The Instructional Design Mold to Autism Training

This week’s blog entry, The Instructional Design Mold to Autism Training, was written by Vijayshree Rautela

autismThe instructional design formula, when correctly implemented, can make training for any type of target audience effective. It lays down a clear path for the instructional designer to follow right from analyzing and identifying the training need, determining what makes the audience learn best to implementing  training, and evaluating its effectiveness.

Autism and Instructional Design

My recent calling to create training for special needs children made me realize how true this really is. The focus for me has been on creating training solutions for autistic children. And I found there couldn’t be a better target audience to test the effectiveness of instructional design. What’s more it’s a perfect match – the defined structure and all the carefully outlined details and consistency in approach are some of integral elements in creating effective training for autistic children.  Here’s an audience that functions best in structure, order, and consistency. If you love to get into the psychology of your target audience and analyze what make them tick and learn, this could be a fun and self-fulfilling project.

Training for Autism

As an ‘ADDIE’ Instructional Designer, here’s how I see it working for training autistic children:

autism

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After ADDIE, let’s look at the learner types.

It’s interesting to note that based on the learner type, the same content can be molded into different training types.

If it’s a visual learner, training could focus on visual strategies. It’s observed that visual thinking is more prominent in autistic individuals. So pictures with words and phrases describing an action or alphabet would be effective.For example, the letter A could be denoted with the picture of an apple with the alphabet printed alongside it.

For auditory learners, content could have learning strategies that are more audio-based. For example, some children may respond better if sentences, phrases, or words are sung to them. In case of kinesthetic learners, there could be more activities utilizing hands where learners get to touch and understand the objects – classroom training activities where the letters are actual plastic objects that the children can and touch and feel them to understand them.

Most autistic children have issues with motor control. If it’s online training, then using the mouse could be a problem. Touch screen commands would be more effective in this case. In fact it could be an engaging activity for learners if instructions are standardized graphics that they can consistently relate to, example: continue, back, click, select etc.

There’s usually a challenging skill or two to teach a target audience. For autistic children it is mostly social interaction. Autistic individuals are usually not social by nature and maintaining eye contact for them is a challenge. I’ve observed that autistic individuals enjoy watching shows, movies, and videos and absorbing information from them.

An interactive online training could be effective with engaging video demonstrations on social interactions that are identified as challenges for the child. The videos can be humorous, showing the “don’ts” in contrast to the “dos”. Mostly autistic children/individuals do well in learning from videos/movies that have close captioning – helps them watch and read simultaneously.

A blended learning solution could also be effective to target social interaction skills. After viewing videos and demonstrations online, there could be classroom interaction sessions where the learners get an opportunity to implement the same.

It’s important to keep in mind the behavioral issues and list of things that distract or frustrate the learners identified in the analysis stage. A group of support crew is very important to be present at this stage.

And who doesn’t love choices? When in a classroom set up, if met with opposition to perform a certain task, the strategy to offer choices that have the same learning result could work. This helps in identifying what the learner prefers to do and is also motivational.

Today there are various apps that are available to help engage and train children with autism. However, if it’s a training customized and tailor made to specific learner types and based on instructional design principles, it has better chances of effectiveness. There’s more work, but at the end of it, there sure is more fulfillment than for any other target audience to see your training solution work!

A special thanks to Vijayshree Rautela for sharing this important post on autism and instructional design with us.

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISDNow

Why You Should Create Instructional Objectives

Instructional objectives help to improve learning.

Good instructional objectives are observable and measurable. They can be easily created using the ABCD method (below). For maximum effectiveness, an instructor’s course content and activities should match the course’s instructional objectives.

instructional objectivesCharacteristics of Good Instructional Objectives:

1. Identifies who should perform
2. Describes what learner is to do
3. Describes conditions learner will encounter in performing
4. Describes how well performance is to be done

ABCD Method to Create Instructional Objectives – An Example:

A: Audience – Students in Keyboarding 101
B: Behavior – Type
C. Condition – Using a PC with Microsoft Word software
D. Degree – At lease 60 words per minute, with no more than three mistakes

For a more in depth presentation on how to create instructional objectives, Dr. Greg Williams, UMBC’s ISD Program Director, has created the video tutorial below. 

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISDNow

5 Ways to Learn A New Skill

When we learn a new skill, we grow.

To grow, we have to be willing to stretch beyond what feels comfortable. Learning a new skill can intimidate many of us. Irrational fears can run around our minds and make us question if we have what it takes to push ourselves to the next level.

Getting stuck in this phase is easy. The problem with staying in this comfort zone too long is that we grow stagnant as the rest of the world develops around us. So how do we get unstuck and finally make that leap?

learn a new skillAccording to a recent article written by Amy Gallo, these are some important principles to follow to learn a new skill:

Ensure the new skill is attainable
To answer this truthfully, think about your current workload, your schedule, any outside demands and tally how much time you are willing to invest. Do you have the time required to learn a new skill? Can you commit to it wholeheartedly?

Find the method that compliments your best learning style
We all learn differently. Some prefer visual over auditory, while others learn best in a hands-on type of situation. Think back to previous times when you’ve learned new skills. Which were most effectively learned? In what type of environment did you learn it? Was it in a classroom, online, or in a one-on-one workshop? Find the system to learn a new skill that works best with your personality.

