This is NOT a post about Bob Mager. It is something else entirely.

In probably the best video I will ever create, I made the case that learning professionals and learners should NOT receive the same set of learning objectives.

The rationale is this: Because objectives are designed to guide behavior, how could one statement possibly guide the behaviors of two separate audiences? Sometimes maybe! But not always!

Arguments for the Infallibility of an Instructional-Design Hero

Recently, I’ve heard it argued that Bob Mager, in his classic text, “Preparing Instructional Objectives,” urged us to create instructional objectives only for us as learning professionals, that he never intended that instructional objectives be presented to learners. This is a testable assertion, which is great! We can agree that Mager gave us some good advice on how to craft objectives for ourselves as learning professionals. But did Mager also, perhaps, suggest that objectives could be presented to learners?

Here are several word-for-word quotes from Mager’s book:

Page 16: Heading: “Goal Posts for Students

Page 16: “Clearly defined objectives also can be used to provide students with the means to organize their own time and efforts toward accomplishment of those objectives.

Page 17: “With clear objectives, it is possible to organize the instruction itself so that instructors and students alike can focus their efforts on bridging the gap…

Page 19: Chapter Summary. “Objectives are useful for providing: … Tools for guiding student efforts…

Page 43: “Objectives in the hands of students prevent the students from having to guess at how they might best organize their time and effort.

So Mager clearly started the confusion! But Mager wrote at a time before research on cognition enabled greater insight.

Forget Mager’s contribution. The big problem is that the most common practice seems to still be efforts to create a set of learning objectives to use for both learners and learning practitioners.

Scolded

I was even scolded for not knowing the difference between an instructional objective (for learning professionals) and a learning objective (for learners). Of course, these revisionist definitions are not true and are not helpful. They are fake news, concocted perhaps by a person who thinks or was taught that our instructional-design heroes are perfect and their work is sacrosanct. The truth is that these terms have been used interchangeably. For example, in a research study by my mentor and academic advisor, Ernie Rothkopf, he and his research partner used the term instructional objectives to refer to objectives presented to learners.

Rothkopf, E. Z., & Kaplan, R. (1972). An exploration of the effect of density and specificity of instructional objectives on learning from text. Journal of Educational Psychology, 6, 295-302.

My Main Points

  • We need at least two types of objectives (although I’ve argued for more)—one to guide the design, development, and evaluation of learning; one to guide learners as they are learning. I’ve called these “focusing objectives,” because the research shows that they guide attention toward objective-relevant content.
  • When we make arguments, we ought to at least skim the sources to see if we know what we’re talking about.
  • We ought to stop with hero worship. All of us do some good things and some bad things. Even the best of us.
  • Hero worship in the learning field is particularly problematic because learning is so complex and we all still have so much to learn. All of us attempting to make recommendations are likely to be wrong some of the time.
  • It is ironic that our schools of instructional design teach graduate students to memorize facts and hold up heroes as infallible immortals—when instead they ought to be educating these future citizens how progress gets made over long periods of time by a large collective of people. They also ought to be teaching students to understand at a deeper level, not just a knowledge level. But truly, we can’t blame the schools of instructional design. After all, they started with canonically-correct instructional objectives (focused on low-level knowledge because they are easier to create).

Finally, let me say that in the video I praise Bob Mager’s work on learning objectives for us learning professionals. This post is not about Mager.

 

The Debunker Club — where I am an organizer — is sponsoring a members-only Book Group Discussion of The Knowledge Illusion — by Steven Sloman & Philip Fernbach.

This book is fascinating, laying out the argument that human cognition, because it is so resource intensive, is something that we humans tend to offload to others. That is, we have a tendency to avoid the hard work of learning when we can rely on simple heuristics or objects in our environment to inform our actions or other people who have more knowledge.

The book’s discussions are focused on knowledge, and have great relevance to those of us in the learning field.

