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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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Outputs vs. Outcomes

“Understanding the difference between outcomes and outputs is important.

Outputs relate to what we do. Outcomes refer to what difference is there?

Outputs include:

  • Facilitating workshops
  • Delivering training
  • Developing products, curriculum and resources
  • Conducting assessments

In the past we’ve tended to focus on outputs. We are anxious to tell others what it is we do, the services we provide, how we are unique and who we serve. We’ve done a good job of describing and counting out activities and the number of people who came to them.

Now, however, we are being asked what difference does it make? This is a question about outcomes”.

The above text comes from a document that is on display in my work area (along with our Team Charter). I agree with what it’s saying but unfortunately our work unit, myself included, didn’t take much notice of it (along with the Team Charter). The report that went to our Director to summarise our activities for 2013 was full of x participants attended this course, y participants attended that course and so on.

Outputs are easy to quantify. While our team did all of the above things what difference did it make?

What value did we add to the organisation?

Outcomes are about impact. Outcomes are harder to determine. But just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make them real. I’m not a big resolution person but given that it’s early 2014, I’d like to put more focus on the outcome this year and beyond, on making a real difference.

Does your Learning and Development department talk about and share their outcomes? I’d love to hear your examples, please share below.

Make a difference

 
6 Comments

Posted by on January 14, 2014 in Learning and Development

 

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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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Letting go of Learning Styles

I’ve been thinking about writing this post about learning styles for a while now. It’s an area that I’m sure everyone in the training and learning industry has had contact with at some point. The idea of learning styles has been around for 40 years and I first came across them when completing my training and assessment qualification back in 2007. We discussed visual, auditory and kinaesthetic (VAK) learners and also Kolb’s learning styles. To me it made sense that people would have a preference for the way in which they like receive information. It’s equally logical that if we matched instruction to learning styles, it would result in better learning.

This all changed when I came across a journal article that said this:

LS Quote

How could this be after all this time? I was surprised, so I investigated further. I found that at last count there were over 70, yes 70, different learning styles models. These have been used in schools, higher education, vocational education and the workplace to categorise people as a particular type of learner. The popularity of learning styles shows no signs of slowing down. It seemed that the more I looked for evidence that supports learning styles, the more I found that the research just doesn’t support the theory. On reflection, there was a definite lack of critical thinking on my part.

I can see the appeal of learning the style movement:

  • It sounds logical so it’s easy to understand
  • It’s easy to teach
  • It’s been marketed and sold very well

I like Steve Wheeler’s description of the learning styles myth as a convenient untruth.

What I also find troubling is that in Australia, the minimum qualification for trainers and assessors and many learning and development professionals is the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. Units within this qualification still refer to having knowledge of learning styles. This means that subsequent generations of learning practitioners are learning about something that has no evidence to back it up.

Yoda quote

Given that learning styles isn’t helpful, we should as Jane Bozarth wrote, unlearn it. While it may be harder than learning, learning styles is something we need to unlearn. Yes, learners have different characteristics but we need to focus on evidence-based methods of instruction. Take Will Thalheimer’s Decisive Dozen as an example. These 12 factors are based a synthesis of years of research undertaken in learning and instruction.

We shouldn’t focus on things that sound logical or are popular or are just accepted. If we want to be taken seriously as learning professionals we need to use theories, methods and techniques that are grounded in research and actually get results.

References

Riener, C & Daniel Willingham, D. (2010): The myth of learning styles. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 42 (5), 32-35.

Rohrer, D, and Pashler H. (2012) Learning styles: where’s the evidence. Medical Education, 46. 630-635.

Scott, C. (2010) The enduring appeal of ‘learning styles’ Australian Journal of Education, 54 (1), 5-17.

Vorhaus, J. (2010) Learning styles in vocational education and training. Vocational Education and Training – Teaching and Learning, 376-382.

 
27 Comments

Posted by on November 10, 2013 in Theories

 

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Integrating Motivation with Instructional Design

As an Instructional Designer, motivating learners is an important consideration because in reality learners are not always motivated to learn. They are busy, have other things to do, don’t see the course/session as being important or have had a bad learning experience in the past. I’ve written a couple of posts about motivation – self-determination theory and the motivational pull of video games – which are about satisfying autonomy, competence and relatedness needs of learners. I’ve come across Dr John Keller’s motivational design model known as ARCS and thought it was worth sharing.

The ARCS model comprises four major factors that influence the motivation to learn – Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction. It’s described as a problem-solving model and helps designers identify and solve specific motivational problems related to the appeal of instruction. The model was developed after a comprehensive review and synthesis of motivation concepts and research studies. Its also been validated in studies across different education levels.

John KellerDr John Keller

The four categories of motivation variables consist of sub-categories along with process questions to consider when designing:

Attention = Capturing the interest of learners, stimulating their curiosity to learn.

  • Perceptual Arousal: What can I do to capture their interest?
  • Inquiry Arousal: How can I stimulate an attitude of inquiry?
  • Variability: How can I maintain their attention?

Relevance = Meeting the personal needs/goals of the learner to affect a positive attitude.

  • Goal Orientation: How can I best meet my learner’s needs? (Do I know their needs?)
  • Motive Matching: How and when can I provide my learners with appropriate choices, responsibilities and influences?
  • Familiarity: How can I tie the instruction to the learners’ experience?

Confidence = Helping the learners believe/feel that they will succeed and control their success.

  • Learning Requirements: How can I assist in building a positive expectation for success?
  • Success Opportunities: How will the learning experience support or enhance the learners’ beliefs in their competence?
  • Personal Control: How will learners clearly know their success is based upon their efforts and abilities?

Satisfaction = Reinforcing accomplishment with rewards (internal and external).

