Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Extracting Learning from a Conference You Are Not Attending

I would love it if my job allowed me to attend any conference i want without limitations, but the daily requirements of work and budget constraints make that impossible. That doesn't mean I can't gain knowledge from a conference simply because I am not physically unable to attend. While there may not (yet) be a way to get all the value of a conference without actually attending it, there are plenty of ways to extract substantial learning from a conference remotely.

For me, the best tool for extracting learning from a conference remotely is Twitter. If you're an active user of Twitter you may be familiar with the concept of a backchannel.

The backchannel consists of Twitter users that are actively posting tweets during an event. The backchannel tweets could consist of key learning points or some sort of real-time feedback on the sessions' value.

Here are the three most common techniques that I use to leverage Twitter and the backchannel to extract learning from a conference I was not able to attend in person.

Viewing the Live Tweet Stream

Most conferences today now have a hash tag associated with them. A hash tag is a specific text string preceded by a number sign that Twitter users can search on. For example, the Hash Tag for the current Learning 2010 conference is #l2010. This enables anyone who wants to contribute to or follow the tweets of attendees of that conference to find them all by searching #l2010.

Following the hash tag live is probably the most engaging option for learning from a conference you were unable to attend. By following the live stream, you have the opportunity to interact with attendees of the conference. See a tweet the you have a question or want to know more about? Reply to the poster in real time.

As an example, yesterday I saw a number of tweets related to performance support tools that I found interesting. I replied to one of the posters asking who the speaker of the session was, which he quickly replied back with. Less than 5 minutes later, I had searched the speaker and downloaded a detailed white paper from his website.

While live following of the Twitter feed is the best option if you want to interact with people attending the conference, it is also the most time consuming. It's not always an option to sit at your desk for hours reading and responding to tweets.

Don't have time or patience to review a tweet stream? Try one of these two time-saving options.

Reviewing an Archive of a Hash Tag
If you do not have the time to review tweets as they happen, you can review the stream of tweets later on via one of the many archive options. One of the tools I often use is TweetDeck, which enables me to follow a number of Social Media feeds and searches simultaneously.

By setting up a search option for the conference hash tag, I can go in periodically and review the tweets that have come through in a single sitting. This is my preferred method of reviewing conference tweets; I will allocate 5 - 10 minutes every hour or so to review the tweets that came in since my last review.

Many conferences will now archive their entire tweet stream, enabling users to review the tweets of the entire conference well after the conference has ended. The challenge with these archives is that they are usually text-based and are no longer integrated with Twitter, making it impossible to reply, retweet, or in any way interact with the stream.

Perform an Advanced Search for the Hash Tag and the Word BLOG.

Some people find limited value in the the 140 character format of Twitter. They prefer deeper context and greater detail in their learning. Even people who swear by the value of Twitter will, at times, wish they could dive deeper into the meaning and value of a tweet.

For me, that's where blogs come in to fill the gap. More and more, blogs are becoming an integrated part of a conference tweet stream. Conference attendees tweet their thoughts as they happen during the conference, and often post reflective summaries on their blog after the fact.

These blog entries usually go into much greater detail than the 140 character limit of Twitter allows, and provide an excellent complement to the live stream. The integration of blogs with the tweet stream comes from bloggers posting updates with the hash tag indicating that a blog entry has been posted regarding the conference.

All you need to do is go to http://search.twitter.com/ and perform and advanced search on both the hash tag and the word 'blog'. As an example, the below image shows three blog entries I found regarding the current Learning 2010 conference.

Of course, given the choice I'd still much rather attend conferences in person. The personal connections made at events like this are usually one of the best takeaways. That said, it's no longer as simple as 'if you don't go, you get none of the value'. Now, there are options that enable you to extract some of the key learnings remotely.

