How to keep employees coming back for more?

There is a lot of talk about connecting with and professionally developing millennials in the workplace. I certainly face this challenge with most of my clients, which can also be compounded we also have to provide training to seasoned staff, and sometimes even long-time credentialed professionals.

For a company to be successful in providing quality training and professional development for their employees, they need to engage their learners from the moment they logg into the training portal.

Training and professional development is critical when you are looking to recruit potential employees, develop and retain current staff, and ultimately generate an environment of company pride, loyalty, and excitement. If you want people across the country to be buzzing about how you take care of your employees, how you help develop their skills in the industry, how you help them grow professionally, and how you create a path for they to succeed, you need to provide your employees with engaging training and a detailed development plan.

The training and education industry is not much different from any other industry attempting to engage the end-user. We live in a technology-rich environment, constantly stimulated by the latest and greatest. As a result, our attention span as a society has shortened and the challenge has become, how do we keep the interest of the end-user?

The movie industry pushes the limits of special effects to attract and entertain movie goers – look at the abundance of action movie remakes from the 80s. With today’s technology, producers and directors are confident that they can turn a 30 year old movie into a new and exciting experience. This is ingenious because not only do they attract the younger generations, but also those individuals who saw the original some 30 years ago and are interested in how that original can be improved upon.

Computer manufactures recognize this shift in life-styles. When was the last time you saw a commercial about the latest and greatest desktop computer? Today’s demand is in convenience and mobility, but still powerful. It wasn’t that long ago that the computer had its role, and your cell phone had its distinctive roll as a method of communication, but that is no longer the case. The gap between these two technologies has been bridged with the development of the tablet. How many of you have your tablet with you at this conference? With the tablet, I can host a conference call, talk to my family, schedule appointments, work on spreadsheets, search the internet, and even take classes. The desktop is becoming obsolete, because today’s person is constantly on the go. They are constantly seeking interaction and engagement. That is why hardware manufacturers are focused on the research and development of more powerful tablets and phones, rather than clunky and restrictive desktop computers.

Let’s take a look at the video game industry, and think back to the days of Atari and original Nintendo. Generation X grew up with games like Donkey Kong and Pac Man.  And I know there are some baby boomer parents out there who were playing these video games after their kids went to bed. Now jump ahead to today’s generation – the millenials and their generation X parents are entertained by life-like characters and 3D effects. I still have my original Nintendo system, and I tried to get my 7 year old son to play the football game – “10 Yard Fight”. He lasted for about 3 minutes and was completely bored. He got frustrated that the players moved so slowly. He wanted to know why there weren’t plays to select, and why the players were so small and all one color. Why the remote control didn’t shake when you tackled someone, and why there was only 2 buttons on the remote.

This experience got me thinking about my profession and the online trainings I develop. The question we must ask ourselves is, in today’s technology-rich society, are we engaging our employees with high quality training, encouraging them to keep coming back for more, or are we simply forcing a lot of information on our staff?  Are you using PowerPoint slides that were converted into E-learning modules, webinar recordings that with sub-par audio quality, videos that look more like home videos, and an over-abundance of PDF documents that are likely never read, or simply printed out and sit somewhere in a binder until it becomes outdated. Take a look at your user-interface. Is it boring? Does is lack any kind of graphic design? Are courses difficult to find? Do your courses play on a variety of platforms such as tablets and smartphones? Are your interactions within the courses limited to icons that simply trigger text boxes to appear to provide more information?

I am a firm believer that the quality of training you provide to your employees is a clear reflection of your company’s philosophies as a whole. If a company’s priority is taking care of their customer’s needs, than that company should have quality training that takes care of their employees’ needs. If a company preaches state of the art technology, then their training should be developed using state of the art technology.

One of the first things I do when assessing a clients current training, is determine, whether their training adequately reflects who they are as a company. And too many times I find that they are the culprit of one of the most common mistakes by instructional designers moving to mobile – they take pre-existing courses and simply shrink up the content, and rely too heavily on PDF documents or simple videos.

