As our industry transforms to meet the needs of the 21st century workplace, one of the best ways to stay informed is through the latest books relevant to our field. You will probably find at least one book from this list that will improve your understanding and increase your chances of being effective at work. In this article, I review five books, including ones on blended learning, becoming a modern manager, learning science misconceptions, social technologies at work and facilitating with stories. Enjoy!
Blended Learning (What Works in Talent Development) by Jennifer Hofmann
The What Works in Talent Development series from ATD Press focuses on critical topics facing Learning and Development practitioners. In this comprehensive book, Jennifer Hofmann goes deep into the nuts and bolts of how to implement an effective blended learning campaign for the modern workplace.
Each chapter is packed with important details. Hofmann shares her deep knowledge drawn from years of experience as founder of InSync Training into a highly practical guide. The book starts with an extended definition of blended learning programs and the rationale for starting one. It proceeds into explaining how to design and implement a blended learning campaign. The final chapters discuss how to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and the steps that one can take to ensure success in the modern learning landscape.
Hofmann supports her blended learning framework with excellent tools, worksheets, pro-tips, recommendations and resources for readers to plan and implement their own blended learning campaigns. Readers at any level of experience will find value in Blended Learning.
It’s not easy to make the transition from individual contributor to manager and leader. In How Did I Not See This Coming, Katy Tynan captures these difficulties and their resolution in the form of a novel. Readers will relate to protagonist, Julie Long, as she evolves from a weak and confused manager to a strong leader with her own unique style.
By wrapping the “fundamental truths” of becoming an effective leader into a story, Tynan provides insight into why each leadership principle works. Through Julie Long’s thoughts, feelings and experiences, you learn the importance and meaning of being a compassionate and strategic thinker and leader.
Millennials, Goldfish & Other Training Misconceptions: Debunking Learning Myths and Superstitions by Clark Quinn
Do you think people have a shorter attention span than goldfish or that we only use ten percent of our brain? Before you make your next instructional design decision, check out Clark Quinn’s fascinating look at learning and training misconceptions.
You’ll be surprised at the number of myths and misconceptions he covers and the even-handed way in which he does it. When busting myths, he explains the appeal, the upside and downside, how to evaluate it and what the research says. In addition to the more humorous myths, Quinn also examines conflicting ideas about common training practices and beliefs, such as the debate over problem-based instruction versus direct instruction. In these cases, he provides research for a more expansive understanding, allowing the practitioner to make the final decision on what works.
The book starts nicely with an introduction to the science of learning and learning myths. There is no judgement here. You will never feel silly for admitting to your misconceptions and misunderstandings.
Social Technologies in Business by Isabel de Clercq (and friends)
In some ways, Social Technologies in Business is about beauty. The beautiful power of social technology to connect people and ideas, to transform workplace culture and to liberate people from the boundaries of the physical organization. The book is a collection of practical essays by de Clercq and others, tied together by a common outlook—that sharing knowledge via social technologies is a necessity in a digital world. It promotes innovation, improves efficiencies and creates engaged leaders, workers and customers.
In the Ideas section of the book (part 1), you will find solid arguments for adopting social technologies as well as tips for convincing leadership of its value in the workplace. The Tools section (part 2), written by Mathias Vermeulen, reviews current platforms and criteria for selecting an enterprise social network. In Methods (part 3), de Clercq presents recommendations and pitfalls to avoid when implementing an enterprise social network.
The final section presents lessons learned from organizations that have implemented enterprise social networks. If your organization does not value knowledge sharing and meaningful discussion through social technologies, this book would be good to pass around.
Available from Amazon.
StoryTraining: Selecting and Shaping Stories That Connect by Hadiya Nuriddin
From the opening story, Hadiya Nuriddin draws you into her delightful book by demonstrating how stories connect people to each other’s ideas and experiences. In the process, the stories facilitate learning.
StoryTraining is organized into three parts. The first section gives readers an orientation to story structure and then explains how to discover and shape one’s own stories. In the second section, Nuriddin digs deeper into story shaping with a focus on different types of stories that teach. In this part, you’ll discover stories that connect, show change, provide relevancy and ones that entertain. The book is rounded out with a final section on how to become an effective storyteller.
Although the primary audience for this book is facilitators, the ideas and concepts will also work for eLearning, books, marketing and anywhere stories are used to teach, persuade and influence. If you want to gain competence as a storyteller or if you want to integrate stories into training, this book is for you.