Hello all you good boys and girls in e-learning land!
My elves and I have been busy this year and we are once again getting set for our holiday webinar, December 19th, 1:00 PM, North Pole Central Time.
I’ll be partnering with Lisapingle Stortzcicle, one of my favorite elves, and relying on her to help me deliver the best holiday webinar ever!
Tell Santa Your e-Learning Wishes or Woes!
I want to hear it all — one line or as long as you want, anything nice or not so nice, send me your wishes or woes at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Need a new learning strategy? Want to spice up your boring e-learning? Want to increase your ROI? Need help with design ideas or development insights? Remember, I have a whole workshop full of elves to help, so don't be afraid to ask!
I’m making my list and checking it twice!
Ethan "Santa" Edwards
by Ethan Edwards, chief instructional strategist | @ethanaedwards
This time of year we revisit the story of the First Thanksgiving, at least the version that has evolved over the years: the few surviving Pilgrim settlers joining in a three-day celebration of thanks with the local Native Americans who provided the help necessary to weather that first cruel winter and bring in a plentiful harvest the next fall.
Perhaps it is because I was recently teaching an ASTD e-Learning Instructional Design Certificate, discussing the Successive Approximation Model (SAM) for designing e-learning modules, when I was struck by an odd parallel. A critical step in any SAM project is what we call the “Savvy Start” meeting—the initial design meeting that establishes the foundation for a successful project. One of the most frequently-asked questions is “Who should attend the Savvy Start?” There is no perfect answer, as every team and every project has its own special requirements, but I can’t help but think that the primary players in the Pilgrim Thanksgiving drama would form an ideal Savvy Start team.
Just as we suggest for a good Savvy Start, the Pilgrims and Native Americans set aside three days to meet together without distractions. They claimed to have been leaving the Old World for religious freedom, but could this have really been an early case of Leaving ADDIE for SAM? You be the judge.
Consider the players:
Savvy Start Role
Captain Myles Standish
|Military officer; played a leading role in administration and defense of the Plymouth Colony from its inception.
||Project manager responsible for administering the project, communicating between the parties, securing deadlines, and general oversight of progress.
|Senior elder of Plymouth Colony, advisor and teacher to the community.
||Instructional designer, adept at understanding an audience and designing instructional interactions to achieve specific performance outcomes.
|Creative and resilient homemaker and craftswoman; accomplished in gardening, cooking, needlework, and other crafts requiring an eye for quality and aesthetics.
||Media, graphic, or writing specialist, adept at applying creative thinking and rigorous application to otherwise tedious problems.
|Ship’s cooper and community member, active in building and defense projects, carrying out plans for the colony. Romantically involved with Miss Mullens.
||Developer with technical skills required to build prototypes and implement full interactive solutions when required. Must have a great appreciation for importance of media.
|King of the Wampanoags, responsible for the treaty of friendship and mutual defense. Leader of the indigenous peoples.
||Project owner who usually has the most stake in the outcome—responsible for the contracting process and setting of success measures, usually has administrative responsibility for the ultimate learners.
|Member of the Patuxet tribe; guide and translator to the Pilgrims. Instrumental in teaching native methods of cultivation essential for survival.
||Subject Matter Expert (SME) who knows the content and also owns the critical performance objectives, providing critical information to the design team regarding relevant and necessary content and skills.
Governor William Bradford
|Governor and administrative leader of the Plymouth Colony.
||Executive who might have ultimate decision-making responsibility for budgets, staffing, and priorities.
|Pilgrims and Native Americans, present and ready to help.
||End users available for testing of prototypes and designs.
The parallels are hard to ignore. Was this just coincidence or did the First Thanksgiving really represent the first Savvy Design Team? We’ll never know for sure, but if you are planning a SAM project, review the right-hand column of critical roles. Even if you don’t have a separate person in each role, you must be ready to account for that design function through multiple hats on one individual.
What does your Savvy team look like?
Disclaimer: I would be remiss if I failed to note that there is much about the “myth” of the first Thanksgiving that is inconsistent with what must have happened. These stock characters offer a familiar, but not particularly accurate, picture of how Massachusetts was settled. There are many good references that attempt to bring clarity to the muddled version of history. One I heartily recommend is Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen.
by Richard Sites, vice president - training and marketing | @rhillsites
This past week I had the wonderful opportunity to attend and speak at the 2013 CSTD National Conference and Trade Show in Toronto. The theme for the annual conference of the Canadian Society of Training and Development was “The Learning Ecosystem.”
The conference theme was described as: “A complex interdependence between learning and the organization exists; one where the organization can’t grow without learning, and learning can’t deliver without organizational supports like strategy, systems, technologies, coaching, OD, and design sophistication.”
This theme really piqued my interest because of the challenge that all of us as learning and development professionals face creating training that benefits the organization and is valued by the organization and the learners.
Being at a conference full of engaged professionals discussing collaboration and partnership in learning and development really inspired me to make more of an effort to share the ways that SAM supports collaboration. So often the discussion of SAM is focused on iterations, prototypes, deliverables and such. But the power of an iterative process is collaboration. In Leaving ADDIE for SAM, we recommend four criteria for selecting a design and development process, one of the four being supporting collaboration. We firmly believe collaboration is critical to the success of any learning and development project.
The Savvy Start is a collaborative brainstorming meeting that kicks off the SAM process. This is a time when people from across the organization can discuss and debate the key characteristics of the performance which the training will seek to improve.
Iterative Design Phase
While design is often seen as something that an ID professional completes alone and then seeks review and approval, SAM offers a strategy to reach out to senior leaders, SMEs, managers, recent learners, and others to collaborate throughout the design process. The collaborative review and revision of prototypes, content samples, media, and other design elements allows key stakeholders to have a voice early in the process, often preventing more costly revisions in the development phase.
Iterative Development Phase
Producing multiple deliverables in the Iterative Development Phase offers opportunities for key individuals to collaborate on the effectiveness of the development efforts to achieve the proposed design. Rather than offering a completed product for review and dealing with unintended revision requests later, SAM seeks to present the project team and stakeholders the opportunity to review the instructional product in an iterative manner.
I've highlighted only three, high-level moments in SAM which offer opportunities for collaboration and partnership. There are many other opportunities to collaborate in SAM which you can read about in Leaving ADDIE for SAM.
Effective collaboration and communication throughout an instructional design project is crucial in building successful learning experiences. But, collaboration is also vital to the success of learning and development professionals within an organization. We designers and developers of instruction should seek more opportunities to partner within our organizations. And SAM is a great way to start!
In Chicago, December 16-17, I will be facilitating the first ever ASTD workshop on SAM, The Leaving ADDIE for SAM Mega-Workshop. If you are interested in attending, click here for more information.
by Carly Yuenger, producer/instructional designer
Being an instructional designer requires a wide range of skills, but one not often discussed is empathy.
We all know what recent changes in the global economy have done to training budgets. But have we allowed this knowledge to work itself into our understanding of our learners? Are our courses sensitive to the fact that learners are now doing more with less, taking on new responsibilities, and coping on a day-to-day level with the stresses on their industries and organizations?
Most instructional designers know how important it is to uncover the following information at the beginning of a project:
- When will the learners take the course?
- What is the internal messaging around the course?
- How have learners learned these skills in the past?
In order to make use of the answers to these questions, you’ll need to really get into the shoes, minds, and emotions of learners. Therefore, your questions need to probe a bit further:
- When learners sit down to take the course, what will they have been doing all day?
- What expectations, fears, annoyances, frustrations, or hopes will learners bring to the course?
- Are learners disappointed about losing a previous form of training?
But, knowing the learner’s point of view is not enough—you have to show them you understand.
Consider the way answers to the empathetic questions above helped you craft a welcome to your course. Should the opening screen have a large, steaming mug of coffee on it? Should you acknowledge that learners are squeezing the course in between emails by letting them know how long each module will take and telling them it’s ok to close their email while they work on the course? Not only can these simple touches help you gain learners’ attention and engage them, they can also help you overcome significant barriers to learning.
Let’s face it; one of the most common barriers to learning is the “top down blues”―the disconnect between corporate headquarters and day-to-day reality. Too often training is intended as a one-way communication from management to employees. But it doesn’t have to feel that way. As an empathetic ID, you can get into the shoes of your learners
and ask yourself, “How would I want to be addressed?”
Whether it is using language that puts the topic into the context of their day-to-day challenges or knowing that everyone hates the color green of the break room walls, allowing learners to give you clues about what should be included builds the course’s credibility. It makes learners feel like the creators of the course—(you!)—”get it.” And, building credibility is a huge leg up in alleviating the “top down blues.”
