How A Task-Analysis Mindset Improves the Design Process

Defining tasks when you are evaluating and planning a project can help you:

  • Understand the scope of the project
  • Determine the component parts of the solution
  • Organize the development process

Whether you a contractor or permanent designer, we all need to be able to present the scope of a project and the resources needed to stakeholders and being an expert at task analysis will help you achieve that.

Let’s start by the review of what a task is. A task is a piece of work that needs to be accomplished as a part of a job. Tasks are made up of steps that need to be taken to complete the task. Sometimes these steps are a task themselves, often referred to as a subtask. The idea is to break down job tasks to their smallest components to fully understand what a person needs to understand or accomplish in order to do the job.

Understanding the Scope of the Project

One of the great things about being task-analysis minded is that it helps you to develop questions to ask to define the project. In order to be able to break down the goals of the project into specific tasks you need to understand:

  • The processes or attitudes that learners need to adopt
  • Who the learners are and what their background knowledge is
  • What the measure of success will be

Considering these as you interview the SME or clients for the project and listening for the answers in terms of the tasks will help make sure you probe for the information you to fully understand the scope of the project. This may not all happen in in one conversation but over time.

When you are task-minded, you start by looking for an understanding of each task. This means breaking down the goals of the project to the task steps that fit the audience. By doing this you outline the full scope of the project, which helps you determine necessary resources, and helps you present this to the stakeholder or client.

Determining the Component Parts of the Solution

When you are thinking from a task perspective, it is easy to take the scope of the project and group it into like chunks that will go together. Understanding these tasks or groups of tasks, you can easily evaluate which ones are best resolved as training, what is best served with a job aid, or what can be resolved with an environmental change or other performance improvement solution. The task-analysis mindset helps you to quickly see the pieces and start to see how the solution can go together to best leverage the advantages of different types of solutions.

Organize the Development Process

Once you have identified the tasks and the solutions to be used, it is easy to prioritize the development process and allocate resources appropriately. If you are the sole person doing the project, you can easily determine the order that development needs to happen for the different tasks and make sure that it lays out efficiently and those pieces that could get stalled later are done first or those things that might change as the project progresses are done later so as not to do them.

12 Days of Best Practices

In honor of the holiday season, I want to share 12 Best practices from a variety of resources. Some are generic to all learning and development and some target specific areas. Please feel free to add your own Best Practices in the comments below.

Delivered via a multi-media approach – using a blend of delivery methods to suit learning preferences and learner’s needs.

From Roberta Gagos on the eLearning Industry

Different media and types of training allow us to leverage different advantages. Bring together several strategies to create a well-rounded (like our friend Santa) approach.

In total: high-impact L&D professionals need to continuously train themselves.

From Bersin by Deloitte

In the modern world, things are always changing and if you want to continue to compete in the market place, learning and development programs need to be evolving to deal with an evolving workforce.

Learning by doing and establishing shared accountability.

From Mark Thomas on Training Industry

It is important to bring learners into the process. Let them help determine training goals, learn by doing tasks, and encourage them to have accountability.

Recognize the importance of veterans in your ranks.

From Workforce.com

Our veteran employees represent a wealth of knowledge. It is key to leverage and capture that knowledge to pass on the newer employees to stay on a flight path of growing success.

70:20:10—a blend formula

From Kineo

When creating blended learning, remember that research shows that 70 percent of learning occurs on the job, 20 percent from other people (social learning) and 10 percent from formal training classes. Keep this in mind when designing a blended learning program.

Begin early

From Emily Bates on The Evolllution

Training should begin from the moment an employee is hired. You want to immerse them in the company culture and establish a culture of learning.

Adults are Just-in-Time Learners

From Frontline Learning

Adult learners gravitate and retain learning that is relevant to their current situation. It is important to tie learning into current needs and make sure learners understand what is in it for them.

In gamification: Use a story context

From Karl Kapp on ATD

When implementing gamification, a story context is a powerful motivator and gives the participant a reason to interact with your content.

For Development: Code (or courses) should be written to be reviewed.

