Tip #850: Learning by Doing Good

None of us is as smart as all of us.” Ken Blanchard

Our local chapter of the Association for Talent Development (ATD, formerly ASTD) has collaborated with the Dane County chapter of United Way (UWDC) to build our training skills while creating online toolkits for UWDC employees to use for their development.

After consideration of staff competencies, employee feedback surveys and leadership strategy sessions, UWDC chose four topics: Influencing: How to Manage Up/Across; Collaboration: How to be a Great Team Member; Feedback: How to Give and Receive Feedback; and Relationships: How to Build Trust.

This project will span 10 weeks, during which time the entire group of over 30 ATD volunteers will meet every other week to learn a new skill and then work within their smaller topical groups on alternate weeks to implement what they learned. At the final all group session, we’ll showcase our toolkits and celebrate.

The desired end-product is a pdf for each topic that includes a brief written introduction, a short “how to” video, action learning activities, and a management coaching guide to the materials. All training will be mandatory for all staff. UWDC will select the sequence of the sessions and assign one at a time so that all employees practice the newly learned skills at the same time.

For the toolkit developers, there is a learning curve for each step in the process. This is further complicated by the need to work collaboratively with six other individuals to design and agree on the final products.

The first step was to create performance-based learning objectives that incorporated three considerations: Performance-what the learner should be able to do; Condition- how and where the learner would need to complete the action; and Criteria-how much the learner should be able to perform.

Our group, tasked with developing the Influencing toolkit, had difficulty focusing in on the learning objectives. The topic is so large, involving many different skills depending on what type of influencing needs to happen. We spun our wheels, listing more and more skills, until one practical member proposed a simple scenario we could use. That helped us key in on the primary skills needed to influence up and across.

It was reassuring to learn that the other groups had similar difficulties. We had ultimately confined ourselves to three learning objectives. Others were not so disciplined, but all of us were operating under the assumption that we would create several videos. Our hopes were dashed when we were told we could only develop one video lasting 45 seconds to 1 ½ minutes.

Our next step was to learn how to create an animated video using Vyond. After watching an introductory video, our small group split into three work groups to: (1) create the script, (2) storyboard the script, and (3) add the video content. I was torn between wanting to do something I’ve never done before, such as add the video content, or doing what would be easier and faster for me. Given that we have two weeks to create the entire video, I chose the second option and joined the script writing group.

Script writing has involved identifying the action and accompanying narration. We have been advised to keep each line to one sentence of 5-15 words and to have no more than 25 lines to ensure we stayed within the desired timeframe.

Since the video content can’t be added until the storyboard is created, and that is dependent upon the script, we need to create and finalize the script very quickly. The three of us have each drafted scripts, which are all very different from the other. We need to incorporate content to achieve our learning objectives while also using plain language and trying to be interesting as well as funny. We meet tomorrow to hash this out. Wish us luck!!

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