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Parkin's Lot

Updated: 2018-03-06T06:51:42.921-05:00


Moving on...


It's time for me to move on from Parkin's Lot, a blog I started way back when blogging was not yet a household term, and whose focus has been primarily on the fields of elearning and online informal networks. I'm going to leave Parkin's Lot up, because despite not having had much of an update in two years, some of its articles still get a lot of visitors. But I will not be blogging here in the

Been fishing


I apologise for taking a few months’ hiatus at Parkin’s Lot without sticking a “Gone Fishing” sign on the blog. I’d like to thank all of those people who were concerned enough at my prolonged absence to e-mail me and ask if I was still breathing, and for all the kind comments from those who missed my posts. I’ve been busy road-showing the learning evaluation strategy approach and doing a lot of

Learning Evaluation: useless without a strategy


In an interview this week with the UK's TrainingZONE, Martyn Sloman of the CIPD (Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development) made the astonishing assertion that it is not necessary to evaluate training. His statement that “If you’re properly aligned to the business needs and the organization recognizes the value of the training and development there shouldn’t be any need to be obsessed

Why Trainers Need Selling Skills


Everything we do in business involves collaboration, problem solving and negotiation, and you can’t do any of those without understanding the perspective of your counterparts and helping them all to get on the same page. Establishing a common perception of and agreement to the needs, constraints and solutions is what vision building is all about. It is also a central skill in selling and in

Is there a future for corporate trainers?


I recently let slip a comment to the effect that corporate trainers might be due for extinction within a decade, and, understandably, the assertion was instantly challenged. I know that I am sometimes guilty of being provocative in order to move an argument along, but usually there is some substance behind my comments. In this instance, I believe there is a lot of substance, and I am far from

Beyond certification


The recent discussion about professionalism in training has been interesting. I expected strongly held polarized views, but there actually seems to be a muddled sort of consensus that training is not a profession, nor does it really need to be, but it might benefit from having a body behind it with enough teeth to raise its profile and credibility. Perhaps the semi-consensus is because those

Training - Profession or Occupation?


Whenever I use the terms “training profession” or “training professionals” I do so apologetically. I use those labels as an expedient shortcut to describe those involved in facilitating corporate learning, be they trainers, managers, instructional designers, or consultants. But I am not comfortable with all of the implications of the word “professional.” The debate as to whether or not trainers

Mystery shopping at Level Three


I have recently been running a training evaluation project with a financial advice company in the midst of the global battle for share of the baby boomer bubble market. There have never been so many people on the cusp of retirement, and financial advisors are circling them like sharks around a sardine run. The normally staid and sensible financial advertising imagery is giving way to

Can trainers learn fast enough to stay viable?


It seems to me that these days the hard-working trainer gets maligned by just about everyone, including fellow trainers, not for doing a bad job but for not attaining a Renaissance Person status to which few other corporate functions aspire.I may be more guilty than most of doling out the criticism. I constantly berate those in the training profession for not continuously evolving at the pace of

Who says learning should be fun?


At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I am becoming increasingly exasperated by the extent to which “fun” is specified as a requirement of learning design. In fact, it is frequently the only need that is clearly expressed. Now, I understand the general idea that if people don’t enjoy the training, they are less likely to give it high smile-sheet ratings, or recommend it to a colleague. But

A child's view of tomorrow's learning


The US Departments of Commerce and Education recently commissioned a study of more than 160,000 school-goers from kindergarten to Grade 12 to explore their views on technology for learning. The report has just been released, and it makes compelling reading. Why do the views of these Newmils matter? They see the world, and interact with it, differently from earlier generations. Today’s US K-12

Blackboard + WebCT = swan song for the LMS industry


So Blackboard is to acquire (sorry, merge with) WebCT. Does it mean anything, other than to all those folks who will soon be looking for jobs? What we are seeing is simply further implosion of the dedicated e-learning technology industry. The more oligopolistic this market becomes, the more generic it becomes, and the less able it is to sustain the pretense of any meaningful differential

Learning from vaporware: how small is the future?


Small is the new big. Nanotechnology is the next big thing. Micro-payment transactions proliferate. From the business-card sized iPod Nano to the 100-minute bible, everything is being reduced to smaller or faster objects of consumption. This should be familiar to trainers who for years have been under pressure to reduce course length, cut times to competency, and walk on water. But some things

Best practices in questionnaire design


Recently so many people have been asking me to review their questionnaires and surveys that I thought I’d update a document I first created several years ago which sets out some essential best practices for creating good questionnaires. While written for training evaluation, the guide is applicable to any surveys.1. Ask: “Why are we doing this?” What do we need to know? Why do we need to know it?

Learner-created learning


I have always been convinced that one key to future success in web-based learning lies in the notion of the prosumer. Prosumers produce what they consume, and it seemed to me back in the mid 1990’s that creating their own content was something that people really enjoyed doing. I saw this in the fact that e-mail was the most-used application of the Internet. I saw it in the fact that AOL members

Evaluation professionals are undervalued


The evaluation of training is too important to be left to trainers. Unless certification is involved, at the individual intervention level, at the strategic enterprise level, and at all points in between, the quality assurance processes applied to formal learning initiatives in most organizations are often rudimentary at best. That does not mean that the quality of training is poor, just that we

Revisiting Kirkpatrick's Level One


Whenever I am involved in an evaluation project, I advocate getting rid of the smile sheet completely, and replacing that tortured questionnaire with one closed question, plus an open follow-up to encourage respondents to reveal what really matters to them: “Would you recommend this course to a friend or colleague? Why or why not?” The response tells you unambiguously about the level of

Meaningful metrics beyond ROI


There is a common misconception in business that, because they work with them all the time, financial people understand numbers. They like to reduce everything to money – what did it cost or what did it make? They insist on dealing in certainties and absolutes, where every column balances to the penny. But the real world does not work like that. The real world is characterized by imperfections,

The Learning Object Paradox


Parkin's Learning Object Paradox (PLOP) states that: "The more reusable a learning object becomes, the less useable it is." This is because the usability of a learning object varies in direct proportion to its size while its reusability varies in indirect proportion to its size.Think in terms of bricks, rooms, and houses. Bricks can be interchanged without affecting the harmony of a house design.

Learning evaluation strategies take the mess out of measurement


Why do we spend so much money, and a substantial amount of time, on training? What is the point? Do we just do it because we have always done it, or because everyone else is doing it? Is it because we just like our people to be smarter? Or are we expecting that training will somehow help our company perform better? If it is the latter, how do we know what impact we are having? I always find it a

Privacy is every trainer's business


Some years ago I spoke on the topic of managing privacy in e-learning at a large learning conference. Only three people showed up. Two of them were expecting a session on how to keep distractions away from employees trying to e-learn in a busy office environment. I’m not sure that the awareness or concern of trainers has been raised much since then, but it needs to be.The recent admission that 40

Learning innovations


I have just spent a couple of days at a small highly-focused symposium titled “Innovations in E-learning.” It was put together by the US Naval Education and Training Command and the Defence Acquisition University (DAU), who have among the best and brightest training minds that the American taxpayer’s money can buy. They are not short of budget, manpower, or technology, and they get to mess with

Knowledge managing the retirement brain drain


In most Western countries, the baby boomer bubble is causing concern for those planning pension and social security services. It should also be worrying employers. A quarter of current American employees will be retiring within the next five years. If the outgoing masses know anything of value and it is not being passed down to others in their companies, those organisations face a brain drain

A trainer's output is performance, not courses


In Kirkpatrick terms, most “learning professionals” don’t like looking beyond level two. Because it is generally considered too difficult to evaluate training once learners leave the classroom, they have a good excuse for setting themselves much more easily achieved objectives.A couple of weeks ago, in a reputable training forum, I heard a trainer proudly declaring that his learning objectives

E-learning salaries


Recently the E-learning Guild released the results of its annual e-learning salary survey. Data was gathered in the first quarter of this year from people who work in the e-learning field.It’s amazing that they were able to find any participants for the survey, since, in the US at least, you hardly ever see a job advertised as an “e-learning” position any more. Two or three years ago, they were