This post is my third summarizing some of what I learned during the ASTD International Conference and Expo that wrapped in Dallas last week. This theme, a strong one at the conference, deals with some of the basics of training delivery and how to make it more engaging. I’ll focus here on three excellent sessions:
- Simple strategies for creating more engaging elearning with Cammy Bean
- Creative training techniques with Bob Pike
- Flip your training – designing for practice with Koreen Olbrish
Cammy shared great insights and simple strategies for creating engaging elearning. She began by offering three reasons for a learning experience: to inform or raise awareness, to improve knowledge or skills, or to change attitudes and behaviors. On the subject of creating engaging elearning, she began with this:
“When designing elearning, remember there will be someone on the other end either suffering through it or enjoying it.”
She continued to share seven great tips with examples and plenty of good suggestions; here slides are here so you can view them at your convenience. My take-aways are these:
- As in so many other situations, good writing is important. Get to the point quickly. Keep it short and snappy, but add a little fun. Nothing loses interest faster than boring, passive writing. And don’t forget that audience members are busy professionals; it’s equally important to avoid patronizing, passive voice. First person, active voice works best.
- Object to learning objectives! Well, it’s still important to use them, but sharing them with those using your elearning stuff is another way to lose interest quickly. Use creative approaches to describe what’s in store for the user.
- Think outside the course: Give users/participants things to “take away,” opportunities to relearn and refresh. One great tip, Cammy mentioned setting up a course so each completion automatically triggers her team to reconnect two weeks later.
“I don’t mind having a “Next” button…but make me want to go there.”
Not surprisingly, Bob Pike led two sessions to nearly packed (600+ people) rooms on the topic of creative training techniques. Much of Bob’s material is readily available (his worksheet is here and his redacted presentation is here), but here are a few of my takeaways.
“Training is a process not an event. It starts before and continues after an event until we see results.”
- Separate content into need to know, nice to know, and where to go
- Your opening should raise the BAR – Break preoccupation, Allow networking, and be Relevant to content.
- The closing ACT should Allow celebration, Create action planning, and Tie things together.
- People forget quickly; be sure to take breaks every 90 minutes, break things into 20 minute segments, and engage the audience every 8 minutes (more often online).
- Revisiting is key!
“The goal is to get people to learn, not pass the test.”
- Five ways to squelch motivation: (1) Have little personal contact; (2) Get people in a passive mood keep ‘em there; (3) Assume the class will apply what is taught – don’t bother with examples; (4) Be alert to criticize; and (5) Make them feel stupid for asking questions.
The concept of the “flipped” classroom has gotten a lot of attention the past few years, but like many other buzzwords it may not mean quite the same thing to every person. I’ve even heard people equate it with Salman Khan and the Khan Academy, rather than see the latter as one of many sources of content for learning outside the classroom. I very much appreciated Koreen’s simple definition of flipped training:
What does it mean to flip? Lectures OUTSIDE the classroom.
Koreen began by sharing three resources that can help with flipped training:
- TedEd where you can can build instruction and interaction around video
- Bloomfire, a knowledge sharing tool for the modern workforce that surrounds content with social engagement functionality
- Lynda.com with a large library of course content (note Koreen is a Senior Product Manager at lynda.com)
Koreen blogged about her presentation here and included her slides. I won’t rehash it all, but highlight these thoughts:
- What is the business problem you’re trying to solve? I know, right?
- Who is driving the need for training?
- Do they need coaching or feedback?
- Immersive learning is practice with feedback
- Virtual practice is as effective as, or better than, real-life practice
- Design for practice. Focus. Analyze. Iterate. Boom.
The question was then posed to the room: what happens if they don’t do the pre-work? This precipitated an interesting discussion with the audience, which seemed eager to tackle the subject. Koreen suggests simply have them sit out. Go do the work now. They don’t participate until prepared. It’s important to stop thinking about training as an event and more as a process (see Bob Pike above); we do our pre-work, others should too. Communicate the WHY of the pre-work. Give participants a scenario or a problem to think about before coming to class.
“Good tools allow participants multiple ways to engage in the context (around) the content.”
“One challenge in flipped training is you don’t see participants’ faces while they’re interacting with material. Add a forum for people to ask questions.”
All three of these speakers walk the talk of the process, rather than the event, of training.
Thanks for reading!
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