Jennifer K. Snyder

Developing People; Engaging Employees

Month: October, 2014

Letting Learners Take the Wheel

by equusnyder

When standing at the front of a classroom, a good instructor does a great job of student-directed learning. He or she can allow the students to direct the conversation, while still keeping them on track and ultimately reaching the course objectives. In fact, IMHO, self-directed learning can be more effective then instructor-guided, even when the instructor facilitates engaging dialogue among the students.

In my most recent project, learners can travel to whichever principle they choose.

In my most recent project, learners can travel to whichever principle they choose.

Adult learners like control. For many subjects, especially soft skills, they have wealth of experience. Tapping into that in the classroom and letting the inexperienced learn from the experienced can have a profound effect.

The tables turn in eLearning. While I still think it is more effective, I find I am drawn (right or wrong) to create a linear approach, where I want students to follow a specific path so the information I feed them builds from one click to the next. Sometimes this approach is necessary, but I would argue we use it more often than required.

In my last project, I colored outside of my lines. This online module was a follow-up to an ILT, where the students learned six principles of integrity-based communication. My objective of this course was to reinforce the points, provide practice, and let them evaluate what this knowledge meant in their own lives.

While the principles were random – they wouldn’t all be used in every situation and didn’t necessarily need to follow a prescribed order – I once again found myself in a linear approach, by the time I reached the fourth Principle, I realized this course of action did not give my learners control of their own learning.
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LMS, A Piece of the Learning Puzzle

by equusnyder

Our primary use for our LMS is a storehouse.

Our primary use for our LMS is a warehouse.

I am so grateful for the extraordinary sharing that goes on in our learning community. Experiences, lessons learned, best practices, and shared examples abound. Despite our occasional competition, we are, by and large, an industry of great collaboration.

Case in point: I recently posted a piece on my blog about my experience in standing up an LMS. The willingness to share, support, and comment was encouraging and very helpful.

One comment in particular by Clark Quinn ( made me stop and consider the purpose of our LMS. Do I consider it a piece of learning? How important is it in the framework of our overall learning strategy? What else is out there that I’m overlooking?

While I’ve always considered it a tool, I have never explored how it fits into the overall picture.

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Turning People ON to Learning

by equusnyder

Learning“I need people to learn how to use this software.” She sat down and pushed some papers across my desk. “I was thinking I could build a PowerPoint and we could teach some classes on it.”

I look at the documents and answered, “That would be one way we could do this. You’re talking about training a lot of people. It’s going to take a long time to get them all trained.”

I knew the next question was coming. It was the same question I received every few weeks. “Could we put the PowerPoint on the LMS and just have them take the training that way?”

It doesn’t matter how often I hear the question, it still makes my stomach sink. I asked what the ultimate goal was – what did she want the learners to be able to do by the end of the “training.” (See my previous post, “When Training is Not the Answer.”)

This opened the door to a discussion on a commonly used learning quote, “Tell me, I’ll forget; Show me, I’ll remember; Involve me, I’ll understand.” I get a chuckle when I see this quote because I’ve seen it attributed to both Benjamin Franklin and the Chinese, as a proverb. Perhaps Ben took it from them. Regardless of the original pen, it makes a valid point, and is simple enough to understand for those just starting to learn about learning.

As we discussed this, the expression on her face changed. She got it. I could see the wheels spinning. I told her about the eLearning software we used and the ability we had to do screen captures and make them fully interactive, so that the learners felt they were engaging with the actual software.

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When Training is Not the Answer

by equusnyder


Will a job aid suffice?

I repeatedly receive requests from various departments that want to “train” on this or that. I am all about fulfilling my clients training needs, but quite often my response is no. At least that’s what I say to myself.

I try to be objective. I hear them out. They describe their training to me. “We have so many people breaking the rules and not following our policy. We just have to give them some training.”


That’s the kindest and most beneficial answer I can give them. Of course, I don’t really say it like that, and, in my mind, it doesn’t end there.

In fact, for me, this is where it gets fun!

I ask them, “By the time the learners have completed your training, what do you want them to be able to do?”

Then I begin steering the conversation. I might start with a question like, “What’s preventing them from doing that right now?” In other words, is it a knowledge or skill gap that’s causing the problem? Do they really not know what they’re supposed to do? If not, why not? Has it ever been directly explained? Did they know before and they just don’t remember?

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