Workflow Learning Part 2

Alexa,How Do I Do This?In the last post, I talked about workflow learning. We all do this every day and it’s increasingly simple with technology becoming more prevalent in our daily lives. Stop and think how many times a day you need information on the spot which requires you to do a quick search on Google or YouTube. Check out your search history and you will probably see that you are doing this more than you realize.  Lately, my personal go-to source for workflow learning is Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri. If I am in the middle of following a recipe and need to figure out the equivalent measurement for an ingredient in metric, I just ask Alexa. I could take a class on the metric system vs. the English system but instead, Alexa provides the information where I need it when I need it. If the same recipe tells me to “braise” something and I have no idea how to do that, I quickly question Alexa or Siri and get the answer instead of me having to go and take a cooking skills class  (which is actually still not a bad idea).

Alexa and similar technologies can provide what is known as performance support. Safety professionals might be more familiar with the idea of job aids which serve as (usually) visual reminders of what needs to be done. Activities that require a certain set of steps to be done in a particular order are usually supported by a job aid. Job aids can be used in life or death situations and can often be found alongside AEDs and displayed at permit required confined spaces (PRCS). In both of these instances, the individuals who use the job aid should have previously attended corresponding training. The individuals pulling out an AED to save someone’s life will have learned to use the AED in a classroom setting but when it’s time to actually use it in an emergency situation, a job aid can be extremely important to help guide the user through the right steps, especially when the chaos of the situation may cloud someone’s ability to think straight. Similarly, a job aid at a PRCS is another example of on the job learning in the form of performance support. The individuals involved with entering a confined space will have been trained and tested on their ability to successfully enter a PRCS but if they have questions while setting up or during the entry , they need the information now – during the workflow, Providing learning as the work is being done is key to workflow learning.

Traditional classroom training, done correctly, will provide opportunities for the trainee to think how the information will apply to their job responsibilities. Interactive activities can help make this connection and can help the learning stick. What is very difficult to include in a training class though are special circumstances or situations that may arise when the job is actually being performed. Being able to provide instruction or learning in these special situations as they occur on the job is what workflow learning is all about.

There are various apps out that exist to provide on the spot learning (like first aid apps, chemical hazard guides, arc flash calculators, or fall related apps) and Alexa may provide some help but likely an on demand source of information on the job will be through the use of technology or even immediate access to someone who will have the answers. Does something look out of place during a routine inspection? Imagine if a worker could photograph it and send it to an expert for their opinion and be able to receive direction on what it means and/or what to do. The trainee would have experienced  workflow learning and the next time a situation presents itself, the employee will have learned through workflow learning how to handle it correctly.

Workflow learning can push training delivery beyond the walls of the training classroom. This makes it more realistic, more applicable to the trainees’ world and therefore more likely to be remembered and since all training is wasted if it isn’t retained, this is key.

Think….how can you move your training beyond the walls and get it to the trainees where and when they need it? Building in workflow learning is key.

Workflow Learning

help buttonWhen you are working on a PowerPoint presentation and need to figure something out, what do you do? If you go to the “Help” tab and search for what you are trying to figure out, you are experiencing Workflow Learning.  If you stopped what you were doing and went and attended an in-person or online PowerPoint Skills training class,  you were NOT experiencing workflow learning and instead, partaking in traditional skills training.

Do you see the big difference? One is done in the course of your normal work and the other requires you to stop and do something different.

When we deliver safety training, trainees are away from their normal job, and away from the situations where the training class information will be used. This means that the trainee is going to have to transfer the information back to their day to day job in order for the training to be worthwhile.  Sometimes it’s necessary to spend a day or more providing training information and teaching new skills but other times, trainees (and you have probably experienced this yourself too) just want the answer when they need it.

Do you build workflow learning into your training efforts? If so, what have you found to be effective? If not, can you think of a few ways to provide this kind of support to your workforce?   Please add your comments below and stay tuned for some suggestions to add workflow learning to your training program in future posts.

