Tony Karrer's eLearning Blog on e-Learning Trends eLearning 2.0 Personal Learning Informal Learning eLearning Design Authoring Tools Rapid e-Learning Tools Blended e-Learning e-Learning Tools Learning Management Systems (LMS) e-Learning ROI and Metrics

Monday, March 13, 2006

Award for the Best Content and Worst Presentation at Training 2006

One of the sessions that I was looking forward to at Training 2006 was the Brandon Hall presentations of the winners of their annual awards. I’ve been a judge in his awards in the past and they seem to have grown in quality over the past couple of years.

It seemed like I was one of the few people who were similarly interested in these presentations as it was attended by about 10-15 people. However, Will Thalheimer was one of the attendees who is generally quite a good presenter and also a good critic on eLearning design, so I felt at least justified in having chosen the session despite the small showing.

As the title of this post says, I’m giving this session an award as both having the best content and the worst presentation at the conference (of the 6 or so sessions I attended).

The session showed recorded examples of the winners in custom content including:

  • BrightWave and First Choice – customer service and sales training in a foreign exchange retail setting
  • Avon and Allen Communications – teaching Avon reps how they can work their business into their busy lives.
  • Enspire Learning and SAP - working effectively in virtual teams
  • Karta Technologies – Aeronautics technical training
After seeing a brief recorded demo of each winner, the audience had the opportunity to discuss what we thought of it.

For example, the Brightwave/FirstChoice piece did a classic simulation with three choices, but used illustration style human characters with lip-syncing to the narration. The instructional model was common (but seemed appropriate), but the presentation style was very well done. Of course, the natural question – what technology did you use? The primary presenter was Tom Werner from Brandon Hall and he didn’t know.

The Avon example allowed interactive creation of the plan for the day (you have 2 choices for activities for morning, afternoon and evening). You would then get to hear how you could work Avon selling activities into your busy schedule. The debate among the audience was whether they were using interactivity in the wrong spot, e.g., are we teaching Avon reps whether its better to workout in the morning or run errands or should we focus on the things that could be done associated with going to workout? Some of us saw it as potentially the wrong target, others saw it as motivating, and at least one audience member pointed out that no woman on earth could actually do all that stuff. The conclusion was that it was hard to understand design decisions without context and it would have been hugely helpful to have had entrants provide descriptions of the design choices they made, limitations they faced, etc., and have the session focus on these.

This combination of interesting content and frustrating lack of answers continued throughout the session. Why did one include audio narration with so much onscreen text? How did it work out using an intentionally fictional setting for culture/work style training? What was the concluding exercise that the judges raved about but was not captured in the clip?

Brandon Hall has access to some really great content through the awards. I hope next year we’ll have a better chance to learn from it.

Funny enough, I would be interested in going to the session again next year. Better yet, would be to help pull the session together using all that wonderful content and having discussions with the winners to help highlight interesting things going on in eLearning!!!

No comments: