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6 Things You Don't Know About Our Upcoming Conference


AllenConferenceHere are 6 things you may not know about our upcoming conference, co-located with Training Magazine's Online Learning Conference, this coming Monday, September 22nd in Chicago. 

1. Kimo Kippen to Keynote

We are honored to have client partner, Kimo Kippen, chief learning officer at Hilton Worldwide, join us on Monday. He will provide our conference closing keynote, Valuing Design & DevelopmentA CLO's Perspective.

2. Hands-On Activities


Group collaborations. Mind maps. Card games. Scenario brainstorming. Led by our client partners and thought leaders, get ready to dig into the topics of achieving meaningful learning design, finding success with successive approximation, and getting real business results from your learning. All sessions are activity-driven and require interaction amongst attendees with thinking, creativity, and fun!

3. Action Guide

During most conferences, you may make some unique revelations and take some great notes, but what happens to all of that when you return to the daily grind? Do you put the document on a shelf and never touch it again? Our Action Journal, which all attendees will receive, is designed as a performance tool. We believe that by focusing on the performance we save attendees and the environment from the mounds of paper that would otherwise be wasted.

4. Design Fest

Peruse our design fest and explore our latest and greatest e-learning courses, simulations, and mobile apps! Hear the details of each projectfrom development timeline to level of interactitivty and delivery modality. We're ready to share our work and answer your questions!


5. Savvy Lunch 

We believe how a project begins has a profound impact on its success. We believe this so passionately that we developed our very own method of kicking off projects—the Savvy Start—a collaborative meeting unique to SAM during which instructional designers, developers, stakeholders, and learners come together and brainstorm, sketch, and prototype instructional treatments for performance challenges. During this 40-minute session, we will use submissions from conference attendees to illustrate how we design, sketch, and even prototype instructional treatments for performance challenges. 

6. Headshots!

Have you ever needed to provide a professional headshot for an event or your Linkedin profile and either don't have one or it's so outdated people may not recognize you when they see you in person? Well, you're in luck! Brittany Laeger, professional photographer, will be onsite providing all attendees with complimentary headshots! Wear your picture best and bring that smile!

Seats are still available for just $395! Or receive a discount when you register for both the Allen Interactions Conference and Online Learning Conference. Click here for details

Savvy Lunch | Allen Interactions Conference

5 Common Missteps In Onboarding Programs


5 Common Missteps in Onboarding Programsby relationship management assistant

Hannah Von Bank Blog, sales assistant coordinator

First impressions are often the most lastingwhat does your onboarding program say about your organization?

Research has shown that effective onboarding increases employee retention and productivity while ineffective programs waste money and can result in burnout and increased turnover. With 25% of the United States workforce transitioning between jobs every year, creating an engaging and informative new hire orientation should be a key business initiative for employers.

So what does “effective onboarding” really mean?

Specific goals may differ between organizations, but based upon input from both learners and managers―high-level objectives of a holistic program would probably include:

  • Helping the employee to identify with the employer’s culture, values, and priorities
  • Building an optimistic attitude towards the company
  • Encouraging socialization and creating a sense of belonging
  • Reducing new employee anxiety
  • Setting performance expectations
  • Decreasing the learning curve
  • Administrative housekeeping (benefits enrollment, etc.)

With these goals in mind, how well does your program stack up? If your answer is anything other than “Awesome!” fear not—you are not alone. Allen Interactions has been in the training business for over 20 years, and in that time we’ve seen literally HUNDREDS of onboarding curriculums for a huge variety of industries. Here are some of the most common missteps we see:

1. Information overload—or―the dreaded all-in-one-day orientation

The first day of a new job is always a little overwhelming and having to complete 8 hours of Powerpoint-based e-learning and benefits forms in one sitting doesn’t help matters. Even the most motivated employee―that mythical being who takes careful notes and would NEVER, EVER click “Next” before they are finished reading all of the text on a page because they know how important it is—can only absorb so much at once. There is no getting around it. New hire onboarding is one of the most comprehensive types of training we have to design, for which is precisely why it cannot be completed and understood effectively in one day, or even one week. An ideal onboarding program should not take up more than 2 hours a day of an employee’s time and should be spaced out for 2-6 months. This format takes the pressure off your new hires to know everything at once and allows for plenty of time for learners to digest information, ask questions, and incorporate it into their work.


