Knowledge Mining: Instructional Designers Note That Data Is Not Knowledge, Just As Crude Oil Is Not Rocket Fuel

What is Knowledge Mining And Why Data Is Not Knowledge

In the following article I will share what is knowledge mining, the difference between knowledge and data, and finally the design principles to which companies should pay attention in order to succeed.

Data is accumulating at an exponential rate and it needs your help to become knowledge. IBM has estimated that once the Internet of Things and Services gets fully underway data will be doubling every twelve hours. And the rate of change is speeding up.

This does not mean that knowledge will be doubling every half-day. Something has to happen to data for it to yield knowledge, and that’s where Instructional Design comes in.

It’s the electronic-digital age of course that is responsible for this explosion of data. What was not born digital is being digitized –one of Google’s missions– and data that is born digital stays that way. Both are waiting to be made useful.

The comparison to oil or other forms of carbon is compelling. Oil is basically inert and stored in the earth’s crust until it is mined and refined into a useful –albeit ultimately lethal– energy source.

Data should be considered our latest natural resource; useless until mined and refined, and of course like other natural resources can be used for either ethical purposes or not.

Data is just that: Data. It has no intrinsic meaning or usefulness. Like buried coal or oil it is inert; it is static and useless to us. It does however have enormous potential; it has incalculable possibilities. These possibilities are only actualized when conditions become favorable for the potential to become realized, valuable, and useful.

If we are to make data useful we have to change the conditions in which it exists. In its “natural state” data is simply a digital item of code; it is a representation or symbol of a fact or statistic. For it to become useful instructional designers (and in reality that means everybody) must change the conditions in which the data exists. We must make the inert active. We must release the potential of this natural resource. We must make meaning from stasis.

The first thing to understand is that we now have 3 kinds of data: Structured, unstructured, and more recently data not directly created by humans.

  1. Structured data is things like spread sheets or Word docs; alphanumeric key strokes recorded on a disk somewhere.
  2. Unstructured data is animations, graphics, sounds and videos; different from spread sheets and memos but still digital representations of human ideas.
  3. Machine data is data is that is created by a machine and sent to another machine for its use; think robots and machine learning.

All of these different kinds of data still remain only potential sources of knowledge. For their potential to be changed into action these data must have the conditions in which they exist – their native state - changed. And this can only be done by the application of human intellectual capital. Who else but instructional designers can transform these data by the application of human minds? It’s modern-day alchemy and requires intelligence: and you are that intelligence. Artificial intelligence is catching up, but I do not see it performing the functions I am going to describe in this post in the foreseeable future.

It is important to understand that the background in which this transformative activity is taking place is daunting. Never in the history of the world has data exploded and is accelerating at such a rate. In some areas, such as the bio-sciences, the doubling is taking place every few months. Imagine what decoding the human genome did to our information base.

Data and information is also spreading at an ever-increasing pace, thanks in large part to the internet and other forms of media, and the increasing bandwidth of communications, and the clock speed of our computers.

Let me put it this way: In a single K12 school generation, data doubles at least eight times. That means that 256 times more information is available to today’s 12th graders than when they began school as kindergartners.

We are in the latest Industrial Revolution and it is unlike any revolution that has gone before. Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum in Davos calls it the Fourth Industrial Revolution where speed, new skills and rapid globalization are the underlying characteristics. Others call it Industry 4.0 and point to six design principles to which companies should pay attention in order to succeed.

  • First, interoperability: Smart factories and the products they make continue to communicate via the Internet of Things and Services.
  • Second, virtualization where a virtual copy of the plant/factory is linked by sensors to its products, and customers to simulate any contingencies.
  • Third, decentralization of decision-making made possible by the cyber-physical systems described above. In many cases the cyber system will make the decisions autonomously.
  • Fourth, the real-time collection of data –and its analysis– makes insights available immediately.
  • Fifth, services will now be ordered and delivered via the Internet of Services – the fridge knows it is low on a product, and the next thing you know a drone delivers it.
  • Sixth, flexibility and modularly. As conditions change –competition, customer preferences etc.– a cyber-physical set up is able to re-configure itself rapidly.

I would humbly suggest a Seventh. I call it Knowledge Mining and it is the substance of this article. It is all about questioning: The relentless interrogation of raw data until it gives up its secrets and becomes useful knowledge or intelligence.

So, I maintain that it is the job of Instructional designers to teach others how to become Infoliterate by developing their ability to discriminately and sensibly transform data into useful consumer-knowledge: Knowledge Mining.

Here’s the best news in all this; humans are born problem-solvers, and it’s only when we are in that natural state –looking for answers– that we understand when we don’t know something, why we do not know it and why we must know it. And that leads me to the HOW.

The quick answer to the how is a series of filters, and these filters are in fact questions and answers. Note the plural. A single interrogation – asking a question and then answering is never enough. An answer must lead to another question – that’s called Critical Thinking. Or Jeopardy!

In the 1970s Toyota’s automobiles had a dreadful quality image. To address this Toyota introduced the 5 Whys technique, an iterative, interrogation technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem, and quickly and simply get to the root-cause. Each ‘why’ question forms the basis of the next question. The "5" in the name derives from an empirical observation on the number of iterations typically required to resolve the problem.

