Case Study: Continuing the Learning after a Conference Session

Last fall I had an opportunity to deliver a pair of presentation skills sessions at the Arkansas Early Childhood Association Annual Conference in Little Rock. Everyone I encountered during the few days that I was in Arkansas showed me an amazing time, the session participants were engaged throughout, and then I got on a plane and returned home. What did the participants do with the concepts I’d taught?

Recently, I exchanged a few messages with one of the conference organizers – Michelle Pounds – and was amazed to hear how they had extended the learning from my sessions. It can serve as a model for how organizations can get the most out of their investment in sending people to a conference, maximizing the possibility that the learning is applied in the real world. Following is a brief description of what Michelle and her team did to keep the learning going, written in Michelle’s words:   Continue reading

Case Study: Get Training to Stick

A few weeks ago I was exchanging messages via LinkedIn with someone who had reached out to connect with me. As she began sharing more about her work, it was obvious she had a story to tell. Following is a guest post from Betty Dannewitz, who generously offered to share her experiences with the Train Like a Champion community. Be sure to share your thoughts about this case study with her in the comment section.

The Scenario

We know how the story goes.

Step 1: Trainee hears about a great class.

Step 2: Trainee shows up ready to learn.

Step 3: Trainee loves the class and soaks up all the knowledge like a sponge.

Step 4: Trainee leaves class excited and energized.

Step 5: After class, all content falls out of trainee’s head.

Step 6: Trainee does nothing with the new skill set.

Step 7: Cycle repeats.

Techniques to Get Training to Stick

How do we stop the madness?  How do we make training stick?  How can we help them remember?  We have all asked these exact questions.

Continue reading

Case Study: Add Staff to Improve Training ROI

On November 5, 2015, I happened to be speaking with a training colleague from another department when she began telling me the story of how she was finally able to add a .5 FTE to her training team. I asked how it was working out for her, and she began rattling off all the benefits she was seeing.

It had helped lighten her workload. She had a new partner in crime with whom she could kick ideas around. This new training person was super-high quality.

“This is exciting,” I said, “but have you seen any impact… as in anything you can quantify?”  Continue reading

Case Study: Training Challenge – Covering 18 Topics in 45 Minutes

The Training Situation

SightLife, the eye bank for which I work, is dedicated to eliminating corneal blindness within our lifetime. In order to do this in India, there will need to be 100,000 corneas available for transplant every year (last year there were approximately 25,000 corneas available for transplant). It’s a big goal, and in theory, the eye banks of India are aligned with this goal.

But what does rapidly growing in order to help support 100,000 transplants actually mean? What will it take to actually get there? What policies, procedures and practices need to be in place? There’s a lot that will need to happen in order to move this from a big idea to a concrete reality.

The Training Challenge

Each year, we hold a meeting with eye banks in India to discuss these challenges. There are so many areas to focus on that we normally only pick one or two. The problem with this is that some eye banks aren’t ready for the topics we pick, some eye banks are in the midst of dealing with the topics we pick, and some eye banks have already found some solutions and ways to address the areas we focus on.

The other challenge is that this meeting is only one day long, and there are many other items we need to accomplish in addition to educational and professional development sessions.

This year we were left grappling with a question: how could we address everyone’s learning needs, bring all of the issues and challenges we’ll face in order to reach 100,000 transplants per year (we identified up to 18 key challenges, although there are probably more) and do all of this within a 45 minute block of time?

The Training Solution

Taking inspiration from The Game of Life, Monopoly and a few other family board games, our L&D team set out to create a game Continue reading

Case Study: The Power of Training Preparation

Last week I had an opportunity to facilitate a session at the LINGOs annual member meeting. After the presentation, my co-facilitator, Shannon Cavallari from PATH, shared her observations about what helped her most in the days leading up to our presentation. Following are her reflections, written immediately after our presentation:

It’s a wonderful feeling; this mixture of excitement, nervousness, and RELIEF because I had prepared. I had a plan A and a plan B should it not unfold in the way I hoped it would.

I’m a learning and development professional, but my skill set lies more on the learning technologies side. Basically, I do put together eLearning programs and projects. Rarely do I get invited to stand in front of a group with the intent to inspire, teach or change behavior.

Training Preparation

With my Lesson Plan template in hand, Brian and I started mapping out the presentation.

Objectives identified? CHECK.

Activities designed? CHECK.

Engagement with the participants? CHECK.

Opportunities for questions and lessons learned? CHECK.

The Lesson Plan allowed me to think through and assign specific blocks of time to each of these steps, from the start of the presentation to the finish.

