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Continuous Improvement Means You Gotta Measure

This post, by Aaron Silvers, originally appeared on the Blog.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to keynote the NextGen LMS conference on Thursday, June 19. Originally, I was asked to address two loosely related topics — one being Continuous Improvement, which is a topic I think about, experiment and learn from, like, all the time; the other around the question of “Who *owns* the LMS?” which has many possible interpretations.

Ultimately, how I bridged the two is that if you’re doing continuous improvement the way we practice it with MakingBetter, using what we call “LEAN Learning” then who owns the LMS really depends on what the LMS is.

If it’s a giant bloated thing with more things going on than you need, no one owns it, because the bloat — the wasted space taken up by things you don’t need and use — gets in the way.

If it is a tool that gives you exactly and only what you need to understand what’s happening with learning in your org, it helps designers design better. Then designers own it.

Ultimately, our first six months as MakingBetter has tested a hypothesis Megan and I had in the creation of the Experience API. We’re finding that the key to understanding xAPI is in figuring out what one needs as a designer to design better, asking that question, and then testing for it in what people do inside the learning (with xAPI) and what they do in work (business result).

Once you start testing the links between what one does with what you design and how that plays out in the workflow, you’re practicing hypothesis-based design. It’s a major shift for instructional designers and learning departments, but it’s how we get out of the rut we’ve made for ourselves over the past fifteen years of eLearning to where successful organizations are going.

For many years we’ve been making up quizzes to “test” learners assuming we as designers were doing everything right. If they mess up on these tests, we assume the learner screwed up. The shift I believe we must embrace is that learners will do what they do, and we need to start testing if we’re designing well enough to influence the outcomes we seek.

Please enjoy the slides and, if you would, share how I can make them better? 🙂

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