Instructional design Elearning

40 minute read

Unpacking the Adult Learning Experience with Dr. Luke Hobson | Episode 1

Laurel Buckley

Laurel Buckley

In our inaugural episode of the L&D Explorers Podcast, we were honored to host Dr. Luke Hobson, a leader in the world of instructional design and learning & development.

Dr. Hobson, senior instructional designer, program manager at MIT and the mind behind the Instructional Design Institute, shared invaluable insights into adult learning, or andragogy, and its differences from traditional pedagogical approaches. 

Trust us when we say that this episode is a treasure trove of insights for those who want to create influential learning experiences for adults. 

Mentioned in the episode

Key takeaways

1. The 'Why' behind learning

Explaining the 'why' behind learning content cannot be overstated. "One characteristic about teaching adults is that they need to know about the ‘why.’

They want to understand the reason behind the ask.

(Timestamp 4:25 - 4:33)

Actionable Steps: Clearly articulate how the training benefits them and the real-world application of each lesson to motivate learners and anchor the learning in their daily lives or work.

2. Overcoming resistance

Learning is often viewed as burdensome, especially when it is a requirement. This view by learners results in a lack of engagement with content, negatively affecting effectiveness. Dr. Hobson advises, "The biggest thing is to make them feel like they have part ownership inside of the actual training itself.

So when you can incorporate their ideas into whatever you are going to be crafting, that makes them feel attached to what they're doing.

(Timestamp 10:51 - 11:07)

Actionable insight: Engage learners in the creation process to make them feel attached to their learning outcomes, enhancing their motivation and eagerness to engage with the material. 

3. Start your training program

The first thing you need to know when starting your training program is: 

You need to be a researcher. You need to be able to think more about data and how to incorporate that into your designs because oftentimes, there are going to be things that you don't have an answer for, and you need to figure this out yourself.

(Timestamp 24:41 - 24:53)

Actionable insight: Use all the available data and analytics to gather insights about learners' behavior, preferences, and areas of struggle. Use these insights to inform your course design and structure.

If you’re interested in delving deeper into adult learning theories and instructional design, Dr. Malcolm Knowles's work and resources like the Instructional Design Institute recommended by Dr. Hobson are excellent places to start.

We hope you enjoyed this first episode of our L&D Explorers Podcast! Subscribe to our YouTube or Podbean so you don’t miss out on the next episode. 


Dan Gorgone: Welcome to the L&D Explorers Podcast from GoSkills. On today's episode, we're talking with Dr. Luke Hobson, senior instructional designer and program manager at MIT. Our topic today is andragogy and how you can specifically teach adult learners. We'll talk about what motivates adult learners, the importance of offering practical, accessible courses, and discuss strategies for success. I'm Dan Gorgone, course producer at GoSkills, and if you're responsible for training and development at your company, you don't want to miss this episode.

Hey everyone, welcome to the episode. Here we've got Dr. Luke Hobson joining us, who is the senior instructional designer and program manager at MIT. And also, you've got the Instructional Design Institute. There's so much that you're doing to support instructional designers out there, so we appreciate you taking the time and joining us, Luke.


Luke Hobson: Of course, Dan, thank you so much for having me. Really appreciate it.


Dan Gorgone: Yeah, so when we at GoSkills reached out to you, the topic of andragogy came up, which sounds vaguely like pedagogy, right? And so, I think a lot of us will hear andragogy and wonder, "I wonder what that is? That sounds important." As an instructional designer, we know it's very important to have this pedagogical approach when you're teaching, but there's a big difference between teaching adults, which I think a lot of the audience here is trying to do, and teaching children. That kind of gets to the core of the difference between pedagogy and andragogy, doesn't it?


Luke Hobson: It does. Which is kind of interesting too, and you just mentioned this a little bit, is about how, for us over in Instructional Design Land, even seeing job postings right now about new instructional design positions, I still keep on seeing mentioning about pedagogy, and I'm looking through and I'm like, "No, that's not this organization, that's for this company, that's like no, you want to talk about andragogy." And then as soon as you say that word, that's when people kind of look at you, and you're like, "What's andragogy?" And it's kind of interesting. I'm not sure what was your first introduction into andragogy, but for mine, it wasn't until I became an instructional designer where I was just like, "I feel like there's something I'm missing here because I kept on going down the learning science path, and I was like, there's something missing, right? Like, I gotta do something else." And then, all of a sudden, luckily, I stumbled on the work of Dr. Malcolm Knowles, and I was realizing all this work about how adults learn was getting produced in the '60s and the '70s. I was like, "How did that never come about in anything I've done before?" It's like, "Oh my gosh, I gotta throw myself into this and learn more." But that was my introduction, was kind of stumbling upon it, and then rolling from there.


