Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Insight Is the Smallest Form of Microlearning- Workshop Tip #220

Insight Is the Smallest Form of Microlearning
Insight is the highest form of learning. It is the juxtaposition of knowledge and bringing in one’s personal experience with the said knowledge.

See this transition leading to insights.
Knowledge: “I need to listen carefully to customers to learn what they want.”
Experience: “But sometimes I find it overwhelming when customers have so many requests and they don’t follow my suggestions.”
Insight: “Listening intently and waiting for customers to finish talking before I offer suggestions to help me understand their needs better.”
Joseph A. Raelin, author of Work-based Learning says,

There are three levels of reflection.
First Order Learning 
Reflecting and questioning prior actions that prove reliable may influence the choice to try something different.
Second-Order Learning 
Learning about concepts is deepened by looking critically at our own responses and transferring that understanding into other contexts.
Third Order Learning 
Realizing that how we have previously perceived the world may have been based on biases and not necessarily the truth.
As learners and workers move in succession starting from “questioning prior actions” to “deepened learning by critically thinking our own responses” to “acceptance that our perceptions may have been biased”, they are developing insight. Insight is the point where learners and workers form the conscious decision to make the change - then learning occurs.
How Insight is Formed

Going through the three levels of reflection is a good method to incorporate when you develop microlearning. The process is very fast. The steps are clear. And the outcome of learning is more reliable.

I’ve said these repeatedly in my previous blogs, videos, and workshops. Microlearning isn’t just about reducing or re-sizing your content. It is an exercise in futility if we take away its usefulness in addressing the workers’ needs in the equation. We determine their needs based on their insight. This is critical in the effective design of Microlearning.



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

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Bicycle Story: Knowing is Different from Understanding - Workshop Tip #219

The Bicycle Story Knowing is Different from Understanding

Check out this video about a guy trying to unlearn how to ride a bicycle. He found it extremely difficult to do. He began to realize that knowing how to ride a bike and understanding it are two different things. Sometimes, our minds prefer familiarity, a sense of order, or just keeping things the way they are. This rigidity affects how we behave towards change or learning something new.

For most people, change is a scary thing. The fear and the uncertainties of the unknown make people more apprehensive about changes. So, we stick to the status quo. We keep on with the same ideas and processes that may or may not have worked for us. No room for growth nor flexibility.

This mindset is well and good if the world is to remain in a rigid state. However, the reality is it constantly changes. In fact, we are currently living right in the thick of it and scrambling to make sense of the rapid transition required. As Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest or most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” The catchphrases of the moment - “Survive or thrive” and “Adapt or die” couldn’t be more fitting.

Change motivates us to ask questions, re-align the status quo, and view what we already know from different angles. As a result, we level up from “knowing” to “understanding.” Our knowledge, mindset, and skills grow and develop. Change opens up opportunities for fresh perspectives, breakthrough ideas, and new solutions.

You need to unlearn what you think you know, strip yourself from any biases and assumptions, and rebuild from the ground up to maximize the full benefits of new learning.

Change is neither good nor bad. It really is about choosing how to look at it and deciding what to do when it hits.



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

Friday, May 8, 2020

How Stories Uplift Our Spirits During Coronavirus - Workshop Tip 218

How Stories Uplift Our Spirits During Coronavirus

What is your lockdown story? How do you find relief and comfort from the stress and anxiety of staying at home 24/7? As for me, just like the majority of people, I rely on social media and Zoom to stay connected with family and friends. I even do a Zoom party every Friday with a group of my very close friends. My wife checks up on her mother and siblings daily through Zoom calls. Virtual team tools are a great help too for our regular work meetings.

Somehow, this sudden disconnect from our usual and normal face-to-face interactions had us strongly craving the need to connect, albeit virtually.

Unconsciously, we are becoming better communicators and the quality of conversations is deeper and more personal. Why? Because we are naturally curious and we all have stories to tell. We ask our friends and families, “What’s going on with you?” “What’s new?” “How are you handling it?”

The common thread is sharing stories. With these uncertain and unprecedented times were having, we all can benefit from stories that inspire and boost our morale.

These are some of the stories that uplift our spirits.




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

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

"It Depends" Elicits Deliberate Thinking and Learning - Workshop Tip #217

It Depends Elicits Deliberate Thinking and Learning

This is from a participant in our Workflow Learning workshop.

