I have a new guest post over on the ASTD blog that touches on how us learning types can become more efficient, more effective and avoid becoming irrelevant.
A recent report “The Science of Training and Development in Organizations: What Matters in Practice” informs us about how to best apply training solutions. One of the most important things that “matters”, is that training should be viewed as a whole system and not a one-time event.
Not only does this mean that what happens before and after the actual training is just as important as the training itself. But more importantly, training must be applied appropriately as part of a larger set of solutions.
Looking at things holistically it is easy to see that there are performance challenges that can not be solved by training. For example, looking at the Six Boxes Model below, we see the categories of factors that influence behavior. How many of these can be “fixed” via training?
Training is only appropriate for application to factors within Skills & Knowledge category. Using training in an effort to impact other types of performance factors will not likely be very successful and can even do more harm than good. (Not to mention the impact to your and your departments reputation.)
So before you run off to build your next training program, make sure you’ve validated that training is an appropriate response. If training is appropriate be sure that your effort is “informed by the science”.
Often a solution may require several other elements in addition to training, so even when a training component makes sense you should also look to see if there are any additional complimentary approaches that will take you closer to your goal.
Remember most of us are no longer living in a world of generous training budgets (if you were EVER lucky enough to have that experience!) so looking for solutions holistically and expanding our solution set beyond training will enable us to be more efficient and therefore that much more valuable to our organizations.
It’s that time of year again to update the Top 10 tools list. I’ve been making my contribution to Jane Hart’s Top Tools compilation for several years now. So, wIthout further ado, here is this year’s list.
That’s my list. Now where is yours?
When people don’t read your memos, it’s not because they don’t like you, it’s because your writing is dreadful.
While reading this article, I realized many of these 14 writing tips also apply to a broader range of communications and learning design.
Three things in particular that I’d like to call out that can have an instant impact on the effectiveness of your documents, emails, courses, etc are:
I just wanted to share this great little “Plain English Guide” that I discovered today.
Among the wisdom in this 20 page gem are these writing guidelines:
1. Know your audience.
2. Get to the point.
3. Use everyday words.
4. Avoid jargon and abbreviations
5. Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
It looks like they’ve taken their lead from The Plain English Campaign, which looks like something I could definitely get behind. The goal of Plain English is to produce information that the reader can understand the first time they read it. All our communications should be clear, concise and as jargon-free as possible. You may need to adapt your writing style to suit your audience – particularly if you are writing for children and young people – but by using Plain English you should always be able to communicate effectively.
Plain English is not childish and it’s not patronizing. It simply means writing in a clear and friendly way and always keeping your reader in mind.
Learn more about the Plain English campaign at http://www.plainenglish.co.uk
Today I came across this great book “Figuring Things Out: A Trainer’s Guide to Needs and Task Analysis“
The thing that caught my eye the most was their list of Six ‘Tactics of Figuring Things Out’
I think this is a fantastic approach to what they call the “performance problem-solving business”. What do you think?
Most of us who design & build elearning materials have probably worked with video at some point. Typically working with video involves making a decision on what video format you will use for the final output. This decision is based on things such as what hardware/software your audience will be using, what kind of speeds are they connected at, etc. For example, if anyone in your target audience will be viewing on an iPad/iPhone then flash is immediately ruled out as an option. And that is only one of many scenarios you’ll need to grapple with.
What if I told you there was a video option that plays on virtually any device with no plugins of any kind required and even plays automatically INSIDE emails and Microsoft Office documents? I’d like to introduce you to consider….the “’lowly’ animated gif.
In certain situations, particularly when the recording is short, an animated GIF might make more sense than some other video formats. As a general rule, animated gifs load quickly, work on virtually any device and you don’t have to hit play to watch them. (As you can see in the example below.)
I use animated gifs for including screencast videos directly within emails and people love that they don’t have to launch any new windows or separate applications to see the video. What other video format will play anywhere from IE6 to iOS 5 and not blink an eye?
Animated gif are very simply a collection of still images played in succession the same way you would see with a flipbook.
I use Camtasia to capture and produce my animated gifs. I like that I can do everything from the capture and editing to the final output in the same tool. For me the editing it the most important part since you want these to be pretty lean and lightweight files. Free 30 day trial available |
Screencast-o-matic is a popular web-based screencasting tool that lets you create movies of your computer screen right inside the browser without requiring any software. It runs as a Java applet and can therefore record movies of any Windows, Mac or Linux machine. |
Do you use animated gifs for anything? What has worked well for you?
I’m not sure why or how but the example above is actually a .jpg. I *THINK* WordPress may have changed it from a .gif. Below is an animated .gif. Does it make any difference?
My contribution to Jane Hart’s 2011 version of the Top 100 Tools for Learning
Lately I’ve had a few conversations around low, or at least lower, tech options to online courses which is prompting me to explore what others may be doing in this regard.
Anyone think some lower-level e-learning content would be fine in a PDF? Maybe then do assessment online?—
Patti Shank PhD CPT (@pattishank) September 13, 2011
If its just a lower level, informational type situation allowing your audience to print out a document for reading when and where they prefer could be a better option couldn’t? I know I’d much prefer that over being chained to my PC having it read to me. (Which by the way is SLOWER than if I read it myself.) If it’s purely informational maybe that’s all you need. If you need some form of confirmation, a well written assessment could easily be administered. What do you think? Are you already doing something like this? What scenarios to think would fit with this approach well?
Another form of this ‘lower tech’ approach is delivering content via email. There are a number of situations where small, bite-sized content is the way to go and unlike RSS (which seems to be a less than mainstream medium) everyone has email. Some of the benefits of this approach include the fact that everyone has email, your audience doesn’t have to go anywhere or do anything – it just shows up in their inbox, and they can easily save the information if they need it later. (When was the last time you ever went back into your LMS to reference anything? I know I never have. )
I’ve been using this approach for almost five years now, sending a short (and hopefully sweet) tip via email every Friday morning. They are meant to be quick and easy to “get” within just a couple of minutes and the topics are usually driven by questions I get asking for help or useful shortcuts that I think can save people some. For example,this morning’s tip is about cropping images in Microsoft Office.
Another great email option is to set up a series of emails that can be sent at the appropriate time intervals. An example of this approach is the daily or weekly email courses on a variety of topics from about.com. Each “course” is sent via email and is designed around a specific topic. No grades, no tracking and no assessments but I’d say there is more and better learning than many of the courses I see. One nice thing about this is that it delivers a pre-defined series of content no matter when someone subscribes…if there are 10 items everyone starts with email #1 regardless of when they subscribe. Compare that to a higher-tech blog where you just pick up with whatever is current and don’t get to start at the beginning.
I’ve found a few things describing this approach as ‘decelerated learning‘ which I believe is a ”…reaction to the appalling and ill-considered drive towards force-feeding huge quantities of low quality content…“
What do you think? Is lower-tech in your arsenal? Should it be? What other ‘low tech’ options should we be considering?
In putting together a webinar on Learning Design, stop number one was Ruth Clark. While browsing her articles I came across this article which is way too good not to share.
“Instructional technology is a design science that must guide the professional production of instruction. This article recommends a move toward evidence-based practice. In other words, we need to allow research rather than fads and folk wisdom to serve as the infrastructure for the professional practice of training design and delivery.”
Research in the last 12 years, however, has provided a number of new guidelines regarding the optimal ways to select and place examples to maximize cognitive learning processes (Atkinson, Derry, Renkl, & Wortham,2000).
Four guidelines for best use of examples: