So this is a conversation I've been having with myself and some understanding confederates for quite some time.
I wanted to see where the rest of the world was.
Conclusion: There is still quite a bit of thrashing to be done.
Many of the presentations hinted at including things in the ecosystem outside of items under immediate Learning and Development / HR control and/or understanding. Things like business intelligence, enterprise business systems.... I'm glad they at least hinted at it. And hinted at really looking at your ENTIRE environment, not just the tiny "Learning and Development" corner many of us have boxed ourselves into.
I was hoping someone would stand up and say "You need to make friends with your Data Whisperer, your Enterprise SWAT operatives, your Identity and Mobility gurus! Your Document Wranglers and Web Masters! Your Collaboration Experts and Video Folks! Rich, mutually-beneficial relationships are had here! A true Learning Ecosystem built around THEIR tools (vs. "learning specific" tools) will help EVERYONE!!!!"
"The entire workplace is your playground!!!!" There are flowers to pick everywhere!!!"
Many of the presenters beat a hasty retreat back to the familiar LMS, LCMS, Video Classroom, and (maybe) Talent Management systems. I suspect so as to not scare people. Also - to allow folks to focus on the small wins with the things under their immediate control.
Next year - I would love to hear the conversation shift towards leveraging what is already IN the business environment vs. creating a parallel environment.
I know we have created a parallel environment for years. And I know that if we, as an industry, actually used what we and everyone else have at our disposal (vs. reinvent the wheel) - a lot of the Learning Solutions Expo vendors will be out of business. Something to keep in mind when listening to these conversations....
Some of the technologies we need to include in our environment are pretty complex - particularly around identity (access and assignments) and analytics (that pesky "So how are we impacting business?" question). And, I will admit, I am still wrapping my mind around a lot of these technologies and ideas + trying to figure out how it fits.
Because a Learning Ecosystem is an evolving thing. Like a forest or any other organic system.
This is NOT a "build once, maintain for eternity" thing. (Another issue many of the presenters didn't care to address).
I'm learning this is a build gradually, shift and move as needed and as the environment changes sort of thing. In my case - developed with two guiding principles:
- Can people find stuff easily? (because people learn when they look for information they need and use it themselves)
- Can people talk to each other and collaborate easily? (because people learn when they talk to each other and work together)
I figure if the ecosystem can answer these questions - and continuously improve on the answers - I'll have the vast majority of my "learning objectives" for particular projects taken care of.
A couple bright bits of news:
- We are having these conversations in the first place. This felt like the first time in a long time that we've started chewing on some new questions as a broader discipline. Not just a few folks in the woods. I was thrilled to see this.
- I am not entirely alone. Gary Wise is making a large-scale Learning Ecosystem real at Xerox. There is a DoD initiative as well (though not entirely certain which corner or who is involved. Models with smart people and more resources. I will be watching these as closely as possible.
Separating out the Ecosystem 2014 from the rest of the conference was a really good idea.
I'll be curious to see how these conversations evolve over the next couple of years and what folks do with them.
So Tin Can API / xAPI / Experience API is maturing.
I'm starting to see the beginnings of some functionality I can use.
Not quite yet, but it is getting close.
I stopped by the Saltbox booth to talk to John, the CEO.
As I kinda guessed, much of the work in the space is still modeled after LMSs and tracking.
Being able to produce content that is Tin Can / xAPI friendly isn't really the issue anymore. Storyline and Captivate 7 both do that (among other tools). The real issue is in the reading of the API and being able to pull that information.
Learning Record Stores (LRSs) are specifically designed to do that. It requires having content that produces xAPI statements. If I produce it myself using my standard development tools, that's fine. But I'm more interested in stuff that I don't produce. Stuff where people are finding information that are not necessarily "courses". Stuff that isn't specifically designed to be xAPI compliant.
The promising technology (to me) is the connectors. Plugins that will allow me to track information from a wide array of our systems (SharePoint, WordPress, Drupal) in xAPI. NOW we are talking a compelling scenario that will encourage me to think about creating a Learning Record Store in our environment.
The big however....
The Data Whisperer and I are working towards putting the outputs of the elements of our Learning Ecosystem (the LMS to start) into our Business Intelligence ecosystem. That is going to have to take first priority. By focusing on that, I am able to leverage a wide array of data from a bunch of disparate systems and APIs. Not just pre-defined "learning" content or items that output in a specific format.
Where a separate LRS could be really useful to me is in the creation of a portable transcript for our staff learners. Making visible what it is he/she is learning and working towards mastery of. In and of itself - that can stay in Business Intelligence. Putting it in a format where the staffer can take it with them when they leave our organization (or even visit elsewhere as a visiting professor) - that's where the LRS could be most useful. Unfortunately, I don't see that functionality as a particularly high priority.
This is where they (ADL, Problem Solutions, Rustici, and other people playing in the xAPI space) are starting to crystallize some of the earlier thinking around portable transcripts and learner identity, learner experience tracking, content as service and competency networks.
I look forward to seeing how this Architecture initiative evolves.
It's a bit of a running joke among my colleagues...
Wendy hates surprises.
Yes...I am the screamer guy....
I'm currently at Ecosystem 2014 (a branch of the eLearning Guild's Learning Solutions conference - or what I fondly call the "eLearning Guild Spring Meet.").
Soren Kaplan's keynote this morning made me start re-thinking my position on surprise.