Tuesday, October 22, 2019

L&D As the Invisible Glue

I often think about what constitutes good design especially in embarrassing situations where I try to push a door open when I was actually supposed to pull it. Ironically, in some other situations, I don't think about design at all for example, when squeezing ketchup using the upside-down bottle; it seems so natural that I don't pause for a second! We tend to notice poor designs but more often than not, good designs are unnoticed because they are intuitive or invisible and although we experience them, we don't notice them.

In the early 1980s, Dieter Rams shared the 10 Principles of Good Design. The last principle of good design is, "Good design is as little design as possible." What this means is that good design doesn't need bells or whistles to draw attention to itself. It allows users to engage with the product or service easily and effectively without being a distraction.

How does this idea fit into the design of learning/training experiences?

An article by Josh Bersin in 2016, shared how the learning function has become invisible where, he discusses how "Invisible learning leaders focus more on curation and context, building an always-on learning environment, and becoming experts at embedding learning into work."

In the article,"The Invisible L&D", Dani Johnson defines this idea as An L&D approach to developing the workforce by enabling and assisting learning throughout the organization, wherever and whenever it happens.

In his post, Emmet Connolly, talks about different levels of invisible design. In his categorization of these levels, "Product invisibility is the most dramatic shift towards invisible design, where complete products or entire categories have moved from demanding notice to being automatic." Emmet talks about how "there are more and more products and services that strive to invisibly integrate themselves into our lives in a helpful, human-centered way."

Perhaps, as L&D, we need to strive for this highest level of invisibility where we act as the invisible glue that seamlessly integrates learning into the lives of those we serve. As this invisible glue, we need to:

While we may appear to be invisible as L&D, our work and how that positively impacts the life and work of those it serves must be very visible. 

Photo by: Taruna Goel

Thursday, September 12, 2019

My Top 10 Learning Tools - 2019

It is that time of the year when Jane Hart (http://c4lpt.co.uk/) polls learning professionals around the world to weigh in on their top 10 learning tools. Here are my Top 10 Learning Tools for 2019 (in no particular order):

  1. Google Search - If I have a question, Google always has an answer.

  2. Twitter but more specifically Tweetdeck - This is the first social media app that I launch on my computer. I use it for both personal and professional learning and especially like the 'lists' feature to view and participate in a variety of 'streams of conversations'.

  3. LinkedIn Articles - I have enjoyed cross posting my blog posts to LinkedIn and found a different type of audience. I have also noticed that people find it easier to comment on Linkedin posts rather than on blog posts and that creates an opportunity for conversations that are more meaningful.

  4. Microsoft Word - I do all my professional work using Microsoft Word and can almost forget about this tool since it has become seamless with my work.

  5. Dropbox - I rely on this tool for working in the cloud, collaborating with clients and teams, for synchronizing my work across various computers/laptops. I have recently started to use this tool to share documents and pictures with my family. Everyone seems to be on board!

  6. Podcasts - I love all kinds of podcasts but have added several learning/training/human performance-related podcasts to my list in the past year. I like the flexibility of listening to podcasts while walking or taking the transit and it often sparks an idea or two for my own blog posts.

  7. Meetup - I have been using this app increasingly over the last year and enjoy developing personal and professional relationships with people in my local community - within and outside my area of work.

  8. Instagram - I use this tool for personal learning around my hobbies and interests including photography, makeup and cooking! I enjoy watching 'stories' and find it easier to respond to stories and make connections with people.

  9. WhatsApp - This is my go-to tool to stay connected with my family but recently, I have joined both professional and personal neworking Whatsapp groups and have found it to be valuable to plan one-on-one meetings with interesting people that I discovered through the group chats.

  10. Slack - In the past year, I found myself using Slack for personal learning. However, I found it challenging to keep up with too many Slack groups that are created post a meetup or a workshop or a course for a follow-up discussion but then no one ever posts anything! On the other extreme, in other Slack groups, members continue to post 'Fwds' and their professional bios for job prospecting. I can see the value of the tool so I am still trying to find my way through the world of Slack for personal learning.
Other notable mentions: 

Blogger - My blog resides in Blogger so it is a critical tool for me that offers me a platform to reflect and share. However, I tend to write long (aka reflective, thoughtful) posts and only post once a month so my frequency of using this tool is low.

YouTube - This is my 'how to' tool. I use it for microlearning when troubleshooting tasks both professional and personal and to learn more about product reviews mostly involving technology products such as laptops and iPhones! 

What are your Top 10 Tools for Learning? Please share them in the survey here. The Top Tools for Learning 2019 survey will close on Friday 13 September. Results will be released 8 am GMT, Wednesday 25 September 2019.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The What, How and Why of Multiple-Choice Assessment Questions

I am currently participating in a 3-Week Course by Patti Shank on how to "Write Learning Assessments" focusing on writing multiple choice questions (MCQs) that are valid and reliable. The course has a great group of people who have lots of insights to share! If you don't already know or follow Patti, you need to change that right now! She is a workplace-learning expert, instructional designer, researcher, and author who shares evidence-based practices that promote deeper learning. 

During Week 1 of the course, one of the things that came up in the group discussion was how to distinguish between lower-level assessment questions and higher-level assessment questions as they map to lower-level and higher-level cognitive skills.

Now, I have written my fair share of MCQs! In my current work, I lead and facilitate competence development projects, which includes designing competency-based assessment exams for trades/ apprenticeship programs. I work across many sectors and have developed assessment/certification exams for Power line Technicians, Residential Construction Workers, Shipbuilding Workers, Saw Filers, Hairstylists, Servers, etc. Currently, I am working on a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) assessment pathway for Early Childhood Educators. Across all of these projects, I may have written well over 2000 provincial certification exam questions (summative assessments) and reviewed more than 10,000 questions written by technical writers.

A quick way that I use to distinguish between a lower-level and a higher-level assessment question is to look at whether it is a what, how or why question.

  • A "what" question will typically ask to recall, identify, define, describe, etc. which are all lower-level learning objectives. It is important to note that "what" questions may be phrased as what, which of the following, when, how much, how frequently, who, where, etc. 
  • A "how" question will tend to focus on step-by-step procedures or steps or phases in a process. For example, how will you do something, what will you do next, how will you apply a principle or a guideline, how will you calculate something, etc.
  • A "why" question will focus on analyzing, problem-solving or troubleshooting-type objectives. For example, justify, compare and contrast, evaluate, categorize or rationalize, etc.
Needless to say, there is more to mapping cognitive learning objective levels to appropriate learning assessment questions. But generally speaking, as we move from "what" to "how" to "why" questions, we are moving from assessing lower-level cognitive skills to higher-level cognitive skills.