Thursday, August 9, 2012

Using Current Design Methodologies to Create New Ones

By Danielle Slatinsky

Lance Dublin, Chief Solutions Architect at Dublin Consulting, hosted a webinar on March 6th titled “A Whack on the Head: Re-thinking Learning Design.” Dublin encouraged listeners to create and reformat learning designs instead of only using existing modules. He is really interested in finding alternative solutions to solving problems.

Dublin started out the webinar by showing a picture of a bicycle with no spokes. He said how fascinated he was when he first saw this picture, because he never would have thought to create a picture like that. He emphasized how design is not a department in a building; rather, it is a behavior or attitude.

Studying various learning tools and taking what we like from them to form our own tools is a very creative process. Dublin asked the audience what a new model for learning design would look like, and he encouraged a thought process that is creative and combines multiple approaches.

He referenced current design methodologies such as ADDIE, HPT, BPR, Six Sigma, LEAN, and AGILE. He stated that while these are all excellent resources, we should be learning from them to make new methodologies instead of continuing to use the same ones.

Branching Out and Expanding Resources

Dublin focused on how many people try to utilize everything they know about how a problem started when trying to solve a problem. According to him, learning designers need to look into the future instead of the past for problem solving by examining learning and organization trends. Solutions should all be interrelated and expandable.

It can be helpful to seek inspiration from great innovators of the past. Dublin referenced Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Frank Llyod Wright, and Wayne Gretzky as good role models for how to create something new.

As technology expands, so does innovation and competition in the workplace. Everything is expected to be done at a greater speed and at a lower cost. Dublin explained this point further by saying that while all of these things increase, resources such as money, people, and time often decrease. Thankfully, wireless networks allow for resources to be used in an optimal manner. The entire world is networked together, making location irrelevant.

Current Methodologies and Possible Innovations

Dublin explained how these days it seems that just good enough is considered alright. Learning designers don't have enough time to provide superior performance, so they need to adapt to the ever-changing environment.

Next, Dublin briefly described the current design methodologies used for learning development. He started with ADDIE, which is a five phase instructional design model. As often discussed, this model is very generic, and there are multiple variations of it. Then he described Human Performance Technology (HPT), which strives to improve competence and productivity by using three processes: performance analysis, cause analysis, and intervention selection. Dublin asserted that this model has value and encourages thinking more holistically.

After that, Dublin mentioned Business Process Re-engineering (BPR), and he explained how this consists of an analysis of processes within a company. For example, an organization that follows this methodology would examine what is effective and ineffective for them, and then figure out how to get the organization where it needs to be.

Another design methodology Dublin brought up is Six Sigma; this is an approach that is data-driven with a goal of eliminating variability. It is a measurement-based design strategy that focuses on improving processes. While Six Sigma positively impacted multiple organizations, many companies switched to LEAN because it has the advantage of speed combined with good qualities from Six Sigma. Lastly, Dublin described how AGILE is a software development methodology that focuses on incremental and iterative development. AGILE is being increasingly adopted within the learning development community.

When Dublin finished explaining various design methodologies, he transitioned by saying that there are alternative methods other than ADDIE. He focused on the importance of new design and how learning designers should take what they like from each methodology to create their own.

Dublin then went on to explain his new learning design, which consists of eight points. Below is a brief description of his eight points:

  1. It is important to work from right to left. Begin by understanding the problem that needs to be solved, and then try to solve it.
  2. Defining metrics and success is essential. Examine how the organization will measure success, and keep the audience in mind.
  3. Speed is crucial, so be ready to move faster if needed.
  4. Make sure to understand what the audience wants.
  5. Gain knowledge of processes and develop learning processes.
  6. Create multimedia environments that enhance performance.
  7. Don't get too committed to one thing.
  8. Be a good people person. Add value to the product.

Dublin concluded the webinar by saying that his way is not the only right way. He encouraged listeners to create their own methodologies and branch out from the structures of the past in order to make the way for the future.

Which methodologies are you currently using or considering?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Utilizing Social Media to Improve Social Learning

By Danielle Slatinsky

In my last post, I listed the 5 benefits of the Web Clark Quinn identified for social learning in his “Best of mLearnCon: How Mobile Enables Social Learning” webinar. Today, we’ll look at the various social media platforms Quinn identified as being useful.

Advantages of Blogging

Quinn has his own blog,, and he explained how it has helped him and how it can help other people. Writing on a blog can help the writer think more clearly about their ideas. Sometimes it is very beneficial to put your ideas on paper, or in this case, online. Another benefit is that feedback can really help shape your ideas, similar to a response team.

Quinn provided an example about a CEO who blogged internally about how the executive team was striving to survive the recession in the economy. When the employees saw the effort of the executive team they were inspired by all that they were doing to save the company, and because of this they were more loyal to the company. Sharing can be very powerful.

Formally, blogging can be used for reflections on newly learned material. Employees can write about how the new material will change things going forward. It can be helpful to require a certain number of posts over a length of time. Informally, blogging can be used for leader reflections, product directions, and product advancements.

