by Richard Sites, vice president - client services
It is May and that means it is once again time to come together at the annual ASTD International Conference & Exposition (ICE). This year, many from the Allen Interactions team are headed to Dallas and we look forward to meeting our blog readers.
Last year I started a conversation about Leaving ADDIE. Since then, there have been a lot of things happening in our industry and our company. Leaving ADDIE for SAM was published, we hosted countless webinars, created Iterations, our new video blog, and our partnerships with clients produced award-winning learning products.
So this year, I’ve decided that it's time we give back. We are going to ICE for you! That’s right, fellow blogger Angel Green and I will be providing real-time tweets live from ICE as well as blog summaries of the sessions we attend. Our goal is to attend the sessions you would want to attend.
Check out the ASTD ICE sessions and leave us a comment about a few that pique your interest. The top sessions receiving comments will be added to our session plan. We will post our session plan early on Monday (May 20th) morning. So post your session requests now!!
And if you are going to ICE – stop by our booth 335 and say hi!
We are proud to announce award-winning recognition to the tune of 6 awards – 3 Communicator Awards & 3 Horizon Interactive Awards! Congratulations to our wonderful clients and studios for creating award-winning e-learning experiences that are meaningful, memorable, and motivational for their employees!
You can view our case studies and course demos or get a glimpse of the Gold award-winning Manhattan Associates course by checking out the on-demand webinar here.
Gold, Manhattan Associates, Supply Chain Fundamentals
Silver, HD Supply, Lessons for Sales Success
Silver, AutoNation, AutoNation SmartChoice™ Sales Menu e-Learning
Horizon Interactive Awards
Silver, CTEL, Wheelchair Securement
Bronze, Manhattan Associates, Supply Chain Fundamentals
Bronze, AutoNation, AutoNation SmartChoice™ Sales Menu e-Learning
About the Communicator Awards
The Communicator Awards is the leading international awards program honoring creative excellence for communication professionals. Founded by communication professionals over a decade ago, The Communicator Awards is an annual competition honoring the best in advertising, corporate communications, public relations and identity work for print, video, interactive, and audio. This year’s Communicator Awards received thousands of entries from companies and agencies of all sizes, making it one of the largest awards of its kind in the world.
About the Horizon Awards
The Horizon Interactive Awards is a prestigious international competition recognizing outstanding achievement among interactive media producers. The competition recognizes and awards the best web sites, videos, online advertising, print media, and mobile applications. Each year, the Horizon Interactive Awards receives thousands of entries from all over the world. A panel of industry professionals, from diverse multi-media, graphic design and marketing backgrounds, review the entries to determine the work that is to be recognized.
by Steve Lee, strategic relationship manager
Dr. Michael Allen says, "Success is getting people to do the right thing at the right time.” However, bridging a learner from successfully completing training to performing like an expert is often harder than we expect.
Dr. Allen has also been known to say, "There are two things you can't teach someone, what they already know and what they don't want to know."
Yet most e-learning requires learners to go through training they don’t need, compounded by the fact that learners have a tendency to think they already know better and training won’t help them. So how can we avoid spending time and resources teaching people things they already know, and not motivating them to understand the importance of what we are teaching?
