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

Trends, Goals, and Professional Development…Planning for 2016

“Ajay is a Chartered Professional Accountant and a Certified Training and Development Professional but considers himself a Workforce Revolutionary. Ajay is a 3-time published author with John Wiley & Sons recently publishing his third book titled, “The Trainers Balanced Scorecard: A Complete Resource for Linking Learning and Growth to Organizational Strategy” (http://amzn.to/c3Qsk0). He is also a multi award-winning writer receiving the 2014 and 2015 prestigious TrainingIndustry.com Readership and Editors’ Award for Editor’s Choice and the Top 10 most read articles. Ajay regularly appears on the #1 Montreal Talk Radio morning show discussing workforce performance issues.”

Visit his (uncensored) workforce performance blog, Workforce Revolution

The 35th anniversary of John Lennon’s death just passed but his words remain…“So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over. And a new one just begun.”

Yes. Another year is over and what have you done? If you are unable to fully answer this question don’t worry, you are not alone. The end of a year comes upon us quickly and it is often difficult to reconcile considering the promise a start of the year offers.

Each of us begins every year with renewed vigor and energy then in the end, which we believed was so long away, comes upon us with little notice. If you feel deflated from the passing of another year I have bad news…another one is around the corner. But here’s the good news. If you don’t want to experience disappointment the same time next year then do something about it now.

Moving Forward By Looking Back

The first step to achieving your end of year expectations is to first take a moment to reflect upon the past year. Learning only takes place if you are able to recognize what you can learn from past experience.

Begin by taking inventory of your experiences in the past twelve months. Human nature is to focus on the mistakes rather than successes. Both provide valuable learning lessons and it is essential that you not repeat the failures and attempt to leverage the successes.

When reflecting, take note of everything you observed/experienced in the past twelve months. What were the fads disguised as trends? What were the trends that meant well but never delivered on their promise? What did you learn from them? What experiences did you take away? Answering these questions is key to achieving your next twelve months objectives.

Goal Setting Isn’t Goal Achievement

Reflect upon the goals you set. Did you set any at all? Disappointment is only measured based upon the goals you initially set. Otherwise your disappointment is a waste of time…the only disappointment you experience is why you never set goals in the first place.

If you did set specific goals at the beginning of the year then measure how well you’ve achieved them. I assume you’ve achieved some to your complete satisfaction, you achieved others to the extent to say you met them (but not to your complete satisfaction) and then there are the remaining ones that you didn’t achieve at all. Focus first on the ones you didn’t achieve and then the ones you could have done better achieving.

If you failed to set goals then you are solely to blame for your end of year ineffectiveness. But don’t wallow in the disappointment learn from the experience. Set specific goals for the next twelve months but be sure to set them up so you can track your progress throughout the year. And, never make it a shopping list of goals. Plan too many and you will set yourself up for certain failure this time next year.

Professional Growth Is Not Optional

Finally, take care of your own professional growth. It simply amazes me how so many learning practitioners I come across don’t place any effort into their own learning. How can you not practice what you actually preach unto others?

The second error many practitioners make is to be myopic in their development. Stop focusing on what you actually do. While it is relevant to maintain your expertise it is equally important to develop holistically. To be taken seriously by your leadership, think about complimenting your skills with learning that lifts your value and expertise to be more inclusive of ancillary concepts and roles.

Give Yourself a Year-Round Present

Christmas is around the corner. Why not be kind to yourself. Plan your 2016 with learning events and opportunities by subscribing and/or registering for courses and conferences throughout the year. This will guarantee your professional growth and lead you to reflect favorably when 2016 comes to an end.

We hope that the past twelve months have been good to you. What I mean by that is not only in successful attempts but also if you didn’t achieve your objectives. You must be able to look back on both experiences to add to your personal growth. My wish for you is to take these experiences and leverage them for a more fruitful and exceptionally successful 2016.

Please share your experiences from the past year with the #Chat2lrn community. What are the fads or trends that you believe added value or were a waste of time? What was your wish list from last year that you achieved or wanted to achieve? What is going to inspire you to achieve your goals in twelve months? Join us on December 17th, 8:00am PDT, 11:00am EDT, 4:00pm BST for a #chat2lrn discussing these and other questions.

Allow me to leave you with a closing John Lennon thought and my sincerest wish to you that seems appropriate for this post:

“A very merry Christmas, And a happy New Year. Let’s hope it’s a good one. Without any fear.”

Please take this Poll:

Audience Analysis, Critical for Instructional Outcomes

Written by Patti Shank PhD, CPT
It may not reflect all of the chat2lrn moderator opinions.

