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2015 Top Learning and Development Technology Investments

We’re back to tell you more about the results of our third annual Learning and Development Technology Trends Report.
This week, we’ll dive into the first section of the report… Investment.


We asked our respondents what technology-based learning and performance support methods their organizations would invest in this year. Almost all areas are showing growth or holding steady.

Still ranking #1 in technology investment is eLearning at 85 percent; however, webinars came in second, making a comeback with an increase of 17 percent over last year. Videos also jumped 20 percent this year over last, the largest increase. Virtual Networking was a new category this year, with 40% of respondents investing in it this year. Mobile, Games, Social Networking, Virtual Conferences, and Flipped Classroom remained close to last year’s numbers.

You can see the results in this graphic. Just click it to view it full size.

In our next installment, we’ll take a look at leadership.
And don’t forget to download your copy of the report. Just click on the blue subscribe button on the top, right side of this page.

If you have any questions about the report or how Impact Instruction can help you achieve your business performance goals, just let us know!

2015 Technology-Based Learning Trends

What’s Hot in Technology-Based Learning?
Be in the know with Impact Instruction’s 2015 Learning & Development Technology Trends Report.

Welcome to the first installment in our video series highlighting key findings from our 2015 Learning & Development Technology Trends Report. As a friend of Impact Instruction Group, we want to make sure you’re in the know. This is our third-annual look at how some of the world’s largest organizations are investing in, planning for and using L&D technology.  It has information and insights to empower you to make an impact in your business.


Technology is always changing, and it’s changing the way we approach learning – so it’s critical that we keep our fingers on the pulse of the latest tools and trends. When we in the learning profession use these tools and trends in our work, we can have a great impact on our people, which in turn creates stronger organizations and stronger results.

In this report, we tracked learning technology trends across six areas:

  • Categories of learning technologies in which companies will invest in 2015
  • Leadership interest in implementing new technologies
  • Maturity of corporate mobile learning strategies
  • Staffing plans for mobile initiatives
  • Utilization of enterprise social tools in training
  • Use of xAPI, or Tin can API software

We also compared the data from our 2013 and 2014 technology reports and learned the trends are shifting.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll explore some highlights of our findings with you. Amy explains more in this video. Watch for next week’s episode. And be sure to download your copy of the report. Just click on the blue subscribe button on the top, right side of this page.

Of course, if you have any questions about the report or how Impact Instruction can help you achieve your business performance goals, just let us know!


Go Fast or Go Far? Building Strong Teams

Each year in the Spring and Fall, I volunteer in a world that’s very different from the one I spend much of my waking and working hours in:  as an assistant coach to 20 grade-school girls in an after school program called Girls on the Run.

Girls on the Run teaches life and leadership skills within the context of a running program.  At the end of 10 weeks, several hundred girls from programs all over the region celebrate their accomplishments by participating in a 5K.

As you can imagine there are all types of backgrounds, abilities, personalities, and emerging leadership styles.  We have outgoing and shy, talkative and quiet, those comfortable out front, and those who prefer the middle of the pack.

While running is sport that hones individual mental and physical skills, these girls are also experiencing what it means to be supportive and encouraging in an inclusive, collaborative environment.  They’re learning the power of success through teamwork.

Teamwork is important in every aspect of our lives. Behind nearly every success are both individual contributions and those of the greater team.  This article shares some specific actions you can take in building a high-performance team. [Read more...]

Rediscovering Discovery

We live in a world where an enormous amount of information is created and shared at lightning speed.  I originally posted this article over 3 years ago.  I took some time to revisit it to see what has changed in our world of information and technology, and how we in the training field can help our teams and organizations find the right information for the right learning experiences.

A 2011 Fast Company article shared these facts about social media content, and I revisited these statistics for 2015.

  • 2011: The Facebook community (500 million members) creates almost 1 million pieces of content every minute.  2015: That number is now 890 million daily active users and according to Pew Research Center, Facebook is used by 57% of all American adults.
  • 2011: Twitter’s network serves up 125,000 tweets per minute. 2015:  Twitter serves up 350,000 tweets per minute according to Internet Live Stats.
  • 2011: YouTube receives over 48 hours of video content per minute.  2015:  YouTube’s press statistics report 300 hours per minute, with over 50% of viewing from mobile devices.

