L3.0 Wrap-Up: The Next BIG Thing

Melding technology and training, the Learning 3.0 Conference delved into social networking, innovation, engagement, and much, much more.

Some 310 training professionals gathered at Training’s first Learning 3.0 Conference in Chicago last month to discover the industry’s next transformation and how it will affect their organizations. They heard from innovative thinkers on topics such as “When Games Invade Real Life and Gamify Work,” “Leveraging Social Media to Change the Enterprise,” “How the Brain Science of Attention Will Change the Way We Learn,” and “Cultivating the Imagination: Building Learning Environments for Innovation.”

Conference attendees also had the opportunity to test their social media skills in the Tower Challenge Twitter Game and to take a special Navy tour of Recruit Training Command.

Here are some takeaways from a few of the keynote presentations:

“RELAX. That’s my keyword for all of us living and working and learning together in this ever-changing 21st century. Since that fateful April day in 1993 when Mosaic 1.0, the first popular Web browser, was unleashed upon an unwitting public, we have seen historic changes in the way we communicate, exchange ideas, do business, and conduct our social life, ways that a previous generation could not have imagined even in the wildest science fiction. Some 90,000 people around the world would together, without remuneration, volunteer to build the largest encyclopedia the world has ever known, without a game plan, and with volunteer editors, with content published anonymously and now the seventh most used Website on the planet? Impossible! Sociologists in 1993 would have said humans just aren’t built that way. But we are. We are living and adjusting amazingly well to the changes around us. Now, we need to relax; breathe deeply; think about what the last 18 years have brought us; and think about the best, most practical, most creative ways we can use these tools (for that is what they are) to help us. They do not control us. They do not control our minds. They do not control our brains. It is up to us to appreciate how well we have done and then to think of the best ways to use these new tools to serve us (rather than us serving them). Now is also a great time to rethink our industrial age institutions of school and business in order to maximize our potential in this new interactive digital age.”

—Cathy N. Davidson, author of “Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn”; a professor at Duke; and co-director, the annual HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation $2 million Digital Media and Learning Competitions

“What we describe in ‘A New Culture of ]Learning’ is learning driven by the relentless pace of change. It takes place without books, without teachers, and without classrooms, and it requires environments that are bounded yet provide complete freedom of action within those boundaries. This familiar dynamic, in fact, structures all our contemporary notions of play, games, and imagination. Play can be defined as the tension between the rules of the game and the freedom to act within those rules. But when play happens within a medium for learning—much like a culture in a petri dish—it creates a context in which information, ideas, and passions grow. Play, questioning, and imagination lie at the very heart of arc-of-life learning. They have a tremendous effect on, and resonance with, learning today. And where imaginations play, learning happens.”

Douglas Thomas, co-author (with John Seely Brown), “A New Culture of Learning”; associate professor, University of Southern California in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

“If you really want to improve the engagement level of your training experience, focus on how you can make it more pleasurable, in as many ways as possible. The tenets of self-determination theory (competence, autonomy, and connectedness) are a good starting point.”

Jesse Schell, game designer; director, Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center; and former creative director, Disney Virtual Reality Studio

Atwitter for the Tower Challenge

The Tower Challenge Twitter game aimed to encourage and challenge learners of all experience levels to engage in and experiment with a variety of social media tools, including twitter, Scvngr, qik, and Wikitude.

By A.J. Ripin

Nearly one-third of the 310 Learning 3.0 Conference attendees tested their social media mettle by participating in the Tower Challenge Twitter Game.

With more than 200 million registered Twitter users across the globe and 1 billion-plus new Tweets posted every day—that’s close to 2,000 Tweets every second (Touch Agency, July 2011)—the game aimed to encourage and challenge learners of all experience levels to engage in and experiment with many of these useful, fun, and readily available social media tools. Gamers progressed through using technologies such as QR Codes and Augmented Reality, to sending their first Tweets or sharing camera photos of themselves with other conference attendees, to Twitter and Facebook.

Gamers competed against themselves and other attendees by answering Chicago- and conference-themed trivia questions through e-mail to earn game points to their Twitter accounts. Here are some examples of a few questions (for any gamers reading this article, the answers are at the end of the article):

The Chicago Post Office at 433 W. Van Buren is famous for which of the following:

A. Oldest Post Office

B. Home of the Barefoot Mailman

C. Only Post Office You Can Drive a Car Through

D. Notorious Hideout for Al Capone

What is #Learning3 presenter John Ambrose’s (SkillSoft) Fifth of Eight Truths in Social Learning?

