Sunday, March 26, 2017

Five Tips To Make an Instructional Designer’s LinkedIn Profile Shine

LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network with approximately 467 million members across the globe. It can offer a great networking experience to eLearning professionals and can also lead to new business or career opportunities. LinkedIn is a powerful tool to promote your brand (could be your company or you as a professional) amongst thousands of like minded professionals, decision makers, partners, talent seekers, or customers. 

LinkedIn recently redesigned its UI, thus bringing Conversations and Content to the heart of the platform. In-line with this redesigned user experience that LinkedIn offers now; I am going to share some tips that could make your profile stand out as an eLearning professional, and specifically as an instructional designer. Some tips would be generic and fairly simple, while others could be used to specifically display your work and skill set.

1. Picture
This is the simplest of all. Your LinkedIn profile picture puts a face to your profile, a face that people could relate to. Not having a profile picture or using an unprofessional one is not admirable. So stick to a good profile picture, a professional headshot always does the trick.
The new thumbnail of your LinkedIn profile picture is a circle. To ensure that the thumbnail image looks like what it should, go to edit your picture and confirm that it appears the way you want it.

2. Background Photo
Use the background image to talk about something significant like your organization. The new dimensions for the background image are 1536 x 738. Even when you use the correct dimensions, ensure that you consider the image and text positioning. A fuzzy image that doesn’t adhere to the required dimensions or an image with text or graphics getting cut is not appealing to the viewer. So double check once you are done. An interesting way that graphic designers could use this feature is by using some innovative infographic or tag-cloud as the background photo. The infographic could be made from snapshots of your work, whereas the tag cloud could speak about your skills.

3. Headline
The headline is possibly the most important part on your LinkedIn profile. It should be about what you do rather than what you are. Use these 120 characters to generate curiosity in the viewer to know more about you. Weave in your specialty and leverage it to the fullest. For example, if you are an instructional designer, a very creative and jazzy headline could be something like this: Instructional Designer, Storyteller and Thinker who weaves magic in her courses. Oh, and people love my storyboards.

4. Summary and Experience
The Summary section is a very critical element of your LinkedIn profile as it showcases your professional story. With the new look, only the first two lines of your Summary are visible upfront. You need to grab people’s attention now to read more. So let your summary be crisp, and include the most important and interesting stuff at the top. Also, be mindful of spacing. Nothing puts down a viewer as much as an unevenly spaced summary text.
While stating about your experience, state your current position and also fill up information about all your previous work assignments. It adds credibility to your profile. Ensure you do not add any incorrect information.

Add your Portfolio
A very interesting and effective way of making your LinkedIn profile stand out as an instructional designer is by adding your portfolio. And as the LinkedIn team itself states, rich, tangible examples show your quality of work and give people a reason to interact with you. You could do this by uploading relevant media files or sharing links to any external media under the ‘Summary’ or ‘Experience’ section.
This makes your profile visually appealing and also helps people see samples of your actual work rather than just reading some text around it. You could also design your own examples to be uploaded as media. But ensure you do not include anything that comes under the ownership/copyright of your current or previous employers. 

How to do it?
Well, PowerPoint and Videos are two effective ways of going about it. If you choose to go with a PowerPoint, make it interactive by inserting ready-to-use interactivities from a tool like Raptivity. The benefit of interactive stuff is that it can engage the viewer unlike a static PowerPoint. 
You could even demonstrate a complete project story by building a PowerPoint with interactivities. It can talk about everything right from your course objectives to the software you used, to the challenges you faced and how you overcame them. Leverage the power of storytelling using interactivities.
If you choose to go with creating a video, you could either add narration and convert your PowerPoint to a video or build a video from scratch depending on what works better for you. Videos are undoubtedly the most effective way of conveying your story and examples.

