One Website, 51 Different Learning Elements

As you may have heard, I wrote a book recently (and I’m super humbled and flattered by the reviews people have been posting on Amazon!!). If you’re interested in checking it out, here is a quick link. Today’s post is about a giant, free resource that my colleagues developed as a sort of companion piece to the book.

The book, entitled What’s Your Formula: Combine Learning Elements for Impactful Training, revolves around a periodic table of 51 different learning elements, which are organized into five different categories.

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Experiments in Learning Design: Al + Id + Hn = Surprising Your Participants

On June 29, my book What’s Your Formula: Combine Learning Elements for Impactful Design, will finally be available. I’ve teased this before and I’ll write more about it as the release date approaches, but the gist of the book is that you can (and should) string together various basic elements of learning design (see the periodic table below) to create amazing learning experiences.

Over the next few weeks we’ll explore some combinations of these elements, and I’ll try to find combinations that may not always be so natural or evident. For that reason, we’ll call this series: Experiments in Learning Design.

Today’s experiment: Mixing Al (Adult Learning) + Id (Instructional Design) + Hn (Handouts) to yield a way to grab your participants’ attention from the beginning.

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Animation isn’t just for Saturday mornings anymore!

Perhaps I’m dating myself with this title since Saturday morning cartoons mostly died off in the 1990s, but all I’m trying to say is that animation isn’t just for children. Similar to games and gamification, there can be a serious side to animation as well that can truly aid in the learning process.

Recently I had a chance to sit down and talk with Kevin Doherty, who is a Communications Manager at the animation software company Vyond. We spoke about the importance of animation software as an element to any instructional designer’s bag of tricks and we also discussed how to overcome the learning curve that accompanies any effort to grow comfortable with a new technology.

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The Layout of Your Job Aids Matters (So Does Coaching)

My oldest child is a swimmer, and as a parent, we need to commit to a certain amount of volunteer hours per year. To earn some volunteer hours, I offered to serve a the swim meet announcer last weekend, even though I’d never done it before.

I don’t really know much about organized swimming. I’m honestly scared of the water and organized swimming is an entire sub-culture that I don’t quite understand. I have recently learned how to time my cheering for when the swimmer’s head bobs out of the water during the breast stroke. So, when it came to getting on the PA system to make announcements to help ensure the swimmers knew when to get behind the starting blocks, I was a bit of a fish out of water.

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Better Visual Design: Advice from Connie Malamed

If you’re anything like me, you feel pretty good about your instructional design and presentation skills. As for those PowerPoint slides or elearning slides… meh, I figure good instructional design will make up for my stick figures and default fonts, right?

Connie Malamed, Chief Mentor at Mastering Instructional Design and publisher of The Elearning Coach website (who has also written two books on this topic) suggests that we can be doing better when it comes to visual design. Visual design impacts both the learner’s experience and their confidence in the training program you’ve put together.

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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

3 Principles for Effective PowerPoint Presentations

Last month I had an opportunity to write a 20-page booklet for ATD entitled PowerPoint: Your Co-facilitator.

Powerpoint Your Co-Facilitator - effective powerpoint presentations

Since then, a number of friends and colleagues have asked me to boil the booklet down into the top five or ten tips that lead to effective PowerPoint presentations. As I reflected on that question, I think there are three guiding principles that can make any PowerPoint deck better. And these principles have very little to do with conventional advice such as “bullets kill, so eliminate bullet points” or “only use three lines of text, no more than 8 words per line, and no smaller than 36 point font”. My principles have little to do with the need to hone your graphic design skills, either.   Continue reading

Effective PowerPoint Checklist: Is Your PowerPoint Good?

I’ve been working with a number of presenters to help them develop more effective, engaging presentations for upcoming conference or training sessions. While PowerPoint should never be the focal point of a presentation, effective slide design is important for those presenters who choose to use PowerPoint in their sessions.

To help presenters determine whether their slides are any good, I put together the Effective PowerPoint Checklist to help them perform a self-assessment.    Continue reading

Charts and graphs in PowerPoint: There’s got to be a better way!

I’ve been reading Nancy Duarte’s slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations and these sentences resonated with me: “Often ideas come immediately. That’s good, but avoid the potential pitfall of going with the first thing that comes to mind.”

As we prepare for presentations, how often do we open up PowerPoint and then either dump information into some sort of SmartArt graphic or create a bar graph (or a circle graph or a line graph) using the Insert>Chart function?

Creative Charts

Do either of these data presentation formats look familiar?

Since it’s what we’ve done so many times before, it’s often the first thing that comes to mind. But what if we didn’t settle for that first thing that comes to mind? What could we create? Could we make our point better for our audience?   Continue reading