e-Learning Leadership Blog

Oh What a Feeling: Emotion and Learner Engagement

Posted by Ellen Burns-Johnson on Thu, Oct 23, 2014

One of my favorite chapters from Dorian Peters' Interface Design for Learning calls upon instructional designers to create learning experiences that foster intrinsic motivation, and provides suggestions for how to do it well.

As part of my instructional designer book club (yes, you read that correctly—I am that much of a nerd), we are currently reading the fascinating to me Interface Design for Learning by Dorian Peters. Allow me to review the book: it’s good. One of my favorite chapters is the second one, in which Peters summarizes “the learning landscape,” explaining the rise of instructional design, constructivism, behaviorism, and every other -ism that contributed (or contaminated) the practice of analyzing how people learn. You should read this book for insights gleaned from that chapter alone.

But I digress.

We should design for emotion. Right?

I’ve always been fascinated by how the role of attitude, feeling, and emotion plays in learning events. Current industry thinking addresses emotions this way: someone on the team says aloud, “Yes, we must consider the learners’ attitude and motivation.”

Everyone nods solemnly.

Several people murmur, “Yes. Of course.”

Then, the topic is promptly dropped and the team returns to bickering between the words “recognize” and “identify” in the behavior-based performance objectives.

What the heck?

We all know from personal experience that learning can be emotional. Ever attend a full day of corporate training while contemplating a divorce? Go through e-learning while feeling dread for hospital test results? Try to attend an online class while yelling at the kids? It's really hard to engage in learning when your emotions are focused elsewhere.

Obviously, we designers are not usually able to control learners’ life situations and emotional states. But we can influence the many emotions invoked by training itself: resistance, boredom, anger over a newer, complicated process, frustration over extra responsibilities, fear of failing…all of which we want to avoid.

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Tags: Learner Engagement, MMM (Meaningful - Memorable - Motivational), Michael Allen's Books, Effective Feedback, Intrinsic Feedback

What Instructional Designers Can Learn from Kid President

Posted by Brittany Laeger on Tue, Oct 21, 2014

You've probably heard of Robby Novak, or as he is better known, Kid President. Robby Novak and his brother-in-law, Brad Montague, created the first Kid President video in July of 2012. They have an amazing story which you can check out here, but after watching several of these videos, I was struck by the power and simplicity these videos have—no fancy film crew, no elaborate production. However, each video I watch makes me laugh, cry, and feel inspired to go do something worthwhile.

So, today here are 5 great lessons from Kid President to inspire you to do something awesome.

Don't Be Boring

In the most-watched video from Kid President "Pep Talk", he says, "Boring is easy, everyone can be boring, but your gooder than that." It's easy to get stuck in the mentality that boring learning is the standard. It can seem like a daunting taskcreating something engaging and inspiringbut we have lots of great tools to help you take the first step. So learn something new, try something different, don't be boring! "Create something that will make the world awesome."

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What's So Bad About Boring e-Learning?

Posted by Ethan Edwards on Thu, Oct 16, 2014

“Never Create Boring e-Learning Again.” That’s the title of a webinar I’m presenting next week. “No Boring e-Learning” is a statement we at Allen Interactions have been repeating for years. “The online modules we build are so boring” is a statement told and retold by my students who take the ATD e-Learning Instructional Design Certificate Program I frequently facilitate.

But what makes so much e-learning so boring? It’s easy to identify a problem, not so simple to fix it. Hoping for a new source of inspiration in addressing this hurdle, I sought definitions of “boring” online. Most definitions were nearly identical (this one happens to be from the American Heritage Dictionary):

    uninteresting and tiresome; dull;
synonyms: tedious, dull, monotonous, repetitive, unrelieved, unvaried, uninmaginative, uneventful

While this describes much e-learning pretty accurately, it’s hard to know what to do with it. So I kept looking.

And then I found something on thesaurus.com that revealed the problem with a new slant for me:

Boring—so lacking in interest as to cause mental weariness.  Deadening, ho-hum, irksome, tedious, tiresome, wearisome, dull, slow

Mental weariness. Irksomeness. Deadening. These reveal the real cost of creating boring e-learning―the debilitating effect it has on the learner. One can excuse text presented poorly. One cannot (or at least, should not) excuse creating mental weariness, or stupefying the learner.

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Tags: Webinar, Upcoming Events, e-learning success, Learner Engagement, Ethan Edwards

3 Reasons Why Failure is Life's Most Honest Teacher

Posted by Hannah von Bank on Mon, Oct 13, 2014

As a kid, I was terrified to ride a bike without training wheels. I told my exasperated father all the reasons why I was sure this crazy bike-riding plan of his would not work: “The sidewalk is hard and bicycles – have you seen a bicycle lately? Those wheels are very skinny and the seats are high up. Those things are deathtraps and I’m just going to fall and probably die.” But my Dad was determined and he eventually got me on the bike and peddling. I immediately crashed into a tree. However, I learned three very important lessons that day: 1) steering, 2) braking, and, most importantly, 3) falling isn’t something to be afraid of. The worst thing I thought could happen wasn’t that bad. I didn’t die. I didn’t even get hurt. Failing gave me the courage to persevere and the tools to do it.

