• August 11, 2017 1:33 PM | Laura Chartier (Administrator)

    Written by Guest Blogger, Jackie Zahn, Senior Instructional Designer at The Cara Group and past presenter at the June 2017 SEWI-ATD event, 10 Free or Cheap Tools to Make Your eLearning Courses Amazing

    As a seasoned Instructional Designer and admitted tool-junkie, I’m often asked to comment on new industry software and tools.  Every year a new group of ID graduates will link in with me and ask the same question, “If I learn this tool, will I get steady work as a consultant?”  My response of course is that it’s much more complicated and involves taking the time to learn about the client’s needs, what they are/ aren’t communicating, deciphering what they really need versus what they think they need and finding a way to keep the training material relevant and useful to the learners.  And this is the stuff you learn only through experience, right?  Bad news for the newbies. (Read on, there’s good news coming up.)

    Well, a few months ago I started developing a course centered on the book The Trusted Advisor. It’s not new and most salespeople have probably heard of it.   I approached the book as I do most business books (yawn), flipping back and forth, running google searches, and then I ran into this phrase:

    "The right to solve problems is earned by informed listening, which in turn is driven by curiosity."

    My interest was piqued -- I’m curious and I like to solve problems!  So I kept reading and learned about the 4 key components of building trust: credibility, reliability, intimacy, and self-orientation.  Winning trust requires that you do well in all four components.   

    How important is trust for an instructional designer?  Well, this book was written for salespeople.  However, once I discovered their self-assessment quiz with the following three questions, I quickly realized the parallels to instructional development consulting:

    1. Do people tell you they’re at ease with you?  (They have a good sense of who you are, they feel they know you, they know what to expect when they see you and deal with you.)
    2. Do people see you as a logical and clear communicator?  (What you say makes sense and people compliment you on it.)
    3. Is this true of you?  You don’t focus on blaming others when things go wrong:  you focus on the learnings, and move on easily from disappointment, without attachment to the past?

    I scored above average with a 9.9.  Is that good, I didn’t know.  That day I had my sister take it (score=4.9), my project manager best friend (score=4.8) and my Mom (score=7.6).  This is how I knew I was on to something.  After a few confirmation phone calls to clients, I learned I am a Trusted Advisor

    Trusted Advisors have contracts that keep renewing, are called upon for more complex strategic issues, and have clients that feel like friends.  Their recommendations are listened to because clients feel that the trusted advisor has their best interests at heart.  Trusted Advisors are driven by curiosity to learn about training audiences, client needs, future plans, and even the latest tools to bring things to life.

    Great news for the newbies:  3 of the 4 components of trust aren’t tied to experience.   Do you have a low self-orientation?  If so, you might be closer to success than you realize.

    Take the test for yourself:


    …and download the FREE whitepaper results.


    Jackie Zahn

  • August 09, 2017 1:15 PM | Brian Mason (Administrator)

    An instructional design model is used to define the activities that will guide the development of eLearning projects. It allows you to communicate the purpose and reason behind a strategy. A framework gives you the birds-eye view of all the major components that have to be included in the course. Click here to read Karla Gutierrez's overview of four instructional design models. Add a comment to the blog post to share your experiences with these models and help out your fellow ATD members!

  • July 28, 2017 9:03 AM | Laura Chartier (Administrator)

    Doodle by @giuliaforsythe drawn during @grantpotter‘s presentation on Tinkering, Learning and the Adjacent PossibleOver-booked and exceedingly scripted days can be the norm in the today's workplace. Accordingly, learning leaders can learn a thing or two from The Tinkering School.

    In this TED Talk video, software engineer and founder of the Tinkering School, Gever Tulley demonstrates the important lessons his students have picked up during dedicated, unstructured time, with few guidelines and not much direction.  His example of how younger students use building and playing to increase creative problem-solving can directly translate to benefits for working adults and the organizations in which they serve.

  • July 26, 2017 8:59 AM | Brian Mason (Administrator)

    Click here to read the article from Lauren Dixon, Associate Editor of Talent Economy. 

