The Carbon Offset idea works like this. We all pollute, but when we do so we can help limit the damaging effects by either (1) offsetting our damage by doing good in other ways (for example if we have to drive a large car we can replace all our light bulbs with energy-saving flourescents), or (2) we can donate money to projects that help support renewable energy, energy efficiency, and reforestation. For example, check out the not-for-profit organizations CarbonFund.org and The Clean Air Conservancy.

Here’s some ideas for those of us in the training and development field:

  1. Encourage the use of e-learning, which limits the carbon footprint of travel. And, make sure you build e-learning that is effective and engaging, so more folks will want to use e-learning.
  2. When calculating the "cost" of training, calculate carbon footprint costs as well. See for example, The Carbon Fund’s calculators or The Clean Air Conservancy’s calculators. Make these costs evident.
  3. Encourage your company to buy carbon offsets when utilizing training. It’s not just a good thing to do, but it may help your company attract business and recruit highly-educated employees.
  4. In your e-learning courses, provide an option for learners to calculate how many tons of carbon dioxide they would have utilized had they had to travel from their location to headquarters.

What other ideas can you think of?

Suppose you need to hire someone on a contract basis in the learning-and-performance field? Or maybe you’re on the other end of the transaction—you have your own business and need to find work?

Do you have to rely on your personal network alone? Can the big job boards help? Do our trade organizations’ job board’s have enough focus on contractors? Is there any way to know what people and organizations are good?

Recently, I’ve come across two organizations that may help, Learning Gurus and Clarity Consultants. This is how they described themselves to me:

Learning Gurus, Inc.

Learning Gurus connects Workplace Learning Professionals with companies that need them. We provide short-term contractors and full-time employees who design and develop training and performance solutions for corporate, government and educational institutions.

Our learning gurus are skilled in areas such as:

* Instructional Design & Development
* Facilitation & Instructor Led Training (ILT)
* Performance Analysis & Needs Assessment
* Project Management
* eLearning, Web-Based Training, On-line Learning
* Multimedia/CBT Development
* Graphics Arts
* Technical Writing & Documentation
* Quality Assurance & Evaluation

There is a trend among workplace learning professionals to move around quite a bit! Many in our field change jobs every 2-3 years, and many more are seeking the flexibility and variety that contract/consulting work offers. In the past, we’ve had to rely on our local professional networks, chance meetings with potential employers, and recruiters who, quite frankly, don’t really "get" what we do. On the flip side, very few companies know where to find quality workplace learning professionals, and it’s not uncommon for them to have an open requisition for 3-6 months. Enter Learning Gurus! Learning Gurus connects workplace learning professionals with the companies that are searching for them. Learning Gurus has a nationwide network of workplace learning professionals who are seeking additional contract and employment opportunities. There are no fees to join the network – your hourly rate or salary is marked up by a small percentage, which is paid by the client. Clients love it because they save valuable time by having Learning Gurus find their resource and they know they’re getting a solid, pre-screened  professional. Workplace learning pros love it because they have their own personal sales and marketing department to find leads, negotiate rates, and handle contracts and payroll. Now that’s a Win-Win!

Karen J. Boyle
President
Learning Gurus, Inc.
The Source for Workplace Learning Professionals
www.learninggurus.com
Office: 619.236.0308
karenb@learninggurus.com

Clarity Consultants

With Clarity Consultants, you can reap the expertise of Big 4 consulting — without paying the Big 4 price.  Clarity Consultants represents hourly consultants with expertise in Instructional Design, Project Management, SAP software implementation, training facilitation and specialized consulting.  Our consultants have proven expertise in Software Implementation, New Hire Training, Sales, Customer Service, Leadership, Technical Training, Business Process and Compliance and other areas of organizational development.  If your company has new software to implement, new products to sell or a new process to roll out to employees, Clarity Consultants can help you.  For over 14 years, we’ve provided Fortune 1000 companies with contract training professionals.  For more info, please visit www.clarityconsultants.com

James Lee
Marketing Associate
jlee@clarityconsultants.com
(p) 408.369.6558

Are there other organizations that I’m missing? Let me know.

Elliott Masie asked a question last week in his blog/newsletter. It’s a fun question and because it is accompanied by the promise of food and public spectacle at his upcoming conference, a clever marketing device as well. If nothing else, Elliott’s got a strong stomach for this type of distraction, and he got me thinking.

Here was his question: Cooking and Learning. Are They Similar? Here’s what it made me think of:

How are cooking and learning similar?

Today, most of us don’t have time to do either of them right. We don’t have time to shop for the best ingredients or blend them properly. We take prepackaged crap and call it nutritious. We fall for false advertising, pretty packages, and recommendations from the well-coiffed and well-spoken. We’re suckers for celebrity chefs, even if our neighbors cook a better meal. Most of the food on the store shelves is filled with harmful ingredients. We reach for the latest concoction, not the greatest value. We measure the immediate pleasure and forget the long-term impact. Because we hunger so much to get smiles and kind words at the end of the meal, we’re willing to add butter and salt and whatever else it takes. We definitely wouldn’t think of challenging our guests with brocolli rabe, ostrich patties, or sorbet. We’re fat and happy, and when the meal is done, we think we’ve succeeded in grand fashion. Our guests leave satisfied into the darkness of the slow-moving night. They live under threshold. They die young.

There are lots of celebrity chefs, hash slingers, and short-order cooks. There are very few who can blend nutrition, taste, and world-class quality into a meal.

Come to think of it, learning and cooking have a lot in common.

Postscript: My wife and I once went to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Chef Ming’s Blue Ginger restaurant. We don’t have cable so we didn’t resonate with his celebrity, but we’d heard good things about the restaurant from trusted friends and colleagues.

