Five Basic Learning Principles every L&D professional needs to know

As learning and development professionals, it is our role is to ensure that everyone within our organisation knows and understands the information they require to function effectively and are able to apply it.

With so much content available to us on a daily basis, you can easily get buried under a mountain of it before we even find what we are looking for. It is very unlikely that we are able to increase the amount of hours in a day; so instead, we’ve compiled a list of five simple learning principles that remind us how to create great learning content:

Infographic displaying the five basic learning principles all L&D professionals need to know. All information contained is in the text below.

This infographic is available for download here.

1. Boredom kills.

Neurologist Judy Willis explains that all information that comes into the brain is filtered through the amygdala. It is the area of the brain responsible for deciding what memories are stored and where.

When a learner becomes bored, the amygdala becomes hyperactive and it sends all of the information it receives to the lower 80 per cent of the brain. According to Judy, this is the “animal brain, the reactive, involuntary brain”. Boredom means that important learning content isn’t remembered.

2. Repetition rocks – use it or lose it.

Most people will have experienced the sore hand and bad hand-writing that accompanies the first day back to school after a long summer break. The same issue follows learners into adulthood. Just like the muscles in our hands, neural pathways are weakened over time. This means that if learners are not using knowledge or skills gained through training, they will begin to forget it.

3. We all have an information limit.

Educational Psychologist John Sweller first coined the term “Cognitive Overload” in 1998. The idea is that we have a finite amount of working memory at our disposal to process and understand information. When a learner is presented with information, it is important that it is delivered in bite-sized chunks which he or she can reasonably process.

4. We all need a reason.

If a learner can’t make the connection between learning content and application in their everyday life, they won’t have a reason and therefore the motivation to understand the topic presented to them. As the person guiding learning and development, it is your role to communicate expectations and the motive behind learning a particular piece of knowledge or skill.

5. Primacy – If at first you don’t succeed.

The first time learners receive teaching, it creates a strong impression upon them. It’s important to present information in a logical and clear manner at the start of any training module. The foundation of learning that you set in place becomes the map students use to navigate all further information.

We know that our list is by no means extensive; there are many different factors to be taken into account when authoring great learning content. We would love to hear what principles you think are most important when creating learning content that engages learners and have worked for your organisation. Please feel free to leave a comment below with if you can think of anymore principles every L&D professional needs to know. We would love to hear your learning and particularly e-learning successes.
Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

Tips for using stories in E-Learning

Illustration of six people connecting through stories in various digital interactionsIn keeping with the storytelling theme from our previous blog post; using storytelling for learning, we discussed how stories can be used for learning and what makes a good story. Often overlooked, stories are a great resource for learning. They are authentic, easy to remember and are a great way to describe an experience.

Storytelling itself is the oldest form of communication and for the majority it is the medium through which we can communicate meaningfully with one another. At Aurion HQ, we are avid fans of storytelling and in particular using stories for learning (not that you could tell!) We will soon be launching a new online tool called Storee that will change the way we tell and share stories.

It’s been proven that our brain organises information in story form, allowing us to connect and make sense of things. One of the first things we do upon meeting others is to share a story; indeed as humans, much of our communication is made up of stories.

What better way to ignite the learning spark than through storytelling?

