While much of the training world seems stuck in a rut of game show quizzes, the rest of the world is actively integrating games into our everyday lives. From “checking-in” at our favorite stores to win discounts or freebies, to earning merit badges for our virtual farming skills, otherwise mundane activities have been transformed into behavior change with the help of games.
From the New York Times to the US Military, 2010 may go down as the year PowerPoint-hating went mainstream. The ongoing Death by PowerPoint debate resurfaced last week when Oracle CEO Larry Ellison delivered a keynote address featuring PowerPoint slides that had a distinctly 1987 vibe, delivered in a style that was as passionless as it was mind-numbing. Ellison’s generic PowerPoint and inept delivery ultimately inspired a brilliant post from Garr Reynolds where he referred to him as “The Darth Vader of PowerPoint.”
I have a love/hate relationship with training videos. On the one hand I love how engaging video can be for demonstrating complex concepts or processes. On the other, I hate the cringe-worthy corporate training videos we’ve all endured in the past. You know the ones I’m talking about. They’re over-produced - replete with unrealistic scenarios, quasi-aspirational music, and distracting animation effects. I think the following parody does a hilarious job of poking fun at these qualities.
I stumbled upon a great article in this month's Psychology Today magazine that really got me thinking about my training audience. Most of us are primarily introverts or extroverts. If you’re primarily an extrovert you’re outgoing, gregarious, friendly, and talkative - but you tend to bore easily. If you’re primarily an introvert, you’re less outwardly expressive and more likely to process your emotions and thoughts internally. You tend to embrace critical-thinking and you do more listening than talking - but your introspective ways may leave you feeling awkward in social or group settings.
Training teams are somewhat notorious for their focus on feedback. Between user test groups, program pilots, smile sheets and evaluations, we’re a bunch of feedback junkies. Where I think we fall short is in how we seek and interpret negative feedback. All too often we focus on asking trainees for superficial feedback and then dismiss negative feedback as “venting” or an “isolated incident.” In some cases that may be true, but what about the times when the trainee has a good point and we’re too put-off by their language to acknowledge it?
Stories are a fundamental part of our humanity. We share them to inform, enlighten, and entertain because they touch our imaginations AND emotions. Therefore it's no surprise that storytelling is one of the most powerful teaching techniques in our arsenal. Because stories can resonate so profoundly with an audience, they're a great way to grab attention, make content more accessible, and make your training “stickier.”
Perpetuating certain myths about training can be an easy way to side-step larger problems. For example, when training fails to take root with the audience, we fall back on the myth of the “bad trainee.” When new ideas about training threaten the status quo, we champion myths about training efficacy that result in solutions suited to our agenda. There’s also the myth that well-designed training doesn’t need to look or function perfectly because, well, great ideas will stand on their own, right?
Whether it's a lack of clarity on the part of senior executives or a lack of resources to execute accordingly there are a countless reasons training projects fail. However there are 3 pitfalls which almost always guarantee a spectacularly bad outcome: (1) No clear target, (2) poor project management, and (3) anonymous trainees. When failure is NOT an option, consider the following ideas for dodging the pitfalls and paving a path to success. [Infographic]
Audio in online training is usually served up in one of two forms: (1) poor-quality, amateurish, or (2) high-quality and professional. No one wants to be responsible for producing great-looking training that sounds awful, but with training budgets being what they are these days it’s hard to justify the expense of high-quality, professionally recorded audio. But leaving audio out of the training mix isn’t a great option, either. Audio serves a vital function — particularly in online training — by breathing life into your material, setting the tone, and grabbing your trainee’s attention.
If summer movie blockbusters have taught me anything, it’s this: no matter how bleak the circumstances—heroes who recognize, embrace, and employ their superpowers will prevail. In reality, most of us are superheroes in our own right, albeit in a less glamorous way (which is good since a blue spandex leotard and cape is a hard look to pull off).