2. Taking the team out of training

Meeting and socializing with colleagues is often an overlooked component of onboarding, but it plays a huge role in reducing new hire anxiety and creating a sense of belonging within your organization. After all, isn’t feeling welcome what orientation is all about? An experienced manager or teammate can be an invaluable resource when it comes to answering questions, modeling appropriate behavior, and most importantly, helping your hire feel less like the new kid at school. Integrating a mentoring program, social events, and team discussions into your training portfolio is a cost effective way to make this happen. Your experienced employees can also serve as valuable sound boards to developing learning (after all, they’ve been through it before) and could even take the lead in developing resources of their ownlike an FAQ or social media group for new hires.

3. Making it all about the company

Presumably your learners were hired because they have unique personalities, ideas, and skill sets that will bring value to your organization. A great way to completely disregard that is to focus entirely on “this is what we do and here is where you fit” in a unilateral, one-size fits all manner. Avoid this pitfall by sprinkling your training with opportunities for your learners to share their ideas, ask questions, make personal development goals, and reflect on the value they bring to the company. Fellow Allen Interactions’ colleague, Ellen Burns-Johnson, wrote an awesome piece on learner-centered design that I encourage you to check out if you haven’t.

4. Negative/inaccurate representation of corporate brand/culture

This goes way beyond the typical “look and feel” factors that are addressed when branding a course. How do you want your learners to feel about your organization and its culture after completing onboarding? Does your answer include any of the following: boring, tedious, irrelevant, mind-numbing, unremarkable?  Probably not. And yet these are the words we hear learners use to describe their orientation experience ALL OF THE TIME. 

One of the main goals of onboarding for most organizations is to help new employees identify with corporate values and culture. It is their first taste of the company experience and managers and L&D professionals have been given the unique opportunity (and responsibility) to communicate the essence of their organization in a memorable and relatable way. If your organization positions itself as a fun, flexible and innovative place to work, then demonstrate that through engaging interactivity, discussions, and personalized lessons. Does your organization have a rich history? Create an interactive timeline for learners to explore. How you tell your story is up to you, but for Pete’s sake, tell a story!

5. Not setting performance expectations

Hopefully at this point in the process your new hire has some idea of what their job entails—but do they really understand what it means to be successful in their position or how their supervisors measure that success? I don’t mean a list of job responsibilities or the “50 reasons you can be fired” compliance stuff―that is why Employee Handbooks were invented. I’m talking about the “why’s” and “how’s” of working day-to-day in a given position. Your call center representatives may know that they have to make X amount of client calls per day, but do they know why? After all, quotas are calculated for a reason. Letting your employees know that they are not simply arbitrary numbers can help them understand how their hard work fits into the bigger picture. Can an employee who has been at the company for two months expect a different level of immediate success than one who has been there for 10 years? Almost always. Give new hires a realistic expectation of the trials and tribulations of their first few months on the job and let them know that, for now, their main responsibility is to learn―not to do everything perfectly right away. Setting the right expectations will reduce anxiety, foster open communication, and keep new hires from thinking they’ll be judged if they ask for help. 

Onboarding is more than just an HR requirement or a list of core values—it is your organization’s chance to tell its story. It is an opportunity to welcome, to teach and to listen. Your onboarding curriculum will set the stage for all future training experiences, so why not make a good first impression?

Is there anything I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

Want to share this post? Here are some ready made tweets!

