10 Take Aways from DevLearn

I am a conference learner. I don’t always like every session but I get ideas, connect thoughts, and always apply something when I get home. DevLearn 2015 in Vegas was no different so here is my try to apply list:

  1. Design Mapping: I am already applying what I learned from David Anderson & Tom Kuhlman from Articulate. Before you design your course, design the design aka the look and feel of an eLearning course. This means color, font, images, elements, and the resources for ideas. My design map for an upcoming safety course was a hit with my sme and I have an idea of where I am headed on the screen.
  2. Comics: Michael Sheyahshe’s session might not have gone as planned but I bought Scott McCloud’s book that he suggested to learn more about comics. I got an app to read comics on my iPad. As I look to incorporate a comic look to a course I will remember his tip to SLOW DOWN animation and make it so my panels are “tap to zoom” for closer looks. I also liked his reference to the Ken Burns effect of doing a slow pan of a photo.
  3. Trina Rimmer’s session on Level Up Your eLearning gave me a lot of visual ideas. One take away was to use a game as pre-work to learn the terms you need in the rest of the course. The other key theme was for the learner to make choices that had risks/consequences. I can definitely add that to my safety training.
  4. Ron Price did a game session for Storyline2 users. My notes? Wow, there is a question bank? I have never clicked that. Not once. Add that to the list and maybe I too can create a cool game. geez louize.
  5. I should put David Anderson on retainer like a lawyer. After great design mapping info he added all kinds of other stuff to my brain in his Interactive Video in Storyline session. I will be looking to add video clips of our exec team in the onboarding course we have after watching one example. My fave though was a page he showed from the NY Times where you chose if the person in the video clip was lying or not. For me, the tech part of pausing a video might take some practice to use in a course.
  6. Robert Panetti shared his team’s work with a company in SharePoint. I have a few questions for our IT person and our internal communications person now. I think we could use the platform more effectively for creative content our learners access themselves. Related articles & videos can be featured in a way people want to click.
  7. Tracy Parish built a really cool course in WordPress so folks outside her company could access it. I loved the modules with assignments and how it encourages comments. Her tips on how to think through setting it up were very helpful and gave me a new way to think about “pages.” Best reminder, it is a webpage not a blog.
  8. I admit that the GameSalad session with Nick Floro was over my lack o’ tech head. It also did not help that I could not click along because my company firewall blocked the download. I am not really sure at this point how I would use one of these games. I am glad I saw it, have some pretty good notes on the choices to make, & know some other folks that have used it.
  9. Keynotes tend to be more inspirational than tangible. Adam Savage clearly imprinted on our minds that we need to tell our stories. When talking to a really technical sme, just keep parroting to check understanding. He was vulnerable, he was enthusiastic, and he was indeed inspiring.
  10. My colleagues again taught me that I am not alone. There are others who have not tried something, others who think the same way you do, and others that want to have the conversation with you. I am so grateful for these people in L&D.

So I leave another conference with lots of ideas, things to try, techniques I will reach out to colleagues to master, new friends, and definitely inspired. Thanks eGuild, it was great.

SME is a SME is a SME?

Sketchmap June ATDKC Sue at ATDKC Chapter Meeting

My good friend Sue Maden shared her methods in partnering with SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) today for the Kansas City ATD chapter meeting. It was a good session. There was good interaction, valuable information shared, templates that people begged for afterward, and lunch–because happy learners are fed learners. It struck me that although most of us who work in Learning & Development work with SMEs at some level, it is not always the same interaction. Many in the field are working with them in order to provide instructional design. Sue’s team does not. Her SMEs are the trainers and designers of the learning. Even so, Sue’s approach to her interaction with them still gave most of us some good things to remember or try.

1. Get a sponsor. Management backing of training is crucial. If you are going to train their people, get their stamp on it.

2. Have them create a lesson plan based on a form you create that guides them. As mentioned, Sue’s team does not do instructional design nor the instruction, the SMEs do. Her team’s guidance begins with these clever forms that have them input the course purpose, the audience, and other details that set the path for implementation. What a great way to influence what the SME is creating!

