Adobe’s LMS Amps up Engagement & Compliance in New Release

Adobe Captivate Prime, the learning management system from Adobe has been carving out new ground since its initial release in 2015. Today’s enhancements continue that trend and are marked by a clear milestone for the industry in Social Learning, User Generated Content & Gamification.

Social Learning

With a keen eye toward engagement, Adobe’s LMS has always demonstrated visionary leadership. Adobe began by delivering the universal HTML5 based content player that delivers courses, documents, videos & more all in any modern web browser. All of this is accomplished without the need for any plugins or proprietary players. By providing an immersive course viewer and removing all proprietary document formats, Adobe gave us a simple, hassle free learning experience.

Fluidic Player Image

This update goes well beyond the engagement level of the fluidic player. This version introduces common-sense social & user generated content tools that incentivize participation by adding integrated gamification features. Think of your learners – they are all over the Internet today. They identify articles, videos, blogs & more. They share these learning assets with one another using various social media apps, emails, IM’s and casual conversations. Unfortunately, there is virtually no way to track those asset shares, and no way to vet them to discover their value and veracity.

Check out the video overview of these new social learning features.

This release of Adobe Captivate Prime (LMS) provides solutions for learners to share materials that they discover online, to share their own, user generated content – via videos, audio recordings, postings, polls & more – and it provides the tools to create those user generated contributions. It provides an architecture to align those postings to skills / competencies within your organizational framework and it delivers a solution for the moderation problem – how do you ensure that posts are relevant, true and appropriate, that leverages the skill experts you already have in your organization. People who share content are incentivized to do so with gamification points, and people who review / approve posts are similarly incentivized.

  • Share the stuff you found online
  • Share your own tutorials, thoughts, and other creations
  • Use simple tools built right into the LMS
  • Easily align the posts to skills / competencies
  • Moderation is simple, fun, distributed by expertise & incentivized
  • Sharing is rewarded

The net result is an out of the box solution for social learning that is ready to go for virtually any organization.

Social posts are organized around conversational topics – or discussion boards in Adobe Captivate Prime. If, for example, I wanted to add some thoughts about ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ I could simply go to the Social Learning tab in Adobe Captivate Prime and select the option to ‘Post.’   If I didn’t find a board that seemed appropriate for my post, I can simply click the link to ‘Create a New Board.’

When you post, you will have an opportunity to post using a variety of media. You can simply type your message and add to the board in text, or you could mark that post a question – or even add a poll. You can also post via video recording, audio recording or screen capture. When you select one of these options the Adobe Captivate Prime app will open. (If you haven’t used it before, it will prompt you to download and install.) With this extension you can record web cam, microphone, and screen capture. This will allow you and your team to easily create quick tutorials, demonstrations and more to share ideas and information with one another.

Check out Katrina Baker’s post on Discussion boards

You can also upload files to share on the board or select files from the gallery of files you have created previously. Finally, you can leverage the browser plugin in Adobe Captivate Prime’s Social Learning tools to share a web page, article or other online asset with your internal team. Simply drag the icon into your browser’s bookmark bar, and then click the item in the bookmark bar when you are viewing the online resource that you want to share internally.  A small window / dialog will open and ask you some basic information about your post, like onto which discussion board you would like to share the content.

See Katrina’s post on the new Adobe Captivate Prime App

These expanded tools also add some cool potential uses to your LMS. I’m particularly excited about the private discussion boards. It is possible to use boards that are set to private to review submissions of skill demonstration video & audio recordings, either to monitor employee progress 1:1, for things like sales presentations, or to work with small groups – enabling teams to react and respond to one another’s work. This creates an opportunity to support mentoring and team collaboration within the social learning architecture.

In this new social learning architecture, each learner may be followed, creating a platform for social networking within your organization – and an opportunity to expand each employees connections to others within your team.  Posts may be up/down voted and subject matter experts actively evaluate the veracity and relevance of shared content to help minimize the workload for administrators, and maximize the value for your personnel.

Administrators have a dashboard to monitor the activity of boards, easily see who is actively curating content, and monitor the overall state of learning as well as the interest & activity aligned to organizational skills.  It provides an architecture for rapid response to changes in your industry granting quick information about trending topics of interest for the people in your organization.

