Training the Modern Workforce Live is a weekly show discussing training and talent development solutions and best practices. Hosted by Allogy CEO Colin Forward, each episode features an informative conversation with a prominent guest in the training world.
Watch the full video interview above, listen on any of the platforms below, or continue reading to see the full transcript (edited for clarity).
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About Dr. David Metcalf, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Simulation & Training Mixed Emerging Technology Integration Lab (IST METIL)
Army Col. Dr. Kevin Chung is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and Georgetown University School of Medicine. After finishing a fellowship in critical care medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Dr. Chung was assigned to the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research where he has served in the capacity of Medical Director of the Burn Intensive Care Unit, Task Area Manager of Clinical Trials and Burns and Trauma, and the Director of Research over the last 12 years. He is currently Chair of the Department of Medicine at the Uniform Services University of the Health Sciences. Dr. Chung also holds academic appointments at USU as Professor of Medicine and Professor of Surgery. In his career, Dr. Chung has authored more than 180 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, authored 13 book chapters, and has been an invited speaker for over 85 lectures internationally. His research interests include burn resuscitation, critical care, and organ failure.
Adam Wagner: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Allogy’s podcast, Training the Modern Workforce Live, the weekly show discussing training and talent development solutions and best practices. Each episode, we’ll talk about a different training topic, and make sure to keep an eye out for special guests and interviews from top training professionals.
With me, as always, I have Colin Forward, CEO of Allogy. For the last decade, Colin has provided major U.S. hospitals and federal agencies with distance learning solutions. He studied mobile technology at the University of Central Florida, earning a degree in computer science and his MBA.
And joining Colin this week is Dr. David Metcalf. Dr. Metcalf is a senior researcher at the Institute for Simulation and Training, Mixed Emerging Technology Integration Lab, with a 15-year history in web-based and mobile learning. He focuses on bridging the gap between corporate learning, simulation techniques, and the use of technology to improve human performance.
This week, we’re going to be talking about emerging technologies in simulation and training. We’ve got some great questions on deck already, but feel free to ask any questions that may come up in the chat, and we’ll try to get as many as we can. Alright, Colin, over to you.
Colin Forward: Alright. Thanks, Adam. And thanks, Dr. Metcalf, for joining us. There are a few reasons I’m really excited to talk to you today. One, you’ve been a mentor of mine for a decade now, and back when I was studying at the METIL lab, we were working on a lot of the things that we’re dealing with day to day when it comes to solving learning and development problems in the real world.
In addition, this year, I think everyone has been really focused on the task at hand: How do they respond to COVID? How do they respond to everyone being remote? And those are still important problems, but I also want to make sure that we take some time to pick our head up and see what’s coming at us on the horizon. And I don’t really know anyone who would be better at providing that perspective than you, so glad to have you with us today.
For starters, why don’t you kick us off by giving us a little bit of a high-level overview of the kind of things that you’re working on these days?
Dr. David Metcalf: Yeah. You mentioned COVID responsiveness and still trying to help the good fight as a social cause. And all the tools and techniques that you talked about that people used to think we were crazy for thinking that we can deliver courses over a mobile phone or to have these augmented and virtual reality experiences, leveraging artificial intelligence, all seem like a pipe dream at the time too, but that’s what research is.
And it was great to see you guys have that early exposure, both in the lab—and so proud of the spinoff of Allogy Interactive too—and the success that you guys have had. Today, I’m actually sitting in a place that kind of represents some of the crossroads between public-private partnership in the new Blockchain Innovation Lab that is being launched in about an hour by the mayor of Oviedo (FL), by global blockchain ventures, by UCF’s incubator program, and a number of the other projects and companies that are being incubated in that same capacity, that same way that we talked about before. Almost from lab to launch, which is the term we used to use before too since we’re so close to the space coast.
But thinking about launching these efforts, and I think that’s a key theme for what’s going on in the world right now. There’s so much turmoil and so many changes that there are trends towards re-skilling our workforces. As there are fundamental shifts in industries or job changes, there are going to be a number of things that new technologies are the way that you restart something.
And people are not as averse to that now as when there was a strong status quo. When there’s a lot of change, people are willing to embrace and try some new things, and that might lead to new careers for them. It might lead to new potential for them. And that’s what—with my hat at UCF on—as in a public-private partnership and a public university, we’re trying to make sure that we give those opportunities out across academia, industry, military, and government has a role in this too, as well as our healthcare and even our nonprofits and social causes and missions that we’re on.
