Archive for the ‘E-Learning’ Category

Action Plans – Do they make training stick?

April 20, 2015

Action plans have long been thought to support training transfer and to make the training stick.  Actually the truth is….. yes, no, and …. sometimes.

End-of-training goals signal what is important, they provide a sense of direction, and they can be a focus for evaluation and feedback on performance of the task(s).   But simply asking participants to jot down their goals, or what they plan to do to apply their learning, will have limited effectiveness.  Also limited in effectiveness is setting difficult goals that are hard to reach.  However, goals that focus on specific behavior outcomes can be very effective in producing on-the-job application of skills learned in training, particularly for complex skills.   Also, when feedback is solicited from participants’ colleagues  and participants know this will happen, action plans will spring to life.

Consider applying the following evidence-based enhancements to your current action planning segments.  You will significantly increase how well participants transfer their learning.  For additional ideas on action planning see my earlier Sticky Note.

  • Develop specific behavior outcomes that identify skills to be applied.  These behavior outcomes might replace the course objectives or they can be used to enhance them and make them more “actionable”.   For related information on sticky class objectives, see my earlier Sticky Note.

Here are a few examples of behavior outcomes:    There should be between 3 and 15 of them depending of course on the length of the class:  “Gives employees feedback on a regular basis” (supervisor training), “Calls the customer by name” (customer service training), “Uses current discussion boards for current issues and solutions” (software or help desk).

  • As part of the end-of-class action planning segment, provide participants with a list of the behavior outcomes that they should expect to apply.  Either suggest that they choose among these for inclusion in their own action plans, or provide the action plan pre-completed with the behavior outcomes listed.  Numerous studies have found that when action plans have specific behavior outcomes, participants are more likely to do them.
  • Ask participants to supply the names/contact info for at least 2 coworkers, subordinates, or manager(s) they work with, who will be asked later for feedback.
  • Survey these coworkers, subordinates, or managers 3 months after the training, using the behavior outcomes previously developed.  Assure them the results will be confidential.   Consider whether or not to share the feedback from the survey with the participant, and if so, how to protect the confidentiality of those who responded, particularly since there will be  small numbers of respondents.

Online survey tools are helpful for providing anonymous feedback but may not be enough to assure confidentiality with a small number of respondents.  Note: whether or not these individuals are actually surveyed may not be as much of a motivator as that the participants believe they will be surveyed.

The purpose here is to make participants accountable for applying the skills, but of course the information collected might be used for evaluation of the class or for follow-up training.

  • Adapt for elearning in the following ways:

o   List the behavior outcomes close to the end of the last module in the training.

o   Provide an action plan form with behavior outcomes listed.  Direct the trainee to fill in a date or milestone, and suggest that they print it for reference.

o   Set up your LMS to send the survey mentioned above to participants’ managers (who are generally already loaded into the LMS).

o   Consider developing an interactive action planning tool participant

Until next time…



Transfer of training technologies

September 30, 2013

I have to confess that even though I’m passionate about making training stick and I know that actions I take before and after I conduct training will make a difference, like most of you sometimes I get caught up in the next course design or facilitation and (gulp) I forget about trainees in the classes I’ve finished, or the ones I am going to be doing soon.

This is why I’m very excited about several new technologies that have recently become available to help trainers reach out and connect with trainees before and after training to reinforce the learning and boost on-the-job application.

I began drafting a Sticky Note about these new technologies but I soon realized that there was too much information to share in a short newsletter.  So I wrote a white paper.  This white paper describes how each technology works and also provides suggestions for using each technology to create before- and after-training transfer techniques based on my research.  I met with representatives of the companies at trade shows (most of them were at ASTD’s International Conference and Expo), I participated in a demo at a later date, I visited their websites, and I asked each of them to review the white paper for accuracy. I do not own or have any financial interest in any of these technologies.  While I plan to try and use them as opportunities arise,I report objectively on each of these technologies.

These new tools make it easy to provide before- and after-training touch points because messaging and interactions can be designed and developed during design and delivery when it is top of mind for the trainer, while the messaging and interactions can be delivered at points when they will be most effective for the trainees, which is before and after participation in live training and/or self-paced elearning.

The technologies:

  • Raptivity.  High tech interactive templates for content reinforcement and application scenarios that can be inserted into most live training applications such as PowerPoint and into elearning platforms such as Articulate and Captivate.  New white paper on use for elearning.
  • We Achieve.  Cloud-based crowdsourcing application that can be used before and after training to engage and motivate learners and to build community.  New article in Training Magazine.
  • Mindsetter.  Delivers before- and after-training text, video, and quiz content via email to reinforce learning and provide additional content and application ideas.
  • Mindmarker.  Delivers training reinforcers and application suggestions – text, audio, and video files – via email and/or an app.  Tracks participation and other metrics.
  • ResultsEngine.  Cloud-based tracking and support for end-of-training goals and action plans.  Interactive assistance includes coaching requests, suggestions for revising goals, and detailed accountability and tracking.