5 Tips for using stories in E-Learning.

  1. Bin the lists and facts and transform them into stories. Many case study examples in learning, particularly those in the workplace often involve lists of do’s and don’ts. A better way of presenting this is to merge the learning content around a story. Be sure to include and utilise your subject matter experts as they are dab hands at creating stories from content due to their experience and expertise. The key to the success of stories in learning is to ensure that they are relevant and that the learner listening or watching the story can relate to it. In this way the lessons from the stories are more easily depicted.
  2. Dump the jargon. Within a storytelling context, ‘business-speak’ can sound a little trite. When we recall stories that we have heard, we remember stories that were told in a conversational tone, easy to understand and listen to.
    Studies have shown that the part of the brain that experiences emotions (known as the frontal cortex) does not react to overused phrases or figures of speech. Be sure to tell your story in a natural dialogue and one that doesn’t sound robotic.
  3. Introduce multimedia. With so many online applications available at our finger tips, it is easy to integrate your own videos, great images and audio into your story.  As the saying goes, a picture can be worth a 1000 words. The use of multimedia can really enhance learning and the story. If you don’t have a bank of your own images and would like to get creative and use free images, you can use the Creative Commons area on Flickr or stock.xchng. You can also use Compfight to help you search for photos that you can use. Remember to read the guidelines on proper attribution!
  4. Stimulate the brainResearch discovered by monitoring the brain activity of monkeys that whenever a researcher picked up a banana whilst being observed by a monkey, it had the same effect on the activation of neurons as when the monkey itself picked up a banana. Stories that are vivid and appeal to the various sensory cortices in the brain will increase neuro-engagement. This will have the knock on effect of making the story and the message behind it more memorable. Stories can be made more stimulating by creating dramatic plots, the use of music, expressive language and graphics.
  5. Appeal to universal feelings. Although the actual content and characters of a story may be from another universe all together, listeners get wrapped up in stories that appeal to basic social motivations and feelings.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the use of stories in learning or would like to be part of Storee Beta, please sign up.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

 

Using Storytelling for Learning

ipad-typewriterWe all love a story; it’s part of what we are as human beings. Although storytelling has been around for an age, stories are often not connected to learning activities. In fact, it’s been said that the original learning technologies were the story and the art of conversation.

In recent years, the art of storytelling has made resurgence as people realise the ability that storytelling has in connecting, engaging and informing us.

Storytelling is a powerful means of communication that is relevant across different cultures and communities. Stories have the ability to pull us into the storytellers’ journey, allowing us to bathe in their experiences and emotions.

When was the last time you couldn’t sleep at night because you couldn’t wait to read the next page of your company’s compliance training? Or you got goosebumps as the result of a particularly good training presentation about health and safety in the workplace? No…? We can’t remember the last time either. Research is showing that stories stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life.

When used in the right context, stories are amongst the simplest tools that learning and development experts can use to encapsulate a piece of learning. We feel so engaged when we hear or read a story that the areas of our brain we would use when actually experiencing the events in the story are activated (as opposed to only some areas of our brain if we were listening to a PowerPoint presentation).

As learning and development professionals, we are attuned to stories and at Aurion HQ; we love nothing better than sharing! As part of the storytelling revolution, we are developing a new online tool called Storee that will change the way we tell, create and share stories. Launching in beta soon, the tool will provide a platform for users to share their stories online.

So what makes a good story then?

  • Realism and structure,
  • Authentic connection to the content or storyteller,
  • Reusability,
  • Measurability,
  • Connection to the organisational narrative,
  • Surprise (cognitive dissonance),
  • Hope (open loops) and
  • Correct focus or length.

Old-fashioned typewriter that has just printed the text, "What's your story?"Less is more.

When we think of stories, it is very often the simplest stories that are the most successful and resonate with us the most. When it comes to writing and structuring stories, not all of us have the natural gift of the gab, or the penmanship of the great authors such as Dickens. However, it is important to note that many proclaimed authors use simple vocabulary and their way of expression is what makes their writing style simple.

A combination of simple language and low complexity is the best way to activate the brain regions that make us truly relate to the happenings of a story. It is for similar reasons that multitasking is so hard for us. To increase the success of your storytelling, try for example to reduce the number of adjectives or complicated nouns in a presentation or article. If you come to a “bigger” word, try to think of a simpler one that can replace it.