Check out Katrina Baker’s overview of the Team Dashboard Feature

Another great enhancement in this update to Adobe Captivate Prime is the Team Dashboard for managers. Compliance training can be painful for everyone involved. Learners are often resistant to participate, and administrators generally abhor the chore of tracking down delinquency. Adobe has added a myriad of new tools to simplify compliance tracking and placed them where they add the most value.  Managers now have actionable dashboards with easy instant overviews of compliance completion rates whenever they log in.

The new skill tracker report in the Manager ‘Team View’ Dashboard.

This expands the role of managers to simplify compliance monitoring and improve overall awareness about skill gaps / progress toward skill achievement of every member of their direct and down line teams. Managers can easily identify teams and team members who are lagging, and even use the new predictive chart to identify skill / competency achievement – compared to their own expectations. This sweet new chart let’s you track skill accomplishment vs. your own timeline for skill achievement. If you planned to have 90% of your team up-skilled in machine learning by Fall, wouldn’t it be helpful to know if you were on target toward reaching that goal. Now you can monitor that progress at a glance and see both your expected target and the projected progress based on actual skill completion. It provides a simple mechanism to warn you if skill achievements are below your expectation, and simple tools to reach out to your team managers and prompt additional work if the progress is falling behind.

You can check out all of the new features in Adobe Captivate Prime today, just sign up here to try it out for yourself. There are quite a few additional features in there that I didn’t mention above. (New support for audio in the fluidic player, support for tracking outcomes of multiple quiz attempts, and awesome new QR code feature that adds the ability to instantly enroll and mark completion for a course – enabling some very cool use cases, like documenting informal huddles.)  As usual, we love to hear from you – so don’t be shy, share your thoughts and questions below.

The post Adobe’s LMS Amps up Engagement & Compliance in New Release appeared first on eLearning.

New Book on Presenter 11

Big congrats to Kevin Siegel and Jennie Ruby, for the recent publication of his their new book on Presenter 11.  If Kevin’s name sounds familiar, you may recognize him from his acclaimed project estimation tool – a very cool widget that let’s you calculate / project project costs for eLearning.

This book covers Presenter 11 in solid detail. It approaches the material topically, providing a solid foundation in everything from audio to video and nicely includes quizzing and reporting alongside interactive smart learning components. You can check out the book at the link below.

Congrats again, Kevin and Jennie.


How to solicit feedback after a course using Adobe Captivate Prime

I found a question in my inbox today and thought the answer might interest others. The question in a nutshell is, how can I get feedback from people after they take my course? This is a pretty simple task in Captivate Prime. I’ve outlined the steps below.

You can activate automatic triggers for the feedback to immediately follow the course in the admin section in Prime. Here’s how to find it.

Step 1: Change your role to Admin (upper right corner, click the arrow next to profile pic and select Administrator.


Step 2: Select Courses from the menu on the left.


Step 3: Find the course you want to set for immediate feedback and select View Course


Step 4: In the Left menu – select Instance Defaults under the Configure group.


Step 5: Enable L1 Reaction Feedback


Step 6: Select the toggle to enable immediate capture of feedback on course completion.


There are also pre-configured Likert questions that you can use: Here is how to enable those…

Step 1: In the Admin Role, select Settings From the menu on left


Step 2: Select Feedback under the Basics Group (Note that there are separate tabs at the top for L1 and L3 feedback.)


Step 3: Select Edit at top right. Enable or disable questions as desired. You may also edit / remove individual questions.


Step 4: Set the reminders at the bottom of the page to enable email and alert notification of the opportunity to complete the Likert responses. You may remind as often as you wish, and may include as many reminders as you wish.


How can I motivate my learners?

A friend, Thomas, wrote me this morning asking this question – how can I motivate my learners? It’s an incredibly universal question. One that I have thought about quite a bit. I thought others might enjoy reading my reply – and it might make for an excellent conversation starter. It’s worth noting that we were talking about motivation in the specific context of learners using Adobe’s LMS (Adobe Captivate Prime.)  Below you’ll find my response:

1. Communicate relevance: Use the announcement system to invite people to explore a bit of content that benefits them. For example – a course designed to boost sales, or a common tech problem explained, perhaps some particularly video heavy or short form piece to start. You can also use alternative company channels to communicate the purpose / relevance of the training-  market your initiative based on it’s alignment to the company business objectives. Don’t be shy about branding it, and explaining how the project can help the organization meet important goals.

