Why the Former Teacher May be Your Next Star Employee – Part I

I recently responded to a post from a person looking for advice on how to transfer from public education into corporate training because she was running into obstacles from potential employers. As someone who made the same transition, I related to her struggles. Many people in the corporate world do not see the connection between the role of a public school teacher and a corporate instructional designer/trainer and discount that experience.

My advice included understanding the way corporate jobs are framed and the terms used in describing the skills needed for a position and to frame her experience in that same way to help potential employers see how the skills are relevant.

Over the next two posts we will look at 8 of the 10 competencies in the Core Competency Model™ from ATD and job skills listed in corporate job descriptions to see why the former teacher might be your future star employee.


Instructional Design

  • Evaluate training needs
  • Design and develop training materials
Public school teachers are constantly designing learning activities for their students. Curricula do not provide all the materials and a good teacher is constantly tailoring activities for different learners. They evaluate existing materials and modify to meet learner needs. This is continuously evolving as the teacher evaluates the needs of their class as a whole and individual students. A good teacher is balancing these needs and differentiating instruction for the different needs present in their classroom. Teachers also engage in formal evaluation of learners through regular report cards which are a mix of concrete data and subjective assessment based on contact with the learner.


Training Delivery

  • Conduct classroom and virtual training sessions
Facilitation is a core role of a classroom teacher. They are constantly standing in front of learners and delivering material. They also know how to manage groups of learners that are involved in a series of different activities. They are quite accomplished at working with one group or monitoring their activity while making sure that other groups of learners are engaged in their own learning. Teachers are masters of engagement and understand the role entertainment takes in good facilitation.


Learning Technologies

  • Experience with Captivate, Storyline, Lectora, and Microsoft applications
  • Design and develp eLearning modules
  • Experience with a LMS
Many teachers use a lot of technology in their classrooms. They may not have specifically used rapid design software, but have used other products such as Hyperstudio, iMovie, or web-based product to design or deliver learning activities. In my days as a teacher, I taught thinking skills and basic computing through the use of RoboLab, communication skills by teaching the students to capture, edit, and produce video to create public service announcements, and a variety of tools to create eLearning modules that guided learners to explore a topic and develop a variety of skills. Additionally, in today’s classroom, a teacher may have experience with a LMS such as Moodle or others. Teachers today can be very tech savvy and even if they don’t know the specific software program you use, they have likely used something similar.


Evaluating Learning Impact

  • Use metrics to evaluate learning programs
Teachers use a lot of data when measuring learning and students. They have data from classroom assessments which allow the teacher to evaluate specific students and identify issues with the instructional materials. Teachers also receives data from standardized tests which lets the teacher look at their students in relation to a greater population of learners. Additionally, the teacher has subjective data that has been collected as a part of individual coaching of a learner. Teachers are a great deal of experience working with and effectively using metrics to improve learning.

As you look at these four competencies, you can see that former teachers bring extensive experience designing and facilitating instruction. They have worked with a variety of metric, both creating the assessment to capture metric but also working with metrics that have been collected by other sources. Former teachers can also have extensive technology knowledge and while they may not have worked with the exact programs you want them to utilize, they have likely worked with very similar software technologies and may have used some technology that would be a great addition to your departments toolbox.

For myself, I was a huge technology enthusiast and was always looking at ways to use technology as one of the ways to best achieve the goals and objectives for my students. My love of technology and comfort with it led me down a path of designing and developing eLearning. While that is just one of my job functions, currently it is a focus and it is my roots in technology from my teaching experience that led to my success today.

Check back next week for part two of this series where we will look at four more of the competencies outlined by the ATD.


Why an Expert isn’t Always the Best Trainer

 Have you ever brought in an expert to train your people and had the training session fail? Experts have a great deal of knowledge but often times you need an instructional designer or trainer to get the knowledge to your employees.

