Sunday, April 26, 2009

Instructional Design: On the road to learning: Big Question: OMG I'm Stuck!!

Instructional Design: On the road to learning: Big Question: OMG I'm Stuck!!

One of my favourite responses to this month's LCB's Big Question. The post mirrors our situation and gives a logical, step-by-step process for overcoming it...

Global Conversations

Blogging is no longer what it used to be--outpourings of an individual's thoughts and ideas. To be honest, a somewhat narcissistic activity. Today, even as a very sporadic blogger, I feel the hum of "conversation". The blogging community is like a huge, gigantic meeting room--where the participants are invisible to each other but nonetheless responding to each other. One post is a trigger for thousand others with layers of links and trackbacks. Globally spread conversations are taking place--not in real time, true but making up for that in quality, thoughtfulness and depth of research and response, the willingness to share knowledge. No longer are blogs disconnected entities--private pages of individuals.

It is exciting times we are living in, and I am so glad.

The Big Question: Stuck? Getting Unstuck...

There's really quite a bit to this question.

I’ll begin by quoting something I read in Tony Karrer’s blog,
eLearning Technology. In the post, What Clients Want: eLearning Technology, he writes:
Stunning: Even after all the hot air expelled ink spilled and electrons excited in the last 10 years regarding how we ought to be measuring business results, nobody is doing it !!!!!!!!!

This is precisely my feeling too…it is one of my pet grouch that this month’s
Big Question allows me to vent. For months, I have been thinking of penning my two pence worth in my ID blog, but never got around to overcoming the inertia.

After handling a few projects as the senior/sole ID and consultant and solution provider(I used to imagine myself talking to the client, glancing at my list of twenty odd questions to see that I had the need for the training and performance gap analyzed and perfectly captured, suggesting the best solution and approach with the client listening avidly, mapping the solution to the desired performance output and ending with a quantitative analysis of the ROI), I have relegated the scenario in parentheses to my host of if onlies…That is not to say that I have given up! Not at all! I have just taken off those rose tinted specs and put on plain white ones—the better to see with. I can now see the challenges for what they are.

I realize that I could go and have gone blue in the face saying, “We can’t give the client what he WANTS; we have to give him what he NEEDS. We are the solution providers.” Nothing much will change instantly. We have to educate our internal and external clients because e-learning is still a nascent concept in India. We are still on our first generation e-learning courses—the linear, click and reveal types, where, for most corporate training departments, cost cutting is the major goal for shifting to the e-learning mode.

Maybe, even before we launch into needs and task analysis and learner analysis with a client, we should (using very simple, layman’s terms) educate them a little on what e-learning is all about. For most clients I have met here, e-learning means being able to access ALL the content through an online medium—more of a glorified “click and reveal” ppt. Educating clients could be one way of trying to become “unstuck”. J Of course, it is going to be a long, tedious and challenging process but we could make a start.
I am already imagining a scenario with my latest client—a particularly recalcitrant and determined one who wanted to have all the content of the world put into this one course, not one line could be deleted, the learner must be told absolutely EVERYTHING, explicitly.
I tried in vain to explain levels, discovery learning, arousing curiosity, concepts of andragogy…sigh!

Is this what happens when the client and the SME are one and the same?

If Only...

I have been thinking of populating this blog for a very long time. But somehow, it just wouldn’t happen. Work pressure, delivery, deadlines, and all such criminal hindrances posed as stumbling blocks. Nothing new. Till this morning, when I literally stumbled upon this blog: The Writer’s Gateway. An avid reader of blogs related to ID, I wonder why I never read this one. One post by Rupa addressing this month’s big question was my trigger.
Big Question: Stuck? Getting Unstuck?

Her response struck a chord and I realized that I too was getting stuck. It is time to get unstuck and blurt out the thoughts…

I have called this post “If Only…” because for us IDs, at least in India, this has become a chant. That has been my experience. I am not complaining though because an ideal world where there are no “if onlies” (excuse the use of this non-word) is not conducive to learning or thinking or striving or brainstorming or any of the things that help us forge ahead. If onlies are our challenges and drivers that help us to get “unstuck”.

Some of my “If Onlies”:
If only the client increased the budget
If only the client was moving to e-learning for the right reasons and not merely to cut cost
If only the PM decided the deadline after consulting the delivery team
If only people did not equate e-learning with screens filled with texts and one or two clickable tabs and buttons added in the name of interactivity and learner engagement
If only the potentials of e-learning were better understood
If only the client did not want the ILT sessions to be replaced—word for word—with e-learning courses
If only internal team members were equally passionate and evangelistic about e-learning
If only e-learning was not seen merely as a business but also truly as a means of enhancing the quality of learning
If only clients did not resort to e-learning only to cut down the training budget
If only clients could be shown the cost of ineffective training—the tangible and intangible costs like missed opportunities and poor performance…

Only when we have our “if onlies” firmly articulated, will we be able to work towards achieving these one by one. I am waiting to say “We have arrived. Finally!” for each of my if onlies…

Please add your “if onlies” too.

Organizations as Communities — Part 2

Yesterday, in a Twitter conversation with Rachel Happe regarding the need for organizations to function as communities, I wrote the follow...