Invest in Yourself: January programs line-up

Happy New Year everyone! We have two great programs lined up in January to kick off the new year:

  • How to Leverage Social Learning and Improve Business Results
  • Get a Grip on Gen Y: How to recruit, manage, motivate, and retain our new (unique!) generation of young professionals

Our first in-person meeting is on Wednesday, January 9, at the San Francisco State University downtown campus on Market Street. Besides learning about how to leverage social learning to improve business results, you’ll get a chance to network with other workplace learning professionals, talk with our Chapter Board members, and enjoy a good spread of yummy food, and, desserts! It’s not too late to register, just click here to read about this program and register online.

If you are grappling with how to recruit and motivate Gen Y employees, don’t miss this just-in-time webinar, jointly presented by the South Bay OD Network and ASTD Golden Gate Chapter. Click here for more information and registration.

Certificate Programs
If you are interested in getting certified in blended learning, advanced e-Learning instructional design, or consulting skills, these programs are offered in San Jose this month. Click here to view our complete list of programs.

We look forward to seeing you (in person or virtually) soon!

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ASTD Golden Gate Member Appreciation Gala 2012

By Pi Wen Looi & Cyrus Rivera

Photo credit: kumasawa, Flickr

Photo credit: kumasawa, Flickr

The glittering lights, jazzy music, and sumptuous food made for an unforgettable evening. More than 60 members and guests attended our 2012 Member Appreciation Gala on December 4 at the historic Sir Francis Drake Hotel in downtown San Francisco. Everyone was dressed to the nines, exchanging ideas and contact information; momentum that will carry everyone’s respective business into 2013.

Our Board member, Paul Anjeski, led the event planning and did a fabulous job. We had door prize drawings that included bottles of wine, free nights’ stay at a local hotel, and training and team building books. By far the free Chapter annual membership was the most sought after as it received the most tickets in the drawing bag.

Marsha Sheahen, our Chapter President, presented highlights of our Chapter’s achievements in the past year and thanked all the volunteers. Kris Schaeffer, who led the Community Outreach Program (COP) and facilitated many Instructional Design workshops over the years, exemplified true volunteerism. To commemorate her example of dedication to workplace learning and volunteering for the Chapter, she was awarded the ASTD Golden Gate Chapter Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award. Congratulations Kris, and a big thank you to all your contributions to our Chapter.

Click here to view gala photos by Bill Bankhead and Jessica Levant.

We wish everyone a very happy holiday season, and hope to see you next year at one of our Chapter events!

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Why feedback? It’s not that important, anyway…

In a class I took on designing programs, the final project was to deliver a 10-minute portion of a larger training session we had been brainstorming since the first day.  I did critical thinking skills within the context of confirmation – a Catholic rite of passage.  In my local church’s confirmation program, leaders struggled to relate Bible readings to modern-day situations and to relay it to their candidates (students).  I honed in on this particular situation and designed my training around it.

I began my 10-minute session by having fellow students play the roles of confirmation leaders.  I then had them complete a 3-minute, icebreaker-type exercise of which the main point was to read the instructions carefully.  That would segue nicely into a facilitated discussion on reading for main points, which would further lay the foundation for the rest of the training.

But that idea failed…miserably.

Based on the feedback, I was unable to bring out that “light bulb” moment in which learners begin to look at something in a different light.  Specifically, the icebreaker exercise was not a great segue tool, and my follow-up spiel on critical thinking was not exactly life-altering either.  And as I continued to take on the brunt of the feedback, I stood there thinking to myself, ‘I swear this idea sounded good yesterday…’

But a lot of the feedback I received was immensely constructive as well.  For example, by just hearing that learners probably wouldn’t have caught on as intended is huge.  In addition, I learned that the way I said certain things in my follow-up was dangerously offensive – proclaiming that leaders don’t do this or that correctly vs. explaining how they could improve.  Thankfully, we were obligated to improve our training based on the feedback, and then try again.

