A Lesson in Gamification from Car2Go

I was in a hurry to get home the other day and the bus wasn’t going to get me there in time, so I hopped in a Car2Go (if you’re not familiar with Car2Go, it’s a pretty ingenious way to get around town without having to own your own car; check it out here).

As I sped home in the little Smart Car, I noticed what seemed like a warning light. I pressed on the touch screen display and up popped a message, something along these lines: “you need to drive better.” Apparently I wasn’t driving in a very fuel efficient manner. Then, on the touch screen display, this image popped up:

Gamification 1

My initial thought was: What the hell? I’m just trying to get home. It’s rush hour. I’m driving in city traffic. Seattle is full of hills. And drivers who don’t go when a light turns green (nor do they honk). How am I supposed to drive in a more fuel efficient manner?

And then I took a closer look. Those trees did look pretty sad. And who wants a monitor displaying grey rain clouds? And what were those numbers? What was the highest score? 50? 100? Guess there’s only one way to find out. So I started pressing a little lighter on the gas pedal when I accelerated. When I was cruising I stopped pressing the gas pedal when I was going down a hill. I eased into traffic stoppages and stop lights a little more gently.

I noticed that the forest started looking a bit healthier. A cloud even went away. And those clouds that remained had turned white. Who doesn’t like a few white, puffy clouds in the sky?

Gamification 2

What lessons can learning & development professionals take from this?

As I drove, there were no detailed instructions. There was no carrot nor was there a stick. Nobody at Car2Go would ever yell at me (nor would they ever reward me) for my driving habits. There was barely any message given to me at all, yet my fuel efficient driving apparently improved. It tapped into my curiosity (hmmmm, how do I get these numbers to go up? How do I make the trees get bigger? Wait, the clouds turn different colors? And if my score gets high enough, the clouds go away? Well then, what happens if I ease off the gas pedal a little more? What happens if I ease into slowing down and stopping a bit more?). It tapped into my competitive nature (just how high can I get those numbers?). It tapped into my playful nature (all right, there are some electronic images of trees… how can I get them bigger and healthier?).

Whether elearning or in-person, do we need detailed instructions? Is there a way to tap into our learners’ inner curiosity? Their innate sense of play and competitiveness? Is there a more fun and simple way to motivate our learners?

If the car sharing service Car2Go can do it, why can’t instructional designers and learning and development professionals?

Do You Give Your Audience Too Much Of A Good Thing?

On Saturday, we stopped for ice cream on the way home from a family hike. This is what they brought my son:

Too Much Of A Good Thing

I’m sure the person in the kitchen thought she was doing her customer a favor. Who doesn’t want a LOT of ice cream, topped by even more whipped cream, when they order a treat? I’m sure she was thinking: I want to make sure my customer is getting his money’s worth!

Do you ever feel the need to do this with your audience? You only have 15 or 30 minutes and your topic is really important, so you’re going to be sure your audience gets its money’s worth. You’re going to load your presentation full of facts and figures – all stuff that you obviously feel is both essential and interesting – to make sure your audience leaves full and satisfied.

What’s that, someone suggests? Cut down on some of your content and identify the one or two most important points? Ha! That’s insanity. It’s ALL important.

The problem with this line of thought is that if it’s all important, then nothing is truly a priority. Look at that ice cream cone in the picture. My son stopped after a couple of minutes because it was too overwhelming to him. He certainly tried, but after a while it didn’t even taste good to him. In fact, it took three family members to put that ice cream cone down.

When it comes to presentation design, it’s essential to separate the “must have” information from the “nice to have” information. As Shannon Tipton has written in her excellent Learning Rebels blog, “people don’t need to know how to build a watch in order to tell time.”

The next time you’re getting ready for a presentation, make sure you identify the #1 essential thing that people need to know when they walk out the door. Putting too much content into your next presentation because you find the topic interesting can be intimidating and overwhelming to your audience. And they may decide that your presentation isn’t worth the calories.