2. Use their desire to demonstrate mastery to supervisor and colleagues.  For example- use the gamification solution to award points for first to access content (You’ll find it on the instance of a course under gamification options – admin mode.) You can use the announcement system to notify them of the opportunity.  Publicly recognize those individuals that are doing training. Push messages via newsletters and your company website about recognition for achievements – even consider announcing when people achieve / master a given skill. Perhaps even recognize it with awards.

3. Craft the messaging as opportunities to get ahead, and invitations – rather than requirements. This one is a little counter-intuitive. Use the skill requirement engine to assign job appropriate skills to employees – but not specific courses. Ensure you message them about how to search for skill aligned content that will help them master the skill(s) that they have been assigned. Message about the importance of the skills you assigned – to the overall business strategy for the current quarter. This added sense of autonomy should encourage them to self-enroll.

What do you think? What methods are you using to motivate your learners? Have you got any success stories? Failures? Hot tips? Pitfalls?

The 2017 upgrade to Adobe Captivate Prime Provides an Amazing Experience

We’re continuing our quest to redefine the LMS with the latest update to Adobe Captivate Prime. If you haven’t tried Prime yet, now is the time to jump in and explore. The latest updates are amazing, and I’ve had a wonderful time sharing them with people through the new videos and via face to face demonstrations and early previews.

What has me so excited? Let me break it down.

Learner Dashboard of Adobe Captivate Prime
#1 – The learner experience is flat out sensational

The headlights dashboard is the clear headline. Big round interactive infographics show you which courses are overdue, nearing deadlines and in good standing. A single click calls the relevant courses to the top of the list instantly – making it crazy simple to find the things you should be working on. The other infographic displays your assigned certifications, learning programs and courses. Think of it as a compliance driving wheel. The same interactive selection and sorting are available there.

The Skills Dashboard for learners in Adobe Captivate Prime

The skill dashboard is flat out fantastic. You can easily see the skills your organizational leadership wants you to learn about. Click any one of them to learn all about it. You can explore to see all of the courses that are available to earn that skill, and you can even compare your assigned skill set to the skills of your peers and your leaders – making it an ideal way to better understand how training might impact your career.

Adobe Captivate Prime’s new learner dashboard kicks things off with a sleek new mobile friendly appearance that is totally flexible. You can drag and drop the on-screen widgets to your favorite positions to get the layout that works for you.

Use images and graphics to spice up the user experience for your Learners

The course browsing experience is enhanced with beautiful new photographic images to augment the smart cards. Courses in catalogs can be separated and filtered – making it easier than ever to find what you need. Lending power to your quest is the enhanced search feature. You can search from anywhere and smart filters make the job even more powerful. My favorite new search filter allows you to search your own course notes – to easily recall materials that you left notes on.

#2 One Player to Rule them All – No plugins required!

The fluidic player continues to revolutionize the LMS experience, with support for Word Docs, Acrobat PDFs, PowerPoint, Videos of virtually every ilk and eLearning in AICC, SCORM and xAPI formats. The player makes it possible to blend your learning with support for online learning, virtual classrooms, live face to face training and external activities.

#3 Adobe Captivate Prime is Easy, Automated, and Fun (yes, really)

You can roll out a learning program in under 90 minutes and get to virtually anything in 3 clicks or less. The automation means that you can make the system do those mundane chores for you so you don’t have to fiddle with enrollment for new hires, transfers, relocations or promotions.  You can even automate based on course completions.

The leaderboard and badges help provide motivation and reassurance that the work you are doing is contributing toward your goals and the goals of your organization. The competitive perspective increases engagement and enhances the sense of accomplishment – recognizing the mastery of your learners.

