Okay, I'll start. (instrumental music
Hello, and welcome to the Christmas Podcast, It's a Wonderful Lifelong Learning. I'm Nicola Boyle and this week, we really are doing something different. I'm joined by the GoodPractice guardian angels, Owen Ferguson, Ross Dickie, and Ross Gardner. Hi, Owen
Glad tidings to you.
And hi, Ross
This week, our special guest is Bedford Fall's very own George Bailey. How are you, George?
Oh, terrible, Nicola. Terrible. That old Mr. Potter... He's got his sights set on the old Building and Loans and here I am trying to raise the performance of the team, and no matter how many courses or workshops I give them, I'm still left, at the end of the day, rubbing two dollars together, hoping they make babies. Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to lasso the moon. I wish I'd never got into learning and development
Is there such a thing as subtitles for podcasts?
Well, don't you worry, George. Your Guardian Angels and I will try to prove the true meaning of L&D to you. We've each picked two clips from the 2019 GoodPractice Podcast catalog, which we hope will demonstrate why you should stay in L&D and keep learning in 2020 and beyond
Owen, would you like to go first and tell us which clips you've picked and why
Sure. Okay, George. I have picked out for my first clip one that I think gives you a few great reasons to stick around in learning and development next year. So this is from our 150th live special earlier in the year. And it features Andy Lancaster, who's head of the CIPD. He's making the case for it being the best time to be working in learning and development. But what I also hope that you'll get a sense of, George, is the wonderful community spirit that's out there between L&D professionals. So this episode was recorded in a pub in London, and there were all manner of passionate, brilliant L&D people who came along to listen to a bunch of folk chat about L&D, which I think is just brilliant. So that's my first clip.
What we would advocate and what we're seeing is we need to manage risk much better in terms of learning. So mistake-based learning is probably the best way in the flow of work that you can learn. Most of us have made mistakes, which have been hugely valuable for us. And yet, we try and sanitize organizations and say that no one can ever make a mistake or they're restructured out or whatever that might be. So I think part of our role in transition, the future or learning there, is to recognize as a profession we're in a transition right now where we've had, quote, ""control"" over much of this, or we thought we had control, but we're just recognizing actually this sits with the learners
So to Michelle's point, I think we still need face to face, I think someone made the point about we would need networking, absolutely. So let's not design classrooms where we need networking, while we're in this transitional space. And coming back to some of the things, we have a tendency to rubbish what's gone before without taking the best of it, and I think, Owen, you made a really good point around that one. So I'm not picking on whether it be neuroscience, or learning styles, or whatever these things are, we need to recognize they were of their time, but now we move on and as take the best of those things and apply them now. So I guess
You put neuroscience in there? That's a controversial statement, isn't it
Putting neuroscience in not all of it's true? Do you believe all the neuroscience stuff is true, Ross
No, I don't really believe any of it. But I mean, I believe the stuff that's coming from neuroscientists.
Yeah, but that is a very small segment of what we were talking about
But you see, here's the L&D ... this is stereotype in the L&D profession. What we'll do is we'll take half baked neuroscience and put all of our chips on there as something while we're exploring it. I think if you recognize you're in transition, this is a good place to be right now, that is happening in the workplace, we need to validate use of technology. Coaching is not for senior executives, coaching is for everybody, and we need to recognize that everybody needs the option to be coached, everybody to have the option of mistakes. We need communities that practice all those kinds of things
So I think learning right now in work is in a brilliant place because we've suddenly woken up to the fact that this is going on. And what we need to do is get behind this stuff and fan it into flames, rather than worrying about our own existence
Yeah. (applause) Round of applause. Absolutely.
I like that you picked a clip where Andy said you'd made a good point.
