When people just don’t get it…

We see it time and time again, and no one seems to learn from past mistakes.  To all directors out there – LOOK and LISTEN to what is going on!

We have recently been using Jam as an internal platform for communication and social interaction at work.  This has only been rolled out to the HR function at the moment, and L&D being aligned to that division has also had access.  Needless to say, the Curriculum department has embraced this new platform and is contributing to some good conversations there.  Our team were contributing heavily to our Sharepoint platform as well, so we are already a far way down the road compared to some of our HR colleagues.  However….

Our directors are behind this.  Our HR director is enthusiastic about this.  But oh dear…the practical reality is far from exemplary.  I am trying to think of a reply to one of our director’s blog posts.  This post was a ‘newsletter’ which had already gone out to the division by email.  It was if they had suddenly remembered Jam and copied and pasted it over.  This must have been about 3000 words.  The heart sinks and I never got past the 4th paragraph…

Since then, there has been two replies to this post…but nothing from the author.  There has been no feedback from her, or comment on any other posts. I tried to look the other day to see how she is interacting with the division on Jam – what did I find?  Nothing.  So for all the enthusiasm about everyone else using this platform, our leaders don’t see this as a way forward or in any way important (please – don’t use the ‘busy’ excuse..)

By thinking about this strategically, she could have done so much more, and raised her profile with probably little more effort than penning the ‘newsletter’.  These would be simple steps to show how to use the platform effectively..

  • Split this ‘newsletter’ up into bite sized pieces.  If you are too busy to contribute, I can guarantee that other people will be too busy to read a great big post.
  • By spreading these out over a period of time, people get to see your name on Jam, and that you are contributing.
  • Reply to people to take the time to comment on your blog.  It shows you are listening.
  • Liking a comment that someone has posted takes no time at all.  Why not go in when you’re having a coffee and comment on a few posts?
  • Post short bursts of whatever is on your mind.  Throw a question out there – you could get some interesting and innovative replies

Most importantly, this will eventually be rolled out to the business.  Your contributions will be used as a template for other directors/managers in the business.  If we are not demonstrating the behaviours, then what incentive is there for the them to follow?

Are there any more ideas I could suggest to get more interaction?

Thanks to John Stepper’s inspirational blog for these ideas..



Knowing when to change….

Happy new year to everyone – I hope 2013 will bring you interesting challenges!

Festivities are over, and we’re now back in the swing at work.  I’ve been asked to help out on one of our projects which is nearing completion, and, looking at the amount of design work left to do – and not being involved in the project right from the start, it prompted me to think about changing our tack on our training offering.

When would it be prudent to change your design?

It’s another one of our usuals – new system implementation.  The system is being built as we are designing material, but we seem to have been ‘led’ by the business into what they think their people will need.  Confusing ‘knowledge’ for ‘information’ (see Clive Shepherd’s very concise definition here) and also (it seems to me) also getting confused with a blended learning solution – we seem to be throwing the kitchen sink at this one – including replicating material twice, one for virtual classroom and one for face to face.  A user manual has been created, but we are now creating online modules which replicates this – but with screen shots.  Oh, and UAT hasn’t fully started yet and the drop dead date has not changed!

My thoughts are these.  Could we change our offering at this late stage?  I feel that we could, if we were smart about this, try and get what we have already and make this a very short but targeted programme which would get the basics over, but would then provide further supporting materials for the delegates when they are actually working the system.  I would think we could provide suitable material if we now looked at –

  • The overall business goal
  • What the delegates need to do to meet this goal
  • The minimum amount of knowledge they need to do this task
  • Other materials which will support this back on their teams (thanks Cathy Moore and action mapping!)

I think this would be ideal for a virtual classroom roll out – the basic processes and procedures are more or less staying and the delegates are already doing the job at the moment.

BUT – would there still be a lot of work to do.  Should we still plough on with what we have agreed – and hope that it’s finished in time (about 10 working days) or would it be better to change and offer something different? Has anyone done this successfully?

Trainer validation – how am I doing?

It’s that time of year again where we are getting towards yearly appraisals.  My role as a learning designer has its issues, but seems to have more of a physical output to which I can refer in these meetings, more than our delivery population.  Although they have feedback throughout the year from the sessions that they have run, as part of their yearly appraisal, they must have gone back to the business and taken a call, and passed a quality audit.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently after a discussion that was posted on Linkedin by Stephen M.  Here is what he thought were the attributes of an effective trainer…

An effective trainer demonstrates 4 attributes –

  1. Sufficient hands-on experience in the industry being trained, e.g. at least 5 years practical experience.  Trainer should have done it before for quite a while.  For instance a trainer for marketing should have at least 5 years actual successful marketing experience.  Same applies to leadership, communications etc.
  2. Extensive knowledge of what is the best practice in the industry at present, hence very good knowledge of what is going on in the industry or discipline, new developments etc.
  3. Proven ability in high impact training, preferable with certification,  Trainer should master the tricks to transform people.
  4. Self-appreciation, mirror, embodiment.  Trainer should reflect what is being trained, when applicable.  A trainer boosting your income should be quite wealthy.  A trainer dealing with time management should not come late etc.  A trainer talking communication cannot be too shy..

