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Posts Tagged ‘Books’

“Welcome aboard ladies and gentleman, this is your captain Bill Johnson. We have clear skies all the way to Miami. Just to let you know, this is my first time flying the Boeing 757. Not to worry, I’ve been fully checkout including passing the landing test with a near perfect 95%.”
95% is a great score. You can get a 4.0 at Harvard and graduate with honors scoring 95% on all your test. However, anything less than 100% on landing a plane is considered failure. I’ve built a small mountain of training over the years and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “What should be setting as a passing score for this class?” Most of the time everyone is so concerned about what happens if someone fails the test, that they want to set the bar as low as possible.
While you might think that the pilot example is a little extreme, let me build the case for 100% and then show you how raising the passing score begins to change everything. Teaching to 100% is very different than teaching to 75%.
Let’s take something as simple as learning to add, subtract, multiple and divide. On a 50 question test if you only got five wrong, that’s 90% right. The teacher might give you a gold star or write GOOD WORK across the top. Later on your first job, you’re running a cash register. Using you’re A+ math skills, you give out correct change 90% of the time, not bad. Well maybe not, you eventually get fired because the register never balances at the end of the day.
Consider other common jobs and situations. A large part of the work in call centers involves giving out product information, taking orders and answering questions. If every agent, scored 75% or better on all their training this means that as much as 25% of the time they are giving out wrong information or making errors on your order. If you were president of the company, would this be okay with you? Before you answer, consider how much these errors cost you in terms of lost customers and lost sales.
Safety is a big deal in every manufacturing plant. If you get 75% right on all the safety tests, it’s a little like only losing a couple of fingers, if you’re lucky. Safety is something that requires 100%. Good simply isn’t good enough.
Remember 10th grade history? History is filled with dates, names, places and events. How much history is it okay to get wrong or mixed up? Does it matter that the treaty of Versailles ended World War I and not World War II? Anyway, over the years, most people forget most of what they learned in 10th grade so it may not be that serious.
In business most jobs require getting things right. Often this doesn’t happen right out of training but as a result of a lot of practice on the job. From doctors to engineers to carpenters to pharmacists, there are severe consequences for getting things wrong, even little things. When a pharmacist makes one mistake in a 1000 when filling prescriptions, it’s a disaster.
Setting the bar high is only part of the equation. There is also a cumulative effect that happens over time. It’s easiest to see in a school setting. If from first to twelfth grade you get 90% right on all your tests, that means that the remaining 10% is a growing body of knowledge that’s wrong. It doesn’t seem like a lot on one test, but on several hundred is massive. That’s for a top student. For a C student getting 70%, that’s the same as getting everything for 3 ½ years wrong.

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Building Learning Paths has many of the same challenges that building any training has.  One in particular is how to you get those who were not involved in the building of training up-to-speed on what’s happening and willing to help implement the program.

A formal train-the-trainer program is often the answer.  This is a session for those who will be implementing the training.  It guides them through what they need to do plus it goes back to the beginning and sells these individuals on what’s happening and why.  Going back to your stakeholder analysis, you might find some critical people to invite to your train-the-trainer.

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I’ve been unsually business doing Learning Paths projects.  Each time I learn something new and the process gets better.  I guess that’s the goal of process improvement.  For those of you who have read the book or have done initiatives on your own, I’m going to do some blog posts on what we’ve learned and changed.

One of the things we know like to do at the end of the first phase is do a formall stakeholder analysis as a way of building a communication and implementation plan.  This helps us identify those who were not on the team that might be major allies or obstacles.  While it takes some time to do, it’s worth it.

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It’s very common for training needs assessments to try to identify what top performers do and then try to get others to model that behavior.  The problem with this approach is becoming a top performer may be the results of years of practice and experience rather than something that can be taught quickly.  In fact, top performers may have capabilities and attributes that other may never acquire.  

Take a look at elite athletes.  You can profile what they do but they are often rare individuals with unique talents.  Even with all the training and dedication to be in the top 50 in the world is almost a statistical anomaly.   So what I always recommend is that you get employees fully up-to-speed and operating independently before you tackle going to high performance.

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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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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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Check out this article.  It appears that the top ten novels in Japan were written on mobile phones.  I can hear the click-clack of thumbs now.  If getting rid of keyboards is happening soon and literature is being produced on a IPhone, what does that mean for traditional education. 

I can just imagine Shakespere now, writing Hamlet with the Verizon network people following him.  Can you hear my writing now?  How about now?

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