In addition to blogging, discussion forums can also be very beneficial for corporate learning and improvement.

Using Discussion Forums for Corporate Improvement

Discussion forums, such as LinkedIn, have been very helpful for many companies. Ford utilized a discussion forum to create discussion about a new car, and they used the feedback from customers to make improvements. Ace Hardware created an internal discussion forum for people to share knowledge and ask questions. This allowed for a stream of useful information for the employees.

Quinn talked about how discussion forums can be used formally to elaborate on concepts, post responses, provide ideas, or ask questions. They can be used informally to talk about issues, ask questions, have an ongoing discussion, or debate topics. Typically people give more thoughtful responses when they have time to sit and think about it instead of being put on the spot.

Another way to use social media is to create a wiki.

The Value of Wikis

Quinn provided the example of how Sun created a wiki for the development of Java to show the value of wikis. He said that the interaction with the market greatly improved the product. He also explained how Intel used wikis to create a glossary. They acquired many companies with different vocabularies. They were spending too much time defining terms, so they created the glossary as a solution. Employees could reference it as needed, and new employees could learn the terms through the wiki.

Formally, wikis can be used for collaboration, win and loss stories, or to improve course guides for learners. Informally, people can use wikis for white paper development, project documentation, policy/procedure development, or joint writing.

Quinn went on to discuss the ways that sharing media files can help a company.

Sharing Media Files

According to Quinn, Home Depot created several 'how to' videos for employees and customers. This led to people using their products with more ease. An engineering firm had multiple white papers that employees needed to read, but they could not find the time to do so. The company decided to turn the white papers into audio files and podcasts so the employees could listen to them while driving. These are just a couple examples of the benefits of media files.

Media files can be used formally for a sales pitch, to capture examples or best practices, or for dynamic captures. They can be used informally for communication or to share a problem.

Another aspect of social media Quinn emphasized is online profiles.

Online Profiles for Networking

Quinn explained how SAP set up an external network for their customers where they could get support or identify employees who were helpful to others. CAT used profiles for an internal network so they could create teams with similar skills.

Formally, online profiles can be used for social purposes, to friend others, to explain why you are taking a course, or to include something surprising. Informally, they can be used to describe what your interests are, what your expertise is, or to search for expertise.

Another way to gain and share knowledge is to subscribe to a blog.

Gain Knowledge by Subscribing to Blogs

Subscribing to other blogs is a great way to track what other people are thinking. Subscribing to blogs can be beneficial formally by tracking courses and instructors or tracking other learners. Reading about what your instructors find interesting may be advantageous while taking a course. It can be helpful informally by tracking experts, leaders, projects, or looking at diverse fields. It is important to keep up-to-date on information in your field, and it can also be good to see what is going on in other fields as well.

Using a microblog may also be helpful for companies.

How to Utilize a Microblog

An example of a great microblog is Twitter. Quinn used Twitter to help him with a job. He needed to be familiar with Oracle, so he tweeted to ask if anyone could give him information on Oracle Connect or Mix. A guy who wrote Oracle actually responded, and Clark was able to set up a phone call with him. He got all of his questions answered, and he was very prepared for his new job.

A microblog can be used for a knowledge check, clarifications, status updates, comments, quick questions or responses, and quick pointers. In many cases microblogs such as Twitter are very useful when used correctly.

Applying What You Learned to the Corporate World

Social media is integrated into the lives of nearly everybody. We cannot stop the signal, so we need to learn how to take advantage of it instead. We need to provide time for reflection and create an environment where it is safe to contribute. We should be collecting data and improving it. There are so many ways to utilize social media to enhance the learning environment.

Mobile devices are also a channel for existing needs, and they can be used in addition to social learning. A mobile device has context awareness, meaning that the device knows where it is and it has a camera that can capture images and videos. People can use this to connect with others near them, find someone with a special expertise, or do things specific to their location.

Quinn concluded his webinar by explaining ways we can annotate the world. He said to take action, have a village mentality, create a profile, join twitter, blog at least two to four times a week, follow blogs, contribute to discussions, post media files, and just be active. Find ways to use mobile devices to accomplish these tasks while out.

This cannot be done all at once, but you can slowly integrate social media into your corporation to fully utilize the benefits that technology has to offer.

Do you use social media in your corporation learning?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Quinn’s 5 Benefits of the Web for Social Learning

By Danielle Slatinsky

Clark Quinn, who has a PhD in Cognitive Psychology, held a webinar on May 23, 2012 titled “Best of mLearnCon: How Mobile Enables Social Learning.” He focused on the strong connection between learning and computers, and how technology offers the two converging factors of the social web and user-generated content.

This blog post highlights key points Quinn made during the webinar.

Quinn started out the webinar by saying how there are five types of things which give users the power of the web. These benefits are:
  1. Things are findable or searchable.
  2. Things are editable; we can modify and improve existing information.
  3. Things are linkable, and we can link to the ever-changing content instead of simply sharing the content.
  4. Things are tagable, so you can edit information around the content.
  5. Things are feedable or subscribable; users can choose what content they want to see.
Quinn went on to say how formal learning is declining, and it is considered novice. A mix of formal and informal learning is considered practitioner. And informal learning is rising and considered expert, because people need to collaborate with other people and share ideas.

