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atdascend   The Florida Suncoast Chapter of ATD held its first ATDASCEND Conference Friday September 23rd. The bottom line assessment is that it was a clear check in the Win column, for several reasons.
  1. Unless you were told it was the first conference, you wouldn’t have guessed it. The organizers did a great job with all the logistics. Additional thanks to all the volunteers, and sponsors.
  2. Many conferences go through Orlando each year (ATD ICE usually comes through every few years, Masie and Training Magazine frequent the area, and Elearning Guild’s Learning Solution/Ecosystem conference is a yearly event). However, there hasn’t been many options for a Talent/HR/L&D conference with a strong regional focus.  I was very pleased to see ATD’s Suncoast Chapter create one. It is great to see local peers of our industry to network.
  3. Keynotes and sessions I attended were quite good, and I heard positive buzz from other attendees regarding the sessions they attended.
  4. I also presented at the conference, and felt the support I received was good. I know another speaker used ATD ASCEND as her first speaking engagement at a professional conference, and she did great. I imagine this had a bit to do with the support from the ATD Suncoast staff.
My blog series will note some key takeaways and insights from the conference, starting with the keynotes.

Key Takeaways from Keynotes

Applied Improvisation: Using Human-Client Simulations for Immersive Learning (Presented by Delaney La Rosa and Amy Lannen of the Mayo Clinic)

Great Tips for Roleplay/Scenarios

There was a spectacular set of practical, immediately applicable lessons I took from this session on roleplays. Roleplays really just present a problem and parameters, and set the participants to work toward a solution. In  our highly variable world, we no longer have formulatic, paint-by-numbers solutions to most problems (work, in reality, is imrpov!).  Roleplays can be a great tool to practice. However, roleplays often are too unstructured and can break down into more silly responses where professional behaviors aren’t maintained. Make the roleplay as real as possible. Medical devices beeping as they would in an ER with professional actors acting exactly as if they are having a medical emergency will elicit a more realistic response from participants than scenarios that are clearly fake. Some adjustments can be very simple. They showed a video of two friends in a customer service telephone roleplay. Facing each other, they cracked. They knew it was fake. Small micro-tells between friends made them break into giggles. Simply by telling them to not face each other, and to react as if it was an actual customer, the roleplay was executed more professionally.

Default to “Yes, and…”

There were some typical leanings from improve like the agreement principle (using “yes and…” as opposed to “yes,  but”…) which is a good thing to keep in mind about maintaining relationships and keeping open to opportunities.  However, it was clarified that the author of Getting to Yes has a follow up book so we don’t say yes when we shouldn’t. It reminds me of the important lessons of knowing when to say “no” (actually, there are many alternatives for how to say “no” without it being blunt refusal and damaging relationships). Saying no to many things frees you to say yes to the most important things.  I think this theme was very nicely captured in Angel Green’s keynote where she talked about when we should walk away from executing designs that we know would be harmful to users, a waste of time and money, and not benefit the organization.

Anyone Can Change: Myth or Fact (Presented by Cindy Moran, Predictive Results and others)

You can try to train the horse to climb a tree, but you are better off hiring a squirrel

I have heard this statement in many forms, many times, often with a follow up statement: “many training issues are actually hiring or promotions problems”.  I think we have all seen it before: superstar salesperson promoted to sales manager and fails miserably, or a similar scenario. Training often cannot fix what is clearly a very poor job fit for an employee. I cannot tell you how many times I have refused to take on roles in organizations that would have been a horrible fit. When pressed to answer why, it is always the same answer: “I have no interest in failing both myself or the organization with a misstep”.  Folks have argued with me on this point, but I ask for the data.  This is where things get interesting, and something Cindy clearly illustrated as a key issue in organizations: We actually know very little about our employees. Truthfully, we actually know less about the work behaviors and potential of our employees than the average marketing person would know about the purchasing behaviors of customers. If a manager were to look at promoting individuals to new positions in the organization, they are usually under-supported by good, actionable data.  Cindy showed some compelling evidence on this issue and how to better understand the workforce and align capabilities of workers with the mission of the organization. This really resonated with me, and not just because of my personal experiences with managers who think they know me better than I know myself (or my wife, and trusted colleagues who I ask when I have doubts on aligning my skills with new roles). This also points to a key shift we are having in our industry in measuring FAR beyond LMS metrics to understand capabilities of a workforce and how new capabilities of the xAPI standard can help feed a necessary data stream. A few months ago, I read Jenny Dearborn’s DATA DRIVEN.  If the subject of this talk interested you, it is a book you should read.

Be Your Learner’s Advocate (Presented by Angel Green of Coca-Cola Beverages Florida)

Angel’s keynote was great. Really on-point and eye opening, and her presentation style was a great way to wrap up the conference.