  • Natural Consequences: How can I provide meaningful opportunities for learners to use their newly acquired knowledge/skill?
  • Positive Consequences: What will provide reinforcement to the learners’ successes?
  • Equity: How can I assist the learners in anchoring a positive feeling about their accomplishments?

The following link is to a YouTube video where Dr Keller discusses the ARCS Model, some background in its development and the addition of volition to the model.

ARCS: A Conversation with John Keller

Apart from the motivational aspects of the model, what I really like about ARCS is that it puts the learner at the centre of the design process.

After all, that’s how it should be.

References:

arcsmodel.com

Keller, J. M. (1987) Strategies for stimulating the motivation to learn. Performance and Instruction. 26 (8), 1-7.

 
 

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From Learning Outcomes to Performance Outcomes

In most, if not all e-Learning and classroom courses, one of the first things mentioned are the Learning Outcomes. After all, they’re the purpose of the course. Unfortunately, in many cases, they appear to be slapped on with very little thought put into them. Here are three that I dislike seeing:

By the end of this course, you will:

  • Understand something, or
  • Be aware of something, or
  • Know something.

The problem with these outcomes is that they are too vague. Yet they are used all too often to set the scene for an online or face-to-face learning experience. Sure, understanding, awareness and knowledge are part of the learning process. You could even argue they are learning outcomes because hopefully by the end of a course, learners will understand, be aware and know something that they didn’t know before. The problem is these outcomes don’t go far enough. How can you tell if a learner understands, is aware or knows something?

They’ll be able to DO something.

As someone who works in “Learning and Development” my goal is to change behaviour and ultimately improve the performance of the employees in my organisation. There are many ways to do this both formally and informally but focusing on what will be learned i.e. the content, its stopping short of the ultimate goal of behaviour change and performance improvement.

For example, if I’m designing a course about our organisations Code of Conduct, a learner is aware of, and knows that, the code exists – just by participating.

So, an outcome of the course isn’t really:

You’ll be able to understand the requirements of the Code of Conduct.

It’s only part of what learners are able to do. A real outcome is:

You’ll be able to make ethical decisions while working at our organisation.

See the difference? The first one is content focused – what the code says to do, where the second is performance focused – making decisions based on what the code says to do. So why don’t we call them Performance Outcomes? Surely, by moving away from the term Learning Outcomes and calling them Performance Outcomes, we can focus on the desired performance required from learners and not what content is to be covered during the course?

A performance focus should also guide us through the analysis and design of the course resulting in an improved outcome for learners who are participating and the organisation as a whole.

What’s your view?

10982789-performance-word-in-white-chalk-handwriting-on-blackboard

 
5 Comments

Posted by on September 22, 2013 in Instructional Design

 

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Showing My Work #1

The Showing My Work series of posts are what I’m using to ‘narrate’ the projects that I’m working on or have developed.

Recently at my workplace, I’ve been involved in a project to train a group of employees to become relief operators for some items of plant (which are machines like tractors, graders, excavators and trucks). I was working on this project with the HR Co-ordinator and the L&D Officer for the outdoor staff in our organisation. My role as the instructional designer was to develop some materials to help the new operators learn how to drive and use the various machines (there were 9 different types in all).

Armed with a Sony Handycam, we met with each operator who was also our subject matter expert (SME). The reason for filming was that we thought it would be easier to capture what the SME was saying and showing, rather than having to make lots of notes and take photos. The SME took us through the pre-start checks, what the cabin controls are used for and how to perform some of the operating tasks – things that a new person would need to know about. I filmed the SME as they talked about their machine and explained how it worked. After this, I went through the footage and took snapshots to create images (using VLC media player). I then annotated the images using the SME’s descriptions and explanations. It all came together in a ‘New Operator Guide’ for each piece of plant.

The footage turned out pretty well especially given it was unscripted (although, no Oscar this year!). As a result, we also decided to burn the footage to disc and give this to the new operator to go with the guide.

All of the guides followed a similar format – Entering and Exiting, Pre-start Checks, Cabin Controls and Operation. The aim was to keep it as simple as possible and easy to follow. Safety was also important, given that the items of plant can be quite dangerous if used incorrectly.

As always, the guides were given back to the SME’s for review and comment. This was then incorporated into the guide. The operators were very passionate about their item of plant, so it was great to talk to them and work with them. The materials will essentially be a support for the new operators to supplement the practice sessions they will receive until they are competent (which will take some time).

Here are a few samples taken from different guides:

In this example, we can see how to enter and exit the vehicle safely. The ‘Key Safety Tip’ boxes were a suggestion from the Safety Officer who I also sent the guides to for feedback from a safety perspective. Them tips are used throughout all of the guides and generally, the information came from the Work Method Statements (WMS) for the particular item of plant.

Entering and Exiting

The pre-start checks are completed each day before operating the piece of plant. I wanted to step the learners through the process. This example comes from the grader and shows how to check the engine area. Where possible, I’ve tried to orientate the learner to where a small part sits within a larger area. I’ve done this by magnifying the views of some parts. This was the learner can see where the item sits within the overall picture and then gets some enhanced detail of the part – in this case the isolation switch and a light switch.

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This example shows the cabin controls from one of the trucks. These varied in complexity from machine to machine. For ones that had many controls, I again used the method that showed the whole thing and then enlarged relevant sections which were labelled.

Cabin Controls

The final part was to show how to operate parts of the machine. This example shows some of the steps to fill a pothole.

Operation

The real test will be when the new operators receive the materials once the program starts. I intend to talk with them to gather feedback from their perspective as a learner that I can then incorporate into the materials for future groups.

So, what do you think?

 
6 Comments

Posted by on August 15, 2013 in Show Your Work

 

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