Friday, August 19, 2016

Designing learning for business impact

Using the Kirkpatrick model to generate design questions.
I recently ran a workshop at a conference held at Keble College Oxford.  The organization hosting this conference is the Applied Improvisation Network, a great group of people who have discovered the secret that anyone can learn and use the same skills that make a team of improvisers world class listeners, great collaborators and amazing innovators.

Many of the folks newer to the applied side have a great selection of exercises to pull from but struggle to structure a workshop to ensure it focuses on what their clients need. As a Learning Pro I've always got ideas about that and I've even written about them before in a prior blog post. So I was happy to help creating and running a full day workshop on how to create and run a workshop.

Borrowing heavily from Thiagi and his Rapid Instructional Design methods we started of with each of the 15 attendees writing the title of a workshop they would want to create.  We then used a modified version of the game Thirty-Five to pick the top 3 workshops that we would focus on. And they self selected into teams.

Then it was time for me to do a little work as Facilitator

I shared with my learners the Kirkpatrick 4 Levels model.  I suggested that they use this model not only for evaluation, but also for design.


  • As the top level is about organizational impact I suggested that they first define the organizational impacts that their clients want to see. And how the organization will measure that. 
  • Once that is clear the next questions is what behaviors do we expect will lead to those business impacts. And how will those be monitored?
  • With learning at the next level I proposed the next question that need to answer is; What skills did they need to learn or knowledge they needed to have or attitude they needed to adopt that is currently preventing the behavior that they want to see. 


The teams then split off and did fabulous work defining all those 3 areas while I sat back and had a cup of tea.

Before we broke for lunch we reviewed and refined the designs that they had built together.

One of the workshop design brainstorms


After lunch I briefly shared with them some ideas around Accelerated Learning and the AL Cycle and then each team picked one of the learning points and developed a learning activity to address it.

But that's another blog post....

Happy designing and learning
Alan

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Learning Styles: The myth I'm glad I learned about.

Visual Auditory Kinesthtic

I first learned about learning styles when I first learned about learning.

It was a workshop run by a colleague who was introducing us to the concept of Accelerated Learning. A powerful methodology that he had been using to run a successful programmer training school at the company I worked for.

The ideas of Brain dominance, Multiple Intelligences and Learning Styles all made perfect sense to me.

In the years that followed I built many a program and always tried to provide a balance of activities that favored people with different learning styles. I can give you many personal stories of being faced with someone who didn't get something presented one way who immediately grsped the idea or concept when I re-framed it to favor a different learning style. I'm pretty sure that anyone who has been in the workplace learning profession for a while can do the same.

But despite my personal experience I have to concede that all the research that has been done on this topic has come to the same conclusion.

Learning Styles are a Myth.

So, why on earth would I be happy to have learned a myth and implemented it.

I'm happy because the V A K model meant that I provided Variety.
I'm happy because the V A K model meant that I thought carefully about the Activities I used.
I'm happy because the V A K model meant that I engaged my learners with different Kinds of content.

So I'm going to continue using V A K  but now for me it will mean Vary Activity Kinds.

Happy Learning

Friday, July 8, 2016

Systems Training - Principles and a Process

I recently put together a document to share with our business users on the approach we take to create systems training. 
Once my colleagues had helped me take my long wordy document and tighten it up, I had something that I feel is well worth sharing with you my loyal reader(s).

I'd love to hear any commnets you have on this.

Guiding Principles for Systems Training

1.    Know your learners: Understand what they already know and what they need to learn.
2.    Target training: Don’t waste time by making people learn what they already know.
3.    Use the right toolset: Choose eLearning or Instructor led or both, based on the business need.
4.    Context is king: Cover the system in the context of how your organization uses it to meet their specific business needs.
5.    Training is practice: Being told how to use a system is not the same as being able to use a system.
6.    The proof is in the doing: If they need to learn how to do something, you need to know that they can do it.
7.    Follow a process to teach a process: Even if the systems aren’t consistent, the way we teach them should be.

