Content Strategy

When to create simulations

Posted by Kathy Boyd on Mar 4, 2015 4:00:00 AM

Creating a training class, but don’t have access to the tools or any way to complete hands-on activities for your learners? Sounds like the perfect opportunity for that new superhero, Super Simulations.

However, are there times when simulations don’t work? Are we forcing ourselves (and our students) to use them just because they’re the latest technology for learning?

When should you create a simulation? This question could generate a lot of answers, ranging from “all the time” to “never,” depending on the subject matter. But are there some subjects that are a natural fit for simulations?

I love the opportunity to get learners to the real-life experience. If there’s a way for them to get their hands dirty (so to speak) with the tools, processes, or soft skills that they’ll be using, why not create a simulation?

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Topics: training, learning professionals, training and development, Simulations

What’s the deal with global English? (Part A)

Posted by Richard Howard on Feb 18, 2015 6:00:00 PM

I sat in recently on a workshop about the “empathetic voice” that was delivered to some of our Microsoft partners in Shanghai. The express purpose of this presentation was to teach writers how to make their technical documentation more “end-user friendly,” more “natural sounding and conversational.” Per my Official Style-bashing in recent posts, I’m all in favor of those goals. Technical documentation remains one of the most durable bastions of The Official Style, with all its pointless pomp, mystification, and reliance on jargon.

But at one point, one of the attendees asked the presenter for specific tips on how English-as-a-second-language (ESL) writers can actually achieve this “relaxed, conversational” tone, given that non-native English speakers are just never going to have the same ear as native speakers for the “natural” way of saying something in English. What struck me, as the presenter struggled to come up with a useful response, was that he apparently hadn’t even considered the special challenge that non-native writers face in trying to adopt a natural-sounding voice and tone in English. 

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Topics: technical writing, writing, learning content strategy, learning professionals

10 best practices for the virtual classroom

Posted by Gwen Watenpaugh on Feb 11, 2015 6:00:00 AM

I’ve spent the last 15 years focused on adult learning in the global corporate environment, and over the years, there has been increasing demand for more flexibility in the classroom. When I began managing training programs, a big part of the budget was spent on the traditional classroom environment, with an instructor and all participants in the same room. Then, over time, the audience for the training grew and was spread out geographically to the point that the biggest part of the budget was spent on simply getting people from A to B. This could get very expensive very quickly! I had to find new approaches to deliver training to vastly different locations simultaneously.

Here are some of the essential best practices I learned from these experiences:

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Topics: learning and development, adult education, learning professionals, training and development, training documents, adult learners, virtual training

What are your thoughts on mobile phones in the classroom? (Part 1)

Posted by Kim Dare on Jan 28, 2015 4:00:00 AM

Mobile phones, personal laptops – any distraction, really. How do you handle distractions in the classroom? In this two-part topic, I’ll share my thoughts on allowing students to use cellphones or computers during content delivery.

When I teach, I struggle with the idea of allowing participants to check cellphones or look at content other than the class content. I’d love to think that I’m so engaging that no student could be torn away from my voice. Or that the students are so invested in the course that nothing would entice their attention away from it. But then I think that it’s pretty judgmental of me to think that a student looking at a phone doesn’t care about their success in the course.

Almost 15 years ago, I traveled as a technical trainer for a large high-tech company. Having already spent 12 years in public education, I was very comfortable in front of a classroom. But teaching adults was a very different experience (as I noted in a previous blog post). My thoughts on managing distractions were influenced by my experience as a student during the 3 months of preparation. This is what my day would look like:

  • 8:00 a.m.: I’d arrive in the classroom, take my seat, take out my computer, and chitchat with my neighbors.
  • 8:15 a.m.: The facilitator would introduce the syllabus and take care of any classroom business.
  • 8:30 a.m.: The facilitator would begin going through the slide deck and delivering content.
  • 8:40 a.m.: I’d start to get heavy eyelids and need to do something to keep my eyes open.
  • 8:43 a.m.: I’d sneak my cellphone out and check my Facebook for about 5 minutes. I was terrified that my facilitator could see me and I’d get in trouble.
  • 9:00 a.m.: The facilitator would do a quick review, and I’d be able to answer all of the questions.
  • 9:15 a.m.: Break time.
  • 9:30 a.m.: We’d return to class and repeat the first six bullet points.

Let me make a couple of observations:

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Topics: learning and development, classroom training, mobile devices, classroom learning, learning professionals

Best Practices for Onboarding Programs

Posted by Kathy Boyd on Jan 20, 2015 8:10:50 AM

Whether you call it onboarding, orientation, or new employee training, the idea is the same: you have information that you need to instill in an employee, and you need to do it fast and efficiently.

