Are you perceiving symptoms of your organization losing knowledge and expertise? Oftentimes, top executives are not aware of the wealth of knowledge that's lost as experienced employees retire and carry their expertise with them."In the U.S., roughly 10,000 people reach retirement age every day. And though not everyone who turns 62 or 65 retires right away, enough do that some companies are trying to head off the problem...Losing veteran workers is a challenge, even for big companies like General Mills...But the older-worker brain drain is a big concern for industries like mining and health care." says Yuki Noguchi in her article "Businesses Try To Stave Off Brain Drain As Boomers Retire.""Not only would a huge number of employees become eligible for retirement in the next five to 10 years, the company had done little to retain the wealth of institutional knowledge they would be taking with them. From the intricacies of key client relationships to mainframe computer languages no longer being taught in school, many experienced workers possessed critical know-how that, if lost, would be costly-if not impossible-for the company to replace." says Douglas MacMillan in his article "Issue: Retiring Employees, Lost Knowledge."For some organizations, systematically collecting stories is key to preserving knowledge and expertise. What is your organization doing to preserve its brain? What steps are being taken to retain wisdom and add more vitality to new knowledge?Collecting Stories - The StoryCorp StoryThe winner of the million-dollar TED Prize 2015, StoryCorps is a company that is in the business of collecting stories. They would bring together people who knew each other well and put them inside a recording booth for 40 minutes. For the allotted time, husband and wife, mother and son, father and daughter would have a real conversation which would dig deeper into the stories that they have inside."StoryCorps grew out of a very a simple idea: we wanted to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record their life stories. We built a soundproof booth in Grand Central Terminal and invited people to come in pairs and interview each other about their lives, with the help of a trained StoryCorps facilitator. Soon after starting the project, I knew we had created something pretty powerful. Many StoryCorps participants tell us that the forty minutes they spend inside our booth are among the most meaningful minutes of their lives." - Dave Isay, Founder of StoryCorpsSome of StoryCorps' Top StoriesBelow are samples of some of the most compelling StoryCorps stories. These are real people who lived to tell their tales. View these videos to appreciate the power of real stories in conveying ideas and connecting to audiences.Miss Devine Marine Lance Cpl Travis Williams For trainers, designers and learning leaders, stories become a library for learning. What you have at your disposal are resource persons who really live through the stories. This carries an unquestionable authority because these are their stories and they are living witnesses to what transpired. When Marine Lance Cpl. Travis Williams talked about his experience in Iraq, nobody can question his account because he was there. Surefire Steps in Collecting Stories and Transferring KnowledgeNow that you know the importance of collecting stories, you must be wondering how in the world are you going to start doing it? The good news is, you already know how to collect stories! The bad news is, you're not aware you're doing it. We subconsciously collect stories all the time without us knowing that we are doing it. We talk to our colleagues about their lives, hobbies, favorite food, past relationships and we store these stories in our memories. Every conversation that we have with another person is a story in the making. Here are a few steps to make your story collecting process more systematic:1. Talk to people You can't just expect people to come flocking to you with their stories, you have to talk to them. You have to show interest in their lives and make them feel that even their most boring stories are important to you. When people sense your interest in their stories, they will feel important and will open up. Stories will just come pouring out.2. Ask open-ended questions Asking categorical questions is a good trial technique but it's the quickest way to kill a story. On the other hand, open-ended questions open the mind and scours the memory for stories.StoryCorps has some sample questions that would make the story flow. 3. Listen to people Dave Isay added that listening is a form of generosity. Don't pull out your smartphone when interviewing somebody! This is being disrespectful and you will instantly cut off your connection with the person you are talking to. When you listen, you can make thoughtful follow-up questions and follow the thread of the story closely.4. Training leaders and experienced workers on passing stories It's easy to assume many experienced workers know how to train, coach, mentor and pass stories. To transfer knowledge effectively, you can train experienced workers to be more effective with these skills areas. According to Jim Rottman, head of American Express' workforce transformation group, "One of the things that we've really focused on is paying as much attention to the person who's transferring the knowledge as to the person who's receiving [it]... That means getting phased retirees to learn new teaching tools like 'learning maps,' or visual representations of systems and processes, and interactive media like wikis, instant messaging, and audio posted on a company intranet." 5. Create a story database Keep the stories that you have collected in a storage where you can easily retrieve them for future use. In this day and age of audio and video recording it's a good idea to keep your interviews in an extra hard drive or a cloud storage as files grow in size. This way, you can access them anywhere.Join a Beta Project on Small Bites LearningAt Vignettes Learning, we have different software models to help organizations build story-based lessons, create engaging content and assist your organization in collecting, storing and sharing stories and experiences.The screen below is an example of a Small Bites Learning. Contact Ray Jimenez to be part of the Study Group. With Small Bites Learning, learners, trainers, designers, workers and professionals can publish stories and ask their teams to share their own experiences. Small Bites Learning is easy to prepare and requires less time. Hence, it allows more time for participants to actively contribute and provide feedback.Here are some more samples: I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic. Sound off in the comments section!  References: Rebecca Smith: StoryCorps Wins $1 million TED Prize: [March 11, 2015]TED Staff: Announcing our TED Prize 2015 winner: Dave Isay of StoryCorps: [November 17, 2014]Dave Isay: 7 StoryCorps stories that Dave Isay just can't get out of his head: [November 17, 2014]Yuki Noguchi: Businesses Try To Stave Off Brain Drain As Boomers Retire: [January 15, 2015]Douglas MacMillan: Issue: Retiring Employees, Lost Knowledge: [August 20, 2008]Vanessa Chase: Story Collecting Tip - How To Collect Donor StoriesRay Jimenez, PhDVignettes Learning"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"Ray Jimenez, PhD Vignettes Learning Learn more about story and experience-based eLearning
