2015 Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Awards for Learning and Development, Talent Management, and Sales and Marketing Awards

The 2015 Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Awards for Learning and Development, Talent Management, and Sales and Marketing Awards

Dow AgroSciences Wins Gold & Silver

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – 10/1/2015

Dow AgroSciences, a leader in crop protection and plant biotechnology, won a coveted Brandon Hall Group gold award for excellence in the Best Program for Sales Training and Performance category and a silver award for Best Use of Blended Learning.   Dow AgroSciences’, wins were announced on 9/10/2015. The winners are listed at http://go.brandonhall.com/past_award_winners.

Dow AgroSciences, along with their learning partner, Vivayic, created the Seed Advisor Curriculum, a five-course experience designed to equip seed salespersons to confidently discuss basic agronomic concepts and Dow AgroSciences seed product development processes with customers.  The five courses focus on applying basic concepts related to seed selection, breeding, production, conditioning and quality.  Learning experiences were delivered via a variety of mediums, to include: iBooks, interactive PDFs, eLearning, and instructor-led sessions.

“We are thrilled to receive these honors in conjunction with Vivayic.  The strong partnership between Dow AgroSciences and Vivayic enabled the development of unique learning tool that fit the needs of our employees.   This recognition continues to validate the quality of Seed Advisor Curriculum as a learning tool and will help to create awareness of our ag technical learning program,” stated Stephen Smith, Dow AgroSciences Global Technology Transfer Leader.

“The high quality of work and commitment to driving business results among our award winners never fails to amaze me,” said Rachel Cooke, Chief Operating Officer of Brandon Hall Group and head of the awards program. “All of these winning programs deliver meaningful business results to their organizations. Winning an Excellence Award is a great honor, but the real winners are the organizations themselves and their customers and clients because of the innovation and customer focus they demonstrate.”

Excellence Awards winners will be honored at Brandon Hall Group’s HCM Excellence Conference January 27-29, 2016, at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Selected winners also will serve as presenters in the more than 20 breakout sessions during the 2½-day conference.

The entries were evaluated by a panel of veteran, independent senior industry experts, Brandon Hall Group Sr. Analysts and Executive Leadership based upon the following criteria: fit the need, design of the program, functionality, innovation, and overall measureable benefits.


About Dow AgroSciences

Dow AgroSciences discovers, develops, and brings to market crop protection and plant biotechnology solutions for the growing world. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, Dow AgroSciences is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company and had annual global sales of $7.3 billion in 2014. Learn more at www.dowagro.com. Follow Dow AgroSciences on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed.


About Brandon Hall Group
Brandon Hall Group is a HCM research and advisory services firm that provides insights around key performance areas, including Learning and Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Talent Acquisition and Workforce Management.

With more than 10,000 clients globally and 20 years of delivering world-class research and advisory services, Brandon Hall Group is focused on developing research that drives performance in emerging and large organizations, and provides strategic insights for executives and practitioners responsible for growth and business results. (www.brandonhall.com)


About Vivayic

Vivayic is a learning solutions design firm specializing in the transfer of agricultural sciences and technology knowledge and skills. Vivayic strives to add value to organizations through exceptional learning design and knowledge transfer experiences. Services include learning strategy and analysis, curriculum and program design, and eLearning and content delivery. Learn more at www.vivayic.com.

Game-Based Learning Case Study: National Pork Board Q+A

Q+A with Vivayic’s Seth Derner and Cara White

Q: Why does Vivayic use the game-based approach?

SD: The National Pork Board asked us to partner with them on reimagining how youth could be reached with their Youth Pork Quality Assurance Plus program (Youth PQA). It is the food safety, antibiotic use, and animal well-being awareness and education program for youth pork producers ages 8 to 19. Youth PQA had been delivered as an instructor-led session with a slide deck and suggestions for a few activities. That model still works, but they also wanted to give youth a chance to engage with the program online to increase the reach and ease of access for youth and families. The program, when delivered as a workshop, can take up to two hours. We couldn’t reduce the learning objectives, but we knew that a traditional elearning course wasn’t feasible – few adults would have that kind of attention span, let alone a child. What can hold the attention of a 12 year old for 2 hours? Games. We took Pork Board the idea, they signed off, and we started building. The results are pretty cool.

