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This is something I’ve been toying with on and off for years. Now I’m finally in the position where I get to make some of the rules, and I’m trying them out. Whaddya think?

Why this matters

Until you have a naming convention, there is no clear way to for the Training Team to communicate internally about specific trainings. That means excessive confusion when dealing with stakeholders about trainings during development, deployment, assignment, and reporting — especially as changes happen over time. As a result, gaps and overlaps in efforts will be common, leading to unnecessary risk and frustration for everyone.

The guidelines described below are intended to alleviate such pain, and should serve organizations of up to 20,000 or so active users well. Training titles exist to provide unique and descriptive names for the training need, not the training content. When creating a title, don’t think about what it is but rather how the person it was created for would think to look for it. This is the primary function of a training title: search.

Titles may occasionally overlap, which is not in itself a big problem — unless these trainings of the same name are assigned or made searchable by the same people. When someone finds training that’s called the same or a very similar name, or training that calls itself one thing but is actually something else entirely, it tends to confuse and frustrate them. These guidelines are an attempt to minimize, and possibly even eliminate, such user confusion and frustration going forward.

Content named upstream

As was stated at the beginning of this document, content dependent on other systems is not something we should attempt to rename. Training that originates from other systems and remains hosted off the LMS should always retain the same title as on its source system. We are trying to reduce confusion, not force conformance to rules.

Words to Avoid

First, please omit these and other redundant and potenially conflicting words:
  • training
  • class
  • classroom
  • curriculum
  • course
  • module
  • material
  • link
  • video
  • ILT
  • version

These are formatting words that are already described in the course code, in the icon displayed to users, and is ultimately determined by how it is added to the Learning Management System.

No version-based or date-based titles

While it is technically possible to change the title of training between incremental versions, we strive to describe content consistently and irrespective of versions. This starts with not putting a version number or date in the title of the training itself. If a training is on a policy from 2020, remember that it will still be the same policy when it gets updated in 2022. We do not need to create a new learning object when this happens, we need to version it and update the content. In the meantime, it just looks outdated for all of 2021, even though it isn’t. Focus on the training need, not the update name, the training need usually remains the same.

No language-based titles

Titles like “Global Social Media Policy – China” may be common. But to someone from China, seeing the name in English is not very useful. The title of every training should always be written in the language that the training itself is in. And we can now have a single training that is in multiple languages, which simplifies everything from assignment to reporting. If you’re tempted to put language in the title of a training, chances are there’s a better way to put this training on the LMS anyhow. Language is a property of the training, not a name for it.

Avoid the abbreviations & acronyms

Abbreviations and acronyms are perfectly appropriate for Training Descriptions, and make fantastic keywords! Titles are not the place to put them. Please avoid the use of any acronyms and/or abbreviations in training titles, as they typically don’t help the people the training was created for. Remember, don’t call it what you would call it, whenever possible call it what the people who need to learn what it even is would call it.

Role-based titles for Curricula

Curricula are often named after a job title or role, which is fine as long as it is complete and all-inclusive for the topic.

Function-based titles for content inside Curricula

All learning object types that are or may be contained within curricula should be named after a job function but not job title or job role. The reason for this is that the original audience a specific asset was developed for may not be the only audience it is made available or assigned to. For example, everyone with a view-only function can benefit from a given resource, regardless of their specific job. Thus we can have several different curricula with the same shared resource, providing a more efficient reuse of existing training.

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Back in August, I was notified that I had been accepted into a training program offered by my local Snow College and paid for by the government. I didn’t remember even applying for this program, but…free? Okay! I’d just started my new analytics-heavy role at ConvaTec the month before and I wanted to strengthen my existing skills, so I jumped at the chance.

For 6-12hrs per week every week between September and December, I was hard at work learning about Data Analytics & Visualization. Specifically, learning how to do a bunch of the fancy stuff in Microsoft Excel and all the basic stuff (and some of the fancy stuff) in Tableau.

The statistics stuff was hard. I’m not a math guy, never have been. The basic concepts just weren’t there in many cases, and I had never seen anything like most of the data visualizations we were using. I didn’t even know how to read something like a box plot, let alone build one. Now I do :)

I’ll be speaking tomorrow about Practical Application of Learning Analytics & Data on the Instructional Designers in Offices Drinking Coffee livestream/podcast, and sharing some of what I’ve learned.

It feels really good to work through the struggle of being really bad at something your whole life and come out the other side victorious! I’m proud of the key performance statistic I ended up taking away from this course: 100%

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Next Wednesday at 8am Mountain Time, I’m excited to be returning to this weekly livestreamed podcast for Learning Professionals: Instructional Designers in Offices Drinking Coffee (otherwise known as IDIODC). It’s hosted by Brent Schlenker & Chris Van Wingerden who keep the vibe playful and the topics on track…more or less.

Though I’m not stranger to Brent & Chris’s show from DominKnow, it’s been a while. My last appearance was their last show of 2019, so it’s perfectly fitting that I’ve been invited back for their first show of 2021! Let’s just pretend 2020 never happened, shall we?

I’ll be talking about Learning Analytics & Data in a very practical sense, and sharing some of what I’ve been up to over at ConvaTec as well as what’s going on in the wider world of learning data. Sound fun? — Okay, don’t answer that, just come by and we’ll make it fun for you ;)

Register today at https://www.crowdcast.io/e/de8y9dnb

Here’s the writeup:
The concept of Learning Analytics has been a hot topic for several years in the L&D industry. There are those that talk about it, and then there are those doing the work and making it happen within their organizations. Sam Rogers is one of the doers.