If you have another technique that you use, please add a comment with the details. Thanks!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, October 22, 2010

Reflections on #lrnchat - Learning in the Workflow

Each week that I am able to participate in #lrnchat discussion I post a summary of the discussion to my blog. I do this both for my personal development as well as sharing with the Learning and Development Profession at large. This summary is based on my own interpretations of the chat; others who participated may have differing opinions or interpretations of the discussion. I welcome those that do to add your ideas to the comments.

The topic of this week's #lrnchat session was Learning in the Workflow. Jane Hart of the Center for Learning and Performance Technologies (@C4LPT) posted a link to an article she wrote that provided an excellent foundation for the day's discussions. You can find that article HERE.

I always find looking at the questions that are used to loosely guide the chat as a nice way to see the overall theme of the chat. Here are the five discussion questions that were presented to the group:

Q1)From formal learning for novices we want to move to social for practitioners: how do we get an elegant segue in between?
Q2) Performance support is a major concern, but how is it integrated into formal and social?
Q3) How do we move from discreet components to an integrated workflow environment?
Q4) What new tools or trends are coming along that we should be aware (wary) of?
Q5) What are you hoping to see/needing, to make progress with supporting social workflow learning?

Key Learning Points

Over time, there have been a number of shifts in how learning and support is provided to performers. Research has shown that the traditional learning methodology - formal learning - is not the most effective executed on its own. New methodologies like informal learning and social learning enhance the learning and support process by extending the learning experience and bringing it closer to timely relevance. Much promise has been shown in the effectiveness of processes that blend these different methodologies into cohesive processes.

The learning and development community is similar to any other population in that the majority of individuals are resistant to change. Many practitioners continue to limit themselves to formal practices, and have not yet made strides towards integrating other methods into their learning and performance strategies. Today's #lrnchat discussions focused on how the early adopters of these additional methodologies can help those that have not yet begun to use these techniques so that the profession as a whole can move forward.

The first step in building a bridge for the formal-only practitioner is to simply build awareness. The awareness, however, is two fold. There must be an awareness not only that these methodologies exist, but also that they exist in conjunction and alignment with formal performance support. Often formal practitioners place focus on creating learning opportunities. Part of the paradigm shift for novice practitioners is realizing that learning is constant and that social and informal methodologies emphasize learners themselves being one of the primary vehicles for performance support.

This also shifts the primary responsibility for performance support away from the learning professional and onto the performer. Learning professionals must be aware of this shift and realize that even if they focus on formal learning only, the shift towards social and informal support on the learner side has likely already started. Learning Professionals that do not embrace these changes risk falling behind as their workplaces continue to evolve.

Throughout the discussion ideas and strategies were shared that can help learning professionals adjust to the shifting landscape of workplace learning and performance. Whether you are a novice learning professional or a more seasoned professional that is looking to help build a bridge for novices, you will find many great ideas shared in the discussion. As always, you can find the full transcripts at http://lrnchat.com/.

There are always at least a couple of tweets that resonate well with the topic and seem to really strike a chord. Here are a few that stuck out to me from today's sessions:

On how we move novices practitioners to social practitioners:
@JaneBozarth: What many L&D are missing is that this is happening now WITHOUT THEM...
@mrch0mp3rs: What you don't ever do is give up on the people struggling to make the change.
@edReformer: Experts shouldn't teach wisdom. Experts should facilitate a learner's ability to experience life and develop wisdom.

On how performance support is integrated between formal and social learning:
@britz: Formal often sets the foundation, social extends, expands, and conceptualizes.
@Quinnovator: make performance support resources searchable, shareable, and organize by user goals, not silos
@ThomasStone: Shorten formal event by shifting to Performance Support tools. then spend part of the formal event teaching them to use the Performance Support tools.

On how we shift to an integrated workflow environment:
@charlesjennings: Grasp that learning is a process, not a series of events and that learning IS the work, and that work is learning

On what we need to be wary of:
@C4LPT: Be VERY wary of systems that want to integrate work into learning; learning needs to be integrated into the workflow.

