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, or via Twitter@collabor8alex.