That 2011 article went on to share this:  “Taming this torrent [of information] into something manageable and highly relevant is increasingly seen as the key for Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. . . that explains why discovery is the word du jour in tech.”  Creating a discovery engine with the right balance of relevant information and personalization is a formula that still hasn’t really been cracked.

And in 2015?  There’s more of everything. More information, and information-sharing tools and sites out there.  That creates an even greater need for personalization to find those learning experiences that are relevant.

How can we in the training field problem solve for this?  By making sure we’re pursuing relevant discovery. 

[Read more...]

My #1 Training Design Tool

Every year at Impact Instruction Group, we look at the trends shaping learning and development and publish those findings in our Technology Trends Report. Trends like gamification, TinCan API, social learning, and mobile.

Within each of those trends I see one powerful tool, a tool that training professionals need to have and don’t use often enough.

What is it?  Story.

Stories transcend trends.  They are the emotional glue holding together our training content, its value, and ultimately, our call to action.  Your learners have to internalize that value, to “get it,” and to do something differently or better because of it.

Your training audience isn’t going to remember everything about a learning experience.  Your job?  Make sure they remember, care about, and act upon the most important pieces of the message. The other stuff?  Well they can look it up in your job aids and other materials.

Think about the training you design or deliver.  Are those learners going to forget it all a week later? Is there any emotional glue keeping it together, or just some weak, one-sided tape?

Adding story to your training is a simple tool to help people internalize its value, even if they don’t remember all of the nitty-gritty details.  And you don’t have to be an expert in storytelling to make this work.

To begin, let’s go back to grade school and review the basic elements of story:

  • People and place –Who is the story about? Where did it happen?
  • Exposition – What’s the back story? This provides more context to the overall message.
  • Plot – What happened? This is the sequence of events that make up the actual story.  The plot contains your conflict, or the crux of the story. This could be internal or external conflict.  It also contains your turning point, where the conflict is often resolved.
  • Resolution – How does it end? This is where your audience learns what happens to the characters and you tie together the overall message.

Below are some other resources for learning more about story elements:

  • Interactive Cinderella, from – This one’s very elementary, literally. It’s for grades 2-5, and uses Cinderella to share the elements of story. Nothing like getting back to basics!
  • A Storied Career – This post is about business storytelling, with some great examples from well-known companies.

With the elements of story in mind, we’ll bring it back to training and your day-to-day business environment.  Below are some ideas to help you create stories:

  • Look at those learning objectives. What is your core message? What actions should your audience take as a result of their time with you?  Your core message and desired actions should be well defined in your learning objectives, and they become the anchor for your story choices. Your story choices should tie back to those objectives.
  • Consider how story can address emotional barriers. We’ve all had it happen, where some learners shut down for various reasons.  Scrutinize each lesson and activity for those barriers.  For example, when I’m talking to groups about building network relationships, I know many of them will think they can’t do it. Then the invisible barrier goes up.  As I’m teaching the skills, I tell stories about my own experiences to help break those barriers.
  • Share someone else’s experience or create a scenario. Don’t have your own experience? No problem. I might share a colleague’s experience if I’m in a live training session, or ask the audience to share a story.  In an e-learning experience, branching scenarios are a great way to use the element of story.  For more on this, check out this blog post by Cathy Moore, where she describes a branching scenario done by the U.S. Army.  Warning: I spent a half hour working my way through the scenarios – I was hooked!
  • Infuse your own emotion, personality, and sincerity into it. If I had to prioritize these ideas, this would be #1.  I can’t say enough about it. No matter how well you incorporate the technical elements of story, you must believe in the story’s value and power, or it will come across as flat and disingenuous.  It’s your emotion, personality, and sincerity that sells it.
  • Become open to finding stories in unexpected places. I’ve conditioned myself to look for stories in all situations, and this comes in handy when creating new or refreshing existing materials.  This is especially important for those times when you’re training on a dry subject. Try not to throw in the towel on stories for those subjects – those are the ones that really need story.  Do your research, interview people, dig deep – try to find a human story element that will create that emotional glue.
  • Be sure the story is relevant. Does the story tie to an objective? Because in the end, those are the measurable elements that determine the training’s impact to the business.  For each story, map it to the course objective it meets. If it doesn’t clearly meet an objective, set it aside and come back to it. You may still tell it as a supporting element, but make sure your core stories meet the course’s objectives.

