Archive for the 'Learning' Category

28
Jul
16

Bonus content – Event Garde e-news – August edition

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Stephanie Wohlfert. Courtesy of Michigan Meetings + Events.

Q & A with Stephanie Wohlfert, meetings coordinator, MSAE

Q: Learn: What’s one subject you’d like to learn more about?
A: Nutrition Science – Throughout the last several years I’ve become more conscious about health and wellness and what my family and I eat daily. I focus on eating non-processed foods without all the fillers and preservatives. I have a very good understanding of why this is important; however, I’d love to take it to another level and understand the science behind it, too, so I can educate others as well.

Q: Network: Social media or face-to-face? Which form of networking is better and why?
A: Although I’m a fan of social media for so many other reasons, when it comes to networking, I think I’ll forever be “old school” in thinking face-to-face is the best form of networking. I know we are a lot busier in our personal and professional lives than ever before, but I’ll never get tired of physically attending a networking event to meet people in person. I feel that you can connect with people so much more on a personal level this way.

Q: Transfer: Please share with us a resource you just can’t live without.
A: I don’t read as many books as I’d like but my go-to book to keep me on track is “Secrets of the Obvious” by Harry Cohen. One of my colleagues gave me this book several years ago when I was very green in the industry and feeling overwhelmed with balancing my personal and professional life. Sometimes we get so caught up with the hustle and bustle of everyday activities that we forget the basics and how just focusing on a few positive changes will restore that balance!

Q: Tell us about an experience in which you learned something new and then applied it to your personal or professional life.
A: Ah, yes! Last year I attended the Convention Industry Council’s CMP “Conclave” and I’ll never forget the opening keynote speaker, Andy Cohen. His presentation was titled, “The Assumpt,” and it was all about the daily assumptions we make and how sometimes we treat our assumptions as truths rather than reality. Every time I hear or think the word “assume,” I now instantly think of why I should be more aware, keep an open mind and ask more questions.

Q: Which adjectives best describe you?
A: Dependable. I think I’ve been carrying around this adjective to best describe me for quite some time but I pride myself in always being reliable to those around me. Although I feel like I can always do more for people, I love helping out and doing things for others. I want my friends, family, colleagues and those I meet along the way to know they can always depend on me.

26
Jul
16

Improving knowledge transfer in your organization in 3 stages

 

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Karla Gutierrez, marketing manager and digital strategist, Aura Interactiva

The following guest blog post is adapted from a recent blog post by Karla Gutierrez on SHIFT’s e-Learning blog.

 

Learning transfer is challenging because it’s difficult to predict how each person will respond to a course.

The most powerful reason learning transfer is ineffective, as was revealed during the ATD International Conference & Exposition 2016, is that 90 percent of training is designed without a well-defined strategy that facilitates it.

As a training manager and an e-learning designer, you have to provide a comprehensive learning experience, in all stages of learning transfer: before, during and after training.

You can facilitate a glitch-free learning and transfer process by adopting these measures even before the training program starts.

Before the training

1) Carry out a thorough training needs analysis.

A comprehensive training needs analysis exercise with the trainees will help you assess what skills and knowledge they need to excel in their job responsibilities and the gaps in their existing knowledge and skill sets. The insights you gain from a training needs assessment will help you design e-learning courses with relevant content that helps learners perform well in their jobs.

2) Identify the purpose (the what’s in-it-for-me information) of training.

Identify the training goals and learning objectives before you start designing the course. This ensures all team members are on the same page, work towards a common goal and focus their efforts to achieve similar objectives.

3) Align learning outcomes with business goals and on-job tasks.

Establish a clear association between company business goals and the skills learners will develop by the time they complete the course.

4) Plan to provide just-in-time learning using the most appropriate delivery method.

To ensure your training has the maximum impact on learners, provide training just when they need it. For instance, sales reps need to access a course on the last update on a product when they are at the store in front of the client.

5) Meet the learners.

