The Value of Visuals for Learning

illustration of photograph with mountains, sky and cloudsIt’s funny how time changes you. When I was younger, I was interested only in words. I rarely saw images in the clouds above. I didn’t draw an imaginary friend – I couldn’t even picture one! That is why I find it so interesting that visuals have captured my attention all this way into my career.

As I look over the books I have recently bought, such as Dear Data, Best Infographics of 2016, The Back of the Napkin, and The Doodle Revolution, I see a trend toward books with illustrations, drawings and data visualizations. This has made me curious about the role of visuals in learning.

Visuals can enhance or even replace words.

Continue reading “The Value of Visuals for Learning”

7 Principles for SMARTER Strategy

As you design a training program, it is helpful to refer to a set of principles that guide your decisions – a set of billustration of 3 blocksuilding blocks that set a strong foundation. In my own work, I have seen the value of using these guiding principles and have even coined an acronym to help me keep the ideas in mind as I design training solutions.


SMARTER strategy means that learning is:

Continue reading “7 Principles for SMARTER Strategy”

4 Favorite Learning Strategy Resources

If you are new to learning and development or are looking to refresh your resource list, here are a few recommendations. It is that time of year when many professionals take stock of their accomplishments and start planning forward. Sometimes we think about goals and timelines, or about finalizing budgets. This time, I am focused on the professional tools that have helped me grow during the past year. This will help me plan my investment in learning activities for next year.  Here is a quick round-up the places I go for information and inspiration. Continue reading “4 Favorite Learning Strategy Resources”

Learning Strategy & Instructional Design

As I consult with training managers as they design their internal training programs, they often ask about the difference between Learning Strategy and Instructional Design. I usually answer that they include similar skills but are at different points in the continuum of program development.

Continue reading “Learning Strategy & Instructional Design”

3 Questions to Focus Your Learning Strategy

Whiteboard with 1, 2, 3When designing a workplace learning strategy, focus on how learners will use their new knowledge or skills. Consider what learners will do on the job once they have completed the course, workshop or training meeting. Start your strategy with just 3 questions.

Continue reading “3 Questions to Focus Your Learning Strategy”

5 Creative Ways to Engage Emotions

Emotionally compelling events promote learning – and they’re memorable. Yet, many of us involved in workplace learning must focus on helping people gain the factual knowledge and technical skills needed to do their jobs.

There is a third com1496936ponent we must consider – our learners’ underlying attitudes and beliefs. And helping shift attitudes is often done with emotional persuasion and experiences.

Continue reading “5 Creative Ways to Engage Emotions”

Use Questions to Deepen the Learning

Recently, as I was designing role play activities for a training session, a sales manager told me that he discouraged his team from asking questions during large group sessions. He believed that any questions from his team would reflect badly on his role as a manager. This made me think about the role of questions and reflection as part of the learning process. How can we encourage the participants’ questions as a natural extension, even expectation, of workplace learning?

Curiosity is how we started learning naturally.

Man asking question

As children, we start learning by asking questions. We make sense of our world by asking where the wind comes from, why the sky is blue, how birds fly and why a clock is divided into 12 sections. But, as adults, we believe that asking questions demonstrates to others that we don’t know what we’re doing. To maintain our façade of proficiency, we avoid asking questions.

Continue reading “Use Questions to Deepen the Learning”

Design with Learner Profiles in Mind

Image of produce scaleWhen designing a training program, there is an art to balancing how to meet business objectives while also accounting for learners’ needs for specific knowledge and skills. Very often, learning and development professionals think carefully about what learners must be able to do as a result of training, and how this impacts the organization’s goals. It is equally important to be thinking about the individual learners and what they are bringing to the learning event. Keeping a particular learner profile in mind can be an effective way to design so that the training and assessment activities align with the typical learner’s experience and needs.

Continue reading “Design with Learner Profiles in Mind”

My Summer Learning Adventures

Okay, it’s not quite back-to-school time and no one assigned this essay. But I thought it was worth sharing my continued passion for the current learning evolution.

This summer, instead of picking up bestsellers and beach reads, I have decided to spend my extra free time testing out some new ways to learn. As I have said before, it is critical for learning and development folks to try out the evolving forms of learning in order to help others do the same. So here I am sharing my recent experiences with the hope of inspiring others.

This is a quick review of my mini learning adventures so far:

I downloaded Blinkist, a reading subscription app. Like many people, I love to read, but I never have enough time to tackle all the reading I want to do. icon of book and audio sound I keep a running list of books I hope to read (currently numbering over 350 to be read [TBR]) in the areas of fiction, nonfiction, poetry. The Blinkist app offers short text and audio (up to 15 minutes) summaries of nonfiction books. Continue reading “My Summer Learning Adventures”

Learner Engagement: Is it Always Good?

Woman and man playing ping pongLearner engagement is an aspiration of many training program planners. There is an emphasis on finding ways to have learners feel comfortable, have fun or even compete with each other. But does engagement always improve the learning? The answer is no.

“Engagement” Gone Awry

A few years ago, I attended a creative writing workshop. On a rainy Saturday, over 50 of us sat in a cramped room really meant for 35. Not a good start to the day, but I was hopeful. After all, I was looking forward to hearing 2 well-known speakers and meeting other writers over a networking lunch. The program started 15 minutes late, and then the host asked every person in the room to introduce themselves, including their hometown and writing genre. Nearly 1 hour went by and the introductions meandered on…The speakers looked impatient, the other participants looked bored, and I looked longingly at my now-irrelevant agenda.

Of course, the purpose of the activity was to help us all become comfortable in a room full of strangers. Perhaps this could have been done in a much more meaningful, and time-sensitive, way.

Continue reading “Learner Engagement: Is it Always Good?”