Experts and novices approach a topic differently. The expert has a great deal of understanding and for them, the procedures and processes they do are simple, almost second-nature. For the novice, they are starting at the beginning and need each step broken down. The difficulty is that the expert sees connection in the procedure and doesn’t need to break down steps completely and so when they try to teach the novice, they make assumptions about the information and combine steps in a way that the novice can’t connect with. The end result is that both the expert and the novice are frustrated.

This is where the instructional designer/trainer comes in. This person becomes the translator between the two. The instructional designer/trainer leverages the learners ability, connects information to their prior knowledge and motivates the novice to learn and develop competence with knowledge being taught.


Each learner has innate ability and the instructional designer/trainer understands learners and is able to quickly develop an understanding of the learner’s ability. They use this to break down steps into simple chunks that will help the learner acquire new information.

Prior Knowledge

When learning, people connect new information to existing information. The instructional designer/trainer understands how to make connections between information the learner already knows and new knowledge. They are practiced at finding commonality between new information and topics that are more familiar to the learner. They also know how to get the learner thinking about relevant information that will prepare them to understand new information.


Learner desire to learn new information and the value they place on learning it have an impact on their ability to acquire new knowledge. The more motivated the learner, the more likely they are to overcome learning obstacles and retain information. The instructional designer/trainer understands how to develop motivation for the learner and keep them motivated throughout training. They know to make sure the learner understands the benefits of acquiring the new information. Additionally they understand that building the learner’s confidence with the material will keep them motivated throughout the learning process. By scaffolding successful accomplishments for the learner, they keep the learner motivated.

While subject matter experts provide valuable knowledge to your organization, an instructional designer/trainer is able to gather the information from the expert and craft it into an effective learning experience that delivers the information to the learner in chunks that are clear and motivate the learner to be a successful learner.

Are You Ready to Move Forward

  • Do you have a plan?
  • Does everyone know the plan and their role in the plan?
  • Can [team member] explain the plan to me?

These are three great questions to lay-out before your team as they finish up the planning process, before they start to implement a project. While they are simple, each questions helps make sure that the team is ready to move into implementation.


Do you have a plan?

This first question is designed to make sure that the team is ready to move from planning to implementation. To often, teams of people decide to start developing and implementing a solution without laying out a full plan. People want to believe that the rest of the plan will become clear once they take the first steps. While it may be true that things will become clearer, it is still necessary to start with a plan. Just because you have outlined a plan, doesn’t mean that you will not evolve your plan as more information becomes clear or unforseen issues arise. Flexibility is essential as I wrote about in a previous post, Have a Plan…Have Felxibility. Having goals of the end results of an initiative or what deliverable you will create is essential to understanding what you need to do in order to achieve it. It is also essential to determine the metrics you will use to judge success and implement a proper assessment through knowing the end result and the path to getting there.


Does everyone know the plan and their role in the plan?

This question is the glue of a team. Having one person who understands the goals and the plan and is directing others is having a puppet master with puppets, it is not a team. Asking this question does two things, first, it makes sure that everyone is included and involved and secondly, it ensures that each person knows and understands their role is the success of the project. Too often, there is a need to know attitude. The problem with this is that if a person is unclear on their role, they are unlikely to meet project expectations. They will not properly allocate their time or resources and ultimately, their contribution may not represent their best work because it is done last minute. It is also importasnt for people to understand how their piece of the project fits into the whole. Two things happen when a team member understands the entire project, first they feel valued because they are fully a part of the team, secondly, they are able to provide work that is cohesive with others work and with the project timeline. Further, if the project leader is removed from the team, the project will suffer less of a setback if the rest of the team understands the entire project.


Can [team member] explain the plan to me?

This question is the meat of determining if the team is ready to end the planning phase. The key here is to ask a team member to explain the plan and outline the different steps and responsibilities. A good team will make sure that each member understands the entire project and can provide at least overview information about the different steps and the contributions of other team members. It is best to ask a team member who has not the team leader, but a contributor. This increases the likelyhood that all team members do understand and provides an overview given through a different voice than the team leader and providing a different perspective. When a team member can provide this information, they are more likely to collaborate with others when issues arise and direct questions to the appropriate team members.


