Tying It Together with Thesis Statements

Recently, our team developed an eLearning module and during testing, we realized it was overwhelming to take in all of the information. It started to feel a bit like cognitive overload, and we needed to find a creative way to present content in smaller, more pithy ways. The content was right, the subject matter had been reviewed, it just lacked a bit of clarity. Continue reading

Creative Things Come to Those Who Wait

I was sitting in the same conference room I’d been sitting in for two weeks, across the table from the same client, working on the same project. The clock was ticking.

The client had come to the Seattle office for two weeks. We had two golden weeks to work together in person, then we’d need to rely on remote meetings and emails and file transfers once she returned to her field office.

While we were both working as hard as we could and we were both feeling a sense of urgency to keep moving forward, I think both of us were also bored.

“What if we have the learners create an FAQ document – we’ll give them the questions and they need to come up with the answers – as the culminating activity for this section?”

“It’s practical,” she responded, “but I don’t think I like it.”

Ugh! We were never going to finish before she went home.

“I liked the idea you came up with for a prior section – the activity with the mountain climber theme. Can’t we do something like that here?”  Continue reading

The Hand-Off

A friend recently attended a training that was refreshed based on new policy and handed to a new team who inherited it from another team. This new team decided to take a new approach to the training because they were making changes anyway. I like this approach to revamping training if you have an opportunity to make changes when you have the files open, take it!

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always go as expected. Luckily, when training goes poorly, my friends ALWAYS tell me. Instead of a great training experience, the majority of the class time was spent with the participants correcting the facilitator’s out-of-date or misinformation. Let’s break down what went wrong with this training, so we don’t make the same mistakes.

Content is King

While we may not be the content experts, our materials guide us. The task of this training team was to update the content consistently across the new policy books. They became so focused on the new interactions and cool new training that due diligence was left out. It doesn’t matter if you are teaching pilots how to fly or philanthropists how to engage, content must be rigorously checked.

The first time the class corrected the errant information, they chalked it up to a mistake. As the day went on, the frustration grew, and eventually, it was not a good learning environment. To put it bluntly, they checked out.

Pilot all Training

Skipping steps in the design process is always tempting, especially when it is just an update. I regret skipping steps every single time. My team is pretty awesome at reminding me of this when I get in a hurry because this is one of those steps that is tempting to skip. By adding a small pilot with a few subject matter experts, this team could have easily identified the gaps in content before presenting. By putting the pressure on themselves to be the content experts, they gave themselves blind spots and set-up points of failure.

Do pilots take time and cost money? Sure.

Is that better than a course failing in front of a bunch of participants who are taking time away from their jobs and family? Absolutely!

Post-Mortem

First, I really don’t like that term, but it is industry jargon and I don’t know how to kill it (pun intended). When a project goes poorly, or well, sit down with the team and reflect on why things went the way they did. Start with what went well, then discuss what could be improved next time. Never place blame, and always walk away with an action plan.

What else could this team have done to prevent this issue? Where have you seen training like this breakdown? Let’s keep this conversation going in the comments below!

How different is instructional design in a K-12 setting vs. a corporate training setting?

Instructional design, at its core, is about creating learning experiences that engage and excite learners to embrace new knowledge and skills. That said, does the context – whether instructional design is applied to a traditional school classroom or a corporate training room – matter? Or is instructional design the same, regardless of context, setting and audience?

Last Monday, Endurance Learning welcomed its newest employee – Lauren Wescott – to our team. I first learned of Lauren and her skill set about 6 months ago when I saw a post on LinkedIn that said she’d been working in a K-12 setting as a teacher and instructional designer for several years and now wanted to explore the world of corporate training.

EPSON MFP image

Today, Lauren is going to share some of her insights on the similarities and differences between instructional design in a K-12 setting and a corporate training setting.  Continue reading

Rethinking Inclusivity

Every year my kids’ school has spirit week where they are encouraged to dress in themed clothing for each day of the week. As a person who facilitates activities for a living, I’m a good sport about most things that serve a purpose and cause no harm. Up until this year, I’ve taken no issue with the silly shenanigans of Crazy Hair Day and putting my children in backward clothing.

This year, however, I’ve observed a lot of anxiety over one spirit day that has me thinking about the inclusiveness of activities. Continue reading

Training Handouts are a Natural Extension of Instructional Design

Recently I was asked to facilitate a webinar on how to create better handouts. I hesitated initially because I’m not a graphic designer. Then a thought struck me: graphic design may lead to prettier handouts and training manuals, but instructional design leads to more effective and engaging handouts and training manuals.

If you have 45 minutes and would like to see a recording of the webinar in its entirety, here is the link. During the session, I discussed the following five mistakes that many people make when distributing handouts to training participants:  Continue reading

Disagreeing with Participants

Disagreement is a valuable part of education. Questioning theories and using the scientific method to prove or disprove a hypothesis moves us forward as a society. When we are in training, arguments can stimulate great conversation. Time permitting, you can use the boomerang method to get the entire class to express opinions when a participant disagrees with something you have presented. This can be an exciting way to learn from colleges who may have more experience than you with the subject at hand.

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What happens after a training session?

A participant walks up to you after your training session, smiles, and says: “Thank you. That was by far the best training session I’ve ever been to. I have to tell you, I’ve been to a lot of these sessions and I didn’t have high hopes for this session, but my boss told me I had to be here. I wasn’t looking forward to it. But now I’m so glad I came.”

As long as you’ve made your content relevant for your audience and have designed opportunities for engagement, a comment like this may not be uncommon.

But what happens next?

Two people I respect very much in the learning and development space, Nancy Bacon and Mark Nilles, recently published a short eBook for conference planners on how to design a more effective conference. I think there are some key lessons in there for anyone who works in the training space.  Continue reading