Dan Gorgone: Yeah, see, what a lot of us, I think, in the instructional design game have kind of based our ideas and assumptions on is experiential, you know, it's what we remember in our own courses that we attended as students. And it definitely, it certainly goes back to who were our favorite teachers when we were growing up, and how did they engage us. We remember the funny ones, we remember the smart ones, we remember the ones who maybe, you know, engaged with us directly and helped us along. But the approach to teaching has to be different for adults, and I think that the main concern, that's a huge issue, that maybe isn't so obvious for the Learning and Development managers out there who are responsible for training up their staff and training the next leaders of their company. So let's get into it. Like, what are the main characteristics of adult learners? Because that's a huge difference. Children need different things; they have different motivations, right? But what's the, how are adults different? How do we reach them?


Luke Hobson: Sure. So, let's start kind of like of a high-level overview for things. And you kind of mentioned this a little bit as well, is this like, what is the difference between andragogy and pedagogy? And to be clear, I'm thinking the folks that probably already figured this out by now, but andragogy is more about the learning science behind how we teach adults. Pedagogy is much more along with adolescence and with children. So when we're thinking about these different types of things, that's also not to say, too, that there aren't similarities, because there are. For instance, one characteristic about teaching adults is that they need to know about the "why." They want to understand the reason behind the ask. It's not like they are troops and you have a drill sergeant just throwing things at them to follow orders and commands. That's not how learning works in the real world. And of course, I've had some people say to me as well, even for teachers with children, "All they ask me is 'why' for every single thing." And I'm like, "Yes, I completely understand that." But the huge thing about andragogy, which a lot of folks don't really do, is recognize that adults come with a wealth of knowledge and experience. They already have all of these things inside of their heads from their prior levels of knowledge that we should be using. For a lot of trainings out there, and for courses, programs, workshops—whatever you want to be able to say—we'll just lump them as trainings to keep it kind of simple. They don't use this information, and it's like, "Oh, we're wiping the slate clean, so we're going to be talking about this new training." And you're like, "Well, wait a second, who are the adults in the room? What have they done? Can we learn from them? Can we customize the content and everything around their wants, their needs, their goals, their passions? Like, why are they here? If it's a requirement and they have to be able to do this, they're going to show up, but there's so much more that we can do to make learning meaningful if we think about how adults actually learn at the end of the day." And that's kind of like step one to figuring things out.


Dan Gorgone: So, the motivation really behind adult learners is key. It's adults who are coming into these learning programs with the experience you're talking about, but also that desire to make use of what is being presented to them because, you know, and I'll leave the kids behind from this discussion because, you know, Lord knows they don't want to use any of the stuff right now. They just want to get through it, right? But adults need results. Adults really want to know, "What is in it for me?" So, whatever is being taught to them has got to have a purpose behind it, and it's got to be something that they can apply to their everyday job or to their everyday life, right? So, how does that factor into the way in which you design a learning program or a course for adults?