To motivate your audience of learners, managers must ensure they meet at least some of them before the training and tell them about the significance of the material. Managers, meanwhile, should realize the significance of the learning and understand how they can facilitate the learning process for their team members and create opportunities for them to apply the knowledge.

before-during-and-after-training2During the training

You have to ensure the e-learning course communicates meaning efficiently and creates a memorable learning experience.

1) State the “what’s-in-it-for-me” information at the beginning.

The astute learner wants to know, “What’s in it for me?” The onus is on the e-learning designer to provide a satisfactory and credible answer to this question.

2) Chunk content to prioritize and eliminate clutter.

Chunking and prioritizing content ensure your course is clutter free and relevant. Adult learners are short on time; they appreciate a course that cuts to the chase right away.

3) Draw upon the learner’s prior knowledge to create associations.

We learn best by associations. It’s easy to comprehend, remember and retain new concepts when we can connect the dots and discover underlying patterns. Try to help your learners draw upon their prior knowledge or experience to understand, discover similarities and make sense of a new concept.

4) Use instructional strategies that establish relevance.

The adult learner is motivated to apply his newly-acquired knowledge only if he or she is confident it will help him or her tackle real-life challenges.

5) Align content with real-life job roles and responsibilities.

Create scenarios or stories that demonstrate positive outcomes. Incorporate case studies and video testimonials to add legitimacy. Use these media to explain how the learner can improve his or her on-job performance, as the people in the case studies and videos have done, after taking the course.

6) Keep an eye on the learning objectives while you design the course.

Whether you’re writing a scenario or planning an activity, continue reviewing the learning objectives. This ensures your content is relevant and there is no information that does not directly relate to the overarching goals of the course.

7) Divide the program into modules.

There are several advantages of spacing out and delivering your course in modules, but most importantly it has to do with the transfer of learning. When learners return to work after completing each module, they get an opportunity to apply their newly-acquired knowledge.

8) Provide action plans to retain and improve motivation.

Help learners prepare action plans to guide them when they are back to work. These action plans lay out the guidelines that will assist learners to apply what they have learned during the training.

boosting-business-performance-with-a-knowledge-transfer-partnership-sme-event-98_3-Knowledge transferAfter the training

The learning process continues long after the training is over.

1) Supplement the training with “social learning.”

We all learn best when we have examples to follow, friends to share our successes with, buddies to learn from and mentors in our midst. In-person meetings, chat groups, forums and videos of trainees sharing their stories are effective ways to incorporate social learning in the learning process.

2) Provide refresher courses.

Trainees often report being unable to retain key learning points after the training is over or recall these concepts when needed. A refresher course can improve recall. The course should be simple and provide just a crisp and coherent summary of the key learning concepts.

3) Arrange post-training follow-up sessions.

Reflection is one of the most efficient ways to cement the knowledge, identify gaps in training and identify the barrier(s) to a strong transfer of learning. You can send follow-up emails to trainees after about a month to reinforce key learning points. You can arrange post-training follow-up sessions to provide supplementary lessons or use these opportunities to let trainees practice their skills or discuss their experiences as they try to apply their knowledge on the job.

4) Create opportunities for practice. 

Multiple research studies have emphasized the importance of repeated practice to cement one’s newly-acquired skills. Employees should be provided ample opportunities at the workplace to practice the skills they have learned from the training program.

 

05
Jul
16

Start with the last first?

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Ethan Edwards

We’ve written about successful e-learning programs in the past and those of us in the industry often singing the praises of such modules.

But from an instructional designer’s viewpoint, what’s the secret to creating a program that works? How can designers help students retain knowledge and then transfer that knowledge to their workplace?

It’s not an easy ask, but a new e-book by Ethan Edwards, chief instructional strategist for Allen Interactions, lists 10 principles for creating a meaningful e-learning program.

