Friday, January 25, 2008

Management Training Program

Now that the tide towards eLearning has turned I am getting ready to begin the biggest eLearning project I’ve worked on. It’s actually two projects for the same course. This would be small beans for experienced Instructional designers but I am new to the party and I am still trying to find my way so I am looking forward to getting started.

The first project is to revamp our current “Manager Training Program” aka “MTP” certification course. Prior to becoming a manager we require that the employee is certified through the Management Training Program which is currently a 5 day, 100% instructor led course. We are looking to drop this to 3 days by converting select topics to eLearning modules that they can take during slow times at the store. There are several topics that would be ideal for eLearning but the entire course cannot be converted because some of the topics are much more effectively covered through instructor led training.

The second part of the project is to develop a MTP re certification course that will be 100% eLearning with a follow up day in the classroom to bring it all together. We require that managers get re certified in the course every 2 years and up until now we put them back through the same 5 day course that new managers go through. This is a hassle for experienced managers because it’s old hat and they want to learn something new as well as brush up on some of the important aspects of the course. The veteran managers will love this and it will be a big money saver because we will drastically reduce the amount of days we are paying them to sit in a classroom.

Now comes the hard part! Executing these plans and receiving better results than we do in the current ILT courses. We are in the preliminary stages of planning so everything I have described is very flexible. I am starting out my research by going through the current version of the course as a participant next week. It’s been years since I have taught or been a part of it so I need to refresh my memory. With everything I have learned over the past couple of years I am sure I will see the course in a whole new light.

The tide is turning

I work for an organization that has heavily depended on Instructor Led training and has experienced great success with ILT over the last 20 years. I am the computer geek of the training dept and have been working hard to bring our systems into the 21st century by gravitating towards a blended format of training. It has been a tough battle due to the resistance to change. However I have been experiencing some “Wins” of late by supplementing our current ILT with small eLearning projects that have been used as pre and post work. The facilitators have been giving me rave reviews because they have been able to cover the material in much more detail because of the knowledge that the participants have already gained through the pre work. On top of that, using some kind of an eLearning assignment as post work has been helping with transference back on the job.

Yesterday I sat in a meeting to plan the Training Dept objectives and goals for 2008. Turns out the main objective for 2008 is to make a large leap towards a blended learning format. The eLearning tide has turned now that I have gained support and the economic belt is tightening more than ever. My Task list just got very full!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

First day of school

I started my first class in the ed tech program at SDSU and the first discussion topic is simply “Why are you here?” We are getting to know each other by explaining what lead us to enrolling in this program. Simple, but interesting.

The one sentence answer for me is; “I want to do better at my job.” I fell into a career that I get a kick out of and I want to make the most out of it. I love working in the field of training and performance improvement and I want to take my skills to the next level.

Up to this point I have taught myself everything I know related to educational technology by reading books and researching on the internet. I’m starving for more knowledge and the Masters in Ed Tech is my buffet of knowledge. I would like to advance my career in this field and I believe this is a very important step in doing so.

In my current position I have the opportunity to move a training dept into the 21st century by taking it from 100% instructor led training to a blended format. By strengthening my skills in educational technology I can make a big difference to the bottom line of the company and I would like to seize that opportunity.

In addition to strengthening my skills for my current position I would like to improve my marketability in the Educational Tech field. Don’t get me wrong, I love the company I work for but I am intrigued by the opportunities in the ed tech field outside of my organization. I am interested in the consulting field and look forward to opportunities to explore that career path.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Serious Games

If you have read my previous posts Proving ROI in Training and One small step for eLearning, a giant step for the company you know that we are focusing on improving product knowledge amongst our sales staff. One of the methods I decided to implement to improve this deficit in product knowledge is online games. Luckily I don’t work for one of those organizations scared of the word “Game” so I did not have to overcome that objection.

I used Quia to create a few games that resemble “Who wants to be a millionaire” and “Jeopardy” which turned out to be a smash hit amongst the sales staff. Prior to the games it was always memorizing info from documents and flash cards then being tested on it. They loved the fact that they didn’t have to read the same thing over and over in an effort to memorize the information, to only find out that they didn’t retain much come test time.

Being that sales people are generally competitive, they loved that they were able to challenge each other to a game. They were so distracted with beating their co worker that they forgot they were actually studying and learning. Several inventive sales leaders developed round robin tournaments and awarded the winner with a free lunch. Overall it was a smash hit because it was a fun and different way to approach a boring subject.

I received several emails on the first day of the games being available asking when I was going to add new questions and games since they almost have all of the current questions memorized. I wasn’t expecting this but the games were so popular that they are already stale after just a couple of days.

So I am already to the point where I need to create more games and freshen up the current ones with new questions. The only problem is that it was not easy coming up with the questions and it’s going to be hard for me to come up with more.

I have decided that I can kill 2 birds with 1 stone by having the sales staff come up with the questions and submit them to me so I can use them for more games. Not only does this make it easy for me but they will retain more by creating the questions then they will by playing the games. The process of thinking it through and coming up with questions is sure to help them memorize the information.

But how do I get them to put in the effort to create new questions that are of high quality? What’s in it for them? Being that they are commission driven sales people it may be most effective to compensate them somehow. I am pondering devising some kind of contest or reward system to incentivize it. But, is that even necessary? Is there a way I can motivate them to put in the effort required to create new questions without rewarding them monetarily?

Once I figure out a way to motivate sales people to submit questions to me I will be looking into expanding my game creating from just Quia to other resources listed at the link below. I came across this link from a post on Brent Schlenkers blog Corporate eLearning Strategies and Development blog