Recently, I was tasked to support the implementation of a ISD learning performance system. At first I was interested in the learning the new software but now that I have had time to play with it and use it I don’t really see the advantage to it. There are several applications out there that will support the development of instructional design and actually point the user in the right direction. But you still have to understand the analysis, design, and development of the course development process. The ISD personnel still have those conversations with the SME. They still collaborate with the course managers and work independently to structure the content as well as the assessments that need to be used to develop training. The message we received was that the software would help us streamline the ISD process and make our product more consistent. Well, from a document orgranization point of view I would have to say , Yes. But, if my organization is looking to cut down on the time it takes to fully develop the course content immediately, then No.
The program allows the developer to create an analysis, objectives, and program flow online to be linked to each other and produce a nice clean course. The problem we have is that our job analysis is old, course managers create objectives based on the task matrix and the program is simply an outline of the course. So really not much instructional development goes into creating our courses its merely a form of revision with a good job of updating references. The implementation of this new software is to support the production side of course development but we are not a production facility. I think in the proper environment a LPSS or EPSS tool would benefit a training staff lacking in ISD experience or personnel, but not a staff that has both. I did not mention the software by name for a particular reason but if you want to know more about similar applications do a search for ‘learning performance support systems and instructional design”.
What is the difference? In the book “Distance Education, A System’s View” co-authored by Moore and Kearsley, we learn about the systems required to facilitate a distance education experience. In distance education the learner is physically at a distant from the learning environment and the instructor. Thus, the use of distance education in the classroom is totally opposite of what eLearning courses are developed for. In distance education the magic is in the instructional facilitation and the creativeness of the learning institution to create that classroom feeling online. Social presence is one of the key elements that makes the learning transfer very successful. Teaching presence and cognitive presence being the other two. Without these elements then the learning experience becomes a struggle throughout the duration of the course. The technology helps to enhance this phenomena but it is still up to the instructor to utilize all the available tools to conduct a successful class.
In eLearning the learning is self-directed and learner centric. In that the individual wanting to learn more on a particular subject/topic will take it upon themselves to do. Then eLearning becomes a viable tool for this type of learner but the development of the course is very critical in that the delivery must create a learning environment within the technology. There is no facilitation and there is no synchronous communication with the instructor or classmates. The key in eLearning is that the course needs to be built (developed) in such a way that the technology drives the learner to the knowledge and guides him through the learning process. There is distance and there is technology but there is no faciliation to drive the learning. That is the major difference in distance education and eLearning in the aspect of using technology to enhance online learning. I am sure there some arguments for both but I favor the distance education platform more because of the enhancement the technology can bring into the classroom. Like integrating Web 2.0 tools to promote interaction and engagement in a more creative manner.
I spent close to 20 years in the semiconductor industry working for several competitive memory chip makers and for the world’ largest chip maker. First as a technical operator of the highly engineered equipment that produced the chips then becoming an advanced level equipment engineering technician responsible for leading small dynamic teams in maintaining the availability of these engineering systems. My background consisted of operations, process development, equipment engineering and training. I chose to pursue the Training and Development path because of my background in training, design, development, and technology. What I found out about my less traveled road was that I had a tremendous wealth of knowledge in the industry and enjoyed building successful teams to perform at a high level. As the years passed in the semiconductor industry I became very aware of my background experience and how important it would become for me to utilize that experience to my advantage. I have been asked more than once how I got into Instructional Design from the manufacturing world of semiconductors.
Well, it wasn’t until I was in my first year of graduate school at the University of New Mexico that I could truthfully answer that question with some sense of validity. I had become a self-directed learner and had taken my experience and turned it into a potential career in Training and Development. With the many options that were afforded to me with at my last employer I saw that my interest and career laid in building learning programs for adult learners. As I developed in my career with Intel Corp. I pursued opportunities that would help me learn a new program or some new technology. The combination of these two attributes allowed me the experiences that I would need to complete my degree in Instructional Technology which would include several courses in adult learning and design. So how does all this tie into the title of this post? Well, I am going to tell you just how.