3. Do a kick off meeting with the small group of involved parties; Training team, SME, Sponsor, technology adviser if needed. This fleshes out the expectations of the SME who will deliver the course and what assistance they will receive. Seated at my table were two ladies from Optum Health who described their “scope of work” agreements they have with their teams. It is their way of keeping everyone accountable to deliverables and the project on time. (love it when you get bonus learning at your group table)

4. Use and give feedback to help guide your SME in their delivery and content. When they are given the chance, Sue’s team helps SMEs adjust their Power Points, maybe chunk their content, or target the level of learning a bit. Survey Monkey is used to gather feedback from the participants and then shared with the instructors.

5. Give the SMEs recognition. This was a big ah ha moment for half the room. Sue’s company has a lunch event recognizing the SME’s who served as instructors in the year and give the top levels a gift. (levels as in amount of training done) They are tweaking their process a little now and started a certification process for the SME instructors that includes training for them, a peer coach, and an exam. It will change their celebration a bit with this tighter focus. Either way this point of recognition was a bit of a shaming moment since most of us do not do anything but high five and say thanks.

In summary, Sue told us that SMEs are like a client, who may become our friends, that we ask questions, and take baby steps through a process with to create great learning opportunities. (or that was my interpretation of what she said)

Lastly there were a few bonus tips shared learned at ATD ICE 2015 from Becky Pike Pluth and a technology tip. I always recommend folks to check out the backchannel to our learning conferences by David Kelly for those types of tips too. The technology? Poll Everywhere is being used in their on-line training sessions to great success. I will be checking that one out myself right after I create a learning plan form for my SMES.

5 gals, a board, and a life of friendship

So this lesson never gets old. . .friends get you through the hard spots and celebrate with you on the other side. This week there was another get together of women I am indebted to for their listening to me when I was not really all that special to be around. They supported me, encouraged me, and helped me put my career on a new path. Oh and there was dinner with wine and dessert. We know what we are doing.

gal pals

I met one of these gals early in days here in Kansas City. She welcomed me to the professional organization, then called KCASTD and now ATDKC. She smoothed my way onto the board. I served on the board with the gal I met at an ASTD International Conference standing in line for Starbucks. The other two said “yes” to us when we recruited them to be on the board as well.

Why show our goofy photo and tell you about our get togethers? It is to encourage you to get involved in a professional organization. The networking has gotten me more than one job. I have learned things from people that I would have otherwise not met. The opportunity for skill enhancing via board positions or presenting will allow you to share your gifts and be richly rewarded by the experience. The last one is obvious. You can never have too many friends. The ones you meet and keep from your professional association are the ones who truly understand your bad day, have been there, and will help you find a way out. . .maybe even offer you some cheese to go with your wine.

Learning on the Sidelines

My daughter and I cheering on my other daughter.

My daughter and I cheering on my other daughter.

Spring soccer weather can be sunny and warm, but most often it is chilly and sometimes wet. This past weekend we were lucky to escape the wet part. Past lessons have taught us to come prepared: seat pads, chairs if no bleachers, blankets, jackets, rain ponchos, umbrellas, trash bag ( muddy, wet cleats ), a bath towel ( to dry off and wipe off mud ), sunscreen, bug spray, and wipes. I will now add to my list, hand lotion. My hands after being in the cold for two days look like granny hands they are so lined and dry. If you are a new soccer parent, jot down the list and you’re welcome. Other things we have learned over the years are through observation and asking a lot of questions.

The general rules of the game we have learned by watching the calls, asking questions, and now an older child who referees ( love sitting with the rule book girl ). That last one has made me more compassionate for the referees in general. The best way to learn a game is to play it I think and I do in my dreams. In my dreams I am a midfielder probably due to some sort of being in control desire. When awake I am in my chair, shaking my head at the stuff I hear.

This is the other lesson learned about the game, parents often ruin the game for everyone.  Yelling at referees does not do much good. They are not going to call what they did not see ( tip from daughter and logical ). They generally know the rules better than the sidelines. Agitating them can have unwanted consequences as your kid’s team will notice when they start getting called for everything. A bad or missed call is unfortunate, frustrating, but really not life or death here folks. The other part of this is the irritation level by all the other parents listening to you whine over every call. If the whiny parent is from your own team, they are given the look, no one sits by them ( or tries not to ), and later one of us will beg the coach to have a chat with them. If the whiny parent is on the other team, it labels the team as the poor sports, over-the-top parents we hate to play because we think they need a reality check. Because again it is a game, not the kid’s whole future life being ruined because they lost a game or had a bad call.

