Wendy Hanson: During this time, it is so important to keep developing our managers and leaders because almost all training is now remote. We have to understand What are the principles of a good remote training experience? People need flexibility because our work schedules are certainly not the same as they used to be. We're going to discuss today what are the components of a good online training experience? And how do we keep people engaged and what are some of the things we need to remember, especially about adult learners and people that are very busy right now. So I'm so happy that I have a great guest today. Andrew Linford, he serves as the Director of Operations at the collaborative online education platform Novo Ed.
Over the past six years, Andrew has worked with numerous clients to improve their online curriculum, and has been a speaker at multiple conferences, including South by Southwest. Wow, that's pretty cool. I've always wanted to go to South by Southwest someday, when every when life reopens I might get there. Prior to novo Ed Andrew was an international teacher having worked in education In Singapore, South Africa, Poland, Japan and India. Andrew has a BA in international relations from Stanford University. And he is a proud graduate of the choral program in public affairs, a program to promote cross sector civic leaders. And I had the pleasure of working on a project with Andrew recently. And that's why I knew the information that He has for all of you out there, looking at online training and remote management would be really helpful. So welcome, Andrew.
Andrew Linford: So glad to be here. Thanks for having me.
Wendy: So my first is a very obvious question. Why is online training so important right now?
Andrew: Well, let me just start by saying, online education training in general has always been important. That's not up to for debate. I have one really great study, I think, which is that 87% of millennials say that learning and development in workplaces extremely important to them. So this is growing sense that being able to improve yourself being able to improve your employees is critical to any company's success.
Now, the challenge in this age of COVID that we're really facing is, it's not just about oh, we can do this in person leadership training, take care of it that way. It's how do we bring that into an online environment. Not only are corporations dealing with this challenge, you can see schools dealing with this challenge. All of a sudden, you have people who've been teaching for 10 years in person, they have all of their exact syllabi down, they know what they're going to teach every single day. Often they've got to change and figure out how to do something different, and how to still make it meaningful and effective. And so that transition is something that we see so many different companies struggling with. You see the companies that just say, oh, okay, this isn't the most important thing. Now we have so many other things happening that it's that that goes out the window. That sort of negates how important evidently is So many employees see it. But you also have other companies that say, oh, okay, let's just throw it on zoom. And that's what you're seeing a lot of schools do. That's what you're seeing companies do. It's not always the most effective. And what I think is really interesting is actually taking a step back and thinking, hey, what are we trying to achieve? Right? You've been in these certain environments where you've been in a certain mindset, always doing that. And yeah, you know what, there are some things that you're missing. But there's some ways that you can reflect on that and even get to a better place. So hopefully, that's where we can get to.
Wendy: Yes, because it is there. There's an art and a science to online training, just like there's an art and a science to you know, in person training. And it's not the same thing as you said, you can't take the in person piece and just throw it in the other, you really need something different. So as the educator, what are the components of a good training experience? One thing that I learned from you and some of our work together is it's you called it a backwards design objective activity and content. So I'd love to look at each of these because if people are listening in HR and L&D Managers, and they're thinking, wow, I need to understand more about how adults learn and how adults that right now are in under a lot of stress how we make it easiest for them to learn. I think that's important. So talk about that backwards design, objective activity and content.
Andrew: Yeah, and I think one of the things that's really interesting about this is it's best practice when you're teaching in person or online. It's just sort of how you apply it ends up being a little bit differently. So first of all, you start with the learning objective, what are you hoping that your learners your direct reports are actually going to be able to achieve? We can think of something like onboarding, right? That they're often very concrete skills that people are able to define for the skill for the job often put into the job description itself. Maybe someone doesn't fully have that maybe they need to be able to explain The company better something just like hey, being able to give a two minute company pitch very simple concrete learning objective that you can work towards. But if you're thinking about that learning objective and an online versus an in person setting, it's actually the same learning objective. It's not different. It's just how you do that in person that's going to be different than how you do it online.
Wendy: I love that because it reminds me of begin with the end in mind. And we don't always do that, you know, where do you want people to be at the end of this? What do you want them to take away? Very basic. So that objective awesome. What's next?