Luke Hobson: Absolutely. So, like, the first thing is first, is that when you're even thinking about trying to create something from scratch, what I want to be able to do is to learn as much as humanly possible about the people who are coming into the program. What exactly do they want to be able to walk away with at the end of the day? You mention about the motivations and their wants and their needs. People are going to be enrolling inside of trainings, especially at the organizational level or small, medium, large, whatever it is, as far as you're thinking about with results, and what are they going to be getting out of everything from the training that you're going to be asking them to do? Because one of the humongous things is that they don't have a lot of time, and they're juggling a thousand things, and now you're putting something else on top of their plate. So what exactly really is the ask, and it has to be so clear, and it has to be so transparent with everything. Often times as IDs, we talk about thinking about aligning back to learning objectives and learning outcomes, and yes, I get that. But I also understand too that if we just simplify it to be able to say, "Here is what exactly we are going to be doing." But step one, I want to be able to customize what exactly I'm going to be talking about for going forward, because there's so much valuable information. If you don't ask about it at the beginning when you're trying to create this training or program, whatever it is, well then, it's a wasted opportunity. Let's say, hypothetically speaking, you're creating a new type of leadership initiative. You're creating a whole new type of leadership program, and inside of your organization, you're going to have folks who are first-time level leaders, and you're going to have those who have been doing it for, you know, 10, 15, 20 years. What you might be thinking about is, "Oh, I am the trainer, I am the instructional designer. I'm going to loop together all the newbies in one little group, I'm going to put the vets in another little group, and they're just going to go and do their thing." But what I've learned from doing trainings and teachings is like, "Well, no, I don't want to do that. What I want to do is to actually mix and match, and I want them to share their experiences." Because the fact that veterans have been doing things for so long, for such a period of time, they kind of are a bit jaded. They're in their lane, they're doing their thing, and then when you bring in someone with a new, fresh perspective who has not yet actually drank the Kool-Aid, they bring in a whole new idea where you're like, "I never thought about it like that before." And it's these conversations that come about from mixing these people together. So, it's taking that experience, that wealth of knowledge, and trying to craft the learning experience around who is in the room or who is taking the online program. That's what's going to greatly change things for you, depending upon what you do.


Dan Gorgone: I love the idea of mixing those individuals, as you talked about, because there are so many things that we can learn from other people with varied experiences, people coming from different places, different industries. And you and I talked about how, before we were instructional designers, we were coming from, you know, marketing, design, web design, different backgrounds. So where we've come from absolutely informs some of our path, but these are lessons that we can share with other people along the way. The other thing that you mentioned, though, was that, and I completely, I totally feel this, this idea that this training is being thrust upon you, that this training is a requirement. And in many, many cases, it is. It is a continuing education requirement, it's some kind of program that HR has—all those HR people—have put something in place, they've forced it upon us. How do you combat that? How do you get past that when you're designing a learning program, especially for these adult learners who, you know, some of them may fall into that old dog, new tricks type of thing where they may not—they may be resistant, but it would be so valuable if they engaged with it?


Luke Hobson: Yeah, so the biggest thing is to make them feel like they have part ownership inside of the actual training itself. So when you can take their ideas and incorporate them into whatever you are going to be crafting, that makes them feel attached to what it is that they're doing. You're essentially breaking down the barrier instead of saying, "Hey, here's this email from HR. You better do this DEI training because you have to." And now instead, it's just like, "Well, wait a second. This is what we're going to be doing. We're bringing in other different forms of industry experts and guest speakers who are coming in from the organization. We're talking about real things. We're going to have an open conversation around what's really taking place inside of our organization at the moment and try to be able to steer things together." So it's reframing it as, like, "I need to give this to you. Here is your medicine. Take this pill," and instead, it's like, "We're actually going to craft this up together," and then that's how we move forwards. And it's really interesting, depending upon how you do this. Of course, there's going to be different types of constraints with time, budget, energy, resources. There's a number of different factors that, for one podcast episode, we're not going to be able to crush every single barrier. But I have found, which is so interesting, is that if you can be as transparent as possible when working with folks to be able to say, "This is what we're going to be going through. Tell me what's valuable for you," and then I'm going to try to be able to make sure that I customize something that actually speaks to your needs. So yes, you're required to be able to be here, but what is your department going through? What's your division going through? You mentioned about how you were having a power struggle or a team dynamic with your leader. Tell me more about that, as candid as you can be, without, you know, obviously getting yourself in trouble or things of that nature. When you tie it back to them in the real world, that's huge, which is another component about andragogy. It's not so much talking about something that is theoretical; it's like, "Well, make it practical." So don't just say abstract and huge types of complex things like, "No, no, no, say literally, like what we're talking about in here, this ties back to your division, and this ties back to the vision and the mission and the goals of your organization," and not have it be so kind of fluffy, where you're like, "Maybe it applies to me, maybe it doesn't." And that's where you lose people. If you do this kind of whole catch-22 approach of just like, "Here's everything," and you're like, "Well, it's not individualized, it's not customized, I don't see myself contributing, so am I actually being valued for what I say?" And we can completely change that dynamic if you do it right.


