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Learning Design: The Great, The Good and The Good Enough

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This could be a story about buggy whips. You might know the classic management tale of the craftsman who was proud of building the most handsome and useful whips to spur on carriage horses at the turn of the last century. Unfortunately, as you you probably know the tale, carriages once replaced by the automobile rendered his lovely product useless. Learning is not like that. And good enough.

Overcoming Generation Differences When Building Learning: Part 2

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When we last visited this topic about a week back I promised to create a visual—a chart of sorts—to encourage learning and instructional designers to consider how generational bias in training delivery. Just looking to start a conversation. Quick Review. You might want to pop back to the original article: [link]. We need to depend on these folks to help convert those who tend to be inflexible.

The Learner, 70:20:10 and Customer Experience

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More so than in other efforts learning demands a careful balance of content and context. Many courses or projects chock a block with great information never quite achieve the results intended because of the way the information is delivered. Still too many learners won’t or cannot stay engaged. And it’s not for lack of effort by designers. Firstly, it’s important to clear off the Kirkpatrick levels.


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In this article I want to explore 3 connected ideas. The first is about big data, the phenomenon that now makes available enormous, staggering, volumes of information almost instantaneously. The second is a condition that says information already known to us can limit how big data can be used because there are other types of knowing to expand thinking. So the era of big data is here.

How to Choose Between On-Demand and Instructor-Led Training

Not sure whether to offer on-demand or instructor-led training, or both? Each has its pros and cons and your decision will depend on your organization’s needs and goals. Download this eBook to learn which option is better at scale, as well as the resources needed to implement each training type.


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The benefits of knowledge management (KM) are a monster value-add to any organization. Nevertheless, the more I learn how companies capture and leverage their intellectual property, the more disheartened I become. How could such a straightforward process for transferring information and learning become bogged down in dense MBA rhetoric taking what is essentially a simple idea and obfuscating it in layers of process and jargon? Some might think large enterprises require significant resources to carry forward a KM initiative. I’m not one of them. Consider this KM for Dummies—No offense intended.

KM 23

5.1 Reasons How and Why to Build Learning with Social Media

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Using social media (SM) to prepare material for instructional design, courseware and webinars and such is the flip side of the same coin that encourages social media as intake media.  We read a lot about using SM to learn, but how about to build? Here are 5.1 reasons to build learning via SM. 1. Social Collective. People learn best in a social context and are self-directed, particularly when focused on a specific task. Therefore: Use small groups within the larger cohort to decide which content they should tackle and how to share their results. 2. Information for All on Demand.

ELearning is Dead, Dormant or in Denial

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It’s no secret that coming from leadership positions in public and corporate education I am very critical of substandard learning; ‘e’ or otherwise. Without vigorous advocacy at the top you’ll never get great results. So I ask, where have the learning leaders in major corporations gone? Well, mostly salaries, etc., but there is something a bit more insidious.


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Who hasn’t been the recipient of the exhortations of motivation? It seems everywhere; used to suggest, cajole and inspire workers. Indeed exhort all of us to get out in front of a task and get going. remember, I think, a professor or mentor of mine in the education business who consistently said that motivation, a mental state, is not what we want to create. No, he said, what we really want is movement. Movement is measurable, while motivation lies within us affected by a variety of mental attitudes and internal prejudices. The End of Motivation? So what to do? Science and Business. Management.

Skill based learning – How it drives an organization’s performance

Training and learning organizations today play an active role in contributing to the bottom line of any organization by aligning their objectives to the immediate business objectives. This provides a solid ground for cost justification and encourages businesses to place training groups right where they should be, at the heart of a growing, thriving, learning culture.


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When I first heard the term ‘gamification’* I had the sensation of a spider wiggling down my shirt at a picnic. It’s in the same league as ‘monetization’ and ‘level set’ and, ‘incubator’, words coined to make professionals sound, well, professional. I’m not against jargon in general; shortcuts are good if they are pithy and have substance. Not so ‘gamification.’ Defined originally as ‘funware’, it demeans both game playing and education. For the most part, game playing aims at developing recall. Gamification is not Games. have a wonderful cliff near my house they can be lobbed off. VALUE.

FEAR OF BRANDING – 10.1 Reasons to Move On

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Mulling over branding and applying logic to emotion has become more meaningful to me on a professional and personal basis. In some engagements, I’m compelled to live within the ecology of a company’s personality that is expressed in many ways through its brand. And on a personal level, who has not been bombarded into submission in to formulate a noteworthy and memorable—not to say powerful and compelling brand: can’t communicate your value instantaneously without being commoditized. This whole scenario brings back the idea of corporate culture. Branding has two major components.

