ADDIE 2.0 — Designing Learning Without A Net

William The Conqueror

The other day my spirit guide to the world of learning Dr. Jane Bozarth got a question from a young person on the Twitters, who was looking for the person who “said ADDIE was great model for designing training, or building a strip club or invading a foreign land.”  Dr. B immediately suggested that it was probably me, and I confessed to saying something along those lines once upon a time.

William The Conqueror(For those of you NOT in the learning industry, ADDIE is an acronym for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation” — a design model first developed by William the Conqueror to write curriculum used to train his troops how to pour hot oil on enemies without burning themselves.)

Actually, there is some debate in the learning community that ADDIE may have been used earlier than that.  Some of us suspect that the project team for the big bang developed training materials and job aids using ADDIE because God was concerned that there might be user support issues.

When I said that ADDIE could be used for many other things than learning development, I was trying to use sarcasm to make a point. (Pause for shocked intake of breath by readers.) I’m not a big fan of the old girl, and was pointing out that you could really use this model in almost any kind of endeavor because it’s so generic and basic.

Tie My Shoes

Analysis:  Where are my shoes?

Design:  Criss-cross or horizontal?

Development:  Insert laces

Implementation:  Shoes on feet

Evaluation:  Attempt walking

Extreme Makeover

So — while it’s fun making fun of something near and dear to the hearts of many, and I love the angry comments and emails — how could we improve it?

Let’s rethink what the old girl might look like with a little lipo, some time with a personal trainer, and a few hours under the knife of a great plastics guy.

A is for “Amazing”

Let’s start with designing training that opens with something amazing.  Get your learners on the hook like a big ol’ catfish, so they can’t wriggle off.  It doesn’t matter what other good stuff you’ve got in that lesson if they’re not on the line headed towards the boat.

D is for “Delightful”

You’re gonna hate me for this, but all the other parts better be as good as the opener.  Today’s learners need to be engaged and delighted too.  Use videos.  Use humor.  Use fun, games, interaction, things to click on, multiple learning styles.  Yes — it IS all about the learner.

D is for “Doing”

Keep those little fingers busy.  If you’re teaching in person, have people working in small groups, get them moving in the classroom, have learners writing and giving responses.  If you’re online, you need to be taking polls and asking for input via chat and Twitter.  If you’re lecturing people are checking their mail and seeing who’s on Facebook.

I is for “Interactive”

I’m repeating myself because it’s so important.  Don’t lecture — ask leading questions, and let the students discover answers on their own.  Yes — I know it takes longer.  Yes — I know it’s messier.  Yes — I know it’s more work for you.  I don’t care!

E is for “Exhibit”

If you really want to measure the transfer of knowledge, you and I (the “learning professionals”) know that multiple-choice questions don’t mean squat.  Get your learners to exhibit what they know. Build a bridge, respond in a role-play, stage a server, or write a sales page.  That’s really the only way to measure if you taught them anything meaningful.


So what do you think?  ADDIE 2.0 is slim, trim, and quite a sexy little number.  Want to take her home to meet the parents?

P.S.  ADDIE 2.0 would still be quite effective for running a strip club, I believe.

The Fundamental Things Apply — As Change Goes By


My wife (the big-time network admin) and I have great conversations in the morning as I drive her in to work. We’ve got two cars, but we both enjoy the time together, and we’re worried that there’s too much fossil fuel on the planet and we want to do our part. So each day I get to hear a little about the madness of life in a large school district and how the inmates are expected to keep the computers running with no money and little respect.

dooley_wilson10Today’s story revolved around a new printer control system (I’m gonna call it OOPS-Print, to protect the guilty) that their IT Director decided was the bee’s knees last year. It was so cool that it had to be installed on every single box in every single school in the district. (It’s pretty amazing — it lets you select a printer to use with your machine.) (Yes, I’m being sarcastic.)

The folks in the trenches weren’t very impressed, but like the guys flying the Kamikaze airplanes, nobody wanted their feedback on the flight plan. So they spent months and months planning, deploying, installing, troubleshooting, and generally getting this POS (Printing Organizational System) ready for the start of school this fall.

