Tag: training

Basic Instructional Design Process for Non-Instructional Designers

I’m active in the instructional design subreddit (/r/instructionaldesign). Someone without an instructional design background posted this question about how to design training for volunteers.

Simple background is that I work for a large church with multiple campuses and an extensive volunteer base. Over the years as technology has developed, especially in the production realm, it’s become more and more difficult to adequately bring volunteers up to speed. Most of the roles in the production side are “volunteer” versions of professional jobs and while people espouse the love of volunteering, they also expect professional results.

My job, as one of a handful of professionals serving in staff (production systems engineer), the task lies with me to train the volunteers (and other staff) in how to get the best results. We have very sophisticated audio, video and lighting systems, so the ability to produce good results ends up in the hands of the volunteers each weekend.

We have recently begun a process of organizing the training tasks for the whole church in a way we can efficiently deliver it across time and distance, in hopes we can bring our knowledge base up to meet the challenges of continuing to grow and launch new churches.

I’m going to parse through all the links I can find on this sub, but if you have any specific resources or advise, I’d appreciate any help you might offer.

TL;DR Volunteers need to be trained and I’m the technical guy so they’re all looking to me to organize the process.

-sosaudio at https://www.reddit.com/r/instructionaldesign/comments/94knba/training_volunteersaccidental_id/
Basic Instructional Design Process for Non-Instructional Designers

Backwards Design

In this situation, here’s a basic outline of what I’d do. (Note that my limited understanding of the tasks means my examples may not be 100% accurate.) This process is partly based on “backwards design”: figure out your end goal first, then work backwards to get there.

The Design Process

  1. Task List: Identify all the tasks that need to be done in detail. Not just “audio,” but a list of the subtasks within that. The more detailed you are with the goals, the easier the rest of this process will be.
  2. Learn With Support, Not Practice: Once you have your list, look at which things are tasks people can reasonably be expected to do without practice. Those tasks are ones where your focus should be on providing documentation and checklists to help them remember. This is especially true for things people will only do a few times a year (which may be most of them, if volunteers aren’t doing it every week.) This list will hopefully be pretty long, so you’re mostly focusing on writing up clear checklists of procedures. That’s initially time consuming, but in the long run it will be more efficient because you can reuse your documentation over and over.
  3. Learn With Practice: Looking at that list of tasks, which ones are things people will have to practice in order to get them right? Those are the ones where you should focus on training.
  4. Practice Activities: How can you have people practice those tasks, maybe in multiple ways?
    • Maybe you give them a paper handout with the sound board and ask them to physically touch or mark what they should adjust for different situations.
    • Maybe you have them listen to sound with something adjusted incorrectly and have them try to figure out what’s wrong.
    • Maybe you have them adjust the sound board and see what changes. Think about a couple of ways you can do it.
      Note that of my examples above, #1 and #2 can be done by a whole group of people at the same time, rather than each person getting a chance at the sound board. They probably need that eventually, but try to be creative about things you can do to train multiple people at once to be more efficient with your time.
  5. Information: Now that you have a plan for practice exercises, figure out what information they need to be able to do those practice activities. If they are troubleshooting what’s wrong by listening to audio, then they need to know the channels and knobs and what they do. They need some basic terminology so they can understand what you’re talking about. You can probably find some of this content online, although you’ll probably have to adapt it for what is most important.
  6. Organize: Organize the content in terms of tasks rather than functions. That is, don’t try to just tell them what everything on the sound board does from left to right. Tell them: This is how you set it up for a normal Sunday morning service. This is how you adjust it for special music etc.
  7. Pilot: Try out your training with a small group of volunteers. Ask them what went well and what was still confusing. Determine if you met your goals. Adjust your training for the next round based on that feedback.
  8. Follow up: You may discover that you need some follow up or refresher training. Maybe the initial training should only focus on the normal Sunday morning service, but you have later training for special events or musicians or the annual Christmas pageant.

Apply This Process

While this example is specific to a particular situation, this basic process can be applied to many situations. This is obviously simplified, and more could be done. I don’t have much here for feedback and evaluation, for example.

This process works though, and it’s probably good enough to get started. When I asked the original poster for permission to use his question in a blog post, he replied,

Absolutely! The information you gave me has been monumental in getting this project rolling. I’m sure lots of others will be helped with your post.


ID and eLearning Links (12/3/17)

  • This is the link I send people to debunk the blanket claims about “people forget X% after Y time.” The reality is that how much people forget depends on who your audience is, what they’re learning, and how you train them.

    tags:training instructionaldesign research myth

    • The amount a learner will forget varies depending on many things. We as learning professionals will be more effective if we make decisions based on a deep understanding of how to minimize forgetting and enhance remembering.