We try to make sure that we can help all those sectors of society. And you got to see that by living for a few years in the interdisciplinary culture that we had created. I think that’s going to be another key to the secret sauce too, not just the technology but the human side of that and how we focus that technology and human together. High-tech and high-touch is what we always used to say.
So those are some things that I think are key themes that are changing not just the technology but the way people work, and especially post COVID, how we’re going to recover.
Colin Forward: We can start with the technology or with some of the skill requirements changes, but let’s start in that general domain.
So what kind of re-skilling are you seeing being required of the workforce—the population that learning and development professionals are responsible for supporting—but also what kind of skills are L&D professionals going to need to develop themselves to support those folks?
Dr. David Metcalf: Yeah, I’ve seen things the past year that I never thought I would see or that I wouldn’t see for another 15 or 20 years in terms of people’s adoption of technology in lieu of being able to meet in person but still trying to have experience. Even what we’re doing today too. You and I might be sitting across the coffee table if it weren’t for COVID and other things too, but this has been a great enabler.
It’s also enabled new careers, new opportunities to learn, and new fields. I’ll give two examples: a very recent one and one from the start of COVID. The recent one is that this week, we had the Training Magazine event, which is usually one of the largest training events in the world, certainly in the U.S., and instead, they had to move to virtual.
But we were still able to do some things with some unique skillsets. The number of people that were focused on being like showrunners in a virtual space, that’s a career that I wouldn’t have thought that I would have heard about even a year or two ago. But there are people that are staging whole events and doing the same type of scaled events you might do Cirque de Solei-style or big conference-style. And they’re doing a great job with it. We were able to host a virtual tour of the new Verizon 5G “living lab” that just opened at Lake Nona recently and has a combination UCF, Verizon, the Tavistock group, they have their non-profits, Lake Nona Institute, as well as a group of investors out of Berlin that has set up a whole sports technology accelerator in there.
So those are examples of other things that we wouldn’t have seen. The explosion of e-sport. The explosion of tracking human performance and using wearables, all those things are in that incubator-style space. Those are all examples of things that are going to grow a new skillset and new jobs over time.
So that’s been pretty exciting to see. Bringing together the Navy, the VA, CACI was a great opportunity to show off Capillary, too, and the toolset that Allogy has in context for the work that you had done early on in the fight against COVID for turning some of those modules and making them available to, I think, over hundreds of thousands of people, too, is what I saw in some of your last numbers. So that’s pretty exciting about being able to give back and contribute to society that way.
When you start to put these pieces together, that’s going to create new jobs, new skills. I was looking at what skills I needed when COVID first broke out, and there were things I just wanted to know about. I saw the University of Bath had an online certification course in biosecurity. So that was my own time. And I had just this much more time not having a commute or drive into there. And I used that time to re-skill or to grow a new skill.
It was fun to get a chance to learn something new that tied in and combined biosecurity with some of the other emerging learning technologies and advanced technologies that we’ve been able to work with and put those things together. That’s been pretty exciting.
Colin Forward: So, I mean, you covered a lot of ground there as far as the new skills that the workforce might have to take on, and we could probably talk for hours just about that topic. But I’ve also sat in on meetings where you have a chief learning officer in your conference room, and you’re just blowing their mind with the things that they need to start getting ready for.
For these folks that are needing to support this kind of re-skilling, this transformation of the workforce, what is it that they need to have on their radar? What is it that they need to be keeping up with?
What Are Some Technologies L&D Professionals Should Have on Their Radar?
Dr. David Metcalf: Yeah. That’s a great question, and we get that a lot. It was really a showcase of some of that this week and at the Verizon event, too, with Training Magazine, because people are coming back and looking at those technologies. Some of the ones that we talked about and focused on were those 5G-enabled technologies like augmented and virtual reality.
We had some for medicine with Revanix and with Mediviz that we were showing off. But then, also, some of the more pedestrian technologies, like something as simple as the card decks that we’ve been known for in the lab too. We did a COVID card deck for the Army early on. And those are examples of some of the types of things that we’re able to get ready quickly, the same way that you guys mobilize quickly to see how we could all pitch in and lend a hand in any way that we could think of to help with that.
