Getting out of our own heads


Userlevel 4
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Lately I find myself repeating a question across all divisions in our company and it goes something like this: “I know we understand that, but does the reader/learner/customer? Or is that just an industry/division/specialist term?”

We were filming the marketing team about an upcoming sale (we are a retail company) and they referred to MAP pricing, but didn't’ explain it. I cut the take and asked them if the frontline employee would have any clue what MAP pricing was and their response was basically “oh, I guess not. It’s Minimum Advertised Price.” My next question was ‘why should they care’ (I love asking “So what?” questions of my SMEs!) and the discussion that ensued completely changed that segment of the training for the better.

Here’s my point: we do this a lot in Learning and Development. Getting caught up in our own terminology makes it harder for others to work with us. We preach teaching to the audience in front of you to others, but often fail to do it ourselves.

Docebo staff, I’m going to call you out a bit here too. I can’t tell you how many times in a week me and my team have to deal with the question “I finished that course, why does it still say ‘In progress’?” What ensues is a ridiculous conversation about In Progress meaning they’ve ‘enrolled’ in a course, but if they click into it it will show everything is correctly completed and they don’t need to worry about it. “Oh, that’s dumb” or some variation is usually the response we get.

Our learners don’t care about enrolled or not enrolled and system-level ‘In Progress’ or not. They just know they need to take some training and then work with their managers to finish learning about something. 

We can all do better to keep the end user in mind and use terminology that makes sense to them.

[steps off the soap box]


14 replies

Userlevel 3

@spotratz are they in progress because they have learning content that needs to be evaluated? 

Userlevel 4
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Nope. You can see from within this course that I have it fully completed:
 

 

but outside the thumbnail always shows In Progress

 

Userlevel 7
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I like your beginning thesis and example. I feel like this comes up a lot. In product development land I have found the focus on well defined personas and using them to decide on decisions helps us greatly in keeping these issues front and center and avoid conflicts. The acronyms are my favorite thing too, as a non-financial person in a financial company FULL of acronyms, I can’t tell you the amount that they all take for granted or assume has one meaning, when in the wider world it actually has a completely different one. I frequently fake confusion in meetings when these come up and pretend I think they are talking about the broader definition in the context of the conversation, which obviously makes no sense then. When someone clarifies and makes some comment of like “We’re talking finance it’s obviously this one” I go, clearly it was not obvious, maybe we need to clarify, works every time.

 

Userlevel 4
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I frequently fake confusion in meetings when these come up and pretend I think they are talking about the broader definition in the context of the conversation, which obviously makes no sense then. When someone clarifies and makes some comment of like “We’re talking finance it’s obviously this one” I go, clearly it was not obvious, maybe we need to clarify, works every time.

 

I’ve totally done that =)

Userlevel 7
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This makes me think about a parallel with instruction writing.

It is always easy when you know how to do something so you tend to omit details that don’t even register as a step in the process. These same omissions are sure to be questions.

Hand those instructions off to someone who has never touched the product or performed the task. Can they do it without hitting speedbumps? If so, they’re good. If not - time to refine.

I sometimes struggle with others who have a mindset of reducing pages so let’s cut some things out here and there. Um… No… I say we need more detail in order to make the information clear.

I was once told that if the design is good - they won’t need instructions.
Not sure I fully subscribe to that philosophy but I must admit to referencing the thought when I craft a learner experience.

Userlevel 7
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I was writing backup documentation for my old role and told it was too detailed, so they would not bother looking at it. Now everytime they send me a question I just have to send them a link to the page in the doc...its really silly. I get folks don’t read, but sometimes we need to.

Userlevel 7
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Sometimes I respond faster than I read… #guilty

 

Userlevel 7
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Thanks for this thread. I found it very interesting and informative.

With acronyms, I was always taught to write them out in full the first time they appear in documents. Logically, that should apply to other forms of media, but it’s very easy to forget, especially if you use an acronym habitually without even realising it. I think it’s important to be as concise as possible in instructional design, but I’d rather overshoot by including too much information than undershoot by not including enough. I often have this discussion with colleagues who assume a learner will understand something simply because it is obvious to them. As you say, it’s important to step out of our own heads and into the shoes of the learner.

Userlevel 7
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@Daniel totally, when reading your response, I realized I should distinguish between instructional design, and backend documentation which is where I was coming from. Agree on concise but complete when approaching instructional design.

Userlevel 4
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It’s a fine line to walk, isn’t it? Enough detail to bring along new learners, but not so much that we lose the more experienced ones? In both cases though, undefined “industry” terms are always problematic or downright bad as in my Docebo “In Progress” example.

Userlevel 7
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Thank you for the conversation.

I do agree that at times terminology in systems miss the point and can lead to more questions. For example - I can’t tell you how often I express to folks subscribed = not started.

And so a few questions come to mind:

If you had a magic wand - what term would you use instead of “in progress”?
Are you allowing people to land and choose to enroll? Or is part of their experience is that they are always auto-enrolled?

Have you worked with the course settings to adjust a persons initial experience with a course?

I believe you can impact course tiles and showing their progress with CSS. Have you weighed out hiding that detail as part of your catalog experience?

My old boss hated a systems message in another system that we couldn’t impact. It used to say you have been enrolled into the enrollment…true story.

 

 

 

Userlevel 7
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Thank you for the conversation.

If you had a magic wand - what term would you use instead of “in progress”?
Are you allowing people to land and choose to enroll? Or is part of their experience is that they are always auto-enrolled?

 

It would be nice if “in progress” actually had one meaning 🙃
I love trying to explain what in progress means for a classroom ILT type course for example…..

Userlevel 4
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Well, I’m not above admitting my mistakes and apologizing. Our courses say “In Progress” because one of my admin changed it to that at the request of our Benefits team who were concerned on a benefits course that people would get confused by the default “Enroll” terminology. Apologies to the Docebo team for blaming them. 

That said, it’s a really good reminder to all of us how important terminology can be. I’ll go sit in the corner now =)

Userlevel 5
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I frequently fake confusion in meetings when these come up and pretend I think they are talking about the broader definition in the context of the conversation, which obviously makes no sense then. When someone clarifies and makes some comment of like “We’re talking finance it’s obviously this one” I go, clearly it was not obvious, maybe we need to clarify, works every time.

 

I’ve totally done that =)

I don’t have to fake confusion in some meetings, so I’ve started using my own acronyms to CCOP (completed confuse other people). 

😑

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