instructional design tools

Epic recruiting and what you can learn from Mark Cuban

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it―lure a top prospect to your organization while offering him/ her less money than what they are currently making all the while helping your organization cut back on the number of days critical positions remain open.  Sound like Mission Impossible right?  Not for Mark Cuban and his Dallas Mavericks, and you my instructional designer friend can employ a similar tactic to improve the performance of your HR team.

global_domination.png

I don’t often write about recruiting practices, but I bumped into this clip earlier this week and find its use ingenious and very clever on the part of the Mavs.  Want to know the best part?  Say your organization is struggling to attract the type of hires it wants or worse, is losing out on these candidates to your competitors- you can storyboard a clip like this, fire up Camtasia, and build a short, customizable, and re-usable recruiting asset for your HR team!  And don’t limit yourself to creating a video clip either, many of you possess tools like Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, Lectora Inspire or any of a number of e-learning authoring tools out on the market.  Many of these tools can be used to very quickly build an asset like this, and one your company’s HR team should be able to measure the return on. 

Why build something like this you may be asking yourself?  And I’m going to highlight for you one of Mark’s lessons in business here:

“What I do know, at least what I think I have learned from my experiences in business is that when there is a rush for everyone to do the same thing, it becomes more difficult to do. Not easier.  Harder.  It also means that as other teams follow their lead, it creates opportunities for those who have followed a different path.” 
-Mark Cuban

And there you have it- as the labor market continues to improve, companies will have to adapt to greater competition for high-potential candidates. They will have to find ways to distinguish themselves, to stand out from the crowd.  In your instructional designer role, and with the tools at your disposal―you can make a huge contribution to your HR organization’s efforts.

 

Alex Santos

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 people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

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

 

One Tin Can E-learning designers shouldn’t kick down the road

Getting started with the Tin Can API, Part 1

New E-learning development standard.

The e-learning development standard SCORM, or Sharable Content Object Reference Model, is nearing the end of its useful life. Many in the e-learning development community, from designers to trainers alike, would agree it is way past its prime.   In case you haven’t heard, its replacement – the Tin Can API, is here and slowly but surely making its way into the marketplace.  If you’d like to learn more about the API and the changes it brings with it, there’s no better explanation in my book than this short clip by Tim Martin from Rustici software.   

What does this mean for your training courses, and how can you leverage the Tin Can API for the benefit of your end users?  Additionally, what should you be doing now to prepare?  I’d like to explore these questions with you in a series of posts, and encourage you to chime in on the discussion. 

Built on the philosophy that learning is taking place everywhere, and not simply through an active browser session inside of your learning management system you can now track all types of learning and development activities.  Keep in mind that simply tracking learning activities is not in and of itself evidence of improved performance due to the use of your learning assets.  The Tin Can API will however allow you to track all kinds of learning activities from reading a book to highlighting the sentence on your Kindle and attending an industry conference. These are all activities that due to SCORM’s limitations, you could not easily track.

There are several things that you can be doing out here for this monumental change first and foremost is educating yourself.  I’m a very tactile learner, and require engaging and tinkering with things in order to learn. One of the things you can do is to open up a learning record store and learning about all of the statements that you will be able to track in the cloud.  My recommendation is to checkout the Wax LRS by SaLTBOX.  Open up and account for yourself, it is currently free.  Having an account will allow you to test learning experiences from your own experiences in an actual cloud-based learning record store.  Additionally, if you have old courses are lessons created using articulate storyline you can republish these activities for the tin can API. Again this is simply for testing purposes, so that you can gain experience into working with tin can statements.

From a more strategic vantage point, say you’re a Director of Training, instructional designer, or Manager of Learning and Development in your organization or institution of higher learning. Odds are that many of the learning and development opportunities you’ve been providing your clients have not been tracked via your LMS using SCORM.  Thanks to the Tin Can API you can now begin defining statements of achievement for all of these L&D activities, and brainstorming ways you can track them in a learning record store.  You can learn more about tin can statements from the sites of one of the cloud-based LRS vendors, I have found this one particularly useful.  Additionally, you can experiment with validating your Tin Can statements here.

Steve Flowers over at e-learning heroes also provided me with several very useful sites you may also want to check out if you’re just getting started. 

