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Wow typing a blog whilst listening, digesting and IM’ing in a webinar is hard….SABA webinar blog notes:

Future of Learning: What You Need to Know About Web 2.0

SABA spiel: In the last couple of years, people have moved on from talking about whether or not organisations could benefit from informal learning initiatives, to a discussion on how to best implement formal and informal learning models. How people learn is now as important as what people learn. Organisations that appreciate these new learning styles and provide their employees with Web 2.0 tools, such as wikis, blogs, video capturing and editing applications, virtual worlds etc have a greater advantage to creating a successful learning process. Individuals want to create their own content, provide information and share it with their colleagues.

A.G. Lambert from Saba, presents this webinar to advise you in the best-practice integration and use of Web 2.0 technologies into tomorrow’s Learning 2.0 solutions.

This webinar demonstrates:
– How to leverage a unified strategy for Learning 2.0
– An understanding of blending formal and informal learning with Web 2.0 technologies
– How to offer support for peer-to-peer learning and communities of practice
– How to capture the knowledge of internal experts or groups

‘AG’ started by asking the question: “How does eLearning and web 2.0 mashup? What is learning 2.0, how is it relvant and where do you start?” – which pretty much sums up the rest of the webinar.

[Note, SABA content (as ‘rescribed’ by me) in itallics]

CLO survey (“several hundred senior HR/CLO folks) – key challenge is “Building a leadership pipeline” – how do you predict future skills, find & predict leaders and foster collaboration in an adaptive workforce?

People learn significantly from their peers as opposed to actual or virtual instrutor. Individual direct their own learning. This learning is often unstructured. You find an expert who helps.

GEN Y / The ‘millenials’ are 10% of workforce right now but growing. They have grown up with technology and are looking for a “highly interactive session where they are constantly able to access the people and linformation that they need as opposed to being told to sign up for a course that starts in a month or so”.

Need for traditional learning is not going away but needs of younger workers needs additional methods/approach.

How does Web 2.0 mean to learning?

SABA definition of (and history of) Web 2.0….

1st Phase – Original publishing models (AOL etc)  were very structured. AOL editors had responsibility to ensure relevant information available to users.

2nd Phase – YAHOO etc, users became very much more active (define what yu want + contribute). Still hierarchical (first gen search).

Now – GOOGLE etc what are the interactions between the users? Examine this to determine the most relevant content. The users (crowd) is determining th eprocess, relevance – collective wisdom drives results. Not ‘management’ – is dynamic. Is not web site owner but web site users that determine relevance/ranking of content etc.

SABA conclusion – unlike Web 2.0 is NOT evolution (in learning) but rather an augmentation of current methods. I guess this links to the fact that audience is mix of Gen X and Gen Y and therefore SABA are acutley aware that they cannot completely change the way they sell solutions.

SABA take on ‘augmenation’ – how use wikis, blogs etc to drive collaboration and sharing of expertise?

Web 2.0 is everywhere – they referenced Time Magazine (“You being person of the year”) – key to Web 2.0, service centres on user. Made obvious references to YouTube, online bookmarking services, YAHOO Groups, NetFlix and web 2.0 usage of using the crowd to write reviews and drive value of services/products.

“You go the web to write as well as to read now.” – the “read/write web”

YouTube would be nothing if users didn’t publish. The end users are creating the network (and the content).

Collective Intelligence – how do you increase the relevancy and knowledge of the network based on the people that are using it? O’Reilly reference – the (web 2.0) service gets better the more people that use it.

SABA Analogy – picture a jar full of jelly beans. Do you get a single ‘expert’ who could estimate the number of jelly beans, or do you get 100 ‘normal’ people to guestimate and average the results. In most cases (according to ‘research’ – apparenlty) the crowd will very often be more accurate than the (single) expert.

US Dept of Labor stats – 70% of learning on the job is informal.

Current knowledge management systems (with formal taxonmmies) fail to capture knowledge in real world. To a large extent the results of these knowledge management initiatives have not delivered hoped-for results, are expensive and people don’t contribute. Obviously this is the complete opposite of what successfull web 2.0 services achieve.

Key message – moving from ‘delivering learning’ to ‘enabling learning’ – turns traditional principles on their head. Learning leaders become brokers or merchants – an interesting way of viewing the changing nature of learning.

My Q (not answered!) – how do organisations assess the impact? Organisations need ROI data or believable evidence in order to spend funds/make transition.