The fact is, if the learner is taking a course on a mobile device, they are likely on the go. That means distractions, time limitations, and overall greater potential for disengagement. PDFs, standard training videos, and PowerPoint slides do nothing to overcome these obstacles.  With the advances in technology available to today’s consumer, there is an expectation by the learner that the quality of engagement would be reflective of 2014, and not 1995 or even 2005.

Companies, specifically instructional designers and training departments need to focus on creating an intuitive, engaging platform for training that will keep employees coming back for more.

The first step is to brainstorm as a team, to dream big. Push the limits of what is possible and only concede those impossible elements, once they were proven to truly be impossible.  With the design in place it is time to develop the necessary skills within your current instructional design staff, and hire additional instructional designers who already have the skill-set to accomplish what was designed.  Be sure to gain support from the executives in this dream by accepting the budget necessary to grow the instructional design team, and purchase the required software and hardware to develop industry leading training materials.

With the advances in HTML5 and mobile apps – utilized today’s software such as iClone, Maya, even Sketch-up to begin building a virtual learning environments and avatars so that you can develop customized training for all key elements within your company including customer service, new hire orientation, product knowledge, risk and safety, and continuing education credit courses for credentialed professionals. 

Be sure your courses use branched learning methodology with the enhancement of 3D modeling for a modern video game quality engagement. Interactions, including simulations and discovery, so that the end-users are empowered to control their learning experience. Develop a combination of videos on demand and live telepresence courses enhanced by social learning, so that your employees truly have the opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed in both a mobile environment and in a more traditional online setting.

What I would like you to all ask yourselves is, does your training materials adequately reflect the philosophies of your company? Are you developing and distributing training appropriate for the Atari and Desktop Computer generation, or for the Tablet and Nintendo 3Ds generation?

 

Classifying the Learner

As an Instructional Design and Trainer, it is essential to have a complete understanding of how people learn and that students have different learning capacities.

The Intuitive Learner – encompasses all of us in early childhood as we are all intuitive learners from birth to the age 7, when education in schools transform children into traditional students.  However, it is not uncommon that intuitive learners can extend beyond the age of seven.  Intuitive learners are typically more motivated to learn due to the hands-on approach for learning.

The Traditional Student – are students from the ages 7 and up are traditional students.  A traditional student is one that that learners gains knowledge from teacher lectures, books, and data.  Traditional students are taught to remember and regurgitate information, but not are unable to apply the information into real life situations.  Traditional learning does not support effective learning for all students, due to the fact that not all students have the ability to conform to a traditional student.  There are also are disadvantages for traditional students such as a lack of motivational learning and critical thinking.

The Disciplinary Expert – are those people who are able to take the knowledge of a traditional learner and apply that information to real life situations.  Disciplinary experts are those that base their learning more on inquiry based learning rather than standards based learning.  To become a disciplinary expert, a learner needs to be able to achieve higher order thinking when learning and assessing information in either a traditional or intuitive way.  Critical thinking is an essential part of being a disciplinary expert.

By Higher Power Training: Providing Instructional Design and Training Services since 2000

Critical Look at the Educational System

Dr. Howard Gardner takes a critical look at the educational system in the United States by identifying the objectives and evaluating the success of the educational system.  Through his findings, he identifies the issues within the schools across the country and offers four reforms to enhance learning in the educational system.  Are his ideas on education accurate?  Can his reforms be implemented and successful?  How can technology aid in Dr. Howard Garner’s reforms?

Critique of Dr. Gardner’s Ideas on Education

Dr. Howard Gardner has presented some valuable insight into the minds of students as well as into the effects of the educational system.  In his opinion, most schools have failed to be successful and unable to obtain their goals; while those schools that proclaim success still lack the ability to provide their students with deeper understanding.  Although I completely agree with his opinion, I disagree with his statement that the failures in school are a reflection of failures in society.  I am a firm believer that although some students may fail under the constraints of formal education, those same students may continue to learn and succeed with the aid of alternative learning provided throughout our society.  Dr. Gardner states that “Human beings have tremendous capacities to learn and develop, as can easily be seen if one watches a child actively exploring his environment during the first years of life.” (Gardner, 2004, 249)  I am completely in agreement with Dr. Gardner but question the cause of limiting a person’s capacity for learning as they mature.  What in human nature, society, or education prevents children from continuing to learn at the same capacity as their first year of life?  In my opinion, the structure of education places the constraints of students’ ability to learn.  This opinion is backed by Dr. Gardner who points out that “educators should exploit the cognitive and affective powers of the five-year-old mind (an energetic, imaginative, and integrating kind of learner) and attempt to keep it alive in all of us.” (Gardner, 2004, 250)  Unfortunately, “schools are subject to various constraints that make it difficult for them to serve diverse clientele and to undergo smooth changes.” (Gardner, 2004, 251)  I am in complete agreement and would label ‘state standards’ as one of those constraints preventing success in the educational system.  State standards force teachers to teach information to be regurgitated in testing and limits students the ability to develop inquiry-based thinking as well as a deeper understanding of the information.

Evaluation Dr. Gardner’s Proposed Reforms

Dr. Gardner proposes four reforms to assist in the improvement of the educational system.  The first deals with how students are assessed, the second is concerned with the quality of curriculum, the third addresses teacher practices in the classroom, and the final component is community support.  Although my opinions are somewhat mixed with Dr. Gardner’s critique of the educational system, my opinions are in complete agreement with Dr. Gardner’s educational reform.  Assessment is key to any program, including the educational system.  Standardized testing is a poor evaluation due to the fact that it is only measuring the student’s ability to regurgitate information.  Building portfolios as mentioned by Dr. Gardner is a much truer evaluation of students’ ability because it would allow students to problem-solve, use creativity, and have a deeper understanding of the information presented in class.  As stated by Dr. Gardner, “unless the accompanying curriculum is of quality, the assessment has no use.”  (Gardner, 2004, 254)  Both the second and third reforms dealing with curriculum and teachers are related to one another.  Although Dr. Gardner does not go into great detail about improving the quality of the curriculum, he does note that professional development is critical for teachers to improve the quality of teacher practices in the classroom.  I am a firm believer that professional development is necessary for teachers to continue to improve in their professions as well as introduce new ideas, information, and technology that may help teachers improve the quality of learning in their classrooms.  The fourth and final reform addresses the need for community support.  Dr. Gardner calls for the local communities to be active in the schools.  I think this is very important when motivating students for the future as well as introducing real-world applications for information taught in the classroom.

Recommendations for Dr. Gardner

Dr. Gardner has identified some very key factors in improving the educational system.  My only recommendation I would have for Dr. Gardner is to go into greater detail with his reforms by offering specific examples of how to apply the reforms.  My suggestions would include specific assessment types such as art portfolios, science projects, or PowerPoint presentations.  The quality of curriculum may be improved by changing the focus from regurgitated information to the development of problem-solving skills and inquiry-based thinking.  Community support can also be improved by offering internships and collaborations with other businesses, museums, art galleries, and other informal education facilities.

Recommendations for the Educational Establishment

When taking into account Dr. Gardner’s reforms, the greatest recommendation I have to offer is to develop a successful pipeline for students to be successful not only in their current grade level, but future grade levels — to motivate students to attend and succeed in college.  To develop a successful pipeline, schools must develop a successful program early in a child’s educational life.  To be successful, schools cannot educate students alone; informal educational centers, museums, and businesses must collaborate with schools to develop in-class curriculum, after-school activities, and hands-on experiences to reinforce and generate deeper understanding of information taught in the classroom.  Schools must also address the needs of all students; understanding that not all students learn the same nor can they be evaluated the same; thus assessments should be flexible enough to obtain truer results than the typical standardized testing currently in place.

The Role of Technology in the Future of Education

Dr. Gardner’s reforms can be enhanced by the use of technology in education.  When reevaluating assessment design, the integration of technology can assist in new and exciting ways to evaluate student progress; these technologies can include podcast production and PowerPoint presentations.  As Dr Gardner noted, an increased improvement in curriculum is critical and can be accomplished by integrating technology that provides alternative learning, reinforcement of information, deeper understanding of curriculum, and motivation for students.    Technology such as software, Internet, and interactive multimedia can provide alternative teaching techniques, access to information, help develop problem-solving skills in the classroom and encourage inquiry-based thinking.  Technology integration can also impact teacher practices in the classroom which was one of the other necessary reforms.  However, with all new applications, professional development focusing on technology integration will be key.  The final role of technology and perhaps the most important role is the ability to showcase students work on a much larger platform, thus increasing student motivation and pride in their academic accomplishments.