Lastly, you will learn about human behavior. Watching how different kids play, interact with teammates and opponents, talk to coaches and referees, and the discussions they have with their parents tells you a lot about them. My child has always been a mediator amongst her friends. On the field it comes out in a fierce desire for fairness. She has good sportsmanship but it takes a hit if she perceives the play to be dirty or the opponent particularly vicious. Watching others on her team, it was easy to see who would be a go along with the group on our weekend away and who would be the instigators. Maybe this is what the learning and development field has done for me. Watch, ask, learn and be prepared for a good experience no matter the outcome. Whatever that outcome is does not matter to me. I just love to watch her play and to soak in the experience. Here’s to learning something no matter where you are.

Experiential Magic of Learning

Universal Studios Orlando Hogwarts Castle

Universal Studios Orlando Hogwarts Castle

Prior to the release of book 3 in the Harry Potter series, I had been sucked into the storytelling of JK Rowling and the voice of reader, Jim Dale.  It was clever writing, with the imagery that had full pictures in my mind. While I did not attend the midnight release parties in bookstores in the years that followed, I did read every book in the series. Walking through the arch into Hogsmeade with my family, I entered the world that had been in my mind. It was indeed magical. The girls and I felt like we were inside the imaginary world of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter. The effect is slightly dulled of course by all the other muggles that are visiting Universal Studios, the turn-styles, and the wand that only works in designated spots, but I would go back for the experience again.

It is kind of sad that there are not a lot of training experiences that come to mind that have left this same impression on me. One that does and is focused on the experience of learning was through Jeanine O’Neill-Blackwell’s 4MAT for Business Master Class. The main objective essentially was to identify the instructional design model, apply it, and then teach it to others (simplifying of course). We did an exercise with an orange where we had to describe it in our small groups while imagining it. This was repeated after we got one, peeled it, and were able to eat it. Experiencing the orange allowed for real learning about the fruit. Many of you have probably done similar exercises. Did it change your design process? 4MAT as a model changed mine due to this focus on experience and practice in able to perform.

Training that only gives information does not allow for experiencing the content nor thinking about it. Storyline as an authoring tool will allow me to create eLearning that is really just boxes on a screen with maybe a character head for added excitement, “oooohh ahhhhh.” If I throw in a quiz for good measure I might meet the objectives of the client but what did I do for the learner? The magic of learning comes in when we can imagine ourselves completing the task we are trying to learn by visualizing it and then practicing it. On days I struggle to come up with the visual I need, I check out the Articulate Heroes page for ideas (a little magic shared by an awesome community of L&D folk). I go back to the key question we must ask, “what does the learner need to be able to do?” Then it is all about creating that experience for them to become a part of their own learning.

Any eLearning I design will not have the “coolness” factor that I experienced as I walked through that arch and saw Hogwarts. I will shoot for a positive learner experience where they felt like they learned the objective and can visualize themselves completing it successfully. If I figure out how to make my own frozen butter beer maybe I will throw that in as a reward for completions. I can still taste that yumminess–now that is an magical experience.

Checking SMEs? Sacrilege!

I overhead a conversation in a bookstore that made me wonder, “where did she hear that and why is she repeating it as fact?” As an instructional designer, I am asking myself if I check what I get from a Subject Matter Expert (SME) when I design. Should I? I mean, hey they are a SME (read that with great emphasis, possible trumpet sound effects). Webster’s dictionary says sacrilege means “gross irreverence toward a hallowed person, place, or thing.” I am sure there are some who would say I have overstepped the sacrilege  line here by even asking the question.

We are in an age of overwhelming access to information in the developed world. There are voices everywhere giving opinions, sharing research findings, and taking photos or videos of places and events. I have written before about the need to check your sources before taking them as fact; see my last post about Facebook.  Apparently the lady in the bookstore missed that post but it would have told her it is not that hard to verify the number of government workers, the median salary of said workers, or the relational status of Oprah Winfrey. Even though I am hip to all of that, I have never checked the content a SME has given me and at the moment it is giving me pause.

When I use purchased content from HRDQ I add their copyright info to the final screen or on the title slide. If I am quoting a person or a piece of information from a resource, I cite the source in my training. I am ashamed to say I have not really done that as much when working with a SME. They give me content, I use it to create training. How hard is it to check the safety information I am given with OSHA? Or in the past, pump operational information with the INO or other technical documentation? It probably would not take that much time to either check it myself or ask politely for my SME to cite their sources.  As a professional in the learning and development industry, we all need to verify the information we are given. Just say “no” to the handing over of a slide deck with no questions asked.

