More TDF04

The Wild Horse Pass Resort is a classy operation. The help smiles and says hello in the hallways. The towels are full-sized and plush. The fake boulders in the lobby have fake petroglyphs.

Saguaro cactus ribs are built into the gigantic Native American fetishes on the ceilings. The morning OJ is served in handsome wine glasses. But (there’s always a “but”)…there is no Wi-Fi in the conference rooms. So I’m writing this on the fly and will periodically go back to the lobby to upload.

Saul Carliner is exhorting people to take some of the empty seats at the front of the room, saying that it has been proven that people in the front of the room learn more. Saul’s hosting this event, the 20th annual TDF.

Research Results You Can Use

Brenda Sugrue, ASTD’s research director, challenges each of us to jot down a research question as a warm-up for her presentation on Benchmarking. Benchmarking is the ultimate performance improvement strategy. Benchmarking research can focus on expenditures, cost/hour, outsourcing, etc., across companies, award winners, profit leaders, etc.

    Sample question: How large should the annual training budget be?

    Issues: “Dirty data.” 50% of that submitted to ASTD is rejected.

    Brenda displayed data on training budget as a percent of payroll and per employee. The mean % of payroll is 3.6% but the variance is wide. The mean budget is $1626 per employee, averaging $231 to $4,970.

    This is interesting but doesn’t tell that much. It doesn’t address the organizations’ strategy, correlation to results, spending patterns, a training industry value chain, a more sophisticated diagram.

    ASTD has discontinued its former benchmarking service. The new Benchmarking Forum is asking new questions and developing a Benchmarking Performance Scorecard. It will evolve into an online performance support tool.

Jim L’Allier, CLO of Thompson NETg, is preparing to talk about the impact of various combinations of learning methods. Jim’s framework is Kirkpatrick Levels (agh) and blended/unblended. He just about lost me until he said the measure of evaluation was ability to use the skill (completing a spreadsheet).

    The instructor-led blend cut the time to complete the task in half. However, the non-blend option did not include the opportunity to use the software. More meaningfully, there was no significant different between ILT, text, and sim. Blended learning is not about blended media. It’s about how the media is designed to be used. The important factors are job-specific scenarios, realistic job problems, competencies linked to the learner’s job. The questions to ask are:

  • Does the instruction contain job-specific scenarios?
  • Are the scenarios realistic?
  • Are the competencies being taught linked to the worker’s job?
  • Is the learner given opportunity to practice?
  • Does the learner received corrective feedback?

27% of the population of the U.S. are boomers (born 1946-1964). We have an aging population. Life expectancy is up nearly 10 years in the past fifty years.

Time to consider retention, succession planning, mentoring programs, knowledge capture, KM, training burden, for in seven years, the boomer begin to drop out of the workforce.

Let’s see now. We have all these wise people about to leave the workforce. Why don’t we redefine their roles where we can continue to tap into their strengths, their knowledge, and their judgment? Instead of putting oldsters out to pasture, make them into coaches, mentors, and high-level help desks. I think the training community continues to draw too tight a boundary around their turf.

Once upon a time, fulltime employees were the only beneficiaries of training. Then we began to add subcontractors and part-timers. Then partners and distributors came on board. Now we talk of training everyone in the value chain, from suppliers to customers. It’s about time to add corporate alumni to training’s charter.

Sam Adkins gave a presentation on the latest in learning technology.

  • Benjamin Bloom found out long ago that tutored students learn as much as the top 2% of classroom students. New work finds that cognitive tutors produce even better results!

  • Enterprise application training (SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, etc.) has accounted for 55% - 65% of all corporate training, but several years from now it will be dead, replaced by the smart single business interface.

  • 17% of the American workforce is actively disengaged from work.

  • Business process design is indistinguishable from Instructional Design.

IBM’s Nancy Deviney gave the lunchtime keynote on The Future of Learning. You’ve heard my thoughts on IBM’s learning strategy before. In sum, it’s great.

James Sharpe and Andy Sadler showed a variety of integrated tools for supporting informal, unstructured learning. The demo was compelling because it dealt with realistic examples (figuring out an Excel spreadsheet rather than trying to boil the ocean). Within an on demand workplace, Jim and Andy built a course, enrolled in a class, located experts, set up an emeeting, and more. Guidance was built right in every step of the way.

Posted by Jay Cross at June 7, 2004 04:10 PM | TrackBack

Re: Jim L'Allier's talk - We used a blended learning approach for NetG content with the United Nations Development Programme (HQ and 145+ country offices). This was in preparation for Peoplesoft implementation.

(luckily) we addressed almost all of Jim's questions. BTW: The pass rate for over 5000+ staff for certification was very good.

Case study can be found at:

Posted by: Hal Richman at June 8, 2004 03:11 AM

Yes, Jay, I am one (out of perhaps many) who appreciates email reminders of new blogs. Although I try to check you blog often when you are away, sometimes I do miss new posts because of time mismatch.
Thanks for your always fresh thoughts.

Posted by: Vijay Luthra at June 8, 2004 03:32 AM


I appreciate the email pings... I have the RSS Feedreader and Yahoo's new RSS tool, but email is still my primary tool integrated into my personal business process.

Thanks for your posts.


Posted by: Lee Kraus at June 8, 2004 04:38 AM

30 Poppy Lane
Berkeley, California 94708

1.510.528.3105 (office & cell)

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