Back in Belgium, here is a mini-summary of the last 2 days of ATD2015, which thanks to Harry Potter and Lufthansa, could not be delivered earlier…
- Like Ken Robinson in 2013, Sugata Mitra reminded us of the important truth that we are all born learners and that we need to let learning happen, not make it happen
- David Rock explained the neuroscience of why I don’t believe a word anyone says unless they are just like me. Didn’t believe him 🙂
- Met the most fabulously gorgeous pair of the conference during lunch, Mel and Will, accompanied by a slightly less gorgeous but nonetheless 129% awesome Don Taylor (who, for the record, was in disguise)
- Got some good simple tricks for contextful learning in one session in the afternoon and won a book prize during the session on Infographics for drawing this (!)
- Had a real adventure in Universal Harry Potter land (watch the video!) catching with Trish Uhl, abusing Alywn Klein with my Lethal Weapon 2 South African accent, watching learning geeks like David Kelly take pictures of a dragon and spending some good times with my new French friends Valerie-Ann (E-Doceo) et al..
- Back to the hotel at 1am, I made the mistake of thanking all those lovely session #M101 attendees who tweeted praise for my session.. bed at 3
- Despite my good intentions to find out what WordPress has to offer for trainers, I skipped the 8.15am session I had planned for an extra 90 minutes in bed
- Finally caught up with JD Dillon to follow his session on how Kaplan has turned users into contributors
- Interviewed by ATD-TV on social media for formal learning
- Had lunch in the expo, discussing the “Jack Reacher” dream, carrying the minimum-effective-dose of training materials and turning around people’s attitudes during training
- Bumped into Paul Meshanko and Todd Costello to muse over the finer points of respect, marriage, happiness, business development and work:life balance
- Followed a most excellent session with Brian Melven on visual storytelling and learnt got a simple process and lots of resources to turn boring learning materials into comic-style awesomeness (see my first example here)
- …and tried my first Nutshell video, discovered via Rick Lozano and featuring Eric Van Kamp
- Sat with JD for the closing keynote: Erik Wahl making amazing paintings of Bono (picture) and Steve Jobs (picture) in a matter of minutes, whilst explaining how we need to let go of our fear and get out there!
- Unlike some of my colleagues, I didn’t rush off to the airport, but went for a swim before the long ride home
- …driving the bus back, of course 🙂
- Had a really nice catch up at the airport with Yves Plees of SWIFT
- Slept 3 hours on the plane 🙂
…and that’s pretty much it. Another year of ATD conference fun over 😦
It was really great!
Thanks for reading
ATD2015 session TU209 is with Ethan Edwards, speaking about bringing better context into e-learning. Now, I’m not an e-learning guy and generally don’t like the approach. But I am very interested in the context problem since my TK15 session with Robert Todd earlier this year. That session was quite “abstract” for me, so I’m hoping that this one will really give the 5 practical idea it promises. A good start, as Ethan is full of joy and clearly happy to be speaking. I’m listening…
It’s all about the context
In communication training sessions, we are often interested in the difference between the words that are said, and the way they are said and “everything else” that is going on. The “words” are not the part bring the most meaning.
In many e-learning modules, instructional designers often fail by imagining that their e-learning is “just putting the PPT (words + images) into a system”. But the words (and not even the images) are still not the part that bring the most meaning.
Most e-learning modules look like the one Ethan Edwards showed us… Some explanatory text, a few things you can click to go through some different iterations of the information presented and a quick test at the end. But most e-learning doesn’t work, because that information is not presented “in context”. And it is the context that brings the meaning. And the meaning that brings the spark for recall and potential change.
How do we bring the context?
Our speaker showed a great example of a bad e-learning module for truck safety at a railroad crossing. Truck drivers are basically told what to do and then asked what they would do in the same situation. It was SO horrible it actually made me feel anxious imagining the days I used to be forced to (admittedly click through and pretend to..) follow these things.
But then we saw this:
This module works on exactly the same learning objectives as the other version. But the learner is IN context. In the cab of the truck, the choices to be made are about things that are there in front of the driver (you), not presented on a screen. Truck drives don’t look at a screen. Or, as our speaker put it “I’ve been working for 30 years and my job never involved clicking A, B or C!”).
Even if you can’t make something as beautiful as this example above, or don’t have the budget and even if you are not making e-learning, the following 5 ideas can help you bring in the context:
Create a specific meaningful environment
Like the example above, whatever is being learnt has to be presented as if it is in the real environment in which the performance of behaviour is supposed to take place.
Don’t talk theorectically about what is going on, with models and theories. Use a story arc, with character, a situation, plot complications and resolution.
Insert the learner into the action
Give the learner an objective. Not a learning objective, but something to achieve in the activity. Like “Find the gangs” (for Californian police learner so). Use some element of challenge.
If you are doing compliance training, don’t tell people “we are doing this because we have to”. Show the real benefit for them in terms of their own perceived sense of purpose.
..and finally, create a sense of adventure
This could be anything. Building things up by step-but-step, showing impact of “bad behaviour” (Booom! you died!).
And that’s all folks!
Make it happen!