If one item is missing then the trainer cannot be effective.  Reading about a topic and delivering a course is more like lecturing or reporting, and not training.


So we have there what used to be the path you took to be a trainer.  You were good at sales, you moved up your grades.  Then comes the crunch – do you become a team leader or, if not, you become a trainer.  Tell people what you were doing well and they will be as good as you!  Easy.  However, my problem with this is that once you are away from the business for any amount of time, your effectiveness in doing that job will decrease.  Our example is typical of this.  We have delivery trainers who only train sales – they were from that background and this is what they did.  Owing to re-structures, sales exited our site so that it has become a claims site – including some technical areas such as Bodily Injury, Credit Hire and Commercial.  What happens then to these trainers?  They still have to train, but a different area to the one where their ‘expertise’ lay.  Part of their licence to operate now consists of taking a phone call (only one mind you) in a department they have never worked in.

In what way does this prove that you are a good trainer?  Or indeed, a learning and development professional?

All this proves is that you can take a phone call and ask a few questions.

How can we demonstrate that we have made a contribution and that it has been worthwhile?

We are no doubt going to be re-structuring around a 70:20:10 model, so what can we do to prove that we are adding value?

I think we can do more to get the trainers to a position where they can facilitate learning rather than be an SME.  We should be supporting the business and supporting on the job training.  I like @JaneBozarth ‘s idea of asking the question ‘What have you learned this week/month etc? How can the learning professional be effective if they do not know how to learn themselves?  This should be the target of the trainers, not whether they can answer a call….

So, what should be the attributes of a good learning development professional?

In my experience, certification seems to serve the purpose of benchmarking someone at a specific point in time, and is nice framed, and put on your wall at work.  I undertook and passed the CITP about 6 years ago, and I can honestly say I have not revisited any of the material or been asked about this in my professional life.

The learning professional should be assessed on their industry knowledge – of course, but this should be relevant to them. Are they blogging/tweeting.  Are they taking part in conversations etc.  How are they keeping abreast of new developments?  Do they take responsibility for their own learning….

The standard for learning and development practitioners could be a good start.  There are some good areas covered in this document and I’m going to discuss some of these with my team.

Has anyone got a framework for assessing trainers already?

What difficulties did you encounter?

Thanks to @MandyRG and @lesleywprice for the conversations around this.


Captivate Quizzes – a quick workaround part 2

In my last post I looked at getting most of the information from the results slide off the stage so that I could get  a consistent look with using the results (I wanted to use Century Gothic which does not seem to be supported in the preferences in Captivate).  Now I wanted to show certain text depending on what the result was.  Here is my results page now.

Results slide with blocks of text for all options

Here I’ve inserted the system variables for the quiz results.  Note that the percentage attained is listed as $$cpinfopercentage$$ as the variable that is associated with the quiz is only the pass percentage.  The blocks of text have been named ‘Failed’,’Max_attempts’, and ‘Passed’.

  • Go to Project
  • Advanced actions
  • In ‘Action Type’ select ‘Conditional Actions’
  • Name this ‘Results.

You can subdivide this action using the tabs in the middle of the page.  Name these ‘Passed’, ‘Max_attempts’ and ‘Passed’.

Under failed –

  • select variable cpQuizInfoPointsscored
  • Choose ‘Is less than’
  • select cpQuizInfoQuizPassPoints (the number of points needed to pass)
  • The action is ‘Show’ the ‘text_failed’ text on the page.
  • Under ‘Else’ select ‘Hide’ the ‘text_failed’

Under ‘Max_attempts’

  • Follow the same process but use the variables ‘cpQuizInfoAttempts’ is equal to (literal) 3
  • Action is ‘Show’ ‘Max_attempts’ text
  • Else ‘Hide’ ‘Max_attempts’ text

Under ‘Passed’

  • If ‘cpQuizInfoPointsscored’
  • is ‘greater or equal to’
  • cpQuizInfoQuizPassPoints
  • Action – Show ‘text_passed’ and Hide ‘text_failed’ and ‘Max_attempts’
  • Else ‘Hide’ text_passed.

This should allow your user then to be presented with bespoke text depending on their results.

I hope this makes sense – and I know this is quite a straightforward advanced action.  If you have any ideas as to how I can tweak this further please leave a comment and let me know.

Here are the screen shots to illustrate the points above.

