50 key messages for L&D from 2014

clock-64265_640Here are 50 blog posts and articles from 2014 (that I selected from my 2014 Reading list], each of which contains an important message, which is either implicit in the title or is shown in the quote, image or video I have included. Something to think about for 2015?

January 2014

1 – The Career-Boosting Benefits of Lifelong Learning – Nate Cooper, Mashable, 25 January 2014

.. educational opportunities should be social, whether that means taking place in a classroom or via online chats. Even something as simple as following the author of a book you like and engaging with them on Twitter forces you to start communicating with and learning from a larger community.

2 –  Starting Trouble – Clark Quinn, Learnlets, 28 January 2014

The gist is that there are a number of changes L&D is not accommodating: changes in how business should be run, changes in understanding how we think and perform, and even our understanding of learning has advanced (at least beyond the point that most of our corporate approaches seem to recognize).  Most L&D really seems stuck in the industrial age, and yet we’re in the information age.

3 –  You Don’t Have To Be The CEO To Make A Difference – Ron Askenas, Forbes, 29 January 2014

If you want to be part of a successful organization, you need to be part of the dialogue — to share your views, influence others, and make a difference. If you don’t feel that you can take the initiative to do that, then either think about what gets in your way or what you can do differently. If conditions don’t allow you to speak up and exert your influence, go somewhere else. But waiting for senior leaders or the CEO to make things better is probably not going to be a very effective strategy.

4 –  How Do We Enforce Independence in Workplace Learning? – Helen Blunden, Activate Learning Solutions, 27 January 2014

You have to wonder how the world got to where it is today where we have to FORCE people to be INDEPENDENT.  Two words that look weird together in a sentence.  It’s come to this – you have to force people to be independent? Isn’t that something that would create mistrust or curiosity in people? .. So the challenge for me – and for other corporate learning teams is this… it’s time for us to create some density from within the organisation to create the change that is required … Those who will find this change disconcerting or who need to hide within organisational hierarchical structures will leave.  The others will, by nature, express independence, create networks and once again re-engage with their work.

5 – There’s More to Online Learning Than Course Completion Rates – Lauren Landrey, BostInno, 22 January 2014

Completion rates remain a contentious issue when discussing massive open online courses. Yet, new papers released Tuesday by Harvard and MIT argue there’s more to learning online than a shrinking number of registrants would suggest. … So, why not stop harping on the negative? MOOCs can’t be judged solely by completion rates. As Ho poignantly argued: “This isn’t just about MOOCs. This is about the democratization of learning: Learners are in control. We are at the beginning of an exciting effort to understand how people learn and how to educate well and effectively at scale.

February 2014

6 – So You’re Thinking About Starting an Online Community? – Jeff Ross, Social Media Examiner, 5 February 2014

I’m hearing more frequently these days about companies entertaining the thought of starting online communities, both internal and external facing. The reasons are varied, from wanting to connect employees in the case of an internal community, to wanting to connect with specific external target audiences in the case of external communities. As companies acknowledge the need to shift from transaction-based exchanges to relationship-based interactions, the interest in developing online communities as part of the shift will continue. However, starting an online community is no easy, quick task – a reality that far too many fail to understand in their mesmerized state of wishful thinking. “What is there to do?” they may ask. “Just hire a vendor or developer to whip up an online site, invite the masses, and – BOOM! – instant community. They’ll flock to us!” Such thinking mistakes the initiative as one similar to prepping a stadium for a big event and then inviting (or selling tickets to) a huge audience at once to show up and enjoy the party. Wrong! That’s not how you build a community. When it comes to building communities, businesses must recognize that doing so takes time – a lot of time, in fact.

7 – Building community – Jane Bozarth, Learning Solutions Magazine, 4 February 2014

Some organizations are so concerned about control that they kill the very thing they say they want to start. Figure 1 is an example from my own past, from a pet project started by a now-retired colleague. He wanted an online discussion forum for HR-related issues. This is what users had to agree to before commenting—it might as well have said, “Please don’t post anything.”