CW: It’s innovative, it’s new, and it’s what youth like to do! The National Pork Board was looking for a way for youth to get certified in the Youth PQA in an online setting rather than face-to-face. Using a game-based approach was a great way to reinforce what youth learned from reading the Youth PQA manual.

Q: What are the benefits of this approach?

CW: This is a particularly effective learning tool for youth. Any time we can incorporate technology into learning, youth are going be excited about it! Additionally, a game-based approach can serve as a stand-alone learning tool, an application piece, a review or an individual assessment.

SD: Games have built-in mechanisms to hold our attention: challenge, chance, achievement, instant feedback and novelty. They work especially well for youth who are more accustomed to learning through games. A game-based approach worked well for this program because there are 10 areas, and each area has a variety of content and skills. That’s a lot of information – breaking it up into a series of different games helped create more engaging and appropriate learning experiences for each part of the program. And, the great thing about games is that you can design them to let users play them over and over again until they “win.” That was perfect for this situation as some concepts and skills can be difficult for the younger learners, and we wanted to make sure they knew their stuff before moving on. Kids voluntarily reviewing their understanding – that’s good stuff.

Q: What considerations did you have to take into account?

SD: Using games isn’t without its challenges. First, designing game experiences takes considerably more creativity and effort than typical learning programs. You have to ensure that the level of challenge is appropriate for the learner, that the game play is compelling and fun, that the game play and scoring function properly, and a whole host of other things. Another consideration is that it’s much easier to use games to help review and apply knowledge and skills than it is to help learners acquire new knowledge and skills. Because of the scope of content in this program, we still relied on learners reading through the handbook to acquire understanding. They could try the games before reading, and we hope they did so that it would help them identify the critical information to look for in the handbook material.

A third consideration is the technology platforms your learners will use to access the games; screen size, type of device and operating system and internet connectivity are important drivers in planning game design. Finally, there is the “so what…” issue – so what happens when a user achieves a perfect score or reaches the top level? We chose to not use scores and achievements as external motivators for Youth PQA. It’s like the show “Who’s Line is it Anyway?” where the points don’t really matter. For some users that may be frustrating, but if you don’t have a clear objective in using scores for other purposes, we think it’s best to keep the games fun and low-stakes.

CW: In this particular case, we had to take three age levels into consideration. We did end up creating two modules, one for the youngest level and the other for the upper levels. We spent a considerable amount of time designing the game play, considering the flow of the module as a whole, scoring and really putting ourselves in the shoes of the users. We wanted to create something a young person would want to sit down and play, while also learning in order to pass the certification test.

Q: How have users responded to it?

CW: We’ve heard very positive feedback from the individual in charge of the certification and trainings at the National Pork Board.

SD: After the initial build of all of the Youth PQA games, we tested them with the target audience of 8- to 19-year-old youth. We received great feedback on what was fun, what was confusing and what just wouldn’t work. That helped us refine ideas and build better versions. Since the client had released it, we’ve heard they’ve had a really positive response. Many educators are using the games as supplemental activities to add engagement in their instructor-led sessions. That’s the great thing about good design – it’s flexible to meet the needs of people in the real world. It’s nice when projects turn out like you hope.

Q: How did you find out about this approach?