Filtering data through questioning to solve problems is a pathway to knowledge, wisdom and power. Making meaning from raw data in other words, and it can and should be learned.

The key is to turn Data –the raw, unfiltered, accumulating noise of our society– first into somewhat usable information, and then into knowledge –basic literacy about the subject matter– then into an informed opinion or wisdom, upon which one can begin making a judgment. The final step is turning wisdom into power, with the idea that this power should be shared. 

A Pyramid Of Understanding 


Pyramid Of Understanding

                                                                                               Pyramid Of Understanding

Look at the diagram for a moment. Think of the process of achieving knowledge through inquiry, and hence power, as a pyramid of human understanding. We should constantly climb this pyramid as each new piece of data comes to our attention; looking to make sense out of all the sounds and sights that bombard us.

This pyramid has six levels, separated by five filters. At the bottom is a mine full of raw data—sights, sounds, smells and touches – which is largely unusable, unfiltered, unsorted, and therefore unavailable and unintelligible. Like coal buried miles underground, it is full of potential. But that potential cannot be unlocked without certain processes being undertaken. The data on where the coal is, and how to get at it and process it, turns that data about coal literally into power.

Filter #1: Value And Relevance 

The first filter is where we retrieve the data, evaluate it, retain some, and discard a great deal. This is called the value phase and it is human nature to do this automatically. Think of it like this. If you hear brakes screeching your automatic pilot –instinct– gives the sound a value: The closer it is the higher the value it has. It helps to know this so we can recreate this action consciously when evaluating data coming our way and take appropriate action.

In discussing the value and relevance of information with others an excellent exercise is to get them to ask themselves the following: Do these data help? How do these data help? Do these data add to the process of learning, or solving a problem? Which pieces of data clarify, and which are irrelevant? Then ask them to discard some data and retain other data based on this filtering process.

At this stage you are looking for relevance. Our human nature gives us the skill to do this at the speed of light –and without it ever rising to the level of the conscious part of the brain– we ask and answer the same questions over and again: Does this piece of data (it’s not information yet) help? Does this piece of data help clarify my situation? Does it help solve my immediate problem? Does it have value?

Having established the value of the data because of its relevance, we retain it. It is now somewhat usable information and is beginning the process of changing its nature from data to information.

Filter #2: Source And Bias

This information is now ready for its second filter. In this stage, you should be looking at the source of the information, and importantly be on the lookout for bias. You should be asking skeptical questions about authenticity, accuracy, and checking to see if the information is current. Information that is biased, inaccurate, or inauthentic is not valuable information.

After information has now passed through these two filters it can be deemed accurate, authentic, unbiased information on a particular subject –any subject– of interest. You started with raw data; say an advertising proposal. You checked the raw data in the proposal, such as the number and demographics of people whom the agency claims read a particular blog on which they propose placing ads, and you were satisfied. Now, it is no longer data: just numbers and letters, it is knowledge of the subject matter.

Filter #3: Ethics

The third filter—and one that is always necessary even with ad agency proposals - is the one where the first ethical factor comes into play. Are you using the information for nefarious purposes or righteous ones? Did you or the ad agency come into possession of the information lawfully?

Passing through the ethical filter takes knowledge and transforms it into wisdom, which is the realm of opinion and judgment. If an opinion has been arrived at using the concrete steps outlined, it has a much better chance of being a wise judgment based on the facts. Remember there are always ethical implications of any opinion, judgment, or decision.

Filter #4: Conduct

The fourth filter is also one which has to do with conduct. It is where questions of cultural awareness and respect for confidentiality, and the rights of others are asked, and answered. Having passed the tests of the fourth filter, one should be in real possession of the power to make a wise judgment or hold a valued opinion. Data has now been transformed from useless bits of random fragments that are nothing but potential, to instruments of personal power.

Filter #5: Purpose

The fifth filter has to do with purpose or use and keeping on the right side of the law. How is the power –systematically gained by mining data, turning it into information and then knowledge, then wisdom and finally power– going to be used? For good or evil? The final filter has to do with right conduct; using this power only for the benefit of all. This filter is where questions of cultural sensitivity, respect for confidentiality and private property, and good conduct are asked again.

Power only has a value when it is used. If you were the only person in the world, you would automatically have immense power, but in the absence of others it would be sterile and impotent; not really power at all. Another way of saying this is that knowledge has much less value if it is not shared. The whole idea of gaining power is to further the cause of humanity; otherwise wielding power becomes a purely selfish act, and does not advance the cause of humanity, but only the cause of an individual. Selfishness, although promoted by scientists as the best way forward from a biological, evolutionary standpoint, or as the only way for market forces to work, is at its heart the opposite of the teachings of all major faiths.

You decide which works for you when wielding power: altruism or selfishness; this is the classical conundrum of human nature, remembering of course that we all have free will.

Final Note

Data at the bottom of the pyramid of human understanding is a resource which, when undifferentiated from its surroundings, has no value. Power, at the top of the pyramid, without wisdom, and without sharing its benefits, is of value only to its holder.

