When training is a matter of life and death. Literally.

While many of us are extremely passionate about being able to bring amazing learning experiences to our audiences, very few of us can say that the work we do can literally make the difference between life and death.

Colonel Andy Saslav has been leading troops in the U.S. Army for more than two decades, and while it’s true that the training he puts people through can indeed literally help save lives, the lessons we can all take away from how training is done in the U.S. Army are seemingly countless.

I’m not suggesting that each of us becomes more drill sergeant-like in our approach (though it’s a fun thought: Hey! You! Get your thoughts down on that flipchart! NOW! I SAID NOW! MOVE IT! MOVE IT!). The nuggets that Colonel Saslav was able to share about the way in which the Army uses reflection, coaching, feedback and critical thinking is something we can all certainly learn from.

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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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Why learn everything today when you can learn it slowly, over the next month?

When I was a kid, I used to talk with my friends about how cool it would be if we could just take some sort of pill so that we could know everything we needed to know, and we wouldn’t have to go to school any more.

I think it’s human nature to constantly be looking for shortcuts. There are a lot of times when we don’t need to master knowledge or content, a quick visit to Google or YouTube gives us everything we need. On the other hand, getting really, really good at what you do – whether it’s elearning design, classroom training design, whatever – takes time. There are no shortcuts to mastering your craft.

On this week’s podcast, I had an opportunity to talk with eLearning Launch’s Chief of Awesomeness, Alexander Salas, about the value of learning cohorts as well as the value of learning over time (as opposed to trying to cram all your learning into one event).

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Experiments in Learning Design: Ex + Lp = Much More Engaging SME Presentations

Last week I began to share some “experiments in learning design” based upon the following periodic table (which is the basis for my upcoming book, What’s Your Formula: Combine Learning Elements for Impactful Training):

This week we’ll take a look at another experiment. Today’s experiment revolves around the question: Are there ways to support SMEs to help their presentations to be more engaging and effective when they’re asked to train other people?

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Experiments in Learning Design: Al + Id + Hn = Surprising Your Participants

On June 29, my book What’s Your Formula: Combine Learning Elements for Impactful Design, will finally be available. I’ve teased this before and I’ll write more about it as the release date approaches, but the gist of the book is that you can (and should) string together various basic elements of learning design (see the periodic table below) to create amazing learning experiences.

Over the next few weeks we’ll explore some combinations of these elements, and I’ll try to find combinations that may not always be so natural or evident. For that reason, we’ll call this series: Experiments in Learning Design.

Today’s experiment: Mixing Al (Adult Learning) + Id (Instructional Design) + Hn (Handouts) to yield a way to grab your participants’ attention from the beginning.

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What are the keys to being more innovative with training design?

Seriously, what are they?

I have my own thoughts, but one person’s innovation is another person’s silly idea. That’s why I’d love to hear your thoughts about what you feel are the keys to being more innovating in training design in the comment section.

Since you’re already here, I suppose I’ll share several keys that I feel are most important in bringing innovation to learning programs.

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The single most important skill of a learning professional

If you look at any job description for any learning and development job, you’ll find a whole lot of items listed under required skills and experience. Instructional design. The ability to be a dynamic presenter. Technical savvy with common software such as PowerPoint. Creativity (which is more of a trait than a skill or experience).

I’ve recorded 66 podcast interviews and I’ve been a little surprised at the trait I hear come up most often, including something that was mentioned by next Monday’s guest (Spencer Wixom will be talking about sales training and the Challenger Sale model).

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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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