Those were things that were really important. We’re able to show that. We’re able to show the mobile learning modules that you guys have done. And we’re also able to cast a vision for the things that are coming. Talk about how things like blockchain, where we’re at right now with the Blockchain Innovation Lab, are going to do things like enable a universal transcript.
They can track your whole career. In the military, you might say from recruit to retire. In lifelong learning, you might say from womb to tomb. So looking at how we create lifelong learners and some of the things that would enable that, better enable that, those were some of the things that were pretty exciting to be able to showcase to people.
And you could see those “A-ha!” moments of them, kind of capturing a vision of what that could be. Some of the things that we’ve been able to do, or to give that showcase and expand upon it so that we had all of those other examples that we could show. I’ll show a couple of examples in a minute as well. But that might be something that will help people to better understand what we’re talking about.
What Does a Transmedia Solution Look Like in Training?
Colin Forward: You touched on five topics that I want to dig into a little bit. One thing I did want to clarify—because you referenced this card deck and I think that’s really important to help people understand because we’re about to talk about 5G and AR/VR and all these hi-fi ways to support learning—but those card decks you mentioned, those are something that the lab distributed in Haiti after the earthquake when there was no connectivity. So these card decks, for anyone who’s not familiar, are a gamified approach to self-directed learning, fighting the forgetting curve, teaching really practical skills in a self-directed way. Is that a good way to explain this?
Dr. David Metcalf: It is, yeah. That’s something that we’ve had a history of too. So if I can grab sharing and show a couple of examples of that too. I don’t think I have the cards with me right now, physically, but the cards are just the tip of the iceberg.
There’s this whole notion of a transmedia solution that we’ve talked about for a while. MIT started coming up with this idea. And it was an opportunity to start off with a whole theme or storyline and be able to have your training translate across different platforms. So the cards could be the start. And then it goes to a mobile app. That mobile app also has an augmentation layer to it or has an online Solitaire or Rummy game that teaches you the sequence of some of those things. Those are some of the areas that we’ve been able to start to build a stack of technology.
So you have the lowest common denominator, and then you also have these other components that you’re building upon. When you’re trying to get something out fast and to the broadest possible audience, like you said. We didn’t know if they were going to have even power, much less network connectivity, when we went to Haiti, and those are examples that could be life-changing for people, especially in a disaster situation. And you guys have done such a great job of pulling on those for civil affairs activities and other missions to help people across the globe. It’s been great and refreshing to see.
I’ll give a couple of examples. Here are the examples of the cards, just so that you can see. It’s as simple as creating a deck of cards, a physical deck of cards, but then you also have the ability to use mobile app formats for cards too, just like you’d have with Quizlet or something else. But we always injected them and put them on steroids.
We actually made it so those cards had the spacing effect, a basic level AI or adaptive learning component to it. And those were some of the things we were able to execute on very rapidly having this framework for those mobile apps and the other components that we had.
Those are some of the things that we saw early on that actually showed improvements in learning. Nine to 16 percent improvement in learning outcomes, which is pretty substantial using some pretty simple technologies. And then, you layer on top of it the things like augmented reality so whenever you highlight over any one of these cards, it can launch a 3D animation or it can launch an example explainer video or even just take you right to the website that information comes from so that you have deeper information that, again, is always up to date.
So there’s a lot of benefits of having this layered approach with transmedia to being able to do adaptive learning, to being able to have multiple delivery methods for the content depending on a person’s situation or preferences. Those are things that give a lot of optionality and personalization to the learning. And some of it doesn’t have to be the highest-end technology. It can scale from that low-end.
Colin Forward: Yeah. I appreciate you explaining that because I always thought that was one of the most interesting things about working with METIL lab was how often we spent talking about the bleeding edge. And then, a lot of the time, the adoption really starts here with a thing that is accessible and is intuitive to those end users.
Dr. David Metcalf: Yeah. Sometimes it’s as simple as doing things like a quick mobile app too. And I know that you guys are experts at that. We had to do some that we had initially done for Ebola. But having this whole history of doing these quick and rapid examples that we can convert allowed us to do personal protective equipment training for the VA in a mobile-friendly game environment too. You have to put on and take off your protective equipment successfully. And this is something that the VA donated back to the world of healthcare workers and to the whole federal government and anybody in need of it, too, through fedtraining.org. So they’ve put it out there publicly for people.
So a lot of these resources that we’re creating are going far and wide. Tens of thousands of people are using this a month from what we hear. So it really gives us a chance to feel like we’re giving back. We’re using the tools in our toolkit.