It was difficult for me to pick clips that didn't include something like that, to be honest. It happens so often
It's a good clip. I think what's nice about it is often when we're speaking on a podcast or at conferences or wherever, they want to sound like they're saying something new so they'll tend to rubbish what came before and I think part of what Andy's saying there is a lot of what we do in learning and development is difficult but most of what we do is good and there's opportunity to be better at it. So it was a nice clip
Yeah. I thought so, too. I mean, I think there is a tendency generally to be very sort of down, particularly at conferences of the things that aren't working, the things everybody is doing wrong, rather than pointing out the things that we are doing well and trying to be sort of more encouraging. So I think it was quite the arousing sort of call to action
I thought you were going to say, particularly at Christmas. I saw that coming a mile away but it was a terrible thought to have
And, Ross D, how about you? What clips would you like to pick for George
So the two clips I've selected, part of the reason that I've chosen these clips is that generally after recording a podcast I can tell if it's gone well based on whether or not I get a message from Owen talking about the episode, generally of the skit, the file, but sometimes if the episode has gone particularly well we'll actually continue the conversation off air afterwards and that is generally a sign that I've done an acceptable job as host
So the first of these is from an episode that we did with Don Taylor on discussing the results of the global sentiment survey, which is basically taking a pulse check of the industry and sort of trying to predict what will be hot in L&D in 2019. We recorded this back in March I think it was so I thought it would be interesting to look back now and see whether or not those predictions have been born out. The sort of overall take was that 2019 would be the year of data and the clip that we're going to play is specifically about learning analytics
What I find really interesting is the rise of learning analytics here. Number three on the list but number one amongst the close group, the narrow group. Analytics have been around for an awfully long time in one way or another. I don't know that anybody I could speak to could give the same definition as the person standing next to them as to what learning analytics actually means, but I think there's a strong sense that there's data here which we could interpret and help us to do things
One is to, and I think people use this and probably incorrectly, one is to prove the value of what we're doing. But I don't believe that's necessarily where the power of learning analytics lies. The other is to improve the process of what we're doing. So we don't have to prove but we have to improve with learning analytics and that's very powerful. You'll see where your people are picking out stuff, performing better, correlate that with certain things you've done and tweak it to do a better job next time. That is really happening now and a lot of people like Lauren Nells Hoffman talking about this and doing a great job explaining, again, in detail why it's achievable. I think that combination of something that's sexy, hot and interesting and probably I could do it together is what drives something up the table
Yeah, the learning analytics piece I think was really interesting and, you know, you could speculate that showing value and consulting more deeply with a business have both fallen, compared to the previous years' results, but with learning analytics being a new addition this year you could speculate that those two are tied in peoples' heads. So that's actually sort of being able to show data for buying the sort of learning interventions that we're doing actually sort of helps kind of tick those two boxes in a way
I would hope so. My fear is that showing value just sounds desperately dull these days but learning analytics sounds more sexy.
And it's old wine in new bottles, I'm afraid.
Yeah, the emperor's new clothes
It's an interesting notion that learning analytics sounds sexy.
Yeah, well I think that the point Don was making was that compared to showing value to the business and this sort of slightly glib reading, my slightly glib reading of the results was that actually we're talking about the exact same things that we've always been talking about and learning analytics is actually just sort of, more sort of noise than signal, where actually learning analytics kind of taking the place of consulting more deeply with a business and showing value and kind of justifying your own existence. But I think the sort of more stern reading of it is that it is actually, the interest in learning analytics, partly just about our search and desire to learn from things that we've done in the past, kind of as Andy was saying, and then sort of build on those going forward and sort of improve. I think it's quite an interesting time to be in learning and development for that reason
It's a really positive thing that something as based on crunching the numbers is as near the top of the things that people are excited about and learning about and I think it represents a change and how new in it the profession is. So there's bags of potential there. I mean, we're just at the start of our journey with that stuff. But I think, you know, for George it might represent a positive sign that the profession is moving in the right direction and that change is actually happening
Yeah, a note of caution for George, though, I think as he looks at learning analytics, is I think there might be a tendency to, instead of measuring what you're doing to kind of do what you can measure. It kind of shifts your focus towards what can we do that's going to generate some numbers that we can crunch, rather than kind of starting out with a question. So I think whenever you're doing anything with learning analytics, what is it you want to know rather than what data do you have? Owen disagrees
No, I don't disagree. I think that I agree with what you're saying, but I think if we're doing things just to generate numbers then I think we're doing that learning analytics piece wrong.
So what you're saying is we shouldn't do learning analytics wrong. We should do it right, which I agree with
So the clip that I've picked is the clip from the episode when we had Joseph Marx on to discuss his book with Steven Martin, Messengers, Who we Listen To, Who We Don't and Why. So this particular example, it's quite a funny example that made me laugh, and it's about rectal earache.
