Terry Aurit is something of a celebrity in the Savvy circle. Mention her name to any of our clients and they say things like, “Awesome!” “Amazing!” and “Mind-Boggling.” (Seriously. The rest of us are only slightly jealous.)
Terry leads Savvy’s training content development and is also at the front of many of our customer service efforts, so I thought it would be fun to give people a glimpse into the magic behind Terry’s efforts.
In a nutshell: Terry understands the legal industry and she’s very passionate about adult learning theory. That combination makes her like the Oracle of Law Firm Training Content.
When to Teach Them to Fish. When to Feed Them
Terry has over 30 years of law firm experience, including many years “on the inside.”
“I know the legal environment, the documentation you’re required to manage, the deadlines,” she says. “And if your firm has a training department, I know how limited your resources are for developing content.”
Terry also understands the (never-ending) challenge to get attorneys engaged in training.
“Of course, you want everyone to learn the skills they need so that they continuously grow and are capable of getting their own work done without a lot of support,” says Terry. “But having worked in the legal world, I know there are times when you need to teach them to fish and times when you just need to feed them a fish.
“Even the people who are open to learning may be working on a document at 2 am and they just need a learning source that will feed them, not teach them.”
This understanding of the legal world, plus her master’s degree in instructional design (including an emphasis in adult learning theory), give Terry an edge when leading Savvy’s content creation team.
SavvySMART Content Library: The Mind Map
The SavvySMART Content Library both teaches people to fish and feeds them fish, and it all begins with a “mind map.”
“When I’m starting to write new content, I start by creating a mind map which helps us organize all of the topics people need us to cover,” says Terry. “From that map, the team writes a user manual and all of the supporting materials [videos, quick reference guides, quizzes, instructor manuals, etc.] all flow from the map and the manual.”
Since a lot of learning content is built upon a user’s existing knowledge, the Savvy content creation team needs to continuously ask themselves what knowledge they are presuming a user already possesses.
“For example,” says Terry. “If you’re going to teach calculus, you can’t just sit down and teach calculus. You have to chunk the content so that it’s manageable and people don’t choke on it. The same is true when we mind map our training content for Excel. We figure out the logical groupings and courses. Then, within each course, we consider how we can scaffold on what they already know and build to the next level.”
She continues, “The process is hard, tedious and creative. It takes knowledge of the subject but that’s not always the biggest issue. I’m often more worried about how we build all the parts and pieces so that we can serve all types of adult learners – those in a hurry, the visual learners, those that love a deep-dive. We try to serve them all.”
Five Minutes = 10 Hours
Terry says that it can take 10 hours of development time to create a 5-minute e-learning video.
“If your boss is pushing you to create your own learning videos for your firm, give him that statistic!” says Terry. “It’s a huge investment of time.”
And because Savvy prides itself on being uber-responsive to its clients’ needs, we’ve beefed up Terry’s content writing team in the last year, assuring that we can say “how high?” when our clients say, “jump!”
“Our clients drive our content creation,” says Terry. “Not only do we respond to their last-minute needs, but we survey them to find out what they’ll need in the future. We are literally that passionate about delivering the content that our clients need.”
Given this level of ongoing service, it’s actually hard to put a value on the SavvySMART Content Library; it’s like buying a new car that gets remade new every time you ask for a new part or feature. But more on that topic in a future blog. In the meantime, I have to go light a candle on the Savvy Fireplace Mantle in honor of the Savvy Training Content Oracle…