Networking – A skill you can learn or is it simply nature?

This week’s post is written by Lesley Price (@lesleywprice).  Lesley is a co-founder of the #chat2lrn crew and now, although supposedly ‘semi-retired’, she works part-time for Learn Appeal  and continues to love challenging and being challenged! 

networking

In the Learning and Development community, we so often refer to our #PLN, Personal Learning Network, and the benefits we get from being part of a network. I attended the LPI Annual Conference, Learning Live two weeks ago and it was great to see so many people I knew. In fact, there were so many, it was difficult to find the time to speak to all of them. Over the two days, I had lots of interesting conversations about the event, catching up with people and hearing about things they were working on.

However, with many, I only seemed to have time to say ‘Hi – we must chat later’ or even worse, just waving across a busy room whilst making a mental note to speak to them over the course of the two days.  Some I managed to talk to, but others it was simply left with an acknowledgement and a wave. I was also introduced to people I had never met before, so my network is still growing.

I know that I have a very wide network, in fact a world-wide network which I find invaluable, but it then started me thinking about how my network evolved.   Was it by chance?  It is because of conversations I have when I meet people? Is it nature or nurture or maybe a bit of both?   If I can’t find the time to talk to everybody I know at an event, is it because I know too many people? Can your network get so big that it actually becomes unmanageable and if it does what can you do about it?

Is networking a skill that you can develop? Time is finite – there are never going to be more than 24 hours in a day.  Effective networking is not just about meeting people, networks also take time and effort.  So how much time does it take to maintain a network? How do we decide which parts of our network we foster regularly?  How do we work out the bits of our network that we can dip in and out of because they are self-sufficient and which networks do we neglect because we simply don’t have the time.

As if that isn’t enough, we also have to think about how we connect with our networks. Is it face-to-face, by using social media or by emails and phone calls?

I was fortunate in that I learned many of these skills from my parents, particularly my mother. She also taught me what I should look for when I moved into the workplace and that I could learn by watching and listening.

Personally, I believe that networking is an invaluable skill that we can develop, but how can we nurture it in others?  Join us in #chat2lrn on Thursday 22 September 0.8.00 PDT/11.00 EDT /16.00 BST to see if, between us, we can hone our own networking skills and learn how to foster them in others.

Science of Learning: When and How

2016-08-30_10-00-45The 2014 Association for Talent Development’s (ATD) State of the Industry report, shows organizations spending spent $1,208 on average, per employee, on training and development. Salas and the other authors of The Science of Training and Development in Organizations: What Matters in Practice, groundbreaking research using a series of meta-analyses, tell us that well-designed training is effective. It also says that the way we design, deliver, and implement training is what impacts the degree to which it is effective, asserting:

… (D)ecisions about what to train, how to train, and how to implement and evaluate training should be informed by the best information science has to offer.

Salas and fellow authors said reviews of training literature found many training efforts to be faddish, disconnected to the scientific literature, and lagging behind other sciences, with training programs implemented for inadequate and wasteful reasons.

Too many training myths still prevail. A 2008 Cisco whitepaper discussed the multitude of learning myths prevalent among learning practitioners. An entire book was recently published on learning myths.

Using research in practice aims to integrate scientific evidence with day-to-day practice in order to gain better outcomes. For example, carpenters may not know all the physics that goes into good practice, but they practice the science as shelving and framing would fall down if they didn’t.

What happens when L&D practitioners don’t practice the science of learning? Not practicing our science means our organizations and learners suffer and resources are wasted.

In this chat2lrn, we’ll discuss whether and how to use the science of learning in L&D practice.

References

C. Fadel. & C. Lemke. (2008). Cisco Systems. Multimodal learning through media: What the research says http://www.cisco.com/web/strategy/docs/education/Multimodal-Learning-Through-Media.pdf

Salas, E., Tannenbaum, S.I., Kraiger, K and Smith-Jentsch, K.A. (2012). The science of training and development in organizations: What matters in practice. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13 (2), pp. 74-101. 42. http://psi.sagepub.com/content/13/2/74.full.pdf+html

Tharenou, P., Saks, A., & Moore, C. (2007). A review and critique of research on training Psychological Science in the Public Interest-2012-Salas-74-101 http://www.celiamoore.com/uploads/9/3/2/1/9321973/tharenou_saks_moore_-_hrm_review_-_2007.pdf

R. E.  Mayer, R.E. (1997). Multimedia learning: Are we asking the right questions? Education Psychologist, 32, 1-19. http://www.uky.edu/~gmswan3/609/mayer_1997.pdfPsychological Science in the Public Interest-2012-Salas-74-101

Leicester City, Brexit and Pokemon Go: 2016 mid-year review

This week’s post is from #chat2lrn crew member Ross Garner, an Online Instructional Designer with GoodPractice in Edinburgh. 

