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Tag Archives: instructional designer

Finally…Twitter!

Dear Readers,

I’d like to tell you that I recently discovered my Twitter Account that I made in 2009 – and I’ve started tweeting seriously about some serious matters, such as Instructional Design, eLearning, Training, and Creativity. If these topics interest you, please follow my account here.

My new love is Gestalt, and I’ll be talking about it in the next episode of the Learning Lights podcast 🙂 Don’t miss it! It’s going to be super-awesome!

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Sia’s Story or The Job of an Instructional Designer

Remember?

That first Instructional Design assignment…

Waiting for the ID Reviewer’s comments…

Then clicking open the document with your heart pounding against your ribs…

And then seeing… RED!

Was this what you HAD signed up for?

Or

what is it that you ARE signing up for?

Meet Siya…and Rajeev.

If you want to become an instructional designer and find yourself wondering what it would be like to work as an ID, you’ll find your answers at https://anchor.fm/learninglights/episodes/Siyas-Story-An-Instructional-Designers-Job-ens9lk

A heads-up…

This is a podcast – and so you’d need to keep the audio on.

Click to listen to the Learning Lights Podcast.

In this episode, meet Siya, a mint-fresh instructional designer who is discovering what it means to be an instructional designer.

This episode is an introduction to what an Instructional Designer’s Job comprises, takes you through the fears and apprehensions of a new ID, and then puts them to rest through the knowledge of an experienced instructional designer.

With this episode, we are through with laying the basic groundwork. In the coming episodes, I intend to discuss a few concepts of instructional design and cognitive psychology within the context of their application in eLearning and/or training.

If you’d like to join me on this fun ride, do subscribe or follow Learning Lights on a podcasting app of your choice. It is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify too.

 

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The AFR Learner Types – Learners of the Future – Thrive, Jive, Survive!

I wrote about the AFR Learner Types a few months ago and the article was received quite well within the learning community. I’m sharing it here because I believe that understand the three types and determining where our learners and we ourselves as learners fall, could be instrumental in our surviving, even jiving and thriving in the new post-pandemic world.

While you can download the Free PDF of the article “The AFR Learner Types – Learning in this Changing, Evolving World” here, here’s a quick synopsis.

My two-decades worth of experience with adult learners both in online courses and classroom programs taught me that based on their traits and corresponding learning behavior, learners can be classified into three groups.

  • The Agile Learner
  • The Flexible Learner
  • The Rigid Learner

While most of us (almost 80%) fall into the Flexible Learner category, some of us are Agile Learners and a smaller fraction comprises Rigid learners – and as you can see in the following image, I’ve seen Flexible Learners turn agile, but the rigid learners, due to their inherent dislike for change, often stay rooted to their learning beliefs. However, through counseling they can be motivated to move left toward becoming flexible learners.

At this juncture, it’s important to review our capabilities and determine how we can evolve into the learning professional of tomorrow – and if we feel tied down by our expectations, self-image, and/or current beliefs, it’s time to take a hard look at ourselves and weed out anything that stops us from learning, changing, and growing.

If you like my articles and would like to hear my thoughts, I invite you to my Learning Lights Podcast.

 

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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.”

 

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Pros and Cons of Rapid e-Learning

Have you been blinded by the glare of Rapid eLearning Products yet?

  • Yes
  • No

What’s your answer?

I know that it’s difficult to answer this question objectively.  Don’t worry – let’s begin by first looking at some of its obvious advantages.

Advantages of Rapid e-Learning:

Rapid e-learning has multiple advantages. Here are 3 important benefits of employing Rapid eLearning.

  1. It can be produced by an SME-ID (Subject Matter Expert and Instructional Designer) team, thus trimming the development costs.
  2. It can be quickly put together depending upon the need of the hour – and note that with the rapidly changing technologies, the learning needs are in a flux.
  3. It can lead to standardization of eLearning content quality.

Rapid eLearning has the concept of the shrinking half-life of knowledge at its core – and it does help an organization benefit in the above three ways. Unfortunately, the obvious advantages of rapid e learning have led to its being employed for all kinds of content and all types of audiences.

Such indiscriminate use of rapid elearning tools, leads to certain disadvantages in the long-run.

Disadvantages of Rapid e-Learning:

Here are three serious issues with the use of Rapid eLearning.

  1. The content begins to look stale after a few lessons, and loses the learner’s attention.
  2. The best-possible instructional strategy is sidelined and the next possible one is applied! Thus, there’s a reduction in the learning effectiveness.
  3. The overall loss of learning effectiveness kills the learner’s appetite for eLearning…because the learner doesn’t know that all eLearning isn’t rapid elearning.

It doesn’t matter how many interactivity templates a rapid eLearning product offers to you…and how different they look on the surface…internally they still are “templates”. I agree that there is content with little or no longevity, and that such content can use rapid eLearning to avoid the loss of precious time – but I don’t see how non-technical high-longevity content or its learners can benefit from rapid eLearning.

