Campus Tour

….and over here we have the cafeteria.  Pretty big.  You get in any of these lines here and pay over there at the registers.  They’ve got salads, pasta, soup, bread, burgers, pizza.  That line over there does entrees.  Some ethnic stuff over there.  Just pick out what you want and pay, then pull up a seat at one of the tables, or outside if it’s not Juneuary.

And down the hall here we’ve got dry cleaning.  Pretty convenient.  Just drop it off when you come in, and it’s ready in a couple days, swing by, take it back home, you know.  It’s pretty nice.

Then here we have the badger room.  It’s where we keep the badgers.  Might want to stay away from there.

And right down here’s the fitness center.  Precors, treadmills, weights, just about everything.  Need to swipe in with your badge.  Open 24/7.  If you hear anything knocking around the south side it’s probably just the badgers.

You know, I wonder why we even have a badger room.  It’s not like they contribute to the core product line.  Not at all.  I can’t think of one impact they might have.  And it’s air conditioned in there…that’s messed up.  There’s like, 400 badgers in there.  Probably why they’re so noisy.  I wonder what they eat.  Probably new hires, hahahaha.  “New meat, got some new meat here!”  Yeah, stay away from that room.  I’m gonna have to ask about that.

Facebook backlash isn’t just about Facebook (but I bet it wishes it was)

This month I’ve read a few articles bashing the facebook IPO.  The most resounding one was: Facebook Ads Aren’t Grabbing Users.

Have you ever clicked on a facebook ad?  Out of interest in a product?

Social media people will (hopefully) tell you that social media is a tough nut to crack.  The best tools are passion and authenticity, which breed consistency.

Facebook ads don’t get clicked on because very few ads of any kind in any medium get “clicked on” anymore.  People are either interested in a product or they aren’t.  TV, Radio, Print, Web.  There’s noise everywhere, and you’re either passionate, authentic, and consistent (and funny helps a lot), or you’re noise.

Part of the facebook backlash was GM pulling their facebook advertising budget the week before the IPO.  This is a big lumbering slow-moving corporation that actually analyzed its facebook ad performance and decided it wasn’t going to make any babies there and pulled right the heck out.

Money doesn’t buy happiness?  Maybe.  But you definitely can’t monetize friendship.  When you do, the friendship goes away.

What does all of this mean for everyone who wishes to advertise on facebook?  Or any other social media FTM (for that matter)?

Bring PASSION, be AUTHENTIC, be CONSISTENT.  And if you’d like to interest me at all, be funny and be quick about it.  And don’t use big words like Deliverables and Strategic Objectives.  Talk normal, folks.  If your service delivers results nobody cares where you came from (if they do care, let them ask).  What I’m noticing more and more, is that the more time and physical space you need to explain to someone why you functionally exist, the less important you are.

….sorry, got off on a rant.  gee, how important am at, clocking in a 327 characters so far.

Consistency is the straw that breaks the camels back.  You can fake passion and authenticity for only so long…then you just get tired of it if your heart isn’t in the game.

Consistency is two fold:  1) Update regularly, and 2) measure your results to give people more of what they want.  If you make money from cats dancing to Katy Perry, post something new about that once a week.  If you make money from your adorable dog, post something new about that every day.  If you make money by writing a regular 3000 essay on being a single dad, do that.

If you do a posting, or a video, or an instagram, or a tweet, only once every so often, you’re not going to benefit a whole lot from social media marketing, because you won’t actually be doing social media marketing.

Facebook ads:  they don’t work because they aren’t authentic.  People who are on facebook are there to interact with their friends.  It’s just like watching TV….you DVR everything because you’re there to experience your shows, not watch commercials.

When your own “commercials” become the reason that people are there, the thing that people are interacting with – – THAT is when you will be effectively using social marketing.

Signed and untagged,
Scott

 

 

See, I’m right

This is not a guide to social DIY-ing.  It’s a quick statement.

Late August 2011 I approached some target companies with a proposal to get them up and running with regularly published, internally generated, social content.  I’m going to call it “social content,” because quite frankly, all social content is marketing.