In Honor of Women in Construction Week

Black White Simple Quote Instagram PostThe National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) created Women in Construction (WIC) Week to highlight women as an important part of the construction industry and to raise awareness of the opportunities available for women there.  According to CNBC, women make up a little over 9% of the construction industry. If you ever walk around a construction site or sit in on a construction safety training class, you are unlikely to see any signs or training materials where  women are included.

After a image was shared in the American Society of Safety Professional’s Women in Safety Excellence group of a scantily clad woman used as part of a crane safety hand signals poster, I decided to redo the image to look like what a real woman demonstrating crane safety hand signals might look like.

I then created a series of these images and used them in a Safety Lotería game. (If you are unfamiliar with Safety Lotería, click here.)

In honor of Women in Construction Week, I have uploaded the Crane Safety Hand Signals Safety Lotería to the Free Stuff section of the SafetyFUNdamentals website. It won’t be there for long though so click on over now to download a free copy.

Finally, I’d like to thank all the women who are brave enough to work in construction in order to do what they love, support themselves and their families  and provide real-life examples to the younger generation who may be more interested and willing to pursue a career in construction because they can see others that look like them already doing it successfully.

Happy Women in Construction Week!

Game On!

level 2After several months of work, and lots of trial and error, I have completed my Level 2 Gamification Journeyman through Sententia Gamification. My final project was titled “Hazard Hunter” and was mentioned in an earlier blog post. Through my earlier completed Level 1 class and now Level 2, I learned so much about what goes into a successful game design. You know the saying “You don’t know what you don’t know?” Well this sums up my experience exactly. I encourage everyone to learn at least a little about gamification and find ways to incorporate it into your safety training. If you need ideas, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to brainstorm some ideas with you.

Note: If you want to take a look at Hazard Hunter, I’m happy to share that too. As I continue to get feedback from other safety professionals who volunteered to try out the game, I will keep making revisions to make it the most effective it can be.

Learner Personas

Learner Personas-3Learner Personas are fictitious but realistic profiles, based on actual data, of the individuals you expect to attend your training classes. Your learner persona will have a name, age, gender and maybe some details about their life and what motivates them.  Finding a photo of this learner persona and keeping it in front of you as you develop and prepare training materials can help keep you on target and help make sure training materials are going to be right for your intended audience. Sometimes, you will need to develop several personas if you have a wide variety of people in a class.

It can be really difficult to generalize an entire trainee population but it is important to consider the wants and needs of the majority of the group.  If you work with your trainees everyday, it will be easy to create this persona. What do they do in their free time? What gets them excited? What do they dislike? What is their background, education level and experience with the company? All of these questions can help you to provide safety training that is best matched for your audience.

I first came across the need to create a player persona during a recent course I took on gamification. One of my assignments was to create several personas for the type of trainees I think will be using the safety training games I am designing. Two of my player personas are shown below:


Meet  Fix-It Frank 

Frank is a 38 year old High School Graduate and 2-year Vo-Tech graduate who is married with 3 kids.  He is a Production Maintenance Supervisor at his current company for the last 15 years. He believes work is just work and is only willing to do what he is specifically paid to do. His biggest complaint is that there are too many work orders for the number of staff in his department and there is little appreciation for the “miracles” he is able to pull off. He is also not a fan of excessive safety rules and feels that they slow him down. He loves professional football and Nascar and plays 3rd base on the company softball team.



Meet  Mario the Manager 

Mario is 60 years old, married with 2 kids and 5 grandchildren and has been with his company for 35 years. He graduated High School plus completed various certificate programs through work including Lean Six Sigma training. He is currently Packaging Manager but has also previously held the positions of Line Supervisor, Packer and Forklift driver. Mario works hard everyday and takes pride in a job well-done. He arrives early and stays late if necessary. His biggest complaints are around the lack of initiative of younger workers and too much required paperwork. Mario loves baseball and uses his vacation time every year to travel to Florida to watch Spring Training.

If these two individuals represented the type of trainees in your training classes, what would you be sure to include and careful not to include? Would e-learning or traditional classroom learning be better? What type of illustrations and case studies could you use that would get and keep their attention? What would they relate to best?

If you are including interactive learning activities, would a team-based hands-on activity work better than an individual pen and paper writing exercise? How much competition would this group like?