#4 Mobile, just like you

This update adds smartphone support, so now learners can access and use the mobile app for Android or IOS. That means that you can download courses and content onto your mobile phone or tablet and even complete the course or learning program while you are offline. The network smart resyncing will pick back up as soon as your device rediscovers a network – the data will report to the LMS.

#5 Easily extendible

Support for Multi-Tenancy – or many departments, brands, divisions or groups across your organization means that you can set up Adobe Captivate Prime to cover all of your learners and share content, reporting and even licenses across all of those groups. It even handles both internal and external users. Adobe Captivate Prime is flexible enough to meet the needs of the biggest enterprise solutions, and simple enough to work brilliantly even for small businesses.

Sound off below with your own reactions – I’d love to hear how others are finding the new Captivate Prime.

Adobe Captivate (2017 Release) : Smart, Fast & Incredibly Flexible

The latest update to Adobe Captivate, Adobe’s industry leading eLearning authoring tool is packed with solid enhancements that will make virtually any eLearning developer smile, and the team at Adobe brings home another marvel – incredible levels of intuition and automation when it comes to creating fully responsive content for mobile devices.

Adobe is revolutionizing eLearning authoring again with the introduction of Fluid Boxes, a technology that  makes creating eLearning for desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones easier than ever. So what exactly does that mean?

Screen sizes differ. Screen orientations differ. It can be pretty challenging to make the same content fit well and remain interactive and retain its value as training when that content must appear on landscape and portrait oriented pages, realigned and scaled for everything from desktops to smart phones. The 2017 release of Adobe Captivate takes two giant leaps forward in automating this process.

First, it introduces the automated conversion of previously authored courses by adding a ‘Save as responsive’ option, along with a smart sense about screen layout that will anticipate the layouts that are most likely to rearrange well across devices.

Second, it adds a new solution for automatic reconfiguration of screens called Fluid Boxes. To understand Fluid Boxes, you need to first imagine the various items on the screen are each contained in a virtual rectangle. As the screen size changes, the boxes will intelligently rearrange, remove, realign and resize themselves in order to accommodate the different screen sizes and orientations. The Captivate team has taken this even farther, by enabling some elements to maintain static relationships within any box, and other elements to dynamically stretch, scale and rearrange within any given box.

One of my favorite new features – is that you can now preview all of the changes caused by changes to the scale and orientation, live right in the authoring environment. That means that you can simply drag the scale slider at the top of the stage, and watch as the layout you have specified, changes and scales, rearranges and transforms for the varied screen sizes and orientations.

You can also now use the device specific preview menu to rapidly sample the appearance across a wide range of devices. You can even create your own additional device sizes and add them to the list for quick and easy reference to whatever kind of devices you are using.

As you change the scale, you’ll notice right away that text now scales very smoothly from larger to smaller sizes across the various screens. You have more control of this than ever with minimum size limits in the property inspector. You can also tie the size of text elements on the screen together, so that your fonts remain same-sized (or relative same sized) across the entire page, even while scaling. You’ll also find that some of the problems of text overflow have been solved for you by dynamically enabling ‘more’ text within smaller interfaces. The new Adobe Captivate actually lets you lock the size of a text block, and if the text overflows that limit, it will give the learner a ‘more’ button that they can use to see all of the text on an overlay.

Adobe TypeKit in Browser

An image of Adobe TypeKit running in a browser.


Fonts play a big part in Adobe Captivate (2017 Release) as Adobe TypeKit integration is introduced to Adobe Captivate. This means that now course authors can use all of those gorgeous fonts without fear that they will be lost in the void of the Internet. If you’ve authored courses for HTML5, one of your frustrations is no doubt that you have essentially been limited to 5 basic web safe fonts. No fancy curls or beautiful serifs. All that changes with the introduction of Adobe Captivate 2017 integration with Adobe TypeKit.

Course authors only have to point to the fonts in their TypeKit library to share the joy of hundreds of amazing fonts with their learners, delivering a consistent learning experience.

Configure CC in Captivate

Captivate has always been about customization – it is the sort of thing that becomes really important when your boss or a client wants something changed and your tool doesn’t allow you to do it. That’s why the enhancements to closed captions in Adobe Captivate (2017 Release) have clearly reset the standards for the industry. Now you can fully format those captions, place them anywhere on the screen, customize the colors, fonts, backgrounds, alignment and more. All fully responsive, the new closed caption editing controls are nothing short of fantastic.

