The 6 Hottest Training Technologies

OK, just off the top here, I want to apologize for the title.  I am not a fan of click-bait but I was just copying and pasting an article I wanted to comment on in this blog titled:  The 6 Hottest Training Technologies That You Can’t Overlook.  But, to spare you actually clicking on the links, let me list the 6 below:

  1. Mobile learning
  2. Video-based training
  3. Virtual environments and avatars
  4. HTML 5 and responsive design
  5. Automation and adaptive learning
  6. Big Data

There you go.  Now, don’t you agree those are the hottest?    Good, now that is done, I want to talk a bit more about mobile learning.

Mobile learning – it seems like we have been hearing this for years that mobile learning is coming.  But, I think it is still further out then many may expect.  Here is reasoning.  I believe we are repeating history of back when “e-learning” became the new buzzword.  It was going to revolutionize training it was.  But it took a bit of time.  What happened at first is that everyone just picked up their paper manuals and training material and digitized them.  Boom, e-learning delivered!!!  But, the learners were ‘less than thrilled’ with the new revolution.  It took years for the training area to change not only how they delivered the content, but how they thought about developing the content while utilizing new technology.  As the technology matured, so did e-learning with more engaging content and programs.  I feel that we are the early stages with mobile learning. Sometimes the solution is take the current content and make it accessible on mobile.  Wait, the module is too long for mobile.  OK then, let’s take the 30 minute module and chunk it up to 6 five-minute modules.  There you go, mobile learning delivered!!!!


And hey, that is all fine and dandy for now, but I think it is still early.  I think we need to forget about how we do “e-learning” now and think more about the mobile device and how users consume content.  Here is an example using two large social networks, you may have heard of them; called Facebook and Twitter.  Yes, those ones.  Well, it seems like almost everyone in the free world uses one or both of those services. And what do they both have in common from a content consumption point of view?  They both deliver content in a timeline.  Here is a definition of a Twitter timeline and a Facebook timeline.   I also included an image of the Twitter timeline in this blog.  Basically, content is delivered in a stream that views scroll down to see the latest updates on top.  And it seems that users are ‘OK’ with getting content in a timeline.  So, why do we not have mobile learning in a timeline?  Makes sense, doesn’t it.  It is a format that both users and designers are already familiar with and navigation is easy to understand (hint, scroll down on your phone).  So, why aren’t developers using the most common content delivery user experience?  Well, for one Mr Smart Guy, I am not sure if Code of Conduct is going to be too interesting in a timeline (sorry, that was me talking to me…and now I am going to answer me).  Well, maybe, and maybe not.  But if I locked a bunch of e-learning designers in a room for a week, and said they had to deliver a course in a timeline, I think they might come up with something.  And maybe being in that locked room will help people start to think differently.  Of course, it may not be a timeline at all.  Maybe it’s an interface like What’s App or Instagram or Snapchat.  Or maybe no-one has thought about it yet.

Anyway, I believe that mobile learning will continue to continue to grow and evolve (hopefully).


Mobile Learning: Good, Bad & Ugly

This is my third blog from my experience at the Elliott Masie’s Learning 2014 conference in Orlando this year (the previous blogs were  Rebranding Learning and Rethinking and Redesigning Onboarding). For this blog, I am going to talk about the Mobile Learning: The Good, The Bad and of course, The Ugly. First of all, here is the synopsis:

We’ve been discussing the potential of mobile learning for a long time, but few of us are actually moving forward with mobile learning implementations. Ironically, practically everyone uses mobile devices, which are pervasive, intuitive and contextual in ways that few learning modalities can match. So, what’s the best way to maximize their impact for learning? Let’s explore a variety of mobile learning approaches and lessons learned, as well as how you can get started!

Before I begin, I want to add an image here…which I will speak to later.  But, for all of you old people (you know who you are), you might remember this little “desktop computer”:


OK, now back to the session.  The structure of this session was called a 360 degree Panel; where you could learn about a range of approaches to a single learning challenge.  It was an interesting setup as there were 5 learning/mobile experts in the front who were speaking about their experiences and answering questions.  The hosts were from MASIE Center Learning, PwC, Goodwill Industries International and Accenture.  A great session with interesting ideas which I will share below.  But before I do, let me caution you about mobile learning:

No-one has it quite figured out yet.

Which I suppose was comforting and frustrating at the same time.  Anyway, here are some notes:

What kinds of “learning” are best suited for mobile devices?