Additionally, participants received interactive Challenges, which required gamers to use various social media tools such as Meetup, Scvngr, Wikitude, and Qik, as well as multimedia features of their smartphones such as camera, GPS, and mobile apps. The mobile apps were either free or low cost and enabled rapid authoring in the areas of social engagement, gaming, augmented reality, and video streaming. We triggered interactions in ways that were easily transferable in organizations within the areas of leadership, compliance, and onboarding. Here is a sample Tweet from a participant who earned game points by posting a picture of themselves and a few fellow attendees:

Tweet from @lpethybridge: @towerchallenge with Cheryl, Jason, and Carrie…what a great conference. pic.twitter.com/zAWiu3gT

As participants earned points and competed for prizes through game play, they were periodically prompted to cast votes through Twitter in support of one of 40 famous Chicagoans in the areas of politics, history, sports, and pop culture. Digital avatars from the likes of President Obama, Dorothy Hamill, Oprah Winfrey, Walter Payton, Ernest Hemingway, and Al Capone competed in a race to the top of Chicago’s Willis Tower. Gamers’ points transferred to these Chicago icons in the form of votes cast through Twitter. Each point provided the candidates the campaign support critically needed to climb up the more than 100 flights of Chicago’s Willis Tower.

Here are a few votes sent by gamers:

Tweet from @SharTek: @towerchallenge I’m casting my vote for Robin Williams #votewilliams. I just love that funny guy! #learning3

Tweet from @GayleB123: @towerchallenge #voteobama because he’s our president!

Tweet from @paigefedex: @towerchallenge I cast my vote for #votewinfrey, loved the training conf!

Tweet from @lpethybridge: @towerchallenge you should never cross a gangster #votecapone

“The Interactive Leader Boards we developed, whether highlighting the Top 10 Gamers or tracking the Chicagoans up the tower, provided cohesion to the various technologies being used,” explains Richard Sites, studio executive at Allen Interactions. “The integration of graphics with the Moving Knowledge game engine provided participants with a centralized location to visit for real-time information on game play.”

Although talk show hostess, actress, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey was leading the Tower Challenge for a majority of the contest, in the final hours of the competition, Walt Disney received just enough votes to surpass the Queen of Chicago and hold off other late movers such as NBA star Michael Jordan and architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Evidently, Disney Magic extended to the hallways of Chicago’s McCormick Place—the site for this year’s Learning 3.0 Conference.

With the Tower Challenge, we hoped to introduce attendees to new technologies and their potential for engaging students and developing constructive and participant-focused models of education. The full extent to which we succeeded remains to be seen in how the participants develop and deliver their training from here on, but player reactions suggest that not only were they engaged but inspired and ready to translate this experience into practice: In fact, 27 New Twitter accounts were created during game launch.


Van Buren: The only Post Office you can drive a car through. This famous Chicago landmark has been used in films such as The Dark Knight (2007) and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2010).

Ambrose: “Don’t overlook the importance of discovery.” John’s research finds that the community has to be able to search for community members with relevant interests and expertise, and find them quickly.

A.J. Ripin is a strategist in future and emerging technologies with Moving Knowledge, which specializes in mobile technology systems integration for organizations across the globe. Additionally, Ripin serves as a practitioner with the University of Central Florida Institute for Simulation and Training as part of the Mixed Emerging Technology Integration Lab (METIL), which focuses on advancing the R&D of emerging technology disciplines for learning, knowledge, and human performance. To receive best practices and tips on #mobilelearning, follow him on Twitter @mobilelearning.

Diving Deeper Into Training

More than two dozen Learning 3.0 Conference attendees got to tour the U.S. Navy’s only boot camp and see first-hand how civilians are trained to be sailors. Hosted by the commander of Naval Services Training Command (NSTC), Rear Adm. David F. Steindl, the trainers traveled to Recruit Training Command (RTC) in Great Lakes, IL, to see the innovative ways used to train Navy recruits today.

The visit began with a tour at RTC’s premiere trainer and the Navy’s largest simulator, USS Trayer (BST 21). Trayer is a 210-foot-long Arleigh Burke-class destroyer simulator where recruits complete the last evolution of their eight weeks of boot camp training, Battle Stations, before they graduate. Battle Stations is a grueling 12-hour culmination of basic training where recruits work as a team to accomplish 17 scenarios that include putting out a fire and stopping flooding in a magazine compartment.

For three years, recruits have been using video computer gaming as a training tool to prepare them to navigate around a ship, stop compartment flooding, and fight fires. Virtual Environments for Ship and Shore Experiential Learning (VESSEL) is the game-based training system that all recruits train with at RTC. The training professionals were given the opportunity to observe recruits operating VESSEL.

One of the last parts of the tour was of the USS Missouri Simulated Arms Marksmanship Trainer (SAMT), where recruits first become familiarized with firing a weapon. Tour participants took turns firing the simulated laser-guided, air-compressed, 9-millimeter handguns and 12-gauge shotguns.

“Witnessing the simulation and focused training plan for Navy recruits reminded me of a couple of key items related to implementing an effective training plan: When structuring learning for adults—whether it be the military or any other focus—it is important to remember it is not about the training; it’s about performance,” says tour participant Tim Higgins, CPCU, AU, AIS, manager, Sales and Product Training. “Simulation can be one of the most direct methods of transferring practice to performance.”

For the full article and to read additional takeways from tour participants, visit http://trainingmag.com/article/training-professionals-tour-navy’s-only-boot-camp

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.