Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Embedding Learning in Stories –“Lost Package” Vignette Featured

Synthesis: 
Learners learn by connecting old stories from their experiences to new stories that help them to learn and discover.
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Learning professionals  who have had the opportunity  to view  examples  of micro-scenarios, scenarios or what are also called vignettes appreciate the short, thought - provoking stories.  However, the prospect of venturing into this approach puzzles and intimidates them.  Aside from a pre-conceived idea that it is expensive, they are at a loss about how to create their own stories and use them in the learning design.

 Click for full view

An initial yet key factor in micro-scenario and story-based development and creation is gaining an understanding about embedding learning content in stories  (see illustration above) and its role in promoting  valued learning.  

1. Learner’s  response and thought process are rooted in past experiences.
2. Using micro-scenarios and stories with embedded learning content speeds up learning discoveries. They bridge the gap between previous and future learner experiences. They create connections, helping the learners to realize the new ideas.
3. As a result, learners gain new experiences, behavior and way of thinking.


Click here to view the vignette. Read the explanation below.

In the vignette, "Lost Package", an early office morning work shift turns out stressful for a support representative. A customer, Mr. Jones, called. He apparently feels convinced that the company is entirely at fault for a lost package. Mr. Jones is very angry while the agent feels helpless and defensive. A formula for disaster?

What can we learn from a crisis situation like this? If you have ever been in a similar situation, how did you deal with it?  Click here to view “Lost Package".

How to Use the Vignette

Although the situation presented is specific, this vignette covers a wide range of topics, including conflict-resolution, work ethics and other management-related issues. This vignette is very useful for eLearning sessions that require your learners’ undivided attention, especially those that deal with specific situations that need to be resolved in a timely manner. Use it as part of your lessons or as a post-training test. Face-to-face, eLearning or webinar, this vignette is a sure way to push your learners to the EDGE.
Vignettes are captivating and highly effective learning tools that can power up your classroom training, eLearning activities and social learning communities. Click here to view “Lost Package".
 
Join us and tell us what you think about the vignettes and share with us if you have had similar experiences. Your feedback and insights are highly valued. Also feel free to send in your suggestions, comments, improvements or topics that are of interest to you. This can help us greatly in coming up with better vignettes, especially on topics that are of great relevance to you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Boring Technical eLearning Can be Engaging


Synthesis
The challenge in designing technical learning content is how to make it more engaging.
Technical information can come alive with the right approach that grabs learners' attention and keep them focused while learning its value and impacts on their jobs.
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How do you make technical eLearning content engaging and interesting? So many of us give up the struggle. But there is a way to engage learners in technical learning.
 
For example, in a workshop, a participant from an insurance company asked me how to help learners understand the definition of “spouse.” She wanted to train learners about the definition of the word. I argued with her and asked, “Do you really want learners to remember the definition or do you want them to learn the application in real life of the definition like “spouse?” The end result is I helped her to develop this vignette “Would Maria Qualify as Spouse?”.

 
When deciding what how to create engaging elearning, interactivity and if scenario works for the content, ask yourselves this question:

 
Does the content require an engaging method or exploration method to help learners learn? Is the investment in scenarios the right investment to deliver learning?

 
When considering micro-scenario approaches to technical content it may be helpful to dwell on these points:

 
1. Think of it in its real-life consequences, positive or negative, or real-life meaning.  For example, why is it important to understand the definition of a spouse? What happens when they fail to understand the definition, the meaning and the impacts?

 
2. Learners must see the reason why it is important to know terms well – the possible error or misunderstanding of factual data and terms in the context of real-life scenarios they face.

 
3. What do learners need to pay attention to so they are able to delineate the terms, the potential problems and the impacts to job performance.

 
4. Learners do not care much for the factual definition. They care why it matters in their jobs.

 
Micro-scenarios are powerful metaphors of looking at things - like real-life mirrors.
It can be a potent tool in technical training or eLearning. It brings to life usual factual information and relates it to real events.  (Related blog:
Engaging Technical eLearning – Tips on Design and Delivery)

 
Like Sherlock Holmes, understanding technical content (definitions, how-to’s, implementation, probing, problem solving, etc.) is like detecting criminals or finding proof.  It is conducting an investigation into real impacts of actual cases.

 
Look for facts – how facts happen in real-life. How do people respond to it?  Consider the events that unfold. Discern the truth. Detect suspicious characters.  Crime busting is not just text book - based.  It is also observing how people behave.

 
In the same sense, in technical training or eLearning, it is best to focus beyond the facts.  Rather than starting with the facts, begin with the impacts on real-life – work backwards.  It is like watching a movie in reverse.  It is looking into behavior then connecting to facts.


