Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Looking Back on 2010 with ADDIE

By Shelley A. Gable

Though a variety of models guide our instructional design work, I’d argue that ADDIE functions as the basic backbone of the process. Just about every model, trend, and best practice in the field supports one of the phases of ADDIE.

So with this in mind, it seems appropriate to take a look at the articles posted to this blog over the past year and organize them according to how they jive with ADDIE.

A = Analysis (analyze the problem/opportunity and its causes)

Two of this year’s articles primarily address analysis. Rethink Refresher Training suggests that we take time to analyze the cause of performance gaps. eLearning and an Aging Workforce looks at a specific angle of audience analysis.

D = Design (design the solution, create a blueprint)

Anatomy of an eLearning Lesson: Nine Events of Instruction and Anatomy of an eLearning Lesson: Merrill’s First Principles each describe models that guide eLearning lesson design from start to finish. Three more articles focus on specific components of those models:

As organizations continually move toward adopting eLearning and even converting instructor-led training to eLearning, the following articles offer us guidance:

Two more articles offer design-oriented food for thought:

D = Development (develop the solution)

After organizing training content and identifying instructional activities during the design phase, we’re ready to put fingers on keyboard to write the instructional materials that learners touch. A few articles from this year addressed writing:

Of course, it’s the programming we do with eLearning authoring tools that results in a polished, interactive learning product. Below are links to articles that offer programming tips:

I = Implementation (implement the solution)

Though several articles briefly touched on eLearning implementation and change management this year, only one addressed it as a focal point: eLearning as Part of a Change Management Effort.

E = Evaluation (measure the solution’s effectiveness)

A post-training evaluation effort allows us to answer the question – did it work? Here are links to articles that address evaluation methodologies:

More to come...

At a glance, we seem to address the design part of the process most frequently on this site. As we move into 2011, we’ll continue to share ideas regarding the field’s theories, models, trends, and best practices. And of course, if there are topics that you’re especially interested in seeing, we’re always open to suggestions!

Happy new year!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Brainstorming for eLearning: Rules of Brainstorming

By Shelley A. Gable

We know that some of the most effective training follows a problem-centered approach, engages learners, is abundant with practice and coaching, and simulates the work environment as closely as possible.

Easier said than done, right?

Let’s be honest – it’s challenging to create training like that (especially with the time constraints most of us work within!). If it were easy, we wouldn’t have so much eLearning with the page-turner design. So how do we do better?

How about rounding up some colleagues for a brainstorming session?

Brainstorming is fun, and most people are flattered when asked to share their expertise, so getting a few peers together to exchange ideas for an hour may be easier than you’d expect.

Once you’ve gathered your brainstorming team, briefly explain the goals and audience for your project. Don’t linger too much on resource limitations at this point – you can revisit that later. And be sure to explain what you’re hoping to gain from the brainstorming session. For example, are you looking for ways to make your audience care about compliance regulations? Or perhaps you’re trying to apply a problem-centered design to a lesson that’s currently a bullet point-driven lecture. Whatever the case, provide your team with a focus.

Then, introduce them to the rules of brainstorming. In this context, rules aren’t intended to inhibit...instead, they help ensure that ideas flow freely.

Brainstorming Rule #1: Withhold judgment.
Don’t silence an idea because you initially think of more drawbacks than advantages to doing it. And similarly, resist the temptation to point out flaws in others’ ideas. You can nit-pick at them later. But during the brainstorming session, encourage everyone to tell you everything they think of.

Brainstorming Rule #2: Quantity, quantity, quantity.
The more ideas you have on the table, the more likely you are to come across a few gems. Focusing on rapid-fire quantity can also have the side effect of not allowing time for premature judgment. To help ensure variety, encourage ideas from everyone involved. Even repetition is okay – a repeat idea presented in a slightly different way could take you to places that the original didn’t.

Brainstorming Rule #3: Get crazy.
In a brainstorming session, no idea is unrealistic. Tell the team that you want – even expect – wild, off-the-wall ideas. To make good on this rule, be sure to record every idea suggested. Even if it seems ridiculous. Even if it was mentioned as a joke. After all, you never know when a far-fetched idea will inspire a feasible yet clever suggestion for someone else.

Brainstorming Rule #4: Build.
Encourage the team to build on one another’s ideas or find ways to combine ideas. This technique can become especially handy if the group slips into an idea lull. Grab an idea or two that jump out at you and suggest that the team explore them further. How would they approach it? Pose “what if” questions. Similarly, you might choose a seemingly unrealistic idea and ask for suggestions on how to carry it out if you had total freedom with your project.

Too often, we try to conquer the world on our own. Though I like to generate ideas independently when I first begin a new project, some of my best lesson designs were inspired by conversations where my peers allowed me to pick their brains for a while.

Have you found brainstorming helpful? It’d be great to see some success stories in the comments following this post. Additional brainstorming tips are welcome too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Develop Yourself in Addition to Training

By Shelley A. Gable

While we work diligently to develop learning experiences that help our clients meet their business goals, we must also engage in continuous learning ourselves. What types of learning experiences do you pursue? How do you keep up on trends and generate new ideas?

Below are five professional development opportunities to consider for yourself…

--1-- Pursue Stretch Assignments
Stretch assignments involve taking on a project that requires using new skills or exercising existing skills in new ways. For instance, if you’re interested in change management but haven’t had a chance to apply that knowledge, you might offer to help shape your client’s change strategy as part of your next training project.

--2-- Attend Events
Attending national conferences hosted by professional associations can be informative and inspiring. Area events by local chapters can have a similar effect. Even if the topic of a local program isn’t right up your alley, the conversations you have with industry peers can be a helpful source of ideas. Don’t have many events available in your area? Check out live webinars, too.

A few organizations I pay attention to include the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD), International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), and the eLearning Guild.

--3-- Engage in Online Networking
Online networks offer an outlet for following industry trends and generating discussion around your areas of interest. Get links to recent articles from training professionals and organizations on Twitter. Participate in #lrnchat on Twitter on Thursdays for a lively exchange of ideas with others engaged in the field. Pose questions on relevant LinkedIn discussion groups to get advice for your training projects.

--4-- Skim the Blogosphere
The fact that you’re here may be a sign that you’re doing this already. Regularly visiting a handful of training-related blogs is an efficient way to keep up on trends by seeing what people are writing about. Some bloggers share examples of their work, allowing you to glean ideas for your own projects.

Consider using an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed to subscribe to several blogs. An RSS feed posts headlines and short summaries of articles from several blogs on a single page, so you can easily skim headlines like you would in a magazine. A few popular RSS readers include Feedly (my favorite), Google Reader, and My Yahoo (of course, there’s many more!).

--5-- Keep Up with Research
While informal exchanges with others in the field can be good for generating ideas, published research offers insight on what works. Data-driven research findings confirm the extent that models, theories, and techniques work in a variety of situations. Published research in the field can help us be confident that we’re recommending evidence-based practices to our clients.

A few relevant journals include Performance Improvement Journal, Journal of Workplace Learning, and Human Resource Development Quarterly. Of course, many others exist too. To keep up with them, you can subscribe to their alerts or access the journals at a local university.

Please add to the list!
Which organizations’ events do you attend? What journals do you read? Which RSS reader do you prefer? Are there other professional development opportunities you regularly pursue? Please, leave a comment and share your suggestions.