Andrew: What's next is well, how are you gonna see if they learned the objective itself? I'll take the same example of being able to give a company pitch, right? That's a very clear objective, but the the activity related to it is actually having them give that two minute pitch. It's not watching someone else give that pitch. It's not thinking about that pitch. It's actually going out and performing that pitch. And so if really thinking about that? And hey, how can we take sort of this idea what we want them to get to make it into an activity in and of itself? And that becomes the focus of the learners attention and what they're trying to work on?
Wendy: Yeah. Okay, so we have that step. So we have that activity, and how are we going to know that they got it? You know, and I think we forget to ask that sometimes, because we want to make sure that people are really leaving these classes with very tangible skills that they're going to be able to put into action.
Andrew: Absolutely. And it's, it's without the application. Without that you don't get the depth of learning. There's something called Bloom's taxonomy, and not something you need to remember to any extent at all, but sort of at the top of it, you have things like create, right, so really being able to demonstrate your understanding. At the bottom level, you have something I remember. And so this is where you get a little bit of a difference between the actual practice of giving a two minute pitch versus a quiz on what are the good components or a two minute quiz, you can see that the level of understanding the level of application is vastly different for both of those, and really keep in mind, hey, as much as possible, when you can have someone demonstrate apply whatever you're trying to get them to do, that's going to be a lot more effective.
Wendy: Yeah. Wow. And, yeah, that that's so important. And and, and I really do want to learn more about how you accomplish that in online learning. But let's content the next one. So we had objective activity, and now content.
Andrew: So content is the last part. I emphasize that quite a bit, which is don't start with the content we often have. Or I often work with people who fall into what I call a content trap, right? It's sort of, Hey, I have all of this great content. Let's create something from it. But if you do that, you don't know what people are going to get from it. Hey, it may be a great video, but if they're not able to actually apply it, if they're not To do something with that, it's not going to be valuable. So that's why you always want to start with the learning objective, go to the activity, the assessment, and then think about, okay, what does learner need to have? What do they need to know to be successful on that particular activity? So I'll continue with the two minute pitch, because I've been doing that this whole time, but in that particular situation, right? So someone needs to be able to give a two minute pitch about what a company does. Now, what parts of the company do they need to understand, maybe they need to understand the market, the value proposition, right? There's plenty of good content with that. But all of that automatically is given its own structure to the activity itself. And then potentially even more importantly, what you can do is assess each part of that content and see, Hey, is this actually relevant to the learning objective to the activity itself or not? And the last thing you want to do is find things that aren't relevant, toss them in there, and the whole thing is going to get muddled. You want to keep the clear objective on hey, here's what What you need to do, here's what you need to know to get there. And this is the content that will provide that knowledge to
Wendy: Oh, that's great. Because if I'm, if I'm designing something I know I can keep coming back to that objective. And does this content that I want to throw in support the objective? Or do I just think it's some cool thing? You know? Yeah, just before that objective?
Andrew: Well, and especially if you start with just two hours of content and say, This is what I want to do, like trying to find winning objectives from content is just the wrong way to go about it. And you're just going to end up with way too much stuff that doesn't have any flow. And it's just going to honestly confuse you honest.
Wendy: Yeah. Um, the project that I alluded to, that you and I recently worked on was for managers to be able to have them learn coaching skills. And so we tried to put this together both in novo Ed and BetterManager. And see what we came up with, what were some of your learnings around that? What can you share?
Andrew: Well, I think the First thing that really struck me is how similar being a good coaches to being a good trainer and instructor, and there's so many similarities there. But sort of some of the things in terms of putting together the project, I think I can speak to the idea of listening, right. So a good part of being a good coach is being able to listen effectively. And BetterManager has this wonderful scale at three different levels of listening that you can do. But once again, it's not just about creating a video of the three different levels of listening and article putting that out there. The whole idea is, Hey, can you actually practice and apply this listening in your day to day work? Okay, that's the objective. We want you to have the skill so you can actually use it. Now that we've think about that now we can think about what's the different content necessary for it. So it was really interesting to see, hey, let's put this backwards design principles into practice into an actual course environment. I always enjoy doing that. It's always fun to work with other people on that but In the sense of just other things of keeping people accountable, right, that's a good educational practice. That's a good coaching practice. There's a lot of synergy in there. And I that's the thing that struck me the most.