And although it's quite humorous it does give a thought-provoking example of why we tend to believe those who we perceive as competent or of a certain socio or economic position, which actually I don't know if the three of you also find this, but Whenever it's Strangers, by Gladwell, which we also covered in a previous episode, I thought there were parallels in both books between why we tend to default the truth and why we seem to believe other people or certain people over others, especially when we perceive that they have some sort of authority over us. I think this clip, it just shows that in a world where fake news is really prominent it can be difficult to differentiate fake news from factual news so it's important for us to be aware of our subconscious bias and the reasons why we might believe certain types of people over others.
Essentially it was from a medication errors textbook and they had an entry called the Strange Case of Rectal Earache. And apparently what happened was there was a... the nurse checked a patient who was complaining of a painful right ear and thought there might be some inflammation so called the doctor in and the doctor directly spotted that indeed there was an inflammation in the right ear so wrote a prescription. And instead of writing on the prescription that three drops should be placed into the patient's right ear, abbreviated and wrote three drops to be placed in the patient's R ear. So then the nurse surely carried out what she thought was the doctor's instructions, and asked the patient to adopt a position and placed three drops into the patient's rectum.
What was fascinating about this is not just the obvious kind of embarrassingly funny kind of outcome, but the fact that at no point did the nurse question the doctor's very strange instructions that to treat an ear inflammation you would insert drops into a very different route. Exactly. Nor did the patient question the nurse because they were both deferring to somebody higher up in the chain, the status chain, and somebody who they presumed knew what they were doing
One of the things that I love about that clip is that there is such a thing as a medication errors textbook.
You would love that.
Yeah. It does make me want to go out there and see if I can find it and find other examples. See if there's answers out there. It's probably based in London.
It's a good clip, though. It's a nice way to think about the power structure that exists within organizations L&D need to operate within because I think what's happening then is that the nurse then has to balance the short-term risk of speaking up and being embarrassed versus the kind of long-term risk of something bad happening and clearly thought, ""The long-term risk isn't that big a deal. It'll probably be fine. I'll just keep my mouth shut.""
Even outside of L&D into sort of OD kind of space you're kind of wanting to create that culture where people feel like they can speak up, even if they're wrong
Yeah, absolutely. And also, you know, to put this into George's context, you know it's probably the worst reason you're concerned about what Mr. Potter is asking you to do, just being all workshops and what have you. And just because Mr. Potter is in a position of authority doesn't mean that he's always going to be right. So there's some lesson there about not being order takers, but being consulting with your customers
Yeah, absolutely. I agree. And Ross G., how about you? Which clips have you picked
So it wouldn't be Christmas on this podcast without a mention of libertarian paternalism, our favorite topic. So this clip..
Our favorite topic?
My favorite topic. So background for the non-loyal listeners, libertarian paternalism, which you'd structure choice in such a way that it's libertarian, people do have the right to choose, but should be paternalistic in a sense that we nudge them towards making the so-called right choice
In this clip we've got an author, Julie Dresen, giving a bit of background to how we should think about the way that people make choices and then use the understanding to shape the decision making context in such a way that it encourages libertarian paternalistic better choice
You know, the issue of the libertarian paternalism and the Thaler stuff was the idea of can you do things where you don't take people's choices away but you help them make better choices? Within the behavior chains it's a fairly common accepted idea that there's different... innately in you there's different influencers who are helping with your decision making and if you're reading Daniel Kahneman and he's talking about system one and system two, the metaphor that I usually use for it is the one from Jonathan Haidt, which talks about the rider and the elephant.
And so they talk about the elephant being this visceral, emotional part of your brain, so the part of your brain that hits the snooze button when you're in bed on a cold morning and it's nice and warm and comfortable. Even though your rider knows that this is going to cause you a whole bunch of hassle later on, your elephant is like, ""It's warm and it's nice and it's pleasant right here. I think we should stay a little longer."
Yeah, so the rider is like the logical part of the brain and wants to do certain things and the elephant will go, to a certain extent, but then it's distracted by some nuts. And it's often the elephant that takes over and makes decisions for us
But the issue is almost every behavior change problem have delayed or absent feedback. So if you start an exercise program today and you enjoy the act of exercising it pays off right away. But if you're starting an exercise program and you don't enjoy exercising you don't see positive benefits from that for, I don't know, four weeks, six weeks, months, maybe, depending on..
I'm still waiting.
Yeah, I know, right
So a late 2019 update on the exercise thing, I am continuing to wait for that feedback. I think what's nice about that clip and what's useful for George when he's thinking about his role in L&D for Mr. Potter is a lot of what we want to do in L&D is encourage people to do stuff or stop them doing stuff. And I think part of that is not, ""If only they knew more."" It should be, ""Why are they making those decisions in the first place? How can we make it easy to do the right thing and more difficult to do the wrong thing?"
