Pinterest for Learning Professionals: A Starter Kit


Are you on Pinterest? While this addictive, visual social platform has certainly made its mark when it comes to everything from home decorating ideas to recipes to hairstyling tips (and SO much more), it is also a terrific resource for training, instructional/eLearning design and talent development professionals.

I’ve been pinning for a couple of years now. Alongside creatively-titled boards, like “Food My Picky Family Might Actually Like,” “Champagne Wishes and Louboutin Dreams,” and “Clothes Before Bros,” you’ll find my “Learning and Development Playground” board…a repository for awesome infographics, links to helpful articles and dozens of other great nuggets.

Pinterest might not seem like a logical source for professional resources, but I can assure you that I have gained a number of ideas through this social media channel. So, if you are new to Pinterest, consider this post your starter kit. Check out these 10 boards, chock full of L&D nerd-approved resources:

1. Creative Learning

(Shannon Tipton)



2. Blogs I like

(Shannon Tipton)




3. Work Life: Using Pinterest

(Dawn Mahoney)




4. ID/eLearning Books

(Tracy Parish)




5. Learning Design

(Enzo Silva)




6. 70/20/10

(Corey Maddux)




7. Blended

(Corey Maddux)




8. Checklists & Job Aids for Trainers

(Langevin Learning Services)




9. Training & Talent Development

(Association for Talent Development – ATD)




10. E-Learning Examples




There you have it. Whether you’re just getting started on Pinterest, or if you’re just looking for some creative, inspiring boards to follow, these 10 examples have a little something for everyone…regardless of your focus along the workplace learning spectrum!


Your turn: Do you follow any boards that other learning professionals would find interesting? Share the board name and/or link in the comments below. And don’t forget to follow Learning & Development Playground!


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Interesting Things I Learned from DevLearn 2014


Last week, there was a pretty large Learning Technology conference taking place in fabulous Las Vegas – DevLearn, hosted by eLearning Guild. Were you there?

I took away some good nuggets of information from this conference…I’m summarizing three of those nuggets, courtesy of some interesting people I know through Twitter:


1. Agile project management/development – Many Learning professionals are ditching traditional content development and project management methods in favor of Agile. I’ve been reading a lot about this lately, so I thought this post was an interesting, easy-to-implement strategy based on Agile methodology:




2. Work smarter, not harder – A great part about conferences is walking away with poignant, shareable words of wisdom from passionate, like-minded professionals. This one resonated with me…why do we make things more complicated than they need to be?




3. Naturally, the humor – First of all, can I get an amen for this particular slide?  When you get a group of L&D geeks in a room (brick-and-mortar or virtual), there will be war stories. There will be a splash of snark. There will be jokes. And, in Devlearn’s case, a breakout session with content created entirely from memes. (nicely done, @LnDDave – and thanks to @tracy_parish for sharing the tweet)




So, here’s a little confession: I wasn’t there. You read that correctly – I did not attend DevLearn. Yet I feel like I learned several things. How? It’s all about the backchannel, baby. I saved the #devlearn hashtag as a stream in Hootsuite so I could follow along throughout the conference. I actually felt like I attended sessions along with a number of good people who faithfully tweeted interesting points throughout the conference. So, to all of you who contributed to the DevLearn Twitter stream, I thank you for providing such interesting commentary! (Bonus: Since I wasn’t in Vegas for the conference, I didn’t lose any money at the roulette table!)

I’ve mentioned before that people in our industry are often like the “cobbler’s children who have no shoes” when it comes to professional development. We spend our days creating an environment for others in our organizations to learn, collaborate and grow….but when it comes down to brass tacks, we sometimes neglect our own interests and development goals. Following an event’s Twitter stream (“backchannel”) or joining a Twitter chat can be a wonderful (not to mention, free) way to reap many of the benefits of networking and social collaboration, without the travel expense or time away from the office.

If you’re unable to attend a conference or event, check out their website – you will often see the official event hashtag prominently posted. Follow it – it’s the next best thing to being there!

For regular interaction, Twitter chats are a great way to connect with others. Here are a few active chats for Learning and Talent Development professionals to check out:





Your turn: What is your take on event hashtags? Do you follow/contribute to the backchannel at conferences? Use the comments to share your thoughts!


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3 Things a Flat Tire Reminded Me About How Young People Learn


Last week, I had the ever-so-joyous pleasure of a flat tire. Who doesn’t LOVE that?

