Thursday, July 15, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
So many of the courses I design are catch-alls—attempts to meet the needs of a large, diverse audience. I can’t possibly design for each job role, so I have a vague, fleeting idea of who my audience is and how day-to-day work is accomplished. Sadly, I’m pretty out of touch. I work with SMEs who, like almost all SMEs, can’t remember what it was like to be new and green.
I suppose I’m just another casualty to aDDIE (the analysis piece is easily skimmed over to the more creative, interesting endeavors). I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s guilty of inadequate (or even nonexistent) audience analysis. I accept that for my first five years in ID, I’ve been woefully, shamefully deficient in that arena. So, now to put intentions to practice—let the rubber hit the road. I’ll be sure to report on the journey.
Monday, April 5, 2010
I’ve been guilty of being a tool snob before. Thought bubbles: ‘You’re using Publisher? Yuck.’ ‘Framemaker... bleh.’ ‘InDesign is so much better than PageMaker.’ ‘PowerPoint—give me a break.’ Ok, I have continuing moments of tool snobbery. I know we’ll never all agree, so why do we get downright defensive about our favorite tools? The hunkered-down Quark fans are never going to move the InDesign, unless they have to (and they’ll grumble for months, before finally, quietly moving to the dark side and denying they thought Quark was better).
Does tool snobbery hurt our instructional design? It shouldn’t be about the tools we use. But how much does it affect what we do? In an ideal world, we would have access to all of the tools, and we could use right tool for the right project every time—and we would know which tool is best for the situation and know how to use it. In the real world, we don’t have budgets for that. We generally make the best of what we have, and when extra money is found we whip out our wish lists and cross our fingers.
What are the dangers of making do? We stick with the same tool all the time because it’s familiar, we know it, and we don’t want to or have time to learn a new one. We can also waste a lot of time trying to get a tool to do something it really wasn’t meant to do.
How can we avoid this, especially when we don’t have much choice in the tools that are available to us? I try to keep my focus on the design and not the tools, but it’s hard—I love tools. They’re neat, and I love to play. And, I may think the best design requires complex branching and pretty high-fidelity graphics, but we don’t have the tools or the time for that.
It’s a constant juggling act—what would be the best design for the learner + what we have the time and/or capability to create + what I’d like to try as a designer + what the sponsor wants + what will work in the learner’s environment. The tool is a piece of the act, but it isn’t the whole show. If PowerPoint will work, then use PowerPoint. If an interactive PDF will work, then use it. I don’t think I’ll ever lose my tool snobbery, but I need to put it aside at times. I need to find a convenient place to put it though.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
I never have much confidence that I'll get much from a keynote session. It seems like the speakers talk in absolutes--lots of Big T statements. I guess we don't want to listen to a bunch of qualifiers (in which case, I would stink as a keynote speaker), so speakers tend to take a strong stand and speak with authority as though we should agree with everything. It's scary when I see ideas or models taken as wholesale truth and blindly absorbed and followed--whether it be keynote speaking or ADDIE. Who is conveying this information? Are their statements supported or just opinions? What emotions are they trying to invoke to move you toward action? Do you really agree, or are they just a charasmatic smooth talker? It's easy to get wrapped up in charisma--I do it too. At some point, during or after, just think please.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
I have several thoughts on what I'm taking away from the conference, but this was a major "Ah-ha!" from the solitary drive yesterday. Between Wednesday's Breakfast Byte ("The Art and Science of Storyboarding") and session 506 ("Leadership Techniques to Enable Subject Matter Expert Collaboration" with Jon Aleckson), I've been contemplating how I work with SMEs and other stakeholders. In the storyboarding session, we discussed how we handle SME storyboard review. I mentioned that I've stopped having SMEs look at storyboards. I let them focus on the content, and all the other stuff in my storyboard docs get in the way of the content. Someone asked me, "Aren't they surprised when they see the course?" Well, yes and no. On a recent project, I was working on an eLeanring course and subsequent instructor-led course with the same SMEs. After they signed off on the content for the eLearning, I took it and ran with it with my development team. I was continuing to meet with them on the ILT, so I kept them updated on what we were doing. So, they weren't totally surprised at the end result.
I think what made a difference was with this SME group, we shared a good deal of mutual respect. Until the 506 session, I never really articulated it that way. I just felt my SMEs trusted me. I had worked with one SME before on another project, and I think he was able to understand what I brought to the project as an ID. I'm not sure if it was his attitude/confidence in me that affected the other SMEs, but it made the project go much more smoothly. I have to think on this more and try to determine what I'm doing on projects to encourage this mutual respect. It wasn't always like that for me--I've had some projects where the SMEs and sponsors have been headstrong, showing very little respect to my professional ability and dictating how, in their minds, it should be done. I've had much better experiences recently, so I want to ponder if I've changed my approach (subconsciously) or if maybe my SMEs are getting nicer. If I figure something out, I'll be sure to post it.