    • To be specific, when we hear statements like, “People will forget 60% of what they learned within 7 days,” we should ignore such advice and instead reflect on our own superiority and good looks until we are decidedly pleased with ourselves.

    • Many of the experiments reviewed in this report showed clearly that learning methods matter. For example, in the Bahrick 1979 study, the best learning methods produced an average forgetting score of -29% forgetting, whereas the worst learning methods produced forgetting at 47%, a swing of 76% points.

  • Mini-scenarios and branching scenarios provide better assessment than traditional multiple choice, but this provides some other options for deeper assessment that can still be scored by a computer.

    tags:assessment scenario e-learning instructionaldesign feedback

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Instructional Design and E-Learning Links

Book Review: Training Design Basics by Saul Carliner

Saul Carliner’s second edition of Training Design Basics is written for people who are brand new to the field and are creating their first training program. This is a great book for those who are just getting started with training. People switching careers into training or instructional design from another field would also find a wealth of information. Training managers who don’t come from a training background but want to understand it better would benefit, as would project managers who are looking for what to include in their task lists and how to estimate time and cost.

This book is heavy on the practical, day-to-day considerations of creating training. It’s filled with little notes on the details that you might not think about if you’ve never done this before: what to include on title slides and prefaces, how to choose fonts and font sizes for online and printed content, leaving larger margins on one side of the page for printing bound materials, and marketing your course. The tips all feel very authentic and based on lessons learned by actual practitioner. For example, there’s a suggestion to put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door of a conference room when you’re recording audio. Carliner also recommends waiting a day before responding to reviewer feedback so you have time to plan and “an opportunity to calm down should any comment raise your blood pressure.” I know some more experienced instructional designers who might do well to follow that last bit of advice.

The book is organized to clearly follow the process of creating a training program from start to finish:

  1. Basics of Design (including ADDIE and adult learning principles)
  2. Planning (including estimating schedule and cost)
  3. Analysis (what he calls “Information Needed to Start a Project”)
  4. Objectives
  5. Organizing Content
  6. Choosing an Instructional Strategy
  7. Developing Materials
  8. Preparing and Producing Materials
  9. Quality Checks
  10. Administration

Every chapter ends with a worksheet or checklist you can complete to apply the content of that chapter. Most of the time, the process described in detail is for a “platinum” project with high complexity and impact (and correspondingly high resource investment). When you’re working on lower level “silver” and “bronze” projects, Carliner explains how to adapt the process and what shortcuts you can take.

The first edition of this book focused on classroom training. One of the major updates in this second edition is the addition of elearning, both self-paced (which he calls “self-study”) and virtual instructor-led training. There were times where I felt a little like the elearning material was “tacked on” as an afterthought, but the foundations of everything are fairly solid. Because this is a book on basics, the underlying assumption seems to be that elearning is mostly linear and generally suited for lower level training. If you’re just getting started with elearning, this is a good place to begin, but don’t stop here. There’s a whole world of more immersive and engaging elearning out there, so plan to keep reading more books and recognize that this is just a launching point.

If you’re completely focused on elearning and don’t do any classroom training, you’ll be able to skip some sections of this book that aren’t relevant (or vice versa if you only do classroom training). Likewise, if you’ve been working as a training specialist or instructional designer for many years, you’ll find that much of this is review for you. Even with my 10+ years of experience both in classroom training and instructional design, I still picked up a few new things though. For example, I will be using Carliner’s calculations of “fudge factor” or contingency for time estimates based on the level of uncertainty. This is a good book for filling in the gaps in your skills if you are an accidental instructional designer or trainer who doesn’t have formal education in training design. This isn’t the book if you want the theory and research behind all these decisions; it’s a step-by-step how-to guide for creating your first training.

I was interested in reading this book because I know many readers of my blog are new to instructional design or are hoping to make a career change. If you’re one of those readers, this book is an excellent choice for practical tips on Training Design Basics.

ID and E-Learning Links (1/17/16)

  • This assumes the training actually has an effect on behavior (and let’s be honest–it doesn’t always), but this is a good breakdown of how training someone to be better at their job has a great ROI

    tags:training ROI

  • Lengthy criticism of growth mindset, looking at both Dweck’s research and the way it is misinterpreted and applied in educational policy

    tags:growthmindset education research

    • To a certain extent, I feel the growth mindset is the equivalent of putting a penguin next to an eagle and inviting them to both take off. When the eagle is a speck in the sky, the observer then tells the penguin that the only reason it isn’t also flying is that it isn’t putting enough effort in. If only it flaps its wings harder, it’ll be chasing the eagle in no time.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

No, I Won’t “Tweak” Your PowerPoint Slides

I got a call from a prospective client. She and I spoke briefly once when she was looking for a pool of instructional designers to call on for specific projects, but we haven’t worked together yet. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’s never worked with any instructional designers before.