Wendy: Yeah, yeah. And it was so nice to be able to add some, a coaching session and a group coaching session into a online learning session and see, how do we get more value out of that? Or what's the experiment? So it was really fun to be able to, to use a new mode that BetterManager doesn't always use and and learn from each other.
Andrew: And I think that speaks a lot to sort of, how do you think about doing something in an online environment versus an in person environment? in person, you're always thinking about a workshop, right? You're going to have the content delivered the act the activities all together in one in an online space. You can actually think about unbundling that right so you you have this whole idea of the flipped classroom, right? So where do you have the content? Sort of the content learning by, by themselves, people get to do that by themselves and then come back to the classroom for the real meat of the discussion, we were able to take that same type of application to coaching, right? So you have the content, you have the base level activities in the online course environment, but then you have group coaching session and even in individual coaching session that people can do to really apply those concepts in more detail and get the most value out of those interactive moments. And I think the final thing I'll just say is moving all of that just over to zoom. You've heard this term of zoom fatique before, it doesn't always work just to move everything to zoom as much as possible when you can mix things up. That's better, especially today, when everyone's spending way too much time in zoom meetings and just talking back and forth on zoom. It's tiring. So if you can switch it up, have some video, have some content, have some quizzes, have people practice recording their own pitches, right? Not in a set Zoom setting, you're going to be a little bit more effective and how you can develop people's skills.
Wendy: Yes. I heard you use the term flipped classroom, which a lot lately. Yeah, for those that maybe haven't been Yes, that, you know, give me a little bit better definition of flipped classroom?
Andrew: Well, so historically, classrooms have often been seen more as lecturers, right? You have the professor, he stands up there or she and delivers this content. And this content is imparted from the brilliant professor to the out. Yeah, exactly. But then the heart of the learning, which we were talking about before is like the actual activities, right are the higher level discussions. When does that happen? It doesn't happen with the professor. The professor is just there for the content. It happens when people are sort of figuring things out by themselves. The whole idea of the classroom is Hey, the most important Part of the learning where the teacher can provide the most value is in maybe those discussions or in being there when you're actually working on the projects. Where's the content? You know what you can record that professor and have someone watch them at home on their own computer by themselves? And so really thinking about what's valuable in terms of face to face time human interaction, what do you really need that zoom call for? That's what the whole idea of the flipped classroom is, is let's bring the most valuable parts of learning, where you have the teacher there as opposed to just the content delivery, which can be done in a lot of other ways.
Wendy: Yes, I do love that. And I I've been working with a member of our team recently who she does some really good work on performance management, and she says, there's so many questions on that. What I do is a half an hour video before the download piece that I send to people. And here's what it is and she gives the lecture then when you get on the zoo. Call they can be very interactive q&a asking questions what happens when this happens and what happens when that happens? So we've got to think outside the box at some of these more different and innovative models, maybe then we thought about using before.
Andrew: Absolutely. And I think there's, it's almost a little bit if I can relate it back to coaching, sort of the whole idea of being a good coach isn't that you're just spouting information at the person that you're coaching, right? It said, Hey, the person is figuring things out, you're helping to guide them. And if you were just to spout information at it, it's not the best use of time. It's not sort of the interactive part. And so in the same way as like the best coaching is about focused on the conversation and the interactive elements. The best education isn't focused on the spouting, it's focused on the interactive elements as well.
Wendy: Well, Andrew, I am really proud of you because it shows that you took this coaching class because you keep giving very good coaching wisdom and that's very cool. Yes. I'm so what The other things you mentioned was a little bit about accountability. But in part accountability is motivation. Like when you're on one of these classes, how do you keep people motivated? How do learners like really get like, wow, I want more of this?
Andrew: Well, I mean, motivation can it's a spectrum from sort of extrinsic motivation, the idea of dangling a job promotion of the most extrinsic type of motivation or a bonus to intrinsic really do being interested in your own self personal development. And what we find actually is a mix of his sort of different more external extrinsic elements and intrinsic elements leads to the best results. So for example, a course that is required for promotion, even if it's terribly designed terribly facilitated, often will have better completion rates and a really well designed course a really well facilitated course. And you know, it's not always the same prize to anybody, but thinking, hey, what are some of these external elements that are at play? What types of benefits? That's always really important to think about. But I always like to caveat that by saying, If someone's doing it just for external motivation, they're not always going to take the learning seriously.
