5 Reasons your business needs a more comprehensive instructional design strategy

Blended Learning Strategy

In the workplace, for instructional design to result in changed behaviors and improved performance, it must be deeply embedded not only in the way we learn, but also in the way we work. The question is, how do we do this systematically? It is an age-old question, and the answer is…one step at a time.

ADDIE

One of the most common and well researched instructional design approaches is the ADDIE Model. ADDIE is an acronym that highlights 5 essential actions required to develop an effective instructional strategy: Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate.

#1 – Analysis reduces the temptation to develop one-size-fits-all learning resources

During analysis, the goal is to identify concepts and skills target audience(s) need to know, as well as discover how and why it matters to the audience. To add greater value, the analysis should be ongoing, documented, collaboratively authored, and updated as relevant information is revealed. In the workplace, we have the advantage of maintaining long-term relationships with team members and business units, therefore the analysis should evolve over time, become more and more detailed, and be readily accessible to various learning facilitators within your organization.

Most of what we need to know, we’ll learn by asking questions? Initially, we may not know the right questions to ask or even the right person to ask the questions. However, the more questions you ask, the more stories you hear. The more stories you hear (from different perspectives), the closer you get to the source of performance challenges, as opposed to just treating the symptoms.

#2 – Design, whether it is graphic design for marketing or instructional design for learning, has the same goal – evoke an emotional response

In the world of corporate training, evoking an emotional response may sound counter intuitive, but it’s not. In his article ‘If Content is King, Context is God‘ Gary Vaynerchuk explains the value of context as it relates to branding. The context is your story. Your story is your brand, values, vision, and strategy. It’s your story, that will resonate with your employees as well as your customers.

In his thought provoking article, “Storytelling that Moves People,” Bronwyn Fryer, communicates the same idea this way, ‘stories are how we remember; we tend to forget lists and bullet points.’ Just as marketing is more effective when it’s creatively designed to tell a story, the same is true of learning. When supporting a team or business unit, if the learning design team doesn’t know your story or doesn’t fully understand how your story fits into the big picture, the instruction designed – will be impotent.

#3 – Develop a library of targeted resources that are fully aligned to your story

Learners are taking charge of their learning experiences by utilizing a variety of open source resources: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), YouTube videos, blogs, etc. While learning and development professionals admire and encourage the initiative of the ‘entrepreneurial learner‘ it’s important that targeted learning resources are developed that clearly reinforce your organization’s unique messaging. Keep in mind that an excellent source of content required to create your most relevant learning resources will be your SMEs and your high performers.

#4 – Consider the consequences of how your LMS implements personalized learning strategies

In his article, Artificial Intelligence Comes to Learning, Zach Posner asks an intriguing question: can you thoroughly analyze, evaluate and create knowledge if you challenge yourself less and less by routinely outsourcing those functions to computer programs? If we allow ourselves to get lazier and lazier about building connections between information, facts, figures, people, and resources – will our creativity ultimately suffer?

The benefits of artificial intelligence are many, but we need to be careful that we don’t stifle creativity in our quest to make it easy to learn. Just as we are discovering the hazards of ‘social media filter bubbles‘, knowledge filter bubbles may produce similar consequences. Provide easy access to a variety of quality online learning resources (i.e. Lynda.com) to strengthen current skills while at the same time, developing new skillsets.

Empower employees by giving them the freedom to choose topics they want to learn that are not specifically aligned to their current role. The 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report estimates that the half-life of a learned skill is approximately 5 years, therefore the goal of a comprehensive learning strategy is not just to meet the current needs of an organization, but also to address future needs – many of which are currently a mystery.

#5 – Evaluation is the life blood of learning strategies

It’s often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. In the absence of open, honest, and continual feedback of your learning strategies, it’s very easy to get in the habit of doing just that. Thorough evaluation demands more than just a survey conducted immediately following a learning experience. Because the majority of learning is the result of blended learning experiences, evaluating training programs should be conducted over a designated time frame in order to measure: the initial reaction (to a specific learning experience), recall of concepts or skills (generally being reinforced by a variety of learning experiences), observed application of concepts or skills (in traditional or novel ways), and ultimately the impact to your business’s bottom line. This feedback loop is critical to designing relevant and engaging learning experiences.

