Will Thalheimer does research-based consulting focused on studying evaluation and presentation design in workplace learning.

Will holds a BA from the Pennsylvania State University, an MBA from Drexel University, and a PhD in educational psychology: human learning and cognition in Columbia University.


Crystal Balling using Learnnovators is a thought-provoking meeting show that attempts to gaze into the future of e-learning. It includes sparking discussions with merchandise evangelists and industry experts on emerging trends in the learning landscape.
Join us on this exciting journey as we participate with thought leaders and studying innovators to find out exactly what the future of our business looks like.


1. LEARNNOVATORS: We are fantastic fans of the work, Dr. Thalheimer. You are a voice in the learning business who translates research findings that are important for professionals to understand and implement in the workplace. It is a honour to have you here to talk about the past, present and future of studying science and learning evaluation!
The community considers a thought leader and you a learning science specialist. For several decades now, being at the function of a Learning Scientist, you have been inspiring the neighborhood with your insights based on research-based inventions in the practice of studying evaluation. As the trends which are influencing corporate L&D, what do you see as Work-Learning Research, Inc.’s President? And, how, according to you, is studying science and evaluation evolving in synch with those disruptions?
WILL THALHEIMER: One matter real”learning science experts”–since you explain me–know is that learning is one of the most wondrous, complicated, and important areas of human functioning. With this complexity must come humility. I’ve been translating research about learning, memory, and education for more than two years now and I still feel I have much more to learn. Still, I take pride in having got the wisdom that I have, despite my limits.
What disruptive tendencies are coming in Learning and Development? Great question! Allow me to say that disruptions can be useful or harmful. Allow me to begin with a few harmful trends.
As a subject, we are becoming gobsmacked by buzzwords, sexy new artifacts, memes, and mythologies. Here are a few: Neuro-Everything is. Anything with a hint of neuroscience or mind science attracts our attention even though there is not any participation from learning recommendations. What we’ve heard from neuroscience was formerly known through old learning science. I’ve written about this extensively here: https://www.worklearning.com/2016/01/05/brain-based-learning-and-neuroscience-what-the-research-says/.
Machine learning, data that is large, and artificial Intelligence is also a worry. When these tools certainly will have an influence, we are going to muck up things for at least a decade until we get useful improvements from them. Additionally, we’ll be bamboozled by sellers who say they’re using AI, but aren’t, or who are using just 1 percent AI and claiming that their merchandise is AI-based.
Learning Analytics is poised to cause problems. Folks are measuring the wrong things. They’re measuring what is easy to measure in studying, but not what is important. I recommend Jerry Muller’s book The Tyranny of Metrics to learn how data can be useful, but very bad.
That’s enough depressing news on to the disruptions that are good. The explosion of different learning technologies beyond authoring tools and LMSs is very likely to make a wave of innovations in learning. Organizations now–and even more so in the long run –will utilize many tools within an Learning-Technology Stack. These can include (1) programs offering asynchronous cloud-based learning environments that empower and promote better learning designs, (2) tools which enable realistic training in decision-making, (3) tools which reinforce and remind students, (4) spaced-learning tools, (5) habit-support tools, (6) insight-learning tools (those that empower creative ideation and invention ), et cetera.
Organizations will start using better learning-evaluation strategies and models such as LTEM (the Learning-Transfer Assessment Model). Better learning designs will be propelled by this. One important facet of this is that we will be able to leverage two facets of studying evaluation; the traditional one where we are collecting information about what is working and what’s not, but in addition the new thought of”stealth messaging,” where our evaluation approaches send messages about what is critical.
Finally, notice that you’re asking me to predict the future. So, let me make a fantastic leap of faith here–with a few positive hubris–and say that I’m hoping that my forthcoming publication will push a few changes and inventions in the L&D ecosystem. We have been swimming at the stagnant and the logjams aren’t even noticed by us . We can not even breath from the fetid waters behind those logjams and yet we persist in doing the same weak things, just sometimes with much more vigor.
Notice about the publication: The working title is: The CEO’s Guide to Training, eLearning & Work: Reshaping Learning into a Competitive Advantage. Individuals may learn about the book here and sign up to get an early copy by clicking this hyperlink.
In the book, I will attempt–as best I could –to burst a number of those logjams: Our senior managers do not know learning; they think it’s easy, so they do not encourage L&D like they need to. Because our L&D leaders live in a world in which they aren’t understood, they do dumb stuff like pretending to align learning with business language and business-school vibes–needing to align with learning. We are under-professionalized because of this lively and it has to change if we hope to work in our learning-and-performance work.
We lie to our senior leaders once we show our understanding data–our grin sheets and our attendance data. We handle toward those superstitious targets, causing a reduction of efficacy. This logjam must change.
We conduct training. Occasionally we include poorly and inadequately, although prompting tools and learning. In the book, one which expands beyond training will be offered by me. We must burst our sphere of influence .
Our CEOs do not understand how to judge their schooling leaders or studying teams, so they revert to listening to signals that are inappropriate. They grade on a curve if they hear signs of business language. If they receive a dashboard of smile-sheet data that is meaningless, they grin. If their learning team wins learning business awards, they presume all is well–even though those awards come through review procedures. By breaking this logjam, we’ll proceed.
I’m probably too optimistic about moving L&D to a better, healthier, relationship with all our organizational sponsors, but dammit if it’s not worth trying. When successful, the future looks very different from the current. We as an industry will take a strong, more scientific way of understanding. We’ll do A-B testing, we’ll develop ways to make virtuous cycles of continuous improvements, we’ll professionalize and employ and recruit individuals educated in science-of-learning and explore methods who can utilize these in sensible ways. We’ll be judged more about efficacy than on our silver tongues. Our tools will change to promote a pilot-testing, comparison-testing mindset. We educate ourselves more rigorously and will instruct. We’ll earn the right to call ourselves L&D professionals.