Failure is life’s most honest teacher. It doesn’t sugarcoat the truth or grade on a curve. It doesn’t accept extra credit or give bonus points for effort. Failure is always happy to bluntly and mercilessly point out our faults and for that we hate it—but we shouldn’t. It’s natural to struggle when learning anything challenging for the first time. In fact, one of the greatest gifts we can give our learners is the opportunity to fail in the safe, simulated environment of a classroom or e-learning course. Here’s why:

  1. Failure forces us to face our fears

    As demonstrated in my biking story, fear of failure often keeps us from achieving our potential. We’ve all had the experience of freezing up at a critical moment because we felt unprepared and afraid to say or do the wrong thing. The fear of taking action keeps us from learning the consequences of our actionsgood and bad. Sure, we might make a mistake and be totally embarrassed. But, the anticipation of failure is almost always worse than the real thing and by not acting, we are also not giving ourselves the chance to be good at something. Encourage your learners to ask questions, experiment, and try different solutions. Encourage them to dive in head first and get things wrong. Create a learning environment where initial failure is both expected and seen as an opportunity to get it right the next time.
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Tags: e-Learning Design, Hannah Von Bank, Effective e-Learning Design

[Free Webinar] Four e-Learning Design Practices to Leave Behind

Posted by Allen Interactions on Thu, Oct 09, 2014

When: Wednesday October 29th
Time: 1:00 - 1:30 PM Central
Can't attend? Register anyway. We'll send you the materials after the webinar.

Register Now ▶

The design and development of e-learning has evolved throughout the years and with that change there are practices still being done, which are woefully inadequate. Today, we have an opportunity to do so much more, and to offer such wonderful and engaging learning experiences to our learners.

Learn the Four e-Learning Design Principles to Leave Behind this Fall

Join Richard Sites, Vice President—Training and Marketing at Allen Interactions, co-author of Leaving ADDIE for SAM and Leaving ADDIE for SAM Field Guide, as he presents four e-learning design and development practices we should let fall like the leaves, and instead focus on strategies that will enable behavior change, and performance improvement for all

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Tags: e-Learning Design, Webinar, Richard Sites, Upcoming Events, e-learning success

3 Friendly Tips to Save Your Learners from Information Overload

Posted by Carrie Zens on Tue, Oct 07, 2014

by Carrie Zens, director of marketing | @carriezens

I was recently on maternity leave and during those early morning hours I rekindled my fond addiction to the show, Friends. It always brings me back to my high school and college days of getting together with girlfriends on a Thursday night to share in the hilarity, bond, and interactions of the six friends that I still find such connection to.

But in this last round of early morning watching, a specific episode made me realize how much technology has changed our lives! The episode I’m referring to aired in 1997, one year before Google entered our lives. Can you believe that? In this episode an Encyclopedia salesman tries to ‘sell’ Joey (the one always amusing us with his dimwitted commentary, promiscuity, and loyal nature) into buying the “V” volume of a set of Encyclopedias! Remember using those big archaic books for school research?

Fast-forward fifteen years. Today we are living in unprecedented times of information creation and distribution. I recently watched the “Did You Know” video, shared by Kimo Kippen, CLO of Hilton Worldwide, in his keynote speech at our recent Allen Conference. The short video is chock full of baffling facts about global population, information creation, and technology. Here are just a few facts from the video that stuck out to me:

  • It’s estimated that a week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century.
  • Today, there are 31 billion searches on Google every month—in 2006 there were 2.7 billion searches every month
  • The amount of new technical information is doubling every 2 years—for students beginning a 4 year technical degree this means that half of what they learn in their first year will be outdated by their third year of study.

If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking WOW! It is now more important than ever for anything we are communicating via any channel to be relevant, memorable, and concise—especially in our learning experiences. So, I present to you my three tips for getting your content noticed in today’s information overloaded times.

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Tags: e-Learning Design, CCAF, Instructional Design, effective e-learning, e-learning success, Instructional Strategy, Carrie Zens

Would Learners Pay for Your Training?

Posted by Richard Sites on Thu, Oct 02, 2014

by , vice president - training and marketing | @rhillsites

Training efforts often begin with the need to change or improve the performance of employees. However, this initial need can quickly fall to the wayside when the process of collecting information, designing instructional treatments, and seeking approval of the e-learning course begins.

This usually leads to the design and implementation of information-based e-learning rather than e-learning that is focused on the actual performance which needs improvement. Since information is easy to identify, collect, organize and present it provides learning and development teams with clear deliverables for managers and senior leaders to review and approve.

But taking the path of least resistance is not a productive route for the creation of performance-changing e-learning.

Why do we so often find ourselves designing e-learning to easily present information instead of challenging learners to perform better? I would suggest it is because our focus changes from the learner to the instructional product.

All too often our strategies for e-learning design are based on the need to build something within a timeframe, budget, and set of expectations—organizational expectations—in contrast to designing something targeting performance.

