Learning Solutions Recap: How to Redefine Training with Technology

Mobile Learning Key for Performance Support

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Last week, I attended the Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando, Fla., put on by the eLearning Guild.

This year’s theme was “Redefining Training with Technology” with an emphasis on the tools and technology that are causing learning professionals to rethink and re-imagine how they reach their audiences.

This theme resonates with Float as we consistently preach how the mobile platform gives us unprecedented opportunities to train our learners in new, unique and powerful ways.

After checking in at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, I went out to the pool area and experienced something unique: warmth and sunshine. Many attendees, like myself, were from areas that had experienced a brutal winter and so the sunny climate was a constant topic of conversation. If we could only use new technology to train the weather to be nice at our command.

The very engaging Soren Kaplan, the author of Leapfrogging, gave the opening keynote. He challenged the attendees to be innovative in their thinking and to look for “breakthroughs” in daily experiences. These breakthroughs drive us to new ideas and inspiration resulting in creative revelations. Breakthroughs challenge assumptions. Part of the human dynamic that impedes innovation is that we focus on singular things and miss changes and opportunities right in front of us.


He showed a card trick video that proved this point: He shared three important Building Blocks for Breakthroughs:

  1. Rethink your role–ask yourself the question, “What business am I in?”
  2. Fall in love with problems and not solutions–ask yourself the question, “What can I provide that my audience doesn’t have?”
  3. Go outside to stretch the inside – ask yourself the question, “How can I involve my audience to contribute to innovation?

Soren’s presentation really resonated with me because mobile learning is continually challenging the entrenched practices and disciplines we have in the learning field. We need to take advantage of the unique capabilities of mobile and encourage new approaches to training and not just rehash our existing content on the mobile platform.

After the keynote, it was time to hit concurrent sessions, and one highlight was seeing learning rock stars Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson. Hearing them explain The Five Moments of Need is like hearing Led Zeppelin play “Stairway to Heaven.”

If anyone has the responsibility of performance support, Bob and Conn are required reading. They shake the foundations of learning disciplines.

Hard truths are delivered every few moments in one of their sessions:

  • “Don’t care about what they know, care about what they do,”
  • “Make needs-based learning and not content-based learning,”
  • “Start by designing for the moment of application.”

I could fill an entire post of what they shared. Just Google their names and dive deep into the wealth of articles they have written. They will make you rethink your training perspective.

The next morning brought a keynote by Douglas Merrill, former CIO and vice president of engineering at Google. His topic was “Demystifying Big Data.”

I can’t honestly say his presentation did that. He had a wealth of interesting stories and made some cogent points, but the talk was disjointed and lacked focus. I’m sure that some speakers get keynote opportunities because of what they have done in the past and not what they can provide for the present. I enjoyed his talk, but I didn’t walk away with anything of value.


Later, I attended two concurrent sessions that both involved case studies.

One session was given by a representative of one of our clients and covered a game idea that was used to reinforce knowledge necessary for insurance agents. That was an interesting peek into the learning efforts of a Fortune 100 company and the results they saw by introducing game elements into their learning. Even though they did not achieve all the results they were aiming for, it was a strong effort to introduce a new approach to training. The precedence of the initiative was the real victory.

I also attended a session given by two learning professionals of Alaska Airlines. They shared some of their efforts to implement mobile learning to a dispersed audience on a limited budget. It was intriguing to hear how they strived to meet the learning needs of some of their learners in very remote locations. They could use their existing rapid development tool and take their first steps with mLearning in the enterprise.

On the second afternoon, I gave my concurrent session and talked about mobile learning and performance support. All my experiences in the conference reinforced that mLearning is the ideal platform to deliver useful and effective performance support. Mobile allows us to deliver information to our learners while they are on the job–just in time and just enough. You can’t get more immediate than by delivering content at the time of need.

The morning of day three I hosted a “Morning Buzz” session titled “Mobile Learning FAQ.” I appreciated the folks who didn’t hit the snooze alarm and were eager to talk about mLearning.

It was a good hour of networking and chatting about topics like responsive Web design, LMS integration and the advantages and disadvantages of native apps and mobile Web.

I hope the conference motivated attendees to “Redefine Training with Technology.” As learning professionals, we are at a point where we need to re-imagine training and rethink how we reach our learners in the most effective ways. It is an age of opportunity with ever-growing options to create learning that is powerful and successful.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the eLearning Guild for including me in their roster of speakers and for staging a tremendous conference. In my discussions and networking with other attendees throughout the three days, I know that there was a widespread appreciation for the total effort from the Guild.

Now it’s time to turn our attention to the eLearning Guild’s premier conference, in Float’s opinion, mLearnCon, where we’re featured in a number of sessions and even a certificate program.

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Scott McCormick is a founding partner of Float. Building on more than 30 years of experience in training, eLearning, and mLearning efforts for Fortune 500 companies, Scott helps companies embrace new learning strategies and deliver results. Scott is in charge of client relationships with global leaders in healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality, and insurance, and is instrumental in building new business and contributing to Float’s thought leadership efforts. Scott is featured in Float’s latest book, “Mastering Mobile Learning,” available from Wiley and ASTD Press.

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On March 25, 2014
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