First, consider the 70/20/10 learning concept that was developed by Morgan McCall, Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo from the Center for Creative Leadership. This philosophy states that people learn:
- 70% from real life and on-the-job experiences, tasks and problem solving (this is the most important aspect of any learning and development plan)
- 20% from feedback and from observing and working with role models
- 10% from formal training
Therefore I propose that we should design e-learning that goes beyond the “formal training” tradition and instead mimics the actual job environment by utilizing:
- scenario-based, job-task emulations
- access to a coach/mentor, reference materials, demonstrations and formative immediate feedback
- forced completion of each task, even after mistakes are made
- mastery-based scoring requiring learners receiving feedback or help to retake the task—allowing experts to test out on the first successful attempt
- a dashboard/balanced-scorecard approach at the end of each task to provide guidance for the next attempt, as well as measuring their PPP Learning Style:
- preparing with resources and demonstrations before an attempt
- attempting to complete each task until a point of need and pausing to access guidance, or
- just plugging away by guessing—hoping to get the correct answer in feedback
These training activities should assume everyone (except those who “already know”) needs more than one attempt to succeed. In fact, training activities should be so authentic and engaging that students will want to try over and over again to hone their skills. The activities should include extremely difficult or even impossible situations (the Kobayashi Maru for the Star Trek fans out there) to allow students to learn how to handle the no win situation providing not just competency training, but confidence based training as well. This approach of hyper-practice to mastery is used by skilled athletes, pilots, the military and most other high risk/high reward professions.
Mom always said to try and try again. You learn from your mistakes and that practice makes perfect. Perfect Performance!
Are you in the Denver area? Join me as I present “Practice Makes Performance” at the ASTD Rocky Mountain Chapter Meeting on Monday, March 18 at 5:30.
by Mary-Scott Hunter, vice president - client services
No one. Corporate standards deem humor to be inappropriate in the workplace.
I am constantly amazed how often humor is shelved as an instructional strategy. You heard me — instructional strategy. In our striving to gain and maintain learners’ attention, you would think that developers of e-learning would relish an instructional strategy that has mass appeal, creates happy pheromones in learners, promotes integration of information, and remains absolutely free.
But not so.
Years of stern disapproval from legal, regulatory, and even the boss’s boss have successfully trained learning professionals to turn a blind eye to the awesome powers of hilarity. The standard disclaimers are, ‘Not everyone finds the same thing funny,’ ‘Who can say what’s truly amusing,’ and ‘Humor can veer into the inappropriate.’ All of these statements are true and yet none justify excluding this powerful instructional strategy. At worst, they point to the need for evaluating the humor included, not outright exclusion.
Thankfully, some corporations understand that tapping the funny bone works. In November of 2012, Delta Air Lines released two new safety videos, those irritatingly familiar do’s and don’ts reviewed while the plane prepares for departure. (Both versions appear at the end of this article.) In each version, I count roughly 14 jokes.
Mind you, Delta isn’t the first to add humor to their safety videos. Searching on YouTube will reveal other hilarious entries from various airlines. The difference seems to be (in my opinion at least), is that while those other videos try to create something hilarious, Delta chose to use humor instructionally to emphasize their message, not mask it with laughter.
You’d think that for a serious topic (furrow your eyebrows whenever you read the words ‘serious topic’) like airplane safety, executives would steer clear of humor. I picture a gaggle of senior executives arguing around a conference table.
“We can’t,” says Jenkins. “I’m all for humor, but not when it’s a serious topic.”
Oh Jenkins...humor is appropriate in a wide range of circumstances when you know how to properly apply it. The secret is to use humor as an instructional strategy, not create a stand-up comedy act. Using Delta’s charming videos, I’ll articulate a couple useful guidelines for utilizing humor in training.
1. Use Humor to Underscore Main Points
During Delta’s video, when reminding passengers to pay attention to all posted signs, the camera turns toward the signs we’d expect: keep your seatbelts fastened, No Smoking, etc. Then, Delta-branded signs for “No Squash” and “No Juggling Chainsaws” gently come into focus.
Our humorless executive, Jenkins, might argue that a passenger would never get chainsaws past airport security. Jenkins! You’re missing the point. The learning emphasized paying attention to signage and underscored the message with gentle absurdity.
Should we fret it sends a mixed message about signage and how some might seem silly? No. The absurd signs are ridiculous enough that there is no confusion with real world signs, nor would it cause internal angst for learners as to which signs are worthy of consideration.
2. Choose not to use Humor
The Delta videos are not a series of non-stop gags. These videos aren’t trying to win 100,000 hits on YouTube. They use humor to emphasize situations, rules, and reactions. They avoid humor when it interferes with the instructional message.