The Micro-scenario Formula:
1) Create a story or event
2) Put learner on the spot 
3) Ask learner to respond and react
4) Connect the definition by relating it to the story
In our story for the week," Would Maria Qualify as Spouse?", a common-law wife inquires into the insurance benefits of her common-law husband who just died in an accident. The vignette demonstrates how challenging technical topics can be learned through the presentation of a real-life scenario that teaches the value of investigating factual information and invites learners to understand, apply, appreciate and retain the importance of technical knowledge.  Click here to view "Would Maria Qualify as Spouse?"
 

How to Use the Vignette
 
Although the situation presented is specific, this vignette covers a wide range of topics, including conflict-resolution, work ethics and other management-related issues. This vignette is very useful for eLearning sessions that require your learners’ undivided attention, especially those that deal with specific situations that need to be resolved in a timely manner. Use it as part of your lessons or as a post-training test. Face-to-face, eLearning or webinar, this vignette is a sure way to push your learners to the EDGE.
Vignettes are captivating and highly effective learning tools that can power up your classroom training, eLearning activities and social learning communities.
Click here to view “Would Maria Qualify as Spouse?"

 
Join us  and tell us what you think about the vignettes and share with us if you have had similar experiences. Your feedback and insights are highly valued. Also feel free to send in your suggestions, comments, improvements or topics that are of interest to you. This can help us greatly in coming up with better vignettes, especially on topics that are of great relevance to you. 



Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sparks Learning Design - Igniting Learners to Think; Washing Hands Vignettes

Roger Schank , author of “Tell Me a Story says People’s brain have incomplete stories and the brain wants to complete stories, hence, it is always story searching, making, sorting, creating, matching, adding, etc.

Jürgen Schmidhuber also essays a similar thought - ”We learn from the past; self-correct; single idea.

In essence, stories are what keep conversations going. They create sparks in our wired brains that causes us to recognize certain events we can relate back to, in our personal real-life situations. Listeners begin to share experiences and learn from one another.

In learning, I firmly believe that if the learner does not have an interpretation of the story, he or she has very low involvement or engagement with the story. Consequently, they may not discover what you want them to learn.

This is the essence of creating Vignettes - small, narrow, pockets of topics where content learning is strategically embedded.

The heart of a story in learning is to place the person in a real-life, emotionally-charged, shocking, moving experience. I call this the Sparks Learning Method of Content Design.

Please click to view enlarged and complete image

Benefits to the instructional designers and learning professionals alike:
• It saves time and effort since they do not have to spell out all the details.
• Short vignettes will cause the spark that trigger reflection/thinking through.
• It will be very relevant to the learner because it is a relatable event.
• It will be effective since learners interact with the story
• Learning is short and faster


How to get started:

(1) Select a small, narrow topic (e.g. Washing Hands for Safety)

(2) What do we know now of this topic?
- What are the learners’ complete stories about the topic?
- What are their incomplete stories about the topic ?

(3) What real-life event or story triggers, connects, relates to what we know now
of this topic?

(4) What is the new version of the story on this topic?
- What is the new discovery and new learning?


Below is a concrete example for you:

In the vignette “Washing Hands”, we look at a simple requirement not diligently followed. Handwashing is so common that people take them for granted – whether at home or in the work environment. Oftentimes, we witness “little” issues at work such as skipping protocols and standard operating procedures, or when teaching new employees the expected routines, pulling the old staff back to good work habits and so on. All these small transgressions may seem negligible but can spell dangerous consequences and create critical problems for the entire company or even in our personal lives.

Reflect on the scenario from various angles—as a problem concerning standard operating procedures, discipline, ethics, safety, or other matters you can think of—and answer the question at the end. Click here and watch the vignette for “Washing Hands”.

How to Use the Vignette

Although the situation presented is specific, this vignette covers a wide range of topics, including conflict-resolution, work ethics and other management-related issues. This vignette is very useful for eLearning sessions that require your learners’ undivided attention, especially those that deal with specific situations that need to be resolved in a timely manner. Use it as part of your lessons or as a post-training test. Face-to-face, eLearning or webinar, this vignette is a sure way to push your learners to the EDGE.
Vignettes are captivating and highly effective learning tools that can power up your classroom training, eLearning activities and social learning communities. Click here to view “Washing Your Hands".

Join us and tell us what you think about the vignettes and share with us if you have had similar experiences. Your feedback and insights are highly valued. Also feel free to send in your suggestions, comments, improvements or topics that are of interest to you. This can help us greatly in coming up with better vignettes, especially on topics that are of great relevance to you.




Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"