2. LEARNNOVATORS: You are famous for’reinventing the grin sheets’ for creating a new strategy to help get data about learning efficacy. Called the’smile-sheet whisperer’, you lead organizations throughout the world to assist them re-build their grin sheets to gather better quality data on learning efficacy. The 2019 recommended list of student survey (aka smile sheet) questions which you recently released according to the Performance-Focused Smile Sheet strategy is like gold dust for studying designers. What are the challenges in executing a’performance-focused’ strategy in our studying interventions, and also what is your advice?
WILL THALHEIMER: Thanks you for your kind words about my smile-sheet innovations! First let me say that not one of us must rely data that is smile-sheet on alone–not even using my Smile Sheet methods.
What I’ve observed from working with customers throughout the last several years–and enhancing my strategies, strategies, and queries based on real-world opinions –is that even small improvements in our smile-sheet questions may produce incredible results. I was talking with a client recently and he offered a new pair of smile-sheet concerns to his trainers (his SMEs). One question asked the students specifically about whether the trainer used Yammer (a social-media intra-organization app) following training. Among the trainers went to a long rant about how terrible Yammer was and how the question asked was dumb. With explained the proposed value of using Yammer following training and talked to this particular trainer. The trainer was not moved. After rethinking his strategy A week later, the trainer apologized. He added his coaching and a post-training component –something the move research shows clearly has advantages. So, we are able to see exactly what happens when we include smile-sheet questions which nudge us–send us messages –about the factors of learning efficacy.
You ask about obstacles and there are a few, but they’re surmountable. The hurdle is convincing important stakeholders to make a shift and heritage. People love Likert-like scales and queries about student satisfaction and class standing even though those are shown to be meaningless concerning learning effectiveness. Additionally, a number of the greatest learning-evaluation evangelists still advocate practices that are poor, and sellers.
The key to getting beyond these is twofold. A short introduction to the futility of current approaches sways 90 percent of individuals resistors. Pilot testing the new smile sheets–even using a direct contrast to grin sheets that are classic wins . The data is better and where traditional smile sheets promote stagnation and paralysis, the new ones exude curiosity, change, and innovation in studying design and deployment.

3. LEARNNOVATORS: You refer to yourself as a’Research-Inspired Innovator at Learning Presentation Science’, and educate presentation skills depending on the science of studying. What does research urge for crafting budding demonstrations (human-centered ones that relate, socialize, and inspire the viewer )?
WILL THALHEIMER: Well, I’ve got a 12-hour online workshop on this, thus there is a lot I could say about my Presentation-Science strategy –but let me briefly tell the story. Again, let me begin that giving a presentation is an complex enterprise much so that there are ways about giving presentations of wisdom. Really, I am a presenter myself, but I have more to learn.
Regardless of what kind of presentation we provide we want our audience to participate, we need them to understand something profoundly, and we would like them to be able to go out and do something with what they have learned.
The workshop–and also the strategy –then focus on helping presenters to aid their audience to ENGAGE, LEARN, REMEMBER, and ACT. So, by way of example, we all know from the science of human cognition that when people encounter visual stimulation, their eyes move rapidly from one thing to another and back again attempting to understand what they see. I call this the”eye-path phenomenon.” So, as studying designers also — we as presenters, because of this inherent tendency! At the workshop I talk to do so, but here are two. First, we would like to rid our slips of logos and cosmetic images that do nothing to get studying except draw the eye-path attention of our audience members. We have to show objects on our at a time–not all at once!
By 2020’s middle, I will increase the purchase price. Individuals are able to learn more about the path in https://www.presentationscience.net/.

4. LEARNNOVATORS: You will find lots of including Geoffrey James who assert that they’hate PowerPoint’ because it simplifies learning. There are even a few who suggest Prezi as a better tool for presentations. Nevertheless, there are many others who question this argument stating that these views (contrary to PowerPoint or any other tool for that matters) aren’t backed by science or any research findings. As a’Research-Inspired Innovator at Learning Presentation Science’, it’s intriguing to hear that you suggest that we take the duty and the tool we use has no bearing on the efficacy of the presentation. What does research need to say about it? Would you share your thoughts with our readers please?
WILL THALHEIMER: People have complained about PowerPoint for decades, but they’re wrong to blame Google Slides, or PowerPoint Keynote. Most of the issues are in the designs we use. I agree that the templates these tools push us are poor–mostly since they use bullet points, but we do not need to use those templates. At the workshop I suggest we use bullet points and I provide four methods to deal with the hazards of bullet points.