Asset Libraries are the toy in my cereal box, and Adobe Captivate now comes stocked with more than 75,000 assets that you can use to go nuts with including games, images, characters, templates, themes and more. These are premium assets from the eLearning Brothers collection of more than a million incredible resources, and they will give any project a jump start. If that isn’t enough, you can easily jump over to the eLearning Brothers site and grab the other million assets to make your library complete.

If you are an advanced user, there is something fantastic in the 2017 Release of Adobe Captivate for you too. Combine Conditional and Standard Advanced actions, and LOOP! Yes, really. Now you can create a ‘while’ loop in your conditional advanced actions. Combined with object states you could create perpetual motion cycling through a set of different states, or you could use it to check for a change in a variable, even monitor a network status.

While you’re tinkering with animation, check out the new group animation ability. Now you can animate groups, in addition to animating individual objects. I was easily able to concoct a propeller from smart shapes and get it grouped and spinning around a center hub. Group based animation should ease the process of creating more complex animated elements in your learning projects.

There are a number of additional fixes, enhancements and benefits packed into the 2017 update to Adobe Captivate. There is a cool enhancement to application capture that lets mobile users swipe and pinch the screen for a better view on mobile responsive projects, and editable states on master slides.

Get your own copy of Adobe Captivate 2017 right now, simply by downloading the trial right here. If you are a Captivate subscriber, the trial will automatically activate with your Adobe ID. Best of all, you can leave your copy of Captivate 9 on your machine in case you need to use both for a while. If you are not yet a subscriber, consider subscribing to the service – at @$29.99/mo US, its a great way to get the updates – even a full version update like this one at no additional expense. Of course you can still purchase a perpetual license if you prefer.

Where are you? Arizona?


Today I was wondering which Captivate rock stars are in or near Arizona? Then it occurred to me, that it might be kind of cool for others to get a similar sense of – who is near me?

If you are a Captivate pro, and living in the Southwest, can you ping me – either here or offlist at allenp (at) adobe ?

In the meanwhile – if you are willing, why not sound off – in the interest of community f2f gatherings. I’ll start, I’m based in central Oregon. Though lately it seems like I’m on the road more often than not. 

Caveat Auditor: The Role Of Critical Thinking In Modern Business Training

Critical Thinking ImageCritical thinking is a skill that, when absent, contributes to the rise of recent phenomena like runaway fake news stories or hacking of government and corporate computers, and costs companies dearly in law suits, fines, penalties, and failed projects. The skill of critical thinking in modern business is often described as desirable when asking employers what it is that they are looking for in new hires (Hart Research Associates, 2013). Employers lament the inability of new employees to think critically and solve problems creatively – placing the blame firmly on the high school or college training of the incoming employees. In their article “Eight Habits of Effective Critical Thinkers”, Guinn & Williamson identify several qualities that clearly identify why critical thinking skills are so desirable (Guinn & Williamson, 2017). Among the behaviors identified are that critical thinkers are ‘more concerned about getting it right, than being right’ and ‘avoid the rush to judgment’. The trick to cultivating these admirable traits in employees is actually in training and encouraging a solid foundation in critical thinking. Learning how to think more effectively leads to better decision making and job performance.

In this article, I’ll explore why critical thinking skills are so important to modern business, and in a series of activities that follow I’ll explore some methods that might prove useful for expanding the critical thinking skills of incoming employees. For the purpose of this discussion, I’m defining critical thinking as the skill(s) required to validate information and ideas based on verifiable evidence and sound logic. Critical thinking involves a well-organized thought process that is focused on solving problems, analyzing and researching relevant research, willing to challenge assumptions, open to new possibilities and approaches, aware of the limitations and scope of analysis, reflective and transparent.