Conclusion

Dr. Gardner has a very objective and critical, but true view of the educational system.  He offers some great reform theories that may truly improve the success of students on the educational system.  As he identified, it is the responsibility of teachers, administrators, parents, and all other citizens in the community to reach out and assist in the reforms for there to be any great improvement.  In this Era of Technology, multimedia and technology can be a positive benefit to enhance Dr. Gardner’s reforms and generate even greater success in improving the educational system.

By Higher Power Training: Providing Instructional Design and Training Services since 2000

Reference

Gardner, H. (2004). The unschooled mind, tenth anniversary edition, pages 249. New York, NY: Basic Books.

No Child Left Behind Legislation Literature Review

No Child Left Behind Legislation was passed in 2001 in an attempt to bring equality to the classroom for all ethnicities, economic status and geographical locations.  However, it has been apparent since the legislation went into affect, it has been ineffective.  There are two recent articles that support the need for the legislation to be improved.  Giving Students Equal Access to Quality Education, by T Willard Fair, discusses possible issues why the legislation has failed thus far; while Senator Burr Introduces No Child Left Behind Re-authorization, addresses proposed solutions to compensate for the ineffective legislation. Both of these articles provide recent insight to the legislation, as a curriculum and program developer this legislation and the way it affects our schools and education in our society directly impacts instructional design for the Department of Education.

T Willard Fair addresses the supplemental educational services program that provides free tutoring for students, by identifying that only 17 percent of all qualified students actually participated in the program.   To offer a free program that only 17 percent of students take advantage of is horrific but unfortunately not surprising.  According to the article, parents are blaming the school districts by stating that the information is not available soon enough and not in all languages used by students and parents in the school districts.  T Willard Fair goes on to offer suggestions for legislation improvement such as eliminating road blocks for parents and students to access the free tutoring, hold school budgets accountable for specific programs, enhancing the program throughout school districts, and implementing the program within other local community organizations.

In Senator Burr’s revision, the system is still rooted in state standards and assessments with an increased timeline for schools develop and implement plans to improve the students’ academic achievements.  The new legislation would put a greater emphasis on high school graduation by implementing accelerated academic catch-up programs, developing early warning systems to identify possible drop-outs, and providing students the opportunity to job shadow, intern, and complete community service.

Similar to both articles, the original legislation lacks enough structure and support to be successful.  In T Willard Fair’s article, parents are quoted, stating that the schools generate too many road blocks; however, the parents need to be more accountable for their child’s learning opportunities.  The high school developed program called SeaTech provides students with more opportunities in marine science.  This is a completely free program held in local community organizations designed to create a path for under-served teens to develop the tools necessary to be successful in college and in the workplace.  We provide internships, college prep classes, college tours and even a few college scholarships, yet we find it difficult for students to make a commitment to the program, primarily due to the lack of parental support.  If students and parents are not going to be held accountable, it is very difficult for schools to be successful with programs such as free tutoring.

Senator Burr’s revisions to the legislation looks great on paper but accelerated programs will force teachers to cut corners in education which will most like frustrate both students and teachers.  The biggest success may be the job shadowing and intern program being developed, however, the students that would take advantage of this type of opportunity are the same students that do not necessarily require a system like this one.

The biggest problem with the legislation, which was not addressed in either article is the focus on state standards and assessments. Unfortunately state standards do not aide students in the development of critical or creative thinking nor do state standards measure a student’s personal growth.

Both Senator Burr and T Willard Fair address the need for the revision of the No Child Left Behind Legislation 2001 with their own opinions of what needs to be adjusted for the legislation to be successful.  Although their intentions are well, their suggestions may not produce the results we are all hoping for in our educational system.

