PM Chronicles #5: Great Class, and More About ELearning, and Mager, by Fred Parker

In PM’s office. Present are:

  • PM – Performance Manager
  • LT – Learning and Talent Development Coordinator
  • TC – Training Coordinator
  • HG – Consultant (Hired Gun)

My Class Went Great

LT           I am so excited, I just have to tell you! My class last week went great!

               You were right! By following your Survival Skills, everything just fell into place like clockwork.

HG         That is good news.

LT           Yeah, I ended up doing four short sessions, but it all fit into the allotted time. People told me they really enjoyed it because it wasn’t just one long boring lesson. Thanks for the help.

Note to the Reader: This course is available at

               One person took one look at the slide handout and exclaimed. “Wow! Readable slides!. It was great.

               I don’t suppose that is all there is to doing training.

HG         No, not hardly. But it is a good start. That was kind of the “training wheels” part.

               Now that you have some experience of how to build effective training, it is time for you to begin learning the rest of the details. Here is a copy of my course called Become a Trainer. This will help you with writing performance objectives, skill checks, all the core elements for effective training.

Note to the Reader: This course is available at:

Elearning Continued

PM         We have been following your advice, as we have time. We have subscribed to some emails and newsletters that promote elearning.

HG         Good. How is that going.

PM         We have been discussing some of the articles. I think we are beginning to understand your slogan, “Learning is a Contact Sport.”

HG         Ok. So, what is happening?

TC          You were right that most of the articles try to make elearning sound like the magic bullet for all performance issues.

HG         You say most. What else are you seeing?

TC          Well, at least one or two articles a week point out some serious flaws with elearning. One article I read says 77% of college students surveyed say online learning is worse than going to class. They go so far as to say that they would rather suspend college that continue distant learning. (

HG         Wow. That’s a big number. I haven’t seen that article but I will check is out.

               Our slogan, “Learning is a contact sport,” simply means that people learn best from other people, not from machines. Humans are social beings who enjoy being with one another.

LT           Yeah, I have seen several articles that imply that without saying so directly.

               What is wrong with using whatever technology is available for training?

TC          It seems to me from what I have been reading is that nothing at all is wrong as long as you use it appropriately. Didn’t we talk about how Mager’s Instructional Development model puts media selection as the last design step?

LT           So we shouldn’t even think about technology until we have a course design?

HG         That’s correct. This argument over the use of technology has been around since people learned to draw pictures. I can almost imagine cave dwellers arguing over the best way to illustrate their hunt.

               In my career we have come through overhead projectors, tape recordings, cassette and reel-to-reel, videos, CDs, DVDs, etc., and, now, computers.

PM         That reminds me. When I went through your train-the-trainer course a few years ago, all we had were hard copy workbooks.

HG         How did that work out?

PM         It was great. One of the best courses I ever attended.

HG         I have done a few hundred workshops over the years using only printed workbooks. The Marines made me do that for five years until I finally realized how effective it was.

TC          What? You didn’t even use Powerpoint?

HG         Nope. Well, we didn’t have Powerpoint in those days. I found out later we didn’t need it.         

LT           Didn’t people ever ask about? You do know how to use Powerpoint?

HG         Of course, probably better than most. Remember the slides I sent you that your learners liked so much. A simple case of appropriate use of technology.

               Later on, there were some participants who came to class because they didn’t believe it was even possible to teach classes without Powerpoint.

               Anyway, keep reading, and we will keep talking about elearning possibilities.

PM         Do you think we will find a need for technology as we go along?

HG         Of course. Let’s just make sure it helps the learning without distracting.

Job Procedures and Job and Task Analysis (JTA)

PM         OK, moving on. We are making progress with our job procedures. The procedure for Area 4, Line 1 is almost ready for review.

               That Training Designer course material you gave us has been really helpful. Like you said, it is a fairly simple process, just detailed and disciplined. We have been pleasantly surprised at how a simple process helps define a complicated job.

Note to the Reader: This course is available at:

HG         Yeah, even though developing materials for performance improvement is not a difficult process, a lot of people have really complicated it. Just stick to it and you will have good results.

PM         OK. Now, a while back you and I talked a little bit about doing a complete job and task analysis for this company. I noticed that the instructions are part of the Training Designer course material.

               I also notice that there is nothing like that in Mager. Why not?

HG         Mager is the best there is at the course or module development level, but he doesn’t cover how to do organizational performance. That is one major difference between Mager and what I learned in the Marines.

PM         OK. For all of us. I want you to study the JTA lessons in the Training Designer course so we can start working on that in the next couple of weeks.


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Fred Parker is the Director of Course Design and Development at Fred has half a century as a Performance Management Consultant designing, developing, and delivering performance-based training including all manner of technical training, individual development soft skills, and basic leadership. Clients include all sizes from a local sandwich shop to the military to fortune 500 multinationals. Now Fred is converting previous ILT courses to remote delivery courses available on our web site.

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