For example, humor is not used at all when instructing on how to fasten seatbelts, attach an oxygen mask, or during the pilot’s final message. Why not? I believe the creators were cognizant of the learning outcomes and affective impact. Nobody wants to see their airline pilot play ‘the clown.’ We want to trust and rely in the confidence of pilots, not be wowed by their Robin Williams’ impression.
When fastening seatbelts and attaching oxygen masks, Delta has an investment in learners performing these tasks correctly, flawlessly. Their instructional designers (I believe) said, “Not here. Humor must not interfere with the steps and correct demonstration of those steps.” Good for them. Half of using humor as an instructional strategy is deciding when to hold back.
3. Use Humor to Emphasize Sameness or Differences
When asking, “Are you comfortable performing the tasks necessary in an exit row,” two of the three row mates, identical twins (dressed identically) respond in a monotone, “Yes.” The third gentleman winces slightly and says, “Not really.” He leaves and is immediately replaced by another exact replica of the first two. The twins, it turns out, are triplets.
While chuckling at the exit row trio, several instructional points got validated: everyone has to say yes or no to their responsibilities in this row, it’s okay to decline the responsibility, and all three must be equally up to the task. I’m not suggesting humor theorists write a 12-page paper analyzing this exchange (humor theorists = murderers of humor), but I can appreciate that Delta once again used humor to enhance teaching points.
Similarly, when talking about putting ‘smaller items’ under the seat in front of you, the camera shows an absurdly tiny suitcase, smaller than the size of a pop can. The absurdity contrasts the point being made and makes me think of all the times I have witnessed row mates shoving and kicking full-sized duffle bags in an attempt to make them ‘fit’ under the seat. Delta just tricked me into considering ‘what is small? What would fit? What is appropriate for that space?’
Kudos, Delta, for making me consider implementing your guidelines. That’s what you wanted from your learners all along.
4. Laugh at Ridiculous Situations
We all encounter ridiculous situations in our world — at the supermarket, other Moms at daycare, and gasp, even at work. We can laugh at their (and our) foibles without laughing at the people themselves. It’s called self-effacing humor.
While stating that the airline patrons may experience turbulence, the camera cuts to two young girls playing the popular wooden blocks game Jenga on top of their tray tables. As the plane experiences a few bumps, their eyes dart with alarm to the clattering, wiggling tower they’ve constructed as they realize their impending doom.
Who plays Jenga on an airplane?
Nobody — which is why it’s damn funny. We’re not laughing at the girls. In fact, we share their dread that the turbulence will prematurely end their block-stacking game. We laugh at the absurdity of playing games of precision and balance in an environment almost certain to be tumultuous.
Delta found a way to laugh at a ridiculous situation while emphasizing a reality of the world of flying we all hate: turbulence.
Isn’t it possible that your work environment/training situation has ridiculous moments? Don’t you think your learners know this? Don’t you think they’d eagerly welcome the empathy and recognition when those creating their training acknowledged life’s absurdities?
Win some points with your learners and show them you get their wacky, difficult challenges.
5. Have Fun
Remember the senior executives sitting around a conference room table arguing about whether to incorporate humor? Bless their vision and faith for saying ‘yes’ eventually. But they probably weren’t the ones who came up with the many goofy jokes that work.
The people who created humor in the Delta video clearly did so with an eye toward the instructional goal. But they also were people who like to play. You can’t create humor or find appropriate humor without actually having fun. Appropriate workplace humor is a byproduct of confidence, skill, and boundaries. When your team gets all three dimensions, you can play. You can laugh.
If your folks aren’t having fun brainstorming humor as an instructional strategy, chances are it’s not that funny.