While the implementation phase of a project is where the bulk of the time and energy is spent, the planning phase is the most important because it prepares the team for success. You want to make sure that you do not move from the planning phase too soon. These questions help you determine if the project is ready to move forward successfully.

Gamification: Case Study Plan

Last winter I took a wonderful class on Gamification through Coursera taught by Kevin Werbach. This is my solution to a scenario from the class.

Fictional Scenario:

You are approached by Rashmi Horenstein, the CEO of ShareAll, a prominent company in the hot collaborative consumption space. She asks you to present a proposal for a gamified system to take her business to the next level.

ShareAll’s mission is to make shared use of products and services as common as individual purchases. ShareAll’s patented technology makes it easy for consumers and business to share any product or service.  ShareAll has also developed a global virtual currency, called Shares, which can be used to purchase access to any asset in the system. Shares can be exchanged for real money, and users can generate more Shares by sharing items or volunteering their time to complete tasks for others.

ShareAll charges a small transaction fee whenever Shares are generated, traded, or spent. Therefore, the more activity, the more money ShareAll makes. Horenstein tells you that she cares about the social benefits of sustainability.  However, ShareAll is a for-profit company, with investments and partnerships from some of the world’s largest corporations, so profits matter. Horenstein believes gamification could significantly help ShareAll’s business.


Business Objectives

ShareAll has stated the following goals for its business:

  • Increase the use of shared goods through ShareAll – This includes building a vibrant community and building trust between users
  • High profits – This  involves an large number of “Shares” being generated, traded and spent.
  • Educate and engage users in the social benefits of sustainability

Gamification can help ShareAll accomplish this by highlighting the advantages of access versus ownership, motivating people to engage in this community and adding an additional element of fun to the already rewarding opportunity to have unique experiences and connect with new people.

Target Behaviors

  • Offer products and services – In order to develop a vibrant community, there needs to be people offering services and goods. The offering needs to be extensive and varied to attract a variety of users. This generates “shares” being traded and redeemed. Goal/quest setting and experience point rewards will encourage players to engage in this.
  • Buy products or services – In order to sustain a vibrant community, there need to be people who take advantage of the goods and services offered. This generates “shares” being generated and traded. Goal/quest setting and experience point rewards will encourage players to engage in this.
  • Develop complete profile and leave feedback/recommendations on offers taken advantage of – A part of building a community of trust involves players sharing information about themselves and others sharing feedback on products and services. Trust is important to sustaining the community and developing a pattern of use as opposed to a one-time trial. Players will receive experience points for completing their profile and posting feedback.
  • Contribute information and experiences to the community – In order to educate and encourage people in the community, it is important to have information about the positive aspects of access versus ownership, the social benefits of sustainability, and positive experiences of users. This will include site blogs and resources to target these topics. Players become involved in developing posts for the site blogs when they have achieved certain experience levels. This promotes advocacy among frequent users. Additionally players will also have personal statistics showing how they have engaged in the site and participated in being a part of this community. Players will receive badges as they achieve in this area and have the option to have certain data reported as a part of a leader board of connections.


The players that will be engaged in ShareAll will be very diverse in age, background, ethnic status, economic status and have different goals, but the players will exhibit one or more of the following:

  • People with goods or services to offer – recognize that they have resources that they are not using and could generate money or be traded for different goods or services.
  • People who are searching for short-term access to a good or service – recognize that access can is sufficient for them to enjoy a good and more practical/cost effective.
  • People more interested in experiences/opportunities than materialism.
  • People who are interested in meeting new people and developing new relationships as a part of offering or using other people’s goods/services.