And many of the people that are probably listening have a lot of tools in their toolkit too. And if we just think about how we focus on social good, especially during these troubling times of pandemic, we can do a slight shift of things that we might already have to be able to contribute well to society and help everyone gets through this.
What Is the Most Immediate Impact of AR and VR in Training?
Colin Forward: Well, so I want to make sure that we spend some time on the technology that I’ve started hearing more and more about recently, and that’s AR and VR. And I think it’s a combination of the fact that 5G is now rolling out. You mentioned the Verizon center there in Central Florida. That is a great proving ground for a lot of that technology. I’m starting to hear a lot more of that from our customers in the government and the private sector — pretty much everywhere.
Dr. David Metcalf: Yeah, well, anything that’s really high consequence that is either really costly to do or potentially dangerous to do. Those are things that shine when you think about augmented and virtual reality. And rather than having to go and build a whole simulation-scaled center, you can have it in the size of a headset or a mobile device.
Some of the things that we’re looking at is you don’t have to have a billion-dollar studio to do some of this stuff. You can do some of that on your own phone and then play it back on something as simple as a $15 Google Cardboard. I don’t know if the audience has seen the Google Cardboard before, too, but those are some of the things that are pretty exciting because it doesn’t have to be the high-end work like, frankly, we do. But that’s some places to start.
And then, there’s also so much promise in some of the areas that you think about where you need to get a lot of knowledge aptitude before you get the skill aptitude. So think about all the things you need to know before you’re a surgeon and before you actually start cutting on your first patient. Or think about all the things you need to know before you get into a pilot seat where 175-250 people’s lives are in your hands. Those are all things that are examples of that kind of high-consequence and what that might look like.
We put it in the context of a lot of the new internet of things space, too, and where you can use augmented reality to almost have a digital twin of anything from yourself, using some of the data that you might have on a smartwatch or something like that to your cars and vehicles—especially when you don’t just take one but a whole fleet or a whole city worth to know how you can be safer, how you can be healthier, and how you can do a digital twin of traffic patterns, even. Smart city elements.
And that translates down to the hospital where we all do a lot of healthcare work too. And that’s another place that we see those benefits, even in your home, too. The WHIT home smart home that we have in Lake Nona is an example of a showcase place to do those types of things.
Those are some of the things that we’ve seen that have been beneficial. That WHIT home, if you remember, we actually decked out the whole back garage as an all-white space so that we could have this matrix construct effect and be able to go and build out our own live and virtual sets and even do things like anatomy lessons or re-skin the whole room with new furniture and what that would look like to visualize going from a hospital room to a child’s room back and forth and be able to do those things without the cost and expense of doing it.
All the expense was the cost of a headset. And we didn’t have to reconfigure rooms constantly either. That’s some of the promise of wearing the headsets like the ones you see here.
Colin Forward: Yeah, headsets are coming a long way, right? I remember seeing folks playing around with Google Glass years ago in the lab. More recently, I get the sense that the more affordable headsets, like the Quest 2, might be playing a role like the iPhone did in 2007. There were smartphones before the iPhone, but that really changed the game.
So for people that are looking to dip their toes in the water, trying and get started on AR and VR but aren’t ready for the Varjos or the HoloLens 2-level systems:
What Are Some Early Training Applications for These Emerging Technologies?
Dr. David Metcalf: Yeah, it doesn’t take high-end hardware anymore. Some of the things that we built four or five years ago on a high-end HoloLens, like you see in this area too, can now be played back on your mobile device, either just in your hand or just by putting it into a little cardboard slider, like the Google Glass or some of the plastic ones too. Those are proving to be effective for a lot of types of training, especially when you want to give this experiential, like being in the cockpit with a pilot for Boeing training.
Those are all things that hold a lot of promise and don’t have to break the bank. Some of the things we’ve been seeing is COVID mindfulness training and de-stress training, too, that people are doing with these simple goggles. We’re also seeing that while we push the state of the art in the high end with AR and VR glasses, like you said, the Oculus, even some of the ones that are on your Sony PlayStation that are only a couple of hundred dollars, too, might be affordable for certain applications without a lot of extra stress. Those are some of the things that we’re constantly exploring.