 

 

5 Tips to Become an Expert Storyline Developer

Articulate Storyline may be the greatest thing to sweep through the learning and development field since the creation of the action-oriented, learner-centered objective. Why? It’s insanely intuitive to use, and the Elearning Heroes online community is a place where you can instantly learn how to do anything you ever wanted to do in an eLearning environment.

If you’re using Storyline and haven’t been taking advantage of the Elearning Heroes online community, here are five reasons to start:

  1. Adding and displaying a learner’s name throughout your module. Want to have a learner input text – whether it’s their name or some other text – and then have that same text come up later in the module? Nicole Legault’s handy tip walks you through an easy way to set this up.
  2. Create custom characters for your eLearning. Sick of looking through free image sites and not finding exactly what you’re looking for? This post from Tom Kuhlman walks you through the steps it’ll take to help any non-graphic designer modify existing clip art images to create custom characters.
  3. What are other people working on? Every week, David Anderson posts an “Elearning Challenge”, asking Articulate Storyline developers from around the world to come up with creative ideas or share work samples around a common instructional design theme. This is a fun way to put your own skills to the test and to see what kinds of amazingly creative ideas other Storyline developers can come up with. What is perhaps the most stunning thing about this particular series of posts is that many of the people who take on these weekly challenges will gladly share their source files.
  4. Free Assets! Looking for free clip art, images, fonts, and other visual assets? Create an account on the Elearning Heroes site and you get access to lots and lots of free assets and templates.
  5. Share your module without uploading it to an LMS. Want to have other people check out your latest eLearning module or preview your most recent creation without having it go live on your LMS? Mike Taylor walks you through the several simple steps you need to take in order to upload a course to Google Drive.

There are a lot of other tips, tricks, and tools that are available – FREE – through the Articulate community. If you’re trying to build your Articulate Storyline developer muscle, check it out.

Want to see Storyline in use? Check out this post which includes an eLearning demo which allows you to solve “The Crime of the Century” and identify which meeting facilitator(s) could have been responsible for boring an audience member to death.

Know someone using Storyline? Be sure to pass this along.

“Is didactic really all that bad?”

Last week I was reviewing some lesson plans with a colleague. At one point he stopped and asked: “Why do we need all these activities? Is simply doing 15 minutes of didactic learning all that bad?”

I don’t remember exactly what happened next. Some type of argument or a scuffle or maybe a brilliant defense of all that is good and holy about adult learning principles. When cooler heads prevailed, we found ourselves reminiscing of our own training experiences around this particular topic. We’d seen these concepts in training sessions or in practice many times, yet neither of us was a master of this topic. In fact, neither of us really knew much at all about this topic (thank God we have a bunch of really smart SMEs to lean on!).

In the moment, training participants will probably take well-designed, interactive, engaging content over didactic lecture and PowerPoint slides any day. But long term? None of this matters – didactic or interactive – if there is no follow up. Either way, people will forget most of what they’ve “learned” before their heads hit their pillows that same night.

I still say: yes, didactic really is all that bad. Even phenomenal speakers (think TED talks) may put on a good show, but three weeks later what do you still remember? Of course, the same can be said of well-designed, interactive sessions: what do you still remember three weeks later?

In the end, if you want people to be able to do something new or differently or better, and you don’t design follow-up activities to build upon what they’ve learned in the classroom, you’d probably be better off not doing the training in the first place. Chances are, they won’t remember it anyways.

Where Does Learning Happen?

When I facilitate a train-the-trainer event, I ask my participants where learning happens. I’ll get answers such as “in the classroom” or “at the water cooler” or “everywhere.” Sometimes a participant will say: “where there is discomfort.”

When this meme recently made the rounds on LinkedIn, it got me thinking a lot about my training design.