But I think external motivation is a gateway to internal motivation. And what do I mean by that? I mean, sometimes you don't really want to get started on something, or there's a topic out there that you don't initially find interesting. But if there's a requirement that you do it, then you can discover you're actually interested in that topic. So just to say, don't only rely on bonuses or other things of that nature, but having that as a gateway to get into other topics can be really useful. So that's a little bit on the external. There's a pure external, there's a little bit more of the social external. So sometimes, if you have gamification the whole idea of competing with your peers, something as simple as Fitbit steps, or something else of that nature, it seems sort of what everyone else on your team is doing, hey, you don't want to be the last one in the course you don't want to be sort of behind everyone else. So a bunch of little things that you can do to say, hey, look, your your teammate here has done it, your teammate here has done it. So getting that sort of group expectation can help provide a little bit more motivation. Still, though, that's more external in nature, we still haven't gotten to the true internal I care about this. What we're getting more to is achievement. So sometimes even if someone doesn't really care about the topic, they care about achievement, a Statement of Accomplishment, completion.
There are different things where people want to complete that even if there's no external factors, getting into that. And then the final part, the most internal, the intrinsic, best motivation that educators always trying to get to. self determination is really hard, but the whole idea by That is someone passionately cares about a topic and wants to just learn about it because they're interested in it. And some of these other things, sometimes you need to go through those to get to that place. But learning about coaching, right, being able to see the impact, it makes the applied learning I'm talking about, right? If you notice that you sort of practice a pitch, you get better at the pitch, hey, all of a sudden, you really enjoy that maybe you're in sales, maybe that pitch actually really makes a difference in your job performance. And you notice how people interact with you differently. Being able to show the value of that particular skill is really important. It's well stuff, lots of different types of motivation. I went through a whole variety, but there's a little bit of a, an attempt of an overview.
Wendy: Yes, great. What the intrinsic piece reminds me about like Simon Sinek always talking about the why, you know, if you can explain why something is going to be important, and sometimes we need data for that. And I think, you know, certainly our experience has been with coaching. We're, we're a society of tele-holics, it's so much easier to just, you know, just like you were saying before downloading, you know, we're telling holics, we just like to tell everybody what to do. And it's much harder to coach and to slow down the action to help somebody else learn. And so if, if that's something that you're interested in that intrinsic piece of understanding the why, like, how is this going to change the way my team members are? How is it when you go back and look just like, how was being able to make that two minute pitch? What will that do? If you really get grounded in that, you know, it comes back to almost the objective and begin with the end.
If that makes a lot of sense to me, then I say, wow, I know why I got to do this. This is like I want to do this. I got to do it. I want to do it, because it's going to make a difference to me. It's going to make my life easier. I did a workshop The other day on productivity, and we talked about stacking habits. And there was great motivation there because people were gonna, the motivation is my life might get easier if I if I learn this skill, or I just connected somehow. And those things I think are so important, and we need to remember those in training, and we need to make it easy and memorable. And, and I love the gamification thing of let's have some fun with this too. So,
Andrew: And I think it's, the answer is, it's not any one particular type of motivation. It's as many as you can possibly do. Right? gamification, that's great, but really getting at the why and core of what, that's what this is going to do for you. That's, that's where a lot of the real value is, and that's where you're gonna have someone care about running it and actually put the extra effort the extra mile as opposed to just checking off the boxes. Yeah.
Wend: So a lot of what we're talking about, I'm sure people in learning and development and our age are partners and things they, they all get this and some of them have very highly trained in this. But if we have a manager who says, I really need to teach my people certain skill, and this is something that I need to create something I, I can't slough it off to somebody else to create, how can a manager become a good trainer? And it may be a four in a formal way or an informal way. But what's your recommendations on that?
Andrew: Well, I think your point actually, often lnd is this isolated silo within an organization they try not to be and we all know that l&d can do some great work. But often it's, it's the manager doesn't always view it as their responsibility to be actively involved in in that type of training. But I think that's a mistake. It's a mistake, because the manager is the one most directly in contact with the direct report has the best knowledge of Hey, where are they doing? Well, where are the areas for improvement? And then within those areas for improvement can structure training sort of manager as a trainer, so to speak, and construct training that's personalized and targeted in a way that lmd never can in a broad based way.