Apple 12


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Contrary to many articles published lately, scenarios are not written questions with a supposition or proposition followed by questions. They are micro dramas that bring learners onto the screen and compel interaction. Once in, learner needs to work his way out. One my mantras I have consistency followed is that elearning is an analogue to a television drama. Using this core belief, the components that make up a show can be modified to enhance, if not totally structure an online course experience. In many examples of courseware, scenarios are one component of a learning experience. Medium Cost.

Revolution or Evolution?

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I’m a big fan of “Learning Without Frontiers.”  I believe Graham Brown-Martin, et. is interested in a learning revolution not evolution.  And if that’s the case, count me in.  believe we agree that changing corporate learning and school-based instruction will require more than pilot programs all based on some version of what currently passes for learning delivery methodology. See #1.

Whitepaper: When The LMS Isn’t Enough

In this whitepaper, you will discover the main reasons why the LMS alone is no longer meeting the needs of the modern learner. More importantly, you will learn what you can do to enhance its value.

Treacherous Business Words Used in Learning « Wonderful Brain

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I caught an interesting article about the twelve most dangerous words in business. thought, twelve. That's it? Then I realized how they apply to learning and the pain they can cause. won't hold back the suspense


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I n the modern era, the textbook is still the spine from which teachers deliver information. Despite the ubiquity of Wikipedia and the web, most teachers rely on a single source to reference the bulk of instructional material for knowledge transfer to their charges. Some texts are terrific; contemporary information well researched, written and compelling with story-based content attractive to the mass of students. However along with soaring prices, how up-to-date can they be—and how often will new editions replace dated volumes? Apples iBooks will sell for no more than $14.99.


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There seems to be a revival of interest about informal learning. suppose the definitions range from information gleaned from informal sources—everything from Wikipedia to People Magazine to storytelling, to disruptive media like tablets and smartphones. Some suggest it’s content discovered while looking for something else. Kind of like an accidental scavenger, a web surfer. No matter how the information is presented, gathered or used it appears the single best notion is that it was unintentional and/or secondary to the main thrust of what is or was to be learned. Is this informal learning?


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An Inability to Take Action Because of Practical Issues is Not Wholly the Cause of Inaction. There are as many reasons for contracts failing to close, as there are flavors of Haagen Dazs. Unfortunately, if you don’t close many deals, you’ll be eating some house brand frozen treat. So a double yecch, right? What brought this to mind was a TED video I viewed last evening. That it failed to work as designed was formative to Gladwell’s point that when aiming to solve one problem one often creates another: the unintended consequences. Now hold that thought for a minute. It’s expected.

Seven Simple Secrets to Off-the-Shelf Course Success

Off-the-shelf elearning is applicable for a wide audience, but it won’t address your organization’s unique situations or distinctive content. So are these courses all that helpful? For sure! Read on for 7 secrets to make off-the-self learning your own.

Treacherous Business Words Used in Learning Pt2

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So we left off with Important/Urgent and I just want to mention that what is important and urgent to someone else may be of little consequence to you. What’s the phrase,&# A failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.&# So true. Of course know when and with whom to pick your battles, right? I’ve saved these heavyweights for last. Enjoy. Or not. 7.       Strategic. In theory, strategy or strategic plan means looking out in the distance and setting your goals.  That’s gone.  Strategic is now important on steroids. Simply when it’s spoken by a machine. 

Instructional Techniques – Quick Takes – 1

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Here’s what I did. Oh and caveats. good instructor/leader/teacher with a bit of theater or ham, will enjoy the best results. Yes, and this works with small (up to 10 or so) adult learners for beyond that it gets too cumbersome and potentially sucks up too much time. Setting up these parameters eliminates books that demand too much interpretation (so long Dr. Suess).


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I promised a colleague a week ago I’d share an experience I had producing a mobile learning project for a major airline. So to him, I apologize for this installment being a bit late…think of it as slow 3G, OK? caveat. So many of us are involved in love affairs with the latest technologies sometimes we forget to brake our enthusiasm and learn after too much money and effort that the latest isn’t always the greatest. Case in point is the following true story—a real business event that occurred far back enough that if executed today would be much more powerful because of current technology. Yikes.

Baking the Cookies: Hiring Learning Consultants to be Successful

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So many words have been written about dysfunctional organizations, if weighed would easily capsize…oh, say an aircraft carrier. Those who work in cubicles are often victims of enterprises that are so inefficient and in some cases borderline dysfunctional it’s stunning anything of value is created.  If you want to smell the enticing aroma of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, then follow the directions on the box. She believes the functions have been clearly defined and deliverables understood by all. And never reviews the work product again. Too often that’s not the case.