6. Test with Users
In the end, you test humor the way you’d test any instructional strategy — with end users. If they think it’s funny, it is. If they think it’s not, then it doesn’t support the learning and you must remove or modify it. Count on your learners to tell you the truth when it comes to humor. It’s one topic where each of us considers ourselves an expert.
by Angel Green, senior instructional strategist, @LearnerAdvocate
A relationship requires a lot of work and commitment. - Greta Scacchi
Valentine's Day is upon us once again. Last year, I wrote a blog about how important it is for you to take every opportunity to LOVE your Learners. Tomorrow, I will have the pleasure of being joined by Stephanie Crowe, director of global learning & development, Manhattan Associates, where we will discuss why Manhattan Associates LOVES SAM.
I remember when I was first informed of the Manhattan Associates project – I honestly thought it couldn't be done. Here was a client who wanted two, one-hour long e-learning courses designed and developed in roughly ten weeks – and over the holiday season! However, we were able to meet their aggressive deadlines and create great interactions due to one thing – a mutual commitment to make it happen. Like any successful relationship, we had shared goals, trust in one another, and commitment to the projects. When these things come together in a project, magic can happen!
So, while the focus of tomorrow’s webinar is on how SAM was used to create great e-learning, what I hope does not go unmentioned is our mutual commitment which was so vital to the success of these projects.
Also, check out this video to see what’s around the corner for this blog!
by Ethan Edwards, chief instructional strategist
In many professional areas, it is usually a good strategy to look to common practices in the field as a guide — maybe not for the most cutting-edge ideas but at least for reliable models to follow. Unfortunately, in e-learning this can often be a recipe for disaster.
View & download the guide below for ten very common design practices, that, if followed, are a sure way to ruin your e-learning.
Download a copy of 10 Ways to Ruin Your e-Learning by Following Commonly-Held Practices
What else can you do to ruin your e-learning? Share your wisdom in the comments below!
by Cathy Moore, guest blogger, @CatMoore
We are delighted to have Cathy Moore as a guest blogger this week. She is an international thought leader dedicated to saving the world from boring instruction. She’s a passionate advocate for improving business performance by respecting and deeply challenging learners. Her advice and designs have been used by organizations that include Microsoft, Pfizer, the US Army, Barclays, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. She has 29 years of experience in helping people improve their performance.
"We just need everyone to be aware of the policy," your client says. "I've sent you the 97 slides that we use in the face-to-face training. Could you have it ready by next Monday?"
Which of the following should you do next?
- Clear your schedule and open your PowerPoint converter software.
- Ask the client some questions.
If you want to avoid creating a click-through information dump, you'll ask questions. The questions will be designed to:
- Uncover the client's business goal — discover how the project will measurably change the organization's performance.
- Identify what people need to do on the job with their "awareness" and why they aren't doing it.
This information will help you design realistic, challenging activities that help learners apply the policy in ways that will improve the organization's performance.
1. Uncover the goal
To find out how your project will improve the organization's performance, try asking questions like these:
- How do you know that people aren't already aware of the policy?
- How is that lack of awareness affecting the performance or earnings of the organization?
- What are you currently measuring that could be affected by awareness of the policy? (sales, lawsuits, etc.)
- How will that measure improve when everyone is aware of the policy?
For example, a client might say that they want to "increase awareness" of the information security policy. To the above questions, they might answer:
- "We know people aren't aware of the policy because we've had some leaks of confidential information about clients and employees."
- "I guess this affects our earnings as a business — it's expensive when someone sues us, and sales could go down if customers decide they can't trust us."
- "I think the information security guys can tell us how many leaks they've seen in the last year."
- "When everyone is aware of the policy, we should have fewer leaks."
Ideally, you and the client will identify a specific change and make that your goal, such as, "Reduce information leaks 30% by 2014." "Know" or "understand" don't fit here; we're looking for observable results.
By identifying a measurable change, you aren't claiming that your course will single-handedly achieve this change. You're saying that your materials will be designed to contribute in an observable way to the change, which very likely will have non-training components as well. And, importantly, you're breaking your client's likely obsession with information presentation and making them think instead about results.