Click to Tweet: 5 Common Missteps in Onboarding Programs #employeetraining by @HannahVB1 

Click to Tweet: So what does “effective onboarding” really mean? via @customelearning #employeetraining #newhiretraining

Click to Tweet: Onboarding is more than just an HR requirement—it is your organization’s chance to tell its story. #employeetraining

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Make 'Em Laugh: 4 Ways to Create e-Learning Courses with Humor


by Ann Iverson, instructional designer | @iverson_ann

Ann Iverson

Everyone wants to laugh. Our inherent desire for humor leads us to share YouTube videos of laughing babies and frowning cats, and use acronyms like LOL in our text messages. But humor does not belong in serious e-learning courses, right? Well, think again. Making people laugh has been scientifically proven to relieve stress, improve productivity and motivate employees. Humor can even increase learner retention of concepts and situations that might otherwise be easily forgotten.

I know what you’re thinking. Whenever you try to bring up the humor card, your SMEs respond with, “This is serious business we’re dealing with here. It’s no laughing matter.” So even though you know that courses with even just a bit of humor are usually the most memorable, you may have to convince your stakeholders.

Start by asking, “What’s the tone of this course?” You’ll get a sense if it’s professional, casual, evaluative or humorous – categories identified by Ethan Edwards in the Practitioner’s Guide for CCAF Context Design Road Map for e-Learning. If you get the sense that stakeholders are open to humor, follow up with a specific idea like, “What if our theme was based on The Office?” or “Have you seen the latest commercials about the website that helps you find cheap hotel rooms?” If at first the group seems closed off, you may want to push the envelope a bit. Try asking, “What shows or ads do you remember over time? The funny ones, or the boring ones?” Hopefully, they’ll get the point. But if not, don’t give up! Injecting even a touch of humor can help engage learners.

Take a look at this example of adding humor to a topic you may not usually think of as funny – safety training.

In courses about safety and compliance, for example, humor can help motivate learners to want more. What a great surprise to be welcomed by a lighthearted coach who provides personal anecdotes that reveal his vulnerabilities, like walking into a wall on the way to work that morning.

Writing with humor in course scripts and storyboards can inspire the entire development team. Media artists join in the fun and create imagery that supports the theme. In a course about conflict resolution, one of our media gurus here at Allen Interactions, Christopher Palm, created Conflicto, a purple monster that scales the walls of an office building when things get out of hand. Learners have to choose the best way to manage the turmoil so the monster retreats from its threatening position. Will learners remember fighting off Conflicto with the right choices more than clicking steps in a process, for example, to learn how to manage conflict at their workplace? Most likely! 

Make 'Em Laugh: 4 Ways to Use Humor in Your e-Learning Designs

Here are four ways you can increase the chuckle factor in your e-learning courses:

Use Real, but Unexpected Language

Most business situations are not inherently funny, but adding an unexpected element can make learners laugh and help them remember the important concepts. A scenario about a salesperson working with a challenging client becomes humorous when it includes unexpected statements like, “Who is the idiot in charge here?" A potential response might be, "I'm the head idiot. How can we solve this problem?” Of course, this type of exchange needs support and approval from your stakeholders and SMEs, but is more likely to grab the learner’s attention than this: Mr. Customer is unhappy with the results of the new product you recently sold him. What is the first step in overcoming his objections?

Make It Obvious

Find ways to let learners know that not only is it okay to laugh, but you want them to. For example, create a character that’s goofy and makes impossible mistakes, but provides a platform for ‘what not to do.’ Or create an amusing context. One of funniest courses I’ve seen has a comic strip theme with a superhero that leaps tall buildings to help employees give effective feedback. Just remember to keep the message front and center without making the humor the main subject of the course.

Add the Details

Specificity is funnier than generalizations. For example, all new employees experience a bit of anxiety on their first day of the job. But imagine a new employee who shows up with fresh coffee stains on her blouse, a smart phone ringing to the tune of “Born to be Wild” and who can’t remember her new manager’s name. How do you greet her and make her feel most welcome?   

Ask for Help

Be sure your use of humor doesn’t sidetrack the true purpose of your course. If you’re hesitant, ask a colleague to read your script and then give you a candid critique with this in mind. Yes, the truth can hurt, but better it come from one trusted peer than a large review audience.