SD: We invest a lot of time and money getting our team out to a variety of conferences, shows and forums where new ideas and approaches are talked about. We saw examples of game-based elearning some time ago. We like to be early adopters and bring our clients insight into what’s new, different or creative, but we also balance that with knowing there’s evidence that something works. That’s what clients should expect from a group like us – to bring them industry-leading expertise and insights so they don’t have to invest in that level of research themselves. The Pork Board, for example, doesn’t need staff to attend the Learning Solutions conference every year, for example, but they should expect that we do and will bring back new ideas and approaches to help them accomplish their organizational objectives.

CW: We learned in the early stages of this project that the National Pork Board was looking for something like this – a game-like tool that youth could complete in order to receive their certification online.

Q: What is the importance of using this and other learning approaches to meet your client’s goals?

CW: First and foremost, we at Vivayic pride ourselves on really listening to the client and creating a personalized approached to fit their specific needs. The work we’ve done for the Youth PQA project will serve as a great model for other projects, for both youth and adult learners. The team members in charge of developing the actual game play did a phenomenal job and learned so much about Storyline, a type of elearning software, and its capacity for game-based solutions.

SD: It’s important for people to remember that game-based learning isn’t a silver bullet solution. We think it can have really useful application, but it can also be misused and overused. It’s a great strategy to have in the toolbox, but like all tools, craftsmanship is required to know when and how to use them.

“Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.” -Chinese proverb 

Performance Support Symposium 2014

In the learning solutions world, constant education is important for those designing curriculum, too.

Vivayic and its employees understand that and attend many conferences throughout the year. Vivayic team member Craig Rebich attended the Performance Support Symposium last month in Boston, MA. Here are his thoughts after the event.

Performance Support – Craig Rebich

My personal life motto is, “Do something everyday to make yourself better.” This motto carries over into my work as well.

As a Vivayic team, we read and continue to learn, but learning is both science and an art. At conferences like the Performance Support Symposium, we take science and blend it with art. We use these experiences to make ourselves better at the work we do.

In the learning solutions world, performance support is the creation and use of a system that allows individuals to get their job tasks complete within the workflow. This system focuses on workflow, rather than the workers. One of the most difficult aspects of using it is finding the appropriate balance between performance support and training.

This conference gave me the chance to explore performance support and the organizational strategies proven to reduce training time, as well as focus on the importance of content in the right context because that is where learning truly occurs.

 A big highlight for me was learning more about the five moments of learning need, which are the times in which a worker requires information in order to accomplish the task at hand, and how they are relevant to designing solutions. These five moments of learning need are the basis for the performance support system. It’s not so much a teaching technique as it is understanding how and when learning occurs so you can design a solution that accommodates these needs.

Looking back, my favorite part of the symposium was learning about initiatives in different industries and networking. I’m always amazed at the ideas generated when people with a good knowledge base about a specific topic have lunch together.

Armed with the knowledge gained at this conference, I think differently about the solutions we implement. I know that when designing a solution, we need to consider performance support as a way to both enhance human performance and to save organizations money.

I will now look at our client’s problems from a more holistic perspective. Vivayic’s goal is to be a partner with our clients and to help solve their problems. Essentially, the knowledge I gained at this conference will allow us to find even better solutions for our clients.

Learning Solutions 2014

In the learning solutions world, constant education is important for those designing curriculum, too.

Vivayic and its employees understand that and attend many conferences throughout the year. Vivayic team member Jessica Travis attended the Learning Solutions conference, co-located with the Ecosystem conference earlier this year. Here’s her thoughts after the event.

Learning Solutions ConferenceJessica Travis

Wow – what an exhilarating educational experience!  At the Learning Solutions conference, we learned about all aspects of eLearning and what’s currently happening out in the eLearning world. From project management to mobile learning, from graphic design and eLearning games to the fundamentals of learning theory, this conference covers it all.

Not only does it have a variety of topics, but it also includes opportunities to see examples of high quality work from people in the field during a session called SolutionFest. This year was a special one because a Vivayic project was accepted for the event.