If you’re a Debunker Club member, please join the community book discussion group starting tomorrow January 11th. You can join the discussion by clicking here.

Note: The Discussion will unfold over several months asynchronously and chapter by chapter so people from around the world can easily join. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the book yet. Grab it and join us.

If you’re not a member, it’s easy to join The Debunker Club. You can join by clicking here.

More information about The Debunker Club can be found by clicking here. We have over 800 members from around the world dedicated to eliminating learning myths and sharing evidence-based practices.

What do our most popular blog posts say about our field—the learning field?

A few months ago (in the last half of 2018), I reached out to bloggers in the learning field to find out. This blog post includes the numbers, wit, and wisdom from these bloggers. In addition to me, there are 18 other bloggers who generously shared their most popular blog posts.

I’m thrilled with the cross section of bloggers who are included here. We’ve got mega-bloggers (people who get over 25,000 people coming to their homepage each year, we’ve got medium bloggers, and we’ve got folks with small but passionate audiences. We’ve got some of the biggest names in the learning field. We’ve got folks focused on workplace learning and folks focused on education. We’ve got about an even split between men and women. Most of all, we have a group of folks bold and generous enough to share the reality of their blogs.

My Observations From the Results

I highly encourage you to peruse the contributions below. Each blogger shares his/her most popular blog post—the post that gets the most yearly visits—and reflects on what makes it so popular. They also share their feelings about why they’re blogging in the first place.

Some of the most popular posts are short. Some are long. Some are personal, even intimate. Some recount research with cold steely precision. Some have a negative slant, raging against poor practices. Some have a positive slant, reveling in the wonder of learning and service to others.

So what makes for a popular blog post in the learning field? Well, we have a relatively small and certainly not-fully representative sample, but the most important thing seems to be providing people with information that is perceived as valuable and/or unique. Some characteristics that seem especially important:

  • Answering important questions—questions that often get asked.
  • Providing definitive or research-based information.
  • Debunking myths or arguing against common traditional practices.
  • Providing a list of information.
  • Providing links where readers can learn more.
  • Introducing a creative or unique concept or idea.
  • Focusing on a topic of current popular interest.
  • There is a visual element to the blog post.
  • The topic is one likely to be assigned by university professors.
  • Timeless topics, because over time they engender lots of links.
  • Topics that help people do their work better.

These are some of the lesson learned from my reflections. You will probably see other things in the list of most popular blog posts. Please add your observations and conclusions in the comments below.

The bloggers are listed in random order below.

What the Blog Posts Say about the Learning Field

Our sample of bloggers offer thoughtful reflections on the practice of learning and development. It seems readers are hungry for useful, validated, and unique information—as long as it is presented in ways that are pithy, straightforward, and powerful.

To me, as a research-to-practice guy, I’m encouraged by the interest in evidence-based information and the number of people searching for information on learning myths. I’m also delighted that none of the most popular blog posts are advocating silly or harmful fads. This could be a result of the kinds of people likely to respond to a call to action from me, someone known for a certain perspective and approach. On the other hand, I did ask people to share the call-to-action widely and we did get quite a broad range of bloggers.

The most popular blog posts also suggest that blog readers in the learning field are looking for information that they can use right away—that add value and help them do their work.

Our readers also want unique perspectives. Not the same old thing. Some of the most popular posts talked about humble leadership, training ghettos, being human on social media, and digital body language—topics so compelling that readers can’t help but engage.

What do you think the list of most popular blog posts say about the learning field? Respond below! I’d love to hear multiple perspectives on this.

I got interested in the popularity of different blog posts because one of my blog posts is ridiculously more popular than my blog itself, regularly getting more than three times more traffic than my home page!! I’ll give you my stats first, and then share each blogger’s responses one at a time—shared in a random order.

