Learning Design Straight from the Ski Slopes
Awesome eLearning design is so prevalent in our work culture, the process is even bleeding into our extracurricular activities. With the great snowy weather ahead this season, Zach and Dan are trying to make their feeble bodies worthy of skiing/riding the greatest snow on earth—produced right here in Utah’s rocky mountain range.
So we designed a program that provides the best preparation in the shortest amount of time, and is fun enough to encourage consistent training in our own office environment. While we didn’t actively pursue instructional theory in our approach, we realized (not unlike Daniel son discovering the value of waxing off and waxing off) that years of practice made some of the design inherent in our approach.
Here are a few eLearning activities that blended into our ski routine, (look familiar to any Instructional Designers out there?):
Results Mapping: We didn’t think too hard about this, but instinctively we used good performance mapping. The performance drives the goals, which drives the training. Diverge from the process, and the training we design could be wasteful, expensive, and ineffective. In addition to any other exercising taking place, we are confident these four minutes a day will have the greatest possible impact. We’ve heard several different definitions for this process, performance mapping, goal mapping, etc. We’re also big fans of Cathy Moore’s action mapping process, illustrated here.
(Click video to view)
Alignment: The end goal is the leg and core endurance to complete a challenging run (2-4 minutes or so) without collapsing in a useless heap. In the video above, Zach demonstrates the kind of performance we’re looking for—way too advanced for our current flabby and pathetic state. We aligned the training to the end performance goal (endurance in targeted muscle groups) as closely as possible. In this case, we have both skiers and boarders in the learning audience, so we designed an activity that works the legs and core in general, but also incorporates movements specific to each sport. Since our boss went all Scrooge on us and wouldn’t spring for an office snowmaker, we chose a simple jumping routine that incorporates both side-to-side movement and twisting on our office floor (shown below).
(Click video to view)
Accountability: We do the training together at the same time every day. Then we know the training is taking place, and that it’s being done to the best or our ability—no slacking!
Social/Interactive: We made a game out of the training. Since skiing and snowboarding use slightly different movements and muscles, but both work the legs and core, we take turns exercising the movements for each. For example, when one exerciser finishes their set of “snowboarding” jumps, he yells “Switch!” and we trade routines. This interactivity makes the training less rote and routine, and softens the pain with humor as the yelling become progressively feeble.
Fun: Yes, the end goal of the training is to have fun on the slopes, so we’re willing to tolerate the pain. But the training itself should be fun! This makes it easier to stay on track and be consistent. We make keep the workout short and throw on some rowdy ski/winter tunes, timed (4 minutes) to end at the workout’s conclusion.
Flexible: Yesterday I had to work offsite and thought I might be off the hook. Not so. Zach called me and set up a virtual training session to ensure I didn’t slack off. Fortunately, our routine accommodated a chance in environment and circumstances, so we could be consistent with our goals.
Few Takeaways from this Post: Mapping is always the first and most important step. You need to be able to clearly map the following. Business Goals → Performance or Behavior Necessary → Training (or other activities) to promote the behavior → Great Design to make the training AWESOME. Unfortunately, we see a lot of fancy training that encourages engagement, but misses the mark and fails to track back to the original goal. Part of the creative process is keeping the fun and drive within that business scope. Staying true to your end goal means you may have to adapt your toolbox to fit the required performance, instead of ramming your training into a preset collection of tools you have lying around. Good training usually invites some type of accountability—hence the explosion of metrics and tracking tools entering the market. Decide what you want to measure and find a fun way to keep track. If possible, add a social element to your design, and keep it flexible deployment in a variety of situations and settings.
As toolmakers, nothing gives us more pleasure that seeing our interactions, templates and images being downloaded, modified, and adapted to fit a variety of diverse needs, many that stray out of the strict definition of “eLearning” and into marketing, communication, leadership, and more. Then, as clients inform us on the modifications they’ve made, we go back and add new tools that accommodate even more options and flexibility.
Tell us about how you’ve adapted eLearning Brother templates or other tools to create something unique and AWESOME. We’ll post again in January to let you know if your training worked. Happy learning!