I think as well the point about delayed results. The sort of exercise example there, I think particularly when it comes to things like behavior change, you aren't necessarily going to see the results of a learning intervention straight away. So I think it could be easy to get discouraged if you don't see an immediate improvement but sort of taking more like a long view
Or in the realm of compliance, you know, why do people take a spreadsheet that's got a rig of personal data and send it to an unsecured mechanism rather than the slightly clunky, too fat for authentication kind of file sharing service? Well, they do it because it's much easier to send it over e-mail. You can do it straight away and probably it will be fine. Whereas the thing that's much more difficult probably no one will notice that you're doing the right thing anyway and, you know, it's not accounting for much of a risk
Does everyone know how to do the right thing though? You know, would everyone know that there's an alternative way to do something in that example
Well there's two ways there, right? So there's do they know how to do it? So maybe, maybe not. And then can you make that the easiest option anyway? So not only do they know how to do it but it never occurs to them to do something different because the path of least resistance is the system that you want them to do in the first place
Yeah. Although it's not just about it because there are some things where it's just not possible to make the right thing to do the easiest thing to do. So you need to think about how people attach importance to doing things in the right way. If they don't care, if they don't believe that something is actually, genuinely beneficial then they won't do it. However, they would be willing to take that extra step if they genuinely believe that it's actually worthwhile.
You don't get them feeling that simply by explaining it to them. I think that's the thing where a lot of L&D interventions can fold out is the belief that, ""Well if we just explain it to them why it's important than, of course, they'll believe it. They'll feel that it's true."" So this is where the whole idea of creating experiences to encourage that, so for compliance stuff it's can you create experiences that will encourage people to believe, to feel, that doing things in this other, slightly, more annoying way has genuine benefits both to them and also to the other people that are involved
Yeah, he's not going to appear on this episode, but we talked to Nick Shackleton-Jones earlier this year about this topic, and we will link that episode in the show notes for more on attaching significance to the kind of things that we receive in L&D
Cool. Owen, would you like to tell us and George your second clip that you've chosen
So for my second clip, George, I have taken a different attack. I'll explain why I'll pick it afterwards, but let me just first tee up. So in the run up to this clip, Ross Dickie, Chris Coladonato and I were doing an episode about remote working, a very good, pleasant episode, and then this happened
Sorry, I've just got a notification from Zoom saying I've been signed out but we're still here so I'm just going to keep going
I suppose one of the things with remote workers as well is it depends how remote exactly they are. So, you know, if they are two hours away on the train..
Sorry, I'm in the wrong meeting
Hello, Chris, how are you
I'm fine. How are you?
Just can't let go of hosting, can you
That's definitely going in the show.
Yeah. Absolutely. Goodness me.
I can't remember what I was saying.
How do we keep out...Ross, I thought this was going to be a competently hosted podcast but you let all kinds of gatecrashers in
George, you might be wondering why I chose this clip to help persuade you to stick around in learning and development. You might not know this, regular listeners will, but Ross Garner, the clumsy podcast gatecrasher in that clip, recently won Learning Designer of the Year at the Learning Technologies Awards. I know, it's quite incredible. That guy, who let me put it this way, if he can be an award winning learning designer, so can you. Take charge because we need all the help that we can get
Is this the part of show where we show George what life would be like if he hadn't existed? Ross Garner has won awards. ""Oh, no, that's terrible."
Ross D., how about you? What's your second clip that you've chosen for George
So my second clip is from the episode that we did with Jonathan Marshall about attention spans with apologies to goldfish. Basically we're discussing that the fact it's sort of commonly held and you see lots of headlines about how human attention spans are constantly diminishing to the point that we now have a shorter attention span than goldfish, despite the fact that there's very little data to back this up. And yet it remains a fairly pervasive concept and I think that you can see that in the sort of rise of micro learning and even in the sort of discussions I think that we have around content length and length of videos, that sort of thing, that people would be prepared to watch. Yeah. I just thought it was an interesting discussion
I think the first thing is to talk about what we don't know and just be honest about it, and there's a lot of spurious, you might disagree, but spurious headlines out there about diminishing attention spans, which sort of get increasingly ridiculous. And when you look into the sources they don't really stand up. So, you know, the claims about species-based attention spans for goldfish, humans, and maybe a couple of others, but those would be the two main species that people focus on. There was a whole set of headlines a few years ago, and I'm sure it's still bouncing around the Internet around, oh, my God, we've now got eight seconds of attention span left. This is now less
Goldfish get a hard time.