2A. Uncover what they need to DO
Once you've gotten the client to identify a measurable goal, help them identify what people need to do to reach that goal. Enlist the help of a subject matter expert who's familiar with how people are currently doing their jobs.
You might try asking questions like these:
- What are people doing wrong now, or failing to do?
- What are the most common mistakes?
- What are the most egregious mistakes?
- What do people need to do instead of what they're doing now?
When you ask, "What do people need to do?" often the client will say, "They just need to follow the policy!" But to write meaningful activities, you need more specific job tasks, such as, "They need to encrypt every email that contains a client's name and account number." Help the client or SME get this specific and prioritize the tasks to identify the most common and serious mistakes.
2B. Figure out why they aren't doing it
While you're talking about specific tasks, it's a good idea to ask why people aren't doing that task or why they're doing it wrong. Is the problem really a lack of awareness?
You can ask your client or SME to consider how the four aspects shown in this matrix affect people's performance of the task.
For example, if people aren't encrypting documents that they should encrypt, is it because they aren't aware of the rule? This would put the problem in the "knowledge" quadrant.
Or are they skipping encryption because the process is cumbersome and often results in a bizarre error message, so people in a hurry decide it isn't important enough? This would make environment and motivation more important and could inspire improvements to the encryption software.
In my experience, very few performance problems are caused purely by lack of knowledge or skills. Training is rarely a complete solution. A more complete solution often includes process or software improvements, clearer direction from managers, more fulfilling rewards for good performance, or something as simple as a quick-reference job aid for information that doesn't need to be memorized.
By taking a couple of hours to ask these questions, you've gotten the information you need to design contextual, challenging activities that help learners practice applying what they're supposed to be "aware" of.
Now, instead of presenting the policy in a series of information screens, you can design contextual, challenging activities that require learners to make decisions and learn from the consequences. You'll be able to "test, then tell": you can first challenge the learners with a realistic decision like those they make on the job, and then you can use the consequences to reveal the necessary information.
You've also encouraged the client to focus on observable results, and you've gotten them thinking in terms of actions, not information. As a result, they'll be less likely to insist on an information dump. Your client will be eager to see (and needs to see!) quick prototypes of the activities so they understand how unlike a presentation your materials will be.
With these two steps, you're well on your way to designing activity-rich materials that could change real-world behavior. These steps are part of action mapping, a visual approach to instructional design that fits easily into the Savvy Start and SAM approaches. For more ideas like these, see Cathy's blog.
Ethan Edwards, chief instructional strategist
Some of you may be surprised to learn that I am a pie maker. In fact, for a few years I had a small home-based pie baking business. So it is not unexpected that I have strong opinions about pie. And here we are approaching Thanksgiving Day, the day when more people are eating pie, willingly or not, than any other day of the year.
There are many choices in one’s approach to pie. Buy a complete pie? Buy a crust and put in a commercial filling? Make your own filling? Make everything from scratch? There is no right answer for everyone or every situation, so it rather irritates me when “experts” say that it must be done one way. Neither is there any particular virtue in a homemade pie beyond the enjoyment that your family and friends take from eating it.
There’s an interesting parallel in how we go about creating e-learning for our organizations. And I think the decision stymies a lot of would-be e-learning professionals.
Pre-baked: The easiest path to pie and e-learning is to buy it off-the-shelf. Store bought pie usually has soggy, crumbly crust and bland, inoffensive filling—tuned to some unknown consumer’s tastes rather than to yours. It looks like a pie and you can claim you served pie without having over-exerted yourself. It’s a gamble, though. Sometimes what looks like an ok pie from the outside tastes so bad that it would have been better to have had none.
The same thing applies to e-learning. Off-the-shelf titles are quick and (sometimes) cheap. The problem is that they are generic, like bought pies, and have little useful specific substance. I fear that some companies providing off-the-shelf solutions care less about whether the lessons address performance issues and impact business than having an extensive catolog of titles to offer. And to be fair, just like gourmet pie shops, there are some content companies that can provide an excellent (and often expensive) off-the-shelf product. But you still may sacrifice your specific needs to what that company presents.
