Survey Says…

Most L&D professionals have heard of surveys, of course. Market research professionals develop them to gather data in order to help companies make informed decisions about what to sell to the public. As a result, the buying public has taken tons of them. But the average L&D person probably hasn’t give a ton of thought to using surveys in their own work. If you have, you’re ahead of the game.

We’re continually told that we need to use more evaluation and measurement methods in our work as well. But data collected by the Learning and Performance Institute through their Capability Map shows the field doesn’t have very deep skills in this area. The first 6 month Capability Map report showed that, out of the 983 people who completed a self-assessment, only 319 assessed themselves against Data Interpretation and the average competency score was 2.36. Compared to 738 assessments in Face to Face delivery which had an average score of 3.36.

Typically the reason to use a survey is to get information to help with decision-making. What kinds of decisions do we need to make that a survey might help with? Here are a just few:

  • What are the biggest skill gaps?
  • How do they currently fill those gaps?
  • What performance support tools do they build? Need?
  • Who are their best internal team trainers?
  • What instructional methods work best for them?
  • How would they “grade” our efforts?
  • What would we need to do to better serve their needs?

One of the problems with surveys, however is that that they look deceptively simple to build but it’s easy to write surveys that are poorly written, which means the data you gather is mostly useless. Poorly developed surveys yield poor data or worse, data that points to the wrong solutions. So it’s critical that surveys be developed and analyzed well. There are some great articles and books on the topic and it’s not rocket science. And once you know what you’re doing and if you use a survey tool that allows you to do good analysis, you can get some great data.

One of the chat2lrn facilitators, Patti Shank, wrote an article for CSTD on the topic, which recommends valuable articles and books on the topic, and provides some concise guidelines on good surveys. It’s on page 15 of


DO’s and DON’Ts for Building Your (Virtual) Personal Learning Network (PLN)

Building a virtual PLN, or Personal, Learning, Network has been talked about a lot, because a PLN has great power for improving your professional learning and career. In fields where there is SO much to keep up with (like ours), it is increasingly important to build and maintain a group of worldwide colleagues who you can call on because it is literally impossible to stay abreast of all of the different aspects of your field yourself. So it order to stay on top of things, most of us need a PLN!

Here’s a simple definition for a PLN that I truly like: n. – the entire collection of people with whom you engage and exchange information, usually online. ( Kate Klingensmith, the author of the blog that provided that definition, lists some of the most common tools for building your PLN, such as Twitter, which may be one of the most well-known tools for building your PLN.

Simply put, PLNs are about building relationships with people that can help you learn and grow. The idea is to share ideas, insights, practices, links, and resources, and gain trust so that over time you can share and perhaps collaborate. It is a way to greatly extend your learning in order to harness the knowledge and experiences of many people through your connections with others. If done via social media, however, this requires creating social connections through virtual means, and this requires some forethought and planning. Social media tools are not enough to create connection. Just because there’s a tool doesn’t mean you’re going to have a connection with other people. You have to DO something to make a connection happen. Another aspect that some people do not think much about with PLNs is reciprocity. Some people lurk only or ask for things only. The social contract says that when we take, we must also give.

If PLNs are a new idea, below are some starting links. Read and come ready to discuss some DOs and DON’Ts. We will likely have a mix of people with little and LOTS of experience so we expect a lively and perhaps very spirited discussion!

PLN: Your Personal Learning Network Made Easy

35 Ways To Build Your Personal Learning Network Online