In Leaving ADDIE for SAM, Michael Allen describes three components of an instructional philosophy which is learner-based, rather than information based. You might have heard of the 3 M’s before—meaningful, memorable and motivational.

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Tags: Richard Sites, e-learning success, MMM (Meaningful - Memorable - Motivational)

[Upcoming Webinar] Never Create Boring e-Learning

Posted by Allen Interactions on Tue, Sep 30, 2014

Date: Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Time: 1:00 - 2:00 PM Eastern
Register Now ▶

Do you find yourself contributing to the mound of boring, content-driven page-turners that our industry continues to churn out in the masses? Do you want to invest more in your e-learning design process but feel that budget constraints, learning technology limitations, and time constraints have you stuck in the boring e-learning rut? If you are looking for an e-learning design model that is learner-centric and can be harnessed without regard to budget, resource and time constraints, and without tool limitations, look no further!

In this webinar with Saba, Ethan Edwards will share the power of instructional interactivity and its elements that, if utilized properly, will have you creating meaningful experiences and providing real results for your organization.

This is your ticket—say goodbye to boring e-learning and hello to learning your employees will love!

  • Discuss the power of instructional interactivity for creating engaging, effective e-learning 
  • Discover a design model for creating instructional interactivity
  • Explore real-world e-learning courses that illustrate design elements
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Tags: CCAF, Webinar, Upcoming Events, Custom e-Learning, effective e-learning, Ethan Edwards

The e-Learning Puzzle: Don't Feel DOWN; Get Your Message ACROSS

Posted by Ethan Edwards on Thu, Sep 25, 2014

by Ethan Edwards, chief instructional strategist | @ethanaedwards

I wonder if you are like me and sometimes wish you had a chance to put your knowledge and training to a test. I’ve spent almost 30 years designing e-learning experiences and have rarely actually needed to take e-learning as a student. I’m convinced by observation and research that the ideas we preach are correct, but I realized recently how gratifying it is to have one’s convictions validated.

I’ve been a person who has attempted to do crossword puzzles most of my life, but truthfully have never been very good at it. Sure, I could complete the easier ones, but I rarely had success in attempting the progressively more difficult puzzles that appear in the New York Times toward the end of each week. You make a few mistakes and the grid gets hopelessly undecipherable; you need just a single letter to open the way for progress but you must wait until the next day (and buy another newspaper) to get assistance and the key is maddeningly of the “all or nothing” variety; and you (or at least I) never actually go back to reveal those clues or words that were particularly puzzling to learn from them.

Well I can tell you that now I suddenly feel like a very competent and skilled crossword puzzle completer. And e-learning (or at least a structured online practice environment) is responsible. To help pass the time during a recent brief hospital stay, I downloaded the New York Times crossword puzzle app. Even though it is not intended as an instructional module, its features happen to mirror many of the characteristics I hold as central to good e-learning design. 

The first observation was that doing the puzzle online completely removed the tediousness of paper-based puzzles. I didn’t need a pen or a sharp pencil, an eraser that didn’t smear, nor did I have to engage in the subsequent hand washing to remove ink. Also, the app’s features allowed for easy corrections, changes of letters without inconvenient scratching out of previous entries, etc.

The interesting thing about doing crossword puzzles on an iPad is that the answers are EVERYWHERE. The app itself provides answers at thumb’s reach and so at first it was tempting to just ask the app to fill in any clue that wasn’t immediately obvious to me.  I did that and got the puzzles finished very quickly. As silly as it was, it was an important step in my learning to be able to reliably complete a puzzle, even with lots of help.

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Tags: e-Learning Design, CCAF, Instructional Design, Ethan Edwards, Action, Effective Feedback

15 Tweetable Quotes from the Allen Interactions Conference

Posted by Brittany Laeger on Wed, Sep 24, 2014

by , Marketing Communications Specialist

On Monday, we held our first ever Allen Interactions Conference. It was a wonderful day filled with insights from a few of our clients and members of our team. The day featured incredible keynotes from Michael Allen, our CEO here at Allen Interactions and Kimo Kippen, CLO of Hilton Hotels and Resorts. We were also lucky to have Tynea Valentine, Stephanie Crowe, and Ken Gregson join us and share their insights on how creating engaging e-learning has transformed training for their organizations.

Here are 15 quotes to inspire you!

  1. Become a trusted advisor, help people move away from pain and embrace joy by solving THEIR business challenges. Kimo Kippen, CLO, Hilton Worldwide (Tweet this)

  2. Don't waste the learner's time, it's time they can never get back. Michael Allen, CEO, Allen Interactions (Tweet this)

  3. Be ready to revise any system, scrap any method, abandon any theory, if the success of the job requires it. Henry Ford, Founder, Ford Motor Company (Tweet this)

  4. The SAM method enables faster development of quality training. Early release means early results. Stephanie Crowe, Sr. Director Global Learning & Development, Manhattan Associates (Tweet this)

  5. Prevent learner whiplash by using a bold a meaningful design. Tynea Valentine, Director of Sales Learning, PulteGroup (Tweet this)

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Tags: Richard Sites, Upcoming Events, Ethan Edwards, Michael Allen, Brittany Laeger