I’ve been starting a few new projects while still wrapping up some old ones so I felt the need to clear my head.
The booster for getting fresh ideas on the table came from my own bookshelf, and more specifically the marketing section. Made to stick by Chip and Dan Heath is a classic I keep coming back to and here’s why: The book shows what I as a learning professional need to steal from marketing – and not just once for an especially exciting project, but all the time, in every training. The book shows with concrete examples why some ideas survive and others die, and what you can do to make your ideas – or in my case training – stick.
The book is based on six key principles, and as the writers prove over and over, people are more likely to absorb and remember content that was created using one or several of these. The principles are Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions and Stories.
Of these, I use the S’s and C’s regularly. As regards Simplicity, I think that if I can’t explain something in a simple way, then it is likely I haven’t understood it properly yet. Stories are also great, and perhaps I could use them even more. What’s good about stories is that they don’t have to be dramatic – the fact that they are in story format make people more likely to remember them. As goes for Concreteness and Credibility – I guess that’s also mostly about doing your background work properly to discover authentic contexts and good examples for your interactions and so forth.
What about the U and E? I definitelyhave some good experiences of adding Unexpectedness and Emotions in my own projects, and I should definitely do this more: Add more unexpected questions and surprising facts, create more examples that awake emotions and remember to appreciate the person in the other end with words that awake positive emotions. Marketers want people to do something, and that’s what we as learning professionals want too.
I’ll be starting Gamification course offered by University of Pennsylvania through coursera.org so my next post will be about an entirely different topic, gamification.
Jane Hart’s writing in Really Useful eLearning Manual (blog post here) made me want to indulge in her ideas some more, and this is why I bought Social Learning Handbook. In this comprehensive eBook Hart looks at some of the key ways that organisations can start to support social workplace learning.
Let’s get some key concepts straight first. Social workplace learning doesn’t just mean adding social media to instructional programmes or letting people interact more freely with each other in organizational platforms. Social learning is, in Hart’s words “more about helping people learning from one another as they work together – enhanced by collaborative enterprise social tools.” According to Hart, knowledge workers want more and more their workplace learning to be about knowledge sharing instead of knowledge transferring.
The book was immensely interesting and it left me with two big open questions that I think deserve a lot of focus and consideration in my work in the near future. First, how do we acknowledge social learning in mandatory corporate trainings? By mandatory I mean trainings that based on e.g. an EU-level or a national regulation and where the obligatory content may be defined up to the smallest detail. Second, how do we encourage social learning in non-knowledge work? The non-knowledge workers I have planned trainings to don’t have the possibility to be online all the time, sharing their ideas and best practices during the normal workflow. And that’s the way I’d like to keep it – considering that these people drive our buses, trains and tankers, harvest our forests and work as process operators at mills. How can we include social elements into this type of learning?
These three ideas come to mind now:
1) We need to encourage dividing trainings into short modules as these can more easily be done more or less as part of the natural work flow.
2) In most topics, it’s always possible to encourage collaborative creation of the training content: We can always ask the employees to give their tips and tricks, and include those in the training – or even build the training entirely on these. In my experience this shows positively in the final result, as it reflects the feeling of genuine collaboration.
3) Always, always try to measure your success by improved business performance instead of pure completion rates of test success rates.
More ideas will follow, that’s a promise!