RSS

Category Archives: instructional design

Instructional Designer – The Conjurer of Learning Experiences.

A lot of confusion exists around the term “Instructional Designer.” In many e-learning organizations, it’s a designation; but thankfully, most understand it to be a role, which it is. And yet, most recruiters aren’t able to differentiate between a content developer, a content writer, or an author. This confusion seems to be acquiring another dimension with the advent of Rapid Authoring or Rapid eLearning Development.

Generically speaking, an instructional designer is someone who uses certain concepts of cognitive psychology and frameworks of learning, to create effective learning experiences.

The confusion that I talked about in the beginning starts with the scope of “Learning Experiences.”

Note that each of the following is designed to be a learning experience:

  1. A textbook
  2. A WBT (Web-based Tutorial)
  3. An m-learning module
  4. An online course
  5. A corporate-training program
  6. An instruction manual
  7. A coaching session
  8. An educational class

And so on…

Thus, anyone who uses the concepts of cognitive psychology and the established frameworks of learning, to make any of the above effective, can be said to play the role of an instructional designer.

This also means that a textbook author, a WBT storyboard developer, an m-learning content creator, a trainer, a coach, or a teacher, can all play the role of an instructional designer.

Read about an Instructional Designer’s role in the eLearning Industry here.

Written in response to the Daily Prompt “Conjure.”

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , ,

Creative Training Design & Content Development – What Inhibits Creativity?

Last week, I received a call from a young woman who was interested in exploring the IDCD (Instructional Design and Content Development) course. During our discussion, she asked me if her lack of creativity would in any manner hamper her performance in the course. It is a question that I’ve fielded many times in the last fourteen years, and fortunately, I’ve done it with a conviction that comes from a long experience with creativity.

I’ve been creative in at least three different areas, and all these areas, I’ve been sufficiently creative to be considered a professional. These three areas are art, fiction-writing, and training/elearning content development. My experience tells me that when I’m being madly creative in one area, I’m only marginally creative in the other two. Why? Because creativity begins by submerging yourself in a context.

Igniting, Harnessing, and Channeling your Creative Potential – An Example

Here’s a recent example. We’ve been thinking of bringing you the REDAC (Rapid eLearning Development with Adobe Captivate) course for a while now. So when in January end, I applied myself to designing this program, I had to break away from a historical fiction piece that I was writing. You could say that I could spend a few hours on my fiction writing endeavor and the remaining on designing the REDAC course. Unfortunately, this sort of multitasking becomes very difficult when you are trying to divide your time between two very different types of creative endeavors. (If your day job is that of a banker, an accountant or a shop floor engineer who works on job-scheduling, then you can be a creative writer in the evenings – because there isn’t a creative clash.)

You see,

  • Fiction writing is imaginative, colorful, descriptive where you must visualize scenes and characters and you must make them come alive through an interesting use of dialogs, its purpose is to entertain, and it uses the “Storytelling” framework to create the final expression. It also requires that I immerse myself in the context of the era in which I’m situating my story.
  • Training Design is logical, connective, direct, and its purpose is to impart learning, and it uses the “instructional design’ framework to create the final expression. It requires that I immerse myself in the context of the discipline/software (its capabilities, its connection with eLearning, and so on…)
  • The right way to begin was to pluck my mind out of the historical context (for fiction-writing) and drop it into the subject context (in this case Adobe Captivate, for training design.) Since I’m good with both the storytelling framework as well as the training design framework, all I needed to do was immerse myself in a new context.

    Read More for “How Creativity is Born?” and “What Inhibits Creativity?”>>>


Thus, in order to ignite, harness, and channel creativity, one must follow a method. Almost all those who are highly (and repetitively creative) follow one. It is usually a method that they develop themselves, but once they have developed it, they stick to it. Dan Brown is an excellent example of this phenomenon. I’ve been an ardent follower of his Facebook page and a relentless reader of his books, and I’ve noticed that he has a method. He approaches every book as a creative project and at the beginning of this project, he immerses himself into the context (information on what he wants to write about.) He reads, researches, watches videos, meets people, travels, visits places he thinks he’d like to situate his story in…but of course, this is just the beginning. Creativity isn’t only about coming up with ideas – there’s a lot more to it, including retaining the best ideas and sustaining the creative energy that will eventually turn your ideas into effective creative expressions.

I see this element in my own creative method too. I’ve talked about it at length in my new book, which is just a few months away from reaching your favorite book-store 🙂

“Our mind is a treasure chest of slumbering creative nodes that just need to be woken up in the right environment to let our creativity flow.” – SRA.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The PowerPoint Coma, Dilbert, and Trainings.

Three days ago, on April 5th 2016, The Times of India ran a Dilbert strip about the PowerPoint Coma. About a week ago, on April 4th, I was in a meeting with a senior training manager, discussing an upcoming program for their organization, attempting to outline the focus areas. The training program would address senior and mid-level managers of the organization, who are often called upon to share their domain-expertise with others. “One of the areas,” said the gentleman, “is PowerPoint. They walk in with a PowerPoint presentation, dim the lights, and for the next hour, everyone dozes off! They can’t do away with the PowerPoint presentation, because it keeps their content grounded and ensures that they stay within the scope.”

Two days later, I saw the Dilbert strip, and the term “PowerPoint Coma” stayed with me. I’m not a fan of PowerPoint, but that doesn’t make me blind to its advantages. I know it has many, especially in the training scenario of today, where the rapidly reducing half-life of knowledge makes its almost mandatory that the trainers have a cue-sheet to keep them on track. How then, do we handle this double-edged sword? How do we use the strengths of PowerPoint without falling prey to its weaknesses?

