What are the most “radioactive” elements you can include in a training program?

The Association for Talent Development’s International Conference and Expo kicks off in earnest today, and in the final podcast of our series featuring ATD ICE speakers, my longtime friend and fellow L&D nerd (and VP of Organization Development at FORUM Credit Union in Indianapolis), Michelle Baker, fills in as our podcast interviewer to ask me some questions about my upcoming session (which will take place on Wednesday, September 1, from 8am – 9am Mountain time).

My presentation will focus on the “radioactive” elements that are often (mis)used in training programs, and how they can best be leveraged to yield maximum impact on your learners. These elements include lecture, PowerPoint, subject matter experts, handouts, smile sheets, icebreakers, elearning, augmented reality, role play, games and data.

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When Zoom attacks, will you know what to do?

Whether you’re using Zoom, Webex, Adobe Connect or any other virtual meeting platform, chances are that you’re going to run into technical difficulties at some point, especially when you try using features intended to make a session more interactive.

Recently, my colleague Lauren Wescott delivered a highly acclaimed session on the role of the producer in virtual meetings. The producer has many responsibilities, and among those responsibilities is the need to quickly troubleshoot and think on their feet. If a virtual feature is giving you fits, the producer may need to help nudge the facilitator in the right direction to move past the technical difficulty.

Following are a few common mishaps, and a handful of immediate steps to move beyond these issues without derailing your whole session.

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The Hand-Off

A friend recently attended a training that was refreshed based on new policy and handed to a new team who inherited it from another team. This new team decided to take a new approach to the training because they were making changes anyway. I like this approach to revamping training if you have an opportunity to make changes when you have the files open, take it!

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always go as expected. Luckily, when training goes poorly, my friends ALWAYS tell me. Instead of a great training experience, the majority of the class time was spent with the participants correcting the facilitator’s out-of-date or misinformation. Let’s break down what went wrong with this training, so we don’t make the same mistakes.

Content is King

While we may not be the content experts, our materials guide us. The task of this training team was to update the content consistently across the new policy books. They became so focused on the new interactions and cool new training that due diligence was left out. It doesn’t matter if you are teaching pilots how to fly or philanthropists how to engage, content must be rigorously checked.

The first time the class corrected the errant information, they chalked it up to a mistake. As the day went on, the frustration grew, and eventually, it was not a good learning environment. To put it bluntly, they checked out.

Pilot all Training

Skipping steps in the design process is always tempting, especially when it is just an update. I regret skipping steps every single time. My team is pretty awesome at reminding me of this when I get in a hurry because this is one of those steps that is tempting to skip. By adding a small pilot with a few subject matter experts, this team could have easily identified the gaps in content before presenting. By putting the pressure on themselves to be the content experts, they gave themselves blind spots and set-up points of failure.

Do pilots take time and cost money? Sure.

Is that better than a course failing in front of a bunch of participants who are taking time away from their jobs and family? Absolutely!

Post-Mortem

First, I really don’t like that term, but it is industry jargon and I don’t know how to kill it (pun intended). When a project goes poorly, or well, sit down with the team and reflect on why things went the way they did. Start with what went well, then discuss what could be improved next time. Never place blame, and always walk away with an action plan.

What else could this team have done to prevent this issue? Where have you seen training like this breakdown? Let’s keep this conversation going in the comments below!

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

Instructional Design Dilemma: Knowing When To Let Go

Let Go

Last Thursday we published a transcript of a conversation our team had about game design. One theme from that post is the idea of letting go of something that you poured your heart and soul into.

I love my job, and that shows in how much I love what we produce. As a result of this passion, I often find myself emotionally connected with what we produce and I have a sense of pride when I feel we accomplished what we set off to achieve. I am not a perfectionist, but I do like putting out good work. Continue reading

Trainer’s Fishbowl: An Inside Look at a Pilot Program that Didn’t Hit the Mark

Fishbowl

This week we had an opportunity to pilot a training program that we’ve been working on for the past two months. We were excited to unveil it before a pilot audience, especially because we had an opportunity to incorporate a board game into the module.

At the end of the pilot session, we realized that we didn’t quite hit the mark in our first draft. Yesterday, the Endurance Learning leadership team came together via Slack to debrief the experience.

Today’s post is a sort of “fish bowl”, an opportunity to take a look into the conversation that took place as we de-briefed this session.   Continue reading

Divide and Concur – Why Proof Reading is Important

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In my first job after college, I sent an email to all staff regarding the status of a server. My email ended with:

“The server should be back up and running within the hour. We apologize for the incontinence.”

I didn’t realize my mistake until I received an email reply from a colleague highlighting the difference between incontinence and inconvenience and the people within the cubicles around me erupted with laughter. This typo became a long running joke at meetings, in future emails, and while passing my colleagues in the hallway. 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

Can you admit when you’re wrong?

soccer.jpg

My daughter’s final spring soccer game took place last Sunday. As the game was winding down and the score was tied 3-3, one of her teammates took a blistering shot and found the back of the net.

My daughter’s team went up 4-3. As the referee ran back to mid-field to set up for the kick-off, my daughter caught his attention and said: “Sir, the ball hit my arm before it went into the goal.”

The referee waved off the goal and the score reverted to 3-3.

That was a gutsy sign of maturity and sportsmanship. Do we have the same guts when we do something wrong in the training room?   Continue reading