Last week we had the honor of hosting firecracker Lou Russell for our Mimeo webinar, How to Deliver Valuable E-Content and Avoid Shiny New Toy Syndrome. Lou, an L&D author, consultant and ATD speaker, touched upon how easy it can be to get swept up in the shiny new features of learning technology. Quite simply, it’s easy to fall for the cool, techy features of a tool and that’s a problem. Training teams tend to forget that learning technology is simply the tool, not the solution.
Lou promised that the webinar would be a wake-up call and guide for delivering intrinsic value instead of extrinsic technology to your learners, and she delivered. If you weren’t able to attend our webinar, here’s some of our key takeaways.
1. Learning is a Partnership
Relationships aren’t one way streets. The relationship between learners and instructors isn’t any different. Learning is a partnership, and one every L&D professional should participate actively in. You have to work with your learners to truly provide them with value. L&D sessions should rely on three elements: structure, facilitation and learning. This is quite straightforward and easy to apply and the webinar is a perfect example of this.
Our learning structure was the webinar itself, a form of eLearning. It started off encouraging participants to ask questions and breaking apart how the webinar’s timeline would function. This was quickly followed with Lou facilitating those attending the session to sketch themselves teaching and a separate sketch of themselves learning. These sketches derived both engagement between learners (attendees) and instructor (Lou).
The lesson learned: we are self-aware of our role in the partnership between teacher and learner.
2. Ask the Right Questions
When it comes to delivering an optimal L&D experience, you have to ask the right questions. Sometimes when approached about training, L&D professionals’ first instinct is to ask, “What content do I already have that I can repurpose?” When this question is prompted, the content is built on what is already there, not what is actually being asked. Successful content comes from listening. Lou urges instructors and trainers to ask these two questions instead:
- What do you want to be able to do at the end of this session that you can’t do now?
- Why does that matter today?
These questions will uncover both ends of the request: the performance need and the context or motivation behind it.
3. Multiple Intelligences Aren’t Fixed
No matter what, as an L&D professional you will always have an audience and that audience will always have a behavior. Most learners have a preference on how they intake information – visual, auditory or kinesthetic modalities. Lou suggests using a variety of modalities to deliver your content because people learn differently through different ways. Changing modalities also helps to foster a deeper learner experience.
Drawing upon Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Lou illustrated the breadth of different kinds of minds learners possess. Gardner’s theory attests that people learn, remember, perform and understand content in different ways depending on their distinct intelligence. However, Lou assured us that multiple intelligences aren’t fixed. Instead these intelligences can be practiced and learning environments can be audited towards multiple intelligences to equally drive sequencing and retention.
4. Delivery Matters, But It Isn’t Everything
With all of the tools, gadgets and software available, it’s easy to get caught up in the delivery of the tool instead of structuring the intended message. Lou says it best: “Learning doesn’t change based on our technology.” This is certainly true. You can’t look at learning as a single event; it is a lifelong experience. So don’t treat it as a fleeting moment, treat it as a permancance. If you’re delivering eLearning, don’t rely on the technology to have provide the real value. Instead, appeal to multiple intelligences through techniques like interactive content, stories that evoke emotion or through peer-to-peer interviews.
5. Use Memory Triggers
It may seem at times that people and goldfish have similar rates of memory retention. But, have you considered that how you present your content has the potential to hinder learners’ retention? Chances are your L&D content is there, but it’s being forgotten because of its visual representation.
When it comes to absorbing content, primacy is the most powerful trigger in memory. If you present people with a list of 20 odd words, people are most likely going to remember the first few words of the list. Unfortunately, most L&D leaders waste this fresh brain state on housekeeping, spending the first precious minutes on instructing people on where the lavatory is. While primacy is powerful, factors like chunking (grouping similar content together), recency and off-the-wall information also help people remember. To Lou, the formula is simple: cover important content first, group similar content together, save important content for the end and don’t forget to laugh in between.
From all of us at Mimeo, thank you Lou Russell! If you missed the webinar but want to learn more click here.
Lou Russell is the CEO/Queen of Russell Martin & Associates, an executive consultant, speaker and author whose passion is to grow companies by growing their people. She is the author of The Accelerated Learning Fieldbook , Project Management for Trainers, Training Triage, IT Leadership Alchemy, Leadership Training, 10 Steps to Successful Project Management and Managing Projects. Through speaking, training and writing, Lou draws on 30 years of helping organizations achieve their full potential. She inspires improvement in leadership, project management and individual growth. Lou’s upbeat style, and humorous stories about on-the ground experiences will give you the passion and tools to improve the bottom line. You will be moved, laughing, participating, inspired and challenged. Most importantly to Lou, you will learn. Follow her on Twitter with @nolecture.