A Lesson in Gamification from Car2Go

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I was in a hurry to get home the other day and the bus wasn’t going to get me there in time, so I hopped in a Car2Go (if you’re not familiar with Car2Go, it’s a pretty ingenious way to get around town without having to own your own car; check it out here).

As I sped home in the little Smart Car, I noticed what seemed like a warning light. I pressed on the touch screen display and up popped a message, something along these lines: “you need to drive better.” Apparently I wasn’t driving in a very fuel efficient manner. Then, on the touch screen display, this image popped up:

Gamification 1

My initial thought was: What the hell? I’m just trying to get home. It’s rush hour. I’m driving in city traffic. Seattle is full of hills. And drivers who don’t go when a light turns green (nor do they honk). How am I supposed to drive in a more fuel efficient manner?

And then I took a closer look. Those trees did look pretty sad. And who wants a monitor displaying grey rain clouds? And what were those numbers? What was the highest score? 50? 100? Guess there’s only one way to find out. So I started pressing a little lighter on the gas pedal when I accelerated. When I was cruising I stopped pressing the gas pedal when I was going down a hill. I eased into traffic stoppages and stop lights a little more gently.

I noticed that the forest started looking a bit healthier. A cloud even went away. And those clouds that remained had turned white. Who doesn’t like a few white, puffy clouds in the sky?

Gamification 2

What lessons can learning & development professionals take from this?

As I drove, there were no detailed instructions. There was no carrot nor was there a stick. Nobody at Car2Go would ever yell at me (nor would they ever reward me) for my driving habits. There was barely any message given to me at all, yet my fuel efficient driving apparently improved. It tapped into my curiosity (hmmmm, how do I get these numbers to go up? How do I make the trees get bigger? Wait, the clouds turn different colors? And if my score gets high enough, the clouds go away? Well then, what happens if I ease off the gas pedal a little more? What happens if I ease into slowing down and stopping a bit more?). It tapped into my competitive nature (just how high can I get those numbers?). It tapped into my playful nature (all right, there are some electronic images of trees… how can I get them bigger and healthier?).

Whether elearning or in-person, do we need detailed instructions? Is there a way to tap into our learners’ inner curiosity? Their innate sense of play and competitiveness? Is there a more fun and simple way to motivate our learners?

If the car sharing service Car2Go can do it, why can’t instructional designers and learning and development professionals?

Do You Give Your Audience Too Much Of A Good Thing?

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On Saturday, we stopped for ice cream on the way home from a family hike. This is what they brought my son:

Too Much Of A Good Thing

I’m sure the person in the kitchen thought she was doing her customer a favor. Who doesn’t want a LOT of ice cream, topped by even more whipped cream, when they order a treat? I’m sure she was thinking: I want to make sure my customer is getting his money’s worth!

Do you ever feel the need to do this with your audience? You only have 15 or 30 minutes and your topic is really important, so you’re going to be sure your audience gets its money’s worth. You’re going to load your presentation full of facts and figures – all stuff that you obviously feel is both essential and interesting – to make sure your audience leaves full and satisfied.

What’s that, someone suggests? Cut down on some of your content and identify the one or two most important points? Ha! That’s insanity. It’s ALL important.

The problem with this line of thought is that if it’s all important, then nothing is truly a priority. Look at that ice cream cone in the picture. My son stopped after a couple of minutes because it was too overwhelming to him. He certainly tried, but after a while it didn’t even taste good to him. In fact, it took three family members to put that ice cream cone down.

When it comes to presentation design, it’s essential to separate the “must have” information from the “nice to have” information. As Shannon Tipton has written in her excellent Learning Rebels blog, “people don’t need to know how to build a watch in order to tell time.”

The next time you’re getting ready for a presentation, make sure you identify the #1 essential thing that people need to know when they walk out the door. Putting too much content into your next presentation because you find the topic interesting can be intimidating and overwhelming to your audience. And they may decide that your presentation isn’t worth the calories.