Read “PowerPoint Coma – Causes, Effects, Prevention, and Dilbert,” for a rapid-fire round of quick tips.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Returning…

Dear Readers,

It has been a while that I posted anything here. A medley of reasons kept me away – the most important being some critical health issues. Yet, every dark cloud that hovers over your head filling your view of the world with darkness and gloom, either explodes into a storm of rain and drenches you cold, or sails away in time. This cloud is sailing away, and though I can still see its tail on the horizon, I am confident that the wind won’t reverse its course to bring it back. At least I hope that it won’t.

So, in all probability I am back.

I intend to dust away the cobwebs and scrub this blog to make it sparkle again. I also want to thank the latest follower of this blog who inspired me to return. (If you followed this blog yesterday, you are the one I am talking about.)

As I couldn’t move about a lot, I spent the last whole year experimenting with some new learning mediums. I worked extensively on the mobile platform (specifically iOS) and this year I intend to work on development of Android apps. I intend to share my learnings on content development for the mobile learning or m-learning medium here along with my thoughts on e-learning. I am also experimenting with Kindle. Recently I have once again started accepting corporate training assignments in Instructional Design and eLearning. I also plan to share my experiences from those programs here.

This blog primarily focuses on the psychological principles that relate to learning (directly and indirectly) so expect to see the regular stuff on cognitive psychology too 🙂

I leave you with a link to my latest article on the Creative Agni Website.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Experiment – Stanford Prison, Milgram, and The Threshold.

It happens because we have the ability to absolve ourselves by shifting the responsibility of our actions to another entity, which may be a person or an organization. We are not responsible for the atrocities that we committed in the Auschwitz concentration camp, said the German soldiers who tortured and killed their captives. We were just doing our jobs. We were just following orders.

The Milgram Obedience Experiment

Stanley Milgram conducted what came to be known as the Milgram Obedience Experiment. In this experiment, perfectly normal people like you and me were assigned the roles of the teacher or the learner. They were separated with an opaque wall, but they could speak to each other. The teacher was given the task to teach the learner some words by asking him/her questions. If the learner responded incorrectly, the teacher would give the learner and electric shock that increased by 15 volts with every incorrect answer. Actually, the learner was replaced by an actor, and he’d not receive the shock but scream nevertheless. To make a long story short, the shocking outcome of the experiment was that there were people who continued giving electrical shocks of upto “450 volts” to their “learner” even after the learner begged for mercy. Why? Because they were asked to do so!

The Stanford Prison Experiment

I was prompted to make this post, after I watched the Adrien Brody – Forest Whitakar movie, “The experiment” yesterday. This movie is based upon another, yet more gruesome experiment called the Stanford Prison Experiment. In this experiment, Philip Zimbardo a psychologist with the Stanford University got together 2 dozen students who had absolutely no criminal record/tendencies for violence, and assigned them either the role of a prisoner or of a guard. They were to stay within the prison walls for 14 days (the initial plan) but the experiment lasted only 6 days. Reason: only after a day, the role-players began to take their roles for real. The “guards” began misusing their authority while the “prisoners” either revolted or turned completely passive. The “guards” ended up torturing the prisoners – and a riot broke out.

It’s obvious that an experiment of this nature was considered immoral and unethical, and never repeated. Yet, it underlined the conclusion of the Milgram Experiment, which was that authority does make people do things that they otherwise won’t do.

The Training Connection – Authority & Obedience

More often than not, I can predict the conversation that would take place, if I were to meet an HOD or a CEO of a company, and discuss instructional design with them. I won’t take you through the entire conversation, but at some point the gentleman or the lady is bound to tell me that his/her training programs have always been such grand successes, despite knowing nothing about this mythological critter called Instructional Design.

Obviously they do. Because they are the authoritarian figure. Nobody’d dare question what they say in their training programs. We the humans are more evolved than our brethren of other species yet we haven’t completely flushed out our pack mentality. We succumb to authority all the time.

On a positive note:

Classroom trainers can use their authority to really reach their audience. They know that their authority allows them to steer the discussions and the lectures; and that their trainees don’t have an option but to accept your authority. Now you can either misuse the authority the way those “guards” in the Standford prison experiment did, or you can use it productively. The trainees are your sheep and you are the shepherd.

Do read about the two experiments. The Wikipedia links that I gave above are portals to more details on these experiments, so please explore them.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Creative Agni eZine, Sloth & Froth, and Some ID Fiction.

The Creative Agni eZine notification was sent out today. I know that it should’ve been done earlier, but I just couldn’t get down to wrapping it up until this morning.

If you haven’t subscribed to it, you can do so here.

I should say that there are two posts (among many others) that I would really love to share with my blog-readers.

  1.  A Short Story – Dushyant & Shakuntala – Why Love kills Logic?
  2. Sloth & Froth Comics – Teamwork Training and Decision-making

While you are there, you can also explore rest of the site and also meet Coffeebeans the Pup.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Announcing the birth of the Creative Agni Instructional Design and eLearning eZine

I’d like to invite the readers of this blog to the Creative Agni eZine site. It was designed in my after-work hours. Those extra hours took their toll on my neck and shoulders, but when I was done, I felt that  it was all worthwhile 🙂

The Creative Agni eZine has the following five sections.

  • ID Fiction
  • The IDEAL
  • ELearning
  • The Creative Lounge
  • Sloth & Froth

Do visit the eZine site here. If you like what you see there, subscribe to the Creative Agni eLearning eZine 🙂

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,