Ray Jimenez   .   Blog   .   <span class='date ' tip=''><i class='icon-time'></i>&nbsp;Sep 27, 2016 10:05am</span>
Learners may express ideas differently,  not to our liking or not conforming to the trainer's goals. But there is a pattern, which is the key to understanding what they are saying.Ray Jimenez, PhD Vignettes Learning Learn more about story and experience-based eLearning
Ray Jimenez   .   Blog   .   <span class='date ' tip=''><i class='icon-time'></i>&nbsp;Sep 27, 2016 10:05am</span>
Life is majestic from all views. I've seen clouds from both sides now, and they remind of life devine. Ray Jimenez, PhD Vignettes Learning Learn more about story and experience-based eLearning
Ray Jimenez   .   Blog   .   <span class='date ' tip=''><i class='icon-time'></i>&nbsp;Sep 27, 2016 10:04am</span>
"People are social beings, and our brains are wired to connect with each other," Matthew D. Lieberman writes in his book, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect. (2013). However, when it comes to traditional practices related to training and learning programs, we tend to slam on the brakes regarding social interaction. We focus on content delivery and do not encourage learners to interact with others through online and virtual tools.The Common ComplaintsDesigners and trainers who participate in my workshops, both online and in face-to-face settings, have these common complaints regarding social learning - which makes use of social media as part of the learning experience:• "What if learners don't want to interact?"• "What if they are so busy, they have no time for a discussion?"• "What if top management frowns on social conversations as undermining work and frivolous?"• "Learners are afraid to be wrong, offend or reveal themselves to others." What seems to be the root of these complaints? Why is there a sense that difficulties will arise using social interaction as part of our training and learning programs?"Friends You Haven't Met Yet"A recent experience during a visit to USC Center for Creative Technologies helped me tie a bow on this issue. The realization came after a closer review of a huge project called "Friends You Haven't Met."First, some background: I visited with Andrew Gordon, Ph.D., a leader of the USC/ICT specializing in story and narrative research and artificial intelligence initiatives. He was one of 45 doctoral students under Roger Schank at Northwestern University. We spoke about ICT's  Story Web Blog Project. Through the algorithms his team developed with funding from the U.S. Army, they compiled 33 million web blogs that use personal stories. The trainers from the Army selected stories that were useful in their leadership programs. While we were in conversation, Dr. Gordon mentioned the work of Chris Wienberg, a doctoral student.Chris Wienberg, with others, produced a documentary, "Friends You Haven't Met Yet." The documentary interviews some of the bloggers who were discovered in their research on the Story Blogs.Click here to watch videoAfter meeting with Dr. Gordon and viewing the documentary, I concluded that social learning ought to be story sharing. Personal Stories Versus Knowledge StoriesSome blogs are much more popular than others because the bloggers share stories about their crises,successes, trials and discoveries. Initially, they are about sharing their daily lives with close family members. Eventually, bloggers discover even those who are just witnesses or even strangers begin to visit and interact with them.The very nature of sharing personal stories is cathartic not only for bloggers, but for readers as well. Without even knowing each other, both establish a bond based on a shared story. This is because stories are universal and appeal to the heart. Thus, they resonate with people from all walks of life.In training and learning, we tend to be nuts and bolts, fact-based, right-and-wrong orientated, rather than sharing authentic and genuine stories from people's experiences as a way to enrich learning.But how can we use social interaction online to turn it into story sharing that supports social learning?To turn conversations and sharing into usable stories, it works best to ask:• "What did you go through?"• "How did you do it?"• "What would you do again or avoid in the future?"These questions encourage experience and story sharing. Note, they are the opposite of asking, "What do you think?", "What is your opinion?" or "What is the right answer?"They Will Find You"I'm surprised that someone I don't know would visit and read my blog," one blogger remarked. Bloggers wonder why so many people read their blogs even if they are not their friends. There is no expectancy that someone, aside from close family friends, would even read their postings. They are surprised that strangers start contacting them and replying to their posts.In many social learning environments, learners tend to expect immediate and multiple group responses. Failing to get a good response sends a signal that the learner is less engaged or is not contributing a good idea. They (supposedly?) end up disinterested, feel discouraged and quit. However, this view is flawed. We need to encourage our learners to think like someone attending a cocktail party. They get to meet a number of people, until they find a person with whom they share mutual interests. Then, conversation ensues. Unbeknown to learners, the people in a social learning situation are not total strangers. They happen to be engaged and are having a lively and interesting conversation with another person. With this model in mind, we offer two recommendations:Longer time span. Create a social learning environment that lasts longer. If we implement the social learning aspect to accompany a class and it starts on Monday and ends on Friday, there will be no opportunities to build connections, establish rapport and nurture relationships. Learners will be less inclined to make the investment in time and emotional relationships. Develop a spaced-out interaction, maybe a few weeks.Meaningful conversations. Remind learners, the goal is not to have a relationship with the whole class but to look for meaningful sharing of ideas and stories with a few people within the group - those with similar interests. Social learning is a not a scattergun approach to learning; "it is intimate and selective." I Do, Therefore I Learn and Gain RespectViewing the story sharing documentary reminded me that social interaction and sharing are indeed a social and psychological contract between the person sharing a story and the followers or recipients.Social learning is shallow when it merely focuses on the trainer's need to frame the conversations to suit the content. This is quickly apparent to learners. To engage them, turn the tables and ask learners to talk abouttheir interest areas.But how do you align their discussions with your content? How do ensure they don't segue into topics outside of the immediate lesson?Consider the following ideas:Strong positions. Ask learners to put a stake on the group and pursue a topic that they are passionate