On what we need to progress social workflow learning:
@Quinnovator: go beyond best practices and take on best principles

I think the most thought provoking tweet of the day for me came from @mrch0mp3rs: the bulk of L&D professionals ARE going to accelerate to social & workplace learning. They'll get there. My question: what then?

I look forward to finding out the answer to that question.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

There's no such thing as a one-person training department

I have worked as a training director in two companies. In my previous role, I managed a group of 13 trainers and instructional designers. In my current role, I am what many would call a "department of one".

I never really cared for that label, as it almost seemed to imply "There's only so much you can do... you're only one person". I've spent the better part of my two years in this role leveraging resources and maximizing my personal focus so that the organization measures the impacts of learning without the filter of it being a "one-person show".

In order for that to happen, I needed to change the perceptions of the company's employees and stakeholders. Much of that was achieved through conscious choice of the language being used. For example, organizational communications that reference training do not say 'please contact David regarding the training'; they instruct people to contact the Training Department. My personal communications do not use 'I' or 'me'; they use 'we' and 'us', as in 'we are pleased to announce details about a new program...'.

This may seem like semantics to some, but language is very important to me. I feel making this distinction helps change perceptions to what the reality truly is: that the resources for learning and performance support in an organization go well beyond what any single person may be able to deliver on his or her own.

At a recent meeting of managers, one of the newly hired managers asked me who else was on my staff. I informed him that I had no direct reports, and that my team consisted of over 50 people in the retail network. This confused the group a bit at first. When I explained that each and every manager is essentially an 'authorized deputy' of the Training Department, it clicked for them. That's the reality.

Every manager that has a direct report who participates in a learning and performance program is, in effect, a partner in that employee's learning and performance. They become part of the Training Department as soon as one of their employees participate in training.

So really, it's not a question of how many people appear as part of the training group within your company organization chart. It's a question of how many people in your organization realize that their role includes support of learning and performance initiatives. If they understand and buy into that part of their role, then even a 'department of one' can have an entire team supporting his or her efforts.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lessons Learned from the ASTD Chapter Leaders Conference - Part 2

The first day of the ASTD Chapter Leaders Conference was great. The sessions were informative, I was able to network with new and existing friends and peers, and I ended my day with a pretty extensive action plan for my chapter.

Of course, like most conferences, the marathon day was a little tiring, and I was looking forward to getting some much needed rest. I should point out that with a six year old and one year old at home, it's rare that I don't wake up earlier then I'd prefer each morning, so I was really looking forward to taking advantage of the opportunity and 'sleeping in' till 7:30 or so.

That was, of course, before I learned that Bob Pike was going to be conducting an informal Q&A session during breakfast, starting at 7:00.

Informal Q&A with Bob Pike

I arrived a few minutes after seven, and there was a already a crowd of about 75 people and growing present. Apparently I wasn't the only one who thought listening to Bob Pike was worth getting up early for. By the time the session ended, there were probably 300 people in the room.

Bob Pike has always been a friend to ASTD, not only at a National level, but for the individual chapters as well. I was very impressed with how chapter-specific and relevant his comments were. Here are some of the highlights.

An interesting statistic was shared regarding the Learning and Development field: 50% of all trainers have been in the business for less than 5 years. That shows that half of those who may be interested in our events are novices in their roles. Does our programming reflect that?

There was discussion regarding legacy, specifically wondering if there is legacy to your chapter. Here's a good yardstick to initially measure legacy: if the incoming Chapter President is here less then three years, it shows that there is likely no legacy in the chapter.

Bob also discussed the marketing of chapter events and used a great example to drive the thought home. He asked how many of us would be able to attend a session he was having on October 28th, about 3 weeks from today. About 10% of the audience raised their hands. He then asked how many of us would be able to attend the same event if it was held on March 3rd 2010, and about 80% of the audience raised their hand. The same concept applies to our chapter meetings. People need to plan ahead - the more notice we give em, the better attendance we will likely see.