SABA – how do you give up control? People could be seen as a ‘renegade’ as opposed to ‘Comrades’. Organisations need to manage the contributions but encourage diversity and multiple points of view. Bringing in infrastructure (obviously where the SABA sales pitch kicks in) – SABA Centra.

How do you eliminate barriers to publishing?  How do you eliminate silos….but protect sensitive information.

All about how you think – how do you become as broker of learning as opposed to a publisher of learning?

Highlighted tagging of information as opposed to complex taxonmies.

Need a universal “governance-enabled’ approach – assume this is where you try and protect/control as all large orgs will still endeavour to achieve as the concept is alien to most.

Finding the right tools

Ref Bersin diagram – time sensitivity vs content sensitivity

Bersin Diagram from SABA webinar

Bersin Diagram from SABA webinar

Ref ‘Multiple aspects of learning 2.0 diagram – contribute, search/discover, rate & rank and connect & network – all the ‘connected community’

SABA diagram (multiple aspects of learning)

SABA diagram (multiple aspects of learning)

Using the context of the person in order to understand the value/relevancy of their contribution e.g. their rating on a competency area.


[1] wikis (prone to ‘vandalism’ but self-correcting – wouldn’t use for nuclear power plant safety plan!, discussions (well accepted, understood), blogs (encourage self-expression and sharing + easy to publish), eMeeting/editing, podcasting (great for rapid information broadcast) and a knowledge base.

Example…Showed example of Motorola using Wikis to support customers in using mobile phones – see image

[2] Search & discovery – a unified search is invaluable to capturing the value of learning 2.0. Search courses and all media/content – codified content + informal content all usable in a single ‘session’. Easy to subscribe – e.g. RSS readers, communities of practice, shared bookmarks etc.

SABA Image - Unified Search

SABA Image - Unified Search

Quote from BestBuy (see image)

SABA - Best Buy quote

SABA - Best Buy quote

[3] Evaluation & Ranking – being able to understand what is valuable (and what is not!). Users doing the work for you (SABA in this case) for free!

Showed user-created SABA USers Forum with ranking/evaluation

[4] Connecting & Networkingobviously SABA say Centra is a great tool. I cannot say either way but it looks fine.

IBM image (Second Life)

Poll – less than 50% of audience had ever created an avatar in a virtual world

Food for thought………

The importance of Search & Discovery, Compelling Experience and User Engagement?

How streamline learning content? How make it easy for community to participate? If you don’t you will have “structures that are empty”.

Have a “Plan B” – 2.0 methods not necessarily better…just different. Remember many people born prior to 1960.

Emphasise network creation. Look at adding value, connecting people to people. What pre-event interactions can you provide to get people connected and what can you do after an event to maintan it? CoP’s around subject area, job role etc.

Set expectations – sharing is lonely (at first). Often a 6 months difficult period where you feel that you are throwing our information intot he void with little response before community builds. Promote good channels of communication.

Learning technology – moving from managing and tracking to managing growing content

Create a Tipping POint – create critical mass yourself. Record subject experts, get enough valuable content ‘out there’ to get people to consume an dthen they will contribute.

Conclusion – L2.0 is about creating adaptive learners and adaptive organisations. Lifelong learners, Empower to drive own learning and contribute more = adaptive organisation.

Link to playback URL – TBC

A funny aside, after preaching about sharing, wisdom of crouds, group discussions etc, SABA decided not to have any Q&A session.

How ironic.



I’ve been motivated to pen this article by a long-standing observation born from being involved with numerous initiatives, groups and associations over the last five years, from attending numerous Serious Games and related events (many of which I have spoken at) and from amassing a very large collection of reference material, articles and publications about Serious Games.


It is utterly not my intention here to re-ignite the tiresomely academic “What are Serious Games?” debate. What concerns me deeply are what appear to me, and to many people I know, deep divisions amongst the various sub-sections of this supposed ‘community’ in relation to ‘who should be allowed in our gang/clan/Christmas card list’.


If this is indeed a Serious community, then why is it that the work of people like Clark Aldrich seem to achieve a fraction of the attention that other less-commercially orientated contributors achieve? Clark’s blog site “Style Guide for Serious Games & Simulations” ( and his two traditional media books are, in my humble opinion, outstanding contributions to this community.


Is this because we have a crisis of identity going on? If so should we be raising up our hands and start admitting that in actual fact we have several very different sectors co-existing in a very transient manner and that there are more differences that divide us than there are commonalities which bind us together? I hope not but clearly the very often differing needs of the (US) military, school systems, higher education, social initiatives, public sector and private sector do suggest that this space is a community busting at the seams to fracture.


