Category Archives: questions

3 Characteristics of High Impact Learning Departments: Laura Overton Interview | Totara LMS

3 Characteristics of High Impact Learning Departments: Laura Overton Interview

March 18, 2015

[Steve Rayson] I really like data, whilst I am interested in someone’s views I am particularly interested in evidence and insights based on data. Thus I was excited this week to catch up with Laura Overton. Laura is the MD at Towards Maturity and runs one of the largest corporate learning data collection projects.

via 3 Characteristics of High Impact Learning Departments: Laura Overton Interview | Totara LMS.

My Take: Laura boils departmental success down to 3 key factors based on research and analysis across a number of L&D professionals.  What’s important to note, at least for me, is that these three points are not new. They should not be earth-shattering revelations for anyone.  I think what is really disturbing is that we have to keep saying it (particularly point #3) and that we need the research to back it up.

Will at Work Learning: Net Promoter Score — Maybe Fine for Marketing, Stupid for Training

From Will Thalheimer…

More and more training departments are considering the use of the Net Promoter Score as a question–or the central question–on their smile sheets.

This is one of the stupidest ideas yet for smile sheets, but I understand the impetus–traditional smile sheets provide poor information. In this blog post I am going to try and put a finely-honed dagger through the heart of this idea.

via Will at Work Learning: Net Promoter Score — Maybe Fine for Marketing, Stupid for Training.

My take: something done poorly is best not done at all…and that sums up most of my feeling on the use of smiley sheets as the sole measure of “training success”. I recall my days as a MCSE / MCT for a major corporate training provider here in Canada. Microsoft Curriculum demanded a feedback form after every class. We were even supposed to send them to MS Canada, but apparently even they didn’t bother looking at them in detail.  However, woe betide any MCT who didn’t score highly.  As for me? I was less concerned about the numerical scores.  I used to tell my students, “a 5 or 6 out of 7 with some comments about what you feel needs improvement is of much more value to me than a 7 out of 7 with no comments at all.”

As time has gone on, I have fallen further away from Kirkpatrick’s model (Dan Pontefract’s comments on it notwithstanding) and I prefer to use other methods for evaluation. Will is very interested in “mythbusting” in the L&D space and this post is another example of some of the practices that persist in L&D – to our collective detriment.

Brain Research on use of Smartphones

I came across this interesting article on the Toronto Star this morning.  Participants who used smartphones and more traditional mobile phones were compared using EEG (electroencephalogram).  The results were interesting, but researchers say that it’s far too early to tell if the changes observed are good or bad for us in the long run.

I wonder what the implications are for L&D and whether or not we should harness the changes without knowing the longer-term effects?

Enjoy the read!


Instructional Designer, Project Manager, or Both?

One of the topics of debate in my workplace is the concept of having the instructional designer also serve as the project manager for their own projects.  The rationale is that they are intimately involved in the project from design through implementation and are conveying information over to any project-level resources and establishing the deliverables.

This proposal raises some interesting issues.; PMs are normally positions of some level of authority and can request and assign resources, etc. So, if the PM did not have the authority PMs are also experts in the management and administration of projects, and all the mysterious things that go into them.  They are also not necessarily resources for the project, but they have a degree of responsibility to the project sponsor and the customer for the outcomes.

I’m going to try not to salt the waters too much, but I wonder what people think.  If you are an ID are you also your own project manager?

A gate, a speed bump, or just a roadside distraction??

Ah, there’s nothing like writer’s block to stifle the winds of creativity on a blog.  I have a potentially great post about The Instructor, Learning, & Memory that I can’t seem to get out of low gear. Strangely enough, it’s serving as a catalyst for this missive.

It’s not just writer’s block, although that does enter into it.  It’s also about the energies of the day.  You can mentally psych yourself up for certain things based on your calendar, but simple postponements can easily put paid to those plans.  I’ve had meetings rescheduled over the last 2 days (including one already postponed from Friday) that managed to sap a lot of the energy away.

Some of that seems to extend into my writing.  I really am trying to write for me and to get things out of my head and into some kind of recorded form, but competing thoughts, changes in momentum, and other distractions make it tough to write with any degree of focus.

Is it discipline? Habit? Dedication? Or is it my style that needs work? (am I too wordy for my own good?)  I dunno.  Too many questions and no easy answers.

I wonder what my more prolific writing and blogging colleagues will say about this?

Reflections on chat2lrn: The Business/Education gap.

My participation in #chat2lrn has been limited but I wanted to provide my first reflection on the experience, starting with the most recent discussion about Business and Education.

Having operated in both environments, I think I’m safe in saying that these two worlds rarely seem to meet. Education has a role to prepare learners for the world of work, and many institutions do make some efforts to find out what business wants of their grads.

So, here’s a summary and reflection on this ongoing issue.

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iBooks2: Disruptive Innovation or Power Play?

(edited with a few mentions and updates on Jan 30, 2012)

There’s definitely been a lot of talk about the recent iBooks2 kick-off (and iBook Author, and iTunesU…) and I wanted to add my own take on things, particularly in light of a recent Twitter exchange.