If you hone one design tool in your training, start with story.  Remember that the human mind isn’t designed to remember all of the details of a training experience.  But with well-placed story, the most important details and the value of the message will be remembered – as well as the person who designed or delivered it.

Ready to learn more?

Visit to download our annual Learning and Development Technology Trends Report. Impact Instruction is a 2014 Apex Award of Excellence winner for training design.

© 2015 Impact Instruction Group

You are welcome to reprint this article. Please include the article in its entirety along with the bio and copyright.

Gamification and Game-Based Learning: Training Magazine 2015 Conference #trainingmag


Training Magazine 2015 Conference Logo

I just returned from the 2015 Training Magazine conference, where the theme for this year is “training matters.”  I attended some diverse breakout sessions, on everything from emerging technologies to positive psychology, and how we as learning professionals can leverage these technologies and concepts in our work.

Over the next few blog posts, I’ll share my conference notes with you. (I didn’t do much editing to these, so please forgive any typos or rambling sentences! :))

I presented a session on Creative eLearning Strategies that Get Results, and I’ll be sharing those slides and content with you in a future post.


This first post is from a session on Game-Based Learning vs. Gamification, from a session with Andrew Hughes from Designing Digitally (@DDINC), a company that specializes in serious games. Some excellent differentiation between the two, they are often confused.

What is the difference between gamification and game-based learning?

Gamification: the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context, to engage learners and solve problems. Used in applications and processes to improve user engagement. It’s incentive; it’s taking mundane or mandatory stuff and adding game mechanics. For example: game mechanics in compliance training

Game-based learning: competitive exercises, students/learners playing against one another, or getting them to challenge themselves. Motivation, learn while doing, playing against one another within a game.

Games and gamification feed into neurological responses, instant gratification and feedback; when it comes to games, it’s the theme that gets them there, the mechanics are to keep them there.

One of the most important takeaways: It’s the learning first.  The game theme and the mechanics support the learning.  Game mechanics and theme are not connected. We often think of them as connected, but they live independently of one another.

Example from Dominos: Pizza Heroes – Marketing and training coming together to create game based app to build your own pizza. Then they recruited the top 5,000 scorers to work at Dominos. Lowers turnover rate and training costs. Onboarding costs are lowered.

Gamification involves 4 key criteria: mechanics, measurement, reward, behavior

  • Mechanics: Points, levels, progress bars, leader boards, badges.
  • Measurement: player reputation, performance, completion time, time invested; free tool - Modzilla: open badges
  • Behavior: game loyalty, mastery, user engagement.
  • Rewards: recognition, status, access, virtual goods, virtual currency. Virtual currency is money in, but not money out. Frequent flier miles are the original virtual currency

When it comes to rewards, there isn’t much incentive to attract overachievers. They’ll take training no matter what; it’s the middle of the road you want to improve. Leader boards are somewhat false – rather than posting the top ten performers, customize to post the 5 ahead and 5 behind the individual, to generate more meaningful competition. It’s the idea of incremental improvement vs. leap-frogging to the top.  There isn’t much incentive to try and go after the very highest achiever if they’re too far away on the leader board.

Video is the core form of entertainment for 18-20 year-olds, our future workforce. This isn’t going to change, this is the present and future. As training professionals we have to work with the situation and not against it.

And a few best practices:

  • Play games in many genres, even if you aren’t a game player!  This will help you to understand game mechanics, theme, and what motivates someone to continue playing.
  • Make sure it’s the learning first, then the game
  • Make sure there is behavior change in the equation – a purpose for going the game or gamification path
  • Fun as a metric? Yes! Definitely.
  • Design and develop in sprints (think Agile)
  • Testing is your friend – with games and gamification, build in significantly more testing time than you would with other modalities

Persuasive Training Design: 7 Rules That Make a Difference

You’re logging into a new online course, or you’re walking into a classroom for a day-long workshop. You’re engaged and ready to learn. Then the first slide or page appears. You’re greeted with text-heavy, 10-point font and loads of bullet points. It’s gonna be a long day.

We’ve all experienced it. Courses with one-way communication and information overload – both guaranteed content (and learning) killers.

Below are seven rules to help bring courses back to life, adapted from a webinar presented by Carmine Gallo (The Persuasive Pitch).

[Read more...]