If you’ve been a corporate trainer or an instructional designer for a while, you’ve created these types of programs. In some cases, it’s a simple course that you create to explain new processes or procedures. However, most onboarding or orientation programs can be very lengthy and detailed.

There are various methods for providing this information to the employee. We’d all like to be able to take an experienced employee and do a “Vulcan mind-meld” to the new employee to pass along all the information that the experienced employee has gleaned over the years. But since that technology isn’t available yet, we need to create programs or training sessions that will provide everything that the employee will need.

Best practices for these types of programs can include items such as the following:

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Topics: learning and development, corporate trainer, corporate learning, learning program, learning professionals

Design Thinking for L&D, Part 2 of 5

Posted by Brandon Carson on Jul 30, 2014 7:24:00 AM

In Part 1 of this series, we introduced Design Thinking (DT) for L&D, and discussed the first DT Mode: Empathy. In this post, we’ll take a look at the second mode: Define. First, let’s review the “official” definition of DT from the creators themselves, Tim Brown and David Kelley, founders of the IDEO Design Agency in San Francisco:

“Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.”

Their efforts fit right into what we do as instructional designers. Design Thinking offers ways to be more collaborative and intentional in the solutions we end up creating. Now, what do we mean by “Define”?

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Topics: learning and development, training, instructional design, Brandon Carson, ADDIE, learning professionals, training and development, design thinking, IDEO, Tim Brown, David Kelley

xAPI: Following Up on the Next Iteration of SCORM with Aaron Silvers

Posted by Jeff Tillett on Jun 11, 2014 9:44:00 AM

For years now, we’ve relied on the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) standard to help us track some very basic data for courses that are accessed from learning management systems (LMSs). Basically, we use SCORM to track course completion, the time required, whether learners passed or failed, and what their score was. This information is available to anyone who has the ability to view the reports. The question I always ask is, how often is this data even looked at outside of tracking compliance courseware? Although I see the importance of what it does and agree that it has played an important role in managing learning, I believe we may have outgrown it. The data that it gives us, while important, is very narrow when we consider the possibilities for learning today. There have been many important changes in learning and development over the past decade, and we’ve come to realize that a majority of the learning takes place outside an LMS. I’m not going to say that we no longer need LMSs; however, I believe that an LMS today should look a lot different than it did 10 years ago.

What I’m talking about in this article is the amount of learning that takes place outside an LMS. We have so much information available to us these days, and we can access it not only from our desktop computers but from our mobile devices, anytime and anywhere—dare I say at the point of need? In the last decade or so, we’ve seen the rise of informal and social learning—or I should say that we’ve come to recognize that this is how a great deal of learning takes place. Many organizations have multiple internal systems that act as conduits to all this content. We have systems like SharePoint portals, and internal social networks such as Jive or Yammer. We also have networks of internal websites filled with valuable information that’s available for us to consume.

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Topics: learning and development, LMS, Jeff Tillett, Aaron Silvers, SCORM, learning locker, CallidusCloud, LRS, Compliance Coursewear, xAPI, Saltbox, Litmos, learning professionals, WaxLRS, Experience API, ADL

Anatomy of a Bad Assessment Item

Posted by Brandon Carson on Apr 23, 2014 12:00:00 AM

One of the traditional tasks in instructional design is the creation of “knowledge checks”—standard quiz items, usually placed in-context with content. The idea behind these types of assessment items is to provide the learner an opportunity to self-assess in sequence, immediately after information acquisition. A common type of item is the multiple-choice item. Multiple-choice items can work if you have a great deal of time and understanding of the material, so that you’re able to construct items that probe higher levels of reasoning. Too often, however, the reality is that instructional designers without domain expertise write multiple-choice items that are irrelevant to real learning and, in many situations, cause more harm than good. Let’s dissect a multiple-choice item, probing a bit deeper into why these kinds of assessment items can be dangerous and discussing how to make them better.

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Topics: learning and development, training, instructional design, online training, content creation, learning professionals, multiple choice quiz

The State of Instruction 2014 (so far)

Posted by Brandon Carson on Jan 23, 2014 11:34:00 AM

Entirenet,learning,elearning,training,training programs,training processMany in the corporate training industry spend a lot of time demystifying, myth busting and wading through jargon, buzzwords, trends, and rumors. Before we can determine what technology, tools, and processes to investigate and implement, we need to ensure we have the fundamental framework of effective instruction in place first. This is what I would see as the most critical element in your learning function. Here at the ASTD TechKnowledge conference in Las Vegas, I have seen a number of presentations, chats, and both formal and informal discussions around the basic instructional strategies that form the foundation of everything you do. First, determine if your approach to instructional design includes these three principles:

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Topics: learning and development, training, ASTD Techknowledge, instructional design, ASTD, action-based learning, Brandon Carson, instructor led training, learning professionals, onboarding new hires