Development and learning plan 2017

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As promised in my previous post Taking charge of your own learning I’ve drafted my development plan for the next 6 months or so.

This year I’m completing a career experiment so a lot of my development plan centres around this. I will be basing myself remotely for half the year in Vietnam. I figure I’m frequently designing and developing learning solutions for people who are working and learning remotely, so why not put myself in their shoes by experiencing working totally remotely too! That and I like a challenge and to be scared out of my comfort zone!

Some things that are important to me whilst working overseas are to maintain regular easy contact with my clients and social network, to avoid getting professionally isolated, and further develop my technical skills.

You will see from my development plan that a lot of my learning will be supported by research, curated content, social networks, reflecting and putting what I learn into practice. Most of it’s free and accessible, learning does not need to rely on a professional development budget or attending face-to-face courses. These are the sort of things you can do to develop without needing permission from your manager. I will be  working out loud as I develop these skills and work through my development plan.

This plan is a map for my intended development and there could be diversions as opportunities come up. I am open to your suggestions if you see anything that may be useful. Also if you have skills in the areas I’m looking to develop and are willing to share your experience please contact me.

Lorraine Minister’s Development Plan

Do you have a professional development plan? How do you take charge of your own learning?

Taking charge of your own learning

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Working as an independent contractor and freelancer I am responsible for my own professional development. I do not have a boss sitting me down and asking me how I would like to develop professionally and I do not have bi-annual performance meetings. No-one is pushing, or encouraging me to achieve or develop my career. It is my responsibility alone. I have complete freedom with no accountability.

This is a double edged sword. On one hand I can develop skills I am interested in, I can chose what, where, when and how I learn. And oh how I love that freedom! On the other hand I need to finance my own professional development and I have no accountability to anyone but myself. It could be easy to let the day to day work demands overtake learning and professional development, after all it’s nice to relax at night time right! But then future opportunities might start to dwindle and if I’m not learning and improving then I’m not maintaining my edge.

This year I have set myself a goal of doing bi-annual learning plans. In these I will plan what skills I will learn and practice, how I will do this, and when I will achieve it. Being self-employed I’ve decided I can be more accountable by sharing my plans with you! And you’re more than welcome to give me feedback too. If you think there’s something better I could do or something else you think I should check out.

I will publically post my learning plan next week to be accountable. I will share with you my successes and my failures in my professional development along the way. I’ll be open to conversations, feedback, and suggestions.

This is how I’m taking charge of my professional development this year. How will you take charge of yours?

Subscribe or follow me to see my plan in my next post.

Developing flexible modern content

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Over the last several weeks I have been participating in Jane Hart’s Modern Workplace Learning group. This weeks task is to look at developing flexible modern content in the workplace.

So what does this mean? In Jane Hart’s Modern Workplace Learning she identifies that technology and web is enabling new ways of learning. That people are becoming more self directed to solve their own learning and performance problems and this approach is very different from traditional learning approaches. Modern content is continuous, on demand, bite sized, on the go, social, not designed, serendipitous and performance orientated. Read more in chapter 2 of Jane Hart’s Modern Workplace Learning – A resource book for L&D.

I agree with all of Jane Hart’s observations on the characteristics of modern learning. Here’s a personal example of modern learning in action. My husband recently built a pizza oven at our house. He had never laid a brick and is a bus driver and stay at home dad by day. He did not go on a pizza oven building workshop, nor did he get tutored or mentored on how to build pizza oven. Instead he was self-directed in his problem solving and researched the web and found websites and Youtube clips with how to build different types of pizza ovens. He took bits of information from different sites, sometimes commenting and asking the bloggers specific questions. He trialled techniques and went back to research when more info was needed. From this he built his own customised pizza oven, in his own time, that met his own specific needs (i.e. fitted in the limited space and used the fire bricks we bought cheaply). His performance was measured through the results – which I must say are delicious!

pizza 3

So how do we bring this modern learning into the workplace? It is such a contrast to what happens within workplaces as most view that learning can only happen and be believed to have happened if it is delivered to the staff (workshops, online courses, programmes etc). Completion and attendance can be checked off and the job of learning is done – then we move onto the next learning job.

To embed modern learning into the workplace is mostly a change of mind set and usually this is required first from the Learning and development departments that are wedded to courses and outputs. Learning and development departments need to take responsibility with showing the workplace ways people really learn and embedding this in practice. Learning is a continuous process not a one off event, a one-off training event will do little to solve performance problems.

Curating content and communicating resources to staff members is one way in which modern learning can be brought into the workplace. Here’s a blog on how I’ve started doing this in my workplace – learning resources from content curation. Why would we not point staff to useful bite-sized resources that they can pull and utilise as they need it? Why not even follow up on ‘learning events’ with curated relevant content? I know some excellent learning resources that would be useful for all staff such as Lynda.com, Tedtalks, Mindtools and many more. Why not promote these resources to all staff then they too can be familiar with resources that can help them grow?

Working as learning consultants rather than just learning deliverers is another way in which to build continuous learning practices into teams and management, teach the skills and practices around learning rather than just the content. Building new attitudes and culture towards workplace learning means that learning can be viewed as a continuous, embedded and forever improving approach to work performance.

Does this mean courses are bad and shouldn’t happen? I think no, courses (elearning or facilitated) will always have a place – just a smaller one. They shouldn’t be the automatic first or only offer of help from L&D. And when a course is deemed an appropriate learning response it needs to be more than a one-off event. Courses can and should be supported by other techniques such as learning plans, curated content, self-directed research, social learning and learning communities. The course anatomy will also need to adapt, for example, small bite sized chunks are more suited to modern learning now than a week out at a workshop.

How do you see flexible modern content? What are you doing your workplace to move towards this? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

 

A – Z of my work place learning

People Hands Holding Red Word Never Stop Learning

Continuous learning is critical in modern work places. Jane Hart’s Modern Workplace Learning book and blog describes a multitude of valuable ways to learn going way beyond typical training courses. As part of the 2016 L&D Challenge run by Jane Hart we were given the challenge to reflect on how we learn in the workplace. Below is an A – Z of how I manage my personal work place learning. This reflection is awesome for learning professionals, I also think it is valuable for any professional to look at their methods for continuous learning.

A

ATD membership – reading blogs and magazines to identify trends coming out in the industry

B

Blogging – both reading and writing. Helps me reflect on and refine my practice.

C

Committee member (just became one) of New Zealand Association for Training & Development – NZATD. This will make me actively connected to local people who share their talent and expertise. I always learn something new from the speakers. If you’re in Wellington NZ check out the next event.

D

Daring to do new things

E

Elearning Guild – reading reports to help embed my practice in theory or research. Also watching webinars while exercising on my cross trainer to broaden my knowledge on different learning techniques and strategies

F

Follow thought leaders – checking in on both Twitter and their blogs. I often pick up new ideas which then I research further and look for opportunities to implement. Blogs are perfect for me as being a mum of young ones and having my own business I don’t read much books because of the time commitment, they are an easily digestable way to keep up with trends.

G

Government learning group (local group) – networking and finding out what other people are doing in the learning field in the government agencies. Very valuable for sharing ideas. And of course Google comes under G too…

H

Help – being able to ask for it when needed and knowing where to find it, and being grateful in return– no-one is an island 😉

I

Inspiration from other industries e.g. movies, marketing, gaming, IT etc… looking at blogs or just taking ideas in when I’m not working – everything is inspiration!

J

Jane Hart – top of mind of course! Reading the MWL book by Jane Hart, blogs and participating in this L & D challenge experience

K

Kids – playing and watching the kids gives me insights into so many things

L

LinkedIn and Lynda.com – Lynda.com means I don’t have to remember how to use different tools I can just jump into a video for the specific thing I need to do. I use it as a performance tool.

