the ideas found here.]

Next---Summary of practical ideas for context and the next concept in the model

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Building Effective Interactivity In E-Learning---The Key to Engagement--Part I

If E-Learning is to be truly an effective tool to creating a more dynamic learning culture both in the education sector and the business sectors then creating irresistibly engaging learning experiences are vital. This means such learning experiences must truly be interactive in nature.

The Problem of Interactivity in the Past

The way that interactivity was created in the past was predicated on the idea that through constant repetition of response to a stimulus that learners would be conditioned to respond the same way. This was controlled through the use of "carrot vs. the stick" approach to reinforcement. 

Credit: www.gettyimages,com
This method of "Operant Conditioning" found its way into the design of interactive training and E-Learning. The problem with designing this into the learning regimen of business organizations and education today is that it runs counter to the very skillsets that are needed in order to promote innovation and especially, divergent thinking that is required to solve complex real world problems.

This type of creative thinking demonstrated in the above image would never be tolerated then and would in fact be punished. The type of conditioning that is in place shows up in programs where the only real thought is to push the right menu button, then read the content, then push the continue button, read the content and then answer a quiz which is then graded. If you fail the quiz then you are re-directed to re-training where again repetition is the key. This type of "learning" treats the recipient as a passive receptacle that can only learn by the administration of reward and punishment.

"It ignores the very important understandings that all learners are thinking, creative, intuitive and resourceful individuals who do seek to learn but it must be learning that respects them and capitalizes on their gifts and talents. They want to be mentored in order to stretch and grow their abilities but first and foremost, you have to get their attention and hold it. Negative artificial extrinsic motivators are not conducive to developing what is needed in a digital economy."

We need to break free from the "command and control" mindset because it is a product of a dated industrial economy. 

Laying the Foundation for Effective Interactivity Using E-Learning

If engagement is what is required then interactivity needs to be designed that respects the skillsets that nurture collaboration with other learners in real world problem solving where divergent thinking in combination with active critical thinking become the de facto way of approaching learning.

Here is a thought to consider:

"If you are using the type of "Operant Conditioning" described at the beginning of this post that requires the mechanisms described, then perhaps the required task for learning in such a technological age that we are in, might be better done by robots or other intelligent machines rather than human learners! This is not meant to suggest that people should lose their jobs but it is meant to suggest that we need to make better use of the awesome human capital we have available to us."

If you really want to get a clear picture of how much this "command and control" approach is an affront to human ability, Google the following :"The Stanley Milgram Experiment" and then ask yourself whether or not your organizational training culture has similar elements.
Next--- a better model for building interactivity in E-Learning.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Global Corporate Trainers, Instructional Designers and Learning Principles Educator Network

In the process of transforming a learning culture within a business organization, it is imperative that we use what we know about the way adults learn and how that translates into effective performance when applied in an online training environment. The key goal is to ensure engagement of employees in a given task not by programming every step that they are to take but providing latitude for them to collaborate with other learners in meaningful ways. This also lays the ground work for the development of an innovative mindset among learners.

John Seely Brown, an innovation expert made a very insightful statement when he stated:

"Organizations need to find the 'edge dwellers,' and 'pull them together and give them voice.' Edge dwellers are the change agents within an organization. They need to be given permission to experiment and push boundaries and they need to be provided with tools to have at their disposal, such as social media."

However, in order for this type of engagement to be enriching for an organization, there needs to be a focus on effective design thinking when designing irresistibly engaging learning experiences. To aid this thinking, three important elements need to be in place which are:

  • Using Kolb's Theory as a basis which postulates four main learning styles: Converger, Diverger, Assimilator and Accomodator, we need to go further and modify it by applying what new research from the field of Cognitive Neuro-Science tells us about how adults engage in their learning when presented by an immersive E-Learning environment.
  • A clearly defined purpose for learning and engaging in the learning experience. Designing a group of learning experiences for adult learners that makes explicitly clear the reason, purpose, and usefulness of the subject matter is a necessary component in reaching adult learners.
  • A format or facilitation process that encourages participants to share their knowledge and experience freely. It is this very point that the concept of the Global Corporate Trainer, Instructional Designers and the Learning Principles Educator(or Expert) Network is offered as a choice with exciting potential to prosper business organizations and "jump start" innovation.
The Global Corporate Trainer, ID and LPE Network: What is its purpose and how does it work?