Facebook Making You Stupid?

How do you choose what you “like” in your facebook account?  Your friends like something so you follow suit? There is a topical story posted you agree with, so in addition to liking it on your friend’s post you actually click like on the page? Or sadly did you like it without reading it? Like all social media, facebook can be a great place to glean information and learn something or . . .not.

Let’s get the “not” out of the way. We all have our political and religious views. I think you should be free to express those views on your social media. A suggestion however that you take time to click the article or blog you are sharing on your page. A friend shared a blog post that had a political slant I know she probably agreed with in general. However I would bet that she had not looked to see who’s blog she was posting, nor any of the other posts by that blogger. It was a satirical journalist who had other posts she would probably not have shared. Just like your English, Social Studies, and other teachers told you in school, take the time to check your sources.  I like Politifact and Factcheck.org for political and news fact checking. Primary sources are sited and sometimes linked. For your everyday hoaxes, rumors, and stuff you heard posts, I like Snopes. The site can be a little snarky but they will reprint quotes in context to help you discern what you think about a statement or urban legend as they call it. Remember, you would not believe it on a tabloid in the check out line, so quit believing it in your facebook feed.

On the positive side, you can learn a lot via a quick perusal of your facebook feed if you have liked sources that teach you stuff. I love LifeHacker. It is a techy kind of site that has alerted me scams, digital tech tips, hacks, and a variety of research studies. I also like several vendors, not for the coupons or special offers although that can be great but dropbox, techsmith, and other tools I use post tips on how to use their stuff better. On a personal side, I also like a few writers who have blogs I enjoy but might miss. Their recent posts usually show up on my newsfeed and I can decide if I want to read it or not based on the topic. I like this better than subscribing because that just fills up my email box.

Social media and the array of sources for information these days can overwhelm you or become tools to inform you. Don’t let them make you “stupid” by sharing crap that is not true, you did not fact check, or passed up checking the source. I will close this post by saying when we do not agree with one another on a topic, we can be tempted to judge harshly. Being a part of social media means also allowing a moment of grace to your friends. You did not agree with everything they did or expressed before social media so do not let it color your friendship now.

Watching some Ted

When was the last time you watched a Ted video? A lot of the learning and development community know the site, probably watched a few videos at first, and then “put it on the shelf” like we do with so many resources. In the Canvas.net course, “30 Days with Ted,” I am watching videos, curating video clips for curriculum, and learning how to use the site better. This MOOC has great assignments that are helping me see using a Ted video in a new way.

The first week assignment had us curate three Ted videos around a theme.  We were to post them in the discussion area, commenting on why we chose them. We also had to read at least two other posts, watch their videos and comment on them. I chose the theme of engagement in education. The first one was Daphne Koller talking about starting Coursera.org, the first big MOOC site. The second was Shimon Schocken with a great example of experiential learning. The last one was my favorite.  Christopher Emdin showed the audience how to learn to engage urban students and argued why that type of experiential learning should a part of teacher education.

Christopher EmdinEmdin’s idea was targeted at teacher programs. It totally made sense to me that we in the training community need to get out of our cubes. You say, “hey I meet with my sme’s all the time.” When was the last time you met outside of the conference room? Go to lunch where they usually hang out? Sit in on one of their team meetings to get a feel for their world? If we want our content to be their world so they absorb it, we need to observe their world. If we want them to be engaged in class maybe we should find out how to communicate with them and what gets their attention. C’mon people let’s bust out of cubeville and connect with our sme’s and our learners in a way we never have.  For me, this means I may need to learn how to play Magic and possibly read “Dungeons and Dragons for Dummies.” I think I want a warthog card?

Nevermind. Go watch a Ted video today for inspiration, an idea you can use, or a link to a video that fits your course perfectly. Along the way you may learn to tie your shoes or for pure enjoyment watch Ben Zander tell you why you should love classical music–he was one of the most engaging speakers I have watched yet. Happy “tedding.!”

Tweeting, Curating, & MOOC’ing our way to Learning

I had a great start to my day with colleagues from ATD Kansas City. How cool to get to start off this year’s calendar of programs. When I attend the International Conference for the Association of Talent Development, we all like to think that everyone is using technology. Uhh no they’re not.  As members of a learning community we are not very good at attending to our own learning. A chapter meeting is not enough. A conference is not enough. I hope folks still take advantage of those but they need to invest in themselves a little more and they need to use technology.

