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Hidden Gems Blog

Binge-read the Hidden Gems blog by eLearning Gems


From Face book Official to Instagram Importance​

March 15, 2019

Ok. Confession Time: I hate learning new things. 

Correction : I hate learning things I'm FORCED to learn. 

Enter Instagram. I had z ero desire to join a community of narcissistic selfie taking unicorn latte drinkers (as I judgingly coined the persons obsessed with 'The Gram').  That was before I learned about the business and social powerhouse that is Instagram (Holy over-priced Guacamole, Batman!). But how was I supposed to learn about something I didn't want to? After all … I'm a Teacher, and those who can't actually do … Teach, right?

H ow I chose to learn about Instagram:

  1. In Secret. I was way too embarrassed to ask a friend, colleague or hipster nephew about how to use social media, so I did the next best thing - Googled the heck out of it. Once you Google something, the Marketing Bots that be know exactly what you're looking for which is how I came to …..
  2.   Seek Subject Matter Experts. I came across a super-user by the name of Hillary Rushford who just oozed Instagram knowledge. She has an awesome training program, but I was cheap and lazy and settled for the free intro course. I still learned a ton, and will definitely revisit her Dean Stree t Instagram and Social Media courses ASAP. 
  3.   Video. As hard as I tried, I couldn't find written instructions that helped me on my current version of Instagram. If I found a set of steps, visual aides were lacking. If I found visual aides, the text was useless. When I found a text/image rich tutorial, it was wildly outdated. I wanted to scream. Right as I was about to give up, I came across this tutorial from the Ben's Guide YouTube channel. (I dig his style - chill, yet helpful w/ simple video). 

What I learned from this experience....

  •  Learners do not like to appear clueless. They WANT to learn - but only on THEIR terms. Providing quiet (quality) readily accessible content can speak volumes. 
  • Nothing beats on-the-job training taught by true pros who have actually mastered the craft. Authentic Subject Matter Expert mentorship will always outshine a pre-boxed Rent-a-Trainer Death-by-PowerPoint training.
  • Content MUST be updated - no ifs, ands, or buts. I know that versioning is a trainer / writer's great nemesis, but outdated content may as well be thrown in the trash - it's completely useless. 
  •  We learn from example, and Videos show us the real deal in real time . Not all videos are created equal, and a tutorial need not be produced by George Lucas. A helpful video training must simply be up to date, accurate, and display a positive level of clarity, energy, and purpose. 

In summary …. Follow eLearningGem on Instagram!

Unicorn Lattes TBA. 


8 Ways to Avoid the Party Pooper

The extreme value of the 'What If?' planning meeting. 

February 14, 2019

Yes! Here we are! The Big Deadline. We made it, and if I do say so myself, this training program looks FABULOUS! Rubric is robust, Videos are vibrant, Content is creative and our stakeholders are thrilled. Time to go to the congratulatory happy hour when in walks …… the Party Pooper

That's right. Mr-Know-It-All has graced us with his presence and let it be known that we. made. a. mistake. Mister K.I.A. was present at every check-in meeting for the past 6 months, yet *forgot* to mention that all X level employees have a different interface, meaning that our course is now wrong, irrelevant, and 100% useless. Today. Deadline Day. Epic Fail. 

So … Could this have been avoided? I mean, we did everything by the book. Savvy Kickoff, weekly op-mechs, rocked ADDIE & SAM, held incremental surveys and polls, established feedback loop, and a wildly successful final user (UI/UX) test program. What more do you want from us?!?

Alas - No training is perfect. Something will always fall through the cracks. So here is my list of commonly overlooked QA to share with your stakeholders above and beyond your usual Project prep. To misquote an overly catchy Farmer's Insurance commercial …. "I know a thing or two, because I've seen a thing or two." I've met a lot of party poopers...

What-If Scenario List

  1. Step-by-Step - Training Avengers, Assemble! Find a user, manager, and a Subject Matter Expert, gather in a classroom (or chat room ... or bar), and go line-by-line through a process. Ask 1 to 5 "What if?" questions per step. 

  2.  Roles - Sure, we always ask about target audience, but do we inquire into lesser known intricacies of each role? Do some roles hold access and permisissions greater (or lesser) than others? Do they have different dashboards, interfaces, reports, or schedules? Certification requirements? Pre-requisites? Responsibilities? Are there environmental factors for field workers vs. office workers that could affect the outcome of this training?
    When in doubt, as the end user - the one serving in the trenches. 

  3. Language Barriers - When working across cultures or in fields with heavy international influence, it is ALWAYS a good idea to run training through one (or more) translators. I recommend a minimum of two: one senior colleague, one youthful. This will provide a traditional / phonetic assessment plus a test for modern slang and vernacular.  Some translation errors can be quite comical , however, one error led to the death of 70,000 people . #TranslationMatters. 

