Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Designing Informal

Clark Quinn has an interesting post for anyone who is interested in the role of blogs and wikis in instructional design about informal learning. The basis of his post notes that as learners gain experience in their trade they learn more from informal venues versus formalized training.
The key is to provide learners with centers of experience where they can research and find their information or ask questions of would-be mentors. The problem resides in where we do our jobs. If the learner is not located in the same room as the high-performer who can guide him/her. Then there is a problem and that is where instructional designers can come into play.
To quote Mr. Quinn:

The points being that we need a broader focus, and our instructional design has to be augmented with information design and information architecture. It’s about supporting performance, not just about courses.

As instructional designers we need to look beyond building a course. We need to promote the building of other support systems to assist the more experienced learner.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

On the use of graphics

I meant to write about this earlier, but better late then never. The fine folks at Creating Passionate Users have an excellent post regarding the use of graphics in blogs, books, and presentations. While the piece focuses mainly on the use of graphics for blogs, I think it is equally useful for elearning, especially their ideas for generating graphics ideas. I recommend you read the whole article, but I thought I would list their suggestions for graphics brainstorming here:
  1. Ask yourself, "What's the point I want to make?"
  2. Distill the point to it's simplest, once-sentence form.
  3. Narrow down the graphic types that apply to this point.
  4. Pretend that for some reason you cannot use words to make your point.
They expand on each one of these points and then go on to discuss how to create them with tips on

Friday, November 17, 2006

Project-based Wikis

Wikis can appear to be daunting, especially if you are starting one from scratch. But for a project it might help to begin with your email. So say the folks at Wiki That!. They offer a 10-step process for creating a project-related wiki using email.
Think about it - Isn't your email the first place you'd go to find out what may have happened in an activity you have been part of? But what if you or
others weren't on the receiving end of some emails?
It seems to make a lot of sense to me.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Is ISD / ADDIE / HPT Relevant?

I can't speak for HPT, because, to be honest, I didn't recognize that one until I followed a link defining HPT from Harold Jache's post on the topic. As for ISD and ADDIE I think there will always be a role for those approaches, especially in the Web 2.0 (and what ever comes after it) world. But that role will change and those individuals and organizations that refuse to evolve will become extinct in the learning world.

The corporate/government world will always want a structured learning environment simply because
  1. they cannot afford to have their workers following myriads of hyperlinks that could possibly lead them far afield from the core focus of the training they are seeking to instill. The human race is naturally curious and we can easily forget about time as we scan through the wealth of information available.
  2. As general as a lot of topics may be--such as customer service skills or travel expense reporting--each business or agency will have its own unique spin on these topics and will want their workers following that spin.
My formal job title is Instructional Systems Designer but I tend to drop the "Systems" part because many of the courses I create are not process-oriented. They tend to be theoretical (reasons for grounding electrical systems) or softskills (customer service techniques) and there is no hard and fast steps that must be performed that can be trained. What can be presented is examples and scenarios where learners can play "what if" games.

I think that formal training activities will continue and should continue, but these events are going to more limited in scope than in the past and will be augmented by informal learning means outside the classroom. The role of the instructional designer will be to use the ADDIE model to determine what baseline structure can be built into the formal piece of the learning and what parts of the knowledge base are fluid and need to maintained delivered in an informal venue, be it a blog, a podcast, or talking points delivered by a project manager to his or her team.

The future may find that what we now call an instructional system designer is a person who does a little bit of instructional designing and a whole lot of consultative working advising his or her customers on appropriate means of content storage and delivery.