15th December 2017

Neon Elephant Award Announcement

Dr. Will Thalheimer, President of Work-Learning Research, Inc., announces the winner of the 2017 Neon Elephant Award, given to Patti Shank for writing and publishing two research-to-practice books this year, Write and Organize for Deeper Learning and Practice and Feedback for Deeper Learning—and for her many years advocating for research-based practices in the workplace learning field.

Click here to learn more about the Neon Elephant Award…

 

2017 Award Winner – Patti Shank, PhD

Patti Shank, PhD, is an internationally-recognized learning analyst, writer, and translational researcher in the learning, performance, and talent space. Dr. Shank holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Innovation, Instructional Technology from the University of Colorado, Denver and a Masters degree in Education and Human Development from George Washington University. Since 1996, Patti has been consulting, researching, and writing through her consulting practice, Learning Peaks LLC (pattishank.com). As the best research-to-practice professionals tend to do, Patti has extensive experience as a practitioner, including roles such as training specialist, training supervisor, and manager of training and education. Patti has also played a critical role collaborating with the workplace learning’s most prominent trade associations—working, sometimes quixotically, to encourage the adoption of research-based wisdom for learning.

Patti is the author of numerous books, focusing not only on evidence-based practices, but also on online learning, elearning, and learning assessment. The following are her most recent books:

In addition to her lifetime of work, Patti is honored for the two research-to-practice books she published this year!

Write and Organize for Deeper Learning provides research-based recommendations for instructional designers and others who write instructional text. Writing is fundamental to instructional design, but too often, instructional designers don’t get the guidance they need. As I wrote for the back cover of the book, “Write and Organize for Deeper Learning is the book I wish I had back when I was recruiting and developing instructional writers. Based on science, crafted in a voice from hard-earned experience, [the] book presents clear and urgent advice to help instructional writing practitioners.

Practice and Feedback for Deeper Learning also provides research-based recommendations. This time, Patti’s subject are two of the most important, but too often neglected, learning approaches: practice and feedback. As learning practitioners, we still too often focus on conveying information. As a seminal review in a top tier scientific journal put it, “we know from the body of research that learning occurs through the practice and feedback components.” (Salas, Tannenbaum, Kraiger, & Smith-Jentsch, 2012, p. 86). As I wrote for the book jacket, Patti’s book “is a research-to-practice powerhouse! …A book worthy of being in the personal library of every instructional designer.

Patti has worked many years in the trenches, pushing for research-based practices, persevering against lethargic institutions, unexamined traditions, and commercial messaging biased toward sales not learning effectiveness. For her research, her grit, and her Sisyphean determination, we in the learning field owe Patti Shank our most grateful thanks!

 

 

Click here to learn more about the Neon Elephant Award…

This week, Brett Christensen published an article on how he’s used a Performance-Focused Smile Sheet to support him in teaching one of ISPI’s flagship workshops.

What I found particularly striking is how Brett used the smile-sheet results to make sense of learning effectiveness. His goal was to help his learners be able to take what they’ve learned and use it back on the job.

One smile-sheet question he used pointed to results that suggested that learners felt they had gained awareness of concepts, but they might not be fully able to put what they learned into practice. This raised a red flag, so Brett examined results from another question on the amount of practice received in the workshop. The learners told him that practice was only a little more than 50% of the workshop, and Brett used this information to consider changes for adding more practice.

He also used a question to get a sense of whether the spacing effect was utilized to support long-term remembering–a key research-based learning approach. He got good news there–so that even in a one-day workshop–many learners felt repetitions were delivered after a delay of an hour or more. Good instructional design!

For a century or more, our learner-feedback questions have focused on satisfaction, course reputation, and other factors that are NOT directly related to learning effectiveness. Now we have a new methodology, first described in the award-winning book, Performance-Focused Smile Sheets: A Radical Rethinking of a Dangerous Art Form. We ought to use this to get feedback about what we can do better.

Brett offers a wonderful case study from his work teaching a course offered through ISPI (Developed by Dr. Roger Chevalier). We are no longer hogtied with evaluations that provide us with bogus information. We can look for ways to get better feedback, improve our learning interventions, and get better results.

To read Brett’s full article, click here…

This is a guest post by Robert O. Brinkerhoff (www.BrinkerhoffEvaluationInstitute.com).

Rob is a renowned expert on learning evaluation and performance improvement. His books, Telling Training’s Story and Courageous Training, are classics.

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70-20-10: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The 70-20-10 framework may not have much if any research basis, but it is still a good reminder to all of us in in the L&D and performance improvement professions that the work-space is a powerful teacher and poses many opportunities for practice, feedback, and improvement.

But we must also recognize that a lot of the learning that is taking place on the job may not be for the good. I have held jobs in agencies, corporations and the military where I learned many things that were counter to what the organization wanted me to learn: how to fudge records, how to take unfair advantage of reimbursement policies, how to extend coffee breaks well beyond their prescribed limits, how to stretch sick leave, and so forth.

These were relatively benign instances. Consider this: Where did VW engineers learn how to falsify engine emission results? Where did Well Fargo staff learn how to create and sell fake accounts to their unwitting customers?