Asking empathetic questions also uncovers more acute barriers to learning. Perhaps a well-loved training event is being displaced by what you see as a fancy new and superior e-learning experience! If so, part of your audience may not be so happy to see your e-learning. In this situation, you may want to consider addressing the change directly from the start, otherwise, you may risk losing those learners from the get-go.
Will all of this focus on empathy lead to push back from your clients? Sometimes. Will you get a go on every idea? No. But each bit can make a difference for your learners.
Take for example, a project in which I suggested we address learner frustration up front. The team decided to go ahead with the plan, but we had a bit of a laugh over my counterpart’s concern: “Not knowing what to tell the stakeholders about the fluffy stuff...”
The secret, of course, which I’ve held back until now, is that this is nothing new. Creating learner-centered training always involves getting a feel for the learner’s perspective. Still, thinking about this as empathy, I think, pushes us a bit further:
- The usual starting point: What do you want learners to know?
Notice, this question is phrased for the project owners, not for learners.
- The performance-driven ID asks: What do you want learners to be able to do?
Again, notice, this question is phrased for the project owners.
- The empathetic ID asks: How can we make sure learners are able to do this?
This question requires a much deeper investigation and cannot be answered without both learners and project owners’ participation.
Bringing empathy into your analysis and design is helpful for a few other reasons as well:
- It addresses head-on a common barrier to learner-centered design: the reluctance to step into the shoes of the learner
- It gets us out of the register of information and into the register of experience
- It pinpoints not just the context of skill-use, but of skill-learning
- It acknowledges that learners are not just brains, that both barriers and aids to learning are found in “the fluffy stuff,”(the very real terrain of emotions).
So, I’ll leave you with this question: How do you demonstrate empathy in your instructional design?
Carly is a producer and instructional designer for Studio i in San Francisco. She enjoys bringing together a deep understanding of clients’ needs and the diverse talents of Studio i to create unique experiences that engage adults in learning what they need to be successful.
Webinar Hosted by Training Magazine Network
Date: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Time: 10:00 am Pacific / 1:00 pm Eastern (60 Minute Session)
Can't attend? Register anyway. We'll send you the recording and materials after the event.
Cost: $ 0.00
Analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation (ADDIE) are all important steps in the design of effective e-learning applications or any learning program. While there have been many adaptations of ADDIE, many of them were made before we had today's tools, challenges, and opportunities.
Join Dr. Michael Allen for a candid conversation with Richard Sites as they casually discuss what’s needed and possible today leveraging Agile to improve development efficiencies, effectiveness – resulting in the best learning experiences possible.
by Julie Dirksen, design consultant, @usablelearning
We are delighted to have Julie Dirksen as a blogger this week. Julie worked with Allen Interactions for nearly a decade as an instructional designer and currently is a design consultant for Allen Interactions in addition to her other clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies, to innovative technology startups, and major grant-funded research initiatives. Julie has more than 15 years of experience creating highly interactive e-learning experiences, is an avid blogger, author of Design for How People Learn, and a facilitator for ASTD's Advanced e-Learning Instructional Design Certificate Program.
Okay, you’ve just found out that while you were at the dentist getting a crown repaired, you got assigned the update to the let-me-tell-you-what-the-32-pages-of-legal-mumbo-jumbo-say safety e-learning course that every employee has to take annually. This the most tedious and hated e-learning course your department has, but it’s legally required. Your co-workers (usually very nice people) have shamelessly thrown you to the wolves in your absence. How can you make this less painful for all involved, and actually use it to improve workplace safety?
There are a lot of answers to that question, but let’s talk specifically about challenges. Challenge is one of the parts of Allen Interactions’ CCAF-based Design Model (Context, Challenge, Activity and Feedback), and I think that creating good challenges are a critical skill for instructional designers.
We are inclined to pay attention to urgent things, because we evolved in an environment where “urgent” was frequently equivalent to “things you need for survival” or “things that can kill you.” Stephen Covey’s classic 2x2 matrix of urgent vs. important tasks highlights the fact that we frequently attend to the urgent rather than the important. Of course, we deal first with things that are both urgent AND important, but after that, we tend to deal with the urgent (the email that just popped into the box) ahead of the important (the report due at the end of the week). Image Source: Design For How People Learn by Julie Dirksen.
Behavioral economists study the concept of hyperbolic discounting, which is our tendency to prefer rewards that come sooner over rewards that happen later, even when the later reward is somewhat larger.
Think about your answer to the following questions:
- Would you rather have $10 today, or $11 tomorrow?