Yeah, and it's also less than goldfish. When you look into it, there was a Microsoft Canada study and it's absolutely got nothing to do with our headline. They quoted a few things, which people have tried to track down, don't seem to exist. So there's some really great debunking articles if you'd sort of look for Microsoft Canada eight seconds goldfish, et cetera
But I mentioned, and you've maybe seen more of this than I have, but micro learning adverts and some of the latest trends in the industry, people tend to cite this kind of research to ironically grab attention and sell their wares. So I think being very suspicious about any numbers is a starting point because I haven't seen any convincing evidence that it's eight seconds, one hour, eight hours, fifteen minutes, or any of the above
Yeah, this is like one of those classic examples of trying to distill a complicated nebulous topic like attention into a petty statistic that can be easily regurgitated. So the myth that human attention spans have changed, are now shorter than the attention span of a goldfish, to your point, Jonathan, it seems it's almost like the perfect meme. It's almost as if it's been created to be replicated and tweeted. So it's this simple concept that spreads really quickly but I think the thing that disappoints me about how pervasive that is is that even a little bit of critical thought causes it to fall down because the minute you start thinking, ""Well, what exactly is meant by attention in that case?"" You know, when you try and define what it is it gets really messy really quickly. You know, is that where our eyes are focused or if we're listening to something is it about what we're thinking about from moment to moment? You know, how would you even go about measuring that stuff
A really good example there of Owen struggling to hold my attention.
So, yeah, I picked that, it's kind of a sort of cautionary, so a note of caution to George, I guess, is not to necessarily to sort of buy into these sort of ideas that it's difficult not to be swayed by them in some way. I think we've even had discussions around like things being too long and trying to keep them short because we think that viewers aren't going to pay attention to a video that's more than sort of two minutes long. I think it comes back to the point that we're making in the previous example about effective context and giving a learner a reason to care about and, you know, if you give them reason to care about, there's no reason that video cannot be longer than a few minutes. We shouldn't be so terrified of losing our learners' attention
Although it's always possible that the long video just isn't very interesting and so it should be shorter. It's not because it's a hard and fast rule, but don't just make it long because you think people will watch it
Yeah, kind of, although I think we assume that people are not going to find things interesting. I think a lot of that is down to sort of biases or own perspectives on topics possibly
Yeah I think also when we make videos once you've created something you get a bit bored of it and you feel it should probably be shorter. You're not, you don't have the same experience as someone watching it for the first time
Yeah, I would say the flip side of that as well is don't make it short just because you think it should be short. You know, what's the right length for this piece of content? It might be to get across the key point that whatever emotions you want to instill with it. I think what's interesting about that clip for George is that I think there's an opportunity to cut through an awful lot of fat, to get a genuine understanding actually of your brief so that you're helping your stakeholders to understand that, for example, it's not the case that people have an accepted attention span, but actually there's a lot more to it than that and that you can help them by applying proper learning science to what it is that we're doing
It's almost like it's doing us a disservice, or doing people a disservice if you just assume that they won't be interested in something, so therefore make it short and like you say, sometimes it actually warrants something a bit longer and if people are interested in it then they will pay attention. As Owen said in the clip as well, it is a really complex subject and there seems to be this kind of constant need to try and make it simplified and have a headline-grabbing statements about attention span, so, yeah, I find that fascinating, absolutely, as well
So my second clip I've picked from our conversation with Professor Rob Griner on evidence. So quite similar to my last chosen clip on the importance of seeking evidence in a world where we're saturated with information and data and statistics. In the clip, Rob Briner highlights something that I think we sometimes overlook, that evidence doesn't necessarily need to be academic or scientific and you can actually gather evidence from all different types of sources. In almost all circumstances it's better to gather some evidence and assess that evidence rather than not seeking any at all, which can be tempting in a world where we're time short and we just need to make a decision as soon as possible
There's a tendency that people, I guess when they hear evidence they tend to think of scientific evidence and they tend to assume that things published in peer review journals done by academics and professors or whatever is going to be really great quality to some. The fact is it often isn't and it's often not very relevant. It's often quite hard to use. It doesn't mean you shouldn't look at it, and that's true of every source of evidence, that once you look at it, it may be quite poor quality, it may be very hard to kind of actually apply. It doesn't mean you shouldn't look at it, but you should judge the quality of that in the same way you judge the quality of any piece of evidence. It's like what is it really telling you? Are these claims trustworthy, and how can I use it to help me decide what to do