My second go was significantly improved.  I began by changing my opening exercise.  Instead of using the 3-minute icebreaker, I opted to begin with an open-ended discussion about the popular Disney film, Beauty and the Beast.  I had students brainstorm small elements of the plot to collectively jog everyone’s memory.  I then guided students toward identifying the themes in the film and how they connected to those elements.  For example, there was a general consensus that the popular adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ was important in the film; I quickly reminded students that the Beast embodied that very saying.  That discussion then served as a much more effective segue into a short lecture on critical thinking within the context of confirmation.  And the feedback was positive.

The moral of the story is feedback.  Or, in more formal training language, revision.  When we design training, it’s easy to lose the learner’s perspective, especially when we get caught up in making sure the subject matter is perfect.  As a result, it’s very easy to overlook whether or not the training meshes well with learners.  The only way to hold ourselves accountable for making sure it does is by gaining feedback from our co-workers and/or colleagues.  That way, we know what to fix and what ultimately will and will not work well for our learners.  As my instructor said, “What might sound good in theory, might not actually work in reality.”

Image Source:×300.jpg

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ASTD Golden Gate 2012 Annual Survey Result Highlights

Thank you to all of you who completed our 2012 Annual Survey. Eighty-two Chapter members and non-members participated in the survey between October 22, 2012 and November 5, 2012. Your responses are valuable to the Board of Directors. We’ll use your feedback to plan our events and programs next year and strive to offer a more engaging experience for you.

Here are some survey result highlights:

Learning and development topics that interest you most:

You are most interested in learning about L&D best practices, trends, and its impact on employee engagement. In particular, a majority of you indicated that you were extremely interested or very interested in the following topics:

  • Training benchmarks and best practices, (78% of survey respondents were extremely or very interested in this topic)
  • Impact of learning and development on employee engagement, 74%
  • ROI: Business goals and training results, 72%
  • Trends, goals and expectations of Workplace Learning Professional leaders and business executives, 69%
  • Virtual facilitation, 68%

Furthermore, about six-in-ten survey respondents were extremely interested or very interested in organizational development (62%) and leadership development (59%).

In terms of technology-facilitated topics, you are most interested in learning about:

  • Real-world challenges of E-learning and blended learning, (76% of survey respondents indicated they were extremely or very interested in this topic)
  • E-learning tools, 74%
  • E-learning impact and effectiveness, 73%

Your experience with our Chapter

Most of you have had positive experiences with our Chapter. Nearly three quarters (73%) agreed that you knew where to find information about getting involved with the ASTD Golden Gate Chapter. In addition, 68% agreed that you felt welcome and comfortable whenever you attended an ASTD Golden Gate Chapter program or event.

One of the goals of our Chapter is to facilitate networking and continual learning opportunities for workplace learning professionals. To this end, 62% of you agreed that your participation at ASTD Golden Gate’s events increased your opportunities to network with workplace learning professionals you would otherwise not able to; and 58% agreed that you could immediately apply what you learned from ASTD Golden Gate’s programs and activities to your current role.

Value of membership

Among Chapter members, 46% agreed that your membership is extremely valuable or very valuable and 66% of you are extremely likely or very likely to renew your membership. The key benefits our members find extremely valuable or very valuable are:

  • Opportunities to keep up with industry trends, (77% find this benefit extremely or very valuable)
  • Discounted attendance cost at events and programs, 73%
  • Opportunities to network with other workplace learning professionals, 64%

However, many members are missing out on opportunities to connect with other workplace learning professionals, increase your visibility in the online world, or to find career opportunities. Less than half of our members find these benefits valuable:

  • Member directory, (40% agreed this benefit is extremely or very valuable)
  • Members only job bank, 40%
  • Publishing articles on our blog, 24%
  • Special interest groups, 24%

Next Steps

The Board of Directors will be reviewing the survey results in more detail. We’ll meet to discuss how to further improve your membership value, create an environment where members and non-members alike can engage in lively discussions and learning activities, and facilitate opportunities to help you expand your professional network.

