CSTD Day 1 Workshop – The Trading Post

Final workshop event or Day 1 was the “Trading Post”: essentially a very large group Active Learning event. Run by Harold Stolovitch from Montreal.

The theme was a somewhat hokey Canadian pioneer stereotype, but the premise was an exchange of ideas or a “one stop shop” for short interventions. 23 tables were available with a range of topics and subjects. Particiants could chose from a total of 3 areas that might meet their interests, needs, or curiosity.

Based on the title, and my initial session, I like the concept of the trading post where you can exchange ideas or “buy” new ones.

Given the size of the group (almost 300) and the very broad array of offerings, I’m not entirely convinced that the whole concept of “Trading” was achieved, but that’s just an observation, not a criticism. With the range of levels of expertise and interest across the participants I’m not sure such a thing would have been achievable. I raised that point to Jane Bozarth and she mentioned that sometimes these kinds of sessions are run to allow participants to sample potential speakers and workshops for the balance of the Conference (smething I had not considered) However, I was inspired by the concept of this sort of workshop almost like a jigsaw kind of information exchange (similar to what one of my work colleagues was toying with).

My sessions:

1. Winning with the Customer from Hell – Shaun Belding
2. Approaching e-learning strategically – Clark Quinn
3. Problem Solving – Jennifer Spear

The frst session was chosen somewhat blind so I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d get something from it, but to his credit, Shaun was very good about getting people involved and I could see some relevance to managing dificult stakeholders (in essense, internal customers)

I deliberately chose Clark’s session because I know I frequently talk about “strategies” but what I know I’m really doing is tactical in nature. I sensed that the group was far less in the know about e-learning as a whole but Clark did a good job of laying out some key considerations and some very good reminders about strategic considerations and making communications/conversations a priority (e.g. Stop Building Courses!)

Problem Solving was a good choice, particularly becuase I wasn’t able to participate in the recent workshop hosted at the Base. Jennifer used a lot of clever humour in her delivery and did a great job of engaging people in some of the fundamentals often overlooked when trying to work through a problem. We did a little bit of divergent thinking and saw how to look at creative problem solving with really well-examined solutions, rather that trying to force a complex solution on well-known or simple, repeatable problems. Those “three magic words” offer a very strong shift in how you approach solutions and goals. By asking “How Might We…?” instead of something more absolute you get greater contributions and ideas from those helping you work through the problem. I hope to incorporate some of her lessons.

Implications for work:

1. I love the idea of a knowledge exchange where we can do short sharing sessions and I think we should find a way to do that either among ourselves or as part of our instructor development program. Ideally, I’d love to epand that to include L&D resources from across the Base, but I think we could start small and see how it goes. It’s also a brilliant example of Active Learning.

2. The context of Clark’s session was the win for me, because I think we often lose sight of some of the larger issues we are trying to address. He also tried to reinforce the concept of meaningful learning and enabling communications among participants etc. Granted, it’s not a new message but the infographics help to hammer the point home in a some new ways. He also spoke of the need to constantly review and revise learning offerings so that your content becomes more focused and that you learn what NOT to keep. (I’ll have to ping Clark on that issue just to confirm that I’ve understood it correctly, but I know the concept of constant renewal and refresh isn’t a new one.)

3. Problem Solving is something I think we can all benefit from as L&D folks. We often miss out on the key steps of reframing the problem and trying to find that “entry point” before we try coming up with solutins. We all know that training is sometimes a solution looking for a problem, but it’s nice to be armed with the tools to manage some of the smaller, more challenging issues we come across day after day. I think, though, that we can;t do it in isolation. I know I’d need/want a sounding board or a good group of people to help see the issue from all sorts of angles and to challenge old ideas….that’s almost impossible to do solo.

So, a really neat session even if somewhat unwieldy with such a large, diverse group of participants.


Posted on November 21, 2011, in blog and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hey Mark – going to review all your conference recaps, since I didn’t go.
    I used this sort of exercise a few years ago at an internal company retreat and gave all the “speakers” strict instructions that they had to do something practical and give the folks that came by something “consumable”, like a worksheet or a new technique. It was a great hit and people loved it. It was a great way to share internally. Our group was around ~100, so a little more manageable and they got to choose 5 I think. The one feedback we did have was that they were glad to have had something on the choices prior to the session so they could plan ahead a little. Cheers.

    • I love the idea of a “consumable” rather than just a static take-away. The implication is that you can make use of
      it and it gives you
      (almost) immediate application of new ideas. You should push that idea to CSTD so that we can keep the learning going post-conference.

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