Category Archives: Just a thought

OLE! …or the Organic Learning [Experience]

How did I get to Organic Learning Experience?

A few days ago I had a very interesting conversation with two colleagues in the context of social learning. And I’m writing about it because I’d like to share the thoughts that we shared. More questions than answers of course. 🙂

It started when one asked “What is your educational philosophy”?

As this is not a day-to-day type of question, answering that question slowed the pace a bit, and it took a few moments to get the momentum back. What followed was an very interesting exchange of ideas.

“We need to use what works…”

“All learning should be blended…”

“Learners should be exposed to reality and work together to learn….”

We went on to talk about the various strategies and formats we can use, how we come about to select them. Lots of talk lately about storytelling and engagement.  We need maximum flexibility to adjust with context that changes.

“How do you manage uncertainty?”

We never know exactly what will happen. How things will change. What “curve ball” will be thrown at you, as a designer or as a learner, when you least expect it.

“The uncertainty of our environment must be met with a proportionally varied selection of tools and approaches, to compensate for that uncertainty.”

Agility then comes to mind.

Cybernetics, Conversation Theory, Informal learning followed… Intentional learning…

“What is your preferred online social tool?” 

Do you fit your design with the tool(s) your learners like?

Do you fit your learners to the tool(s) you think would work best?

Do you gently introduce your learners to a new thing that they should like and engage in?

This conversation popped these words in my mind: Organic Learning Experience. Or OLE!

 …a cry of approval, joy, etc.

You know that feeling?

Organic Learning Experience…

The brain works in mysterious ways. Each person is unique, like everyone else. Each person has their own reality, and people with similar realities tend to stick together, understand each other, collaborate better.  Like soap bubbles…   😉

We constantly learn, from all kinds of inputs, delivered to us in all kinds of ways. It adapts to us and we adapt to them, depending on our extrinsic needs and intrinsic interests.

Try to force someone into a fixed mold, and you will get either rejection or frustration: two things completely antagonistic to learning, as it deflects energy from it.

It’s all about providing varied opportunities for learning, in terms of content and channels. We must provide access to informal learning opportunities alongside fixed, formal and planned learning interventions dictated by business requirements.

We cannot keep being like the majestic oak who expands tremendous energy to stay up and hold its ground, because the ground is moving. We need to be as varied as the reeds and other flexible and adaptive plants surrounding us.

Just some thoughts…


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What does it mean to be “Agile”

We all hear the word “agile” repeatedly. In all sorts of context. Project management, business, design, etc… Agility is a mindset. A mindset about two things: speed and change.

Speed to get things one quickly to validate pertinence and value. Best example is Agility in product development, and project management. Most of all because we dont want to waste resources, and we want to get it out as fast as possible because it is in demand or you want to be first on the market.

Change because it is constant. Everything is changing constantly: society and business. So the old days of over-planning are gone. Yes, you need to plan, you need a vision, a road map… but you need to test your ideas and assumptions as many times as possible, to make sure you’re on the right track.

We know what has been, but we cannot be sure of what will be, at least not definitely. The target is always moving.

To follow the target, we need to be agile.

But what does it mean to be agile? 

This morning I saw the following diagram posted on LinkedIn by a few people (Marie PineauRomy Schnaiberg and Myriam Plamondon – see references below) which I believe is a good tool to answer that question.

being agile

I like this diagram. It makes complete sense to me. If you think you’re agile, look at each aspects and reflect on it. It might even help you identify things you need to work on if you want to be more agile. Do the same with your company if it wants to be agile. Propose it as a team exercise. Do it separately, anonymously event, and then compare answers. And I mean everyone, management included. 🙂

Come to think of it, this could be used to create an AGILITY Index, for individuals as well as companies. Each of the five aspects could be rated, even double-rated: self-rated and rated by others.

Does it exist? Maybe I should build one. Would you use it?

References* provided by Myriam Plamondon:

  • De Meuse, K. P., Dai, G., & Hallenbeck, G. S. (2010). Learning agility: A construct whose time has come. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 62(2), 119.
  • DeRue, D. S., Ashford, S. J., & Myers, C. G. (2012). Learning agility: In search of conceptual clarity and theoretical grounding. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 5(3), 258-279.

* You’ll find them on the web…


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Reputation and trust are key.

I started KATALYST5 with the goal of connecting people.

Connecting those in need of services with the right people to do the best job that can be done.

How does KATALYST5 know who is the best person to do something?

We start simple, by identifying what needs to be done for a specific job and then we selecting who – if there were no restrictions – would be the absolute best person (or people) to complete it.

We base our selection on their knowledge, experience and skills, but also, more importantly, because on knowing these people love doing exactly that work that needs to get done.

Once we have a list of candidates, we look at their availability and their cost.  We may negotiate certain aspects of the job like calendar or budget to make it work, and if it’s a match, then great!  And if it doesn’t, well, we move down the list until we do find the right match for you.

This is how we work.

But here’s a question to you: Why do you hire a specific person? Do you just look at a sheet of paper, examine their resume, consider their pedigree?   Of course not.  You will eventually want to meet with and talk to that person to discuss your needs because, at the end of the day, you don’t hire a company, you hire the people in that company.