Activity Loops

Experience Points – As users engage in different aspects of the site, they will receive points that build up their character profile. Points will be awarded in different character elements such as Adventurer, Merchandiser, Socialite, Influencer, etc. As players engage in different aspect of the site, they gain experience points which would improve their “character”. For instance, purchasing a snorkeling trip guide, would earn you adventurer points, offering to guide a snorkeling trip would earn you merchandiser points, connecting to the guide (or friends) and posting about the experience on your profile would earn you socialite points, and leaving feedback about the snorkel trip of the sellers offering would earn you influencer points. Players would develop their profile based on there interests and activities. Higher levels of points would be earned for setting and accomplishing  goals/quests. As people achieve higher experience levels in these areas, they would earn the opportunity to write a post(s) to the site blogs in the area related to their character element. This would take regular users and give them opportunities to be site advocates. Users who reach this status and have published blog posts would receive “share” currency for the post. High experience in Adventurer or Merchandiser would also lead to a reduced transaction fees.

Goals/Quests – Users can select up to three quests/goals. These might be things such as stay at five different rental places in five different places, provide 50 rides to others, or provide feedback on 20 different offerings. Users would set these goals and they would be a part of their profile that could be viewed by people they have connected with (or by anyone based on profile privacy settings) so that others could help them or offer encouragement. Achieving these goals/quests would earn the player experience points and certain goals/quests would also include a “share” reward. Some of these “share” rewards would be sponsored by the site while others might be designed and sponsored by ShareAll’s strategic partners, whether they be businesses, organizations, or individuals that want to reward a particular behavior.

Tracking – The site would track certain statistics that would be available to the player such as money made from offerings, money saved from purchasing access versus owning a good and other usage statistics such as number of connections, feedback left, transactions, etc. For those who wanted to, they could share parts or all of this information with connections and have leader board comparisons for different information. These statistics would generate different badges that would become a part of a person’s profile.

Social Connections – Players would develop a profile. This profile would include general information about the person but also would provide the opportunity for the player to share other information such as goals, interests, etc. The player also could post about different experiences from offerings on the site such as their experience with a user from an offering they posted or there experience from an offer they took advantage of. These posts would be on the profile available to people who view their profile (per privacy settings) and also available in their connections’ news feeds. This allows connections to follow your experiences and comment on them. Completing profile elements and posting earns the player experience points for the socialite character element.


Some of the ways the ShareAll community will bring people together and provide players fun include (but are not limited to):

  • Helping other people meet goals and experience new things.
  • Develop new social connections with people they engage in transactions with and further connections with friends.
  • Open the door to experiences and opportunities that would otherwise not be available to them.
  • Develop their ShareAll character in ways that interest them and reflect their engagement of the site.
  • Learn about other’s experiences through the site blogs and learn how they are building a communal, sustainable community.

Deployment Tools


  • ShareAll will be deployed via a website that also has a corresponding app. Users will sign up to be a part of the service and be able to create a profile. Users will be encouraged to complete the profile and begin to earn experience points. As users engage in different activities such a offering goods or services, purchasing goods or services, connecting with friends, and leaving feedback on transaction experiences, they will earn experience points in the appropriate category. All users will be able to see other’s username and the different levels of character trait development. As players attain certain levels in different character traits, they will be rewarded with opportunities to contribute to the appropriate site blog. If their high levels are in traits that are based on transactions, they will also unlock a lower transaction rates.
  • Players will also have the opportunity to select up to three goals/quests at a time and achieving these will boost their experience levels. Some of these goals will be sponsored by the site or by different strategic partners and will also include a “share” reward. For instance an automotive company may want to sponsor a goal/quest involving ride sharing or an individual may want to sponsor a goal that involves volunteering for a specific organization for 100 hours. This provides an opportunity for strategic partners to be a part of the system, engage users and encourage certain behaviors that benefit them. Players will be able to make these goals public, shared with connections, or private on their profile. When goals are shared, others can encourage others with their goals.
  • Through the player’s profile, the player will be able to follow other players or specific offerings, share experiences and comment on a connection’s experiences, see statistics on money made, saved, and others helped, etc and invite connections to compete on these statistics.
  • Gamifying the site will motivate players participation through the different game mechanics, create a vibrant community that is highly profitable for ShareAll and educate players on the benefits of access and sustainability.