Audience analysis is part of the need analysis process during instructional design. The purpose of audience analysis is to help us understand who we are dealing with (including the organizational system) and how to serve them most effectively.

What Happens During Audience Analysis?

Some of the things considered during audience analysis:

  • Target audience: Who is the target (primary) audience and any secondary audiences? What are their expectations and needs? What problems are they experiencing? What is their level of experience? How much will they participate? How much time do they have? How will we respond, with instructional and non-instructional interventions?
  • Environment analysis: The entire environment people operate in. Leadership, learning, performance, business, competitive, work, tools, the entire system…
  • Instructional analysis: What tasks are needed to learn? Do people all know the same thing? How quickly does the information change? Is this declarative or procedural information? Is this information that people need to memorize?
  • Technical analysis: Does this involve technology? Hardware/software?  Will it be changing? How does it tie into company infrastructure? Who will deal with the hardware and software? Does the audience have the ability and capacity to deal with the technology and keep up with it? Who will build and maintain it?

Why Should We Perform Audience Analysis?

In “The Science of Training and Development in Organizations: What Matters in Practice,” Eduardo Salas and his fellow authors proclaim that “decisions 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.”

I write about the critical nature of needs analysis for good training outcomes, according to Salas and fellow authors research in my ATD Science of Learning Blog article, Science of Learning 101: The Latest Research on Needs Analysis and Learning Climate (https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Science-of-Learning-Blog/2015/07/Science-of-Learning-101-the-Latest-Research-on-Needs-Analysis-and-Learning-Climate).

Below is Table 2 from the Salas paper (http://psi.sagepub.com/content/13/2/74.full.pdf+html?ijkey=g8tvuLmoeZfN2&keytype=ref&siteid=sppsi), which shows that needs analysis is the key factor for maximizing training outcomes before training.

Table 2

 

 

Below, Table 3 of the paper, the needs analysis items that are most critical are clarified.

Table 3

 

The very first item, Conduct training needs analysis, includes (emphasis is mine):

Determine what needs to be trained, who needs to be trained, and what type of organizational system you are dealing with.

Internal vs. External

Today’s post comes to us from #chat2lrn crew members, Meg Bertapelle & Holly MacDonald.

Meg is a Senior Instructional Designer of Clinical and Product Education at Intuitive Surgical, a medical device company which makes the da Vinci Surgical System. You can find her on twitter at @megbertapelle

Holly is the owner and principal consultant of Spark + Co, a boutique training company that provides custom training solutions to organizations for employees or customers. You can find her on twitter at @sparkandco  

Startup Stock Photos

Meg and Holly were chatting about the differences between internal and external L+D work, and captured some of their observations in this blog post.

What’s the biggest challenge you face as an internal L+D expert?

Meg: I would have to say that we run so lean sometimes, that our team isn’t able to really do our best work under the timelines & sheer number and scope of projects assigned to us. Always having to compromise on the best solution to get an OK solution out the door eventually gets exhausting.

What’s the biggest challenge you face as an external L+D expert?

Holly: Typically the biggest challenge is communication. Working with such a range of clients, some of whom are brand new to e-learning, others who are familiar with it means that we are constantly having to check assumptions, confirm things and keep those lines of communication open.

How do you deal with analysis as an internal/external?

Meg: Our fall-back position is always surveys and focus-groups, but sometimes the timeline of a given project just doesn’t allow for those methods, and we have to try to extrapolate information about the need from internal folks that work closely with the true audience. Our company just recently created a data analytics group that will work cross-functionally to gather what data we can directly from our products, and will advise on other ways to incorporate data gathering as learning experiences are designed and revised. I’m very excited about this because we might actually get real (not anecdotal) information about the gaps in our current materials and processes.

Holly:I think it’s easier as an external to do analysis, since you need to get information about the client and the learning need before moving ahead. I think as an external, you get more latitude to do an analysis. That being said, sometimes you find out that the problem is not a training one and those are not conversations the client always wants to have. But, if it won’t fix the problem, then they need to know.

What design challenges do you face as an internal/external

Meg: Usually time is my biggest challenge here. I would LOVE to be able to design tons of scenario-based practice activities; link directly to resources; provide everything our learners need in an easily-accessible, SINGLE place; and provide just-in-time and performance support for a truly flexible and end-to-end solution to all of our challenges. It just ends up being impossible while also keeping up with the project load on our team.

Another big challenge for us is that in order to meet deadlines, especially for product-related training materials, we have to split up design & development work between team members, and then struggle with the lack of consistency in the end result.

