From Content to Context—Clark Quinn

This guest post comes to us from Clark Quinn, executive director at Quinnovation and upcoming quinn-clarkspeaker at FocusOn Learning 2016 Conference & Expo.

Increasingly, our world is instrumented. Devices are now equipped with sensors that can tell us a lot about what’s happening in our environment and even with ourselves. Technology can track where we are, both conceptually in an application and physically in the world. Devices can know what we’re doing, where we are, what’s coming up, what’s around us, and more.

In addition, our world is also increasingly connected. With APIs, we can track our progress, link our systems, and have components interact in smart ways. We can use deep analytics and see emergent patterns. We can create solutions that link disparate systems together, having them interact to create solutions greater than the sum of the parts.

This means we can now couple our goals with our location and write systems that link these elements together. What this promises is the ability to start providing support for our performance in context. We can support learning, or just execution, customized for us—what we’re doing, where we are, and more.

What this requires, however, is a new way of thinking. We have to start thinking systemically about contextualized opportunities. We are seeing the burgeoning of these sorts of systems, but to take advantage of them, we have to get context.people-standing_275

At the core is thinking differently about how our brains work. The old model—that it’s all in the head—has been replaced by new models that understand that our thinking is distributed across representations and tools in the environment. Similarly, we are recognizing that our performance is emergent from our context, that we are prone to systematic errors from our cognitive architecture, and that certain types of support naturally minimize or eliminate the likelihood for error.

When we couple this new way of thinking about our thinking with the new capabilities available, we have on tap new possibilities to optimize our ability to do. With a focus on performance, and ongoing development, we can help people better in the moment and help them develop over time. This more naturally matches the way our brains really learn and more appropriately aligns technology with us, providing better business outcomes.

It is this opportunity that we can, and should, seize. It takes the understanding, the desire to do more, and creativity, but the upside is big for us and our goals.

Take a deeper dive with Clark on this topic at his workshop, Performance to Go: Cognitive Science, Mobile, and Performance Support, at FocusOn Learning 2016 Conference & Expo on Tuesday, June 7, in Austin, Texas. Click here to learn more!


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