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

The Top Reasons Trainers and Faculty Don’t Like eLearning

eLearning can be intimidating to many because it requires us to adapt and change to a new way of teaching and learning.

Change is tough. We want progress, but not change.

eLearningeLearning requires us to change.

Change often arrives before growth.  While eLearning may be regarded as a positive change, others may dispute that. What is not in dispute is the growth of eLearning.  The Sloan Consortium has reported that over 7.1 million college students took an eLearning class in 2013.  The Association for Talent Development (formerly American Society for Training and Development) indicates that 39% of the all training for employee in 2013 was technology-based delivery.

While the growth of eLearning presents opportunities for some people, it presents many challenges for others.  Most of these challenges center around the concept of change.  As noted by Harvard business professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, people resist change for a number of reasons.  I have encountered a number of faculty members and trainers that simply hate eLearning.  I believe that most of the issues relate to change.

Why do some learning professionals really dislike eLearning? Here are the top reasons why:

eLearning Is More Work for Me
This may be true, especially at first. It takes time to learn anything.   What many trainers and faculty members realize is that eLearning makes you rethink your whole approach to teaching and learning.  You simply can’t lecture.  Effective eLearning means that you have to redesign your course.  Additionally, it may mean that you will need to learn some new technology tools.

I Might Look Incompetent
Yes, this may be true as well.  Remember the first time you tried to ride a bike?  You probably weren’t very successful.  Now you ride a bike without even thinking about it.  I remember teaching my first online course. It certainly wasn’t the best course I’ve ever taught. What I realized was that investing the time in learning online teaching skills was worth it.

The Quality of eLearning is Poor
There are some bad courses out there.  This includes both eLearning courses, as well as in-person courses.  To generalize that the quality of eLearning is inferior is a false assumption.  Usually when I hear this argument it really is a diversionary tactic.  The real issue is that some people fear they would not be good online teachers.  The “poor quality argument” is an attempt to throw people off track, rather than addressing their real issues.

My Job May Be Threatened
Some faculty and/or trainers feel that they may lose their job if they have to teach or train online.  I think it is rare that organizations force someone to teach online in a “sink or swim” situation. Most organizations offer training and opportunities for trainers/faculty to shadow some classes.  Additionally, they can co-teach with an experienced faculty member before they teach an online class solo.

Technology is Not for Me
This is a legitimate concern. eLearning relies on technology.  Online learning is not for every teacher/trainer, nor is it for every student.  Some people who say this have not given eLearning an honest attempt, or they didn’t receive proper training.  It is amazing that when technology benefits an employee, they can learn it pretty quickly (e.g. telecommuting).  Since minimum levels of technology skills are now required by many employers, I don’t think that it is unreasonable for organizations to ask trainers or faculty to teach online.

eLearning is not going away anytime soon.  Learning professionals can choose to accept it or reject it. Given the growth of eLearning, I believe the wise choice is to embrace it.  Choosing otherwise will limit your career opportunities.

So what will you choose?

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

autism autism3 autism4 autism5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

eLearning – What I Wish They Told Me…

eLearningWith eLearning being so popular now, many trainers and college faculty are learning to teach their first online class. Read on and hear from Dr. Greg Williams, UMBC ISD Program Director.

eLearning Resources Abound!

Today a number of great resources are available to beginning online teachers. These eLearning resources range from blogs and websites dedicated to this to entire books on the subject. Additionally, there are numerous great courses now that help you learn how to teach online. I taught my first online graduate level course over ten years ago. eLearning resources were not as plentiful as they are now. I was given a syllabus and an empty course shell in Blackboard. I think someone wished me good luck. That was about it.

Looking back, there are a number of things that I wish someone told me before I taught my first online class.

8 eLearning Things I Wish I Learned Ahead of Time:

Know Your Students – It is important that you get to know your eLearning students (and their motivations). For example, do they need your course to graduate this semester? Are they working three jobs and taking care of kids? Are students taking your course because they love the topic? Or did they register because all their other class choices were filled? Have they taken online classes before? Beware the students taking your class because they think that online classes are “easier”.

Be Deliberate About Communication – Have a plan about how and when you communicate with your eLearning students. For example, I tell my students to expect a response from me in 24-48 hours when they post a question or send me a direct email. Don’t leave them guessing. Over the years I have received numerous VERY long emails from students. They have dozens of questions and concerns about their performance in the course. Rather than respond via email, I usually ask them to talk on the phone with me. It gets to the point quicker and helps to deal with any issues directly. Additionally, it may be a good idea to have an eLearning course FAQ.

All Students Will Not Read the Syllabus – As teachers we are very proud of our course syllabi. Be prepared that a number of students will not read it. How do you deal with this? You can structure an assignment that forces them to read the syllabus (scavenger hunt). Or you can award bonus points if students can answer questions about your syllabus. Remember that the syllabus is the contractual document between the students and the college. When there are issues over grades, the courts always refer back to the syllabus.