- Would you rather have $10 today, or $11 in a year?
- Would you rather have $10 today, or $1000 in a year?
When I’ve asked these questions of audiences in the past, I get about a 50/50 split on question #1, everybody wanting the money today in question #2, and everybody willing to wait in question #3.
Basically, if the reward is big enough, we are willing to wait for it, but if it’s not very big, we aren’t as interested.
If you think of this in learning terms, you have a similar transaction with your learners. You are asking them to pay attention to the lesson, and the reward for learning is getting to use what they’ve learned.
Research into willpower and cognitive effort suggests that people can only force themselves to pay attention for a limited time period, after which they struggle to stay engaged. If you’ve ever read tax regulations, you know what I’m talking about.
But we don’t feel anything like that level of effort to pay attention when we are watching a really good, plot-driven movie, right? So what might be different?
In learning environments, we tend to focus on future consequences and outcomes, but we know that we are drawn to rewards that are immediate. Things that are going to happen in the future, regardless of how dire they are, are less compelling than things that are happening RIGHT NOW.
Basically, if I’m asking somebody to pay attention to material they aren’t going to do anything with for a long time, it’s similar to asking people to wait a year for $11—it’s just not that compelling.
But if it feels like something that’s happening right now, then $11 may be all the reward you need.
An example I sometimes talk about is The Most Boring Training I Ever Had, which was a course on Health Savings Account procedures. It was so tedious, I pretty much wanted to stab myself in the eye with a pen to escape.
If you think about it, it’s a classic delayed reward problem. If you pay attention to the lecture about what you can pay for using your HSA, you will eventually get the reward of getting to use that information approximately 11½ months later when you are trying to figure out if you can apply it to your kid’s eyeglasses, or if you can use it to cover those massage visits for your sore neck.
Pay attention now, but don’t get the benefit until later.
But, if we use a good challenge, we can make something that happens later feel like it’s happening now. For example, if instead of lecturing people about their HSA reimbursements, you said “Okay―here are the guidelines and three characters with different health ailments. Figure out if they can use HSA funds to cover them―go!”
For a lot of learners, that will feel a lot more urgent. To me, it feels like I get to use this information right now, rather than discounting the value of it because I have to wait. Well-designed challenges create the sense of urgency―that sense that it’s happening now.
That’s why “You may need to know these safety evacuation procedures” is far less compelling than “A fire just broke out on the 8th floor! Quick―what do you need to do first?"
Upcoming Webinar with Angel Green - Sponsored by SABA
Thursday, November 21, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Eastern
Do you struggle capturing the information you need from your subject matter experts (SMEs) to build scenario-driven e-learning? In this 60-minute, Allen Interaction's senior instructional strategist, Angel Green, discusses best practices, strategies and techniques to help you utilize the limited time you have with your SMEs. Angel will share 5 great tips you can start using today to improve the quality of your relationship with your SMEs during the e-learning development process.
In this webinar gain 5 tips on:
- Picking the right people
- Asking the right questions
- Partnering to the end
- Being a sales person
- Having a lifeline
About Angel Green
Angel Green is a senior instructional strategist for Allen Interactions’ Tampa studio, where she is responsible for providing consultation and instructional design expertise to clients, partnering to build engaging, interactive learning experiences. Angel has worked for organizations such as IBM, MetLife, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, and holds both MS and BS degrees from Florida State University. An accomplished speaker, Angel has held positions as an adjunct instructor of public speaking and is past president of a Toastmasters International chapter. She is also a frequent blogger here on Allen Interactions’ e-Learning Leadership Blog.
Check out our Great Pumpkin Fling app
built in ZebraZapps
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Ethan Edwards | chief instructional strategist
I hate Halloween.
No, perhaps that’s too strong.
I dislike Halloween.
You know, that’s probably too strong too.
I find Halloween utterly uninteresting.
There. That captures it. It just bores me to distraction. And the more it becomes a big deal to the world in general, the less I am inclined to pay any attention to it.
I realize I have a non-standard perspective, at least to judge by the number of decorated houses and bins of candy and quantities of plastic junk that are everywhere. I can trace this disinterest to my childhood. Halloween in the late 60s was celebrated nothing like it is today, but even then it was supposed to be a pretty big deal—costumes, candy, party, etc.
