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Monday, June 30, 2014

Objectives 101

What is an objective?
An objective in eLearning is a goal, which will be achieved after a course. This goal should be a cognitive or physical action, which will be discussed and made obtainable by the completion of the course. Your objective should be action orientated in nature and the results should be measureable.

How do you create an objective?
An objective is essentially three components that when combined create a clear path to your goal. An objective should include:

  • An Action/Concept/Performance/Description – The Action/Concept/Performance/Description, which is the primary focus for your training.
  • Rate/Deadline – The rate of increase/decrease as a result of the action or deadline for which the action needs to take place.
  • Result or End Criteria – The result that drives the reason for the training.

The compliance team has asked your training team to create a course, which will demonstrate to learners how to be OSHA compliant in Personal Protective Equipment in the manufacturing plant by the end of the year.  Let us use this information to create a first draft objective.

  • Your action/concept/description is OSHA compliance.
  • The rate or deadline is by the end of the year.
  • The result or end criteria is to be able to demonstrate proper use of Personal Protective Equipment.

By the end of this course, you should be able to demonstrate proper use of Personal Protective Equipment for the manufacturing plant as part of the OSHA Compliance initiative for 2014.

What should you take into consideration when drafting an objective?
  • Ask for information on the root cause for requesting training.  This information is usually a gap (identified or unidentified) which can help drive your objective(s).
  • Speak candidly with the requestor/SME/manager about attainability of the goals, measures, rate and deadline.
  • Use action words wisely. Telling someone you want them to understand a process does not mean competence or demonstration. I like to use Bloom's Taxonomy ofLearning Domains when choosing the verb to be used in an objective.
  • Objectives may not always remain concrete through the whole creation process.  Take time during development and review to reevaluate current content.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Smaller Chunks?

Have you ever started building or even worse taking a course only to find out it’s a million pages long and suppose to take eight hours? EIGHT HOURS! (Ok I might be exaggerating)....



Isn’t there a better solution? Why isn’t the material presented in smaller chunks? Isn’t there lessons within lessons that will help me reach the bigger picture. What if there was a technique in eLearning that I could utilize? 

There is…Chunking.

Chunking has been around since 1956 solves the age-old problem of presenting material in manageable sections. Just think about your telephone number. Do you spill out the numbers one at a time or give them to people using the area code + first three numbers + last four numbers? More than likely you’re doing the latter because it is scientifically proven and placed into practice that chunking content down allows for easier delivery and retention. Now imagine your course as a telephone number, each section building off the previous (area code + first three + last four) and eventually reaching the same unified goal (your telephone number).

So, how do you chunk? 

While most great stories start with outlines and courses start with story boarding, why not combine the two into a power couple. Using a storyboard to gather images, media and content place breaks into the content by using divider pages. Keep in mind that content hierarchy should drive creation. Each time there is a natural break in process, lesson, topic or screen insert the divider as a way to signify where content can be broken down. You can even chunk content at a page level by grouping items on the screen to be discussed.

My favorite way to storyboard when I know I’ll be chunking the content is to insert a hierarchy smart art at the beginning of a PowerPoint. This acts as a guide and outline.  Each time a new shape is added it will denote a new course or page depending on how deeply you can dive into content right away.

To further help with the chunking process use the following tips:
  • Take advantage of chunking’s cousins grouping and organizing.
  •  Unify content with a template, character or image to show continuation on
    one topic.
  • Use concise wording. 
  • Insert knowledge checks before a new topic is presented. 
  • If content doesn’t fit, it probably doesn’t belong. 
  • Weed through the content to determine real world value versus data dumping. 
  • Practice makes perfect.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Reusing Content

Reusing content is a cheap(er) and easy(er) alternative to creating new content. You can utilize the time and effort someone has taken to create content that provides benefits to learners (hopefully). When content becomes out dated, you can then reshape the content to meet the current standards. To successfully reuse content you will need to:

1. Analyze + 2. Plan + 3. Create + 4. Test

Step 1. Analyze content

As always, you should work with SMEs to determine the current subject matter, workflow, process or other descriptor that ties along with your content. Instead of focusing on things from start to finish, ask your SME….