 

 

Want to Improve Your Articulate Storyline Skills? Try These 5 Tips.

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Articulate Storyline may be the greatest thing to sweep through the learning and development field since the creation of the action-oriented, learner-centered objective. Why? It’s insanely intuitive to use, and the Elearning Heroes online community is a place where you can instantly learn how to do anything you ever wanted to do in an elearning environment.

If you’re using Storyline and haven’t been taking advantage of the Elearning Heroes online community, here are five reasons to start:

  1. Adding and displaying a learner’s name throughout your module. Want to have a learner input text – whether it’s their name or some other text – and then have that same text come up later in the module? Nicole Legault’s handy tip walks you through an easy way to set this up.
  2. Create custom characters for your elearning. Sick of looking through free image sites and not finding exactly what you’re looking for? This post from Tom Kuhlman walks you through the steps it’ll take to help any non-graphic designer modify existing clip art images to create custom characters.
  3. What are other people working on? Every week, David Anderson posts an “Elearning Challenge”, asking Articulate Storyline users from around the world to come up with creative ideas or share work samples around a common instructional design theme. This is a fun way to put your own skills to the test, and to see what kinds of amazingly creative ideas other Storyline users can come up with. What is perhaps the most stunning thing about this particular series of posts is that many of the people who take on these weekly challenges will gladly share their source files.
  4. Free Assets! Looking for free clip art, images, fonts and other visual assets? Create an account on the Elearning Heroes site and you get access to lots and lots of free assets and templates.
  5. Share your module without uploading it to an LMS. Want to have other people check out your latest elearning module or preview your most recent creation without having it go live on your LMS? Mike Taylor walks you through the several simple steps you need to take in order to upload a course to Google Drive.

There are a lot of other tips, tricks and tools that are available – FREE – through the Articulate community. If Articulate Storyline is your thing, check it out.

Want to see Storyline in use? Check out this post which includes an elearning demo which allows you to solve “The Crime of the Century” and identify which meeting facilitator(s) could have been responsible for boring an audience member to death.

Know someone using Storyline? Be sure to pass this along.

“Is didactic really all that bad?”

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Last week I was reviewing some lesson plans with a colleague. At one point he stopped and asked: “Why do we need all these activities? Is simply doing 15 minutes of didactic learning all that bad?”

I don’t remember exactly what happened next. Some type of argument or a scuffle or maybe a brilliant defense of all that is good and holy about adult learning principles. When cooler heads prevailed, we found ourselves reminiscing of our own training experiences around this particular topic. We’d seen these concepts in training sessions or in practice many times, yet neither of us was a master of this topic. In fact, neither of us really knew much at all about this topic (thank God we have a bunch of really smart SMEs to lean on!).

In the moment, training participants will probably take well-designed, interactive, engaging content over didactic lecture and PowerPoint slides any day. But long term? None of this matters – didactic or interactive – if there is no follow up. Either way, people will forget most of what they’ve “learned” before their heads hit their pillows that same night.

I still say: yes, didactic really is all that bad. Even phenomenal speakers (think TED talks) may put on a good show, but three weeks later what do you still remember? Of course, the same can be said of well-designed, interactive sessions: what do you still remember three weeks later?

In the end, if you want people to be able to do something new or differently or better, and you don’t design follow-up activities to build upon what they’ve learned in the classroom, you’d probably be better off not doing the training in the first place. Chances are, they won’t remember it anyways.

Where’s the Training in “How to Train Your Dragon 2”?!

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Last weekend, we took a family outing to the movie theater. I can’t tell you how excited I was to see a movie about training.

Side note: If Hollywood was smart, they’d make more movies about training. Can you imagine the crowds lining up after seeing a movie trailer that went something to this effect: “In a world where everyone was subjected to lecture, one man chose to take a stand. Where others left masses of boredom in their wake, he rose up from humble beginnings to lead a revolution. Adventure. Romance. Engagement. Valuing others’ experiences. Task vs process maintenance. Coming this Thanksgiving, you’re invited to come along for the adventure of a lifetime.” I’d cast Vinnie Chase as the young, sometimes naïve, rogue, rebellious learning professional. But I’ve totally digressed.