8 – The Training to Competence Myth – Marc Rosenberg, Learning Solutions Magazine, 11 February 2014

Training no longer works in isolation. The transition from classroom (or an online experience) to the workplace must be seamless. This adds design decisions that transcend instruction. What will learners do after training? How will their new knowledge and skill be supported on the job? How should managers and supervisors be prepared to help their people after training? Do workers have the tools, resources and help they need to apply what they learned and be successful? No training program should be developed without also answering questions like these.

9 – If You Want More Productive Employees, Learn How To Get Out Of Their Way – Michael Theriault, Forbes, 25 February 2014

So instead of getting in their way, help them get the job done. Your role is to provide guidance, direction, and establish goals, not sit on their shoulders telling them what to do every step of the way. You should also be their facilitator to get them the resources, time, and support they need. You should be the one who deals with company politics, bureaucracy, turf warfare, silos, and the many other barriers to progress that exist in a real-world organization.

10 – How the knowledge economy is redefining work – Tim Leberecht, Fast Company, 20 February 2014

.. researchers found that there is only one aspect of work that “results in happiness levels that are similar to those experienced when not working”—casual interactions with colleagues. In other words, the only part of work we seem not to rank above the flu is socializing at work. So if the best way to be happy at work is to chat with your colleagues, why aren’t we encouraging more socializing? Well, because it’s business. And business, for the most part, still operates under the principle of efficiency to drive productivity. But some startups are starting to see things differently and conceive of the workplace more as a social arena and less as a conduit for productivity.

11 – ‘If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Manage It’: Not true – Liz Ryan, Forbes, 10 February 2014

12 – Show Your (Net)Work – Mark Britz, Learning Zealot, 7 February 2014

We did have what I would call an early win that will need to be exploited if you will as proof of concept. The very critical issue that I mentioned earlier was posted by a senior leader. It’s tone was both urgent and inclusive; We have a problem and I need your help.  Brilliant. Within 48 hours there were 8 comments offering opinion and advice, examples and suggestions. In the end (after 24 comments) a policy error was surfaced and confirmed. Within a day action was taken to correct and the clarification was obvious and communicated broadly. This is a small example of the power social tools in organizations present. Openness and partnering across levels with a result of the unknown becoming known and all due to conversation, sharing and the opportunity for many voices to speak openly. …. In the end these are the kind of “measures that matter”. Not clicks, views, likes, posts and follows but small visible interactions that make things just a bit easier, better in the everyday activities we undertake to get the job done”.

March 2014

13 – 50 big ideas to change L and D – Andrew Jacobs, Lost and Desperate, 14 March 2014

1: Make connectivity and sharing a catalyst for all learning.
2: Stop claiming every person will be competent.
3: Have people design their own quality criteria, and develop frameworks to help them understand how.
4: Celebrate learning by celebrating performance.
5: Don’t require people to come to a course.

14 –  “Engagementt” – the most meaningless metric in social media, Freddy J Nager, 19 March 2014

Here’s the underlying problem: “Engagement” is a compound metric, which means it includes measurements of too many things. For example, on Facebook it measures likes, comments, shares, and posts, and it includes both positive and negative actions, and it doesn’t distinguish between friends, family, customers, spammers, etc. That’s why compound metrics are nearly useless in business. Indeed, they’re useless in ordinary lives as well.

15 – Moses issues 10 Commandments on eLearning (on tablets) – DonaldClark, PLan B, 27 March 2014

7: Thou shalt not commit adultery and use methods of eLearning other than endless screens of text and graphics.
8: Thou shalt not steal stuff from various sources, call it curation, and bash it out on screen after screen until the learner loses the will to live.

April 2014

16  – 5 reasons Every Professional Should Use Twitter, Todd Greider, Business2Community,19 April, 2014

It is my belief that fear keeps most professionals from taking advantage of all that Twitter has to offer.  For those that seek to challenge themselves and overcome fears, Twitter is the place to be.  Here are five reasons why every professional may find value in participating on Twitter. 1: Listening; 2: Learning; 3: Marketing; 4:Connecting; 5 – Branding

May 2014

17 – The future of learning: Courses-Resources-Apps, Nick Shackleton-Jones, aconventional, 10 May 2014

The truth is, the web has been a mixed blessing for companies: they are only just waking up to the fact that their employees are now Googling their way through work. Just discovering that waves of employees who expect to change jobs every two years and do their work equipped only with their smartphone and access to the internet are lapping on their shores. And that there’s a tidal wave of them on the way. If you could picture these organisations they would look like your granddad in a string vest spluttering on a half-eaten sarnie as he struggles to get up out from his deckchair in the shadow of the approaching tsunami.

