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Enhancing Learning Experiences

At a recent L&D Meetup, we were talking to each other about what we’d been working on since we last caught up. A couple of friends were discussing changes to the Privacy Act and the e-learning courses that have been developed to communicate these changes to the employees in their respective workforces.

The industries I’m talking about here are finance and insurance so I’ve no doubt each of the Legal Departments have been frantically enforcing the necessary amendments to the systems/policies/procedures across each organisation. It also sounded like the e-learning modules contain everything there is to know about the privacy legislation! They were saying that there hadn’t been too much direct focus on privacy for a while but these changes had breathed some life back into the area and now it was more urgent to make people ‘aware’.

I was reflecting on this on the weekend (actually, I was vacuuming my place at the time and I was thinking about the night before) and I know these legislative/compliance type topics are generally quite dry – although it’s no excuse to blame your content  – and normally compliance means that employees will be ‘forced’ to complete the learning. So, we’re already on the back-foot because most employees won’t really want to do it to begin with. This highlighted to me two important and often neglected areas of learning design – motivating people and sustaining the learning afterwards.

Motivation

Motivation

I’ve written a couple of posts about motivation and Ryan and Dec’s self-determination theory (SDT) of motivation before. At this point feel free to do one or more of the following:

  1. Click here and here to read the previous posts.
  2. Keep reading this post for a summarised version of the previous posts and some strategies for improving motivation in e-learning.
  3. Scroll down to the Sustaining the Learning section.

Essentially, the SDT focuses on the degree in which behaviour is self-motivated and self-determined. We all have three basic psychological needs:

  • Autonomy (a sense of being in control and having freedom)
  • Competence (a sense of being able to do something), and
  • Relatedness (a desire to be associated or connected to others).

Contexts that satisfy these needs will result in more sustained motivation over time. If we apply this theory to e-learning and we use strategies to support these needs in the design of the course, we can improve learner motivation even if they are required to complete a course by their organisation.

How can this be achieved in practice?

Here are five examples, with some practical applications that I came up with:

1. Give people some control as they work through the module or course.

  • Let them choose how they navigate through the course
  • Give the option to skip parts that they already know
  • Provide opportunities to explore different parts of the course.

2. Allow people to make meaningful choices and pursue challenging goals

  • Use branching scenarios that have consequences for decisions made
  • Increase the difficulty of challenges as the person works through a topic
  • Offer rewards based on challenges completed rather than screens visited.

3. Provide opportunities for collaboration between learners

  • Get people working together on tasks/activities that help develop competence
  • Provide topic discussion areas and space to share resources or to ask questions.

4. Keep the stakes low and allow practice

  • Provide multiple opportunities to apply the material they are learning to context specific situations
  • Give them time to repeat practice activities until they succeed
  • Provide tools and aids that can be used during the course and then back on the job.

5. Provide regular, meaningful feedback throughout the learning experience

  • Let people know how they are going and where they are up to

Motivation is important in any learning experience. If we can help satisfy the psychological needs of our people, we can improve their motivation towards the course they are completing even if they have to complete it.

Sustain

Sustaining the Learning

Often when we complete an e-learning course (or classroom course, for that matter) it’s confined to a defined period of time. There may be a build up to the course but then once learners complete it, and are deemed ‘competent’ it’s back to work. Move on. They’ve been trained. The box has been ticked.

Sustaining the learning after an event, be it online or classroom, presents a real opportunity for us in L&D. All too often, in my experience, after people complete a learning event they go back to work and it’s business as usual. Surely we can do more to sustain what has been delivered and bring about some meaningful change? If we just do things once in a course, it will be forgotten if the information is not reinforced.

Last year, I read some interesting blog posts by Craig Taylor who implemented a campaign approach to compliance training in an organisation he worked for. I thought this was a wonderful idea so I floated doing something similar with our compliance program to our risk and compliance officer. It hasn’t been done before in my organisation and the good news is that I’m getting support from others and things are building (I’ll write a dedicated post about it in the next month or so).

Using social tools and creating opportunities for networking and sharing knowledge are other powerful ways that can sustain learning over the longer term. Maybe if we did this, we wouldn’t need so many courses?

How do you motivate your people towards learning and sustain it afterwards in your organisation?

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Ultimate Personalisation

A few weeks ago, I read a blog post by Andrew Jacobs called Turn and Face the Strain. It was about the lack of ability of L&D to be innovative and provided some reasons that hold us back from doing things differently – from being disruptive. It’s definitely worth a read.

After I read the post, I shared a link to it on twitter:

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To which Andrew replied:

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I commented that for me it was my confidence but in reality it’s also for the reasons he mentioned in his post. It can be hard to change and try something different.