Three reasons for using stories in learning:

  1. People are inundated with information. We are bombarded with information every time we leave the house, go on the internet or switch on the television. We try to digest so much information that it feels as if there is simply no more space. However, the same individuals who don’t have the time to read a one-sided compliance document will happily set aside half an hour of their busy day to listen to an interesting story.
  2. People love both telling and listening to stories. From your elderly relatives who share stories from their childhoods, to the prehistoric artists who have etched stories of animal hunts and tales of survival onto cave walls right through to teenage girls gossiping about celebrities in the corner of the school canteen.
  3. Stories are not just another method of knowledge transfer but contain the reasoning for learning. Great storytelling makes the learner feel like a discoverer. When used in an appropriate context, a good story creates the motivation to complete learning.

Whilst the power of storytelling is highly recognised in the business and marketing fields, we are only beginning to tap into the potential of stories in the learning and development field. Whilst we have incorporated personal stories into some of our recent E-Learning projects, we are incredibly excited about the potential of using more storytelling in learning at Aurion; indeed the possibilities are endless!

In our next blog article we will provide advice and tips on using stories in E-Learning programmes.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

Knowledge Retention vs. Behavioural Change

Picture: Michael Cooper

Gavin Woods and representatives from the Sensory Engagement Programme

We were recently posed the question; “How can I use E-Learning as a way to create behavioural change and not just knowledge retention?”

As anyone who is involved in creating and implementing a learning strategy will know, there is often a gap between knowing and doing.

Regardless of the quality of the content, the delivery, or the rate of repetition, many learning and development professionals are faced with the challenge of turning knowledge into actions consistent with that knowledge.

‘When all is said and done, more is said than done’ (Aesop 7th century BC)

Earlier this year, the Sensory Engagement Programme (SEP) commissioned Aurion Learning to develop a new online training toolkit to raise awareness among service providers, in particular, banks, libraries and colleges of what it is like to be blind, partially sighted, deaf or hard of hearing and using every day services.

The online resource comprises a series of short films demonstrating the personal experience of those with sensory loss using everyday services; exemplifying best practice to improve service provision and help make their services more inclusive.

Central to the success of the training resource is behaviour change. To meet the learning objectives of this project, we knew that the online resource had to make genuine and relevant connections with service providers.

In this blog, I’ve used SEP’s online training resource as an example of how E-Learning can be used to create behavioural change, not just knowledge retention.

At Aurion, we believe the key to creating behavioural change through E-Learning is to ensure participants:

 

  1. Understand,
  2. Memorise and
  3. Are motivated to take action

 

Understanding

The creation of great E-Learning hinges on the creator’s ability to identify knowledge gaps and find a way to present content clearly to the learner. A part of this process lies in the identification of functions that aren’t happening the way you would like them to. In the example of the SEP online toolkit, the best people to highlight these knowledge gaps were individuals who were blind, partially sighted, deaf or hard of hearing as it demonstrated their personal experiences using everyday services, making it more authentic and pertinent.

Picture: Michael Cooper

Discussing the tangible benefits of the online training resource

Once these knowledge gaps have been identified, the challenge lies in finding the best format you can use to convey the information. Content delivery should never mean the regurgitation of large pieces of information and compliance documents but instead the delivery of small amounts of information in an accessible way.

In the creation of the online toolkit for SEP, it was important for us to ensure accessibility both practically and instructionally. Instructionally speaking, there are a few points to consider when presenting learning content:

  • you must ensure that learning content is broken into bite-sized pieces and
  • is in an easily readable format and presented in a logical order.

On a practical note, we wanted to ensure that the programme would be accessible to individuals with visual impairments and therefore chose highly contrasting colours for the background and fonts.

Memorising

Persuasive Information Delivery ensures that content is communicated in a way that resonates with the learner. It is paramount that information delivery is gripping and encapsulates learning in a way that makes it easy to remember.

Interactivity is key, learning becomes memorable when it captures the interests, minds and imaginations of learners. This means that the goal is to present information in a way that is refreshing and creative, utilising all of the resources at your disposal and may look like the use of images, videos, storytelling, problem-posing and real life examples.

