Finding the Balance with Design and Development

design or developmentDesign or Development?

What skill is more important in creating a course…design or development?  Are they overlapping skills?  Does one feed off the other?  Confusing?  You bet!

Can you have both?  Absolutely! There are many instructional designers who are also experts with software development tools. Then again, there are great authoring tool experts who really don’t know that much about instructional design.

Today I see more and more people blurring instructional design and instructional development. 

Both are important and both are necessary for creating effective instruction.  Design and development seems to be overlapping now more than ever.  Just take a look at job descriptions for “instructional designers and “eLearning developers”.  Some employers seem to want candidates that have it all.

Anyone can claim they are instructional designer.

Instructional design is not a profession that is regulated by a professional association such as  certified public accountants (CPA), project management professionals (PMP) or professional engineers (PE). I met someone once who told he was an instructional designer because he knew Dreamweaver.  I asked him if he knew how to write instructional objectives.  He said no, but if instructional objectives were important that he would figure out how to do it.  But that doesn’t stop him from saying he is an instructional designer.

There is a current school of thought where some people confuse the use of developing courses with software authoring tools (e.g. Captivate, Articulate, Flash) with instructional design skills.  Someone may be an expert in Articulate’s Storyline. That development skill may enable them to create a class. However, that doesn’t guarantee that they possess the knowledge, skills and abilities of a well trained instructional designer.

For example, I know how to swing a hammer. Therefore, I can build a house if I wanted to, but how well constructed would the house be? Wouldn’t it be better to work with a trained architect to design the house according to the client’s specifications?

I imagine that some of this phenomenon can be attributed to the competition for the work itself.

Keeping with the contractor example, I know that some carpenters do masonry work when demand for carpentry work slows down.  Some consulting companies do the same thing.

Several hiring managers have told me that authoring software keeps getting easier and easier to use. Therefore, they contend that they think it’s more important that their employees have very strong analysis and design skills.

I am not sure there is a right or wrong answer to this.  What do you think?

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISD Now

An Experiment on Human Behavior

As Instructional Designers, it’s important to present information in a way that effectively communicates an idea, while at the same time eliciting behavior that creates momentum in applying it.

Human Behavior Examined

Can physically experiencing something cause us to act in a different way had we not experienced it?

human-behaviorIf you simply read about what it felt like to be in a car accident at high velocity speeds, would that be a strong enough deterrent for you to stop speeding? What about if you actually felt the physical pain of being in that kind of car accident? Would you be less likely to press your foot harder against that gas pedal?

A Study on Human Behavior

According to one study conducted at the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford, yes you might be. The Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford conducted an interesting study on human behavior, and the effect a visceral experience has on our actions.

Julie Dirksen summed up the study and its findings in an article she wrote for Learning Solutions Magazine titled, Research for Practitioners: When It’s Not a Knowledge Problem. The study looked at the result of learning about the negative impact on deforestation of using non-recycled paper goods. It examined two groups, one experiencing the physical feelings of cutting down trees in a virtual lab setting, and the other read a vivid account of the physical act of cutting down trees.

The Findings on Human Behavior

The findings were that visceral experiences did change behavior. Dirksen admitted up front that we should be careful in making generalizations based on this one study, but it is nonetheless still interesting to see how experiencing something physically may impact our actions.

Conclusions on Human Behavior

The study concluded two significant considerations:

  • Attitude is not necessarily a predictor of behavior.
  • Active, visceral experiences may influence behavior change.

Human Behavior and Instructional Design

This study on human behavior can be an important one for instructional designers to examine because it may help fill your instructional design toolbox with more effective approaches to generating the kind of action you want your students to take.

Read more about this study.

Tell us your thoughts on this study on human behavior in the comment box below.

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISD Now

Storytelling: A Valuable Tool for Instructional Designers

Can storytelling make you a more effective designer?

Think back. Of all the things you have learned over the course of your life, how many of those lessons began with a story? It’s indisputable that human beings love to tell and consume stories but have you ever considered how valuable storytelling might be to you as an Instructional Designer?

storytelling

Storytelling is multifunctional

Stories entertain us, engage us, AND educate us.  For centuries, human beings have been using stories to transfer information from one individual to another, ensuring that we benefit from each other’s experiences.

From avoiding those delicious looking poisonous berries, to understanding why it’s important to heed your father’s warnings and not fly too close to the sun, storytelling allows learners to envision and plan for experiences they may have never lived through themselves.

Both socially and individually, we as humans live storied lives, think in narrative structures, and most often recall information in story form. For this reason, storytelling mimics the way we naturally process information and learn.

Storytelling offers great benefits to learners

Because stories both alter and impersonate how we process reality, storytelling offers designers a valuable tool for creating a safe place in which learners can explore and adapt to new content. In doing so, learners are better able to make connections between imagined and past experiences and unlearn ideas that may pose obstacles to new learning.

In the fresh new realm of the story, learners are able to open themselves up to different ways of thinking and envision the subject through another person’s eyes.

In this way, storytelling allows learners to personalize and memorize content they may have normally felt little connection to. Even dry data can benefit from a designer who knows how to harness the art of storytelling.

In her blog, “The eLearning Coach”, Connie Malamed posted an interesting four-minute video by Hans Roslings that illustrates how a topic like global health statistics can be presented in a way that truly “comes alive”.


To learn more about how to incorporate compelling stories into your design, listen to Connie Malamed’s interview Lisa Cron, author of Wired for Story. Cron offers some great insights into why stories are important to learners and common mistakes storytellers make. Listen Here: 

For more information on the brain science of storytelling and three ways you can use storytelling in everyday life, read The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains.

We’d like to hear from you. Do you incorporate storytelling into your design? How has it worked for you?

Always in Learning Mode,
Your friends at ISD Now

Sneak Peak – The Learner of the Future

Written by Dr. Greg Williams, Director of the Instructional Systems Development program at UMBC.
@isdnow

I recently read an article on Smart Blog on Education by Mike Fisher called “Snapshot of a Modern Learner”.The author describes how a young learner named Santos approaches his own learning. Technology is an important tool that helps this student learn. How he uses technology may come as a surprise to some people, especially those over the age of 40. He uses it to find information, communicate with his friends, play games, listen to music and more. To him, using technology is part of his life.  So why should his education be any different?

However, there is a problem. While his teachers look at technology as an event, Santos looks at it as part of his life. Most of his teachers do not use technology at all, or in a very limited way. He gets frustrated using textbooks that will not allow him to click pictures or icons for more information when he wants it. Even though he is a high school student, he exhibits many characteristics of a self-directed “adult learner”. He wants to find information when he needs it, connect with his classmates on his own schedule, and learn about things that are meaningful to him.

Santos is not unique for people in the same age group.  For example, my graduate assistant is learning Apple’s Final Cut X software. She has never taken a course in it.  When she encounters something she doesn’t know how to do, she looks it up online in an online users’ group.  In her view, taking an entire class would be a waste of her time and money. Her learning is based on a just-in-time approach, rather than a just-in-case approach.

Instructional designers know that analysis is a big part of designing learning. Part of that analysis includes examining the behaviors, learning preferences and competencies of learners. If we don’t understand how the younger generation lives, then it will be very difficult to understand how they learn. The Santos of today will be your employee of tomorrow.

If you are involved in the design or delivery of learning, I encourage you to read Mike Fisher’s entire article.