Ideas and Insights

  • 03/05/2012 5:15 PM | Jolynn Atkins
    We typically associate "distance learning" with the web these days - sitting in front of a computer while some facilitator shares what he or she knows about a subject and perhaps pausing for a moment or two to seek questions.  In fact, distance learning has been around since 1728, with the introduction of correspondence courses, and has long been an appealing method of getting practicable information to an audience unable to travel to the instructor.

    Total Trainer's Distance Learning session (week 9) will touch on the various long-distance training methods that are available to the modern day trainer.  We will primarily explore how to facilitate via web training tools, using techniques that support participation and engagement from the learners (our primary tool for this session will be WebEx, but we'll also set up an Adobe Connect session to see how the programs compare).  We'll spend some time exploring other resources for the distance trainer, and how they can be utilized to create a virtual learning environment for long-term distance learning."

    Your Total Trainer Distance Learning facilitator, Paul Venderley is the Manager of Learning Technology for Corinthian Colleges' OD Department, and a Past President of ASTD-Orange County. He designs both synchronous and asynchronous training interventions using WebEx, Captivate, Articulate, and Sharepoint.

    This is your community, please feel free to comment below on what you are looking forward to most in the Total Trainer Workshop. If you are Total Trainer Alumni, we want to hear from your success stories and takeaways too.

  • 02/07/2012 11:51 AM | Rhonda Askeland

    ASTD-OC has kicked-off the new year and we’ve been busy creating and putting plans in place. We have an energetic and dedicated leadership team strategizing and implementing chapter plans.  You can check out the leadership team org chart under the About Us tab. The leadership team continues to work on the six strategic imperatives defined in 2011 to guide our action and goals. Our imperatives:

    1. Enhance Operational Infrastructure
    2. Plan and Execute Leadership Succession
    3. Plan for Financial Sustainability
    4. Plan for Leveraging Technology
    5. Plan for Membership Benefits
    6. Plan, Retain & Increase Membership
    We started the year with a big bang – a successful monthly learning event that saw an overflowing room of more than sixty-five people learn the “The Top Ten Neuro-Keys to Unlocking Learning Agility and Making Training Stick” with Aparna Suresh.  A big part of successful monthly events is in the planning.  The chapter is supporting learning agility with numerous offerings getting ready to launch.  Two of the most popular coming this spring:  Total Trainer, kicking-off in April and Tom Kuhlman has agreed to present the latest in e-learning for a May workshop. Monthly learning and SIG events are planned for the quarter with sights on Q2 topics and presenters.

    Plans also include opportunities for members to participate in a variety of learning events, including SIG events, chapter and national workshops, webinars, and social media. Right now, members have an opportunity to attend a complimentary ASTD Certificate Program in April – look for information on our website.  Various mediums provide members with access to board meeting minutes, follow-up chapter learning event/speaker information, LinkedIn discussion boards, OrangeSpiehl Online, Timely Information, SIGnificant News, blogs (like this), and daily Tweets and Facebook messages. 

    Yes, planning is a big part of any new year and we have a number of plans in the works. We are always open to hearing from the chapter and I invite you to let us know how we’re doing.  Please share your ideas on learning event topic suggestions, how we can support you and the training and development community, and how we communicate with you – how you like to get information, what you’d like to change.  We’d love to hear from you!  Contact me at


    Rhonda Askeland

    ASTD-OC, 2012 Chapter President

    Come for the content. Stay for the community.


  • 01/30/2012 7:01 AM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)
    If you followed us on Twitter last week, you may have noticed bursts of tweets from ASTD TechKnowledge in Las Vegas. And if, from there, you followed our prompts to check out #astdtk12, you would have uncovered a plethora of conference snippets: reminders of things we already know about training design but forget in the heat of the project, discoveries about what exactly can be accomplished with technology while training, and pointers on how to use our systems a little bit more with the learner (rather than the system) in mind.

    When we attended TechKnowledge a few years ago the focus was on the exploding world of social media. This year, the conference had a few sessions that addressed how social media can be tapped into before, during, and after a training session(I'm still very fond of using a Twitter backchannel during meetings, and would love to see our Twitter community developed at ASTD-OC so this feature becomes practicable at our Learning Events), but much of this year's focus (at least from the keynotes and seminars I attended) appeared to be on games - how they activate our brain, how we could apply game design techniques in our training design, and the science behind it all. 