Like Holly, we have to adhere somewhat to the company brand guidelines, but thankfully (!!) more of the general feeling rather than the “letter of the law.”

Holly: Either the constraints of the “brand guidelines” where the client’s marketing team has decided to apply branding rules to elearning. This can really mean that you aren’t able to get as creative as you’d like. I usually try to find out if there’s a way to adapt the brand guidelines to elearning. To be honest, if not, then I’d actually consider walking away. If the branding overshadows the need to learn, then it can actually be an indicator of an organization that really doesn’t value learning.

The other common constraint is that the budget is not big enough to get custom design assets, so you head into your digital closet to see what you’ve collected and stockpiled over the years to use on the project. One other aspect that I’ve found challenging is to source great designers who get instructional design and/or elearning. I have found a few who kind of get it, but there is sometimes a tension around which designer knows best.

What implementation challenges exist as an internal/external?

Meg: Managing the different permutations of products released where & when – what system, what software version, where is it cleared, where is it launched, in what language… (did you hear that? it was my head exploding)

Holly: The LMS. That’s the biggest challenge we’ve faced with the implementation. Some clients engage us to work on their launch plan with them, but sometimes we hand it off to the LMS Administrator or IT department and that’s the end of it.

What do wish you could do that you can’t as internal/external?

Meg: I think I would love to be able to say “no” to a project that I just don’t want to do. LOL 🙂 Honestly, since my biggest constraint is usually time, and I imagine that’s not that different in an external role, I’m not sure what else to wish for! Hopefully some of you in the chat will give me some good ideas that I can try to make happen internally 😉

Holly: I have been an internal before and I think the thing I miss the most is the ability to modify the program once it’s launched, or having a more flexible role to extend the program. As an external, you live and die by your scope and once the program is launched, it’s gone. We’re very lucky to have long term relationships with our clients, so we do get to do some of that with them. But, for some it’s a budget decision.

What do you think you could teach internal/external?

Meg: I have a lot of “tribal knowledge” of our business, so I think I could help an external person come up with a solution that would fit our organization, and make a business case for it. Sometimes the things that matter to the organization are not as visible to someone external.

Holly: After doing this for so long with many different clients, I think the thing I’ve really mastered is how to understand a client’s business quickly. I get to use my “ignorance card” constantly and coming at things from the perspective where you know little or nothing means you have a unique point of view. I have one client who often says things like: “I love how you make us think about things in ways we haven’t thought before.” When you are internal, it’s much harder to maintain that perspective. You need to find ways to do that consciously, otherwise you just end up making assumptions.

What about you? What have you found to be the benefits and challenges of being either an internal or external learning expert?

Let’s discuss during #chat2lrn on Sep. 10th, 8:00 PDT/11:00 EDT/16:00 BST

Hope to see you there!

Total Cost of Ownership – What is the ‘real cost’ of a learning intervention?

This weeks 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!  Lesley is Scottish and the Scots have a reputation for being ‘canny’ with money…so her challenge to you is: Does the Total Cost of Ownership of a learning intervention really matter?

When we buy a car, some folks only look at the purchase price, others may also consider obvious running costs e.g. insurance, road tax, petrol consumption. Some may take into account the cost of servicing and replacement parts, but I wonder how many factor in depreciation cost and how many years we expect to have the car before we replace it? I have yet to meet anyone who does all of this, puts the information onto a spreadsheet and then calculates the cost of having the car over a number of years. If we carried out this exercise prior to purchase, would we be able to work out which car would offer us the best value for money and the optimum time to replace it? Logic would say yes, as we would then know the total cost of ownership.

IcebergSo what has buying a car to do with learning?  I would suggest that as the picture says, ‘what we see often is only a fractional part of what really is’.   So the question I ask is, ‘what is the real cost of a learning intervention?

All too often we only consider the cost of the course itself or the purchase cost/license fees of either an LMS and/or a content authoring tool, but what about the other ‘hidden’ costs? Do we even know what these are?

When we consider face-to-face training, these are relatively easy to calculate, or are they? If we send somebody on a course that is held elsewhere, there is generally a flat fee, but do we include the cost of the attendee’s time? We are told on a regular basis that time = money, so if we expect colleagues to disseminate what they have learned during the course, how much does that cost both in terms of their time and the time of others who are learning from them?

If face-to-face training is ‘in house’, what is the cost? Should we include the trainer’s delivery time, the time the trainer has spent on creating learning materials, the time of all those who attend the course, the cost of the space used for training which takes place on the premises or might the training involve room hire?

This becomes even more complex when we move into elearning. Yes, we think about the number of licenses we need, but do we consider whether we will need more IT equipment? Most people would say ‘yes of course we do’, but if the system needs a dedicated server what is the cost of IT support of both the software but also equipment?