Will Thalheimer

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

Will’s Blog (formerly Will At Work Learning)

Blog Address:

https://www.worklearning.com/wills-blog/

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

My blog is designed to share research-based practical wisdom with the workplace learning field and news and research of importance to those who follow my work. Focuses more and more on learning evaluation.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

https://www.worklearning.com/2006/05/01/people_remember/

What is the title of this blog post?

People remember 10%, 20%…Oh Really?

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

34,135

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

9,994

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

The post debunks the myth that people remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, etc. These numbers have often been associated with the learning pyramid and Edgar Dale’s Cone. This was my original blog post from 2006 and has been updated over the years.

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

The myth is so widely shared and so many people have taken responsibility to debunk this myth on their own blogs and websites that lots of traffic gets pointed to this post as it was among the first warnings posted on the internet.

Mike Taylor

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

Ask. Learn. Share.

Blog Address:

https://mike-taylor.org/

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

Share useful things from the intersection of learning, design, and technology.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

https://mike-taylor.org/2011/06/10/21-questions-to-ask-before-designing-any-training-program/

What is the title of this blog post?

21 Questions to ask before Designing Any Training Program

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

2,244

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

7,254

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

This page is just a collection of the most recent posts.

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

I think this is a very key foundational idea for how to get started on any learning-related project.

Andrew Jacobs

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

Lost and Desperate.

Blog Address:

https://lostanddesperate.com/

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

Writing about learning in a way which helps me reflect and tries to move the industry forward.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

https://lostanddesperate.com/2014/03/14/50-big-ideas-to-change-l-and-d/

What is the title of this blog post?

50 BIG IDEAS TO CHANGE L AND D

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

151

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

1,097

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

There are lots of ways you can develop your L&D offer that just need you to think a bit bigger.

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

It’s aspirational, it’s practical, it’s a bit evangelical.

Jo Cook

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

Lightbulb Moment Blog

Blog Address:

https://lightbulbmoment.info

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

Virtual classroom and webinars, but also learning and development more broadly.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

https://lightbulbmoment.info/2018/04/04/what-is-digital-body-language/

What is the title of this blog post?

What is Digital Body Language?

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

704

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

6,189

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

That there is an online equivalent of body language for when delivering virtual classrooms.

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

It’s a new concept on an area where people don’t have much experience or confidence.

Ryan Tracey

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

E-Learning Provocateur

Blog Address:

https://ryan2point0.wordpress.com

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

To provoke deeper thinking about digital learning in the corporate sector.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

https://ryan2point0.wordpress.com/2010/01/12/taxonomy-of-learning-theories/

What is the title of this blog post?

Taxonomy of Learning Theories

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

1,113

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

8,019

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

A brief overview of, and a proposed taxonomy for, key theories that apply to workplace learning.

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

Because practitioners are confused by different theories and are uncertain as to how they apply to their role.

Wilfred Rubens

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

WilfredRubens.com over leren en ICT

Blog Address:

http://www.te-learning.nl/blog/

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

I am very interested in how technology can enhance and facilitate learning. I use my blog to share information about technology enhanced learning.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

http://www.te-learning.nl/blog/voor-en-nadelen-gebruik-sociale-media-door-jongeren/

What is the title of this blog post?

Voor- en nadelen gebruik sociale media door jongeren

Translated into English by Google: Pros and cons of the use social media by young people

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

16,515

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

14,227

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

Overview of pro’s and con’s of the use of social media by young people. People who are currently arguing in favour of ‘ban the media’ are gradually putting themselves outside social reality. It is better to focus on sensible use, using the possibilities of social media. That is more effective than fighting against windmills.

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

Actual for more than ten years. Content is appealing. Food for thought. Well indexed by search engines.

Julie Drybrough

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

fuchsia blue blog

Blog Address:

https://fuchsiablueblog.wordpress.com

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

I write about organisational learning/ change/ culture as I see them. I write vignettes about my consultancy work and observation pieces about our profession/ field. I try to get folk thinking more deeply or oddly about what they do.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

https://fuchsiablueblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/05/the-power-of-humble-leadership/

What is the title of this blog post?

