What I Learned at LSCon18

Last month, I attended the Learning Solutions 2018 Conference in Orlando. Once again, it was a great experience. I had fun meeting people like Judy Katz, Tracy Parish, Cammy Bean, and Clark Quinn in person who I have known online for years, plus seeing people again from last year.

Now that I’ve had a few weeks to process and reflect, I want to summarize some of what I learned. I did a similar post last year, and it helped me reinforce and remember what I learned. This is my own “spaced repetition” to help me use these ideas. These comments won’t always be the most important thing each speaker said, but one thing I took away from the session and think I can apply in my own work.

Diane Elkins: Microlearning Morning Buzz

One of the things I appreciated from Diane’s discussion was the balanced approach. This wasn’t the “microlearning will solve all of our problems!” hyperbole I see from many sources. We talked about how microlearning is sometimes a solution, sometimes on its own, sometimes in combination with other forms of training.

Diane also shared a really great idea for training where you have to meet a certain minimum time to meet a legal or regulatory requirement. Instead of doing lots of content dump (which is sometimes padded to fill the required time), why not do just the minimum content plus a lot of practice and maybe reflection?

As a side note, Diane’s hand puppet demonstrations of pointless conversations with SMEs are hilarious.

Kai Kight: Composing Your World

As a musician and former music educator, it was really fun to hear a session start with violin and to watch the reactions of the audience.

One of the ideas from his keynote was to not get so wrapped up in the notes that you forget who you’re playing for. That applies to our work (and many fields); we have to always keep thinking about the audience and what they need.

Kevin Thorn: Comics for Learning

This was a session I attended specifically because it’s outside of what I normally do for work. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to apply this yet, but thinking about the various visual styles for comics gives me some new ideas.

Kevin shared a ton of research, examples, and resources. One that I need to dig into more is the Visual Language Lab.

Ann Rollins and Myra Roldan: Low-Cost, High-Impact AR Experiences

This was another session where I have no experience with the topic, but was curious to see some possibilities. My biggest takeaway is that several tools for simple AR are pretty affordable and easy enough to get started. Simple things like showing a video or a little information to explain features is very doable. We tested Zappar in the session to create a quick sample, but Layar also looks promising.

Julie Dirksen: Strategies for Supporting Complex Skill Development

I took 5 pages of notes from this session, so this could be several blog posts on its own.

How do you know if something is a skill or not? Is it reasonable to think that someone can be proficient without practice? If not, it’s a skill.

One idea I’m going to start using immediately is for self-paced elearning where I ask learners to type a longer answer. I have been using a model answer to compare as a way to help learners evaluate their own work, which is a good start. Julie talked about giving learners a checklist to guide their self-evaluation even more. I can implement that right now.

Tracy Parish: Free eLearning Design Tools

This was a discussion about free tools and how people use them, based largely on Tracy’s immense list of free tools.

Platon: Powerful Portraits

This was an engaging keynote because he has so many great stories about famous (and not famous) people.

One idea he shared was that if you can get people to see themselves in the story you put forward, maybe you can build bridges to connect people.

Cammy Bean: Architecting for Results

The big idea from this presentation was to think about broader systems for learning. Instead of content in a single event, it’s a journey over time. It’s a mix of what you do before the training, during the training, and after the training, but we often focus just on the middle portion.

The mix is going to be a little different for every program. This model is one way to think about the different pieces.

  1. Engage
  2. Diagnose
  3. Learn/Understand
  4. Apply
  5. Assess
  6. Reinforce

The simplified version is Prepare – Learn – Practice – Reflect.

Connie Malamed: Design Critique Party

The best thing I took away from this session was actually the protocol for requesting and giving critiques.

The protocol for the designer requesting critique:

  1. State your objective.
  2. Walk people through the experience.
  3. Say what you’d like to get feedback on
  4. Become an impartial observer

The protocol for giving critique:

If your objective is ____________, then _________ [critique].

Joe Fournier: Novel Writing Tricks

One idea from this session was about how the idea of a theme might apply to learning. The theme ties to the objective. It’s the emotional or value shift in a story. In learning, the theme might be how reporting employee theft is better for everyone.

Panel: Evolution of Instructional Design

This panel included Connie Malamed, Diane Elkins, Kevin Thorn, and Clark Quinn.

Diane Elkins pointed out that in classroom training, we often ask questions that only a few people will answer, and we don’t track them. If it’s OK to do that in classroom training, why not do it in elearning too? It’s OK to ask learners to type longer answers even though some of them will skip it. Let’s not punish the people who are willing to do the work and learn more just because we can’t track it or not everyone will do it.

David Kelly moderated the panel, and he pointed out how our field has a lot of “shiny object syndrome.” We’re often looking for “one tool to rule them all” that will fix every problem in every situation. That just doesn’t exist.

David Kelly: Shifting from Microlearning to Micromoments

There is no definition of microlearning. There are lots of opinions, some of which are labeled as definitions.

Maybe we should be thinking about micro as in microscope: something that narrows the scope of focus to a tiny part of the whole.

