In search of: The greatest instructional designer in North America

In 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton set out on the ship Endurance with a mission to be the first to cross the Antarctic continent on foot. It was an journey that nobody in human history had ever accomplished, and with good reason. It was hard.

In order to recruit a crew full of people he felt would give him the best shot at success, legend has it that he placed this ad in a newspaper:

Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”

Shackleton’s Antarctic adventure became one of the most amazing true-life stories of exploration and survival ever told.

In this spirit, I joined with my friend and fellow learning geek, Tim Waxenfelter, several years ago to create an organization called Endurance Learning. Our vision is that every presentation given will be engaging and lead to change.

We’re now in search of someone else who’s like-minded and interested in embarking on perhaps one of the most ground-breaking adventures in the history of professional learning and development.

Here’s our ad:

Help Wanted

Is it possible that our ship will get stuck in the ice, leaving us cold and lonely at the bottom of the world? Yep.

Of course, it’s also possible that if we’re successful they’ll be writing books about us and featuring our journey in IMAX movies.

Want to change the way presentations are done? Send us a note.

Finding Instructional Design Inspiration and Creativity from Unlikely Places

Inspiration

Walking through a lava field in Hawaii a few years ago, I turned to my wife and told her that this was such an inspirational experience… I was getting all sorts of ideas of how to connect this amazing hike with my learning and development projects. She shook her head and told me I had a one track mind.

Are some people naturally more creative than others? Perhaps. But I think like most other things, creativity is a skill set that can be developed over time for anyone who is interested in making their training programs more interesting, engaging, fun, unique and memorable.

If you’re truly interested in building your creative muscle, here are five exercises that might help.

1. Stop and look around. Seriously, stop whatever it is that you’re doing right now Continue reading

8 training-related resources that might help with your next presentation

Antioch - Explaining Slide

Earlier this month I had an opportunity to co-facilitate a webinar in the Early Childhood Investigations webinar series. During the session, I mentioned several resources that presenters may find handy as they prepare for their next presentation.

Every time I mentioned one of these resources, participants would send a chat asking for a link to the resource. My colleague, Tim Waxenfelter, set up a page with links to each of these resources.

If you’re interested in any of these resources, here is a little more information about each one:   Continue reading

“Time can only be spent… it can’t be saved for later.”

This quote has been bouncing around in my head ever since I read these words in a letter that my father sent to me while I was in the Peace Corps. I must have written to him and alluded to the idea that I was already counting down the number of days I had left before I could come home… and this was after only about 3 months had been completed of my 24 month service.

It changed how I look at any project that I’m working on.

I’m reminded of my father’s words every day when I drive by a neighbor’s house:

Countdown

Like much of the country, they’re counting down the days until the Trump presidency finally ends. Every once in a while, I wonder if my learners ever feel the same way during a training session.  Continue reading

An elearning and in-person facilitation lesson from my interaction with a drug dealer

Drug-free Zone

“Come back here after the sun goes down and we’ll see how brave you are then.”

I’m pretty sure that was the first and only time someone’s made a sincere threat on my life. As I reflect on the mistake I made that led to the above quote, I think that L&D professionals make the same mistake in their instructional design and facilitation every day.   Continue reading

L&D Professionals Need to Work Hard, Play Hard

Road trip to Cheyenne

Spend 5 hours working on my laptop at the airport before flying home, or take a quick road trip to a state I’ve never visited? Even with deadlines looming, it was a no-brainer.

Last week I was in Colorado to observe the pilot phase of a new training module. I had a travel day followed by a 17-hour workday and then up early the next day for the actual presentation.

I’ve had a lot of projects to work on lately, which is a great thing, but it’s also led to a lot of long days without much rest. As I was digging through my computer bag during this recent trip, sifting through a tangled mess of power cords in a frantic search for the right one, I came across a card that a colleague had given to me on the last day of my previous job.

This colleague said that some of the most important lessons I taught her were some of the day-to-day things. These day-to-day lessons included: never eating lunch at your desk, sometimes you have to take the time to watch a full-length movie during work hours (and then be inspired to turn that experience into something groundbreakingly amazing), and we should put plenty of weight on the “fun” factor as a way of increasing quality.   Continue reading

Well-designed training has something for a range of experience levels

Evolution

A guiding principle for good instructional design is to be sure that you know your audience and design something that meets their specific needs.

If you know that your audience is relatively inexperienced, then you need to make sure the basics are covered. If your audience is quite tenured, then advanced skill building would be in order.

What happens when you’re not quite sure who is planning to show up (for example, when you have to design for a conference session)? What happens when you’re told that your audience will have a broad range of experiences?   Continue reading