5. Strengthen your profile further
  • Education: Filling up the following sections - Education, Certificates, Awards (If applicable), showcases your continual growth and helps you strengthen your profile further.  Also make sure to add your contact information so that people can quickly reach out to you if required.
  • Featured Skills: The new profile view only shows the first 3 skills you have listed in the Skills & Endorsements section. Since you can reorder your skills, select the top three that are most important to you to be visible.
  • Groups: Join the right eLearning and instructional designing groups and be an active member there. Start commenting on posts and articles, or initiate your own discussions whenever required. This will help you become visible to the fraternity and will also serve as a platform to showcase your expertise.
  • Incorrect Spellings and Grammar: Be wary of incorrect spellings and grammar, be very wary! Wrong spellings and grammar can spell disaster for instructional designers, or rather all eLearning professionals. So proofread everything that you post, on your profile, or anywhere else on LinkedIn. 
Got more tips on using LinkedIn to the fullest? Share them with us below. Let us promise ourselves to leverage the power of this amazing platform called LinkedIn. Let us all rise and shine.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Trainer's Perspective on Making Corporate Training More Productive

For quite some time now, we have been focusing on how to make corporate training better. In a recent blog post, we spoke about making compliance training fun. Continuing on the same lines, today we are going to explore how to make compliance, and rather, all internal training more interesting for employees. We would explore the first-hand experience of a customer (Name Confidential) on how she made training more interesting for her organization’s employees. For the sake of remembrance, let’s call this customer Miss T.
Why T? Well, I could have called her A, B, C, or any other alphabet, but since T could very well stand for Trainer, let’s go ahead and see what Miss T had to share. Oh, and by the way, Miss T is responsible for building and delivering internal training programs at a global publishing house.

Me: How important is compliance training within your organization?
Miss T: Internally, our compliance training is very important, from the Board Chairman! The CEO! The President! And all the way down to everyday employees. Sometimes it is tied to our employment, sometimes to our goals, and sometimes assigned by HR, which holds our managers responsible for our completion. 

Me: What is the downside if employees are not fully engaged when they undergo compliance training? 
Miss T: If employees are disengaged, but technically fulfilling the requirement of being present for the training, they risk not learning the important lesson. For instance, some rules in our annual ethics training that breaking just once is not a warning for an employee, it is termination.
In the corporate culture, we have engagement issue like everyone else. Actively disengaged employees pull down the team. I’ve read that it takes four engaged employees to cancel out the bad effects of just one disengaged employee. What I see is social pressure to conform, to pay attention, to be mindful, and to try hard. 

Me: How has the response to your compliance and other internal training been?  
Miss T: My biggest success is when I only train one person and assign that person to train two people. That focus ensures that my one person is paying total attention. They want to train the other two successfully, too, as they have just demonstrated they are ready for a more managerial role. I have, in effect, discovered the team’s motivation—the ‘What’s in it for me’ question—and it’s their career. When I tie the training to their career, employees give their undivided attention. 
Before that, my success rate was half and half. For some companies, that’s a great response! I think the norm is closer to 10%. I realized that the employees interpreted the training as demos—suggestions—and, while I built a bond with them, the training was not retained. 

Me: Have you experimented with any strategies to make your training more interesting or fun? 
Miss T: When we have offered prizes, held contests, the results were disappointing. My goal since then has been to make employees laugh to make the training memorable, also to get them to start talking and feel easier about asking a question. I once used a theme of dessert treats so they couldn’t wait to see the next slide, plus they knew I knew they were hungry as the training was before lunch. I also ensure that my training content is visually appealing and highly interactive.

So these were some interesting strategies that Miss T employs for making training a little less boring and a lot more productive. Do you have any unique ideas deployed at your workplace that improved your training? Do share them below.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Upcoming Webinar: Raptivity - A Solution to Your Key Instructional Design Challenges

An instructional designer knows well how difficult and time consuming it is to develop an eLearning course where multiple stakeholders are involved. A large team calls for more reviews, more feedback and more iterations. Raptivity, your ever-favorite interactivity building tools, can be your magic wand to handle such scenarios too. That means not only can Raptivity help you develop highly interactive eLearning courses, but it can also assist you to make the complete process of eLearning development smoother. 