From TutorialsPoint

If you are a developer, course and code should be written so that developers in the future can easily open up the course/code files and understand what is going on and be able to make revisions.

In Virtual Classrooms: Engage People Often

From Randah McKinnie on eLearning Guild

When you deliver virtually, you lose the ability to communicate through body language. Therefore, you need to pump up the engagement. Incorporate activities that will require the learner to actively engage in the session. Use polls, ask questions, involve them in annotating solutions on whiteboard slides.

For Succesion Planning: Assess performance and potential

From Dan McCarthy on IvyExec

When thinking about employees and their future, don’t just rely on past performance. You need to develop strategies for assessing their potential as well. Just because someone is an excellent salesperson, does not mean they will make an excellent sales manager. You need to determine where their potential lies.

Performance Improvement: Training is not always the best solution.

From James Simers

As learning and development professionals, we need to analyze a situation to determine the most effective solution. The best solution may be a job aid for a task that is complex and done infrequently, it may be a change to the environment that will resolve the issue or any of a number of performance improvement strategies. Don’t start with the assumption that you need to develop a training class and make sure you have selected the best solution to the problem.

I wish you all a peaceful and blessed season as you celebrate life, love, and family!

Does Training Need to be Concerned about Diversity?

A couple of months back, our department was updating a photo on the dashboard of our LMS. Our company is over 80% white males but the previous picture included a mixture of males and females both white and Latino that showed more diversity that the company. While discussions were going on, my boss paid a visit to a branch and ran into some new employees that were just getting into our LMS for the first time. Interestingly one of them noticed the picture and commented that while it showed diversity, there was no one “like him”. This was a great reminder that an understanding and use of diversity is important to training, just as it is to all areas of a business.

Employees want to feel connected. Employees want to see people who are “like them” when they go through, training courses and materials. Seeing other people like them help them feel more connected to the company.

Empowering a diverse workforce also can develop creativity and innovation. Honoring diversity develops an openness to others and differences which leads to idea sharing, new ways of thinking and innovation which is a business advantage.

Building a diverse workforce helps the company connect with a diverse client base. Just as employees are drawn to training that involves people “like them”, customers are also drawn to a workforce that has people “like them”. Building up this diversity can increase your client base and build your bottom line.

The conversation we had about what picture to use on the dashboard of our LMS was an important one, one that can have consequences that are company wide. A picture that may just make one employee feel more connected can lead to so much more. What conversations are you having about diversity in your training department?

Looking for more information, check out these resources:

Put your Participant First in End-of-session Polls

How many times have you answered feedback questions at the end of a webinar you have attended? Did you ever get any personal benefit from the poll?

Many feedback polls only collect feedback data, which is helpful to the facilitator and the stakeholders that requested the training the best polls benefit the participants as well. If you want to create an effective poll that provides benefit for both you and the participants, include questions that provide:

  • Concept Reinforcement
  • Audience Awareness
  • Feedback

Concept Reinforcement

Devoting one or two questions to concept reinforcement can really help both your audience and you. Even a question as open ended as, list three things you learned today, can be powerful. For your audience, the simple act of listing them down acts as reinforcement and demonstrates the main points of what they received or the pieces of information that were most notable to them. For you, you learn what stuck with them and can compare it to your goals and objectives to determine if you need to modify your presentation or activities to better communicate information.

Audience Awareness

Strategically asking a question about available resources or ideas help build up awareness for them. For instance, after we launched our new LMS, we asked a multi-select question about which types of resources the participant had used in the LMS. The question alone made them more aware of the different types of training resources at their disposal. Some participants were already aware, others started asking questions about these different resources and still others further explored the LMS on their own to discover these resources. While the data was valuable to us to understand the usage of our LMS, the goal of the question was to build awareness and encourage company employees to use all the resources of the LMS.

Feedback

These are the question that are designed to fuel your improvement for future webinars. Feedback questions need to go beyond ratings of the facilitator and the information, although these are valid questions and can be helpful, but need to include open-ended questions that invite open and honest feedback. These can include questions about what was most helpful? Least helpful? And what questions/information they wish had been a part of the webinar. These kinds of open ended questions will best provide you paths to improve and offers you the opportunity to respond to them if necessary/appropriate.

