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Archive for May, 2008

Here’s a new book.  I’m actually a contributor the book.  I’ve only read the section I wrote but the rest of it looks good.  I got a sample copy and it’s really a big..big .. book.

Here’s the write up from Pfieffer.

The Trainer’ Portable Mentor is an easy to use, comprehensive highly accessible resource that offers shares the passions and most valuable key lessons learned from an all-star cast of some of the most respected training professionals in the field. The book covers a range of training topics including designing training, writing training, delivering training, measuring training, managing training, and developing business acumen. is divided into five sections (Designing Training, Delivering Training, Workforce Performance and Learning, Measurement and Evaluation, and Professional Development) and includes over 60 articles and additional resources found on a special website. In addition to wisdom gleaned from top trainers, the guide is filled with helpful checklists, case studies, assessments, and an easily customizable CD. The Trainer’s Portable Mentor is ideal for anyone new to the field of training and development or a veteran who is looking to be vitalized by quick, succinct practical nuggets that can be put to use right away.

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50.     Learn to Thrive on Chaos

Change isn’t usually neat and clean.  Change can be a very chaotic event.  But out of this chaos comes a lot of creativity.  A little chaos in the learning process forces students to react and try to regain their balance.  If everything is too safe, it’s hard to learn something new.

51.     Write Case Studies

Having students build their own case studies is a more advanced learning activity because it goes beyond simple analysis to being able to synthesize ideas and facts into something new.  Presenting this case study to the class becomes a teaching experience for students.

52.     Try Voice Recognition Software

Voice recognition software is getting better and better every day.  It allows you to quickly put your thoughts into writing.  It helps build text based materials in an easy to read narrative style.  Recording information from experts makes the journey to self-study and elearning a lot shorter.

53.    Have Fun

Learning doesn’t have to be boring.  Adding a little fun keeps morale up and helps students over rough patches.  Games, contests, music, video and more help keep students engaged.

54.     Build Templates and Standard Formats

If you need to develop a lot of education or training quickly, the first step is to pre-make a lot of decisions that would normally be made at the start of every new program.  This means building standard formats and templates for things like, teacher materials, self-study assignments, elearning and more.  Believe me, it will save a lot of time if you don’t have to pick type styles and sizes every time you create a document.  Also it allows others who are less experienced to quickly build their own courses.

55.     Know What You Know

Putting everyone through the same learning process is too fast for some and too slow for others.  A good up front assessment can help a teacher customize any learning process.  In a workplace where you will have a wide range of capabilities and experiences this is especially critical. 

56.     Use Case Studies

Analysis is a higher level learning skill.  It shows a much higher level of competence than being able to repeat facts or even describe what was read.  Case studies require students to analyze what happened and why.  Case studies can also incorporate a range of knowledge and experience which again breaks down the topic silos. 

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47.     Race to Proficiency

The goal of learning should be to reach a desired goal or outcome.  A class or even a curriculum is usually not enough to reach that goal.  Structuring what happens after the class is over completes the training.  Otherwise, there is a lot of slow wandering around after training or the student just gives up.

48.     Add Structure to Experiences

Experience puts all of the learning together.  Even a lot of repetition over time speeds up performance.  However, not all experience is worthwhile or necessary.  A faster way to learn is to structure experience so the student encounters all the right stuff in the right order.  Having a good list of problems to expect helps build structured experience.  Also learning by discovery is really powerful.  So structure experiences so that this discovery happens.

49.     Use Math Magic

Math magic is a lot like speed reading and memory techniques.  Experts have figured out a faster way to do a range of calculations that can often beat a calculator.  Learning them actually creates a greater understanding of numbers and how they go together.  Adding speed to your capabilities adds speed to your learning.

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44.     Build a Show Me How Library

This is actually a really easy one.  List out the major tasks you want others to learn.  Now take your digital camcorder and make short movies of an expert doing each task.  To make production easy have another expert describe what the other person is doing.  Take all these small digital videos and either put them up on a menu driven DVD or post them online with a help menu.  In only hours, you have a really valuable show me how library.  Since their digital, they’re easily replaced as things change.  This method is great for both visual and digital learners.Use Case Studies

Analysis is a higher level learning skill.  It shows a much higher level of competence than being able to repeat facts or even describe what was read.  Case studies require students to analyze what happened and why.  Case studies can also incorporate a range of knowledge and experience which again breaks down the topic silos. 