Through the online Sensory Engagement toolkit, our intention was to use real life instances, stories and individuals to make learners see mundane, everyday interactions in a new light. By introducing individuals and allowing them to share their experiences and emotional responses, we were able to appeal to the learner in a manner that was beyond just knowledge retention.

Far beyond just sitting down and memorising a set of rules or policies on how to approach an individual with a hearing or sight impairment, the online learning toolkit for SEP presents learners with a problem or situation that they must learn how to deal with. Situations like these are far more memorable than a set of rules.

Motivation

For example, a child may have been shown how to wash his hands; he may have even practiced it with his parents on a number of occasions but repeatedly fails to do it when left to his own devices. This is because he lacks the motivation. Learners are similar – it is important to build into your e-learning the reasoning of why it matters in the real world or learners will fail to apply newfound knowledge in everyday life.

It’s important to bring out actions and consequences. We applied the strategy of authentic learning or ‘real-world scenarios’ as our main approach as it is a very effective tool for learning and driving behavioural change.

Picture: Michael Cooper

Gavin Woods from Aurion Learning and Stephanie O’Kane from RNIB at launch of Sensory Engagement Programme online toolkit

Through the use of short films and storytelling, the learning content for SEP contained the motivation for learners to change their behaviour the next time they find themselves interacting with an individual with a hearing and visual impairment.

We were really pleased to get to work alongside four of the largest organisations who provide support and advocacy services for people with sight and hearing loss across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; the Royal National Institute of Blind People Northern Ireland (RNIB NI), Action on Hearing LossNational Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) and DeafHear.

Our hope is that this free, online toolkit will make it possible for service providers across Ireland to provide basic Deaf and Visual Awareness training for their staff. With easily downloadable resources, engaging stories and bite-sized learning content, the toolkit promises not just to create more head knowledge but instead create awareness for staff working in service providers to not only know, but to do something with what they know and ultimately change the lives of those living with sensory difficulties.

The SEP online training toolkit was launched in Derry-Londonderry on 21 October, 2013. We will continue to work with the partners to monitor and assess the impact that it has had on both organisations and those with hearing difficulties.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

Game on? The use of gamification in e-learning.

by Sarah Sweeney, Marketing Assistant at Aurion Learning.

SQUARE imageMany HR and L&D professionals face the problem of ensuring that their training and learning programmes maintain learner engagement and motivation. Gamification has been regularly recognised as an opportunity to help solve this problem.

In this post, we consider whether gamification can enhance the learning experience. Before we consider if it is game on for gamification in learning, it is necessary to look at what gamification essentially is.

What is Gamification?

Games and game like components have been invading the learning realm for quite some time now. Although its definition differs, for the most part, gamification in learning is the use of game mechanics to ‘gamify’ content to engage and entice users by encouraging and rewarding use.

Although Nick Pelling first coined the term “gamification” in 2002, it has actually been around for some time – 40 years in fact, with many organisations already using features in their work from video games.

Indeed, it can be said that loyalty programs, target-based bonuses and employee-of-the-month schemes are all examples of how gamification as an incentive to growth has been around for a long time too.

Examples of gamification in learning include:

  • Training: technology giants, Microsoft use gamification to train users of Microsoft Office on how to use the new ribbon interface effectively.
  • Education: New York based school – Quest to Learn, advocates game-based learning to make education more engaging and relevant to children.
  • Employee productivity: Management tool Arcaris uses gamification to improve productivity in call centres.

Now that we know what gamification is and where it is being used in learning, it is necessary to see whether it actually works.

Does Gamification in learning work?

The gamification of e-learning unquestionably presents unique possibilities for learning technologists as they explore additional ways to educate and importantly engage learners.

It is widely recognised that adding interactive activities in e-learning are no longer optional extras, but essential to effective learning. However, it is important that the addition of game like elements into the e-learning programme are only applied in the context of the programme that allow the learner the opportunity to apply their retained knowledge to live situations, rather than distract and dazzle learners with wizardry from the overall learning goal.