It Depends Susie Exercises

Why is it easier for people to say “It depends” when they are asked a question? I often hear this prevalent response from scientists, as well as workers and leaders.

What do people mean exactly when they say it?

It could be mental requests like
“Provide me more information. Tell me more.” 
“What is the issue and the problem?” 
“What is your point of view?”
“What do you want to achieve?”

Or for others, it may simply mean “I don’t understand.” 

At times, “I am just a smart aleck who wants to show off.”

The “It depends” response suggests that the question or issue requires more careful thinking.

Timothy Carey, Ph.D. wrote in a Psychology Today article.
Understanding the appropriateness of “It depends” (and why many more advice-givers should use these two words with much greater frequency than they do) hinges on understanding where the dependingness comes from. When you’re trying to decide whether to do A or B, the answer doesn’t depend on anything “out there” in the external world. The “depends” all comes down to you and your internal world. The suitability or otherwise of any course of action depends entirely on what you want.
Carey, also suggests further, that this has to do with a deliberation process.
The trouble is, we always have lots of wants. That’s why the “depends” is so important to pay attention to. If you’re deliberating over something, it must be because you’re not clear about how to respond. Should I go or stay? Should I spend or save? Should I study or party?
In my related work to Workflow Learning and our workshops, a key aspect is the deliberate process of thinking.

Oftentimes, we want learners to grasp what we teach them. But in the context where learners are thinking to solve issues, they must go through a deliberation process in their minds or with their teams.

An example:
“What happens if I adjust the formula to add more of this element? What could be the possible outcome?
Deliberate thinking is the start of good quality learning and it is essential to arrive at the most reliable answers. After all, this is what we want workers to do.

References

Timothy Carey, Ph.D., “It Depends”
Ray Jimenez, Ph.D., Workflow Learning
Ray Jimenez, Ph.D., Figure It Out!



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

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Microlearning Tip: "Let Your Fingers Do the Talking" - Workshop Tip #216

Microlearning Tip Let Your Fingers Do the Talking

"The only thing that has remained constant is change." In a time where there seems to be no end to technological advances, surviving it means to adapt. So how can this be applied in microlearning?

Millenials or Gen Z may or may not know this, but there was actually a time when the phrase "let your fingers do the walking" was one of the most popular slogans. It even has an iconic logo for it! Yes, dear young people, it was for the Yellow Pages. Back then, a phone book or directory was just that, a compilation of numbers and phone owners. A big, fat reference for when you need to contact a plumber, salon, bank, and almost every service provider under the sun (with a landline number, of course).

Fast forward to today, every information you need is available at your fingertips, literally. Now, our fingers don't just merely walk, they talk!

The emergence of the Internet, smartphones, mobile devices, AI and all the revolutionary technological breakthroughs have definitely made life easier. People are able to communicate and connect with each other, faster. The convenience brought about by technology has also benefited the way we do our work and how we learn while at work.

The convenience brought about by microlearning

Meetings and training are no longer exclusive to boardrooms and classrooms. Answers and solutions to work issues and problems are just an SMS or a search bar away. So how do we make microlearning cope up with the times and stay relevant? How do we tweak our microlearning strategies and embed it into the workers’ and learners’ dynamic and mobile work lifestyles?

Realize that SMS or texting is such a powerful tool in doing work and learning. Work with your IT, and learning platform developers and administrators to find ways to add SMS as an add-on app or option in your microlearning lessons, exercises, and instructional design. You can also try to create microlearning answers and solutions in SMS format. This way, information becomes instantly shareable through text messaging.

Microlearning is not just about reducing content, answers, and solutions into bite-sized pieces and then feeding it to the learners.  More importantly, our job is to think of smart and strategic ways to integrate microlearning in the learners’ daily work life and how we can make their needed information easier to find, access, use, and share. The SMS option can definitely help achieve that.

References

Monday, June 3, 2019

Importance of Collaboration in the Workplace - Tip #215

Importance of Collaboration in the Workplace

In a recent article by Josh Bersin, he acknowledged that we are indeed living in a skills-based community in which people, especially workers, want to learn everything quickly. The volume of online content is huge, and companies are spending more than $200 billion on different types of workplace training programs, including workflow learning. Most of the content is targeted towards the workplace to allow employees to learn new things whenever they get time.