There have been many questions and descriptions of what an Instructional Designer is or does. So, these are some of the roles or tasks that I have had to support in the last couple of years of participating as an Instructional Technologist. Clearly, the main responsibility that I have had to support is the development of either course content, curriculum design, or instructor resources for either classroom training or education instruction. ADDIE has been the development model of choice with Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation as a support tool for measuring feedback. Understanding the five phases of course development has been the most important since this is where the projects begin and are structured. But you have to understand that this process takes months to finalize and long hours of collaboration with course managers and SME’s. So interpersonal skills in communication, listening, leadership, and time management are very important to the partnership with the development team and the success of the project itself.
The most important skill that I have been able to rely on recently has been my experience with using technology tools. Anything from office tools to advanced knowledge of authoring tools has helped me support a couple of extensive projects where I was the project coordinator. Being able to have a background with the use of LMS’s or Knowledge Management Systems is a plus to support more than the daily routine of working on design, development, or analysis tasks to build a course. So, my opinion in defining the requirements of an Instructional Designer is to become adaptive to the needs of your team and capitalize on opportunities that go beyond the ID role in training and development. I guess I am still learning and creating a newer path for my own career development.
Is there a difference in these two positions? I believe there is a huge difference in these two people and I would like to share some insight as to why. For instance a Training Instructor would develop and teach curriculum, maintain a certification or equivalent level of knowledge of content, responsible for safety requirements, develop performance-based initial and continuing training programs, develop and implement academic programs in support of training programs by classroom instruction and on-the-job training using lesson plans, OJT checklists, training checklists, and other training materials, procedures, and programs; Develop, schedule, administer, grade, and evaluate written and oral examinations. Ensure assigned training programs are in compliance with the requirements of program documents, company procedures, training implementation matrices, and training program plans. Evaluate training programs to ascertain that requirements are met and that the programs are vigorous and are accomplishing the goals established for delivery of training that prepares employees to perform their jobs. Conduct self-assessment activities required by company procedures, using results to improve the training programs. Track deficiencies and provide timely completion of actions that correct/mitigate deficiencies. Review technical procedures, reports, proposals, and other appropriate documents in order to determine their impact on the training programs and to make recommendations for implementation or revision based in needs or problems observed during operational or training evolutions. Implement approved recommendations. Develop innovative approaches, concepts, and strategies for training program.
Now someone has to manage all of these instructor requirements and who better to do that than the Course Manager. The CM owns the success of the course therefore is owner of all of these steps that it takes to conduct a succesful course. The CM collaborates with several resources to help him or her gather important information needed to build this course. From the smallest of details and valid data to support the beginning lesson to the final exam. This individuals course material and its significance depends on the contribution of Subject Matter Experts, Instructional System Designers, and their own experience in designing the course content. I believe that Course Managers should have the background knowledge of Adult Learning to be able to produce a competent learning environment in the classroom. Two very contrasting positions within Training and Development with two differing objectives in creating a succesful learning experience.
Well, it looks like it has been some time since I was last on this site. Better get to writing and sharing about my ISD experience. Usually when I post I like to interweave information from the web and link into my experiences. What I am going to do today is just write what I have done and learned in the last couple of months. I recently made a career change and without going into too much detail I was rewarded for my hard work and past experiences. My background lies in semiconductor manufacturing but I always liked Training and Development. So I steered to positions within my company that would allow me the time and experience to fulfill those talents. What I found out about myself was that I had a good skill at meshing talents and created a learning environment for my peers to succeed in. I think it comes from the fact that I was a good athlete while growing up and being on competitive teams just seemed natural.
Just like putting a good team on the field in the business world Human Resources groups should aspire to do the same. This is where people in Training and Development can help in identifying that talent and matching them up to good teams. If you are a good manager then your role as the leader (Coach) should be seemless from one position to another. Being able to identify good talent is one task but then getting that talent to perform as a good team is another. Stroking egos is not so hard its the coaching, mentoring, training and career development of those egos that gets murky. What I mean by that is some individuals feel like they don’t any kind of devleopment so they stagnate and don’t progress with the times.
So create those workshops during slow times, come up with webinars that present new technologies, facilitate conversations among team members for input, and create that Personal Development Plan for the upcoming year. The easy part is getting the team involved the hard part is not doing it. Don’t let your team down. Develop their skills and get them ready to play.