Key Components of a Training Lesson Plan

One of my most popular blog posts ever was the one in which I shared a free training lesson plan template. It was so popular that it made me think that a tool like Soapbox, an online tool that basically puts a training lesson plan together for you in a matter of minutes, would be something the world would be interested in.

If you have about 10 minutes or so and want to hear what should go into a training lesson plan, give this week’s podcast a listen.

And if you have an extra 5 seconds, I’d love your response to the following survey question (I’m genuinely curious about who’s been listening to my podcasts lately). Thank you in advance for listening (and for giving me some idea of what your role is)!!

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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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How do we squeeze all of our content in when time is limited?

A few weeks ago, I was preparing to deliver a 60-minute workshop revolving around the concepts from my book, What’s Your Formula? My challenge, which is probably a variation of an issue many of you have run in to as well, was: how do I cover all the things from a 200-page book in 60 minutes… and leave time for interactions, activities and Q&A?

As I stared at my screen, preparing to write a lesson plan, an idea came to me. I thought it was brilliant. When I went to test my idea in a practice session with some colleagues in advance of the real session, I received feedback that helped me to feel I was actually going to cover everything I needed to in the one hour I was allotted for my session.

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Taking Virtual Training to the Next Level (A Conversation with Cindy Huggett)

I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Cindy Huggett in person at a networking dinner during last summer’s ATD International Conference and Expo. If you’re unfamiliar with Cindy’s work, she’s literally written the book(s) on virtual training. Her books include:

During our conversation, we not only spoke about some fundamental things we can all be doing to tighten up our virtual training delivery (I know it’s been 19 months and we feel like pros at this by now, but there are definitely some habits we can still clean up), and we also spoke about some things that more advanced presenters have done to take their virtual training to the next level.

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Participants should get some of your assessment questions wrong

As I was driving my kids to school on Tuesday morning, a local radio station asked for a contestant to call in to be part of the Puget Sound Showdown. Basically, it’s a lightning round-style radio quiz competition in which two listeners (one from the north Puget Sound area near Seattle, one from the south Puget Sound area) compete to answer random trivia questions correctly. The first contestant to answer five questions correctly is the winner. So I called in (on a hands-free device, of course, because I was driving).

“What was Peter Parker’s day job?” was one of the questions.

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Setting SMEs up to be more successful presenters

Subject matter experts (SMEs) bring deep technical knowledge to any training program, but when they’re asked to put a presentation together and deliver it to an audience, many SMEs struggle to keep their audience engaged. While some SMEs may appreciate the idea of learner engagement and the application of adult learning principles, it’s a fool’s errand to try to turn SMEs into de facto instructional designers through train the trainer programs.

Should training professionals simply step out of the way and allow an SME to get in front of an audience of eager learners, simply hoping that the SME can be charismatic and the learners arrive ready to hang on every last word? Probably not.

If you think of the array of elements available to turn any learning experience into an engaging and effective program, there are a number of things that training professionals can do to help SMEs be more effective. In today’s post, we’ll examine one very short combination of these elements.

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Freeing Up More Time To Spend On Better Instructional Design

Have you ever wished you could have more time in your day to develop better, creative, more engaging and effective training programs?

The laws of time dictate that there can only ever be 24 hours in any given day, but Megan Torrance has some ideas on how you can save time during the development of training programs. She’s literally written the book on integrating an Agile process for instructional design, and recently she spent some time explaining where she sees time being “sucked” away and how instructional designers can be more efficient in their craft.

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