A Woman You Should Know

Congratulations to Amy Franko, Founder & CEO of Impact Instruction Group, for being selected as one of 12 outstanding women for the WELD Women You Should Know 2015 Calendar.

An Excerpt from the Calendar:

Amy demonstrates resonant leadership in many aspects of her life. Her entrepreneurial vision for Impact Instruction Group, her ability to inspire and connect women through WELD, and her passion for mentoring girls in her community are but a few examples of Amy’s dedication to developing and inspiring the women around her.

Early in her career, Amy left her mark as a top sales leader for IBM and Lenovo, leading a $10 million sales territory across the state of Ohio. She launched Impact Instruction Group in 2007 and quickly built a strong organization, serving Fortune 1000 companies across the country.  With that growth, she has also recruited, retained, and led multiple team members. Amy has proven herself as an award-winning training designer; she has received the APEX Award for Publication Excellence in 2010, 2012, and 2014. As a nationally-recognized speaker, she dedicates much of her time to spreading her knowledge about women’s leadership development. Amy displays the same passion for developing girls in the community, where she volunteers with Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland, and also as a running coach for Girls on the Run of Franklin County.

Taking risks, growing from them, and being resilient along the way allowed Amy to experience success in her career. It is evident that, to her, the word “impact” is much more than just a company name. Being a lifelong learner, an avid leadership development supporter, and an enthusiast for giving back has transformed Amy into the impactful leader and role model that she is today.

Amy Franko_Calendar

We’re Hiring! Account Executive

Consultative sales professional to develop Ohio market


Award-winning corporate training organization based in Dublin, Ohio seeking an Account Executive who will develop the Ohio market. The right candidate is professional, has proven experience with consultative sales, preferably in corporate training or organizational development, and is looking for a company that promotes professionalism, fun, and balance, too. We will consider candidates located anywhere in Ohio, understanding that Ohio is your market.

The account executive will be responsible for developing new business mainly within Fortune 1000 or large corporations, presenting custom solutions in instructor-led training, eLearning, video-based training, mobile learning, and organizational and change management solutions.

Our ideal team member will be energetic, self-motivated, have a key role in our organization, and be accountable for the entire consultative sales process, from research and prospecting to retaining the customer after the sale. Some leads will be provided, but this position is truly a Business Development role. Close collaboration with the CEO will be the norm.

You will need to be comfortable with technology, conducting online research and prospecting, plus communicating with excellent written, verbal, and presentation skills. While experience in the training industry is a plus, candidates with experience in IT, software, HR, or customer service sales are welcome. Your success will be measured, in part, by your ability to achieve sales goals as laid out at the beginning
of each sales cycle and satisfactory client feedback.

Our compensation package is competitive and includes a base salary, generous commission incentive, healthcare options, and company-sponsored networking and professional development benefit. Travel is primarily in the Ohio market. In-house marketing and project management support sales efforts.

Candidates will be required to complete a sales assessment before advancing to the interview round. Impact Instruction Group is a certified woman-owned business enterprise (WBENC). Founded in 2007, it is a leading corporate training and development firm focusing on custom training design and development for key strategic initiatives of Fortune 1000 organizations. Core areas are eLearning, video and mobile, blended learning, and visual design. This position is being recruited through BoldlyGO Career and HR Management, our HR Business partner, and all inquiries must be directed there. No phone calls, please. Please submit a cover letter outlining your compensation expectations, along with a résumé.

Impact Instruction Group is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate based on military or veteran status or any other legally protected classification. This is a non-smoking environment. This job description is designed to be a good representation of the job requirement, but is not a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities required of the employee. Candidates must be legally authorized to work in the United States without sponsorship.

Participate in the 2015 L&D Technology Survey

Impact Instruction Group is proud to invite you to participate in our 3rd Annual Learning & Development Technology survey. Our goal is to get a pulse on L&D’s evolving attitudes and behaviors on the use of technology for learning and performance as we head into 2015. If you are familiar with your company’s learning and performance solutions strategies, we would love your input.

This brief survey should take less than 3 minutes to complete and all answers are completely confidential. By participating in the survey, you will receive an exclusive copy of the full report. Deadline for survey completion is Wed., 10/22/2014 at 5:00 pm ET.

Thank you for helping create an impactful community with Impact Instruction Group! Please forward this survey to others in your network who are in learning & development.