Yikes!! I did a quick search online for video release forms and found that they were poorly written, mired in legalese, and too one-sided. So, I did what any good instructional designer would do, I wrote my own.

I am NOT a lawyer, NOR do I assume that identity on my blog, SO YOU SHOULD check with a lawyer first before borrowing from my attempt (or using it as is).

Still, I'd like to know what you think. Especially if you're a lawyer who specializes in this sort of thing. If you're not a lawyer, but know one, send it to them to get their input.

Here's the document. Download BetterReleaseForm_w1

What do you think?

Are you an independent consultant or contractor in the workplace learning-and-performance field?

Worried about the economy or energized by it?

There is a lot of anecdotal worry that the economy is hitting the training-and-development field hard, perhaps especially so for independent consultants and contractors.

I decided we ought to gather our own data to see what's really going on.

If you're an independent in our field, take my survey at the link below.

In addition to getting a snapshot of the current situation, the survey will help us look at how 2009 is shaping up, and share strategies we independents are employing to survive/thrive.

I'm also asking whether independents might be interested in forming a group for mutual benefit.

PASS THIS ON TO ALL THE INDEPENDENTS YOU KNOW

PLEASE PASS THE SURVEY URL TO YOUR NETWORK.

Please let
people know about this so we get as wide an audience as possible.
Consider notifying people at both the center and periphery of your
social network so that we get a wider cross section of respondents.
Please also send notifications spread out over time so that we widen
our net as well. I will keep the survey open for two weeks or so (or
longer if responses are still rushing in).

Here is the link to send to others:

http://tinyurl.com/c6pjl9

1. Send to your independent colleagues.
2. Post in groups you belong to.
3. Send to your social-network friends.
4. Post on your blog, twitter, etc.
5. Send to your email newsletter.

Robert Gagne's 1st event of instruction was "Gain Attention." Michael Allen's company, Allen Interactions, has been saying for years, "No More Boring e-Learning." We've all heard the stories of how often e-learning turns learners off. And yet, there is still a whole lot of boring e-learning out there.

An article from the eLearning Guild helps us avoid the trap, specifically by helping us start our learning interventions in ways that grab attention. Paul Clothier interviews Carmen Taran, author of the book Better Beginnings.

Dan Balzer and Susan Manning offer an excellent Podcast on the topic. You can find the link to the Guild article at their web page as well.

Nicholas Kristoff, Op-Ed Columnist for the New York Times has a problem. He wants to tell people about the genocide in Darfur but people tune out after a while.

Click here to see his latest attempt to keep our attention.

Click here to see his recent work on this topic with George Clooney.

Advice for Learning Professionals

As a learning professional, have you ever utilized "celebrity" to grab your learners' attention? I'm not necessarily talking about movie stars. What about a well-respected person in your company? Your CEO?

Of course, it's not always easy to get this right, but it's a tool we ought to have in our toolbox.

By the way, which link did you click first above? They're both the same…

Since 1998 when I started Work-Learning Research, I've been trying to spread the word about research-based principles of learning. I naively thought that good information would resonate so much that it would change practices industry wide.

I've largely failed in that endeavor up to this point.

That's okay. I've learned a simple truth about influencing others. It's hard.

Take two recent examples outside the learning field. Antibacterial soap and vitamins. It has been widely reported for about five years or so that using antibacterial soap is generally counterproductive. It has also been reported over the last two years or so that taking vitamins may produce no benefits and in some cases can be harmful (see today's article on vitamins).

I've sent many articles on these topics to my family and close friends. Many people just can't incorporate the new information into their old mindsets. We've learned for so long that germs are bad and vitamins are good that we think from those points of view. New information is deflected before it can become part of our new thinking.

As learning professionals, we know that "Telling Ain't Training" and "Training Ain't Performance" (thanks Harold), but we often forget that long-held views are not easily overcome. We need to be more careful and more energetic in confronting them. It's not our learners' fault when they don't make the turn. We have to make it our fault. We have to take responsibility.

Generation Y, millennials, iPod Generation, better at multitasking then their elders. Yadda yadda yadda.