Last weekend, my family saw How to Train Your Dragon 2. The adventure and plot twists and drama and intensity and pace were all great, yet I walked away feeling a bit cheated. Empty. As we left the theater, I turned to my 7-year-old daughter and asked: “Where was the training?!” She said there wasn’t any, and skipped away.

How could she be so nonchalant?! How could she not care?! What kind of parent am I? Raising a child who doesn’t even care if the title of the movie matches up with the plot?? (To my son’s credit, he ate a whole bag of Skittles then promptly fell asleep. I’m assuming this was because he, too, was on the lookout for training and when he didn’t see any, he decided to cut his losses.)

I couldn’t let it go. It invaded my dreams on Sunday night.

I dreamt I was in the theater. It all seemed so real. My family next to me. Other movie patrons. The credits rolled. I stood up and yelled: “WHERE WAS THE TRAINING?! I CAME HERE TO SEE A MOVIE ABOUT TRAINING! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO WRITE A BLOG POST ABOUT TRANSFERABLE LESSONS THAT I CAN TAKE FROM DRAGON TRAINING AND APPLY IN THE CORPORATE WORLD?!”

And then Hiccup, the hero of the movie, peered out from behind the scrolling credits and, in his calm, rational way of being, simply said: “Sir, what do you mean ‘where was the training’? It was everywhere.”

For some reason, in my dream, I didn’t think it was weird that the movie character was talking with me. I did, however, found his argument flawed. “But there was no classroom. No flipchart. Jeez, you didn’t even have PowerPoint. Or Mr. Sketch markers. Hiccup, you’re a nice guy. But you’re young. And naïve. You need some structure if you’re going to call it ‘training’.”

“I suppose it all depends on your definition of ‘training’ then, doesn’t it?” the young chieftain asked rhetorically. “Look around? Did you see ‘proper training facilities’ anywhere in the set design? No. But more importantly, when we think ‘training’ we think skills development. And that takes place in the context of real life. Our ‘training’ depends on supportive relationships. Teaching others by modeling the behaviors we’d like to see. We treat our dragons with respect. Through our actions, the dragons learn how to behave appropriately around us. You don’t need PowerPoint, or flipchart or a classroom for this type of thing. In fact, I’d argue that PowerPoint or flipchart or a classroom would actually have hindered the way we trained our dragons.”

Then I woke up. They say that different things in your dreams represent different aspects of your life or your psyche. I wonder what this dream could have possibly meant…

Where Does Learning Happen?

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When I facilitate a train-the-trainer event, I ask my participants where learning happens. I’ll get answers such as “in the classroom” or “at the water cooler” or “everywhere.” Sometimes a participant will say: “where there is discomfort.”

When this meme recently made the rounds on LinkedIn, it got me thinking a lot about my training design.

Where Learning Happens

It’s an inspirational image. And it doesn’t tell the whole story. I recently came across this image as well:

Where Learning Happens (2)

I absolutely agree that it’s essential to move learners beyond their comfort zone in order to discover new possibilities, new perspectives and new ways of doing things. However, there can be a fine line between the spot where learning happens and the “panic zone” which can lead to a horrible learning experience.

Effectively moving learners out of their comfort zone while ensuring a positive learning experience requires the following considerations:

  1. Safety and comfort are not the same thing. Safety in a training environment is a must-have. If a learner feels threatened or offended or at risk of humiliation, then her ability to learn will take a back seat to her desire to simply survive the experience. Comfort, on the other hand, is not necessary at all. I know that even I like to be able to sit in a training and listen and not be asked to join in an activity. And while that makes my life easier, I remember very little from those types of training sessions. The fact is that finding ways to engage attendees to participant and be involved in the learning is crucial, and it usually means an element of discomfort.
  2. Choice is essential. Every learner is different and each person will grapple with discomfort in different ways. Some participants love the limelight and relish the opportunity to speak in front of the large group. Others need small group conversations in order to be able to engage and discuss ideas and concepts. An opportunity for learners to choose when, where and how to participate will reduce the amount of “panic” among participants.
  3. So is de-briefing. When learners are pushed outside their comfort zone, mistakes are often made. Or sometimes things just don’t feel right when they’re tried for the first time. This is all ok, and it’s part of the learning experience. But unless the participants have an opportunity to process and think through why a mistake was made or why something didn’t feel right, then it’s just an ikcy experience.