Solutions Fest

Doug, the client and I spent two hours talking to people about our project design. It was just super exciting to talk to people about what we do, especially when they were so positive about it. SolutionFest was awesome – not only because of our participation but also because it’s fun to check out the other projects and see what our peers are doing to generate new ideas.

Outside of SolutionFest, one of my favorite sessions was about writing better eLearning scripts. It provided practical information and a reminder to bring even the most complicated content down to a personal level so that the learner has the best possible experience. Whenever I can, I try to use a conversational tone in script writing for eLearning courses, and that session put that into perspective and reminded me of the different approaches that can be taken to achieve that style.

The best part about any type of conference is taking home the information and the energy gained at the event and applying it to my everyday work. Last year I focused on learning more about graphic design and how to use Storyline. This year I focused more on project management and expanding my knowledge of general eLearning design.

I absolutely love attending this conference. It is so refreshing and motivational to be at a meeting full of professionals who do what I do and understand what I do. The framework of the event makes it easy to exchange ideas, stay current on the latest trends in eLearning and on a personal level, to continue learning new tricks of the trade to improve myself as a learning solutions designer.

I believe that one of the most important things I can do is be a constant learner because anything new that I learn will help me continue to grow, and in turn, do great work for our clients. Just like bread – after a while, people can get stale, too. Conferences help you stay fresh!

Ecosystem 2014 – The Learning Infrastructure and Strategies Conference

In the learning solutions world, constant education is important for those designing curriculum, too.

Vivayic and its employees understand that and attend many conferences throughout the year. Vivayic co-founders Doug Kueker and Seth Derner attended the Ecosystem conference, co-located with the Learning Solutions conference earlier this year. Here’s their thoughts after the event.

Ecosystem Conference – Doug Kueker and Seth Derner

ec·o·sys·tem [ek-oh-sis-tuhm] – a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment; or in general use, a complex network or interconnected system.

Ecosystem – that’s a great word for education and for the eLearning world. We had the chance to dissect what it meant for learning solutions and for our company at the recent Ecosystem conference, and we gained much information to use to benefit our team and our clients.

Over time, organizations have built so many systems to deliver training and learning to their employees and constituents. Unfortunately, having multiple learning delivery systems places a big burden on the learner – they have to navigate through a sea of options to find the one that best suits their educational needs. Wrestling with multiple systems doesn’t create a very cohesive learning experience for the learner.

Many of the organizations at the conference, which was hosted by the eLearning Guild, a professional society that we belong to, were discussing ways to work toward integration of the different learning systems they’ve built. Ultimately, they are trying to improve the quality and impact of the learning experiences they offer by taking a step back and identifying a broad strategy for learning and development at an organizational level.

Another trend discussed is that organizations are recognizing that learning isn’t necessarily confined to online courses or in-person/classroom training experiences. There’s a push toward expanding what we define as “learning experiences.” More modern views of learning are acknowledging both the formal modes of learning as well as more informal modes of learning such as social media, performance support tools and well-structured, on-the-job growth experiences.

This conference helped us gain some insights as to how organizations are building systems that embrace this broader definition of learning. Organizations are trying to get learners the experiences they need at the right scope, in the right mode and at the right time.

As organizations look at systems and re-think learning experiences, they are using data to help determine the effectiveness of activities so they can invest where it makes the most impact. As a direct result of what we learned at Ecosystem, we at Vivayic plan to be more proactive in helping our clients think through the evaluation and data analysis of new initiatives and learning experiences, which will give them quality metrics to measure return on investment.

We do love learning so we enjoy going to conferences like these in general, but certain aspects do stand out. They allow us to stay current to benefit our clients. We’ve seen a lot of changes in the eight years since we started the company. Conferences like this give us insights in how to prepare for what the field may look like in the next eight years.

We also love connecting with other thought leaders in related fields. As an expertise-driven organization, we rely on the knowledge of our team members and our network. Sometimes being the smartest person in the room means that you know the right expert to involve in a project. The Ecosystem conference was a chance to build relationships and share ideas with some of the smartest people in the learning services industry.

