Training-themed Valentines for Your Favorite L&D Colleagues (2020 Edition)

“Ugh, I hate Valentine’s Day! I never know what to get.” If you’ve ever uttered these words, well we have a deal for you! FREE Valentine’s for that special trainer in your life!

This year we have two new Valentines for you to share. You can download a pdf to print your own valentines. It may sound silly, but printing these out and dropping them into some colleagues’ mailboxes tomorrow may help keep you and your training team front of mind around your organization.

Continue reading

Engaging eLearning Design Tips with Tim Slade (podcast)

This week on the Train Like You Listen podcast, Brian sits down with Tim Slade of  timslade.com to discuss eLearning. During this conversation, Brian and Tim discuss how to create engaging eLearning, share tips on how to manage expectations with clients who want amazing eLearning developed quickly and cheaply, and discuss where to find new inspiration for creative eLearning approaches.

If a 10-minute conversation with Tim isn’t enough for you, you can also check out his book: The eLearning Designer’s Handbook: A Practical Guide to the eLearning Development Process for New eLearning Designers.

Continue reading

A Training Activity that Leads to Discussion Every Time

“G****mmit, I knew he was going to make this hard!” exclaimed one of the participants as we got underway.

Earlier this week I was asked to drop by a client’s meeting with a group of their trainers. I’ve worked with these trainers for several years and they have adopted the dialogue-based approach to training in which my company specializes. I wasn’t asked to help them work on their facilitation or delivery, I was asked to come in to help ensure everyone understands the “why” behind this dialogue-based approach. So I reached deep down into my bag of tricks to find a way to unearth any resistance or misunderstanding that may still exist among these trainers.

Continue reading

Applying Lean Principles to Onboarding (podcast)

This week on the Train Like You Listen podcast, Brian and Heather sit down with Todd Hudson of The Maverick Institute to discuss lean principles and how they apply to the design of corporate onboarding programs. We discuss the value of lean principles to the onboarding process, recommendations on how to get started, and even discuss an example of a successful application of these principles.

Listen using the player below. Please leave us your thoughts in the comment section or on twitter @train_champion.


Want to read a bit about how one organization gamified their entire onboarding process? Click here for the case study.

Want to read about how an organization measured the impact of their onboarding program? Click here for a summary of the overhaul and how it was measured.

Flipping your training toolbox upside down

JD Dillon is an interesting creature. The best that I can tell, the guy eats, sleeps and breathes talent development. I’ve followed him on Twitter, I’ve seen and interacted with him at conferences. And he’s a total learning geek. So it’s fitting that his company is called LearnGeek.

Earlier this week we shared our latest Train Like You Listen podcast, featuring JD, and we had a chance to talk about organizational learning strategy and a modern learning ecosystem. I want to return to this idea in today’s post because there’s something fascinating about the modern learning ecosystem model that JD offers. It literally turns the tools we typically use in training and development on their heads.

Continue reading

Are people the biggest barrier to an effective organizational learning strategy? (10-min Podcast)

This week on the Train Like You Listen podcast, Brian and Heather sit down with JD Dillon of LearnGeek to discuss big picture learning strategy for organizations. Whether you work in a small training team, are embedded within a huge organization or are an outside consultant working on learning strategy, JD offers some nuggets for you.

In this episode, JD shares what a modern learning ecosystem is, how organizational issues are best supported, and how learning fits in with professionals during the flow of their workday.

Listen using the player below. Please leave us your thoughts in the comment section or on twitter @train_champion.


You can subscribe to the Train Like You Listen podcast on these and virtually anywhere you listen to podcasts!

Case Study: How a Financial Services Company Refreshed a Tired Training Program

On Monday, Betty Dannewitz of If You Ask Betty, shared some insights to help you get started using augmented reality or virtual reality technology in your training programs (if you missed her 9-minute podcast, click here). Today, she’s back on Train Like A Champion as a guest author, sharing how her financial services company was able to breathe new life into their tired old training programs using a new, rapid authoring tool for face-to-face instruction called Soapbox. Here is Betty in her own words:

Continue reading

A few considerations when designing a game for your next training

In Monday’s episode of the Train Like You Listen podcast, Heather spoke with our colleague, Lauren Wescott, about her recent experiences designing games for the training room. Lauren spoke briefly about cooperative vs. competitive games, and what each type of game could bring to the training room. If you’re looking to bring a game into your next training program, here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind:

“Games” and “Gamification” are not the same thing

Games are something you play. Gamification is an intentional design strategy. Playing Jeopardy or awarding points for correct answers doesn’t really mean you’ve “gamified” a training program.