My company has a clear and unequivocal focus on business education and corporate training. The very nature of the end user organisations we work for has taken PIXELearning down the Internet technology route. If you do not understand why that should be so then try deploying a diversity awareness and inclusion training game to several thousand food and drink retail outlets across the USA and see if you can use the Unreal engine as part of your development approach!


The trouble with this is, so it would seem, is that the technology decision seems to be a qualifying factor in the determination of what is or is not a Serious Game. I utterly disagree with this sweeping generalisation but have witnessed on numerous times the shunning of people, vendors and products purely on this basis. The statement; “but it is only developed in Flash” might as well be tattooed on the chests of many a ‘proper’ 3D games technologist and researcher.


Why is this problem? Well, to my mind this community will only truly begin to realise its considerable potential if we pull together. I am not naive to think that there are not considerable commercial interests at play here that serve, at times, to counter that effort but come on guys and gals, this is a very immature space; we need to get over petty semantics and move things along.

Let me ask this open question; “Do customers truly make a purchasing decision based on whether a proposed solution utilizes high fidelity, real-time 3D”? In some cases this may indeed be the case but only where that technology approach is appropriate to that customer’s needs. The key word in my question is ‘solution’. We really need to get away from dry academic definitions of the umbrella terminology and recognize that the only reason Serious Games will achieve large scale adoption is if they are proven to solve real world problems be they of a societal, educational, performance improvement or any other nature. And I am sorry, but we also need to get away from the entrenched view that a Serious Game must be ‘engaging’ especially when people take that to mean ‘fun’ or use phrases like ‘stealth learning’. The harsh reality is that this is not always the case nor indeed should it be.


I have had, on a number of occasions, our company added to the Wikipedia entry for Serious Games only to see it removed, in some cases, within a few hours. The most recent removal edit included within the explanation (opinion actually) for our removal, a reference to “2 bit companies”. Leaving aside the messed up world that is Web 2.0 sources of ‘reputable’ information without sound editorial control, my initial reaction is relate to the early years of the entertainment games space where most developers would hardly have been characterised as, for example, ‘major players.’ I’d happily wager that my company has achieved revenues that exceed 90% of the players in this space so am I to believe that commercial success – along with sound governance and business processes – is not a key determining factor in what defines what is or is not a ‘real’ company?


I am not writing this article to justify our inclusion in a Wikipedia entry – there are far more serious issues to concern ourselves with here – rather I am trying to force an open debate about whether this really is the tightly knit community which we like to think it is or should we openly admit that it is the nature of our customer groups (or funding sources) which define several quite different sectors? That is certainly the view of the eLearning Guild, a highly respected (and very large) community of eLearning professionals which, earlier in 2007, published a very well-researched report into how the corporate space responded to the term Serious Games and concluded that the term ‘Immersive Learning Simulations’ was far more appropriate for describing how game and simulation techniques can bring tremendous benefits to corporate training.


It is my earnest view that technology choices are not the defining factor in this debate. Teachers use chalk, ink pens, white board markers and interactive white boards but they are still teaching irrespective of the ‘technology’ they choose to adopt. If ‘Serious Games’ is in fact the best umbrella term for this space then surely ‘qualification for entry’ is based on the following criteria:


Does the nature of the application draw upon strong game design principles, simulation design competencies and a capability, derived from the worlds of training, education, marketing, advocacy etc, to meld these to solve real world problems where ‘entertainment’ is not the primary goal?”


If we are honest with ourselves and put our preconceptions aside for a moment we all know very many companies, products and services which defiantly fit into this criteria but which do not use ‘game technology’. Similarly it is also pretty easy to identify those so-called applications (or, more often than not, content) which is/are being sold as such but which are in fact solidly based in more traditional edutainment, eLearning or CBT approaches.


So my challenge to you, Mr Wikipedia watcher and, indeed, this entire community is this; put aside your negative preconceptions, knock that chip of your shoulder and go do something more productive instead. If we don’t act like a community and focus on building it out then the Wikipedia entry for Serious Games in 2010 will probably read something like:


“Serious Games, 1999-2007; a short-lived uncomfortable coexistence of hard core computer gamers, 5 star generals, social activists, training professionals and academics which was characterised by short term thinking, manifest in-fighting, territory grabbing and overzealous hype that promised so much and delivered so little.”

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