Inconceivable! Presentation Titles Should Be Creative, but Avoid False Advertising

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Conference attendees will judge your presentation by its title, so it’s important to try to stand out. Of course, if your title promises things you don’t deliver, then attendees may just be annoyed.

I was at a conference recently and attended a session entitled: The Impact of Our Profession in Four Vignettes.

Who doesn’t like a good vignette? Wikipedia says a vignette is a short scene that focuses on a particular moment or gives some insight into a character or situation. However, when the presentation took shape, it was simply three short presentations and a panel discussion.

I felt cheated.

When you’re giving your presentation a title, I think it’s important that you are creative, but don’t go around plugging buzz words into your title, especially if you use those buzz words incorrectly. You’ll just end up looking as silly as Vizzini in The Princess Bride:

Presentation Lessons from A Small Town 4th of July Celebration

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I spent the Fourth of July on Bainbridge Island, which is a short ferry ride away from Seattle. They do a great job of putting together an event that an entire community can enjoy: a 5k run, kids activities, booths with food and crafts and political parties giving out bumper stickers and funnel cakes (not sure these fall into the “food” category, but they are sooooo good), and of course a parade.

Looking around this year, I noticed some things that really seemed to get people engaged in the activities. Not just attending, but truly engaged! And when I see people who are riveted by what they’re seeing, I begin searching for transferable lessons that can be applied to the presentation world.

Here are three transferable lessons from the 4th of July to which every presenter should take note:

1. From a Punch & Judy Puppet Show: The children’s entertainment this year (a puppet show) was surprisingly entertaining. And the entire crowd – kids and parents alike – was into it. Perhaps they were captivated by the terrible, fake English accent of the puppeteer, but I think it had more to do with the fact that every couple of minutes, the puppets would ask the audience a question. And the audience shouted the answer back, waiting on the edge of their lawn blankets for the next time they’d be asked to participate. Transferrable Lesson: People of every age love to have an opportunity to participate.

 

2. From the Dunking Booth: Judging by the size of the line – both of participants and spectators – one of the most popular activities was the dunking booth. People paid a couple bucks to throw three baseballs at a target in hopes of dunking somebody in water. And people happily parted with their money in order to try to dunk someone in water. Sometimes when they missed the target on all three of their throws, they’d plunk down a few more bucks to have another opportunity to “win” (hit the target and dunk someone). Transferrable Lesson: People love to play. Find an opportunity for them to play with your content.

3. From the 4th of July Parade: Kids love a parade because they have an opportunity to perform a death-defying scramble onto the parade route, narrowly missing disaster from an oncoming fire truck for a chance to grab a jolly rancher that was thrown by the town’s Citizen of the Year. Adults, well, they may not love the parades so much. Looking around, most adults we chatting with one another, or scooping up their children before their scramble for candy screws up the marching band’s rendition of Louie Louie. Until the Shakespearean actors came marching down the parade route. And one actor shouted: “TO BE OR NOT TO BE…” and then he paused and gestured for the crowd to join him. And everyone yelled in response: “THAT IS THE QUESTION!” I don’t remember how many bands or emergency vehicles or community organizations I saw. But I remember the Shakespearean group. Transferrable Lesson: Give the audience an opportunity to participate. It keeps them awake. And they’ll remember it.

My Mid-year Resolution: Using What I’ve Learned

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Thinking about all the stuff you’ve learned – in formal workshops, conferences, meetings, webinars, classes – or perhaps things you’ve read or re-tweeted or blogged about, is there some concept or tool or idea or theory you plan to re-visit and make an effort to incorporate into your daily routine? Even if it was something you picked up a year ago, it’s not too late to re-visit!