So first, I want to just say, managers absolutely, like you need to be a coach, sometimes you may need to be a therapist, all of these other different things. But I think managers, a trainer is extremely important as well. And it provides a little bit more structure to thinking, hey, how can I actually work with my direct reports on certain skills that they need improvement on, maybe in collaboration with them of deciding what skills need to be worked on, and then create a focused targeted plan in as an instructional designer as a teacher would do to enable them to get better at that? So I just wanted to state first the importance.
Then the second question is, how do you do it? Well, we were talking about backwards design, learning objective application, the activity And the content. So those particular areas that you see your direct reports needing improvement at, those are your learning objectives. Pick one, don't pick five, if you pick five, you're never accomplish any of them. But if you pick one, you can accomplish it.
Then the next part is, okay, how what type of application or activity is relevant. And unlike l&d, which is often separated and not able to apply the learning in the work as much you often know what your direct reports are. So for example, if your direct report needs more help, in terms of side, creating sides, designing sides, you may know, hey, they have a presentation at this point. Why don't you apply sort of improvement on that, then the final part is to content right? So being able to find particularly resources for site design, there are way too many Google search results for that, but pick out a couple maybe even the direct report can find it themselves, but it's a good way to say hey, go take a look. Look, find sort of three, four elements of improved site design that you can add to your presentation and actually apply it in your presentation itself.
And then you know what you have a great five to 10 minute conversation about how they leverage these particular skills in your one on one, I think it's extremely natural for a manager to be a little bit specific about that. And you know, what, what did I quote at the beginning, sort of lnd is really important to all employees. And that type of direct and individual personalized attention by the manager is really, really valuable.
Wendy: Yeah, we have a concept we talk about a lot at BetterManager it's going from the dance floor to the balcony, and that's that made me I thought of that as you were talking because the dance floor is where your all your workers are and they're like so engaged in the work, but you need to go up in the balcony to see where are the areas that like what are the objectives Need to help them move from where they are now to where they want to go? and bring them up to the balcony with you to look at that situation and say, so what are the things that we need to do? What do you need to do? What's the best way to do it? What's the content? So I think that concept really helps this, that we can't just do everything from the dance floor, and we can't do everything from the balcony, we have to have that combination for people to really be designing and learning and making progress.
Andrew: Absolutely. And I think sort of the core concept of going to the balcony. I mean, we have this whole performance reviews idea, but often no action is taken on that. And this is a way to take action on the areas that that need improvement. And I think often I think managers, everyone's been taught by teachers, but often people haven't been teachers. And so just giving that a little bit of a tool of backwards design, the objective, the activity and application and the content is just a little tool to think about how do you actually We have tackled these types of performance issues or areas for improvement.
Wendy: So, where we're gonna be in this remote situation, probably for quite a while. And we need to keep training going, as we said, but we need to be able to scale it a lot of organizations say, wow, you know, we've, we've got a huge task here because you know, when I'm my company might have thousands of employees and how am I supposed to scale this training to keep everybody engaged? So what what, what are some ideas that you can put out there as somebody who was one of our experts in online training?
Andrew: Well, so now we're moving from the hyper personalized nature of manager as a trainer to y, we need change management, we need sort of broad presentation skills available for everyone. And I think there there are a few different things to keep in mind. One is you don't want to sacrifice What the activities you do you're doing to be able to scale it scaling isn't saying, Oh, yeah, create a new presentation with these great new ideas. And then oh, we're scaling it now. It's just going to be a multiple choice quiz. As we discussed earlier, that's, that's not going to be a high quality learning experience, even though it's maybe easier to put at scale. So first of all, be really clear about, hey, these activities, we need to keep high standards on these activities. We need to make sure there's actual application, there's experimentation and experience embedded within it, to make sure that that's valuable, then in terms of how do you scale it?