In a study cited recently by Sir Ken Robinson, a prominent education theorist, 98% of children between the ages of 3 and 5 exhibit a capacity for divergent thinking: making connections between seemingly unrelated facts and scenarios and using metaphors. At age 15, only 10% retained this capacity and at age 25, the percentage dropped to 5%. Could this be because we train children to take tests, not to uncover and interpret facts and come up with novel ideas?

How else can we teach people how to be creative if not by teaching them about data, information, knowledge, and power? The more disciplined an employee becomes about finding, interpreting, and correlating information, the more they will be able to focus on divergent thinking; the cornerstone of creativity, which includes metaphors and analogies.

So, the lesson on infoliteracy is clear: We can either be overwhelmed by the tidal wave of data or we can choose to use it to our advantage.

I hope that all this has led you to ask how you can begin to implement knowledge mining at your organization – I have an answer. I designed a methodology with all the above as my design criteria. Register here and spend fifteen free minutes with the slide show. And if you like what you see, the handbook is $9.99. Become a thought leader. 

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

2016 ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show

2016 ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show theme: "Learn. Teach. Lead."

2016 ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show is where you get the tools to put it all together


  • Attend sessions on everything from self-reflection to organization, and load up on resources you can use in the classroom.
  • Hear an inspiring message of hope, transformation, and possibility from original Freedom Writer Manny Scott.
  • Visit more than 300 education companies in the Exhibit Show.


  • Learn from your peers and share your own experience in interactive sessions.
  • Hear insights about a growth mind-set and student motivation from psychologist and author Carol Dweck.
  • Take away a wealth of resources you can put into practice as soon as you return to your classroom.


  • Attend sessions to help you inspire your team and move your district forward.
  • Learn from ASCD author Mike Schmoker where to focus your time, efforts, and resources to ensure that all students are prepared for college, careers, and citizenship.
  • Network with thousands of educators from around the world.

Learning Paths
This year, ASCD has added learning paths to help frame the structure and content of the 71st Annual Conference and Exhibit Show program. The learning paths will help you organize sessions you wish to attend in a meaningful way.

  • Instructional Strategies
  • Assessment
  • Teacher Leadership and Effectiveness
  • Principal Leadership and Effectiveness
  • Student Engagement
  • Whole Child
  • Data Management
  • Special Populations
  • Poverty and Equity
  • Professional Learning
  • Technology
  • Effective Math Strategies/Standards
  • Effective ELA Strategies/Standards

The 2016 ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show will be held at the Georgia World Congress Center (Atlanta, US) on April 2 - 4, 2016.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

10 Factors That Make eLearning The Future Of American Education

Why eLearning Is The Future Of American Education 

As technology has grown by leaps and bounds, educational modes also have seen a sea change in their trends with eLearning peeping into the scene. With for-profit organizations dominating the online educational scenario especially in higher educational courses in the USA, the growth of this kind of education is very rapid. The adding feature in the future of American education scenario is the advent of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), allowing education to shed off its time restrictions and geological boundaries. MOOCs highlight the fact that any person can gain education from anywhere through virtual medium and he has equal learning opportunity like any other person in the world. This trend is strikingly felt by the students of the USA for the benefits they reap out of eLearning methods. And, North America has been the topping eLearning market for years, with Asia and Western Europe staying a bit behind.

So, what are the factors that made eLearning the future of American education?

  1. Increase in the use of computer applications.
    Every American household uses tablets apart from laptops and desktops. Increase in mobile use is an adding factor to this scenario setting the ground for eLearning. In the USA, students who have matriculated with a tablet are more in number than their traditionally schooled peers. They believe that digital formats for reading and tablets will change their way of learning.
  2. Exciting learning opportunities through eLearning methods.
    With latest developments in online learning tools, students expect exciting learning opportunities with scope for improving their learning skills through innovative techniques and gamified learning. eLearning individualizes learning and gives the confidence that everyone can gain equal education.
  3. Alertness in the eLearning process-more productivity.
    More productivity is assured in eLearning process with touch screens and individual tables for the ease of student learning. Further, students are curious about their learning tools and want to use them for their advantage. Interactive methods and games make classroom atmosphere fun and lively producing more positive results in the learning aspects of students.
  4. Increase in MOOCs.
    With more MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) in the pipeline, learning advanced courses and college courses is not difficult for students. They can spend less time on learning and reduce their cost of education as well by choosing free courses.
  5. Increase in virtual tutoring centers.
    With the advent of internet, online tutoring has emerged as a powerful medium of education with its multifold benefits for students. Online tutoring centers use eLearning as a powerful tool for offering solutions to students who struggle in their homework, assignment writing, and test preparation. There are sites like Tutor Pace offering quality service through custom made courseware for the advantage of students.
  6. Rosy employability prospects for eLearners.
    Since all the corporate sectors and business ventures are web oriented in their transactions and communication, they expect their employees to be familiar with technological methods that support their system to the core. Degrees may not be the concern of employers in future and they may expect more practical skills and technological capabilities from their employees. eLearners find this scenario advantageous and can move on to higher job positions quickly with their technological competence.
  7. Conducive teaching environment for classroom training.
    Touch screens make extempore quizzes and questionnaires possible for teachers and individual desks with computers help them assess student performances on the spot for better results. Class discussions, displays, and illustrations can be easily carried out in the eLearning atmosphere through tech tools that are comfortable, easy to handle and time saving.
  8. eLearning makes way for blended learning.
    Surveys make clear that students who blend online learning with their classroom instruction are able to achieve better in their studies. Many of such students also prefer online tutoring platforms for clarifying their doubts or gaining extra knowledge in topics. EduNiche like tutoring websites make it a point to cater to the needs of students instantly and help them in their exam time with their tutoring services. These websites are technologically empowered to attend to the calls of students at any time. They are mobile friendly as well.
  9. Technology is the lifeline of students.
    With students breathing technology every minute, using it for their learning purposes is the most convenient mode for them. In the future of American education, there may not be room for traditional black boards and they may be replaced by interactive whiteboards and other such tech tools.
  10. Change is the way of life.
    With everything changing in life, a positive step through technology is most welcoming in educational industry. Many more good things can happen in future education when students and teachers adapt themselves for more technological transformations in the educational world.