    After all, games empower us. They incentivize us. They convince us to complete mind-numbing tasks, sometimes over and over, that we wouldn't even consider doing for our bosses


    Dr. Jane McGonigal, Institute for the Future
    Dr. Jane McGonigal, Institute for the Future  

    Dr. Jane McGonigal, the Director of Game Research and Development at the Institute for the Future, answered this question by asking, then answering, a different one.  During the first day's TechKnowledge 2012 keynote, Jane asked why we spend so much of our free time playing games, pointing out the billions of hours spent playing Angry Birds or Call of Duty.

    Her answer: we play games to be challenged. We like the stress that comes with facing a problem, and overcoming it. And because we're the ones choosing the problem, we're motivated to solve it. The stress that comes with these challenges is a positive one, called eustress
    (Contrast eustress with the on the job stress we endure: the problems we face are seldom of our choosing, nor are they given to us in a safe environment). Tap into this positive, problem-solving eustress while at work, and you've got people who are blissfully productive, optimistic, believe that they're part of a social fabric, and develop an epic meaning in the workplace. 

    Dr. McGonigal shared several examples of online games that had been created to solve world problems, and how people modified their real-life behaviors to solve the problems posed in the game. People spent hours playing the games, coming back to them week after week, willingly accepting tasks. Gaming communities discussed and ranked various ideas suggested by players. And finally, in some cases, the ideas applied in the game were developed into plans for businesses to be run by the very gamers who had come up with them - an epic win! 
    In the second morning's keynote, Stuart Crabb, Head of Learning and Development at Facebook, showed us a workplace where the stress of choice appears to be eustress. Of the insights he shared about Facebook's approach to learning and organizational health, the following stuck with me: "career development is like a jungle gym."

    Watch children at play on a jungle gym, Stuart prompted. They go down to go up. They reach the top, and decide they don't like it there. They help others reach the top. And sometimes they just hang upside down on the inside. His point: there was no set path to get to the top of the jungle gym, and nothing that said that each child had to reach the top or they failed.
    The same applies to the jungle gym of life - it's not about the title, hierarchy level, or compensation (three things that tend to stress us out about our jobs). Rather, it's about experiences - developing strengths, learning, self-improvement.
    Stuart Crabb, Head of Learning and Development at Facebook
    Stuart Crabb, Head of Learning and Development at Facebook
    With that insight, Stuart managed to shift the stress of managing one's career from climbing a career ladder to identifying problems to be solved and finding opportunities to embrace. He showed us a workplace that was a hive of activity in which employees would dedicate long hours to overcome an obstacle, much like they would tackle a quest in World of Warcraft - emerging unwashed, unshaven, yet victorious. And ready to do it again.  

    Lisa Doyle, Chancellor, VA Acquisition Academy
    Lisa Doyle, Chancellor, VA Acquisition Academy
    Lisa Doyle's keynote was more of a case study in creating an effective learning environment, but within her passion for supporting our veterans one could also see the game framework in action: a new mission for the wounded warriors to accept, one that they researched and chose on their own. In the VA Warriors to Work Program, selected interns were tasked with identifying a need within the VA to support our veterans, create a plan for meeting that need, and then doing so. Real problems were faced, with real consequences for mistakes. Yet each intern was part of a cohort, a community that sought to ensure the success of everyone on the team. 

    While Dr. McGonigal had posed a challenge in her keynote - to bring more of the gaming element into the workplace and, in doing so, remove the stress that an employee feels solving workplace problems - both Stuart Crabb and Lisa Doyle provided case studies in how that challenge could be accomplished. Both Facebook and the Veteran's Acquisition Academy had found ways to tap into the positive stress that one can get from work not necessarily by playing games, but by creating experiences that allowed employees to approach work as if it were as enjoyable as combatting a Scalebane.
    A scalebane. Trust us, they ain't pretty.
    Not a gamer? This is a Scalebane.
    While the TechKnowledge 2012 keynote speakers weren't always focused on learning and training design, they did pepper their speeches with the requisite: "People learn better this way."  Subsequent TechKnowledge sessions also exhorted us that positively motivating the learner was key to retention of knowledge, prompting one to write in the side margins of one's notepad: "eustress?"  For example: several presenters suggested that sexual harassment training should not be prefaced with: "You're attending this course because it's the law," but rather provide the learner with information that causes them to choose to attend the course.

