Education

No Tricks, Just Treats

I Liked What I Saw, But I Didn’t Learn Anything

Charisma and blended learning are not enough. Your training requires substance and operational excellence to train a new concept.

Driving In Maryland

Autumn was here; the days were getting colder and shorter. Maryland’s colorful fall foliage was at its peak that mid-October day. It may have been one of the most spectacular landscapes he had ever seen amidst the yellow, orange, and red trees that lined the beautiful winding road. “Halloween is just around the corner,” Logan thought to himself as he drove past a sign reading, “Ghost Tours and Haunted Attractions.” Along the way, another sign read, “Pumpkin Spice Cookies, Hot Apple Cider.” He was on his way to a three-day convention. He was in a hurry and didn’t want to miss the keynote address. He planned to meet colleagues there to discuss how they might better teach the company’s required annual training at the beginning of next year.

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The Keynote Address Was Engaging

Robert gave the opening address; he climbed the ranks of the industry because of his confidence and commanding presence with people. With a personality larger than life, he wooed and wowed all the attendees as he spoke. He was admired for his magnetic personality, use of buzz words and jargon, and ability to get others to agree with him. His uncanny ability to captivate and inspire an audience was remarkable. Conventional wisdom in our group attributed his success to his oratory skills and his eloquence in conveying his message of inspiration. While on stage, he also used a wide variety of teaching techniques. Logan had to admit that he felt entertained by Robert’s talk.

But What Did You Learn?

Thirty minutes later he met Jeff, Debbie, and Jes. They missed the keynote speaker and were just in time for the first breakout session. “Hey, where were you guys?” Logan asked.

“We saw a sign for cookies and cider. They had these cute Halloween cookies that were to die for!” said Jes.

“I saw that sign,” Logan exclaimed. “Thanks for inviting me,” he teased.

“How was the convention opening speech?” asked Debbie. “And, what did you learn?” she continued.

“Well, I can’t say that I learned anything. But I did feel entertained.” Logan tried to be polite and gracious talking about the convention. He respected its promoters.

“So you saw Robert’s tricks, while we stopped for treats!” said Jeff.” His comment was abrasive. Jeff was feeling differently about the convention openers and said that they lacked substance. He focused on learning and not on the entertainment value of some of the recent training seminars and workshops he had attended. He just wanted to get to the breakout session as soon as possible. Jeff was more interested in training that would cause a behavioral change in his employees. He was responsible for the safety of people and regulatory excellence in the manufacturing business and took training seriously.

What Logan Learned About Learning (No Tricks, Just Treats)

Logan was distracted during the first breakout session. He pondered Jeff’s “trick-or-treat” statement over and over again in his mind. “It’s okay to be entertaining (like Robert) as long as I give my learners the treats (the learning tidbits),” he thought to himself. “They need training they can sink their teeth into.” He then spent the rest of the seminar writing new learning objectives for his upcoming courses. His colleagues thought that he was just taking notes.

The Value Of Edutainment And Learning Objectives

Entertainment in education (edutainment) has been around for many years. The foremost authorities on the subject know the value of making training fun, experiential, and more engaging. Gamification, demonstrations, storytelling, case studies, lectures, videos, infographics, badging, scenarios, immersive learning, and eLearning, all help with learner retention. I’m a huge fan of this type of training.

Learning objectives are also important. A carefully written statement with specific, measurable outcomes is what also leads to training success. Among other things, learning objectives should be:

  • Learner-centered
  • Understandable
  • Written with an outcome in mind
  • Measurable

Operational Excellence And Training New Concepts

In manufacturing, operational excellence embraces leadership and problem-solving as two of the key components to continuous improvement. Continuous improvement takes an established process and looks for better ways to improve production. It also looks for ways to keep employees safe in several potentially dangerous environments.

To improve any process, clear and specific objectives must be identified, stated, and understood. Additionally, key personnel must know who is trusted with the responsibility to improve, maintain, and track a given set of tasks. Next, tools are needed to accomplish those tasks. Finally, training, communicating, implementing, and measuring must occur. These are just a few of the actionable insights needed for making required training more impactful, and to make sure that training protects human life.

More meaningful training can improve production processes, eliminate waste, streamline operations, and help make better products faster at a lower cost.


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