During the SolutionFest, we even had the chance to share our own expertise since one of our projects was featured. Along with team member Jessica Travis and one of our clients, we chatted with attendees about what made our project, and team, click, which was a really great experience for our team, and for Vivayic.

The desire to gain all that we do at these events ties back to a couple of our values:

  • Cultivation – We believe in continuous cultivation of our knowledge and skills so we make time to attend professional development experiences like this one.
  • Excellence and Practicality – We strive to bring these two qualities together in the solutions we build with our clients; this conference gave us insights into trends that will ultimately help us elevate these two qualities in future work.

We really strive to practice what we preach. Our leadership team is constantly thinking about how we can reiterate our own internal learning systems to support our team’s growth and development. Conferences, like Ecosystem, help us meet, and exceed, those goals.

The Business Case for Custom-Crafted Learning


Custom-crafted learning, like portrait painting, requires specialized skills and tools. Just like you wouldn’t hire the guy who painted your living room to paint your family portrait, you need to find the people in your organization, or a partner for your organization, with the craftsmanship to realize the business value of custom-crafted learning. What is the business case for custom-crafted learning versus hiring external trainers to meet training needs? Here’s our perspective:

Organizations often see training as an expense—one that is often challenging to determine return on investment (ROI). As a result, it’s tempting for organizations to find the least expensive, most acceptable, off-the-shelf training services. After working with dozens of organizations in the area of learning and development the past seven years, we can offer five business reasons why you should rethink the model of relying on off-the-shelf training solutions to support business-critical goals and objectives.

  1. Paying for expertise you may already own. We see this most often in organizations—bringing in trainers when there are people within the organization with greater expertise and experience. Your internal experts may not be the right people to design or lead the training, but not utilizing their expertise is a lost opportunity to leverage their value. A custom-crafted solution captures the value of your experts and the real-world experiences they can offer.
  2. Inconsistency creates inefficiencies. This is the second most common situation we see. Take, for example, an organization never satisfied with the training consultants hired to teach managers how to coach. After six years and four different trainers, the organization ends up using many different models and terms that any discussion about coaching turns into a frustrating exercise in trying to understand one another. Progress toward the business objective halts while focus turns (once again) toward improving coaching across the organization.
  3. The cost of renting versus buying in the long term. Understandably, decisions are often driven by resources available in a fiscal year. Custom-crafted training is a greater up front expense, but once built the ongoing expense to utilize the resulting tools and materials is minimal. Hiring an external trainer can make sense in year one but can quickly become a more costly solution with ongoing stipends, materials costs, hosting fees, etc.
  4. Opportunity cost of “not quite right.” External trainers can solve issues quickly, but there is often a long-term hidden cost: the opportunity cost of under-performance due to a learning solution that is good, but not complete or specific to the needs of your situation and people.
  5. Wasted time of your top performers. Let’s say you put your 100 sales people through a daylong training seminar on negotiation skills and 20 of your highest performing reps report learning “nothing new.” The cost of their time, 160 hours, adds up quickly. When you custom-craft a learning solution, you can get feedback on the perceived value of the program before deploying it and investing the time of your most valuable human assets.
  6. Opportunity cost of not engaging high-potentials/top performers and  improving overall employee morale. The act of bringing in an external trainer can communicate the following to your team, “We need someone from the outside to fix us; there’s no one in this organization that can offer what this trainer offers.” Custom-crafting your learning solutions gives you a chance to engage your experts in identifying content and experiences, engaging your high-potentials in reviewing early drafts and showcase the contributions of fellow employees when the solution is deployed—all of which can contribute to greater engagement.

Obviously we’re proponents of custom-crafted learning solutions—in part because it’s the service we offer—but, more importantly we have a deeply held belief that organizations perform better when they maximize the value of existing expertise and accelerate the transfer of that expertise across the organization. It just makes good business sense.