Frequently, my social media feeds are inundated with social games, although irritating at times, there is no escaping the surge in popularity of online gaming and social media. The site, DevHub, reported an eightfold increase in the number of users completing their sites after adding gamification elements to the process. If there was any indication that the gamification was a fad, according to research from M2 it’s here not only stay, but increase in its use.

The global market for gamification apps and services will grow to $2.8 billion by 2016.”

The enthusiasm for gamification has however met with some criticism. Game designers Radoff and Robertson have criticised gamification for excluding aspects like storytelling, an important element of learning. Whilst university researcher Deterding, has argued that current approaches to gamification create an artificial sense of achievement.

What does the successful application of gamification in e-learning look like?

  1. Gamification isn’t about games, but the learners.
  2. It isn’t about knowledge but behaviour.
  3. It extracts the motivational techniques out of games and uses them for life-applicable learning.
  4. It allows quick feedback of progress and communications of goals that need to be accomplished.

Gamification is made appealing for e-learning because of our human tendencies.  On the whole, we generally enjoy actively participating engaging and competing with others. Gamification allows learners to connect and learn together with playful applications and incentives, particularly when there are engaging game design elements used.

Today’s learners are however no longer placated with trivial reward systems but rather sophisticated experiences that hold real value. Organisations embracing the gamification in learning can stand to see learners more engaged and retain more information, but only if it is applied aptly to the e-learning programme, achieving the overall core learning objectives.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

Training for Success: Learning and Technology Trends

e-Learning Concept. Computer KeyboardSix out of ten learning and development managers say their training budget is one of the first to be cut when times are hard, according to a report published in Personnel Today. Now more than ever it’s vital that training is closely aligned with key business goals, that the effectiveness of training is properly evaluated and that return on investment is accurately measured.

But no one can deny that workplace training has changed. Where once the role of the training manager focused on developing classroom based programmes, scheduling events, measuring effectiveness, and reporting on attendance and performance after events, it’s now much more about harnessing the best learning technologies to provide access to information and learning content.

Training managers need to be solutions architects – capable of designing innovative ways for employees to access relevant knowledge, on-demand, no matter where they are. And they need to keep up-to-date with the latest learning developments, to guarantee success.

Here we examine some of the top trends in learning and technology that influence modern workplace training, and that we utilise to support our clients.

1. 70/20/10 Model of learning

The most effective way to facilitate workplace learning is by giving workers opportunities to develop, apply and practice new skills and behaviours on the job and in real-life situations. Many organisations have adopted the 70/20/10 learning philosophy, whereby:

  • 70% of learning & development takes place on the job, through tasks, experiences and problem-solving;
  • 20% of learning & development comes through feedback, learning and sharing with others (formal and informal); and
  • 10% of learning takes place via formal training, study and reading.

Recognition of the 70/20/10 approach means that the entire learning environment is changing from:

  • knowledge delivery to knowledge sharing and problem-solving;
  • formal and structured training to free flow of knowledge;
  • individuals to learning communities; and
  • training courses to learning environments (offline and online).

* 70/20/10 concept developed by McCall, Eichinger and Lombardo
2. Convergence of learning, performance and talent management

Businesses are beginning to seek enterprise wide solutions where they can unite the functionality of a learning management system (LMS) (e-learning, classroom training, reporting & tracking, certification & assessment) with a performance management system (performance appraisals, performance management, career & success planning, competency management) and talent management system (on-boarding, talent acquisition, compensation management, workforce planning).
3. Learning technologies are becoming social, collaborative, and virtual

Google, LinkedIn, twitter, YouTube, wikis, blogs all contribute to modern workplace learning. Live training is often virtual and facilitated via tools such as Skype, GotoTraining and WebEx.