While humor comes more easily to some than others, anyone can use the above four tips to add some hilarity to e-learning courses. Because after all, humor engages and holds interest. It creates a kind of playfulness that helps learners feel connected. So use humor when you can to make ‘em laugh. Chances are your courses will be more memorable, meaningful and motivational!

Want to share this post? Here are some ready made tweets!

Click to Tweet: Make 'Em Laugh: 4 Ways to Create e-Learning Courses with Humor by @iverson_ann #elearningdesign #elearningblog

Click to Tweet: Learn the 4 ways to increase the chuckle factor in your e-learning courses! #makeemlaugh by @iverson_ann #elearning

Click to Tweet: Humor can help motivate learners to want more! by @iverson_ann #elearningdesign #laughandlearn

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76 Trombones and the Dangers of the Think Method for e-Learning


by instructional designer and writer

Nicole Mellas | Instructional Designer

As a director and producer of live theater, I have a certain love for the classics, the big showy musicals from Americana’s past where everyone in town happens to participate in a dance number and then end by going about their business. I like the big numbers. I like the ridiculous leaps of faith and plot silliness that we all just accept as truth because, hey, it’s a musical. You just go with the flow.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the flamboyant, brilliant 1957 musical, The Music Man. A flim-flam traveling salesman, Professor Harold Hill, arrives by train and tricks the entire town into buying band uniforms and instruments. You might be surprised to learn how much this musical has in common with e-learning development.

Professor Hill’s unique methodology for “teaching” the town’s youth is the Think Method: you think about the song you want to play and then you play it. The very notion is the foundation of absurdity, the ridiculousness that is the cornerstone of this hilarious farce.

Crazy, right? Think about something a lot and then perform the behavior.

If it’s so crazy, why do I hear this request from clients all the time? Below samples a fairly typical conversation I’ve had on past projects.

Client: They don’t need to learn any skills. This is an awareness course. So they just need to think about this topic.

Me: Think how?

Client: Think about the ramifications and what to do, if they need to intervene, that sort of thing.

Me: Intervene? So there are decisions to be made and consequences (i.e. ramifications)?

Client: No, no…the audience is so diverse we just want them to consider all the possibilities.

Me: So let’s say they DON’T consider anything. You’re saying there are absolutely no consequences to customers, sales, or end users in that case?

Client: Correct. Well, except that we lose credibility and our customers go away.

Me: So there are consequences…but you don’t want to teach them the skills to keep these customers.

Client: No, they just need to think about it. We need them to be aware of it.

Me: [Blink. Blink.] Do you like musicals? 

Musicals and e-Learning Instructional Design | Consequences in e-Learning

I must confess that the outcome in The Music Man does not favor my blog post. Toward the dramatic conclusion, while the angry townsfolk gather to tar and feather Professor Harold Hill, his new-found love, Marian, the Librarian, organizes the youth band to play Minuet in G, using the Think Method. And while some notes hit the wrong key, this impromptu band somehow performs recognizably enough to make the townspeople applaud and forgive. It’s not great music…but the town forgives.

In the world of e-learning, of course, clients can’t afford to overlook the use of an instructional approach that is less “strategy” and more “hope.” Clients can’t afford to overlook failure. Sure. If this were a musical, failure might result in a firm being fired, but the firm would be fired in song! And by the end of the song, the client and the ID would have made up! And there would be a kick line! Alas, life is not always a musical.

Okay, enough daydreaming about musicals. Here is the bottom line: I hate to see projects fail. I hate to see well-meaning stakeholders cling desperately to Professor Harold Hills’ “Think Method” paradigm. I remain passionate about creating change. I find the process of people changing their behavior fascinating. That’s why I love instructional design.

Here are some basic recommendations to keep in mind to avoid the dreaded Think Method:

  • Even when you think it’s about “awareness,” it’s almost always about performance.

  • Just because a performance is hard to define doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Just because it’s hard to define doesn’t mean it’s less important to define. Defining the performance you want to see will help illuminate if this is a training problem.

  • If there are no consequences for lack of performance, don’t create training. It’s the wrong medium.

