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Category Archives: Principles of Instructional Design

Who should be an Instructional Designer?

Do I have the right abilities and traits for becoming an instructional designer?

This is a question asked by many accidental content professionals and all those fresh job-seekers who are exploring the field of content development and Instructional Design. They want to find out if they are temperamentally suited for a successful career in ID and content development, whether they are creative enough, and what sort of skills they must possess.

If you too are trying to ascertain whether or not you have the right temperament and skills for becoming an instructional designer, then you should listen in.

Click to listen to the Learning Lights Podcast.

In this episode, I present to you the three most important characteristics of an Instructional Designer and attempt to dispel a debilitating myth about creativity.

After you’ve listened to this episode, please read more about this topic at: Four Key Traits of an Instructional Designer.

Also visit http://creativeagni.com to explore the world of creativity and instructional design.

Thank you 🙂

 

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Learning Lights – The Instructional Design Podcast

I am glad to announce the Learning Lights Podcast, and here’s the trailer. The podcast will publish weekly on Wednesdays, and if you think that the frequency should go up, please drop me a line 🙂

What does the Learning Lights Podcast cover?

This podcast covers topics on instructional design, eLearning content development, training design and development – and talks about how to create content that binds your audience.

Who is the Learning Lights Podcast for?

This podcast is for aspiring and practicing learning professionals, including content developers, instructional designers, trainers, and teachers.

The first Episode, “Instructional Design? What’s that?!” is scheduled to publish later today.

More later,

Shafali

 

 

 

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A First is always Fearful, sometimes Frustrating, but never Fruitless.

This morning I posted my first article on LinkedIn.

Are you wondering why this feat-o-mine warrants a dedicated post on my WordPress blog?

Well, it does, because this is indeed a victory of sorts for me.

You see, I had been planning to make this post for more than two weeks now. I had been reading posts done by my connections, and their connections, and wondering how with such meager accouterments (an extremely basic formatting bar and a minimalist environment,) could one make a reasonably good looking article? I was battling the fear of the unknown.

The Fear of the Unknown

My main cause of anxiety stemmed from the unknown. I didn’t know the interface and I didn’t know how the LinkedIn audience would receive my content, but I knew that I had to take the first step in order to take the next, and then the next…that’s how we learn to walk then run – don’t we?

The fear of the unknown is one of the most debilitating fears of all, and the only way to over come it to learn about the unknown. It may take a while, but it works. I’ve seen it work all through my life. So armed with this hope, I started writing “5 Instructional Weapons to Win the Microlearning War.

About 5 Instructional Weapons to Win the Microlearning War

It worked with this article too. Microlearning has always intrigued me. Even in our online ID courses that I had designed for Wavelength, I had ensured that none of the learning interactions went beyond 10-15 minutes, and that they did their job in that time – gaining the learner’s attention, establishing relevance of the content for them, providing the learning/providing practice/quizzing them – as the case might be, and leaving the learner satisfied. True that each course had more than a couple of hundreds of those, but each of those learning interactions did their job, and the fact that we had happy and satisfied learners who remember us even after a dozen years, proves that those learning interactions worked.

But those were different times. In the last decade or so, smartphones have changed the whole learning eco-system. In fact, they’ve changed the learner’s persona as well as her expectations.

5 Instructional Methods to Win the Micro Learning War - Infographic

Never before we had a learner whose attention was so difficult to gain and retain – this obviously means that only those learning providers who would have the right arsenal will win – others will be left behind.

I thought I had something to say – and so I wrote and then made an infographic to go with it. Here’s it. Please head over to LinkedIn and read the full article.

About the 3 Avatars of the Micro-learner

And while I was at it, I saw the true persona of microlearning audience – the triumvirate with three different avatars. Read more about them in the article.

The Microlearning Audience - Avatar 1 - the Scout

The Microlearning Audience - Avatar 2 - the AssessorThe Microlearning Audience - Avatar 3 - the Ambassador

Meanwhile, I’m pleased to announce that I’m feeling rather comfortable with LinkedIn articles now, and if you have any question, I’ll be happy to answer (but remember that little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and I’m still learning.)

The Thrill of Discovery Replaces the Fear of Unknown

Now that I’ve gotten used to the basic format of the LinkedIn article editor, I’m looking forward to making my next post. I am not sure what I shall write about – but it’s definitely going to be a thrilling experience. I hope to meet you on this ride. If you are on LinkedIn and are passionate about making learning effective, let us connect. Find me on LinkedIn here.

 

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Cognitive Dissonance and its impact on Learning.

