Let’s turn our corporate training/development efforts and university classrooms into learning communities that create structured content and computable knowledge with immediate economic and social value.
Archive for the ‘Service Innovation’ Category
Massive open online classes (MOOCs) burst onto the education scene over the last few years. Millions of people have taken them with some classes hitting initial enrollments of 100,000 plus! The New York Times dubbed 2012 the Year of the MOOC and the likes of Stanford, Harvard, MIT and Northwestern are MOOCing their educational content and learning experiences.
Studying the effectiveness of MOOCs is a hot topic and definitely relevant for cognitive designers. So I am always on the lookout for scientific quality studies with design implications. For example, a series of working papers has been released on several of the MOOCs run on edX. These MITx working papers include a summary of the experience and papers on individual MOOCs ranging from solid state chemistry to fighting global poverty.
A few of the findings hint at non-traditional learning phenomenon. For example, not surprising completion rates are very low but there is some evidence that those that drop out still engage with the materials during/after the course. This signals big interest in getting access to world-class content but less interest in engaging in structured learning. On average, 50% of the students are leaving within two weeks of enrolling. Further supporting this hypothesis.
Interested to hear from readers that are evaluating MOOCs and considering how we can use them to support and enhance the cognition of learning.
In cognitive design we create artifacts that are optimized for how minds really work. There are five types of “minds” that are important in cognitive design.
- Individual (between the ears) including mental processes and structures in a given person’s brain.
- Extended (in the hand) including objects that we think, learn and create with. For example, an artist’s favorite paint brush or an architect’s model of a building.
- Group (among the heads) including any collection of individuals. For example, a partnership, product development team or therapy group.
- Machine (in a black box) including hardware and software that automates one or more mental processes or structures. For example, the buzzer on your clothes dryer or an expert system a car mechanics uses to diagnosis a problem.
- Emergent (beyond the heads) including a group and/or machine intelligence the delivers a new mental state or level of performance. For example, a prediction market that forecasts a presidential election or the success of a new product better than any individual.
A robust design seeks to distribute cognitive load across the five types of mind. In some applications we look to off-load the mental work that individuals have to shoulder on to groups or machines. In other cases we look to boost mental capacity by creating machine or extended minds that outperform individual or group minds in an important way.
For example, Wikistrat is an example of how to use an emergent mind effects to outperform a group of highly trained individuals. They are using gamification and crowdsourcing to produce high quality reports and forecasts on complex geopolitical and economic issues 5 times faster and for 1/3rd the price of traditional consultancies.
The architecture that creates the emergence is similar to massively multiplayer online games. Wikistrat assembles a group of analysts to develop scenarios for a client’s strategic challenge and then lets gamification kick in:
The chief analyst synthesizes the results and the client has access to all the intelligence via an interactive platform.
Definitely a new way to support the cognitive work needed to generate strategic insights into economic and geopolitical issues.
I get a good number of calls and emails from people wondering what cognitive design can do to help meet the challenge of improving engagement in high-quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The concern is, at least in the US, that enrollment is down just when we need more STEM educated citizens to innovate and compete in the global economy.
Teaching is a hard cognitive design challenge, especially teaching STEM so I generally have a lot of advice to share. Indeed, I have been teaching a physics class to learn more first-hand and experiment with specific cognitive design ideas. One suggestion I often make is create/buy and give cool science toys.
Technical play, often early in life, appears to be a common theme among STEM professionals that are making notable contributions to our economic prosperity.
For a sample across age ranges check out – science is creative and good toys reflect that. The idea is simple. Play by adults or children reveals the magic and power of science and will inspire us to learn more.
Interested to hear from readers that have experience with science toys.
A 2-person firm Supertoy Robotics is looking for 30K pounds on Kickstarter to build the world’s first natural talking teddy bear. They already have a pledge of more than 58K pounds with four days to go. You can get more details on how it should work HERE.
The toy bear is supposed to go beyond Q&A and engage in continuous conversation, read stories and role play in a character. It even moves its mouth.
If the technology works and is affordable it will open up a wide range of interesting applications for cognitive designers and other innovators.
The former CEO of Zeo, a personal sleep management company, has an interesting blog post on using personal health data to change behavior. The post summarizes advice from five years in the trenches and is specific enough to be useful to cognitive designers.
The bottom line is that health data and advice will change behavior if it is personalized, presents a new view on health, relates to an immediate concern (e.g. how I look) and is presented in a comparative and visual way.
Devices like Zeo’s have another important feature for changing behavior. They close the loop quick enough to hold my attention. They use sensors, devices and software to measure my behavior and then show me how the adjustments I make produce a change I want or not. If this happens in a fast and visually stimulating way (like it does in video games or speed limit signs that display my driving speed) then behavior change is more likely to take place.
How are you using personal data to drive behavior change?