And if I had more time, I’d write this advice as a song.


Want to share this post? Here are some ready made tweets:

Click to Tweet: Even when you think #elearning is about “awareness,” it’s almost always about #performance. via @customelearning

Click to Tweet: If there are no consequences for lack of #performance, don’t create #training. #onlinetraining via @customelearning

Click to Tweet: 76 Trombones and the Dangers of the Think Method for #eLearning. #performance #onlinetraining via @customelearning

5 Strategies for Designing Dynamite e-Learning Challenges

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Iterations: Setting Expectations for an Iterative Process [Ep. 12]


In this episode of Iterations, Richard Sites and Angel Green discuss how managing the expectations for your team will help bring clarity to the project that will result in better communication, better reviews and ultimately a better final product!

Richard Sites, vice president - training and marketing


Richard Sites
vice president - training and marketing & co-author of Leaving ADDIE for SAM
Follow Richard on Twitter ▶ 


Angel Green - senior instructional strategist


Angel Green
senior instructional strategist & co-author of Leaving ADDIE for SAM Field Guide
Follow Angel on Twitter ▶ 



Want to share this video? Here are some ready made tweets:

Click to Tweet: To be successful using an iterative process, clearly communicate expectations to your team. #elearningprocess

Click to Tweet: Setting Expectations for an Iterative Process (SAM) #instructionaldesign #iterations

Click to Tweet: A good #SAM leader is a transparent leader! Learn how to be a transparent #SAMLeader! #elearningprocess

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[Dr. Michael Allen] My Engaging e-Learning Obsession


Michael Allen: My Engaging e-Learning ObsessionThis past month Dr. Michael Allen participated in the very popular Google Hangout interview series Obsessed for Success with Rod Caceres. Caceres interviews leaders and pioneers who have interesting obssessions. Dr. Allen was chosen as a premier leader in the learning industry for his e-learning obsession of eliminating boring, ineffective online learning from the face of the earth.

Want to share this post? Here are some ready made tweets:

Click to Tweet: You can’t learn someone, they have to learn on their own. "[Dr. Michael Allen] My Engaging #eLearning Obsession"

Click to Tweet: How can I create good learning experiences for everyone? "[Michael Allen] My #EngagingeLearning Obsession" #learning

Click to Tweet: You can’t teach people things that they already know. "[Dr. Michael Allen] My Engaging e-Learning Obsession"

Share your favorite quotes or ideas in the comments below!

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3 Real-Life Lessons Learned from Difficult On-The-Job Challenges


by relationship management assistant

We’ve all made mistakes at work – some more grievous than others. For every mortified person who has accidentally closed a business call with “I love you” instead of “goodbye,” there is someone else whose slip up could have caused injury, lost someone their job or cost their company millions of dollars. We may think of these situations as an exception to the norm and/or the result of a “bad” employee, but in fact these close calls happen more often, easily, and unintentionally than you would expect, and can commonly be traced back to lack of training or misunderstanding of policy due to ineffective training. I’ve interviewed a few individuals as they reflect on their most difficult on-the-job situations.

Employee Training

I’ll go first:

My first real job was at a chain of ice cream shops. My supervisor would often schedule me to close up the store alone—despite the fact that I was an inexperienced and untrained 14 year old to whom no responsible adult should have given the keys to a safe or free reign over what was, essentially, a room full of unsupervised candy. I enjoyed my freedom and the unlimited free ice cream that came with it until one day a very angry gentleman stopped in my store. He had been in the previous day, and an employee had assured him that he could make a dish safe for peanut allergies by simply not adding peanuts, not understanding that since all of our dishes and tools had come in contact with nuts at some point, none of them would be safe. The man ended up having a severe allergic reaction while driving home, causing an accident. He was, luckily, not seriously injured. I was terrified and had no idea what to do. I apologized profusely, refunded him, gave him gift cards, and attempted to call my boss who I could not reach. The man was appeased and left. However, the situation could have turned into a much bigger problem for my organization had the man been injured or decided to pursue a lawsuit.