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I thought about this and replied:

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By this I mean L&D solutions within my organisation. To which he responded:

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It got me thinking, what would Ultimate Personalisation look like? Here’s a list of what I came up with, in no particular order:

  • Talking to new employees a few weeks after they have started to see how they are settling into our organisation and finding out what support they need for their role.
  • Gaining a better understanding of our employees and the environment in which they work by spending time with them on-the-job i.e. getting away from my desk and going to where the work is being done.
  • Talking directly with the employees whose managers or supervisors say they need ‘training’ and find out what the real issues/gaps are.
  • Following up employees who have completed courses or been to conferences to find out what they’ve learned, how they’ll apply it and how we can share this knowledge/skills with others in our organisation.
  • Creating informal workplace networks that encourage the sharing of ideas and experience between employees.
  • Creating customised learning solutions for individuals and teams and not generic ones.
  • Curating resources on a range of topics and encouraging employees to share and add to the collection and importantly, making the information easily accessible by those who need them, when they need them.
  • Providing personal development opportunities on topics not related to work e.g. general interest topics.
  • Working with top performers from within our organisation and encouraging them to share the ‘secrets of their success’ with others.
  • Being a learning role model myself within our organisation by sharing, participating and collaborating.

What else could Ultimate Personalisation be?

I’ve started to do some of these things and I’ll write more about it in the coming months.

I’m sometimes frustrated because I think that I’m not in a position of influence. The reason being is that I’m not in charge, I’m not the manager/supervisor. But, this is an excuse because I can still be influential from where I sit in our organisation.

What other ways can we be disruptive?

Footnote: While putting this post together, I came across another great blog post worth reading Status Quo Sucks by Shannon Tipton that talks about a need for L&D to do things differently.

 

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From Virtual to Physical Connections

On Wednesday the 4th of December 2013, the first Newcastle Meetup group of learning professionals took place in a local pub. It was a new experience for me because, as someone down the introvert end of the scale, I’m usually an attendee at gatherings or events but on that night I was the organiser. Even now a few days after, I remember sitting in the pub with nervous anticipation before the others arrived thinking, will they come? I hope they come, what if they don’t? It felt a bit like going on a blind date.

The group I’m talking about is called Third Place which was founded by Helen Blunden in Melbourne. Earlier this year Helen travelled to England where she met some UK members of her Personal Learning Network (PLN). This gave her the idea to start a face-to-face meet up group in the area where she lives and works.

The group is called Third Place because:

“There is much to learn from your peers – but why connect only online through social media when you can also meet in person and have a true exchange of ideas and conversations?

The Third Place is our own social space separate for our work and our home.

It is where we get together to chat and foster new connections, new networks and interactions in a social and informal setting in cafes, libraries, bars, pubs and restaurants.

It’s a chance to meet each other face-to-face after connecting online through social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yammer or others and to bring your personal learning networks to life.”

I thought this was a wonderful idea and as I live outside a capital city I figured would be a great way to forge some new local connections as well as an opportunity to meet some of my local PLN. That’s when I thought that if Third Place is going to happen here in Newy, I must do something. Helen set me up as an organiser and shortly after our first Newcastle event was arranged.

I haven’t had the privilege of meeting Helen in person (well, not yet anyway!) we met and interact mostly via twitter. Even though the distance between Melbourne and Newcastle is over 1,000km it goes to show that distance isn’t a barrier how powerful social media can be in bringing people together.

Melb to New

Anyway, thankfully some people came to the Meetup! There were three of us, Kerry an Organisational Development Manager who works for a health insurance company (and who I’ve known personally for some time), Brendon who works in the finance industry in Learning and Development and me. I’ve only known Brendon via twitter so for me it was great to finally meet him in person. Our experience on the night was similar to the Melbourne meetups, we talked about our backgrounds, our workplaces and experiences, how we started using twitter to connect with other learning people, MOOC’s, e-learning authoring tools and plenty of general stuff too. It turns out that Brendon’s wife and Kerry know each other as they work for the same organisation! The time just flew by as we chatted and it was just as I’d hoped it would be – sharing and learning about each other.

When you meet someone in person it really does add a depth that you just don’t get from a virtual relationship. While you do have a sense of knowing someone through your interactions with them on social media, in person you get to see what someone is really like beyond their virtual persona and connect with them in a more meaningful way. As someone who works in the learning field I have an enthusiasm and need for my own learning, development and growth. A PLN is a practical way to satisfy this need as well as becoming part of a much larger – and I’m talking global – network of learning professionals. I look forward to meeting more of my PLN in the future especially those from overseas!