Besides these egregiously ugly examples, we have to also recognize that in the case of L&D programming that is intended to support new strategic and other change initiatives, the last thing the organization needs is more people learning how to do their jobs in the old way. AT&T, for example, worked very hard to drive new beliefs and actions to enable the business to shift from landline technologies to wireless; on-the-job learning dragged them backwards, and creates problems still today. As AllState Insurance tries to shift sales focus away from casualty policies to financial planning services, the old guard teaches the opposite actions, as they continue to harvest the financial benefits of policy renewals. Any organization that has to make wholesale and fundamental shifts to execute new strategies will have to cope with the negative effects of years of on-the-job learning.

When strategy is new, there are few if any on-the-job pockets of expertise and role models. Training new employees for existing jobs is a different story. Here, obviously, the on-job space is an entirely appropriate learning resource.

In short, we have to recognize that not all on-the-job learning is learning that we want. Yet on the job learning remains an inexorable force that we in L&D must learn how to understand, leverage, guide and manage.

Two and a half years ago, in writing a blog post on learning styles, I did a Google search using the words “learning styles.” I found that the top 17 search items were all advocating for learning styles, even though there was clear evidence that learning-styles approaches DO NOT WORK.

Today, I replicated that search and found the following in the top 17 search items:

  • 13 advocated/supported the learning-styles idea.
  • 4 debunked it.

That’s progress, but clearly Google is not up to the task of providing valid information on learning styles.

Scientific Research that clearly Debunks the Learning-Styles Notion:

  • Kirschner, P. A. (2017) Stop propagating the learning styles myth. Computers & Education, 106, 166-171.
  • Willingham, D. T., Hughes, E. M., & Dobolyi, D. G. (2015). The scientific status of learning styles theories. Teaching of Psychology, 42(3), 266-271.
  • Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2008). Learning styles: Concepts and evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3), 105-119.
  • Rohrer, D., & Pashler, H. (2012). Learning styles: Where’s the evidence? Medical Education, 46(7), 634-635.

Follow the Money

  • Still no one has come forward to prove the benefits of learning styles, even though it’s been over 10 years since $1,000 was offered, and 3 years since $5,000 was offered.

A few days ago, CLO Magazine published a provocative article describing how elearning provider Grovo has tried to patent the word “microlearning,” applying for registration in October, 2016. The article, and the comments, are a fascinating read.

This is very interesting, and a bad play by Grovo. Many of us in the learning industry have used the term “microlearning” and I’ll bet that a great many are irked by Grovo’s shameless attempt to restrict its use for their commercial benefit.

Here is evidence to put a dagger in any claim that “microlearning” is a specific product attributable to Grovo. On April 9th, 2015 (Long before Grovo’s original application for a patent), numerous people in the learning industry met in a Twitter chat and discussed their perceptions of what microlearning is (my synopsis of the results is available here, along with a link to the actual tweets: https://www.worklearning.com/2015/04/10/twitter-chat-on-microlearning/). Interestingly, Grovo’s name was NEVER mentioned. This was one and a half years before Grovo applied for a patent.

Here is an even earlier communication in 2015 about microlearning on a blog post from Tom Spiglanin, again with no mention of Grovo.

Here is an even earlier blog post from 2014 on microlearning by Learnnovators, again with no mention of Grovo.

Here is another piece of data that shows that Grovo considered microlearning as a general concept, not as proprietary to them: An article written by their top learning professional, Alex Khurgin, published on August 25, 2015, clearly shows what Grovo thought of microlearning. “The broadest and most useful definition of microlearning is ‘learning, and applying what one has learned, in small, focused steps.'” This is more than one year before Grovo applied for a patent.

 

Full disclosure: I have authored my own definition of microlearning (https://www.worklearning.com/2017/01/13/definition-of-microlearning/). Several years ago, Grovo paid me for a couple hours of consulting. Grovo management and I once talked about me working for them. I have referred to Grovo previously on my subscription learning blog (here and here).

 

Let me add that others are more than welcome to use my definition of microlearning, modify it, or ignore it.

Holy Cow Batman! Yesterday’s Webinar, which I co-hosted with Emma Weber of Lever Learning, was overbooked and some people were unable to connect. To help make amends, here is the recording of the webinar:

 

 

Click Here to View Webinar on YouTube

 

Apologies in advance that we were not able to record the actual polling results (the responses of those who attended live — to the questions we asked). Still, I think it’s pretty good as webinar recordings go.

Emma and I send our heartfelt apologies. We know some of you notified your teams, changed your schedules, and stayed up late or stayed late at work to watch. We are considering offering an encore engagement in January for those who might want to participate more intimately than a recording can provide. Watch this blog for details or sign up for my list to be notified.

I added these words to the sidebar of my blog, and I like them so much that I’m sharing them as a blog post itself.

Please seek wisdom from research-to-practice experts — the dedicated professionals who spend time in two worlds to bring the learning field insights based on science. These folks are my heroes, given their often quixotic efforts to navigate through an incomprehensible jungle of business and research obstacles.

These research-to-practice professionals should be your heroes as well. Not mythological heroes, not heroes etched into the walls of faraway mountains. These heroes should be sought out as our partners, our fellow travelers in learning, as people we hire as trusted advisors to bring us fresh research-based insights.

The business case is clear. Research-to-practice experts not only enlighten and challenge us with ideas we might not have considered — ideas that make our learning efforts more effective in producing business results — research-to-practice professionals also prevent us from engaging in wasted efforts, saving our organizations time and money, all the while enabling us to focus more productively on learning factors that actually matter.