How do we bring this technology out to the masses? COVID has actually made some of that happen faster. When you want to have these virtual experiences, virtual tours of places you wouldn’t be able to go right now for obvious reasons. Those are things that there’s huge opportunities in. Let’s call it virtual tourism for a minute.
And the high-consequence careers. We’re also looking at that high end, though. We have to keep pushing the envelope. And here’s an example of something that’s helping out in the medical space. This is a company that our outside firm invested in, too, RealView Imaging, out of Israel.
HoloLens is a thing of the past when you look at this because you have these holograms without glasses and the ability from taking Israeli military technology to bring it to operating rooms so that surgeons can plan out heart surgeries. Those are some of the types of things that we’re doing right now in the environment, even down to some of the stuff that we’ve worked on together, too, with Navy corpsman and being able to take a critical skill path to learn about things like hemorrhage control if you’re a corpsman or if you’re a medic.
And when you’re doing that, we can track all of those results all the way through the process and have a competency-based learning platform. So it’s not necessarily about just the technology or seeing these cool holograms, it’s about what that enables for us. How does that further enable us to realize the vision of personalized learning, competency-based education, that can be tracked throughout a person’s whole career using things like blockchain? That’s where these mixed emerging technologies, as in our name, start to come together in new and exciting ways. And AR/VR is just one of those in the toolkit that people might want to explore for themselves.
Colin Forward: Yeah. So I have one more question on the AR/VR space because you showed a bunch of medical examples. A good friend of mine, Dr. Galal Sayed at UAB in Birmingham, he’s been telling me about how he’s been using VR environments to plan his approaches for neurosurgery, apparently to some really positive effects. He was telling me about a patient that was able to regain mobility, start swimming again after the procedure. And a lot of the times, especially in the military with who we work with a lot, people talk about training how you work or training how you fight. So what exactly does that process look like?
How Do These Emerging Technologies Affect Instructional Design?
Dr. David Metcalf: Yeah, we have to start thinking multidimensionally, don’t we? Not just in 3D space but over the course of time and also multifactor in terms of our sensory too. Some of the things that we’re having to do: if you’re going to have a truly visceral experience, you need to be able to touch it with, you know, VR gloves; you need to be able to smell it with the olfactory sensibilities too. Some of these things you may not want to smell, but you need to be desensitized to that for the first time that you experience it in real life, too, if you’re going to be on the front lines of saving lives, like we’re showing here.
Those are all things that we have to start to factor in the instructional design process. Now, we can crawl before we walk and walk before we run in that too. But even just starting to think about how you script out and provide good storytelling that meets objectives, learning objectives. It’s just a new skill for some people, that storytelling combined in there with those notions. Those are things that could be very important for creating a compelling and engaging and appropriate use of these advanced media.
Just to do it because of the cool factor, that’s not what we’re about. A lot of these examples, like in the pilot seats: 20 to 30-percent improvement in training outcomes in complex weather. So that’s lifesaving, potentially. With the breast cancer screening, having 3D imagery versus 2D imagery and teaching people how to read 3D breast examinations and the imagery from that, too, leads to 23-percent improvement in outcomes across 5,000 patients at Emory. And 49-percent reduction in callbacks, that saves the hospital money. That saves the person anguish of going to get a second look. Those are things that you could take to the bank and why you use this technology, maybe why you invest in this technology. That’s where I think the outcomes come in.
Colin Forward: Yeah. Real quick, because I want to make sure we talk about blockchain and fragmentation in learning. But I can imagine that training professionals might be a little bit intimidated by these developments.
Do AR and VR mean everyone in L&D is going to have to become a video game designer?
Dr. David Metcalf: It does not. We have interdisciplinary teams. We hire people that maybe look a little non-traditional from the typical instructional designer and web programmer, but they’re vital parts of the whole team—or sometimes we call it a transdisciplinary team. We transcend our disciplines and all work together.
For me, it’s that right team. Who’s going to do that backend, LMS and beyond for you? The LMS, the LCMS if you’re looking at content, or even the competency management. And that’s where things like blockchain technology are another form of database storage that can be trusted across multiple organizations.
Those are the types of things that not everybody has to be concerned about. If you are head of a project, you need to know who can do all the pieces and be able to orchestrate pulling those pieces together. So I think that’ll be a new skillset for some training directors or people who are CLOs to make sure they have that big-picture vision to be able to capitalize on putting those people, those human resources and talent management, together in a cohesive way that can be high-performance to produce next-generation learning. So I think that’s where the rubber meets the road.