Dan Gorgone: I love this because some of what you're saying, and I'm summing this up because it's important, making these courses practical, making them accessible, and absolutely avoiding this trap of thinking that one size fits all. It's absolutely something that, like, I've been an instructional designer for a while, I've fallen into that trap before, thinking that, "Well, I mean, I've been asked to create a course on a topic because it's on a list of the required things that the team needs," so on and so forth, and thinking that, "Well, as long as I approach it from a general sort of perspective and provide the basics, foundational knowledge, that'll be fine, and it will, you know, check a box," and it's such a trap to fall into because you're missing out on the very first thing that you said, which is you're not getting to know the people who are the target audience of this. And so, understanding your people, understanding their needs, their motivations, is going to be key in not just creating the courses but choosing the courses as well. If you, you may be out there as a Learning and Development professional, creating courses, hiring instructional designers to create these things for your team, you might be going out to a place like GoSkills, which has courses that are already prepared and may be part of the solution as well. You may be mixing and matching, but you have to take their, you have to take your audience's needs into account.

This is, I mean, this is just one of the challenges that small to medium businesses are facing. What else are they facing as well? 


Luke Hobson: So let me give an example about that as well, too, is that right now, if I was a part of a Learning and Development team at a corporate entity, and let's say that we are trying to foster a culture that's all about innovation, and that and well, those are like those buzzwords that you'll always hear out of organizations, you're like, "Alright, innovation, what does that mean?" Well, instead of saying, "Alright, here's what we're going to do, I want you to take a course in innovation," instead, it's just like, "Tell you what, we are going to be able to give you the autonomy, the flexibility, and the freedom to think about everything that happens inside of this organization, every workflow, every process, just go through, break them all down, and see, is there a better way of doing things?" And then what you're going to find is that since you were giving people the creativity and the autonomy to be able to go out and think about things, they're like, "You know what? The way that we work with this department is not that efficient. There's a lot of steps, there's a lot of challenges, we don't hear back sometimes because how our ticketing system is too slow." And all of a sudden, you're giving them this kind of, once again, that sense of ownership to be able to say, "Hey, I noticed something." And then instead, it's just like, "Go, write about it. Now go, pitch it. Go do more depth, go do more research about everything." And then I can promise you that after that, they are going to take this initiative, and they're going to keep on bringing it up again, again, and again, and bring it forward up the food chain until finally, there is some solution, or some action, or something along those lines. And that's what they want to be able to do because they will indeed try to be able to solve a problem if you give them the tools and the flexibility to be able to do so. And that's not saying, like, I notice how I didn't say, "I want you to all, smart 10 people, go fix X." It's like, no, think about everything we do, do some brainstorming, have some open conversations and dialogue, and see what's going on. What roadblocks are we facing that we don't know about yet? Or is there a better way of doing things? And that's something that now, and I'm sure we're going to be talking about this later because now it's all we can talk about nowadays is AI. So, I can share more about that, about how some people are interacting with trying to improve what they're currently doing, and others who are doing the opposite, and they're like, "Nope, nope, that's a black box, that's evil, we don't touch AI," and that's created all this friction and all this new stuff where it's like, "Well, why don't you just trust your people to attempt to figure something out on their own?" And I promise you, you're going to get amazing ideas internally before doing anything else. No two cents there.


Dan Gorgone: Who is it that you have worked with, like, is it purely instructional designers, or you've also consulted with L&D teams, things like that, then, and tried to help them kind of figure out their direction?


Luke Hobson: So, it's interesting because since I kind of have somehow given myself like five jobs, I've done a lot of pretty cool things. But my main bread and butter, which is extremely interesting, is that I have found myself inside of this professional, higher education meets corporate learning world. So, whenever there is like a professional development opportunity that people can go and try to be able to upskill, I'm usually working behind the scenes somewhere in that capacity. So, I've worked with a number of different organizations like that, and beyond, just trying to help with their corporate learning needs.