“Let us say you ordered a watch online. The picture of the watch looked good (it looked like it had a curved glass and the dial had a silvery sheen) and it was available at a very affordable price. A few days later, the watch was delivered, and you opened the box with great expectations. You were hoping to find a watch that looked as classy as the one you had seen in the pictures. But when you unwrapped the box and opened it, you realized that the real watch didn’t look as good as its pictures. The dial was off-white and glass was plain. You realize that the pictures must have been touched up as the watch was the same model that you had ordered. Fortunately despite its not-as-good-as-expected looks, it still was a deal at the price you bought it.

So you tell yourself, that the watch is from a good brand, and that you anyway wanted a robust watch and not a flimsy wrist-candy.

When you engage in this behavior, you are trying to curb the cognitive dissonance that has arisen out of two conflicting ideas in your mind.”

Understanding cognitive dissonance and its impact on learning can prepare us to handle it in our classrooms and online courses. The following links will take you to a series of three posts:

  1. Understanding Cognitive Dissonance – Explanation and Illustration
  2. Cognitive Dissonance in Classrooms and Other Learning Environments
  3. Cognitive Dissonance and Other Instructional Design Principles

BTW, this Easter, Froth bought a pair of Easter Bunny ears for Coffeebeans

Training pup dog cartoons - coffee beans experiences cognitive dissonance - instructional design.

 

 

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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.

 

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About my Whereabouts…

Dear Readers of this Dear Blog-o-mine,

In the recent times, you haven’t seen many new posts on this blog (fine…I stand corrected. You haven’t seen ANY new post in a while!) I am sorry for my inordinately long absence. However, I’d like to present my excuse for your assessment. I’ve been kept busy by Creative Agni – the eZine for Instructional Design and eLearning and Creative Agni’s two Instructional Design Courses.

I invite you to click the following links to see what I’ve been busy with.

You can visit the Creative Agni Home page here.

I am organizing a Free Instructional Design Workshop on January 29, 2012. Click the following link to read about the workshop.

I will write more regularly now because if I don’t, my mind will explode with all the Cognitive Psychology stuff I’ve been reading. The only way to save my sanity would be to share what I learn, and so I’d be back soon:)

Best Wishes,

Shafali

 

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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.

 

 

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Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – Is it just Around the Corner?

It isn’t everyday that you read a book that makes you feel grateful for not being born sooner or later, but exactly when you were born. It is only once in a long while that you come across a story that makes you look for that inflection point in the history of humanity, which made the world become what it is today.

This isn’t a review that I am posting today. It isn’t even a suggestion or a recommendation that you read this book. It is a short Thank-You-Note to Aldous Huxley who penned “Brave New World”, and made me feel grateful for being what I am and for what I have been given – the freedom of choice. I don’t want to discuss the extent of this freedom; I don’t want to flick out a tape to measure it; I just want to experience it.

Huxley had written this novel in 1931 – a time when Behaviorism had matured, its spread aided by the industry; and a time when scientific advances were being announced every day.

Conceptual Summary of Brave New World

Let me quickly summarize the concept of “Brave New World” for you.

The world has “evolved” (degenerated?) where humans are mass-produced under controlled conditions, using the Bokanovsky process. The humans come in different varieties or castes, each variety suited to accomplish the task that it would be required to perform. Thus the humans range from Alphas (the highest caste) to the Epsilons who are nothing better than zombies. The production as well as the education of humans is the responsibility of the State. Sex for procreation is a taboo, people are expected to spend all their free time in the company of others, and ideas of individuality are considered dangerous.

Ivan Pavlov, Sigmund Freud, and Henry Ford have become icons in this world of the future. The calendar begins with the year of Ford’s birth (the story is set in AF 632 or about 530 years from now.)

Education of all the castes is carried out partly while they are asleep (by making them listen to numerous repetitions of such statements that define the desired behavior) and also makes tremendous use of behaviorist principles (repetition, reward, and punishment.)

The Wake-up Call

The goal of the story is to contrast the life-style and philosophy of the Reservations (places that refused to change) and the world – and it is this contrast that wakes you up. You find yourself wishing that the world had taken a midway approach, and then you realize that you sub-consciously begin to see yourself in both the worlds, wondering how “A Brave New World” is a very real possibility – and how you need not wait 500 years for it to happen.

Returning to my ruminations…

 

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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 🙂

 

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Walking the Tightrope between Structure & Flexibility – from Design to Implementation

In my previous post, I raised a question that was inspired by an IDCWC Online Course Participant. The question was, “Is Design an Inhibitor?

I received a detailed thought-provoking response to that question from Tricia Pottratz. You can visit her new but promising blog “Tricia’s Teacher Toolbox” here. Thank you, Tricia.

Here are Tricia’s thoughts.