Technology Will Fail You and Your Students – No matter what you do, technology will not work at times for you and your eLearning students. Murphy’s law mandates that this failure will happen at the worst possible moment. Encourage (require?) your students to have access to a backup computer. Additionally, have them save everything in MS Word first before they post it. It’s also a good idea to have them save files online using tools such as Google Drive and others. This will minimize issues such as “my hard drive died and my assignment is gone”.

Check Your Course Every Day – I originally thought that checking my eLearning course every few days would be more than enough. Wrong! What I discovered was that it makes much more sense to check in online every day, even if it is only for 20 minutes or so. Students constantly want feedback in a timely matter. Additionally, questions may pop up that are time sensitive and need to be addressed quickly.

eLearning2Simple Is Good – My original eLearning course design was much more complicated than it is now. I used to think that “more was better”.  What I discovered over the years was that I sometimes confused students by giving them too much information. They didn’t know what to do or where to go on the course site. Now I’ve really scaled my course design back. The lesson I learned was “it’s not about the technology”.

Students Know How to Take An Online Course – Even though the first online course I taught was in 2004, I really thought that students knew how to take an online course.  Boy, was I wrong! Taking a course online is a completely different experience than taking a face-to-face course. What I’ve learned is that just because I have a lot of experience teaching and taking online courses, it doesn’t mean that my students do. We sometimes forget that everybody does not use a computer every day.

Students Will “Disappear” – I was surprised to learn that a handful of students simply “disappeared” from my course. What I discovered was students simply stopped showing up or stopped participating in the class. Even worse, they never even told me why. I had to seek them out myself. What I found out was they had work issues, personal issues, medical issues, etc. Some stopped participating just because learning online wasn’t for them.

eLearning is Not for Everyone

Over the years, I’ve learned that online courses are not for every student, nor are they for every instructor. As an instructor, it is helpful to keep an open mind and realize that you can always learn and get better. Ten years from now, who knows what I’ll write about this topic.

For more info, check out my video on this topic.

Always in Learning Mode,
Your friends at ISDNow

Effective E-Learning: Graphics

Research had shown that graphics, be it line drawings, charts, and photographs and motion graphics such as animation and video, can improve learning when effectively used in an e-learning environment.

graphics

What is Effective Use of Graphics?

In this case, an effective use of graphics refer to those that are related to the material presented. Dr. Ruth Clark presented the findings of research conducted by Richard Mayer and his colleagues at the University of California at Santa Barbara in her article Six Principles of Effective E-Learning – What Works and Why published by Learning Solutions Magazine.

Research on the Use of Graphics

In his research, Mayer compared learning about various mechanical and scientific processes from lessons that used words alone or used words and graphics. In the majority of the cases in this research, he concluded that test subjects improved their understanding when pictures were included. On the flip side, the research indicated that unrelated graphics can actually depress learning. Clark further explained in her article that “while graphics can boost learning, it will be important to select the kind of graphic that is congruent with the text and with the learning goal. Graphics that are irrelevant or gratuitous actually depress learning. Consider selecting your graphics based on the type of content you are teaching.”

Learn More about Graphics and Effective E-learning

Read more about this multimedia principle of adding graphics to words to improve learning, as well as about the five other principles presented: contiguity principle, modality principle, redundancy principle, coherence principle, and personalization principle. Share your experiences with the use of graphics in e-learning in the comment section below.

Always in learning mode,

Your friends at ISD Now

www.umbc.edu/isd

Unlearning to Learn More

Unlearning is just as important, and some would argue, even more important, than learning.

What is unlearning?

Unlearning happens when one comes face-to-face with a new idea, concept or thought that contradicts what has been learned previously.  The world is constantly moving, changing, and shifting. If we don’t acknowledge this, we threaten our very survival, be it professionally or personally, in this ever-changing landscape.

unlearning

New ideas have always been a catalyst to growth and development, be it in a classroom, in a business setting, or in a relationship.  These new ideas are constantly replacing old ones. What we spent years learning, may no longer be applicable today or in the future.

Learn to Unlearn

How does one not drown in the sea of knowledge when it is constantly being saturated by newer concepts that replace old ones? The answer is quite simple. We need to learn to unlearn.

What Does it Mean to Unlearn?

Our minds are being filled with a constant flow of information. If we don’t stop and empty some of it out, we won’t have room for anything new to enter. To stay fresh, vital and on top of the game, we need to make room for new knowledge because the world is ever changing.

Benefits of Unlearning:

  • Release old ideas
  • Let go of old habits
  • Make room for new information

Why Should We Unlearn?

As ISD professionals, it’s critical that we understand the need for unlearning because technology is always changing, and what served us once, may not serve us today or tomorrow.

Unlearning Allows Us: 

  • To grow
  • To allow new ideas to take up root
  • To gain new perspectives
  • To adapt to the changing environment
  • To remove barriers that limit our potential

In her blog, Taruna Goel introduced this excerpt from a paper titled ‘Lifelong Unlearning’ written by Trevor Pateman: “In our cognitive lives our memories – what we know – is often an obstacle to engaging with the world around us. It is a commonplace that what we see is often influenced by what we think there is to see, and if that is true, then that might be taken as an argument for thinking less and with less conviction. We should carry our knowledge lightly, and always be ready to let go of it.”

