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Doing Something, Action Mapping and Birthday Cakes!

It’s easy to snooze through instructor-led training. In my high school days, a friend of mine perfected sleeping in class – he rested his head on his hand, holding a pencil, still looking forward! These days, if I’m forced to sit through an hour or more of PowerPoint slides, I find a cozy spot in the back and take time to catch up on work.

Why aren’t learners excited? Why are they checking their iPads and mobile phones during the presentation we took days to prepare? It may be because we’re not asking them to do something – not during the ILT, and not after.

As a designer at Allen, I’ve been particularly inspired by a process called Action Mapping (created by Cathy Moore). Instructonal designers are commonly asked by clients to ‘inform learners’ or ‘make employees aware’ of something.  Certainly, knowledge is important in the training development process – after all, you can’t bake a cake without a recipe. Reading the recipe, however, won’t mix the batter and pop it in the oven!

Moore’s Action Mapping model emphasizes behavior change. Using a targeted Business Goal, Moore breaks down Knowledge and Activities to achieve the final result: Behavior.

In our cake example, we can define each part of the Action Map:

1. Business Goal: Bring a cake to a birthday party.
2. Knowledge: Read the cake recipe.
3. Activities: Practice baking a cake a few days before.
4. Behavior: Bake the birthday cake.

Think about the next time you’re preparing to design knowledge-based training. Do learners need to know about a new policy? If so, what is it about the policy that will affect what they do? Without clear expectations of behavior change, you may end up providing your attendees an afternoon to catch up on their e-mails.