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Your Periodic Table of Learning Elements

Engaging, effective training programs are a mixture of science and art, requiring the right balance of adult learning theory, available technology, intuitive tools, proven practices, creativity, and risk. How does a trainer find the right combination and proportion of these elements? How does a trainer know what’s possible?

To answer these questions, Brian Washburn offers a simple yet elegant periodic table of learning elements modeled on the original periodic table of chemical properties. Washburn’s elements—which are organized into solids, liquids, gases, radioactive, and interactive categories similar to their chemical cousins—are metaphors for the tools and strategies of the field of learning design; when they’re combined, and under certain conditions, they have the potential to create amazing learning experiences for participants. They are that impactful.

From critical gas-like elements like the air we breathe, present in every training room (think instructional design or visual design), to radioactive elements, powerful and dangerous yet commonly used (think PowerPoint), Washburn guides you through the pitfalls and choices you confront in creating engaging learning experiences. A well-designed training program can be world-changing, he argues, and if you believe in your craft as a learning professional, you can do this too. Whether you’re an experienced learning designer or new to the field, this book inspires with new ideas and ways to organize the design of your learning programs. With stories from Washburn’s professional experience, the book includes a hands-on glossary of definitions and descriptions for more than 50 of his elements.

Book Details
ISBN: 9781952157479
Pages: 248
Publication Date:
Formats: Paperback, PDF
Product Code: 112108
About the Author
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Praise for This Book
Vice President, Solution Architecture & Innovation
What's Your Formula? is a clever and practical guide full of reflection prompts, tips, and tools for those of us who truly want to create meaningful, relevant, and impactful learning solutions. Brian Washburn has a gift for making the complex simple—and he's done it with instructional design!”
TED Speaker, Founder
"As someone who trains groups every day, this book gave me fresh new ways to think about my programs. I especially loved the insights on the radioactive elements of training sessions!"
Chief Human Resources Officer at a professional association
“Brian Washburn breaks down key training elements in What's Your Formula? making it an effective tool for HR professionals. I highly recommend it for anyone responsible for delivering training programs.”
Consultant and Founder
“This book presents a powerfully simple approach to organizing the growing number of instructional methods with their complexities and limitless combinations. The metaphor of a periodic table is genius because it works!”
Author, Troubleshooting for Trainers
“What I love about this book is that it challenges L&D professionals to approach their training programs with intention and curiosity. Rather than continuously using the same 'elements' in their work, trainers can use this book to find new ones that better suit the content, the learners, or the context. Jam-packed with helpful tools, What’s Your Formula? will remind trainers that each program they create is its own unique experiment.”
Director, Customer Training and Development, at a multinational tire manufacturing company
What’s Your Formula? is a narrative in organizing and building an effective training program that guides you to answer a key question: What is the problem to solve? Like a baker, Washburn identifies different training elements and shows how to mix them together to create meaningful learning experiences.”
1 Comment
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There's the periodic table of the elements for chemistry and now there is the table of elements for training. Brian takes many elements that can be combined to produce engaging and effective training. I typically read the book on the train going home from work so it took a bit to get through it because I kept pulling out a notebook to write down ideas of how to use his ideas. Loved, loved, loved the practical ideas to help make accounting training interesting but informative.
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