Jennifer K. Snyder

Developing People; Engaging Employees

Getting Rid of the Giggles

by equusnyder

shutterstock_108992156If you’re old enough, you may recall when you had to send in your VHS tapes to America’s Funniest Home Videos through the mail. Back in the early days of the show, I remember seeing a video of a woman giving a speech where, at the end of every phrase, she giggled and said, “Oh, my.” Before too long, her audience caught on to the idiosyncrasy and started to giggle themselves. After a couple more phrases, the audience was guffawing, which just seemed to make her more nervous and caused her increase her idioms to a rapid-fire pace. The audience howled.

At the time, I was a student of public speaking, taking several classes during my college career. The video was hysterical. And sad. And a little scary. What was it that I did – without even knowing – that would throw my audience into hysterics? What was my “giggle”? Would anyone be kind enough to tell me so I didn’t become a laughing stock?

We all do it. Suddenly our mouth goes dry and we smack our lips, we begin to talk like a “Valley Girl” (if you remember VHS tapes, you remember Valley Girls) and we like “like” everything, we run every sentence together connected by “and” after “and” after “and,” or we incorporate into our verbiage the great nemesis of public speaking… the dreaded “um.” Even the best can sometimes throw in a little “so,” when headed into the final stretch. It’s just hard sometimes to shut it down.

So how do we? How do we stop the giggles, the “oh, mys,” the lip-smacking, tongue-twisting irritations that just won’t leave us alone? Read the rest of this entry »

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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Corporate Learning: The Power to Change Lives

by equusnyder

empower sign
Empower your employees to improve their skills, their careers and their lives.

The best use of Corporate Learning is to empower the employees to improve their skills, their careers and their lives. It should be about more than an employee checking off a box that they’ve completed their compliance or safety training. Employees should be able to learn. Teaching employees useful office skills, such as computer programs, only scratches the surface of what Corporate Learning should be.

First, notice I use the term “Learning” as opposed to “Training.” I can train a dog, but people Learn. I don’t want to train them to complete a task, I want them to learn it – to understand it, to bring into their world, some metacognition.

With an arsenal of learning options for their employees, corporations have the power to change lives. Here’s how and why:
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9 Lessons Learned from Standing Up an LMS (Twice)

by equusnyder

learningI joined medical device manufacturer, Wright Medical, shortly after the announcement that the OrthoRecon (hips and knees) division would be sold to MicroPort Orthopedics. I was to join team of 500 or so employees who would be going to the new company.

It was quite an opportunity for me – building a Corporate Learning and Development department from the ground up.

But before that chapter could begin, I had three months in which I needed to stand up a new Learning Management System (LMS) for Wright Medical. It was mid-October when we started and the system HAD to be in place upon the sale of the company, January 9. (Shortly after, I would stand up the same system for MicroPort.)

This, I’m told by many in the industry, is a VERY rapid stand up. In fact, a colleague with a major hotel chain was standing up the same system, except she started three months earlier and would finish shortly AFTER we implemented.
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Overcoming the Fear That’s Greater Than the Fear of Dying

by equusnyder

The man glaring at me from across the table waited for my response to his simple question, “Why do you want to work here?” So many voices in my head shouted the “perfect response” and I could not distinguish a single one. My response, like an unsuccessful souffle, was flat, “Um, everyone seems really nice.”

I shudder to think how often I gave a performance like that in other conversations.

It wasn’t just in high-stakes conversations that my brain would get the best of me. Even in everyday interactions with my colleagues my mind would move faster than my tongue, causing me to trip over my words with mispronunciations, sometimes flipping words out of order, using a word with a similar but not-quite-right meaning, and on occasion, stuttering.
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Converting a Swimming Pool to a Hot Tub – Purpose in mLearning

by equusnyder

mLearning is learning from a mobile device. That may be a mobile phone, a tablet, an eReader or even in some cases a laptop computer. mLearning is NOT a course converted to mobile. In fact, expecting to “convert” previously created courseware to a mobile device is like converting a swimming pool to a hot tub. They just have different purposes.

shutterstock_78332233As with all instructional design, a thorough and adequate assessment should be done prior to any design. But with mobile development there are added elements. The questions below are just the beginning of considerations that must be taken before the product can be developed.

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by equusnyder

Shirley, Jim, Jennifer, and Stella Snyder

With the kids in Arlington, Tennessee’s town square.