Three ways GDPR changes life for L&D managers

by Viv Cole on April 6, 2018

GDPR is one of e-learning’s hot topics in 2018. Here’s a blog that I co-wrote with Brightwave’s Head of QA, Simon Hollobon, on how it will affect L&D managers when they have a breathing space from getting learning to their colleagues about GDPR. [click to continue…]


An update on a post about learning objectives which attracted a healthy amount of support and debate: refinements to that position and what it means in practice for learning designers.

One of the richest compilations of high quality thinking is Will Thalheimer’s. If you can’t spare 30 minutes to watch the video, here are my key take outs:

  • Showing learning objectives to learners has some measurable benefit to learners as it helps focus them on what is ‘salient’.
  • Plenty of other tactics commonly used by learning designers have been shown to enhance ‘salience’ e.g. repetition, interactivity, visual reinforcement.
  • Learning objectives are rarely written in a way that gets the pulse racing e.g. “List the 8 principles of data protection regulations”. [I can only apologise for having bullet points in this article…]

As I previously argued, having specific learning objectives is essential – it gives a basis for measuring if the learning has been successful and otherwise you risk designing the wrong piece of learning or risk greater expense amending it once it has been built.

The question is “Is it best practice to show learners the learning objectives?

Showing learning objectives: Some pros

  1. Learners want to how the learning will benefit them before they commit time to it.
  2. Some benefits to learning in terms of salience.
  3. It shows that L&D have gone through the process of working out what the learning objectives were.

Showing learning objectives: Some cons

  1. Bullet points of learning objectives are dull – putting them at the start of a piece of learning just when you’re trying to build engagement is self-defeating.
  2. Given the previous point and that objectives are often not expressed in a way that shouts “what’s in it for me?”, people ignore them anyway.
  3. If a learner does not know something, will seeing a learning objective including terms they don’t know only confuse them more?
  4. Rephrasing the objectives as questions that this module will help you answer is just as effective at providing salience (Thalheimer ibid).

Clive Shepherd has described further related pros and cons of learning objectives.

What’s the way forward?

  1. Have learning objectives
  2. Where possible, rephrase the learning objectives in more attention-grabbing ways e.g. “5 challenges with XYZ that the ABC process helps you solve” “How to FGH without blowing your budget” “3 key questions about JKL to answer”
  3. If you feel the need to show the learning objectives as a series of bullet points that Bloom and his taxonomists would be proud of, make them on an ‘opt-in’ basis e.g. have them as reveal text in a click-reveal which does not have to be clicked. If your platform lets you do so, do A/B testing to see how many learners click to see the learning objectives. Let me know you get on!

So why the metadata analogy?

Metadata are the unseen HTML elements of a webpage which tell search engines what the page is all about. For users, this means the webpage is easier to find and more likely to be relevant. If you’re interested enough in metadata and have basic HTML skills, you can right click on any webpage and View source to see the metadata. 99% of the time you won’t need to see the metadata, but it’s good to know it’s there.


Three essential charts about learners for L&D business partners to show their stakeholders

October 4, 2017

As noted before, many factors have made it harder for L&D professionals to know their learners really well. This means that L&D initiatives are more exposed to guesswork and questionable opinions of other business stakeholders about what good learning looks like e.g. “the way I learned this was” , “the way that my kids are learning is all […]

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Why the time is right for self-managed learning

May 31, 2017

In 1990 Peter Senge published “The Fifth Discipline” , giving a compelling vision of how companies could transform into learning organisations. The ideas chime with many L&D professionals, but adoption by business has been patchy. As both Towards Maturity and Bersin have recently launched reports on self-managed learning, it reminded me of a project I […]

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I don’t want “to understand” in my learning objectives

November 21, 2016

Learning objectives are core tools of the trade in learning design. If you can state “By the end of this course/e-learning/other, a learner will be able to X”, you have a focus for your design and a means for reviewers to check that the learning journey will get to its intended destination. I’ve noticed in […]

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Five more ingredients for compliance e-learning excellence

October 17, 2016

Once again I had the privilege to judge the e-learning awards (now called the Learning Technology Awards). When I last judged the compliance category two years ago I wrote Five ingredients for compliance e-learning excellence. It was great to see that many of the entries reflected these five ingredients and the general improvement in learner […]

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Let’s focus on the learning (with a little help from Cynefin)

June 15, 2016

I enjoyed a day out at the Learning Technologies Summer Forum yesterday. Like many conferences, there was no shortage of vendors trying to broadcast how their offering is the panacea to organisations’ performance problems. This noise about the channels of learning (“modality”) tends to distract from a far more significant consideration: What is the nature of […]

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Viv on Learning Now TV on 31 March

March 21, 2016

As an experienced blended learning designer and judge of the e-learning Awards (recently rebranded as the Learning Technologies Awards), I was invited to appear on TV. As part of the learning designers series, I’ve shared three key tips on blended learning design on LNTV.

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Professional Services e-learning Forum (PSEF) welcomes CLO of the year

March 4, 2016

Fresh from being awarded CLO of the year by the LPI, forum member Sarah Lindsell, Global & UK Director of Digital Learning and Learning Strategies at PwC, was the guest speaker at PSeF‘s 3 March meeting hosted by Deloitte.

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Escaping from the compliance e-learning cul-de-sac

October 29, 2015

Much of the e-learning that professional firms offer is compliance-based. The risk is that poor compliance e-learning ends up tainting learners’ expectations of e-learning (this is sometimes referred to as the “compliance e-learning cul-de-sac”). In an effort to promote better compliance learning as part of positively building organisations’ cultures of compliance, Towards Maturity and SAI Global […]

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