 Some of the problems that business organizations have experienced in the past and continue to experience in some organizations can be summarized as follows:

  • When new skillsets are needed to be passed on to employees, engagement during the sessions might peak but then after the sessions are long over, little, measurable improvement in performance is seen. Why did the commitment to applying learning on a regular basis disappear?
  • A new and potentially innovative change is proposed and supported at the time but then is left to sit and gather dust for a variety of reasons ranging from necessary budget cuts to potential loss of jobs if the innovation is pursued. When change is necessary, why are so many roadblocks erected to following through without even suggesting hybrid modifications or viable alternatives? Why do potentially innovative approaches suffer the "paralysis by analysis" effect?
 The development of the proposed network provides a needed "sandbox for innovation" where innovative ideas and effective, irresistibly engaging learning experiences may be developed through open collaboration not only with the noted business organization's trainers, ID's and LPE's but also with the same types of personnel from other business organizations who share common interests. The essential key to understanding the Global Learning Hubs and adjoining networks such as this one is to take a close look at the collaborative pathways that join them and think about this as a digital symbiotic relationship. This should make sense if we look at business organizations as living organisms. The benefits of such a concept would be as follows:

  1. Costs for development are shared with other business organizations who have common interests and therefore the ROI is also shared according to a mutually agreed upon formula. In concept this is similar to the trade pact groups that already exist in today's world.
  2. Open innovation can take root here as organizations involved would also have equal access to the other networks in the Global Learning Portal through collaborative pathways as shown in the diagram. Collaborating in this non-threatening environment allows for the testing of new ideas before they are brought back to the individual business organizations.
  3. The learning culture of the business organizations improves as a result of the constant feedback from the Global E-Learning Hub which acts as a communication network between the adjoining collaborative networks and the individual business organizations. 
  4. There is the potential for the sharing of knowledge among the 6 distinct Learning Portals. This would be especially important in collaborating to help improve infrastructure upgrading that is needed for developing countries to effectively participate in the global E-Learning enterprise.

There is a great potential to help many nations improve the quality of life for their inhabitants and especially for new generations that are being born, through the means of effective education. Due to the expansive global reach of the world wide web, we can help many nations to empower their children to be agents of change within their societies. We need to do this to counter the negative forces within many societies that would deny hope to new generations of ever conquering disease, poverty, war and political corruption. Remember that dictators maintain their power by keeping their people ignorant and in fear.
 [Remember, if you feel that the message of this post should be shared over social media, share it!]

 Next...Designing Effective Interactions For E-Learning

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Global Higher Education and Teacher Mentoring Network: Final Benefits That Transform Businesses

Ultimately, the goal of this network is to develop educators who will model and practice "transformative" teaching. One thing to notice is that this is a radical departure from the "command and control" mindset of the industrial economy. This is the very same mindset that permeates many of today's business learning cultures and is a reason why so many businesses are struggling with the exponential changes that are happening and will continue to happen as long as they are linked with education systems that turn out more and more of the same type of employees and future business leaders. It also explains why many businesses, although they realize the need to promote innovation within their sector of interest, have no idea of where to start.

The purposes of this transformative teaching are:

  1. Educate learners to be creators of new knowledge and skillsets. The benefit to business is having new employees and business leaders who enter the scene having an innovative thinking mindsets as a natural way of approaching decision making.
  2. Educate learners to adopt innovative problem solving in seeking real solutions to complex real world problems. Instrumental to this is to promote an attitude for prolific and divergent thinking. This is a problem that the education systems, under the assembly line model of education, continue to struggle with. Sir Kenneth Robinson expressed the dilemma quite eloquently.

    3. Educate learners to collaborate effectively in an online environment. Learners need to know how to access a variety of knowledge repositories on the web, evaluate their usefulness to the tasked problem and then apply the skillsets that each require. Learners need to be a little eclectic in using technology that meets the purpose and they need to now how to capitalize on the talents of their co-collaborators. The benefit to business deals with improved employee performance and efficiency.
[Did you notice the change in justification in item #3? Even small skillsets dealing with the presentation of information are important!]

Critical thinking is a skillset that needs to be emphasized even more, now that learners will have such greater access to information.

"One of the most important skillsets in this online, E-Learning environment is the ability to authenticate and corroborate the truth value of information that is presented. Since it is our purpose within a business organization to make critical decisions dealing with the operation and success of the business, neglecting to pay attention to the development of this skillset is akin to organizational suicide!"