    She writes, "The burden to repair the gaps between business and available talent falls on many parties, said Ravin Jesuthasan, managing director and global practice leader at Willis Towers Watson, a research and advisory firm headquartered in London. Educational institutions need to retool to move beyond merely providing technical skill development to developing the enabling competencies and mental agility that will increasingly be required of individuals, as technological advancement requires lifelong learning. Government needs to actively engage in providing the incentives and infrastructure needed to support and encourage companies to invest in reskilling, as no company can do this alone. Companies also need to provide transparency as to how their demand for skills is changing along with access to development opportunities, Jesuthasan said."

  • July 24, 2017 2:59 PM | Laura Chartier (Administrator)

    Written by Guest Blogger, Alexis Fielek, Senior Operations Training Specialist at United Heartland and SEWI-ATD Member

    Innovation is one of those buzzwords, like “alignment” and “strategic initiative” that we hear all the time in the corporate world.  It’s a shame, because it really is one of the most essential survival tools a business can tap.  Without innovation, organizations become stagnant; things are done the way they “always have been” and the competition passes by, fueled by new technologies, efficiencies and approaches.

    I work at United Heartland, and I am lucky enough to serve as the chair of UH Innov8, our Innovation Team.  This role has really helped me experience the value of tapping into the diverse perspectives of coworkers and leaders across our company, and our sister companies. 

    It’s also reinforced for me the value of good information management.  When we first started soliciting ideas from employees, we used an Outlook inbox and I captured everything on a spreadsheet.  After our first Innovation Week yielded over 200 ideas, this became seriously unwieldy.  Ideas had to be entered manually, the team members researching had to remember to go in and add updates, then make sure they were keeping the suggestors informed – it was challenging to stay current.

    Then, we discovered the Idea Pipeline.

    With the Idea Pipeline, our employees click a couple of links and are automatically logged into a user-friendly idea management system where they can add their ideas for how we can maximize efficiency and cost savings, generate new revenue and increase employee engagement and satisfaction.

    Researching and tracking ideas is much easier too.  The five-star ranking and endorsement functions make prioritizing easy and objective; we can assign ideas to Idea Managers, track and post updates, sort by status and generate automatic emails to innovators.  Users can subscribe and receive updates on the ideas they choose, so everyone is in the loop.

    Because of the Idea Pipeline, we’ve seen an increase in the number and quality of ideas received, the turnaround time for research and response, and an overall rise in awareness about just how important the creative ideas of our staff are to the success of our enterprise.

    It’s made a huge difference for us, so I wanted to pass it on.  If you know of a business that would benefit from a streamlined, effective way to solicit, track and research the ideas of its employees, please spread the word, and check out the Idea Pipeline official website (www.ideapipeline.com) for more information.  Happy Innovating!

    About the Author

    Alexis Fielek, MLIS, CAWC, CC, CL, is Senior Operations Training Specialist, at United Heartland, has 20 years of experience in education and training, and is an SEWI-ATD Member. Alexis has earned her Master's Degree in Information Studies from UW-Milwaukee; Bachelor's degrees in Theater Education, English, and German; is a Certified Authority in Workers’ Compensation; and has recently acquired her Competent Communicator and Competent Leader Toastmaster's designations. Her passion is engaging adult learners by any means necessary, including relying on her Theatre Education background to bring new ways of learning to her audiences.

  • July 21, 2017 3:40 PM | Laura Chartier (Administrator)

    The Learning Management System has been renowned as an effective and responsive way for industry experts to create, deliver, and manage their content, as well as monitor participation and assess performance among learners. However, the LMS marketplace is ripe for change as older providers are being sidelined by new innovators.

    The methods we now use to learn and share knowledge with others has been largely effected by new technology. Over the past ten years, training methods and delivery have transformed dramatically. Accordingly, in the next decade we can expect the demands put upon our learning management systems to accelerate beyond current capabilities.

    What might the future hold for LMS technology? Read this article to find out!

