Monday, November 13, 2017

Microlearning is The "It's-Always-There" Solution - Tip #157

What happens to the behaviors of learners and workers after they have been accustomed to Microlearning?

For over 10 years I have seen early adoptions and maturing implementation of Microlearning. They all come in different forms and shapes, which is great. However, with the abundance of approaches, it is fairly difficult to establish and see patterns, especially in my interest to study and record the adoptions of Microlearning.

“Microlearning Adoption Behaviors” - An Observation

But the good news is that I can formulate a general trend which I illustrate in the chart above on “Microlearning Adoption Behaviors.”

To clarify, what I am more interested about Microlearning is not the FORM (videos, lessons, messaging, chatbots, spacing, smallness, etc.) of the content. What piques my curiosity is the VALUE (usefulness, low effort, fast, applied quickly) that it brings. I see many approaches focus on the FORM which is about the delivery and not the VALUE which delves into contributions and impacts. My preference is primarily focused on IMPACTS and VALUES. In my workshop, we distinctly separate Forms from Value.
Insights from “Microlearning Adoption Behaviors”

The behaviors are non-exclusive. In one moment, it is dynamic and overlapping or coalescing at a certain point. It is also situational depending on many factors like complexity of the problems and issues and the nature of the need and type of FORM being used.

1. “What is this?”
  • Very early adoption with some skepticism and reluctance.
  • The more Microlearning focuses on FORM and not VALUE, the slower the adoption of Microlearning or it may be aborted early.

2. “Let me try it.”
  • Willingness to try and test. When useful answers present themselves at the moment of need, it encourages self-testing. The discovery starts.
  • The worker and learner says “After all, this does not require attending a course” or “I can access it when I need it.”

3. “Can I have more?”
  • Familiarization with Microlearning starts and early experiences encourage asking for more of “same-like” solution.
  • “I need more” is a “pull” behavior. A positive sign that workers or learners are requesting for the “same-like” solution.
  • The “pull” allows the designer to know the nature of the need and therefore can deliver highly relevant Microlearning. I call this “Microlearning Dynamic-Needs Collection” - a method and software that constantly collects Microlearning “pulled” requests.
4. “This is handy.”
  • Now workers and learners are moving to the realization of the abundance of Microlearning answers in the “River of Ideas” eCosystem.
  • They begin to notice the abundant supply of different FORMS. From YouTube, to texting, to Slack, to FAQs, Google ..  they go wherever they may be found - they become “The Seekers”.
  • Although they consume different FORMs of Microlearning, the driver really is the VALUE of Microlearning.

5. “It’s always there.”
  • This is about “not-to-worry behavior” where workers and learners build confidence and reliance on Microlearning solutions.
  • “It’s always there” behaviour tells us that Microlearning FORMs are accepted and that VALUE is ubiquitous and normal and usual things we go to, for answers.
Time, Strategies and Types of Microlearning

I submit that the above are observations from my experience and as my clients and colleagues report might be limited. It serves as a framework and construct. The major elements that are hard to observe are the impacts of time, strategies and types (FORMs) of Microlearning.

Microlearning is “to add VALUE” first and foremost, then the FORM follows
Furthermore, the biggest plus for me about “Microlearning Adoption Behaviors” is a framework to capture the abundance of methods and approaches. Abundance of Microlearning approaches is a great strength. Although it is perplexing for those who wish to put Microlearning in a “box” and label it as an approach - it is not. Rather, it is more of a standard and principle on creating VALUE. What matters to me is that we want workers and learners to apply answers and solutions that create impact.

A significant trend I observed is that when Microlearning is introduced with serious consideration of Values as guiding principles, the Forms - the tools we use - become more effective. The more we stick to our “preferred” or “favorite” Forms, the more we will see slower adoption or failure. I can attest to such proof from what clients tell me. Those companies that develop Microlearning with clearly-defined intent and VALUES can readily report. This would be a subject for another study.