The two main points of the webinar were eCommunity and Broader Distribution. Quinn focused on various forms of social media, and how they can be used to enhance social learning.

The Importance of Social Media

Quinn emphasized the benefits of utilizing social media, and it mainly boils down to this: the more people working on a product the better the outcome.

The power of social media is shown through the ability to update information after a problem is solved. When there is a breakdown in available information found on a topic, people need to have an avenue to find the desired information. At this point, people go into problem solving mode, and they search for information through data, models, people, etc. Once they solve the problem, they can reflect on the new information and update it online. They can edit existing information, or add new data they found while searching for the answer to their problem. After the information is updated, people that come across the same breakdown in information later will be able to solve their problem easily by using the updated resource.

In addition to sharing new and updated information, you can also use social media to improve an idea for a product. Once you have an idea, you need to go through a process before creating a product. Multiple people need to look at what you want to produce, and they can create a response team. Then you can integrate their responses into the creation of your product, and with the outside viewpoints the product will ideally be improved. This can be accomplished in a few ways; for example, a very effective one is blogging.

In my next post, I’ll outline social media platforms Quinn suggested using for learning such as blogs, forums, wikis, online profiles, and microblogs.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Preparing for Virtual Training

By Danielle Slatinsky

Cindy Huggett, author and online trainer, delivered a webinar titled “Virtual Training Implementations: Preparing for Success” on April 19, 2012. She mainly discussed ways to successfully utilize online training for corporate learning.

A challenge you may face in the workplace is how to switch to virtual classroom technology from traditional, in-person methods of training. The 2011 Training Industry Report showed that “76% of organizations report using virtual classroom technologies (up from 71% over previous year).” This shows a significant increase in the use of online training.

Before we go further into how to implement online training, it is important to understand the definition of virtual training. Cindy defines virtual training as an instructor-led, online class that includes participants from various locations. There are four types of online training: meetings, presentations, seminars, and training classes. Each type varies in the amount of interaction from participants and trainers.

Cindy described many “best practices” that will help make the transition into virtual learning smooth and effective.

Best Practices
  1. Define it. You need to make sure everyone is on the same page and understands the expectations for the online training. Explain what type of sessions will be held (meeting, presentation, seminar, or training class). Explain if it will be a casual learning environment where participants can eat lunch and e-mail, or if it will be a more structured learning environment where participants will be expected to interact and be responsive.
  2. Involve the right people. It is very important to get support and buy in early on. Figure out who needs to be involved: trainers/facilitators, IT department, designers, managers, participants, etc.
  3. Thoughtfully select facilitators. Be sure to prepare facilitators on the virtual delivery and platform. Facilitators will need adequate prep time. Consider what facilitators will need: headsets instead of speaker phones, correct technology, and possibly a co-facilitator. A co-facilitator is someone who can assist with technology and delivery.
  4. Consider scheduling. It is necessary to consider the schedules of participants. If the participants are in a different time zone, then arrangements need to be made to accommodate them. Virtual training is not necessarily on a typical 9-5 timetable.
  5. Create an appropriate learning environment. Find a good spot for effective learning. Maybe set up a room specifically for training where learners can focus. If participants need to be at their desk, then it is good to at least have them clear off their desk to reduce distractions.
In addition to her five best practices, Cindy also discussed three “must dos.”

Must Dos
  1. Prepare facilitators. Facilitators need a different skill set from classroom trainers. They need to be able to multi-task, engage with an unseen audience, and use technology. They also need to learn a virtual platform.
  2. Prepare participants. Before conducting online training, make sure the participants are ready to get the most out of the training. Check to see if they have an appropriate learning environment. Find out if they have the necessary technology. Ask if they will have any distractions that will keep them from focusing for extended periods of time.
  3. Get details right. Administrative work needs to be done before the virtual training begins. A process for logistics needs to be established in regards to how the participants will get handouts, who the communicator will be, whether or not there will be a discussion board, etc. It is also very imperative to send out correct connection information, including proper links, handouts, and session times.
Cindy also provided a few practical tips for the successful implementation of virtual training.

Practical Tips
  1. Check technology. Participants need to have the right technology in order to receive the online training. They need to know ahead of time if they will have to install software or obtain headsets.
  2. Have a kick-off session. You might find it beneficial to provide an overview of the training before it begins. Include a welcome message from leadership. Teach learners how to participate in an online environment. Give them an opportunity to experience what it is like to use a virtual platform.
  3. Conduct technology checks. Test the audio to make sure the participants will be able to hear the training.
  4. Involve the participants' managers. A participant should not have to worry about their boss thinking they are playing online games instead of working. It might also be helpful if the manager tries not to disturb the participant during the training so they can focus on learning.
  5. Have backup plans. As everybody has experienced at one time or another: technology fails. Make sure to have a plan in place so that if the technology does fail, the training does not have to stop.
As the major shift from traditional classroom training to virtual training continues, these best practices, must dos, and practical tips that Cindy provided will prove very helpful.