The Systems Training Process




1.    Introduce the concept
          What this is all about in the world and in business
2.    The process we use to address this concept
          Every organization tackles a business need a little differently than others. This is where we connect the concept outlined above to the structure and processes of our business
3.    How the process is implemented in the system
          What are the steps and screens used within the system for each process identified above
4.    An opportunity to see the process being completed
          Demonstrate the system in use
5.    An opportunity to practice executing the process
          A chance to practice with feedback.
6.    An authentic test of learning
          Test the learners’ ability to perform the task

Happy Learning

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

How an eLearning company landed on my sh*tlist

One of the most interesting thing about starting a new role is seeing who reaches out to you and how.

On LinkedIn I got many congratulations from contacts, close and otherwise, when my status changed.

A small hand full of those were companies I've either worked with in the past, or been in some sort of conversation with. Usually these folks remind me of their business and offer their services to me if I might need them in my new role. 

There are also a few companies that don't use LinkedIn but send emails to my new company email address. Usually these are folks I've never worked with before.  

Being pretty well versed in the various offerings out there, I usually reply something along the lines of " thanks, We will reach out if we have need of you"

Occasionally this is not enough.

One company kept sending me emails and calling, leaving me lots of voicemails. When one of these guys was (un?)lucky enough to actually get hold of me on the phone I told him that there constant attempts at trying to set up time to chat with me were counter productive. 

And here is why.

If you don't listen to me telling you I don't want to talk to you when I';m a prospect that you are trying to get to spend money with you, I can only assume you will be even worse at listening to me when I describe my needs or if I need help after a purchase.

And that brings me to GROVO.

A couple of months after I started I got an email from them. I'd heard of them and seen a demo of their product at an ATD conference. Their micro-learning approach was something that I thought might fit in with our needs somewhere along the way. So I checked in with my new boss just to see if we had spoken to them in the past. 

That is when she told me that the sales teams at Grovo had been in touch with each of the members of our team at various times and it had gotten to the point that she had told them clearly and directly not to contact anyone at my company. As they failed to listen to that message I made my reply very clear.

I spoke with my Director, who informs me that there have been several attempts by people at Grovo to contact and engage the L&D function at XXXXXXX.. So many in fact that she apparently made it very clear in her last communication with you that we currently have no requirement for your services but if we do we will reach out and we don’t want to keep receiving these.
So I’ll repeat that message here.
 And further I get the feeling that the more attempts you or your Grovo colleagues  make to contact us the further and further down a list of possible vendors you move. Regards

The reply came back, apologizing and telling me I'd be removed from their marketing lists and would not get any more emails from them. 

About 6 weeks later, a colleague in the Talent Acquisition team got an email from them, which she shared with our L&D team.. At that point we pretty much decided that we would NEVER give them any business. Our colleague replied again telling them to remove us from their lists. One of my team mates sent this around, about how we felt when Grovo was so annoying.


This morning, one of the VP's in a team that couldn't possibly have need of their services received an email from them.

Exactly how we deal with this, is yet to be decided.

But at this stage I felt it worth my time to create this blog post and share it with you. 

Because a company that does not listen is a company that I'd advise you not to do business with. 

Because a company in the Learning Business that does not learn, is a company that I'd advise you not to do business with. 

Because in the modern interconnected world, a company that does not consider how they might piss off people who talk to each other though Blogs, Professional organizations and Social Media is a company that I'd advise you not to do business with. 

Happy Learning.
Alan

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

An open letter to ATD and the ATD CI

Jennifer,

In your letter to CPLPs on 12/1 you asked for questions and feedback. I had hoped that these might be conducted in an open forum where our Community of Practice might engage in a wide ranging conversation. As you have clearly made the decision not to engage in that conversation I have to send this directly to you.

However please be aware that I will be posting this and your response in the thread that has over 150 comments from over 2 dozen people.

I’ll start with my feedback.

I was attracted to the CPLP because of the 2 part structure of the certification process. The way I have shared this with employers, fellow ATD members and potential candidates is that the first part proved that I knew what best practice in my profession looked like and to some extend how and when to apply it. The nature of the KE questions being mostly situations requiring responses rather than simply recall of facts lent strength to the applicability of it. But it was the Work Product submission that added in the proof that I have applied those best practices in real life.

Part 1 proves I COULD use best practice
Part 2 proves I HAVE used it.

And in a nutshell that is where I see the problem. Although you say that an online case study can “effectively measures real-world application of skills” it can only prove that you COULD and not that you HAVE.