In Microlearning, values should take pre-dominant consideration and serve as guiding principles. The intent for the implementation of microlearning needs to be clearly defined so the forms become an effective tool from which to draw results.

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Friday, November 3, 2017

Five Sure Ways to Prepare for High-Impact Webinars - Tip #156

How do you grab your audience’s attention? How do you make your webinars relevant, meaningful and useful?

When you read newspapers, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other media, one gets overcome by an overwhelming amount of information. How do we sift through them?
You probably developed the skill of sniffing around and pick out what you estimate to be useful information or knowledge. This sniffing process gives us a clue as to how we can prepare for an engaging webinar.

How to prepare

The standard tip of “know your audience” is a good one. However, what do you actually do to get to know them? When preparing for a webinar, I go through these steps and see which ones would engage my participants. You prepare by applying the following techniques.

1. Think like a newspaper reporter

The newspaper person thinks of an “angle” or a “spin” to a story. Why is that? An angle is a point of view that attracts readers.
Is it “newsworthy?” As this phrase suggests, there is a need to look into recent developments around particular situations or your intended audience, specifically related to your content. For example, “This year, the Nobel Laureate for Physics was awarded to two Caltech professors for their work on Gravitational Waves.” Or, “There is a most recent case of a client returning twenty palettes of our product and reminding us about how listening to customers is so important.” Bringing the content into a recent event moves the timeframe and the value of the content.

2. Think of life-changing events

Life-changing events are life impacts that change one’s life, point of view, experience and even behavior. It can also mean a shift as a result of a  before-and-after perspective. Here is an example on a sales topic. “How many of you have experienced sending dozens of brochures to a prospect who never responded? However, when you asked for someone to refer you to him, he received your call?” The before-and-after encounters always shift the minds of the audience in a webinar.
3. Think of an impossible feat

“How did your team win the research grant? This must be a difficult and challenging feat. How did you do it?”

Human beings are always enamored about how people change difficult circumstances into winning outcomes. We love adventures and one way to be part of it is to listen to how someone went through their own experience.
4. Proof of a useful impact

Start your webinar by stating a proof that what you are about to share has some value and benefit hence, being a reliable issue. You may say, “This solution was near impossible to use. But after repeated trials, the positive results skyrocketed to 300%. There is very significant reason why and this is what I want to share with you.”

When people pay attention to proofs, it is because we want things we can rely on or has been proven and has a track record.

5. Final point - Ask the learners to fill in the answers

Armed with the knowledge that people respond to the aforementioned technique, I usually don’t furnish the complete answers. Instead,  I motivate the audience to fill in the rest of the stories.

For example:

“This solution was constantly failing, but now it created 300% positive results.”

Why do you think so? Type in the chat or use your pen to encircle your answer.

Option 1 - the errors were fixed

Option 2 - the approach was simplified

Option 3 - limited the use

With this method, you prepared one more step; you designed an interaction utilizing the techniques. This is how you optimize your preparations.

When embarking on a webinar, there is a need to prepare.

The goal of every engaging webinar is stirring up your captive audience to focus, engage and interact. The learning experience then shifts from a mere online session (ergo complying to requirements) to an exciting and meaningful virtual experience resulting in the desired learning goals.

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, October 30, 2017

My Transition to Quality Webinar Delivery - Tip #155

In my early years as a learning professional decades ago, face to face events were my go-to learning delivery approach. Then my own journey led me to the discovery of webinars. That's not to say that I do not value classroom training. However, with its primary benefit of reaching more people, virtual delivery enabled me to connect with more learners globally. I was ecstatic!
So, my new life now revolves around providing more refreshing, yet provocative approaches to quality webinars and virtual learning. Equally important is that I am now able to share my experiences with others through the Masterful Virtual Trainer Workshop.

Let me share with you how I reinvented myself.

1. First, I needed to deeply reflect
First question I asked myself was, “Why do I love doing classroom and face to face sessions?”