While there is no clean and simple equation of mobile learning, they spoke about some examples that I will share.  A really good example of was what Planned Parenthood created.  Historically, for young pregnant teens, they had a workshop (over several days) that taught them everything to do during their pregnancy.  But, they were finding the engagement and success (more on that later) was low.  So, what they started doing was sending text messages of the content broken up into little pieces and at the appropriate time.  Of course this is just in time training, but it was also the same training that they were rolling out before in the workshops in the first trimester.  With sending it mobile, it allowed them to “chunk” up the information in digestible pieces and deliver it to the end user when it was valuable/practical.  And how they measure the success was mortality rate of newborns.  And they found with a decrease of 20%.  Quite an impressive number.  And the training content was the same…just the delivery changed.

Corporate Learners?

So, who in the corporate world would be the best targeted audience for mobile learning?  The first thing many people jumped to would be millennials.  Although they would be a good audience a number of experts on the panel actually put forth this group – executives.  Their reasoning was that many executives don’t necessarily lug their laptops around all day from meeting to meeting.  And they hate having to sit in front of it to complete an online learning course.  They tended to like the convenience of having the learning on mobile since they are always with their smartphones and could complete the training when they have gaps in their day
Working examples that drive performance

This discussion around driving performance centred mostly around mobile location awareness training.  For example, every smartphone has GPS to track location.  An example of leveraging this would be for field staff who are out of a service call.  Let’s say they are fixing a photocopier.  Wouldn’t it be nice if, once they got close to it, training/help modules automatically were pushed to their mobile device to help them learn what to do.  Or how about in a power station, an employee would need to complete a quick module before they were able to push a button to ensure they know what they are doing.  Interesting examples indeed.  Unfortunately at this point it delved into marketing and how malls are experimenting with this push location tool to engage shoppers.  For example, when you walk into a mall, you can get a message from ‘the Gap” to say that you can get 20% off all of your purchases if you get to the store in the next 60 seconds.
When is it right to say “no” to mobile?

For those of you “old” learning experts (yeah, I’m talking to you), you will remember years ago the “fad” of moving everything, and I mean everything to elearning.  Although it sounded good, we have come to realize that all training should not be elearning.  And mobile is not different.  So, legacy training and large content modules should not be “picked up and put in mobile”.  Audience, content and value of mobile (vs desktop/classroom) to the user should be take into consideration.  But there is no golden matrix or calculation of when to use mobile or not.  I suppose it really goes back to the needs analysis and really determining what type of training does your audience need to achieve the desired results.

Now, back to that adding machine image I added up top (and to all you young whippersnappers, that is what we called that machine in the picture above).  One of the speakers gave a great analogy on mobile using the adding machine.  They said, take the spool of paper off and pull it out between your hands.  Just imagine publishing a book using this paper.  Your spool of paper would be very, very, very long.  But the spool of paper is about as wide as a phone screen.  So think how much of that spool of paper you could read before getting fed up or your eyes burning.  It is the same thing for your mobile phone.  ** I suppose that is why people post links to article on twitter/facebook rather than links to books.  😉

What’s your take on mobile learning?

Coffee, Starbucks and Lean

A few months ago I wrote a blog about buying a Starbucks Latte using Lean and improving the speed of getting a latte.  But with Lean, there is always room for improvement as we seek perfection.  Thus I was looking at my new streamlined Starbucks experience and began to think of ways to improve.  And I think I have one that impacts just the coffee drinkers….but improves the overall customer experience.

So, let’s setup the scenario.  If you recall from the Latte blog, you could open an app (the NoLine app) and order ahead to get your drink.  But let’s add another scenario/player in this process:  the coffee drinker.  One problem I have had in the past is that when I just want a cup of coffee, I need to wait for the barista to make serve all those annoying (zing) latte drinkers which, of course, is a waste of my time.  Or, even in using my NoLine app, my order might be impacted by how many fancy latte drink orders are before me (I am really giving it to the latte drinkers today eh?).  Or, by examining customers, I have not taken the time to look at the impulse drinkers.  You know, the ones that walk by a Starbucks and think, yes, I could go for a coffee before I go to my meeting.  But alas, I need to get in line as I did not order ahead.  Blah, that NoLine app does not help.

But maybe with a few tweaks, we can improve this process.
So, let’s base line the time it is going to take me when I want an impulse coffee:

  1. Waiting in line to get to the cash register (3:30)
    2. Telling someone what I want (0:10)
    3. Paying and waiting to get change and/or a receipt (0:10)
    4. Standing in line again waiting for my drink to be made (0:10) ** this task is less time than the latte so I have removed 25 seconds

The total is 4 minutes (4:00) though if the latte drinkers were ordering online maybe the line would be shorter…but let’s keep the original time. So, I still have my phone.  I still have my Starbucks app.  So, this is all I need with a small tweak to what currently exists I can cut down on the wasted time of waiting in line for a single cup of coffee.