Dan Gorgone: It's such a great story, as an instructional designer, because I had my own experience with being asked to create something, and, you know, it was a like a hybrid learning type situation where there was an online piece, but then there was a live workshop that we were asked to present. And this is for, you know, a past employer. So, it turns out that the salespeople spoke to a prospect, decided that would be the thing that would be built, and then it came back, so it was a bit of the tail wagging the dog type situation where we were given a directive that this is what will be built. Can you do that? And, you know, being a bit younger and inexperienced, I said, "Well, sure, we can do that." "Oh, and you want it based on this very specific piece of knowledge? Sure, I can create a course based on that," and only got very general information about who the audience was. So, in finishing the whole thing and then being about 15 minutes into the live presentation, I realized, "Yeah, this is not working. This is not working at all." 


Luke Hobson: The worst—


Dan Gorgone: It was rough, seeing bored faces, and people being like, you know, whatever, huh? I was like, "Yeah, this is something I will never do again. I will never make the same mistake of not understanding who the audience is." And it was an eye-opening experience and something that has informed my courses and my interactions with clients and SMEs and everyone all down the road.


Luke Hobson: Yeah, you do that one time, and you're like, "I will never again be that guy who stands in front of a crowd of 100 people, and you could see all their faces where they're like, 'No, this is...'" Yeah, we've all been there. But then, after that, now you will never do that again, and now you will share that story for the rest of your life with anyone who's willing to listen to you about instructional design, so trying to pass it along to the next generation of instructional designers of "Please don't do that." And if they say, "Talk to them," you push back as you can. You don't accept that for an answer like, "I have to learn more about these people, or else it's not going to meet their needs," and it just doesn't work.


Dan Gorgone: This idea of creating an andragogical training program, it still might seem a little foreign. Certainly, the term itself may be foreign to the audience out there, but just understanding that you're trying to teach adults, you're trying to reach them, trying to break through to their motivations, and certainly be able to communicate with them. How can you know for sure that you're meeting their needs and actually reaching them? How do you measure the success of something that you've put together?


Luke Hobson: Sure. So, there are two different elements to that. Thinking about it from the perspective that you really need to put on your researcher hat here, whether from a qualitative perspective or a quantitative perspective, to be able to really incorporate the learner voice into your designs. So, for my courses, for instance, before I do anything, they are sent at least one entrance survey to tell me more about who you are, your background, what you want, your needs, your goals, passion projects, is there anything else I should know about you before we get started, things of that nature. Then, of course, as we are progressing along through everything, one of the things that, for a lot of folks, specifically, and in my world and also in general actually—I was going to say this is a higher education problem, and no, it's not, it's an everywhere problem—it's a learning problem, is that if you're going to be going through, let's say, an 8-week training, at the end of week one, as you're going through everything and the first couple of hours, I then incorporate an element to be able to hear more about you, about how that directly went in real time, to know, do I need to then pivot the next seven weeks of training that's coming down the pike? Because if I'm wrong, then we're going to be going through exactly what we just talked about: eight weeks of sheer boring material that does not apply to you in any way, shape, or form. So, to be able to get that type of a sense at the end of that type of a week, in the form of a survey or whatnot, and then at the end of everything, pulling in data and then hosting focus groups to then ask people, as far as for you're scrubbing through data, you're looking for discrepancies, things you can't really explain about, and then to be able to say, "Oh wait a second, I can just go directly ask the people who I was just talking to for the last eight weeks," and to figure out what else could I do to improve this process for the next time, and next, and next, and so on and so forth.

So, it's data, to answer your question. You need to be a researcher; you need to be able to think more about data and how to incorporate that into your designs, because oftentimes, there are going to be things that you don't have an answer for, and you need to figure this out yourself. So, one thing, and I've shared this many times on my podcast, but one thing that I was absolutely, I had no idea what the answer was to this, was that for MIT, we were creating this leadership program, we were working with this organization, and I kept on hearing from people about how they wanted to be more involved inside of a learning experience, but they didn't have time. And I'm like, "Okay, so wait, you want to be involved more, you don't have the time to be involved more, but that's what you want. So, do I give you more readings?" And I was like, "No, videos? No, do I... learning activities? No, assessments?" I was just like, I was going through the list, and I only knew about what they meant because we were hosting a focus group—we hosted many, but we were hosting one of them in particular—and I talked about this with people to say, "All of you mentioned about this on the survey. Well, you keep saying you don't have time. Where do you have time to be able to do this?" And that's when all of them, they're like, "Oh, commute, going to work, have an hour, two-hour back commute." It's like, "Hold on a second, so if you're telling me if I make a podcast based around this training, you would actually listen to it if I did it?" And they all said, "Yes." So, then I didn't believe them. Then I did it anyway because that's what they wanted. I'm like, "Well, you're okay, here we go." And then all of a sudden, I knew it was successful because they were going into the discussion boards in the online courses and they were asking when the next episode's coming about. And I was like, "Really?" And I was like, "You also know this is only like a three-part series, right? And like, I'm not—this is not 200 episodes about this new leadership podcast thing." But we did that, and you can find it today. If you Google MITx Pro Leadership on Apple Podcasts, it pops right up, and people ended up enjoying it who were not a part of the course, and they actually even used that as marketing material to then be able to talk about the course, to say, "Here's what you can actually learn about. Here's a snippet from what the course is about." And it's just, I would have never known any of that if I didn't do more about the research, and if I was just kind of like winging it and hoping for results. So that's what you've got to do to really make this thing hit home.