#Hatetraining

Using the hashtag, Angel showed the harsh reality: we are not popular. Why?  We all know the reasons. Look deep down. Let’s look critically and be brutally honest with ourselves: we aren’t doing our jobs well. How much of it is relevant to most folks put through the training? Is it chunked in a way that fits with their work? Does it actually help them perform better? Is it mandatory? Could they just read it? Was training even needed? Do the PPT slides have string bean guy and other clipart from the 90s and bad star-wipe effects? Is there anything that supports transfer to the workplace….  I could go on.  The fact is, that for all we know about effective learning interventions AND how employees work, we are doing a very poor job on a large scale.

I am mad as hell, and feel a good deal of shame

Angel noted the famous line of “I’m as mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” in regard to vendors and how they aren’t pushing for key innovations that we have seen in other business functions like marketing, finance, etc. However, I think we have to accept significant amount of the blame. Not just for NOT taking a stronger stand with vendors, but for also not living the principles of the eLearning Manifesto, nor executing good learning practices on a regular basis (even more on this in a follow up post). We are also very poor at adapting new technologies and practices. I find very few elearning pros who really leverage spaced learning, twitter, fewer who understand SCORM vs xAPI (if you don’t know SCORM trappings it is hard to escape them, even if you adopt xAPI), and a scant few who use metatags on any learning assets to help with discover-ability of assets that would help support workers (see Tozman’s Learning on Demand).

The computers are coming – time to get off our content fetish

Angel noted a Ted Talk how PR engines can now sweep text and create perfect pitches. Actually, as someone with some insight on AI and machine learning, I can assure you a great deal of news and sports articles are written by algorithms. It is shocking and happened without our knowledge. And yes, these algorithms are coming to eat our lunch. Furthermore, we often fancy ourselves as designers- putting a pleasing front-end on the tomes of content tossed at us by SMEs and Compliance types.  Guess what? You aren’t safe there either. Content layout analytics engines like the Grid.io are already eating away at the fringes and soon it will have more intelligence on user habits at scale- as well at an individual user level- to automatically adapt layout to specific user preference. Most of this is address content. I have often advocated that L&D has to get off our content fetish. Because, frankly, more content is the last thing any worker needs. They are drowning in content. We need to pivot to experience- relevant experience- and the content feeds into support that- a supporting role (see Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping).  Computers can do the content thing- they have it covered. What they can’t do is insight and judgement. The improv session shows us- it isn’t a paint-by-numbers, black and white world. Only humans can exercise judgement to identify and understand workplace issues and repack the experience into a relevant learning experience for others.  Computers only understand If X, than Y.  They can’t exercise judgement outside of those variables. We can. This is our zone.  Learners want valuable experiences. We can mine these better than any other resource or technology. Then, we use technology to support delivery of our designs. I could go on and on about Angel’s presentation and topic- it was big and expansive. It raised some big issues and bigger questions. But that’s for another blog (or two, or three…)

Next blog: Sessions (including insights on my own session)

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We will be off to a blazing start with 15 hacks shared in the first 15 minutes. It’s like speed dating for your brain.

IMAGE SELECTION HACK

I’ve shared this previously (https://youtu.be/M9DT_vPF0eQ), but if you want to play in class here are some resources: File: https://www.dropbox.com/s/eqkvtytgxpioiz8/entrepreneur-696959_960_720.jpg?dl=0 Note: This is a stock photo from a site used ONLY for demonstration purposes, and cannot be used for any project. If you have an image editor like Photoshop, or GIMP, installed on your PC, you can use that, but if you need an online editor, we will use https://www.photopea.com/.

PPT LINKS TO WORD HACK

Ive shared this technique previously ( http://businesscriticallearning.com/blog/2015/04/08/a-powerpoint-to-word-hack-shared-at-lscon-2015/), but if you want to experiment, here is the file I will present with at #ATDASCEND. https://www.dropbox.com/s/ja3gzs7gm2x9u9l/PPTtoWord.pptx?dl=0

