How the Food Network can make you a better e-learning designer

I admit, I'm addicted to watching the Food Network parade celebrity chefs in to make amazing dishes, all the while giving step-by-step instructions on how you too can accomplish the same. There is a little bit to their magic that annoys me, and resonates with me as a learning professional. Recently I've begun using this little annoyance as a teaching tool with some of our more inexperienced clients with great success- and you can too!

You see, it annoys me that many of these chefs get to their "kitchens" in their little studios and all of the ingredients for their dishes are already measured, poured, or prepped for them into these cute little dishes just waiting for them to crank out their culinary masterpieces. That's not how it happens in the real world kids, and yes- I know it's all in the interest of time yada, yada, yada.

The design and development of e-learning course is very much like the preparation and cooking of a culinary masterpiece. Teaching strategies have to be created, storyboards and rough sketches developed, and multimedia assets like animations, audio files, and videos have to be built in order to include them in e-learning lessons. Much like a culinary masterpiece, except in most projects clients come to the table with rough ideas as to what the end product will teach and how.

Clients rarely have an accurate estimate of how long it will take to develop multimedia assets for inclusion in their courseware, and the rise of so many powerful rapid e-learning authoring tools promote the idea that courses can be built “in no time flat.” Much of the value in custom courseware development is added to the course during the development of custom graphics, voice narrations, animations, and videos- not in the purchase of a couple of stock photography images. finding new, innovative, and interactive ways for your learners to engage with content is how your course will distinguish itself from a lot of the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) stuff that’s out there.

Next time you find yourself planning a project with a client, rather than using percentages of the project complete, or phases in your instructional design and development process as milestones- use completion of the development of multimedia assets as milestones. This will give your client a much more refined view of how long each of the ingredients in their e-learning masterpiece is going to take to build. If they are budget-constrained, this will also help as they can elect to go with cheaper-to-develop training strategies during the planning process of the project.


Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop and train their employees and/ or customers. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.

To engage learners, make it fun!

One of the hardest things we teach our clients is that just because we are instructional designers, doesn't mean we're bound to deliver training within the confines of a "course". While many of us were trained to use all of the tools available to us that came with our instructional designers toolbox (job aids, wikis, video clips, etc.), clients assume everything we write for them will be in a course format. 

Even before the current trend to gamify learning became mainstream, every instructional model that I know of preaches that you must gain your learners attention- and then keep it. In other words, build boring training and your learners will check out even before finishing to read the bulleted list of 48 objectives for your course. 

Technology is making it easier and easier to deliver learning and instruction in more ways than ever before. Take something as exciting as copyright law. Pun intended. I know what you're thinking, sounds about as fun as passing a kidney stone, yet Duke University took on the challenge of teaching this topic in a fun and unique way and they ought to be recognized for doing so. 

The University developed a comic book which translates copyright law into an exciting and visual story, complete with a heroine who has to navigate IP law. I highly recommend you all click here and download a copy of this comic book as a sample of how to teach boring topic in a new and more interesting way. 

How can you use this example in your work? Very easily, think of all of the training courses or programs that you are tasked with developing. Think of all that exciting sales and compliance training courses, or how about information security. Rather than jumping into PowerPoint or Captivate with your favorite template, can you instead write a story demonstrating the use of the concepts you have to teach and then leverage a graphic designer- maybe one board out of his or her wits in your marketing or PR department, and have them animate your story.

Stop flexing your course building muscles, and build up your storytelling brain cells by leveraging a non-traditional delivery format. You'll find you may achieve a greater level of engagement in the material from your learners, and you may actually enjoy the process of constructing something like what Duke University has done here.
 


Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop and train their employees and/ or customers. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.

Is IBM onto something here with this HR tactic?

Just read this piece in Computerworld, and I can totally sympathize with both parties on this one. Having facilitated or developed e-learning courses that have trained thousands of employees, only to have those employees resign and take their newly acquired skills elsewhere- I wouldn't be surprised if more employers didn't go this route.

Big Blue is mandating a small percentage of its employees undergo training, but with a twist. Employees that are involuntarily enrolled in the program will have their base salaries docked by 10%. Quite significant when you consider the training program lasts six months.

While employees may see the pay cut as unfair, the salary reduction is viewed by management as a form of employee "co-investment" in training, and as a better alternative to laying off and hiring employees with the latest skills. 

Predictably many of the affected employees feel IBM is merely making their lives miserable in order to entice them to quit, rather than going through the process of having to fire all them. 

What do you think? Is training losing its luster as a perk, and will more employees in the near future be forced to "co-invest" in their re-skilling?

I'd love to know your thoughts on this one. 

Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy based in Miami, FL. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop and train their employees and/ or customers. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.

E-learning industry pros- your voice is needed!

There is an important exchange going on at MAKINGBETTER, and if you are in the e-learning industry- an important decision on standardization has to be made very soon that could impact the field for the next couple of decades. I strongly suggest you head over to Aaron's site, grab a cup of joe (it's not a short read), and chime in. Let your voice be heard. 

I for one tend to agree with Aaron's view that breaking-up the xAPI seems a better and more flexible course to take at this time (even if it is the more difficult, time & labor-intensive route). The rewards for doing so appear to outweigh the risks associated with keeping the standard one large and inflexible doc. 

Please click here and leave your thoughts in the comments section of the post.

Thanks,

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The e-learning industry is booming, what's that mean for instructional designers (IDs)?

According to this piece by Forbes, the e-learning industry is poised for a breakout $107 Billion 2015! And that's with a capital B. So, what's all that success spell for instructional designers?

I've never been more optimistic about the prospects for our profession. There are some interesting clues as to what all this success means for IDs currently in the field, and those exploring whether to jump into it. Consider the following statement by Mike Maples from Floodgate when speaking about the state of the industry:

I think e-learning is still very compelling but very, very crowded. Companies involved with e-learning will struggle unless they have a truly disruptive idea and a structural advantage.
— Mike Maples
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Now I ask you, who better to drive said innovation and help subject matter experts develop that truly disruptive idea for how to teach something in a new way leveraging today's technological advances than instructional designers? 

Of note as well is that the article mentions many sites developing online learning for people to develop their own skills such as Lynda.com and General Assembly; the "consumer online learning space". Not much is mentioned about how many organizations are struggling to figure out how to turn this new world of online learning into a competitive advantage in how they develop their in-house talent. This "corporate online learning space" is a huge area of opportunity for IDs. 

There is so much innovation in this space that opportunities for instructional designers who continue to develop their skill sets will continue to abound. The online learning industry is far from a zero sum game, the pie is already large and growing. If you're not getting your share, you've really got no one else to blame but yourself.

What other opportunities for the online learning industry do you see that could lead to even greater growth rate than what was forecast in the Forbes piece? 


Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop and train their employees and/ or customers. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.