Buy the crust and filling: This takes just a litte time and effort but gives the impression that one is something of a baker. There are a range of crust options, but these days you can get a pretty decent crust from the dairy case. Usually the filling is not great, but it’s easily transferred from can to pie in a jiffy. And it works pretty much the same regardless of what kind of pie filling is purchased. The pie is hot and slightly customized and feels like one’s own.
In e-learning, a quick way to get started is to choose or create some generic shell or template for one’s lessons. Then, simply take existing content from PowerPoint presentations to fill the shell, pop in a few questions, and there you have your own e-learning. It’s a reliable process but usually provides the idea of a pie more than the magnificence of a pie.
Buy the crust and make your own filling: I bet that this is the way most pumpkin pies are made these days. The prepared crust gives a decent head start, but mixing the filling from scratch lets the baker make critical adjustments—cinnamon, ginger, and no nutmeg is my advice regardless what the recipe calls for—that will make the pie really match your tastes. It takes a little longer, but once attempted, people find enough value in the investment to not retreat to store bought.
This is also where I think most e-learning developers are headed. Some of the tools with mid-range capabilities allow considerable customization of what each learning experience might be, while maintaining a simplified shell or limited authoring options to make the process seem achievable. You’ll still find sacrifices made to instructional quality from time-to-time based on the assumption that it would be too time consuming to implement a full-blown solution. One hopes that this doesn’t happen too often, but as is true of each level, most students (and designers too, actually) don’t have enough experience to know how much better it could be.
Make everything from scratch: This strategy starts with whole ingredients and assembles the pie exactly as the baker wishes. While this is how the best pies I’ve ever eaten have been made, it also is how the worst pies I’ve ever eaten have been made. With greater possibility comes greater risk. But with a little experience, the risk almost disappears. This allows subtle differences in the shortening used (butter, Crisco, lard) to complement the flavor and texture of the filling. It encourages some experimentation that might otherwise be skipped. One can make very precise adjustments to the fillings and seasonings. Overall, it uniquely makes possible the dream of the perfect dessert to wrap up a meal.
Again, truly custom e-learning can create amazingly engaging and effective interactions. They may take a little more planning and some more sophisticated tools to pull off, but the end result can be exactly what is needed to truly address the specific performance needs of your organization. Once accustomed to the benefits of this kind of e-learning, it may be hard to justify when a completely store-bought pie might ever be appropriate.
What’s the point of this analogy, you might be thinking? Well here’s the insight that I was hoping to illustrate. Regardless of where a pie-consumer is on this spectum, they tend to stay there. That is, a pie buyer doesn’t suddenly start baking pies. When a pie buyer attempts that, the result is often a disaster and the conclusion is that pie baking is a mystery forever out of reach to a novice. But this isn’t the case at all. The real problem lies in the fact that good pie baking requires some skills and experience. The skills are not difficult and the experiences come naturally, but there is a learning process that must be mastered. If you’ve never made a pie before, it is easy to say that it is too difficult and will take too long. That’s only true at first. With experience and practice, from-scratch pie baking is nearly as quick as any other approach. Because of my experience, I can make a crust from scratch, roll it out, and have a lattice top in place in about 5 minutes from start to finish (with the right tools and ingredients; I use a glass rolling pin—I know it would take me at least twice as long if I had to use a wooden rolling pin). I’m not saying that to boast, but just to emphasize that practice is necessary to make us able to perform what initially seems insurmountable, quickly and accurately.
And so it is with e-learning. Designing great e-learning is not impossibly difficult. But it is impossible if attempted without the right tools and the discipline to systematically improve one’s skills and grow with experience. Too often I see “buyers” or “assemblers” of e-learning reject the possibility of creating really great e-learning simply because of the expectation that they do not immediately have the ability to build the ideal custom solution. It will only remain impossible if you never take the first step to expand your skills as a designer.