Bob closed his chat by reviewing what he considers to be the three major reasons that people join a local chapter: Content, networking, and most importantly, connections!

The session ended with the National Advisors for Chapters presenting Bob with a gift and thanking him not just for the morning, but for all the support he has given to ASTD and the local chapters throughout his career.

I could not agree more. It was a great way to start the day (and well worth getting up early for).

Breakout Session- Center Stage: Social Media

This session was actually broken into two parts. The first part was facilitated by Deb Lang and Linda Pinkham of the Central Indiana chapter. Their presentation was on introducing Social Media within Chapters, with the main focus being introducing Twitter to the group.

I've seen 'Introductory Twitter' taught a number of different ways, but never like this. All participants were issued handouts that had a number of fallout boxes on them. The facilitators used these boxes to walk the group through setting up their Twitter profile, composing their initial tweet, and the concept of reviewing, retreating, and following other people.

It was a highly interactive session that was informative and fun. As the audience started handing their pages around the table to review and retweet the tweets of others, there was a great deal of laughter. More importantly, there was learning, as there were a number of questions being asked of myself and the other Twitter users at the table by those that had not yet taken the jump into the Tweet-stream.

After a short break, it was time for the second half of the breakout session. This portion, facilitated by Patrick O'Malley of the Greater Boston Chapter, focused on marketing your chapter via social media.

Let me just say one thing before I talk about the learning points. If you have the opportunity to attend a session that Patrick O'Malley facilitates, DO IT. Don't think about it, just do it. You will not be disappointed. This was a highly energetic session, filled with extremely valuable and actionable content, delivered in a roll-off-your-chair humor style. Patrick is obviously a
naturally funny person, and he is able to channel it in a way that it enhances his message and the learning of his audience in a way you rarely see. This wasn't just the best session of the conference for me and others; we all agreed it was one of the best we've attended, period.

OK, that should be enough to warrant a referral fee of some sort. Now I can share with you some of the tips from the session. Patrick gave the audience a number of great ideas on how chapters can better market themselves via social media.

If people search Google for "professional training organization", you want your chapter's name on the top of the search results. Why is that so important? Consider this: ten percent of people never go past the first Google search page. If your chapter appears on page two of the search, ninety percent of searchers will never see it.

Google likes it when one sites points to another - it helps up your rank. If every chapter listed the other chapters on it, all of their Google search profiles would be raised.

Patrick also recommended that chapters market their events via Television commercials. There was a large number of people who sarcastically chuckled at this suggestion, as generally chapters don't have the budget for TV advertising. It wasn't until Patrick pulled the Flip camera out that people really grasped his message. If you have a Flip or an iPhone, you have all you need for TV advertising, via YouTube.

Have a speaker record a 30 second summary of an upcoming event, upload it to YouTube, and BINGO, you now have a TV Commercial that you can link to in your chapter communications.

Another area we explored was LinkedIn, and how chapters can find potential new members in its database. A popular misconception about LinkedIn search is that when you are searching for people to connect with, you search for the person's name in the PEOPLE search option. That label is misleading, because what you are really searching when you use the PEOPLE search option are profiles. That's important, because you can search for job roles like Training Manager or Training Specialist to find new people that may be interested in your meetings. This functionality is further expanded via LinkedIn's advanced search options.

Patrick also gave some tips for using Facebook and Twitter to market chapters.

He discussed advertising on Facebook as it targets the ad to profiles that may be interested in it. There is no upfront cost to advertising on Facebook, but there is a cost every time a user clicks on your add.

As for Twitter, it was suggested to search phrases that trainers may include in their tweets to prospect for members, such as "Taught a class" in your region. In addition, Twellow, which functions as sort of a Yellow Pages for Twitter users, was recommended as a resource.

The session ended with cheers and a well-deserved standing ovation. I look forward to my next opportunity to learn from Patrick.