Check out this video by Author Jack Uldrich on Unlearning Possibilities:

Have you had to unlearn something recently?

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISD Now
www.umbc.edu/isd

ISD Professionals: Four Reasons You Need a Portfolio

Are you prepared for when that opportunity comes into your path, offering a chance at a fantastic project that could elevate you to the next level in your ISD career?  If a potential client came calling tomorrow, would you have your best work ready to showcase? If not, read on.

portfolio

Why a Portfolio?

  1. To prove you have experience
  2. To sell yourself
  3. To showcase your talents and value
  4. To stand out from the competition

What to Present in a Portfolio?

Your best work. Period.

Here’s the caveat, though: you must honor the privacy of your clients. Before adding their projects into your portfolio, seek the written permission of their legal department. If you can’t obtain their permission, consider creating projects on your own to add to your portfolio.

What is the Best Portfolio Format?

Online and Paper versions both have advantages. Online allows for easy sharing, easy access, and easy correction in a cost effective manner. Paper-based portfolios have tangible, sensory value and are great for face-to-face interviews.

How to Organize a Portfolio

Leigh Anne Lankford, an Instructional Design Consultant, summed up her recommendations in her article, ISD Professionals – Building a Portfolio. She suggested these effective methods to organize a portfolio:

  • Place projects in chronological order.
  • Use the ADDIE Model to organize projects.
  • Organize projects according to the ASTD Competency Model.

Regardless of which organizational method you use to showcase your portfolio, the most important thing to keep in mind is to make it clean and clear of errors, and present only your best work. Seeking the advice and objectivity of someone unbiased can prove extremely helpful, as well. Encourage critical feedback from this person.

What to Include in Your Portfolio?

Think of a portfolio as a snapshot of your skills. It’s your chance to get in front of a prospective client and wow them with your ability. Place yourself in the shoes of the prospective client. What do they want to see? What would win over their confidence? What skill sets are critical to their project? Be sure your portfolio addresses these questions.

In her article, Lankford drafted a comprehensive list of items to consider:

  • One sample of High Level Design.
  • One Storyboard if you design for eLearning.
  • One Facilitator Guide sample.
  • One Participant Guide.
  • Content areas samples that showcase your expertise.
  • Evaluations you’ve created and their related feedback.
  • Recommendations and glowing reviews.

At UMBC, students admitted to the Master’s degree in Instructional Systems Development – Training Systems, are required to complete a professional portfolio. This requirement replaced the current comprehensive exam requirement in 2012.

Dr. Greg Williams, UMBC’s ISD Graduate Program Director, stated, “The purpose of this new requirement is to provide students an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned in their coursework and the program. It also provides students, employers, clients, colleagues, etc. with tangible evidence of our graduates’ knowledge, skill, abilities and competencies. Portfolios can be a wonderful career tool that may assist graduates in getting jobs, promotions, new clients, and other professional opportunities.”

UMBC offers students a course called Portfolio Development & Talent Management

Did we miss something critical that you’ve included in your portfolio? Please share in the comments below.

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISD Now
www.umbc.edu/isd

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

Join us for a Complimentary Webinar on February 26, 2014

UMBC’s ISD Now Webinar Series is holding its next webinar on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EST. Guest speaker, Dr. Jane Bozarth, eLearning Coordinator for the State of North Carolina will discuss Social Media for Trainers.

social-media-for-trainersJoin us as Dr. Jane Bozarth helps us explore the use of free technologies like blogs, wikis, Facebook, Twitter, and online groups to help build communication, increase participation, and enhance transfer of training to the job.

We’ll both define and demystify each tool. You will get ideas for applying low-cost collaboration strategies to your own training programs—both classroom and online!

Dr. Jane Bozarth is the eLearning Coordinator for the State of North Carolina. She is the author of several books including Social Media for Trainers, Better than Bullet Points, the upcoming Show Your Work, and more. She also writes the monthly “Nuts & Bolts” column for Learning Solutions Magazine. She is a popular webinar and conference speaker. Dr. Bozarth and her husband live in Durham, NC.

This UMBC ISD Now webinar is free and open to the public. If interested in attending, please RSVP online.

We hope to see you there!
Your friends at ISD Now

SMEs From the Ground Up with Dr. Chuck Hodell

ISDNowForum

On October 23, the UMBC ISD program was lucky enough to have Dr. Chuck Hodell present at the ISD Now Forum.

Dr. Hodell’s interactive presentation focused on SMEs From the Ground Up.

Dr. Hodell provided practical information on how to identify different types of SMEs, how to determine SME selection criteria specific to one’s needs, and how to create a list of things one can do to support SMEs in the design process.

Enjoy this presentation by Dr. Hodell on SMEs From the Ground Up, in the video below.

Let us know what you think about Dr. Hodell’s presentation.

Always in learning mode,
Your friends at ISD Now