I realized that I really love it because of the warmth of being with people. There is no substitute for the catharsis and exchange of moving emotional conversations.

The face to face conversations are sweet moments I cherish. The experience of hopping on airplanes and the opportunity to travel to other locations and just to be with people is exhilarating. It is what I primarily appreciate about it.

Then it dawned on me that there were these “me” moments that were the reasons I enjoyed these in-person sessions.

I love...
  • hearing myself talking with people and entertaining them
  • the sound of laughter
  • the jokes
  • seeing smiles
  • the warmth of rapport with learners

But are my learners really learning?
This insight I gained may or may not be true but let me share it with you. You let me know.

Sometimes the warmth, entertainment and the fun side of face to face and classroom learning GETS in the way of better usage of learning time. In essence, it may not necessarily result in learning.

This awesome discovery has helped me gain a huge change of perspective and approach to my learning sessions.

2. Here’s my next question

How then can I help learners learn more and yet experience the fun side of learning?

AHA… Eureka!

I can accomplish more in virtual learning and webinars, because I can PROVIDE LEARNERS MORE TIME TO REFLECT AND APPLY IDEAS THROUGH ACTUAL PROJECTS.

WOW! This impacted me so hard. It was an amazing discovery!
In the classroom...
  • the day is cramped
  • the schedule is so tight
  • very little time is spent on applications and reflection
  • there is not enough time for reflection
  • there is no room or space to distance oneself from the noise
  • one’s energy is drained by the end of the session

In webinars, if the workshop is divided into 5 sessions spaced over a few days, learners now have ...

  • time to breathe with spaced schedules
  • experience some silence / almost no noise
  • time for reflection
  • time to rethink
  • an opportunity for application time
  • time to check with their company peers and bosses
  • have enough time to focus and practice on the projects
3. My life as a learning catalyst is forever changed

I still miss doing face to face events. Yet, deep in my heart I know I need to give up certain side benefits of the classroom setting for the sake of my learners.

Looking back, I am thankful for the other benefits gained from my virtual sojourns.
  • My family (wife and kids) is happy because I am home more often.
  • My back no longer aches from having too many plane rides...(and no need to worry about being yanked out of my United flight - *smile*)


In-person events have their own benefits and purposes.  But the world of virtual delivery and webinar presentations provides an opportunity for those of us who have gathered wisdom through our years as learning sojourners, to share this with other professionals in the field of learning that otherwise we would not be able to do. It is both a privilege and a responsibility we take seriously so we all can become masterful virtual trainers.

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Conversation Catalyst - Create High-Speed Webinar Discussions - Tip #154

Motivate learners to help you create your content
Click here to view an excerpt  from Tricks of the Lazy Trainer.

Click here to download the handout.
Key Ideas to help you:

1. Show a slide and graphic that represents the question and content

Show them an image with books packed into a shelf. Then ask the question "How do learners learn today?" Since you showed the image with the message, learners will type in their own interpretation of the image and the question. Their answers generally cover the content you want to deliver. Instead of telling learners; facilitate to help them discover the learning.
2. Ask participants a question

By asking participants thought-provoking questions, you become clear about your content. In this case the content is, "Learners learn in smaller chunks through mobile tools." 3. Read aloud their responses that pertain to your content
"Short pieces"
"Just-in-time technology"
4. Mention the name of participant "Thank you Lisa." 5. Respond emotionally Laugh at interesting comments. 6. Appreciate the participants "Very good answers."
"Thank you Bob."
7. Weave participants' comments into your conclusion and in relation to the content


Learners learn by contributing their own interpretations and applications of the ideas. The more they do, the more they learn. This allows the trainer to do less work but empowers learners to dig into their memories that help them enrich the content they relate to.

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning

"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, October 16, 2017

Ten (10) Best Story-Based eLearning Tips - Tip #153

In this tip, I'd like to share what I consider the Best of Tips on Story-Based Learning Design.

