How an “anchor” is different from an icebreaker (and why you should be using anchors in every presentation).

“If we’re running short on time, I’ll typically cut the anchor activities and jump right into the content.”

I was leading a train the trainer workshop and some of the people who were using our curriculum were sharing tips and tricks for how to facilitate a session, especially when the curriculum was so packed and it was so easy to fall behind.

I cringed.  Continue reading

Your attention span is shorter than a goldfi… Squirrel!

The year was 2015. I was sitting in a breakout session at a training conference and the speaker was about to discuss ways to easily bring animation into an elearning course. As she introduced her topic, she shared a bit of research that was new to me: Thanks to all of today’s technology and distractions that surround us, the average human attention span had dwindled to under nine seconds, which is shorter than the attention span of a goldfish! She even cited this article in Time magazine as her source.

The problem with this eye popping statistic is Continue reading

When a training program is as stuffed as a guest at grandma’s house on Thanksgiving

Many of us in the United States celebrated Thanksgiving last Thursday. A time for family to gather, give thanks, and eat. A lot.

The American Council on Fitness estimates that the average American takes in 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving… and 229 grams of fat!

Is it possible that there’s a training program or two that we’ve developed that can be equally bloated and gluttonous? Sitting on the couch after Thanksgiving dinner last Thursday, I started wondering this very thought (because I’m apparently always thinking of training). Continue reading

When PowerPoint and Adult Learning Collide

Recently I’ve facilitated several sessions on more effective ways to use PowerPoint in a training setting. The simple truth is that your PowerPoint slides, like any other element of your presentation design, should align with the fundamental principles of adult learning theory.

Adult learners like to have some sort of control over what they’re being asked to learn. So how can PowerPoint possibly support this principle?   Continue reading

5 Ideas to Get Participants Exploring Your Content Before You Begin Speaking

Over the weekend I walked to the playground with my children and as they charged toward the play structures, I noticed that they suddenly stopped before they could reach the monkey bars and the slides. As I caught up with them, this is what I saw:

ASL

They had both found this board with instructions on how to sign each letter of the alphabet using American Sign Language, and they were trying to spell their names.

They had the entire playground to themselves and they stopped to interact with this board. It made me start to wonder: how can we capture our own learners’ curiosity in order to get them to want to interact with our content even before we begin our presentations?

Here are five ideas:  Continue reading

Replacing PowerPoint with Play-Doh

“I’m sorry. Can you say that again? You want to use WHAT when we teach the technical aspect of the content?”

“Play-Doh.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought you said. And you want grown adults, some of them in their 60s and 70s, to do this?”

“Yes.”

Such was the conversation I had with my client when I proposed we swap out a technical, PowerPoint-based presentation with a hands-on activity that called for dozens of canisters of Play-Doh. I admit that, after this conversation, I grew a little more nervous. If the activity flopped, my team stood to lose a lot of credibility with this extremely important client.   Continue reading

Training Valentines for your Favorite Presenter!

When I was younger, I used to love Valentine’s Day. I loved decorating a cereal box with construction paper to serve as my “mailbox”, and I certainly loved seeing the different Valentines that got dropped into my box. I’d hope for one with Star Wars or G.I. Joe… though I also loved the ones with puns and jokes… and the best ones came with blow pops or Skittles attached.

Every once in a while, in an office, I’ll find a fun Valentine sitting on my computer when I come back from a meeting or perhaps some team will have gotten organized and left a Valentine in everyone’s mailbox in the mailroom. Getting a Valentine still makes me smile.

If they still make you smile, today’s blog might serve to help spread cheer and smiles around your office this Valentine’s Day. Below are five training Valentines Continue reading

Evolution of an eLearning Designer

Early in my instructional design career, I developed loose structure I followed for most of my instructor-led training. Most training I developed had the same basic structure:

  1. Short lecture (two to five minutes)
  2. Activity
  3. Short assessment
  4. Repeat for all objectives
  5. Final Assessment

Evolution of In-Person Structure

As I grew in my field I learned that this structure missed a lot of opportunities for engagement Continue reading

Critical Moments in Beer and Learning

Farm restroom

A few years back, a couple of my friends made the decision to leave the big city of Helena, MT to move back to the farm to continue the family business. I am not going to pretend I know much about farming, but I do know that the arid lands east of the Continental Divide are a great place to grow barley. Yes, my friends are beer farmers, and visiting their farm is one of my favorite fall activities. Every year after the hard work of harvest is complete, my family visits the farm to enjoy everything the land has to offer. We hike, fish, watch wildlife, catch crawdads, and harvest as many vegetables from their garden as we can fit in our cooler to bring home. I enjoy knowing where my food comes from, and at the farm, I feel more engaged in that aspect. Continue reading