4. The rise of mobile learning

It’s been mentioned before, but has been slow to be adapted in many organisations. Mobile or mlearning is about delivering learning content and experiences to learners when and where they need it. Typically mlearning is accessed via a mobile device such a smart phone or tablet – it’s particularly useful for performance support – checklists, quick guides, short ‘how-to’ videos.

5. The rise of DIY rapid elearning

More and more organisations want to be able to create their own e-learning to build in-house capabilities, save money and time. Demand for Aurion’s rapid eLearning training course has tripled over the last two years. Training staff want to know how to use the best rapid authoring tools to create their own e-learning and gain an understanding of e-learning theories and strategies.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates. 

Forget What You Know About Instructional Design and Do Something Interesting

By Maresa Molloy

Many e-learning programmes today are built for compliance training, which more often than not means that learners are faced with boring and tedious ‘page-turner’ programmes.

E-learning guru and author Michael Allen has spent years fighting this trend for monotonous
e-learning. In his book, Designing Successful e-Learning: Forget What You Know About Instructional Design and Do Something Interesting, Allen proposes alternative ways of designing e-learning to ensure it’s interesting and engaging for learners. Although published 5 years ago Allen’s book, which is aimed at experienced instructional designers, is still included on many university reading lists and is worthy of review.

So what is Allen’s main proposal in the book?

Designing Successful e-Learning: Forget What You Know About Instructional Design and Do Something Interesting is divided into three parts:

Part 1 – ‘Scenarios’ presents a selection of e-learning scenarios and asks the reader what they would do in these situations. This questions the readers’ current approach to designing e-learning programmes and opens their mind to the possibility of designing programmes differently.

Part 2 – ‘The Art and Science of Instructional Design’ provides a critique of how instructional design is practiced today. It introduces readers to the ‘Success Based Design’ practiced by the author, which he believes encompasses the best elements of current instructional design theories.

Part 3 – ‘Designing Successful e-Learning’ explains how readers can apply a Success Based Design to their own e-learning programmes. Allen suggests that instructional designers provide learners with meaningful, memorable and motivational experiences, which he says you can do by:

  • setting the programme in the context of the learner’s real-life environment;
  • by providing the learner with a challenge they are likely to encounter in this environment;
  • by providing the learner with activities that help them to solve the challenge; and
  • by providing them with intrinsic feedback – based on their performance of the activity.

The e-learning programme is meant to provide learners with a safe environment in which they can try out different options and solutions, and make informed decisions based on their mistakes and successful attempts. The success of the programme is then measured by how well they do in the real environment.

Allen’s approach contrasts with traditional e-learning which provides learners with pages of content, followed by an assessment to see if learners can remember the content. Instead of just focusing on the content, Allen places emphasis on whether or not learners can apply their knowledge in a real-life task.

Is the Success Based Design a better approach than the traditional approach?
In my opinion, the Success Based Design is clearly a better approach to take. It facilitates production of
a more interesting and engaging programme and encourages learners to gain a deeper understanding of the learning content, and how to apply that learning in real-life contexts.

For example, a Success Based e-learning programme that helps nurses diagnose specific sinus problems with their patients would present the learner (the nurse) with typical scenarios. In each scenario, the learner asks the patient (or programme) questions about their symptoms and they observe the patient for physical symptoms. From this information, they can then submit their diagnosis and the programme will give them feedback. The scenario is reflective of a real-life task and challenge the nurse is likely to face at work.

The main limitation with Allen’s approach is that learners do not have to read all of the content. They can choose which scenarios they want to do and they can skip those scenarios that they think they know well. Traditional e-learning programmes, on the other hand, tend to be compliance-based which means that learners are forced to read all of the pages of content.

Nevertheless, the Success Based Approach focuses more on improving the understanding of learners and focuses less on compliance. Focusing on learners’ needs should always be a priority.


How well does the author deliver the content?
Allen describes the Success Based Approach very thoroughly in his book and provides useful diagrams and tables to explain his methods. He can be somewhat repetitive at times, for example, he repeats much of the same information about context, challenge, activity and feedback across several different chapters on designing instruction.