45.     Leave a Trail for Others

You can help others learn what you’re about to learn by keeping a learning diary which includes your insights including both right and wrong turns.  These are valuable for future students but also for teachers who need to build training for others. 

46.     Build a Blog

Blogs are easy to maintain and update ways to share information and get a discussion going.  Because blogs don’t have a formal structure, they are extremely flexible.  You can use them to post articles, videos and other research.  Learning from each other is faster than learning on your own.

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41.     Don’t Stuff the Goose

Stuffing the Goose is a technical education term. What it refers to is two situations. First, it means adding as much or more content as you possibly can. You don’t want to leave anything out. When you review the design, everyone wants to add things until you have no time to actually work on anything. Second, it happens when you bring people in for something like three days. The thinking is, “since we have you here, let’s cover everything.” How can we put two weeks of content into one week? This is a natural tendency. It’s hard to fight. But some of the worst education and training has been stuffed. So focus on your objectives and tell others to stop stuffing the goose.

42.     Teach from Simple to Complex

The best alternative to teach topic by topic is to teach by task or outcome.  Once you have a list of all the task or outcomes you want to teach, put them in order from simple to complex or easy to hard.  Now teach them one by one.  Then require a set level of proficiency before moving on.  This builds the integration of skills and knowledge plus allowing you to add in real life practice. 

43.     Change Perspectives

Seeing things from your own point of view is very limiting.  You see only a part of the picture.  Activities that require students to see things from other people’s point of view give deeper understanding.  Something as simple as a debate where you take one side and then the other gives works well.  Playing the role of a customer or supplier works too.  Then have students stand back and look at the big picture to see how everyone relates and interacts

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38  Practice, Practice, Practice

There really is no substitute for practice.  The more your practice the easier things get and the faster you learn.  Practicing with a purpose and practicing with good feedback from a coach will also speed up learning.  You always want to be sure that you’re not practicing bad habits and good structured practice with a coach really helps.

39    Think of Learning as a Process, Not an Event

Learning takes time.  It’s a process that includes formal and informal education, practice and experience.  When you think of learning as a process, you can then apply all of the quality tools and processes to reduce time and variability.  If you think of learning as an event such as a class or even a curriculum, you can easily be missing 90% of the learning process.  As a result, speeding up learning is less about gaining knowledge faster and more about become proficient and beyond.

40.     Take a Quick Trip to the Magic Shop

A quick magic trick is actually an interesting way to make a key point or overcome preconceived ideas that stand in the way of learning.  There are lots of magic tricks that take little or no practice but look fairly spectacular.  I did this once during sales training.  I wanted to make the point that all the tricks and techniques of sales only work if the other person doesn’t know the trick.  And with today’s buyers most already know all the tricks.

So I went to the magic store and the guy behind the counter was very helpful.  He showed me several tricks that might work.  What I picked was a trick where you passed a 19″ needle through a balloon without breaking it.  I liked the trick because you could see it from distance.  I then showed the class how the trick worked and asked, “Would you like to see it again?”  I did it second time and then asked, “Who would like to see it again?”  Fewer hands went up. After the third time, no one wanted to see it again.  I then drew the connection between how they now felt about the trick with sales tricks and then ask them how they would feel the next time someone wanted to show them the trick.  Most major cities have at least one magic shop.

 

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34.     Find a Buddy

Buddies are different than mentors.  A buddy is someone who is going through the same learning experience you are and who wants you to succeed.  Sharing experiences and teaching each other helps both you and your buddy learn faster.  You just have to check what you’re doing with your mentor so you aren’t just sharing bad habits.

35.     Build a peer network

This is very similar to having a buddy.  However, being able to share ideas with peers provides a greater knowledge and experience base.  Discussion boards, blogs and even text messages are a great way to build a peer network.  You can also look at the wide array of social networking sites to expand your peer network around the world.

36.     Listen to Audio Books

Hearing rather than reading a book can improve comprehension and lead to deeper understanding.  With a great reader, listening to a book or lesson gains the power of story telling.  When looking for audio books, the best readers are actors and singers.  Also, if you’re an auditory learning, this may be the easiest and fastest way to learn.

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