Some of my most respected PLN folks are clearly sitting on either end of the debate on this latest offering from Apple, and I did a bit of soul searching to thing about what it really meant and where some of the issues may lie.
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Next challenge – herding the innovation cats

After listening to Steven Berlin Johnson and reading Stefan Lindegaard, I’m very excited about the prospects for driving and fostering true innovation here at the school.  There’s a wealth of talent (military and civilian) to tap into, but I want to move us past that superficial stage of “tossing out ideas”.

Johnson talks a lot about the “slow hunch”, and I think this is where the innovative culture needs some process and administration (for want of a better term).

So here’s what I think I need to know:

  1. What mechanisms can we use to capture ideas (24/7 if necessary)
  2. What level of detail should we require from those ideas?
  3. What protocol do we use to revisit the older ideas to see if the time is right for them?
  4. How do we manage that “idea” lifecycle?
  5. How can we keep promoting innovation when some functional/hierarchical barriers will remain?

I’m very curious to hear what people have to say.  I have a few simple tech-y ideas, but I don’t want to salt the waters just yet.

I have a meeting planned with my colleagues next week and “innovation” is the planned topic for discussion.

Over to you…

Bagels = Maslow?

Ok, I want to throw out a thought that’s been bugging me in the online Adult Ed class I’m wrapping up. I took over pre-defined courseware and don’t have a lot of room for rapid re-writes.

We spend some time discussing major theorists, including the venerable Maslow. One of the trends that shows up in the first assignment on theories is that providing food & drink during formal trg sessions or pointing out locations of fire escapes, etc. satisfies the one of the basic Maslow needs at the bottom of the pyramid.

I disagree. Mostly.

In situations where a learner is under the direct care of an organization or institution , then I think an argument could be made to support that premise. However…

Adult learners who are pursuing education and development are largely responsible for fulfilling their own basic needs. Granted, someone who is having difficulty making ends meet and has their residence and meals at risk may have some challenges keeping focused on their studies, but I submit that the education provider’s primary role is to help manage and meet esteem needs in support of educational goals.

My other argument against the Bagels for Maslow is during online, distance, or informal learning scenarios. Again, the learner should bear the responsibility for fulfilling the basic needs so that they can keep moving up the pyramid.

I’m definitely interested in your thoughts.

S2 Q9) Best bottom-up learning implementation. Or, at least, my most memorable one. (apologies to @LnDDave)

>I pondered the answer to this question for a while because it’s been some time since I did any real bottom-up learning, but I drew on one of my experiences in the Army Reserve as an example, and arguably the one I am most proud of although I won’t lay claim to the original idea, only its implementation for some of my soldiers.

In my ‘trade’ in the Army (Armoured Reconnaissance, “recce” to the Brits and Aussies/Kiwis, and ‘armored cavalry scouts’ to the Americans), Armoured Vehicle recognition was a key skill required at all levels.  At the time, we were still training to operate in a Cold War-type, conventional environment as opposed to the regional and sectarian strife going on today.

The ‘traditional’ method of AFV recognition was through slide decks.  In this case, real photo sides, because PPT wasn’t widely used in field training at that time.  One of the problems with this training environment is that many of the photos weren’t realistic.  Many of them were like “dealer” photos.  The other problem was that the photos didn’t represent what these vehicles might look like at a distance or what it might look like from different angles, or half-hidden, etc., etc.  In short, success in AFV recognition in training scenarios came down to slide memorization and an ability to draw on a few memorized characteristics in case you got stuck.

On one exercise, some Regular Force folks put a few of us into a mock observation post, gave us binoculars and had us peer out to see what we could see.  The Reg Force guys (being better funded than us part-time soldiers) had some 1/76 scale models laid out in a few areas and wow, were they ever hard to spot.  It made recognition more of a challenge and at that point I had the germ of an idea.

So, long story short, a year or so later, I was teaching the on-weekends version Corporal’s Qualifying Course in Recce and I talked the Course Officer into letting me handle the AFV recognition portion.  Fortunately, I was (and sometimes still am) an avid scale model builder and I had a very large array of 1/35 scale vehicles.  But, rather than using those instead of slides, I booked the indoor range as my classroom.  Through a little bit of math, I set up a simulated environment where the soldiers were looking at vehicles that appeared to be 800M to 1100M away.  I set up some ‘terrain’, borrowed some camouflage nets and a few other tricks and laid out a pretty challenging scenario for the students.

After a general briefing on the principles of recogntion, the soldiers were taken down to the range, handed binoculars, told that there were almost 40 vehicles out there, and they had 15 mins to identify them all from their ‘distant’ vantage point.

While the scores were lower than the slide memorization, the activity was a big hit with them.  They felt it was far more realistic, and understood just how hard it could be to accurately identify these vehicles at a distance…because reporting a fleet of jeeps is one thing, but it what you really saw was a fleet of tanks heading in your direction, the implications are a little different. 😉

The real confirmation of that success came when an officer I knew from an infantry regiment at our Armoury happened to be in on that weekend.  He was downstairs and saw what I was doing on the range.  He asked to sit in and simultaneously asked if I would run the same training for his Anti-Armour troops and then cleared it with my CO.

So while it wasn’t e-learning at all, I like to think that I set up a good environment for learning and it wasn’t something that would have come from the top-down.