Patrick has made the slides from his session, as well as a host of additional resources available on his website. You can get all the information HERE.

Keynote: Tony Bingham

Tony Bingham's keynote was what closed the conference for me, as I had an phone appointment during the last session of the conference. Tony shared with the group some important chapter updates, including:

*CPLP bundle is approved for public funding in NY - how can I leverage this?
*There is now a portal that chapters can use for collaboration. It is available at http://www.collaborate.astd.org/.
*CHAMP/website fees will be phased in. Fees will be scaled based on chapter size category. Specific fees will be announced in October.
*Chapter websites - ability to add new pages coming this month!
*Chapters are currently required to have 30% joint members. This will be staying at 30% in 2011, and increasing 5% annually till it reaches 50%. Currently the average joint membership for chapters is 41%; that percentage goes up to 67% if you're on CHAMP.
*National has just released a new toolkit for chapters that provide practices for succession planning.
*There have been enhancements to the CHiP program, including 10% on conferences and 10% on job bank referrals (employers also get a 15% discount when referred by a chapter)

At the conclusion of the session, many of the exiting members of the National Advisors for Chapters were thanked for their service, including the exiting NAC President, Cindy Hugg (Great Job Cindy! Thanks for all the assistance!).

Day 2 and Conference Summary

Day 2 reinforced the feelings that I had at the end of Day 1- that this was a valuable experience for me as an ASTD Chapter Leader, and one I hope to repeat in 2011.

The conference left me with many action items to review and plan for in the coming weeks and months. My train ride from Washington back to New York City was about 3 hours, and I spent the whole time reviewing and refining my notes from the conference.

My only regret regarding the conference was in my travel plans. I came to the conference late Thursday night after work, and left Saturday evening at the end of the conference. There were a great deal of chapter leaders who were there earlier than me and who stayed the night on Saturday, and I would have enjoyed continuing the networking with those peers.

Thanks to all those I met and shared with at the conference, both in person and via the Twitter backchannel. I look forward to seeing you again in 2011.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lessons Learned from the ASTD Chapter Leaders Conference - Part 1

Through exceptional learning and performance, we create a world that works better.

This is the newly drafted mission of ASTD, the American Society for Training and Development. It is a simple statement that is very true, and an exceptional way to set the stage for the annual Chapter Leaders Conference.

This was my first time attending the Chapter Leaders Conference, and I can say without question, it will not be my last. I greatly enjoyed the conference, and meeting many of my fellow chapter leaders. It was an extremely valuable, if quick, two days. I am hoping that this blog post is of similar value to those that were unable to attend the conference, as well as reinforcement for those chapter leaders in attendance.

Like most conferences, ALC (not sure why that's the acronym - feel free to comment if you know) is comprised of a few keynote speakers and a variety of breakout sessions to choose from. What follows is a summary of my key learning points from the conference. I'll be separating this into two blog posts to make the length of each a little shorter.


Ed Betof Keynote

The conference kicked off with a keynote session featuring Ed Betof, author of Leaders as Teachers. This was a great way to start things off, and I think Betof did an excellent job of positioning his work with Leaders as Teachers for not only the audience, but the context.

I always prefer speakers that actively engage their audience rather than simply speaking to the crowd, and Betof did this very well. Ignoring the podium, and the stage for that manner, he conducted most of his presentation from within the audience itself.

The main message that I got from Betof is that all of those in the audience, as both learning professionals and chapter leaders, should have teachable leadership points of view or perspectives. We should be be setting the example and raising the bar in our leadership.

I particularly liked the series of reflection questions that were posed, which I thought were an excellent method of self-analysis of one's leadership skills

Reflection Questions:
1. Who were the leaders in your life that helped you the most to grow, learn, develop, and change for the better?
2. How did these leaders teach the lessons that made a positive difference for you?
3. Self assess yourself as a leader-teacher/coach (1-10)
4. If asked the first question, would your organization identify you?