Unfortunately, all the elements meant nothing to me. I don’t much care for candy…particularly gum, Tootsie Rolls, circus peanuts, and candy corn which are what was always handed out in our neighborhood. Even when a neighbor would splurge on candy bars to distribute, it was my brother who would inevitably score a much-desired Snickers and I’d be stuck with something inedible like a Bit-O-Honey.
The costumes were worse. I was the youngest of 5 kids in a family of limited means, which meant I never had a costume that hadn’t already been worn at least 4 times. In fact, most of my costumes had been worn more like ten times since they had already been cast off by my older cousins, also a family of 5. I couldn’t get excited about dressing as a cartoon character who I didn’t even recognize and who had not been on TV since before I was born (it was some sort of bear, but I never know who exactly).
My Dad was a stickler for the “Trick” part of Trick-or-Treat and insisted that we do a trick at each door before we could take any candy, so we had to suffer the embarrassment of telling jokes or singing or something equally stupid. Looking back, I’m not sure why we felt compelled to do it because Dad was not there and surely would never have known had we shirked that duty.
So why am I airing this grievance now? (Honestly, I’m not bitter!) It’s because it tells us something important about enlisting participation in activities, even those that in our own minds need no assistance. The truth is, motivation is at the root of nearly everything we do successfully. There’s nothing wrong with Halloween, but it was never presented to me in a way that connected with anything I cared about. Telling me that I should like getting candy and that dressing up will be fun, when I knew otherwise, did not motivate me in the slightest. I had no choice but to play along, but I was sure there was really nothing in it for me that I valued and each year I got just a little bit less interested. Admittedly, there was one thing that I did love about Halloween: glazed donuts and fresh apple cider for treats at the Grange meeting closest to the Halloween. If only someone would have understood my perspective enough to highlight that, my overall experience with the holiday would have been entirely different.
I find that there is a striking parallel between my Halloween experience and how users are encouraged to do e-learning. We serve up objectives that have no personal significance to the learners and yet we expect them to buy into them. We create “characters” or “games” that we declare to be fun, ignoring the fact that often we are just creating elements that may have no value to the learners and instead create obstacles for the learner to get to completion. We offer points or vicarious money as reward for answering questions when those rewards transfer to nothing that the user actually values.
Next time when you think are thinking about crafting your e-learning to engage your learners, really try to put yourself in their shoes and think about what things will actually improve their motivation, instead of burying them in what has failed before. Get them acting as soon as you can by lecturing less. Make the challenges something they care about and are intrigued by. Trust them to think on their own by delaying judgment. Use feedback as a welcome place to provide information that the learner has shown then need rather than deciding for them before they even have a chance to prove their knowledge. And create graduated challenges that the learner has some control over. E-learning built with these principles tends to build connections that last.
For more information about these design ideas that enhance motivation in e-learning download this white paper.
We're kicking off our 20-year anniversary celebration at DevLearn being held this week in Las Vegas! If you are in the area or attending, please stop by our booth, say hi, and check out out the latest and greatest ZebraZapps authoring and publishing system—and to tempt the tastebuds—treat yourself to a cupcake...who can turn down a cupcake?!
Read on for details of our involvement and how to get a taste of the conference for free if you're in the area but on a limited budget!
Our passion for serious e-learning has led to the development of a professional authoring and publishing platform, ZebraZapps. Christopher Allen, product manager, and Steve Lee, strategic relationship manager, will be showing some of the new features of ZebraZapps as well as demonstrating how to use this platform to create meaningful, memorable and motivation learning using context, challenge, activity and feedback to bring real performance-change to your business.
Speaking Sessions | October 23-25
- How Tools Affect Our Design: Quandaries of a Veteran Tool Designer
Michael Allen, chairman & CEO
- Is e-Learning Broken? Challenges for Innovation
Panel Discussion with Clark Quinn, Michael Allen, Reuben Tozman, Julie Dirksen, and Judy Katz
- Combining High-level Exploratory Simulations with Instructional Interactivity
Ethan Edwards, chief instructional strategist
- The Do’s and Don’ts of Large-scale Global eLearning Development Projects
Donny Ponder, senior manager-learning technologies, Hilton Worldwide and Steve Lee, strategic relationship manager, Allen Interactions
Free Expo Passes
Sign up for a complimentary expo only pass, which provides attendees access to the DevLearn 2013 Expo as well as participation in the Featured Learning Stages that will be running educational sessions throughout the conference, led by industry experts and suppliers. Expo-only attendees can also participate in the popular Expo Welcome Reception and DemoFest.