One part of my criteria for targeting a company was that they had to have a physical product: a box on a shelf, a unit in a showroom – – something that their end users could actually touch.

If you would like a very simplified version of my August 2011 proposal, which includes step by step instructions, metrics for ROI, and things like that, shoot me an email and I’ll send it to you. NSA.

Today, I read this article that reinforces my opinions and theories, which I came to after several months of intensive careful research.  Here’s an excerpt (parts of this quotes George Mason U economist Tyler Cowen),

…the Internet is a wonder when it comes to generating “cheap fun.” But because “so many of its products are free,” and because so much of a typical Web company’s work is “performed more or less automatically by the software and the servers,” the online world is rather less impressive when it comes to generating job growth.

It’s telling, in this regard, that the companies most often cited as digital-era successes, Apple and Amazon, both have business models that are firmly rooted in the production and delivery of nonvirtual goods. Apple’s core competency is building better and more beautiful appliances; Amazon’s is delivering everything from appliances to DVDs to diapers more swiftly and cheaply to your door.

By contrast, the more purely digital a company’s product, the fewer jobs it tends to create and the fewer dollars it can earn per user — a reality that journalists have become all too familiar with these last 10 years, and that Facebook’s investors collided with last week. There are exceptions to this rule, but not all that many: even pornography, long one of the Internet’s biggest moneymakers, has become steadily less profitable as amateur sites and videos have proliferated and the “professionals” have lost their monopoly on smut.

The internet is free, and the content is going to be more and more self-generated, and catching eyeballs will require being more and more ENGAGING and AUTHENTIC.  And SHORTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Get to the f-ing point in 10 seconds!!!!!!!!!!!   The more you need to tell me about your product or service, the less I need it!!!!!!!!!!!!  Don’t convince me, I’m already doing that myself!!!!!!!!!

As I sat behind the camera taping a 2 hour ppt presentation given by a 70-year-old retiree a couple weeks ago (to be archived for future use….hahahahaha), my one overwhelming thought was, “If I have to sit through something for 2 hours, it better be Avengers quality.”

AND, this comes back around to my current thoughts on the massive culture shift that we’re going to be experiencing in 5 years, stretching for the next 10-20 years as the boomers retire and transition to those pleasant sunny acres in the sky:

  • Creating online content is not intuitive to most boomers.
  • Creating online content is very intuitive to most gen-y-ers.
  • Gen x is the fulcrum around which these two massive generations will transition during this culture shift.  It’s the generation that will allow relevant knowledge and processes to pivot from the old school boomer way of doing things to the new wave of no-attention-span nu skool gen y way of doing things.
Simple example:  right now I have to explain, to clients of a certain age, how to download email attachments, how to properly extract files from zipped folders, those kinds of things.
Technology may or may not change to simplify this sort of task, but the people who will be doing the task will most certainly be changing.

What are you thoughts on the upcoming culture shift?

What are you doing right now to be engaging, authentic, and are you GETTING TO THE POINT!?!?!?

Some additional food for thought:  right now you can have media content online within a couple hours – – or in most cases a couple minutes – – of creating it.  You can have media content on broadcast channels and publications within about a day of creating it.  As long as you have the money to create and the money to pay for the schedule.  Rapid internal ideation is key key key.

If you would like a very simplified version of my August 2011 proposal, which includes step by step instructions, metrics for ROI, and things like that, shoot me an email and I’ll send it to you. NSA.

btw, just for fun, my favorite campaigns right now are on the radio, and the only product name I’m recalling is Cabot Stain:

http://washington.wgu.edu/billboard

Cabot Stain “How did this DIYer turn so pro?”

The hot dog commercial that talks about springtime being adequate grilling weather, and taking off your jacket to: put on a lighter jacket.

 

Photographer Wanted

Howdy, one of my clients is looking for a photographer.  I know there are a couple in the Circle.

Product will be headshots for the clients website, possibly done on a greenscreen with some imaginary background like a “sunny Seattle day” composited.

Email me your email and a link to your porfolio, I’ll forward you to the client, and they/you will take it from there.  S P A N K S !