My love was a key piece of the puzzle, and worked long hours to make it happen. She then spent lots of time teaching the 30+ technicians who support the schools how to use it, how to install printers, how to troubleshoot — trust me, she’s ALMOST as good as I am at training. (If I get hit by a bus, she’d become “The Best Damn Trainer In The World”)

“Houston — We Have A Problem!”

So she was a little bit surprised, yesterday, when one of the suits in the Admin Wing walked in to the server room and announced to God And Everybody that OOPS-Print wasn’t working at an entire school. And it was all their fault.

Unaware that his life expectancy was now measured in seconds, my wife asked him for details. Where were the individual “trouble tickets” that everyone was required to file? Who had done the troubleshooting? What had they found?

Weeeeeeelllllll. Turns out there were just a few tickets. And the local tech closed them before they ever escalated to NetOps. Didn’t fix anything, just “closed” them.   (Smoke begins wisping out my sweetie’s ears.) So she and a couple other top level administrators drop the actual work they’re doing, saddle up, and head out.

Turns out that the techs had installed the OOPS-PRINT client on the machines, but failed to select a printer. I asked her if this was the version of the software with psychic powers that could reach into the user’s mind and determine which of the many networked printers they wanted to use. No, she said, they hadn’t purchased that plug-in.

For one reason or another, the techs assumed that because this was new software there really was no reason to even attempt to try any basic troubleshooting steps — like, could the computer “see” the printers? Could it print a test page? Could it print locally? Was the freaking cord plugged in? Were their underpants pulled all the way up to their ears?

This morning, The Only Woman I Will Ever Love will be in a meeting with lots of suits and network friends. I told her to start out the discussion with a suggestion that just because you put on new shoes doesn’t mean you should completely give up any future attempts to walk on your own. She told me sarcasm doesn’t help anything.

But in all seriousness, I see this often in education. A teacher gets a new ActiveBoard, and thinks all the rules of learning have now changed. Someone teaches in a Webinar and suddenly believes a 60-minute droning lecture would be a great idea. Or someone’s e-learning class uses stupid little games like Jeopardy and Match Game for low-level retention and they call it real learning.

Sam had it right in Casablanca. The fundamental things apply.

Learner Feedback? You Can’t STAND Learner Feedback!

A Few Good Trainers

A Few Good Trainers

There have been lots of tweets and blogs and squawks about the collection, management and integration of feedback from learners floating across the Interwebs lately.  And, as I often do, I’ve turned to Jack Nicholson to get some sage advice on the subject — to share out with the tiny skulls of mush that come to my blog for the latest thinking on this thorny subject.

In the world of “assessment” — there are two broad divisions.  Measurement of whether the learner can actually do something:

  • Learner can name the state capitals
  • Learner can explain why sexual harassment will land him in jail
  • Learner can assemble the nuclear warhead

…and the second, how the learner felt about the experience:

  • Learner thinks she will be a better manager
  • Learner felt trainer integrated his input into the final conclusions
  • Learner experienced a feeling of value and appreciation for his presence

Let’s Look At Feelings

Today I’m focusing on the second.  Feedback from learners about the experience they had, their feelings on the session, what they think they took away, how the process worked, and whether or not lunch was tasty.

There’s a lot of focus, lately, on making sure that the learner leaves our hands giving us top marks on the experience.  They’re supposed to check the smiley face on the right margin, or give us 10 out of 10, or we just haven’t met the mark.  And I’m here to say that you’re headed off a cliff if you buy into that crap.  (I’m rarely accused of being subtle.  Ask Dave Ferguson.)

Yeah, I’m interested in what my audience has to say about my teaching.  I read those little sheets with just as much excitement as all of you do.  But all of the difficult lessons I’ve learned in my life (and I bet yours, too) came in situations were I wouldn’t have tacked a smiley face on the end if you’d asked me.  So I’m sometimes a little worried about making changes to what I do based on keeping people happy.

Have you ever:

  1. Gotten divorced?
  2. Stuck your tongue on a frozen pipe?
  3. Dated a rock musician?
  4. Driven drunk?
  5. Burned yourself on a hot stove?
  6. Voted Republican? (That’s for you, Dave!)

I bet you would have been pretty unhappy at the conclusion of the learning, but I’d also bet that it was very valuable and kept you out of lots of trouble in the future.