  4. Device - Does this software / process work the same on a phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop? Is the user experience different?  Are more / less steps required?  Would additional screenshots be of benefit? Do Passwords, user licenses, and PINs work universally across devices? Is a downloadable mobile app needed? How about a VPN for security? Run through each step on each device for good measure. Now do it again. 

  5. Browsers - Does this training work across all Browsers? Build browser testing into your UI/UX process, and note ANY differences. Try each scenario using each browser (Chrome, Safari, IE, Firefox...).  Demo in each browser. BE the Browser.... 

  6.   Mac or PC? - Will this process work the same across all digital platforms? Will the screens look different? I've worked for many-a-company whose users/workers used PC, whereas upper management preferred Mac. In this scenario, don't build for Mac - build for PC. However, make Mac users aware of any subtle (or not-so-subtle) differences in the interface. 

  7. Safety - Always deep-dive questions regarding physical, personal, and digital safety. Are there OSHA requirements needed prior to performing that construction task? Should that email be encrypted prior to send? After Step 7, should additional actions be taken to protect customer data? 
    Pro-Tip: Bring in a specialist from Help Desk or Security for input. 

  8. Anomalies - Leap Year, Time Zones, Age requirements, local laws, local culture, religious and cultural holidays around the world, corporate deadlines, travel schedules, sporting schedules, training schedules, food and diet restrictions (health or religious), curfews. 
**** .You don't want someone scheduling mandatory training on Super Bowl Sunday while serving Quinoa and Oat Bran muffins … So why would you schedule mandatory training for a Jewish colleague on Rosh Hashana serving pork? #AintNobodyGotTimeForThat. Do the research.*****

What What-Ifs would you add to this list?

Share your thoughts on Twitter or Instagram. 


Video Training Tips


Videos. Everyone wants videos. Take a moment to be honest with yourself ... You prefer to learn through Video as well, don't you? As Instructors, it's hard to complain when we are all a part of the problem. But how can you make a first-class training video with oh-so-many time, talent, and budget restraints?!? 
Hint: You don't have to be the love child of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas to create an awesome training video. It simply needs to be well organized, correct, and effective.  
  1.   Create a (Short) Story - It can be your story, or better - the learner's story. Create intriguing characters that solve a problem. If the video is a simple tutorial - make the learner the center of the story, and walk the viewer through THEIR story. Example: 'You just landed the biggest sale of your lifetime,' or 'You just landed your dream job at the Top Tech Firm in Silicon Valley … Now it's time to learn the software required for this special occasion."
  2. Use Your Headphones - Audio should be even: not too high, not too low, not too fast, not too slow. A best practice is to review your video audio using headphones, (as most of your audience will be using headphones).  We've all experienced a sudden high jump in audio while using earbuds. Ouch! Check out A to download a free audio editor/recorder. 
  3.   Transition with Caution - Transition effects can easily become more distraction than benefit. You don't want your video to look like a 6th grade PowerPoint from 1998 (unless you're doing a report on 6th graders in 1998 ... in which case ... Dope!). Stick to a simple Fade between scenes . Stick to just one or two 'special transitions' that fit the theme, such as a circular entrance for a PIE chart, or a swipe effect transitioning in or out of a race. Re-watch your favorite Star Wars episode to see this practice in action.
  4.   Keep it Short. Cut out clutter, fancy vocabulary, and superfluous speech. Nix the adjectives. Shorten the stock imagery. Speed up the screencast. Delete that joke that only you find funny. No one REALLY cares WHY you bake that recipe … we're hungry … just list the ingredients and show us how to cook the darn pie already! Admit it, when you are searching for an answer, you click on the SHORTEST video first.  
  5.  Celebrate Diversity - Incorporate characters from diverse backgrounds, nationalities, religions, ages, sizes, professions, and abilities. Incorporate unique names that support ethnic diversity. Celebrate different abilities by presenting characters with different health status: Disabled Veterans, wheelchair users, persons with a speaking stutter, hearing issue,  or other opportunity. 
  6.   Cognates - Cognates are words that sound (and can be spelled) similar in multiple languages. When possible, I like to use cognates backed my simple text and instructions, as this helps to broaden my audience and assist ESL students. YouTube and Udemy are global enterprises. Why limit yourself? For example, the word 'instruction' can be translated to Instrucción (Spanish) and Instrução (Portuguese), where as 'Learning' translates as Aprendizaje (Spanish) and Aprendizagem (Portuguese).  
  7.   ADA Compliance + Subtitles - The Americans with Disability website has dozens of great ideas on how best to create a video that maximizes resources for those with different abilities,  such as this excellent video collection . I recommend going to the site directly for OFFICIAL requirements. Adding subtitles isn't just a consideration - it's a best practice. Subtitles apply 'dual-encryption,' meaning that the mind of your learner will be internalizing your training through both Audio AND Visual. Adding visual text also assists when a learner does not have access to a device with sound, or when a trainee is in an environment that will not permit use of volume (think Subway, Airplane, Break Room, or Hospital). 
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