Pedagogy: Cutting Through the Noise

This past year, I recall watching the presidential candidate debates and thinking, “The number of viewpoints in our political system can be deafening.” Our system has grown to be far more complex than simply identifying oneself as Democrat or Republican. I think plurality of viewpoints in our political system is positive. The problems and opportunities we face as a nation are too complex to create a solution informed by only one particular worldview. However, having multiple viewpoints weigh in on contemporary issues certainly does create a lot of noise for the general public to sort through as they make a decision at the polls.

There are a number of parallels between the multiple viewpoints in our political system and the perspectives guiding the design of learning experiences. For instance, having multiple viewpoints on how adults learn helps inform the development of robust and multi-faceted learning experiences that impact learners in a positive way. Without multiple views on learning, we would likely still rely on lecture-based methods for teaching. Instead, because we have multiple viewpoints on learning, we see learning experiences that incorporate multiple learning modes such as multi-media presentations, hands-on experiences, serious games, discussions with peers and more. The number of viewpoints on adult learning also creates a lot of noise making it difficult to determine which methods and approaches will really work.


In my last post, I introduced pedagogy as one of the five elements to consider in the design of a successful learning experience. Our team may not use the word in day-to-day interactions with clients, but rest assured this element drives our thinking as we design and develop learning experiences. Similar to political viewpoints, there are many pedagogical perspectives that offer different beliefs about how people learn. There are mainstream views such as constructivism and behaviorism. There are also minority views such as radical social constructivists. Each perspective, whether in the majority or minority, offers a nuanced set of beliefs about how people learn and, in turn, different principles for the design of learning experiences. You c

an see how a discussion about pedagogy introduces noise into the design process, making it difficult to figure out how to build a successful learning experience.

Personally, I don’t think it’s practical to adopt one view over another when designing a learning experience. If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, it’s likely that you’ll treat every problem you encounter like a nail. At Vivayic, we take a different approach. Like a good craftsman, we believe each project deserves careful selection of the appropriate tools needed to achieve the intended results.  Rather than producing solutions that espouse only one viewpoint, we consider several dimensions that allow us to identify the best pedagogical approach to guide the design of a successful learning experience. Here are a couple dimensions that we consider when identifying the best approach for a learning experience. I chose these because they are leading trends in the design of adult learning experiences.

Situated-ness of Learning


This dimension deals with beliefs about the degree to which a learning experience needs to be situated within the context where the application is to take place. On one end of the continuum is situated. At this extreme, the learning experience would happen directly in the context where the application is occur. Imagine you need to teach folks in your organization how to use a new customer-relationship management software program. A learning experience that is situated would be embedded performance support tools within the software. When learners start the program they would have access to information and training resources (e.g., videos) on how to effectively use the program as they use the software.

On the other hand, a learning experience that is removed might occur in a more traditional learning setting. For instance, you might host a training session during which you give a PowerPoint presentation to employees. This presentation would teach them how to use the software when they return to their desk. In this case, it would likely be more effective to design a learning experience that is more situated than removed. Trying to remember and then apply what was learned about the software in an extreme version of the removed scenario might be very difficult.

Situated-learning experiences aren’t necessarily better than removed-learning experiences. There are learning and training situations where it might be more effective to pull the learner away from their everyday context in order to gain an adequate level of focus and attention or social interaction to learn the intended material. For example, a workshop on a broad topic like innovation might be most effective if facilitated in a setting that is removed from the day-to-day worksite to avoid potential distractions such as e-mail and establish an appropriate tone to achieve the goals of the learning experience.

At Vivayic, we believe there’s room for both approaches. In reality, most solutions fall somewhere in the middle. It’s a matter of deciding the degree to which the learning experience needs to be situated in order to achieve the stated objectives.