(The photo above was clearly taken before I made it to the tire place for a replacement the next morning!)

I was driving with my son, Matt, when it happened. While I am grateful it happened in a place when we were not in danger, I actually learned – or maybe was reminded of – something during the experience.

Matt will be 13 next month. Like most boys his age, he is never far from his gadgets – particularly his phone or iPad. So, as he was riding in the car that afternoon, Matt had his phone in hand, playing a game. When the notification appeared that the tire pressure was low, I pulled over to investigate. By the time I got back in the car, Matt was already on his phone, looking up the online user manual so he could understand the car’s messaging system and look for online tutorials on what we should do next.

I, being in the “pushing 40” crowd, probably would have just grabbed the owner’s manual from the glove compartment. Whippersnapper.

This left me in awe. Not the “my kid is a genius” kind of awe (well, maybe a little), but in a way that got me thinking about learning instincts across generations. Matt is a “digital native.” I am not. Where my instinct told me to look for a static book, Matt knew to go to the internet to find current information.

His homework is the same way – while he sits in his comfy bedroom using a search engine to do research for an assignment or project, I sat in an uncomfortable Naugahyde chair at my local library branch, scouring a likely-outdated set of World Book encyclopedias.

So, with this experience in mind, here are 3 things I learned about how to engage Millenial (and younger) learners:

1. Leverage “just in time” learning.

Just like Matt instinctively sought out online resources and tutorials to learn what to do about our flat tire, it’s important that you provide the right learning solution for the right learners at the right time. Don’t skimp on the needs analysis to determine the most appropriate learning solution for every situation.

2. Make learning social.

Whether you use social collaboration tools like Yammer or Chatter, create blogs or wikis, host internal Twitter chats or use a blended learning approach, do what you can to connect learners to others. Make the social nature of learning come alive in your organization, and be mindful with how to intuitively connect learners with tools and each other.

3. Embrace technology.

Mobile learning, video-based learning and games are all wonderful methods for engaging learners, but it is important to be mindful of how you utilize them. Be careful not to consider designing a learning game because it would be “fun,” but rather the act of simulating a task or reenacting a scenario that mimics an on-the-job environment. Likewise, the idea of using mobile or video-based methods simply for the sake of incorporating them into your learning program would miss the mark. Embrace technology; recognize its merit, and implement learning solutions accordingly.

It’s funny how the headache of dealing with a flat tire can make one think. Mad props to my kiddo for this one! This is Matt, after a recent 5k:


Your turn: How do you create a learning environment that engages learners of all levels in your organization? Please share your thoughts and tips in the comments!

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#OneSimpleThing – Give a Hand



It’s Monday, y’all!

For this week’s #OneSimpleThing installment, we’re giving some thought on how you can help your boss.

Yep, your boss.

You might be wondering why our focus is on the boss today, when our #OneSimpleThing focus is on finding your passion and developing yourself. Well, your direct supervisor is a gateway to growth and development in your organization. Chances are, however, that even bosses with the best of intentions find themselves letting “work win” – and sadly, developing employees can fall on the priority list.

So, let’s help those bosses out, shall we?

Those who follow the 70-20-10 model will agree that much of workplace learning is active. On the job. Social. So, what can you take from that model to help your boss that will, in turn, be a development exercise for you?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Offer to attend a standing meeting in your supervisor’s place; follow up with him/her afterward
  • Ask if you can contribute to a project in which your boss is involved
  • Request a “stretch” project or assignment that takes something off the boss’ plate (and aligns with a business objective)
  • Ask for feedback – not just during your annual performance review
  • Know your boss’ goals and deadlines – look for ways you can help him/her achieve them
  • What does your boss dislike? Offer to take it off his/her plate!
  • With whom does your boss interact? Ask to be introduced, and learn more about what those people do

Your #OneSimpleThing challenge this week: Talk with your supervisor about your development. Discuss ways that you can help make his/her job a little easier, in a way that will help you learn, develop and grow. After your conversation, leave a comment here on the blog and let us know how you plan to help your boss!


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3 Ways to Streamline the Onboarding Process


“I can’t afford to spend a lot of time onboarding my new employee.”

“There is so much work to do, I need him to hit the ground running.”

“HOW long is Orientation?”