The Difference Between Critical Thinking And Non-Critical Thinking

One interesting example of a critical thinking failure in modern business is when employees fall victim to scams based in logical fallacies, or fail to identify deceptive practices in business. There are many examples of this kind of problem, for example consider common problems with information security. One of the most common is falling victim to phishing scams in email. When employees are unable to discern fact from fiction – or learn to ‘trust their gut’ rather than validate facts, companies generally pay the price. Often the difference between critical thinking and non-critical thinking comes down to the difference between making decisions based on facts and logic, and making decisions based on intuition and emotion.

Logic vs Emotion

Sometimes the problem is not so obviously attributed to emotion. It simply feels natural – ergo logical to the person making the decision. Just as we can make a habit of behaviors like brushing our teeth or pouring a glass of tea, we can and do habitually perform many tasks based solely on past experiences. You might habitually open a door for others to enter a room for example. You also might habitually sit with your legs sprawled open even to the discomfort of another passenger on a plane – not even considering that you are unfairly consuming the space. You might habitually move out of the path of an oncoming pedestrian because they are male and you are female. Note that there is very little logic in the aforementioned examples – but they are derived of past patterns.

We often assume that when two events are related in one way, they must also be related by cause. We confuse coincidence with cause. Just because two things connect or coincide, doesn’t mean that one caused the other.

Gambler's Fallacy in Captivate

At other times you might find that emotion plays a subtle role. Most of us use phrases like “my luck ran out” and “I’m due for a win” when usually there is no ultimate relationship between your odds of success in the current venture than in the prior. We call this the gambler’s fallacy. One example of the influence of the gambler’s fallacy interfering with decision making was documented in a recent publication from the National Bureau of Economic Research (Chen, Moskowitz, & Shue, 2016). The article identifies a pattern of behavior among professionals that demonstrates application of the gambler’s fallacy to successive decision making patterns. In essence, when a professional makes a series of topically or conceptually similar decisions (on independent cases), they are more likely to invert positive or negative recommendations in the wake of a series of prior recommendations. If they made a series of positive loan recommendations, the likelihood of a negative recommendation increases, even when a negative recommendation is not warranted by the data. The team found the same pattern in baseball umpires calling strikes, and immigration workers recommending asylum. Just as people falsely believe that if they’ve flipped a coin twice, and got heads both times, they are more likely to get tails on the next flip. Of course that is the whole point of the gambler’s fallacy. The odds remain 50/50 no matter how many times you flip the coin. But the fallacy is deeply ingrained in the ‘beliefs’ and emotional reality of most people. The research team also found that the more experienced employees were less likely to suffer the effects of the gambler’s fallacy – suggesting that less experienced employees were more likely to include emotion and instinct in their decision making than more experienced employees (Chen, Moskowitz, & Shue, 2016).

Learning, Behavior, And Precaution

I recently attended a conference on behavior and learning. A major theme of the conference was the role of emotion of visceral reactions in the decision making process of learners. Michelle Segar (Segar, 2016) argued persuasively that recent research from the Journal of Consumer Research (Chang & Pham, 2013), the British Journal of Health Psychology (Sirriyeh, Lawton, & Ward, 2010) & the Annual Review of Psychology (Lerner, Li, Valdesolo, & Kassam, 2015) all provide evidence that emotion is more influential than logic in decision making.

It is an argument that rings true for me. I remember an experience in a classroom as a young boy that echoed this life-lesson. Our fifth grade teacher used a simulation game to teach a critical thinking concept. Essentially we were to assume the role of town leaders, making decisions about whether or not to allow a new factory to be built within our imagined city.

Some students argued that a factory would provide jobs, and some that it would encourage the economy. Some argued that it simply felt like the right thing to do, struggling to give any reasons for their inclination. Others said that it would promote more revenue in taxes, and it would encourage growth. I was concerned that there must be a catch. Life had already taught me that people would often present limited information or simply lie to make an ‘offer’ seem more beneficial than it actually was. The proposal sounded ‘too good to be true’ to my cynical ears. Eventually we learned that the project was in fact rife with problems. Pollution, competing tax break incentives, competition for local resources, and a host of other issues made the project a huge net loss for the imagined community. But the group –predictably– voted to support the project. In fact no amount of logic could persuade them that the proposal was in fact ‘too good to be true’.