MADLIBS HACK

I shared this tactic a few times before: http://businesscriticallearning.com/blog/2011/03/14/using-madlibs-and-concatenate-for-assessments/ The tactic is still effective, and Storyline has some fantastic tools to kick it up a notch. Anyone wanting to experiment during the session (or afterwards) can download files here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/884h1grqrj15ua9/AABU0xVr2oxl6SOYp_llhNJYa?dl=0 Note: All files are in the TBAUG Folder. Storyline files are Storyline 2.
  • ImportExample.story file is a Storyline file which you will use to import updates from the Microsoft Word document Import_this.doc (if you haven’t used Storyline’s Translation Export/Import to allow SMEs to directly update documents, it is something to explore)
  • TBAUG.story is a “completed” file.
    • It will pull one of three equivalent pay verification scenario (4 steps each) from a question bank, putting all the steps in the right order (that’s a Storyline specific hack!)
    • To create the file, I used the IMPORT function to update the second scenario set, and Storyline Variables (along with equations) for the third set
    • It shows a single-source strategy for remediation slides (which could be core course content)- triggered as a lightbox from “Try Again” feedback
    • It also shows an assessment methodology that provides good analytics without scoring users (I have written about this previously)
  • The MadLibsExample.xlxs Excel file shows the CONCATENATE function used (as described in the Madlibs post) as well as how simple formulas for financials can adapt one great scenario into an almost limitless amount with little effort
I promised the session would be deep, engaging, and thought provoking. I also expect the presentation will be the BEGINNING of a conversation and your experimentation. Please feel free to comment below to share with peers, reach out for help, etc.
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TBAUG_June I will be presenting at the Tampa Bay Articulate User Group meeting June 16. The topic?  MadLibs. I shared this tactic a few times before: http://businesscriticallearning.com/blog/2011/03/14/using-madlibs-and-concatenate-for-assessments/ The tactic is still effective, and Storyline has some fantastic tools to kick it up a notch. Anyone wanting to experiment during the session (or afterwards) can download files here: Note: All files are in the TBAUG Folder. Storyline files are Storyline 2.
  • ImportExample.story file is a Storyline file which you will use to import updates from the Microsoft Word document Import_this.doc (if you haven’t used Storyline’s Translation Export/Import to allow SMEs to directly update documents, it is something to explore)
  • TBAUG- SL2 Backup.story is a “completed” file.
    • It will pull one of three equivalent pay verification scenario (4 steps each) from a question bank, putting all the steps in the right order (that’s a Storyline specific hack!)
    • To create the file, I used the IMPORT function to update the second scenario set, and Storyline Variables (along with equations) for the third set
    • It shows a single-source strategy for remediation slides (which could be core course content)- triggered as a lightbox from “Try Again” feedback
    • It also shows an assessment methodology that provides good analytics without scoring users (I have written about this previously)
    • You can see the output sample here. Each time you refresh, you should see the 3 different variable scenarios load (one female, one white male, one black male- each customer has a unique paystub statement with differing values).
      [icon name=”fa-exclamation-circle” iconsize=”small” iconcolor=”000000″ ] Important: The Amanda Baker scenario will not correctly display the fonts unless they are natively embedded on your machine. This was purposely done to show how variable fonts are not embedded for published Storyline outputs.
  • The MadLibsExample.xlxs Excel file shows the CONCATENATE function used (as described in the Madlibs post) as well as how simple formulas for financials can adapt one great scenario into an almost limitless amount with little effort
I promised the session would be deep, engaging, and thought provoking. I also expect the presentation will be the BEGINNING of a conversation and your experimentation. Please feel free to comment below to share with peers, reach out for help, etc.
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top10tools Time to participate in Jane Hart‘s annual Top 100 Tools for Learning survey for 2016! As I did last year, I will note 5 tools I use for my own development and 5 tools I use for developing resources for others. Top 5 tools used for my own development (one change from last year): [list style=”arrow” color=”blue”]
  • Twitter– Still my top choice. Following amazing people makes me learn amazing things. Also, insights from respected colleagues yields better results than searches.
  • Google– Despite my prior comment about references being trusted more than search, Googling is a daily activity.
  • Youtube– What you can learn from YouTube is astounding. Last week, my kid somehow jammed a door bolt on a bathroom door so it wouldn’t retract. A quick search got a 5 min video that provided a 10 min fix.
  • Delicious– Delicious is probably not the best social bookmarking or notetaking tool (OneNote and Evernote have stronger features), but after 10K indexed links, it is a large repository I have at my disposal.
  • Stretch Goals (new for 2016)– I actively set stretch goals for myself. Some are short-burst, others are very large, ambitious goals. I use a countdown widget on my phone to track progress and hold myself accountable.
[/list] Here are the top 5 tools I use to develop learning resources for others (a few new players this year): [list style=”arrow” color=”blue”]
  • Powerpoint– I do bi-weekly lunch and learns, and I have often used Duarte Slidedocs format for key deliverables from Onboarding Guides to full-fledged proposals.
  • Storyline– I remain a Storyline fanboy. It just works. Folks like it (learners, developers, and SMEs). I keep trying to push what I can do with the tool and have a very ambitious ecosystem project where Storyline plays a key role.
  • MadCap Flare– I maintain documentation for a software system. The documentation must play on many devices, and print, and update easily, and work nicely with other products. Flare has given me the most leverage to effectively manage a large document set with continually evolving content (I will more formally review it in a few months).
  • WordPress/LearnDash– A few months ago, I started hacking my site to see how effectively I could integrate WordPress with exports from MadCap Flare WHILE securing it AND enabling the potential for key documentation to be part of a larger learning program we could track via XAPI using LearnDash. We got all the answers needed, so 2016 promises to show a lot of development in WordPress and LearnDash with Flare and Storyline partnering and XAPI giving us some insight on what is working.
  • Excel– In my new role, I do a lot more analytical and reporting work so my use in Excel has increased sharply. Powerful pivot tables and charts can communicate complex and dense information providing key insights- especially if the user can manipulate the variables and see how it impacts results.
[/list] Many more arrows in my quiver (Photoshop, SnagIt, Audacity, Trello), but those are my top 5. Participate in the survey and let others know about the great tools you use.
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Photography, Uncategorized

Massive Dynamic has over 10 years of experience in Design, Technology and Marketing. It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using ‘Content here, content here’, making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for ‘lorem ipsum’ will uncover many web sites still in their infancy.

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