If we are offering an elearning programme that we are going to create, how do we put a cost on that? We have to consider the time it will take to create…that’s easy….it’s the cost of an Instructional Designer (ID). Mmmm….. but most IDs refer to subject matter experts (SMEs) to ensure the content is fit for purpose and that then takes up the time of the SME and how many do we need to consult?

The other thing we know about elearning is that we cannot assume that just because we create and build systems and content that people will use it. So we have to generate interest and awareness otherwise all the time that has been spent creating the elearning content will be wasted, but that also takes time and to reiterate time = money!

Let’s not forget that to implement a new system; we will need the support of the senior management team (SMT). How many of us factor into the cost of the intervention the number of meetings we have attended, on-going conversations and reports we have written to get SMT buy-in?

Ooohhh and lets not forget all the conversations we have ‘out of hours’ with colleagues and pondering we do ‘in our heads’ about whether or not the learning intervention we feel passionately about will make a difference.

I guess the ultimate question is so what? Does the Total Cost of Ownership of a learning intervention really matter? Do we really need to know the real cost and if we do, what impact does that have on whether we proceed or not? So many questions and probably even more answers. Join #chat2lrn to share your views and thoughts on Total Cost of Ownership #TCO Thursday 30 July 8.00 PDT/11.00 EDT/16.00 BST

Is This a Training Problem?

by Patti Shank, PhD

I was very lucky when I was a young training manager and had the opportunity to learn with Geary Rummler (http://www.performancedesignlab.com/geary-rummler-founder). I truly believe that this training greatly helped my performance over the lifetime of my career. It provided a certain way of doing my work. The resource I will share with you will provide a brief synopsis of some of the thinking involved that I hope will intrigue you.

Why Care About This?

Training is an expensive intervention. We only need to provide training for one reason: People need skills they don’t have (or need to upgrade or re-establish their skills) and it makes sense to provide it in a formalized way.

When there are problems, such as people unable to do their jobs because of inadequate tools or not enough feedback about whether they are performing as needed (no performance standards), those problems must be fixed and training won’t solve the problem.

Example: A manager asks for team training for her staff because they are don’t work well together. In reality, she causes problems among them by how she treats them. She favors some over others. She provides more work and overtime to people she doesn’t like as much. Training might help this but she is the one that needs it. And before that, she needs coaching about the problems she is causing so the training might be valuable to her.

When we get requests (or demands) for training and we don’t determine if training has a good chance of solving the problem (or being part of the solution), we are creating a problem, not solving it.  Why?

We are using resources that could be better put elsewhere.

We are removing people’s time (when they are stuck in training) that they could be using towards better purposes. They could be using that time to get work done.
The problem doesn’t get fixed. (Think of all the resources used to not solve the problem!)
We look foolish and are unprofessional, and frankly, this happens too often. Who would hire a carpenter who couldn’t measure or build the right solution?

How Training Doesn’t Work

Example: When someone asks for customer service training but they have insufficient tools to answer customer questions or their process requires multiple workarounds, adding customer service training is a misplaced and expensive intervention.  They may need some training (or not) but they DO need better tools and an improved process so customers aren’t angry about being put on indefinite hold or sent to the wrong department.

Carl Binder’s discussion of Gilbert’s Six Boxes is a great introduction to thinking about what we need to do to have the type of performance organizations need and what influences these performance outcomes in the workplace. Read it and think about what part each part plays in your work. If you don’t think it fits in L&D’s world, we’ll have to disagree.

The Six Boxes: http://www.binder-riha.com/sixboxes.pdf

Much Ado About Microlearning

MightyMouseMicrolearning (1)Much is being made of the concept of microlearning these days, and perhaps rightly so. Microlearning products and collections, assembled and offered by learning and development organizations, fit into available time slots and busy work schedules. If available on mobile devices, they can also be used in performance support applications at the time and place of need.

From the producer’s perspective, they are also relatively quick to produce, and both easier to create and maintain then their larger, more complex e-learning counterparts.

But microlearning is not new at all. Countless how-to videos on YouTube have helped millions of people repair appliances or learn to better perform tasks or even hobbies. More interestingly, most of these products were created by people with no instructional design background, and yet we learn effectively from them.

So how can learning and development organizations use microlearning products to meet the needs of organizations? What can we learn from YouTube to encourage the participation of large numbers of employees? Discuss this and more about microlearning products in learning and development at #chat2lrn Thursday, 09 April at 16:00BST/11:00EDT/8:00PDT.