Scott@mediadesignseattle.com

eLearning – Summary

Download the full PDF article by clicking here

So, this has been a journey!
Hi.  My name’s Scott.  I help the people at corporations and organizations create web based training and eLearning tutorials.  Specifically, I help you write it, I create the content (sound, video, graphics, etc.) that goes with it, and I help you put it all together.

 

While writing this article, I came across a quote: Learning is chaotic.

 

Today’s hard and fast rules for learning do not apply to every learner, and will not be the same hard and fast rules for tomorrow.

 

As creators of training materials, we try to build a framework around this chaos called learning.  We have to be adaptable and change with the times.
Learning is an interruption.  If we are going to be successful, we have to be disruptive.

 

I’m writing this summary on the day that some training courses I created for the University of Washington Social Work Continuing Education Department have been glowingly approved.  Direct quote from the project manager, via my email:
Scott – Thank you Thank you Thank you.  These 3 courses really look great!

And one of the project manager’s bosses:
Scott, these look great!  I appreciate your rapid response and flexibility.
These are fantastic products!

For this UW project, I

·         Helped write the narration scripts (they drafted, I revised)
·         Created the content, which means:
o   Sourced the voice over talent
o   Used at least 6 different programs to create the graphics and
o   Edit the video
o   Created downloadable course transcripts, and then
·         Assembled the video, graphics, transcripts, quizzes, into training courses on their system

 

Two years ago, I created content for a 25 volume online University-style training system for a multinational insurance agency.  This is my Real World Example B from that section of this article.

 

As of this writing, that training required for all sales agents, and profits have risen.

 

For that project, I
·         Interviewed SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) and then drafted and revised their speaking scripts
·         Hired and supervised two freelancers to help me out with videotaping, video editing and graphics
·         Assembled the video, graphics, training manuals, subtitles, quizzes, pages, chapters, and modules on a beautiful custom system

 

Back in the wings right now I have a training project for a state agency.  My source material is Power Point files.  With them I am:
·         Writing the narration script
·         Sourcing the voice talent
·         Hiring help for particular parts
·         Putting everything into self-contained courses with Articulate
·         Posting the finished product to the agency’s system
Is this starting to look familiar?

 

Unique needs can be approached with simple steps and still create a unique, desired outcome.

 


I step in and execute those steps.  There might be a whole lot of steps (every need is unique), but I make my clients feel like it’s easy.

 

My clients (or more directly, my clients’ Project managers, managers at businesses and organizations, educators, human resources) already have their daily jobs to do.  When something like “build a training program for X,” is dropped on their plate, it can be a large order.  It took me 20-some pages to describe the various moving parts.  Particularly where creating the content is concerned; they may have never written a narration script, they might not understand the difference between the content itself and the way it is organized.

 

I don’t think they should have to know any of this.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with not knowing how to do these things.  They are tasks best left to specialists.  There is no shame in not knowing how to do something, as long as you know how to hire someone who does.

 

A competent content specialist will be able to mesh his work seamlessly with your project.

 

Since 1994, I’ve been doing exactly this for all kinds of clients.  All kinds.  As I listened to a friend of mine giving me feedback on this article, he said something like, “Scott, do you know what a truly powerful force you are, how you have been so helpful to me and others as a project manager and content creator.  How you are able to quickly size things up then synthesize, reorganize and guide people.  Do you have any idea what a benefit that is?”

 

Yes, I do.  That’s why I wrote this.  What he said.  I like to call it my blender head.
                                               haha, that’s a band logo.  Who knew?

BUT, back to the others described above:

 

Something I’d love to do for these educators, and any client with the need and the fit, is take advantage of Apples iBook Author, and start creating-then-posting fully engaging interactive iBooks to iTunes U, and otherwise branded eBooks for other convenient devices.

 

Something else I’d love to do, since I’m playing with ZebraZapps right now, is include this game-changing power (“game changing” – – get it?  Lol.) of game creation in more and more courses.

 

What do you want to do?

 

What do you want to create?

 

Learning should not be a hurdle to progress or a brick wall to growth.
It should be fun.  And it has to be helpful – – to both the employee and employer.

