My corporate partner, Akita

“I trust people too easily. I really shouldn’t.”

Maybe. But if you are saying this, you still Do. Trust. People. Even when they don’t deserve it.

Don’t ever stop trusting! The world is much more beautiful when viewed through the lens of trust.

Yes, you get burned. But every person you meet is a mystery. You can’t know what you will learn from them. And if you don’t give them the chance to wow you, they never will.

When you don’t trust, and the person proves you wrong, you just wait for them to fail later.
When you don’t trust, and the person proves you right, you get more jaded.

When you do trust, and the person proves you wrong, you hurt.
When you do trust, and the person proves you right, you get more joyful.

When you don’t trust, you are withdrawing from life. When you do trust, you are living life.

Your choice.


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Deliberately Developmental Organizations

ATD Puget Sound held a one-day conference on Wednesday. It was a terrific day, filled with new connections and learning.

One exciting concept that has my wheels turning is the DDO, or Deliberately Developmental Organization. The idea is definitely a huge departure from normal organizations, and it has great potential. I’m not sure how successful a DDO can be at this point in our society, but I would work in one in a heartbeat! Someday we may look back and see the DDO as groundbreaking now as the concept of the Learning Organization was two decades ago.

Here are my notes: DDOs Deliberately Developmental Organizations

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Change Your Perspective: Systems


Place a rubber band on your desk. What happens if you pull it? It follows in the direction of the pull, and roughly maintains its shape. Now hold the other side when you pull. The harder you pull, the more tension you create. The rubber band wants to return to its original shape. What happens if you pull it hard enough? It breaks.

You’ve probably been shown this before. The rubber band is great example of a system, and it is a very helpful analogy when teaching people how change in organizations works.

I’m inviting you to apply this concept on a larger scale to the world around you. Because it turns out, almost everything represents a system of some sort. Your body, your family, your organization, your yard, your community, your government, your universe.

A friend of mine found religion and got sober. This should have saved his marriage, put his family back together, right? Wrong. After 7 years of sobriety, his marriage was almost unretrievable. His teenage daughter was pregnant. He was 50 years old, and wondering why doing all the right things was resulting in so many problems. I told him about the rubber band. He had changed for the better, but he never considered how much tension that change placed on his family as a system. It takes time, and care, to change a system, and all the parts have to change, not just the part that was “broken.”

He shared this new perspective with his wife, courted her, and spent a lot of time focused on her instead of himself, helping her to finally navigate the change that her family had undergone. One year later, their marriage was much stronger, just in time for a diagnosis of breast cancer, when she needed that friendship more than ever before in her life. 15 years later, they are a healthy, loving family.

Finding religion, eating right, taking the initiative at work — all sorts of positive behaviors can fail to bring about the intended results, and may even create unexpected and complex problems. I’m going to blog about systems a lot more. Today, I just wanted to introduce the idea, and start you thinking. What difficulties are you experiencing now that might be easier to understand from a systems perspective?

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Mapping My World: Leveraging a model of my PLN

One of my favorite sessions at ASTD ICE 2014 (#ASTD2014) this year was Dan Gallagher’s presentation about the Self-Aware Leader. One of his four pillars of such leadership is an Above Average Support System & Network. He also discussed the importance of giving, in which he uses a concept model titled The Generosity Quotient™. This model is a wonderful illustration for that above average support network, and I immediately started applying it to my own network.


The Generosity Quotient (TM) from the Self-Aware Leader by Gallagher and Costal, 2012

I love to fidget with concept models (Thanks for that link, Tricia Ransom!). Considering the origin of this model, I am considering both how I can leverage this model to strengthen my PLN to get more learning, and to stretch my informal leadership skills by giving more learning. Here is a partial map of my Personal Learning Network (PLN).


Map of My PLN

Not everyone in my PLN fits perfectly into this model, and it is exactly that issue which led me to some additional insights.

For example, there are people who primarily offer me ideas and support. They don’t fit conveniently on the matrix, so I made up a new category – supporting catalysts. I am formally asking these people to fill that role in my network – I want them to know that they are sparking my interest just by doing what they do, and I want to interact with them more frequently. This makes sense – if my passions are to provide others with support and ideas, then those people who do both for me are going to stand out – they are the people who can show me how to do what I do better.