Side note: I thought all of the keynotes were very good. I did not, however, think that they all targeted their content towards the context of the event. Based on the audience - chapter leaders for local chapters of ASTD - there is a reasonable expectation that the attendees are leaders and in some capacity work in the learning and performance field. The context of the event, though, was chapter leadership. I came to this event to develop my skills as a chapter leader, not as a general leader or as a learning and performance professional. I feel some of the keynotes missed out on the context.

Breakout Session: Managing Your Teams of Volunteers

This was a very interesting session facilitated by Dawn Mahoney of the South Central Wisconsin Chapter, that focused mostly on sharing ideas and successes related to the team of volunteers in a chapter.

One of the most simple and powerful ideas that came up during this session was in reference to getting more people to attend our 'meetings'. The focus of the comment was to change the labeling of our regular events from 'meetings' to 'Professional Development Events'.

I really like this idea because, as George Carlin used to say, "We think in language, so the quality of our thoughts and ideas can only be as good as the quality of our language". When was the last time you got a meeting request at work and thought, "I can't wait!". However, if you were invited to a Professional Development Event, you'd probably be a lot more interested in attending. Why would people think any differently about our chapter 'meetings'? This will be one of the first post-ALC actions that I recommend our board take.

Lunch with National Advisors for Chapters

This was a structured lunch with chapter leaders from our regions, facilitated loosely by our representatives from the National Advisors for Chapters. I greatly enjoyed connecting with the other chapter leaders and sharing ideas and best practices.

One of my favorite parts of conferences lately is having the ability to connect in person with people I have developed relationships with online, especially through Twitter. This conference was no exception, as I was able to meet up with and enjoy sharing conversation with two 'tweeps' from #lrnchat, @britz and @ThomasStone.
(If you are not familiar with #lrnchat, the weekly Twitter chat for learning professionals, check it out Here.)

Getting Volunteers Involved in Chapter Leadership

This was one of the first sessions I highlighted to attend when I registered for the conference. The chapter I am President of has a challenge bringing in new volunteers, and has a high percentage of current board members that will not be returning in 2011. I was coming to this hoping to have some actionable steps I could implement shortly after the conference. I was not disappointed by this session, facilitated by Christie Ward of the Rocky Mountain chapter.

One of the more simple, yet effective tips was simply this: Ask. Many times we ask the membership as a whole for volunteers, but don't reach out to potential leaders on an individual basis. I know this was the case for me. I assumed that I wasn't part of the chapter long enough to serve on the board, and didn't really see it as an option until someone approached me about it. (Hey Linda Berke, in case I never actually said it, Thanks for that!)

Another important theme was to emphasize the relationships forged through participating in chapter leadership. Being part of a chapter and a chapter leadership team makes you part of a unique community.

We also spent time discussing why people do, and do not, volunteer. Here are some of the points shared:

What do volunteers expect?
*To be involved and contribute.
*To work with like-minded people.
*To network.
*To learn and keep their skills sharp.
*To be recognized.
*To get career advancing competencies.
*To participate in a cause they believe in.

Why DON'T people volunteer?
*Time constraints
*Family and responsibilities
*They lack info about volunteering
*They lack info about virtual or short-term volunteer opportunities

Many family people are not going to volunteer, at least not formally, but are searching for connections to the professional world through volunteering. We can take advantage of this by building ad-hoc volunteer opportunities.

You'll Never Work in this Town Again! Creating a Career Portfolio

Being someone that is always looking to move ahead towards a greater opportunity, I was very interested in learning about a career portfolio, and Greg Williams of the Maryland chapter did an excellent job of describing and walking the group through the process of building one.

In today's day and age, it is incredibly important that individuals find a way to distinguish themselves from their peers in the job market. A career portfolio is an excellent way to do just that, yet it is estimated that less than one in ten learning professionals have a portfolio of their own. I find myself in this unfortunate majority.

