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

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.