 

                                                                                               -me

I’m Scott.  I help the people at corporations and organizations create web based training and eLearning tutorials.  Specifically, I help you write it, I create the video and graphics that go with it, and I help you put it all together.

 Scott Bell

eLearning – Management, Presentation, Delivery

Download the full PDF article by clicking here

Once you have the Training and Content (the path, with all the twigs and rocks and stuff along the path), you need a system that will hold your program together and deliver it to your learners.

 

How does all of your content, all of your quizzing, all of your data gathering, come together?  Through your Learning Management System (LMS) and Content Management System (CMS), or the combo: LCMS.  What are these things?  Click that link and read the full Wikipedia entry for numbing detail.

 

None of these acronyms create content.

 

They do give your learners an infrastructure for viewing the training; organizing and presenting your content, quizzing, data gathering, etc.

 

Does your eLearning, web-based training program, need one of these systems?  Yes, in some form.  Will it be ridiculously confusing if I go on and on about them?  Yes.

 

Bottom line is that you need to deliver your training to your learners, in the form and format most helpful to them, and the people who create your training content need an organized way to deliver it.

 

 

You can buy this system off the shelf, or you can find one via the open source world, or you can hire a firm to build one customized to your specifications.

 

I support building one customized to your specifications.  Here’s why:

 

·         Off the shelf, open source, or custom build, there will be rules and a learning curve….you rarely just set these things up and go.
o   With a custom build, you are making the rules
·         Off the shelf, open source, or custom build, you will need technical support.  Each has support limitations, but I have found that:
o   When a knowledgeable firm does your custom build, you have available, helpful technical support.  You are one of a handful of clients, and your needs will be important.  You will actually matter to them, and their responses will show that.
o   Off the shelf will provide ok support, but you are one of a large group of clients, and support will likely involve call centers, automated menus, and other frustrating things.
o   I have never experienced helpful support on an open source product.

 

Those things said, I want to say a few more things to discourage you, in general, from going with an open source LCMS.

 

·         Linux is open source, and free.  If Linux was both Free and Easy, everyone would use it.
·         WordPress is open source.  WordPress requires technical support from technical geniuses and technical coaches, most of whom are not free.
·         You generally get what you pay for.  Right?  Right.
·         Your time has value.  Right?  Right.
On the other hand, Filezilla is open source, and I love it.  It always works for me.

 

All that said, a few words to encourage a Custom Build.

 

·         It’s built to do specifically what you need.
·         You have a choice of programming languages that will do various things for you.
o     Example:  a custom system built on Microsoft .NET can give you web, windows, tablet, phone, xBox (how incredible would it be to deploy your xBox-compatible training program?)
§  These options might be paid add-ons or plug-ins with other systems.
·         You make the rules
o   You are not compromising your training to fit it into a generic system’s template
o   You are working with the firm to design
§  How your training will look
§  How learners will interact with your training
§  How you manage your training content

 

There are a lot of options out in the world.  I have my opinions.  You need to pick the presentation and organization method that best fits your needs.

 

Which brings us to Delivery.  Yes, it’s different from organization and presentation.  How will you get your training program to the learner’s fingertips?  Delivery has two layers:  The Pipe, and the Devices.

 

I kinda feel like drawing pictures again…

 

Delivery: Pipe

If your learners are staying in your office building, in your town, potentially even in your state (Rhode Island is tiny…), your Pipe can be potentially be Local Distribution.  This can happen via your own highly responsive corporate servers, or a local data center.
On the other hand, if your learners are spread far and wide, across states, the country, the hemisphere, the world – – or if your servers simply are not robust enough to handle your training experience, you will need some hearty distribution.  There are services for this.  A couple are Amazon hosting (EC2 at this writing), and Windows Azure.  This is “the Cloud.”
You might even think of iTunes, Newsstand, and iTunes U as cloud services – – because you use them to access data/media from anywhere with a signal.  YouTube is video in the cloud….so if your training is all video, and you don’t care about security, and have some other method of reporting, your training could potentially live on YouTube.

