Creating Starter Mind Maps for Learners

Jump Start the Learning Experience with the Learners’ Recognition of their Incoming/Prior Knowledge.

I was inspired to write this post based on a LinkedIn post by friend Jeff Dalto – here. Jeff wanted to explore using Mind Maps for … “creating better learning and performance outcomes. Most specifically, toward (1) awakening prior knowledge and perhaps more secondarily (2) adjusting instruction on the fly at a conference based on learning existing knowledge and moreso (3) identify the people in class who know the most so they can co-teach and I won’t bore them, all so they can later at the end of training (A) review their initial mind map, (B) reflect on how they felt then and how they feel now, (C) identify areas where they need to continue learning, and (D) prompt them to make a plan to transfer learning to the job.”

I thought it was a great idea.

If the Learning Is “How To” Process/Performance Oriented

Then prompt their thinking by framing the Process/WorkStream/WorkFlow.

Have them think through the elements of the Process/WorkStream/WorkFlow.

If the Learning Is Topic/Enabling Knowledge & Skill Oriented

Then prompt their thinking by framing the type of knowledge/skill and

Have them think through the aspects of the Topic/Enabling Knowledge/Skills.

And of course, you might combine these.

Map it out yourself. My thinking comes from how I do Instructional Analysis – which I’ve addressed in several books since 1999. Here’s one example.

Mirjam Neelen
Head of Global Learning Design & Learning Sciences
Co-author of Evidence-Informed Learning Design

“Our clients want us to move fast so we don’t have time to do more analysis.”

“We don’t have access to SMEs.”

“We can’t do needs analysis or test learning solutions with our people as they’re too busy.”

Learning professionals often mutter these types of explanations between their teeth when delivering half-baked, shallow solutions. Sometimes we feel sorry for ourselves. Then we complain about being order takers, about the business not taking us seriously, or not seeing the value we provide.

My hope is that this book will help us all realize that it’s mostly us and not them, that we can definitely take control and improve our practice to deliver more impactful, performance-focused learning solutions.

Guy Wallace – in my humble opinion – is a rare gem in the Learning & Development field. He has shown over and over again that if clients have identified an important performance problem, they are willing to invest the time in solving it.

What makes Guy different? Why do his clients listen to him, and why has he been able to successfully analyze performance problems and deliver holistic solutions for decades? Perhaps he’s taught his dog Bueller some tricks, but he surely isn’t a magician?

I believe it’s simple. Guy Wallace knows his stuff. He knows what he’s doing and why, and he’s able to articulate it clearly to his clients. They trust him because he’s able to demonstrate that his process works. He delivers value. And we’re lucky, as through this book, he empowers all of us to become a bit like him.

Partly, this book repeats the process that Guy describes in detail in his previous book ‘Conducting Performance-Based Instructional Analysis, providing you with the right level of context to understand the role of thoughtflow analysis in his overall design process.

The book helps you reflect on some of the things that we, as learning professionals, could (and should) do better and Guy clearly shows, step by step, how to do it and why to do it that way. The deep dive into the thoughtflow analysis deserves your full attention as it’s a glaring gap in our usual practice.

The first part of the thoughtflow analysis, focusing on the overt behaviors, happens in Guy’s initial analysis phase. After identifying the ‘Areas of Performance’ (these can also be thought of as major duties, key results areas, or accomplishments) in the context of the performance problem, the next step is to determine the key outputs and their key measures (in other words, what are the deliverables, and what does good look like?). Then, for each output, he conducts a task analysis. This is where the first phase of the thoughtflow analysis comes in, where he teases out the overt behaviors. In other words: The behaviors that we can observe, the ‘what do to.’ 

It’s quite trendy nowadays to stop there, flowing from the idea that performance matters more than learning. Tom Gilbert used to call this ‘The Cult of Behavior’ as if the observable behaviors are the means to an end. They’re not. In particular, when we’re dealing with complex tasks at work (tasks that require us to constantly analyze the situation as we’re dealing with different variables depending on the context and hence, we constantly need to ask ourselves questions and make considerations in order to make the best decision for that particular situation), different circumstances might require different behaviors.

This is why this book is so important. It clearly makes the distinction between the analysis to determine ‘ideal performance’ and the analysis we need to do to ensure that we design interventions that help people achieve that ideal performance.

To help people learn how to perform critical tasks to achieve ideal performance, we also need to figure out what the likely performance gaps and their probable causes (e.g., a process issue, an environmental issue, a knowledge & skill issue, etcetera) are for the target audience, as well as the enabling knowledge and skills for each output-task for each (critical) role.

Guy does and explains this well. He first anchors the design work using the overt behavioral tasks (the ‘what to do’), and then he works with master performers to derive the covert cognitive tasks (the thinking that guides the doing), determining the critical discriminations, determinations, and decisions for each task.

As Guy explains: Discriminations in the Performance Context lead to Determinations on how to carry on in either a standard manner or to switch to a non-standard approach, which then leads to Decisions as to which non-standard approach to use.

I’m convinced that Guy’s book will not only trigger you to think about your practice differently. It will also provide you with a step-by-step guide that you will go back to over and over again when working with clients.

Much of what Guy describes in this new book reminds me of experiences I’ve had with my own clients. Initially, they grumble that I’m asking too many questions, taking up too much of their time. They ask if I can please just take their content and run with it. But when they start to see there’s a gap between the identified performance problem and the content they originally thought would ‘fix it,’ they start to understand that more work needs to be done. Even better, when they start explaining what they do, the steps to perform the tasks, what good looks like, the rationale behind what they’re doing, and so forth, they become very enthusiastic and are usually volunteering more time. They also become very creative, contributing fantastic ideas for effective, efficient, and enjoyable learning solutions. Why? Because they see the value and they see how they can play a part in delivering value to their people and the business. Believe me, using this book, you can, too.

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See all 28 of my books on my Amazon Author’s Page – here.


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