Next...The Global Corporate Trainers, Instructional Designer and Learning Principles Network

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Global Higher Education and Teacher Mentoring Network- Nature and Interrelationships

As we continue down this path, one should not underestimate the very positive impact that these collaborative networks will have on the business culture.

Big data that is shared within the Global Learning Portal opens doors of opportunity in the digital economy that can have a multiplier effect on the ROI of businesses aligned under a common vision. It is no secret that knowledge is the new currency of the 21st century but the trick is harnessing it at just the right time with an eye on the future and not looking back!

 Referring back to the Global Learning Portal shown above, one should notice that there is a collaborative connection between the Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Network and the Global Higher Education and Teacher Mentoring Network. The obvious question that needs to be asked is:

"Why is a collaborative connection between these two networks necessary and what is its function?"

Educating the Educator

Cross disciplinary research is vital to the training or mentoring of new educators because for business organizations this will have a "domino effect". If you accept the idea that cross disciplinary learning is an essential mindset to solving real world problems then it is necessary that research in this area  give direction to "educating the educator". The "domino effect" occurs when you consider that how you train educators ultimately defines how they educate students. How they educate students defines what skillsets students enter the business organization with as well as how leadership within business organizations will be defined in the future.

Under the present compartmentalization mindset that exists in higher education in many educational institutions, the approach to real world problem solving brings us back to the famous fable of six blind men trying to describe an elephant. This mindset does not bode well for businesses hoping to make innovation a systemic mindset and a natural way of doing business within their organizations. Real world problems in  the 21st century are more complex than in the past precisely because our world has become so connected. Effective collaboration across disciplines is an essential in this age.The tools of the industrial economy no longer fit the realities of a digital global economy.


 Coming back to the collaborative connection, in return the data collected from the experience of mentoring educators and in turn the educators' practical experience in modelling this mindset to learners in the online E-Learning portal, we are helped in two ways:
  • From the data, new directions in research can be explored and pursued in regards to cross disciplinary learning keeping in mind that the new paradigm for research means that it needs to be ongoing, agile and adaptive, and
  • From the data, we can discern areas of conflict and thus refine our pedagogical approaches.
The mentoring of new educators and those who are transitioning from the industrial model mindset to the cross disciplinary mindset needs to be an ongoing collaborative relationship.

Benefits to Business Organizations

One very important benefit is that such a process will make handling disruptive change and transitioning easier. Businesses can be exposed to the benefits of "reverse mentoring" in which new employees who are entering with valuable skillsets in tune with 21st century realities can mentor staff who are already established within the business organization and engage employees in an effective learning relationship that will further business interests.

Next... Final benefits of the Global Higher Learning and Teacher Mentoring Network

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Global Higher Education and Teacher Mentoring Network---Establishing the Challenge to Be Confronted As Agents of Change!

Universities and colleges have a history of preparing past generations to take their place in the industries and scientific disciplines on the planet. Ivy league universities had as an important mandate the task of producing the "captains of industry" who would carry on the tradition of leading the corporate world which was steeped in the industrial economy. Their main objective was to create wealth. This was especially important in the Americas with the rise of such men as JP Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt and John D. Rockefeller. How they created that wealth was the distinguishing tipping point. This picture was mirrored in other industrial economies of the time.



The term ,"captains of industry",  was coined by Thomas Carlyle in his 1843 book titled:"Past and Present". To that end, these universities sought to attract the top economic, scientific, and business minds to act as educators and mentors to these up and coming leaders. Due to the competition among universities and colleges to acquire the most talented minds, the concept of tenure was offered as a means of securing their loyalty to the institution.
The reason it is important to understand these traditions is so that we can recognize how deeply the industrial model mindset is in the life blood of universities. This is also a pointer to the reason of why there is such a high level of institutional inertia when it comes to changing the model of education that universities and colleges operate under.

De-Programming Education Faculties

From these halls of higher learning comes a demonstration of what may be termed the "trickle down effect" of this industrial mindset with an important difference. In order to fuel the drive of industry, workers were needed who would learn to conform and all follow the same pattern for effective production. To enable this to happen educators also needed to be harnessed to train the future workers.