Using rapid eLearning tools all the time could be like eating burgers three times a day for the rest of your life. It’s fast to cook, easy to order – and it saves a lot of time…but you can’t eat it all the time…not if you want to live!

 

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How Instructional Design Helps Content Writers, Instructional Designers, Trainers, Academicians, and Technical Writers?

This past Sunday, I conducted a three-hour Free Instructional Design Orientation session for individuals who wish to map their competencies to Instructional Design. Wavelength organizes these sessions 3 to 4 times a year and they give me an opportunity to understand the nature of questions that baffles many who wish to change their career path or improve their growth prospects by acquiring the knowledge of ID. The most common of these questions is – “How the knowledge of instructional design helps?”

This question originates from the term “instructional design” appearing in the employment advertisements for the professions indicated in the following list.

Let us see how this “set of skills” help:

  • Content Writers and Instructional Designers
  • Trainers
  • Teachers and Other Academicians
  • Technical Writers

Let me begin by establishing a contextually relevant definition of instructional design.

“Instructional Design is a set of cognitive skills that enable you to impart learning effectively.”

Content Writers and Instructional Designers:

Content Writers and Instructional Designers often engage in creating learning content for their audience. They use instructional design to ensure that the learning happens fast and stays anchored. Instructional design helps you achieve this effectiveness and efficiency, whether you write content for eLearning or for classroom delivery.

Trainers:

Trainers often create their own training plans and design their training programs in terms of activities, examples, and assessments. Instructional design could equip you with the cognitive psychology principles, and assist you in designing, developing, and implementing more effective training programs.

Teachers and Other Academicians:

Teachers of all disciplines, and at all levels, can apply the instructional design principles to ensure that their audience’s attention doesn’t stray and that the knowledge-transfer happens effectively and efficiently. ID enables you to create a balance between your passion for the subject and the learning needs of your learners.

Technical Writers:

This group of professionals, engage in creating the “How-To” literature for any product (hardware, software, or any device that operates in a specific manner.) Though as a technical writer you write crisp directions for your users, you can make your content even more relevant, efficient, and easy to understand/apply, if you can apply instructional design.

So, this is how instructional design finds application in the professions outlined above.

Another related question is – “What are the skills that you need to have, if you want to gain the most from the knowledge of instructional design?”
My next post will answer this question. You might want to return in a few days.

 

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Learning, Learning Mediums, and eLearning!

Let us continue our exploration of the phenomenon of learning. Remember learning is “acquisition” of knowledge, skills, and attitude. When we speak of acquiring something, we also speak of “someplace” from where it shall be acquired, thus, we refer to an “environment”.

So we can say that Learning results from an interaction between the learner and the environment. This interaction could be learner-driven or environment-driven, and it takes place through a “medium of communication.”

Let us understand it by analyzing the behavior of an old acquaintance, Ms. Froth. Froth wants to learn “how to blog.” Here’s how we can explain her behavior in the terminology that we’ve now “acquired.”

Froth (the learner) wishes to learn (the learning process is thus, learner-driven) “How to blog” (a skill to be acquired; if she already knows how to blog, but now wishes to learn how to blog more effectively, she’d be “modifying” a skill, which is another aspect of learning.) For this learning, she will have to interact with the environment (comprising her friends, colleagues, trainers, books, and of course – the Web,) through an appropriate communication medium (speech, text, training material, online content.)

You got it…right?
Now you are ready to lift the shroud of mystery that surrounds the learning mediums.

Simply put, a learning medium is a communication medium which is used for the purpose of learning.

Thus, you have:

  • Classroom trainings (where the communication medium is primarily non-tech (apart from some non-interactive, soporific PowerPoint presentation.)
  • ELearning (where the medium of communication is electronic – usually computers.)

I am not going to spend a lot of your precious time on expanding upon classroom trainings. That you are reading this post goes to prove that you’ve had enough of that experience. So let us try to figure out this exotic bird called eLearning.


Photo by kodomut

ELearning is the name given to all such learning, which uses technology as a medium to communicate. Thus, online courses and trainings as well as standalone computer-based training programs, and even blogs such as the one you are reading now, comprise elearning.

Actually, eLearning isn’t an exotic bird at all. It is the same learning that we know so well – with the medium of communication being the only tangible difference. There’s no difference as far as the learner’s psychology and the instructional design principles are concerned.

However, there’s a lot of difference between the way both kinds of learning programs are designed, developed, and implemented. As you might’ve guessed, most of the difference results from the technological angle, which unfortunately bugs many of the traditionalists.

So when Froth searches the web, or buys a CD that tells her “How to Blog”, she learns through eLearning. From the learner’s angle eLearning isn’t very different from classroom training. Froth still uses her senses (seeing/hearing) to absorb the new learning, and then processes it cognitively; the way she’d do in a classroom-training program. But yes, there’s a lot of difference between the way a classroom trainer would prepare the content and an eLearning instructional designer would.

