Monday, October 29, 2012

The Learning Pro learns a story

As an improviser I'm very familiar with the power of storytelling to get a point across so here is a short story to share with you all.

Regular readers will recall that I recently won a seat on a class run by Ray Jimenez when he presented on Gamification. The class was on Story-based eLearning for technical and compliance training and I'm writing this blog on my way back from Pasadena having spent two engaging days at Rays session at CalTech in the Athenaeum.
I have collected my tweets and created a storify of them that you can take a look at them here.

But as ever I want to share my key learning points with you my loyal reader(s?)

Micro-LearningProbably my biggest take away from the session was the need to move to very small learning chunks. What Ray called Micro-Learning events. In the old days we could create full day or even full week live classes that our learners would come to. More recently with time pressures and globalization that has become harder and rarer. So we took those classes and turned them into eLearning.  If we were good we did try and turn those into smaller chunks. I heard that 30-40 minutes was what most people considered the realistic max for a self paced piece of eLearning. But that was when people all did their eLearning on a PC at there desktops.
As I have observed before one of the drivers for learning in 2012 has been the move to mobile learning. Now that's a game changer.
Because on a mobile device people will take any chance they have to take the learning they need. That could be grabbing a quick 5 minutes waiting a gate at LAX like I am now.  So now we have to chunk it even smaller.
And if you are restricted to a 2-3 minute chunk then you don't have time to work on lots of complex learning structure. You don't have time to dedicate a minute to stating the objectives if that could be 50% of your time slot!
In fact the only way you can really engage someone in a 2-3 minute slot is with a story.
So if you want to make use of the time then you need to be able to tell a story in that 2-3 minutes. Even that is a lot to try and cram in but luckily we have the learners brains on our side.

Complete and incomplete stories.Ray pointed out that we all know stories. All our memories are of stories rather than of individual facts, especially our most engaging ones. Those stories are complete in as much as we know what happened. There are other types of stories out there and those are the one where we don't know all the information. Ray called these incomplete stories and when faced with one of those the learners brain want to complete it. In fact the learners brain NEEDS to complete it. Instant engagement! So give the learner an incomplete story and two things happen. First off they start filling in the gaps from the stories they already know and then they look for confirmation that they got it right. And those stories that they already know are filled with deep emotional layers so our learners help us make an emotional connection to the material we want them to learn by plugging in their own deeply emotional pieces into the incomplete stories we give them.

For more information take a look at my tweets.

For even more go to one of Ray's workshops and creat you own story.

Happy Learning

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Learning Pro as a Learning Leader

I recently attended the ASTD Chapter Leaders Conference in DC (The ALC). It’s an annual 2 day event where leaders of ASTDs 100+ chapters from across the country gather to share best practice and network.
I joined the Board of the Chicagoland Chapter (CCASTD) for the 2012 year as half of the VP Finance role. My ‘Co-VP’ and I quickly realized that a divide and conquer approach was needed so she took the lead on a program to encourage corporate sponsorship and I built and looked after the Budget.
When I told my Chapter President that I was relocating to Chicago she asked if I could stay on the board and do the job remotely so I agreed to try it. I’ve been able to attend the meetings virtually and I’m happy with my contribution.
But I’m in a new city, and I need to build a new network so as soon as I knew I was moving I joined Golden Gate Chapter. I also heard about another smaller chapter just East of the city, The Mt Diablo Chapter. I’ve attended a couple of meeting of each and have been invited onto the board of Mt Diablo for 2013 and so I guess that is where I’ll be giving my energy.
My first ALC was last year and as an entirely new board member it was a somewhat overwhelming experience.  This year I’m a bit more established and it was a more productive event for me. Reflecting back I look at the changes since last year.
  • Last year I was waiting to hear if I had passed my CPLP certification. This year I was proudly wearing my CPLP badge. (I recall that last year CPLPs were asked to stand and be recognized.  Not this year L )
  • Last year I attended a session on using Social media. This year I met several people face to face who I followed or followed me on Twitter.
  • Last year I was dipping my toe into Chapter Leadership. This year I’m diving in head first.
  • Last year I was mainly a learner. This year I was a contributor to a number of sessions I attended
  • Last year I was totally focused on what I could do for my home chapter. This year I made connections that will probably have me presenting on Applied Improvisation to a couple of chapters other than my own.
  • Last year I didn’t know my NAC from a CRM.  This year I put out a fun tweet that used 6 of the ASTD TLAs.  And I knew what they all meant.
I’ve got to say I’m pleased with my progress over the last year.
Roll on 2013!
Happy Learning

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Learning Pro at AIN 2012 Pt 2

The Wonderful Drew Merit's graphic capture of Friday morning's AINx talks

Some more thoughts about my incredible time at the AIN 2012 conference.

For my thoughts on the opening day see my earlier post here

For a complete list of all the tweets posted with the #AIN12 tag take a look at this post here.

Friday started with all 211 of us gathering in plenary for some keynotes, some AINx talks and some community building.

As we gathered there was some music playing and some very large bubbles floating around the front few rows.

The first Keynote was from a group called One World Music they created music collaboratively and spontaneously. They explained how music weaves themes and gave a volunteer team a group a chance to create something together.  And then the great AIN12 egg shaker orchestra creates something ourselves.

The lesson I took from the keynote.  When you feel the impulse to bail, stay. Keep going!

Then it was on to the morning session of AINx talks.

Sue Walden, who has been applying the principles of improv since before anyone had even thought of the name Applied Improvisation, had a lot to say about the power of Yes-And. She reminded us that the Yes in Yes-And is more about acknowledgement and acceptance rather than agreement. She also pointed out that one of the great skills that is much in demand is problem solving. The risk that organizations might face in hiring lots of great problems solvers is that people who are great at problem solving are also great at finding the problems to solve. When companies are looking to innovate there is need for problems solvers to put aside their problem finding skills for a while at least and the Yes-And toolset and mindset is what can help them do that.

There were a bunch of great AINx talks and soon they will be up on a You Tube channel and I'll let my loyal reader(s?) know where they can see them.

But the day was not all about plenaries and AINx talks. We had a couple of breakout sessions and in one that I attended, Beth StClair shared a project she had led about using Applied Improvisation to help customer service personnel connect with the customers they speak with on the phone. she shared that there is a movement out there to go beyond Customer Satisfaction scores and instead look at Customer Engagement scores. there is research out there that shows direct correlation between improved Customer Engagement scores and Return on Capital rates. A comment I heard that I particularly likes is that sometimes CS reps are so intent of looking to identify and solve the customers problem that they don't get the chance to help the customer with their issues. The active listening skills that improvisers have to master allow us to pick up on what is not said and find the sub-text. Getting that sub-text and making sure that the customer sees that you got it, can help push a satisfied customer into an engaged one. And that's good for the bottom line.

More learning from AIN12 to come

Happy Learning