You've heard it all before, but is it true?

No. Probably not.

Read this great article in the Monitor on Psychology by Rebecca A. Clay.

It says:

  1. People in general are not good at multitasking.
  2. Young people are no better than their elders at multitasking.
  3. Multitasking actually takes longer. It is NOT a time saver.
  4. Learning done while multitasking is shallower learning, leading not to deep understanding (and flexible mental models) but only to an ability to regurgitate rote information.

Although I recommend the article, I do worry that some of its conclusions are drawn from too small a research base and may encompass a slight bias against the new media revolution. Still, I think we need to read these warnings because too many in our field don't see any downside to the new technologies.

Google has a nice blog post out on its use of eye movement research.

I remember getting a tour of Fidelity a few years ago and learning that their eye movement studies on web browsing showed that people were beginning to ignore big dark chunks of graphics because they thought they were advertisements.

My dissertation advisor, Ernie Rothkopf did a classic study (with Billington) in 1979 using eye movement data to test whether learners actually paid more attention (had more and higher-quality eye movements) toward information in the learning material that was targeted by learning objectives than to information that was not so targeted. It turned out that learning objectives worked to boost learning because they prompted learners to pay more attention to the objective-relevant material and less attention to the rest of the information.

See: Rothkopf, E. Z., & Billington, M. J. (1979). Goal-guided learning from text: Inferring a descriptive processing model from inspection times and eye movements. Journal of Educational Psychology, 71, 310-327.

To answer the question I posed above. Yes, more of us should be using eye-movement research to support us as we do e-learning design.

And by the way, as web pages change their strategies to gain our attention, our learners may change their strategies to avoid things deemed irrelevant. Moreover, as our learners see more and more of our company’s e-learning, their eyes may learn where to go…In fact, a lot of them already have a well-learned capacity to find the NEXT key through a swarm of bees.

Skype 4.0 is here and it's worth getting. So says David Pogue: http://tinyurl.com/d45o6w.

If you don't know what Skype is, try it. It's FREE. It will let you connect with people over the internet in visual phone calls. Don't forget to dress.

One of the biggest gaps in the learning-and-performance
field occurs after the training is done. Learners fail to apply what they’ve
learned and their managers fail to support training implementation.
Fortunately, the Fort Hill gang writes again. Where their blockbuster book, The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning,
laid out a comprehensive process for getting training results, their new book (Getting Your Money’s Worth from Training and
Development
) provides a call-to-action for training’s most important
players. Using the brilliantly diabolical approach of dividing the book in
half—one half for learners, the other for managers—Jefferson, Pollock, and Wick
provide an energizing action-plan to help organizations maximize training’s
impact on job performance.

I’m so impressed with the Fort Hill guys. It seems that they
(1) have looked deeply at the training-and-development trade, (2) found an area
where time and time again we fail to do what’s right, and (3) written the
perfect book to ensure that training maximizes business results. Too often in
today’s organizations, training is seen as magic pill that works without alignment
and support. In this double-dose of a book, Jefferson, Pollock, and Wick
explode that myth, helping both learners and their managers bring potency to
the training effort.

The design of the book tells the story itself. Managers read
from one cover while learners read from the other cover. The book’s title stays
the same—Getting Your Money’s Worth from
Training and Development
—but the subtitles change for the two audiences (i.
e., A Guide to Breakthrough Learning for Managers; A Guide to Breakthrough
Learning for Participants.
). Only
in partnership is training truly effective. The symbolism speaks loudly, but so
too does the content, showing how both learners and their managers can work
together to ensure that training transfers to on-the-job performance
improvement.

The book is written in a conversational style. It speaks
directly to the audiences in terms that will resonate. No motherhood and apple
pie in the Fort Hill world. It’s all about results, wiifm’s, and tools. The
example worksheets in the back of each book (remember it’s two books in one)
are worth the cover price.

I recommend this book with the greatest enthusiasm. Companies
ought to buy two copies for every training participant. One for the participant
and one for his/her manager.

You can click the link below to learn more about the book (and go directly to Amazon to decide whether to purchase it).