5 Lessons Learned Writing Training for a Global Audience

We’ve been pretty busy over the past few years developing both instructor-led and elearning for a variety of organizations that are doing work around the world. As we’ve expanded projects with learners across the globe, we’ve learned a number of design lessons ourselves in the process.

If you happen to be working on training or learning projects with a global audience, perhaps these 5 lessons learned, as summarized by my colleagues Lauren Wescott and Erin Clarke, will help your projects move forward more smoothly.

Can you spot the difference between these two images?

Spot the difference in the photos.
Continue reading

Finding Success in DEI Training

Carrie Heron is a Therapist, Facilitator, Consultant and Coach. We first met 14 years ago when she was working for Casey Family Programs and I was the training director at the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association. Carrie was training some of my colleagues and me on an initiative focused on racial and ethnic identity development for foster children (and those who work with them).

Through activities and discussions focused on concepts of racism and privilege, I can honestly say it was one of the most personally impactful training programs I’ve ever experienced… although looking back on it, I’m not sure it moved the needle very on the inherent racism and issues of equity in the foster care system.

Recently, I had an opportunity to talk with Carrie about her experiences and perspective on what makes for the most “successful” diversity, equity and inclusion training.

“Training”, she quickly noted, doesn’t work. At least, training in isolation of a broader initiative, doesn’t work. Following is our complete conversation. As you may note, this is longer than our typical Train Like You Listen podcast… then again, this is a very important topic with no easy solutions, so we didn’t mind releasing this episode in its full, 20+ minute glory. I hope you’ll take the time to listen and then share your thoughts in the comment section.

Continue reading

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

We’ve talked on the Train Like a Champion blog about the need for diversity and inclusion in the learning and development field and have talked about the impact that learning and development professionals can have through their training initiatives. As we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it feels like a good time to share the conversation Brian had with Natalie Mazzie from F5 about the realities of doing the work of promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

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

Reflections on Diversity Training

With Martin Luther King Jr. day approaching, my daughter recently asked me a why we take next Monday off school to remember him. As a trainer and a parent, I typically relish in opportunities like this; moments where the learner is engaged and asking good questions. As I began to tell her all about great speeches and peaceful protests, I realized I wasn’t getting through to her. At that moment I thought about all of the diversity training I have sat through in my life and I realized this wasn’t a moment for a lecture. Continue reading

On diversity training, the Google Bro and just being a good person at the office.

Diversity Day

The Office takes on diversity

If you don’t want a more equitable and inclusive work environment, you’re not a good person. Period. Full stop.

Can we train our way out of a labor system that has a history of putting certain groups ahead of others, a history that spans from the very beginning of this country with slavery until present day when women make 82 cents for every dollar that a man makes and when combined, African Americans and Hispanics make up only 9% of the workforce in the top 75 tech companies in Silicon Valley (though they make up 31% of the overall US population)?   Continue reading

3 Recent Blog Posts Worth a Few Minutes of your Time

I’ve been on vacation the past two weeks, trying not to think about work. But every once in a while I still peek at a blog post or two. Recently I’ve posted about a variety of books to help round out your L&D library. But if you don’t have time to read something cover to cover, here are a handful of recent blog posts that might spark some thoughts and/or help you do something new or differently or better: Continue reading

If Organizations Espouse “Diversity” As A Priority, Their Conference Planners Need To Go And Look For It

Panel and Diversity

I have been a keynote speaker, panel participant, panel moderator, breakout session facilitator and I’ve also led pretty much every other high profile conference, meeting and symposium role you can think of. Ok, well maybe I haven’t personally done that, but plenty of people like me have – straight, white, Christian, (upper?) middle class men with no physical disabilities.

Over the past week and a half, I’ve noticed the topic of diversity has come up thrice with respect to conferences and conference faculty selection.

The first mention popped up in my Twitter feed Continue reading

Push and Pull Learning

Learning should be self-directed. L&D departments should provide resources for people to access and then get out of the way. Allow your employees to access the resources they need, whenever they need them. Heck, most people find what they need just by doing a quick Google search.

Pull  Learning

The L&D department of the future is less about an army of instructional designers “pushing” training out to the masses and more about being nimble, responsive to needs, curating resources and putting them where people can find them while providing on-demand performance support.

It makes sense. A McKinsey study I like to cite from time to time says companies spend $100 billion (with a “b”!!!) each year on training initiatives around the world and only 25% of those initiatives actually show measurable results. With numbers like that, pushing training out is definitely wasteful. Professional development is something that should be “pulled” by employees when they need it.