We have gathered the very best tips from the numerous tips we have shared in the past for your reference and further learning.

In case you missed them, rediscover how you can decrease learning costs considerably, help your learners retain information better through the use of highly interactive stories, get them to genuinely love learning, and more.

​Tip 8: Show Proof that Stories Impact Learning
How do stories impact recall, retention, application and transfer of knowledge? Learn the steps to doing a simple exercise to present to your leaders to persuade them to use stories and experiences in eLearning. More...

Tip 17: Converting Obscure eLearning Content into Usefulness
This tip discusses how you can convert obscure learning content into something that is easier to understand and use in actual, on-the-job situations, and how helpful hints aid learners. More ...

Tip 49: Instilling a Love of Learning
This tip discusses why and how you can guide and encourage learners using the DIY approach and recursive learning - and why it is important to instill in your learners a love for learning. More ...

Tip 56: Is Your Organization Losing Its Brain? Collecting Stories to Transfer Knowledge
Learn how to prevent loss of knowledge and expertise within your organization and how to get experienced employees to tell you their stories, so you can store them for future use. More ...

Tip 57: Episodic Learning-Learning Like Watching Your Favorite Soap Opera!
Learn how you can make the learning process easier and faster - and more like you're watching a soap opera - through episodic learning. More ...

Tip 80: Kill Boring eLearning with Story-Based Lessons​
Effective Story lessons must be short, snappy, succinct, easy to follow - engaging learners and imparting knowledge. Learn the seven parts to creating your own story lesson. More…

​Tip 118: Content That Lives Within a Story Lasts Forever
Emotionally gripping stories are lodged in our memories because we see ourselves in the characters of stories. So do our learners. Learn how your story lessons get them emotionally and intellectually involved so knowledge transmitted through them persists. More…

Tip 119: ​3 Story Lesson Starters That Never Fail
Why do some stories stick to our minds while others are like wisps of mist that touch us and then are no more remembered? What are some helpful tips to starting your story that engage and focus your learners? More...

Tip 121: Stories of Real-Life Fiascos and Blunders Motivate Learners
How do you “concretize” your story ideas? How do you avoid “foreign” content that discourage learners? How do you involve your learners emotionally with real-life stories? Learn three story-building tips. More...

​Tip 131: Is Your Lesson Like the Sinking Titanic?
How can we help learners cut through blocks of statistical information in intellectually and emotionally engaging ways? We must remember that humans are naturally inclined to consume stories, not data. Learn simplifying data and incorporating it in a story that people/learners can relate to. More…

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, October 9, 2017

Using Data to Tell a Story and Deliver a Lesson - Tip #152

Data means nothing if trainers do not use it or even look at it.

Data visualization expert Stephen Few said, “Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a clear and convincing voice.” Any insight worth sharing is probably best shared as a data story.

If an insight isn’t understood and isn’t compelling, no one will act on it and no change will occur.
Making Sense of Data: Uncovering Key Insights

Four important questions to ask:

  1. What do our workers need to know? (Standards)
  2. How are we going to train them? (Instructional Delivery)
  3. What are we going to do if they do not know it? (Remediation)
  4. What are we going to do if they already know it? (Extension)

Making Sense of Data: Communicating Key Insights

Throughout time, storytelling has proven to be a powerful delivery mechanism for sharing insights and ideas in a way that is memorable, persuasive, and engaging.

When you package up your insights as a data story, you build a bridge for your data to the influential, emotional side of the brain.

People hear statistics, but they feel stories:

  • Memorability - Help in the recall of facts. (See more tip)
  • Persuasiveness - Increase transfer of emotion to readers and listeners. (See more tip)
  • Engagement - Assist in call to action. (See more tip)
Data Stories Influence Learners and Drive Change

When narrative is coupled with data, it helps to explain to your audience what’s happening in the data and why a particular insight is important. Ample context and commentary is often needed to fully appreciate an insight. When visuals are applied to data, they can enlighten the audience to insights that they wouldn’t see without charts or graphs. Finally, when narrative and visuals are merged together, they can engage or even entertain an audience. It’s no surprise we collectively spend billions of dollars each year at the movies to immerse ourselves in different lives, worlds, and adventures. When you combine the right visuals and narrative with the right data, you have a data story that can influence and drive change.