While I’m not going to list them all here, a few suggestions are especially noteworthy:

  • Design the end of your lesson first. This may go against how many of us learn. And for linear thinkers, perhaps this concept presents a challenge. But think about it. How many times have you started a project with raging enthusiasm, only to run out of steam by the end? Edwards contends many instructional designers focus so much attention on presentation that sometimes content gets lost. So to avoid playing “The Little Engine That Could,” Edwards suggests designing the end of a module first to allow designers to expend the most energy and effort on the part of the lesson that matters most.
  • Create real-life activities. E-learning presents specific challenges by its very nature: Most learners use a mouse and a screen, rather than, for example, role play as they do during in-person learning programs. So in e-learning modules, it’s important for learners to complete activities that suggest real-life behavior to complete a concrete goal. Tip: Design challenges rooted in the real world that have meaningful outcomes.
  • Don’t be adversarial. In a classroom, it’s not appropriate for a teacher to judge and ridicule and the same goes for instructional designers. Edwards says too often instructional designers unnecessarily create conflict and use an adversarial tone. Instead, e-learning should be empowering, allowing for people to experiment and make mistakes. Tip: When creating an e-learning module, write to foster a culture of support, assistance and collaboration.

what-makes-a-good-instructional-designer“Instructional designers of e-learning face a constant challenge of how to create learning experiences that actually make a difference,” Edwards said. “Sophisticated simulations and technically-sophisticated designs seem out of reach for many instructional designers. While much can be accomplished in sophisticated development environments, rarely is it the technology that is actually responsible for the impact. Rather, it’s the powerful design ideas that are grounded on some relatively practical and achievable principles.”

 

28
Jun
16

Bonus content – Event Garde e-news – July edition

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Carla Kalogeridis

Q & A with Carla Kalogeridis, president, Arion Media Services. Follow her on Twitter at @CarlaKalo.

Q: Learn: Let’s say you’re studying for a big exam. Are you a crammer, or do you like to plan ahead?
A: I plan ahead to cram.

Q: Network: How do you help a wallflower, who’s not comfortable networking at a professional event, loosen up?
A: My staff knows that if they ever see someone at one of our events who is standing alone, they MUST go up and introduce themselves, have a conversation and introduce the “loner” to at least one other person. If I am the one approaching the person, I start with a big, warm smile and say something like, “I don’t think we’ve met…” and then ask simple questions to get him or her to open up a little. And when an authentic opportunity comes up in the conversation, I try to give the person a compliment of some kind.

Q: Transfer: What resources/tools do you find most helpful in helping you retain knowledge?
A: I’m outgoing and confident, but an introvert when I’m learning. I like to see a visual demonstration or example or read the information (as opposed to just hearing it) and then I like to digest it on my own before putting it into practice with others. I think it’s because I like to retain my dignity during the learning process, so I want to retreat and make sure I know the material – and then, let me loose and get out of the way! For example, I learned how to line dance a few years ago standing at the very back of the crowd. But once I knew the moves, I moved right up in front next to the teacher and had a wonderful time.

Q: Please share with us a tool or resource you just can’t live without.
A: It’s tough to pick just one… but if one is all I get, I pick “Science and Health” by Mary Baker Eddy. I like to think deeply – particularly about spirituality and metaphysical concepts. I find that having about an hour of quiet time in the morning prepares me mentally for my day more than anything else. I’ve been studying “Science and Health” for years, and I am constantly gaining new or expanded meanings from parts that I’ve read many times before. So that’s a personal resource I can’t do without. From a professional standpoint, I really enjoy reading what people post and link to on Twitter. It’s a great way to read the latest information on a topic and an invaluable tool for research.

Q: It’s almost 4th of July! Which type of firework best represents your life?
A: That dud firework that doesn’t light. Right now, one week out from an association client’s big annual conference, I’m simply too pooped to pop.

28
Jun
16

Plan, attack, conquer: A conference strategy

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Tom Morrison, CEO, MTI Management

With the ASAE Annual Meeting and Expo quickly approaching Aug. 13-16, we wanted to share more advice from conference goers to help you capitalize on your experience. This month’s guest blog post is from Tom Morrison, CEO of MTI Management.