“Learning Zealot” Mark Britz shared his organization’s experience creating more of a “pull” learning culture last week in an article entitled Money Talks, Bullsh*t Walks. Author and all-around learning revolutionary Clark Quinn expanded upon the idea in a short post on his blog.

I like the idea of training and professional development that should be pulled. Mostly.

Why Push and Pull Learning are Needed

On the other hand, training and professional development programs aren’t necessarily all about the return on investment. They’re not always about whether people walk away immediately being able to do something new or differently or better.

Sometimes pushing a training program is necessary. Sometimes supervisors should require their employees to attend certain training programs. While the employees may not do anything right away with what they’ve learned, sometimes a seed is planted. Sometimes a new idea that a self-directed learner may never have thought to expose him or herself to will be presented.

Diversity training is a prime example of this. Sending employees to an industry conference or association’s annual meeting to gain exposure to new trends and technologies is another example. I could go on.

Self-aware, self-directed learners with an enlightened L&D department of the future and an effective manager is great. Maybe it’s even the ideal situation. Yet even the most self-aware, self-directed learner needs to be nudged into new and challenging directions in order to continue to grow. Supporting both push and pull learning may be critical to achieving your organizational goals.

Where does your organization stand on push and pull learning? What does the balance look like?

Can eLearning Change Hearts and Minds?

Last week I wrote about how a well-designed classroom training experience can change long-held beliefs and practices. I began to wonder if an eLearning experience could change hearts and minds in a similar way. I was skeptical.

I discussed this idea with eLearning instructional designer extraordinaire Kirby Crider.

Kirby

What do you think? Can eLearning ever provide a powerful, life-changing experience that some people may find in the training room? We’d love to see the conversation continued in the comments section below.

Brian: I’ve seen some amazing eLearning design from folks like Michael Allen and the Articulate community. They’re fun. They’re engaging. But I’m skeptical that eLearning is a tool to change hearts and minds for something like diversity training or change management. You’ve spent more time designing eLearning than I have. What do you think?

Kirby: Plenty of classroom sessions don’t change hearts and minds, and the same goes for eLearning. I do think it’s possible to break out of the standard way of doing things in the self-directed eLearning world, just like how you’ve shown on this blog that it’s possible to break out of the reading-off-a-PowerPoint-slide way of doing things.

Brian: A lot of what I write about is based upon what I’ve seen working in practice. I just haven’t seen an eLearning module in practice that I’d consider powerful or life-changing.

Kirby: Describe for me what makes those in-person experiences so powerful for you. You recently wrote about a white privilege checklist activity that made a big impact on you. Why did it resonate so much?

Brian: The checklist itself was interesting, but it wasn’t enough on its own to change anything for me. The ensuing conversations with a diverse group of other participants crystalized this concept of privilege. It was eye opening for me to be able to see and feel the passionate, incredulous reaction of an African American colleague when I confessed to never having through about my privilege. How do you replicate that intensity online?

Kirby: Of course there will be certain things that can’t be replicated online, but have you ever watched a TED talk that profoundly changed the way you behave? I have. Imagine if you combined the storytelling, the surprise and the utter relevance of a killer TED talk with reflection questions that promote asynchronous discussion via an integrated message board with other users!

Brian: Interesting. Video can be more engaging than looking at clip art or even photos of real people on the computer screen. I definitely find webinars more engaging when the presenter uses a video feed. But it’s so easy to misinterpret tone in an online discussion. Any suggestions for how to mitigate misinterpretation of tone for anyone interested in designing a social component into their eLearning design?

Kirby: There’s a body of research that suggests conversational language and first person language (“you” or “I” instead of “one”) increases retention, and things need to be memorable in order to change hearts and minds. Art Kohn has a nice article about selecting language on the Learning Solutions magazine site. Honestly, we need to stop taking our scripts so seriously in the asynchronous world. When I design an eLearning module, I like to take chances with an activity like this: “Alright, by now you’re probably tired of listening to my voice and clicking on the next button. I’d like to challenge you. Take what you’ve just learned, and go find a colleague. See if you can explain it to them!”

Brian: Bringing the online world into the real world, I like it! Any final thoughts about how to reach a learner’s heart and mind?

Kirby: My father-in-law teaches an online class. In order to build a sense of common ground, he has his students ship dirt from their yards to each other and then asks each person to make a sound effect out of the dirt they receive. We have so many tools at our disposal – Twitter, wikis, discussion boards, plain old email, Padlet, even the US postal service – I’d like to challenge all eLearning designers to use them. You change hearts and minds when you can build community and create spaces for discussion and growth.

What do you think? Is eLearning a tool that can change the hearts and minds of learners? Add your thoughts to this conversation in the comments section.