Uncategorized

Asking Powerful Questions: Using Coaching Skills in Learning Design

Here is my lightning talk presented at LXDCon 2021 conference last month. I often use “how” and “what” questions for the sticky problems I’m trying to solve with learning design. Besides asking short, direct questions — the key is to WAIT and listen as either someone or a team figures out the next best direction to take. Although this animation focuses on how coaching skills can be utilized for learning experience design, I know that powerful questions have the power to unlock meaningful answers and better solutions in a number of workplaces — so I hope you find this applicable to the work you do as well. Enjoy!

How will powerful questions show up in your work? What powerful questions will you ask next?
Created by Laura Pasquini

TRANSCRIPT FOR TALK:

Asking Powerful Questions: Using Coaching Skills in Learning Design

What is your past experience with coaching? One of my early coaching memories was being part of a swim team. To be competitive, my coach was a guide on the side to:

  • Improve stroke techniques;
  • Offer feedback on flip turns and starts;
  • Motivate me to get into the pool at 5 am; and
  • Provide focus before each swim heat on race day.

partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

The International Coaching Federation (or ICF) definition of coaching

Now that I am beginning to coach professionals to find meaningful career pathways that align with their talents and skills, a number of these early coaching experiences and skills related to coaching show up in my daily work as a learning designer.

In LXD, we are always working to solve problems with learning solutions. Coaching skills are critical for training development because:

“How we solve the problem is just as important as the solution.”

One key coaching skill I bring to my own learning design work is – asking powerful questions. Powerful questions help us “Dive Deep” and empower “Ownership” as we find clarity around any issue, problem, or challenging topic.

Here are 5 elements that make up a Powerful Question:

  1. Short and Direct – to get to the point as quickly as possible with minimal context or rambling questions
  2. Open-ended– to encourage detailed, reflective responses on any issue; they often start with a “what?” or “how?” stem; avoid the “why” questions, as others might feel you’re challenging their motives
  3. Curious & Non-Judgmental – originating from a true place of inquiry; so, avoid any leading or interpretive questions that reflect your opinion or biases – show that you’re curious
  4. Focused – on the other person’s perspective and contributions; these questions are directed to reach a specific goal or outcome from the person you’re talking to
  5. Followed by Silence – avoid offering your solution – pause and WAIT to listen to the response. W.A.I.T. is also an acronym for “Why Am I Talking?”

In LX work we are asked to design and develop with and for our stakeholders. To truly partner and collaborate, it is important to address both the need and clarify the solution before starting any project. But remember NOT to ask a solution-oriented question – that is a piece of advice with a question mark pasted on the end of it – you know you’re heard or used these ones before: Should you; could you; will you; don’t you; can you; are you.

If the second word in the question is “YOU” you’re in trouble. Instead, think of these questions as an open door, that invites everyone into the conversation. Powerful questions can:

  • Kickstart a meeting, by asking “What’s on your mind?”
  • Unpack a root problem not shared, by asking “What’s the real challenge here?”
  • And reveal an idea that was never even considered, by asking “And what else?”

Powerful questions can help our teams reach our shared goals and surface issues or ideas early on in the project planning process. We often offer solutions, but perhaps a powerful question will unlock more answers and offer incredible insights to how we work backwards for learning design. When you ask others coaching questions first it:

  • Reveals all the information that is going on
  • Creates buy-in to get results
  • Develops leadership capacity and responsibility
  • Empowers others to take action and be accountable
  • Offers authentic ways to build trust and transparency between colleagues

Consider the next time you meet with someone on your team or involved in a learning design project to enter into a coaching conversation as an exploration adventure.

Identify the goal or purpose of the meeting, and then allow for exploration questions such as “Tell me more…” or “What’s behind that?”

Next time a sticky problem comes up, don’t let your advice monster appear before asking a few powerful questions, like:

  • What do you want?
  • What do you need?

This way you can moving into lets you brainstorm questions by asking “How do we remove this barrier?” or “What have you done in similar situations?” or “What options do you suggest?”

Before moving towards making a decision and the follow-up actions, you will want others to be accountable for their next steps:

  • What was most useful to you?
  • How can I help you achieve your goals?
  • What are you taking away from this conversation?

Now that you know this, my coaching challenge for you, and you’re learning design work:

  • How will powerful questions show up in your work?
  • What powerful questions will you ask next?