Can anything be reused?  What is new?  Is it all still relevant? Does it still provide value? 

A few key areas that you should be able to reuse include information about the process in general (unless there was a complete overhaul), learning objectives and your target audience information. When looking at what is new ask yourself, can this information be better served in a document to accompany the course?  Remember recreating elearning isn’t always the answer. Gather as much information about the current process to review the subtle and not so subtle changes that have happened recently. Ask questions about complaints or gaps that have been noticed by management and make a plan of action to address the concerns. An important question to ask is what do you want the course to achieve now? Should they have a knowledge, comprehension or the ability of application when complete?

Step 2. Plan

Now is the time to storyboard or prototype the changes into a conclusive course. You should always keep in mind that updating content into a more deliverable manner would only increase the learner’s retention. Would the learner benefit if I added a visual or video? When planning a reused course you may run into issues with dated content and design. Be sure to update the course into the newest template and when possible provide better multimedia.

Step 3. Create

Using your analysis and storyboard begin creating a course that will advance the initial design.  Try new ideas to see if another format or presentation style would better benefit the learner. Use multimedia when possible to add to the engagement.  Edit previous wording to be concise and clear. While working on the course keep in mind that content might be better suited into chunks.

Step 4. Test

Take your newly created course to the masses. Starting with the SME and moving to a larger test group see if the content gets applause or upheaval. Try adding it into training programs that will provide candid feedback like a new hire orientation process.

That’s it! Now you have a reused course that includes new content, better design and addresses current issues. Be sure to schedule another check point with your SME to see if content has changed.

How do you reuse content?  Leave a comment below of tweet me @jvalley0714

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

50 Random Questions

I got hit with a pretty nasty cold last week and into this one so I figured I would keep my posting light.  Sorry for the day delay.  Feel free to let me know your answers to the questions on any of my social media sites :)

1) What is your middle name? 
2) What is your favorite subject in school?
I've been out of college since 2009 but trying to go back for a Bachelor's. In high school, my favorite subject was English Comp, Community College it was theater and right now, my professional development is mostly focused on communication and graphics.
3) What is your favorite drink? 
Pepsi and Salted Carmel frappes from Starbucks.
4) What is your favorite song? 
Dark horse by Katy Perry but it changes monthly.
5) Do you play any sports? If so, what are they? 
                                                 In high school, I played volleyball and was on the ski team.

6) What is your favorite color? 
Black and blues.
7) What is your favorite animal? 
Domestic - Dog Wild - Monkey
8) What is your favorite number? 
9) What is your heritage? 
I'm a mutt! Polish, German, and Irish mostly
10) Do you have any siblings? If so, how many? 
One blood sister, two step sisters, one-step brother, one sister in law, and two brother in laws
11) What is your favorite restaurant? 
Outback or Chili's
12) Who is your favorite youtuber? 
Oh gesh! Have you seen my Abc's of Youtubers post? If I had to say just one, it would have to be Karissa Pukas
13) What grade of school are you in? 
16 lol
14) How old are you? 
15) When is your birthday? 
February 20th
16) What is your favorite movie? 
Indiana Jones (all except the Crystal Skull), Batman series from the 90's by Tim Burton and Clueless
17) PC or Mac? 
18) What kind of phone do you have? 
Windows AT&T Go phone
19) How tall are you? 
20) Who is your favorite superhero? 
Captain America
21) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? 
Hogwarts or Australia
22) Are you left handed or right handed? 
23) What is your favorite kind of candy? 
Rolos and Three Musketeers
24) What is your favorite ice cream? 
Chunky Monkey by Ben & Jerry
25) Biggest distractor of your time? 
26) What is your religion?
Christian (Non-denominational)