All of these considerations are important to consider. Before you decide what type of training you will deliver and what type of interactive class activities you will introduce, it is important to consider the type of trainees you will have in your class. Learner Personas are a great way to do that and by keeping personas like “Fixit Frank” and “Mario the Manager” in mind, you will stay on track and not fall into the trap of designing and using something you yourself would like but that is of little interest or not effective for your trainees.

Take a second to give it a try. How would you characterize one of your typical learner personas? I’d love to hear what you come up with!

Word of the Year

PUSH.pngI recently read about a trend started by Melinda Gates to select a personal “word of the year” as an alternative to New Year’s resolutions. Your word of the year should motivate and inspire you in all that you do.

When I first read this, I thought “Oh, I need a word for my safety life and for my professional life” but after thinking about it, one word really can cover it all.

After looking through my list of goals, ideas, and events for the next few months, I think the best word for me in 2020 is PUSH.

I’m also working on learning 20 new things in 2020 as described in my earlier post so I already have a big push to learn new skills and try things that may be out of my comfort zone but when I look at my list of things to do, I have some pretty ambitious projects lined up as well. PUSH not only makes me think to do just a little bit more than I think I should but also to encourage (gently) others around me to try things that they may not think they can do.

With respect to safety, in 2020 I hope to become really knowledgeable about e-learning and gain mastery of an e-learning authoring application plus I want to finish up 3 books I am almost finished writing PLUS work on and finalize a new, fairly substantial book that I am under contract to write and finish by November, AND achieve a new certification in learning and development and if there is any time left, kick-off an online course. I know myself and I can get this done but I will likely need to PUSH myself at times to keep the momentum going and to get over the bumps that are sure to come. If you know me, feel free to give me a PUSH as well!

What is your word?

Halloween & Safety Training


Halloween stores pop up all over the country and many stores temporarily dedicate multiple aisles to halloween decorations, candy and costumes. Many of these items can be great props for use in safety training classes and activities. For some ideas on how to take advantage of Halloween sales (especially in the days following October 31st), check out our FREE Halloween and Safety Training guide!   Happy Halloween!

For our full guide on Halloween and Safety Training, Click Here.


Diversity and Training Images

noun_professor_2909357.pngIt’s important to try to use images in your safety training that reflect a diverse population. Specific images related to safety can be hard to find in the first place but trying to find safety images that reflect diversity can be almost impossible. The Noun project (a great source for icons for your training materials) has a new set of icons that show women in leadership and STEM positions. I applaud their efforts! If you want to check out or download the icons, see the link below.

An Apple a Day

IMG_6581I just read it’s #NationalAppleDay! I remember a Bible school teacher cutting an apple in half as part of a lesson and I remember learning about an apple falling on Newton’s head which led him to come up with the law of gravity – in both cases an image or prop really helped with what someone was trying to teach me since I still remember it many years later. Always try to think how you can create a mental image to share with your trainees when trying to get a concept or new idea across. Do you have any other “apple” ideas to share?

Check out this and other posts, plus other safety training resources at

The Feynman Technique

Have you heard of the Feynman Technique? If you want to learn something – really learn something – the 4 steps proposed by Richard Feynman, a Nobel prize winning physicist, can help. The 4 basics steps of the Feynman Technique are shown below but in a nutshell, they are: 1) Pick a concept and write it out as if you were explaining it to a child (no big, hairy technical words or jargon); 2) identify areas where you had trouble explaining the concept. This is where there are gaps in your knowledge. Go back and find the information you need and study it so that you can now explain that information to an 8 year old; 3) organize your notes and organize them into a story that is again, simple and easy to understand. If there are still confusing parts, go back and rewrite your summary story; 4) Tell someone else about it. A good way to see if you really understand something is to try to explain it to someone else.  (We can use this last step in safety training – more on that in tomorrow’s post).  Take a look at the infographic below which summarizes a description of the Feynman technique that was originally posted on the Farnham Street blog.  What do you want to learn next? Can you try the Feynman Technique and see if it works?

feynman infographic.png