2016’s been a crazy old year. First Leicester won the Premier League, then the UK voted itself out of Europe. Now, children and adults alike are walking in front of cars and crashing into lampposts as they use their phones to hunt virtual Pokemon.

If you’d put money on any of the above, you’d be very rich indeed.

But are we any wiser this July than we were back in January? Or has the unpredictability of the past six months shattered our confidence?

On this week’s #chat2lrn, we’ll be asking how this year has been for you? How have your expectations compared to reality? How have your ideas changed? What has gone well? What failures have you learned from?

Here are three ideas to get you started:

We operate in complex systems

How did Leicester City overcome 5000-1 odds to top the Premier League? Sure, training played a part. But so too did management decisions, the culture at the club, the mistakes made by opponents, and no small amount of luck.

When you are designing learning interventions, how much do you consider the system within which you operate? Is training the answer, or are there other factors at play? Can the success of one team be replicated to another, or are other factors like environment, team dynamic or luck skewing the results?

In complex systems, where we have a big impact on some areas but less of an impact on others, do you need to nudge rather than lead?

Emotion trumps facts

Throughout the UK Brexit debate – and the US Presidential race – facts have been cast aside in favour of sweeping generalisations. Why do these generalisations stick? Because they chime with the real-world experiences of voters. Because voters have an emotional connection to the candidates and to the ideas.

When we’re developing a new learning initiative, is it enough that we think it will improve the performance of our colleagues or clients? Do our learners believe that? Does it make sense to them, in their context, without knowing what we know? How much do you consider our learners’ hopes, fears, or even their workplace happiness?

Fun matters

Pokemon Go had as many users in its first week as Uber had in 7 years. It makes over $1million in revenue every day. As we look at the seriousness of the world around us, it’s encouraging to see hundreds of people gather in one space to catch a pikachu.

But how does this help us as learning and development professionals?

Well, it tells us that fun matters. Yes, we do a serious job. And yes, performance at work is important. But that doesn’t mean that developing a team, and striving towards a common goal, can’t be fun. What can we do to promote fun? Can fun improve productivity?

We’ll be discussing this, and your own ideas, at our #chat2lrn mid-year review. Thursday, August 28, at 8am Pacific, 11am Eastern, 4pm BST. See you there!

It is time for learning to get back to messy

Messy learning

This week’s post is from chat2lrn crew member, Fiona Quigley, who works with Logicearth Learning Services based in Ireland. 

I don’t know about you, but I love a bit of a mess – or more to the point, I love working through a mess to make sense of it, structure it and tidy it up in my mind. To me that is what ‘real learning’ is. To have to make sense of something that you are unsure of, to have to put in a bit of effort and to have a bit of angst about it all until the penny finally drops – that is the best of learning for me.

So does this type of thing happen in or get facilitated by corporate L&D departments? Not in my experience. This is not a blame game though – I think it is more to do with the business environment that we are currently operating in. Often L&D get blamed for not ‘providing’ the best learning experiences – but in my opinion, many times they are just responding to what the business is demanding. Business needs people to learn fast and many of us mistakenly think that organising it centrally will be quicker. Quicker isn’t always better.

Getting lost in translation

And the other problem is this – we lose the nuance and complexity; we distort, reduce and obfuscate real learning. We dumb things down and complex learning topics like leadership, communication skills and working well with others often get lost in translation. How many organisations these days continually speak of difficulties in ‘training’ leaders or helping people to communicate and work together better. Maybe it has something to do with trying to make the messy much tidier than it needs to be?

So join us in this week’s messy chat2lrn and share your thoughts on this topic.
Thursday, July 14 at 8am Pacific, 11am Eastern, 4pm BST.  See you there!