M

Mentoring others new to L & D, keeps me fresh and thinking about my practice. Great for consolidating my learning and keeping fresh.

N

Networking – both with learning social groups and outside of learning groups e.g. talking with another parent from my daughter’s playgroup I found out he has a games analytics job and we talked about the commonalities and differences between our professions

O

Online learning courses e.g. Udemy, Moocs, Lynda.com, Elearning guild

P

Personal learning network – I can call friends in my learning network to ask advice or talk and bounce about strategies and they do the same with me. I find this really useful for reality checking

Q

Questions, questions, questions – spending effort in learning how to ask good questions ( so I get quality information back both with collaborating with others such as SMEs and with learning professionals. In fact one year I set this as my main professional development focus.

R

Reflective practice both during projects and after it has finished

S

Sharing – when sharing my learning I often find that those I’m sharing with have extra gems to add and therefore enhance my learning even more and expand my view.

T

Twitter – I find it hard to get to many conferences with family commitments so around conference time I search the hashtags to find out what’s new and what’s being talked about. I’ve also implemented it as a learning tool for a University course I was the Educational Designer for.

U

Udemy – taking some online course such as UX design and also helping a friend with developing her content for her own Udemy course

V

Virtual classroom – attending an Elearning Guild online course.

W

WordPress feed – where I can read both learning related and also non-learning related blogs.

X

Xperience – I know a bit of cheating ;). I find it useful to directly experience a method before implementing it myself if I can. For example, learning about virtual classrooms during a virtual classroom course by elearning guild.

Y

Youtube – When learning to use new tools such as using a new sound recorder. I search Youtube and find someone else has already put a succinct video up and this helps reduce my learning time. Thank you world!

Z

Zen – for me it’s important to take time out from learning and thinking to relax and just be – I often find this a valuable time and when insights come afterwards

Reflecting 2015 and learning 2016

You may have noticed I had a little break from blogging at the end of 2015, well now I’m back with a vengeance and will have heaps of tips and gems to share in 2016.

In 2015 I enjoyed exploring learning and content approaches beyond traditional blended learning. In one project I used curated resources and activities for a pull rather than push learning experience for customer service. In another project I created learning resources that were delivery method independent and therefore more flexible, adaptable and scalable than anything I’ve seen before! You can read about these approaches here: Learning resources from content curation, Going beyond blended delivery to…

The most popular hits on my blog in 2016 were: Rapid prototype vs storyboard? and The game of learning design. If you missed these why not check them out?

So what’s my plan for 2016?

I’ll carry on exploring curated content and using alternative learning solutions in my design rather than defaulting to “traditional online, facilitated, or blended courses”.

To support this I am engaging in the 2016 L&D Challenge run by thought leader Jane Hart, why not join me and start to think about modern workplace learning in a different way. To find out more check out Jane’s book Modern Workplace Learning and her blog http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/blog/.

I’ll be exploring some new technologies to support story telling and graphic design – keep an eye out for posts on these. Video will be a big part of my work plan this year so expect some posts on this as well.

Happy 2016 everyone, what’s on your radar for the coming year?

Monthly inspiration – Powerful stories for change

Old Way, New Way

We all know the basics of structuring a story so it has a beginning, middle and end and some sort of plot, challenge or problem. But what is the difference between a story that misses it’s audience and a story that resoundingly connects with people enough for them to take on the story and even make changes because of it?

I’ve been inspired by Nancy Duarte’s Ted talk that simply explains common features of great communicators and how they connect and with their audience. In short Nancy explains how people are brought on a journey gradually. She idenifies a formula of flitting between the present truth and future possibility and how this toing and froing can move people towards accepting and adopting the ideas to work towards the future state of bliss.

This technique could work not only for training, it could also work for coaching conversations or even in personal situations helping someone to move forward to change.