The Power of Humble Leadership

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

208

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

2,852

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

Intro to fuchsia blue – about me etc

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

It’s the front-page when you hit the site, generally

Neil Von Heupt

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

Divergent Learning

Blog Address:

https://divergentlearning.wordpress.com/

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

I try to write things that will add value to those who might read them.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

https://divergentlearning.wordpress.com/2017/08/25/a-human-social-media-experiment/

What is the title of this blog post?

A human social media experiment

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

99

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

163

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

Being human on social media

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

It had two things going for it – a trip down memory lane via childhood books, and a curated list of L&D reading material. And it was quite visual, so I guess that’s three!

Brett Christensen

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

Workplace Performance

Blog Address:

https://workplaceperformanceblog.wordpress.com/

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

Promote the science of performance improvement.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

https://workplaceperformanceblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/26/needs-assessment-or-needs-analysis/

What is the title of this blog post?

Needs Assessment or Needs Analysis

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

521

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

3,577

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

There is a difference between needs assessment and needs analysis.

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

Because it’s a common question and I hope I am writing in a way that connects with everyone.

Dennis Callahan

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

Learnstreaming

Blog Address:

http://learnstreaming.com/

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

Sharing my thoughts on workplace learning.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

http://learnstreaming.com/learning-means-believing-in-yourself/

What is the title of this blog post?

Learning Means Believing in Yourself

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

4,440

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

Not Sure

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

To learn, you need to have confidence in yourself, You can do it!

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

With so much change and uncertainty, you are always the constant. Trust and believe in yourself and you can grow.

Mirjam Neelen and Paul Kirschner

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

3-Star Learning Experiences

Blog Address:

https://3starlearningexperiences.wordpress.com/

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

Our blog aims to present learning professionals with evidence-informed ideas on how to make both the instructional and the learning experience more effective, efficient, and enjoyable. We discuss fads & fallacies, we try to find nuance, and we provide our readers with concrete ideas on how to design 3-star learning experiences based on the evidence out there!

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

https://3starlearningexperiences.wordpress.com/2018/06/05/no-feedback-no-learning/

What is the title of this blog post?

No Feedback, No Learning

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

5,761

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

13,583

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

This blog discusses why feedback is critical for learning as well as different types of feedback for learning and how they hurt or support learning.

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

I think people realize that feedback is one of the most, if not the most important tools for supporting learning. Giving effective feedback has also been found to be one of the most powerful educational interventions to improve learning. Effective feedback positively affects learning outcomes and motivation to learn, and can help build accurate schema.

Christy Tucker

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

Experiencing E-Learning

Blog Address:

https://christytucker.wordpress.com

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

Mostly instructional design for elearning, especially scenarios for workplace learning.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

https://christytucker.wordpress.com/2007/05/26/what-does-an-instructional-designer-do/

What is the title of this blog post?

No Feedback, No Learning

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

32,246

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

7,141

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

It’s my explanation of what instructional designers do, as a response to all the times I have had to explain my work to others

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

It answers a question people genuinely have (what is instructional design). It used to rank better in search engine results, but has dropped because the post is now over 10 years old.

Donald H Taylor

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

Donald H Taylor

Blog Address:

http://donaldhtaylor.co.uk/

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

Share my thoughts on learning and performance at work.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

http://donaldhtaylor.co.uk/are-you-in-the-training-ghetto/

What is the title of this blog post?

Are you in the Training Ghetto?

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

Not Sure

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

Not Sure

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

Many L&D departments run the risk of being sidelined as they fail to adapt to change at the same speed as the rest of the business.

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

People recognise the issues involved, and can place themselves on the 2×2 grid I provide.

Matt Guyan

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

Learn. Show. Repeat.