Evaluation takes the design team back full circle. It’s by no means the end of the design process. A combination of formative evaluation (performance tasks, quizzes, or surveys given throughout a learning unit or activity) and summative evaluation (follow up performance assessments or surveys given to evaluate the compound effect of a series of blended learning activities) is required. Consequently, evaluation generally needs to be conducted over a designated period (i.e. quarterly or semi-annually) to provide useful feedback – particularly if the goal is performance enhancement.

The instructional design team will need to take into consideration: feedback from the learners, feedback from those who evaluate the learners’ performance, and reports that quantify the impact of performance on the business’s bottom line. In turn, the feedback needs to be integrated into the design. For example, perhaps in hind sight, now we see that despite our initial analysis, our evaluation results indicate several learning exercises treated the symptoms of the problem, but not the source. If an exercise or an activity results in no significant change in behaviors or performance, it’s back to the drawing board, and the design process continues…

Pleasant Surprise

Recently, we started exploring ways to use our learning management system to facilitate greater collaboration, particularly asynchronous communication. Today I was pleasantly surprised to see that a faculty member had opened a discussion post that inspired feedback from other members. With faculty being so over committed, being open to virtual discussion and collaboration will create so many more opportunities for interaction. It’s only the tip of the iceberg, but imagining the potential is very exciting!!

Modeling as an Instructional Strategy

As my organization transitions to a new learning management system (Desire2Learn), I keep trying to figure out ways to help acclimate the faculty I support to the new platform. The more I can model the functionality of various features in the section designated for discipline resources, the more opportunities the faculty will have to experience the added value, rather than be “sold” on the added value.

Staff Development Workshop Update 3/19 – 3/24

Working on an online version of a face to face course can really help with fine tuning the details of both! I find myself getting realizations about the clarity of my explanations and expectations all the time. In other words, I don’t think my planning for the face to face workshop would be as well thought out without the things I’ve discovered when trying to make my expectations clear in my online copy. At this point, I’m thinking about some requirement of the practicum just about all the time that I am not working. I go to sleep with ideas in my head and I wake up with ideas! It’s hard to say exactly how much time I’m investing but at least 1-1/2 hours each day goes to some aspect of workshop development. I just keep telling myself: it will all be over in May!

 

 

Faculty Development Workshop Update (3/5 – 3/19)

At this point, I am working on the resources for my online instruction: creating screencasts and presentations. Recordings are generally a challenge for me because I tend to have issues maintaining consistent voice tone throughout an entire presentation. I am in the process now of “tweaking” my scripts which means I repeat them over and over trying to effectively communicate the message using as few words & images as possible. I spend an hour or more daily working on some aspect of this workshop and I still feel like there is so much left for me to do!

Faculty Development Workshop Update (2/27-3/4)

Still “tweaking” my lesson plans. I started working on the online instructional tutorial component of my practicum. It has really helped me to narrow my focus and clarify objectives. When you are posting instructions online, you tend to want to be as concise as possible. Going through the process of translating my “face to face” workshop plans to my online tutorial is helping me because I have to choose my words carefully and be very clear about what I expect from students. Not a day goes by that I don’t spend at least an hour reviewing my plans. One of my challenges is to reduce the time committment for the faculty so practically speaking being able to link to online resources will provide additional instruction even for the “face to face” workshop participants.

Technology Specialist – weekly status update

At this point, I am spending approximately 2 hours a day (non-consecutive time)  crystallizing my thoughts on the staff development workshop and documenting my instructional plan. Like a puzzle, it is all coming together. Preparing instructional strategies directed toward the adult learner has been somewhat challenging because my previous practical experience involved developing lesson plans for middle school students.