Hence, it can be understood that eLearning is going to have a massive sway over the future of American education trends impacting students to the core in their educational and career prospects.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

6 Tips To Develop Competency-Based Online Training

How To Develop Competency-Based Online Training

Competency-Based online training emphasizes what an employee can do rather than how much they know. In order for a corporate learner to progress to the next online training module they must first master the task or process at hand. There are no time limits and keeping up with their peers is not a priority. As such, it gives employees the chance to improve their performance and productivity at their own pace. This makes it the ideal online training strategy for organizations who need to boost employee retention rates, broaden their skill sets, and streamline work processes utilizing minimal resources.

  1. Carry out a skills assessment beforehand.
    Employees already have unique skills, knowledge, and talents that they bring to the table. This is why it’s essential to carry out a skills assessment before you develop your competency-based online training course. Otherwise, you run the risk of covering topics that they’ve already mastered or excluding members of your audience who have not yet developed the necessary skills. The primary goal of skills assessment is to identify this gap: What do they know now and what do they need to learn in order to achieve their goals? That is the key question you must ask. Competency-based online training focuses on tasks and skills that employees can develop over time. So, make sure that your assessments focus on abilities or processes that can be transferred or learned.
  2. Create a flexible eLearning assessment system to track corporate learner progress.
    You must have and track the progress of your employees while they are participating in competency-based online training. This should come in the form of flexible eLearning assessments that cater to a wide range of learning needs and preferences. Online self-assessments are an effective approach, as they allow employees to take the online test when it’s most convenient for them and periodically conduct knowledge checks on their own. Ideally, there should be a good mix of eLearning assessment types, such as scenarios, short answer/essays, simulations, and eLearning games that analyze every angle of the online training program. For example, an interactive scenario would test their ability to apply the information in real world settings, while a short answer exam might gauge their comprehension levels.
  3. Become a facilitator rather than an instructor.
    Competency-based online training is all about personalizing the experience. Every employee within your organization needs something different out of the online training course in order to become proficient. Trainers take on the role of facilitator to guide employees through the competency-based online training course rather than control every aspect of the online training experience. This allows your employees to play a more active part and explore the tasks, process, skills, and ideas on their own. They are not forced to keep pace with their peers, but are given the opportunity to fully comprehend a topic before moving forward. In many respects, competency-based online training is extremely learner-centric. Thus, trainers must change their approach to meet the learning needs of their corporate learners instead of taking a "one-size-fits-all" online training strategy.
  4. Develop personal online training paths.
    For a competency-based online training program to be truly successful you must determine how each employee is going to get from point A to point B. Point A represents their current skill sets, talents, and abilities. Point B is their true potential, or the stage at which they are the most productive. To do so you should be ready and willing to develop a personal online training path for each and every member of your audience. Use surveys, focus groups, online assessments, interviews, and workplace observations to pinpoint the gap and figure out how you can fill it via the competency-based online training initiative. The online activities, materials, and exercises employees must complete greatly depend on their skill gap and individual goals. For example, an employee in the sales department will have an entirely different competency online training path than an employee who is working in the IT department. Likewise, everyone in the IT department will have their own personal plans that they must follow to bridge the gap.
  5. Pinpoint the "universal" competencies for your organization.
    Though every employee should have their personal online training path, there are some competencies that are the same across the board. These "universal" competencies must be learned by every member of your team, regardless of their position, rank, or experience level. For example, each employee should know the main points within the company's handbook or develop their customer service skills. Healthy and safety is another common "universal" competency, as every employee should know the rules and regulations in order to avoid workplace injuries. This core set of competencies should be in every personal online training path, and the importance of them must be stressed so that employees make them a top priority.
  6. Provide links to supplemental online training resources.
    Employees who need more information or wish to broaden their skill sets should have access to supplemental online training resources, such as links to articles or eLearning videos that may be beneficial. In fact, you may wish to create a comprehensive list of resources that is divided into subcategories, such as by skill set or subject. Employees can use this list when it’s most convenient for them and during their "moment of need". For instance, an employee who needs assistance with a repair can quickly click on a video link to view a tutorial.

Competency-based online training gives you the power to focus on practical knowledge instead of theories. Rather than concentrating on seat time, you can ensure that every member of your organization has the information and skills they need to reach their true potential.