My own little experience with this was Private Pilot training many years ago.  After learning some basic skills, my Flight Instructor (with thousands of flight hours experience) said it was time for something called “Stall Training”.  He made me take the plane up to 5,000 feet, then point it up in the air — higher, and higher, and higher — until the little engine couldn’t lift the weight anymore.

At that point, the Cessna ceased being an airplane and immediately turned into a 2,000 pound chunk of metal with two big pieces of meat in it. Those of you who fly will support me when I say it’s probably the most gut-wrenching experience (well, next to a spin) that a student pilot goes through.

The Freaking Plane Is Falling Out Of The Sky, Out Of Control!

Now, of course, he’d told me exactly what to do.  Even demonstrated what to do. But the degree of pucker took over, I froze and screamed like a twelve-year-old girl.  He calmly said “my airplane” and soon we were flying straight and level.

He said once I’d calmed down and the adrenaline had burned off, we’d try it again. I told him I’d step out the door and walk back, rather than do that. It took him a good 15 minutes to even get me to take the controls.

We did it again.  And again. And again.  Over the course of several lessons, and several weeks, I finally got so that I could recover from the stall.  It wasn’t pretty, and he usually laughed at my efforts, but I could do it well enough that I wouldn’t die if I encountered a stall.

If offered a chance to give feedback, I would have said:

  • He didn’t take my feelings into consideration
  • My input was not valued by the instructor
  • The design of the course didn’t suit my learning style
  • The course content should be changed
  • Stalls hardly ever happen, if you fly correctly (true)

So be careful what you do with feedback.  Don’t want any of your learners falling on my head while I’m sleeping in my hammock.

Social Media: A Parable

It Will Just Be A Little Prick

A few nights ago, on a warm summer evening, a bunch of us were out standing in the middle of our street down here in South Carolina.  One guy was talking about politics.  Another lady was talking about how she wanted to be the Mayor.  And I, as usual, was making snarky obnoxious comments and offending people with my caustic sense of humor.

It Will Just Be A Little Prick

It Will Just Be A Little Prick

Surprisingly, a crowd of people started developing around me — a couple of thousand.  Many of them laughed and enjoyed my humor.  Some didn’t like it, and headed down the street to where somebody had a solution to erectile dysfunction they wanted to talk about.  Even more surprisingly, some of the people enjoyed my shtick so much that they wrote down what I said and then sent it off to their friends to read — boy, was I impressed.

A guy in the house across the way came out, listened for a bit, and liked what he heard.  He asked if I would please come over to his house every single time I had something to say, and say it right in the middle of his living room.  Even if he wasn’t there.  Sounded a little crazy — I told him he could just get the jokes about zebras, or only listen to the stuff about peach trees — but he demanded every single thing I said. Even gave me a key to his house.

Then one day, I said something he didn’t like.  I don’t remember exactly what, but boy was he pissed!  “Where do you get off saying that?  There’s no place for that kind of talk!”  I reminded him that I had just been out talking on the street, and he had chosen me to invite into his home — but it didn’t help.  I told him that there was a big red button on my head he could click, and I’d disappear and he’d never, ever see me again — but that wasn’t enough, either.

He really wanted to make rules for the whole neighborhood.  Based on what he liked, what he thought was entertaining, and what he wanted to hear.

Oh — one more thing.  I lied.  It wasn’t my neighborhood.  I was talking about Twitter.

In The End, All You’ve Got Is Your Good Name


I’ve just completed a very strange experience with a client.  Well, she wasn’t actually a client — that would suppose that there had been an exchange of funds for services.  In this case, there were santamany promises of funds, but none ever showed up.  It’s not the first time that’s happened to me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.  And it’s not even the biggest lie I’ve ever been told — there was Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Federal Reserve.

No, in this case, there was just a string of phone calls and emails about the bright future I would have if I just “trusted” her.  If I bought a plane ticket to her client site with my own money, if I started work without a deposit, if I kept revising my proposal over and over and over without ever getting a dime from her.  I wouldn’t pony up the money for the plane ticket (not my first time at the rodeo) but I did buy her book, read up on her theories, prepped for a phone conference, participated in more calls and email, and generally wasted hours I’ll never get back.