  • July 17, 2017 9:33 AM | Laura Chartier (Administrator)

    Written by Laura Chartier, Learning & Development Consultant and SEWI-ATD VP of Communications.

    Original article by Alison Beard, from the July-August 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review


    Do you have a role model or someone who's life's work you admire? I've been enamored with Alan Alda since I was an impressionable youngster watching M*A*S*H (and the reruns of the reruns of the reruns of the iconic series). No doubt his character, Hawkeye Pierce, was influential in the formation of my sarcastic/quirky sense of humor, desire to help people, and quest for peaceful resolutions in times of turmoil. Because everyone has flaws and faults, some of which are more fatal than others, I try not to regard anyone as my be-all-end-all hero.  With that said, Mr. Alda is about as close as they come. This man, celebrated for his talents as actor (TV, film, and theater), scriptwriter, director, nonfiction author, and science-show host, is also a philanthropist and the founder of two organizations designed to help people improve their communication skills.

    While this article, "Life's Work: An Interview with Alan Alda," is not specifically aimed at Talent Development Professionals, I read it from the perspective of a teacher, trainer, leader, and communicator. Much of what was conveyed is directly applicable to the many facets of talent development. Alda's commentary about using improvisation as a way to connect and engage with people seemed particularly apropos for interactions within our field.

    As I was reading, I used the free version of the digital tool, Diigo, (pronounced DEE-go) to emphasize and comment upon points throughout that appealed to me from the lens of one who coaches and presents, as well as someone who strives first to understand and then to be understood. If you aren't familiar with Diigo, it is a powerful, yet very easy online tool for you to consider. Once you sign up/sign in, you will be able to see my annotations embedded within the interview (pdf file I've linked above). 

    From https://digitalresearchtools.pbworks.com/f/Diigo+Description.pdf

    "Diigo is a free social bookmarking, research, and knowledge sharing tool created to mimic the ease of taking notes while providing a network for sharing and discovering information. Diigo allows you to take personal notes and highlight text information on web pages just as you would on a piece of paper.  You can then bookmark and save this information for further review, while adding tags to keep everything organized.  In bookmarking this information, you can also choose to share with colleagues and friends to allow them to access the web page, view your notes and highlights, and add their own annotations.  All of this information is also saved online and can be accessed by any computer or browser, including cell phones with browsing capabilities.

    It's my hope that today, you will learn something new, SHARE YOUR OWN ANNOTATIONS with us, and comment on this blog post so that all can capitalize on the collective knowledge of, and consider a variety of views from within, our amazing talent development community!
  • July 14, 2017 6:19 PM | Laura Chartier (Administrator)

    Whether you're recent to the 'training' business or consider yourself a seasoned veteran it's incumbent upon you to hone your training skills not just for your professional capacity but to also exceed your audience's expectations. This article was originally published for ElearningIndustry.com July 2017, by Ajay M. Pangarkar CTDP, CPA, CMA.

  • July 10, 2017 6:40 PM | Laura Chartier (Administrator)

    The ever-increasing pace of change in today’s organizations requires that executives understand and then quickly respond to constant shifts in how their businesses operate and how work must get done. That means you must resist your innate biases against doing new things in new ways, scan the horizon for growth opportunities, and push yourself to acquire drastically different capabilities—while still doing your existing job. To succeed, you must be willing to experiment and become a novice over and over again, which for most of us is an extremely discomforting proposition.

    Over decades of work with managers, author Erika Andersen has found that people who do succeed at this kind of learning have four well-developed attributes: aspiration, self-awareness, curiosity, and vulnerability. They have a deep desire to understand and master new skills; they see themselves very clearly; they’re constantly thinking of and asking good questions; and they tolerate their own mistakes as they move up the curve. Andersen has identified some fairly simple mental strategies that anyone can use to boost these attributes. To find out more, read this article, "Learning to Learn" from Harvard Business Review.

  • July 07, 2017 12:00 PM | Laura Chartier (Administrator)

    Free tools are always valued in today’s budget-conscious world. This post by Connie Malamed highlights 10 great free tools that every eLearning designer and developer should add to their portfolio of resources.

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