Where Learning Happens

It’s an inspirational image. And it doesn’t tell the whole story. I recently came across this image as well:

Where Learning Happens (2)

I absolutely agree that it’s essential to move learners beyond their comfort zone in order to discover new possibilities, new perspectives and new ways of doing things. However, there can be a fine line between the spot where learning happens and the “panic zone” which can lead to a horrible learning experience.

Effectively moving learners out of their comfort zone while ensuring a positive learning experience requires the following considerations:

  1. Safety and comfort are not the same thing. Safety in a training environment is a must-have. If a learner feels threatened or offended or at risk of humiliation, then her ability to learn will take a back seat to her desire to simply survive the experience. Comfort, on the other hand, is not necessary at all. I know that even I like to be able to sit in a training and listen and not be asked to join in an activity. And while that makes my life easier, I remember very little from those types of training sessions. The fact is that finding ways to engage attendees to participant and be involved in the learning is crucial, and it usually means an element of discomfort.
  2. Choice is essential. Every learner is different and each person will grapple with discomfort in different ways. Some participants love the limelight and relish the opportunity to speak in front of the large group. Others need small group conversations in order to be able to engage and discuss ideas and concepts. An opportunity for learners to choose when, where and how to participate will reduce the amount of “panic” among participants.
  3. So is de-briefing. When learners are pushed outside their comfort zone, mistakes are often made. Or sometimes things just don’t feel right when they’re tried for the first time. This is all ok, and it’s part of the learning experience. But unless the participants have an opportunity to process and think through why a mistake was made or why something didn’t feel right, then it’s just an ikcy experience.

Hello. My name is Brian, and I’m a training snob.

It’s been three days since I last shared a snarky comment about something training-related. I don’t know if I can go three more days. I suppose I’m just trying to take it one day at a time.

I realize now that training snobbery is a sickness. It took hold of me. I got so passionate about theory or the way I was taught to do something, or maybe the latest cool trick or hack. And nothing else in the world seemed to matter.

I still remember the last time I fell off The Wagon. It was last Friday. In the lunchroom at work. I didn’t have snarky thoughts once… I had them… twice. I’m so sorry.

The first time, I had just put my leftover pasta in the microwave and I was waiting for it to cook. Something caught my eye. It didn’t just catch my eye. It caught me.

A pack of markers. Just sitting on the counter. Generic, Office Depot-brand flipchart markers. I thought to myself: “Who in the world would buy these?! And, good Lord, why?! These aren’t Mr. Sketch. They don’t have hypnotic fragrances like grape or cinnamon. They probably don’t even write very well on paper!”

And then… oh God. I’m so sorry. And then I opened the pack of markers. And I took the cap off the blue marker. As I suspected, it did not smell like blueberries. But it didn’t stink, either. And when I wrote on a piece of paper, it made marks. It was like I had been punched in the stomach. Maybe something that’s not Mr. Sketch can still be effective. My world was shaken.

Then the microwave beeped, snapping me out of this momentary existential crisis.

A co-worker passed by with his dirty dishes. “You all right man? You don’t look so well.” I think I may have turned a bit ashen. I was definitely perspiring.

I grabbed my re-heated pasta and sat at a table, alone. Except for my old friend, a copy of T+D magazine. Any time I really need to feel good about myself, I pull out a copy of T+D and read an article and shout: “I already know that! You’re not teaching me anything new!!” It makes me feel superior.

I was feeling a bit vulnerable at the moment, so I opened that magazine and found the weakest target I could find: Re-visiting the Lecture by James J. Goldsmith. Who advocates for lecture?! I just needed to hold my nose, read this article, and then all the self-aggrandizing, superior thoughts would flow.

I finished the article. Then blackness.

When I came to, I was surrounded by three or four colleagues. “Stop slapping me, I’m not dead!” I shouted to the guy who was slapping me in order to revive me.

I pushed my colleagues away. “You don’t know me! You can’t judge me! Just because I don’t lecture doesn’t make me a bad person! I’m not hurting anyone!” Someone put a gentle arm on my shoulder and told me I was slurring my words.