(My wife, who’s the financial brains in the family, thought I was a fool.  From the start she pegged this one for somebody who’d never pay up.  But I’m a Minnesotan — our word is our bond, and if you say you’re gonna do something, you do it.  And if you sign a freakin’ contract? Done deal, Bubba.)

This went on for three weeks.  Finally, I called a halt and said unless she paid the deposit in the contract that she had signed — nothing more would happen.

She said she’d pay if I signed an NDA.  Well, that’s pretty common, so I said sure.  The agreement was if I signed the NDA she’d send the deposit via return mail.  What’s the first clause in her NDA?  That I never, ever disclose to anyone outside her team that I participated in the development and facilitation of a public event for 50 learning professionals.  Huh?  Was I going to wear a hood? I signed, but asked in the return email if she wanted to discuss exactly how this would work.

Suddenly, I was being unreasonable.  We needed to talk.  She had a partner who had to be consulted — we might even have to “start over from zero.”  Ruh roh, Scooby. The next morning, I had an angry email in the inbox telling me the contract was “canceled” — and “since you haven’t done any work, I don’t owe you anything.”

I pointed her to the cancellation clause on my website, common to most freelancers.  It says that if I can re-sell the time, I’ll refund your deposit.  But my time is all I have to sell, and I’ve already told others I’m unavailable.

Is This A Teachable Moment?

Well, on the one hand, I suppose it should be.  I saw right away that this person was pretty emotionally unstable.  I’d known her for years — she’d actually been my employer for a bit quite a while back.  And I don’t remember any of this kind of stuff. But now she kept changing her mind, spent hours trying to decide on spending $400 on an airfare, continually promised to send a check that never materialized, ignored emails — not at all the kind of behavior that gives you confidence in a professional relationship.

Maybe this is just a difficult time in her life.  Maybe there are personal, physical or professional pressures on her right now that are causing this kind of erratic behavior.  (I went through menopause with my wife of 14 years, and, at times, she was nuttier than I am normally.)  Maybe the stress of starting a new company and striking out in a new direction have overwhelmed her — and somewhere down the road things would even out.

Twenty years ago, I’d be shouting “lawsuit” and bringing in the lawyers and enforcing every recourse that my contract entitles me to.  Now, a little older and wiser, I just feel sad that people don’t realize that the learning world is a pretty small pond and that the ripples reach from edge to edge.

Great Post On Copyright, From Some Guy. Somewhere.

Darren Rouse, from ProBlogger

ProBlogger has a wonderful post on copyright basics for content producers.  Here are the three points I stole from it:

  • Only use content that’s identified explicitly as being available for reuse under the creative commons or open content licenses.
  • Always include a linked citation alongside the content I reference or reuse, identifying the creator and the URL of the original work.
  • Contact the creator to let them know I’m reusing their content and appreciate their making it available.

If you want to read the rest, click the link.  If I stole more I’d get in trouble — those Australians are pretty touchy, and they’ve got sharks. And jellyfish.  And alligators.

Darren Rouse, from ProBlogger

Darren Rouse, from ProBlogger

My Heart Will Go On: Social Media In The Enterprise


I just read a wonderful post by Jane Hart entitled “The Future Of Social Media In The Enterprise“.  In it, she deftly describes an issue that I’ve been encountering often lately with potential clients who want to talk about using this game-changing paradigm-shifting bar-raising (insert your own favorite stupid marketing metaphor here) thing we call Social Media.

titanic1Her argument is quite elegant.  If I may distill it, she feels that using Social Media tools only behind your firewall (not allowing employees to connect outside the company) is short-sighted.  And that their real value is the cross-pollination and connection that comes from engaging across a discipline, around the world, and to people who see things in vastly different ways.

(I bet British Petroleum has a great internal forum to discuss how much time and money to spend when drilling really deep wells, and what to do when you get 700+ safety violations.  But maybe, if they’d been more connected to reality, they wouldn’t have lost $17 BILLON DOLLARS and become the poster boy for dumb.)

I have to say, though, that I’m getting a little bit tired having this discussion with people who are extremely focused on keeping the fence up between their employees and the rest of the world.  Stopping the dangers of Farmville, YouTube, and people randomly getting information they might use to improve their skills.  It’s exhausting to keep having the same chat with the same network administrators.  The same vendors who want to sell their custom “behind the firewall” solutions.  The same tiny minds who think they have all sorts of special secrets about how they put their canned hams in the boxes and ship them out.