Learn more at:

This video features the song Drops of H20 (The Filtered Water Treatment) by J. Lang available under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Uncategorized

Learning in the Flow of Work

Over the last month, I have been thinking about learning, specifically what it means to be in a constant state or flow of learning. Not a new concept, nor has it been thought of by me, “Learning in the flow of work” recognizes that for learning to really happen, it must fit around and align itself to working days and working lives. Think about learning coming to us, rather it being a destination or event. This could be searching on Google, listening to a podcast, asking a peer for information, watching a “how to” video on YouTube, reading a blog, and more!

Learning in the flow of work: How are you staying curious and learning lately?

On a daily basis, I am learning. I can’t help it — sometimes it’s by choice and other times it’s due to a challenge. I want to learn a new skills, figure out a new process, work on a technical development, or understand a concept/idea further. What we do at work requires continual growth and learning, you may also call it:

  • just-in-time learning
  • “on demand” learning/training
  • micro-learning
  • open/digital badging
  • micro-credentials
  • upskilling
  • retooling
  • Or {insert some other creative title here}

How we learn formally (e.g. K-12, higher ed, and at work) and informally educate ourselves, impacts our professional lives. Regardless of the industry or sector, we are continually shifting what we need from our professionals and how we need to grow in our organizations. This evolution should and will require all of us to think about learning AS part of our professional life. A degree, certification, or credential will not be the end of your learning journey. Josh Bersin and Marc Zao-Sanders offer insights into how we all need to Make Learning a Part of Everyday Work. This “flow” of learning will not only drive engagement, but also improve employee moral, increases retention of staff, upskill and motivate employees, and raises productivity at work.

I am reconsidering what I think a training program or even a single course might look like. With “the new realities of work”, I think there are both challenges and opportunities to think about what our learner actually need at any given moment. What if we were to think more about the learner and placing the knowledge, skills, and ways to learn so it flows when they actually need ?

As we shift into a hybrid work and with learning being placed in the digital, maybe it’s time to move beyond a course, an event, or event a conference (says someone who just helped produce a virtual conference a couple weeks ago). I want to know how to better empower learners that learning IS part of their professional life, role, and responsibility. I would love to see organizations think about continuous learning approaches based on Deloitte’s Four Practices to Embed Learning in the Flow of Work to offer workers what they need to enable performance, outlined as:

  • Environment: the tools, resources, physical spaces, and virtual spaces workers inhabit
  • Exposure: interactions with people and groups of people, both formal and informal
  • Experience: special work projects, stretch assignments, developmental work
  • Education: classroom, self-paced, and blended learning familiar to learning professionals

Let’s not think of learning as something to get done, but framing learning as something we do in our role at work. Learning should flow in multiple directions and be available and relevant when it is required. The fifth “E” might be an expectation — that is a value, focus, or mission of your organization to state that learning is an ongoing practice and process for the work you do. Here are just some of the MANY questions I have swirling around in my head for learning and training design:

  • How can we be more intentional with learning from the start (e.g. orientation, onboarding, etc.)?
  • What would it look like to place learning as a value for all stakeholders in our organization?
  • How can we align learning experiences to the needs, skills, and abilities of our people we’re training/teaching?
  • What would it look like if we let our learners discover, experiment, and explore WHAT they need to learn WHEN they actually need it?

.

Uncategorized

Grief is Good?

I’ve been thinking a great deal about loss. This past year there has been so much loss in the world and in my own life. The loss of:

  • Human lives – literally, so many lives have been lost globally
  • Visiting loved ones – meeting family & friends in-person
  • Places of work – the spaces where/when/how we compartmentalize our jobs
  • Gathering of people – the art of gathering has vanished & often prohibited
  • Defined personal/professional roles – these do not look, feel, or behave the same way
  • A Sense of Self – Who am I? How to regulate & deal with life changes/challenges

Grief is our internal experience to loss – sadness, anger, confusion, bitterness, the sometimes desperate longing for what was or what had been. These feelings, emotions, and thoughts are all a part of our grief response. They are all possible, appropriate, and valid human reactions. ~ “Good Grief Charlie Brown!” Posted by Iris Song, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist, UWCC

Good Grief!

There is hope on the horizon with vaccine distribution and head towards heard immunity; however, much has been changed from the lives we once knew. Before we move forward, I wanted to talk about this challenge time we’ve all experienced collective loss, in one way or another. In reading Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief by David Kessler, and a recent conversation with Patrice on an #InVinoFab podcast episode, talked more about grief and reflected on what this has meant this past year.

