By the time this is published both The Unfulfilled Promise of Online Analytics, Part 1 and The Unfulfilled Promise of Online Analytics, Part 2 will be available on The Analytics Ecology. Originally, I asked several web analysts worldwide to respond to the phrase The Unfulfilled Promise of Web Analytics, then during a lunch with a friend who owns a search optimization company, he offered to send the request out to people in the search field.
I agreed, thinking there might be a separate post in it. Instead I learned that web analytics and search marketers feel, think and say much the same things about their worlds. I incorporated their responses and it became the two part post mentioned above.
One of the elements that came through in the responses dealt with training practitioners in the proper use of tools and in understanding what the tools were demonstrating. This element in the research truly intrigued me because I’m a stickler for training, especially when it comes to using new tools. The above comment came in one of the responses to my research.
People who’ve taken any of NextStage’s trainings know that I have strict guidelines when it comes to certifying people on NextStage’s tools; There’s a lot of difference between “You were in a class” and “You demonstrated understanding of the tool and accountability in your statements about the tool’s output”. We certify people on NextStage tools and not everybody who takes a NextStage tool class gets certification.
But the discussion in The Unfulfilled Promise of Online Analytics Parts 1 and 2 along with some email responses to Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History did make me look at my own training methods.
So far participant comments have been very good so I thought I’d share some of my training methods here.
1) Provide Explicit Instructions
People who are learning something are making themselves vulnerable. People learning something completely new and different are escalating their vulnerability. I will give explicit instructions — often one step at a time — when I want students to perform a task and when I misstep or misspeak, I take the fall, laugh about it, encourage them to laugh with me — thereby giving them permission to laugh at themselves.
2) Provide Working Play Time
I make sure that students of unequal ability group together to “play” at what they learned in a day’s training. If the environment doesn’t allow that (we’re not doing a training at a lodge or resort) then I make sure there’s time before and after the formal class for the students to group together and play. This play is crucial because it makes what they’ve learned for work safe, friendly and directly actionable. Further, it demonstrates that everyone’s ability is to be honored (NextStage Principle #30).
3) CrowdSource and SmartMob Quizzes
People have different learning, retention and cognition styles. I will often group students along these lines (similar styles together) and give the class quizzes on previously covered material. Everybody wins because these different learning, retention and cognition styles demonstrate themselves in different solutions and solution paths. This is CrowdSourcing. Once everybody’s had a part in this I’ll divide the students up again, this time placing different styles together and quizzing them with more difficult problems. Now different solution strategies learn to mix and mingle, also developing very intriguing solutions and paths. This is SmartMobbing. Both techniques help students — and me! — learn greatly.