Blog Address:

http://www.mattguyan.com/

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

To share what I’m learning as well as my thoughts about eLearning.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

http://www.mattguyan.com/letter-to-an-elearning-creator/

What is the title of this blog post?

Letter to an eLearning Creator

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

4,760

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

2,615

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

I was venting my frustration at many of the things that are wrong with eLearning!

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

People seemed to relate to it either as a developer or user.

Guy Wallace

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

Pursuing Performance

Blog Address:

https://eppic.biz/

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

Share on the topics and tasks of performance-based ISD and Performance Improvement, and pay it forward, as my many mentors had done for me.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

https://eppic.biz/2012/03/26/the-big-5-in-human-personality-assessments-canoe/

What is the title of this blog post?

The Big 5 in Human Personality Assessments: CANOE

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

12,815

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

43,428

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

Sharing a valid approach to personality assessments: The Big Five factors are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (common acronyms are OCEAN, NEOAC, or CANOE).

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

Those that become aware of the shortcoming of MBTI, DiSC, etc. in some uses within HR need something valid in its place.

Connie Malamed

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

The eLearning Coach

Blog Address:

http://theelearningcoach.com

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

My focus is on designing learning experiences in the workplace to support adult learners and to help them improve their performance at work. I try to cover topics related to this, such as instructional design, cognitive psychology, visual design and multimedia, technology-based learning, etc.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

http://theelearningcoach.com/learning/10-definitions-learning/

What is the title of this blog post?

10 Definitions of Learning

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

90,730

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

25,541

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

We all know that the human brain is immensely complex and still somewhat of a mystery. It follows then, that learning—a primary function of the brain—is understood in many different ways. Here are ten ways that learning can be described.

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

I think the traffic is coming from any type of learning professional (IDers, teachers, professors, trainers) who are interested in the variety of ways to think about learning. They are trying to figure out what learning is or they have a philosophical interest. It could also be coming from students who need a definition for a paper they are writing.

Christopher Pappas

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

eLearning Industry

Blog Address:

https://elearningindustry.com

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

The best collection of eLearning articles, eLearning concepts, eLearning software, and eLearning resources.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

https://elearningindustry.com/the-20-best-learning-management-systems

What is the title of this blog post?

The 20 Best Learning Management Systems (2018 Update)

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

151,345

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

288,334

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

Choosing the right Learning Management System for the deployment of your eLearning courses might seem a daunting task. Care to find out about the best Learning Management Systems the eLearning industry has to offer? In this article, I’ll present a list of the 20 best Learning Management Systems for all needs and budgets.

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

There are many organization that are looking to find or replace their Learning Management System. They are interested to read what eLearning Industry has to offer.

Michelle Ockers

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

It doesn’t have a name.

Blog Address:

http://michelleockers.com/blog/

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

(1) Thought leadership – opinions on role and future of L&D. Increasingly targeted at business leaders. (2) Daily dispatches – Narrating my work (term from Austin Kleon) http://michelleockers.com/daily-dispatches/.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

http://michelleockers.com/mo-blog/how-we-modernised-our-learning-and-development-model-mindset-and-capabilities/

What is the title of this blog post?

How We Modernised our Learning and Development Model, Mindset and Capabilities

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

Not Sure

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

Not Sure

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

Modernisation of L&D practices, mindset and capability.

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

Case study. Tips.

Tracy Schiffmann

What is the name of your blog? (NOT YOUR URL)

Brain-Based and Trauma-Informed Teaching

Blog Address:

http://www.tracyschiffmann.com

What do you try to do in your blog? What’s your focus, goal, or slant?

Support teachers and trainers in working more effectively with trauma-impacted adult learners.

What is the URL of your most visited blog post?

http://tracy-schiffmann.squarespace.com/blog/2016/12/17/10-trauma-informed-classroom-strategies-for-navigating-behavior-emergencies

What is the title of this blog post?

10 Trauma-Informed Classroom Strategies for Navigating Classroom Behavior Emergencies

How many page views FOR THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST in the last 12 MONTHS?