“Hi, Christy, it’s Lynn. I need some help finishing up an e-learning course. The PowerPoint slides just need to be tweaked—editing the onscreen text, adding some animation, prepping the script for voice over recording, and syncing everything together. Are you available?”

“Your timing is good, Lynn. I’m just wrapping up some other projects and have some time now. Tell me some more about this project.”

“It’s about 200 slides. Here, let me email them to you now so you can take a look. The content is basically finished, and it just needs some polish. Can you do that?”

“OK, I’m looking over the slides now.” Some parts of the presentation have good visuals, but large sections are text obviously copied word-for-word from the employee handbook. Often, the same text is in the voice over notes as on screen. The slides contain no practice activities or assessments. “Is this a face-to-face course that you want to convert to online?” I ask.

Dense text on a slide describing benefits. No amount of "tweaking" will make this much text effective e-learning.
No amount of “tweaking” will make this effective e-learning.

She responds, “Yes, this used to be taught in a classroom. It’s part of the new employee orientation. We have a lot of new employees coming in, and we don’t always have a trainer available. Frankly, some of the trainers are better than others. We want to make sure everyone has the same experience. I had the best trainer write the script out in the slide notes for the narration so it would be just like what he teaches in class.”

“Well, I could do proofreading and animation to just tweak the slides, but I’m not sure that would be really effective. I don’t know what your budget is, but I think this course could benefit from some actual analysis and instructional design.”

“What do you mean by ‘actual analysis and instructional design’?”

“As an instructional designer, I don’t usually do projects where I’m just brought on at the end to tweak slides. I’m typically brought on board shortly after a client decides, ‘We need a course!’ Starting right from the beginning, I work with you to analyze the need, design the instruction, develop the multimedia, and manage the project until launch. I do a kick-off call with you to find out your needs. We talk about what business problem we’re trying to solve; needing a course isn’t a true business problem, so I work to uncover WHY you decided you need a course. For example, for an orientation like this, I’d want to know what’s working and not working in your current orientation. What do people leave orientation and still have problems with? What questions keep coming up over and over to HR?”

Lynn replies, “There are tons of questions with the benefits plan. People just don’t understand it, even after they read the handbook. HR ends up spending a lot of time walking people through all the options.”

“If people don’t understand it right now from reading the handbook, do you think they’ll understand it any better by having someone read it to them?”

“Hmm. I guess not.”

“Right now, you would probably get about the same results from having your new employees read the handbook on their own and take a quiz afterward. The slides are basically a pretty version of your handbook. Reading the handbook and taking a quiz wouldn’t only be cheaper to develop; it would be faster for employees to complete. People read faster than they can listen to voice over, so they can consume the same amount of content in less time by reading the document rather than watching and listening to the same thing online.”

“I see your point. But we don’t really have the budget to do a course from scratch.”

“You know, you probably will spend more upfront to do analysis and develop a more effective course. However, the final orientation would probably be half its current length because it would be focused on what employees need on day one to get started. That means employees would spend less time in orientation and be ready to do real work faster. We could also focus on the problems you really need to solve. If we can reduce the number of questions and problems HR has to deal with, we can free them up to do other work. That can save your company money in the long run even though the initial costs are higher.”

“You know, I might be able to justify that. Cutting down the time for new employees to get up and running is a big deal right now, so if we can help with that, I might be able to find some more budget. I need to talk to HR some more to find out if they have any other issues with new employees. I really thought instructional designers just did a little multimedia work at the end of the process. I didn’t realize you did so much.”

“Instructional design is more about being a partner to help you solve problems than just making slides pretty. You asked me to be a handyman and touch up some peeling paint, but I’m really an architect who can design you a house that better meets your needs.”

“Let me work on the budget and get back to you in a few days so we can talk about scope, OK? I’m not sure I can get enough to do everything you’d usually design, but maybe we can get something to do more analysis.”

“Sound good. I’ll look forward to hearing from you soon.”

This conversation is fictionalized, but it’s based on several real experiences. How do you handle it when someone asks you to just “tweak the slides”? How do you shift the conversation from just being an order taker to doing real instructional design work?