So I encourage you to be brave. Take the next step. Buy that crust; open that can of filling; cut up your own apples; measure out your flour. You’ll be surprised how far you can go if you keep your eyes open to the possible rather than being bound by what your organization has known in the past. I guarantee that you’ll have e-learning programs that delight and educate and entertain. And that is something that everyone will be truly thankful for.
Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.
Michael Allen, CEO here at Allen Interactions, participated in a live 45-minute eLearnChat interview with Rick Zanotti on his new ASTD book, Leaving ADDIE for SAM.
WATCH THE RECORDED EVENT:
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Leaving ADDIE for SAM: An Agile Model for Developing the Best Learning Experiences
The ADDIE process is past its prime.
It was developed long before Agile and other iterative processes that have introduced greater efficiencies in design and development, fostered more creativity, and addressed effective stakeholder involvement. Leaving ADDIE for SAM introduces two new concepts—SAM, the Successive Approximation Model, and the Savvy Start. Together, they incorporate contemporary design and development processes that simplify instructional design and development, yielding more energetic and effective learning experiences.
This book is a must-read for all learning professionals who have a desire to let go of outdated methodologies and start creating better, faster training products today.
by Richard Sites, vice president - client services
After a long week of traveling to client meetings for discussions on building new e-learning courses and revising old ones, I was glad to jump out of bed Saturday morning to head to the golf course. My Saturday morning routine is a nice comfort at the end of a long week filled with too many airplanes, conference rooms and security lines.
I’ve brought up my love of this sport before and the kookiness that often ensues. But this last Saturday morning was about as mundane of an outing as possible. Only a handful of the boys showed up this week. The smaller the group – much like dogs – the less likely there will be loud, boisterous behavior. But that doesn’t mean there were fewer stories about how bad someone’s swing is, or how pathetic their putting has been, or someone’s inability to hit a decent wedge shot. These are ever-present at all golf courses.
Just as customary is the whining about the ineffective parts of one’s golf game is the story about the new club they just bought to help solve this problem. This “buy a good game” mentality is standard protocol for most golfers. If you have ever seen Tin Cup, you’ll appreciate the lengths that a golfer will go through to improve their game.
The biggest problem, however, is that this does nothing to improve the problem – which is the golfer’s swing. It only bandages the problem for a little while. And when the newness of the latest game-improvement club wears off, there will be another trip to the golf store for a new one.
Because this was a rather quiet Saturday morning on the course, I couldn’t help but to let my mind wander a bit. And of course, it wandered back to work and the challenges that clients have with building and revising e-learning courses.
There are myriad reasons to initiate a new e-learning development project, from underperforming employees, to a new system launching, to updating content to match the changes over the past year (or more). There are just as many ways to deliver whatever instructional treatment we design.
But, there is only one real reason for building good instruction and that is helping learners perform better. (Or as we like to say here at Allen – To get the right people to do the right thing at the right time.)
Although it may seem logical to update old e-learning with new graphics and interface, or to build a better assessment at the end of the course, or add some animation to the course design, these are merely new clubs in the bag. What is most important is how we plan to fix our swing!
While I can attest to the improvement that a new driver gives – in terms of distance and accuracy – it is not enough to ensure that the errors of my swing don’t produce a giant slice out of bounds. Only by focusing on the reason why I tend to hit a lot of houses at my course will I be able to improve my performance. I don’t need a new club in the bag; I need good strategies and practice to improve my game.
In the same light, we cannot change e-learning – or build different e-learning – by implementing new graphics or treatments or post assessments, without focusing on the performance we hope to change. We should always strive to produce the best product for our learners, in terms of media, navigation, instructional treatments, etc. But these decisions should always be based on the need to better support the learner’s performance.
More often than not, an hour at the range focusing on your performance will do a whole lot more for your swing than a new driver. Trust me, I own three.