I’m sure these thoughts go through the minds of hiring managers in organizations the world over. I know I’ve certainly heard statements like this! The truth is, hiring managers can’t afford NOT to provide a thorough onboarding experience for new employees. That said, the plague of the Time Crunch is an all-too-real thing. Managers are expecting new employees to be productive quickly, to make contributions as soon as possible.

As much as I wish we could have a lengthy, nurturing “incubation period” for each and every new employee that joins an organization, I know that’s just not realistic.

As onboarding process owners, how can we help our organizations streamline the new employee experience? Here are 3 tips:

1. Automate what you can.

Whether it’s the new-hire paperwork process or assigning “compliance” items to be completed via your LMS, maximize the time spent in a formal orientation session by focusing on topics that really matter. Topics that will introduce the new employee to your organization and provide a meaningful welcome. Make your systems work for you, without compromising the human experience!

2. Provide new employees and hiring managers with checklists, job aids or other helpful resources.

Once a new employee is out of the Orientation Cocoon, it’s easy to become immersed in the work, neglecting many of the essential tasks to become integrated with the company, team and role. Make it easy for everyone – create checklists or other resources (even better if they follow a timeline!) that will keep everyone on task and maintain a consistent experience across the organization.

3. Champion a “just-in-time” learning environment.

Learning is social. Learning is collaborative. Learning is everywhere. Make that evident at every turn of a new employee’s experience. By making resources like internal networks (Yammer, anyone?), wikis or blogs readily accessible, you are opening the doors for learning when the new employee needs it. Spend adequate time making sure new employees know the go-to resources for your organization and how to utilize them.


I get it. There’s a lot of work to get done, and bringing a new employee up to speed rarely seems to come at an “ideal” time. So let’s embrace our roles, fellow onboarding process owners, and make the process as simple as possible. Who’s in?


Your turn: How does your organization simplify the new employee experience? Share your examples in the comments below!


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3 Ways to Have a Really Bad Time at a Conference


Greetings from fabulous Las Vegas!

This week, I’m attending (and speaking at!) the annual Skillsoft user conference, Perspectives 2014. My session was Tuesday afternoon during one of the pre-conference workshops – technically, the conference begins Wednesday morning. Needless to say, I lucked out on the timing of my session…it’s all done early, so now I can truly enjoy the rest of the conference and not have to worry about my session, read and re-read my notes or be anxious.

There are hundreds of learning professionals at this conference; I’m sure most people have their own approach to how they tackle an event. Some people are natural-born networkers and mingle their way through a conference, scooping up business cards like a 90s kid collected Pokemon cards. Others are more content to stick to the periphery of an event, preferring to have fewer, deep conversations throughout the event.

Regardless of whether you are a social butterfly or a quiet observer, there are ways to make the most of a conference…and there are ways to completely waste your time. Here are 3 ways to have a really bad time at your next conference or event:

1. You don’t learn peoples’ stories, or share your own.

One of the best parts of a conference is the sheer mass of like-minded people in one place. Use this opportunity to learn about other attendees. You needn’t be an outgoing person or even skilled at networking to show genuine interest. At a breakout session or during a communal meal, take time to introduce yourself to the person seated next to you. Ask his/her name…where they are from…how they are using the product (if it’s a company-sponsored conference), etc. You might just walk away with some great ideas that you could implement in your own program!

2. You skip out to check in on your work.

Set clear expectations before you leave the office. Let your team know that you will be attending the event, and you will be unavailable. Use tools like your out-of-office reply to be clear with people who send you emails while you’re out. At the very least, set aside a couple of blocks of time throughout the event to be available for phone calls or to respond to email. It will free your mind to tune into the event.

I know, you can’t always completely shut off your work. Or home. Or kids. Or whatever responsibilities that are on your proverbial plate. But if you made an effort to attend the conference, make sure you prioritize being engaged while you are there.

3. You don’t participate.

Whether “participate” to you means simply showing up, or tweeting to the event’s hashtag (I’ll be tweeting at #perspectives14 this week!) or making connections with other attendees, you will only get as much out of an event as you put into it. If you skip the sessions to sleep in or go shopping or play golf, then your takeaways from the event will obviously be less meaningful than if you are tuned in throughout. Whatever “participate” means to you, then do it.


If you have a conference or two on your calendar this year, use it as an opportunity to learn more about your industry, and to truly connect with others. You’ll walk away with an appreciation of others’ stories, and possibly some valuable ideas that might work in your own program!