The internet of things is made up of our current computer-based internet plus a wide range of other devices that have a sensor and can send or receive information. These other devices include cameras, personal health monitoring devices, phones, cars, parking spaces, Christmas trees, appliances in your home, dog collars, power meters, traffic sensors, toys, fire alarms and many others. One estimate sees 24 billion devices on the internet of things by the year 2020. That’s more than 3 devices for every person on the planet.
By connecting all of these things to the internet we enable direct machine to machine (M2M) interactions. That means one machine controlling or at least communicating with another via the internet. This will also create a river of big data the likes of which we have never seen and enable new services, marketing opportunities and even business models.
Take for example, Budweiser’s Red Light. This device links to the internet via your WIFI and monitors the games of your favorite hockey teams. When a goal is scored it goes off. This enhances the experience of watching the game. A nice example of cognitive design- creating experience value and building brand. To quote:
“Our mission to get every Canadian closer to the game one goal at a time”
How can you build brand on the emerging internet of things? More generally, what new service and business opportunities does it present?
Internet of Things graphic: IEEE Communication Society Blog
Red Light image: The Classic Install
At Cornell University they have been investigating what type of small changes in eating habits produce lasting weight loss. Several years ago researchers ran a Mindless Eating Challenge involving 2000 participants to try and figure it out. They recently published an article that found:
“The results of this study suggest that online interventions based on small changes have the potential to gradually lead to clinically significant weight loss, but high attrition from publicly available or “free” programs still remains a challenge.”
More specifically, 42% of the participants lost about one pound during the program. Approximately 7% of the participants saw a significant weight loss of 5% or more. Some gained weight. Impressive results when you realize how small the changes are. Examples that participants found most effective include:
- Don’t eat directly from a package, always eat from a dish
- Put down utensils between bites
- Keep food out of sight except for healthy items.
These types of changes are easy to make but not for everybody. As pointed out in a Science Daily blog post:
”Common barriers that prevented people from making changes included personally unsuitable tips, forgetting, being too busy, unusual circumstances such as vacations, and emotional eating.”
I am working with a physician to develop a solution that addresses most of these barriers. The solution is a deck of 24 knowledge cards that document the small changes you can make to achieve healthy weight loss.
You use the cards through a free App called NewHabits. You can browse through the deck picking the cards that best fit your circumstances. That way the tips are always suitable. Because the cards are on your iPhone or iPad it is much easier to remember to use them. Cards are designed to fit everyday activities as well as special circumstances (e.g. vacations) and take just minutes to use. That way you can use them no matter where you are or how busy you might be.
Three sample healthy weight loss cards are available in NewHabits. One is shown above. Download the App (it is free), go to the store and look in the coming soon section for Healthy Weight cards. Give them a try and let me know what you think. We expect to publish the rest of the deck in June.
Google released the specs for their new augmented reality glasses, called Glass, two days ago. The glasses come with a 5 mega pixel camera, contain 16 gigs of memory, send sound directly to you inner ear via vibration (no head phones or ear buds) and are synced with cloud storage, your phone and the web.
You speak to the glasses to take pictures, record video and send text messages. Even better you get information from the web that is projected into the transparent rectangle (mini-screen?) on the glasses about location, directions, flight times and facts (e.g. how long is the golden gate bridge). You can even do language translations. To see them in action from Google’s perspective check out How it Feels and from the users perspective these customer videos.
They appear to be very tough and come in a variety of colors including tangerine, charcoal, shale, cotton and sky. You can’t get a pair yet. They did an early release to 7000 explorers that paid $1500 each. They are slated to be in wide release later this year.
Google ventures has teamed up with several other venture capitalists to form the glass collective. The goal is to provide funding and accelerate the development of ”new experiences” based on the glass platform. A major opportunity for ambitious cognitive designers.
Source of images: Glass
For the last several months I have been collaborating with Jason Becker a former student and now COO of RICS software and co-founder of remember.com on developing an App for using and publishing decks of knowledge cards. We just launched NewHabits in Apple’s App store!
NewHabits runs on a micro-learning technique and delivers flash cards for behavior change on a wide variety of life, business and social challenges. The decks are designed to make learning new skills and habits from experience much easier than other techniques. There are 7 decks in the NewHabits store now, 2 are free and there are 6 more in the pipeline. These are just seed decks. Many more are possible. We are actively recruiting new authors and offer royalties and free training and support on how to write decks. Check out the news release for more details.
If you don’t have an iPhone or iPad you can still get a detailed look at the App in this screen walkthrough. I am very interested in hearing from readers with ideas on how to improve the App, use existing decks to meet specific challenges (e.g. organizational change and innovation) or that are interested in authoring new decks. Knowledge cards are good for forging new personal habits, influencing group change and improving training and coaching. Please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 260-433-7923.