For "less technical explanations" of Tin Can API in general, here are a few resources. The cartoon sequence is pretty clever.
http://floatlearning.com/2012/11/the-tin-can-api-a-non-technical-analysis/
http://floatlearning.com/tincancartoon/
My explanation and use-case descriptions for senior leadership of my org isn't really that technical but contains org specific contexts and language so it might be tough to follow:
http://androidgogy.com/2012/12/11/tech-people-and-systems/
Kevin Thorn and David Kelly gave a presentation at ASTD's TK13 last week in San Jose. Here's a description of that session and the slides:
http://davidkelly.me/2013/01/what-is-tin-can-and-why-should-i-care-resources-shared-at-astdtk13/

We’ll continue to discuss this topic in future posts, but as the title of this post suggests―I highly recommend for you to begin getting your feet wet with the Tin Can API. 

 

Alex Santos

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 people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

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

 

Correctly Attributing Creative Commons Photos in your E-learning Projects

One consideration when working on any e-learning project that both instructional designers and the subject matter expert (or client) have to decide early on is what look & feel to give a project.  By look and feel, were not just talking about the user interface for the course.  The imagery you use should follow similar design influences to avoid giving the project an amateurish or incoherent look.  For example, when building an e-learning solution for a bank, they made clear to our team that clip art or “anything that looked cartoon-ish” was unacceptable in their culture and should be avoided in the project.  They felt it would diminish the serious of the compliance topic we were going to teach. 

Couple this design consideration with a very little to nonexistent budget for the purchase of stock photography or a dedicated graphic designer and your new project can quickly turn into a nightmare.  One thing you can do to alleviate this constraint is to use imagery distributed under a creative commons license.  In order to do this however, it is important for you to properly follow any attribution guidelines requested by the provider of the image.  This infographic can give you some pretty good best practices to follow when using this type of image. 

Where can you find these images you ask?  Two of my favorite sources are Wikimediacommons.org and creativecommons.org.

 

Alex Santos

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 people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

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

MOOC Lessons for Designers from the Coursera fiasco

Dr. Fatimah Wirth did not have a good week, and many instructional designers rushing into developing a MOOC should take heed.  This relatively new learning platform has the potential to revolutionize and disrupt education as we know it, but it is not without its pitfalls.  A week into the launch of a new course entitled “Fundamentals in Online Education” (ironically), glitches in the course forced her to send out the following message to her more than 40,000 registered students―

E-learning solutions MOOC

"We want all students to have the highest quality learning experience. For this reason, we are temporarily suspending the 'Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application' course in order to make improvements. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause. We will inform you when the course will be reoffered." Read more here.

1.        Instructions have to be crystal clear,

2.       Don’t underestimate technology selection when designing a MOOC,

3.       Select the right technology for the level of collaboration in your class, and test, test, test, and

4.       Once your course development is done, have others field test it and play devil’s advocate with your activities. 

This last lesson is critical, as we designers sometimes fail to predict how learners will interact with a particular technology.  In this case, Dr. Wirth surely thought it a workable exercise to have students place themselves into groups by putting their names on a Google spreadsheet―would you have foreseen students going into said spreadsheet and deleting columns and rows with other students’ names in them?  There are some more concrete examples of what went wrong with this course over at online learning insights, and let’s hope this course is re-launched soon without these glitches.  MOOCs are hot, and they’re here to stay―but designing them will require some new thinking on your part.  I also suggest learning and studying the experiences of trailblazers in this arena such as Dr. Wirth.

Alex Santos

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 people. 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 standards and consistency―Don’t leave home without ‘em

As an instructional designer, it is critical to the success of any e-learning project to nail down some basic design standards prior to your beginning any development work.  A well written and thorough document takes time however, and you will find many clients unwilling to invest in this necessary step.  Whether working solo- and more importantly when designing and developing e-learning in a team environment―I encourage you to fight for the time at the very least to nail down some basics.  Skip this step at your own risk.  Done right, you can literally shave days off the project plan by investing this time up front.  Or, as I tell our clients, “I understand you don’t have the budget to allow us to develop a design document Mr. Client, I believe you will have the time later on to come back and fix all of the inconsistencies in the course that will pop-up.”

There are simply too many variables, interface options, fonts, colors, and other user interface tweaks available in today’s authoring tools to forego this critical step.  You wouldn’t pressure your homebuilder to lay the foundation to your new home before the architect has completed the plans for your home, would you?

Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into skipping this all important step.  To read more about what’s in a solid design document, click here.  

Alex Santos

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 people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

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