Do you have tips to share? Contact Kristen Parker at Kristen@eventgarde.com.

Like many people, when I attended my first ASAE conference in 2006, I was overwhelmed and distracted by how the massive number of people, sessions and booths. And so I ran around like a kid in a playground.

However, it wasn’t the best use of my time and I wasn’t able to maximize my experience to absorb the key ideas that could transform my association’s future.

So I developed a process I now use for every conference, including ASAE.  It goes as follows:

1) Prior to arriving at the conference, determine the two biggest issues for which you need to find an idea or a solution. This allows you to know what you are looking for.

2) Determine the obstacles potentially coming your way that could have a negative impact on your members.

3) Make a list of the types of people you would like to meet and carry enough business cards to meet them.

4) Study the sessions and events and use the ASAE Conference App to build a schedule that keeps you on track. But be flexible and don’t be afraid to jump into a session with someone you meet.

5) Day one of EXPO: Start in row one and walk every aisle, seeing everything in the trade show. Make notes of booths to come visit in more detail on day two.

6) Day two of EXPO: Visit all booths you wrote down on day one to get more details or demos on products.

6) MOST IMPORTANT: At the conference each day, write down three things:

  • One new idea or a new way of doing something you already do.
  • Something you will do differently on the Monday you return.
  • Someone you met who can help you with an idea.

I’ve used this plan of attack for 10 years now and it has contributed to our association growing more than 1,000 percent in net worth and has increased my professional network the same.

 

21
Jun
16

Survey says: Most of us are lifelong learners

technology-beginner-blog-imageOn the last day of school, I told my kids I wished I were still a student. I explained “adulting” is hard, and they looked at me like I had five heads.

Truth is, I love school. I’m a self-professed word nerd, but I also love learning about pretty much everything, which is probably why I’m determined to get my master’s degree one of these days.

I guess my love of learning shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. According to a recent survey by Pew Research Center, most Americans – 73 percent to be exact – define themselves as lifelong learners.

From do-it-yourself projects to professional development, Americans want to learn, the report found. Most learning occurs in traditional places, but the Internet is quickly becoming a reputable knowledge source.

Of those who responded to the survey, 63 percent of working adults have taken a course or engaged in professional development throughout the last year to improve job skills, mostly for career advancement. Perhaps of special interest to associations, 36 percent of the workforce sought education for a license or certification.

At the same time, 65 percent of those who participated in professional education said learning has expanded their professional networks.

In addition, the report found those with high levels of education were more likely to seek out education. Pew Research Center contends this fact negates the argument that the Internet democratizes education. Again, however, the report said those with lower levels of education turn to the Internet for education.

And the report found those who learn professionally are also more likely to learn personally – more good news for associations/organizations representing recreational industries.

sharing-is-caring-social-learning-in-the-workplaceWhile technology continues to evolve in the education arena, the Pew study found many learners aren’t aware of digital learning options. For example, 61 percent of respondents aren’t aware of distance learning while 80 percent aren’t familiar with massive open online courses (MOOCs). Even fewer learners are aware of digital badges.

In terms of industries, those working in the government sector, more than in other industries, represent the highest number of professional learners. No. 2 was education, followed by nonprofit organizations.

I alluded to this above, but most professionals participate in education at their workplace. The Internet is the second most common platform, followed by an offsite facility, such as a hotel. And, head’s up to associations: Conventions and education programs take the No. 4 spot.

Perhaps not surprising, the report found attitudes about learning shape people’s desire to seek out educational opportunities. Most of us like the idea of lifelong learning, but very few yearn to sit in a classroom. In fact, 58 percent of respondents say they’re constantly looking for opportunities to grow.

“Two large forces are driving fresh interest in the way people learn and why they learn,” said Pew Research Center. “The first force is the rise of the Internet and its disruptive potential for education, both for the formal purpose of gaining extra training and credentials and for the informal purpose of learning new things in hope of personal life enrichment. The second force is the steady advancement of the ‘knowledge economy,’ in which economic value is increasingly derived from working with sources of knowledge and in which more and more jobs are built around knowledge workers who use information to ‘create original knowledge products.’”