Dan Gorgone: You know, in a previous episode, we spoke with an L&D professional about how to train your future leaders, and in the end, one of the key strategies, one of the key things that you needed to do in order to know how effective your work was, was communication. It was going and asking them, making sure, "Are you getting what you need? Is this helping? Were you able to apply the things that we talked about?" Communication and gathering the data, like you said, doing the research and gathering the data, and coming up with a fantastic solution, in your case. How fantastic is that, that they were able to actually use their time wisely? So only by digging were you able to do that. That's really a great example, and it's something that it's not something where you have to necessarily be a podcast host and have your fantastic setup like you have right there in order to do that. It's something that any L&D team can brainstorm and figure out a solution for, right?


Luke Hobson: Yeah, I mean, and the solution for me was, once speaking of communication, was talking to other people who helped to craft the actual program, and I was brainstorming with them about like, "What could I do?" Because I had a whole different idea for a podcast at the beginning—way more detailed, way more editing, way more Garage Band time. And then that's when they're like, "You know, we have a ton of content that didn't make the course because it was just way too much. So, we have all this extra film and audio from interviewing industry experts that we simply couldn't include, or else we would just overwhelm them." I was like, "Okay, so if you're telling me that I can actually craft a script, I can be the narrator essentially weaving in and out of the topics of the course, and then I essentially build up to a moment of like a particular topic inside of a class, and then I can put in the industry expert's voice, and then they can talk, and then it goes back to me, and back to them." And we found a way to be able to do that, and it just, it was—I mean, yes, it took some editing, but it wasn't rocket science. It was, anyone could have figured out what I did. It's not that hard. ID people are very tech-savvy and creative. You would, I'm sure people would find a better way now than what I did because that was—oh my gosh, 2019 maybe when I made that? It was yeah, it was a while ago.


Dan Gorgone: Well, I want to bring our discussion to a conclusion here, and we've been talking about andragogy. We've been talking about how to reach and teach adult learners, and it's a challenge that our Learning and Development professionals who are watching this are constantly struggling with and dealing with, whether it's creating your own courses or going out and finding the courses that you need to fill certain requirements. We can't make assumptions about the requirements. We can't brainstorm just on our own and think that what we're coming up with, a list of programs that maybe will check boxes and provide continuing education hours or things like that, it's not good enough. And we've got to understand our audience. We've got to understand their motivations, as you've talked about. Creating a culture where not just learning is encouraged, but inclusion and also transparency, being able to speak with your people and be open about what your intentions are in terms of upgrading their skills and why you want to prepare them for certain things, whether it's for promotions, or leadership, or even project team leadership, things like that. And when you come up with these courses, whether it's designing or picking the right ones, making sure that the course materials, that the courses are practical and accessible, and not just something where it's a lean-back experience, something where you just hit a switch, and then you let the whole thing run, and then you're done. Something that is engaging. You've had all these examples that you've talked about, where you've engaged with the audience, not just to shape what's in the course, but to shape the rest of the course, to make changes on the fly, and be able to meet their needs.

With all this in mind, what's a good place for people to start? Where do they start, Luke? Where do they start?


