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My Learning Resolutions for 2013

Angel Greenby , senior instructional strategist, @LearnerAdvocate

I have to admit, I am a bit of a New Year's Resolutions junkie. I suppose it makes sense, being in the business of performance change, that I seek continual improvement of myself. Not only do I make personal resolutions, but I also make work resolutions.

Each year when I make my resolutions, I take a look back at the previous year. If given the opportunity, what do I wish I would have done differently? An important part of resolution making is staying focused on performance change and not regret. This allows you to assign actions to drive changes. So, here are my Learning Resolutions for 2013...

Resolution 1: Be a stronger advocate for learners

I mean really stand up for the learners. This means that with each decision I make, I need to think of how this will be received by the learner. Sure, with a great team of subject matter experts, we can create some great interactions, but will they resonate with the learners? Dr. Allen says it best – to create great learning, the activities must be Meaningful, Memorable and Motivational – for the learners.

For each of my projects, I resolve to better understand the learner. I will request to go on the side of the road with them, walk into the warehouse, listen as they answer calls, or watch as they interact with customers. Access to learners is key to successful learning. I will ask them questions about their struggles, successes, and the pressures of their job. After all, it is their training!

Resolution 2: Use less words

One of Allen Interactions’ most successful courses has so little text, the content grid is only a few pages - for the entire course! This year, I resolve to find ways to use images, animations and interactions to provide content I would have otherwise written in e-learning courses. For instructor-led training, I will be less prescriptive in the words to say to the learners, and provide suggestions rather than scripts. After all, what instructor stands there and reads a facilitator guide word-for-word...and if they do, who would want to be a learner in that class?!?

When I do need to have words – either from pressure of compliance or subject matter experts – can I find an alternate way to deliver the words? Is a PDF document better suited for reading the legally required information? Can I create a case study to read first and then build interactions based on the case study?

Resolution 3: Stay focused on the goal

Learning ResolutionsFor 2013, I resolve to work with my clients to better understand that the quest for perfection is not beneficial to the project or the leaner. I am not referring to spelling, grammar, and functionality – these things need to be perfect. What I mean by losing site of the goal is the quest for arbitrary perfection.

Do you find yourself switching the specific color of a word three times, swapping images ten times based on requests to have the subject looking directly at the camera, in a white shirt not blue, with a pen in

the hand not on the desk, with three widgets in the background not four? This type of change is not an iteration, but rather a revision that can run a project into the ground.

This resolution also ties back to resolution number 1 – advocating for the learner. Will the learner notice the pen in the hand rather than on the desk? That the color of the text is a pretty purple instead of a graceful green? Iterations need to focus on the learner – will the change(s) make for a better learner experience? Is this the most effective use of project resources? If you asked a learner, or their leaders, would they rather wait until the image was the "right one" in the mind of a subject matter expert, or have access to the training now?

Resolution 4: Push the envelope

After being in the industry for a long time, it is easy to go with what you know, to play it safe. In 2013, I resolve to push the design envelope even further. I will look for inspiration in mobile apps, websites, my kids’ video games, YouTube videos, social media sites, infographics – really, anywhere I look. I love courses that don't look like courses, graphics that tell a story, interactions that are unique and new, exciting, and engaging. It takes effort to avoid falling back on the tried and true. It's too easy to be complacent.

I look forward to 2013 and am grateful the Mayans just got tired of making their calendar. I plan on incorporating these learning resolutions into my existing projects and certainly into the new. And, like all goals, when they are written and shared, you are more accountable to them. So, what about you? What are your learning resolutions for 2013?