By Higher Power Training: Providing Instructional Design and Training Services since 2000

Bibliography

 SEN. BURR INTRODUCES NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND REAUTHORIZATION. (2007, July 12). US Fed News Service, Including US State News, Retrieved July 13, 2007, from General Interest Module database. (Document ID: 1303638981).

T Willard Fair (2007, June 22). Giving students equal access to quality education. Recorder,p. A8. Retrieved July 13, 2007, from Ethnic NewsWatch (ENW) database. (Document ID: 1303634701).

HPT

Traditional Classroom Training is still the preferred form of instruction in today’s professional industry.  But whether the education is traditional or technology rich, the foundation is based on Human Performance Technology.

Human Performance Technology (HPT), a systematic approach to improving productivity and competence, uses a set of methods and procedures — and a strategy for solving problems — for realizing opportunities related to the performance of people. More specific, it is a process of selection, analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation of programs to most cost-effectively influence human behavior and accomplishment. It is a systematic combination of three fundamental processes: performance analysis, cause analysis, and intervention selection, and can be applied to individuals, small groups, and large organizations.

How Does HPT Work?

HPT uses a wide range of interventions that are drawn from many other disciplines including, behavioral psychology, instructional systems design, organizational development, and human resources management. As such, it stresses a rigorous analysis of present and desired levels of performance, identifies the causes for the performance gap, offers a wide range of interventions with which to improve performance, guides the change management process, and evaluates the results. Taken one word at a time, a description of this performance improvement strategy emerges.

Human: the individuals and groups that make up our organizations
Performance: activities and measurable outcomes
Technology: a systematic and systemic approach to solve practical problems

Principles of Human Performance Technology

Human Performance Technology (HPT) has been described as the systematic and systemic identification and removal of barriers to individual and organizational performance. As such, HPT is governed by a set of underlying principles that serve to differentiate it from other disciplines and to guide practitioners in its use.

HPT focuses on outcomes. Focusing on outcomes, that is results, allows for questioning, confirming, and reconfirming that people share the same vision and goals, the job procedures support productivity, efficiency, and quality, and that people have the knowledge, skills, and motivation they require.

Where is there an opportunity or a performance gap, a difference between the present and the desired levels of performance? Outcomes or results of an intervention will be measured to determine whether or not performance has improved. Sometimes it is necessary to challenge the assumed answer to a problem or the expected event or activity of an intervention and instead focus on the accomplishment or business need that is the client’s true priority.

HPT takes a systems view. Taking a systems view is vital, because organizations are very complex systems that affect the performance of the individuals that work within them.

It is important to distinguish a systems approach from a process model. A process contains inputs and outputs with feedback loops. A system implies an interconnected complex of functionally related components. The effectiveness of each unit depends on how it fits into the whole and the effectiveness of the whole depends on the way each unit functions. A systems approach considers the larger environment that impacts processes and other work. The environment includes inputs, but, more importantly, it includes pressures, expectations, constraints, and consequences.

HPT adds value. This is an assessment that clients will be asked to make. Clients should be offered a process that will help them fully understand the implications of their choices, set appropriate measures, identify barriers and tradeoffs, and take control.

While HPT requires a focus on intermediate goals (such as improving quality, customer retention, and cost reduction), its success is measured in improvements in desired business outcomes (such as sales, profitability, and market share). Alignment of individual performance to intermediate and business outcomes is critical to the HPT methodology. Measurement of results at both of these levels serves two important purposes, that of communicating the importance of what is being done while also assessing the amount of performance improvement.

HPT establishes partnerships. Performance improvement professionals work in partnership with clients and other specialists. A collaborative effort involves relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process and involves working with specialists in their areas of expertise.

Working collaboratively includes sharing decisions about goals, next steps to take in the process, and implementation strategies as shared responsibilities. Partnerships are created from listening closely to clients and colleagues, trusting and respecting each other’s knowledge and expertise.

Be systematic in the assessment of the need or opportunity. Analysis occurs in the beginning of the project. Needs or opportunity analysis is about examining the current situation at any level or levels (society, organizational, process, or work group) to identify the external and internal pressures affecting it. This process will determine the deficiencies or performance gaps that are to be remedied. The output is a statement describing the current state, the projected future state, and the rationale or business case for action or non-action.