Bethany Vogel & Cara Halter: cMOOCs can be Effective

They used Intrepid Learning as the platform, which may be worth exploring more.

In their model, a MOOC is a time-bound online program that contains highly contextualized spaced, micro, and social learning. “Massive” and “Open” aren’t really part of their model, so I admit I’m not sure why they’re calling it a MOOC (other than that’s what their clients are asking for). I think you could do this same model with moderated social, spaced learning and call it “blended” or a “journey.” The experience was good, even if I might quibble with the label.

Photos

You can get a feel for the conference here.

 

Better Feedback for Scenario-Based eLearning Presentation

If you weren’t able to attend my session at the Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando, you can still hear me speaking on this topic. This recording is from a virtual version of the same presentation which I gave to the Online Network of Independent Learning Professionals on March 1 to prepare for the conference.

If you’re reading this in email or RSS and the video doesn’t appear above, try watching it directly on YouTube.

Watch for my next post where I’ll share some of the things I learned at the conference.

Interested in more on this topic? Read all my posts on Storytelling and Scenarios, including several on using feedback to support learning.

Learning Solutions Conference & Expo

ID and eLearning Links (3/18/18)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Instructional Design and E-Learning Links

Better Feedback for Scenario-Based eLearning Session Trailer

I’m presenting at the eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions Conference again this year on “Better Feedback for Scenario-Based eLearning.”

You can watch a two-minute trailer for my session (if the video isn’t embedded below, watch it on YouTube).

When you create a scenario, you work hard to make it realistic and relevant for your learners. Unfortunately, even otherwise engaging scenarios sometimes include abstract feedback like “Incorrect. Please try again.” Simply saying the choice is right or wrong can make learners lose interest and focus, and it doesn’t help them learn from their mistakes.

You will learn how to show learners the consequences of their decisions rather than telling them they’re right or wrong in scenario-based eLearning. This is the difference between “intrinsic feedback” and “instructional feedback.” We will explore several different options for intrinsic feedback, such as progress meters, character responses, and environmental changes. You’ll learn guidelines for when to use immediate feedback and when to delay the feedback in scenarios. We’ll discuss how to design feedback to meet the needs of both novice and expert learners. You’ll also learn when direct instructional feedback is beneficial for learning.

In this presentation, you’ll learn:

  • multiple methods to show the consequences of decisions in scenarios
  • when to use immediate or delayed feedback
  • how to provide appropriate feedback for novice and expert learners
  • when to use intrinsic feedback (showing consequences) and instructional feedback (direct coaching)
  • how to work with SMEs to get information to provide realistic consequences
  • how to write better feedback for short scenarios and complex branching scenarios

Read More about Feedback

This session draws from several previous blog posts (as well as some additional information from other sources).

If you’re attending the Learning Solutions Conference, I hope to see you there!

Avoid This Pitfall in Conversational Writing for eLearning

We often talk about conversational writing for elearning. A conversational tone flows better in voice over and leads to better learning outcomes.

However, I occasionally see examples of elearning where the narrator pretends to be in a literal conversation with the learners.

Do you know what kinds of questions generate deeper responses from clients? That’s right, open-ended questions.

I understand why someone might write in this tone, but I find it very patronizing in elearning. One of my SMEs called it the “Blues Clues” method of writing–you ask a question, then pause while people answer it. This is a pitfall in conversational writing you can avoid.

Avoid This Pitfall in Conversational Writing for eLearning

Great for Preschoolers

You see this strategy often in television shows for preschoolers. Daniel Tiger asks the audience to find an object on the screen of a certain color or type. After a pause of a few seconds, Daniel points out the right answer (which is highlighted on the screen).

It’s a great strategy if your audience is preschoolers. For adults…not so much.

Does Your Audience Really Know the Answer?

One problem is that this strategy only works in situations where you’re confident the audience already knows the answer. It has to be something obvious, or you can’t say, “That’s right” and assume they were correct. If it’s that obvious, give your learners some credit for their existing knowledge.

As you already know, open-ended questions generate deeper responses from clients.

Even “as you know” should be used with caution. It’s only safe to use if you really are confident that people know the information. Maybe it’s review from earlier in the course, prior training, or your learner analysis showed that this is prior knowledge you can build on.

Reflection and Connection Questions

Reflection questions that ask learners to connect their own experiences or to brainstorm multiple ideas are fine. It’s the questions where you’re leading them to a single right answer that annoy me.

These kinds of questions can make people think. There isn’t a right or wrong answer.

  • What kinds of objections do your clients raise?
  • Think about a time when the scope of a project changed. How did you handle it?
  • Have you ever had a customer similar to the one in the scenario?

One way to avoid the pitfall of patronizing questions is by replacing them with reflection or connection questions.

What Pitfalls Annoy You?

The “Blues Clues” style for questions is one of my pet peeves in writing for learning. Do you have a pet peeve of your own? Is there a pitfall you wish you could make disappear? You can share (or just vent!) in the comments.