He also falls short of providing a step-by-step guide on designing e-learning programmes using this approach, and in providing practical examples of how it would look in an e-learning programme. For example, he does not show how the layout of the navigation and menus would look like. This would help give a clearer understanding of how he proposes to move away from the traditional layout and design.

Are there any limitations with his approach?
The Success Based Design is an excellent approach. However, I feel that because e-learning is a component of the overall training strategy of an organisation, many organisations would need to
re-evaluate their current training strategies before implementing a Success Based e-Learning programme. For example, many organisations today are still providing learners with endless amounts of PowerPoint slides in a training room, instead of providing them with interactive, scenario-based activities which are much more meaningful. If organisations update their overall training strategy, then a Success Based e-Learning programme would suit the organisation’s training culture and norms.


How well does the book rate in relation to other books on Instructional Design?
Designing Successful e-Learning is still a popular book on the market. Allen uses a friendly and informal tone to deliver some very useful advice on how to design successful e-learning. He breaks away from some of the traditional books which are heavily laden in theory and jargon, and speaks to the reader on a level they can understand. I would therefore recommend this book to any Instructional Designer who wants to improve their current approach to designing e-learning.

Are there further resources available from the author?
Michael Allen has a useful website where you can access information about his other books and other e-learning resources:

http://www.alleninteractions.com/michael-allens-books

Book information:

Designing Successful e-Learning: Forget What You Know About Instructional Design and Do Something Interesting – Michael Allen’s Online Learning Library

Publication Date: 12 Jun 2007 | ISBN-10: 0787982997 | ISBN-13: 978-0787982997

Talent Management: Terms & 9 Box Reporting

Continuing his series of guest blog posts on talent management, Steve Curtis, EMEA Channel Director at NetDimensions talks terms and 9 box reporting. Confused? Read on.

Terms and 9 Box Reporting
This week I’ve decided to write up a bit on Talent Management terminology as a lighter bite for the week. I’ve gone into some functional depth in the last few weeks and so thought it would be good to maybe lighten things for a week.

Hippos and Hippies
I’ll start to drill into Performance Management in the next few weeks, but before I do I’d like to look at the terms so that when I then talk about them everyone is not confused…

Hippos (actually Hi-Po’s) are High Potentials. High Potentials are people in the business who have been recognised as being possible leaders of the business in the future. I actually found a pretty funny website here http://www.highpotentialssociety.org/Society/society.html for people who want to classify themselves as high potentials – but the reality is that in business it is important to be able to identify those people who have the potential in the future to really drive the business forward. To understand who is a high potential, and to understand more just google the term – you’ll find loads of data about this term.

Hippies (actually Hi-Pe’s) are High Performers. High Performers are people in the business who in their current role are performing very well, and are good at what they do. They will normally be very competent in their job role, and will be getting high scores in their performance appraisals.

9 Box Reporting
It makes sense that a person who is a high performer could also be a high potential – but a high performer might not be a high potential for a number of reasons. Maybe the person is happy where they are and does not want the extra responsibility that comes with a more senior position. Maybe the person is in a deeply technical role where there is no value to the business in moving them further up the organisation.

HR Directors have therefore found a diagrammatic way of dropping people into boxes in a graphical report commonly called a 9 box report. It is a matrix where one axis rates people based on their high potential score and the other axis rates them on their high performance score. I like this diagrammatic view.

9 Box Reporting

As you can see, if you put people into the various spaces in the grid, then you know a bit more what you should do with them. Software systems give the business the ability to rate people as Hippos, Hippies, or both – however I would always remember that the system is just a tool – companies still have to rely on the abilities of their managers to rate individuals – a bad rating because of lack of knowledge can still drop an individual in the wrong box…and this can be detrimental to the business and to the individual.

