Sunday, February 14, 2010

What is Your Preferred Instructional Style?

I am enrolled in The Training Professional class this term and we recently took an instructional styles diagnosis inventory (ISDI) then graphed our preferred instructional style to see where each of us were with respect to one another. The ISDI determines your training style as the interactive product of two dimensions: what the trainer’s attention is focused on and who is the focus of attention while the trainer is instructing. The four styles are (a) The Seller (b) The Professor (c) The Entertainer and (d) The Coach.

The ISDI revealed that I am most strongly aligned as The Coach. The focus of most coaching activities is on skill development, confidence building, and application rather than on retention of information. Learners are evaluated, but mostly through observation of performance or behavioral change rather than through written tests. Most instruction is aimed at upgrading everyone’s skills to a minimum or improved level rather than on determining who is most proficient.

There is less concern for a polished delivery because coach instructors spend much less time delivering. Also, because of the informal atmosphere created, there is less pressure on the instructor to perform, motivate, or entertain. Use of a high ratio of self-discovery and group-learning activities allows the learners to motivate and entertain themselves. The responsibility to perform is, in effect, shifted from the instructor to the learner.

While the coach style is primarily preferred by Generation X (born 1965 – 1978) and Generation Y (born 1979 – 1984) I am seeing that Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964) are also adapting to this style probably by allowing themselves to be influenced some through the Gen X and Gen Y groups either by association with children of their own or through interaction in the work place and other areas that allow for group building activities.

Thanks for reading,

Kevin Love, MBA e-Business
Training and Organization Development Consultant
VP of Marketing for ASTD Fort Worth / Mid-Cities Chapter
Dallas / Fort Worth Area

Friday, January 1, 2010

Challenges of Evaluating e-Learning

More organizations are moving to e-Learning. The ASTD defines it as “e-Learning refers to anything delivered, enabled, or mediated by electronic technology for the explicit purpose of learning.”

Many organizations consider e-Learning to be a part of “lifelong learning” and thus it makes levels 3 & 4 evaluations more difficult. Also by their nature, higher level evaluation methods are not easy to collect on a survey immediately after a training event.

To properly evaluate e-Learning, planning is the key. Incorporate evaluation (and to what level) in the preliminary stages of designing an e-Learning curriculum.

The four key considerations:

1. Establish Requirements.
2. Plan Evaluation Efforts.
3. Collect Data.
4. Use the Results.

William Horton is a leader in the field of e-Learning design, development, implementation, and evaluation. I direct you to his web page that contains a presentation on why he measures levels one through four for e-Learning and a spreadsheet you can use to measure training costs and effectiveness. See this site at and I think you will agree that he gives away a lot of great information for free but you should still consider buying one of his books to get all the good inside information he has to offer.

His page states, “E-learning has racked up a lot of publicity and some impressive case studies. But will it work for you? This presentation shows you how to evaluate the effectiveness of e-learning in your organization, implement four levels of evaluation (from simple reaction to return on investment), and how to fit evaluation to your business and learning goals—as well as to your budget and schedule. (This presentation is based on the William Horton’s book Evaluating E-Learning.)”

Thanks for reading,

Kevin Love, MBA (e-Business)
Training and Organization Development Consultant
VP of Marketing for ASTD Fort Worth Mid-Cities Chapter
Dallas / Fort Worth Area

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Writing an Executive Summary

This is among the best and concise (naturally) definitions for an executive summary:

“An executive summary previews the main points of an in-depth report; it is written for nontechnical people who don't have time to read the main report. The executive report contains enough information for a reader to get familiarized with what is discussed in the full report without having to read it.”


Several key things to note in this concise definition:
• The summary serves as a preview of the report; it is not the report itself.
• Consider your audience when writing as they are mostly non-technical.
• Their time is limited so you only have a few seconds to capture their attention.
• They shouldn’t have to read the entire report if you have done a nice summary.

The executive summary is a 30 second or less elevator speech to the executives you would be pitching to if you were riding up the elevator with them at work. You want to grab their interest so they will support your ideas with other management leaders in the organization.

In conclusion, here is an executive summary I wrote to gain buy-in from high level management for a project I launched to collect customer satisfaction data in real time from our global customer base.

