Archive for the ‘Training Tips’ Category
Monday, January 6th, 2014
Those two words (or any variation) make me dread the seconds that follow. Sometimes someone asks a question and I’m relieved that I’m not going to be left at the front of the room feeling like I offered a hand shake and nobody shook it back; a little awkward. So, we’re there at the front of the room or online doing some synchronous training and we ask: are there any questions? Current training trends suggest that you wait 9 seconds before moving on to give students time to catch up and formulate a question. But that isn’t even the issue I’m talking about here today.
Today, I am suggesting that we don’t even want to ask “are there any questions?”. Maybe the students will tell us, within 9 seconds, that they don’t have questions. OK. Asked and answered. However, if truth be told, I want more than a yes or a no answer. I want a conversation. I want a little back and forth with the students. So, instead of asking a question that may cut off any future discussion, try one of these 5 open-ended questions posed by Rebecca Alber of edutopia.org and an instructor at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education.
- What do you think? This question is designed to get input from the class and is not a yes or no question. Yea!
- Why do you think that? This question is designed to make sure the student knows how or why they came to their answer.
- How do you know this? This question might elicit examples from experience.
- Can you tell me more? Need I say more about this question?
- What questions do you still have? This question is designed to loop back around to the beginning or stir up new questions about what was just discussed (hopefully, there was a discussion).
Monday, December 30th, 2013
Don’t you see it? It’s right there. Have you ever asked (or been asked) that question? Even when something is right in front of us, we may not see it. I call it the bird watching syndrome. I love birds and have been an avid backyard bird watcher for years. I thought I knew my birds (cardinals, blue jays, robins, the usual suspects) until I went on my first bird watching expedition. When my fellow birders said, see the cedar waxwings in the tree over there? Uhhh…no, I don’t see them.
My favorite example of this is from research done by two psychologists. I’ve used their video as an ice breaker and it is lots of fun. You can see the YouTube video (1 min 21 seconds) here or view it below. In addition to a few laughs, one of the things the video demonstrates is that even though something is right in front of us, we may not see it.
How can we use this information in training? Whether the training is in-person or via the Internet keep in mind that we (people) don’t see the world the same as each other. Consider using visual and verbal cues to draw people’s attention to a particular place on a web page, and then wait a moment…linger long enough to make sure that people are with you. The pace may feel a little slow to the trainer (and to those students who are familiar with what you are demonstrating), but it should help keep everyone together.
Monday, November 18th, 2013
Julie Dirksen, an Instructional Designer, recently wrote a blog post for the e-Learning Leadership blog called: An e-Learning Challenge – Why Should You Care Right Now? She explains hyperbolic discounting this way: “Behavioral economists study the concept of hyperbolic discounting, which is our tendency to prefer rewards that come sooner over rewards that happen later, even when the later reward is somewhat larger.”
How would you answer these 3 questions:
1. Would you rather have $10 today, or $11 tomorrow?
2. Would you rather have $10 today, or $11 in a year?
3. Would you rather have $10 today, or $1000 in a year?
According to Dirksen, responses are generally the same. Half the people are split on question #1, everybody wants the money from question #2 today, and everyone is willing to wait for the money in question #3.
What are the implications for training?
Julie’s personal example hits the nail on the head. She attended a training event about Health Savings Accounts (HSA). HSAs let you set aside pre-tax dollars from your paycheck to use for allowable medical expenses. She said it was the most boring training she had ever attended (possible hyperbole). She described the training as one where they told her everything she needed to know so that she could use her HSA at some point in the future…if she had the need. How fulfilling is that? Not very.
Now, think about what the 3 questions told us about human behavior (remember the $1000) and use that to design a scenario-based training where you build in some urgency, a reason to care. Julie’s suggestion for beefing up the HSA training was to give people the HSA guidelines, give them scenarios and ask them to figure out if they can use their HSA money. I’ve got to figure out if these medical expenses are qualified and use the money before the end of the year (sense of urgency)! This gives the learner a reason to pay attention and a reason to use the information. Sounds like a win-win situation. Now, I’ll take that $1000 today please.
You can read the entire post here: http://ow.ly/qVEgi
Friday, November 15th, 2013
When you’re teaching a class, do you use example searches that you know work well to demonstrate a concept or topic, or do you incorporate participant suggestions as you go?
I like to start with one or two examples that I know can demonstrate the concept, then use a student search topic. It’s important to me to have a clear example first, but demonstrating with student topics can make the class feel more relevant and authentic. Even so, students might be hesitant to share their questions or might not have a current assignment, so it’s important to have a few searches to demonstrate.
Sometimes coming up with good examples can be the most challenging part of designing a class. Because I don’t want to spend time devising new examples each time, I’ve started keeping an example bank. My example bank is really just a spreadsheet with four columns. The columns are labeled: objective, audience, example, and notes. In the objective column I list the objective I’m trying to achieve. In the audience column, I list the audiences with whom I’d use the example. I try to come up with relevant examples for different audiences, such as nurses, pharmacists, or medical students. Even if the objective is the same, I’ll use a new row for each audience so I can sort the table by audience. In the example column, I list the specific example I’ll use. Finally, in the notes column, I write anything that I want to point out about this example.