about. Encourage them to gain depth by researching and presenting dissenting views, challenging assumptions and taking a strong position or changing positions as they make discoveries. Many learners contribute ideas by posting "me too" and superficial "hi and hello" comments. They fail to engage others because they don't show seriousness and strong intent. They don't make it a passionate pursuit. Encourage learners to ask penetrating questions and provide insights. Credibility and reputation are important. Advise learners that having good conversations with others or having many strangers visit and benefit from their postings reflects on their credibility and reputation. Instead of their being like a fruit fly buzzing from one conversation to another, an in-depth conversation on one issue builds respect and gains admiration from others. Allow real-life pursuits. To help learners align their discussion pursuits with your content focus, allow them to relate a story, an experience or a real-life application regarding your content. Learners' postings may veer away from your core topic, but they have done so to pursue an interest. Encourage them. Use your content as a trigger to help them recall real-life situations. Avoid limiting their discoveries by stubbornly adhering only to your academic objectives.SummarySocial learning ought to be story sharing. Learners learn by participating in small, focused and meaningful conversations. It is only through deeper pursuits of personal interests and sharing their discoveries with the group that learners develop credibility, reputation and respect. It is this degree of application that makes social learning a story-sharing medium. It is by story sharing that learners really absorb the lessons. It is by this approach they "Find Friends They Haven't Met Yet."I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic. Sound off in the comments section!  References: USC Center for Creative Technologies Matthew D. Lieberman, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect (2013) Ray Jimenez, PhDVignettes Learning"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"Ray Jimenez, PhD Vignettes Learning Learn more about story and experience-based eLearning
Ray Jimenez   .   Blog   .   <span class='date ' tip=''><i class='icon-time'></i>&nbsp;Sep 27, 2016 10:04am</span>
Mark Twain has been credited with saying:"If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."ChallengeIt's ironic that it may take a little more time and care to get content, such as a letter, reduced to its essentials.  The challenge, then, in developing learning is what should be in your small bites content. How do you create these smaller chunks of learning?What is Small Bites Content?Small bites content is small, standalone, useful and accessible content. More importantly, it is learningcontent needed instantly for a micro task or activity at work. Types of content can be a single word, emoji, a sign, a single image or series of works and ideas [L1] (Hug, 2007). For our discussion, we focus on a series of words and images that help learners to learn a single unit of content.Learners ConsumeIn this age of shorter attention spans, multi-tasking, big data and the increased speed of business, the demand for small bites learning is growing.  The cautionary question from a learning designer's point of view is "How small should the small bites be to ensure that learners learn?" This is a biased question. It assumes that small bites content must be constructed  to help learners. The other, more productive side to this questions is, "How do learners actually use small bites content to perform on the job?" It presumes that the learner consumes the small bites content; therefore, the learner is the decision maker regarding the usage of small bites content. Pay Attention to How Learners Consume ContentThe size of small bites content is defined by the way learners consume content. Most likely, this takes place while they're on the job and trying to complete a task. Designers, on the other hand, want to think oflearners being in a formal setting, such as a classroom during eLearning, within a controlled environment. "My Tasks Now" - Content Should Include Diagnostic Headers and Footers"My Tasks Now" mode is a diagnostic process. Learners and workers are trying to analyze the requirements, problems and opportunities surrounding their tasks. When the learners are faced with the tasks, they ask diagnostic questions (Schank, 2011).These questions include:What's the outcome?What do I know about this?How should I proceed?How would I know it is done right?By asking these questions, learners are calculating in their minds what the content is, how much there is and when and where to get it.  Finally, how should they apply the content? Depending on the learners' experience and the complexity of the tasks, they may already have the skills and knowledge needed to apply to the tasks at hand. Let's call them the confident learners.On the other hand, if you have some less confident learners who want to learn more, they proceed to think through their experiences and/or try to recall prior experiences and knowledge. In this instance small bites content becomes invaluable. To be of maximum use, small bites content must contain diagnostic headers and footers. What are diagnostic headers and footers? They are elements of the small bites content that address the four diagnostic questions. They trigger the automatic, instant and unconscious mental skills that aid people to survive, cope and succeed in everyday life. Essentially, these are self-efficacy requirements of learning (Bandura, 1986).Diagnostic headers (before the content)1. What's the outcome?2. What do I know about this?3. How should I proceed?Diagnostic footers (after the content)4.  How will I know if it's done right?"Just Enough Content" - Content Covers Basics, Gaps and InsurancesThe less confident learners with only some exposure to and experience with the tasks at hand may need a lot of knowledge, skills and practice. The classic solution is to train them on the entire scope of the content to ensure they have the knowledge. The trouble with this thinking is that learners may not recall the knowledge later, or have not had the opportunity to apply or practice the skills needed.So, the functions of the header and footer are to help the learner recall prior knowledge and skills.  