And yet, even then, can you ever be sure what kind of service you will get from that person?  As we know all too well, ineffective people can still be very effective at selling themselves.  We’ve all heard horror stories of business relationships gone bad, even though they started with great expectations based on a few chats and meetings.

So while you should consider hiring the person and not the resume, how can you really be sure if you do not know that person?

The answer is reputation.  We all need to look at reputation.

What do others think of the person you are considering?  Sure, you need to do your homework, and not just make a quick phone call to that person’s friend.  And, in asking around, if you hear things that you don’t like, due diligence sometimes requires that you take other people’s words with a grain of salt.

See, reputation is based on the input of others.  Trust, on the other hand, is based on your personal experience.

So here’s another word: trust.

But without personal experience, if you’re hiring someone you don’t know, how can you trust them?  Someone’s reputation only becomes trustworthy when you hear about it from someone you yourself trust.   I call it inferred-trust.

And another word: change.

Change is constant, but the pace of change has accelerated in the last decade.  Technological innovations, climate change, political turmoil, and… people of course.  We change a lot because of what we learn, what we adapt to, and what we get overwhelmed by.

And back to my point again: reputation.

Reputations change, because people change.  For the better and, sometimes, for the worst.  So we each have to take care of our reputation.  Protect it and nurture it.  In a world of constant change, filled with people who don’t know who we are, it is all we have to make these people trust us.

And the best way to do it: be humble and empathize with others.

What do you think?

The dark side of gamification

Interesting perspective, and great film! Reminds you to be careful on which strategies to use for what purpose.

E-Learning Provocateur

How well do you chop your cucumber?

It’s a ridiculous question, I know, but in the short film Sight the protagonist plays an augmented reality game that awards him points for the consistency in the thickness of his slices.

The scene irked me. The last thing I would want while preparing dinner is a computer judging me. Really, who cares how wide I cut the slices, and who judged that distance to be the perfect width anyway? It’s certainly not my idea of fun. And besides, it all tastes the same.

It’s a clear case of gamification gone too far ? and of course that was the film’s message. The plot continues to delve into much darker uses of the technology, raising the spectre of what appears to be utopia on the surface hiding dystopia underneath.

Sight screenshot

In my previous post Game-based learning on a shoestring, I advocated the use…

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Performance Enhancement: gadgets, gizmos and GoPros

For sure this is on the high-tech spectrum of use of technology in personal life, but it gives a great perspective on how the technology we can use in our personal lives inevitably increases our performance. Why not promote this in the work place?

Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

Austria is not far away, but somehow the journey takes me longer than it does to get to Singapore. It’s not down to any inefficiency in the Swiss Train network, which offered a profuse apology for the one minute delay, but more likely down to my circuitous route and last minute planning. However that circular route and ‘just in time‘ booking gave me an incredibly cheap holiday. How? Not because i’m a great travel planner, but rather because of the host of sites dedicated to finding me the best deal: performance in the moment, enhanced by thoughtful technology. It’s the nature of the Social Age. I can decide to go skiing, then just go skiing. Barely any planning required.

Performance Enhancement skiing

But that was just the start: being willing and able to use the technology and free enough to jump at the last minute got me to the…

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Memory lane: always nice to come across work we’re proud of.

While looking for some notebooks that I simply can’t find, I came across an old copy of the Canadian Journal of Educational Communication I kept as it contains a paper I co-wrote in 1994 with probably the greatest boss I ever had, Dr. Arto Demirjian, and my then thesis director and now dear friend, Steven Shaw.

This paper, entitled “A Case Study: Development of Interactive Multimedia Courseware“, was a very big deal to me. It was a culmination of a venture I had undertaken in a completely foreign domain, which was actually foreign to most people at the time: interactive self-pace learning.

Back then we called it CBT, or computer-based training. I wonder why my title says Interactive Multimedia Courseware… who knows. These CBTs were first produced to be delivered on… diskettes!  Yes diskettes, a great technological advance from… floppy disk. Those under 30 or so… ever wondered what that Save icon is?   😉

Now we would call it elearning.

Anyway, it was a magical time for me, as I was given basically anything I wanted to work with:

  • The biggest bad-ass Mac I could find
  • Two monitors!  …with 256 colors!!!!!
  • A PC (which I had to care about as my boss wanted it to be… cross-platform!!!!!)
  • An external hard drive with a few hundred megabytes (NOT gigabytes)
  • A tape back-up with 8mm cartridges (I think…)
  • A lab with 7-8 Macs to test with dentistry students
  • And then some…

It was cool! I also had the first digital camera: a Nikon F3 (I think) with a 80 megabytes hard drive attached underneath it… Can’t remember the resolution but it was top notch for the times (probably 1 MB or so). I also got my hands on one of the first digital projector. Actually it was a digital plaque that with put on the… OVERHEAD PROJECTOR!!!!!

I was in heaven!

Anyway… enough reminiscing.

Here’s a link to that paper… page 189… Maybe you’ll smile when you read it. Too bad it’s in black and white, very low quality for the figures and pictures.

Thanks for reading up to here.   🙂