Agile and L&D

As a former IT trainer and programmer (in my engineering career) I was fascinated by anything which helped me to programme more efficiently.

I learned to programme back in the early 80’s when we were still using punch cards so the fewer lines of code, the shorter your stack and the less impact of accidentally dropping them. Elastic bands were considered an essential piece of kit in programming back then!

Having been at the start of when object oriented programming emerged, it was a time when reusing and repurposing efficient bits of code was at the forefront of everyones mind. AGILE was just emerging in the late 1990’s as a way to manage IT projects against a back drop of increasing storage (and lack of punch cards!) It was heralded as an innovative way to ensure speed of delivery as well as producing a minimum viable product to allow for testing and feedback. This was seen to be a much more efficient way to produce the millions of lines of code that were often required.

In the last few years I have heard more and more about what AGILE means in the L&D space and I had my own take on it when I spoke at the Learning Technologies Summer Forum in 2018. What I shared back then, still stands, I believe. It goes beyond pure methodologies in rapid design and looks at why we should align ourselves with the organisation to deliver learning products that deliver on what the organisation and the learners both need. 

 

Here are the 4 key points for L&D:

  1. ‘Infiltrate’ the organisation, by getting know what its goals are and understanding what the priorities should be. Network like mad to get to know the right people to connect with. Dig deeper into the data to dine areas of concern and don’t take one data point or source as being gospel!
  2. From the networking then determine which stakeholders you need to spend most time with by doing a stakeholder analysis.
  3. Set clear outcomes that are important to your stakeholders so that they will measure! Make sure your line managers are aligned to these outcomes too! keep your eyes not he prize!
  4. Listen to what is going on  then encourage and feedback.

You can find out more about this from my book “How Not To Waste Your Money On Training “

Just recently I attended the CIPD Festival of Work and was really interested in Carlo Beschi’s talk on “Agile Methodologies to Create Responsive Learning”. This is my visual summary on his session:

What I took from this for my own business is to start small and have a few iterations, gaining feedback to:

  1. Gauge interest
  2. Iron out glitches
  3. Test out the platform

I have done this for my online course “Creating Beautiful Visual Notes” – it is in the pilot stage at the moment, getting feedback and when the final product emerges in a few weeks it will hopefully have some of the glitches ironed put.

Top Ten Tips for Online Facilitation

Everyone is talking about it, but here are just 10 things you can do to improve your virtual facilitation.

 

  1. Think about what you CAN do online that you cannot do face to face

Quite often we try to translate what we would do face to face into the virtual world and it feels like a compromise. So, think about what you can do online that is really hard face to face. For example, getting many ideas in 1 minute becomes easy when you don’t have to give space to individual contributions one after the other. Chat, whiteboard and online tools like LINOIT and MURAL make gathering thoughts easy!

  1. Be yourself, get chatty and encourage as much interaction as possible

Think about how you will introduce the event and welcome people. In the same way that when you are face-to-face, you would say hello as people come in, do the same, make small talk and get people relaxed and ready to contribute. It’s not so much breaking the ice but settling people in and getting them over that initial screen of faces staring at them (if they have their videos on). Ask them to say where they are calling from in the chat and what the weather is doing. Or maybe get them to share “One thing that…..” which is relevant to the topic of the day.

  1. More slides, more pictures, fewer words

Don’t use the slides as a teleprompter. Use notes on your desk if you need a prompt and make the visuals appealing with pictures, questions and interesting statistics (if appropriate). Change the slides more frequently than if you were face to face and think about how to engage people by inserting questions. They can chat while you speak in the chat box.

  1. Think about group size

If it is a small group (<12) you can invite personal thoughts and contributions on microphone whereas this should be managed more carefully for larger groups. By all means invite people on microphone but get them to raise their hand and make it clear you are looking for just 1 minute, 1 thought etc. You can still make it interactive if the group size is large but you may have to use tools like MURAL or LINOIT to capture thoughts and ideas.