But we need to understand that the most effective and memorable learning happens through communication and collaboration while in the workplace. In Jane Hart’s 2018 survey, a glaring 94% of the respondents think that learning from daily work experiences is very important, followed by knowledge sharing with the team. Learning in the workplace has moved away from the traditional methods.

Collaborative Learning

The best way to study collaboration among employees is to examine how they behave and what they say while at work. We can easily evaluate the type and depth of collaboration by listening to conversations of employees while they are working on a task. Employees commonly collaborate to complete tasks and improve their work situations. They don’t necessarily formally attend meetings to collaborate. Just as work is not a natural place where we “do” learning. People don’t go to work to learn. We simply do work, but work is a transformative process. According to Joseph Raelin, its purpose is to transform activities and resources into some form of result. It is when workers are faced with work problems to fix, solve or improve, small actions or “nudges” present themselves that lead to peer to peer actions and formation of teams within the company.

These are examples of conversations in the workplace in which collaboration happens:
conversations in the workplace in which collaboration happens
Design new training programs for workplace

No doubt that technology has helped us in various forms, but at the same time, we need to pay attention to the collaborative learning process. It is essential to understand that training programs for employees should be based on collaborative learning, whether they are available online or organized in the meeting room. Group learning activities can also be designed for employees because they help to generate fast and effective results in limited time. It does not mean that traditional learning strategies should be ignored. It is better to maintain a healthy balance between instructional and collaborative learning process for better results.

Conclusion

The challenge in learning through collaboration is that we set a very tall order and tell people how to best collaborate. Instead of recognizing that collaboration already exists, we don’t, and as a result it becomes a foreign concept in the workplace. We must foster the culture of collaboration and make it a native practice by acknowledging that workers, whether shallow or deep, do collaborate in their own ways. How we harness them and actively promote the process is the key.

References

Ray Jimenez, Workflow Learning
Thaler, R. H. & Sunstein, C. R. (2009). Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness.




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

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Why Keeping Your Language Casual Works in Webinars - Tip 214

Keeping Your Language Casual and Why It Works in Webinars

The 2018 State of Attention [Infographic] by Pezi, shows that 95% of business professionals say they multitask during meetings. Over 4 in 5 business professionals shifted their focus away from the speaker in the most recent presentation they watched. Presentations are what make or break events. How do you keep your learners hooked to what you’re saying?
2018 state of attention report keeping your language casual and why it works

To be able to engage the participants and to get your point across in the most impactful way possible are the ultimate goals of every virtual presenter, trainer or facilitator worth his salt. Unlike in-person or face-to-face presentations where we can employ eye to eye contact, facial expressions, hand gestures or body movements to effectively communicate our ideas, we are limited to visual aids and our verbal communication skills. This is exactly why during virtual presentations, we need to be mindful of our tone of voice and most importantly, the type of language we use.

Formal vs. Informal Language

We apply formal and informal language in different situations. The tone of formal language is less personal, rigid, and systematic. Whereas, informal language is casual and more personal. In doing my webinars, I prefer the usage of informal language because it makes it easier for the participants to relate and engage with me on the topics I’m presenting. Can you imagine how awkward or difficult it would be to establish rapport with your audience or show your personality to them when you speak too formally?

Why does casual, informal language work in webinars? Here are my thoughts.

It sparks conversations

As Leech and Svartvik (2002) put it, “informal language (also called colloquial) is the language of ordinary conversation.” The reasons why I advocate the use of interactive stories and thought-provoking questions are the same reasons I encourage keeping the language casual during the virtual presentation - to spark conversations and to initiate virtual engagement through experience sharing. Master virtual trainers and presenters know how to make their audience feel as if they are just having a friendly conversation with friends but at the same time are able to achieve the learning objectives of the session.

Informal language masterful virtual training


It facilitates faster exchange of ideas

Maintaining a casual webinar environment where informal language is encouraged facilitates a faster exchange of ideas. Simplify ideas by using keywords. Bring context by sharing everyday real-life stories. Also, narrate relatable anecdotes. People respond better when you "speak in their language." Formal terminologies and highfalutin words may make you sound clever but will they help in sending your intended message across? Most probably not. It should always be about effectively communicating content and bringing context to your audience. Not them, spending unnecessary time and effort on the correctness of their language.