The Customer Support and Information Lab (CSIL) does not have a method to measure customer satisfaction with the documentation it produces. The documentation is available for download from the Web site. Although documentation feedback links are provided on the Web site, comments from external customers are rare.

Our goal is to correct this situation using a simple one-minute survey designed to measure and manage customer satisfaction with our documentation. Our external customers cannot be held accountable for providing documentation comments to us. Rather, CSIL is responsible for contacting customers directly and eliciting that information from them.

This survey is a proactive measure to contact customers and own the customer feedback process. It will demonstrate to customers that we care about their opinions and want their experience using our documentation to be positive.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Focus Groups

Our latest class assignment (4.1) was to use the Level 3 Evaluation Method handout from class to discuss focus group strengths, weaknesses, and general comments associated with using focus groups.

I led a focus group for computer hardware, software, and firmware issues that the engineering community needed to resolve. The group was made up of service managers, field engineers, remote engineers, technical writers, graphics artists, researchers, supply chain, and logistics people.

The focus group was virtual with people attending from all over the world meeting once per month for one hour. The amount of information gathered at these meetings was tremendous and it led to product quality improvements and customer satisfaction resolutions that no other team inside HP was able to identify because we were close to the customer and worked with our customer base weekly listening to their concerns and implementing solutions.




Can be specifically focused on a particular topic.

Can be too focused on a topic and thus lose the “forest for the trees”. The danger is in getting too in depth to the point of having useful, meaningful information.

Ensure that the topics picked lend themselves to open discussion so that others are willing to share their expertise.

Used to create troubleshooting content for a product after product release.

Can take several months before enough useful data is collected to create troubleshooting scenarios that are realistic and useful to the student.

Should ensure some type of troubleshooting material is in place upon project release so that the service technicians have something to worth with in the field.

Can obtain methodologies used by others in the field. Quickly discover what others are encountering when solving system-wide problems.

It is possible that certain geographies experience different problems than another region. Make note of such anomalies and define if they are geographic, cultural, economic, fiscal, or other concerns.

It can be too easy to take the first instance of a problem and assume that all other problems behave the same way.

Provides subject matter experts who can help you write your material. This makes the content relevant and applicable to actual problems with the product.

SMEs time can be difficult to maintain on a consistent basis. Must have a backup plan in place for such a concern.

Overall, focus groups can be a rich source of information BUT they can also lead a team in a direction completely out of character for the problem that needs solving.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kirkpatrick Levels of Evaluation

I'm back in class this month taking "Evaluating Training Interventions" facilitated by Don Jackson. Don asked us post our comments to the classroom discussion board (assignment 1.3) relating our experience with evaluation instruments to which I wrote:

I am framing my response to this question from the viewpoint of the levels of evaluation (Kirkpatrick’s levels 1 – 4). Early in my career I placed way too much emphasis on the level 1 evaluation. I allowed the negative comment of one or two students to override the 12 – 14 positive comments from the rest of the students. Another funny thing about level 1 evaluations, we would ask about the comfort level in the room including chairs, tables, temperature and other silly items but never corrected any complaints that had about the environmental conditions. So why ask questions you don’t intend to use to correct a situation that needs correction? I was told because it’s always been done that way.

We rarely did a pre-test evaluation and when we did, even if the student flunked the pre-test they were still allowed in the class. Again, why conduct the test if you aren’t going to enforce it? There never was a post-test for any of the classes I taught so I created my own. I considered it a level 2 evaluation since I taught computer hardware, firmware, and software topics and would ask the student to demonstrate their new-found skills by troubleshooting the systems I bugged.

The real evaluation takes place at level 3 where you check back with the student a few months later to see if they are using the skills attained from the classroom and building upon those skills in the work environment. Sadly, few companies ever reach level 3 or level 4 evaluations. Statistically speaking (this comes from a previous post I wrote):

Level 1 - between 72 to 89 percent of organizations use Level 1 (reaction)
Level 2 - between 29 to 32 percent of organizations use Level 2 (learning)
Level 3 - between 11 to 12 percent of organizations use Level 3 (behavior)
Level 4 - between 0 to 3 percent of organizations use Level 4 (results)

Use the NIOSH Training Evaluation Tips for further explanation of this assignment:

By the way, Kirkpatrick has revised the four levels and now has an updated white paper, April 2009, available for download from the internet. If you are unable to find it, let me know and I can make a copy available to you.