  1. Consider having a host for larger groups to deal with the tech and chatter

A good host will take the pressure of the facilitator and keep an eye on the chat as well as take over in case of any technical issues. Communicate what support you would like from the host: from adding in questions, spotting who might want to contribute to injecting a controversial question!

  1. Belt and braces

If anything is likely to go wrong in the virtual world, it can and it will! So always have a back-up plan. Send your slides and session plan to the host just in case your internet connection goes down. They can keep things going while you get back in. Some activities may take too long or go too quickly – what will you do to “fill” or avoid that “we have run out of time….” announcement. Can they continue adding their thoughts on an online platform? Consider having a tablet as an extra screen so you can see what your participants can see.

  1. Change pitch, pace and tone every 3-5 minutes. Keep them engaged.

There are lots of ways to keep them engaged and here are just a few:

  1. Use workbooks and worksheets to help cement the learning

According to the Harvard Business Review, hand writing your own notes has been shown to be more beneficial that typing them in. So encourage it!

  1. Learn about digital body language – you can see if people are engaging

Just because you can’t see everyone does not mean you cannot gauge the level of engagement. Click to learn from the experts like Jo Cook, about how you measure engagement.

  1. Be smiley, happy, energetic, stand up!

People can hear if you are smiling even if they cannot see you. Enjoy the experience

If you and your team could do with some inspiring help in the virtual arena, Krystyna has been developing trainers, facilitators and subject matter experts for many years.

Take a look at her latest programme success.

My gift to you

I have been coaching people the last few days, noticing  there is genuine fear and anxiety out there amongst some people, but with others a revelation that this may be a moment to pause and reflect. Wherever you are and whichever end of the spectrum, I will be praying for peace throughout this crisis. I will be praying that from each individuals perspective at least one good thing comes out of it to make a better future.

I haven’t blogged for a while for a number of reasons:

  • World weary from being on this treadmill we call life
  • Disillusionment with social media and the negativity it often brings
  • Filling my social media buffer feels like a chore, it is not really connecting with people, even though people respond and react
  • There has not been a burning desire to share a ‘nugget’ with all my connections

In this last few week I have seen a lot of worry and panic. This has almost been palpable and it feels like it is still rising. People are losing jobs, life has changed from what we know it to have been and we fear that we might lose loved ones. For some of us that may have already happened.

So why blog now? What’s changed for me? Work has stopped, almost and I am not good when I have not much to do. In a crisis, I often will ask myself “But what CAN I do?”

Coaching is a passion and it is a gift to receive it as well as offer it. In my years of coaching people, I have often been blessed by the transformations I have witnessed and inspired to make changes in my own life. The answer to my question was “Why not see if people want a free coaching session?”

It made sense and it would occupy me and hopefully distract me from the panic surrounding me. As soon as I put the offer out a few people contacted me. I have been humbled by their honesty and grateful to have been of what little help I can be.

The offer still stands, if you are struggling and need a conversation, some non-judgmental time for you to mull over what the possibilities might be, then contact me. We can set up a time to suit both of us. 

While coaching one person, I realised some of the questions and the order in which I asked them may, be useful to others. If you need some time to reflect now the pause button had been pressed, then maybe these questions might help reflect, recalibrate and plan a new brighter future once this crisis subsides.

Here are those questions:

  • What is your biggest fear?
  • What makes you think it is true?
  • What could you do to help yourself thrive at this time?
  • What will you do?
  • Thinking about these things how does it make you feel?
  • In six months time when (hopefully) we are through the other side what stories would you iike to be sharing?
  • Going through this crisis, what permanent changes would you like to see in your life for the good?

Blooming Marvellous!

When I discovered Blooms Taxonomy first of all…. I was confused, then frustrated and now I absolutely love it!

The first thing that frustrated me was the word TAXONOMY – it just means classification so why use something that sounds so complicated?