Lesson Learned: Although formal training, reference materials, and a wide array of policies, guidelines, and emergency procedures did exist at my organization, they were disseminated via a 20-page printed pdf with only a signature from each employee to indicate that they had been received (and, by assumption, read and understood). Nothing about that piece of paper or the nonchalant way in which it was given to me screamed “Read me, I’m important and interesting!” If your content can save lives, jobs, and money, then it deserves a bigger stage than a pdf. A recorded webinar, interactive orientation course, and/or on the job coaching by an experienced employee would have more effectively communicated both the content and the importance of the content in a consistent way that could have prevented the situation.

David’s Story:

David worked for a summer as a ride operator for extra cost rides at a theme park. His immediate supervisor informed him during training that in cases of inclement weather when a ride needed to end early, he should give back the riders’ tickets, so that they could get their money’s worth when the weather cleared up. Unfortunately, what seemed like good customer service to David’s supervisor was considered theft by management. David and his supervisor were fired and ordered to pay for all of the tickets they had returned to riders.

Lesson Learned: Inconsistencies between official corporate policy and the informal policies of supervisors and coworkers can be a huge source of confusion for new employees. Direct managers who work with employees every day set the standard of behavior far more than a corporate handbook can—if they are not performing correctly, their team won’t either. Consistency in training methods, content, and evaluation is imperative to prevent these kinds of miscommunications.

Liz’s Story:

Liz’s director was out of the office, leaving her in charge of the library where she works. Her library was called by an automated phone system alerting them there was a “code red” emergency and that the town would be evacuated. However, the phone message was jumbled and Liz could not understand the directions other than that they needed to close the library and send unaccompanied children to a particular location. Then the phone went dead. Worried, but not wanting to blindly evacuate children from the library without knowing the full story, Liz did some research and learned that a train full of oil had derailed in a nearby town. She called her director who was able to contact the emergency service and figure out how to handle the situation safely. She praised Liz for staying calm and came by to help contact the children’s parents and make sure everyone was evacuated safely. Obviously, Liz had not been trained on this type of situation, but had she acted out of fear she might have evacuated children into unsafe circumstances or caused a panic.

Lesson Learned: You can’t develop learning for every single contingency that might pop up out of left field—sometimes oil tankers just crash outside your office and you’re at a loss. However, you can train your learners to know who to contact and where to find help should the unexpected arise.

Do you remember a time you ever felt totally lost at a job? A time when you were confronted with a situation that you were completely unprepared and untrained to handle? How could your organization have better prepared you for success? Share in the comments below!

Want to share this post? Here are some ready made tweets:

Click to Tweet: If your content can save lives, jobs, and money, then it deserves a bigger stage than a pdf. #traininglessons 

Click to Tweet: How can organizations better prepare employees for success? "3 Lessons Learned from On-The-Job Challenges" #training

Click to Tweet: On-the-job mistakes can commonly be traced back to lack of #training. "3 Lessons Learned from On-The-Job #Challenges"

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Be a Superhero with SAM


Molly Murnane, Learning Consultant, Humana | @MollyMurnaneID

Summer and superhero movies have always gone hand-in-hand with each other, and this season has been no different. There have been so many superhero movies released, that it has been hard to keep up with the prequels, sequels, trilogies and all the other films included in a series. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the stories, the drama and courageous protagonists. The films always have a crisis that no one saw coming and only the hero can save the day!

How does this relate to instructional design, you ask? Whether you know it or not, you and I have lived this storyline too: there is a crisis on the horizon; training has been tasked to change the course of history and in doing so prevent a major catastrophe! But wait… we’re not superheroes with secret identities; where’s our mask, cape and super powers? You’re right, there are no masks or capes, but we are like the caped crusaders we see in summer blockbusters. I’ll explain why I am an e-learning superhero and how you too can use the same secret super power to save the day.

