The Neon Elephant Award

The Neon Elephant Award is awarded to a person, team, or organization exemplifying enlightenment, integrity, and innovation in the field of workplace learning and performance. Announced in December—during the time of year when the northern hemisphere turns away from darkness toward the light and hope of warmer days to come—the Neon Elephant Award honors those who have truly changed the way we think about the practice of learning and performance improvement. Award winners are selected for demonstrated success in pushing the field forward in significant paradigm-altering ways while maintaining the highest standards of ethics and professionalism. 

 

Why “Neon Elephant?”

The elephant represents learning, power, strength, and the importance of nurturing the community. The glow of neon represents enlightenment, illumination, and a spark of something unique and alluring.

 

Selection Methodology

The award is based purely on merit and the criteria detailed above. Proposals are not accepted, nor are any entrance fees solicited or accepted. While advice on the selection is sought from industry thought leaders, Dr. Will Thalheimer of Work-Learning Research is the final arbiter. Awards will only be made in years when exceptional contributions to the workplace learning and performance field are apparent.

 

Winners

The 2023 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Annie Murphy Paul for writing the book The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain—and for her lifetime of work bringing research wisdom to light through her books, journalism, writing, and speaking.

The 2022 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Donald Clark for writing the book Learning Experience Design: How to Create Effective Learning that Works and for the Great Minds On Learning webcast and podcast done in collaboration with John Helmer—and for his tireless work of many years advocating for research-based learning designs and effective innovations in learning technology.

The 2021 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Clark Quinn and Patti Shank—to Clark Quinn for writing the book, Learning Science for Instructional Designers and Patti Shank for writing the book Write Better Multiple-Choice Questions to Assess Learning—and for their many years translating learning research into practical recommendations.

The 2020 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Mirjam Neelen and Paul Kirschner for writing the book, Evidence-Informed Learning Design: Use Evidence to Create Training Which Improves Performanceand for their many years publishing their blog 3-Star Learning Experiences.

The 2019 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to David Epstein for writing the book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, and for his many years as a journalist and science-inspired truth teller.

The 2018 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Clark Quinn for writing a book debunking the learning myths, Millennials, Goldfish & Other Training Misconceptions: Debunking Learning Myths and Superstitions—and for his many years advocating for research-based practices in the workplace learning field.

The 2017 Neon Elephant Award was awarded 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.

The 2016 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Pedro De Bruyckere, Paul A. Kirschner, and Casper D. Hulshof for their book Urban Myths about Learning and Education—a book that provides a research-based reality check on the myths and misinformation that float around the learning field.

The 2015 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Julie Dirksen for her book, Design for How People Learn—a book that wonderfully conveys practical, research-based wisdom through the authentic voice of an experienced instructional designer and strategist.

The 2014 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel for their book, Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning—a book that brilliantly conveys scientific principles of learning in prose that is easy to digest, comprehensive and true in its recommendations, highly-credible, and impossible to ignore or forget.

The 2013 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Gary Klein for his many years doing research and practice in naturalistic decision making, cognitive task analysis, and insight learning–and for reminding us that real-world explorations of human behavior are essential in enabling us to distill key insights.

The 2012 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to K. Anders Ericsson for his many years conducting research on expertise and creating a body of knowledge that has inspired many others to translate his research into recommendations for use by performance-improvement professionals.

The 2011 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Jeroen van Merriënboer for his many years conducting research on learning and translating that research into practical models for use by learning professionals.

The 2010 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Richard E. Clark for his many years in leading the workplace learning-and-performance field by bridging the gap between academic research and practical application.

The 2009 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Ruth Clark for her many years in leading the workplace learning-and-performance field with research-based insights and recommendations, and—by so doing—helping to professionalize our field.

The 2008 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Robert Brinkerhoff for developing the Success Case evaluation method and for advocating that learning professionals play a more “courageous” role in their organizations.

The 2007 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Sharon Shrock and Bill Coscarelli for advocating against the use of memorization-level questions in learning measurement and for the use of authentic assessment items, including scenario-based questions, simulations, and real-world skills tests.

The 2006 Neon Elephant Award was awarded to Cal Wick of the Fort Hill Company for his work developing methodologies and software to support learning transfer.

Cammy Bean interviews me in regard to the three most important e-learning design flaws in today's e-learning. I discussed three—and then two more!! Five design flaws in all.