In my next post, we’ll ponder over some of these differences. We also haven’t spoken of the blended learning solutions (where you blend elearning with traditional classroom learning) – but I believe that if we understand the two ingredients of blended learning correctly, blended learning would explain itself.

Until Friday then:-)

 

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Attribution Theory & Self-Serving Bias – Application in Training & Content Development (3 of 3)

Following are the two posts that precede this post.

  1. Attribution Theory & Self-Serving Bias – Why People play down the Achievements of Others?
  2. Attribution Theory & Self-Serving Bias – Stability & Controllability

This is the third and final post in this series. Through this post, let us discuss some applications of the Attribution Theory.

Recall how Sloth and Froth applied different causes to their own and other’s successes and failures. What we saw was something that we’ve all experienced intuitively – the primal human tendency to improve ones appearance. An interesting application of Attribution theory, which popped into my head just now, can be seen in the behavior of a young woman viewing a picture of another woman (someone that her spouse or sweetheart may have found attractive.) The reasons that this woman would attribute to the “success” (read: attractiveness) of the woman in picture would probably read as:

“A play of lights. Those photographers can make anyone look beautiful! And I wonder why you don’t see those spots on her face that I saw when the camera did a close-up in…what was that show – Oh…Koffee with Karan, I suppose. And that figure?! Hasn’t anyone heard of Photoshop! She’s got curves?! Hah!”

And upon viewing her own photograph…
“The photographer didn’t know his work! Look at the way he messed up the lighting! I don’t have those three rumbling chins – no way! And my skin is actually many shades lighter. What’s that spot on my cheek? Must be a speck on the camera lens!”

Funny…but true! And we all know that it is true:-)

What’s Lacey’s Viewpoint?

The question is how can we use this reality to make learning more effective?

Here are a few tips.

1. Empathize. Feel what your Audience Feels!
2. Appreciate the Cultural Angle of Attribution
3. Ascribe Failure to Unstable and Controllable Causes
4. Ascribe Success to Internal and Controllable Causes

Empathize. Feel what your Audience Feels!

Remember that the audience attempts to view his/her success or failure in the best possible light. This of course means that for everything that happens during a learning experience, the audience’s mind is busy determining causes. By the time, you get around to explaining something, the audience has already booked a cause for it. So, Never tell the audience that his or her failure was due to an internal factor. (In all probability, the audience has already pinned the blame of failure on to something else, such as you, or the study material, the methodology, or even a visiting aunt.) If you differ, your explanation will be met with a cognitive dissonance.

Appreciate the Cultural Angle of Attribution

Always review a learning issue within the context of the culture. For instance, as Indians, we make external attributions for a person’s undesirable actions more often than the westerners. This is so because as a society we are driven by external obligations, humility, and the demands of our social/familial roles.

Thus, if a person is caught taking bribe, a westerner would probably be more disposed towards attributing the action to that person’s trait of dishonesty, while we would most probably blame it on the system.

Here’s another example.
My personal experience of dealing with the topic of plagiarism in a training program taught me that this topic has to be handled very carefully, else it would hit a wall of resistance. Discussing plagiarism as a malady to be remedied results in more productive discussions that discussing it as an act of dishonesty (which results in drawn swords.)

Ascribe Failure to Unstable and Controllable Causes

This is an old one, and I am sure that you are already a master at doing this. Ascribe failures to unstable and controllable caused (for example, if a learner fails to perform according to expectations, ascribe it to “lack of directed effort” (something that can be controlled, and which isn’t stable – are you wondering whether all that is internal and unstable can be controlled? Reflect.) Don’t ascribe it to “lack of aptitude for science.”)

If you think that a learner has developed the tendency to ascribe failures to external, stable, uncontrollable factors, gear up to steer this learner away from this defeatist attitude.

Ascribe Success to Internal and Controllable Causes

In societies such as ours, we grow up ascribing our successes to the hand of fate. When I was growing up, before and after my exams (until the results were declared,) I’d pray and hope that somehow my prayers would improve my results. Thankfully, my prayers were never answered and I learned to ascribe success to “internal and controllable” causes. I shudder to think what kind of person I would’ve become had I turned “lucky.”

We should attempt to help the learner view his/her successes as a result of her internal, stable, and controllable factors (such as the output of concentrated effort,) instead of external, unstable, and uncontrollable factors, such as luck.

I believe that such positive attributions can go a long way in bolstering the confidence of our children who would find themselves in control of their destiny instead of being controlled by it.


Photo by mikebaird

Of course, Attribution Theory has many other applications, and I don’t think that I can cover all of them, but I do feel that a conscious effort to keep the three parameters of Attribution Theory in mind could help all kinds of learning professionals – the trainers, the teachers, and the instructional designers. It could help us reach out to our audience, empathize with them, and become a positive influence in their lives.

 

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