Would it make more sense for me to have a “pre-work” session, where there’s an assessment of some kind?  And if the client is mostly focused on how to lock all the doors and bar all the windows — just smile and move along?

On Jane’s blog, I said it this way:

We try to run from or eradicate that which we do not understand. If we can’t kill it, we try to control it and limit the access of others.

Probably true with the first cave-person who found fire. Still true in corporate America today. I have to admit that I, personally, am actually getting a little tired of having this discussion with potential clients and people who ask for advice.

I want to just say “Whatever” and move on to someone who’s open to new ideas and things that might help them. (Kind of a lifeboat drill — if I’ve only got so many years left, do I spend them arguing with people about the VALUE of parachutes or just HAND OUT parachutes to as many people as possible before the crash?)

It’s actually kind of exhausting. Like trying to convince my mom that “unlimited long-distance” actually meant she could talk to me as long and as often as she liked.

Never won that one, either.

So what do you think?  Do you want a parachute, or should we keep talking about the nuts and the in-flight movie?


Let Me See If I Can Simplify This For You

SoMe Sports Drink

I read a lot about “Social Media” and all the rules that people have come up with, the tips and tricks that have been enumerated, and my friend Chris Brogan has even created an entire book on the subject that he signs in airport bookstores so they can’t possibly return them to the publisher.

But I’m not sure (sorry, Chris!) that it really has to be all that complex.  I’m a simple man, and have trouble remembering lots of rules.  It’s the reason I don’t play card games, join secret societies, or work for the Transportation Safety Administration.  Rules make my head hurt.

SoMe Sports Drink

But Social Media (have you heard, now we’re supposed to call it “SoMe”?  Sounds like a sports drink.) really doesn’t have to be that hard.  Let old Uncle Dick simplify it for you.

Just focus on “Social”.

Long before you met the Twitters or logged on to the Interwebs, you knew how to be social.  Dress nice, look them in the eye, and have a firm handshake.  Don’t go where you’re not wanted, speak when spoken to, and respect your elders.  Introduce yourself, be interesting, and don’t hog the conversation. Find out what the other person is interested in, don’t yell and knock things over, help someone if you can.

People generally get into trouble with Social Media when they do something that would get them thrown out of a cocktail party or put in detention in the 3rd grade.  And they’re successful with Social Media when they do stuff that would get them invited back.

So don’t spill, don’t hog all the pizza rolls, and don’t try to pick up your host’s teenage daughter.  And you’ll do fine.

The Seven Habits Of Highly Annoying Clients — And How To Profit From Them


Like it or not, it seems that my market niche lately seems to be “highly annoying clients” — those folks that just seem to come with more baggage than the Gabor sisters and more issues than National Geographic.

dandelionYou all know who I’m talking about.  In the first five minutes, they’re telling me why their last guy was such an idiot.  Or how their niece could do this for them for free, but she doesn’t get to the halfway house until next week.  Little tiny warning flares from God that the road ahead will not be six lanes wide and newly paved.

Once upon a time, I tried to just blow these folks off.  But in this time of recession and depression (the recession is making me depressed) you want to grab every nickle that is dangled in front of you.  So I thought it might help to come up with some suggestions on how to handle some of the more common varieties of Clientus Problmaticus that might come stomping into your garden.

The Nickle Pincher

This guy is working on a limited budget (aren’t all budgets, by definition, “limited”?) and he thinks you should cut your price to get the work.  He talks a lot about all the work you’ll get later, all the big companies he’ll send your way, and all the “exposure” you’re going to get by working for him.

I tell him that sounds great — and give him a first price about 50% above what I might normally offer, then gradually allow him to shave it down lower and lower.  He gets the thrill of negotiation, I get enough that my hamsters eat two square meals a day.  Win/Win.

Ms. Deadline Adverse

You’ll know this little villain by the fact that she’s late for your first meeting.  Late for conference calls, late to return email, and late to pay.  You’ll also be getting your drafts signed late, your content and graphics late, and (very probably) complaints about your awful work late in the process — right about when she’s supposed to be paying you.