 

Delivery: Devices

These are the computing devices that the learner can use to access training.

 

·         Desktop PC
o   Learners probably have one at work, likely to have one at home
o   Easy to set up a workstation where learners can log in and access training
o   Windows or Mac
o   Physical keyboard and mouse
o   Wifi or Ethernet internet connection
o   Not portable
·         Laptop
o   Learners possibly have one at work and at home
o   Windows or Mac
o   Physical keyboard, mouse options (physical, trackpad, multi-touch)
o   Wifi or Ethernet connection
o   Portable

 

Desktop PC’s and laptops have been around for the longest, as a device type they have logged a lot of training time.  Right now, they are what the majority of people are used to using.  Your training content can be robust, sugary rich media, or simple.

 

·         Tablet
o   Learners possibly have one, or their employer might provide one
o   Mac, Android, possibly Kindle Fire (Microsoft is building a prototype)
o   Touch screen
§  Will use gestures and need a design that allows users to click with big ole fingers.
o   Wifi internet
o   Highly portable
·         Smartphone
o   Learners possibly own one, employer might provide one
o   Mac, Android, Windows
o   Touch screen
§  Gestures, design for finger clicks
o   Wifi or 3G/4G internet
o   Highly highly portable

 

As I understand it, designing for tablets and smartphones is basically the same (iPhone/iPad, Android Phone/Android Tablet).  Same display size ratio, simplicity, larger buttons for clumsy fingers.  It’s been a little amazing – and makes complete sense – to see how iPads have become learning devices of choice for educators and government agencies.  They’re just so portable, and just so intuitively easy to use.

 

In my mind, I’m lumping “eReaders” in with Tablets.  So much can be done with interactive eBooks and iBooks that I think it’s just a matter of time before they completely take over the market.  When you combine engaging, interactive eBooks with simple delivery via Amazon and iTunes, and program in a pipe back to the database for reliable reporting, you have a brand new way to think about textbooks and the way people learn.

 

WHEW!

 

That just about wraps things up.  I know, for some of you this is far too oversimplified.  For others, it’s far too much to take in.  No matter where you are in my galactic continuum, I hope this article has helped you generate your own notes and questions.

 

Tomorrow is the last little bit – – See you then!

 

 Scott Bell

eLearning – Types of Content and Types of Training

Download the full PDF article by clicking here

What is “Content?”  It’s what you’re reading right now.  It’s the front page of Yahoo or Google.  It’s everything on YouTube.  It’s all the tiny pieces in the Operation board game from Milton Bradley (caution, small contents can be a choking hazard).
If we think of eLearning and web based training as a path through a forest, “Content” is all the dirt, stones, twigs, bugs, grass, flowers, arrow signs, etc., that make your training interesting and unique.

Content is what you consume with your senses.  Training is the path you take to consume the content.  When content and training are combined, they create the lesson.

Should you outsource your content creation, or keep it in-house?  There is no right or wrong answer, it’s entirely up to you and every organization is different.  Perhaps you have an in-house media team that exists just to create whatever content you need, and they can easily fit your new training content into their production schedule.  Perhaps your in-house team is already overwhelmed and they would pull out their remaining hair if you dropped a training project on them.

You do what is best for your learners and your organization.

In this section, I’m going to break down Types of Content, and then talk briefly about Types of Training.

TYPES OF CONTENT:


·         Text
o   Words on a screen, words on a page, words and symbols on a white board.
o   The most basic type of content
o   Easy to create, we are all used to typing text
o   Low file sizes , making it easy to deliver
o   Writing Professionals are available to help create compelling text
o   The “Social Learning” Type of Training can be all text.
o   Easy for the average learner to consume
§  Learners with special needs will potentially need assistance consuming text

When I’m creating any type of content, I begin with text.  It’s the outline for a project.  It’s the script for a voice over.  It’s the written description of what will happen – – what the learner will hear and see – – in the training.