Keep in mind that with each of these technologies it’s important to have well-written training objectives that specify end-of-class skills and behaviors and sticky objectives that specify on the job application of them.  Without these, no technology is going to be effective in helping to make training stick®.

Training Transfer Technologies - Free White Paper

Click here to download the white paper.

Until next time…..


Teach Them How to Learn, and Make it Stick Better

July 31, 2013

As face-to-face training times continue to be reduced and the use of virtual learning increases in almost all organizations, it is becoming increasingly important for trainees to “know how to learn”.  Whether the topic is supervisory skills, safety training, harassment prevention, sales training, customer service, software, or any other type of training, studies show that learners who know how to learn have higher test scores.  Higher test scores are indicators of better learning.  Better learning is a precursor to better application and transfer.

This knowing how to learn, known as metacognitive skills, can take many forms including setting goals for learning, self-regulating, planning learning time, knowing how to take tests, and knowing how to take in and process learning content.  Students who receive as little as a half hour of training on metacognitive processes have been found to outperform students who do not receive this training.

Here are a few thoughts and ideas to increase the metacognitive, “knowing how to learn” skills for your trainees, whether in face-to-face classes, live virtual training, or e-learning:

  • Develop a stand-alone module on learning skills.  This module can then be part of an onboarding process or it could be pre-work for other classes.  Such a module would include how to set individual learning goals, how to take notes and absorb key points in learning content, understanding one’s learning style and how to use it most effectively, and how to take quizzes and tests.  To develop this content, search on terms such as learn how to learn, metacognitive skills, and metacognition.
  • Insert “pop-up reflections” throughout face-to-face, live virtual training, and e-learning courses.  These pop-up reflections periodically interrupt content delivery, posing questions such as
    • Am I concentrating on this training material?
    • Do I understand all of the key points?
    • What are the key points of this training material?
    •  What do I need to do, what notes should I be taking, to remember this material?
  • At the end of a section of learning content, ask learners to write the 3 most important ideas, steps, or things to remember in this section.  Once they have done this, reveal the correct answer: the 3 ideas, steps, or things that they should have identified.  Note:  3 is the number of ideas and key points that people are able to remember most easily.  The learning content may, of course, require some variation here but try to keep the key points and steps to a minimum.  With increased use of this simple technique, trainees’ skills at identifying key ideas will improve.
  • Quiz participants – formally or informally – on the learning content at the end of each section and use an overall quiz/exam for the entire class.  Provide the correct answer immediately after each question.  After each quiz, provide quiz reflection questions on a notesheet that prompts the trainee to think about the mistakes they made and to plan their learning strategies for the next section, module, or class.

Before the next quiz, ask participants to review their responses to their last post-quiz reflection and to keep these in mind as they take this quiz.

With repeated use of these techniques, participants’ ability to absorb learning content will increase.  And if they learn it better, they should be better able to apply it.

Until next time….


P.S. Follow me on Twitter: @StickyTraining

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Your LMS – A Great Sticky Tool

April 29, 2013

Your learning management system (LMS) is a great administrative tool for course registration, student tracking, and end-of-course evaluation.   Are you using it to drive and support better transfer of training?

In addition to administrative tasks, an LMS can deliver training content (e-learning and live virtual classes), communicate with students and their supervisors, support collaboration and trainee interaction, and support performance management.  This latest trend performance management feature in many LMSs allows development plans in the employee’s performance review to be linked with available classes (internally and externally), and tracked.

How can an LMS drive and support better transfer of training?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Use the email feature to automatically send a pre-training note to students at a prescribed time prior to training (probably no earlier than one week).  The note should summarize what they will learn in the training and how they are expected to use it in their jobs. This note should also remind them to expect to give their full attention to the training with limited access to emails, IMs, and text messaging.  This last point is especially important for students who will be taking e-learning or live virtual learning classes.
  • Use the email feature to automatically send a pre-training note to students’ supervisors. The note should also summarize in appropriate detail, what the participant will learn and how it can be applied to their job.  In addition to reminding the supervisor to plan for adequate coverage during the time the participant is in training, this email should also ask supervisors to plan for skill practice/use as soon as the participant completes the training.
  • Add a short video to these emails from the CEO, senior leader, or other influential manager describing the importance of the training and how the skills support the organization’s mission, goals, and objectives.  Don’t stop at one – use several video clips to drive this message home.  Desktop web cams make these videos easy and affordable.  If you’re not sure where to house the video (that is, where the link will go), many organizations are using YouTube for non-confidential employee messages.  Non-public links can be set up so these videos aren’t available to other YouTube visitors.
  • Use the social media and collaboration tools available in many LMSs to promote or require trainee interaction before and after the class.  Studies show that when trainees interact with one another about their learning, they have higher levels of learning and transfer of training.  Specifically, set up a discussion board prior to face-to-face, e-learning, or live virtual learning.  Pose questions such as “What has been your biggest challenge with______?”, “How do you think having ____ skills will enhance your ability to do your job?  To advance in your career?”  Use the same sort of discussion board for post-training discussion and include questions such as “What has been your biggest challenge in applying ____?”   Consider other social media and collaboration tools such as Yammer and a wiki, where everyone contributes to FAQs and tips/pointers for using the skills.
  • Use the LMS survey tool to find out how skills are being used 6 weeks and 3 months post-training.  Consider withholding credit for the class until this survey is completed.  Share results with participants’ supervisors.  Send a separate survey to participants’ supervisors to get their assessment of skill use.

