when should wbt should be a memo?

Snappy title, no?

I’ll give you my opinion on the title’s question:  All. The. Time.

Going back a few posts, I outlined the time that I had asked for information, heard it was in a WBT and was immediately deflated by the idea of watching a 20 minute WBT to find an answer I was looking for.  Word, annoying as it is, is at least searchable.

But the idea itself has sat inside my brain like a seed.  Why do we even use WBT as a community?    When I research this, I come up with some interesting themes.  It seems as though WBT was developed in response to the costly nature of live, instructor lead training.   The lure of lower cost, flexibility, and mobility is strong, and compares well to live training.  But it seems as if no one ever asked themselves – but could an email or memo have sufficed?  Seems there are different, overlooked “delivery channels” that might fit the criteria that makes WBT so great.

Deconstructed, WBT is a message with visuals, an avatar or more, and some scenarios (at best).  Could we not continue to do that in email?   Instead of a 20-30 minute WBT on our privacy policy, let’s say, why not a quick email:


Here’s the policy on privacy.  Here’s what it means practically, and for those of you who still do not get it, here are some examples of how you might use it in the workplace.  

End email with a read receipt.

Or, even better, attach or include a handy-dandy job aid.  Maybe, in this case, we send them a MOUSE PAD that sits by their computer that reminds them of the policy.  Maybe, for other things, a checklist or instructions.   For so long we’ve rolled up our learning professional noses at such  child’s play – memos, emails, job aids – and dismissed it as “not learning” that we have created an entire industry of people who produce learning that isn’t engaging at all and that our learners hate.

So, for your annoyance or reference, the following is a list of things that we might offer our learners, clients, or partners instead of the incredibly useless WBT:

  • email or memo
  • job aids (mouse pads, checklists, instructions, cards, etc.)
  • videos (if your argument is that reading is boring – I challenge you to do two things.  one is to double check how much reading there is in a wbt and the other is to see if you could take your boring 20 minute WBT and turn it into video that lasts less than 5 minutes.  i’m almost positive you can in 99.99% of circumstances.

I just don’t think avatars and clicked-on text boxes are interactive, engaging, or useful.  And as a learner, I *hate* them.  Just tell me the policy and I will do it.  Don’t convince me with your scenarios, don’t make me click on boxes to see what some avatar says about it.  Just tell me.  Treat me like a grown up – an ADULT learner.

Oh – and stop making smaller WBTs and calling it micro-learning.


Get Off My Lawn, Millennials! An Infographic for Training Different Generations in the Workplace

This article came across my twitter feed this morning and says everything I’ve been saying and thinking about “generational” stuff in the work place.

Train Like a Champion

By now you’ve probably seen some sort of infographic or article or attended a webinar or training session on characteristics of different generations in the workplace.

I’ve attempted to put together an infographic (below) that details how learning and development professionals can approach instructional design and facilitation for learners from a variety of age groups.


There’s only one tiny problem with this infographic.

View original post 242 more words

pushback on pRewoRk

Here’s an article I found very insightful about the design of virtual learning spaces.

While I’m not a fan of WBT, I do like virtual learning.  I like flipped classrooms.  I like getting it said in a 2 minute video and moving on.    What I like about the article above is that it promotes the use of prework as a flipped classroom experience, and then allows the instructional designer to really do something creative in the virtual environment to make sure people learn and apply and do.

But that’s not reality sometimes.  Reality is that we get pushback on adding prework to a design, sometimes.  And I’m not stupid, I know that some people don’t do the prework, but I also feel that in an adult learning situation, the adult has to take ownership of their own learning and come to the table prepared to learn.

So how do you solve this?


As an adult and a learning professional, I’m firmly in the camp of continuing on when someone shows up unprepared, while not allowing that to cause undue work on the facilitator.  I’d prefer not to acquiesce to those showing up unprepared, or to remove prework or to lock it down through an LMS; I would rather let people fail and struggle.  Or admit that it didn’t affect them at all, in some instances.  I would go so far as to ask “Did you complete the prework?” on a Level 2 assessment to see if this question influences the knowledge transfer and behaviour we expect.

Which means, as an instructional designer – I’m designing both the flipped classroom for the learner and the experience for the facilitator.   That’s the nut worth cracking:  helping facilitators become the owners of the experience once it is designed, and not at the mercy of the learners attending.

why i hate deveLoping wbt

I’m currently assigned to an amazing project that has some real potential to deliver results.  One of those “gift” projects that level one and two assessments will be easy to do, and level three and four assessments will prove behaviour change and return on investment.  I will be one of those lucky instructional designers who smile knowingly when discussing kirkpatrick and have a real life example of a time we used four levels of evaluation.

But my GOSH I hate developing wbt.