Secret Identity

I’ve got a normal, everyday job and like many others enjoy my simple morning routine. My boss and coworkers have similar backgrounds and do similar things. My business partners depend on me to help deliver training that changes performance and provides value to the company. Like the metropolitan newspaper reporters, corporate industrialists, or demure secretaries of superhero movies, I go through my day under the radar, doing my job and fitting in with the crowd. But there is also another side of me—a side that gets really fired up when I see a “death by PowerPoint” presentation. This side of me commits to an eLearning Manifesto and watches TED Talks™ when I’m supposed to be reading training reports. This e-Learning Superhero side of me knows that the world would be a better place if we could all create training that uses appropriate context and challenges learners.

Be a SAM Superhero | Using the Successive Approximation Model

Secret Super Power

Like many of us, I didn’t end up in the training department on purpose. I fell into the job and stuck with it. Someone told me along the way that if I wanted to be great in my career, I would have to live and breathe the ADDIE model and write endless proof of concept documents referencing Bloom’s Taxonomy. These tools are useful and have gotten me this far, but now I know about the Successive Approximation Model (SAM), and I can’t go back! SAM, an agile development model, cuts through the red tape of analysis paralysis and provides learners with meaningful, memorable, motivational and measurable learning events.

Like other superhero powers, SAM may be a difficult concept to understand for those who don’t use it. Business Partners and even coworkers may reject a new instructional design model and be cautious of its ability to be implemented as easily as the well-established ADDIE. Knowing this, I use SAM as my secret super power. I enter my meetings with Business Partners, not wielding a SAM sword or a flashy new acronym. SAM’s power is so straightforward that it can go unnoticed to the untrained eye. From our business partner’s point of view, SAVVY Starts are similar to the last meeting, just more productive. e-Learning prototypes are now reviewed sooner and in smaller, dynamic pieces. The project requesters are more involved in the creation of training and are no longer surprised by the output three months later. They call on us in a training crisis; we are tasked with changing the courses in the LMS history and preventing a major catastrophe!

Be a SAM Superhero

For SAM supporters, use your secret SAM super power to your advantage. Shock and awe your project requesters with your increased resolve and confidence. Be faster than a speeding bullet with SAVVY Starts, more powerful than a locomotive with your prototypes. If you’ve tried to implement SAM and have been met with anxiety and rigidity, do not give up! SAM is a powerful tool that when used strategically can make huge improvements to your learner’s performance. Apply pieces of SAM when and where you can. Build the trust of your business partners and with each success story, implement another new concept of SAM. Fight the never-ending battle for context, challenge and activities along the way. I can’t wait to hear about your exciting adventures as SAM Superheroes.

Want to share this post? Here are some ready made tweets:

Click to Tweet: Find out how to use #SAM as your secret super power! "Be a Superhero with SAM" #elearningdesign #SAMvsADDIE

Click to Tweet: Be faster than a speeding bullet with SAVVY Starts, more powerful than a locomotive with prototypes. #SAMSuperhero

Click to Tweet: Build the trust of your team and with each success story, implement another new concept of SAM. #SAMProcess

Molly Murnane | SAM Guest Blog Allen InteractionsMolly Murnane is a Learning Consultant for Humana in Green Bay, WI where she is responsible for providing consultation and instructional design expertise to business partners, creating valuable, engaging learning experiences for classroom and virtual audiences. With nearly 15 years of experience, Molly has worked for organizations such as Zywave, Kohl’s Department Stores, and Shopko, and holds BS degree in Organizational Communications from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay. With a passion for life-long learning, Molly also volunteers with Junior Achievement and facilitates experiential learning to inspire students to dream big and reach their potential.  Connect with Molly on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Engaging Compliance Training: Is It Even Possible?


by Steve Lee, strategic relationship manager

Have you attended one of Allen Interactions many webinars on applying best in class instructional design based on Context, Challenge, Activity, and/or Feedback, better known as CCAF? If so, are you saying one or more of the following?


“Yeah, I would love to design my e-learning around CCAF, but I have compliance training and that just won’t work”
“I love your methodology for creating better e-learning, but it won’t work for me, my work is too content driven”
“I wish I could make my content less boring, but I only create compliance training, so there’s no chance.”
“How am I supposed to make laws and regulations fun and engaging?”