When you build your next feedback poll, think about your questions and make sure you are getting the most out of the poll. Don’t just get feedback information, but build reinforcement and audience awareness into your poll. Make sure that the poll is not just about benefiting you, but also your participants.

Interested in more resources about crafting good feedback questions? Check out these other blog posts:

Evaluation Cards – Use them to quickly improve your presentation skills

What’s the Best Webinar Polling Question Ever?

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

In last week’s Part One post, we started looking at how the skills of former school teachers transfers to the Core Competency Model™ put forth by ATD and common job description skills. In that vein let’s continue to look at those.

Managing Learning Programs

  • Provide vision and strategies for learning program design
  • Provide project management for learning projects
  • Manage outside resources
Public school teachers are given a framework for what learners need to accomplish by the end of the year, but from their, they provide the vision and work out the strategies to achieve those goals and make their vision come to fruition. On top of this, teachers are working with a diverse population and manageing the learning programs for each learner they work with. They manage other school resources, parents and school volunteers, and other outside learning resources such as field trips, SMEs that they bring into their classroom, and learning competitions that their students compete in. Just putting together a field trip is an example of their project management skills. They deal with volunteer resources, budgeting for the trip, managing transportation and determining the content that will be delivered and how it will be structured. This can also involve the creation of other materials to supplement or extend the learning from the field trip experience.

 

Coaching

  • Coach employees to improve job performance
Teachers are involved in coaching students, parents, and future teachers. Teachers constantly work with students to engage them in examining their learning progress and establish goals. They review these goals and provide accountability for the student. Many parents are looking to teachers for ways to help and support their children and teachers coach them through this and help them understand their child and their child’s needs and work with them so that parents can determine the best strategies for helping their child. This can be coaching parents in how to help with homework, or how to question their child while reading together or how to oversee their child’s project. Additionally, many teacher have taken on the role of being a mentor teacher to a colleague or a student teacher. This is a very formal coaching experience that the teacher provides and is formally assessed by the school district or a local college.

 

Knowledge Management

  • Develop a culture of learning
  • Facilitate collaboration and social learning
A classroom community has a culture of learning and the teacher is right in the middle of it. The utilize strategies to bring together learners to work on projects and learn from one another. Teachers leverage a variety of resources, identifying the sources of knowledge and bringing students together with the necessary knowledge. They foster curiosity and a love of knowledge by engaging learners and helping them see the benefits of growing and learning together. Teachers act as facilitators, moderators, and social directors for their classroom and understand how to leverage these to promote optimal learning success.

 

Performance Improvement

  • Evaluate training needs
  • Design and develop training materials
  • Implement performance solutions
These days every teacher has at least one student with special needs, whether they are gifted or receiving educational support services. These are the students where a teacher applies more than just instruction, but brings their performance improvement skills into play. They need to take the extra time to understand the special learning needs for this student and determine what solution will best help them to excel. This might be a technology aid solution, involving them in a mentorship program, or modifying their environment to increase success. Teachers are not just designing instruction and facilitating it, but they are working with the whole learner and determining and implementing performance solutions that go beyond training the learner.

 

Because teachers are in charge of a small community, they end up involving themselves with all aspects of training and development. In addition to being the instructional designer and trainer, they also serve as the project manager for classroom events and project (and sometimes school-wide initiatives), the coach for anyone they bring into the learning community, and the person who looks at all aspects of a skill deficit and not only reaches out to training, but utilizes a toolbox of performance improvement techniques. While the teacher may less familiar with corporate culture, that is easily learned and the wealth of skills they bring to the table mean that the former teacher is primed to be a superstar in the learning and development world. Instead of hesitating, companies should embrace the former teacher and leverage the wealth of abilities they have to offer.