429

How many page views FOR YOUR BLOG’S HOME PAGE in the last 12 MONTHS?

66

What is the gist or main message of THIS blog post?

I introduce 10 practical strategies for responding to challenging classroom behavior that may be a result of trauma-impact. I then share a true story from my teaching experience and demonstrate how the strategies were used to respond to the upset adult learner.

Why do you think this post is so popular with your readers?

I have many readers who teach trauma-impacted adult learners in prisons, jails, community-based organizations, and community colleges. They see the impact of trauma on both behavior and on their student’s ability to learn. Institutionalized racism, natural disasters, bullying, childhood abuse, and even the current political climate are traumatizing.

My Year In Review 2018—Engineering the Future of Learning Evaluation

In 2018, I shattered my collarbone and lay wasting for several months, but still, I think I had one of my best years in terms of the contributions I was able to make. This will certainly sound like hubris, and surely it is, but I can’t help but think that 2018 may go down as one of the most important years in learning evaluation’s long history. At the end of this post, I will get to my failures and regrets, but first I’d like to share just how consequential this year was in my thinking and work in learning evaluation.

It started in January when I published a decisive piece of investigative journalism showing that Donald Kirkpatrick was NOT the originator of the four-level model; that another man, Raymond Katzell, has deserved that honor all along. In February, I published a new evaluation model, LTEM (The Learning-Transfer Evaluation Model)—intended to replace the weak and harmful Kirkpatrick-Katzell Four-Level Model. Already, doctoral students are studying LTEM and organizations around the world are using LTEM to build more effective learning-evaluation strategies.

Publishing these two groundbreaking efforts would have made a great year, but because I still have so much to learn about evaluation, I was very active in exploring our practices—looking for their strengths and weaknesses. I led two research efforts (one with the eLearning Guild and one with my own organization, Work-Learning Research). The Guild research surveyed people like you and your learning-professional colleagues on their general evaluation practices. The Work-Learning Research effort focused specifically on our experiences as practitioners in surveying our learners for their feedback.

Also in 2018, I compiled and published a list of 54 common mistakes that get made in learning evaluation. I wrote an article on how to think about our business stakeholders in learning evaluation. I wrote a post on one of the biggest lies in learning evaluation—how we fool ourselves into thinking that learner feedback gives us definitive data on learning transfer and organizational results. It does not! I created a replacement for the problematic Net Promoter Score. I shared my updated smile-sheet questions, improving those originally put forth in my award winning book, Performance-Focused Smile Sheets. You can access all these publications below.

In my 2018 keynotes, conference sessions, and workshops, I recounted our decades-long frustrations in learning evaluation. We are clearly not happy with what we’ve been able to do in terms of learning evaluation. There are two reasons for this. First, learning evaluation is very complex and difficult to accomplish—doubly so given our severe resource constraints in terms of both budget and time. Second, our learning-evaluation tools are mostly substandard—enabling us to create vanity metrics but not enabling us to capture data in ways that help us, as learning professionals, make our most important decisions.

In 2019, I will continue my work in learning evaluation. I still have so much to unravel. If you see a bit of wisdom related to learning evaluation, please let me know.

Will’s Top Fifteen Publications for 2018

Let me provide a quick review of the top things I wrote this year:

  1. LTEM (The Learning-Transfer Evaluation Model)
    Although published by me in 2018, the model and accompanying 34-page report originated in work begun in 2016 and through the generous and brilliant feedback I received from Julie Dirksen, Clark Quinn, Roy Pollock, Adam Neaman, Yvon Dalat, Emma Weber, Scott Weersing, Mark Jenkins, Ingrid Guerra-Lopez, Rob Brinkerhoff, Trudy Mandeville, and Mike Rustici—as well as from attendees in the 2017 ISPI Design-Thinking conference and the 2018 Learning Technologies conference in London. LTEM is designed to replace the Kirkpatrick-Katzell Four-Level Model originally formulated in the 1950s. You can learn about the new model by clicking here.
  2. Raymond Katzell NOT Donald Kirkpatrick
    Raymond Katzell originated the Four-Level Model. Although Donald Kirkpatrick embraced accolades for the Four-Level Model, it turns out that Raymond Katzell was the true originator. I did an exhaustive investigation and offered a balanced interpretation of the facts. You can read the original piece by clicking here. Interestingly, none of our trade associations have reported on this finding. Why is that? LOL
  3. When Training Pollutes. Our Responsibility to Lessen the Environmental Damage of Training
    I wrote an article and placed it on LinkedIn and as far as I can tell, very few of us really want to think about this. But you can get started by reading the article (by clicking here).
  4. Fifty-Four Mistakes in Learning Evaluation
    Of course we as an industry make mistakes in learning evaluation, but who knew we made so many? I began compiling the list because I’d seen a good number of poor practices and false narratives about what is important in learning evaluation, but by the time I’d gotten my full list I was a bit dumbstruck by the magnitude of problem. I’ve come to believe that we are still in the dark ages of learning evaluation and we need a renaissance. This article will give you some targets for improvements. Click here to read it.
  5. New Research on Learning Evaluation — Conducted with The eLearning Guild
    The eLearning Guild and Dr. Jane Bozarth (the Guild’s Director of Research) asked me to lead a research effort to determine what practitioners in the learning/elearning field are thinking and doing in terms of learning evaluation. In a major report released about a month ago, we reveal findings on how people feel about the learning measurement they are able to do, the support they get from their organizations, and their feelings about their current level of evaluation competence. You can read a blog post I wrote highlighting one result from the report—that a full 40% of us are unhappy with what we are able to do in terms of learning evaluation. You can access the full report here (if you’re a Guild member) and an executive summary. Also, stay tuned to my blog or signup for my newsletter to see future posts about our findings.
  6. Current Practices in Gathering Learner Feedback
    We at Work-Learning Research, Inc. conducted a survey focused on gathering learner feedback (i.e., smile sheets, reaction forms, learner surveys) that spanned 2017 and 2018. Since the publication of my book, Performance-Focused Smile Sheets: A Radical Rethinking of a Dangerous Art Form, I’ve spent a ton of time helping organizations build more effective learner surveys and gauging common practices in the workplace learning field. This research survey continued that work. To read my exhaustive report, click here.
  7. One of the Biggest Lies in Learning Evaluation — Asking Learners about Level 3 and 4 (LTEM Tiers 7 and 8)
    This is big! One of the biggest lies in learning evaluation. It’s a lie we like to tell ourselves and a lie our learning-evaluation vendors like to tell us. If we ask our learners questions that relate to their job performance or the organizational impact of our learning programs we are NOT measuring at Kirkpatrick-Katzell Level 3 or 4 (or at LTEM Tiers 7 and 8), we are measuring at Level 1 and LTEM Tier 3. You can read this refutation here.
  8. Who Will Rule Our Conferences? Truth or Bad-Faith Vendors?
    What do you want from the trade organizations in the learning field? Probably “accurate information” is high on your list. But what happens when the information you get is biased and untrustworthy? Could. Never. Happen. Right? Read this article to see how bias might creep in.
  9. Snake Oil. The Story of Clark Stanley as Preface to Clark Quinn’s Excellent Book
    This was one of my favorite pieces of writing in 2018. Did I ever mention that I love writing and would consider giving this all up for a career as a writer? You’ve all heard of “snake oil” but if you don’t know where the term originated, you really ought to read this piece.
  10. Dealing with the Emotional Readiness of Our Learners — My Ski Accident Reflections
    I had a bad accident on the ski slopes in February this year and I got thinking about how our learners might not always be emotionally ready to learn. I don’t have answers in this piece, just reflections, which you can read about here.
  11. The Backfire Effect. Not the Big Worry We Thought it was (for Those Who Would Debunk Learning Myths)
    This article is for those interested in debunking and persuasion. The Backfire Effect was the finding that trying to persuade someone to stop believing a falsehood, might actually make them more inclined to believe the falsehood. The good news is that new research showed that this worry might be overblown. You can read more about this here (if you dare to be persuaded).
  12. Updated Smile-Sheet Questions for 2018
    I published a set of learner-survey questions in my 2016 book, and have been working with clients to use these questions and variations on these questions for over two years since then. I’ve learned a thing or two and so I published some improvements early last year. You can see those improvements here. And note, for 2019, I’ll be making additional improvements—so stay tuned! Remember, you can sign up to be notified of my news here.
  13. Replacement for NPS (The Net Promoter Score)
    NPS is all the rage. Still! Unfortunately, it’s a terribly bad question to include on a learner survey. The good news is that now there is an alternative, which you can see here.
  14. Neon Elephant Award for 2018 to Clark Quinn
    Every year, I give an award for a great research-to-practice contribution in the workplace learning field. This year’s winner is Clark Quinn. See why he won and check out his excellent resources here.
  15. New Debunker Club Website
    The Debunker Club is a group of people who have committed to debunking myths in the learning field and/or sharing research-based information. In 2018, working with a great team of volunteers, we revamped the Debunker Club website to help build a community of debunkers. We now have over 800 members from around the world. You can learn more about why The Debunker Club exists by clicking here. Also, feel free to join us!