Are you sure you know exactly the type of skills your employees need to develop? Read the article Online Training Needs Analysis For Each Of The 5 Stages Of Employment to discover different online training needs for 5 diverse employee groups.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

How Mature Is Your Customer Training?

Check How Mature Is Your Customer Training 

Customer:Uh… Hello sir, yes. This is an important person speaking from this valuable company you just sold top notch software to… Oh yes, we are very happy with our purchase. It’s just that… there are a couple of people who aren’t quite up to speed yet... How many people? Well, A little over fifty... But you see... there’s Patrick, and he’s very good at this one thing, but doesn’t get anything from the rest. Christopher on the other hand has only one question, but a really important one. And Maria only speaks French and Spanish, so…

You: Either refer them to your excellent customer training platform, backed up with an additional support team which will handle all issues in no time.


Scratch your head, take a deep breath, and tell your assistant to call off all meetings so you can handle this.

We sincerely hope everyone reading this article is able to pick the first one, but to determine where you are exactly regarding your customer training, we put together a couple of questions to find out:

Click or tap here.

Which Level Of Customer Training Is Yours?

1. Your customer training is pretty much non-existent. 

You’re giving out manuals about your products and cross your fingers that it will suffice. But if a customer calls for comes over for further assistance, that is pretty much going to be your day. Whether it’s a small issue or a major problem, expect to clear out your (or someone else’s) schedule to solve it.

The first step to counter these situations is to centralize requests and select the highest needed training. It goes without saying that a dedicated support person or team should tend to this task and that a specialized platform with tickets will help to streamline things.

2. Customer training efforts are there, but still reactive. 

In this stage you find yourself giving training and support on demand. But you feel that you’re still starting from scratch, over and over again. This might be because your support training content is too general and you customers have specific demands. So you’re constantly extinguishing one fire while smoke is indicating another one elsewhere.

In between all the fires, try to determine the most common requests. Try to start with three to five topics. If you have outlined them, develop these into easily accessible courses that can take care of the bulk of the questions.

This way you can redirect a lot of incoming support to your existing courses and take care of the few that still have some specific needs. And the better your support platform and courses get, the more bases you have covered so the more often you will be able to charge for additional support as well. Mind you, making good courses is a skill and will take some time to get it right. The same goes for the distribution to your customers. Investing in some solid learning platform may save you a lot of headaches and money in the long run.

3. Proactive customer training makes your life easier. 

You have a training platform up and running that covers about 90% of the topics that customers are looking for. The training process is standard now and kept in check by a dedicated training responsible. He or she is in charge of handling specific requests and keeping the content up to date.

Are you prepared to be challenged by your own success though? If everything goes as it should, eventually you’ll start noticing an increase in customers and requests. Simply appointing more people isn’t an option because one day you might have to handle +1000 requests at a time.

The trick here is to have the whole process as automated as much as possible:

  • Allow customers to self-register and follow (and customize) a training schedule.
  • Add the option to purchase additional training courses.
  • Establish a network of training partners that can assist you when needed.
  • All these upgrades will make your support more manageable and scalable.

“I believe the single biggest growth limiter for our market at large is, in fact, customer education… We see still very frequently customers that understand the benefit, but will say ‘We’re absolutely going to do this, but I have to get a Vice President of Marketing Operations hired first’ or something like that. That is a very common kind of thing.” – Marketo’s Phil Fernandez

So this is still a market that is in the learning and skill-building phase. I think very distinctly so. If I look back over the eight years we’ve been at this, it’s way better than it was eight years ago, but, this is a 20-year arc, not a two-year arc.

4. Don’t stop until you can truly call your customer training innovative.

You clearly know what you’re doing, as your training options are on point. You have everything automated and scalable to handle every challenge coming your way. If a customer files a ticket with a question, chances are high he or she simply didn’t spend enough time with your training platform as the answer is right there.

So, if it’s nothing but good grades for you, what’s the next level?

Well, the obvious thing to look after is making sure that everything gets bigger and better. Constantly finetune your courses and make them bulletproof.

But the biggest indicator that shows you have customer training on lock, is the way it is integrated in your overall strategy. Selling products or services with a solid training solution attached is a given from now on. Your platform is fully integrated into your CRM and marketing tools to optimize the whole process. Training is no longer just the responsibility from a department, it’s the main task of a top level member of your company. The quality of your training has a direct impact on your revenue. Whether it’s through improved sales or by selling the training courses themselves. Because they are that good.

That’s when you know you have a mature customer training program.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Gamifying Instructional Design With Learning Battle Cards

How To Gamify Instructional Design With Learning Battle Cards  

A long, long time ago, in 2012, I had the pleasure to be part of the team behind creating the Learning Battle Cards (LBC). Here is what I wrote on my blog back then:

When I'm holding these cards I can see their endless potential, especially in training design teams, teams of trainers, as well as individual trainers. On top of those, Learning Battle Cards could be an invaluable training tool in the “train the trainer” type of classes.

It did not occur to me back then that I would later run Instructional Design classes at two colleges in Krakow, yet I felt that there was capability in the cards. Once again my gut feeling would prove right.

Instructional Design With Learning Battle Cards 

Knowing the cards for what they were, I set out to give them a try. As it happened, from October last year I have been conducting Instructional Design classes at two colleges. That presented an opportunity for an acid test of the cards with two distinct groups of students: Full-time language students and postgraduate students during a weekend session.