 

The next thing was the names of the domains:

  • Cognitive (Knowledge)
  • Affective (Attitudes)
  • Psychomotor (Skills)

Again , why make it sound so complicated when it is so easy?

What I love about it, is the way I use it to determine the gaps in peoples knowledge, skills or attitudes and then the level to which they need to get better. Having determined that a need is down to a gap in learning and not in resources, relationships, processes etc I ask myself a question:

Is this a knowledge, skill or attitudinal gap?

I can determine the answer to this question (and whether it is a combination of 2 or 3) by thinking:

Is it something that has to be in peoples’ heads? A knowledge thing? Something you will only know if they have got if they, describe, explain, list or tell you about it?

 

Or is it a skill thing? Something that you will see them doing or that there is some visible output? It may be a physical skill (hence the ‘hands’)


Or is it the way they should be doing something? A heart thing? Their attitude?

 

Or is it a combination of all three?

Once it is clear in my mind which domain the learning falls into, then it requires some thought for the level of the learning. A simple example would be GDPR(General data Protection Principles) mandatory training. This is both a knowledge thing and also an attitudinal thing. It might even become a skill thing depending on which level you operate in the organisation.

Mandatory training for all staff can be tedious and if you make it generic it may not hit the mark with a lot of people. Let’s examine for different groups of people what they might actually need:

For colleagues you might want them:

  • To be able to explain what their responsibilities are with regards their role and GDPR 
  • As a team to be able to identify possible data security risks in their own team 
  • Follow the GDPR policy and advocate its use to other team members 

For line managers:

  • To be able to explain what their responsibilities are with regards their role and GDPR 
  • As a team to be able to identify possible and actual data security risks in their own team 
  • With other line managers, outline a GDPR plan for their team to ensure that their approach is regularly reviewed 
  • Follow the GDPR policy and advocate its use to other team members 
  • Be role model for GDPR

For the Data Protection Officer:

  • To be able to explain what their responsibilities are with regards their role and GDPR 
  • To be able to identify data security risks within their own team and the organisation
  • With other line managers, outline a GDPR plan for their team to ensure that their approach is regularly reviewed 
  • Put together and communicates a policy which safeguards the data within the organisation according to GDPR
  • Be role model for GDPR
  • Inspires others to follow the GDPR policy 

From the above you can see that some of the learning could be used for all levels, but for some you need to take them to the next level and maybe beyond. Looking at the picture at the top of the article therefore Blooms Taxonomy can be used to determine the level of learning but also map out a path for learning for different groups of individuals. It is worth noting that you cannot just leap to the top level in any domain without spending some time at the lower levels.

If this is slowly starting to make sense or needs more clarification then watch this short video or chat to me

 

 

Blackberry picking …. and life in general

This morning I had a magical bank holiday wander around our village Bramhope, in West Yorkshire. Armed with water, a rucksack and a container with a lid, I set out for walking and blackberry picking.

As I walked and wandered, I pondered. It’s a day for pondering and new beginnings; with my youngest son moving into his new flat in Birmingham and my eldest probably going to settle in New Zealand.

As I picked the blackberries I saw many parallels to blackberry picking and life in general…….because I love metaphors I thought I would stretch this one to the limit and share ten things about seizing opportunities:

  1. The best ones are usually surrounded with nettles, be careful, tread carefully
  2. Don’t pick where everyone else picks, find your own place
  3. The biggest ones are not always the sweetest
  4. Don’t stretch too far to reach them, because you might fall in the ditch
  5. Slow down and just look and wait and as if by magic they seem to appear from nowhere
  6. Stop when you have enough to make something you enjoy
  7. The crumble tastes better when you can share it with others
  8. When you look at what you have gathered, you might have a few scratches and stings, but it’s worth it
  9. The joy can be in the picking as well as eating the crumble
  10. Remember there is always enough for everyone out there, gather what you will use

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