This simple aphorism ‘too good to be true’ dates back at least to the 1800s and is similar to other warnings that essentially suggest the same idea. People throughout history have always used deception and misdirection to manipulate other people.

A similar phrase, caveat emptor, is well known in legal circles. Essentially this means buyer beware. (Caveat translates to “may he beware” and emptor represents the consumer in the expression.) The same form has been applied to the consumption of any message – caveat auditor. You’ll recognize the phrase from the title of this article. “Beware the receiver of any message” could easily be a modern battle cry for those inundated with advertisements, mass marketing, internet memes, deliberately deceptive fake news reports, the growing practice of social manipulation through push polling, and similar forms of agenda promotion via online discussion and sharing communities.

It’s worth noting that to a marketer, many of these techniques are tools – often employed to inspire emotional attachment to goods and services. Learning to spot these techniques, and in some cases to utilize them, plays a tremendous role in modern business.

While these warnings serve as a reminder of the universality of attempts to persuade individuals or systems, they also exist as aphorisms because the art of deception and manipulation with the intent to win a goal through manipulation has continued to grow at an alarming rate. Our improved methods of communication have democratized mass communication making it cheaper and easier than ever for anyone to reach the masses with well-targeted messages. While it once required enormous sums of money and elaborate infrastructure to push messages (both accurate and inaccurate) to the masses, the promotion of an agenda, false idea, con, or other manipulation of truth now requires little more than a clever meme and an internet connected computer. It is also worth noting that the reasons for the promotion of incorrect information don’t have to be deliberately devious to be destructive, or problematic.

So Why Does This Matter To My Training Department?

A growing number of businesses are relying more and more on publically available resources to inform, educate and update their personnel. You will see this trend reflected in articles touting the ‘end of organizational training’ or ‘end of the Learning Management System’. Why not? Using a search engine at the point of need has become the most common first inquiry in learning virtually anything (Wang-Audia & Tauber, 2014). As research, education, and training move rapidly to a self-serve delivery model, the onus is ever-increasingly on the individual to use a solid background in critical thinking in order to discern facts, uncover undisclosed specifics, verify sources of information, and clarify the specifics of a given proposal or narrative.

If we further analyze the problem, it is possible to see that the underlying logic – specifically the ability to recognize logical fallacies, is very often one source of problems in critical thinking. Spotting logical fallacies like emotional appeal and reacting appropriately can prevent a significant proportion of security-related problems like the email phishing scam discussed earlier. They can also improve performance among managers and decision makers. Ensuring a solid foundation in logical thinking, especially the identification of logical fallacy, can dramatically improve employees’ abilities to make good decisions and contribute more effectively to organizational and project goals.

In practice this means that people in a business are able to discern good ideas from ones that are likely to fail. They are much more likely to spot fraud, to quickly discover innovative approaches that have a likelihood of success. Critical thinking skills are essential to the success of both individuals and organizations. Without adequate critical thinking skills it will be easy for your employees to fall into traps. They will be easy targets for anyone who wants to game the system and cheat them. And if they can be cheated, your organization can be cheated.

Of course fundamental training in how to think critically remains essential, but given an audience that has some foundation in critical thought, augmenting such training with an overview of logical fallacies could play an important role in reducing problems. These skills could only be strengthened by a solid understanding of logic and logical fallacies. By training personnel in the aspects of critical thinking and the fundamentals of logical reasoning, employees will be much more prepared to handle the rapid fire influx of new ideas and concepts migrating into your organization from a myriad of outside sources.

During his closing keynote for the 2016 Adobe Learning Summit in Las Vegas, Tridib Roy Chowdhury described these sources of learning. Whether it’s YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or most commonly Google, people are increasingly likely to consult public sources for answers about the tasks that they perform in your organization. As Chowdhury explained, this ‘Google first’ modality of learning is already the norm, and our most common support architectures simply do not compete with the search ability and completeness of Google’s latest snapshot of the sum of human knowledge.

Unfortunately, that snapshot is increasingly likely to produce results that have virtually no information for the consumer about the critical qualifications of the content on the other end of a search. At this point, the individual learner is generally the only line of defense between your organization and false information, an attempted fraud, or any other source of faulty information which can potentially cost your organization time, money, and resources.