Some Advice for Teachers Looking to Transition

Like I said in the beginning of last week’s post, the key for the transitioning teacher is to effectively communicate their skills in corporate language. The Core Competency Model is a great place to start to understand how the corporate world talks about learning and development. Adopt the terms and framing when marketing yourself through your resume, cover letter, and during interviews. Being able to talk like a corporate instructional designer will demonstrate that you have done your research on the field you are transitioning to and allow you to communicate the vast array of skills you have to offer that will enhance the potential employers company and improve their bottom line. You can make the transition and you will find the employer that has the vision and insight to hire you, their next superstar!

Looking for more information about becoming an instructional designer, check out these other posts:

How to Become an Instructional Designer

Getting into Instructional Design

 

 

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.

Ability

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.

Motivation

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.

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.

Solution

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.

Consumers/Players

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.

Fun!

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.

Training, Sales, and Marketing

What role does sales and marketing take in your training implementation and delivery?

If you said, none, you are missing opportunities. In today’s world, people are consumers of everything, including knowledge. They are constantly setting priorities around an understanding of what’s in it for them.

If you don’t consider how to market your training and sell learners on the importance of your information, you are reducing your training impact. Even when training is required, learner’s can be physically present without being “present”. If you want to be your training to be impactful, it is key to have the learner actively invested and engaged.

Ways to market and sell your training:

  • Before creating a training program, you have done some analysis, so use that information to target your audience and invite those with the most need for the training. Make sure the right people know about your training event.
  • Communicate analysis information so that people are ware of knowledge or performance gaps and what the potentials for change are.
  • Create a buzz for new initiatives or programs. Give people enough to make them wonder and if your budget can sustain it, a give-away that will be a reminder of the initiative or event. Continually reminders of something build a psychological affinity for it.
  • Use social media and communications to put out short sound bites to build a buzz. Post questions or relevant facts and invite people to interact. Use acronyms or clever slogans to make it memorable.
  • Make sure the learner knows what is in it for them. Tap into their motivation by making sure how this information is going to make their lives easier by improving efficiency, better by increasing their bottom line and financial compensation or their status, or more fun. Training is an investment of a person’s time, emotional, and maybe even financial resources. Make sure they know what you offer is worth the cost!

Are you actively marketing and selling your training? If not, it is time to reevaluate your approach.

Gamification: Exploring Narrative

The universe is made up of stories, not atoms.” Muriel Rukeyser

Narrative is a part of the fabric of life and has been used as a teaching tool in all cultures. In early civilizations, stories were passed down generation to generation and these stories contained information and wisdom the people needed to survive and grow. Story continues to be a big part of our lives, whether it is the stories of the people around us or fictional stories. They are a key component in information and ideas we have learned and according to a study done at North Carolina University, narrative has an impact on motivation in learning.

Narrative is also a key element in game design. Think of games you enjoy, many of them involve quests or narrative. Game quests generally fall into types such as delivery, find, destroy, collect, master a skill, escort/defend. Between a web seminar and blog post by Allen Partridge and starting to play Wizards 101, the idea of narrative and gamification has been in my thinking.

ScreenHunter_96 Sep. 27 13.01Currently, I have  scenarios for the learner. These scenarios are typical job situations, from the scenario, the learner has to collect information and then they are given a tutorial on how to accomplish the tasks needed. This is followed by opportunities for them to have practice and then there is an assessment of the goals. The quest, so to speak, is to complete the task for the customer (in this case back ordering material).

From my recent experiences, I have been inspired to consider how I can use embed narrative throughout the lesson, beyond just presenting a scenario. One of the key ideas to keep in mind when doing this is to make sure learning objectives and game-play objectives are aligned. Gamification needs to add learning value, not just to take the learning and place it into a random cute scenario.

I realize that wrapping up my scenario at the end will also allow me to show customer feedback and the role of customer service and the employees ability to perform tasks efficiently to improving the bottom line. I look forward to weaving this and other narrative feedback into the storyboards I am currently working on.

Some keys to remember:

  • The narrative objectives need to fit the learning objectives. In the end, it is the learning that needs to take the starring role.
  • Narrative can help provide a framework and a scenario that allows you to provide feedback elements.
  • The “quest” doesn’t have to be complex to be engaging.