5. LEARNNOVATORS: At the Spacing Learning Events Over Time: What the Research Says — Research Report you say,”It might be helpful to consider spaced retrieval practice as the aspirin of instructional design. Like a miracle drug, it has multiple advantages and negative side effects. “We also, like many on the market, are quite convinced that spacing learning over time enriches learning efficacy. However, as we all know learning solutions are being designed as’one-time occasions’. What is your advice to studying designers to split to encourage learning that is ?
WILL THALHEIMER: Did I write that? What a wonderful turn of phrase! SMILE. Here is the bargain, hierarchical learning–in all of its forms –is a proven research-based methodology to help students in learning and remembering. Over 400 scientific research! We can do several things to use spaced learning–and incidentally, once we talk spaced learning, we are talking spaced repetitions (not verbatim reps but Profession repetitions). We can distance content reps over time. We can make use of delay between repetitions, about interleaving different topics with the current 19, or we can think. We can provide feedback delaying feedback. Immediate feedback is better when individuals have started to understand a topic, when individuals are wanting to encourage their remembering, but delayed comments can be better.
Fortunately there are lots of tools that spaced practice and empower spaced repetitions. We can use a model to augment event-based learning or maybe as a replacement.

6. LEARNNOVATORS: To estimate Bob Mosher,”It isn’t about what they understand; it’s about what they can do.” Evaluating the actual outcomes of our studying interventions has been hard, the confusion being the way and what kind of data to collect. Largely we default to student surveys and attendance, but much more can be accumulated.” Could you let our readers understand you feel LTEM is far better than Kirkpatrick-Katzell Four-Level Model to develop confirm learning outcomes and powerful learning interventions, and you compare this with new evaluation models in the area?
WILL THALHEIMER: Our models should propel our activities and our thinking regarding end points. Our understanding evaluation models must nudge us NOT to take learner-activity or attendance as a valid metric. Our learning evaluation models must NOT nudge us to appraise”Learning” as wisdom checks. It’s been silent about the hazards of supporting by measuring attendance, learning, and so attendance is seen by us in the learning area as a metric. Even applicant organizations are judged by business awards on the number of individuals were educated. Completely untrue! The Four-Level model additionally puts”Learning” into one bucket. So, what exactly do we do when we evaluate with the Kirkpatrick-Katzell Four-Level Model (or the Five Level ROI model or one or more of these variants)? We say,”Okay, we need a Level 2 learning evaluation; let’s utilize a knowledge check.” Oh, the damage this has done! About learning even though studying is where we studying professionals have the most leverage, We’ve been nudged to utilize metrics that were insufficient.
LTEM is designed from the ground up to focus on what messages we need an evaluation model to ship. It has got eight tiers rather than four levels, keeping it relatively easy while becoming about studying definitive. Organizations are using LTEM not just for evaluation. Because it will get all of us thinking about what we really should achieve, they are finding it helpful as a portion of the blessings of their learning strategy.
One other fantastic thing is that LTEM along with the report which accompanies it can be found at no cost in https://www.worklearning.com/ltem/.

7. LEARNNOVATORS: It’s inspirational to see your current Research Review about Learning Transfer which you shared publicly for studying professionals and the neighborhood. As we know, this report contains recommended transfer factors, and is a valuable tool for anyone in the training area to review and practice. We value your initiative to create this publicly available to the learning area, along with your efforts in bringing this report out. How can you believe that this will challenge coaching professionals to learning move to throw a critical eye in their existing programs and future designs with respect?
WILL THALHEIMER: for recognizing this report, Thank you! It took me two years to research and write–and I must acknowledge that the actual force behind the report would be the dozens and dozens of researchers whose work I compiled. Additionally, a special shout out to Emma Weber and Lever Transfer of Learning (https://transferoflearning.com/) who funded my early research efforts. I should start out by stating that among the highlights of the report is that the current state of transfer science isn’t where it needs to be. In summary, a lot of the research relies on subjective reflections on move and their learning –a problem, since we understand subjective reacting is usually not entirely accurate.
There is enough good research on transfer to highlight a few of the factors that are most vital for studying transfer. You ask, the way this research-to-practice report may help trainers, studying architects, and elearning programmers (and their managers, naturally ). Good Question! It’s helpful for each of us to keep in mind that move is our goal in workplace learning. We learning architects have failed, if our students do not move their learning to be helpful to them in their work, then. The report highlights several findings we ought to keep in mind. We must design effective learning interventions, although transfer is very good. Without learning that is good, there is unlikely to be move. But training is not enough to encourage transfer either. We want additional supports such as things like reminders, management support, learning design that empowers remembering, triggered actions preparation, etc.. By looking at the report, we in L&D can plan our strategies that are learning-to-performance.

To be continued… (Part 2 Coming Soon; Stay Tuned)

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