How's your e-learning?

Check out the interview here.

You can also download the segments as podcasts.

It has been my pleasure and privilege to co-teach several learning measurement workshops with Dr. Roy Pollock, and to follow the important work that he and his colleagues have done at The Fort Hill Company over the years. I acknowledged their work by awarding Cal Wick, Fort Hill's Founding Father, the Neon Elephant Award back in 2006. I've also reviewed their ground-breaking book, The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning, and have recently reviewed their new book, Getting Your Money's Worth from Training and Development.

Now, I have captured Roy in a video interview, that I think you'll enjoy and learn from.

You can purchase the book by clicking on the Amazon.com link below:

Again, I highly recommend the book. Read my book review to see how much.

Learning professionals (like me) can often gain insights about our industry from people in the field who have different vantage points than our own. I recently talked with Eric Shepherd, CEO of Questionmark, to get a sense of our industry and how it has been affected by the bad economy. Eric has been a good friend and long-time supporter of my research over the years and I’ve come to value his counsel.

Questionmark is the leading provider of assessment software according to a recent eLearning Guild study. I thought from his perch overseeing all-things-assessment, Eric might be able to give us some unique insight into the learning-and-performance field in general.

Check out my interview with him at the recent Guild conference. I divided it into two parts to make viewing easier.

Part 1: What trends do you see that we may be missing? 

Part 2: How is the bad economy affecting the learning assessment marketplace? 

Video Overview:

The following video provides an entertaining and, I hope, enlightening look at the humble job aid.

Featuring:

  • This is only the second video that I shot and edited. See how I did.
      
  • Allison Rossett, co-author of the book, Job Aids and Performance Support (with Lisa Schafer) is interviewed.
      
  • Worldwide public introduction to incredible new talent, the incomparable Alena.
      
  • Brewer the dog has cameo role.
      

Video Notes:

Because of YouTube size restrictions, it is divided into 2 parts.

Enjoy in HD (if your computer can handle it) by:

  1. Starting the Video
  2. Clicking on HD at Lower Right, AND
  3. Clicking on the full-screen display (the box in a box) at Lower Right
  4. IF the audio doesn't track, your computer can't handle HD.



Part 1



Part 2

Purchasing (or learning more about) Allison's Book:

Will Thalheimer interviews Anna Belyaev and Gretchen Hartke of Type A Learning Agency in January of 2006.

This Segment is on journalism and the name Type A.

Questions Asked:

Given the miserable state of journalism in our field, what can we do to get better info to our fellow instructional professionals?

The name of your company is Type A Learning Agency. Who are you and what are you trying to say with that name?


MP3 File

NOTE: The full interview is available for download below the individual segments.

Will Thalheimer interviews Anna Belyaev and Gretchen Hartke of Type A Learning Agency in January of 2006.

This Segment provides an introduction and ask the first question on getting "leadership energy" into e-learning design.

Questions Asked:

Leadership gets things done in organizations. Most e-learning is devoid of this leadership factor. How can we design leadership into e-learning.

A Learning Agency. Who are you and what are you trying to say with that name?


MP3 File

NOTE: The full interview is available for download below the individual segments.

Will Thalheimer interviews Anna Belyaev and Gretchen Hartke of Type A Learning Agency in January of 2006.

This Segment asks about popular culture influences in e-learning design.

Question Asked:

Type A is always focusing on popular culture messages. How can we draw inspiration from popular culture messages and the concept of "stickiness" and design this into our e-learning?


MP3 File

NOTE: The full interview is available for download below the individual segments.

Will Thalheimer interviews Anna Belyaev and Gretchen Hartke of Type A Learning Agency in January of 2006.

This Segment asks questions on Innovation and Workshops.

Questions Asked:

Where do you draw inspiration to be innovative in e-learning?

Do people come to Type A to learn about e-learning design?


MP3 File

NOTE: The full interview is available for download below the individual segments.

Will Thalheimer interviews Anna Belyaev and Gretchen Hartke of Type A Learning Agency in Jan of 2006.

This segments ask questions on research, spending money, and hopes.

Questions asked:

What is your view of research-based instructional design?

If I gave you $2 million to spend in the e-learning field, how would you spend it?

What are your hopes for the learning and performance field?


MP3 File

NOTE: The full interview is available for download below the individual segments.