He’s joining us in this episode to discuss the realities of working with data and analytics within a large enterprise. As you might imagine, the task is not easy. But each of us needs to start somewhere. The big question is often where. Trying to figure out the proper data to collect and how you will collect can be daunting. But you must start somewhere.

We’ll find out how Sam got the analytics ball rolling and the some of the hurdles he had to jump to keep it going. You don’t want to miss this timely and relevant conversation as we launch into the new year.

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Building on my Noticeably Remarkable post the other day, I’d like to examine fame and where it comes from. I think it comes from youth.

I don’t mean you have to be young to be famous. I mean that in order to gain fame in the first place, you need an upswell of people with free time and preferably discretionary income to follow you. You need their attention, because you need convert their attention into your power somehow. Getting people to do things, such as spend money or direct their attention on behalf of others who will pay you for this.

Influencers do this as a full-time job. Entertainers of all kinds have to leverage their art for their income, and that means appealing to those with the time to take that entertainment in and money to pay for the privilege.

For those who are not as entertainment-minded, fame can certainly come from riches. Or as I said in my previous post money can always buy fame. Not that the rich need to buy fame, sometimes it’s just one of the many free perks comes with being rich. I know a lot of rich people, as well as a lot of famous people. In my observation, famous people don’t always get to be rich, but rich people get to be famous pretty much anytime they feel like it. By virtue of their wealth alone, others will listen to them as if what they’re saying is important or true. They can direct attention the same as fame.

I purposely missed the boat on youth when I was young. It looked too frivolous and destructive to me, even as a kid. Where most kids try to grow up too fast, I tried to stay little for as long as I could. I always looked younger than I was, and I milked it for all it was worth. Then jumped straight into adulting when I was 22 and living with a 44 year-old woman. I sidestepped all that youthful energy of my peers and set my sights on other things outside its tide, such as healing or history or death & dying.

When I started touring and producing and performing seriously in my 30s, I still looked like I was in my 20s so I could kinda pass at first glance. Again, my intentions and goals were so divergent from my peers that it was obvious to anyone who met me or came to shows or workshops that I was not like them. Even when they tried to give me fame, I turned it around and diffused it for my own ends.

Now that I’m solidly in my 40s (turning 45 this year), I don’t know if I even could appeal to youth as one of their own. Though I tend to think not. Sure I’ve always been a weirdo myself, but I don’t wanna make things weird for other people. Especially not when it comes to age and power dynamics, which can get creepy pretty fast.

I’m of the age now that it seems the expectation is that I should have something to show for it in terms of success. In the financial sense, I don’t have that. At this moment, I don’t even see the possibility of any financial windfall anymore, as I’ve made my own businesses dormant and am now (for the first time in my life) simply working for a salary.

I have a lot of experience in a wide array of useful things. I’ve had some incredibly improbable experiences along the way. I have a ton to offer, and I want to give at scale. I’m reflecting on fame as a way to do this, and wondering now that youth has gone what is still possible for me?

Any thoughts are most appreciated, comment away…

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I’m not a surfer. But as a sailor, kayaker, windsurfer, and observer of waves, I think I get how they work near the shore.

Waves are perpetually crashing down parallel to the beach. As this happens, there is an opportunity to ride that powerful force in a perpendicular fashion. This chance exists from the outside, pushed along on top of the wave but mostly outside of it. It also exists on the inside, fully immersed in the pull of the wave and drawn perpendicularly to the crashing wave with the same power.

I remember well as a kid when I first saw a seal riding this inner force of ocean waves. Shooting along inside of crashing waves at the beach as the surfers took the slower outside route. Both were playing. Neither seemed to get caught in the crash very often, or to mind very much if it happened. They’d just go out and do it again.

Looking at the world around us these days, there is plenty of downward crashing motion to go around. We’ve had a bit of an odd pause with 2020, like when a wave meets another equal and opposite one and they both magically cancel each other out into stillness for a moment. That stillness lasts longer than we expect but only because it’s unexpected. In truth, it doesn’t last long.

For every rise, there is a fall. For every wave that stretches across the shore, there is a receding pull that draws it back to rise and fall again. There are waves for miles behind all the action of the crests and the crashes, just gathering their power and waiting for their moment.

We cannot prevent the crashes any more than we can prevent the waves themselves. We can try to fight them head on for a time, but ultimately we will lose. Waves gonna wave, and it’s best to get outta the way when they come a’crashing.

And yet…there is the perpendicular path. The playful approach of surfing along that downward crashing force without getting caught up in it. From either outside or inside the wave, there is room to dance as long as long we keep carefully attuned to our ever-changing surroundings. There is a lot of destructive power that we can ride without being destroyed ourselves.

Like a surfer, you don’t just start with the biggest wave you can find. You learn with the smaller waves. You get a feel for it that bypasses conscious thoughts and actions. While developing this instinct, you crash a bit at first too, where it’s safer to do so. Then the bigger waves don’t seem so big, they look more like fun. You can navigate your way and not get thrown off if you see a seal surfing the inside of the wave beneath you.

I’m probably a little late in looking for the smaller waves now that there is another economic tsunami coming. I hope not to be in the water when the big one washes through and draws the once safe shore out into the abyss. But I still want to learn to surf these waves, and to better read them from the shore before I go decide to go out.

Even in the crash, there are opportunities to speed forward. And to play atop or within all the destructive power without getting destroyed.

I see that doesn’t have to be scary, and it might just be fun.

Any advise for this fledgling surfer? Comment below, please.

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