Currently, within the Starbucks app there is a prepaid card with a barcode:


Here is my idea.  How about we automate the coffee carafes and build in bar code readers?  So, when I go into Starbucks, I no longer line-up.  Rather, I walk over to the self-serve coffee section.   I grab an empty Grande cup, place it under a coffee carafe, take out my Starbucks app/pre-paid card and, this here is the new technology, scan my card on the coffee carafe bar code reader (the reader is built right into the coffee carafe).  Boom, my drink gets poured immediately, Starbucks gets paid immediately, and the line-up for those buying food or paying (gasp) cash get shorter/faster.

And, let’s revisit my time to get a coffee now:

  1. Getting a cup and filling it up with coffee (0:15)

Total = 0.15 seconds vs the original 4:00.  Thus, I have saved myself 3:45 per visit.   And remember, if my break is only 15 minutes long, I have just saved myself almost 25% of my break time.
So, in theory, we have now removed both Latte(Cappuccino) and coffee drinkers from our Starbucks line-up and freed up staff to deal with customers who want face to face interaction or other items such as food or bags of coffee.
Anyway, as I mentioned before, I am still pretty new to learning Lean but that is my second idea.

Buying a Starbucks Latte using Lean

As many organizations start to journey through a Lean transformation, it started me thinking where I could apply this to what I do on a daily basis.  For today, I am going to use Starbucks and buying a Latte (buying a coffee will be in the next week or so).

So, let me setup the scenario.  Friday morning, I want a Latte.  So, I put my IM status on Away (haha) and I go over to my local Starbucks.  Here is the process.  I arrive in Startbucks and line up with all the other annoying people on their iPhones talking loudly to each other (note: I also have an iPhone).  Finally I get to the cash and tell the person my order (Latte, non-fat, blah, blah, blah).  I then scan my iPhone to pay or give them cash and they give me change…or if I want to be REALLY annoying, I use my Visa to pay (you know who you are).  Then, I wait with all those annoying people until my name is called and I get my drink.
I think there could be a better way…as there is too much of my time is wasted (muda).  To break it down further, there is too much waiting.

So, let’s walk through me wanting a Latte when I arrive at Starbucks.  Keep in mind, I already know what I want, I just need to tell someone to get it for me.  Unfortunately, it is an inefficient process to actually get my drink.  Here are the steps and I have averaged out the time below (minutes: seconds):

  1. Waiting in line to get to the cash register (3:30)
  2. Telling someone what I want (0:10)
  3. Paying and waiting to get change and/or a receipt (0:10)
  4. Standing in line again waiting for my drink to be made (0:35)

A total of almost 4 ½ minutes (4:25) to get my drinks – and, IMO, a lot of wasteful steps for me to get a drink (Note: since my break is only 15 minutes, this process takes up 30% of my time).  So, how can it be done better?  Well, I am going to turn to my good friend mobile technology to streamline this process and create a smartphone App.  It is an App that I call the NoLineOrder App.  Starbucks already has a mobile app, so, my NoLineOrder App will be incorporated within.

OK, so, here we go.  It’s Friday morning and I want a Latte.  I know I am going to my local Starbucks.  So, I open my Starbucks App and click on the NoLineOrder icon which gives me the following options

  1. Choose Location – (default your last one or favourites)
  2. Your order – (default your last one or favourites)
  3. Arrival Time – (enter the time you will arrive to pick-up your drink)
  4. Payment (using my Starbucks mobile card I can prepay)

Once I have filled in the above, I receive the following on my screen:

  1. An order number with bar code (automatically generated)


Thus, my drink will be made before I arrive.  So, if my pick-up time is set to 10:47 (synched with my phone), when I show up at Starbucks, I can approach the counter and have the staff scan my number/barcode on my phone to get my drink.

The new steps are as follows:

  1. Complete app for drink order – (0:35)
  2. Pick-up drink – (0:10)

Total = 0.45 seconds vs the original 4:27.  Thus, I have saved myself just under 4 minutes per visit.

I would think that this could change the layout/job functions in Starbucks; for example, a longer counter for drink pick-ups, shorter area for those “old schooler’s” who want to line up and pay with (gasp) cash or even worse, credit card.
And though this is not the focus of my blog, this has many opportunities for direct marketing, tracking behaviours, loyalty programs, rewards, etc.
Anyway, I am pretty new to learning Lean but that is my idea.