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

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

“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.”

Recently I took my kids to The Strong National Museum of Play. As we walked through the seemingly endless interactive exhibits, I looked up to find this sign:

Play

There may not be any hard science behind this statement, but we don’t always need empirically-tested data to be inspired by an idea. When it’s integrated into a learning experience with intention, play isn’t just a gimmick. Play can engage participants’ hearts and minds which in turn can capture their attention and can allow them to explore and navigate complex concepts on their own terms.

Here are a handful of ideas to bring play into your next session. Continue reading

Making Your PowerPoint Slides Effective

I’m not a very good graphic designer, but even I know that PowerPoint slides should look better than this:

Bad Example 1

and this:

Bad Example 2

Knowing the slides should be better than these, and actually being able to put together better slides are two different things.

Over the past year, I’ve written a handful of posts about how to design more effective slide decks, and today I’m putting them all in one place. I invite you to bookmark this page so that you can come back to it each time you’re looking to put together a more effective slide deck of your own. Continue reading

After certificates have been handed out, how does training continue to live?

I’m currently working with a client who needs to deliver the same online training program to two different audiences. The first audience is located in their US-based headquarters, the second audience is located in regional offices around the world.

The headquarters has a thriving community of practice for training alumni that meets regularly, in-person. Furthermore, the headquarters has a critical mass of people in this role who can see each other in the break room, daily meetings, the hallway or walking by one another’s desks for informal conversations about challenges and key learnings.

People in regional offices are a little more isolated when it comes to ongoing opportunities for informal learning that can reinforce the initial training. So what are regional and remote staff to do?

Online Communities of Practice

Technology offers a lot of opportunities to shrink the distance between people and allow for greater communication, yet the ability to seed an active online community of practice remains elusive to many organizations. Continue reading

When a training program is as stuffed as a guest at grandma’s house on Thanksgiving

Many of us in the United States celebrated Thanksgiving last Thursday. A time for family to gather, give thanks, and eat. A lot.

The American Council on Fitness estimates that the average American takes in 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving… and 229 grams of fat!

Is it possible that there’s a training program or two that we’ve developed that can be equally bloated and gluttonous? Sitting on the couch after Thanksgiving dinner last Thursday, I started wondering this very thought (because I’m apparently always thinking of training). Continue reading

13 (+1) reasons why this L&D professional is thankful this year

The holiday season for those of us in the United States is upon us. On Thursday we shall celebrate Thanksgiving, soon many of us will celebrate Christmas and then make a resolution as we head into the new year.

Last year, each member of the Endurance Learning team made a one-word resolution – a commitment to one word that would serve as a guiding principle throughout the year. My word was “joy”. Part of joy is having the opportunity to look around and be thankful.

Here are some things that I’m thankful for over the past year: Continue reading

When PowerPoint and Adult Learning Collide

Recently I’ve facilitated several sessions on more effective ways to use PowerPoint in a training setting. The simple truth is that your PowerPoint slides, like any other element of your presentation design, should align with the fundamental principles of adult learning theory.

Adult learners like to have some sort of control over what they’re being asked to learn. So how can PowerPoint possibly support this principle?   Continue reading

C4LPT’s Top 200 Tools for Learning (2018 Edition)

I don’t know where my mind has been recently, but I seem to have missed two very important release dates: Daredevil Season 3 was apparently released by Netflix a week or two ago. Perhaps more relevant to this blog, Jane Hart’s annual list of the Top 200 Tools for Learning was released in late September. You can find the list with brief descriptions of each tool here.

I get excited to review this list each year for two reasons: 1) I’m curious how the tools I use rank in popularity across the L&D community (the list was compiled after 2,951 votes were cast from 52 different countries), and 2) I love scanning the list to see if there might be some digital tools I could add to my craft in the coming year.

This year, one thing that jumped out at me was the number of “Audience Response Tools” that are available.  Continue reading