How Do Combat Fragmentation to Improve Your Entire Learning Program?
Colin Forward: That makes good sense. I’m glad we put that in perspective. It does take a team for these kinds of things, and you’re going to need specialists and you’re going to need generalists to really do a good job. So you alluded to it in your answer there too, but I actually, I had a large med-device manufacturer ask me this week, “Why do we need a new system? We already have a number of learning management systems.” And I know that you’ve been involved with efforts like the military’s Total Learning Architecture, where they’re trying to address fragmentation, making sure that learners have a cohesive record of all the competencies they’ve achieved.
Dr. David Metcalf: Yeah. If you’re looking at the business of learning, which many people have to do the ROI on this too, return on investment of how much money a company spends on training. And also, there are things in there nested like compliance and HR and other things, too, that you have to consider. Those are things that are enabled by a learning management system.
However, if you have four or five—I saw one organization save $160 million upfront and then $8 million a year recurring by doing consolidation of these. And getting more capability, getting a next-generation, software-as-a-service-style capability, something you didn’t have to host yourself and keep track of everything yourself. You could do it for a third of the cost of what you’re doing.
Those are things where it’s not just about the next-generation capabilities, but it’s oftentimes about those capabilities and the cost savings combined for a better effect. That’s when you start to make decisions, good business decisions, about how you lead your organization and about how you do that for the benefit of the learners, the benefit of the bottom line of the organization, and of course, meeting all the things you have to do quality-wise with compliance, with having a re-skilled and freshly skilled talent base within your organization.
Colin Forward: So not to put words in your mouth, but this is definitely my perspective: as the technology has developed, a lot of these build-or-buy equations have shifted over towards buy as the vendors are taking on a lot more of the risk for these L&D shop. Is that right?
Dr. David Metcalf: That’s a good way to say it, I think, without seeding full control to the vendors because we don’t want to do that. But to share that responsibility and share the cost savings in that. So that’s what a good vendor partnership looks like, and that’s what I’d encourage. Look for the vendor that can be a good partner to your organization too.
Colin Forward: That means that there probably is a lot of opportunity, like you mentioned, to get a better ROI consolidating some of your learning tools, but what about integration? What about getting that learner record to be shared across multiple systems that are all providing a really unique benefit?
Dr. David Metcalf: Yeah. That’s oftentimes a challenge or a struggle to get that equation. What we’re finding is that in the Total Learning Architecture that you mentioned before, too, having an enterprise approach that you can put the right piece together, almost in a best-in-class solution, means that if you have an LMS right now, you can build on top of it.
You don’t have to throw it out for all the good things it’s doing; we can build capabilities around it. And having that ecosystem of tools, and preferably ones that get the job done that aren’t too expensive but that bolt onto each other, to meet those various needs of the stakeholders. That’s an important part of how you define what that enterprise architecture is going to look like, especially if you’re in a larger organization.
How Does Blockchain Improve Credentialing and Competency Tracking?
Colin Forward: And then what about for learners? Because we’ve seen people taking lots of shots at this problem. Mozilla has their badges. A lot of other folks are trying to provide that, I don’t know if you want to say the top layer or the backend, the credentialing backend for data that can provide a transcript for someone who maybe got training on a job, maybe got training at a school, and then maybe at a conference. So you’re sitting in a blockchain lab right now. How do blockchain and any other technologies start to approach that problem?
Dr. David Metcalf: Yeah. So tracking competencies, the knowledge skills and attributes or abilities that someone has, too, across time and space can be difficult, especially when you’re bridging the gap between live activities, virtual activities, some of the constructive activities that might even be just about building skill on the job or where you’re at. Those are all things that are really exciting that you want to capture.
Even if you think about some of the things that are being done online now through media like watching videos at Khan Academy: should we get credit for some of those things? The life skills that we bring to the table from working in a particular field, wouldn’t it be great to be able to capture that performance data as well as the learning data. Some of the newer competency management systems can do that for you, and they can take what’s from your LMS, they can take from live work experience, they can take from your history of things that you’ve been working on, and your credentials, and put that all together.
The question becomes: how do you make sure that spans across multiple organizations in multiple systems? That’s where something like blockchain comes in. I mentioned the universal transcript. We’re working on that with the Army right now, too. We just won a grant this past year for building the world’s first blockchain and quantum defense simulator. So we can simulate what those records are before we put it into practice and be able to see if they are going to live up to the promise and the hype of being able to give you everything that you need from the time you enter the workforce all the way to the time that you retire or even beyond.
