Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Walking the Talk: The Power of Recursive Modeling

I had the bad fortune yesterday of rushing home to participate in an East-coast webinar, sponsored by a not-to-be-named ASTD chapter, on the topic of eLearning. ELearning? No, not really.

The webinar was a counter-example of everything it claimed would work. Engage the participants? Sure - let me tell you why you should do it. Polls? Yeah, you should use them (but we don't have time). Monitor the chat? Yes, very important (and I might try it if I were not so busy...) and on, and on, multiple, repeated examples of the bad parent - do what I say (don't notice what I do). And this thing was promoted nationally on a social media site.

After 30 minutes of non-stop Death by PowerPoint, I was tempted to drop out. It would have been smart. But I thought I would just give the guy a chance.... Twenty slides later (50 minutes into the webinar) he began to "take questions." Is there any wonder that "training" people are getting laid off by the dozens? I wasn't angry; I was embarrassed. For all of us.

I was ready to turn in my ASTD membership card then and there.

But a member of my local chapter also was offering a Webinar today - on a very specific topic: How to create Facilitator Guides. Now, I know Steve. He's not a polished speaker, although he communicates well. He's not a flashy guy, but he knows his stuff. I gave up my lunch time to participate, and I could not have been happier. Steve didn't have the online bells and whistles that the other guy had, but he had a chat capabilty. And he used it:
- Polls by chat
- Questions by chat
- Running commentary by chat
- Monitoring the connectivity by chat
With considerably less fanfare, and considerably more value, Steve restored my faith in professional trainers.

Why? He walked the talk. He didn't tell me what to do - he did it, and I saw the value. He didn't hype what he was talking about - he focused on specific key elements and demonstrated each one, clearly and succinctly. And he showed me. And he answered the questions that came in by chat.

Steve's participants used the chat box. And at the end, they all chatted "thank you."

It's not that hard: All we need to do is to walk the talk, show a modicum of respect for our adult learners, and be serious about solving problems.

Thanks for the reminder, Steve.