The cards, along with an eBook laying out a recommended methodology, worked miracles. Grouped into small teams, the students were able to propose the whole training process, selecting appropriate methods of analysis, delivery, and, finally, evaluation. The whole process appeared very natural, and parameters available on the cards made it possible for every team to estimate the cost of a training program, its time frame, and even setting up a reasonable schedule.

I was listening attentively to all the discussions taking place. What struck me was how the students would compare parameters on the cards and use those parameters as arguments in discussions leading to the selection of the most effective training method. From my point of view, this constitutes immense value of the cards as a training tool, but it has to be noted that the cards are not to be used in their entirety (108 items) with beginner groups and without a thorough discussion of the methods outlined on them.


In the case of beginner groups the sheer wealth of the cards might raise a multitude of questions about all the respective methods. This could be pre-empted by discussing each and every card, but such a class would be dead boring in my opinion. Another way would be to preselect cards and use only those that would be self-explanatory to students. This is what I am going to do next time.

Another observation I made was that using the cards definitely requires the trainer to build an explicit scenario as merely looking at and talking about them will not yield much effect.

How To Play?

Similar to a classic game of cards, the number of card and game combinations is virtually infinite. We are only limited by our creativity, perhaps also time and our understanding of the rules of the game.

  • Match / No match.
    You need two yellow Post-it notes, and possibly a table or wall (for that you would also need Blu-tack). Put forward a topic, training goal, or training area. Then shuffle the cards and divide into two columns. A very simple activity, but one that stimulates a discussion about the method itself, training goal, or training area.
  • ADDIE. 
    Similar to the previous one, but on a different level. In this one, assign the cards to five categories: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. The cards are then sorted in such a way that the use of a specific method matches a particular task. For instance, the “Focus Group” card goes with the “Analysis” category. In this way we can examine the methods conducive to the respective activities, and, what is even more interesting although also more difficult, use the cards to design a concrete training program.
  • Estimating cost and training force. 
    What the parameters listed on the cards allow us to achieve is that once we managed to build a training program (previous point), we are able to estimate, for example, how much the training is going to cost. This is a definitely another benefit.


A summary should go beyond restating what has already been said, so let me put it this way: Learning Battle Cards are a very interesting tool for eLearning and Instructional Design trainers. It is a very good tool for departments involved with designing and delivering training solutions. As far as shortcomings are concerned, there is no denying that a lot of people would like such cards in their native language, which I sincerely hope will materialize. I have several sets myself which I am planning to use in open training sessions. Personally I will be using all of the packs that I have during next open course of Instructional Design.

Learning Battle Cards on Instagram

Learning Battle Cards on my Instagram

Something I would love to see is a special trainer’s edition of the cards, with plastic foliage or otherwise toughened for heavy usage. My cards are still fine, but I do worry about their durability, something that which might be their weakest point. I currently keep my cards in plastic sleeves bought in a shop with board games.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

LaTiCE 2016

LaTiCE 2016 aims to create a platform towards sharing rigorous research and current practices being conducted in computing and engineering education.

LaTiCE 2016 Themes

  • Computer Science and Engineering Education research
  • Secondary School Computer Science
  • ICT in Education
  • Computing and engineering education research, theories, and methodologies
  • Cross-cultural aspects of computing and engineering education
  • Educational technology, software, and tools
  • Teaching innovations, best practices, experience sharing in computing and engineering education
  • Course module design, proficiency assessment, and module cross-accreditation
  • Improving student engagement in computing and engineering
  • Collaborative learning in computing and engineering- team and project skills

LaTiCE 2016 Keynote Speakers

Mark Guzdial, Professor in the College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology

Madhavan Mukund, Professor and Dean of Studies, Chennai Mathematical Institute

The 4th International Conference on Learning and Teaching in Computing and Engineering (LaTiCE 2016) will be held in Mumbai, India, on March 31st - April 3rd, 2016.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

7 eLearning Games And Apps That Make Students Think Out Of The Box

eLearning Games And Apps That Make Students Think Out Of The Box 

Most people think, for example, that phonics games can be used to teach early educational students how to become better writers. They may also think of mobile apps that parents purchase to get their preschoolers started on the basics of math, writing, reading, and other skills needed in the early years of school. It can be difficult to imagine kids in middle school or beyond having an interest in eLearning games and apps, and even more difficult to imagine there being a worthwhile selection of these apps available. However, as it turns out, there are a few very good eLearning games and apps that do appeal to older learners.