    A final point on applying game design techniques in one's training was summed up in a tweet:
    The power of incentives at work.
    A t-shirt: sometimes it's better than +1 experience, +3 salary.
  • 01/17/2012 10:47 PM | Anonymous
    Many trainers are looking to increase their eLearning technical skills.  Articulate is one of the software tools that is hot.  If you missed the recent live webinar presentation from Tom Kuhlmann from Articulate titled "Learn to use PowerPoint for More than Boring Presentations" then you can view the recorded presentation here

    You must be registered on Training Magazine Network to view this, but if you aren't shouldn't you be? It is free for the basic registration.  Happy learning!
  • 01/06/2012 10:21 AM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    As we approach the new year with fresh eyes and a resolve to make changes here or there, perhaps it's an opportune moment to shake up our network a little bit. Who did we add to our network in 2011 that we have not connected with as we had planned?  Who do we want to add to our network today? 

    It's also probably a good idea to dust off that elevator speech that we've been using for a bit too long. While a new year does not necessarily mean a "new you," it does imply a new business environment -- your elevator speech should adapt to reflect that.

    Now, you should have a basic elevator speech that's applicable to anyone you meet. But be prepared to modify it when you have specific information about the person you're talking to. The more relevant you make your speech to the listener, the more you will stick in that person's mind when you touch base with them later.

    Here's a quick format for swiftly organizing your thoughts when people ask what you do.

    • Give a succinct overview, in plain English. Even if you're talking to someone else within your industry, argot tends to vault what should be a pleasant conversation into a sales pitch.
    • Give one example of how your efforts benefit your customers.
    • Invite further discussion "What else would you like to know?"

    This format keeps the content focused on the listener, and invites collaboration (as opposed to an easily-forgotten exchange of information).

    ASTD-OC will have four opportunities for you to practice your elevator speech (and increase your network) this month. Check out our Events Calendar to see which one you'd like to participate in!

  • 12/22/2011 4:02 PM | Denise Ross-Admin (Administrator)

    2011 has been a great year for our chapter. It has been characterized by high member involvement and volunteerism, dynamic meetings, and significant changes which have helped position us for future success.   


    Please click here to read about our successes and the people who have made it possible. 


    Denise A. Lamonte
    ASTD-Orange County 2011 President

  • 12/15/2011 9:41 AM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    The end of the year often provides time for reflection, and as outgoing Past President I find myself thinking about my tenure on the Board -- what I've accomplished, and what I've learned.

    I began my Presidency with a vision -- that ASTD-Orange County should be the destination for training and development professionals of all experience levels to come together to develop skills which they had no opportunity to develop at their day job (or lack thereof). ASTD-Orange County would become a community of practice, and those who participated within that community would add skillsets to their professional abilities and experience to their resume. It was a bold vision, and one that I still believe we can achieve. We didn't get there under my Presidency -- too many things were in the way, too many resources were not at our disposal.

    I agree that I'm one of my own harshest critics. That said, I believe that my Presidency had floundered trying to figure out how to accomplish my Vision. Thus, as Denise Lamonte transitioned into the 2011 Presidency, our discussions focused less on where the Chapter could go in the future and more on the gaps within the Chapter's organization.

    This is an aspect of Denise's Presidency that I believe I learned the most from -- Organizational Leadership. While Denise and I had both identified several areas within the Chapter that needed to be developed before my Vision could be realized, the Chapter needed to strengthen its community overall.

    Denise's skill as an Organizational Leader allowed her to address systemic challenges within the Chapter that I had been unable to.  Denise established clear expectations, action plans, consequences for not meeting those expectations, and follow-up for inaction. She created a structure in which the Chapter Leadership reported to and worked with the "Three Presidents" (myself, Denise, and Rhonda) in order to achieve strategic chapter imperatives.  Establishing expectations, creating accountable management structure, these concepts were not new things to me. But they were things that I had never worked on creating before my turn as President. So in my tenure, attempts at creating such a structure had either failed or backfired. Under Denise's Presidency, I experienced how best to accomplish these vital leader tasks.