Conclusion

A master virtual trainer or presenter has to be agile, flexible and relatable. Never mind the small imperfections or the informality in language because most of the time, this informality is the appropriate solution to avoid your audience being “lost in translation.” But of course, too much of anything can have its downside. Therefore, find the right balance between keeping it casual and still having a strong virtual presence so you don’t lose control of your session. Let me know what you think. Share your insights and comments below.

References

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Enhancing Observational Skills Is Crucial in Workflow Learning - Tip #213

Enhancing Observational Skills Is Crucial in Workflow Learning

How many times have we seen workers in situations where they focus too much on following the process we trained them on, instead of using the power of observation and critical thinking?

The Broken Screw Story

A technician, who was having a problem with an equipment, frustratingly scans the manual again to see if she’s doing it correctly.

“I’m using the correct screw, but it won’t fit. What am I doing wrong?”

She tried to insert it again, but to no avail. She checked the supplier’s website for more updated information about the equipment but there was none. Her last resort was to ask a senior technician about it.

He then replied, “I used the other screw, and you have to slightly heat it up because this one, although it’s supposed to be the right one, does not fit.”


According to Roger Schank, one of the places where real-life learning takes place is in the workplace, “on the job.” He suggests that if we want our workers to learn their jobs, the best way to do it is to let them do their jobs. Work situations and issues trigger the worker’s critical thinking and creativity. It is the starting point for their investigation and their need for answers and solutions. In the story above, the senior technician knew how to work the screw because he had gone through the same problems and must have tried and tested several solutions. It even paved the way for him to innovate (heat up the screw, even if it doesn’t say i needed to in the manual). Observation is a key component in the process of diagnosing and fixing work problems.

Also, in a study by Magda Osman, evidence suggests that there is a positive correlation between observation-based learning and problem-solving. People learn better and faster, not through mastery of procedures, but rather by trial and error and observation. Just like what we realized in the Broken Screw Story.

3 Impact Areas Of Observation in the Workplace


1. Discovery of gaps

The modern workplace is full of distractions and it’s easy for workers to lose focus and to just go with the flow in order to complete their tasks. Critical thinking and time for observation are often set aside in favor of deadlines. Observation is crucial in identifying gaps, breaches or inconsistencies in the workflow. It is how workers are able to assess which problem areas to immediately fix, solve, and improve.

2. Forward-looking solutions

Being fully aware and deliberately paying attention to the different elements of work processes, deeply understanding its meaning and recognizing plausible risks, errors, and hazards are essential observational skills in the workplace. It aids the workers to think ahead of solutions to problems before they happen. It trains their mind to be adept at solving both expected and unexpected work issues.

3. Results

Observation is a powerful skill that can be scaled. It can be measured based on the variances of results and on how well workers adjust to changes in their work and its environment. Being diligent, observant workers highly impact their productivity, safety and company costs as it lessens, if not eliminate, the possibility of mistakes, accidents, and errors while doing their assigned tasks.

Conclusion

Without good observational skills, the potential to miss important steps and the risk of repeated errors are high. It affects the quality of workers’ output which can be costly to the organizations they are in. We have to train our workers, not just to be mere followers of procedures and processes, but also to be keen observers, self-reliant thinkers and creative problem-solvers.

Reference

Ray Jimenez, PhD., Workflow Learning




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

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

AI Bots Gaining Ground- What Does It Mean for Us As Virtual Trainers? - Tip #212

AI Bots Gaining Ground What Does It Mean for Virtual Trainers?

Last year, China’s Xin Hua news agency introduced Qui Hao, the world’s first AI male news anchor. Just three months after, they unveiled Xin Xiaomeng, the world’s first AI female news presenter. While critics were quick to say that those anchors are not truly AI but just AI-powered, I leave that to the experts. AI has truly arrived and is now making its mark in the business of storytelling and presenting. What does this mean for us, trainers, facilitators, and presenters? Are we to lose our place as master storytellers in the fourth industrial revolution sooner than we think? Are human trainers and storytellers about to be replaced by AI bots? How do we continue to thrive and stay relevant in this fast-paced and ever-changing environment?

While an article by McKinsey and Co. doesn’t think so -- or at least not just yet, their research with MIT's Lab for Social Machines recognizes that a collaboration between humans and AI technology can be a very powerful tool to enhance the video storytelling process and help us continue to flourish in the world of AI.