I ran from the lunchroom. I went to the bathroom and splashed water on my face.

“So this was what rock bottom feels like,” I thought to myself. I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror.

The funny thing is it all started so innocently. I just wanted to help people learn and do their jobs a little better. And then I was at a conference one day and I overheard some more experienced people talking about how the session’s presenter’s handwriting on the flipcharts was too messy. Throughout that conference, there were a lot of whispers from audience members about how they could do something better.

Everyone else was doing it. So I tried it. First it was a snarky comment during a conference session. Then it was a snarky blog post or two. Before I knew it, I was even making snarky comments about a homily in church and I couldn’t look away when the snark and superiority took over various Twitter sessions like #lrnchat and #chat2lrn.

I accept that everyone is entitiled to his or her own opinion. And snarkiness can be contextual and an entertaining way to blow off steam. Problems come, however, when those opinions dismiss the possibility of being open to other ideas. Problems come when those opinions come from a place of superiority or arrogance.

Standing there, looking at myself in the mirror, having hit rock bottom, I realized that the disease of training snobbery (something Litmos’ Brent Schlenker recently described as Instructional Design Bias) is a problem when it limits your willingness to accept other ways of doing things. The T+D article was right on, lecture can be an effective delivery method. The Office Depot markers can get the job done.

Snobbery in any field – whether it’s politics or science or even L&D – is an ugly condition.

The first step to overcoming it is to acknowledge you have it.

Learning and Development Lessons from Brazil’s World Cup Team

The World Cup is upon us. In Brazil, a country that’s won the tournament more than anyone else (5 times), there’s a debate on whether they should continue playing “beautiful” soccer, or if they should be playing more to win. I wonder if we should be having the same debate in the learning and development field.

Soccer Ball

In the learning and development space, “beautiful” is the equivalent of engaging, fun, entertaining, sound lesson plan design. “Winning” could be synonymous with behavior change.

There are a lot of courses and conferences and books devoted to effective training design and engaging presentation styles and gamification of elearning. ASTD (ATD) specializes in these types of events and publications. I’ve read a number of books and attended several of their conferences. I even presented at an ASTD conference. Yet, I wonder how much behavior change comes from all of this.

In 2010, McKinsey published an article stating that $100 billion was spent annually on learning initiatives yet only one quarter of those initiatives yielded any type of measurably improved business performance.

I wonder if L&D professionals should continue to look to organizations like ASTD. When I read CLO’s recent listing of 2014 LearningElite organizations, I began to wonder if we should be looking more toward organizations that don’t necessarily talk about talent development and improved business results, but rather produce such results year after year. While I know many L&D-focused organizations are on the small side and ASTD’s BEST and CLO’s LearningElite seem biased toward larger organizations, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a single organization devoted exclusively to L&D on one of these lists.

Just as this ESPN article points out that there are some in Brazil who don’t feel that the “beautiful game/playing to win” is an either/or argument, perhaps it’s not an either/or argument in the L&D space either. Or is it?

On which side do you fall in this argument? Let’s hear it in the comment section below.

And of course: Go Yanks, beat the Black Stars!

3 Training Lessons from the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model

In May of 2014, I learned that Donald Kirkpatrick passed away.

Don Kirkpatrick evaluation model for training programs

Like many others in the learning and development space, he made a life-changing impact on how I view my work. Here are three simple yet profound ways in which his work, specifically what is often called the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model or the Four Levels of Learning Evaluation, influenced my work:

1. Smile sheets don’t justify a giant ego (if the feedback is good) nor are they the end of the world (if they’re bad).

I first landed a job with “training” in its title about 8 years ago, and the way by which I measured my work was by the end-of-training evaluation forms. I viewed them as my report card. Great evaluation scores would have me walking on top of the world for the rest of the afternoon. Poor scores were absolutely devastating.