Kessler shares how he and others have dealt with the 6th stage of grief – meaning – via his own experience of loss, lessons from others as a grief professional, and through powerful tools and practices. He mentioned Richard Tedeschi’s Growth After Trauma, where negative experiences can bring personal strength and new possibilities after including:

  1. Your relationships grow stronger
  2. You discover new purposes in life
  3. From the trauma you find strength
  4. Spirituality is deepened
  5. Renewed appreciation on life

There has been so much more than the pandemic that requires our grief — racial/social unrest, mass shootings, and mental health, to name a few. Unlike mourning, that often takes a public form (e.g. a post, image, blog, video, etc), grief is an internal processing of all the feelings. How, when, how long, and why you grieve is personal. There is no set time, pathway, or process to work through any grief you might be feeling. And it IS okay not to be OK, as you grieve even the small loses from this past year. It’s okay to feel ALL THE FEELS — in whatever way you want to so you can find meaning for you. Be sure to hold space for yourself and those around you for grief.

How are you holding space for grief? How can you support others are dealing with grief?

Uncategorized

What is Learning Experience Design (LXD)?

Recently, I had to do share what Learning Experience Design (LXD) is to internal stakeholders in our organization for an upcoming event I’m wrangling (shout out to the LXDCon planning team!). I have been working in this field for a while, so once you’re embedded you forget that others might not have a clue of how you work or what you do.

Thanks to the fundamentals of LXD from LXD.org + a couple of books on my shelf, I defined the basics of what I do in my world of work, in brief.

I decided to go back to my explainer roots, to script and animate what LXD professionals do — here is a modified version without the conference trailer pitch:

Transcript

Learning Experience Design, or otherwise known as LXD, is an interdisciplinary field of expertise. LXD creates methods and modes to acquire skills and knowledge based on desired learning goals and human-centered practices. Think of the experience at the center with humans, learning, design, and goals impacting how this is process is applied.

As LXD incorporates various disciplines, folks in this arena might originate from user experience, training, neuroscience, teaching, cognitive psychology, or an instructional design. These backgrounds are often combined in these domains and cross-pollinate which results in focusing on the learner and the learner outcomes.

As an intersectional domain of practice, LXD often starts with a question or problem to solve through a learning solution. Professionals in LXD help research and understand the needs of the learner and the desired learning outcome to design the ideas and concepts for a particular learning experience. Much of this process is iterative as LXD folks design, develop, test, launch, evaluate, and then rinse and repeat this learning cycle to meet their goals and the business outcomes.

As a Senior Instructional Designer in my organization, I am part of an LXD community that shares practices, training technologies, and innovative approaches for learning experience design. We use a wiki, a podcast, and an annual event, called LXDCon as the hub to stay peculiar about the methods, tools, and approaches for learning design. 

How do you define learning experience design?

What does LXD mean for the work you do?

Uncategorized

What’s on the Horizon? Call for Exemplars/Projects for the 2021 Report

Over the past few months, EDUCAUSE has been working with a panel of peers/experts to organize the 2021 Horizon Report. With all that has been going on this past year, I’m impressed with the work that has been accomplished. Here’s an update for what has come up and the open call for contributions/examples from the higher ed community.

On the Wing of the Horizon

Here are the six technologies and practices for teaching and learning in higher ed that have been identified:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Growth of micro-credentialing for educators and students
  • Learning analytics
  • Open educational resources (OER)
  • Proliferation of blended/hybrid modes/teaching models
  • Shift from remote teaching to quality online learning

For the 2021 Horizon Report EDUCAUSE is seeking contributions from the broader community for projects that illustrate these technologies and practices in action, similar to those shared in the 2020 Horizon Report. This work can be in almost any form: pilot programs, new production, research projects, faculty/instructor undertakings, emerging technology trials, or evaluation/assessment initiatives. The goal is to highlight how these 6 key areas are impacting your work and share what is going on at your institution. If you or your institution is working with any of these 6 technologies or practices in teaching and learning, you should share your information and projects/initiatives to be included in this upcoming report. The deadline for submissions is March 15, 2021 and the direct URL for the submission form is:  https://forms.gle/XQYYRtMyenSTGSXB7