Humans are innately emotional beings AI is not.

The power of human touch

What makes a fun, engaging and highly interactive virtual training or webinar session? Is it the usage of the latest tools? Perhaps. Is it showing the most visually appealing slides and content? Maybe. Personally, the most significant element of a successful presentation is the humanity of the trainer or presenter. The connection between humans, like how we make conversations, relate with each other’s stories, show warmth, humor and empathy, is still beyond the capabilities of AI. The emotional human traits are what set us apart. But it doesn’t mean that we can and should rest on our laurels.

Let’s challenge ourselves

Developments in AI and technology don’t happen in trickles, but in leaps and bounds. Have you heard about the short film, Sunspring? It’s the first ever screenplay solely written by an AI bot. Can you imagine this being possible ten years ago? Let’s continue to challenge ourselves and strive to be better trainers, facilitators and presenters in the midst of all the technology advancements going on. Be updated with the latest trends and topics. Always consider what is relevant to the changing needs of your learners and participants. Find new and creative ways to engage and evoke their emotions.

Conclusion

AI technology is here to stay. Whether we see it as a threat or an opportunity is a matter of perspective. I continue to see it as a challenge to be better at what we do. Humans are innately emotional beings. Let’s use this to our advantage whenever we do our sessions. In this modern world we live in, it’s always in the best interest of us, as trainers, and our learners to learn to adapt to the rapidly changing technology. This will help cement our place as master trainers and storytellers. Share with me your thoughts. I’d love to read your comments below.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

5 Big Don’ts for Successful Webinar Presentations - Tip #211

successful webinar presentations

Over the years, I have done a lot of seminars, workshops, and talks - both virtually and in-person. The main challenge in virtual presentations is that your audience can’t see you and vice versa. It can be tricky to capture their attention or get them engaged by merely hearing your voice and seeing your slides. How do you turn your presentation into a provocative, engaging, and highly impactful virtual experience for your learners?

In my previous blogs, I’ve shared numerous dos when designing and delivering successful webinars. Now, I give you the big don’ts.

Don’t skip the prep

In any endeavor, be it mountain climbing, joining a triathlon, performing on stage, or doing a virtual presentation, preparation is the key to its success. It was Confucius who said, “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such effort there is sure to be failure.” Test and prepare your resource materials. Conduct a technical dry-run of your tools in advance. Rehearse your presentation flow. Be prepared with back-up plans for any possible glitches. Have a checklist and follow it religiously. Trust me, your audience don’t need to see you to know if you’ve come unprepared. The instant they realize that, nothing you say would interest them anymore.

Don’t drag with facts

I have learned, from my experience in doing webinars, that you immediately lose your audience’s attention the moment you start your presentation with facts. Nothing is enticing nor motivating about going through a litany of learning objectives, or stating compliance policies, or showing a bunch of technical data. I find using real-life situations and weaving stories into content to be highly effective in engaging the participants.

successful webinar presentations
Don’t force engagement

Connection with your audience has to happen naturally and seamlessly. You can’t force it or overdo it, lest you come off as inauthentic or insincere. Share relatable stories that trigger conversations. Pitch thought-provoking and relevant questions then allow your audience to reflect and share their thoughts and experiences.

Don’t prolong

Information overload is the bane of any audience. Webinars, generally, run an hour. Make it count for your audience by cutting down ideas to the “bare essentials.”  Avoid dumping unnecessary data. Make a personal commitment to NOT lecture in webinars. Capture your audience’s attention by providing ideas that are timely, highly contextual and relevant. Focus on the crucial topic and take control of the flow.

Don’t forget your audience

One key essential to a successful presentation is high audience interaction. As I’ve mentioned earlier, not being able to see each other is a challenge in webinars. How do you ensure that while you’re presenting and showing them your slides, that they are not busy doing something else? Ask your audience reflection questions and throw in intriguing ideas. Encourage them to respond and share their insights to sustain engagement. Veer away from providing definitive answers that do nothing to stimulate their thinking and curiosity.
successful webinar presentations

Conclusion

To be successful at webinar presentations, it takes preparation, dedication, creativity, sincerity, and hard work. Not everyone is born with great presentation skills but it can definitely be learned. Study your topics, practice, and always involve your audience. Reflect on these thoughts. I’d love to hear what you think. Post your comments below.

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