“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities,
in the expert’s mind there are few.”
– Shunryu Suzuki
Is it easier to train a beginner or an expert? I need only reflect on my repeated failure to learn a foreign language in my adult years in order to answer this question. I’ve studied both Spanish and French, but whenever I encounter French or Spanish speakers, I must arduously translate the words and sentences I happen to recognize into English in order to understand them. At this point, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I really want to learn either of these languages, the only thing left for me to do is to pick up and move to Paris or Mexico City, to immerse myself in an environment where I am forced to upend what I know about language and become a beginner again.
Well-designed simulations are like these foreign countries I imagine moving to. They offer the opportunity to immerse ourselves in environment in which we are forced to challenge our expertise, to disrupt the long-rehearsed patterns of our daily lives and work. In doing so, simulations allow us to grasp the possibilities of learning complex tasks and systems in ways that cannot be merely studied. This is where the true power of training simulations lies – in turning all of us “experts” into beginners in some way.
This is not to say that expertise isn’t useful, but it is inherently limited from a learning perspective. When we call upon it, we foreclose on possibilities for viewing our area of expertise in a different, often deeper way. Therefore, the first question in designing a training simulation is not so much how we can create experts but how we can get individuals with varying areas of expertise to approach a task or challenge with a beginner’s mind. It is from that place that we can affect the greatest behavioral change in our audiences.
Before I came to Enspire Learning, I spent years working as a chef and restaurant owner. I’m frequently struck by the degree to which working for a learning provider is like working at a restaurant. Some restaurants sling pre-packaged value meals. Some learning providers do that, too, while others prepare sumptuous feasts created specifically for the person or business consuming them. People working for both of these businesses need to share a common preoccupation, though: customer service. More often than not it is the quality of the service experience, not just the quality of the training or the meal, that brings customers back for more.
How can you improve your customer experience? In every professional services engagement there are multiple touchpoints with the client. Plenty of people have an opportunity to delight the customer, or alternately degrade their experience to the point that they never want to come back. I’ll talk about my old business – the restaurant business. In the restaurant business, a customer’s experience starts before she even sets foot in the door and doesn’t end until she’s left the parking lot. There are many points of contact before and after a diner enjoys the meal where a little extra effort can go a long way. Continue reading →
A few weeks ago I postedabout how we “outsource control of behavior to the environment.” This made me think about the concept “distributed cognition.” Distributed cognition proposes that knowledge is not confined to an individual, but rather is distributed throughout an environment. That is, we use external sources including other people, materials, and other tools and supports within the environment to help us in critical thinking and decision-making.
Distributed cognition always plays into my instructional design thinking. What and who do learners have at hand to support their thinking, ergo support their performance?
Recently, I heard the term “transactive memory” which proposes that groups of people collectively encode, store, and retrieve knowledge. This term is meant to explain the processes behind “hive mind” or “group think.” It’s not really a new idea either, but to me it seemed like another phrasing of distributed cognition.
A lot has been made that we are losing our memorization capabilities due to the easy and immediate access to information. My colleague Matt wrote about “second screens”; I find myself looking up information ever more frequently on my smart phone as I watch TV, read a book, listen to music, or take a walk outdoors. What is that flower, or tree, or snake!? Continue reading →
VCA Animal Hospitals (NASDAQ:WOOF) operates over 580 small animal hospitals in 41 states and Canada, staffed with 2,600 fully qualified, dedicated, and compassionate doctors. VCA partnered with Enspire to create an 11 hour blended curriculum focused on doctor communication skills, of which high quality video is an important piece. The large video shoot supporting the program took place recently in Austin, and while days were long it was a resounding success. Here’s how your shoot can succeed, too. Continue reading →
Enspire’s media arm Houndstooth worked with RAPP and Element X Creative to produce this video. RAPP was responsible for the creative, Element X did the animation and Houndstooth handled 3d modeling of the card, music composition, sound design and mix.
The question: “What does science know about translating our resolve into actual changes in behavior?” The answer: “People, when they perform a behavior a lot, outsource the control of the behavior to the environment.”
For Vietnam veterans treated for heroin addiction, only 5% relapsed during their first year returning home from Vietnam. The serviceman beat an extremely addictive habit by treating the physical addiction and by undergoing a radical change in their environment.
In other words, our mind automatically engages behaviors based on familiar environmental cues and patterns. Continue reading →
At Enspire Learning, we pride ourselves on creating learning experiences that directly impact a specific target audience, designated by each valued client. So when we design those experiences, we take a great deal of care to investigate and understand who those end-users are.
As a timely metaphor, our best learning products are like well-wrapped presents, carefully chosen for each recipient. This holiday season, we’ve created a handy shopping list of the important questions we ask ourselves when considering what “gift” to give our clients and end-users.
1. What’s the occasion?
Gifts are rarely given without cause – they are usually intended for a recipient who is celebrating an occasion: birthday, shower, Kwanzaa, retirement, etc. You pick a gift to commemorate an important occasion.
When designing e-learning, we must have a deep understanding of the learning occasion – is it on-boarding for new hires? Does the company want its employees to better understand its security policies? Is there a need for management training? Start generally and whittle the need down until it’s a precise problem to be solved. For instance, if a client specifies a need for a new-hire orientation, investigate further to understand why the product is needed now. Maybe there’s been evidence that recent hires don’t fully understand their benefit packages. Maybe a certain group at the company plans to bring on a large number of new employees and wants uniformity in their on-boarding experience. Understand the occasion and you can better understand your intended recipient. Continue reading →
Austin’s Coats for Kids effort is the second largest effort of its kind in the country. This was the 25th year for the drive, an annual community project that this year put 30,000 coats in the hands of eligible kids. Enspire donated laptop computers for use at donation centers and Enspire VP of Business Development (below left) ran the distribution site at Del Valle Elementary School.
After reading a recent Wired article about applications aimed at users’ secondary attention, I started thinking about new ways to use mobile devices for learning: second screen apps. Second screen apps are mobile apps that are typically used to complement television viewing. Why couldn’t they be used to complement learning events, too? Couldn’t a second screen be useful during instructor-led classes, live virtual classes, and asynchronous e-learning courses?