Do you already use these methods when planning your own virtual training sessions?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ways to Improve the Effectiveness of eLearning

By Danielle Slatinsky

Training Magazine Network hosted a webinar on April 10, 2012 titled “Making eLearning Stick.” Dr. Barbara Carnes, author and CEO of Carnes & Associates, Inc., was the main speaker, and more information about her work is available here.

Dr. Carnes mainly discussed the reasons why information learned through eLearning is not typically retained, and she also provided ways to make sure that eLearning sticks in participants' minds.

Common Frustrations with eLearning

Dr. Carnes started the webinar by explaining that many people are frustrated with training programs because the completion rates for eLearning and webinars is very low. Developers spend a substantial amount of time creating training programs that are designed to be meaningful, and people are not applying what they learn to their jobs.

Scrap learning is a term Dr. Carnes used to describe learning that is not applied in the workplace. The key to avoiding scrap learning is in the training transfer, according to Dr. Carnes. Training transfer means that the knowledge and skills gained in training are transferred, or applied, to the job.

What Contributes to Effective Learning?

Based on Dr. Carnes' research, there are three components that contribute to the effectiveness of eLearning: pre-work, learning event, and follow-up. Pre-work, such as a questionnaire or survey, contributes about 25% to learning effectiveness. The learning event, or eLearning training course, also contributes about 25%. Follow-up actually contributes the most; it impacts the effectiveness of training by roughly 50%, which is twice the amount of pre-work and the learning event. Ironically, follow-up is usually the least implemented event.

In Dr. Carnes' presentation she listed a variety of learning content and activities: active participation, relevant content, learning goals, behavior modeling, self-management strategies, strategy link, and error-based examples. She specifically focused on error-based examples and strategy link. Error-based examples are not commonly used, and she said that they lead to higher levels of training transfer when they are coupled with good examples. Strategy link consists of linking core content to teaching objectives, mission goals, or the business strategy. This helps participants see the larger scope and relevance of the training.

Methods for Knowledge Retention

Dr. Carnes listed many T.I.E.s, or Techniques to Integrate Education. These techniques should be used before, during, and after learning, regardless of the content. They can be used for new or existing training presentations, and they increase the training transfer.

For example, a pre-training briefing is beneficial to provide expectations and encourage a positive attitude about the training purpose. Dr. Carnes suggested sending out an e-mail from the boss before training, which should include what they will learn, how they will apply it to the job, and what could happen if they do not learn the material.

There are a multitude of methods that can be used during the training to improve retention. Studies have shown that it helps if participants are asked to close their e-mail or other applications while learning because distractions increase the time it takes to learn. Pop-up reflections containing self-regulation questions are also advantageous. A pop-up reflection asks the participants rhetorical questions to get them to think about what they are learning, such as “Do I understand the key points in the training material?” or “Are the study strategies I'm using helping me remember the content?”

Another method that can be effective is threaded discussions. Dr. Carnes mentioned that interaction leads to better outcomes. It is important to use open-ended questions in threaded discussions, and it is also helpful to require a certain amount of responses. These threads allow the participants to process the material and think critically about the content. When you take this approach, you will need someone to monitor and track the dialogues.

At the end of training, summarize the material and have participants reflect on ways they can apply it. Dr. Carnes discussed the method of asking learners to write a note to themselves about what they learned and how they intend to apply it to their work. She also brought up the idea of using a training transfer certificate instead of a certificate of completion. With this tactic participants do not get credit for the course until they answer a questionnaire or survey three to six weeks after the training.

The common theme of these retention methods is increased, relevant interactivity.

Relapse Prevention

Dr. Carnes concluded the webinar by talking about relapse prevention, which should take place at the end of training. Methods such as conducting a specific and structured group discussion will help avoid loss of knowledge gained. These discussions can include topics about the benefits of using the training, the possible obstacles with applying the training, and ways to overcome those obstacles. This process is similar to what rehab facilities use before they release patients.

By applying these methods to eLearning before, during, and after the learning process, it will be much more likely that participants retain the training and apply it in the workplace.

Do you already use any of these methods for eLearning?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

How to Make Learning Content Lively and Interactive with Video

 By Danielle Slatinsky

Kirstin Lynde, Director of Learning and Development at Randstad, and Michael Kolowich, Founder of Knowledge Vision, gave a webinar on March 22 titled “Liven up! How to Bring Your Online, On-Demand Training Content to Life with Video.” The webinar addressed how to effectively transfer learning content to an interactive video format.

Keeping Up With Technology and Lowering Cost

Kirstin began the presentation by explaining how important it is to avoid “death by PowerPoint” and make learning videos accessible and lively. She explained how imperative it is to have training tools that let the trainer's personality shine; the on-demand training content needs to have life and energy. She also mentioned that virtual notes and handouts can supplement a training video presentation.

Michael added to what Kirstin discussed by talking about how online learning is becoming necessary for most organizations. He explained how airline tickets are typically the most expensive items that companies buy. Purchasing tickets for experts and new employees to travel becomes very costly.

In an age where nearly every person is familiar with YouTube and Netflix, most people are comfortable learning through videos and technology. Michael believes that online video presentations are the most effective tool for corporate learning, and he also mentioned that footnotes and activities can be incorporated into the videos for additional material and interaction.

Corporate Goals and Content Breakdown

When Michael completed his portion of the presentation, Kirsten started speaking about what she does at Randstad, which is a global provider of HR services. She discussed how there are two main corporate goals: to create programs that have relevant, transferable content and to deliver presentations that have customized content in a cost-efficient manner.

Kirstin reiterated how necessary it is for corporations to utilize online training. She compared old styles of training to a broken record. Experts trained people once or twice a week, and they simply reviewed the same content each time. Some challenges that arose with the old form of corporate learning were limited time of experts, geography, and varying learner timetables. She explained how it is much more time and cost effective to download this information and share it with a wide audience.

Kirstin went on to discuss how to approach transferring this information into video content. The solution is simple: break the learning into two parts. A lecture section can be used to present information and get the main points across. Then there should be a processing portion in which there is an opportunity for discussion, questions and answers, and practical applications. The second portion allows for interaction without needing to be face to face.

Personality Goes a Long Way

Michael followed Kirstin's portion by discussing the importance of personable trainers. He said that it is very helpful to have a real audience in the room; it makes the speaker more comfortable to have a live audience. A script can be restrictive and lead to a very dry presentation, so Michael suggested to have trainers speak normally without much of a script, similar to how they would have in a traditional classroom session.

Effective Methods to Create and Market Corporate Learning Videos

The presenters emphasized the importance of a good quality of video for online training. Plain video, such as what is posted on YouTube, is not effective for this purpose. An enhanced online video presentation needs to have high quality streaming video; this means that the user can skip around as they wish and start from any place they skip to.

According to the speakers, for a video to be marketable and user friendly it should include PowerPoint, images, live web pages, and animations. Progress tracking is also very important because people like to know where they are at in the presentation. It is also helpful to allow the viewer to zoom in on slides.

After the presentation is completed it is important to know how to get it to companies in an efficient manner. According to the presenters, most presentations are uploaded into Cloud based storage after they are created, and then they are embedded on web pages. This allows the presentations to be viewed from anywhere.

Kirstin concluded the webinar by explaining how to sell the concept of online training videos to organizations. She said that it is most beneficial to explain how cost efficient this method of learning is. The cost of airplane tickets is removed, and experts avoid delivering the same content repeatedly. She said that this approach will usually convince companies to switch to online training videos.

Overall, Michael and Kirstin did a great job conveying how to bring training content to life with online videos. Have you implemented online training videos at your company?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

UGA Graduates Discuss Corporate Learning Paths

 By Danielle Slatinsky

Four graduates from the University of Georgia's Instructional Technology Master's Program discussed how their degrees have benefited them in their careers at the March 6th meeting of ASTD Atlanta’s Technology-Based Learning SIG. 

Each of the four panelists shared valuable and applicable information.

The Learning Organization at Home Depot

The first two panelists, Mike Law and Jenn Lortz, are employees at Home Depot. Mike was the first to present, and he provided information about how his team has been using e-learning for the 15 years he has worked for the company. Employees of Home Depot need to have immense product knowledge to help their customers with projects. To meet this need, the company spent over $14 million on learning just last year.

Mike explained how Home Depot centralizes learning by having 9 room locations where employees can access a variety of webinars taught be master trainers. To cater to the more fast-paced generation, training modules are limited to 10 to 15 minutes each instead of 1 to 2 hours; that way employees can learn in intervals. Experienced employees are given the option to pre-test out of the modules if they already know the material.

There are three major field support teams at Home Depot: solutions, design, and execution. The solution group does a needs assessment, and then the design group that Mike works with fulfills the request for needs. Finally the execution group figures out how to roll out the program. Mike concluded by saying that their motto is “Teach Me, Show Me, Let Me Try.”

After Mike, Jenn continued with the presentation about learning at Home Depot. Jenn’s team is working on transferring 18,000 pages of learning into applicable e-learning modules. They are trying to generalize topics by creating tool categories as opposed to having a separate module for each of the thousands of tools Home Depot carries. Home Depot also creates modules for employees to learn how to determine the right tool for projects, as well as how to operate the tool properly and safely.

Jenn went on to explain that the master's program she attended at UGA had a studio model that she still uses today. This studio model showed her how to learn a tool, practice with the tool, and then create with the tool. This applies to the creation of Home Depot e-learning modules because they have employees learn the tool in the module and they include simulations and animations. Then they let employees role play with face-to-face interactions to help them apply what they learned.

Interactive Learning at AT&T

Ben Rockwood, Associate Director of Training Design at AT&T, gave a fascinating presentation on “Easter eggs,” 3D simulation learning environments, and paperless courses on iPads. He explained that Easter eggs are hidden keys that program designers can put into their presentations. He showed some examples of fun designs that his team hid in their projects. These hidden keys can also be used by the designer to make the editing process easier. For example, a hidden key can display a menu that would take the user to any slide in the presentation.

After demonstrating the hunt for Easter eggs, Ben went on to discuss how AT&T is currently developing 3D simulations to use as assessments. He previewed the 3D simulation and showed how it allows the user to go through the motions of assisting a customer in an AT&T store. This form of assessment provides new employees with an opportunity to apply their newly learned skills using practical application as opposed to a paper test. Questions appear throughout the simulation to test the knowledge of the user, and then a score is calculated at the end. Ben explained that this form of assessment is going to be used in stores within the next month.

Ben went on to talk about how his team just launched a completely paperless training course. Participants in the course use iPads to follow along instead of using spiral bound notebooks. He commented on how instructors and learners alike enjoy this new form of learning. Ben concluded by saying that it is important for corporate training designers to first figure out what they want to do and then find a way to use technology to effectively accomplish their goals.

Managing Learning at ICF International

Jessica Wals is a Sr. Instructional Designer at ICF International, where she completes various projects for federal clients. She started out by saying that her main goals for this presentation were to cast a critical lens on managing and to evaluate learning.

The main portion of Jessica's presentation was devoted to describing the ADDIE model she learned at UGA and how she applies it in her line of work.

A stands for Assessment (instead of the traditional Analysis for ADDIE); in this case assessment means that the designer needs to assess the main goals of the project and what participants should learn from the presentation.

D is for Design, and this implies that a design team has to figure out what methods they will use to design the presentation.

D is Development; the development stage consists of actually making the training offering with whatever mode was decided upon in the design phase.

I represents Implementation, which is the part of the process where the team introduces the training to the participants.

E is for Evaluation; this stage is very important because it evaluates the effectiveness of the training.

Jessica spent more time on evaluation than on the other four. She described various types of evaluation that can be utilized: reaction, departmental meetings, online surveys, focus groups, and analytics. This phase is very essential because it is important to know if the training course had a positive impact on participants. Jessica explained that much of what she does at ICF International is informal evaluation. She gathers data from co-workers casually talking amongst each other or from small meetings. She stated that she wants to begin to apply more formal evaluation tactics to get better feedback from participants.


The takeaway from these presentations was very beneficial. The presenters did an amazing job of discussing multiple aspects of corporate learning. They gave an inside look into what they do on a daily basis and provided the audience with enriching tips on how to improve corporate learning.

Do you use any of these methods and tools for corporate learning?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mobile Learning in a Consumer Driven Market

By Danielle Slatinsky

Stacey Harris, VP of Research for Brandon Hall Group, and Mark Hellinger, President and CEO of Xyleme, led a webinar called “Let's Get Mobile: Changing Your Concept of Mobile Content Design and Delivery” on February 21, 2012. Brandon Hall Group, a research based analyst and advisory firm, hosted the webinar.

Mark and Stacey started out the presentation by explaining that many people struggle with getting Mobile Learning, or m-Learning, set up. Creating a Mobile Learning environment is a big process that consists of more than simply transferring e-Learning content over to mobile devices.

Stacey commented on how m-Learning has been a major topic of discussion since 2002, and the use of m-Learning is pretty low considering that it has been talked about at conferences for about 10 years. She stated that m-Learning is not only an issue of technology, but it correlates with the changes taking place in the economy. There has been a shift in how people view learning and what their expectations are.

According to Stacey, a shift is taking place as we move from the Information Age to a Social or Communication Age. Mark and Stacey continued the presentation by showing how people need to shift learning formats in this Social or Communication Age.

Transitioning to m-Learning

Many changes need to be made in the way learning programs are developed. Mark stated that a very fundamental shift needs to take place in organizations as they make extreme changes. Content development needs to move away from large annual courses to agile quarterly courses.

Some difficulties arise when organizations switch over to m-Learning. Mark explained how it can be hard to implement m-Learning because the tools that were used for e-Learning are not easy to transfer to mobile and multiple delivery options. Mark said that this change is inevitable though because learners need to access the content they need in a format they want.

Learner requirements need different design considerations. Stacey explained how consumers are currently looking for easy to use and intuitive learning environments. Mark supported this by saying how the focus has shifted from what is easy for the content creator to what is easy for consumers. Currently, social learning on mobile devices is what is easy for consumers.

Social Learning on Mobile Devices

Learning has morphed from classroom to e-Learning and now to m-Learning. Mark commented on how learning is now focused around m-Learning and social networking. People need to be connected to a community that can help them learn, and mobile and social learning are converging together to accomplish this.

Stacey explained how learning is now relationship centered, as opposed to teaching or learner centered, and that this style of learning focuses on relationships, people, work, and content. Social learning is larger than individual learning: it is made effective by the act of learning in a group and forming relationships.

Social learning needs to connect with social living, or social environment. People desire to interact in social learning in the same way they interact in social living, which can consist of Facebook, Twitter, etc. Stacey showed how social living mostly takes place in a mobile environment.

Stacey and Mark continued the presentation by discussing tablets and smartphones. Stacey commented on how there is a huge interest in tablets, especially since the Kindle Fire came out. Mark explained how tablets are excellent learning devices, and smartphones are great performance support devices. M-Learning offers the ability to serve different audiences for a variety of purposes. Mark reiterated the importance of building content that can reach different audiences because simply building content is not enough.

Stacey concluded the presentation by explaining how imperative it is to meet consumer driven expectations. M-Learning needs to be optimal not only in content but also in screen resolutions, touch screen, audio, etc. An understanding of tools and applications is very important in addition to content strategy. One of the most important aspects to remember when designing m-Learning is that in this new market people want to be a part of the dialogue and a community of learners.

Have you started to switch from e-Learning to m-Learning in your organization?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Atlanta eLearning & Coffee, March 28, 2012

Several Atlanta eLearning professionals are gathering March 28th at 4pm for an informal eLearning & coffee meet-up to discuss mobile learning development techniques,
The meet-up's overall topic will be "what are you doing for mobile?" Each of us is approaching mobile development a little differently, so the idea is to share from our experiences.
We will meet at Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee, Walton Coffee House, 6640 Akers Mill Road SE Atlanta, GA 30339. If you are not familiar with the coffee shop, it's in the back of an apartment complex, but with a scenic view overlooking the Chattahoochee River (across from Ray's).
Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Strategic Learning Plans for Innovative Companies

By Danielle Slatinsky

Allen Krom from ACD Learning Solutions led a very informative webinar March 1st on strategic learning plans titled “Developing a Strategic Learning Plan for Small and Medium sized Business.” He described how strategic learning plans are the difference between having a planned strategy and simply coming up with ideas that are never implemented. The strategic learning plan is the link between ideas and business goals.

In today's economy, learning becomes secondary because learning budgets are frequently cut. Learning plans take a certain amount of trial and error as well as exploration. Krom compared strategic learning plans to Thomas Edison's attitude towards inventing the light bulb. Edison did not see his thousands of failed attempts at inventing the light bulb as a waste of time; rather, he said the he discovered thousands of ways not to invent the light bulb. Effectively applying this attitude to strategic learning plans requires an open mind and willingness to modify plans as needed.

Krom described that there are two types of learning plans: formal and informal. Most learning takes place informally, typically between co-workers and peers. Learning does not necessarily always take place in a classroom; co-workers often share knowledge between each other and ask questions as they come up. Krom compared strategic learning programs to an iceberg. Only a small fraction of an iceberg appears on the surface, and the majority of it is under water. The majority of learning happens under the surface as opposed to in the open.

Krom continued on to describe the main components that make up effective strategic learning plans.

The Four Main Topics for Effective Learning Plans

According to Krom, there are four general topics that are the most important when it comes to strategic learning plans. The first one is alignment, which means that the learning plan lines up with the goals of the company. For a learning plan to be successful, it needs to have a projected goal that aligns with what the company desires to accomplish. The second topic is awareness; the team members need to know where this learning plan should take the company. This third point is adaptation, which involves getting everyone in the business involved in the development of that plan and in agreement about the direction it needs to take. The final topic is accountability; every team member needs to be accountable for certain tasks and responsibilities for the learning plan to be effective.

To provide more depth on the topic, Krom mentioned how the people who create strategic learning plans are similar to reporters in the sense that they need to ask a series of questions and evaluate the answers to create their plan.

Investigative Planners

Krom explained how strategic learning planners need to ask the questions: who, what, when, where, how, and why? They need to figure out what the importance of advancing the knowledge of team members is. The targeted audience for learning is very important to consider, and the return on the investment is another factor. The team members also need to consider whether the learning is for an independent pursuit of knowledge or mandatory for every member of the company. In addition, planners need to decide if the learning will take place online or in a classroom setting.

Krom suggested a separate room for learning apart from the workplace where employees can partake in online learning or read books on the topic. He explained that some people find work a scary or tense environment, especially if they work in cubicles, and learning is more effective in a relaxed environment. He also pointed out that there is a smaller amount of time devoted to learning these days. People do not typically attend long seminars; rather, they take in information as quickly as possible through technology that is easily accessible.

After a strategic learning plan is created, it needs to be implemented in the workplace.


Once a learning plan is established, Krom said that the end results of the plan should be considered. The company needs to decide where they want to be in the future. Learning plans can either be short-term or long-term, and the length should be decided by the team members. The creators of the learning plan should get a group together and present the plan. They need to prove the importance of the plan to executives and stakeholders. The budget and specific goals need to be established for the plan to have clear direction. Krom emphasized how imperative it is for executives, middle-management, and employees to buy into the strategic learning plan in order for it to be effective.

Krom's next point was that there needs to be follow-up after the learning plan is implemented in order for it to mold to the changing needs of the company.

Follow-up is the Key

The main goal of a strategic learning plan is to improve job performance. Krom used the Kirkpatrick Model to discuss the follow-up process. This process consists of four steps: reaction, learning, behavior, and results. Reaction is how the participants feel about the learning experience. Learning is the increased knowledge that results from the training. Behavior is the application of the acquired knowledge to the job. Results of the training can be assessed by performance or revenue. Krom stressed the importance of using the feedback to change the learning plan in order to help the employees and company in the best way possible.