Failed advanced action.
Max attempts advanced action
Quiz passed. Note that both the failed and max_attempts text must be hidden



I’ve realised you can make the advanced action leaner by only using the variable ‘cpquizinfopassfail’ and setting this to a literal value of 1.  This means that as long as the quiz is passed (variable = 1) then you can run the other actions.  If not, put the actions in the ‘Else’ tab. Just a thought!

Captivate quizzes – a quick workaround! Part 1

Having finally decided on Captivate as our e-learning software of choice, I am getting to grips with its functionality and quirks.

We have had an influx of projects recently which have needed assessments, and as we are now using our LMS (finally) then we are creating quizzes with Captivate.  One of the annoying things with creating quizzes is the results page will not display with your chosen font.  I’ve tried using the global default settings for ‘score’, ‘attempts’ etc but although I can change the ‘You scored’ text, the actual score always appears in Times New Roman.

However our team has come up with a way of getting the right font and the result to match.

  1. Remove all of the result information off the result slide.  Don’t delete it, just move it off the stage.
  2. Insert the text you want in a text box e.g. ‘You have scored – ‘ and then insert the system variable for the score.  It should start in the list ‘cpquizinfo….’
  3. Insert the quiz variable that you want to insert into the rest of the text.
  4. Tip – the variable for the percentage attained does not start ‘cpquizinfo..’ but is simply ‘cpinfopercent’.  The quiz variable for percent only offers you the pass mark percentage.

And that’s it!  Once I started inserting the system variables, my results page looked so much better.  You can then display the text that you want by using advanced actions – but I’ll cover that in part 2!

With thanks to @alanbarnfather, @P_Daykin & @nickemmett

LearningLive – virtually!

Autumn is here –  and the conference season is upon us.  Unfortunately I was unable to attend LearningLive in person this year, but was lucky enough to take part in Mike Collin’s session ‘Live Online Learning’.   He has included a link to a recording of the event in his blog post on the day.

In my organisation, we have been using Webex for a couple of years now – Webex was introduced by Mike and had a small but regular take up.  At first our trainers didn’t really know what to do with this tool, apart from showing a presentation and people using the chat function.  With budgets ever on the squeeze, the benefits of using a tool like this are becoming more apparent, both for meetings and virtual training.  More and more trainers in our department are enquiring and using some sort of virtual tool.  Unfortunately, our licences for Webex have not been renewed, and so we are currently using a tool called ‘Genesys’ which is not really a virtual classroom tool.  We will hopefully have something more interactive in the near future.

Having already used Webex before, I was familiar with its functionality, but joining Mike in his session opened up a new slant on using the tool – using it live during an event where people were in a room.  The LSG conference was done completely online this year and was a great event – it allowed people to log in, where ever they were in the world and participate in the sessions.  This reminded me a little of these sessions but with a difference.  We that logged in online could hear the reaction of the audience in the room and I felt like I was participating in the whole atmosphere of the event.

This could be used not only in conference situations, but also for training situations where the possibility of reaching far more people than are ‘attending’ or physically in the room is possible.  This would also mean that courses would need to be designed with this in mind – how do you engage ‘virtual’ people as well as the people in the room?  There was one point in Mike’s presentation where we tried to see the audience, but somehow the technology did not respond as we expected.  I know that Mike is considering this for other situations, but these are just a few points that I am considering and suggesting to our learning team.

  • Get an assistant.  Mike would not have been able to control the session as he did with out the ‘flip chart fairy’ @ColinSteed. (I’m afraid the moniker is going to stick for a while Colin!)  Someone who is on hand to deal with the technology, field questions from the virtual audience and generally keep things on track.
  • Technology – of course this will need to be checked and made sure that what you want to do will work.  A microphone for people in the room who are asking questions and a camera set up would be good.
  • Bring in both audiences – Mike did a great job of this, getting us virtual people to interact with the presentation and take part in a few ‘games’.
  • I’m sure that some of the technical blips were to do with bandwidth of both the venue and we who were online.  Perhaps this was the problem with the video – I was viewing from work which has a low bandwidth.  I don’t know how this could be overcome – unless a session was built with the lowest common denominator in mind (here goes the corporate mindset….)

The final point I wanted to make was that more conferences would benefit from having this functionality included.  People could sign up for the sessions they want to attend and could participate either online or attend ‘live’.  However, there must be some benefit from attending live especially if you are paying to attend.  I know one of the major benefits of attending conferences like this are to network and meet up with other L&D professionals or members of your PLN, but if you could get the same information from the session by not physically attending, then everyone would want to attend online.  Maybe if there was a cost involved in attending, but was not as much as attending in person, this could help pay for some of the peripheral services which are attached to staging these conferences – such as the free wifi, internet access etc..

This has certainly given me something to think about and suggest to my team.  Has anyone used something similar in their learning design? I’d love to hear your thoughts – or take the brief poll.

A blogging journey through learning…. (all the views here are my own etc..)

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