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Welcome Our Social Media Coordinator

Cyrus Rivera

I’m delighted to introduce our Social Media Coordinator and Chapter member, Cyrus Rivera. I met Cyrus at a Speed Networking event in Berkeley this summer. His enthusiasm to contribute to the Chapter and his experience in working with social media make him a good fit for us.

I caught up with Cyrus to get an idea of why he joined our Chapter and how he first got into social media. Here’s our interview, edited for length:

What attracted you to ASTD Golden Gate?

I’ve always wanted to work in a training and teaching role. Through the process of continued inquiry via Google, I found ASTD. I was impressed by the extensive networking and professional development opportunities offered within the ASTD Golden Gate Chapter, and it was a no brainer to take advantage of all those resources while looking for work in training and development.

Why volunteer for a Social Media role with our Chapter?

I’ve done pretty much the same sort of work – social media marketing – on behalf of IABC when I was exploring the communications career field. For example, I was responsible for upcoming events announcements via Facebook and LinkedIn and even wrote a couple blog posts. It’s the most immediate way for me to provide value to ASTD Golden Gate; to give something in return, not just take!

What do you like best about using social media?

Quite simply, it’s fun – especially when you spark a good exchange and conversation.

What do you do when you’re not working, tweeting, or blogging?

I’ve been singing since 8 years old. I’ve been known to get the crowd going on karaoke night.

Please say hi to Cyrus when you see him at one of our events, or have a chat with him online!

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Oh no! Not another survey!

Is your email as full of survey requests as mine is?  Virtually every time I do anything online — or even at Macys! — I’m asked to complete a survey of my experience.  Organizations usually hear from me when I’ve had a bad experience.  Occasionally, someone delivers knock-out service and I try to remember to compliment them in the survey.  But usually I just hit delete.  Do you do the same?

Well, the ASTD Golden Gate Chapter is about to hit you with a survey.  But please don’t hit delete – after all, we are YOUR organization!  Each year we use survey results to guide our Program choices and try to provide what you have asked for. We are planning a fresh new approach to membership and involvement in 2013, and we need to hear from you to craft an outstanding experience for you next year.

Go ahead – tell us what you think.  Tell us what you want.  Tell us what you didn’t like.  Tell us anything you want.  Just don’t hit delete.  Thank you!

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COP Volunteers Help SF Transit Get Community Input

Where are you going and how do we get there?
The COP team gets community input on the future of San Francisco transit

By Kris Schaeffer, CPLP

How can we efficiently move thousands of people everyday? How can we develop public transportation that gets people out of their cars? What should San Francisco transit look like in 5 to 10 years? How do we get there?

And the key question for COP (Community Outreach Program)—how do you get ideas about a lot of weighty questions in a short amount of time?

Here’s our answer—arrange a break-out room with these questions posted in various clusters around the room. Provide the ground rules for how the break-out groups would work. And in short order, the public understood that “the way to be heard is to write it down.”

Hallie Sinor, Bruce Gross, Angela Dowd, Marie Kotowski, Paul Anjeski, David Heneghan, Carla Kincaid-Yoshikawa, Kris Schaeffer, Jane Lunn. COP volunteers are all ready for the break-out groups.

It worked! The organizer, Bob Feinbaum, told us “The Board of Directors of SaveMuni joins me in expressing our appreciation for giving up part of your Saturday to help the Forum’s participants to articulate the amazing number of ideas that came out of the groups. You may be interested to know that the three groups together generated 153 ideas—far more than we could ever have anticipated.”

Five different community groups sponsored this all-day forum: SaveMUNI, Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, San Francisco Tomorrow, Sierra Club, and TransForm.

This coalition wanted ideas on these important questions:

  • How to Improve MUNI finances
  • How to Improve vehicle maintenance and reliability
  • How to Improve MUNI safety and security How to Increase ridership
  • How to Restructure the SFMTA
  • How to Improve on-time performance
  • How to Satisfy neighborhood needs

COP volunteers design and facilitate meetings for non-profit organizations throughout the Bay Area.  You can volunteers or request COP’s help by contacting us at

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