I hope her Ted talk inspires you as much as it has me. I can think of multiple ways to use this model both for training and learning and for beyond.

View her Ted talk here:

http://www.ted.com/talks/nancy_duarte_the_secret_structure_of_great_talks

I’d love to hear your thoughts – follow me to hear more of mine.

Happy holidays – Lorraine

And the Duarte site for extra inspiration http://www.duarte.com/

Monthly inspiration – 3 quick tips

As this has been a very busy month,  I’ve had to get my inspiration quick and on-the-go. What are some ways you get inspiration and improve your practice on-the-fly when life gets hectic? Here are some techniques that work for me:

1. Seek inspiration anywhere and everywhere

The other day I was at the museum with my 2 year old daughter. While sitting down she handed me a book – How to be an explorer of the world. It had some different and interesting perspectives. Although the book was targeted to the parallels between art and science, I could see a lot of parallels with instructional design and my own learning.

Here’s a page I found particularly intriguing:

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Inspiration can be found everywhere.

2. Choose a focus and examine that focus everywhere

Inspiration and learning doesn’t only come during work hours or in the work place it can be anytime and anywhere. Inspiration can be grabbed while on the run.

I find it useful to have a specific focus. For example, if I wanted to improve my choice and use of fonts in elearning design, I would study fonts everywhere I go. I would look at places surrounding me and how fonts are used on websites, signs, marketing posters, products, tv adverts and elsewhere. What techniques are being used to gain attention, create emotion, and draw the audience into reading the text?

This technique could be used for focusing on other areas of elearning design e.g. storytelling, developing personality in characters, use of colour, creating realistic environments, just to name a few.

3. Be deliberately unfocused

This is the opposite technique as the previous one. This is where you would choose to be deliberately unfocused and instead let inspiration find you when your brain is resting. These are the moments of clarity that we have when we’re relaxed and our brain has switched off. Have you ever solved a problem while you’ve been sleeping?

Below are some instructions from How to be an explorer of the world to help achieve an unfocused state, why not give it a try?


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What are some ways that you grab quick inspiration? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Follow me to hear more of mine.

Monthly inspiration – Brain Rules

Brain power

As well as learning new things, I also find it useful to revisit previous things I’ve learnt to keep them fresh in my mind. At university I studied Neuropsychology which introduced me to the power of the brain over our behaviours and choices. This month I’ve been revisiting the power of the brain and its affect on how we learn by reading John Medina’s book  – Brain Rules.

If you haven’t read this book I highly recommended it. It is extremely relevant to anyone working in the learning and development field. If you have already read it then you’ll believe me when I say I’m getting even more out of it by reading it again.

Here’s some of the gems I’ve got out of the book this time:

From Brain Rule #4 – We don’t pay attention to boring things

Grabbing attention and engaging your audience’s emotions is critical for your elearning to have any effect. John Medina states that engaging emotions is critical for remembering: “the brain remembers the emotional components of an experience better than any other aspect”.

Surprised Lady

So what does this mean for elearning practice? Engage peoples emotions, surprise them, use humour, intrigue them, present something unexpected, use stories they can relate to – create a memorable experience – grab their attention!! Whatever you do, do not provide a boring list of facts and figures or screeds of factual text.

The brain needs a break

Under the same attention rule John Medina writes about the brain needing a break. He states “The most common communication mistakes? Relating too much information, with not enough time devoted to connecting the dots (p 88)”.

So what does this mean for elearning? It means less content is more learning. Focus only on the content your learners really need, leave out all the nice to know stuff and big winded explanations. Focus only what they need to be able to do and cover this well by making it make sense – connect the dots.

From Brain Rule #6 – Remember to repeat

You probably already know that repetition and practice is key for learning and transferring information from the short-term (or working memory) into the longterm memory. Why then are so many elearning courses treated as one off events? What are some ways that we can build repetition into our elearning courses to prevent the learning from being lost?

