Saturday 25 July 2015

Few courses you can attend for fun if you have money and time to waste

These are a few random words I picked from training modules, blog; hear say, conversations, arguments, group discussions and websites.
Appearance Management: Be fashion conscious, look polished, reflect confidence
(Remember the famous line - Light travels faster than sounds. This is why some people appear bright till they open their mouth)
Personal Grooming: Looking good improves self-confidence; a well groomed person gets more attention.
(Try the other way round, trust me you will still get attention. Grabbing attention is not the whole point - can you engage minds?)
Image Consulting: Image makeover, the hair do, the color combination, the accessories, the trend.
(When is the next fancy dress competition? Choices can be supplied externally; developing that poise is a matter of learning)
Attire Management: Make conversations stop and heads turn. A well-dressed person evokes such reactions from people.
(Do you really need to be fed on this dress code jazz or can I trust your intelligence to know better than what I write here?)
Body Language: You are aggressive if you lean forward
(Another book says, you are interested if you lean forward – I still lean forward when I talk and risk the move either ways, trying to conjure which book the person across the table has read)
Dining Etiquette: Know cutlery, tip graciously, remember the sequence, small conversations and dozen things.
(Forget all about enjoying the food and feeling the warmth of people around you)
If you still have money to waste, you should try this
Charisma Consulting: X factor, Oomph quotient, the raw element
(I am not sure if I could spell it right)
Now let us switch to another example. If you grow your own veggies at home, would you nurture them from seed to sapling or just color the products? If you think coloring vegetables to fit expectations is not the right thing to do, how can that be right with people?

My blogs here are mostly like my short stories, I leave the climax for my readers to guess. What is your take away from this write? Share your comments.

Sunday 19 July 2015

How to successfully use blended learning?

What is this blended learning anyway?
Is the combination of Brick and Mortar (classroom) and online (computer) learning called blended learning? The term “blended” or “hybrid” is mainly technology mediated or web enhanced instruction mixed with other approaches. Limiting the concept of “blend” only to a mix of human and technology channels in learning does not justify the huge potential blended learning has to offer.
You read 65 words already.
Did you ever understand the mystery of number 7?

LinkedIn users supply articles with the mysterious number seven in tons
  • 7 Productivity tools ...
  • 7 social media trends...
  • 7 Steps to selecting the best ....

In the world obsessed with seven, here is one man that talks about 8 secrets - Just 3 minutes watch it.

You read something and then you watch something – Does the blended concept apply here where you use two modes to know about something new? 
What did you learn?
  • A new dimension of blended learning that suits you
  •  8 secrets which you already knew
  •  How someone can manipulate you to learn without you knowing that you are learning

Now does that conclude your learning? Your knowing is complete. Your learning has just started and can be considered complete only when you make something of it, you have not made so far - Outcomes

Friday 17 July 2015

How Important Is Motivation In Learning?

Nine out of ten companies and online resources that promise you an alternative career or secondary income has more or less the same points to make. Pick up any e-book, attend any seminar, listen to a podcast, watch any YouTube – the content revolves around these.

·         You pay bills
·         Save for retirement
·         Plan your vacation
·         Have perfect work life balance
·         Time to spare
·         No boss around
·         No pressure on deadlines
·         No layoff
·         Royalty and bonus
·         More family time
·         No money worries
·         Work from  home
·         Take a break when you want
·         Early retirement
·         Live the rich life - buy a yatch or cruise.

From here it gets worse,

·         Easy steps
·         Amazing freebies
·         Brilliant opportunities
·         That never ending “Just for today” offer
·         The money back guarantee

By now, you are ready to click that button, pay the site whatever amount it demands and get started. Did you get a chance to think about anything new that you have not thought of before?

What you do not realize is this draft is crafted based on years of observation how people respond to specific thoughts and are based on predictable patterns in motivation.

Ask yourself, why the whole world is selling you middle-class dream! Why are they not letting you think beyond what you normally think? That is because these are the easiest to sell as an immediate solution, and most people fall for it.

I have absolutely nothing against programs that teach you how to make money. Just that they sell you reasons that are myopic in nature and will not compel you to open new ways of thinking or sustain your motivation level long term.