  1. Brain Trainer.
    Brain Trainer isn’t just a single game. It is an entire suite of educational games that have been designed to give the student’s brain a workout. This app contains games that boost math skills, strengthen memory, and improve speed. The app includes complex shape and color identification challenges, word games such as Sudoku, Math Ninja, and more. There are plenty of activities available to make it useful to students over a long period of time.
  2. Lumosity.
    Lumosity is a website based educational suite that students, and others, can use to improve memory, increase their problem solving skills, think quickly, increase their attention span, and make their brains more flexible. Once the student has registered, they can take an online assessment, take a course, or play a game. The courses and games that are available depend on the specific area of cognition the student chooses to work on. It should be noted that while it is an absolutely creative and effective learning website, Lumosity definitely presents itself as a learning app. There are games involved, but not all students will want to work through them.
  3. SpaceChem.
    SpaceChem may be educational, but let’s be honest; its real appeal to teenagers is that it plays like an actual video game. The game type of SpaceChem is puzzle, and it is based on the principles of chemistry. More specifically, it uses the concept of chemical bonding as one of its core elements. Game players are tasked with the job of creating specific molecules or combinations of molecules from the atoms and molecules that are provided to them. They do this by using a visual programming language to get “Waldos” to perform specific actions. As the player’s level increases, the tasks they must perform become more and more complex.
  4. SimplePhysics.
    SimplePhysics is a wonderful app for any student with an interest in architecture, civil engineering, physics, or the construction trades. It does a great job of helping students to apply and understand the principles of physics in a relatable way as they work to design and construct buildings and various other structures that they then test against a variety of conditions. This is an especially well-suited game for students who are better able to understand scientific principles when they see them applied in real world situations. This is definitely a challenging game, but there is a tutorial provided to get kids started.
  5. Spore Origins.
    DNA and evolution are complex things. Who knew that one of the best ways that students could learn about and master these concepts would be through a video game? Spore Origins is a game in which students can harvest DNA from a variety of sources, create new organisms, and then feed those organisms and keep them alive. Ultimately, the goal is to build a singular organism, which is you (this is a ‘first person shooter’). As they are attempting to evolve, students face the challenges of fighting with other organisms. Fortunately, there are symbiotes that provide players with certain protections. This game becomes more interesting and complex as the levels increase, and it is an excellent, stylistic portrayal of the principle of survival of the fittest.
  6. Presidents Vs. Aliens.
    Think Angry Birds meets history lesson, and you probably have a good idea of how fun and addictive this game is. In fact, students may forget they are getting an education on American history. Here is how Presidents Vs. Aliens works: The student is presented with the picture of a United States. Then, they are quizzed about that president’s biographical information. This includes, what events happened during each presidency, a quote that the president is known for, the president’s political party, and even familiar quotes. When the student is able to satisfactorily answer all questions, they can then take the president’s head and hurl it at the aliens and then knock them off of the screen. This game is fun, addictive, and suitable for an age range from late elementary school into early college. Memorizing historical facts can be a drag, this educational app makes that just a little bit easier.
  7. Psychobabble.
    Although this may not be the most sensitively named educational game there is, Psychobabble is a great way to teach students good writing skills, and improve on their vocabularies. The premise is that the player is on the psychiatrist’s couch participating in a word association session. The game begins, like word associations do with the shrink saying a word, and the student answering or selecting which word comes next. However, as the words begin to flow more freely and rapidly, the student must continue to find the right word combinations. However, as the game progresses, it becomes more than an exercise in word association. Puns, jokes, and word patterns also emerge.


Video games and eLearning games and apps should absolutely not be discounted when it comes to getting teens and adolescents focused on adulthood. However, it should be noted that the games that really do hit the mark with teens and other students are those that may not meet the criteria of traditional educational apps, but manage to combine educational elements, with high quality graphics, smart writing and direction, and realistic game play.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Visual Notes In eLearning: 6 Tips To Enhance Your Online Learners’ Experience

Visual Notes In eLearning: How To Enhance Your Online Learners' Experience

Taking notes is an essential part of the learning process, especially if complex ideas or concepts are involved. However, text-based notes may not be the most effective approach. In fact, visual notes in eLearning offers online learners the opportunity to expand their comprehension by sketching the key ideas and concepts, which leads to a boost in knowledge retention. Images, diagrams, comics, and a variety of other visual mediums can also serve as valuable notetaking tools. Here are some tips to help you integrate visual notes into your eLearning strategy.

  1. Follow the process.
    One of the advantages of using visual notes in eLearning is that your learners have the opportunity to personalize the process. They can use whatever methods and tools work best for them. There is, however, a general workflow that tends to be most effective:

    • Plan: Choose the desired notetaking tool and develop a general outline for where the ideas/concepts will be placed on the page or screen.
    • Listen: Actively listen to the online lecture or presentation to gather the necessary information.
    • Process: Mentally absorb and process the information, then select the key takeaways that must be included in the visual notes.
    • Sketch: Sketch out the important aspects of the online lesson that must be retained and recalled for later use.
  2. Create a note-sharing eLearning forum.
    While your online learners should be create notes for their own personal use, you should also provide them with an online platform where they can share their visual notes with their peers. This might be in the form of a social media group, blog, eLearning forum, or project management online platforms. A sharing site gives online learners the chance to benefit from the notes created by other learners, as well as to receive feedback on their visual note creations. Make sure that you use an online platform that is familiar to your audience and allows them to pick and choose which visual notes are visible to the public.
  3. Encourage visual note sharing. 
    Ask your students to create visual notes based on a specific online lesson or subject, then encourage them to present their notes during a synchronous eLearning session. This not only assesses their understanding of the topic, but also enables them to share their ideas, opinions, and insights with their peers. It also offers a wide range of other benefits, such as communication skill building, and gives them the opportunity to work in group settings. Be certain to set some ground rules so that your online learners know what is expected of them and how they must present their visual notes to the virtual class.
  4. Focus on the key elements.
    It’s relatively easy to get carried away when you’re creating visual notes in eLearning, especially if the online lesson covers a vast amount of information. However, one of the key aspects of visual notes in eLearning is being able to identify what is essential and what is not. Encourage your learners to focus on the key ideas and concepts of the online lesson when they are creating their visual notes, rather than trying to include every minute detail of the eLearning curriculum. Keep in mind that the main goal of using visual notes in eLearning is to create personal learning paths as a reference that they can turn to later on. Including too much information will only lead to cognitive overload now and in the future.
  5. Give them “reflection breaks”.
    As is the case with all eLearning activities, you must give your online learners time to absorb the information before moving onto the next online lesson or subject. After covering a key idea or concept, give your learners a few moments to sketch out their thoughts. If you’re giving a virtual lecture, pause for a minute and give them a chance to catch up and fully comprehend the subject matter. If your eLearning course is module-based, ask them to take their time creating visual notes before clicking on the next button. Also, bear in mind that more detailed visual notes take longer to design. For example, learners who are sketching elaborate images that represent key concepts will need more time than those who are making simple text bubbles or basic symbols.
  6. Encourage them to discover their own style.
    It’s essential that every learner finds their own unique notetaking style. What works for one individual is not necessarily going to be effective for another. It’s usually a good idea to give them all of the online tools and resources they need to create visual notes, then allow them to select the resources that are ideally suited for their needs. For example, you can give them a list of all the notetaking sites they may find useful, then encourage them to try out each method to find a good match. You can also offer them tips and techniques that can help them to discover their own style. Bear in mind that effective visual notes in eLearning can be a valuable resource for years to come, but only if your online learners are able to design a personal and relatable visual representation that reflects their personality and interests.

Visual notes in eLearning has the power to simplify complex ideas and increase knowledge comprehension. Use these 6 tips to give your online learners the ability to absorb, retain, and recall information effectively by facilitating their notetaking process.

You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create aesthetically appealing visual notes and other interactive eLearning materials. Read the article 10 Tips To Improve Your Visual Design Skills For Non-Designers to discover how non-designers can improve their visual design skills.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

The Learner Centered Approach: Moving From The Master’s Voice To The People’s Voice

The World Of Learning And The Learner Centered Approach 

Independent research, like Bersin’s predictions for 2016 and Towards Maturity 2015-2016 Industry Benchmark, emphasizes that only those who embrace these changes wholeheartedly and only when all stakeholders are actively involved, reap the benefits in a rather short period of time. This translates into the most important result: Business improvement.

So it is not about the ever-defensive debate for Return On Investment (ROI). It is not about creating new trends and jargons (e.g. seventy-twenty-ten) that may make us feel comfortable inside our “clan”, but that alienate us from those who are running the business. And it’s certainly not about the “I did my part” mentality. It’s about being extroverted and trying to relate with the business people in order to help them solve their business problems.

The shift in business structure away from the hierarchical model, which was incorporated in the Legacy Learning Management Systems, is one of the main reasons for bringing learning to a new digital era, where the new environment has a learner centered design and an embedded consumer-experience logic. This environment facilitates the finding, accessing, and easy consumption of knowledge by the user. The learners’ need for self-directed learning at their own pace, at any time and from any type of device is coupled with a desire to create, share, curate, recommend, and rate content that they find useful and important. These emerging needs and desires result in existing platforms having to evolve to incorporate them and in the emergence of a new generation of solutions, built from scratch to cover them.

And note, only modern, appealing –even “sexy”– solutions providing just-in-time, to-the-point, right-sized, well-appreciated knowledge can do this. Forget Frankenstein-style attempts like “I will integrate my social collaboration platform with my 90’s style Learning Management System and voila!”.

But if the world is turning to a learner centered, employee-owned learning reality supported by these modern and “ultra-effective” tools and platforms (with all the modern bells and whistles, cloud-based, SAAS, “ready-to-run” with a single mouse-click), where does that leave the internal and external Learning and Development (L&D) people? Well, there is still a myriad of things to be done if you consider the diversity of business characteristics and their needs for example… This should be enough to put your mind at ease.

A case in point: The role of curation and content management remains central to Learning and Development teams (internal and external) even in companies where business success will be hugely connected to user-created and shared content – at least until users become confident to go it alone and business results prove that the procedure can run “unattended”. There are also going to be cases where Learning and Development teams will still need to create, nurture, and facilitate the learning communities based on type of content, business, and user characteristics. Furthermore, it is being reported that users are pushing for even smaller chunks of knowledge and content, even smaller videos (not 4’ long but down to 1’ long), less time to train etc., so there will always be a need for Learning and Development teams to keep things logical, meaningful, related and effective. There’s no denying that professionals who transform courses to learning experiences and learning journeys, will always be essential.

The ultimate question is: Are the Learning and Development skills required for the new era already in place? Since everybody recognizes that we are in a transition period, we cannot expect this to be so, but this poses a challenge both for these professionals and their organizations.

It is a well-known fact that knowledge doubles annually, while skills have a half-life of 2,5 to 5 years. This fact is certainly not exclusive to all disciplines excluding learning and development.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.