Saturday, September 6, 2008

Why you can't measure someone's learning

Some notes about why trying to measure a person's learning is like trying to find out the meaning of a person's life...

You can't measure someone's learning. There I said it. But's define learning to make sure there is no confusion. My definition of learning is the ability to acquire knowledge in pursuit of a goal. It is true that we can confine the measure of someone's learning say to a particular task/skill. But if that is the case then we should be specific because often the leaning objectives that we document don't really match what students/workers want out of a course.

Learning is about knowledge/experience, time, context, and meaning. Knowledge/experience is easy to understand because we have so many SME's and we all understand the nature of a specific knowledge base. Time is harder to understand because we really don't understand what defines one person's amount of time to another person's to learn something. What we do know is that a lot of information and a lot of time doesn't mean that a person will meet the learning objectives. Sometimes it is context that is the problem, the learning doesn't really match what the person will do. But often "meaning" is the problem because what is means for someone to really want to learn is hard to understand and in many cases impossible.

Rather than trying to measure learning, companies should seek those individuals whose meaning and purpose match their own. In essence the company should try to find out how their best employees can help them discover the company's true purpose and help the company be successful.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Some thoughts on turning corporate training into something more interesting and fun

How to turn your old training methods into an interesting story

Step 1

Identify your main character in the story of your company, hint it is not your customer. You'll never know your customers as good as your employees now matter how good your marketing is. Even if you think you really know your customers, the way you collect information about your customers will creep most of them.

Step 2

Identify your main supporting characters. Your customer is the main supporting character in your story. If you customer isn't there to support you, you have no business.

Step 3

Identify the different types of your main character, your protagonist. Find out his/challenges and create several variations of this character. Make the characters so that real life people can identify with them.

Step 4

Identify the knowledge your main character will need to be successful for your customer and your business.

Step 5

Identify levels as commonly found in video games. Make each level harder than the next. The first level is a happy customer who needs a question to be answered. The next level gets progressively harder requiring more levels of knowledge. Each learning object for each level is represented by a key in the story, The character/player collects all keys before moving on to the next level. Non-human characters can be involved in supporting this activity.

Step 6

Allow each character/player to customize them selves in any way they want.

Step 7

Award points to those characters that meet the learning objectives the quickest. List the names of the people getting the highest scores.

Step 8

Create a framework where you can swap in and out learning objectives allowing you to modify the game making the learning more challenging and fun.

These are just some thoughts to make your training program into something that is interesting, scalable (because you create the world and modify levels, keeping the characters/players in the story), and user focused.