18 – The New Workplace, Jay Cross, HR Examiner, 14 May 2014

I’ve shifted how I think about learning since the Informal Learning book came out. It’s a new ball game and we need to play by new rules. Consider what’s changed ….  We used to think that knowledge resided in people heads. Today most of us believe the knowledge resides in networks … Web 2.0 has become mainstream. People communicate with texts, Tweets, iPhones, email, and blogs in their personal lives, and expect to be able to do so at work … Connectivity has undoubtedly shifted the 80%/20% ratio of informal to formal learning; it’s probably closer to 95%/5% these days.

19 –  One small step for L&D, one giant leap for workplace learning, Kandy Woodfield, Pushing at the edges, 18 May

All too often we ask people to join us in the classroom for a single one-off ‘hit’ of training, we take them from crawling to walking in one foul swoop and sometimes we don’t even bother to ask if or why they want to learn to walk. For some people that’s a bruising, scary experience and it’s no wonder they fall over when they’re back in their jobs, the learning experience is so ephemeral or awful that the skills, knowledge and behaviours mentioned are half-remembered but rarely acted upon. L&D needs to step up to its role in supporting holistic development rather than just providing training.

20 –  Performing through design, Michael Eury, Performing through Design, 23 May 2014

The way I see my work is that it’s not so much about helping people learn things, but instead it is about helping people do things (their work) ‘better’…….and I do this through design. So, this is how I approach designing for performance.

21 –  We’re Going Social! (It’s not what you think), Mark Britz, LearningZealot, 29 May 2014

That title would imply adoption of a social technology but really that is only part of our strategy. We’re “going social” as in placing people and connectedness at the heart of our performance ecosystem. It means we are focused on supporting and fostering relationships in a way that will better connect people for learning and working with and without the support of technology.  Simply put, our goal is: to create a connected and continuous learning organization.

22 –  Personal Learning Networks – IRISS, May 2014

People who can seek new information, make sense of it, and share it with their colleagues will be an asset to any work team

June 2014

23 – Do you want transformation or tinkering?, Euan Semple, 5 June 2014

In the face of this pain tinkering becomes the norm. Reading another case study instead of getting on with things. Trying to find just one more example of best practice. Endlessly asking for permission in different ways from different people – rather than asking for forgiveness. Tinkering isn’t what we are here to do. Tinkering rots your soul.

24 – Online education has become a joke, Roger Schank, June 2014

Is this really the best we can do? Copying medieval ideas about education and putting them online is not progress.

July 2014

25 –  Why Do We Continue to Perpetuate and Promote Ineffective E-Learning? – Ethan Edwards, ATD ,1 July 2014

Following tradition, doing what is recommended by many authoring tools, and patterning one’s work after many examples in the workplace is going to result in pretty ineffective e-learning.

26 – Learning, Listening, Nick Shackleton-Jones, aconventional,  7 July 2014

I’ve been collecting screencaptures of what people think of elearning for a while. …. They tell us how elearning makes people feel (bored, sleepy, like they want to die), they tell us why organisations procure elearning: ‘it’s a week’s worth of school IN A SINGLE DAY’. They tell us that elearning is pretty much as bad as school.


27  – Preparing your workforce for tomorrow, Harold Jarche, 21 July,2014

Many vendors and training practitioners try to sell one-size-fits-all solutions, but there are no cookie-cutter solutions in the complex domain.

28 –  The Expanding Definition of Social – David Kelly, 18 July 2014

Communicating with one another digitally isn’t a distraction from being social, it’s an integral part of what it means to be social in today’s world. It enhances and extends our ability to be social in many ways, and ultimately removes many of the barriers of location from the social landscape.

29 – Be the change – Euan Semple, 26 July 2014

There is much busyness in business around change …  Most of this is displacement activity to avoid actually having to change .. But real change doesn’t happen until you do it.