Your turn: What have been the best conference events you’ve attended? How do you make the most of a conference? How do you make connections with others during a large event? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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Texting: The Next Frontier in Corporate Learning?


Shd u txt ur lrnrs?

If you had trouble reading that, allow me to translate:  Should you text your learners?

Now, I’m not exactly talking about one-on-one, personal texts that you might send a friend or family member. I’m thinking about an interactive compliment to just-in-time learning. Let’s explore..

According to 2013 research by Acision, 92% of US smartphone owners use text messaging functionality. Adults send an average of 111 text messages per week; I find this interesting because smartphone owners aged 18-24 are sending nearly 4000 texts per month (as the mother of an almost-17 year old daughter, I don’t doubt this.)

Clearly, texting is a platform that most of us have become comfortable with. How can we leverage this comfort to drive richer learning experiences?

Friends, have you heard about Remind101?

I was introduced to this awesome tool as a parent a few months ago, at the beginning of the current school year. My sixth grader brought home a flyer about this new service his social studies teacher was trying out. I was immediately intrigued.

Remind101 is a secure, free, one-way text messaging service that allows teachers (and I’ve learned, corporate learning professionals) to communicate with students (learners). Here are a few reasons this is a cool idea:

  • Secure – You are given a fake number, so your learners do not have your personal phone number. And you don’t have theirs.
  • One-way – You can share messages, but they cannot respond.
  • Free – Yeah. Free.

Here are a few messages I have received from my son’s teacher in the past few days:


How cool is that? That phone number you see? Not hers – Remind101 assigns a “dummy” phone number when you sign up. She uses this service to push good information out to parents, and doesn’t have to worry that disgruntled parents or students can reach her on her personal number. She shares these good reminders so when my sixth grader is playing his video game and tells me he doesn’t have homework, I can say, “So, Matt, you finished your 4.2 Guided Reading, right?”

And he continues to believe that his Mom is all-knowing. The longer I can keep that up, the better. ;)

Having received these types of text messages from multiple teachers (it’s been catching on) this year, I couldn’t help but wonder:

Is there a place for this in corporate learning?

A few weeks ago, our team at the day job hosted a “field trip” of sorts to a TEDx event here in Indianapolis. I mentioned it in this post after the event. I decided this would be a perfect opportunity to take Remind101 out for a spin. I set up an account, and shared the instructions on how to sign up with my TEDx attendees. 99% of the group signed up (all but one person), which was a better response than I expected.

I used the Remind101 app (also free!) to easily send the group short bursts of information throughout the event – logistics, seating info, and even a few reflection questions back to the group to tie the TED presentations back to our internal leadership qualities (that’s what we call “competencies”). While attendees weren’t able to respond to my texts, I was able to reach them on a personal level, using a comfortable medium that they opted into. The one lone person who didn’t sign up to receive the texts didn’t hear from me, and that’s okay. Maybe he didn’t want his personal text-space invaded. Maybe he doesn’t text. Maybe he didn’t read my email with the instructions. I’m not worried about it. It was an optional value-add, not mandatory. I asked the people who did sign up what they thought. In short, they loved it, and thought it was a creative, easy way to share information.

Text messaging has the potential to add a personal “layer” to a learning experience, even behind the safe, semi-anonymous, permission-based veil of this service. For many people, email is the approved communication method for the masses, but we only allow select people or organizations to text us. We can bring that selective element to corporate learning, for those who wish to engage. Remind101 has been added to my go-to list. Here are a few other ways Remind101 could be used in a corporate learning setting:

  • Accountability and Learning Transfer – After an intense class or workshop, use Remind101 to send reflection questions, calls-to-action or follow-up resources that will help learners apply content back to the job.
  • Leader Coaching – Encourage leaders of all levels to sign up for text reminders and tips on how to make informal coaching come alive in your organization. Share best practices and challenge subscribers to initiate developmental conversations with their teams.
  • New Employee Orientation/Onboarding – Leverage the convenience of text to reach new employees with interesting facts about your company or culture, reminders about getting paperwork turned in, encouraging words and more.

Is texting a platform we have yet to explore as learning professionals? I doubt it’s the answer for everything. But it might be a channel to progressively reach out to our learners, to drive more personal, meaningful connections.

Your turn: Have you utilized text messaging in your learning programs? Have you used Remind101 or other tools? Be sure to leave a comment and share your thoughts!

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