Linking in with Matt

Matthew Richter posts daily comments in LinkedIn—well almost daily. You can follow him and join the conversation by going to For the benefit of our readers, we decide to compile and reprint some of his provocative pieces from the past. Let us know what you think.

Fun and Engagement

The goal isn't to have fun. The goal isn't to entertain. Rather, and this seems obvious when stated, the goal is to ensure learning. As we have long identified, one of the best ways to increase learning retention is to engage. But, some make the mistake that engagement is simply having a good time. There are a myriad of ways to engage learners. Provocation, profundity, repetitious practice, experience and reflection, and more. Thiagi has identified over 66 different interactive approaches, and some of them are quite painful. The key idea is we engage to enhance learning. We don't engage to entertain. Therefore, we can engage in whatever way best works.

Creating Surveys

Creating surveys (say, a smile sheet) is more complex than it may seem. To do so, you should be quite clear what questions you want to answer. You better know why you are asking them. You should know how you will collect your data and have a good way to analyze them. More importantly, be sure to only ask one question. Often we mistakenly put into the question more than one idea as we try and qualify it for specificity. This causes participants to interpret what you are asking differently and can skew your results. And, most importantly, are you willing to change anything if the results indicate you should? Many other rules apply, but this is a good start.

The Delta Question

There is only one question I care about as a trainer and an instructional designer: What does the client want people to do differently as a result of the program? There are a lot of other questions I also ask, like what problem am I trying to solve, or how does the new skill solves that problem, and so forth. But, to me, the most vital information is to determine the vision of the delta: to identify the change we want to see. Once I know that answer, the rest of the design challenges all come together like an easy jigsaw puzzle.