August 2014

30 – We Need Praise, Not Games – Derek Irvine, 6 August 2014

[Gamification] can poison a recognition program since it introduces an artificial element into something that needs to be organic and inspired. This skews the recognition data as well, as employees are being rewarded for behaviors other than just great work performance.

31 – Beyond Institutions Personal Learning in a Networked World  – Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, 24 August 2014

The right model is to do away with the models. Think of non-standard-based systems. Think of non-standard designs. Think of courses where there are no defined learning objectives. Think of a learning environment where there is no common core of content. Think of a conversation where you and I have not first established a shared understanding of the meaning of all of the terms.

32-  3 tiny habits for Working Out Loud – Simon Terry, August 2014

33 –  Six FAQs – Bob Marshall, Think Different, 23 August 2014

Q1: How can you motivate our workers? A1: You can’t Oh, you can dream up incentive schemes, bonus packages, and so on, but there’s plenty of research – and experience – to show that such attempts at extrinsic motivation of knowledge workers only make folks’ performance on the job worse. On the other hand, intrinsicmotivation is very powerful – but that comes from the workers themselves. The only thing you can do is to work on creating an environment where maybe, just maybe, some folks feel a little better about themselves, their colleagues, and the common purpose. And hope – yes hope – that some intrinsic motivation emerges, here and there. You can’t change someone else’s intrinsic motivation – only they can do that.

September 2014

34  What employers really want? Workers they don’t have to train – Peter Cappelli, The Washington Post, 5 September 2014

More companies are hiring from the outside rather than growing their own talent from within. This in turn has led to declining tenure among employees, who are more willing to jump ship.

October 2014

35 –  Curiosity Prepares the Brain for Better Learning – Daisy Yuhas, Scientific American, 2 October 2014

Before you click those links you might consider how your knowledge-hungry brain is preparing for the answers. A new study from the University of California, Davis, suggests that when our curiosity is piqued, changes in the brain ready us to learn not only about the subject at hand, but incidental information, too.

36 –  The top 4 excuses for not being a connected educator – Angela Watson, The Cornerstone, 2 October 2014

To me, becoming a connected educator is about filling your mind, soul, and spirit with things that motivate and energize you. It’s about connecting with FRIENDS—fellow educators you enjoy talking to about personal and  professional things.

37 – Mentoring in a Millennial World – Randy Emelo, CLO Magazine, 9 October 2014

Millennials’ craving for mentoring is high, but the way in which the generation prefers to connect, learn and share expertise leaves traditional mentoring programs ill-equipped.

38 – Social Learning is Voluntary; collaboration platforms are enablers – Sahana Chattopadhyay, ID and other reflections, 19 October 2014

Then comes the dichotomy of having an enterprise collaboration platform where no one is sharing, where there are no conversations happening, no debates and questions. It’s a ghost town. At the end of the day, the platform doesn’t matter. The culture of the organization does. An organization with an essentially command and control approach, an overly competitive outlook, and a repressive environment is not yet ready for social learning.

39 –  Five ways talent management must change – Don Tapscott, World Economic Forum, 30 October 2014

The current model of talent management is recruit, train, manage, retain and evaluate the performance of employees. In the future smart companies won’t do any of this. Work will look more like a jazz ensemble where hierarchy is replaced by creativity, sense-and-respond, peer-to-peer, collaboration, empowerment and improvisation.

November 2014

40 – The Internet inside the enterprise: We don’t have it, and we need it – Dion Hinchcliffe, ZD Net, 1 November 2014

41 – Passion in need of a champion – John Hegel, HR Times, Deloitte, 3 November 2014

The best workers will find their own way, but if you want your organization to thrive, supporting them has to be a priority.

42 –  Am tired of social – Kavi, Fool Bloom, 12 November 2014

I am getting a bit tired of ‘Social’.  ‘Enterprise 2.0?. ‘Social Learning’. And labels of that nature … ‘Social’ is not a set of a skills. Its a way of working. Its a mindset, in my opinion. Sure, it does help to have  set of  ‘social’ skills that can be built over time. In the absence of a fundamentally different mindset however, we begin to use these newly acquired skills of using social tools, using the mindset that fit a different era.  It is easy to mistake familiarity with these tools as presence of a social mindset. It can be jarring.