Luke Hobson: So, let me give you a different answer. Yes, communication is the answer. It is definitely talking with people. Do what I just did when I mentioned about the GE example a couple of minutes ago, about like, boots on the ground. What are people actually doing? What are they working towards? Where are they really stuck? Be an interviewer, ask a ton of questions as far as for that goes. But here's another tip as far as for that. When thinking about that, do your research and figure out what has already been done because I can't tell you the amount of times someone has said, "Hey, you're making this training, go give it to these people," and then you go talk with the people, and they're like, "We just had a training on this two months ago. What's different?" And then you are like, "I... I don't know. What training did you do?" Then you have to suddenly uncover this, and now you look unprepared, as if maybe you didn't do your research. But it's like, oh, it was assigned to you as you were saying, you had to go make this training.

So, there has to be much more about uncovering what has already been done. And if you're able to also uncover that, then think about what went well from that last training, and then adding those elements into what you are designing anew. Once again, this ties back to andragogy—using adults' prior levels of knowledge and building upon that experience because they're not just wiping the slate clean from there. Thinking about where they last left off, giving them some form of refresher to be able to prime the brain to be able to learn, and then to build upon that, and not just kind of keep on doing this weird lateral training where you've now had the same exact training about leadership, culture, and DEI for the last like five years, and you're like, "It's always the same." And it's like, yeah, because they're probably just giving you the fundamentals again and again and again, and they're never giving you something new or a new twist or spin or something.

And that is certainly where I would do things first, which is trying to figure out what has been done, what has worked. The other thing that I think about too, from that research perspective, is thinking about how did everything go? Was the message received well with what they decided to be able to do? Because when I talk with a lot of organizations, they mention so much about the product, which is great. The course, training—fantastic. Keep on talking about this. But you also need to be able to communicate this with other people and to get their buying. So, you and I both have a marketing background. A product is dead without marketing. It's not like they're just going to randomly stumble upon this and say, "Yay, like this will solve everything." It's like, no, you need to be able to generate some buzz about what's going on.

And if they have a communication plan, about so many—not just emails but starting with emails, per month, but then being able to talk about it inside of a town hall or for Zoom calls, or for starting up a mentorship program, or being able to talk about it inside of the kitchen at work or whatever they're doing—to be able to say, "Hey, that worked. They got a ton of people who signed up. Yeah, it was required, but like they all showed up, they all participated, it was an engaging conversation amongst people. How do we replicate that and how do we do that more?" You've got to be able to uncover that first before doing anything else because you might have the blueprint literally in your company right now; you just don't know it. You've got to talk to people and be able to figure that out, or uncover a lot of documentation somewhere, whatever you might have on some Google Drive, OneNote thing that might exist somewhere. But I would do that first for sure.


Dan Gorgone: And if you don't talk to them, you'll never be able to communicate the "what's in it for me" value of the training that you're trying to sell because you really are trying to sell it.


Luke Hobson: Exactly, exactly. You are always—there was something on LinkedIn that was going viral about how people are like, "I am not a salesperson," and I'm like, "We're all selling stuff all the time. I don't know what you're talking about." Like, I can't just be able to say that "Here's a product, it's great, trust me." That's not how this works. You've got to think about them, their wants and their needs, and tying it back into how it's going to be relevant, how it's going to be motivating for them, and all the other different things we talked about today. You've got to do it.


Dan Gorgone: I would love to keep talking with you, but I know the next best thing is to listen to you. You've got a great podcast out there, I know, and andragogy is one of the topics recently. I was checking that out, and there's a lot more that you can learn from Dr. Luke Hobson., that's You can connect to his YouTube, to his Twitter, the podcast, and also, if you're so inclined, you can check out the Instructional Design Institute. And that looks really fantastic too, where you go and you train instructional designers in all the magical Jedi arts of ID. It's pretty awesome.

Dr. Luke, thank you so much for joining us.


Luke Hobson: Of course, thank you so much for having me, again, really appreciate it.


Dan Gorgone: Hey everyone, thanks for watching this episode of The L&D Explorers Podcast. If you enjoyed it, please give it a like and subscribe because more episodes are on the way. And no matter what your Learning and Development goals are, GoSkills can help. Click the link in the description to find out more. And thanks again for watching.

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Laurel Buckley

Laurel Buckley

Laurel is a writer at GoSkills. She also enjoys writing on travel and culture and is always studying a new language.