I’ve found that setting milestones as “final layout delivered 48 hours after client signs off on draft” is a much better deadline than “draft delivered Wednesday, final layout delivered Friday.”  It helps focus their attention and protect your soft, pink rear.

The Frustrated Artiste

I’d love to sing like Streisand, paint like Rembrandt, and blog like Chris Brogan.  But a man’s gotta know his limitations. (Thanks, Clint Eastwood.)  Some clients want to believe they’re actually copy editors, designers, or creative savants.  So each iteration of your project comes back with lots of little suggestions, additions, deletions and comments.

My quotes indicate that you get one draft to review and that’s it.  Additional drafts are charged at an embarrassingly high fee and take additional time.  Unless I screwed it up.  Which, of course, has never yet happened.  Ahem.

A Ghost Client

If you remember Whoopi Goldberg and Demi Moore in “Ghost” you’re probably aware of the Ghost Client.  They show up when the person who signed the contract seems to have to show all of your work to some other person before they can express an opinion, sign off, or even agree that you’ve completed that stage.  And if your Ghost Client is off visiting another Realm when you’re up against deadline, that can be problematic.

I find it quite helpful to specify (either in the contract or the project plan) just WHO it is that signs off at each step of the project, HOW they will be contacted, and the fact that if they don’t respond with XXX hours I will assume they have no issues and will move forward.  I then copy this info in the handoff mail that goes out to the team as each step happens.

So far, the only client I’ve never heard back from Patrick Swayze.

Miss Ida Know

When I was little, mom would take the four kids to the ice cream store with 33 Flavors.  In a flash, I picked what I wanted and got my cone.  My sister, on the other hand, would be there for ages — trying to decide exactly which flavor she was going to try this time.  (This may explain why I’m basically “ball-shaped” while she’s still running marathons.)

Never, EVER give your clients too many choices.  (See The Tyranny Of Choice if you’d like some background.)  I usually offer up three:

  • An OK one, that I’d be willing to do
  • The most awful, godforsaken ugly thing on the planet
  • My favorite

This allows the client to feel as though they’re participating in the process, and whichever one they choose I’m happy.  (If they pick the awful one I’ve got fodder for emails to all my friends for the next six months.)

YhaBut ChaKnow

Much like Boba Fett in the Star Wars movies, YhaBut is a strange creature that we humans will probably never understand.  He confuses us constantly by saying he completely agrees, and then utters his unmistakable call of  “YhaBut ChaKnow” and goes off on a huge list of things we should change, revise, or somehow make different.  When he finally runs down, he usually ends with a faint squeak of “I’m just sayin’” to protect his ruby-red tail feathers.

I’ve found that you can often satisfy this bird with “Those suggestions will be great for our next version” or “We’ll make sure to bring those back at the post-mortem” and he’s fine — like the Cuckoo Bird, he’s mainly trying to be noticed by the other birds and doesn’t care if his calls have any real impact. Once he knows you’ve heard and appreciated his unique song he’s off to sing from another tree.

Al MostPerfect

Al is a very, very quiet guy.  During the vision, design and draft portions of the project you’ll probably never hear a peep out of this client.  Everything looks great, seems fine, and there’s not a care in the world.  But come near him with anything stamped “FINAL” and you’ll be deafened by the noise.  Suddenly extra copy appears from nowhere — and it’s the most important concepts that have ever been heard.

Photos and artwork will spring from Al’s briefcase like a river in the spring.  New colors, patterns, concepts and design ideas leap to the fore.  Because, you know, now that it’s FINAL he’s FINALLY going to pay some attention. I love clients like Al.  They get charged 100% and 200% rush charges for changes (it’s in the contract) and the deadline slips accordingly (it’s in the contract).

One single “Al” bought me a really nice waterski boat a couple of years ago.


Now, before y’all go off on me in comments — take a deep breath and realize that this blog sometimes uses humor and exaggeration in the interest of entertainment.  So while I’m accurately identifying some of these clients, the names (and tactics) may have been changed to protect the guilty — as well as my income.

But my point here, if you’re still reading, is that in times of economic downturn you’re going to have to rein in all these critters if you want to keep making money.  So identify them fast, stop them from causing problems, and make sure that they don’t cause you a heap ‘o pain.