The result. One Valentine’s Day ruined with food poisoning.

We now refer to Celebrity Chef Ming’s restaurant as the Blue Vomit.

Is this the way it has to happen? Are we in the learning-and-performance field immune?

In today’s New York Times, columnist and economist Paul Krugman details new data that shows that Americans are literally losing stature. Here’s a quote from the article.

The data show that Americans, who in the words of a recent paper by the economic historian John Komlos and Benjamin Lauderdale in Social Science Quarterly, were “tallest in the world between colonial times and the middle of the 20th century,” have now “become shorter (and fatter) than Western and Northern Europeans. In fact, the U.S. population is currently at the bottom end of the height distribution in advanced industrial countries.”

This is not a trivial matter. As the paper says, “height is indicative of how well the human organism thrives in its socioeconomic environment.”

The link to the article is here, but you have to be a subscriber to read it.

How might this relate to those of us in the United State’s learning-and-performance field? Well, mostly this is an interesting tidbit that we have little control over. On the other hand, it might give us pause. After all, if we create learning programs of equal effectiveness to our overseas competitors, but their learners are healthier than our learners, their learners will learn more and perform better in their work. Their companies will have a competitive advantage. We will all die penniless and alone. (Exaggeration).

Krugman reflects on the argument that American’s unhealthy ways might be related the fact that we work too much, and thus don’t have time to exercise and eat right. Is that a hook into our responsibility as learning professionals? Is there anything that we can do to lower the average time our workers are swimming in the ocean of work responsibilities?

Don’t just think content here. Preaching and information are not likely to help that much.

Well, I’m brainstorming here (as I have no idea), we can encourage e-learning to be done on work time, maybe by utilizing more synchronous, and more social interactions. We can realize that learners will forget a large chunk of what we teach, and either cut the forgettable crap out of our courses or demand from our organization and vendors that it be put into performance support. Maybe we can design m-learning interactions that are especially appropriate to be used during exercise. I don’t know how to do this, and it may not be doable, but maybe you can be the one to figure it out. Maybe we can provide truly healthy and delicious food for our training participants.

What else? I don’t know. Do you?

Or do you think it’s outside our influence?

Questioning Strategies for
Audience Response Systems:
How to Use Questions to Maximize
Learning, Engagement, and Satisfaction

by Dr. Will Thalheimer

Introduction

The buzz in the learning industry is focused on e-learning, m-learning, wikis, and blogs; but one of the most powerful learning technologies is being overlooked, probably because it’s an in-the-classroom technology—audience response systems. In this research-to-practice white paper I offer a blueprint for how to use audience response systems to maximize higher-order learning in the classroom and beyond.

What One Reader Wrote to Me

Dr. Thalheimer,

Just wanted to drop you a little note this morning to express my gratitude for your paper "Questioning Strategies for Audience Response Systems: How to Use Questions to Maximize Learning, Engagement, and Satisfaction."

A friend recommended that I read it to prepare for a Higher Order Questioning staff development class that she and I are teaching together (in conjunction with some CPS [audience response] training we’re offering). To tell you the truth, I really wasn’t looking forward to reading it because I expected it to be dry and full of boring I’m-trying-to-sound-snobbily-intellectual writing, but I LOVED it. 🙂

I enjoyed your approachable style and dry sense of humor so much I read all the way through (including the endnotes!) and had many a good laugh along the way. In addition to being a blast to read, the paper challenged and inspired me to find new ways to push my questioning skills to a higher level for the next school year.

Thanks again, for the inspiration and for the great read. I’ll be checking out your website later today and hope to find that equally enjoyable.

Sincerely,

Liz Walhof

Spanish Teacher
Colorado

From the Paper’s Introduction

"Audience response systems have enormous potential for transforming lectures from dry recitals into rich jam sessions of deeply resonant learning. The technology is widely available, but the key to success is not in the technology; it’s in the instruction. To maximize meaningful learning, instructors must become adept in using questioning and discussion techniques. Unfortunately, some of us may come to believe that we can simply sprinkle our lectures with a few multiple-choice questions. This approach is emphatically inadequate, and is simply not worthy of our profession.

This report provides a near-exhaustive list of questioning strategies, and a comprehensive guide on using questions to facilitate classroom learning. No other resource exists that is research-based and comprehensive, while also being practical and useful. It has been designed specifically to provide practical guidance for trainers, teachers, and professors so that their learners—whether they are eight, forty-eight, or eighty years old—can experience deep and meaningful learning."

Special thanks to eInstruction for agreeing to license the paper for distribution to their clients. Such underwriting helps move the audience-response field forward and demonstrates an enlightened commitment to effective learning in classrooms of all types throughout the world. Other underwriting opportunities are available for research on audience-response learning. Contact Dr. Thalheimer with inquiries.

Additional Information

  • Number of Pages: 124
  • Number of Research Citations: 54
  • Publication Date: March 2007
  • Available to you Immediately as downloadable Electronic file (PDF).
  • Purchasing utilizes industry-leading security.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed.
  • Cost: $40.00 (US)

Click here to purchase…

The Learning Show Episode, "Don’t Forget Forgetting," has been available on the web for several months. About 1400 people have accessed the program. In fact, some training departments seem to be sending their whole staff to view it, based on the large numbers from some organizations.

Now, thanks to the initiative and generous contribution of Jim Wright of the Instructional Development and Research department at Thompson Rivers University (TRU), you can get your department or work team involved in an organized effort to utilize these critical learning-design principles.

Check out Jim’s thoughtful accompanying "lesson plan" to Episode 1 of the Learning Show by clicking on the link below.

The document is made available to you, for your personal use, courtesy of Thompson Rivers University.

Download DontForget_LessonPlan.pdf.

Thanks Jim !!!