The world has since changed. Since most major universities have faculties of education responsible for the training of teachers, if the university is still adhering to the industrial model mindset then it will be the same situation for the faculty tasked in training educators. 

De-programming these faculties is now essential if we are ever to have teachers who have a renewed purpose to be agents of change and creators of new knowledge and skillsets.

It means de-programming  minds and preparing them for a new mindset that is going to have an exciting impact on their careers as educators and on students as agents of change in their respective societies.
As we continue down this path, one should not underestimate the very positive impact these collaborative networks will have on the business culture.

Next ...the relationship between this network and the others.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Global Higher Education and Teacher Mentoring Network: Implications for Business Organizations:Part I

At first glance at the title of this post, you might think that as a business organization this topic isn't really of particular interest or relevance to your organization's situation. However, you would be wrong. Looking at the big picture has always been a goal and strength of enduring business organizations.

 Taking stock of all the forces that will impact the performance of your organization in the global connected economy is not only important but essential in a digital world where knowledge and information is the new currency. Some of the forces are within your domain to exercise control and influence over such as the quality of  your deliverables, products and services. However, the world has changed and forces that were not a high priority or even of relevance in the past to business health are now having an impact. One of these forces is higher education and the training of educators for a new world. To put this "big picture" into the context of what I have been describing in regards to changing organizational learning cultures, consider the "big picture" concept and framework that I am suggesting. The following is a summary:

  • Global online education covering the planet is established through the development and institution of 6 Global E-Learning Portals. This concept is similar to the way that international business aligns themselves into trading blocks on the planet, the most recent one being described as: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement among twelve Pacific Rim countries concerning a variety of matters of economic policy, which was reached on 5 October 2015 after 7 years of negotiations. The difference is that these learning portals would be online networks.
  • Each Global E-Learning Portal consists of 4 collaborative networks that advise and take direction from a central hub called the Global E-Learning Hub.

  • The Global E-Learning Hub has three primary functions: (a) It is an established "learning community"  that all learners whether corporate or education belong to as a function of being members of the family of nations attached to the regional E-Learning portal. Learners are able to login to, collaborate with other learners and receive personalized, adaptive learning according to their personal needs and the individual learning profile compiled by the Learning Principle Experts of the business organizations or the comparable officials in the education sector, (b) it also has the responsibility to take direction and advice from the four networks that are part of the portal. This is especially important in its collaboration with the Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Network which serves the needs of learners, corporate or education sector, by establishing a mentor relationship with professionals in the Sciences, Arts, Technology and Mathematics discipline areas, and (c) it is a professional collaboration and innovation community.

  • The other networks and councils are: (a) The Business and Education Innovation Council which maintains close ties with corporations who are part of the family of nations involved in establishing a learning and innovation culture for their respective organizations and is a forum for employees to present proposals. The UAE under the wise guidance of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is moving his country in this direction, (b) Global

Corporate Trainers, Instructional Designers and Learning Principles Educator Network which collaborates with the Business and Education Innovation Council and also promotes and designs E-Learning ideas in collaboration with the Global E-Learning Hub, and (d) The Global Higher Education and Teacher Mentoring Network.

Next.. Details on the Global Higher Education and Teacher Mentoring Network and why business needs to be concerned about an effective mandate for this network and recognize how crucial it is to their own future well being.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Network: Part II- Functions

Business organizations need access to the latest research that impacts products and services as well as a mentor network that engages employees and empowers them to be innovative and collaborative real world problem solvers. This type of network recognizes that no one individual whether instructional designer or trainer have all the necessary skillsets in order for an organization to move forward. The previous role of the SME and his or her uneasy relationship with instructional designers and trainers needs to be reshaped because it is based on a paradigm from the industrial economy that no longer fits. In the past, your organization's collaboration efforts may have been similar to the pattern below.

In re-visioning the pattern of the learning portal, there are also collaborative relationships with a principle difference being that employees are engaged, empowered, inspired and feel that they are making meaningful contributions to the well being and future health of their organization. The ongoing learning of employees in an age of information and knowledge has to be a focal point of each organization's learning culture.

When we look at the re-configuration of the Global E-Learning Hub, you will notice that the directional arrows displayed in the diagram represent paths of feedback and responsibility.