Well, the thing about scale is you actually get to think about other types of interaction between people right in the hyper personalized version. There's some benefits of being able to directly work with your manager, but in a scaled version, you can have discussions with other people across the organization working on a particular topic. If it's a topic that's relevant to the organization, maybe he Work departmentally or gather across departments and come up with cross departmental solutions to different things. So if it's a design thinking course, being able to have someone from sales marketing product, combined together, you're going to get some really interesting ideas. Then you can even go in more depth, right? That's a team project. So directly assigning people to work together is a real important way to get that type of collaboration.
And then the final thing I want to talk about is actually feedback. Feedback is obviously a huge component of being a good manager, not just negative feedback, but also positive feedback and really focused on where you want people to be. But in a course at scale, you can leverage feedback to get personalized attention from a bunch of different people across the course as a whole. And not only one do you keep people accountable because they know people are looking at what they're turning in, but to there'll be able to learn a little bit more gain from different ideas and really work towards improvement along the way. So, really thinking about not just one, getting the activities, right? And then to leveraging the community component that scale allows you to bring in.
Wendy: Wow, I just had a blast from the past 20 years ago, I took an online class. And certainly it didn't have bells and whistles, but it was on creative writing. And your feedback part made me think about I really didn't, you know, think that I was that much of a creative writer, but getting feedback and having somebody say, I love the way you talked about that orange, you know, and now you've described it made me feel like, Oh, I am I potentially could write better you know, it really and and this was just an online interaction in a very simple way. But feedback and I love that you underlined positive, as well as constructive is really good. Sometimes when we use the feedback word, everybody thinks they're going to get hit over the head with something. But yeah back is I love how you did that. I love how you said that I, your two minute presentation, going back to your example, really hit the nail on the head. Wow, I felt it, I knew what was going to happen. So let's not ever forget about that part and build somebody up as well as you know, that sentence structure may not have been good or this could have been different. But I loved how you talked about the orange, which I can remember and this was something that happened 20 years ago.
Andrew: And the accountability I thought was really amazing in terms of how it impacts in terms of the feedback impact in terms of accountability. So I took a look at sort of over 5000 learners did a research study on this and found out that just a single comment on that first submission resulted in a 25% increase in course completion. And so this is not taking into account the value of that feedback, sort of how in depth it was, it could have been just good job. But that type of accountability is really powerful now, you know, personalized one on one manager as a trainer situation, you have that accountability built in, but you can still think about building that in in a larger scaled environment. Yeah. Wow.
Wendy: Well, I have found this discussion fascinating. Andrew, I really do think that it's, it's so apropos for the time we're going through right now. We need to think about how we can keep people learning and developing which keeps them motivated. You know, they're, we're dealing with so many different issues out there right now that keeping on learning and and there are people that are going to be switching jobs, there are people that are switching certainly residences, we've heard a lot about that and, and companies need to hold on to people and I love what you referenced in the beginning about millennials, you know, we've seen we've seen the stats on you know, millennials, they get coaching, if you can provide coaching, you're gonna have a better sense of retention. And the same thing for professional development. So I think this is a critical time, it's a problem to be solved that we need to work on. So thank you for sharing all that. So how if people want to learn more about you and novo Ed and and some of how to be able to do these kinds of things at scale, how can they How can they learn more and reach out to you, Andrew?
Andrew: Well, you can reach out to me on LinkedIn, Twitter, also, novo Ed has a great blog with lots of different tips for being a good instructional designer. I even if you're only a manager, as I said, I think a manager as a good trainer is a really important part of doing an effective job with your direct reports. So picking up on some of these principles, thinking of how can you take 510 minutes each week in your one on one and devote that to your training? Absolutely. But look forward to hearing any thoughts that you have. Wendy? It's been absolutely a pleasure. Not only discussing this particular topic with you today, but working with you in the BetterManager team. I know the coaching course we come up with is great. And I'm excited to see where it goes.
WendyGreat. Would you sit in case people are in the car, we're going to have these contacts in the show notes. But what is the novo Ed website and spell your last name?
AndrewPerfect. So novoed.com and L-i-n-f-o-r-d.
Wendy: Right? So people can take this down and follow up. And it's a good thing. There are so many things we need to work on these days as being to be a better manager, and to be more connected with our people, and even to build that safety and security at work and connection. And I think learning is all a part of that. So thank you, Andrew, for sharing your wisdom today and I hope you all have a very wonderful day.