To find out more about Third Place click here. Feel free to sign up and if you are in or near Melbourne or Newcastle keep an eye out for upcoming events.

Our next Newcastle event is pencilled in for after work on Friday, January 17th 2014. Details to follow soon. It would be great if you could come and we can continue to expand the group!

Do you have something like Third Place where you live?

Third Place

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2013 in Personal Learning Network

 

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Becoming an eLearning Professional

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Christopher Pappas via e-mail and he asked if I would be interested in contributing to an eBook he was putting together. I’ve been fortunate that Christopher’s eLearning Industry website has published a few articles that I’ve submitted over the past few months. At the time I didn’t know who else had been asked to contribute but I was thrilled that he asked me and of course I said yes!

I’d never been asked to do anything like this before so I put some time into thinking about the question, which was:

What are the most effective uses/tips to become an eLearning pro?

My tips are based on my experiences and what I’ve learned during my career to date as well as advice that I’ve been given that has served me well. I was also really pleased to see another Aussie, Ryan Tracey the E-Learning Provocateur giving some great advice in his post. In fact, all of the contributors have something to offer and while I didn’t know all of them there were several who I look up too and it was an honour to be included in this eBook with them.

I realise I still have lots more to learn but it’s good to know that through my blog and being involved with projects like this, I can share what I know, learn from others in the field and also assist new designers who are keen to improve their own practice.

To find out what I submitted, click on the image below which will take you to the eBook:

How to Become an eLearning Pro

Here are the links to my other posts published on the eLearning Industry website:

5 Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in eLearning

15 Tips to Improve Learners’ Motivation for eLearning Courses

20 Resources for New eLearning Professionals

25 Tips for Successful Online Course Facilitation

I hope you find some value in the eBook and the posts.

I’d also like to thank Christopher for asking me to participate in the eBook and for publishing my posts, I appreciate the support.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 17, 2013 in Resources

 

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Exploring Personal Learning Networks: O Week

Earlier this week, the Exploring Personal Learning Networks open online seminar that I’ve enrolled in began. This will be my second MOOC experience and I’m looking forward to growing my PLN and strengthening relationships with other members of my network who are also participating. I wrote a post a few weeks ago where I started to think generally about PLN’s. I’m sure this seminar will provide an opportunity for me to connect, explore, think, reflect, and engage with others about this interesting and emerging area.

One of the things to do this week was to try something new. For me it was using Google+ which something quite new to me – hangouts, circles, posting to different sections. While a little frustrating at times, I’m finding that Google+ is pretty cool and I’m getting used to it with a little help from my friends.

It’s been terrific to start making connections with other participants by reading their backgrounds and getting to know them a little bit. In some posts that I’ve read, people have created a visual for their PLN. My version looks like this:

My PLN

There’s me at the centre of the network. I’ve put the Twitter and WordPress logos next as they have been the main two tools that have connected me to others in what I now know is my PLN. The surrounding circles represent different levels of contact and interaction between me and other people. The closer they are to the centre, the stronger the connection. The network itself isn’t fixed, people move in and out, some stay close for a long time and others for a shorter period. In a way it reflects relationships we have in our everyday lives. Each person within my PLN would probably have their own diagram similar to above which increases the interconnectedness between everyone. The thing about PLN’s is that some people might be aware they are part of your network and other my not even know. After all, you don’t send out a welcome pack and issue membership cards!

The rapid expansion of my PLN has come via the use of twitter. About a year ago, I started using twitter as an experiment to see how it works. At the time, I followed Cathy Moore and Ryan Tracey as I knew they were in the learning field and I was a reader of their blogs (I also followed friends and a few celebrity types). Back then I was an infrequent user. It pretty much stayed that way for a long time and then I found a few more learning practitioners and I started looking at articles and retweets they posted which led to discovering more people. I noticed some people were quite active and others not so much. It was the links from one to another that have led to the growth of my PLN. I’ve since ditched the celebrities and I’d say that about 95% of the people I follow on twitter working in the learning and related fields. I’m learning much more via informal channels now. On the downside, the larger your PLN the more information is coming through and as a result, I’m sure I miss stuff coming through but that’s ok because chances someone else may pick up on it and share again.

One of the themes that we’ll be working towards during the next few weeks is the use of PLN’s in an organisational context. At this early stage, I’m a little uncomfortable with this. I think this is because for me, my PLN is separate from my organisation and I’m in control of it. My organisation, still benefits from what I’m learning but its informal and I engage with my network in my own time. My concern is that if organisations become involved things could change and I’ll lose that level of control and it won’t be the same – my world’s could collide! (maybe watch the clip if you don’t know what happens when world’s collide).

Anyway, I’m looking forward to this learning experience and where it takes us.

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