    In fact, many of the successes that I've seen the Chapter celebrate this year - and I'm going to try not to sound too hubristic here -- have some foundation in ideas that I'd put forward two to three years ago. Structures that had been proposed, yet not adopted until today. Technology that had been but tampered with, now embraced as we reach out to the younger generations of trainers.

    To get a sense of what I mean, consider the changes to our website over the past few years. Our website had needed upgrading for some time, but how the site should be upgraded was a matter of discussion that was visited, then revisited, and revisited again. Our new site that had been created by the beginning of 2010 -- the Joomla-based site -- was a result of a Vision of what the Chapter could be - that vibrant Community of Practice, both online and real-world. The current website is reflective of where the Chapter is now, and will be for the near future -- a smaller community in need of a sustainable member resource, both in man-power and expense.

    Perhaps one of the biggest ways in which Denise's Organizational Leadership efforts have come to initiate the Community of Practice I had envisioned can be seen with the number of volunteers who have willingly and openly shared their "lessons learned" after completing a project.  Damion Donaldson was was quite public about his "lessons learned." Pamela Coca has shared her lessons learned with Chapter Leadership, in doing so building a strong, emulatable Technology and Training SIG.

    I look forward to seeing how Rhonda Askeland shall lead the Chapter in the coming year. Where I see myself as having been a "visionary leader," and Denise as having been an "organizational leader," I see Rhonda serving as an "inspirational leader." She is nothing less than a positive force of nature, one who will inspire the 2012 Chapter Leadership (both Board and Managers) to accept the organizational challenges that we face and the vision of what we seek to achieve, and address them together.

    Looking back, I believe this was one of the great strengths of our Board: that the Three Presidents held such diverse skillsets: Visionary, Organizational, and Inspirational. Thus armed, we were able to address the Chapter concerns from a variety of perspectives. Just as the trainer cannot train only for the visual learner without alienating those auditory and kinesthetic learners, so does an organization's leadership suffer from having only Visionaries at the helm, or only Organizers.  Having a Board with strong Vision, Organization, and Inspirational leadership may be the key to its future successes.

  • 11/01/2011 4:36 PM | Rhonda Askeland

    I attended the ASTD Chapter Leaders’ Conference a few weeks ago and shared the ASTD-OC motto, “Come for the content. . . stay for the community” with fellow chapter leaders.  All were very impressed – it may even show up as a motto for other chapters.  The reason I mention this is that we have a very strong community where people are able to gain many benefits from being a member.

    When you go to our Membership tab and look at the benefits, you see quite a number of events and offerings.  Yet, the power of those events and offerings that the community gains aren’t always clear.  A few highlights:

    • This year we showed a commitment to our chapter membership with a new website that meets our member needs for registration and membership renewal. That was a significant change for our chapter, and now makes it easy to become/continue as a member, search information, see a quick glance of upcoming events, scan community posts to our blog, and find a trainer with ease, just to name a few of the changes.
    • Opportunities for professional development in small, local venues prompt discussions between ASTD-Orange County members and industry experts. Our Monthly Learning Events expose you to new skills, or techniques that you just haven't tried yet.  Continuing Development provides structured learning opportunities like the Training Institute workshops and Mentoring.
    • The Career Management SIG was re-established, expanding the audience of our Technology and Training SIG with the establishment of virtual meetings held in conjunction with the live meetings.  In conjunction with the OD SIG, our members are able to connect with content that meets their particular needs across a broad range of interest and skills.
    • We partnered with Brandman University to support our Continuing Development initiatives, and our efforts with UCI resulted in an eLearning Certificate course that we've been promoting. Our partnerships have given the Orange County community a broader awareness of what ASTD-OC Continuing Development has to offer.
    • 12 OC Learning Events were held with a variety of topics ranging from Organizational Accountability to Visual Communication for Trainers, each with its own structured networking opportunity.  The monthly learning event continues to add new members to our community and give our members content that they can apply immediately.
    • The Chapter Job Board offers members an inside track to jobs that may not be listed elsewhere.  There are a wide range of jobs, ranging from Training Specialists, eLearning Developers to Senior Training Manager positions.
    • This year Past-President Anthony Harmetz and Karen Wales started the Training Management Meet Up (TMMU) that is specifically for anyone in a training management role inside an organization.  The TMMU provides an opportunity to network, share insights, build on ideas that help training managers lead the learning function.  The response has been great and we can’t wait to see what happens in 2012.
    • Our Find-a-Trainer feature helps members connect with other workplace learning and performance professionals of specific expertise/specialty. 

    Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.  We have a community that continues to build success by working together.  We’re proud that ASTD-OC provides high value to its members and has helped many people connect through the power of community.

    Rhonda Askeland

    President-elect, 2011

  • 10/17/2011 3:36 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)
    This week we're doing something a bit different in the OrangeSpiel Online -- we're posting three interviews of ASTD Chapter Board Members.  In each article the interviewees -- one from ASTD-San Diego, one from ASTD-Mt Diablo, and our very own Rhonda Askeland -- share the lessons and experiences they've gained from serving on an ASTD Chapter Board.  

    We're letting Rhonda set the mood with our first article (you can find it here).  Her big ah-hah: being exposed to different disciplines allows members to develop an awareness of various business skills that can expand one's "breadth of experience" in the working world.  

    Stop by again tomorrow, and then Wednesday for interviews with Paul Signorelli(Past President, Mt. Diablo) and Jeff Toister(Past President, ASTD San Diego).
  • 10/11/2011 6:52 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    A little over a month ago, Kathleen Sedwick (pictured, right) filled out ASTD-OC's online Volunteer Interest Form.  "I am a mid-life career changer (former teacher with an M.Ed.) and have been in graduate school earning an MBA with an HR concentration since last June, 2010." she shared.  "I had lunch with Janet DiVicenzo a few weeks ago ... and she suggested getting more involved with ASTD-OC and volunteering to work with the chapter." Kathie and I subsequently exchanged emails in an attempt to connect, with little success until we both attended a Career Management SIG Meetup.

    We took the opportunity to meet right then and there. I learned that as a teacher, it was the areas of instructional design and educational technology that Kathie found most interesting and satisfying. During that time, she saw the need for more well-designed, engaging, effective, research-based instruction utilizing today's technology in both education and training and development. Recognizing that this is the direction she wanted to take her career, Kathie sought out opportunities to develop those skills. Along the way, she found ASTD-Orange County.

    "ASTD-OC has provided invaluable benefits to me through its SIG groups, Learning Events, and networking opportunities," Kathie shared with me. "I decided I wanted to be more involved in the organization for the opportunities in my own personal and professional development, to further develop my skills in communications and social media, and to expand my network."

    One member benefit that Kathie has taken great advantage of: our Special Interest Groups (SIGs).  At the time of our meeting, she had been to both OD SIG and Career Management SIG Meetups for the month. She was looking forward to the Technology and Training SIG Meetup the following week.

    The role of SIG Liaison seemed tailor-made for her.

    This role interacts with Special Interest Group leaders to identify what they'll be doing in upcoming months, and ensures that the information is:

    • placed on the website
    • published in our eNewsletter, SIGnificant Information
    • spread through our social media sites

    Kathie's position will ensure that she collaborates with the SIG, Communications, and CTO functions, and sometimes Marketing.

    This position appealed to Kathie for a few reasons:

    • It's relatively low-impact -- the busy work involves little time out of the month.
    • It networks her with a broad group of individuals.
    • It allows her to develop her skills in communications and social media.
    • It plays to her strengths while allowing her to identify what further positions are available within the Chapter in which she could develop further.

    Kathie sees herself assuming a leadership role within the organization and contributing to ASTD-OC's growth and presence in our local communities.
    "I believe that, as an organization, ASTD-OC must continue to promote T&D as an integral and essential component of strategic planning for businesses and support the professional development of its members."

    Welcome, Kathie Sedwick! We look forward to great things!

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