09
Jun
16

Facilitator’s oath: Responsibly introducing challenge by choice

11330016_10155540882430524_2140224877497510125_nHave you ever considered how you or your presenters introduce new content to learners?

Last year I had the opportunity during a site visit with a client to partake in The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium. If you’re ever in the area, you absolutely have to check it out. The technology is quite remarkable within the outdoor recreation industry – and the memories, particularly if you’re new to climbing, will last a lifetime.

The Adventure Forest itself spans nearly six acres of the tree canopy. After completing a briefing on how to use the “always-locked-on” gear, guests climb into a main tree platform where they can choose from 15 different trails that are color coded to indicate the degree of challenge they offer.

Trails are marked just like ski runs, with some suitable for novice, some for intermediate and some for advanced climbers. These trails include more than 165 challenging crossings made of rope, cable and wood. Among these crossings are more than 20 zip lines. The most challenging trails are up to 55 feet above the ground.

So, picture me. While I was initially an eager student, my ego quickly deflated as I reached the very first platform. As I surveyed the challenge before me, I considered both how I would cross it and what might happen if I fell.

As an experienced outdoor professional and coach, my client immediately became a trusted friend, confidant and mentor. She encouraged and supported my active engagement, perseverance and growth – but all within the context of challenge by choice.

18690_10155540882440524_7361364456760786838_nChallenge by choice is an important principle in adventure-based programming. While simple in principle, challenge by choice is complex in both practice and reality. The simple principle is that participants are invited to participate voluntarily in each of the various activities and challenges. A participant may choose to sit out of an activity and this right is to be respected both by others in the group and by the instructors.

The same should hold true of presenters:

  1. We should encourage and support active engagement in our sessions.
  2. We should invite learners to participate in each of the activities and challenges we present.
  3. We should respectfully permit participants to sit out of an activity or challenge.

In other words, we should introduce new content in a responsible and approachable way. After all, you wouldn’t take new climbers out on the Double Black Diamond trail in the adventure park without first developing their confidence and climbing skills on the purple and yellow trails.

For me, two major factors generally determine whether or not content is introduced responsibly: number of learners and sophistication of content.

Number of Learners

The first factor presenters should consider when introducing new content is the number of learners participating in the activity or challenge. By roughly dividing the session in thirds:

  1. The first third should introduce activities or challenges comprising the learner and just one other participant (i.e., pairs or neighbors).
  2. The second third should introduce activities or challenges comprising the learner and two or three other participants (i.e., small groups).
  3. The final third should introduce activities or challenges comprising the learner and the balance of the participants (i.e., large group).

11270478_10155540882435524_4624567221505202688_oSophistication of Content

The second factor presenters should consider when introducing new content is the sophistication of content delivered in the activity or challenge. If we consider ASAE’s new learning levels and again roughly divide the session in thirds:

  1. The first third should introduce foundational activities or challenges that focus on awareness and factual recall.
  2. The second third should introduce applied activities or challenges that focus on understanding and comprehension.
  3. The final third should introduce strategic activities or challenges that focus on application and implementation of technical or detailed topics.

Examples

Following are several real-world examples demonstrating these tenets in action:

  1. A foundational activity or challenge for a pair in the first third of the session might include a brief 3-4 minute introduction to includes names, titles, organizations and recall of relevant prior knowledge on the session topic.
  2. An applied activity or challenge for a small group in the second third of the session might include a 10-15 minute case study seeking to build on, apply or enhance existing knowledge using content in practical applications.
  3. A strategic activity or challenge for the large group in the final third of the session might include action planning to focus learner ideas, takeaways and next steps or a focused conversation to lead learners through a phased reflection.

What insights might you add as presenters consider responsibly introducing new content or challenge by choice within their own sessions? Leave a comment with your insights.




meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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