A few weeks ago I downloaded the new ASTD (the American Society for Training and Development – recently changed to the Association for Talent Development) iOS app, the ASTD Trainer’s Toolkit. Surprisingly, as the ASTD doesn’t give much away, this app is FREE! The ASTD info site for the app can be found here. As their website states, the app includes 20 original classroom and virtual training activities to energize, motivate, and help learners to retain content. The activities include closings, energizers, forming groups, and topical openings. All of this content is internal to the app. The app also includes links to external content such as articles on Training and Development (T&D) and a selection of T&D books through links to external content (the ASTD website for articles, and the iTunes Library – for iOS users – for the books). There is an article native to the app titled ‘Intro to Facilitation’ and an ability to create your own notes, add your own activities (they provide you with a template), and add their activities to your own list of favorites. While the app can function as a stand-alone on your device, you can also log in through Facebook or Google to access your data from anywhere.
This can be a handy app when you are stuck trying to think of a learning activity for a group. They break each activity down with a variety of essential pieces of information, including the size of the group the activity is applicable for, the time of the activity, the person who contributed the activity, the goal of the activity, the materials and/or technology needed for the activity, search tags related to the activity, and a step by step process for conducting the activity. They also provide some facilitator notes/tips for each activity. The user can enter their own notes for each activity or use an in-app timer. You can also tap the ‘favorite’ star in the upper right corner to add the activity to your list of favorites. You can also use the in-app search function to find activities based on various metrics such as group size or time limit.
In typical ASTD fashion, however, there are plenty of opportunities for in-app purchases. Not only the books, but you can also download additional activities from the app. These additional activities include Icebreakers, Openings, Reviews and Teachbacks, Trainer Tools and Techniques – each for $1.99, or all of them for $5.99. There does not appear to be a limit on the number of article views from the app – if you are familiar with ASTD’s website, non-members have a great deal of restrictions on viewing their articles.
All in all, it’s a good app with solid, easy to reference information. The app did crash on me since my first download of it, resulting in a need to delete the app and reinstall it. I’d also like to see more information provided in the app. Activities are great – and we should all include more objective-driven activities into our training – but what about other areas of training? Perhaps the steps of instructional design – be it the ADDIE or SAM process? Perhaps a reference for Bloom’s Taxonomy or the Kirkpatrick levels of evaluation – two things I often reference when designing instruction or when writing a proposal involving instructional design (especially the action words associated with each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy!). Remember that training is more than just what occurs in a classroom. I appreciate the ASTD/ATD for providing us with this app, but challenge them to give us more (and for free, thank you very much!).
Give the app a try yourself and let me know what you think.