In their book For The Win, Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter suggest that true gamification goes beyond points, badges and leaderboards and includes a variety of elements such as:

  • Constraints
  • Emotions
  • Narrative/storyline
  • Learner growth and development
  • Relationships
  • Challenges
  • Elements of chance
  • Competition or cooperation
  • Feedback
  • Resource acquisition
  • Rewards
  • Transactions between players
  • Turns
  • Win, lose and draw states
  • Achievements
  • Avatars
  • Badges
  • Boss fights/culminating challenges
  • Collections (of badges, resources, etc)
  • Combat
  • Content unlocking
  • Gifting
  • Leaderboards
  • Levels
  • Points
  • Quests
  • Social graphs
  • Teams
  • Virtual goods

If you’d like to read about real life examples of some of these elements in action, Zsolt Olah chronicled his experiences in this 2018 case study published in eLearning Industry.

Pros and Cons of “Competitive” Games

As mentioned above, competition can be a key element in games – whether it’s a board game you play at home like Monopoly, a game played on Sundays (like football) or a game you’d play in the training room. In my experience, competitive games – a game in which there is one winner (and potentially a lot of losers) is the most common type of game used in training settings.

Competitive games offer a variety of pros, including:

  • Engaging those who like to win
  • Offering a sense of “play”
  • An experience similar to activities (such as Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit) that learners have played before
  • A goal
  • Some competitive games include teamwork
  • Simulating the competition that some in industries such as sales may experience in real life
  • Opportunities to simulate real life challenges

Drawbacks of competitive games may include:

  • Participants focusing more on the rules and winning while losing sight of the intended point of the game
  • Games designed after Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit focus more on knowledge and less on the demonstration of skills learned
  • Some participants may be turned off by needing to engage in competition and/or may fall so far behind in the game that they lose interest

Pros and Cons of “Cooperative” Games

I’ll admit that the genre of cooperative games is relatively new to me. It’s not uncommon for others with whom I’m talking to look puzzled and ask: “What’s a cooperative game?” when I’m speaking about different types of games, which makes me think I’m not alone in my lifelong ignorance to the existence of cooperative games.

Cooperative games, in a nut shell, are games where players work together to accomplish a common goal. “Winning” is often measured by “beating” the game. In the game Pandemic, for example, players work together to try to stop a global outbreak of diseases. Winning happens when all of the diseases have been snuffed out. Losing happens if the diseases take over the world. Win or lose, all of the players are in the experience together.

In my limited experience with these types of games, here are some of the pros I’ve found:

  • Learners must stay engaged or they’ll be letting their colleagues down
  • While there’s always an emphasis on winning, learners generally don’t lose sight of the point of the exercise and argue with one another over the technicality of certain rules
  • De-emphasizes competition while emphasizing skills such as group decision-making, collaboration, cooperation and communication

Some of the drawbacks of cooperative games include:

  • Because this genre is less common and rules of the game can sometimes be complex, learners need some time to grow comfortable with the rules and the activity… I’ve not yet seen a “short” (15-20 minute) cooperative game
  • Planning and design of a cooperative game can be intensive

If you’d like to explore the genre of cooperative games in more depth, the two examples that Lauren offered during Monday’s podcast were:

A few final considerations

Games can be fun, engaging and memorable ways for learners to grasp important concepts and skills. Take great care, however, because as many people noted when I posted on LinkedIn about using games in the training setting, games can also turn many learners off. Some comments included:

“I use [games] sparingly because games for the sake of games is annoying as heck.”

“Pictionary with a group of medical assistants to practice vocabulary, always a huge hit. Build a spaghetti tower that can hold a marshmallow with a bunch of programmers.. no.”

“I tend to see games being used where there’s not really a good link to the learning, applying or recalling the actual concept that should be supported. Plus, I personally am not a game person.”

“Earning badges probably works for many people especially if there are incentives connected. But for me, not even then. It always strikes me about the same as training dogs with treats.”

As these comments show, great care should be taken when it comes to designing and incorporating games or game elements into your next training program.

If you’d like to know more about a cooperative game our organization created for training and presentation skills (called: Train the Trainer: The Game), drop me a line!

What do you think? Competitive games in the training room? Cooperative games? Stay away from games? Let’s hear some thoughts in the comment section!