Yeah, well, again, I think there's the opportunity for George as a rigorous but appropriate application of evidence and assessing the quality of the evidence from the context that we're working in. It's somewhat ironic. I think both too much and not enough thought is put in the quality of the academic research that's put out there. There's a lot of fair findings that have been well researched and have been replicated lots of times. We should be paying more attention to that kind of stuff
But there is an awful lot of academic evidence out there that's just as Rob said, completely hard to be able to actually use it for anything useful. And so at that point it's become important that we think about, ""Well if we don't have any good evidence in this particular area that we're looking into, how do we... can we create, can we set up experiments or can we set up a text that will allow us to infer something from what's our there?"" And that's, again, where the opportunity is. And that's exciting stuff
You would find that exciting. I mean, I think our old friend, George Bailey, would do well to think critically about the evidence that he hears and reads, and not just in academia but also on a podcast. You know? I think we often teeter over that line from this is research-backed and this is just what we think and it's not always clear which way we're talking on the podcast. So although our show notes are reasonably extensive and we try to put references for what we're talking about they could probably be better so we encourage people to listen to this podcast with a critical ear and if they disagree with anything or think we're wrong to let us know. We'd always love to hear that. We wouldn't be offended
Yeah, absolutely. And, Ross, or A.K.A. Rose Gardiner, what's the second clip that you've chosen
Rose Gardner, my erotic fiction name. I'll never be able to get away from it. In this, our final clip, I picked this from our Women in Learning episode. Firstly because it was my most uncomfortable experience on the podcast this year. And second because producing this episode led to change in the GoodPractice podcast.
So for context, I had asked our guest, Sharon Kaliouby, with a background in the Women in Learning movement. And she said it went right back to conference sessions from the 1990s when Elliott Masie, the man who coined the term e-learning, ran sessions on this topic. Now I hadn't heard of Elliott Masie before that, but that aside, I then asked if it was telling that it took a man to kickstart the Women in Learning movement. And here's what Barbara Thompson said next, and apologies for my nervous laughter throughout
I was just reflecting on your question about the suggestion that it sort of took Elliott to sort of get this off the ground, to get some momentum, and I think it was an interesting one. I was kind of rocking uncomfortably whist you were saying that because let's not suggest that there's not good work that goes on behind the scenes, but I think that what's helped that momentum is, well, you didn't know about him, but he's a huge household name, so he's going to get some traction. What I've observed is that when women try to do this it becomes sort of, ""Oh, you know, it's a narrative around supporting women."" When guys do that there seems to be much more appreciation for there's a problem so I just wanted you to sort of reflect on that question. I think it's a good question to ask, but let's not suggest that women aren't practically doing this behind the scenes as well
Oh, no, women are definitely doing it, but in my..
No, it was more aimed at Ross, actually, the question
It's true, yeah. But is interesting because I was newer to the industry, I was involved in 2001, and I think in the early 2000s that's the first time I ever saw this topic come up. And I don't know if other people were talking about it, but hundreds of people were sitting in that room. And I think the first time and any time I've done it it's well over 100 people. So that, yeah, there's a lot to say about that.
And I think you're right, Barbara, about saying if women talk about it, it all seems like it's a special project but, yeah. And from a business perspective, I say this from a financial perspective, it's now proven companies with women in senior roles and on boards make more money. So we're not even saying this isn't nice to do. This should be viewed as a business, you know
So I was delighted when Sharon jumped in there because I had nothing to say at this point to Barbara's question. I was quite uncomfortable with the optics of a man hosting this episode, anyway. I felt like quite early on I had sort of put my foot in it, but in prepping for this episode I think it really highlighted the fact that for three years a good part of this podcast had largely been a bunch of white blokes talking, as if the world needs more of that.
So after the episode it felt like we needed to change, and we turned to Nicola, who'd been behind the scenes on the podcast for months, and then made the mistake of implying in the pub that she might be interested in a more active role
Something like that. So Nicola joined the hosting team, which I think has been all for the better, Nicola, how have you found it the past few months
Very nerve-wracking but I'm enjoying it. Thank you.