Don’t you deserve to learn more about how exactly money works?

·         How to be financially literate first?
·         How to make money work for you?
·         How your money can generate jobs for people?
·         How to fill a huge gap in the world and make life easier?
·         How you can impact community by earning a lot?

These are the tough ones to sell as they demand outcomes beyond just money. If you begin to learn  to make money with the objective to deliver these results, your learning and also your motivation to learn is likely to last longer. What is your motivation to learn is your choice, not what is being sold to you by a dozen dream sellers.

Listen to the needs Tony talks about here - mainly the last two! 

The hardest thing in life to learn is which bridge to cross and which to burn

Zig Zagler

Thursday 16 July 2015

What Is That Called Certified CEO?

Just when I was beginning to believe “Entrepreneur” is the new trendy title; many find “CEO” more sophisticated. It does not end there – mere wanting to be one – there is whole lot of people who are all set to be certified as CEO from a dozen institutes that offer such courses.
This probably means – a qualified CEO (someone who has passed that CEO Program) is doing a project manager’s job in your company or a promising CEO is waiting for your current CEO or another key member in the executive board to resign so that he can take over or getting ready to use that tag at this own will, when he builds his own startup. I miserably failed to understand the rationale behind attending this course.
Being a CEO is not really about wearing a label or a new badge or aping a few traits– it is neither about believing there is an automatic raise in competency just if you adorn yourself with that title or attend a course, or by reading blogs that feeds you about their habits, what they eat, what books they read, how they cope with situations and how they lead – it is a fool’s paradise.
Does all this boil down to a cluster of behaviors a person need to have and develop, multidimensional intelligence – social, mental, financial and even spiritual – he is supposed to be born with, the milestones he has reached in his life and the business outcomes he was instrumental in achieving?
When you let yourself be lulled to believe by institutes minting money selling such courses, you only let them build a thriving business on your weak spots and latent aspirations, you do not build yours. 
You are not even close to being CEO material if you are still in a state of mind to receive ready inputs regarding your dream role by someone who is not half as qualified as you are – You are miles away from self-discovery. The only qualification they probably have is to churn some content and simulation in software to feed you in a class as they do not own it beyond that nor do they nurture you till you arrive there. Do they?
Being a CEO is a process like being anything else – a learning process. A course, a blog, a seminar can partially facilitate that mind shift or broaden your thinking horizon.
If you are not self-aware, cannot self-learn to bridge the knowledge and skill gap and be self-reliant first, you are most likely to fail as a CEO or an entrepreneur as you have not been able to stop thinking like an employee. You need programs to change the way you think, strategic or critical - not a program that is sold in the name of a role.
Here are some titles I found in LinkedIn
CEO, Investor
Founder and CEO
Entrepreneur and marketer

I tried to imagine one add this in their profile - PMP, ITIL, Certified CEO and it is a funny sight from what I just imagined. If I could not drive the point still, here is the secret I will reveal, without charging any fee. The surest way to get there is Continuous learning

The gap between you today and you as CEO in near or remote future will be narrowed down only by what you learn along the way, not by a few slides in a power point presentation.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

How Effective Is Mobile Learning?

If learning happens when the learner is not in a fixed location, and is not limited to a fixed duration for knowing new concepts and skills, giving him the opportunity to learn anywhere and anytime through his mobile, it is called M-Learning.

Any kind of knowledge meant for education or learning over internet is labeled E-Learning. M-Learning is just an extension of E-learning in many ways – where distance between source of knowledge and learner does not matter and there is no need to stay wired.

Primarily the ability to use mobile devices to support training, teaching and learning is M-Learning.

Top few differences between the two are:

·         E-Learning is a lot of text and M-Learning is more voice
·         E-Learning communication is more time consuming than M-Learning
·         E-Learning is scheduled with dedicated time and M-Learning is self-paced according to the learner.
·         The grading in E-Learning is industry bench marked and M-Learning is connected to improvement and overall performance.
·         E-Learning exposes learner to business simulations while M-Learning is inclined towards real life cases, and more effective learning.