This topic queued my interest because I found out first hand how hard it is to distinguish yourself from other job seekers about two years ago. The biggest lesson I learned during that time was that the time to prepare yourself for your next role isn't when you need it, it's while you are still in your current role. That's why I wanted to participate in this session.

A portfolio for a learning professional is really no different from a portfolio of a photographer or a model. It's a collection of artifacts that show, in a tangible way, the quality of the work you can produce. What are some of the things a learning professional can include in their portfolio?

Some of the suggestions included:
*Learning materials you wrote, such as participant guides, facilitator guides, job aids, etc.
*Communications that comment on the quality of your work, even something as simple as a complimentary e-mail
*E-learning modules you may have created. You can also include screen prints with a descriptive narrative.

Seeing these types of artifacts during an interview will make you memorable to a recruiter, and distinguish you from your competition.

Of course, the dreaded 'copyright' question did come up, and it is something you need to be conscious of. When adding artifacts to your portfolio, make sure you have permission to do so, and take out any proprietary information.

The session ended with a nice bonus - a quick walkthrough of creating an electronic portfolio using Adobe Acrobat's PDF portfolio functionality. I was already familiar with the PDF portfolio functionality myself, but had not yet connected it as an option for my portfolio. This seemed to be a highlight for many attendees.

Jack Phillips Keynote: Measuring what matters

First, a disclaimer. I believe in the need to show the value of training. Whether there are 4 levels, 5 levels, or whether you call it ROI, ROE, or any other description doesn't really matter to me. Phillips, Brinkhoff, Kirkpatrick and others may have different approaches to the 'ROI' theory, but one similarity they all share is that training needs to have a benefit to the business. When it comes to that concept, I drink the Kool Aid.

I should also disclose that In my efforts to learn more about showing the value of training, I went through the process of getting certified by the ROI Institute in Phillips' ROI Methodology Phillips. I don't necessarily agree with every piece of the methodology's process, but I find value in it and the work of Phillips' peers as it pertains to the business value learning.

With those disclosures out of the way, I enjoyed the presentation Phillips gave. Having participated in many of his presentations in the past, most of what he said I had heard or read in some manner before. That was one of the minor drawbacks to the presentation for me. I'm not sure how many others had seen him before and if they felt similar to the way I did.

If you have seen Phillips speak before, you probably know the drill. His presentation focused on the desire of CEOs to know the TRUE value of learning. Let the smile sheets go away, and don't report how many people attended sessions. He describes this as the 'Show me' evolution, as in, 'Show Me The Value' of learning. (or Show Me the Money, the title of a Phillips book ;-) )

Phillips shared a number of statistics with the audience, most of which showed a substantial gap between the type of information CEOs want about the training function as compared to the information they get. Overall, it was interesting information that I personally found interesting.

What I found to be the main drawback of Phillips presentation was the lack of connection that it brought to the context of the event: Chapter Leadership. I would love to have heard him apply his ROI model to Chapter Management, and provide examples of how chapters can measure the value they are providing to their membership, the chapter, ASTD National, or the profession as a whole.

Hmmm... Maybe that's an idea for a speaker proposal in 2011.

Day 1 Summary

Before I even stepped into Jack Phillips' keynote that ended the session, I had already decided that I was planning on returning to the ALC conference in 2011. I found a great deal of value in the sessions and networking, both personally and for my chapter.

As with many conferences today, there was an active Twitter backchannel, which I always find to be a great reinforcer of content and key learning points.

Most importantly, I found myself in my room that evening, making notes for a post-conference action plan. To me that is the most important measure of a conference: Can I use what I've learned? The answer in this case is a resounding yes... and I hadn't even gotten to Day 2 yet.

Better still, Day 2 had what was probably the best session of the conference.

Coming soon, my recap of Day 2 of the ASTD Chapter Leaders Conference.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Reflections on #lrnchat - Learning Malpractice

The topic of this week's #lrnchat session was Learning Malpractice. That's not exactly a common term used in the Learning community, but luckily a blog post by Clark Quinn was shared ahead of the chat that helped lay some foundation for the discussion. You can find that blog post here.