It's nice to have some competent hosting on the podcast, I could say
So, George, how are you feeling now that you've heard all the clips
I'm so excited! I want to continue in this career. I want to learn and develop and help everyone else do the same for years to come. Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan. Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter! Merry Christmas, everybody
Oh, thank goodness that's over
Merry Christmas, George, you've been an absolute delight and you look incredible
So now that we've spread L&D Christmas cheer, it's time to move on to everyone's favorite feature, What I Learned This Week. Owen, would you like to go first
Yes, this is my second What I Learned This Week, inspired by a tweet from David DeSouza, in as many weeks. And I thought of spiking it for that reason but it is just too good to let it slip by. With the elections on a lot of peoples' minds this year in the U.S. David tweeted about decision making methods called quadratic voting. And you thought that learning analytics was sexy, Ross.
When you're trying to decide between a bunch of options and you need some way of writing them, quadratic voting tries to capture not just the popularity but also the strength of preference for the different options. The idea is that each voter is given a certain number of credits to spend on their vote. Let's say it's 100. And they can spend them on votes for a range of candidates or issues and casting one vote for one candidate or issues costs one credit, but two votes costs four credits, three votes costs nine credits, and so on, up to ten votes would cost all 100 votes of your credit
So, basically, if you really care about one candidate or issue, then you can cast up to 10 votes, but it's going to cost you at the expense of all the credits that you can spend on the other issues you're looking at. I'm actually at this to possibly use for some internal position making. Of course, it's a really Christmas, way to finish off the year? But quadratic voting is well worth looking into to help your decision making processes
But that does sound useful. I actually thought you were going to go a different anchor with it because the day after the election David also tweeted a rap about the planets that his daughter had written, which was far more charming. So we'll link to that as well as your quadratic voting
And, Ross G., how about you? What's your What I Learned This Week
Well, loyal listeners will know that for the entire duration of this podcast I've been working on a part-time Master's in Digital Education out of Edinburgh Uni. It has been a particular slog these last few months because I've been working on my dissertation, which required nine weekends of data collection and then a month of analysis. Last Saturday I handed in my final assignment so it's all over
But what I learned, thank you all, here's what I learned. Make your dissertation as simple as possible. So at the end of my two months of data collection I found a paper where the researchers had sent four variations of e-mail and measured response rate. That's what I should have done. So there will never be a next time, but for anyone who's starting their dissertation or thinking about doing this in the future, what is the smallest study you could do would be a good place to start I think
And, Ross D., how about you? What's yours
I have a very quick one. After casting my vote last week I got in a car and drove up to northwestern Scotland, as far away as you can possibly get. I went to this place called Sandwood Bay, which is a very remote but beautiful beach. It's a four and a half mile walk to get in there and back and I had the whole place completely to myself. It was raining, incredibly windy, but I absolutely loved it. Beautiful place. It felt great to get away from it all and just sort of recall the importance of taking time for yourself.
There's also a very good episode of our podcast, which Nicola hosted with Stephanie Hubka, on work-life balance, which we will stick a link to in the show notes
Especially important at this time of year, I think
Exactly. I thought that pre-Christmas me time.
All you George Baileys out there.
My What I Learned This Week is actually more of a recommendation. So it's the In Our Time series on video four. Last week's episode was all about coffee, so a kind of deep dive into the history of coffee, and there was just quite a few interesting facts in there. So the marketing of the time in the seventeenth century, a lot of it was around how coffee can make you do things faster
One theory that was popular in the Quaker movement was that coffee would make you pray faster so you would be closer to God quicker, which I thought was kind of interesting
Is that the objective, you do it as fast as you can
The establishment of coffee houses in seventeenth century in London and other cities throughout the world was quite well-known, but I didn't know that Lloyd's of London, that that originated from a coffee house. So the discussions that were happening there on trades and banking and things like that basically led to the establishment of the bank that we know today. So I'll put a link in the show notes as well if anyone is interested in coffee and wants to know a bit more about it
You usually have the most interesting What I Learned This Week there.
And that's all from me, the two Rosses and Owen this year. We hope you've enjoyed listening and we look forward to streaming into your ears in 2020. Until then Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from us all. Bye for now
Yeah, you know the bit where he comes to the end and he's like, ""I wish I had a million dollars. Hot dog!"