Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Some Textbook Suggestions

For those of you whom are university-level instructors, consider these titles as possible texts for your courses:



Suitable Courses

Training Design Basics (ASTD Press)

This book emphasizes the real-world nature of designing training programs, working with the time and resources available. Yes, trainers have to analyze needs and write objectives (after all, each trainer needs to know what they are training and why they are doing so). But often the time is limited to perform, so this book suggests ways to get the information even if they don’t have the time or access to all of the people who might be helpful. Similarly, although e-learning and other forms of instruction receive much attention in the professional literature, the bulk of training continues to be designed for the classroom. This book makes that assumption, and offers specific suggestions for preparing classroom courses and workbooks. Finally, after designing and developing courses, most trainers have responsibility for the successful launch and running of those courses. This book explores those issues, too, specifically identifying issues in administering, marketing, and supporting courses so that they are likely to be effective.

  • Instructional Design
  • Designing Training Programs

Advanced Web-Based Training (by Margaret Driscoll and Saul Carliner, Pfeiffer)

This book takes instructional designers to the next level in their design journeys. It provides instructional designers, e-learning developers, technical communicators, students, and others with strategies for addressing common challenges that arise when designing e-learning programs. Balancing educational theory with the practical realities of implementation, Driscoll and Carliner outline the benefits and limitations of each strategy, discuss the issues surrounding the implementation of these strategies, and illustrate each strategy with short scenarios drawn from real-world online learning programs representing a wide variety of fields including technology, financial services, health care, and government. Some of the specific design challenges this book addresses include learning theory for e-learning, m-learning, simulations and games, interactivity, communicating visually, writing for the screen, preparing introductions and closings, mentoring and coaching e-learners, and blended learning.

  • Advanced Instructional Design
  • Studio courses in e-learning
  • Advanced Technical and Professional Communication

e-Learning Handbook (edited by Saul Carliner and Patti Shank, Pfeiffer)

This book is an essential resource that is filled with original contributions from the world’s foremost e-learning experts including Jane Bozarth, Patrick Lambe, Tom Reeves, Marc Rosenberg, and Brent Wilson. The book offers a comprehensive and up-to-date review of the economic, technological, design, economic, evaluation, research, and philosophical issues underlying e-learning. Each chapter includes a chart that summarizes the key take-away points, contains questions that are useful for guiding discussions, and offers suggestions of related links, books, papers, reports, and articles.

  • Advanced Instructional Design
  • Seminar in Learning

To order and receive more information, either contact your publisher’s representative or visit

Informal Learning in the News

Social media has sparked interest in informal learning; the topic is addressed throughout Informal Learning Basics.

 I recently came across some articles online that clearly and effectively introduce some popular tools. Although the articles are written for members of the academic community, they’re actually valuable to anyone interested in learning more about these tools:

  • Utilizing Pinterest as a Learning Tool by Rochelle McWhorter, published in the June 2012 issue of the Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD) digest describes the excitement generated by Pinterest—a social bookmarking tool that McWhorter identifies as a “social bookmarking tool” and is the “third most-used social media [sic] behind Facebook and Twitter,” then suggests ways that readers might use Pinterest. To see the article (membership might be required), visit 
  • Why are you on Twitter? By Liz Meyer and published on the Freire Project blog, explains not only why Meyer uses Twitter, but then proceeds to provide a primer on how to use Twitter. She explains the @ and # symbols, how to organize tweets, and Twitter etiquette. View the blog post at

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Are You an Informal Learner?

(Excerpted from my book, Informal Learning Basics (ASTD Press, 2012.)

Before Training and Development professionals can effectively provide and promote informal learning for others in their workplaces, they need an awareness of their own interests in, and preferences for, informal learning.

This activity, which is excerpted from the new ASTD Press book, Informal Learning Basics, is intended to help sensitize you to your informal learning preferences.

Instructions:  Answer these questions.  For responses, see the answer key below.

1.   One morning when you start your e-mail program, everything looks unfamiliar.  You quickly notice a special notice at the top of the screen, “We’ve unveiled a new look. Click here to learn more.”  What do you do first?
a.     Click where indicated to learn more about the changes to the program.
b.    Ask the person in the office next to yours to explain what’s going on. 
c.     Ignore the invitation to click here and fumble your way through the interface. 
d.    Sign up for a class to learn about the new e-mail interface.