And at this point, answers to the header questions show learners the knowledge and skills they may need. This content - knowledge and skills - is just enough to immediately satisfy learners and help them do the tasks. Just Enough Content Questions1. What is the basic element, function, feature, operation, or other similar items?2. What is the gap? When does it fail or succeed?3. What is the insurance, "must-do" or "fail-safe" action to make sure it works? Story as Organic Delivery of Small Bites ContentAlthough we describe an efficient way to place ideas in the right sequence as suggested above in Illustration 2, the actual delivery of the small bites content may greatly vary. The header, content and footer may not always follow the sequence. They may be shuffled. What is essential is that the three elements are consistently present in a small bites content. The shuffled sequence is dictated by keeping the organic nature of the story. The header and footer questions are necessary to bring to life, experiences and stories from the learners' point of view. For example, when learners are asked, "What are the consequences?" a story is brought forward in their minds. Hence, small bites are needed to be delivered in a story or experience- based format.Another advantage of using stories and experiences as a delivery format for small bites is that we can embed content in the story. This means we can use the story to help learners' discovery through the story. In illustration no. 2, the content surface from the learners' memories, or they are led to think of the secure signature even without spelling it out the content in detail. This is possible because the diagnostic questions raise the prior knowledge or experience along with the content.Hangover Joe - Chainsaw Safety ExampleObserve the series of frames below and identify the diagnostic questions (header and footer), the use of a story and the embedded content in the story. SummarySmall Bites Content uses a combined structure with diagnostic questions, headers, footers, embedded content and is delivered through an organic story. Small Bites Content is inherently short, a small learning point and a standalone, which allows learners to act on the content, even if the content is on a micro level.NotesTheo Hug (Didactics of Microlearning: Concepts, Discourses and Examples Nov 2007) describes various levels of micro content. He illustrates that macro learning can be achieved by different levels of meso learning including micro learning.Roger Shank (Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools Oct 28, 2011) defines the action of diagnostic is learning action. Diagnosing is an effective learning mode.Albert Bandura: Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control Paperback - February 15, 1997I'd love to hear your thoughts! Let me know what you think in the comments section. Ray Jimenez, PhDVignettes Learning"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"Ray Jimenez, PhD Vignettes Learning Learn more about story and experience-based eLearning
Ray Jimenez   .   Blog   .   <span class='date ' tip=''><i class='icon-time'></i>&nbsp;Sep 27, 2016 10:03am</span>
Research by Daniel M. Wegner and Adrian F. Ward featured in Scientific American asked people to rate how smart they felt (cognitive self-esteem) while using Google. The Googlers felt they were smarter (more intelligent) because they had access to the Internet."Some people feel more intelligent than others because they access the Internet for information."Wegner and Ward says that "We are starting to know less but think we know more." They suggest that we are seeing people now who include Google as part of their cognitive tool set, even to the point they can't distinguish Googling something from actually knowing something. On the other hand, research has shown that using Google does not necessarily make us dumber, which we might think, but in fact smarter. Furthermore, intelligence is becoming less about memory and more about knowing how to access and connect external information.The research of Wegner and Adrian, as well as the studies of Dr. Gary Small from University of California Los Angeles, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, made me ponder what impact their findings have on the way we design and deliver learning.Intelligence - memorization, recall and applicationWe can define intelligence in many different ways, but our current definitions revolve around people's abilities to store, learn and apply information and knowledge. It appears that the focus is on people's capacities and less on the tools they use. There is a presumption that we only use tools to do work. And, yet, it is a common experience to see people do tasks better, faster and with higher quality because of the tools they use.Are people more intelligent because they have memorized how a word is spelled, or if they know how to find the word's definition in (or even ask someone), or is it both?Internet as brain's external drive; all knowing brainWe create tools, and tools recreate us, states John Seely Brown. Betsy Sparrow says, "We think of the Internet first when faced with a difficult problem." And Wegner says, "The Internet has become the external drive for our memories."In most of our learning, training and elearning design and delivery, we focus on the efficiencies (lots of content) and scale (rapid and fast delivery) of retention and memory, and application of the knowledge acquired. I suspect, however, that we have missed helping learners to be "smarter" (extending intelligence) by not expanding their skills and knowledge for using the Internet or in-house networks and tools to find additional, supplementary, current, updated or other knowledge related to the learning topic. While these may be related to the subject, we are unable to include them in our design. If we are missing this opportunity, what do we do?I must mention here that there are researchers, such as Val Hooper and Channa Herath,Sherry Turkle and others, who raise concerns about the impact of the Internet on our ability to concentrate, and that we may be losing meaningful relationships. Additionally, thought leaders Jane Bozarth, Clark Quinn, George Siemens  and many others have been espousing open and networked learning environments.Extending intelligence of learners and workersFor most of us in the trenches, there are incremental, as well as big and bold steps we can take to extend the hard drives of learners' brains. 1. Unique Content VS. Open ContentReview the nature and scope of your content. What content do you have to provide because your lesson is the only source of that knowledge? Separate this from the content that is available through other sources. For example: If you are explaining a technical setting of a valve specific to your particular conditions, this might be content so unique you must develop and present it. On the other hand, other related content might be available from suppliers, reference guides and documentation, reported cases, experiences, etc. It might be best for learners to discover and acquire this content through your internal networks or on the Internet. Simply point them to where it's already available.A similar situation is possible in compliance learning. You need to develop your own lessons around the unique requirements of your policies and procedures. However, references to policies and procedures are usually published on HR websites. Legal rulings and legislative guidelines are provided on government agencies' websites. Why duplicate it?  2. Frictionless Learning and Work Environment Helping learners to expand their brains' hard drives also requires that our learning environment be frictionless. This means we don't put up barriers or speed bumps to quick learning and finding answers while doing work. These barriers may take the form of a forced sequence of lessons, big lessons (more than 3 minutes), inter-dependent lessons, one-time sitting learning, knowledge checks and testing. Many argue that these traditional tasks are necessary for effective learning. Moreover, training