If you are interested to know more, join us for a complimentary webinar on Feb 22, 10 am PST with Desiree Pinder. Desiree is the Executive Director of Artisan E-Learning where she helps companies get up and running with e-learning initiatives. She is also recognized as an Interactive Learning Thought Leader due to her much acclaimed work. 

This webinar will touch on how Raptivity can assist in the following:
  • Content visualization 
  • Developing proofs of concept
  • Improving communication with subject matter experts 
  • Rapid storyboarding
  • eLearning course creation 

Wait no more and register for this webinar here. We look forward to seeing you in the session.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Can compliance training actually be fun?

Let’s face it. No one EVER looks forward to compliance training sessions. The reason people attend compliance training sessions is same as the reason six-year-olds brush their teeth every morning. Because it’s mandatory.

Compliance trainings are somewhat tricky to administer because they are not about sharing information or teaching a new skill. Instead, compliance training is usually about influencing employees to alter their behaviour favourably. When it comes to topics such as anti-discrimination, anti-bribery, business etiquette etc. the training needs to teach employees to behave in a certain fashion, irrespective of their personal values or prejudices. And because behaviour is always a choice, it becomes that much harder to bring about a behavioural change.

Compliance trainings are viewed as an obligation

Because these trainings need to be repeated regularly (usually annually) as mandated by law or company policy, attending these becomes tiresome and extremely boring, especially for repeat attendees. As a result, most employees tend to look at compliance training as an obligation or a necessary evil, rather than a choice.
The lack of enthusiasm for compliance training is not restricted just to the audience. On their part, instructional designers too tend to invest relatively minimal efforts to design compliance training courses because they are mandatory trainings delivered to a captive audience. There is a tendency to stick to the basics and not think much about the user experience. Over time, this becomes problematic because trainings become less impactful and defeat their very purpose.
Instead, it would help to change the perspective and view compliance trainings as a great opportunity to positively influence a captive audience. With a little bit of effort, it is possible to make compliance training both impactful and entertaining.

Upping the ‘fun and engagement’ quotient for compliance training

We were chatting with one of our customers on this topic and she had some great insights. She suggested the use of gamification, video, multimedia to make compliance training as engaging as possible. The key is to make it relatable to the audience.

For instance, she talked about how she uses short, impactful supplementary training sessions through the year to reinforce the lessons learnt during a particular compliance training. She designs these supplementary sessions in the form of contests, quizzes or ‘spin the wheel’ type games. Like she rightly pointed out, it’s impossible for attendees to retain all aspects of the session in one go, irrespective of how they perform in post-test evaluations. Gamification can be a great tool to reinforce the lessons in an interesting and fun way.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the impact of such efforts is apparent. Far from taking a ‘let me get this over with’ approach, people actually begin to enjoy the sessions. These sessions break the monotony of the work day and give employees an opportunity to challenge themselves against peers. They can compare their knowledge on the subject with that of peers in a fun and competitive way. Wrong answers help them learn too.

Even if the subject of training is slightly sensitive (such as anti-discrimination), there are several ways to make it engaging. For instance, presenting information in the form of a book you can flip through can be an interesting change. Using simulations and what-if scenarios to engage the trainees can also help in better recall when it comes to sensitive topics.

Apart from the gamification aspect, a good compliance training session needs to have these four Rs. It needs to be:
  • Relevant to the subject matter
  • Relatable to the participants
  • Repeatable to engage the audience for multiple sessions
  • Must have Recordable results
For instructional designers, the fact that there is a captive audience that is bound to attend the training is a good problem to have. Making it impactful, engaging and interesting can create a positive experience for both the course designers as well as attendees. There are many solutions available in the market that could help you build interesting interactivities. Raptivity by Harbinger is one such tool that is widely recognized for its variety of templates that could help increase the fun quotient of your compliance training modules; and eLearning modules in general.

Do drop in some ideas on how compliance trainings are made fun at your workplace.