Those are things that are pretty exciting because this sense of distributed trust—multiple organizations, all trusting the blockchain record, even if they don’t know each other or know to trust each other—that’s really a new superpower of the internet and the way I look at some of the functions of blockchain beyond Bitcoin and beyond cryptocurrency and how that’s going to fundamentally change certain vertical industries. Education and health records are certainly some of those that we’re very focused on and that we see a lot of promise for as we go forward.
What Information Is Important in Regards to Data Standardization, Integration, and Cybersecurity?
Colin Forward: Yeah, I love the way you said that—especially now that we’re in the first hype-cycle in three years for cryptocurrency. This is really what made it exciting or, at least, starting with a theory of the idea that we’re able to create those distributed trust systems. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
I do have one more question for you. I know you have a ceremony to get to. But on this idea of integration and data practices, for someone like myself or for a learning technology vendor, we’ve tracked SCORM—and now, more recently, Tin Can and xAPI—those are systems being driven by the DoD. I know there are other initiatives out there that are looking to provide some sort of standardization in learning data. Is there anything for folks like myself in this space that you think we should be tracking really closely, xAPI or otherwise.
Dr. David Metcalf: Yeah, certainly xAPI is on our list for anybody who’s doing things in corporate or in government. There’s equivalence like the LTI and IMS standards on the more academic and education side of things. And there are also some efforts at the IEEE to try and have some melding of those things. There are standards that are about how you handle the data about the student. And there are also standards about how you handle the data for the content too.
We’re starting to see those merge, too, in some of these standards stacks or decks. I tend to look at some of the things that are starting to become more mature and are going through IEEE or ESI or ISO as some of those standards that are going to have a rock-solid future, too, but there are many stepping stones to those standards that are coming out now that are endorsed by other organizations that build up to those higher-level standards.
So that’s what I track, and that’s what I advise some of our groups too. The other thing that I’d be remiss to not have people think about is the new standards for cybersecurity. The amount of times that human capital records and all of our performance, especially in the military, are attacked and held ransom—health records, any of those things. The new cybersecurity standards, like the CMMC or Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model, are examples of some of those things that we all need to pay attention to, or have your technology people pay attention to, as we go forward. Whether you’re in industry, government, or military, for sure, or even in healthcare too. Healthcare is the most ransomed data out there and the most valuable data, even more so than your credit card.
So those are things if you’re in the health profession, we just all have to be careful, not just for the sake of HIPAA and the privacy of our patients, but for the good order and functioning of being able to provide services to our patients. That’s what’s at stake. So I’d be remiss not to talk about those standards as well.
Colin Forward: Yeah. As software eats the world, everyone’s in cybersecurity, right?
Dr. David Metcalf: We all have a duty of care, even down to your own personal responsibility to not fall for phishing scams or other things like that too, where people try and get your data from you. That’s the most common way. They call it social engineering. It’s not a fun term to think about, but that’s what they call it. Yeah.
Colin Forward: Really appreciate your time today.
Dr. David Metcalf: Been great to spend time with you.
Colin Forward: Yeah, I hope we can do this on a somewhat regular basis because I know you’re always working on new things, and I think that folks listening will be always interested to get the updates on the cutting-edge stuff that you’re working on. Yeah, best of luck with the opening of that space.
Dr. David Metcalf: Thank you. I appreciate it, again. We’re pretty excited. I’m going to turn my camera for a second too. You see the start of our mayor, and you see someone else in the background you’ll probably recognize too. It’s already here early. Yeah, it’s going to be a good event, and then a perfect example of that re-skilling. People being creative and growing into new things that we’re all gonna need to do to get past the current events. But it’s always good to spend time with you guys and to hear how well you’re doing and to have a conversation with your audience too.
Colin Forward: Okay, thank you, Dr. Metcalf, and enjoy the ceremonies today.
Adam Wagner: Yeah, thanks, everyone. This was Training the Modern Workforce Live, presented by Allogy. If you’d like to explore previous episodes, subscribe to our YouTube channel or like us on LinkedIn and Facebook. And if you’d like to connect with one of our learning specialists to see how Allogy could help improve your training, head to allogystaging1.wpengine.com and schedule a demo.