Data remains a compilation of statistical information that will not hold meaning for learners. However, facts, information, logistics and other data forms that are merged, embedded and made part of a story that learners/workers can relate with are drawn to bring about the much desired connection that results in higher engagement, better learning and meaningful application on the job.


Brent Dykes. Data Storytelling: The Essential Data Science Skill Everyone Needs

Related Tips

Tip #17 - Converting Obscure eLearning Content into Usefulness
Tip #39 - Employing Story Structure and Dynamics to Engage Different Learners
Tip #41 - How to Weave Hard Facts and Emotions into your eLearning Lessons
Tip #131 - Is Your Lesson Like the Sinking Titanic?

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, October 2, 2017

Michelangelo Appeals to People’s Stories - Tip #151

David                                                  Atlas

Compare the two masterpieces by the great Italian artist Michelangelo above. On the left is David, completed in the earlier part of his career, in 1504; on the right is Atlas, created toward the latter part.

David vs. Atlas

David is near perfect. Atlas is unfinished. There’s a shift in style, from one of perfection to one of incompletion, which represents Michelangelo’s beliefs.

"Michelangelo aspired for perfection with David to display his expertise and show the world then that he was the best. The perfect work says ‘look at me’,” a professor once explained to me.

"On the other hand, in Atlas, he wanted people to think and see important messages from his evolving philosophies. He started to dislike the way Florence's leaders began exploiting people and turned governing into something exclusive to the elite. In Atlas, he wanted people to see that everyone has a role, leaders have to shoulder the world. But instead of a perfect Atlas, he showed only the distinct parts of Atlas' shoulders carrying the world," the professor further explained.
"With Atlas, he was sending a message and made sure people would focus on what the message meant. He also allowed people to fill in their own story and not get distracted by perfection (like David's),” the professor concluded.

Is Perfectionism Detrimental?

Most of our standards are defined in perfect colors, correct writing, and engaging games and multimedia. We want to improve the multi-sensory experience of the learners and deliver the perfect content. But, over-investing in multimedia and advanced authoring software may not be the key to better learning.
Help Learners Find Meaning

We need to learn to deliver less of our content and allow our learners to fill in the blanks with their own meaning -- and learn our message in a more personal way.

1. Deliver Less Content

Learners want quick answers that cut the crap so they can solve their problems at work and move on to the next item on their agenda. It’s all about producing learning content that’s simple and easily integrates into their workflow. For content to be valuable, it must answer their personal needs when and where they need them. In one word, personalization -- “the #1 growth area in the future,” according to a survey of L&D leaders.

2. Allow Learners to Fill in the Blanks
Leave empty spaces for creative musingsJosh Waitzkin, chess prodigy and tai chi world champion values empty space because this is where the creative process happens and ideas are developed.

Grant permission to learn by discovery (vs. direct instruction). For example, in my story-based approach, I design lessons so they are embedded in stories. Learners discover the answer to a problem in the event by accessing a reference guide.

Trigger a-ha! moments. Take two unrelated concepts and let learners discover or make their own connection. The new insight is like switching on a light bulb.

Try to have more faith in your learners and leave space for them to fill in their own ideas and understand things their own way.


The Accademia Gallery in Florence
The Disruption of Digital Learning: Ten Things We Have Learned by Josh Bersin
The importance of having "empty space" in your day
Tip #79 - Cut the Crap!!!
Tip #58 - Learning in 30 Seconds-Learning ala The Matrix Style
Tip #72 - Creative Musing
Tip #78 - "Chalk and Talk" vs Collaboration - Can We Meet Halfway?
Tip #140 - “Quick Answers are All I Need.” The Learner at Work Tells Us

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, September 25, 2017

Using Intuitive and Deliberate Learning in Story Lessons - Tip #150

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

I have often proposed in my books, blogs and presentations the idea of integrating stories in learning design. You’ll find several tips in this blog alone citing many studies affirming the effectiveness of stories in helping people learn.