On Our Love-Hate Relationship with the Next Button

Anchal is the founder of Design Storm (www.designstorm.in), an e-learning company that provides innovative, simple and effective corporate learning solutions.

“Click Next to Continue.”—This seemingly harmless instruction describes e-learning in ways that nothing else does. It says that e-learning:

Continues to be Linear
Linearity has its benefits, and that is why we’ve loved the Next button.

However, adults learn non-linearly, from colleagues, from our own experiences, searching on Google, and referencing various resources. If you’re in the “adults don’t learn linearly” camp, chances are that you hate the Next button.

Is Pushed Top Down
Learning professionals are the creators and owners of content. The Next button is a crucial enabler here. There’s a satisfaction in knowing that we’ve given them all the information they need to do their job. Sometimes we even block the Next button to ensure that they go through everything.

On the other hand, haters of the Next button have been asking—Do they really take our content seriously? What about making the learning learner-centric? Learners should be the creators and curators of their own content. Break the Next button, only facilitate learning.

Is Following the Tried and Tested Navigation Methods
There used to be courses made in Flash with a neat GUI and instructions on how to use the GUI. We believed in the myth that a “scroll” is not user-friendly. A lot of e-learning still follows this tried and tested navigation method. The Next button is king.

When we, however, optimize the content for mobile devices, the Next button loses its charm. Responsive courseware lends itself very well to a more web-like experience. In mobile devices scrolls, swipes, hyperlinks etc. define our online experience. For courses to be linear, do we really need the Next button? Are there other, content dependent, navigation methods we need to incorporate even in linear e-learning?

Is Instructivist to an Extent
We like to inform, provide knowledge and carry our learners through the courses with instructions that will prevent them from feeling lost. The Next button enables this journey.

We ask—What happens to the Next button when we move away from instruction? How does Next button based e-learning adapt when we look at learning by doing, or learning through constructing our own meaning within the context of formal online learning?

Is a One-Way Stream
Online learning can enable a few different types of interactions, such as:

  • Learner to content interaction
  • Learner to learner interaction
  • Learner to expert interaction

Next button enabled e-learning definitely allows “learner to content” interaction. It can be engaging, entertaining, and gripping. Sometimes this content allows learners to comment and rate too.

However, this approach is mostly a one way stream. It’s great for content consumption. Many haters of the Next button feel that by allowing only one type of interaction, e-learning misses out on a lot more that the online medium can do.

I personally feel there are certain topics that should be taught linearly. However, it’s time we started choosing that content carefully. E-learning needs to break some moulds. It does need to utilize the online medium better by allowing people to learn in the way we work—through chaos, through human interaction, and through a collision of several ideas.

Is there a balance we can strike between linear learning and the chaos of the real world? How can that be achieved?

Recap of FocusOn Learning Conference: Interview with Candelario Lopez

Today’s blog post brought to you by crew-member Meg Bertapelle, Sr. Instructional Designer of Clinical & Product Education at Intuitive Surgical.

The FocusOn Learning Conference, formerly known as the Mobile Learning Conference, was held in Austin, TX last week. My team member, Candelario Lopez, a fellow Sr. Instructional Designer of Clinical & Product Education at Intuitive Surgical, attended and brought back some great insights for our organization. He’s happy to share his impressions and takeaways with us today:

What tech were you most excited about?

Augmented reality – bringing the user interface and display out of the monitor & into the real world. Keynote from Wired Magazine’s Editor in Chief, looking at companies’ roadmaps for future technologies – lots of investments in augmented reality, virtual reality & mixed reality. (Mixed reality is sort of like some combination of realities.)

Interactive video – branching and assessment/scenarios in video format, allowing the user to dictate their learning path & allowing assessment/evaluation at the time of consumption. Provides more user control and engagement. Study: interactive video provides engagement opportunities through a delivery method that is easier to access and consume (vs. e-learning) and the study saw positive results in terms of retention.

Performance support – access to the right content at the time of need. Make sure that you evaluate the end-users’ process to make sure the performance support content is delivered effectively & is the right amount for that task/need. Case study: threw stuff together to be performance support, but was wrong medium, so couldn’t access it when they needed it.

The Good, The Bad, the Ugly & Beyond

The Good:

Path-based conference organization strategy:

  • Video
  • Mobile
  • Performance support

This allowed you to attend sessions geared toward what you want to accomplish in your organization.

