Telling Ain’t Training: DELTA Instructional Technology Training Team Recaps Recent Conference

by Yiling Chappelow, Suzanne Edmonds and Allie Giro

From March 6 through 8 in Atlanta, Georgia, the ISS Instructional Technology Training Team attended the ATD (Association for Talent Development) event “Telling Ain’t Training.”

Based on the popular, best-selling book of the same name, “Telling Ain’t Training” was led by Harold Stolovitch, Ph.D., CPT author and Emeritus Professor of Workplace Learning and Performance, Universitdé Montréal. Agenda sessions included topics such as: how learners process information and convert it to effective learning; research-based principles for transforming info dumps into performance-based learning; the importance of active engagement; a five-step model for training design and delivery; cognitive strategies for teaching new content; and how to best incorporate games and game-like activities into learning. During this two day training, ITT staff had the opportunity to learn new strategies and best practices for teaching instructional technology tools, from the technical and pedagogical perspectives, as well as, share some of the skills and practices already being used through DELTA’s teaching and learning with technology workshops, with other attendees.

Key takeaways included:

  • If you want your learner to retain information, it must be meaningful and well organized. There is an emotional component to learning and learners are more likely to use information if they feel challenged but confident and competent. Organizing and structuring information in a logical way increases the learner’s ability to recall and use it.
  • Learners retain new information at a better rate, when it is linked to something familiar, such as experiences or prior knowledge. The best way to enhance understanding of a specific subject is to develop well-rounded knowledge. It’s difficult to fully comprehend isolated concepts, so developing an in-depth understanding of a concept and relating it to other topics thorough background knowledge increases retention.
  • Our brains are built to accept, process and store information in a specific way. Fun terms like autonomic, short-term and long-term memory, and norepinephrine were used, but the gist was that because of our information filtering system, it’s important to teach the most important stuff first and last because chances are the in-between stuff will be forgotten. Also, the more senses we involve (sight, sound, etc.) the more likely information is retained.
  • Chunking information is key to retention. The ideal number of chunked information is four, and smaller amounts of information given in less time, is best. Don’t dwell on the details and focus more on what you want the learner to do (performance outcome). Keep learners challenged, but not overwhelmed.
  • The Six Universals from Learning Research
      • WHY: If you know the purpose, and see personal benefits, you learn better.
      • WHAT: If you know exactly what you are supposed to learn, you learn better.
      • STRUCTURE: The clearer the organizational structure, the more they retain.
      • RESPONSE: If you practice during learning, you learn better.
      • FEEDBACK: Based on what they do, they get feedback, they learn better.
      • REWARD: If you feel good about what you’re learning and feel rewarded, you learn better.
  • Cognitive strategies help make learning stick by creating mental methodologies, and packaged learning.
      • Clustering: arranging similar information helps with retention and understanding.
      • Spatial: the way information is displayed helps facilitate comprehension and recall.
      • Advanced Organizers: organized, short summary of what the learner will see to set an expectation or build a vision.
      • Image-rich Comparisons: making a comparison using a situation learners can relate to.
      • Repetition: using learning content repeatedly until it sticks (practice, practice, practice!).
      • Memory Aids: groups of easy-to-remember letters, words or images that help store and retrieve more complex material.
  • Generate learning and performance through games and game-like activities. Their structure, barrier-breaking nature and the need for active participation, create dynamic, effective experiential sessions. The key to designing a successful game is by applying the concepts of existing games to the subject you’re teaching (i.e. use a crossword puzzle to discuss key terms).

This event was intense, but also thought-provoking. The ITT team shared many riveting conversations about how to adapt the newly learned strategies to future DELTA workshops, and some key points have already been implemented into the remaining spring workshops. The name of the workshop, Telling Ain’t Training, indeed lived up to its name, as it was evident in all of the lively discussions and interactive lessons that were experienced!