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?

Customize it!

Everything these days is customized…your burger at fast food restaurants…your wedding vows…your new car and using variables and advanced actions in Adobe Captivate, so can your e-learning.

In a recent course I created on Interview skills I decided to include an interview simulations. In addition to the feedback that happened throughout the scenario, I decided to provide a summary of customized feedback at the end of the scenario.

 

Setting the Scene

I designed a scenario for the training that many managers would face, hiring a person for a counter sales position.

Question

User Decisions

The user then goes through the scenario, making decisions about actions to take and questions to ask. I attached the responses to variables using standard actions so that when a user chooses a specific answer it may add one to the variable.

Introduction

Receiving Feedback

At the end of the scenario, the user receives customized feedback on the interview they conducted. I was able to use a conditional action to evaluate the variables and based on the variables value, show certain feedback. This allows the feedback to be very specific to the choices the employee made.

Feedback

From a Technical Side

So for each decision that a user was going to make, I created a variable. When the employee clicks on a decision choice, it either activates a standard action that increments the variable by one or it does nothing, leaving the value of the variable alone. Clicking the choices also moves the scenario forward based on the decision made. At the end of the scenario, the user receives summary feedback. For the summary feedback section at the end of the scenario, I created invisible text boxes with different feedback for each of the major concepts that I wanted to give the employee feedback on. Most times there were two different feedback options, but for some there were more. Advanced Action ScreenUpon entry to the slide, I used a conditional action to evaluate the variables. For each variable, I set up the action to evaluate the value of the variable and based on that value, it would show a specific text box. For instance, if the value of the variable was 1, it would show text box A, else, it would show text box B.

 

This allowed me to provide customized feedback to each employee taking the course. I also allow them to go through the scenario repeatedly so it was important that I attached a standard action to my restart button that clears all the feedback and resets the value of all the variables back to 0.

If you are interested in creating some customized feedback Adobe Captivate’s variables and advanced actions are a great way to do this. If you would like more information about this process, reach out to me and I would be happy to help you.

 

 

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.

Building Excellence

Excellence CycleDon’t settle for mediocrity or status quo in your job. Whether you want to advance with your current employer of make a career shift, we want to be excellent. I use the Excellence Cycle to stay out of the land of mediocrity and build excellence.

  1. Self- reflection
  2. Ask for and act on feedback
  3. Involve yourself and share

Self-Reflection

In order to be the best you, it is essential to know and understand who you are. This involves knowing your values and goals and understanding both your strengths and your weaknesses. On a regular basis I spend time thinking about what my goals are. One of my goals is to have a high impact on the people and environment around me. I value creating high quality work and building a relationship of trust with those I train. I want them to know I am giving the information they need to improve their bottom line and that they can seek me out to help with questions or issues they run into. For me, part of success lies in those I train knowing that when the formal training is over, I am there for them; we are a part of a team to build company success. I also spend time considering my strengths and weaknesses. I know I am an innovative problem solver, an engaging facilitator, passionate and committed to my customers. I also know that I need to broaden my areas of expertise in the electrical field which I work in. I find that regular reflection on who and where I am as a professional and reflection of specific projects helps me to revise my professional goals.

Ask for and Act on Feedback

Self-reflection is not enough though. It is also important to seek out feedback from others. This should be from internal customers, external customers, and colleagues and is a combination of formal and informal feedback. This helps you to understand how you are perceived and what strengths and weaknesses those around you perceive. In addition to the employee review system set up by my employer, I regularly seek out feedback. A few months back when I wrote a leadership statement, I provided a copy of it to my supervisor for feedback. I have also set up a formal feedback poll that we use after webinars that helps us to get feedback on the information presented, the presentation and solicit additional training learners are interested in. When I launch a new elearning lesson or conduct onsite training, I reach out to some of the first user/participants s for feedback on their experience. The key is that after receiving this feedback is to act on it. I take what I learn from feedback and put it into practice. Positive feedback is an affirmation of things you are doing well but also a reminder of strengths you want to not become complacent with; things you want to continue to do. Constructive feedback gives you performance targets. When I receive this kind of feedback, I also try to acknowledge it and let the person who provided it know what I am working on to improve.

Involve Yourself and Share

Once you have reflected and received feedback, it is important to learn new information or techniques to guide your improvement and to share what you know and what you learn. It is also imperative to stay on top of new industry news.  Involvement in formal and informal communities of learning is a place to do this. You might find yourself attending or presenting at conferences or industry meetings. I belong to the ASTD and attend the Boston chapter meetings to network and learn from my local colleagues. This might also be more informal communities such as twitter and blogs. I use both of these, as well as, Linked-In and places to learn from others but also share my strengths and areas of research and expertise with others.

All three parts of this cycle make sure that you do not stay static and continually feed into one another. Not only do these three things help you to constantly be in a state of improving, but as you follow this process, you will develop strengths that make you stand out from other professionals, which becomes your brand. Determining what those things are and communicating them through your actions and words allows you to not only be excellent, but to be known as excellent.

Applying Game Design Characteristics to Training

In recent years, the words gamification and gameful learning have been showing up across the industry. This has caused some to chase after turning their learning activities into games, others to make it game-like, and still others to throw up there hands and walk the other way.

Challenge Creates Learning Opportunities

There are a few elements that are key to keep in mind when developing learning. First, people learn when they are presented with a challenge. The challenge brings purpose to their learning and people want to do something purposeful. These challenges are sometimes artificial such as a test, or sometimes real-world, like learning new processes for a new job or a new skill that someone has chosen to pursue.

All kinds of resources and strategies can help learners meet these challenges. The greater the motivation the person has for accepting the challenge, the less the particular learning tools and strategies have. The motivation provides the purposefulness. If the learner has little desire or motivation to learn this new skill then the learning activity needs to provide greater engagement and purposefulness.

Game Design Characteristics that Promote Learning

Games provide many characteristics that promote opportunities for learning. Here are a few that I am focusing on adding to my learning activity design:

  • Scaffolded challenges leading up to a “game goal”
  • Exploratory environment and choice
  • Constant feedback and the freedom to fail without negative consequences

Applying Challenges, Exploration and Feedback

Let me walk you through a few characteristics of a recent eLearning activity I have created. My goal is for my learner to be able to successfully order material a customer needs and deliver it to the customer. This involves several possible strategies available to the employee and these strategies are broken up into different modules but already you can see the framework of a over arching goal with smaller goals leading up to it.

Let’s look at one particular module that guides the learner through allocating that material to a purchase order. Depending on the type of customer, the learner can follow two paths. Each one presents a scenario that is similar to a situation they might face on a day to day basis. initially the module is a demonstration that gives them opportunities to make choices. This lets them explore with out actually doing the tedious work of entering information.

At different points in the scenario, the learner collects information and makes choices. based on these choices, the learner is provided feedback as to whether that is the best choice and when a different choice is better. The learner can make a choice that is wrong for this scenario but before being guided back to the best choice, they learn when the choice they have made works best.

User Path Choice

The learner is also presented with Tell Me More boxes as they complete the main scenario. These boxes let them learn more information about special circumstances if they want to learn more.Tell Me More Box This adds additional content for those who need it while not cluttering up the basic procedure for those who are new to it or only use the basic process. Because the Table of Contents allows the user to easily move to different parts of the module, the user can always explore these at a later time.

Now the learning module does not look like a game. It would be a poor game at best and the point wasn’t to make it look or feel like a game. The key was to incorporate some of the same characteristics that are successful in game design to the eLearning module.

Haw are you using game design characteristics in your training activities?