Below I give some simple suggestions of how you can incorporate repetition into elearning:

1. Connect to previous experience

Encourage your learners to connect with their previous related experiences as these are already in their long-term memory.That way there is already an anchor point for the brain to attach the new learning. This makes it easier to store new information/learning.

2. Schedule introducing new content, activities, and practice over a period of time

“The way to make long-term memory more reliable is to incorporate new information gradually and repeat it in timed intervals (p 147).” Deliver elearning and activities in bite size pieces over a period of time, repeat content by providing different activities and interactions with the content. This transforms the solution from a single “elearning event” to a learning process.

3. Revisit content

“A great deal of research shows that thinking or talking about an event immediately after it has occurred enhances memory for that event, even when accounting for differences in type of memory (p 131).” In the training classroom after an activity there is usually a debrief/discussion session. This can also be applied to elearning or blended solutions. Why not incorporate opportunities for your audience to both reflect on the content and to discuss the content with others? Invite them to discuss with managers, colleagues or like minded people.

Revisiting John Medina’s Brain Rules book brought neuroscience and learning back to the top of my mind, I hope it did this for you too.

Want to receive updates on this and other topics, click on the follow me button, I post new blogs 2/3 times a month.

Reference

Medina, J (2009)  Brain Rules, 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home and school.

Monthly inspiration – learning from leaders

Motivational Background

This month I’ve taken more time than usual to invest in my own learning and professional development. I’ve been learning from leaders in the field to fast forward my skills, knowledge and performance.

Here are some ways I learnt from leaders this month, that could also be relevant to your professional development:

Connect with leaders in the field

Take opportunities to connect with leaders in your field, there’s reasons why they’re successful – they have a lot to share and they’ve got where they are by sharing with others.

This month I was lucky to have the opportunity to learn more about learning technologies and the future of learning from thought leader Nigel Paine.

Here I interview Nigel about some of his views on Social Media:

You can see Nigel talk about other topics relevant to learning technologies here, he also has a wonderful new book out that you can order.

Nigel's book

Invest in quality courses in your field of interest

I’ve also been learning how to adapt my design strategies for virtual classrooms, an effective but under utilised (or absent) delivery mechanism in many New Zealand organisations.

I’ve just completed a ‘Design and Development of Virtual Classroom Training Advanced’ course through The eLearning Guild that was very high quality – I recommend it to anyone who is interested in either designing for or facilitating virtual classrooms. I believe completing this course fast-forwarded the quality of my design for virtual classroom environments by at least 1- 2 years – the course was cheap in comparison.

It’s well worth it to learn from the leaders in your field. Find out who has the expertise in what you want to learn – connect with them -and invest in your learning.

Monthly inspiration – Getting geeky with coding

Extreme Computer Nerd

Over the last month I’ve found myself working with code in both two of the big elearning programs Adobe Captivate 8 and Articulate Storyline. Once you can code in either of these programs your options for interactivity and adding interest open up expotentially.

This example below uses conditional coding (if this happens then these things will happen) in Captivate 8. My client wanted text boxes to close automatically when the next information icon was clicked on i.e. only one text box could show at one time. Here is a mocked up file simulating the solution, it was trickier than it looked…

 

Articulate Storyline is much easier to code in than Captivate and Lynda.com is well worth the investment to get you started.

In the Storyline example below, coding enables me to give individualised feedback to the learner at the end of the activity – dependent on the choices they made on previous slides. The actual activity was to write a system note where the learner gets feedback on their specific note choices. This draft example will show you how it could work in real life.

 

If you haven’t yet delved into the world of coding in your rapid elearning tools, I highly recommend investing the time in learning this – you will become the master of the tool and have much more options for getting creative.

Click follow me to receive more updates on this geeky stuff or other elearning instructional design areas. I’d love to hear your thoughts on coding in these rapid elearning tools.