Leaving performance reviews behind: Where to start [Guide]

Is your company ready to move beyond the annual performance review? Where do you start? What are the keys to success? In this guide, you’ll gain an understanding of: the forces driving change, three foundations of success and take a deep dive into the skills gap many managers have that will sink your efforts before they start and how to address them.

The $125,000 Teacher – And Corporate Counterpart

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This past Sunday 60 minutes featured a story that no doubt will contribute to the warm dialogues concerning the public schools, teacher unionism and tenure.   [link].  The Charter School – TEP, The Equity Project – makes the case that paying teachers a substantial salary, somewhat on par with (my words here) what a high level Instructional Designer or Learning & Development leader earns, will improve student test results. Or what we would call improved performance and employee effectiveness. Few of them have had good experiences in school. Should there be a. Learning


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It can’t be a secret that stereotypes are often well proven by personal experience. And in my many years building learning, whether facilitated instruction or elearning it’s a cardinal rule that instructional designers need to know many aspects of their target learner’s personality traits. One, and maybe the most important metric, is their profession. perfectionists. creative within their field.

Getting Closer to Bond, James Bond « Wonderful Brain

Wonderful Brain

I don't believe it's a secret that information design is gaining traction in the learning world. With so many form factors from smartphones to oversize touch screen computers – and now the iPad, revolution/revelation how we handle data

Your Inner Critic – Cueing up What You Know

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Reading an article from the Behance titled “Why Your Inner Critic is Your Best Friend&# I was intrigued for a few reasons. As the author Mark McGuiness scribes, the inner critic has gotten a bad wrap – interrupting, interfering and disjointing our drive to move forward. We are always trying to silence it. These can be values we have set for ourselves or from others whose work challenges us.

Attract, Engage, and Develop Talent using Open Badges: An IBM case study

Companies have an incredible opportunity to use badges to help attract, engage, recognize and develop talent. There have been significant developments around digital credentials and particularly the fast rise of badges and micro-credentials. Learning Professionals need to be aware of what's happening and innovators should be taking a leading role. In this session, David will go through the well-known IBM Open Badge Program to help explain badge programs.


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For the past two months or so, I’ve been writing high profile video scripts and storyboarding in a group whose company is synonymous with the 2008 economic collapse. That they made a recovery and paid back most of their bailout money is a testament to leadership and perseverance. But I wish those same qualities extended to training, for here, little was produced that could be considered responsible online education. Like most subjective or creative ventures, it comes down to choices. You know, and accept training not education as your outcome. Low-Level Learning Cheats the Learner. Not so.


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This is National Teacher Appreciation Week, an opportunity to celebrate great teachers. While attention is focused let me float an outrageous idea. Though I don’t have the workings of this proposal completely flushed out I hope to instigate a dialogue and let you continue the conversation. believe teachers are underpaid. And underappreciated. Let me back up a sec: What brought this top of mind are commercials currently airing (and somewhat self-aggrandizing) for the energy industry. Not to the school or district—but directly. Henry Adams) would be a paradigm for the nation. That’s the plan.


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Let me make this clear at the outset; my birth family are the tribe of the Old Testament so my father’s association with the Christmas holiday was learned from coworkers, Nat ‘King’ Cole, the tree at Rockefeller Center and New York fragrant with good cheer – often lubricated with smoky liquids around the 25 th. That is until he had grandchildren. This was of course the divine gift my wife and I delivered to him – most likely our lifetime’s crowning achievement. My dad was a typographer, a craft job a composing lines of text in metal. He was, in a word, a schmoozer. Decorating would begin.


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What can we learn from the methods used to develop curriculum from the academic and corporate sides of the street? In this comparison we can draw come conclusions and discover ways to enhance the integrity of the processes and the resulting knowledge development. Click here for the Improving Performance White Paper. Comments and responses are welcome. Please respond via the blog

Best Practices for Launching an LMS

When launching a new platform to deliver customer and partner training, there are a few key items to keep in mind. The best and simplest way to stay organized during this process – and be able to measure success – is to follow the tried-and-true practices outlined in this eBook. Click to download.


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I’m writing this preamble dockside on a lake in Maine, early morning sunshine firing diamonds of light off the water. The temperature is mild and the bugs have yet to arrive for their fleshy feast. I’m in a good frame of mind–no curmugeonly thoughts or clever bon mots at the ready. All is tranquil. point this out as so you’ll know there is no overarching agenda, no negativity anywhere in the vicinity of the words that follow. suppose this taxonomy is true of many people and I’ll bet—in an unscientific survey—more typical among consultants than many other groups.