2.   You’re the new coordinator of vendors for your department, which has never used vendors before but plans to start using them in the future.  To prepare for this new role, what do you do first?
  1. Ask your friend in the Purchasing Department what to do.
  2. Find the company policies and procedures on managing vendor relationships on the Intranet.
  3. Sign up for a class on managing vendor relationships.
  4. Start the job and figure things out as you experience them.
3.   Your partner was recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes and the doctor has urged your partner to start eating a healthy diet.  Although you thought you knew what healthy eating was, apparently your daily diet of bran muffin breakfasts and meat-potato-and-salad dinners isn’t producing healthy results.  To learn about healthy diets, what do you do first?
  1. Continue cooking but remove fat and sugars from the diet. 
  2. Join a local diabetes support group and ask for help with questions related to diet.
  3. Register for the “Diabetes Diet” class offered at the hospital. 
  4. Visit a website or buy a book with dietary recommendations for pre-diabetes patients.

4.   In a meeting this morning, the executive makes several comments related to the company’s most recent annual financial report.  You’re embarrassed to admit this: you don’t know how to read a financial report.  To correct this problem, what do you do first?
  1. Ask your friend in the Finance Department to give you a crash course in reading financial reports.
  2. Buy Financial Reports for Dummies at your nearest bookstore—and read it cover to cover.
  3. Read the report line-for-line and try to figure out what it’s saying.
  4. Take the e-learning course, How to Read a Financial Report, available through the library of e-learning courses in your company.

5.   You have accepted the invitation to serve as webmaster for your neighborhood association for the next year.  OK, so you have no experience with webmastering.  To prepare for this new role, what do you do first?
  1. Ask the outgoing webmaster to provide step-by-step instructions.
  2. Start your job and figure things out as they arise.
  3. Take an introductory course for webmasters through your local continuing education department.
  4. Watch a series of videos on YouTube about how to be a webmaster.

Compute your score using Table 1-B.
Table 1-B: Scoring the Exercise

Determine what your score by checking Table 1-C. 

Table 1-C: Interpreting Your Score
5 or below
A formal learner
You generally prefer formal situations for your learning. 
6 to 9
A social learner
Although you're able to learn on your own, you often prefer to learn in groups or from other people
11 to 14
A go-with-the-flow learner
You use a variety of means to learn new skills, sometimes just trying things out to see how well you can perform.
A self-directed informal learner
You develop new skills on your own, but to make sure that you correctly understand them, you frequently refer to outside sources to do so.
With this awareness of your own preferences, you can begin to appreciate the different preferences of other informal learners.  You can use that awareness to better identify which activities might work with which learners—and which ones won’t—so you can use informal learning to achieve given goals.

To more about informal learning, check out the book Informal Learning Basics. For ordering information, visit

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Upcoming Presentations and Webinars




Date and Location

For more Information

What’s the Real Scoop on Online Learning

Thought Leader Webinar

eLearning Guild

December 11, 2012

Host, Research-to-Practice Day and Presenter, Performance, and Perceptions: Research on Our Evolving Roles

CSTD Conference and Trade Show

Canadian Society for Training and Development

October 31, 2012

Keynote Presentation: The Future of the Technical Communication Brand

TCANZ Conference

Technical Communicators Association of New Zealand (TCANZ)

October 25, 2012

Workshop: A Crash Course in Writing e-Learning Programs

TCANZ Conference

Technical Communicators Association of New Zealand (TCANZ)

October 25, 2012

Workshop: Practical Tips for Effective, Efficient Projects

TCANZ Conference

Technical Communicators Association of New Zealand (TCANZ)

October 25, 2012

Webinar. Evaluating Informal Learning

ASTD Webinar

American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) Learning and Development Community of Practice

September 27, 2012

Webinar. Informal Learning Basics: So What Are the Basics?

ASTD Webinar

American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) Learning and Development Community of Practice

July 17, 2012

Keynote Presentation. What the Research Says about Informal Learning (and Implications for Practicing Professionals)

International Conference on eLearning in the Workplace

International Conference on eLearning in the Workplace

October 14, 2012

Informal Learning Basics Now Available

Informal Learning Basics has officially been published by ASTD Press.  

If you are an ASTD member, you might have received an announcement about the book through email. If not, here’s the notice.

Informal Learning Basics explores one of the hottest topics in training today.  It describes how training and development and other Human Resources professionals can better harness informal learning.  By some accounts, informal learning—in which learners define some combination of the process, location, purpose, and content of learning and may or may not be conscious that learning occurred—provides as much as 70 percent of all learning in the workplace with little or no involvement of training and development professionals.  

So readers have realistic expectations and plans for the application of informal learning in the workplace, the book first describes how informal learning works and identifies how to use it effectively at key touch points in the life cycle of a job.  Then, to help readers harness the power of informal learning, this book describes how readers can support 22 specific types of group and individual informal learning,  how social, enterprise and other instructional technologies can assist in those efforts, and how to evaluate informal learning.  Each chapter includes exercises that help readers apply the concepts presented in the book and worksheets that readers can use when planning informal learning efforts in their organizations.

To find out what type of informal learner you are, check out the next post on this blog.