43 –  Embedding Learning in Work: The Benefits and Challenges – Charles Jennings, Working Performance, 17 November 2014

One of the major challenges is the fact that until recently L&D professionals have seen their primary role as instructional designers and creators of learning content and experiences where this content and these learning experiences are separate from work. … Of course some effective learning experiences can be designed, managed and measured, but they tend to be in the minority. The majority of learning occurs naturally as part of the workflow. This type of learning is ‘designed’ by the individual (sometimes with input from their manager), it is self-managed, and the measurement is in terms of outputs – not by passing a test or some form of certification but by demonstrating the ability to do work better, faster, more accurately, with greater agility and levels of innovation if needed.

44 – The Only Person Who Behaves Sensibly Is My Tailor – Charles Jennings, Working Performance, 24 November 2014

The most widely used measures for ‘learning’ are based on activity, not on outcomes. We measure how many people have attended a class or completed an eLearning module, or read a document or engaged in a job swap or in a coaching relationship. Sometimes we measure achievement rates in completing a test or certification examination and call these ‘learning measures’. The activity measures determine input, not output. The ‘learning’ measures usually determine short-term memory retention, not learning. Even with today’s interest in the xAPI/TinCan protocol the predominant focus is still on measuring activity. It may be helpful to know that (noun, verb, object) ‘Charles did this’ as xAPI specifies. However extrapolating the context and outcomes to make any sense of this type of data requires a series of further steps that are orders of magnitude along the path to providing meaningful insight.

December 2014

45 – Technology and Training: Jane Bozarth on Changing the game – Jane Bozarth, Twist, 4 December 2014

In the last fifteen years I’ve often been asked which technology I think will be the “gamechanger”. It comes up in conversations about everything from delivery methods to authoring tools to social platforms to mobile apps to devices and other hardware. Here’s my answer, and when I say it out loud audiences don’t much like it: The thing that is going to change the game is – the learners.

46 –  What we do in learning v what people need – Nick Shackleton Jones, aconventional, 5 December 2014

47 – More information Yields More Learning and Sharing – PewResearch Internet Project, 8 December 2014

A large majority (87%) of American adult internet users say the internet has improved their ability to learn new things. This figure includes just over half (53%) who say it has improved their ability to learn new things “a lot” and 34% who say it has improved this “somewhat.” Just 13% see the internet and cell phones having little or no impact in this area.

48 –  Corporate IT: Do More By Doing Less – CEB Blogs, 10 December 2014

The best IT organizations understand that the answer is not to keep doing everything the were doing but more quickly (a fast route to bust budgets or departing staff) but to consider where they can reduce governance or decentralize control. This then allows them to free-up resources to focus on opportunities where IT can add the most value.

49 – Platforms and crowdsourcing: The office of the 21st century – Ernesto Spruyt, Gigaom, 14 December 2014

The direct consequence for the future of work is that the 21st-century office is the platform, without physical boundaries that bind people and teams unilaterally to one location or project. Online platforms are where people will go to add value, and get paid for it. Millions of people are already collaborating productively every day on social networks, forums, Q&As, wikis and other collaboration platforms. This is why mainstream corporations are now heavily investing in “social” intranets, which are essentially platforms to utilize these powerful tools for the internal organization. But companies are generally trying to fit these social technologies into traditional industrial processes and procedures, creating a strict line between inside and outside. Obviously, this is not going to work. 

50 – Technology Training: Why We’re In Hell – Grumpy IT Guy, InformationWeek, 19 December 2014

I will cut to the chase. It is going to be 2015 in a few weeks. We are not even close to the “turn of the century.” That was 15 years ago.Why are we wasting time and money this far into the 21st century “training” people to use Captain Obvious IT applications?

26 thoughts on “50 key messages for L&D from 2014

  1. Derek Bailey

    Hello Jane,
    Thank you for being a premier source of all that is interesting, intriguing and motivating in the environment of “e” learning.
    Have a very auspicious 2015

  2. Todd Greider


    Happy New Year and thank you for including my Business2Community article (April) in you list. I am truly honored and glad that you found it useful. Cheers to a prosperous 2015! I look forward to diving into the rest of the articles on your list that I may have missed.

Comments are closed.