·         Audio
o   Spoken words (voice over), music, sound effects
o   Easy to create low quality audio
o   Easy to outsource high quality audio to wide variety of professionals
o   Affordable
o   Low file sizes, making it easy to deliver
o   Easy for the average learner to consume
§  Learners with special needs will potentially need assistance consuming audio, the typical scenario pairs audio with text.
§  Highly portable

Audio is the first step in adding life to a training project.  It doesn’t have to involve creating a complex soundscape.  You don’t have to work with some long haired hippie spouting off about Theatre of the Mind!

 It can be as simple as choosing a friendly warm voice for your voice over.

It is very important to have “good” audio on a project – – because it’s the first thing that your learners will connect with.  Bad audio – – static, too loud, too soft, too muffled, out of sync with images – – makes learners instantly tune out.

Audio can also add depth and fun to your training, because it generates an emotional reaction.  Last night “The Terminator” was on TV.  I’m a guy, so I watched it.

The repetitive, simple music that always accompanies the Terminator’s presence quickly generates a sense of foreboding and builds my emotional connection with the images on screen.

Sound effects and music make learning more fun, and add another layer of interaction to games.  Going back to the Operation example, learners jump and laugh when that annoying buzz shocks their ears.  The buzz sound reinforces the “Don’t touch the sides!” lesson.

·         Visuals
o   Static Images
§  Photos
·         images of real people, places, things
§  Illustrations
·         drawings or artistic renderings of people, places, things, concepts
§  Charts and Graphs
·         illustrations and/or photos that deliver measured information and/or results
§  Graphics
·         images made of various pieces, including the items listed above, possibly mixed with text.
o   Moving Images
§  Video
·         Moving, non-static images of people, places and things
·         “Plays” or “Loops” for a set amount of time
·         Generally has a two-dimensional feeling of depth
·         Can also be a sequence of Static Images
·         Animations
o   Moving sequences of Static Images, possibly incorporating Video
o   Generally have more “life” and depth than standard Video
§  Interactive Images
·         Touch-screen devices can have interactivity built into images, allowing them to zoom, pan, manipulate 3D objects, and reveal information.  See Apple iBooks.
o   Tools to create low quality visuals are accessible and improving every day
o   Professionals are available to create high quality visuals
§  The range of what can be done visually is highly dependent on the projects budget
o   Medium to large file sizes, and multiple formats in use; delivery needs to be planned in greater detail than text or audio
o   Highly flexible medium; you can create and incorporate practically anything
o   Easy for the average learner to consume, depending on available devices
§  Learners with special needs may need assistance consuming visual content, the typical scenarios can allow for a text transcript and if needed, a separate audio file.
§  Devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones have made visuals more portable than they once were.

A picture is worth a thousand words.  Visuals are currently the easiest way to disrupt someone’s day.  A lesson that might take up several pages of text can be passed through a meaningful video in just minutes.

If you are going to include Visuals in your training program, and you’re even the least bit uncomfortable, inexperienced, or confused about it, please please please contact a specialist.   A specialist will work with you to create a far more moving learning experience, and will already know how to deal with the obstacles that always come along for the ride when working with visuals.

·         Games
o   Interactive
§  The learner physically and/or mentally has a role in creating an outcome
§  The learners decisions result in a reward or consequence
o   Can be as simple as a quiz
o   Can be more complex, incorporating Text, Audio, Visuals
o   Creation is getting more affordable
o   A professional can help you with creation and delivery
§  Can be digital, mental, physical
·         Digital formats vary
o   Flash is common, which can be good or bad

Games have been around forever….they are as simple (and complex) as physical card games, dice games, Tic Tac Toe, Rock Paper Scissors, elementary games like Red Rover, computer Solitaire.  Games encourage learning because the learner thinks about a strategy, within certain rules, and is rewarded for winning.  Games are learning contests.

Games can be enjoyable as social or solitary experiences.  People are predisposed to playing games.  As long as it presents an “easy challenge” to participate in, is rewarding to complete, and is relevant to the training, a game incorporated into the training process can be a wonderful interactive learning opportunity.

Allen Interactions recently released ZebraZapps, which lets a content creator easily build games that will help learners learn.  I’m playing with ZebraZapps right now, and LOVE it!  The Thiagi Group has used games to make learning fun and effective for thousands of learners at top companies.