Then we did a dry-run and more light-bulbs went off. This step – the dressed rehearsal – is such a crucial step in preparing for a presentation and yet most of us skip it or don’t give it the attention it deserves. In my dry-run, I practiced what I would say AND I practiced where I would stand, and it revealed questions I would need to ask my co-facilitator along the way. The Lesson Plan allowed me to capture these questions and my thoughts on the “choreography” for each section of my presentation. I felt more at ease; I felt prepared.

I reviewed my lesson plan the evening before and the morning of our presentation. “I got this,” I thought. Then, of course, came the need for Plan B.

Results of Doing Training Preparation

The audio failed on our computer and we were unable to use a video we wanted; we had planned for this to be integral to our initial 8-minute introduction to the session. But that was ok because we had rehearsed with a Plan B in the event we might experience such a technical difficulty. I learned how essential it is to assume things can and will go wrong and think through ways to mitigate such unfortunate circumstances.

Through some anecdotal feedback at the end of our session, our participants claimed that they got what they came for. We delivered on the objectives we identified and they were happy and engaged.

Regardless of being a trainer is your full-time gig or if you’re a subject matter expert sharing your vast knowledge, I can say with certainty that it pays to practice. Not only did such preparation create a better experience for our learners, but it also put my own mind at ease. I was a better presenter because of the process.


What do you do to prepare for a presentation? Has your training preparation evolved with experience? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

Case Study: Technology Fails

Last week, a colleague had an unfortunate run-in with technology at the start of his presentation. What’s one piece of advice you’d share with this subject matter expert?

The Scenario

“I had been asked to deliver a 30-minute lecture on the anatomy of the eye and I was concerned about two things:

1)      How on Earth would I fill up a 30-minute block of time on this subject?

2)      How on Earth am I supposed to present on this topic when there will be eye surgeons in the audience? They’ve forgotten more about the eye than I could ever teach.

I put together a slide deck and I rehearsed my session. Continue reading

Case Study: eLearning Engagement

My boss and I have been wanting to attend a course on project management for some time and were looking forward to a week-long workshop later this month. Until it was canceled. So we made a pact to complete a series of eLearning modules that covered the same content. We agreed to meet weekly to check in and share key learnings from the various modules until we completed the course and passed the accompanying exam for certification. Following is a recap of our experience plus expert commentary on how to move forward.

The Situation

Realizing we wouldn’t be able to attend a specific project management course, my boss and I chose to enroll in an 8-module eLearning course that covered the same content. At the end of the course, a certification exam would be waiting for us.

More than “certification,” our motivation for completing this course was twofold:

Continue reading

Transfer of Training: A Case Study

I had an opportunity to attend a day-long training session called Hiring Winners which was delivered by a facilitator from Washington Employers. And over the next month, an amazing thing happened. I found that I was immediately using concepts and skills developed during this session. Following is a brief description of how this course seems to have hit upon the Holy Grail of training and development: actual skills transfer from the training room to everyday practice.

The Situation

Working for a rapidly growing organization, our HR team offered the opportunity for hiring managers to spend a day focused on our recruiting and hiring skills. This presented two immediate benefits:

1)      general professional development on an immediate need, and

2)      development of a common, organization-wide experience and language when it comes to recruiting and hiring as we go forward

The Training

Every participant was given a manual as the day started and we spent the day working our way through the manual. The course design included lecture, small group activities, large group discussions and role-plays.

The Transfer of the Training

Probably the most essential element of the session was a series of small group activities in which we were asked to develop a hiring plan and to develop behavior-based interview questions for an actual job for which we would soon be recruiting and hiring. The real-life nature of this activity and opportunity to leave the workshop with an actual plan that could be implemented right away led me to use these tools the following week.

A colleague of mine from India happened to be in town when this course was offered and brought some of her key learnings back to share with our co-workers in New Delhi. Immediately upon her return, she led a 60-minute session in the Delhi office to share highlights and to begin finding ways to transfer the lessons for our India-based context. The team then decided on and implemented several improvements to our ongoing hiring process in India. The team will have a longer session to discuss key concepts from this course after the new year.

What made this Course Sticky?

When so many other courses and workshop manuals simply gather dust on someone’s desk or bookshelf, what made this course achieve transfer of training?

There were several key factors that led to the immediate application and transfer of skills from our training room to our day-to-day routine.

Supervisor Support

My supervisor also attended this session and asked our team to begin using these new skills. He also set the expectation that lessons learned would be shared with other team members – both in the US and in India – who were unable to attend this session.

Immediacy

In espousing his theory on how adults learn best, Malcolm Knowles insisted that adult learners thrive when the education they receive can solve an immediate problem. As our organization (and more specifically, as my team) grows, we’re using hiring skills every day. This course allowed us an opportunity to re-visit our current process and make improvements in the moment during the actual training session. And with interviews already on my Outlook calendar, this was the perfect time to develop more effective interview questions.