departments feel they need a way of controlling the learning process. These very notions are often the cause of friction, slowness and the unresponsiveness of many learning programs. Furthermore, these are also the key causes of boredom, disengagement and low completion rate of lessons.How do we remove the friction? Create small bites and micro-learning. Make it so small that even if you add a knowledge check, it is painless. Make the small bites learning independent units so they are fluid, like water, and can flow between work and learning and around the lives of the learner/worker.3. Bringing Back Experience (Brain's Hard Drive)In the typical lesson-learning mode, learners learn concepts or knowledge away from the real world. With open learning that searches, discovers, finds and connects with others online, we increase learners' ability to gain experience surrounding the knowledge. Connecting outward accelerates their understanding of the lessons. To expand the brain's hard drive even further, we ask learners to document, journal, share and post their discoveries back to the lessons. Incorporate the consistent practice of asking learners to post, comment and share their experiences. The Learners Still Control the Brain Finally, although our reference to the brain's hard drive might seem to be located out on the Internet, the learning process is actually right inside the learner's brain. The learner is still in control of what to learn, discover, apply and to use for success on the job. The hard drive is only a storage device, and until that storage can do the thinking for the learner, let's keep doing better in our design to adapt to these new tools.Make your design and delivery even more an environment for learners to be smarter.Let's help them to be smarter. And if using the Internet makes them smarter, let's incorporate it! ReferencesHere are some studies in recent years that discuss how the Internet (represented by Google) is changing the way people think:Nicholas Carr, 2008 : Is Google making us stupid? The use of Google affects how we think, making us reliant on synthetic information rather than on our own concentration and critical thinking.UCLA Study, 2008: Google (and by extension of the Internet) activates more brain areas in people who are comfortable with computer use. Compared to straightforward reading (as with books or magazines) reading through the Internet requires decision-making and judgment (for example when choosing among search results for relevance).Sparrow, Loi, Wegner, 2011: "1) We think of the Internet first when faced with a difficult problem 2) we are less likely to remember something if we believe we can look it up online later, but 3) we are more likely to remember where to find the information (but not the information itself) if we believe it is saved somewhere." The latter is called transactive memory and considers the Internet as an extension of a person's knowledge.Wegner 2013: Knowing where to find information is becoming more important than actually knowing it. We think we know more when in reality, we know less.Hooper and Herath, 2014: Reliance on online sources has negative effects on concentration, comprehension, absorption and recall.Ray Jimenez, PhDVignettes Learning"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"Ray Jimenez, PhD Vignettes Learning Learn more about story and experience-based eLearning
Ray Jimenez   .   Blog   .   <span class='date ' tip=''><i class='icon-time'></i>&nbsp;Sep 27, 2016 10:02am</span>
Traveling is a painful process, even when one is having a vacation. I must admit though, that traveling especially at a time when I am less interrupted, like while on the plane or at the airport or just in a restaurant, allows me to reflect. The break from the routine becomes a gift -  a time for reflection. I always look forward to these contemplative moments.    Why Spend Time Reflecting? Here are some of the top reasons why reflection is important:• It deepens awareness of one's learning. In the words of Rachel Ong, "Learning is not just a process of accumulation of information. Instead it is about how the new knowledge that the learner encounters is integrated with his existing schemata of prior knowledge." This is particularly true when reflections provide meaning to the process one is engaged in.• Realize that while you learn a thing or two from experience, you actually learn more when you reflect on it. While it may sound a bit extreme, the words of John Dewey come to mind when he said, "We do not learn from experience...we learn from reflecting on experience."• Reflection automatically creates a story out of your own experience, making it easy for your brain to understand it. This is supported by various studies. In fact, this was pointed out in one of our previous tips that the brain lights up and gets pumped up when we tell or listen to good stories. Researchers in Spain found out that compared to a plain, straight-laced, bullet-point presentation, using a story in presentations activates more areas of the brain. Multiple sections of the subjects' brains were lighting up as though they were experiencing the story in real life!One compelling reason I love reflection is the joy I experience when I am in a reflective mode. It's a time when things seem to coalesce and become clearer. This excites me to take action. The Importance of Journal KeepingJournaling is key to my reflection. I write my thoughts in all sorts of places and sometimes, I forget where I wrote them. I have a Moleskine - but I don't keep one. Then I also jot down notes in Evernote and discussion rooms and mostly on the wall.So, I begin to suspect that journaling may have very little to do with writing and going back to your notes. Rather, it frees my mind to continue reflecting.I am guilty of being so disorganized - but I am good at  getting the most out of my reflections. Here are some advantages that I discovered about journaling.• It forces you to reflect on the day's event and put it in writing. This "hard copy" of the day's experience preserves the learning that has taken place and saving it from ourfickle memories.• Journal entries make you more aware of the learning that has taken place. Not only  that, it also makes you cognizant about the kind of learning that has happened.