 

My Final Reflections on 2018

I’m blessed to be supported by smart passionate clients and by some of the smartest friends and colleagues in the learning field. My Work-Learning Research practice turned 20 years old in 2018. Being a consultant—especially one who focuses on research-to-practice in the workplace learning field—is still a challenging yet emotionally rewarding endeavor. In 2018, I turned my attention almost fully to learning evaluation. You can read about my two-path evaluation approach here. One of my research surveys totally flopped this year. It was focused on the interface between us (as learning professionals) and our organizations’ senior leadership. I wanted to know if what we thought senior leadership wanted was what they actually wanted. Unfortunately, neither I nor any of the respondents could entice a senior leader to comment. Not one! If you or your organization has access to senior managers, I’d love to partner with you on this! Let me know. Indeed, this doesn’t even have to be research. If your CEO would be willing to trade his/her time letting me ask a few questions in exchange for my time answering questions about learning, elearning, learning evaluation, etc., I’d be freakin’ delighted! I failed this year in working out a deal with another evaluation-focused organization to merge our efforts. I was bummed about this failure as the synergies would have been great. I also failed in 2018 to cure myself of the tendency to miss important emails. If you ever can’t get in touch with me, try, try again! Thanks and apologies! I had a blast in 2018 speaking and keynoting at conferences—both big and small conferences. From doing variations on the Learning-Research Quiz Show (a rollicking good time) to talking about innovations in learning evaluation to presenting workshops on my learning-evaluation methods and the LTEM model. Good stuff, if a ton of work. Oh! I did fail again in 2018 turning my workshops into online workshops. I hope to do better in 2019. I also failed in 2018 in finishing up a research review of the training transfer research. I’m like 95% done, but still haven’t had a chance to finish.

2018 broke my body, made me unavailable for a couple of months, but overall, it turned out to be a pretty damn good year. 2019 looks promising too as I have plans to continue working on learning evaluation. It’s kind of interesting that we are still in the dark ages of learning evaluation. We as an industry, and me as a person, have a ton more to learn about learning evaluation. I plan to continue the journey. Please feel free to reach out and let me know what I can learn from you and your organization. And of course, because I need to pay the rent, let me say that I’d be delighted if you wanted me to help you or your organization. You can reach me through the Work-Learning Research contact form.

Thanks for reading and being interested in my work!!!