Week in Review | 33-23

August 18, 2023 Off By JR

It’s time for the weekly review post, and I have a few things to share with you. Some cool music, thought-provoking readings and podcasts to check out, plus I stumbled upon this new tech tool that I think you’ll dig. But first, let’s take a quick peek at some other highlights from the week.

What I’m Listening to

Something a bit different I’ve been enjoying this week: Techno Chill

What I’m Reading

Learning and Development in organizations: Reflecting on 20 years of research | Mind Tools for Business

MindTools has collected information on organizational learning for 20 years and has spoken to over 11,000 L&D leaders. Their 2023 Annual Benchmarking report series highlights some of the achievements the L&D industry has made. They’ve learned that success is not based on what you do, but why you do it. To find the best L&D teams, they looked at organizations that did well in 2017 and 2020. They discovered that successful L&D teams had strong coaching and collaboration skills. Technology is the biggest challenge and opportunity for L&D. Many organizations have been slow to adapt to new technologies and learners, but top-performing organizations are meeting employees where they’re already engaged and encouraging them to develop their own capabilities.

Of particular interest were two charts, one for technologies that have taken off with L&D professionals, and a list of technologies that just don’t seem to take off (2014-2023). They latter includes: Learning Record Store (LRS), AI Tools (e.g. Alexa), Feeds/curation and social bookmarking (e.g. Pinterest), Virtual Reality (e.g. Oculus Rift), Blockchain (i.e. to verify credentials and issue certificates), Wearable technologies (e.g. smartwatches). Of technologies that have taken off, OER have remained steady over time, and interestingly MOOCs have grown in use almost every year (2014-2023).

Don’t Design for Your Users | Bradee Evans

When developing product features, it is common to focus solely on "users," which may result in disarray throughout the design process. Instead, the author argues, it is essential to establish a common understanding of the product’s long-term objectives and create a carefully curated set of "challenge people." These individuals are a small group of real individuals for whom the product is intended, based on their needs and challenging circumstances. Challenge people can be classified as umbrella, lynchpin, specific, or future-leaning. It is imperative to consider diversity when selecting challenge people and to ensure that certain groups are not excluded, causing harm. By aligning with challenge people and cases, better products and a better world can be created.

I find the classification of challenge people interesting, and probably useful in considering personas when developing products. From the way they describe "users" it seems that term is wrapped up in what NNGroup would call "proto-personas" – meant to quickly align the team’s existing assumptions about who their users are, but not based on (new) research. [empahsis mine].

Does it matter if we call talking to algorithms ‘Prompt Engineering’? – Dave Cormier

Dave facilitates one session of the Digital Engagement course, focusing on finding relevant content. He wants to enhance students’ skills in finding and evaluating useful information online. He wants to foster literacies that enable students to apply their values to whatever they’re searching for, such as information on climate change or their diet (hat tip to Mike Caulfield’s excellent work). Dave believes the term used to describe this process matters, as it influences people’s perception of success. He highlights some suggestions for this "algorithm tricking" as alternatives to "prompt engineering" as it acknowledges that the system is being manipulated to fit one’s perspective. Ultimately, the goal is to help students understand complex issues and encourage them to apply their values.

I’ve discussed my reluctance (criticism) and critiques from Martin Weller and Matt Crosslin regarding the use of engineers in Attack of the Learning Engineers. And even though an American colleague of mine scoffed at the idea that "some Canadian" would stand between them and whatever job title they deemed suitable, I still believe terms like engineer and architect for education professionals are silly clout chasing. Is "prompt engineering" ever going to be accredited by professional engineering bodies? My guess is never.

Oumarou, G. (2023). Reforming education via radio lessons for teachers? The promise and problems of distance learning in Cameroon, 1960–1995. Learning, Media and Technology, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2023.2244426

Put this one under things I want to read:

Cameroon used radio broadcasts in the 1960s to address a teacher shortage. The initiative helped teachers gain professional qualifications and skills. However, it ended in the 1980s due to an economic crisis, and there are now challenges with technology in the country’s education system.

Why ‘storytelling’ sucks – Donald Clark Plan B

This blog post goes in a few meandering directions I didn’t exactly expect, but two parts stand out to me as I am currently sitting on the question of ‘how do we reflect a storytelling approach into elearning’. I came to this question after the unique experience of sitting with Elders recently and I believe their storytelling differs from what this post covers. That aside, two short statements way near the end that caught my attention:

"Stories often bore me, especially backstories, or elaborations in advertising or learning. Columnists with their cosy tales of comfortable conceit. Every article now begins with an anecdote and ends up as a bad sermon or parable. Politicians push the story of the day. Marketing gurus like Seth Godin banging on about telling lies, sorry stories, in marketing.

Even worse, educators see themselves as storytellers. Every training course has to be fronted or supported by the crutch of storytelling, so you get tedious narratives about how Peter, Abigail and Sophie have a unique spin on the Data Protection Act. Click on the speech bubble to see what Alisha thinks about Data Protection. Really?"

Lately, I’ve been doing work on scenario-based learning through the use of branching scenarios. I’d view that as a kind of story and certainly share the criticism of "click on the speech bubble" nonsense mentioned here. The statement "every article now begins with an anecdote" makes me think of that meme about LinkedIn "on my way to the interview I stopped to feed a dog". What’s overlooked in that statement, I think is what I observed in a storytelling-for-learning session I attended at The Teacher Conference in the US. The session was unremarkable and didn’t provide anything useful about storytelling. But what I did observe was this anecdote or soundbite thing being cast as storytelling all the way back then. Effective storytelling is hard, and it’s a disservice to call everything a story when other concepts are available. A proverb can be useful, but it’s not (necessarily) a story.


335. AI chat wars, and hacker passwords exposed – Smashing Security

Shortcuts Ep #911 – Pierre Don’t Care – Canadaland

The Power of Story – Châyù with Skaydu.û

Andy Warhol’s Factory of Truth – Cautionary Tales

Community Member Showcase – Parker Grant and Andrea Dottling of IDLance – TLDCast

Yasin Dahi – Gettin’ Air with Terry Greene

What Can you Do for the Sport of Judo Right Now? – The Shintaro Higashi Show

Technology and Tools

Vectorize AI | Trace Pixels To Vectors in Full Color