Formality of Learning

Another pedagogical consideration affecting the design of learning experiences deals with beliefs around the formality and structure necessary to promote learning. On one end of this continuum is formal learning. At this extreme, the core assumption is that careful structure and guidance from an authoritative source is required for the intended learning to occur. On the other end of this continuum is informal learning. At this extreme, the core assumption is that learning occurs organically through everyday experiences and spontaneous interactions with others.

This dimension continues to receive attention because there is a growing base of research indicating that individuals prefer, and tend to find greater utility in, what they learn from informal, self-directed interactions. This isn’t to say that formal learning has no value. There’s no question that formal instruction can be very impactful. However, the ongoing discussion regarding the appropriate level of formality for learning has resulted in a push toward incorporation of more informal means of sharing knowledge (e.g., wikis, discussion boards, knowledge-sharing platforms, etc.).

There’s a place for both formal and informal forms of learning. If sales reps need to be trained on how to effectively communicate a brand new value proposition, you likely won’t want to rely completely on informal learning experiences. On the other hand, if you have a group of practitioners who need to discuss and troubleshoot how to resolve technical issues with a particular software program, you likely don’t need a formal training experience to accomplish the goal.

As with situated-ness, we believe determining where a learning experience should fall on this continuum involves a consideration of the intended goals and the content to be learned.

As with political viewpoints, our beliefs about learning shape the way solutions are generated. Sifting through the multiple viewpoints on the design of learning isn’t an easy task. Vivayic’s experience has led us to believe that gaining a good perspective requires taking a step back to evaluate what will work best for the given learning needs, context, audience and content. Then, and only then, can we cut through the noise created by multiple pedagogical perspectives and begin to think about the best way forward.

Why do learning and training experiences sometimes fail?

I’ve been a learner in some sort of formalized learning experience for the past 28 years. Given the amount of structure my mother provided for the first five, I suppose I might be able to include those in the count of formal experiences as well.

These formal learning experiences have taken place in a variety of settings from academic institutions to organizations and, of course, in the workplace. Throughout my own personal learning journey, I’ve experienced a fair share of what I would consider flawed learning experiences. To be completely fair, I’m kind of a picky about learning experiences. Go figure, given my line of work.

I generated a list of reactions to several specific learning experiences that fell short of my expectations. See if you can relate.

  • The course content was really dense and difficult to follow. I felt like I needed a Ph.D. to even understand what the instructor was saying.
  • The online course was painful to navigate and completely boring!
  • That was an epic waste of my time, why didn’t the instructor just give me a handout with what I need to know?
  • The animations and videos looked awesome, but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with the information.
  • Gimme a break! I can’t possibly coach an employee using the steps they suggested in that course. That was cheesy and completely unrealistic given the way things work around here!

As we work with new clients, we often encounter stories about learning and training experiences that fall short of meeting learners’ expectations. In all seriousness, my own experiences and the stories we’ve heard from clients spurred me to ask, “Why do learning experiences sometimes fail?”

It’s easy to blame obvious things like the format of the course—“Online courses just don’t mesh with how I learn.”—or people—“That presenter was terrible.” —or learning activities—“I don’t like group discussions.” —or the setting—“The workshop room was too hot.” I won’t disagree that these elements can play a role in determining the perceived success of a learning experience, but I think there’s something far more fundament at play when someone perceives that a learning experience falls short of their expectations. I think the real answer to this question involves the design of that learning experience.

As I reflect on the design of our team’s most successful learning experiences, there are a few elements that come to mind – Pedagogy, Need, Content, UX and Context. Together, I think these things form the DNA of a successful learning experience.  Here’s a visual to show how I think these elements fit together:

Learning Experience Model

Messy? Well, here’s a little-publicized secret, designing successful learning experiences isn’t an exact science. Let me briefly walk you through the diagram.