So today attendees set up a twitter account.  Some had one but did not use it much or ever learn how to use it. The couple of tweeps I had in the room helped others out with their new start on a learning path. Reality?  I have learned more via my twitter feed than any other resource, yes I said resource. Who do I follow to gain this wealth of knowledge? Companies who’s products I use like @articulate, @elearningbros, and @camtasia. Organizations I belong to like @atd, @atdkc, and @eguild. Tech, training trade, and business magazines like @fastcompany, @wired, @learningsolmag, @harvardbiz. Finally I talked to them about twitter chats and shared my choice of apps, Hootsuite. I showed them my twitter stream from #lrnchat, held on Thursday nights at 8:30 eastern. In that stream they found folks I find invaluable to my own learning like @janebozarth, @stipton, @larrystraining and @technkl.

This led to the blogs I follow.  David Kelly’s blog and backchannel were a whole new world for most in the room.  Shannon Tipton’s Learning Rebels blog also recently talked about the topic of your own development and is not to be missed. Again I encourage folks to check out the blogs of folks they connect with on twitter but also from the companies they deal with like Tom Kuhlman’s great blog for rapid eLearning. Zite and other blog/article curating tools and apps were also pointed out and shared by the group.

The last topic of the morning was MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses. While many knew the term, today’s look at Canvas.net was their first time checking one out. I am excited to begin 3 new courses for free on this site. Today I started “30 Days of Ted.” I think I will soon have some friends joining me on the adventure. Also discussed was Coursera.org, Udacity.com, and the Khan Academy.  Two rich learning sources that are perfect for your treadmill but not free are Lynda.com and Udemy.  I have used both and love them.

This is a longer than usual post, sorry but not sorry. I hope you check out some of the links I shared. That was today’s session thanks to our host, Training Umbrella. Participants could click along and view the sites for themselves. I hope you do too. Cheers to your new learning goals in 2015.

Presenting the January meeting topic, Creating Your Personal Development Plan

Presenting the January meeting topic, Creating Your Personal Development Plan

New year and a blank page


At the beginning of a new year a lot of people make resolutions. It is a clean slate they say. This year I will do things differently. I equate it to the procrastination habit of “begin on Monday” since it is a new week. Webster’s dictionary says a resolution is the “act of finding the answer to something” which does not really seem how we use it. Or is it? If I resolve to lose weight, read more, not procrastinate, etc. what answer am I finding? That possibly is another blog.  This one is not a meant to be a self therapy session but instead a reminder of training you have received many times if you work in the corporate world. Don’t fill your blank page with resolutions, fill it with goals written the smart way.

S=Specific  What are you going to actually do?  What is your desired result?  You may want to read more–what are you wanting to read and for what purpose? You want to lose weight–how? adding exercise? making menu changes?  General goals are often not achieved because they get lost and do not allow us the small victories we need along the way.

M=Measurable  How many days will you exercise? How many books/magazines do you want to read? How many pounds? What amount of time are you shooting to spend with your family? Too many people do not put a target to their goals so how do they know they reached it?

A=Achievable (Yes, I know there are loads of different A’s out there for this acronym but this is the one I chose).  Are you setting a goal that is such a stretch that you will think it is a miracle if you reach it? Stop that. Set a goal that you can achieve with effort and focus but not to the detriment of everything else in life.  You want to be happy you reached your goal not relieved.

R=Relevant This one is all about the purpose of your goal.  Here is the why part of what you are trying to do.  If you are losing weight for someone other than yourself, march yourself to a therapist.  Lose weight to be healthy; because it makes you feel good. Read more to become more informed or just because it brings you personal enjoyment. Know your why to the goal–it helps motivate you.

T=Timebound This is the tricky one this time of year I think.  When we typically do this whole resolution thing, we say “this year. . .” and it is a really long leash time.  If you have a really BIG goal, then set a few mini-ones that are the steps it takes you to get there.  Note setting any date other than “this year” is why most people fail at completing their goals.

You can achieve your goals for the year by writing them in a SMART fashion and using tools to keep focus. Track your progress in an app like Evernote,  Create steps to achieve your goal by creating a list in Wunderlist. Use a fitbit, or other pedometer type of device to track your progress.  Your goal is a project, treat it like one.

Good luck with your goals this year.  Last tip? Find some folks to cheer you on and then celebrate with you when you achieve it.