Our level ones are “baked”, but I have to create a level two in wbt and publish it to our LMS.  This is the part of my job that does not cause me satisfaction (the entering it into wbt part – the writing of the assessment I enjoyed!).  But I did it, using a template, and it looks fabulous.  It’s lovely.  I even QA’ed it this morning, with a near perfect score.  There’s just one tiny little thing wrong but this one tiny little thing is the exact absolute reason I hate (developing) wbt.

Side rant:  wbt sucks as a learning delivery channel.  I don’t like it, I think we should avoid it, and I have never learned anything useful by popup text boxes and avatars.  Anything you could learn in a wbt could be better presented in a video.  And quicker.  And less stupidly fake looking.

Back to my current issue.  The one tiny little issue is that during the 10 questions, the forward button stays enabled.  Adult learning principles tell me that’s probably okay, let the adult learner do whatever they want – it’s their quiz to fail or pass or do over a hundred times.  However, in the LMS it ends up returning a null response to this and it ends up freezing.  Really – if it happens (which is unlikely) the user is likely to shut it down and try again.  It’s not that big of a deal, but it isn’t elegant.

So I went into the files and tried to fix it. We have an advanced script to run that hides the forward button.  Awesome!  I applied that and tried again.  The downside of this course of action is that the forward button is hidden from all question slides.  So then the user must somehow “know” to use the submit button instead.  Not very elegant.

And worse, if the back button is disabled, so that learners cannot go backward, the wbt goes forward when the user hits the back button because the entire screen works like a hot spot.  Yikes.

I finally fixed these issues and  republished.  The forward button is disabled, the back button is enabled, and the entire thing scores properly and navigates as best as expected.  Of course, all the spacing has been ruined so I had to go in and fix that.  Republish.  Fix something else.  Republish.

8 hours later, I think I have a viable wbt assessment.  And strong hatred for this delivery channel.

thanks, captain

I had this great idea  this week, as I was designing and developing some learning that would be trained virtually.  It was around having an Icon for the idea of “self assessments” instead of the words – that would later need to be translated.  And so, I googled the term “self assessment icon” and got this:

googly eyed crab

Amused, I sent an email to my team telling them about what had transpired and what their thoughts were on this icon.  I received an email suggesting that I use this:


to which another co-worker suggested we do this:
caillou mirror

and when I showed them I was actually going to use something more like this:


I received this:


And this, my friends, is what being on a team is really about.  Collaboration, fun, and a continual reminder to not take oneself so seriously.

et tu, brute?

I just had one of those light bulb moments for an instructional designer.

I’m working on a project that I was involved with 2 years ago.  I know the material, vaguely, but the details are lost on me.  The easiest way to explain it is that I’m creating leader content for general content that I did a few years ago – so to do this I need to reacquaint myself with some of the finer details and “how to” information.

My “come to Jesus” moment looked like this:

Me:  hey, when and how does <this role> do <this action>?

SME:  that’s covered in <this training>

Me:  (inside my head) I don’t have TIME to take a 20 minute WBT,  I just need the freaking answer

Oh crap.

I wrote that 20 minute WBT a few years ago.  It’s good stuff.  It’s informative.  I recommend it.  But when push comes to shove I didn’t want to take it because I didn’t want 18 minutes of context to get the simple answers I was looking for fast to get another task finished.

This is good, as it reaffirms things that I believe about learning.  But every time you affirm or learn, you have to act.  My question is, “now what?”


what’s fun got to do with it?

I’ve recently changed jobs.  More accurately, today was my first day at a new, amazing opportunity that I’m incredibly excited about.  Even more accurately, “new” is perhaps overstating it – I’ve worked here before, on the same team, and returned for a great new adventure with a team I love.

Someone asked me a challenging question about my situation today.  The question was something like, “what was it like, over there?  obviously something happened if you’re back.”  And he’s right, isn’t he?

I was only gone for 9 months.  I left 9 months ago to work on a new learning team – helping to develop healthcare SMEs into learning professionals.  I loved it.  I developed an online learning community between parent and child companies, I created and facilitated a 2 day instructional design workshop, I did learning bites about flipped classrooms, learning delivery channels, and terminology.  We talked performance support and learning on demand and were working with our business partners to set expectations.  We were definitely on the right track when a reorg happened and the strategy changed and I was the last man standing as a team of one.

But I digress.  I was explaining why I left so that I could explain why I came back.  It struck me today, as I tried to explain why I left and why I returned and why I’m so excited for the opportunity before me that it may come down to one small word:


The opportunity at the other job was still there.  I was a team of one who would create her own path and forge her own way and relationships.  But it wasn’t FUN anymore.  Without my team of SMEs-turned-Learning, I was working alone, had no real work friends on the floor, and had no one to collaborate and elaborate with.  This new job is amazing and has great potential and opportunity, but it struck me today, as I watched my team mates shoot each other with nerf bullets while talking learning, that what I craved most as a learning professional was a fun environment where my creativity could reignite.

And that’s what I have to remember as I begin to design learning for this new group – learning needs the right environment:  collaborative, where bonds are created and ideas are tested; the adult version of “learning through play”.