How Can Organizational Training Address This Need?

When I speak with employers, one of the most common concerns expressed about new hires is the general lack the ability to think critically and solve problems with creativity and innovation. Our education systems generally do not include a lot of training in these areas. One of the few strong instructional approaches tied to critical thinking skills historically has been training in information literacy. This skill is most often relegated to librarians, and as we have witnessed the digitization of modern libraries – the opportunities for training in information literacy has rapidly declined.

For the most part, educators use lecture and other didactic methods of instruction. This approach can be effective in some instances, but in general approaches to learning that encourage use of the information, and questioning of ideas and concepts are more lasting, and offer far more potential for meaningful use of the content. We see such methods employed in the sciences, and in the scientific method, which inherently aligns better to critical thinking. Perhaps the oldest method of teaching critical thinking is the use of Socratic Questioning rather than lecture and drill based training. In this approach, students are challenged with questions, rather than presented with information. Questions encourage the learners to consider a problem in much greater detail, to compare and contextualize new information to things they already know, and to consider the veracity of new ideas. These are all skills that employers highly value – and all methods that have been employed by effective classroom teachers for centuries.

Using a Socratic approach to deliver content, learners do not passively consume information. They are challenged to answer questions about a topic, and guided by those questions to examine all of the information, ideas, and concepts that relate. This approach encourages learners to question the sources, debate the merit and logic of responses and form their own critical conclusions about the content. The trainer is able to evaluate the results based on the accuracy, specificity, complexity and relevance. But a Socratic approach is inherently expensive. It requires substantial investment in 1:1 training, or very effective group training. If training as a remedy to poor critical thinking skills is going to make an impact, it must scale well and be relatively inexpensive.

Educational institutions should recognize the deficiencies in educational methods and begin significantly improving those methods in order to encourage substantially better critical thinking skills in young adults. But there is absolutely no reason to expect that educational institutions will accept or adopt that challenge. Therefore it is fundamentally necessary for organizations to provide supplemental education in critical thinking and logic in order to prevent the losses owed to the accidental introduction of false, misrepresented, fraudulent, or deceptive information that is propagated within their organizations.

Final Thoughts

The world around us is rapidly changing. The availability of information and immediacy of communication enables us to adapt and learn at unprecedented speeds. But those who will excel in this environment of constant innovation will be the ones who are capable of discerning quickly the difference between sound information and ideas and those which are fraudulent, deceptive, or simply not founded in solid evidence. Likewise companies that thrive will be those that recognize, celebrate and cultivate critical thinkers – capable of questioning convention, exploring new ideas critically, and ready to uncover facts to guide their projects and decisions.

In order to explore some of these ideas more fully, I have created the first of several learning activities focused on rapidly improving the identification and rejection of logical fallacies. The first one focuses on the fallacy commonly known as the gambler’s fallacy. This is an activity designed to explain the fallacy, and encourage the trainee to learn to identify examples of the fallacy in work related settings.

I’ll demonstrated how the aforementioned sample was created in Adobe Captivate 9, in an eSeminar on Gamification and Adobe Captivate.  (NOTE: The seminar contains the download files for source of the Captivate project shown in this article.) Or if gamification seems a bit advanced, you are also invited to join me for an eSeminar for Captivate beginners, during which I’ll introduce the basic principles of course development.

One of the most common problems that HR and eLearning professionals are facing is implementing modern, engaging Learning solutions. This is exactly the sort of thing that critical thinking can help solve. Whether you are trying to better understand your training needs or evaluating a Learning Management System, like Adobe’s amazing new LMS, the problem will be much easier to solve with critical thinking process in place.

Still hungry for more? Consider reading ‘Engage the Fox’ by Jennifer Lawrence and Larry Chester.’ It is an absolutely enjoyable and engaging read on a subject that you might expect to be terribly dry.


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Caveat Auditor: The Role Of Critical Thinking In Modern Business Training

Critical thinking is a fundamental skill related to thinking logically. Critical thinking in modern business is even more important: When employees practice effective critical thinking they are better problem solvers, innovators, decision makers, and they are more likely to think creatively. They are also more organized and use their time more strategically.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.