Now, when I’m piecing together a class, I have a bank of examples that I can sort by objective or audience and quickly pull into my class outline. I make sure to try the sample search before each class, just to be sure it still works to demonstrate the concept.
Do you have an example bank? What else would you add to the table I’ve described?
Tuesday, November 5th, 2013
It sounds counter-intuitive, “Don’t Make Learners Think!”, but that is what Karla Gutierrez of Shift!’s eLearning blog wrote. It isn’t what you might be thinking though. Karla’s statement “don’t make learners think” refers to navigating through an online course. Learners shouldn’t have to spend their time figuring out how to get from one section to the next.
Here are the 7 principles of the Don’t Make Them Think approach to design and a short comment about each principle.
1) Use Visual Cues: Think breadcrumbs. Create a trail so people can easily get where they want to go.
2) Make It Too Obvious: Use standard conventions for icons and buttons.
3) Minimize Your Design: Use white space to give learners room to find what they are looking for. In other words, don’t crowd the page.
4) Reduce Cognitive Load: Cut out unnecessary words. Edit, edit, edit.
5) Be Consistent: Need I say more?
6) Follow Real World Conventions: Use the vocabulary/jargon of the group you are training. When in Rome…
7) Usable Navigation: When a user gets to the end of a section, they shouldn’t have to guess where to go next and how to get there.
To read the entire post by Gutierrez, go to: http://goo.gl/pJXgQY
Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
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Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Recently, the Shift eLearning Blog had a post entitled “Understanding People is the Most Important Thing in eLearning Design.”
I think that many of their tips can be applied to both online and face-to-face environments. Below are a few of my take-aways, but the full post is linked above if you’d like to click over to it.
Their first principle is: people like people. They suggest that in designing e-learning, you should incorporate images or videos of people to make the lesson more engaging. I think whenever possible, we should go further and try to provide opportunities for people to interact with each other. When I think about the last class or conference I attended, one of my favorites aspects is talking with others about new techniques or ways to solve problems. You might add discussion or polls to your classes to take advantage of this principle.
Secondly, people like stories. This is probably not a surprise if you reflect on presenters you’ve seen – it always seems more memorable if they’ve used a story to illustrate an important idea. Can you create a realistic scenario or recall a story to make the message stick in your classes? Maybe you have a story about a time research changed a diagnosis or treatment decision? Consider adding stories like these to your classes to make the content of the class easier to understand or recall.
Shift also states that people like both organization and surprises. At first, this might seem a bit contradictory. The overall course should have a clear and logical flow, but an occasional surprise can be fun and really help information to stick. Like a plot twist in a great novel, a surprise can re-engage the learner and show a novel way to look at the information, especially if it’s something they may have encountered previously. Thinking about something you often teach, how can you incorporate something unexpected?
Monday, October 14th, 2013
So, you’re about to give a presentation or lead a training session and like a good instructional designer you have a list of learning objectives that you want to cover. However, reading the list of objectives from a PowerPoint slide can be a dry way to start off. While you have everyone’s attention, make the most of it. I recently read an article called: 10 Ways to Yawn Proof Your eLearning. While many of us do not do eLearning per se, these 2 suggestions can work in a face-to-face setting as well.
Two ways to make learning objectives sound less boring and even possibly fun:
1) Frame your objectives as questions, eg., How can I find citations in PubMed that have been indexed as Review articles? Can’t you hear the crowd now? Woohoo!! We’re going to learn how to find Review articles. I can’t wait!
2) Sell the objective as a benefit and turn it into a one sentence promotion, eg., You’ll learn how to find evidence-based literature for all the requests from year-one medical students.
Read all 10 suggestions at:
Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
Last month I attended an online training from The Bob Pike Group, called No More Boring Technical Training. In just an hour, the instructor led an interactive session with several ideas for enlivening training that could be highly technical. Here are few examples of techniques you could try.
- If you’re using scenario-based training, make the scenarios realistic and offer multiple choices of scenarios. Presenting the learner with a choice, gives them control and leads to better engagement.
- If what you’re teaching is abstract or complex, use metaphors, analogies, or images to aid in your explanation.
- Use a find-and-fix. Show students an example in which something (or several things) is incorrect. Ask them to identify the problems and suggest solutions.
- In computer-based training, try guided exploration. If they can’t break it, what neat shortcuts or functions can they find? (For an example, type “tilt” or “do a barrel roll” into the Google search box).
Have you tried any of these techniques? Which one would best fit in to the classes you are currently teaching?
Monday, September 30th, 2013
Olivia Mitchell, of Speaking about Presenting, suggests that you let your audience know (with a flag) what you are about to say in order to help them focus on the information.
Here are her 3 suggestions (or flags):
- Here’s the most important thing I want you to get.
- There are three reasons why we should do this.
- Here’s a question to think about.
This technique can be used when you provide a class handout with fill-in-the-blanks. Let people know when you are about to answer one of the questions on the handout.