Be systematic in the analysis of the work and workplace to identify the cause or factors that limit performance. Cause analysis is about determining why a gap in performance or expectations exists. Some causes are obvious such as new hires lack the required skills to do the expected task. This step in the systematic process will determine what should be addressed to improve performance. The output is a statement of why performance is not happening or will not happen without some intervention. Job task analysis includes the identification of the important tasks that employees must perform and the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform them. The output is performance objectives that describe the desired performance, delineate the conditions under which the performance is done, and identify the criteria for successful performance.

Be systematic in the design of the solution or specification of the requirements of the solution. Design is about identifying the key attributes of a solution. The output is a communication that describes the features, attributes, and elements of a solution and the resources required to actualize it.

Be systematic in the development of all or some of the solution and its elements. Development is about the creation of some or all of the elements of the solution. It can be done by an individual or a team. The output is a product, process, system, or technology. Examples include training, performance support tools, a new or re-engineered process, the redesign of a workspace, or a change in compensation or benefits.

Be systematic in the implementation of the solution. Implementation is about deploying the solution and managing the change required to sustain it. The outputs are changes in or adoption of the behaviors that are believed to produce the anticipated results or benefits. This standard is about helping clients adopt new behaviors or use new or different tools.

Be systematic in the evaluation of the process and the results. Evaluation is about measuring the efficiency and effectiveness of what was done, how it was done, and the degree to which the solution produced the desired results so that the cost incurred and the benefits gained can be compared. This standard is about identifying and acting on opportunities throughout the systematic process to identify measures and capture data that will help identify needs, adoption, and results.

The HPT Model

The HPT process begins with a comparison of the present and the desired levels of individual and organizational performance to identify the performance gap. A cause analysis is then done to determine what impact the work environment (information, resources, and incentives) and the people (motives, individual capacity, and skills) are having on performance.

Once the performance gap and the causes have been determined, the appropriate interventions are designed and developed. These may include measurement and feedback systems, new tools and equipment, compensation and reward systems, selection and placement of employees, and training and development. The interventions are then implemented and the change process managed.

Evaluation is done after each phase of the process. Initially, formative evaluation assesses the performance analysis, cause analysis, intervention selection and design, and intervention and change phases. Then evaluation focuses on the immediate response of employees and their ability and willingness to do the desired behaviors. The final evaluations are centered on improvement of business outcomes (such as quality, productivity, sales, customer retention, profitability, and market share) as well as determining return on investment for the intervention.

Edward Thorndike vs. B.F. Skinner

Conditioning human behavior is a topic that has been researched for years.  Two psychologists that spent much of their lives researching and testing their theories were Edward Thorndike and B.F. Skinner.  Both psychologists developed their own theories on how to condition human behaviors; Thorndike’s theory is called the Law of Effect and Skinner’s theory is the Reinforcing Stimulus/Reinforcing Concepts.  Although both theories are different, they both share many similarities and can potentially be combined to help create an effective computer software program to effectively teach students in the classroom.

Thorndike’s Law of Effect states that a response followed by a pleasant consequence is more likely to be repeated, whereas a response followed by an unpleasant consequence is more likely to be diminished.  The Law of Effect is directly a function of the interactions between positive (pleasant) and negative (unpleasant) reinforcements and punishments.  A positive consequence is defined as the gaining of something, while a negative consequence is the removal of something.  A positive reinforcement can be defined as something that can be perceived as a pleasant consequence, thus increasing the likelihood that a behavior will occur again.  A negative punishment is defined as something that provides an unpleasant consequence thus decreases the likelihood that something will be repeated.  The greater the reinforcements or punishments, the greater the effects of the law.

Skinner’s Reinforcing Stimulus/Reinforcing Concepts defines a reinforcing stimulus or reinforcer as a special kind of a stimulus encountered by someone performs a behavior.  This special stimulus has the effect of increasing the behavior occurring just before the reinforcer.  Skinner’s concepts state that if a behavior is followed by a consequence, and the nature of the consequence modifies tendency to repeat the behavior in the future.  A behavior followed by a reinforcing stimulus may result in an increased probability of that behavior occurring in the future; while a behavior that lacks a reinforcing stimulus may result in a decreased probability of that behavior occurring in the future.