Learn from a trusted mentor
Find someone doing exactly what you want to be doing and model after him/her. Talk with this person. Ask open-ended questions that will get the conversation steering down a path that will enrich your learning experience. Shadow him. Many are willing to take others under their wing and teach them lessons that they may have worked years to learn.

Tackle one or two skills at a time
Many times we overwhelm ourselves by trying to tackle too much at once. It’s unrealistic to create too many challenging goals and expect to sustain the drive and motivation to achieve them all at once. Pick one or two actionable items, at most, and focus on them. Once you’ve mastered them, move on to the next set.

Take what you’ve learned and apply it by teaching it to others
When we learn a new skill, a great way to cement it in our brains is to put it into practice right away. A great technique to doing this is to teach someone else what you’ve learned. This action may open up new questions you have on the process and cause you to dig deeper to understand and learn it even more proficiently. It also offers you the ability to connect to action right away by illustrating the skillset to someone else.

Instructional designers can apply these tips to their personal learning goals, and keep them in mind when they’re helping others acquire new skills.

Most important THING to remember when you want to learn a new skill is to take action on it!

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISD Now

P.S. Let’s turn this over to you… Do you use any of the above tactics or have any additional ones when you learn a new skill?

6 Ways to Design Effective eLearning Courses

To design effective eLearning courses, one must pay special attention to the nuances that can make or break a learning environment.

A critical component to a successful course is one that is well-designed in terms of being engaging, practical and easy to navigate. For a course to be effective, students must be interested and motivated to learn the material. With so much vying for their attention, how can we better design courses that engage and motivate our audiences?

effective-elearning

SHIFT’s eLearning Blog talks about 6 ways to design effective eLearning courses.

Effective eLearning element 1: The importance of how adults learn

The brain works hard to learn, digest, and retain information. When a student is engaged in learning, the brain steps into action and fires off all kinds of responses. A well-designed course will cater to the brain’s high functions and allow the learner to walk away with a solid bank of new information.

Effective eLearning element 2: Adding graphics to improve learning

People judge a course by how it looks. Does it appeal to their senses? Does it make them want to learn? Does it flow? Graphics should lift a course to higher learning ground by being relevant.

Effective eLearning element 3: Aligning text near relevant graphics

Seems simple, and it is! It’s also critical in helping students retain information. When appropriately displayed, the brain registers the graphic with the text and implants it in memory.

Effective eLearning element 4: Using audio to explain graphics

According to SHIFT’s blog, including audio to your courses may increase the effectiveness of the learning experience up to 80%.

Effective eLearning element 5: Keeping it real (human)

Students are human beings, not robots, so be sure you’re tapping into their emotions. Technology is great with all of its useful bells and whistles, but at the end of the day, students relate to new information best when it also taps into their senses.

Effective eLearning element 6: Avoiding distractive visuals, audio and text

Nothing spells disaster to a learning environment than distraction. Be sure the right things are standing out to students by eliminating the clutter of unnecessary visuals, audio and text.

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISDNow

p.s. Do you have additional elements to add? Please feel free to chime in by leaving a comment. To learn more about how to design effective eLearning Courses, read SHIFT’s eLearning Blog.

Join us for UMBC’s ISD Now Webinar – November 7

allison-rossettMark your calendar for November 7, 2012 at 2 p.m. EST for UMBC’s ISD Now Webinar: Mobile Devices for Learning and Performance Support

REGISTER TODAY!

We all worry about the influence of our learning programs when our participants move out of sight and into the workplace. Mobile devices help to extend the arms and voice of the instructor into the field of play. They deliver at the moment of need, or pretty darn close to it.

Join Us and Learn:

  • What are the sweet spots for mobile learning and mobile support?
  • What is the difference between mobile learning and mobile support?
  • What are planners and sidekicks and how can they address the transfer problem?
  • Can apps help with soft skills, such as leader development?

PRESENTERS
Allison Rossett, Professor of Educational Technology at San Diego State University and in the Training magazine HRD Hall of Fame.

Dr. Greg Williams, Moderator Director and Clinical Associate Professor of Instructional Systems Development Graduate Programs, UMBC

COST:
Complimentary

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 ~ 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EST

Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat 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.

August is Connected Educator Month

@ISDNow

Did you know that August is Connected Educator Month?

The U.S. Department of Education’s Connected Educators initiative is launching Connected Educator Month this month (August 2012) to help schools, districts, and states collaborate together for essential professional learning opportunities.

Throughout August, registrants will have access to participate in coordinated opportunities, events and activities in dozens of online locations to develop skills and enhance personal learning networks.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Connected Educators Initiative encourages educators from all levels and those who support them to participate.

To get started, all you have to do is sign up. The registration process is simple and quick on the Connected Educator Month home page: http://connectededucators.org/cem/about/

Once signed up, you’ll get regular updates about:
• Webinars and other real‐time events.
• Forums on key education and community issues.
• Guided tours, open houses, launches, exhibits, collaborative projects, polls, and other special activities.
• Contests you can enter, badges you can earn, plus other resources ranging from starter kits to book clubs and classes to help you join the world of connected education or become more connected.

Do you collaborate with other professionals online and find it helpful? We’d love to hear about your experience. Please feel free to chime in with a comment.