Learning professionals have so much to share. I’m grateful to those who work hard to write books, give webinars, present at conferences and write articles. I’ve learned so much from them and I hope you have too. Here are five new or soon to be released books that pack a powerful punch.
Agile for Instructional Designers by Megan Torrance
In Megan Torrance’s excellent book, Agile for Instructional Designers, she makes the case that the Agile approach to L&D projects is well-suited for today’s world of constant change. Then she teaches you how to do it.
Torrance has found that Agile—particularly her modified version known by the acronym LLAMA®—provides impressive results and helps projects get completed on time and within budget. Why? Because Agile focuses on deliverables that are completed in small increments and uses feedback to improve successive iterations.
Agile for Instructional Designers is about so much more than project management. In the first section, Kicking Off the Project, Torrance walks readers through what I call Next Generation Instructional Design. She covers the kickoff, personas, user stories/scope, action mapping and the like. It’s a great blend of multidisciplinary techniques applied to L&D work. The second section is Managing the Project. Here, Torrance provides detailed explanations on how to plan, estimate, deliver in iterations and communicate. She even helps you find the rhythm in iteration. Who knew? The book closes with Applying Agile in Your Organization.
My favorite part? At the end of each chapter is a smart little section titled, “What could possibly go wrong?” Perhaps there is no one better to explain agile to learning professionals than Megan Torrance. If you are curious or want to learn Agile project management, this book lets you learn from a pro. For more on this approach, listen to my interview with her.
Fully Compliant: Compliance Training to Change Behavior by Travis Waugh
Compliance training is a problem in Learning & Development. As defined by author, Travis Waugh, compliance training refers to “any learning course or program designed to manage a specific legal risk and cultivate an ethical and accountable culture.” The goal is to manage risk caused by “unsafe, unjust or unethical behavior” in the workplace.
The problem? Compliance training is often resented because it is forced upon employees from higher ups concerned about legal and financial consequences; it is often poorly designed; it takes too much time; and the training results are often poor. Otherwise, it’s great stuff.
In Fully Compliant, Waugh takes an objective view of the problem and proposes a better way. The first part of the book offers a perspective on managing risk through the lens of those who have this responsibility: lawyers, risk management officers, auditors and others who must deal with regulated areas of an organization. This necessary perspective helps the reader build empathy for the people in these roles, where there is great pressure to reduce and mitigate risk.
The last two parts of Fully Compliant are devoted to helping compliance and learning professionals become partners that can make the most out of training opportunities. According to Waugh, this requires a change in focus, from training as a means to check off completion to learning experiences that change behavior and reduce risk. The author argues for better solutions that reduce the emphasis on external motivation, which is the least reliable way to create behavior change. He proposes a better understanding of the factors that influence inappropriate or unsafe behaviors, looking at context, habit, and internal motivation. Fully Compliant is about focusing on the real issues for which people need help and then providing the help they need.
Microlearning: Short and Sweet by Karl M. Kapp and Robyn A. Defelice
In the hallways of learning professional conferences, you can hear debates about microlearning: how to define it, its characteristics and whether it is simply a reboot of reusable learning objects from years past. By writing this book, authors Karl Kapp and Robin Defelice, provide reasoned and thoughtful answers to some of the nagging questions about microlearning.
True to the title, this book is short and sweet. The first part of Microlearning presents foundational content where microlearning is defined, exemplified and demystified. In addition to some background in learning theory, the authors provide six use cases for implementing microlearning and criteria for choosing a use case. Their key point is that “microlearning can supplement, reinforce, augment, or remediate a larger training initiative.”
The second part of the book, Planning and Development, explains how to get going. Readers will find help for creating a microlearning strategy as part of a larger training effort; a multi-step process for implementation; estimating hours; and risks to consider. These chapters also include valuable examples of organizations who have implemented microlearning.
One nice touch is that the end of each chapter includes a Short and Sweet summary and Key Takeaways. These tie together the main ideas to use as a review and reference. Microlearning: Short and Sweet is about microlearning, but it’s more than that. The authors provide an accessible approach to design and development for improving human performance when microlearning is part of a larger strategy.
An Overview of Training and Development: Why Training Matters by Saul Carliner and Margaret Driscoll
Imagine you just discovered the training industry. You find it intriguing but you don’t know where to turn. An Overview of Training and Development would be a good source for answers.
Authors Saul Carliner and Margaret Driscoll take you through a big picture view of training and development. You’ll find basic knowledge about what the career entails, common practices of design and development and a discussion of the client-oriented nature of the work and its business context. Through this lens, the authors discuss both classroom and technology-based training.
This book will be informative to those who are considering a career in instructional design or training; newcomers to the field; accidental instructional designers with knowledge gaps; and people who work with the Learning and Development group but don’t quite understand what they do.
I commend the authors for being able to tackle such a wide range of topics. However, I would have liked to see more reference to new practices that are emerging from an industry that is becoming multidisciplinary and in constant flux. Although much of the material is geared to newer learning professionals, two later chapters include working with clients and how L&D fits into the larger business perspective.
Order from Amazon.
Shock of the New: The Challenge and Promise of Emerging Learning Technologies by Chad Udell and Gary Woodill
Many of us in the learning industry find technology fascinating. When a new one emerges, we can’t help but wonder if it could be part of our solutions tool set. Look no further than Shock of the New to answer this question. Authors Chad Udell and Gary Woodill developed an impressive framework for examining emerging technologies and their effectiveness in creating business value.
Shock of the New is based on the thesis that constant disruption in technology and thus, in Learning & Development, will cause massive changes over the next decade. Decision makers will need help determining which technologies will add value to their organizations. In response, the authors present their BUILDS framework as a way to evaluate “the predicted as well as the largely unforeseen consequences of a new technology,” they write.
Each chapter walks you through the daunting task of understanding the impact of emerging technologies from numerous perspectives including its: ability to support learning; usefulness; opportunities and risks; user experience; long-term vision and immediate need; security and accessibility; developmental curve and so many more. Particularly helpful are two appendices that present the 30-question BUILDS rubric and how to apply it.
Shock of the New is about evaluating emerging technologies and their value for workplace learning. But it does this in the context of relevant history, philosophy, learning science, sociology and culture. It’s a well-researched and fascinating read.
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