27) What is your favorite movie series? 
Indiana Jones (except Crystal Skull)
28) Where are you from (born)/where do you live now? 
Michigan/South Dakota
29) What is your hair color? What is your hair texture?
I was originally born a blonde-haired person but now I'm more of a brown-haired person. I normally get blond and red highlights in the summer.  When I dye it, I usually do a dark brown color. My hair is mixed textures because I have a natural wave but it's also very fine.
30) What is your eye color? 
31) What was the last thing you had to drink? 
32) Worst injury you've ever had? 
I got an earring stuck in my ear lobe and had to have it surgically removed.
33) Do you miss anyone right now? 
Yes, my sister.
34) Last time you played a game? 
Last night I played Call of Duty online with my husband.
35) Last time you went to camp?
I went on an overnight camping trip for girl scouts way back in the day.  Otherwise, I like to go camping.
36) Place you feel most at home (other than your home)? 
In the water.
37) Do you have kids?
Yes, two sons (7 and 5).
38) Married, Single or Taken?
39) High school celebrity crush?
Harry Potter and Ron Weasley
40) Adult celebrity crush?
Jason Statham, oh who am I kidding, it’s still Harry Potter and Ron Weasly too.
41) Tattoos?
Yes, two.  Both are on my shoulders. One is a foot with my oldest's name underneath and the other is a hand with my youngest's name underneath. I'm ready for another one!
42) Which are better black or green olives?
Black but I like both.
43) What was the last concert you saw?
Umm, Ozzfest way back in the day.
44) Do you cry easy?
45) Walmart, Target, Kmart?
46) What do you wear to bed?
Nothing lol
47) Do you think musicals are cheesy?
Only in made for TV movies.
48)  Ever use a gun?
Yes and I plan to own one.
49) Do you dance or sing in the shower?
50) Biggest splurge?
Makeup, hair, and skin products.
Bonus) If you could fix one world problem, what would it be?

Reducing the number of orphans (either by medical care, stopping wars, placing children with families, providing food).

Monday, June 2, 2014

What is eLearning?

"What do you doing for a living?"
"I am an Instructional Designer."
"What is that?"

Have you ever had to introduction yourself to someone and when you tell him or her what you do for a living, they look confused? I find myself constantly trying to explain what eLearning is or what an Instructional Designer does so I decided to write a post about what eLearning means to me.

eLearning is the application, by an Instructional Designer, of learning and design theory and principals onto source material to create educational and multimedia content in a virtual environment, which serves a purpose.

If you are not familiar with eLearning, that statement may seem complex so let's break it down piece by piece.

“the application of…….learning and design theories and principals”

This statement is heavy; laden with theorists, psychologists, behaviorists and nut jobs guidelines, which help shape learning. Each one can create something formal, informal, ongoing, classical, active, sustainable, transferable or evolutionary. You will determine which theory or principal should be applied and to what degree. There are common workflows, which help to guide people through this process like ADDIE or SAM.

“onto source material”

Source material is content which shows the current and future state of the issue. It usually comes in the form of operating disciplines, best practices, company guidelines, objectives and safety concerns. The format for which it is delivered to you may vary such as PowerPoint, Word, word of mouth and Excel. You will need to weed through this material with an expert (usually called a Subject Matter Expert) to determine it's relevance with the project.

“to create”

The physical, mental and emotional process of prototyping what you received and theorized into a physical example.  Prototypes may be written, typed or programmed.  Common eLearning authoring tools include Articulate, Lectora and Capitvate.

“educational and multimedia content”

Your content must serve a purpose (discussed later).  Depending on the purpose selected, it will be your job to figure out the method and delivery where content will be absorbs and retained.  Delivery methods include audio, video and/or scenarios.

“in an virtual environment”

Content is distributed in varying forms but by definition should be done electronically. A common set up will include placing a course into a Learning Management System (LMS). You must understand the requirements and limitations that may be set and a constant understanding of the evolving technology is necessary. Some other examples of virtual environments include desktop, mobile and Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).

“which serves a purpose”

By far THE most important part of the sentence. A purpose for your material which brings light to it’s need, application and improvement.  Will your training solve problems? Help a company reach a better bottom line? Teach a new skill? Save lives? Your purpose should always be kept in mind and trump any other decisions that could be made.


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