Learning objectives aren’t just a serious (and mostly boring) version of a Mad Lib

“Learning objectives” have been on my mind a lot lately.

In a team meeting last Friday, our entire team dove head-first into a conversation about crafting and wordsmithing learning objectives for one of our colleague’s projects. Then earlier this week, I released a short podcast on learning objectives – what they are and how to write them for best learning results.

I’ve also been in a lot of training sessions that spend time focusing on learning objectives, and one comment I hear from time to time is: “Just google ‘Bloom’s Taxonomy’ and pick a verb!'”

It’s not always that simple.

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What is Adult Learning?

Have you ever put together a really good training program and then wondered what made it so good? What was it about your training program that you wish you could bottle and pour out into your next training program, and the training program after that?

Having a solid foundation on the principles that can make your training programs consistently effective is one of the most fundamental things you can do as someone in the field of learning.

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How do you put yourself into the shoes of your learners?

This past fall I had an opportunity to coach my son’s 6th grade school soccer team.

Seattle CYO 6th Grade Boys 2nd Place Team: The St. Joseph Jaguars

I’ve never played organized soccer, but I’ve watched plenty of soccer on tv and we’ve gone to a number of Seattle Sounders games, so I felt like I (kind of) knew what I was doing. I’d run drills in practice and bark orders from the sidelines during the games. I’d pump my fist when we’d score and I’d rub my already thinning hair off my head when the kids would mishandle a pass or lose their assignment on defense.

During our final practice of the season, I organized a Kids vs. Parents soccer game.

Suddenly I realized that cleanly handling a pass (when hell-bent 6th grade boys are running at you full speed) or finding your assignment on defense (when wily, skilled soccer players are slipping into open space that I didn’t even know existed and I’m desperately trying to catch my breath) was a lot harder than it looked on tv or from the stands or while comfortably coaching on the sidelines.

As I hunched over, hands on my knees, trying to catch my breath, dreading how sore I was going to be in the morning, I began to wonder: how often do I do the same thing when I create training programs? How often do I fail to put myself in the shoes of my learners as I’m crafting activities that need to be relevant to their context?

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A Tale of Two Periodic Tables for Learning Professionals

Have you ever done a “vanity Google search” just to see how high any search results including your name might be? A little while back I was doing a sort of vanity search for Endurance Learning’s periodic table of amazing learning elements and I was surprised to find that it wasn’t the only periodic table of learning elements at the top of Google’s search results.

In 2020, the Elearning Brothers published a Periodic Table of Instructional Design.

Curious about this “other” table, I reached out to Chris Willis to learn more about how it can be used by instructional designers and even casual trainers (people who don’t have “training” in their title but are asked to put together training). If you have a few minutes, give this week’s podcast a listen (or read the transcript). Warning – this podcast was recorded in person at ATD’s annual International Conference and Expo, and both Chris and I were wearing masks, so the recording came across a little more muffled than usual.

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How “weird” or “novel” should leadership development training be?

At the end of this month, the Association for Talent Development will be hosting their annual International Conference and Expo in Salt Lake City. During the conference, Amy Posey, CEO and Chief Weirdo at Super*Mega*Boss will be facilitating a workshop entitled Why Weirdness Works: Using Novelty to Create Better Learning Experiences in Leadership Development.

Recently I had a chance to talk with Amy about this concept of “using weirdness”, and she not only shared a little about her approach, but also a little about the research behind why a novel approach can be extremely effective.

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Help! My podcast was highjacked!

Ok, “highjacked” may be a little extreme. Maybe “I yielded the interviewer seat to a professional colleague so I could be the subject of the interview” is more like it.

You may have heard that I have a book coming out tomorrow.

At some point in 2011 I decided I wanted to write a book, but my writing was rusty. My 2012 New Years Resolution was to start a blog in hopes that I could knock off the writing rust while compiling some ideas about learning and development. Here we are, about 10 years after I had the urge to write a book. And in today’s Train Like You Listen episode, Sophie Oberstein (author of Troubleshooting for Trainers) spent some time grilling me about this book.

Today’s episode is a little longer than usual, so if you don’t have the time to listen to this witty back-and-forth between Sophie and I, then just trust me, my book is awesome and you ought to buy it!

I write that last arrogant suggestion in quasi-jest (if you think the book could be helpful to you as you put together your training programs, I’d love if you bought a copy!). I’d like to thank each and every one of you for taking some time out of your schedule to read my posts and listen to my podcasts each week, thank you for the likes and comments and shares. Thank you for the emails and direct messages you’ve sent. You make me feel like I have something to offer the learning and development community.

Now without further ado, this week’s podcast…

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A Conversation with Dialogue Education Pioneer Jane Vella (Part 2)

Have you ever had a chance to talk with someone so fascinating that you hoped the conversation would never end?

That happened to me when I had a chance to talk with Jane Vella. On the verge of her 90th birthday, she’s as energetic as ever and her book, Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach has been the most influential treatise on learning design that I’ve ever read.

While I find the principles of dialogue education to be important when designing training programs, we left our conversation at the end of Part 1 of this podcast when I posed a question to her, asking if dialogue education was ever not an appropriate approach to learning design.

Here in Part 2 of this podcast, we hear her answer to that question and several others.

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Dialogue Education: Arguably the most important offshoot of adult learning theory

In 2007, I moved across the country with a 2-month old child and began a new adventure in Seattle with my first training director role.

Digging into the organization’s existing training program, I pulled out my red pen and began scanning the facilitator guide, ready to make an immediate impact and improve a training program that was being used by 70,000 people across the country.

Much to my chagrin, I didn’t find much to improve. Someone before me had rooted out all the learning objectives that had the audacity to begin with verbs such as “know” or “understand”. Each topic had a logical sequence and flow of activities. The program was extremely engaging.

How in the world was this possible without my leadership and guidance?

It turned out that this program was designed with the principles of what Jane Vella termed “dialogue education“. Whatever this dialogue education was, it seemed that this Jane Vella character laid out principles of learning and education that were like none other I’d ever seen.

I’m not a big fan of “you should’s”, because everyone has their own circumstances and situations and what works for me may not work for you. However, in this case, if you’re unfamiliar with Jane Vella’s work or the principles of dialogue education, you ought to make sure you’re incorporating these principles into your training design.

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The Monsters We Don’t See

scaregrow

It is Halloween week! While this year’s Halloween will look different than previous years, one of the ways we can always connect is with stories. Sure, the medium may differ depending on the times, and we may not be gathered around a room, but podcasts and blogs are a great way to share spooky stories to keep us up after we binge on candy and prepare to watch scary movies in the comfort of our own homes. This year’s story is about monsters you may not be able to see on your own.

monsters of l&d

We face these monsters every day as training professionals. They cannot be tackled the same ways the stories of our past have taught us to tame mysterious beasts. They lurk right in front of us; on our computer screen, on our social media accounts, in our books. Staying home cannot protect us from these monsters! This week on the Train Like You Listen podcast, Mad Scientist Clark Quinn, Ph. D, Executive Director at Quinnovation, joins us to spot and fight the monsters that plague so many in our industry.

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