The use of mobile features for learning activity has made learning a whole new and different experience. It not only improves literacy and participation in learning initiatives, it is more learner friendly concept.

It has the ease of reading a book and yet facilitated more real time learning than possibly any other medium.

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Why are companies increasing their interest in Gamification?

Gamification can significantly impact learner’s engagement levels. By using Gamification as a strategy companies can add value and influence key focus areas - recruitment, employee learning, internal collaboration and in turn productivity

Studies indicate resources are unable to share or show their best output, creativity, ideas and inputs which is literally increasing their sense of alienation and mental disengagement process

There is a compelling rationale why human resource teams of companies are running gamification sessions and pilots. Here are few:

  • Users have tasks based on competencies that a company has plans to develop – strategic thinking, technology savvy or interpersonal effectiveness - through their games.

  • Users are better prepared as the game they get exposed to educates them about basic expectations in terms of skills and services to succeed in a role.

  • Learner’s ability for a particular skill gets tested based on questions to assess his current and required level of understanding.
  • Employee learning is realistic and the simulations are live examples that include situation (Business scope), characters and narrative for a more practical way of learning which prepares the employee for real world without an on job training.
  • There is a fun element in the games with several features that facilitate better learning – options, timer, outcomes and feedback.

  • Learner is compelled to take decisions in different scenarios and has own up consequence of their decision. This actually provides learners a platform to apply learning in a training environment, practice enough prior to trying with real customers, allowing them to avoid all those first time mistakes they could possibly do without that game learning.

It is time to play the game, brain storm the game, use the experts, test learning outcomes with live people, measure results and launch it in a big way.
Treat each idea with care, stretch your imagination around it regarding how it can transform to great game and bring that much needed learning to all those who play the game.

Are you ready to play or design one?

Sunday 12 July 2015

Does Social Learning Really Work?

One of the top challenges for businesses today is learning and development issues. Each industry is preparing for growth and a million training tools, products, courses that have evolved claim to deliver desired results – with no tool to measure learning or results.

People learn from each other in social environment and casual settings from time immemorial, encouraged by a sense of competition, inadequacy or basic survival instincts. The popular belief system that is prevalent and most of us are conditioned to believe that learning happens only in classrooms.

The reality is classroom instructions are mostly just informational and even if it leads to skill acquisition, it does not prepare the learner to try the new skill in the context of real life or business scope. It is only if there is opportunity for experiential learning, individuals can relate to learning; knowledge they receive, its application and think critically about their learning experience.

The term social learning can be applied and effective in any setting or circumstances where there is a group of individuals with a shared learning goal – either consciously or instinctively or both.

Imagine “Decision Making”; “Presentation Skills”; “Team Building” “Strategic Thinking” or any of the popular franchisee models that is generally delivered with a power point and accessories – Unless learner takes critical decisions in real time scenarios or presents to a live audience or builds a team for a purpose evaluating individual strengths and think strategically to lead a project or company, where does the learner stand in the crowd?

Even if these modules are taught in class rooms, it is automatically followed by social learning, where the learner practices and his peers or leads guide him towards mastery.

Benefits of social learning
  •  Better engagement and better learning
  • Opportunity to engage with an expert even in informal setups.
  • If you can check within your team for an expert to address critical business challenges and complex issues
  •  Cost effective and can be managed with limited budget leveraging strengths internally

Approach towards social learning

  • Assess learning needs not based on level or role, but based on individual learning gap and get the learning road map ready regarding what kind of social environment learning suit his style
  • Identify preferred learning methods - If one is more attentive in a small group and feels lost in large learning groups, accommodate that.
  • Based on the above two, design learning methods. 

A mentoring program, like-minded meet-ups or an action learning project with members from different departments or background, could be great social learning opportunities.

Saturday 11 July 2015

How Often Do You Microlearn?