I don’t remember where I first heard of Kirkpatrick’s 4 levels of training evaluation – perhaps on an ASTD discussion board, perhaps in T+D magazine. When I learned that post-training evaluation scores were the bottom rung of training evaluation, I felt liberated… until I realized that I had to actually be intentional on how to ensure people learned something, that they could use new skills on the job, that they could improve their performance in a measurable way. It was a completely different outlook on how to approach my work. A new and exciting challenge that wasn’t limited to the whims of post-training smile sheets.

2. Training should actually be transferred.

Kirkpatrick’s 3rd level, “transfer”, had perhaps the most profound impact on my work. It’s a level that I, and I’m sure many of my colleagues (yes, even you, dear reader) continue to struggle with and do poorly. Afterall, once people leave the training room, what control do we have over whether or how they choose to apply our brilliant lessons and content on their job?

It’s the simple act of being consciously aware that transfer of learning to the job is the Holy Grail of training design and evaluation that transforms training sessions from being presenter-centered to learner-centered. And while it’s extremely difficult to measure transfer, top-notch trainers will always strive to achieve efficacy at this level.

3. Bottom line: it’s a process, not an event.

The first two items above naturally lead to this point: if training is about more than high evaluation scores, if training is about transfer to the job and the subsequent results that transfer can yield, then training must be a process, not a 1-hour or 1-day or 1-week event.

Aiming for the highest levels of the Kirkpatrick evaluation model has inspired me to figure out what kinds of job aids might live beyond the training room, what kinds of communication with supervisors is necessary in an attempt to forge partnerships with those who will have more influence on whether learning is transferred on the job, and what kinds of longer-term evaluation instruments need to be integrated into the training’s design.

We spend more waking hours at work than we do with our families. When we learn how to be better at work, it can improve our quality of life. These three lessons made me a better training professional, and in turn, improved my quality of life.

Though he’s no longer with us physically, I believe his legacy will continue to transform training programs for generations to come. Thank you, Donald Kirkpatrick, for sharing your talents and your work.

Who are your influences? Did the Kirkpatrick evaluation model influence you? How has your understanding grown?

6 Innovative Ideas Every Presenter Can Learn From A Cup Of Noodles

On a wet, stormy day in Yokohama, Japan, I ducked into a building for cover. It happened to be the Cup Noodles Museum. Yes, there is an entire museum for the Cup of Noodles.

And surprisingly, there were some essential lessons for anyone who does presentations.

The museum focuses on Momofuku Ando, who first invented the instant chicken ramen noodle meal in 1958. At the age of 95, he was still innovating and designed Space Ramen – an instant treat for astronauts to enjoy as they hurl through space. (Click here to read more about this amazing man.)

Innovation is an essential ingredient for any presenter who wants to keep his or her audience engaged. Momofuku Ando’s creative thinking process revolved around the following six key concepts, all of which should capture the imagination of every person who might need to present something to some audience someday.

