Saturday, December 31, 2011

Game on, 2012, game on.

I got a dog.
I taught a graduate class on game design. 
I said JFDI (the actual words ;) on stage during the closing keynote at DevLearn. 
I finally took the kiddos to Disney World. 
I sold my company. 
I signed a book deal. 
I held out hope, had my hopes dashed and had my hopes renewed. 
I signed The Book. 
I joined a choir. 
I drove 37 hours over 5 days with 3 kiddos and a puppy. 
I closed some chapters, started some new ones and left some to be continued. 
I leaned on my friends and they leaned on me. 
I laughed until I cried. 
I cried until I laughed. 
I got my first tattoo.
I took up photography and took beautiful pictures. 
I tweeted and blogged and tumblr'd and flickr'd.
I danced. A lot. And not always in my living room :)
I read the entire Game of Thrones series (so far). 
I strengthened friendships that I can't imagine living without.
I watched my kiddos grow in ways I could never have predicted.
I grew in ways I could never have predicted.
I learned. 

So let's dance, 2012. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Love means never having to say you're sorry

I have a really bad habit of apologizing for...everything. Problems big and small, things that I did directly, or things that I had nothing to do with, chances are if you are upset about something and tell me about it, I'll apologize. Its not that I walk around carrying the weight of the world; I just tend to take on responsibility for things in an attempt to alleviate the burden on everyone else. So I'll say I'm sorry for all manner of things and shift the responsibility of dealing with issues from other people to myself, as if to say "this is my fault, I'll try to fix it and make things better for you."

I've decided to stop apologizing.

It's not that I don't want to offer support or friendship or kindness, but just the simple act of apologizing misplaces responsibility when the apology isn't warranted and puts me in a position of constantly being responsible to everyone. Quite frankly, I make enough mistakes on my own without taking on other people's.

So I'm not sorry that you've made mistakes that have caused bad things to happen, or that sometimes bad things just happen, and I'm not sorry that my feelings, requests, or needs might make you feel uncomfortable or demand that you take some action and I'm not sorry that other people in your life have done you least not to the extent that I'm willing to take responsibility for it. If you need me, I'm here. I'll listen and commiserate and maybe even make poignant dartboard targets to take out your aggression on. I'll be honest with you and if you ask for my opinion, I'll give it to you straight up. But I'm not going to apologize.

I'm pretty sure I'll screw up spectacularly and often, and yes, I'll apologize when I should. Heartfelt and with intention to not make the same mistakes twice.

But I'm not going to apologize for things I didn't do anymore. And if you do hear me apologize? You'll know I really mean it.  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

You can't measure learning, but you can measure behavior

I'm overstating it a bit with the title of this post, because sure, you can measure knowledge acquisition by pre-testing and post-testing, or iterative assessment. I know, I know...we can measure how much someone knows because we have standardized tests! (I really hope the sarcasm is evident in text...)

I spent the last three days at the mHealth Summit in Washington, DC and 19 hours manning the Ayogo booth, talking to amazingly interesting people about the potential of games to improve health outcomes. What mattered to everyone? It wasn't what people know...amazingly, most everyone actually knows what they need to do to be healthier. The challenge is to get people to actually DO those healthy things that will help them better manage their diabetes, reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease, etc.

When it comes to health, but really when it comes to ANYTHING, there is a knowing-doing gap. We all know then why are we as a learning profession settling for assessing knowing? Knowing is not doing. The proof is in the behavior, and behavior can be easily measured.

We live in an age where everything we do is tracked. Do you carry a cell phone? Your wireless carrier knows where you take that phone all day, every day. Do you use a credit card or bank card? All of your purchases are tracked. Do you log onto the Internet? Every site that you visit is logged and recorded (yeah...I delete the history. That just means your kids won't see those sites your visiting...but your Internet service provider still knows).

All of that data, and more...everything you post on Facebook, Twitter...everything you email...anything you do is trackable now. And more ways to track behavior are being created every day...sleep monitors, pedometers, glucose monitors...there is data EVERYWHERE and its all about you. And me. And the guy sitting in traffic next to you who's using his gps.

With all of this data, we can start making predictions about future outcomes. We can target specific communities or subsets of employees, populations, learners. We can provide information to the most relevant audiences in the most appropriate places.

As learning professionals, we should be thinking more closely about the implications of that data and what it means to know so much about a person's current status and the implications for her future status. Can we change the future? Why yes...yes we can. We can observe current behaviors, predict future outcomes, and use our expertise in learning and performance improvement to change behavior to improve those future outcomes.

We have access to so much behavioral data. How do we get people to change their behavior, when we know that people operate in a world of short-term benefit over long-term reward? We're not going to change those behaviors through knowledge training...we'll only change them through behaviorally-focused training. Games, simulations, contextualized practice...immersive learning environments are the bridge between having access to data and changing behavior for better results.

We can, and already do, measure behavior in almost every aspect of our lives. Learning professionals need to stop focusing on knowledge and start focusing on behavioral change as the basis of our design practice or risk obsolescence (see: Instructional Design is Dead). Our jobs aren't about making sure people know things...they are about making sure people can do things better. We can design those experiences and measure those outcomes. If we aren't doing that, we're not doing our jobs.

Gauntlet thrown.