Thanks for reading,

Kevin Love, MBA (e-Business)
Training and Development Specialist
Dallas / Fort Worth Area
Google Voice: 817-778-8540
Personal Email:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Free Online Second Life Workshops

The Texas Distance Learning Association is offering free on-line workshops for those who wish to learn more about Second Life. In order to participate, you will need to install Second Life software (free) on your computer and create an avatar.
The software download is available at

To participate in a workshop, send an e-mail message including your avatar's name and the date you want to attend to The training is free and will be offered on the following dates for the remainder of 2009:

Friday, October 23 9:00 am - 10:30 am
Friday, October 23 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Tuesday, November 10 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Wednesday, Nov. 18 9:00 am - 10:30 am
Wednesday, Nov. 18 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Future World of Work: A Gen Xer’s Perspective

This is a fantastic article copied in full from Wall Street Journal columnist Alexandra Levit. I do not take any credit for this content.

Wall Street Journal columnist Alexandra Levit parses today's and tomorrow's job market for new grads.

For those of us who are members of generations X and Y, (see note) the future I always dreamed about is coming up fast. Our careers are relatively young, and for those still in college, they haven’t even begun yet. But already, technology is changing so quickly that we can easily imagine future work lives that barely resemble the ones we lead today. As our baby-boomer parents age, we will become the leaders in an increasingly complex world.

If we want to create thriving, sustainable careers that will easily withstand the turbulence of the next few decades, we must anticipate the qualities of the future work world. Here are a few ideas based on my own experiences and my conversations with other workplace experts.

• Who we’ll be working with: In the coming decades, the baby boomers will start retiring from their management positions in droves. We will have to contend with the “brain drain” from those who leave the workforce, boomers who remain employed underneath us for money or personal fulfillment, and a large influx of immigrants.

• Who we’ll be working for: In the last decade, as American companies have laid off millions of workers, the ideals of job security and employee loyalty no longer apply. In the knowledge-driven economy of the future, large organizations won’t be needed to create value and our livelihood won’t be connected to a single corporation. We’ll work for much smaller organizations that outsource everything but the business’s core area of expertise, and more than half of us will eventually become contingent workers, employed part time or as freelancers or consultants.

• Where we’ll be working: We’ve already seen the model of everyone at the same place, at the same time, begin to disappear. Now that we can be connected regardless of our physical location, work activities will be distributed across central offices, remote locations, and community locations. The typical eight-hour workday will be spread across a 14 plus-hour window to allow us to attend to needs at home and work with colleagues abroad.

• How we’ll be working: Our future workplace will be one of constant change, innovation, and skill upgrading. Work projects will begin with one set of goals, but will reinvent themselves over and over again, so we’ll be forced to think on the fly. Workers at all levels of the organization will be responsible for devising creative strategies, and cross-functional teams will be assigned for individual projects.

• What we’ll be working on: Future employers will rely on individuals who are willing to work the flexible hours and can leverage the latest technologies associated with an Internet-oriented, nonstop marketplace. Technical skills will only increase in importance, and as organizations continue to flatten, people in all areas of the business will be responsible for administrative skills like budgeting, hiring, and operations. From Generations X and Y, the leaders, organizations will expect individuals who understand human behavior, can engender cooperation, and can bring out the best in workers.

Sounds like an exciting time, doesn’t it? I think I’m going to look forward to “going to work” in 2025.

About the Author

Alexandra Levit is a Wall Street Journal columnist and the author of Success for Hire (ASTD Press 2008) and the forthcoming New Job, New You (Random House, 2010). She speaks to organizations around the globe about generational workplace issues. Web site .

*Note: demographers William Strauss and Neil Howe, in their book Generations, define Generation X as the cohort born between 1961 and 1980, and Generation Y or the Millennial Generation as being born from 1980 until the early 1990s.

Thanks for reading,

Kevin Love, MBA
Training and Development Professional
Dallas / Fort Worth Area
Google Voice: 817-778-8540
Personal Email: