Kristen O.

Vice President of Learning & Community, Tessitura Network

Distractions abound. What does that mean for training your staff?


5 min

“How we apply our attention to different tasks depends very much about what the individual brings to that situation.”
Dr. Gemma Briggs

If you’re part of your organization’s marketing team, the fact that humans are easily distracted surely informs your content strategy. If you’re responsible for onboarding or upskilling members of your team, are you also addressing the challenge of holding your learner’s attention? 

At Tessitura, we ask that question all the time. We’ve been evolving our learning materials and programs to maximize learner engagement because of the many competing demands on time and attention. If you’ve ever wondered how we decide to structure our learning programs, I’d like to share the guiding principles that inform our work. 

We’ve begun tailoring our content to meet the core skills and knowledge required for specific job roles.

Make it relevant

If comprehensiveness is our goal, we know we will lose many of our learners. One size does not fit all. Learners who give in to a distraction when something doesn’t apply to them may never find their way back into the material. So we’ve begun tailoring our content to meet the core skills and knowledge required for specific job roles. For example, we reconfigured our Introduction to Fundraising course as three distinct offerings: Introduction to Contribution Entry, Introduction to Moves Management, and Introduction to Fundraising Data Administration.

We hope that having more focused, relevant learning paths will help learners stay engaged. Additionally, fundraisers have the advantage of learning about fundraising in the context of real-world business scenarios. 

This principle also applies to our v16 learning program. Tessitura v16 offers so much value for organizations, so we wanted to make it easy for you and your teams to get excited about and prepared for new features and functionality. With that in mind, we’ve curated learning paths for specific job roles: data analysts, developers, digital, fundraisers, marketers, memberships, system administrators, and ticketing & admissions staff.

Make it immediate

Learners who feel something is at stake will engage more deeply with the material. In the past, we offered training on new releases far ahead of the release date. For Tessitura v16, we provided live training opportunities to prepare our beta testers and early adopters. This same training program will be offered again twice in 2023, so that your organization can tune in when the timing is right for you. Users won’t retain much of what they’re learning if too much time passes before they can apply what they’ve learned. 

For our new online courses, we include quizzes after each lesson to try to achieve that sense of something at stake. I know I find the chance to ace a quiz irresistible. Quizzes not only make learning more immediate, but they greatly increase retention by nudging the learner to recall what they’ve just absorbed.

A screenshot of a quiz within a Tessitura training module online

Quizzes keep learners engaged and increase comprehension of content.

To enhance our online courses, consider creating hands-on exercises incorporating your Tessitura setup and business processes. Knowing these exercises are coming would enhance learner engagement. The stakes of not paying attention are higher, and the opportunity to apply learning right away is a great retention mechanism.

Not all learners learn the same way.

Address different learning styles and needs

Not all learners learn the same way. Visual learners may have difficulty processing the spoken instruction of video training, or learners with disabilities may require assistive accommodations. Some learners may prefer autonomy. We are at the beginning of our journey to make our learning materials more accessible. You can see some of our progress in how we’ve structured our new introductory courses. 

All our new videos offer captions and the ability to download transcripts. The table of contents allows learners to navigate their own path through the course, or pick and choose relevant lessons. Contextual links at the bottom of each screen provide quick access to the help system topics related to each lesson, helping learners dive deeper into the topic or search for the answer to a tangential question.

Screenshot of Tessitura Learning module with contextual links at the bottom indicated by a blue arrow

Contextual links allow learners to easily learn more about topics that catch their interest.

We’re here to help

I hope you have found this information helpful in understanding how we’re evolving Tessitura’s learning materials and how some of these principles might inform your own onboarding and upskilling efforts. If you're interested in connecting with likeminded Tessitura users on this topic, consider joining our Onboarding and Upskilling community group. If you have ideas on how Tessitura can continue evolving our courses to increase learner engagement, please email me directly. You can also reach our entire Learning team.


Arts & Culture





Kristen O.

Kristen Olson

Vice President of Learning & Community
Tessitura Network

Kristen joined the Tessitura Network in 2011 with 25 years of experience in a variety of positions as both a provider and user of technology solutions for arts and cultural organizations.

Just prior to joining the Network, she worked at Wesleyan University while pursuing two master’s degrees, one in Social Sciences from Wesleyan and an MFA in creative non-fiction from Bennington College. Kristen also holds a BA in American Studies with a concentration in 20th-Century Dramatic Literature from Yale University, where her senior thesis was an oral history project with August Wilson under the advisement of Black feminist cultural critic, bell hooks. 

As Vice President of Learning & Thought Leadership, Kristen leads the Learning Resources team as they continually evolve industry-leading learning materials and programs to enable and inspire licensee success with Tessitura. Her team is responsible for documentation, help systems and user guides; e-learning and video tutorials; and the Training Center. Kristen also produces the Tessitura Network webinars program, Tessitura's Innovator Series, and the general sessions at the Tessitura Learning & Community Conference

Kristen lives in the beautiful shoreline town of Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

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