Games engage, games work.

A game can be part of a learner’s training experience, and a game can be its own self-contained Type of Training.

Types of Training are the paths (through the forest) along which the learner consumes Content.  We’ve covered Games; here’s a quick look at two more Types of Training:

TYPES OF TRAINING

·         Games – noted above; people learn how to win a game
·         University setting
o   Compared to reading a book and taking a test
o   Materials are presented; the learner is expected to learn
o   May have interactive components, but the learning is not necessarily interactive
§  Example: rather than ask a question, you review the materials presented seeking an answer.
·         Social setting
o   Interaction between trainers and learners
o   Group discussions between classmates, possibly including teachers/trainers
o   Similar to posing a question on Facebook or in a group chat, then receiving an answer or information about the answer from an instructor or the group at large

Some people learn best by reading.  Others learn best by listening.  Others learn best by watching.  Others learn best by doing.

There is no rule against mixing all Types of Content with all Types of Training.  By selecting the right mix of content, and organizing it into the right mix of training, you have unlimited potential to teach your learners in the ways that they learn best.

What can hold you back from achieving that “right mix” is technical stuff.  And that’s what we’ll look at tomorrow:  Management, Presentation, and Delivery of this delicious training gravy!

 Scott Bell

eLearning – Ensuring Effectiveness

Download the full PDF article by clicking here

People will not learn just because you want them to.  Remember that human behavior has to be part of your effective training plan.  No training program will be effective if it is not embraced from the top down.

 

·         In corporate and business training, top management must clearly and openly make training a priority, take part in the training, and possibly conduct parts of the training.

 

·         In Continuing Education, trial results of a process or procedure must be clearly stated.  Evidence must be available to support the learner’s “Why?”  A respected name or a popular procedure or process will deliver the top down embrace, helping people want to engage in the training instead of feeling like a prisoner.

 

Embracing the training from the top down is necessary for both the analysis that needs to happen to create effective training, and the follow-up that needs to happen to make sure people are learning.

 

Without human behavior, that top down embrace, your training will run into obstacles.  These include:

 

·         Company policy
·         Managerial attitudes
o   Lack of importance placed on the training
o   “The last training we did was a waste of time.”
·         Changing expectations
·         Changing processes and procedures

 

The list can go on and on.  Without the top down embrace, these and many more obstacles will prevent effective training.  So get that top down embrace.
Once you have the top down embrace (have I said that enough?), start planning for the positive results you want to achieve.  Begin with the end in mind.

 

Create training that will produce demonstrable results.

 

The Kirkpatrick model has been used to measure training program effectiveness since the ‘50’s, and still holds true.  Here are four ways to measure effectiveness:

 

1.       Reaction.  How did the learners like the training?
You can glean this information from a questionnaire, from comments.
Find out what learners want to learn, what do they want to get out of the training?
Content Hint: Design for your learners.  People who love to read do not necessarily enjoy playing video games, and vice versa.  Teach your learners with the things they enjoy doing.

 

2.       Learning.  Did the learners actually learn?
This can be shown through pre and post quiz scores, feedback from people who observe the learners.
Content Hint: Pre-quizzes can whet your learner’s appetites for what lies ahead.

 

3.       Behavior.  Did the training cause the learners to improve their job performance?
On the job observation.
Do the learners refer to things from the instruction, either overtly or contextually?
Content Hint: The learner will integrate pieces of training that most closely resemble his daily job tasks/concepts more quickly and easily than pieces that do not resemble daily job tasks/concepts…
That’s a really long way of saying that people learn by doing.  For example, if you’re teaching an electrician how to measure voltage with a new meter, teach with the new meter.

 

4.       Results.  People RESPECT what the Boss INSPECTS.
Are the learners performing?
Are profits rising where they were projected to rise?
Are more products being sold?
Has the time it takes to complete a task dropped, or are tasks being completed with fewer errors?
Is a concept being embraced?
Content Hint: Remember, people learn what they want to learn.  Results will be more easily obtained if learners want to learn the material.  What is the learner’s “Why?”