I fundamentally believe that this is  downgrade of the credential.

I understand the difficulties that existed with the existing setup. Anyone involved with the CPLP community can’t help to be aware of how learning professionals feel about the level of feedback provided to them when they submit and either pass or fail. However our community is full of some really bright folks who have shown their commitment to the professional and would be happy to work with the CI to improve this. When this first ‘leaked’ in early October I spent 30 minutes with half a dozen chapter leader CPLP colleagues and we came up with several ways worth exploring to improve the process. And that was just a few of us over some drinks. Our community is a great resource and one that it appears you have chosen to ignore.

This brings me to my second point, the change management process. When dealing with a group as  passionate and who have made such a large investment of time, effort and money it was surely no surprise when we reacted the way we did. If it was then I respectfully suggest that the leadership of the CI needs to get to know it’s community a bit better. Every Change Management process I’ve ever encountered talks about the vital importance of communication with key stakeholders and time and time again on this and other things that impact us, ASTD , then ATD and the CI have failed to do so, despite multiple opportunities.

In only 4 years , since I deepened in my commitment to my profession and involvement with my professional association there have been 3 occasions where changes that have significant impact have been presented as fait accompli.


  • In 2013 when the competency model was revamped ASTD chose to lose the ‘Workplace Learning & Performance’ format from not only the model name but from the entire ASTD ecosystem. This was not announced to key stakeholders such as Chapter Leaders and the CPLP community, but instead this was done without letting anyone know. We discovered it when we first saw the new name for the model and then saw that it was being scrubbed from all ASTD web pages. - You know that angered a whole bunch of people.
  • The irony here is that there was absolutely no need to do so because you already had the big name change in the works. Something that again was communicated to key stakeholders in the communities as the done deal it was. Chapter leaders in that case who were being asked to take on massive amounts of change in the chapters they run.
  • And then this year with the fundamental shift in the direction and value of the certification being snuck in behind the backs of the very people who have shown the biggest commitment to the profession and the certification. I realize the emotional level in that choice of wording, but when the Director of Certification for a chapter where this is being piloted only finds out through rumor and back channel, there can be no surprise that we feel that we are being deliberately excluded from conversations about our certification

.
So that is my feedback now a few questions.
  1. What other options to improve the certification process were discussed and who within the CPLP community did you involve in those discussion? (I don’t see them included in “In consultation with the ATD Certification Institute Board of Directors, psychometricians, and testing experts, an online case study approach was selected”.)
  1. As this is such a deep and fundamental change to the certification, how will those who certified against the original, more stringent, criteria be recognized?
  1. Why were these proposed changes hidden from Chapter leaders when Tony presented slides on changes to the CPLP?
  1. Why were these proposed changes again hidden from Chapter Leaders in the chapter leader update email sent this very week?
  1. Why, despite repeated invitations, have you refused to engage with the CPLP community in the LinkedIn forum? 
  1. Why, as a chapter leader, should I try and encourage people to go through the CPLP certification process that I consider significantly devalued.
  1. Why as a chapter leader should I continue giving my time, energy and effort to a chapter of a national association that appears to treat it’s members as simply sources of income?
  1. Why should I even retain my membership of the Association?

I look forward to hearing your reply.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The meaning of E-Learning



I had a really interesting conversation with my new boss the other day.
We were talking about which learning outcomes are best approached by different types of learning.
I threw out a comment about what eLearning was not good for and she stopped me.
She pointed out that to her, eLearning meant way more than the sort of self-paced self contained eLearning I was thinking about.
To her, and far more importantly to the learners we serve, eLearning means lots of things.


  • It means googling a concept when you come across it
  • It means reading an e-book
  • It means watching a TED talk
  • It means attending a webinar
  • It also means taking the kind of self contained eLearning module that I'm creating for my current project.


There is no way I can know what it means to an individual learner when they hear the term. There is also no way I can know about their experiences with what they call eLearning and the connections, positive or negative, that the word brings to them.

I'm reminded of the fact that as a Learning Professional I'm often having to catch myself in the use of the jargon in my profession. Our learners don't really care what it's called.

As long as it works for them.

Happy Learning
Alan