I am developing myself so that I can help other people grow. When I consider the flow of support both to and from me, I immediately recognized people who I give my time, support, and ideas to. (I hereby resolve to give more of all of these things!) Opportunity seems like an untapped chance for me to expand on my outreach. Learning Rebel Shannon Tipton showed me one way to provide opportunity when she asked me to contribute to her blog.

So it may not be a perfect fit, but this model does give me a solid tool to organize my thoughts around. I’m using it as a map to help me reinforce old relationships and foster new relationships as I proceed with my “Now What” plan from #ASTD2014.


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Now What? This!

Learning Rebel Shannon Tipton featured my story in her blog today about the afterglow of ASTD ICE 2014. In her blog article, she says that the most important thing she did at the conference this year was to connect with old friends and make new friends. She says she feels “rejuvenated and recharged and in general ready to tackle the world again.” That is exactly how I feel too. And in this week of recovery, when I’m processing the experience and trying to pick up my life where I left it before the conference, I’m all too aware of how delicate this feeling is.

As Shannon says, “We all need that buddy, that friend, that person with whom to vent about the little things (and big things) that pop up.” So one of my post-conference resolutions is to connect with at least one person each day that I saw at the conference. Not just say hi, but actually offer an article I know will interest them, ask a question particular to their expertise, or otherwise involve them in my Personal Learning Network. Because Learning is what energizes me and keeps me positive, and with a little effort, maybe I can help you stay recharged too!


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Advanced eLearning Design, Part 3

(Preface: These are my notes from attending ASTD’s Advanced eLearning Design Certificate Course, taught by Julie Dirksen)

Choosing Tools

When choosing your tools, consider the power of the tool versus the ease of use and learning it. As a minimum, you need graphic control of the screen (e.g. ability to place hotspots where you want) and variables (e.g. to save data for delayed feedback. Consider also its compatibility versus your needs (e.g. SCORM). Take into account also how easy it is to review, collaboratively if necessary, and to update.

Development Time

(reference: Brandon Hall study)

Level 1, primarily  text, clip art, basic navigation, 100 – 266 hours

Level 2, text and/or audio presentation, basic interactions, animations, graphical effects like rollovers, 233 – 466 hours

Level 3, system emulation, custom or multiple learner paths, dramatic dialogue scripting, interactive scenarios, case studies or role-plays, 400 – 800 hours

If you don’t have that kind of time, start small and focus your efforts. Create a level 2 instead of level 3. Create a 10 minute course rather than an hour. Focus your efforts on training which is most strategically valuable to the organization.


There was a large section of the lesson centered on Gaming and Evaluation which I am not relating here, but will discuss at a later time. The overall takeaway from this course was that there is a lot going on around the learning experience. If you are just filling the ISD boxes, you aren’t building an effective learning experience. All the theory and research matters, and there is more being observed, discovered, learned, articulated, discussed and published every day. There really is a way to build effective eLearning – and it is based on a solid understanding and application of Learning Design.

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Advanced eLearning Design Part 2

(Preface: These are my notes from attending ASTD’s Advanced eLearning Design Certificate Course, taught by Julie Dirksen)

Learning Theories

Behaviorism is primarily concerned with visible behavior.

Cognitivism is primarily concerned with what is going on in the brain.

  • Types of Memory
    • Explicit
      • Semantic
      • Episodic
    • Implicit
      • Procedural
      • Conditioned
  • What puts it in long-term memory?
    • Interesting, unexpected
    • Personal interest/experience
    • Interaction/application
    • Emotional response
    • Significance
    • Repetition
    • Humor

Constructivism is primarily concerned with meaning-making.

  • We construct our own meaning
  • People need to interact with concepts to learn
  • Expert learners vs novice learners.
  • Schema building is an exercise in problem solving. Can’t hand over the content until the student has built the structure. Structure is built through meaning-making.

Blended and Connectivism is where we are now.

  • A blend – take the best of the theories and apply them as they fit
  • Social learning

Types of Learning

Facts are arbitrarily associated pieces of information that we code in semantic memory. Strategies to teach facts include embedding them in a meaningful context, relating them to other relevant tasks, using organizers to provide cognitive structure, requiring learner effort, and leveraging the brain’s visual capacity.

Concepts are groups of objects, events or symbols that all share some common characteristics and are identified by the same names. Subjects learned initially as facts may later be relearned as concepts. Converting non-examples to examples is a powerful technique (i.e., understanding what is NOT as well as what is). Strategies to teach concepts include providing varied positive examples, providing negative examples, presenting both positive and negative examples simultaneously, and making examples as divergent as possible.