Both Thorndike’s and Skinner’s theories have many similarities and differences.  Both theories recognize that consequences due to behaviors have a direct impact on conditioning human behavior.  However, in Skinner’s theory, a behavior is likely to reoccur based on a reinforcer rather than whether the stimulus is positive or negative.  Thorndike’s theory on the other hand is based primarily on the reinforcements and punishments, both which in theory could be stimulating.  Both theories can cross paths in an attempt to positively reinforce someone for a good behavior.  The theories are less likely to co-exist in negative behaviors.  For example, if a child does something they are not supposed to, you are likely to yell no to them which is a negative punishment, however still very stimulating to a child.  The one instance when a the theories can cross paths for negative behavior is when the negative punishment described by Thorndike involves taking attention away from the person doing the behavior, thus limiting the stimulus described by Skinner.

In designing a computer-based training program, it is critical to take the consistencies within both of these theories to identify the most appropriate ways to positively reinforce students for success within the computer-based or web-based training program, while limiting the stimulus for incorrect answers or decisions within the program.  As a result, a proper computer-based training program should be designed with many bells and whistles for positive reinforcement and stimulus for positive decision making while incorrect decisions will be identified by least reinforcing scenarios such as a single black and white note stating that the answer was wrong.

Skinner and Thorndike have similarities when combined to create an excellent foundation for designing computer-based training and web-based training.  The two greatest impacts to conditioning behavior are positive reinforcements such as exciting stimulus and least reinforcing scenarios to be treated as negative punishment.  Computer-based training and web-based training and virtual scenario based trainings are excellent ways in the Era of Technology to continue to condition human behavior.

By Higher Power Training: Providing Instructional Design and Training Services since 2000

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http://www.acs.appstate.edu/~kms/classes/psy3202/Thorndike.htm.

http://www.macalester.edu/psychology/whathap/diaries/diariesf95/Sarah/law.html.

http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/skinner.html.

Performance Gap Analysis

Definition

Performance gap analysis deals with inspecting a situation, usually from a business perspective, to see how an organization, branch or individual can reach certain necessary goals. “Performance gap” refers to the distance between the current situation and the desired situation, or the goal. Performance gap analysis is one of the most popular and easy forms of business analysis and has widespread applications.

Process

Performance gap analysis is usually conducted in three different stages. First, a problem is identified–an issue that could be expressed as a goal that has not yet been reached or a specific difficulty that needs to be overcome to improve individual or team performance, and hence the business. Next, criteria are developed to accurately define the current performance (as observed and recorded by company metrics) and then the performance required to solve the problem. Lastly, steps to move from current performance to desired performance are formulated and implemented.

Performance and performance factors (metrics) can differ based on the situation. The four-needs system is a common method used for differentiating between different types of performance. The analysis is structured into business, job, training and individual factors. Business needs are rated in terms of results or impact on the market; job performance deals with employee behavior; training needs apply to employee learning and knowledge; and individual needs are based on the reactions of different people to specific situations.

Soft Skills

One of the most difficult areas to analyze with the performance gap technique is the arena of soft skills, or skills that deal more with attitude and perspective than with technical skills or acquiring new knowledge. Customer service and teamwork are two of the most common soft skills, and training employees to reach goals in these areas is often challenging for businesses. Because soft skills can be difficult to measure, they are often addressed by more in-depth performance gap analysis.

Dealing with Changes

While many performance gaps already exist within the framework of an organization, some are created as the organization moves into new areas or adopts new procedures. This is the second field of performance gap analysis, which takes a change in the workplace and analyzes what needs to be done to successfully deal with the change. This type of analysis is often done as the change is taking place, and thus does not necessarily deal with an existing problem as much as it is designed to ensure that the organization is ready for the new situation.

Application

Performance gap analysis can be useful for all types of businesses, large and small. It is a highly goal-oriented analysis and is often useful for individuals as well, especially athletes in training, students studying for classes, and other people with specific goals they need to meet.