Quality of speakers & sessions was very good. The speakers had real-life experience, sharing case studies and real experience or research & planning for future implementations. This allowed you to take away lessons learned from their experience to implement in your own organization. Both keynote speakers were well-respected in their industry: Scott Dadich, Editor in Chief of Wired Magazine, and Big Data analyst Soraya Darabi. They provides insights into their respective fields & where the industry is going in the near & distant future, helping to future-proof your training strategy at your organization.

Case studies that directly applied to our organization. Specifically, the Nature Conservancy laid out their strategy for learning materials, talked about the strategy as a whole, as well as planning and implementation, the tools and training delivery methods they used. They were also able to share evaluation outcome data: higher use of performance support materials, users’ knowledge of topic increased, reduced troubleshooting calls from users, have been asked to use same structure for other applications & topics.

The Bad:

If you have experience with these topics, getting to the real meat of what you’re looking for – like more advanced topics – was more difficult, have to outline your own agenda using the session details.

The Ugly:

Couple of sessions that focused on the “clicky-clicky bling-bling” aspect of the technologies, but no meaningful applications.

Couple of sessions that were all theory & research with no real-world application discussions.

The Beyond:

The way we consume content is leaning more and more towards performance support, and just-in-time content. Augmented reality looks to be a leader in supporting this transformation.

Takeaways?

Performance support is the right way to go, assuming you evaluate the users’ job processes & support them effectively.

Augmented reality is real. Companies are investing resources into creating real, serious approaches to learning solutions.

 

Did any of you attend the FocusOn Learning Conference? What would your answers to these questions be?  Please share during #chat2lrn on Thursday, June 16 at 8am Pacific, 11am Eastern, 4pm BST.  See you there!

Is assessment a necessary evil or a blessing in disguise?

This week’s post comes from #chat2lrn crew member, Judith Christian-Carter B.Ed (Hons), M.Phil, FLPI, Chartered FCIPD. Judith is a Director of Effective Learning Solutions, a UK-based learning services company. You can find her on Twitter @JudithELS

asssessment

As a learning professional, do you regard assessment to be part and parcel of your job role? If you do, then you aren’t alone but why is the learning profession so obsessed with assessment? Is it by desire, or as a result of coercion from line managers and senior executives? Even if the reasons are largely historical, this still doesn’t make the need for assessment to be right, or serve as an excuse when it’s done badly, which, alas, is all too often the case.

Testing, testing and yet more testing

Today, in several countries there is much controversy surrounding the excessive testing of school students. However, for some time there has also been a growing groundswell of criticism about the use and frequency of assessing adult learning. Does the love of measurement lie at the root of the obsession with assessment? After all, just think of all those quotes and saying extolling the value of measurement: “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it”, “If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it” and “If you cannot measure it, it doesn’t exist” – so it must be a good thing, mustn’t it?

Okay, many people do want to know how they are doing, be they a learner, a manager or the organisation as a whole. So measurements that inform them of what they want to know are a good thing. However, there are two aspects to this: the first is what is actually being measured, and the second is how it has been measured. The truth is, that what you measure is what you get! So, does the fact that I have scored 100% on a compliance or regulation-based test mean that I am competent to perform either in the workplace? If all I’ve been assessed on is knowledge and not understanding or the application of that knowledge, then probably not.

Designing assessment is far from easy

Designing valid and reliable assessments is an extremely skilled and experienced activity. As with other aspects of learning provision, there are far too many who assume that anyone can design assessments. It is largely this assumption that has led to assessments being used when they are not needed and, when they are needed, being designed so poorly.

Putting assessment in its place

Do you think that the time has come for the learning profession as a whole to acknowledge that assessment has got totally out of hand, as well as being conducted extremely badly in far too many instances? Why should assessment be assumed to be a given when people are learning? Instead, should its use be questioned and challenged in each and every situation? Measuring and collecting data are just fine, as long as there are reasons for doing the former and collecting the latter. If no reasons can be provided, then should we leave well alone and just get on with helping people learn what they need in order to do their jobs better? 

Lots of questions, so join in and discuss these and others on 2 June, 2016 08.00PDT/11.00EDT/16.00BST  to see to what extent assessment is viewed as a necessary evil or a blessing in disguise.