Archive for November, 2014

Jawbone – my personal micro-coach

I was given a Jawbone for my birthday five weeks ago (nice 21st gift I hear you say!). A Jawbone consists of a wristband with a motion sensor which gathers data on my activity levels and sleep, and sends it to the UP application on my iPhone.  I manually enter mood information – when the mood strikes me to do so…  I could also enter information on my food and drink intake if I chose.


My wristband transfers data wirelessly to the UP app.  While I don’t fully understand how Jawbone works, I do know that it’s a great example of how micro learning (a series of short learning activities) combined with personalised data-based feedback can enable behavioural change. In this post I’ll focus on how Jawbone has helped me to learn about my well-being and adopt healthier behaviours.

UP1 goals

I set goals for daily hours of sleep and number of steps.  (I have also set a weight goal, but have not bothered to monitor it.)

UP2 SleepWhen I wake each morning I open UP to check on my sleep.  UP has gathered enough data (it keeps 9 months of data) to detect my sleep patterns and gives me personalised feedback and tips.  In response to this I have increased my sleep target from 7 to 7.5 hours.  Because I enjoy achieving goals, my average sleep has increased in pursuit of the target.  Finally, after years of wanting to improve my sleep, I no longer feel lethargic by Thursday.  There is still room for improvement – UP recently recommended that my bedtime needs to be consistent, and provided a link to an article on how much sleep is enough.UP3 Sleep tip

UP4 StreakAs I have a big dog that needs to be walked twice a day I rarely miss my 10,000 step target.  I like to monitor my step progress during the day, and get a kick out of feedback that I’m doing well.  I have have not accepted UP’s suggestions to increase my walking target as I have heard from many sources that 10,000 steps is enough to keep me in good health.

UP Weekly Summ3I receive a weekly summary email which reports overall progress, highs and lows of the week, compares my results to the previous week and my historical averages, as well as sometimes to average data for women in my age group.  The fact that I often walk over 60 kilometres per week demonstrates the cumulative effect of daily goals.

In addition to goal tracking and customised tips, microlearning also comes in the form of generic well-being tips with links to more detail.  I read all 3 to 4 tips daily, and click through perhaps 3 times a week.  I find the tips relevant and helpful to making minor adjustments to build a healthier lifestyle.

I’ve not turned on the feed to Twitter or Facebook from UP – I don’t need the public accountability to motivate me, and I don’t want to bore anyone with my statistics.

The experience of building my awareness and changing habits through a powerful combination of an ongoing flow of information, tips and personalised data-based feedback has me thinking about how to apply this in my Learning & Development role.  Micro-learning possibilities include:

  • breaking down bigger courses or replacing part of a course previously delivered in a single ‘event’ into a series of smaller pieces of information or activities and drip-feeding them to participants. Micro-learning could be used to either replace an entire ‘event’ based course, or as pre- or post-learning.
  • asking a group of people a daily or weekly question with responses posted on Enterprise Support Network (ESN)
  • encouraging SMEs to post a daily tip or ‘how to’ instruction on our ESN
  • sharing a daily link to existing performance support materials

To identify where and how we could readily use performance data to provide an ongoing flow of personalised feedback and improvement tips I need to improve my understanding of data available in my organisation.  I’ll post about this when I’ve looked into it.

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Supporting Narration – from Role Modelling to Guided Learning

For a number of months I have been using a strategy of role modelling, encouragement and positive reinforcement to support others in my work team to narrate their work.  I have written previously about the Working Out Loud 3 Habits experiment that I tried.  This strategy has had mixed results.  Three of the ten group members are posting on our ESN at least once a week.  On one hand, a 30% online community participation rate is relatively good.  However, we are aiming to build online communities and encourage people across the business unit to share their expertise via narrating their work.  As the Capability Community are key learning change agents, it’s important to increase their online narration as part of shifting their mindset and skills to enable them to lead and support others.

Recently I’ve been working with support of an external consultant, Helen Blunden of Activate Learning, on analysis and planning of a Community of Practice (COP) for our maintenance and engineering teams. During discussions with team members we have asked them about their view of narrating their work.  Their responses have been similar to feedback from the Capability Community.

Narrating ReactionsPeople don’t necessarily see the point of narrating their work.  They’re unsure of the benefit to themselves or others.  They can’t see how to fit it into their work flow when they are busy and it just feels like another task to do.  They don’t know how to do it – either how to use the online tools or how to talk about their work.  There are also psychological barriers – concerns about what others will think of them and read into their motives.

After discovering John Stepper’s Working Out Loud blog I have been thinking that a guided mastery approach could help to address these common barriers.  Last week in her Learning@Work keynote address on learning in a social workplace, Jane Hart provided the term I have been looking for to describe the approach that we shall adopt – Guided Social learning.  This semi-structured approach ‘scaffolds’ an online social learning process for participants providing them with some content/guidance and activities to get them started connecting with others and narrating their work.  The intent is to enable them to transition to continuous, autonomous online social learning either as a team or individuals.

We shall be designing and developing our Guided Social Learning program which we will launch internally in early 2015.  Although the program will include curated resources from the internet, it will be customised to our organisation – our tools, people and context.  I’m looking forward to working on this as I complete the Guided Social Learning Experience Design Program offered by the Modern Workplace Learning Centre this month.

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SharePoint Capability Team Site – An Example

This post describes the team site we’ve set up on SharePoint 2013 for our internal Capability development team.  The purpose of the site is to:

a) Support the work and knowledge sharing of the core Capability Community in our business unit. This is a virtual team consisting of 10 people spread across Australia.  This group develop and execute Capability strategy and programs.

b) Publish learning program content other than eLearning which is hosted on other platforms – to which we link from this site.  Used by everyone in the Business Unit.

The site front page is a standard template set up when a team site request is approved.  We have then designed and setup the site using the standard navigation features and web apps which our IT department has made available to us.  Key features and how the site is used are described in the series of labelled screen shots below.

We generally keep all content open for everyone to access, and for all members of the Capability Community to edit.  The exception to this is skill assessments and budget information to which we restrict access via permissions.

Front page layout

SCTA Front page

Front page menu

SCTA Front menu


OneNote Notebook

SCTA Notebook

National Page

SCTA National page

Blog Site


Academy Training Courses and Assessments

SCTA Courses dashboard page

Learning Program Page – Example

SCTA Program page


What Could We Improve?

A couple of ideas that spring to mind are:

  • Adding a Welcome page with a link from front page and moving the Business Unit Director’s welcome message from the National Page to this page.  Also linking to the Welcome page from the Academy Training Courses and Assessments page.  This would make the Welcome message more accessible to broader audience rather than being tucked away on a page visited almost exclusively by the Capability Community.
  • Expanding use of the blog, which is primarily used to communicate regular updates regarding programs we are working on in Capability.  We could use it for education about key elements of our Capability strategy, including use of links to internet content.  We could also feature people involved in Capability (e.g. operators who are training and assessing others, learners who are completing our programs).

What are your suggestions?






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