Businesses try their hardest to retain people in most quadrants, and will try to have their churn (rate at which people leave and join) be of people in the bottom left quadrant.

By the way – two interesting things:

1. There is also a 16 box – where the scales are 4 by 4. However the more boxes the harder the management becomes.

2. I once met a senior HR manager at a UK event who presented on this subject. She spent a lot of her time producing a set of 9 box reports for her 100,000 person organisation. She was very proud of the myriad of excel spreadsheets she maintained…a lot of hard work that modern Talent Management systems should now support.

Talent Pools
I would love to define this this week but I’ve come to the end of this week’s chapter – so let’s talk through Talent Pools next week, and then we’ll move into Performance Management after that.


Information Overload: Why Your Knowledge Dump E-learning Will FAIL

By Maresa Molloy, Instructional Designer

Man at computer surrounded by filesWe love when clients come to us full of enthusiasm for a new e-learning programme but comments like: “Our staff need to know our policies – let’s put them online into an e-learning programme,” or “We need to make sure they’ve read all the material – an e-learning programme is perfect!” can set the alarm bells ringing.

Educating staff on new information, and identifying whether or not they’ve read and understood the material, are perfectly good reasons for developing an e-learning programme. Bombarding your staff with everything you know about the information and making sure they can recite it word perfect is not.

Imagine trying to educate your staff on Health & Safety and providing them with pages and pages of policies and procedures on Health & Safety and then expecting them to list these verbatim. This is clearly not a good idea – they’ll never remember all of the material and they’ll get bored fairly quickly.

Now imagine providing your staff with a course which teaches them the key information on these policies and procedures and showing them how to apply these in their work. This is clearly more effective.

But how do you split the wheat from the chaff?

At Aurion Learning, we believe that the key to designing a successful, performance based e-learning programme is to identify current performance gaps. To do this, we use what we call our ‘DIF analysis’:

  • What tasks do your learners find Difficult?
  • What tasks do they find Important to their jobs?
  • What tasks do they do Frequently?

Once you know these tasks, you can design a course which targets what they really need to learn, and furthermore, you can spend more time and resources focusing on making this content more interactive and enjoyable.

Don’t Do
Assume that your goal is to increase their knowledge. Identify what they need to do differently.
Provide all of the information you have on the subject. Provide only the information that can help them do something differently.
Ensure that they know all of the information. Ensure that they can use the information.

(Source material Cathy Moore)

Training Smarter in the Recession

by Dr. Maureen Murphy, Aurion Learning

Learn BlackboardResearch published last year from the Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies (LLAKES), at the Institute of Education, University of London, and researchers at the University of Cardiff shows that, despite predictions to the contrary, the recession has not deterred most UK companies from training their staff in new skills. Yes – training expenditure is down….but not by as much as expected (the report* quotes a 5% decrease in training expenditure in England between 2007 and 2009). In fact, the research shows that rather than putting the brakes on skills training, the recession has simply forced most companies to train smarter.

Easier said than done? Here are my top tips for training in the recession:

  • Shift training focus to key business areas – an obvious one but the best place to start. Align training with key business strategy – so if you want to improve sales, deliver meaningful sales training. If you want to develop stronger leaders, deliver powerful leadership training.
  • Embrace technology – increasing your use of e-learning, mobile learning (mlearning) and virtual learning environments will seriously cut time out of office as well as travel costs while giving staff access to on-demand and just-in-time learning.
  • Organise more in-house training – by developing staff competencies you can use internal staff to deliver training and manage communities of learning.
  • Share, share, share – encourage knowledge sharing, collaboration, coaching and peer mentoring. Make the most of the existing knowledge pool in your company.
  • Cut course length – make your learning short, sharp and strong!
  • Evaluate the learning – ask your staff about how they have put the learning into practice and improved performance. Evaluate the learning and measure return on investment.

*Source: The Impact of the 2008-9 Recession on the Extent, Form and Patterns of Training at Work LLAKES, Institute of Education, University of London