Facilitation and Course Design

The facilitator was prepared, had obviously given this presentation in the past, provided a smooth delivery, and offered plenty of time for small and large group discussions. She delivered a course that was designed to offer three things that were of immense value to us: new content, a forum for staff from across the entire organization to discuss issues and align on processes, and an opportunity to either revise or create new ways to recruit and hire top-notch candidates.

Will our organization realize the return on the investment we were seeking when we brought Washington Employers in to facilitate this workshop? It’s too early to tell. But if an early indicator is whether or not people actually use the skills they learned in the training room, then we seem to be off to an unusually good start.

Know someone who could use some help designing learning experiences that will transfer of training from the training room into the real world? Get in touch with us.

When SMEs Know Best: A Case Study of Instructional Design/SME Collaboration

When a technical expert approaches me to ask for help in putting together a presentation, I consider it one of the highest forms of a compliment I can receive.  Last week, I received such a compliment, and the result can be viewed as a model for instructional designer/SME collaboration.

The Context

A colleague had been asked to deliver a short presentation about her team’s work during a monthly all-staff meeting.  When this colleague approached me, she knew specifically what she wanted to accomplish and had some ideas about the scope and flow of the presentation and she shared the initial draft of her slide deck. Continue reading

Case Study: The Gamification of the Foster Care System

In 2010, I was asked to help design a 2-day training curriculum.  In a stroke of what I considered at the time to be genius, I worked with another instructional designer to create a board game as a final assessment activity.  As I wrap up Gamification Week on the Train Like A Champion blog, I present the following case study to offer details on how this situation played out.  Would you have done anything differently?  Add your thoughts to the comments section.

The Problem

A non-profit organization had been awarded funding to create a training curriculum to assist professionals in the foster care system to improve outcomes for adolescent youth who “age out” of foster care.  These professionals would be asked to assist youth in envisioning a healthy and successful future while addressing the looming uncertainties of access to health care, higher education and independent living.

The Solution 

A 2-day training curriculum was designed that included theory, best practices and job aids such as a specific checklist for the professionals to use when interacting with the adolescent youth.  In order to tie all of the content together and to assess whether or not the learners “got it,” the designers crafted a final activity in the form of a board game.

In order to advance through the board game, different learners were given different dice – some had 6 sides, some had 12 sides, some had 18 sides.  Before reaching the end of the game board, learners needed to respond to a number of challenges an adolescent youth might face – an encounter with a relative that would expose the youth to some bad habits, some type of housing crisis, a problem at school.  If the learner reached the end of the game board without having helped the youth with all of these challenges, the youth would “age out” of the foster care system without being prepared.  Learners were required to use the job aids and checklists they were given throughout the training to assist them through the game (and so that trainers could assess whether or not learners could properly use the tools).

Learners with 18-sided dice moved through the game much more quickly (and generally much less successfully) than learners with 6-sided dice.  This was an intentional design element to simulate the fact that some professionals would be working with youth who were much closer to “aging out” than other professionals, and it would be important to be prepared for the inconsistent and unfair nature of the work.

The Results

Initially confusion reigned.  There were so many elements and tasks that learners had to complete, very few learners finished the game successfully.  Challenge – almost to the point of being impossible to be successful in the game – was an intentional design element.  The game designers wanted professionals to understand the difficult nature of their work.  However, because it was so challenging, some of the learning points became lost in the confusion and frustration felt by the learners.  The designers allowed trainers the latitude to revise the game rules in order to simplify the activity.  When they interviewed the curriculum’s beta testers, the designers discovered that some trainers remained faithful to the game rules stating that it was useful in reinforcing the skills and tools introduced during the training.  On the other hand, some beta test trainers had adjusted the rules though they still found the game helpful.  Some trainers discarded the activity altogether.

An Expert Breaks Down The Gamification Aspect

By nature, humans are a competitive lot, so after spending nearly two days together the participants of this workshop were allowed to “win” by playing a board game with their colleagues. By using media (a game board & dice) that most people have used before in social or familial settings the initial introduction immediately evoked a sense of fun.  Although the true training objective was to practice fluently & spontaneously using the tools introduced and having conversation with integral components embedded in these conversations, some participants were focused on “winning.” From a trainer’s perspective, I like to sum this up as “whatever it takes to get them engaged!” This game turned out to be a great interactive capstone experience, mixing fun, competition and skills practice, while sprinkling in scenarios in which participants may not have yet experienced outside the classroom in order to prepare them for “the real world.”

– Peter Dahlin, MS, Principal of Dahlin & Associates Consulting

Additional case studies with expert commentary are also available on the Train Like A Champion blog.

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