Where does adult learning end and training snobbery begin?

A few weeks ago, I posted the following question on the ASTD LinkedIn Group discussion board: Is “fun” the same thing as “engaging” when it comes to training design?

I was surprised to see more than 60 responses to the discussion prompt. Here are a few of the most interesting responses on either side of this question:

  • “I think ‘fun’ is a very personal term – what is fun for some can be embarrassing or demeaning for others. Writing content that will be fun for everyone must be a tough job – if every training designer could do it, they’d surely earn more in the entertainment industry? However I think you can design training that is engaging (and may be fun for some people).”
  • “What a great conversation. I agree content and delivery can be very engaging without ‘fun’ elements per se. More often than not, constraints on context, content, and delivery methods mean it’s not possible nor practical to incorporate ‘such fun’ content . . . entertainment, games, play, jokes, cartoons, etc.”

And then there were some responses that made me start to wonder: where do adult learning principles and sound instructional design end, and when do we in the learning and development field simply turn into training snobs?

  • “FUN IS CONCERNED WITH LEISURE ACTIVITIES  WHILE ENGAGING IS TO GET INVOLVED OR OCCUPIED FOR AN OBJECTIVE!”

The absolutist nature of some of these concepts, while perhaps interesting to debate in theory, don’t seem to win us many friends in the real world. Subject matter experts and other professionals who are responsible for presenting will often need our help in putting together a presentation that will hold the interest of their audience and can lead to change.

Will taking an absolutist stance over the definition of a word while disregarding the spirit in which the word is spoken win over the hearts and minds of an SME who just wants to present something that people pay attention to?

So I ask the learning and development community: where should we stand our ground when it comes to effective adult learning and sound instructional design principles? And where do we cross the line and simply become training snobs?

I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments section below.

Click here if you’d like to see the entire LinkedIn-based discussion.

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Dissecting a Webinar: The Quest for Interaction in Distance Education

Web conferencing technology can be an amazing way to shrink the distance between a facilitator and the rest of the world. Of course, web conferencing technology is only as effective (and interesting) as the design of the webinar.

There are many blogs and magazine articles and even books that offer tips and suggestions on how to design an engaging webinar. This post is designed to break down an actual webinar and point out actual examples of strategies you may want to incorporate into your next webinar.

In January 2012, I was invited to design and deliver a webinar on how I used LinkedIn to find my dream job. Here is a link to a recording of that webinar:

https://gwu.adobeconnect.com/_a948849616/p6nazvh7o5d/?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal

GW Webinar

If you don’t want to sit through the entire 61 minute presentation, feel free to click on the link and fast forward to the good parts. Below, I offer a time-based breakdown of the various instructional strategies I incorporated into this webinar:

2:30  Sound check (you want to be sure people can hear you!)

2:41  Introduction and attempt to connect to the audience through a shared experience

5:13  Poll questions to get to know the audience better

10:12  Setting an expectation for participation and informing the audience that they will have an opportunity to type their own experiences into the CHAT box

12:00  Framing the presentation as a story

15:25  Inviting audience to share their experiences in this subject

25:20  Pause for questions and an opportunity for audience to share their own experiences

27:50  Pose a specific question to the audience and invite them to use the CHAT box

38:50  Again pausing for audience comments and questions

48:31  Connecting the entire message and offering a coherent conclusion of the entire presentation

Looking for additional ideas and tips to create an engaging webinar? You may find these previous posts helpful:

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