 

For me, “Learning” and “Behavior” blend together in this model.  They may or may not for you.  Either way, this is a starting point for measuring your trainings effectiveness.  When you begin with Reaction, Learning, Behavior, and Results in mind, you will create more effective training.

 

Up there on “Learning,” I popped in pre and post quizzes.  This is part of what makes eLearning so rewarding, in my humble article-writing opinion.  When learners take a quiz, the results are saved in a data base, and can be reviewed by supervisors, managers, department heads, organizations – – anyone with the right level of access.

 

A lot more than just quiz data can be gathered and reported:
·         How many times did the learner “log in” to the training?
·         How much time did the learner spend on particular sections?
·         Are Extra Credit, Bonus Activities, or Additional Reading Materials being used?
·         How much did the learner play with an interactive tool, such as a voltage meter?
·         How many times did the learner choose an incorrect quiz answer?
·         How many learners from one department, city, county, state, country, are using the training?
·         How many learners are not completing all the training?  Where are they stopping?
·         Which part of the training are learners interacting with the most?

 

You can gather real data on any aspect of your training program, and use it to make your training even more effective.  AND use it in the evaluation to trace results directly back to an especially popular portion of the training.

 

Embrace.  Analyze.  Follow-up.

 

These three elements are key in making your training effective.

 

What’s hitting the blogosphere manana?!?!  We’re going to take a look at Types of Content and Types of Training!

 

RSS Feed will keep you up to date.

 

 Scott Bell

eLearning – Costs

Download the full PDF article by clicking here

In the Real World Examples post we looked at Problems and Goals.  It would be really wonderful to be able to create training that turns every Problem into an achieved goal.

However, creating training costs money, and training needs to pay for itself, and you need to know that the training will pay for itself BEFORE you invest in it.  You can do this with Return On Investment (ROI) or Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) formulas.

Training costs money internally: in the production hours that a staff gives to the training program.  Training costs money externally: in creating, distributing, and maintaining the training program.

I’ve looked all over the place for a simple way to examine training costs.  The best examples I have seen are Michael Mercer’s, from his 1989 book Turning Your Human Resources into a Profit Center.  However, most of his examples only cover what I call the internal cost.

I’m going to combine two of Mercer’s examples so that both internal and external costs are factored into the Cost of Solution.

What follows is my version of Mercer’s EEO example, complete with nostalgic 1989 numbers.

The Story (direct from Mercer):  “A division of a major oil company found itself bogged down in a costly, yet quite avoidable, business problem as a result of quite a few sexual harassment complaints… The company seldom doubted the accuracy of the claims.  They ‘spent a great deal of money’ to pay off the complainants.  These charges were avoidable; therefore, the decreased profitability was unnecessary.”

Let’s project this out 5 years.

  • Before implementing the training program, the 5-year cost of your Problem was going to be $722,000 x 5 = $3,610,000.  Over THREE MILLION DOLLARS (in 1989).
  • After implementing the training program, the 5-year cost of your Problem is projected to be $67,600 x 5 = $338,000.  Still less than the 1-year cost of your original Problem.

Of course this model does not account for raises, various salary levels, etc. etc. etc.  It is simple.

And remember, I am looking at web-based, eLearning style training, not a crew of live trainers descending on an office suite to hold sessions.

I use the EEO example because it clearly illustrates costs that you might not immediately consider:

  1. Your Problem might be sexual harassment, but the costs of this problem spill over to other areas, including turnover; involving the cost of hiring and training new employees.
  2. Maintenance of the training program; updating the training program for changing times.
  3. Cost of bad press in the community.
  4. With EEO in particular, cost of your reputation.
  5. Cost of getting on the governments radar.

Nothing is static.  What we need to learn changes, as do the ways that we learn.  Businesses expand or pull back.  New mission statements roll out.  Health care benefits and companies change.  People change.

Nobody likes to be surprised by costs.  Examine your costs from every angle, and make sure you partner with a training professional who does the same.

Remember to subscribe to the RSS to keep up!

Tomorrow’s Topic:  Ensuring Training Effectiveness

 Scott Bell