A 3-item Checklist to Make Sure Your Next Presentation is Meaningful


My colleague, Heather, has been on fire recently with the templates she’s shared on Train Like A Champion. In case you’ve missed them, she’s shared:

All of her recent templates have made me wonder if there’s a template or checklist I could share. Then it hit me. While Heather has been sharing some templates for fairly advanced training professionals, perhaps I could take a step back and offer something up for anyone who ever has to give a presentation, regardless of their experience or comfort level in front of an audience. Continue reading

Writing Assessment Distractors

Course design often includes creating an assessment of the skills gained during training. To truly assess a learner’s knowledge on a subject, you need more than just a question and a correct answer for them to choose, you need good distractors. There is magic in a good set of distractors that really makes the learner analyze the choices in front of them and consider what the question is asking. How do we accomplish that? Continue reading

Resource Allocation Template

Over the last few weeks, I have been boasting about standardizing your course development process with the use of templates. A surprising amount of the design and development process can be sped up by taking a little admin time to set up templates.

Project schedules can get complicated quickly as resources have other priorities and time away from the office. Whether you are the person planning the project or the talent allocated to it, you need a high-level view of milestones and deadlines. There are dozens of project management applications available, and I have tried several of them. The one thing I have learned is that they all have a learning curve and people are rarely consistent in keeping them up-to-date. To put it bluntly, they can be a waste of money. No matter how many times I have been on a team adopting new project management software, I always go to an old process I learned when I first started writing training.

Like most planners, I love spreadsheets. They are easy to customize, nimble, and most people with a computer have access to spreadsheet software. Instead of fancy project software, I keep a color-coded, ADDIE-inspired spreadsheet with all of my resources, projects, and status. You can download a copy of the template by click the picture below.


How to use this template

This template is intended to be a high-level view of projects, resource availability, and any obvious gaps. Any project requiring in-depth work breakdowns should be tracked in another tab which can be broken down by the week or even daily if that is required. Here are a few advantages of using this style template for learning and development projects.

  • Color coading makes it easy to quickly view the project phase.
  • High-level scheduling shows the team each other’s priorities at a glance.
  • Projects of the same size often have similar timelines, making them easy to copy and paste across projects.
  • The use of comments gives individual the ability to keep the project team aware of status.
  • Cloud storage quickly enables real-time collaboration on this document.

How does your team manage your busy work-load? Does your team really update their project management software? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

Have instructional design writer’s block? Here are 8 ideas to get unstuck.

I recently read that James Taylor‘s creative process involves doing nothing for three days in order to come up with a good song… or better said, in order for a good song to come to him.

This idea resonated with me… a lot. Prior to my current role, I worked in an eye bank (as in cornea transplants) and everyone around me seemed to be working very hard. The people in the lab worked late hours. The people in the call center always seemed short-staffed, extremely busy, pulling extra shifts and had little downtime. The distribution team was always trying to figure out how to get the right corneas to the right doctors around the world even when bad weather or civil unrest screwed up the normal flight schedule for planes on which the corneas were transported.

So I was very self-conscious when someone would walk past me and find me simply staring at my screen or wandering around the halls of the office seemingly aimlessly. I didn’t appear to be doing anything. Yet, when someone walked into the training session I was preparing, they’d discover one of the most engaging, creative training sessions they’d ever experienced.

Designing engaging and impactful training requires a creative process. If you’re trying to put something creative together for your next session but the ideas aren’t flowing, here are eight ideas to get unstuck: Continue reading

Trello Templates for Learning Design

Last week, I talked about various aspects of learning project planning. In that post, I mentioned making use of templates to increase efficiencies and optimize steps by using standards of practice. Over the next few weeks, I will dive into a few templates we have built to help learning project run as smoothly as possible.

My new obsession to accomplish this is Trello. Trello is a simple drag and drop program with some added functionality to make assigning tasks and notifications easy. It reminds me of a digital flipchart with column headers and a stack of sticky notes that can be moved around from column to column based on need. In this example, the flipchart would be your Trello board, the columns are your Trello lists on that board, and the sticky notes are your cards that you can drag and drop to each list. The simple functionality means I can invite contractors who are unfamiliar with the software to a Trello board and know that they will find their way around quickly and a learning curve will not delay the project.

Trello Templates

Sample Trello Template

For a very long time, I created a new Trello board for every new project. Even though it is simple to set up, I was always digging through old boards trying to make sure I didn’t forget any common tasks. After frustration with this process, I finally learned how to create a template, and it is super easy.

  1. Create a Trello board and include the word Template in the title.
  2. Add lists that match your design process.
    1. You may want to stick with ADDIE and have a list for each letter. You can also break it down by role; Instructional Designer, Project Manager, Project Sponsor, Client, Voice Over, Quality Assurance, etc…
    2. It is helpful to add lists to indicate status such as Needs Review, Validated, Complete.
  3. Add common tasks to cards and place them in the lists.
    1. See the screenshot above to review a sample template of these tasks.
  4. Once your template is ready, click the Menu in the upper right corner and then click More.
  5. Click Copy Board.
  6. Type the Title of the board.
  7. Click Create.

Once you create your board you can update the lists with tasks lists, due dates, attach screenshots, and update any customized information you need for your project.

There is a lot more you can do with Trello. I have personal to-do lists that have daily/weekly/monthly tasks as well as a drive-by list for when random things come up that needs to be finished when time allows. I also keep a shared board with my family for chores and groceries, and I power-up my boards with notifications so I am less likely to miss anything – after all, project management aims to mitigate risk. With that in mind, I challenge all of you to set up a free account and give it a whirl. Once you set up your board, let us know what you created and how it went in the comments below.

What’s most important when you need to take a “Mobile-first” instructional design approach?

Last week I was talking with a team in Uganda to scope out an elearning project.

“Tell me about the audience. Do they have computers and reliable Internet at home? Would they take the courses in an office with an Internet connection?”

“Actually,” the response came, “some would gather around a computer in an office, but many others would probably need to use their smartphones.”

I paused. For whatever reason, I hadn’t anticipated this response.

Our client asked: “So what implications does that have for the design of this project?”  Continue reading

Learning Project Planning

At Endurance Learning, we are busy planning for 2019 as we lay out our project schedules. I like to dig into project lifecycles before we kick-off each project so that I can understand the scope, where to assign resources, and what our availability looks like over the next few months. The beginning of the year is a great time to do some planning, let’s look at a few ways project tips and calls to action that can keep you and your team on-track for the new year. Continue reading