Your organization doesn’t have an LMS?  These ideas can be implemented manually with just a bit of oversight from an administrator.  Set up class mailing lists in the email application, store email notes and video clips/links for quick insertion and re-use, set up discussion boards through a free service such as Blackboard or a password-protected Facebook group.

Until next time…..


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Should you get certified?

February 4, 2013

I’m just back from ASTD’s TechKnowledge conference in San Jose – great conference and I’m pleased to say that my session on Making E-learning Stick was well received.  I found a couple of great new training transfer resources that I’ll share in a future newsletter, but in this newsletter I want to respond to a question that several trainers at the conference asked me:

Should I get certified?

Elearning! magazine did a survey last year on this topic and here are the results:

  • 89% of the HR and Learning and Development professionals surveyed said that a certification was important during the hiring process, and 92% said if two candidates had equivalent experience they would hire the person with a certification.
  • 93% said that an individual with a certification credential would earn more money.
  • 93% said it was important for a certification credential to be “portable”….that is, not industry-specific, so it would be useful to them regardless of industry or specific company.

That’s pretty impressive!

The next question of course is which certification is best?  This of course depends on your specific goals.  The ASTD CPLP certification is a rigorous, multi-faceted experience that includes study materials and requires testing as well as submission of work samples.  The cost depends on whether or not you are a member of ASTD National.

Kirpatrick Partners offer several levels – bronze, silver, and gold – certification in their evaluation ROE process.  

The Making E-learning Stick™ certification is the only certification for the transfer of technology-supported training.

Interestingly, few certifications except Making E-Learning Stick™ in the learning and development field address learning transfer!

What’s the difference between certification and a certificate program?  Certification is a demonstration of knowledge and competence.  The participant needs to demonstrate in some way – test, work sample, implementation plan, etc. – their learning.  On the other hand, a certificate simply indicates you have taken the class or series of classes.  If you want the career advantages mentioned in the survey, get certified, don’t just take a certificate program.

Over 900 people signed up for my ASTD webinar on Making E-Learning Stick last month.  This is a good indication that there’s a lot of interest in learning transfer, including but not limited to the transfer of technology-supported training.  Leaders in organizations focus on results, and the learning and development or HR professional who can show through a certification that they understand how to transfer training into business results, will likely get the nod when it comes to promotion, choice assignments, and new jobs.

Shouldn’t you get certified?

Until next time…..


Santa Makes His E-Learning Stick

December 14, 2012


Once upon a time at the North Pole, Santa was having challenges managing the elves.  His authoritative leadership style wasn’t working as well as it had in the past.  He knew he needed to learn new management skills but he couldn’t just get in his sleigh and go to a leadership workshop.  His magic sleigh only operates on Christmas Eve, and besides he couldn’t leave his workshop to go to a training program.

Santa did some browser searches and signed up for e-learning courses on Situational Elf Leadership and Managing Special Workers.  Mrs. Claus got interested in e-learning too, and she found e-learning courses on Healthy Cookie Baking (she and Santa are trying to eat healthy and get their weight down) and Using Electronic Kitchen Appliances at the North Magnetic Pole.

Santa and Mrs. Claus signed into their e-learning courses regularly.  Santa learned about new techniques and strategies for managing the elves.  Mrs. Claus got recipes and learned how to bake cookies with less fat and sugar, and how to use her food processor in the single magnetic field at the North Pole.   They both passed the end-of-module quizzes, and received certificates when they completed courses.

But the elves still complained that Santa was micromanaging them and not allowing them to participate in toy-making decisions.  And Mrs. Claus still found herself over-dipping into the sugar and chopping nuts and raisins by hand instead of using her food processor.

Their e-learning didn’t stick!   What to do?  They searched the internet for help and found a copy of the book Making E-Learning Stick.  They learned some Techniques to Integrate Education (TIEs) for reinforcing their own learning.  They also found some techniques Rudolph could use to design e-learning for the elves.  In just a short time Santa and Mrs. Claus began using what they had learned.  The elves were happier and more productive, and Santa and Mrs. Claus enjoyed better, healthier cooking.

And they learned happily ever after!

My best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season and a happy and prosperous New Year!

**Click here to read last year’s message on how Rudolph re-trained the elves.

Until next time…..




P.S. Just Announced: Making E-Learning Stick Certification Course Dates for Spring 2013