• Journaling aids you in the knowledge construction since it helps you relate priorknowledge to new information. It's like adding new bricks on top of old ones that are already well connected together.Reflection as a Learning ToolThe gift of reflection is an indispensable learning tool. People from all walks of life; young and old, educated or not, use reflection to make sense of the environment in which we live in and we do it without even being aware of it. It is an automatic tool that the brain uses to make sense of experience.The process of reflection is both a conscious and subconscious act on our part and we use it to gain more insight into our daily lives. Without this ability, we can all say goodbye to in-depth learning because it just can't happen. Reflection gives us the ability to drill that knowledge in!Stand back and think of a situation. What have you learned? What new perspective haveyou gained? Are you able to make sense of your experiences? Are you able to construct meaning and knowledge that guide actions in practice? All that is possible because of ourability to reflect. Telling Stories as a Form of ReflectionOne way to do reflection is to ask another person their own version of your own story or experience. This is how most of my deeper discoveries happen - by listening to others' stories and how they relate to mine.In another tip, I mentioned about StoryCorps--the winner of the million-dollar TED Prize 2015. It is a company that is in the business of collecting stories. They would bring together people who know each other well and put them inside a recording booth for 40 minutes. For the allotted time, husband and wife, mother and son, father and daughter would have a real conversation which would dig deeper into the stories that they have inside.3. Technologies that Help Enhance ReflectionI mentioned Evernote, right? Nowadays, we don't lack the tools that enhance reflection.As a matter of fact, technology-facilitated learning is already mainstream. Companies and organizations are hard pressed in coming up with BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) policiesso that workers can now freely bring with them their own devices. The same thing happens in the educational front. According to Katrina Strampel and Ron Oliver, "Instructors, therefore,are faced with two challenges: implementing technology and increasing reflective learning."The reason behind this is that, technology enhances reflection and therefore, learning.A few examples are:• Wikis• Blogs• Online forums• Digital storytellingThe Digital Storytelling Association provides the following definition of digital storytelling: it is the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling. Digital stories derive their power by weaving images, music, narrative and voice together, thereby giving deep dimension and vivid color to characters, situations, experiences, and insights.Centeredness of Self and LearningWhat happens during reflection is allowing our minds to crystallize many of our ideas, experiences, discoveries, conflicts and gaps in knowledge into a discernable and understandable set of knowledge. I think that reflection is a precursor to learning and action.I remember what Picasso said,References Alaa Sadik: Digital storytelling: a meaningful technology-integratedapproach for engaged student learning: Rachel Ong: The role of reflection in student learning: a study of its effectiveness in complementing problem-based learning environments:  Helen Barrett and Jonathon Richter: Reflection4Learning:   Ray Jimenez: Your Brain Prefers Interactive Stories: Not Lectures:     Ray Jimenez: Is Your Organization Losing Its Brain? Collecting Stories to Transfer Knowledge:   Katrina Strampel and Ron Oliver: Using Technology to Foster Reflection in Higher Education: School of Communications and Contemporary Arts, Edith Cowan University:  Ray Jimenez, PhDVignettes Learning"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"Ray Jimenez, PhD Vignettes Learning Learn more about story and experience-based eLearning
Ray Jimenez   .   Blog   .   <span class='date ' tip=''><i class='icon-time'></i>&nbsp;Sep 27, 2016 10:01am</span>
As an experienced trainer, I have found the immense importance of reflection on my own learning and that of my learners. As I mentioned in the previous tip, reflection deepens one's own learning.  If you want to really learn something, you need to reflect on it. The reason behind this is that reflection helps drill information down and connects it to previous knowledge.However, the benefits of reflection don't stop there. A growing number of studies actually linked reflection to better performance. As a result, organizations are beginning to appreciate the advantages it offers. Google, for instance, is redefining the idea of the typical office setup to allow for better reflection by its workforce.In this tip, I will talk about the relationship between reflection and performance. The correlation between the two is real and the results are measurable.Measurable Effects of Reflection on PerformanceStudies consistently affirm the positive effects of reflection on organizational performance. According to Di Stefano and associates, "Results of mediation analyses further show that the improvement in performance observed when individuals are learning by thinking is explained by increased self-efficacy generated by reflection."  The authors conducted a field experiment in a BPO (business process outsourcing) company in India and they found out that "individuals perform significantly better on subsequent tasks when they think about what they learned from the task they completed." The lesson here is simple: learners are more productive when they are allowed to intentionally reflect on what they have learned from previous experience.In a different study conducted among midwifery students, Embo,, found a "significant relationship between 'reflection ability' and 'clinical performance' scores in clinical practice" and suggested that, "(1) reflection ability is linked to clinical performance; (2) that written reflections are an important, but not the sole way to assess professional competence and that (3) reflection is a contributor to clinical performance improvement."They concluded that reflection is an important component in professional competence.Reflection as a Strategy to Improve Performance in an OrganizationIf reflection helps drill down knowledge and skills and plays a key role in improving performance, then organizations should embrace this as a strategy. Micro-ideas are easier to reflect upon due primarily to its small size. This makes it ideal in transferring skill and knowledge in the organization.For organizations, production is dependent on performance. Even with the advent of technology, much of production is still dependent on the performance of personnel and their understanding of the tools at their disposal. Tools and content are only as powerful as the workers' capacity to think through how to apply and leverage them. Case solving abilities or troubleshooting skills is better with workers who are given time to reflect on newly acquired skills.References Frederik Anseel, Filip Lievens, and Eveline Schollaert. Reflection as a Strategy to Enhance Task Performance after Feedback. Ghent University.   Di Stefano, G., Gino, F., Pisano, G., & Staats, B. (2014). Learning by  Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance. Harvard Business SchoolWorking Paper, 1-48.,%20How%20Reflection%20Aids%20Performance.pdf     Maggie Coats: Reflection revisited: can it really enhance practice? Cambridge 20-23 September 2005:     Brook Sattler, PhD and Lauren Thomas, PhD: A REVIEW OF "LEARNING BY THINKING: HOW REFLECTION AIDS PERFORMANCE": JULY 13, 2015 CPREEUW:   Embo M, Driessen E, Valcke M, van der Vleuten CP. Relationship between reflection ability and clinical performance: a cross-sectional and retrospective-longitudinal correlational cohort study in midwifery. PubMed.     Ray Jimenez, PhDVignettes Learning"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"Ray Jimenez, PhD Vignettes Learning Learn more about story and experience-based eLearning
