I have always enjoyed the eLearning Guild’s eBooks and they just released a new one – 58 Tips for Breakthrough Instructional Design. It has some great tips on research, design, development and project management, all coming from 14 experts in the field. Oh yeah, it’s free too. Access it here.
As a side note, you may have noticed it has been quite a while since my last post. Work, and life, have been extremely busy for me. However, I am making it a point to get back on track with writing new posts.
Thanks for your patience and for visiting my blog.
In my last post I gave an overview of my DemoFest course, Intro to Office 2010. I would like to delve into the analysis and design of the course.
When this project was brought to me it involved training for both a Windows 7 and Office 2010 upgrade, which is why some of the documents included here references Windows 7 in addition to the Office upgrade. My first step for any training project is the needs analysis, albeit it is often very informal when on short time-lines like this project. Because I had been teaching a face-to-face computer basics class, including some Office training, I had already a big jump on both knowing the audience and how they use the systems that were being upgraded. I also was provided a second work PC with Windows 7 and Office 2010 loaded on it. This allowed me to use and learn the Windows 7 operating system and Office 2010 applications while simultaneously identifying the changes staff will encounter. Keep in mind, I still had my current PC so I had the luxury of being able to make comparisons of the old and new. Once I identified the learning needs, which by the way were more numerous in Outlook due to bigger changes to Outlook from 2007 to 2010 than in the other Office apps, I was ready to draft a course design plan.
The course design plan is crucial in creating an effective course and includes everything from the rationale for the course to its evaluation plan. I am providing a link so you may see a copy of the course design plan (CDP). I always circle back to my stakeholders and share the CDP with them. It shows the approach I am taking and exactly what will be taught. Keep in mind it did not reference much regarding social media. It focused mostly on the asynchronous online course itself. The social media and Intranet page were components that evolved during the development stage. FYI: If you would like to know more about my approach to writing course design plans, please visit my post on CDPs.
Once the CDP was completed and reviewed by my stakeholders and subject matter experts, I like them to sign off on it, I began storyboarding the course. It is important to note, I am a “one person e-learning shop,” so when I storyboard they are not handed off to developers or anyone else. These are tools for my own design and development process. So, as you can see in the examples below, they include enough detail for my own review and get quite messy. If I worked with others I would create much cleaner versions. Either way, below are several examples that show a bit of the process. Once storyboards were developed, and rewritten a few times, I then had the content, navigation, development tools needed, etc. I am was now ready move on to developing the course.
Regarding the Windows 7 content that was scrapped just prior to implementation, because the course was non-linear, but had a separate section for Windows 7 sims, it was easy to isolate that section of the course and remove it. Actually, because the interface was built in Flash all I had to do was remove the button to the section and introductory reference to it. I will speak more to that in the next post in which I address course development.
View the course – Introduction to Office 2010
Several things of interest I recently wandered upon that I would like to share.
Kevin Thorn, a.k.a. Nugget Head, recently published an article in eLearn Magazine, The Art of Storyboarding, that is a very worthwhile read. Storyboarding is a crucial skill to have in our elearning world and Kevin offers great insight on its uses and value in elearning design along with a bit about the history of storyboarding.
Also, NPR had a story regarding the myth of learning styles that is worth a listen. Although this is probably not news to many in the world of ISD, it did get many instructional designers on twitter (my PLN) discussing, and paying more attention to, the subject. Give it a listen below. It also sheds light on some teaching methods that do work.
This month’s Big Question at the Learning Circuits blog is “How do you make e-learning fun?”
Before listing my ideas regarding e-learning fun, I do want to note that just because it’s fun does not necessarily mean learning objectives are being met, that it is relevant to participants’ learning needs, that it will motivate learners, etc. However, incorporating elements that are fun will keep the learner’s attention, make it an enjoyable experience and hopefully get people talking the course up to others. For me, one of the greatest compliments is when people say, “the course was fun and I learned a lot too.” FYI: If you are looking for a good way to engage and motive learners, in addition to making them fun, take a look at the ARCS Model and Gagne’s Nine Events of Learning.
Back to the Big Question, here is how I make e-learning fun:
- Add humor. When appropriate of course and never, ever offensive.
- Add fun characters. I like to use numerous characters to break up any monotony, add conversations and even increase attention by creating tension between characters.
- Incorporate games into courses or make the entire course a game itself.
- Silliness is a great way to get the audience’s attention and focus on specific content you want to be memorable.
- Incorporate interaction between audience members. Perhaps pose fun questions or topics they can discuss and make sure they know it is OK to have a fun, lighthearted discussion. Incorporating social media can help make this happen.
In regards to when to make e-learning fun, I try my best to make it fun whenever I can pull it off. Some topics do not easily lend themselves to being fun and if it is something emotionally sensitive then I keep it serious as not to offend. The same goes for topics that the audience and/or stakeholders take very, very seriously and do not want misinterpreted as something to be taken lightly.
Before the month of May ends I want to add one more thing to my response to the May Big Question -#LCBQ.
If you read my last post you may remember I am currently in a situation where training must be provided on very short notice and I listed how I am attempting to get this done. Something I touched upon was communication, but because communication and marketing training is very important in this type of situation I wanted to expand a bit more on the topic. I have written about marketing courses before, but the last minute nature of on-demand situations makes marketing even more crucial for the audience to know it’s available in addition to generating interest and motivation.
So, in an “on-demand” scenario also be prepared to:
- Get the e-mail blasts ready with direct links to the learning resources you are offering – make it easy for them to access immediately.
- Announce the course, job aids, blog etc. on the LMS and/or intranet – again providing direct links.
- Give the heads up to supervisors to gain their support and get a buzz going. In fact, getting announcements in their meetings is big plus. Getting face time in their meetings yourself is good too. Encourage SMEs and stakeholders to talk it up also.
Remember, always include a good description of what is being offered and the benefits of participating – if it is relevant, they will attend.