Pedagogy—Fun word, huh? It means, “the art and science of teaching.” As I describe this element, I’m going to focus on the science part a little more than the art part. There are several philosophies, all based on science, which guide the design of learning. Some of these viewpoints on learning happen to be more modern than others, but they all have something to help us shape an effective learning experience. For instance, you might hear someone propose a constructivist approach to a learning experience; this is just a way of describing their underlying assumptions about how people learn. For example, constructivists tend to believe that learners are active, meaning making learners participants in the learning process. As such, learning solution designers who approach courses from a constructivist perspective tend to include a number of hands-on or scenario-based learning activities. Bottom line? Effective learning experiences start with a scientifically justifiable basis for the types and sequence of learning activities that are proposed.

Need—This element refers to the learning experience’s alignment to a clearly defined learning need.  When we design learning solutions at Vivayic, we believe that understanding the learning need begins with clearly identifying a business case for the course. If you can’t tie the learning experience to a critical business objective, it might not be a good idea to spend resources to develop a course. Beyond clarifying the business reason, there’s a need to analyze the learners and the context in which the learning will happen. Even with that information in place, it is important to identify, and state specifically, measurable outcomes and objectives for the learning experience. Think of this element as a target. If we don’t know what we’re aiming toward, a shotgun approach is what will result…at best, a hit and miss learning experience. Defining clear learning outcomes and aligning those to a justifiable organizational need is critical to the design of successful learning experiences.

Content—When our team designs a learning experience, there’s usually no shortage of content from subject matter experts. Whether it exists in documents or in the heads of experts, relevant and well-organized content is a critical component of an effective learning experience. (Look back at the two adjectives I added in front of the word content. I want to make an important point about those two qualifiers.) All content that can be included in a learning experience does not need to be. Moreover, there’s a science (and some art) to organizing content in a way that leads to more effective learning experiences. Content in a successful learning experience will be structured and filtered based upon what our team knows about the learners, the learning context, and most importantly the learning outcomes.

UX —This is shorthand for user experience. I have to admit, in all my years of learning about learning I’m a bit surprised that I only recently came across this term. Those who develop online, technology-based experiences primarily own the term; but I would venture to say that it applies to the design of effective learning experiences—in person or otherwise. This element encompasses all aspects of the user experience from the usability of the workbook created for an in-person course to the aesthetics and layout of the user interface designed for an online learning experience. Successful learning experiences consider the overall experience of the end user and brand the learning experience accordingly.

Context—I had a professor who once said, “Culture eats training for lunch.” The saying stuck. (I think it’s actually a paraphrase of something Peter Drucker said about business strategy and culture.) If the context, which I assume includes aspects of the local culture, doesn’t mesh with the learning experience you can most certainly be assured that the learning experience will fall short of expectations. Context also includes things like existing policies and practices, systems, equipment, physical setting and more. When I look back on some of our most successful learning solutions we took time to fully consider the context and aligned the learning experience accordingly.

Why do learning and training experiences sometimes fail? When I think back on my own experiences it seems likely that one or more of these elements weren’t fully considered during the design of the learning experience. Designing successful learning experiences is complex, there isn’t a one-size fits all solution at Vivayic. We’ve all been through learning experiences that fall short of meeting expectations before, so we actively use this model as we design each learning experience. We have a deep belief that doing so helps us shape more successful learning experiences that not only meet participant expectations, but also achieve real results for the organization.

In case you’re up for learning more about this model, I plan to discuss each of the elements in more detail in future posts. Stay tuned, there’s more to come!
Även om serien på grund av semester och Balklänning höst- och vinterkläder gränser allt suddigare positionering, har industrin ingen kommentar på sin association med semester, när vi väljer klänning, det finns olika metoder för urval, du kan välja mode stilar, du kan välja den klassiska klädstil, är vår klänning handgjort. Style stil. Jag tror att du kommer att gilla. Sedan kommer vi till. Vissa designers måste också övervägas på grund av dess mer praktiska och kommersiella egenskaper förtäckt kritik energi Balklänning,