Has your company developed and implemented a strategic learning plan?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Social Learning in the Corporate World

By Danielle Slatinsky

Karen O'Leonard, a principal Bersin & Associates analyst, recently wrote an interesting article titled “Investments in Social Learning.” This article discusses how corporate learning is becoming social, employee-driven, and collaborative. According to O'Leonard, an effective learning environment should incorporate collaborative problem solving. Basic content is not enough to produce fruitful employees, and that is why corporations need to provide context for the content in an interactive manner.

Here are some other points she made.

The Need for Mixed Learning Environments

Learning organizations are finding that they need to create new learning environments with a mixture of formal and informal learning instead of simply redesigning programs they already use. Formal learning entails instructor led learning, testing, e-learning, simulations, and other more traditional forms of instruction. Informal learning can be broken up into three categories: on-demand (search, books, articles, podcasts, etc.), embedded (performance support, rotational assignments, after action reviews, etc.), and social (wikis, blogs, social networks, expert directories, etc.).

Examples of Informal Social Learning

In the article, O'Leonard mainly focuses on the social category of informal learning and gave three primary examples: communities of practice, blogs/wikis/discussion forums, and expertise directories.

Communities of practice are a very popular tool for social learning. They allow learners to share ideas and interact with others about a specific topic of common interest. The goal of this interaction is to provide learners with a way to further their knowledge on a subject and build relationships with
members of the group. O’Leonard cited Cisco, a company that has developed and implemented hundreds of these communities to supply support information to their employees.

Blogs, wikis, and discussion forums can also be very effective tools for social learning. Blogs are typically used to share information with a large audience; for example, Symantec created a blog right before launching a new product and this allowed employees to gain a basic understanding of the product before receiving formal training. Wikis are also used to share information, but wikis are created and modified by a group as opposed to an individual. And online discussion forums provide an outlet for employees to discuss specific topics, similar to communities of practice.

Expertise directories are another form of social learning that are an extension of corporate contact directories. These directories provide a searchable database of employees and their areas of expertise. This allows employees to find people in the database that can inform them about a specific subject. Employees are able to send an email or start a discussion about a question, and then the directory sends the question to experts on the topic.

New Vision of Social Learning

O'Leonard writes about how The Cheesecake Factory is successfully using social learning to improve their corporate training in regards to employee performance and engagement. Before The Cheesecake Factory implemented this new social learning, employees were learning content through volumes of paper-based checklists and workbooks.

Now, a new video-based and YouTube inspired platform called “VideoCafe” allows employees to access short videos about an array of work and social topics, such as an executive chef depicting the flavor and origins of a signature dish. Core vignettes supplement the videos, and employees receive attached knowledge checks.

The response to this new style of video-based learning has been encouraging and extremely positive. After a recent addition of new menu items, employees of The Cheesecake Factory commented on how the videos really helped them connect to the content they were learning as well as to their leadership team. They reported that they were able to master skills much more quickly and effectively than they would have by reading and studying a workbook.

The Growing Amount of Money Spent on Informal Learning

O'Leonard concludes her article by commenting on how a growing number of corporations are spending money on tools for informal learning. This new era of learning environments is leading the way for social learning in the corporate world.

Has your organization put any of these into action?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

TAG's Workplace Learning Society Crowdsources User Generated Content

By Clay Duda

One of this past year's topics for TAG’s Workplace Learning Society (WLS) was to tackle one of the “sacred cows” of the training industry: user generated content.

The WLS group has been focusing on emerging technologies and how they impact workplace learning. Last April, they took a look at mobile technologies and mlearning with an interesting glimpse at the possibilities of augmented reality and other advances.

Then in May, WLS Chair Paul Terlemezian led a thought provoking discussion that had industry leaders reconsidering their own methods of training. Keeping with the title of the session, Terlemezian divided the room into small 4-5 person teams to discuss what exactly user generated content was and how it fit into the various niches within the training industry.

Global Knowledge Territory Account Manager Ed Flynn had a hard time seeing how this new model of learning and feedback could easily fit into the structured training environment he is accustomed to, but nearly everybody agreed on the benefit of such content.

The big picture, Terlemezian explained, involved a shift within the industry far greater than just user generated content. The Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation are being challenged by Mosher and Gottfredson’s five moments of need.

“We think it’s a much better model,” Terlemezian said, referring to Mosher and Gottfredson’s model.

The session led to the rethinking of some old truths and hopefully to the priming of the next workplace learning innovation. A fair amount of user generated content already exists in the training industry, but its full potential seems to be just out of reach.

What if we got to the point where user actions could generate content unobtrusively, Terlemezian asks? What if you knew how well that lawn mower you sold is performing without having to ask? What if you could anticipate a customer's question before they asked? What if people could decide what, when and how they want to learn something new – and do it?

In a lot of ways the Kirkpatrick model stills holds true, but the training industry is witnessing changes in more ways than one.