  1. Discover Something Completely New: Seek things that the world has never seen but would be nice to have. How many times have you sat through the same presentation format? A slide deck. Some information. Some Q&A toward the end. To capture an audience’s attention and to light their imagination on fire, begin by finding something new.
  2. Find Hints in All Sorts of Places: There are inspirations that spark new idea all around you just waiting to be found. Have a family? What inspiration can your children give you? Been outside lately? Maybe there’ll be inspiration in a funny shaped rock or a group of people you pass by on the street or that dude who cut you off on your way to the office yesterday. Pick your head up. Look around. Get inspired. Then use it to inspire others.
  3. Nurture the Idea: An invention isn’t for just one person; have everyone use it. It’s pretty selfish to have an amazing idea and then to let other things get in the way of being able to effectively communicate your idea to others. Take the time you need in order to find a way to get others as passionate about your topic as you are. (And just talking about your topic will not get others as passionate.)
  4. Look at Things from Every Angle: Investigate every perspective. Telling yourself: “my topic is boring” is a cop out. There are a million ways to present on any given topic. And some of those ways are even fun and exciting and amazing. Find the way that works for you… even if you have to keep looking for a while until you discover it.
  5. Don’t Just Go with the Status Quo: Think beyond what you think is usual. Just because there are so many poor presentations out there, doesn’t mean your need to limit yourself to what everyone else does. Honestly, if everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you follow them?
  6. Never Give Up: Even if you fail the first time and the second time, keep on trying. Trying something new is uncomfortable. Forgoing PowerPoint slides in a presentation may push you out of your comfort zone. Opening a presentation by suggesting everyone in the room turn to the person next to them to discuss a topic before you launch into your brilliant discourse from the podium may push everyone out of their comfort zones. And some of these things may… hmmm, let me re-phrase that: many of these things will fail. Miserably. Of course, if we abandoned a new way of doing things at the first hint of failure, we might not have light bulbs, we might not have iPods (or iPads or iMacs), and we’d all still be wearing diapers since potty training never, ever works well the first time.

Without innovation, we get the same, boring presentation. And very little is learned by an audience sitting through the same, boring presentation.

You Down With O.P.P.? (Clean Version)

Yeah, you know me!

“O” is for “other”. “P” is for “people’s” work and preparation. The last “P”, well, that’s not that simple. It’s sorta like another way to call a map a script. There’s four little letters that I’m missing here. You get it on occasion, if the other party is a missin’. It seems I gotta start to explainin’…

Actually, that’s about as far as I dare take my little riff off of Naughty by Nature’s O.P.P.

“O.P.P.” in this context stands for Other People’s Plans, more specifically their presentation plans.

Over the past five weeks, I’ve been involved in planning and helping to deliver over 50 presentations. And other people’s presentation plans played a huge role in the success of these meetings.

Super_Lesson_Plan

The Show Must Go On

As a conference in Saudi Arabia was about to begin, I received word that heavy fog in Dubai would prevent several of my colleagues from arriving on time. I would need to facilitate their sessions for them.

Unfortunately for me, I was not an expert in their subject matter. Had I only been given their slides to work from, I would have completely embarrassed myself (and our organization) trying to present unfamiliar material in front of a room of knowledgeable participants. Fortunately, my fogged-in colleagues had completed detailed lesson plans and I was able to present with confidence and without missing a beat.

Click here to download a pdf copy of the blank template that they used.

What Would You Do?

Take a look at the following slide deck from a presentation I gave in December. Would you be able to fill in for me if I was stuck in traffic and I needed someone else to step up and present?

 

Would it make a difference if you had that slide deck and the following presentation plan (click here to download a pdf copy)?

Page 1 of 3 (Lesson Plan)  Page 2 of 3 (Lesson Plan)  Page_3_of_3_(Lesson_Plan)

Benefits of a Presentation Plan

Yes, investing some time and energy in creating a presentation plan before opening up PowerPoint and putting some slides together will make the planning process longer. But here are five reasons why using this format will be good for your next presentation:

  1. Emergencies happen. If someone needs to fill in at the last minute, it’s helpful for the substitute presenter to know exactly what to say, how to say it, and how long to say it for.
  2. Total Recall. It will serve as a good reminder if you have to give the same presentation a year from now and need some help recalling key points.
  3. Focus. It provides a systematic way to gather your thoughts on the specific objectives that need to be accomplished during your presentation.
  4. Keep it tight. It helps keep your presentation on track by defining exactly how much time you should spend talking about any specific point.
  5. Who needs PPT?! Once your presentation is mapped out, you may realize that you don’t even need to put a slide deck together because there’s a better way to present your information!

Know someone you could use some help in organizing their thoughts around their next presentation? Pass this link along.

Interested in receiving more tips, tools and articles like this? Hit “Follow” at the top of the screen.