In my June 5 blog post, I declared that I would review my notes from presentations and the highlighted parts of books I’ve read and I would return to this space to turn some of the things I’ve learned over the past year into specific actions and habits.

Since the beginning of 2013, I’ve spent more than 60 hours in formal professional development sessions – conferences, webinars, day-long or half-day workshops. I’ve read some or all of 15 books to improve my knowledge base and performance. I’ve read countless blog posts, twitter links and had many conversations with other people in the L&D field. I’ve written over 160 blog posts. I’ve ate, breathed and lived L&D.

I have a lot of notes from all of these experiences. A LOT. While reviewing these notes has given me many, many ideas and reminded me of many cool things I’d like to try on Monday morning when I get to the office, I can’t do everything at once. Between now and the end of the year, I will try to up my game in many areas, but there are two specific things I plan to focus on and incorporate into my personal and professional life as much as possible:

  1. Kegan & Lahey’s Immunity Map. This was first introduced to me during my master’s program in an organizational development class. It is a tool based upon Kegan & Lahey’s change management work and I was reminded of this concept and tool during a recent Immunity to Change workshop I attended.
  2. Using variables in Articulate Storyline. I am truly a sucker for any blog post from Tom Kuhlman or Mike Taylor or David Anderson or Nicole Legault or anyone else related to Articulate. They have lots of tips and tricks and I’ve tried some of them out – sometimes the tips make my elearning projects better. Sometimes I don’t seem to do it correctly and I screw up the whole module. Regardless, one thing that continues to lack in my elearning is the use of variables in allowing learners to lock or unlock various elements on the screen before they can proceed to the next item. Before I learn any more tips or tricks with Storyline, I commit to learning how to better use variables in order to make the learner experience better or more challenging (or both).

Please forgive me if you see fewer tweets or re-tweets or comments about new things I’m reading over the next few weeks and months. I’ll be focused on bringing some specific new skills and habits into my daily routine.

Train Like A Champion will not have its usual Thursday post this week. I’ll be immunity mapping or learning how to use variables (or maybe I’ll just be getting ready for the 4th of July). We’ll see you back here on Monday, July 7.

Visual Representations: A New Twist (literally) on the 2×2 Matrix

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I’ve heard that in the consulting world, every single problem can be solved with a 2×2 matrix. I’ve seen a lot of 2×2 matrices in my time, and I’ve discovered that the secret is to always be in the upper right quadrant.

2x2 Generic

When it comes to Stephen Covey’s 2×2 time management matrix, make sure you’re spending your time in the upper right quadrant.

2x2 Covey

When it comes to whether you’ll actually do anything with this blog post, I want you to be in the upper right quadrant.

2x2 Skill Transfer

The upper right quadrant is where the two “high’s” intersect: the high on the vertical axis and the high on the horizontal axis.

Sometimes, however, a facilitator will try to persuade me that “no single group in this 2×2 matrix is better than any other group.” On some subconscious level, I always feel the facilitator is lying when I hear that. I’ve simply been trained to accept the upper right quadrant as the optimal state of existence.

Last week, I attended a session on how stakeholder management is integral to change. It was facilitated by Michelle Miller, a designer-turned-organizational development professional. She offered a unique twist on the old 2×2 matrix. Literally. She decided to twist the matrix about 45 degrees, and put it into a circle instead of a square. She wanted to represent that there was a relationship among adjoining quadrants, but that no specific quadrant was superior to any other.

And I believed her.

2x2 Twist

The traditional 2×2 matrix has been touting the upper right quadrant as superior since the first consultant took out a stick and wrote four options in the dirt.

2x2 Cave Man

The next time you want to use a visual representation to illustrate a concept that includes four options, none of which are better than any of the others, don’t confuse your audience by plugging those options into a traditional 2×2 matrix.

Just give it a little twist.

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