The problem with saying something new is that you have to use old words to say it - which then become a barrier to understanding what you are saying.

When you reflect on your own life, a factor common to many of your memories and learning experiences is their emotional dimension. Despite this being the single most obvious feature of learning, this simple observation cannot be explained by the learning theories we have today. (Where there is an attempt e.g. 'Flashbulb memories', they are treated as the exception rather than the rule. Other explanations citing 'distinctiveness' are patently circular).

As you and I experience the world it is our reactions to stimuli that are encoded. These reactions are affective - by which I mean subtle emotional states.

There are two kinds of thing we can accomplish as learning professionals. We can create resources that support people in addressing their concerns, or we can try and create that sense of concern - typically through emotionally significant experiences - since it is concern that underpins all learning. In simple terms, we are either helping people tackle the challenges they face or presenting them with new ones (for example, using a 'flipped classroom' approach, or the transferability of care).

Twenty years ago, I thought (as did many people) that adaptive learning was going to be the future. Later, at the BBC, my team developed a virtual 'personal trainer' - a little character that lived in your task bar and popped up with personalised learning suggestions once in a while. It wasn't a success. Can you guess why not?

Imagine you're thinking of putting up some shelves.

The first problem is how on earth a system would know that you are planning to do that.

I made this remark in conversation with Martin Couzins, and since he thought it memorable enough to cite in this article, I thought it worthy of further explanation.

For twenty years or so I've been attending learning conferences where someone will carp on about how important business alignment is. It's the 101 of conference speeches. It's the sound of training pleading to be taken seriously.

Well, business alignment is killing you, and I'd like to explain why.

In encouraging people to think about the shift from courses to resources I have found that the principal mistake is to break (course) content into small chunks and assume that these now constitute resources, by virtue of their format.

It can be hard for people to see why this is a mistake at all: after all the results look similar. Both sets of outputs may be short videos, infographics, checklists and guides, for example.

The story that defines me is one of dissatisfaction I suppose: I was a young psychology lecturer who, through the application of learning theory to technology, discovered that none bore much relation to reality - and began to question their validity.

It troubled me (but no-one else, it seemed) that so much activity could be based on so little; that without an answer to that fundamental question 'how do people learn?' every 'learning' conversation was just noise.

You need to be careful with gamification.

I stopped wearing my fitness tracker a while back. Turns out, after a while the endless data, challenges, prompts and apps began to sap the intrinsic enjoyment of running. I began to feel like the device was controlling me. 

Gamification can kill the 'why'.

In my previous post I talked about the importance of the 'why' - the way that it links our activity to a deeper narrative; our personal story.

At HRTech last year Yves Morieux described the marked decline in employee engagement, the boom in active disengagement (employees who are deliberately working against their organisation's objectives), and the resulting slide in productivity.

This is happening because people are storytellers. Bear with me. People strive to construct a coherent narrative to their lives - to make sense of their lives (this is just one of the reasons that Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is wrong).