Microlearning is an emergent learning strategy and most learners who actually micro- learns are not even aware how they quickly close skill and knowledge gaps by doing certain things on a daily basis, purely out of habit:

  •  Watch an inspirational video of Ted talk league
  •  Read an informative article loaded with journal links for further reading
  •  Take a lesson from a free webinar
  •  Explore technologies and resources available to gather new insights
  •  Return to a forum for update on subjects that is within their scope of interest

If you are familiar with Robert Kiyosaki, you will know his rich dad’s million dollar advice – Do not work for money, let money work for you.

How many of you have similar one liner’s that open a small pocket in some section of your brain and get you thinking? How often do you like, share or comment on inspiring quotes in social media channels? Though by definition this is not really microlearning but in a powerful way you do learn something you were not aware of, that significantly impacts your thoughts, actions and outcomes.

I had micro learnt quite a few things – simple to complex - and even encourage people who are looking for an alternative living scope through our Foundation.

  • How to create blogspot?
  • How to publish an e-book?
  • How to build a storyboard with characters?
  • How to volunteer for community at least once every week?
  • How to run an open library?
  • How to educate people online who are founders of startups?
  • How to prepare business plans and financial projections for seed funds?
  • How to market content for soft selling?
  • How to deliver a critical website review?
  • How to coach for outcomes and not for testimonials?
  • How to freelance for your hobbies?
  • How to build and use a learning framework in a world of modules?

Regardless of whether Micro learning is structured or informal, these sessions are mostly short, without a specific duration, they focus on a particular topic or idea, say setting up blog account, a presentation, game or video and inputs to learn can be sourced from free online resource available in abundance.

What is Micro learning?

The popular idea in the industry is Micro learning is an informal self-paced and self-directed learning experience evolving from one’s personal need and learning environment. The other version is it is mostly part of a bigger learning outcome, sized in pieces as brief learning experiences primarily for better results, effective learning to meet another larger learning goal.

Did you micro learn anything new today?

I learnt about wholeheartedness, vulnerability and worthiness today

Wednesday 1 July 2015

What Do You Consider While Choosing Your E-Learning Partner?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

While assessing e-learning solutions, typically the factors that most companies and learning professionals tend to use as their checklist are:
1.    The range of subjects covered to suit employees at all levels
2.    The proven themes and international concepts that they are based on.
3.     The languages in which they are available to cater to global workforce needs
4.    The duration of modules to accommodate in work schedules
5.    Is it learner centric with self-paced learning options, customization scope aligned to competency and roles?
6.    What else does it come with – video, business simulations, e-book etc.
7.    What is the scope of interaction available to label the solution as social learning enabled?
8.    Can you print content, subtitle or read through transcription?
9.    Can the learner’s knowledge gain be evaluated through assessments before and after e-learning?
10. Can the learner’s manager track his learning hours through the same platform?
11. Can the learning happen on the move, across gadgets?
12.  Is the downtime any concern?
These are a company’s top priorities, apart from ease of subscription and access to well-researched knowledge repository. These are the exact features an e-learning partner will sell to close the deal with any company.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Does this cater to learner’s priorities?
I have personally spent significant amount of time learning from these modules. A list was recommended (read populated) to me every year based on my role, competency, level or whatever which I never completed.
I always added modules and books of my own choice and completed them. Though these modules made no sense and had no relevance to my role then but it shaped my career and my thinking. As a learning catalyst, I wanted to improve on my abilities to impact people’s behavior through training and continuous learning while the populated list wanted me to complete PMP because my official label was related to transition. Never, not even at gun point. My priority was simple, I wanted to learn, not be certified.
Isn’t that a huge limitation of L&D intelligence as far as e-learning solutions is concerned - they can only attempt to prepare an employee for their roles and responsibilities through    e-learning, for better productivity and improved performance. They cannot make employees learn a thing.
E-learning works, only if learners are interested to learn. How do you spark that interest to learn?
Do managers observe learner outside the training environment, in real time scenarios to measure learning effectiveness or do they use that switch to track if learner has completed learning hours, regardless of results?

While e-learning, micro learning, self-learning, social learning, individual learning, group learning are critical components of BECKON learning framework, learners make the most of it sans their loopholes. BECKON is based on purpose driven methodology and both the learner’s interest and inclination to apply learning is triggered by the outcomes they want to achieve.