Well, we hear you! At Allen Interactions, we strive to share our knowledge of what goes in to making good e-learning, even when that e-learning is compliance training. So, we made this webinar just for you!

On August 27th I will be providing a quick 45-minute webinar titled Bored No More: Engaging Compliance Training with ZebraZapps. In this webinar, I will demonstrate how to turn even the driest compliance content into exciting activities that are meaningful, memorable and motivational. I’ll show best in class examples of compliance training from Fortune 500 companies, as well as walk you through how to start thinking about, sketching and even prototyping some of these designs in ZebraZapps.

If you are interested in transforming your compliance training, than you won’t want to miss this webinar!

It's Free! Register Now ▶

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Do You Know How to Create the Perfect e-Learning Challenge?


by Ethan Edwards, chief instructional strategist | @ethanaedwards

I taught a few sessions of ATD’s e-Learning Instructional Design Certificate Program this past month. I love the opportunity to share insights into what makes e-learning work with instructional designers, both experienced professionals and talented designers just getting their feet wet, with creating experiences to teach online. Part of the value of the experience is to encourage people to trust their instincts about learning and about online experiences. So many examples of ineffective teaching and boring interactivity are modeled by existing courseware, and by the examples and templates advocated by a designer’s authoring tools. It is wonderful to share in those “Aha!” moments when students realize that e-learning design needs to be so much more than dumping content on the screen and then asking trivia questions about what the learner can remember.

Regular readers of Michael Allen’s books or of this blog know how fervently we preach the necessity of creating lessons centered on true instructional interactivity–or as we abbreviate it: CCAF design. A CCAF interaction has a compelling Context, a meaningful Challenge, a behaviorally-significant Action, and content-rich intrinsic Feedback. These are simple words, reasonably easy concepts to grasp, yet sometimes difficult to start designing around.

Impossible e-Learning Challenge

Creating the Perfect Challenge

Challenge is achieved through several different aspects of stimulating the learner to act. You want the Challenge to make the learner pause, to think, then be motivated, to persist, to create a solution. Unfortunately, Challenge is often confused with difficulty…and interactions that are difficult just to be difficult (e.g., tricky wording of distractors, challenges that focus attention away from actual performance outcomes, misguided emphasis on preventing cheating at the cost of teaching, etc.) end up creating obstacles to learning rather than challenges to make learning more accessible. 

But getting the Challenge right is often the main thing that changes boring modules into what I call “irresistible e-learning.” Irresistible e-learning captures the learners’ attention in a way that holds them captive (in a good way) so that learning and achieving and solving replace getting done as their primary motivator.

Challenge and risk are the primary drivers in most games, and organizations often seek (and regularly fail) to capture a similar appeal in their e-learning through “gamification.” The bad news is that creating games is actually a lot easier than creating e-learning. (For one thing, most games are developed with budgets and resources many, many times greater than typically devoted to e-learning.) But resources aside, games only need to create a compelling challenge that entertains. E-Learning must create a compelling challenge that also insures mastery of performance objectives that, on the surface, seem to defy interest. One of the greatest triumphs in e-learning design, though, is when you are able to capture both: and irresistibly compelling challenge and interactivity that leads all learners to mastery.

Breaking the "Challenge" Challenge Webinar

Breaking the Challenge Challenge Webinar | Tuesday, September 9th

If you are interested in exploring the challenge of designing good challenges, I hope you’ll join me for the upcoming Allen Interactions’ webinar Breaking the “Challenge” Challenge. In it, I will explore the parameters of designing good challenges, share some examples, and then apply this thinking to real-life examples provided by the participants. Those who enroll in 3 days in advance, or more, will have the opportunity to submit their projects as candidates for discussion in the webinar.

Date: Tuesday, September 9th
Time: 1:00 - 3:00 PM Central
Cost:  $99  $34.95 Staycation Education Discount!

Learn More & Register ▶ 

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