Ray Jimenez   .   Blog   .   <span class='date ' tip=''><i class='icon-time'></i>&nbsp;Sep 27, 2016 10:00am</span>
What pushes the popularity of micro, small bites learning or learning by snippets and drips? There Is Strong Evidence of a Convergence of ForcesVelocity of business is rapid - Organizations need to train people quickly to push products, support customers, comply with laws and others. In the words of Dr. Minimol Anil Job and Dr. Habil Slade Ogalo in the article "Micro-Learning As Innovative Process of Knowledge Strategy," published in the International Journal of Scientific & Technology Research, "Current technological, economic and social changes trigger the need for new concepts and strategies to support lifelong learning. Education, including work-based learning, is in need of transformation, requiring renewal and  innovative ways of relating appropriately to the way we live, work and learn today." Knowledge needs to be created on the fly and skills relevant to the task need to be acquired.Away with data dump - Backlash from too much overload in the information type of training rather than quick application learning. In an article I wrote, I shared that big data, huge knowledge sources and voluminous information should not be forced upon the eLearners. Instead of pontificating on large data, eLearning methodology selects only a micro-lesson which can be plucked from the whole knowledge source. The result is that learners are only made to digest the meat of the whole knowledge source, dramatically reducing study time.Affordable tools - Employees, trainers and team members have grown accustomed to small, quick, enabling tools to improve productivity, for example Evernote, YouTube, DropBox, Basecamp, PDFs, Blogs, etc. - quick tools to enable open ended transfer of knowledge and assisting quick learning. "Technological innovation has made our  society  knowledge intensive, where successful performance of individuals or groups heavily relies on the acquisition and use of relevant information content and suitable means of communication to achieve task objectives," added Job and Ogalo.Liberated learners - Learners discover they can grab information quickly by using Google, acompany website or other sources. These tools change their behaviors or more appropriately, these tools  magnify what they could not see they have and do without them. In the words of Bryant Nielson, "Access to anywhere, anytime learning has liberated instructors and students from the four-hour seminar and the three-day workshop: they can now make the most of even five spare minutes, which has led to a new interest in micro-learning."The big elephants are trying to change - As a matter of fact, large organizations are closely following the growth and applications of xAPI - a tracking mechanism that encourages sharing and reporting small bites learning.  As a consequence, vendors for learning systems and authoring tools are singing a different tune - "now it is OK to use informal learning" as a long as we can track them through xAPI - this was unheard of 5 years ago.Does Content Production Equal Micro-Learning?However, the word "micro-learning" is bad news just like the phrase "rapid eLearning."Why?The ideas of most micro-learning today is stuck with just creating content, the same way rapid eLearning has been practiced. There is an emphasis in the PRODUCTION OF CONTENT - and NOT useful applications of content.Production-oriented micro-learning means we need to chop down content into smaller bits and so it can be consumed in fast and small chew. The problem is, this approach misses out on the point that propels the rising power and importance of micro-learning. Proximity to Work Versus Small ContentFocusing on the proximity of work reshapes the role of content. It means that it is the worker who decides what to use and when. Again, as Drs. Job and Ogalo would put it, "Micro-learning  is a pioneering research aimed at exploring new ways of responding to the growing need of lifelong learning or learning on demand of members of the society, such as knowledge workers." The learning context of the user or learner is taken into consideration when designing contents. This has a huge impact on the way we design, deliver and make content available to workers. This suggests that workers use the goals of the tasks and have the ability to find the micro-idea to help them do the work. Adding Depth to Micro-IdeasMy first proposal is to consider using micro-ideas rather than learning. Micro-ideas is less hypocritical since making the idea micro does not suggest learning. What we do have are micro-ideas.Consider these possible approaches:Question-driven micro-ideas - collect workers', users' and learners' questions. These are questions on the job where they are asked to define "what they want to do." This is a goal statement or outcome of a task. For example:• How do I turn the knob to avoid an explosion?• What happens if I raise the temperature?• What is low risk testing?These questions resonate with learners because they are life-application questions.Learners learn best and find the lessons more engaging when they are about real-life applications. We can then build real-life application exercises, not memorization tests.Solutions driven micro-ideas - questions driven micro-ideas necessitate that the worker looks for a solution, not just content. So content must be quick, instant solutions to issues on the job. Why is this important? Micro-ideas must present swift and timely solutions as priority, rather than theory or principles. If you only have a minute to read a solution since you are trying to get the job done, your instant need is how this can solve my problem and why it will work or not. If you want to know more, then you can study the theory or principles which may be presented in other content format. A useful micro-idea instantly matches to a task.Experience driven micro-ideas - Content that's useful for workers to get the job done, must present an experience, not just theory and principle. The more relevant the experience, the more useful the micro-idea. Instead of saying "This is the step that saves time", you may say "This tip saves 10 hours from turnaround time because it helps you skip the unnecessary step 3." Referring to the real-life value of a solution or workaround offers immediate reason for the value of the micro-idea. Build micro-application opportunities - When you look for opportunities to help workersapply ideas as needed on the job, you refocus your attention on useful micro-ideas, rather than re-purposing content to which we are emotionally committed. For example, designers would say, "let's develop micro-learning leadership listening skills," without asking how learners aregoing to benefit by actually applying the ideas to solve a problem. Maybe the need on the job is to ask, "what blocks my mind when Joe is presenting an idea?" The sentence suggests an application opportunity.ConclusionAdding depth to micro-ideas means stretching our minds beyond just creating content. Rather,it is delving and understanding the work situation of the learner. If we start with this framework, we will most likely come up with micro-ideas useful to the learner - not just another chopping and dicing of content.ReferencesGerhard Gassler, Theo Hug and Christian Glahn: "Integrated Micro Learning - An outline of the basic method and first results":   Dr. Minimol Anil Job, Dr.Habil Slade Ogalo: Micro Learning As Innovative Process of Knowledge Strategy: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SCIENTIFIC & TECHNOLOGY VOL. 1, ISSUE 11, DECEMBER 2012:     Ray Jimenez: Small Bites Learning - Fast, Cheap, Flexible and Learners Love Them!:   Ray Jimenez, PhDVignettes Learning"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"Ray Jimenez, PhD Vignettes Learning Learn more about story and experience-based eLearning