You will note in the diagram that the Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Network reports and advises the Business and Education Innovation Council and provides big data to the Global E-Learning Hub. Keeping in mind that the Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Network also collaborates with the Global Higher Education and Teacher Mentoring Network, you can start to understand that in order to keep up with the advancement of knowledge in multiple disciplines that collaborations have to be cross disciplinary in nature. The following are some of the responsibilities and roles that Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Network entails:

  1. Work with educators, corporate trainers, instructional designers and Learning Principles Experts in the design of irresistibly engaging learning experiences that would then be provided to the Global Learning Hub.
  2. Collaborate with educators, corporate trainers, instructional designers and Learning Principles Experts in the design of assessment tools and also take part in the assessment of the learner's (employees) efforts from the perspective of their discipline. This would involve them in providing ongoing feedback to the learner and especially to mentor-learner groups.
  3. Be willing to identify promising employees and higher education students who have the right aptitudes and skills in order to recommend appropriate mentor matches. This type of relationship will help develop employee skillsets needed for the growth of the business organization. 
At this point, the question that probably comes to mind is:

"Why is there such an emphasis on education with respect to the health of our business organization?"

To answer this question, it is important to remember a few points:

  1. Effective performance of employees of an organization is tied to how well they are able to unlearn, adapt, relearn, problem solve and innovate. Unlike in the past, in a global age of knowledge and learning, the relationship between business success and the ability of employees to use formal and informal learning can no longer be considered as separate issues.
  2. A term often used as a synonym for mentoring in business organizations is "coaching". For the record, when I speak of mentoring I mean in the fashion as what existed during the times of the craft guilds. The reason is that I believe that if we want to see "exceptional performance" of employees, superior products and services, we have to re-discover the crafts person's mindset for a standard of quality that a master crafts person expected and developed in his or her apprentice. The industrial era and the onset of mass production broke that exemplary work mindset. To accomplish this type of a breakaway from the status quo will require vision and leadership.

In looking at the networks represented and their relationships, "systems thinking" is the key to understanding the dynamics involved and what that might mean for the health and future of business organizations.

Next...The influence of global higher education and a teacher mentoring network on upcoming employee skillsets

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Network-Part I

An important question that business leaders should ask themselves about a Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Network is:

"Why should a business like us care about making connections or even having a role in establishing such a network? Isn't this more for the academics in research departments at institutions of higher learning?"

  In order to honestly answer those questions, you really have to ask yourself  a number of very pertinent questions with respect to your organization:

  1. Is being on top of advances in technology that could impact the performance level of our work force have strategic value for the company in a highly competitive global digital economy?
  2. In an information and knowledge society, does an ongoing process of mentoring employees in their learning advancement and nurturing the development of new skillsets that are germane to the changing nature of our part of the business sector of value to the healthy growth of our organization?
  3. Is collaborative real world problem solving on the part of employees and innovative thinking keys to increasing our organization's ROI?
  4. Do we desire to have a healthy balance of servicing our current markets and creating new ones?

Cross Disciplinary Learning--What is it?

 Cross disciplinary learning is an approach that suggests that when we need to find and solve real world problems, that no single set of skills will enable us to detect, analyze, and solve problems in the 21st century.
In the past with regards to the instructional designer and trainer for a business organization, these individuals were expected to not only design and deliver effective learning experiences for employees but also to keep up with new knowledge and skillsets that may need to be addressed that could improve performance and compliance with respect to employees.

"However, when the World Wide Web came along with the ability to share and create new knowledge in all the disciplines, the game changed dramatically for business!

 It is naive to believe, given the exponential growth in knowledge and technology, that the instructional designer and trainer are able keep up as they did before and still maintain the expected level of performance. The myth of multitasking especially in regards to this issue will lead to mediocrity for business performance against other organizations more in tune with the realities of growth in the global economy. 
Something else that fits the requirements is needed.

Business organizations have stated very clearly that what they want in the way of the primary quality in future employees is that they are problem finders and then problem solvers. They want employees who can act proactively rather than reactively in this regard. They want employees to be able to analyze a situation, detect potential problems and then arrive at preemptive solutions. As pointed out earlier, the instructional designer and trainer can not be expected to meet the new requirements of the roles they play. They need to empower employees to engage and have access to a network where these requirements can be met.

So, given the rationale for change, why are some companies so resistant to what needs to be done? Perhaps the actor, Jack Nicholson, said it best in the movie titled: "A Few Good Men":

Could this be in part the explanation?

Next....A description of the functions of the Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Network