Procedures are sequences of steps needed to accomplish a goal, solve a problem or produce a product. Strategies to teach procedures include demonstrating individual steps and the entire procedure, providing practice of individual steps, sequencing steps, listing steps, providing practice of the entire procedure, using backward and forward chaining, and providing job aids or mnemonics.

Problem Solving is combining facts, concepts, procedures and rules to solve unfamiliar problems. How you phrase the problem (ask the question) matters. Strategies to teach problem solving include ensuring prerequisites have been learned, classifying the problem, determining which rules apply, determining the order of rules, evaluating adequacy of solutions, gradually phasing out guidance, and practicing with well-defined problems before ill-defined problems.

Attitudes are beliefs, values and opinions that influence choices and actions. Strategies to teach/influence attitudes include providing a demonstration of the desired behavior by a respected role model, providing practice for the desired behavior, providing rewards for the desired behavior, using a variety of measurement methods, and tapping into emotional components. Recognize that adoption of change is influence by perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. Some tips: leverage the need to be in step with the norm, get them past the first time by providing for practice, surface success stories before, during, and after the training, and look for ways to lessen immediate fears.


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Random Nuggets

Here are some random tips and ideas I captured during Julie Dirksen’s Advanced eLearning Design Course.

  • Delayed feedback can increase learning transfer
  • Make your content as lean as possible to get the best information from user testing
  • Evidence suggests the best eLearning presentation is lean text with full audio
  • Activities involving finding, identifying, recognizing lend themselves well to eLearning
  • Background graphics and clip art: Instead of irrelevant themes for the sake of adding pizzazz, go take pictures of the real environment
  • Mobile learning isn’t about the device, it is about the learning being mobile
  • When managing a design/development project, keep a table that lists what can change after this point and what cannot change after this point. Also, keep a list that lists changes separately from bugs.

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Advanced eLearning Design, Part 1

(Preface: These are notes from attending ASTD’s Advanced eLearning Design Certificate Course, taught by Julie Dirksen. Her book, “Design for how People Learn,” is outstanding, if you haven’t read it yet, go to amazon and take a look at it. When I can figure out how, I’ll add link here, but WordPress is being petulant tonight.)

First, and this makes sense, good eLearning design needs to be founded on sound learning principles. Training isn’t about knowing, it is about doing. We know that content knowledge doesn’t equate to better performance. Generally, our end goal for training is for the learner to demonstrate the learning through behavioral change.

ISD is based on process models. Especially when it comes to eLearning, the traditional processes aren’t working. They don’t reflect the real world. They need to be iterative and flexible to take advantage of interactive media. So we need to use a new mental model when it comes to eLearning design.

Instructional Interactivity Design Model

We want to create a sense of experience. The design elements we build with are Context, Challenge, Activity and Feedback. (Reference: Michael W. Allen’s books on eLearning)

Context is the framework and conditions for the learning content to get meaning. Context creates retention.

  • Physical – the environment in which you learn becomes part of the information imprint
    • Visuals – Consider how you can have them learn in something that looks like where they will use the information. Instead of irrelevant themes for the sake of adding pizzazz, go take pictures of the real environment.
  • Behavioral Triggers – Create triggers in order to promote automaticity. “When you see this” prompts to activity
  • Emotional – Meaningful, Memorable, Motivational. Consider how you can make it feel more immediate, like it is happening right now, or create a point of need, demonstrate a real need.

Challenge is the stimulus to act; the reason the learner exerts the effort.

  • Challenge should build on context
  • Provide urgency in meeting the challenge (e.g. risk, meaning, interest or even curiosity)
  • Be aware of Hyperbolic Discounting, which is the notion that we have trouble with activities when there is a time delay between effort and reward, or between reward and consequence. Also be aware that attention is a form of currency. If the reward for learning is getting to use the information, then the longer the learner must wait to use the information, the less relevant it will seem to them. To counter this, either move the point of training closer to the time of use or create a fictional use that feels more realistic.

Activity is the physical response to the challenge.

  • Activity should feel natural
  • Should be similar to or reinforce actions being learned
  • Layering can help make it more complex, for instance recognition, followed by saying why it is the right choice.

Feedback is the reflection of the effectiveness of the learner’s action:

  • Should be consequence-based
  • Should be appropriately delayed and intrinsic to the challenge
  • Corrective unless in testing situations


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