Ray Jimenez   .   Blog   .   <span class='date ' tip=''><i class='icon-time'></i>&nbsp;Sep 27, 2016 10:00am</span>
Whether it is trying to fix the faucet or a broken heart, important decisions make or break significant relationships each day. Problem solving skills are therefore of paramount importance whether one is a handyman, a father, a CEO, or the President of the the United States.It is not any different for organizations experiencing problems. Personnel are required and expected to think on their toes and come up with solutions on the fly. Their troubleshooting mettle will be tested and imagination is stretched to its limits to come up with that ingenious idea to resolve the nagging problem currently experienced. The good news is, troubleshooting skills can be acquired and if you already have them, these can be improved.In this tip we will talk about troubleshooting and how important it is in the organizational setting.Diagnostics: Identifying the Problem Troubleshooting starts with diagnostics. Before a problem can be solved, it must first be identified. In the words of MIT professors Randall Davis and Walter Hamscher, "To determine why something has stopped working, it's useful to know how it was supposed to work in the first place." In the organizational setting, the question may be asked: is there a gap between current and desired performance? Identify your goals. What are the barriers towards accomplishing your goals?So what is a Diagnostic? According to Harrison Dia in his book Diagnosis: Approaches and Methods, "In organizational diagnosis, consultants, researchers, or managers use conceptual models and applied research methods to assess an organization's current state and discover ways to solve problems, meet challenges, or enhance performance... hence, diagnosis can contribute to managerial decision making, just as it can provide a solid foundation for recommendations by organizational and management consultants."One area of study is how well people estimate or predict between defined problems and anticipated solutions. This is affected by the accuracy of both the diagnosis of the problem and the solutions and the discrepancy between observations and predictions.Power of Observation and Predictions in LearningLearning has a lot to do with troubleshooting and problem solving. What drives this is the process of observation and predictions. According to  Davis and Hamscher, "Observation indicates what the device is actually doing, prediction what it's supposed to do. The interesting event is any difference between the two, a difference is termed a discrepancy."  When we see a problem we make observations on causes and related aspects of the problems; we also make predictions on how the problems can be fixed with some of our solutions. The discrepancy happens when our observations are far from our solutions.SLOW-MO Learning - How to Do Better than Just Trial and Error LearningOur daily lives and activities are made up of constant troubleshooting and problem solving. From tying our shoelaces to driving out of the garage door, there is a constant estimation process.Similarly at work, we encounter daily troubleshooting and problem solving, from simple tasks of fixing a mail-merge formula in MS Office to investigating why the scrap level is so high in a particular batch.What is interesting is that, to learn from this experience, it is worth understanding what I call the SLOW-MO Learning. To get things done, there is a cycle of problem - observation - prediction - discrepancy - back to the problem. The cycle continues until a solution is reached.Although this happens in milliseconds, slowing down the mental process to extend thinking time may achieve more fruitful results.This is what I would term as SLOW-MO (slow motion learning approach).In rapid motion, learners may overlook an effective diagnostic and troubleshooting process. There is no thinking through because workers merely follow the cause and effect method by trial and error. This often happens when we expect learners to memorize content rather than think and apply the content in real-life situations.To improve the results of trial and error, there is the "Model of Reasoning" and for conversation here -- it is the SLOW-MO Learning . This involves slowing down in our mind, the flow of diagnosis and problem solving so we can discover the "discrepancy between our observation and predictions."  As the process decelerates, we take the time to add " reasoning" to our thinking. By pausing to ruminate, we "think through"  using "reasoning models" like the following: • Fault models - set of things that can go wrong• Rule based - rules that guide how things work• Decision tree - scenarios or "What ifs"Applying the reasoning models to troubleshooting and problem solving increases the chances of a successful solution.This is an illustration for SLOW-MO Learning - you break down things so one clearly sees theflow. Then ask reasoning questions to better think through the troubleshooting situation.There are many other "reasoning models" that can be employed. What is crucial is the ability to train and encourage our learners to take a SLOW-MO learning approach.  Guide them to train their minds to think through a troubleshooting or problem-solving situation and apply some "reasoning" to arrive at better solutions.SLOW-MO Learning is the difference between trial and error and productive work.In many work situations, many of the workers may not have access to knowledge and experience, tools and immediate solutions. They increase their chances of success when they add "reasoning" to how they approach problems and reach solutions.References Exploring Artificial Intelligence: Survey Talks from the National Conferences on Artificial Intelligence. Edited by Howard E. Shrobe. Model Based Reasoning: Troubleshooting. Chapter 8. Randall Davis and Walter Hamscher, MIT:   hl=en&lr=&id=JaCjBQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA297&dq=t...   Cindy E. Hmelo-Silver. Problem-Based Learning: What and How Do Students Learn? Educational Psychology Review. Sept. 2004, Vol. 16, Issue 3, pp. 235-266.   David Jonassen, Johannes Strobel and Chwee Beng Lee. Everyday Problem Solving in Engineering:Lessons for Engineering Educators   Harrison Dia. Diagnosis: Approaches and Methods. Jimenez, PhDVignettes Learning"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"Ray Jimenez, PhD Vignettes Learning Learn more about story and experience-based eLearning
Ray Jimenez   .   Blog   .   <span class='date ' tip=''><i class='icon-time'></i>&nbsp;Sep 27, 2016 09:59am</span>
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