I able to participate in the afternoon session and part of the evening session and, as usual, found the discussion to be very enjoyable and educational.

I always find looking at the four questions that are used to loosely guide that chat as a nice way to see the overall theme of the chat. Here are the four discussion questions that were presented to the group:

Q1) What examples of learning malpractice have you seen?
Q2) What is/are the remedies to learning malpractice?
Q3) How do we know the difference between good learning and its opposite – what distinguishes the "good"?
Q4) How do we influence stakeholders to not settle for lesser quality in the learning experience?

Key Learning Points

Like many terms in Learning and Development, 'Learning Malpractice' is a little misleading. There's nothing wrong with the learning, or the learner for that manner. Learning Malpractice refers to the gross errors made in the design, development, or delivery of learning plans.

We also need to ensure we are focusing on the needs of the organization and the needs of the learner. You may notice that the needs of the instructor are not included in that equation. That's because focused attention on the organization and learner needs will satisfy what the needs of the Learning professional should be.

There was also plenty of examples of ways that Learning Professionals fail learners, including failing to challenge them, executing their performance to change without providing ongoing support, and expecting behavior change when all we do is tell them to act differently without giving them a chance to experience the change.

When the discussion shifted to how we can avoid Learning Malpractice, there were again some common themes in the comments. One theme was the need to ensure that there is clarity and agreement on what the expectations are of the learning plan. Another point was to not focus on learning at all, and to focus on performance instead (Another example of the language of the profession sometimes being an obstacle in itself).

I think my favorite tweet of the day that best summarized the challenge and solution of Learning Malpractice can from @briandusablon:
Give a crap about your end users. Then, challenge others to do the same.

I think if all Learning Professionals followed that simple rule, much of the Learning Malpractice would simply go away.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Why "Misadventures in Learning"?

Another delay in me creating a blog was struggling with what to title it. Most of the really good blogs that I have read have some sort of title that answers the question, why does this blog exist?

That begs the question "What would I blog about?". Now there aren't any rules that I'm aware of that restrict what I can or can not post a blog entry about, but I did want it to have some sort of cohesive theme. In thinking about what I would probably right most about, it would be my passion, Learning.

When it comes to learning, I've always felt that our greatest learning moments often come not from our successes, but from our failures. In that regard, I have A LOT that I can share; hence the title of the blog, Misadventures in Learning.

I imagine that most of my posts will be sharing my experiences and perspectives in the Learning and Development field, as well as sharing many of the resources I find and use that cause people to often ask "how do you find out these things?"

Of course like learning, I expect this blog to be more about the journey than the destination. If you are reading this, thanks for coming along for part of the ride.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

I've set up my blog! (now what?)

Well after thinking about it for years and almost starting a number of times, I've finally set up my own personal blog. Of course, the question now turns to content, which is probably why it took me too long to start the blog in the first place.

I think that part of the reason that I procrastinated with starting a blog was that I was completely misinterpreting the blog experience. I equate it very much to my feelings on Twitter. I, like many non-tweeters before me, looked down on Twitter as a pointless community with no value that was full of egotistical maniacs who for some reason think I should care about what they just had for breakfast. In reality, most of that, well... Actually most of that is true, with one HUGE exception. I discovered a tremendous value in Twitter as a development tool and professional learning network builder.

I have really grown to love Twitter for the sharing that is available through the people I have connected with. It has also helped me see the value of a well-written blog, as many of my connections will post a quick Twitter update when they update their blog, and I have discovered a wealth of knowledge and expertise through this network.

I've decided to start my own blog to add the the knowledge and skills being shared by my network. In doing so, I'll be getting over my final hurdle - questioning who might find a blog from me of value. While I hope that some people do occasionally read my blog and find some value in it, in truth, as long as I and others find value in me writing it, it will exist.