In this tip, something got me reflecting about how learning is about decisions and thinking, and that stories have an even deeper influence in the way we think, act and learn than we originally assumed.

Two Operating Systems in the Brain

I have been reading Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011) by Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist who was awarded a Nobel laureate for his work in economics and decision making.

In his book, Kahneman discusses the two systems at work in our brains: the automatic System 1 and the effortful System 2.

System 1 is fast, unconscious, and quick. It bases thinking and actions from experiences and survival instincts. Though impulsive or reactive, most of the time these thoughts are correct.

System 2 is generally slower and more deliberate; however, it is very useful when we are presented with more complex problems that require analytical thought or deep thinking.

System 1 allows us to “make sense of a complex world” by creating “emotionally coherent stories from, and even causal relationships among, the facts before us … using associative memory to interpret according to familiar frames and past experience.” It's fast thinking that prevents analysis paralysis.

But System 1 come with some flaws. It jumps to conclusions based on a few facts and is prone to narrative fallacy, belief bias, substitution, and other errors of intuitive thought. Hence, System 2 puts System 1 in check. According to Kahneman:
Intuition and Thoughtful Thinking

Some people might see intuition and thoughtful thinking as two opposite sides of the brain, often “fighting” to gain dominance in decision making. This isn’t the case.

Kahneman says “Systems 1 and 2 are inseparable.” In fact, they need to work together. System 2’s explicit beliefs and deliberate choices are based on System 1’s impressions and feelings. When System 1 encounters an “anomaly” or a “surprise”, System 2 takes charge, overriding automatic reactions by having the last say. Together, the two systems operate to minimize effort and maximize performance.

What We Should Experience and Try

After reading Kahneman’s book, I realized a few things:
  • Most learning are aimed at deliberate thinking and ignore intuitive thinking. That’s why learning becomes so hard and people would rather not learn or go into learning mode. In LinkedIn’s 2017 Workplace Learning Report, L&D pros are are still sticking to in-person classroom setting, despite learners’ demand for more modern, experiential formats.
  • We tend to ignore intuitive judgement in our design because it is loose, informal and others may call it a "touchy-feely" type of learning. But, Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report shows that modern learners view learning as an “experience.” They want training to be experiential, one that relies on simulations, case studies and flipped classrooms rather than lectures.
  • Experience and research tell me that in today's world, we better make learning faster, easier and helpful; otherwise, learners do not desire to "learn." With their short attention spans and busy, on-the-go lifestyles, modern learners clamor for “point of need” learning and “just in time” training.
Simple Tip to Engage System 1 and System 2

The next time you cover, present or design a factual content, ask: "What is the intuitive response to this?" Ask your learners the question: "What comes to your mind quickly as we speak of this fact, for example, "OSHA regulations?" Over and over again -- we have tested and researched this -- the learner quickly jumps into using their System 1 thinking to learn your System 2 content. Add a deep dive exercise to challenge them to think critically of the right actions to take, making Systems 2 work for the learner.

You Might Also Be Interested In

Tip #41 - How to Weave Hard Facts and Emotions into your eLearning Lessons
Tip #99 - Changing Behavior by Advancing Experience and Stories
Tip #103 - Change Learners' Minds By Changing the Stories They Tell
Tip #140 - Your Brain Prefers Interactive Stories, Not Lectures


Daniel Kahneman
Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011) by Daniel Kahneman
Essay: Behavioral Science and Scienter in Class Action Securities Fraud Litigation (2013) by Ann Morales Olazábal
Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report
LinkedIn’s 2017 Workplace Learning Report
Meet the Modern Learner (Infographic) (2014)

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"