Having designed many classes myself, I understand where you are coming from.  Curriculum seems to take on a life of its own.  Once written, it becomes what the instructor deems it to be.  I think a big part of that comes from two sources: who you are designing for and what your objectives are.  I work for a multi-million dollar for-profit corporation with campuses all across the United States.  Before our small campus was purchased, instructors had the academic freedom to modify curriculum to meet their needs while still teaching to the objectives. The key was in keeping the objectives simple and few.

Since the buyout, the curriculum has evolved.  The first revision was similar to the original, but the coming revision is vastly different.  Sadly, the objectives are many and room for changes is few.  The idea is to create uniformity across the company; however the result is that the company’s curriculum does not leave much room for interpretation or regional flavor.

The solution depends on the parameters.  If you have any flexibility or say in the curriculum, I would suggest creating simple objectives, which leave the instructor the room for interpretation.  A really good article at http://itdl.org/journal/sep_05/article03.htm suggests that to be effective at brain-based learning, instructors should incorporate 4 basic things: memory and retrieval, learning styles, attention, and emotion (Clemons, 2005).  I find that in order to accomplish those goals it is important to offer a variety of media and classroom activities that vary in size and scope.

The other two-edged sword in education is the rubric.  As an instructor and as a student, I love the fact that it sets specific parameters.  The dilemma is still the same: the more specific the objectives, the less creative the project.  I have found that the only way to overcome this is to allow for students to develop the rubrics themselves.  After all, if you give a template, they will only follow the template.  This line of thinking also works in the classroom: if the students design the projects (based on the learning objectives) they become more emotionally involved and willing to go further with the project than I would have ever expected.

A friend of mine also suggested going with a tiered learning system. Her argument is that it gives options for the students while still ensuring the quality of the project is within the set parameters.  My problem with tiered learning systems is that it is not always feasible and can create conflict in the classroom.  I am more for offering options with a similar difficulty level instead of varying the levels.  In that way the “slower” student does not feel like they are being singled out and the “quick learner” is not feeling like it is unfair in the classroom.

Have you ever had any luck with tiered learning in the classroom?  If so, I would love to hear about it.

Sincerely,

Tricia Pottratz, BS, LMP

I attempted to address Tricia’s question by sketching a paradigm with two basic assumptions. 1. The learners are all adult learners. 2. The learners constitute a heterogeneous group, especially in terms of their existing skills and/or their ability to learn.

I believe that the answer has to be chiseled out from the goal of a training program. What is it that you want to achieve for your group? Notice that I don’t speak of what the learners want to achieve, but what “you, a representative of the learning provider” wish to achieve.

Let me illustrate through three simple examples:

1. You wish to orient the learners towards a new corporate policy.
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This is a lower level goal of awareness generation. You might want to use a tiered system here. You can create your learning groups on the basis of individual motivation and learning ability. At least everyone would take away something. As you won’t be grading their performance in this sort of program, you will possibly see a lot of happy faces at the end of your training.

2. You wish to train the learners on a specific role-based skill so that they can do their job proficiently.
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I don’t think that a tiered system will help you achieve you goal in this case. You need everyone to reach approximately the same level in the new skill. Eventually everyone might not reach the desired level, but then you’d like to see the distribution of marks and ensure that only those who reach the required level of competency are certified to do the job.

However if your program is flexible enough to accommodate the slow learners by allowing them additional practice/time, tiered learning may work. (We should also review the impact of this on learner motivation and individual egos.)

3. You wish to train the learners for a skill that demands accuracy and precision (for instance: a career in medicine?)
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Attempt to take all the learners to the same level, and use the rubrics wisely to grade the post-training skills. Sometimes the assessments have to be done against very specific objectives. I think that creativity is related more to the content-type than to the specificity of the objectives – especially when you create the learning and reinforcement activities.

I should also mention that I completely agree with Tricia’s belief that allowing the learners to participate in the creation of the assessment rubrics is a double-edged sword. I think it could work well with a group of mature and motivated participants, but not otherwise.

I know that heterogeneous groups are a reality and this reality contradicts the dream that every trainer and instructional designer has, which is 100% learning effectiveness.

A Note for the regular readers, who might’ve been wondering why my previous two posts have been replete with ATDs:  I guess my excuses are the same as the ones given by everyone else – I was too tired and a little ill, and then I was busy trying to meet the deadlines for my deliverables and delivering on my promises – but then, excuses don’t help, do they? So, I spent some time going through whatever I had written and removed the ATDs …thanks to a cup of coffee and the zoom-in capability of my new laptop. I prefer not to get my stuff edited (for better or for worse, this is how I write,) so bear with me…and ignore the bad to focus on the good 🙂

 

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