Instructional Design

December 3, 2009


Exactly. I hate jargon. I’ve always found it to be a restriction on understanding. As a professional trainer I’m never  going to promote restrictions on understanding. But guess what. I now find that I’m an Instructional Designer!

In the old days when mobile phones weren’t mobile and lard was good for you, I used to write training material. Good interactive training material that made as much use of as many senses as possible to help people gain the knowledge or skill and then retain it. It had questions in it, exercises, activities, explanation for those that liked to understand the why’s as well as the whats, with a nice bit of repetition to help it stick, a step by step climb from the known to the unknown and a way of checking that the objectives had been met.

It fitted in with Blooms Taxonomy of learning, Gagne’s learning outcomes and other research work into how the mind takes information in. As I got better at it, the checks and questioning became more subtle, the activities and exercises got better at keeping interest while still pushing understanding and the explanations became more succinct.  

I’ve moved with the times and I now also put together training material for use on a PC or over the internet. These are sometimes stand-alone and sometimes part of a bigger package (I admit that I did start calling it blended learning, the buzz word for the day but am trying to kick that habit now).

These days when I now look for new training material projects to apply or quote for, I find they are almost exclusively IT based, which is potentially very good, and that they are looking for “Instructional Designers” who can deliver story boards and be experienced in graphic design, which worries me. Story boarding is used in gaming and film making and good graphic designers produce wonderful adverts and sublime looking websites.

My worry is that, what we will see being produced are packages that look fantastic, that have a whole load of great interaction and fun things to do that will keep trainees entertained for hours, but which lose some of the fundamental tried and tested processes that make the training effective.

When people first started pushing e-learning, it had less takeup than was imagined, with companies finding it over priced, with little possible interaction and too general to meet their needs. Now with the costs driven right down by the general availability of products that require little or no programming skills, there is the opportunity to overcome these objections and deliver cost effective, timely PC or web based training that truly meet the need of the target audience. It just needs to be good training practice.

So although using titles such as “Instructional designer” can add a few quid to the daily rate, I’m going to keep parading myself as a writer of training material, and I will use the most effective method of delivery to achieve the goals of the project. If that means it’s using PC’s, the internet or handheld devices, there is software such as Captivate, Articulate, Lectora, Flash, Swish and many others that I can use to deliver. And if the look needs tarting up to a level higher than I can produce? Then I’ll bring in a graphic designer to help.

Christmas party time again

December 2, 2009

It’s that time of the year when people like me do our best to dampen the fun of the festive season by reminding business owners and managers of all the damage to employee relations you can cause by inviting your team to let their hair down for just one night.

We’ll hit you with scary statistics about the number of people who get disciplined or sacked as a result of the christmas party and real off lists of different offences it is possible for your staff to commit while at the yuletide shindig. And guess what. They are the same offences that can be carried out any night of the year (though mainly at weekends) when people drink to much.

However there is a difference. It isn’t a normal night out and, unless you’re a very friendly bunch, it’ll be a night out with people your staff are unused to going out with, and that includes you.  It’s also something you’ve forked out for as part of your staff motivation budget – whether you see it as such or not, it’s what you want it to do – and as such it’ll need to be managed if it is to be a success.

Here are the tickguy’s top tips to a good knees up.

1/Make sure there’s food available

2/ Make sure staff know that if they go too far they can be disiplined

3/ Keep an eye, or get someone you trust to keep on eye on anyone who’s showing signs of drinking too much and have a plan in place for dealing with them.

4/ If you are holding the party in your office, lock the photocopier away and move desks out of the way to prevent them being danced on or damaged

5/ Likewise if partying in the office ban the mistletoe! While 80% of workers would laugh off being approached for a snog, 13% will lodge a complaint

6/ Ensure that neither you nor any of your managers find them selves unwittingly conducting a performance review at the party. A promise made after a few drinks is still a promise made.

7/ Make sure that staff can get home after the party without using their own car whether it’s a night time party or at lunch time

8/ If you’ve plied your staff with drink all evening, do you really expect them to drive in to work the next morning? Can other arrangements be made in advance.

9/ Plan for all eventualities. If you know two  staff members hate each other, filling them with booze and keeping them in the same room might be asking for trouble. Do you know how you will prevent things kicking off?

10/ While you can’t please all the people all the time, be sensitive to peoples views, dietry requirements and preferences.

Job Search Jargon

December 1, 2009


Whether you are a student looking for that first time or summer job or a long time veteran looking for a change of pace, this JOB SEARCH JARGON should help you get on your way…

We remain competitive by paying less than our competitors.

Work 55 hours; get paid for 37.5.

Management communicates, you listen, figure out what they want you to do.

You whine, you’re fired.

We expect that you will want to flip hamburgers until you are 70.

Management won’t answer questions

Some time each night and some time each weekend

Anyone in the office can boss you around.

We have a lot of turnover.

We’re not going to supply you with leads; there’s no base salary; you’ll wait 30 days for your first commission check.

We don’t pay enough to expect that you’ll dress up; well, a couple of the real daring guys wear earrings.

If we’re in trouble, you’ll go on TV and get us out of it.

You’ll need it to replace three people who just left.

You’re walking into a company in perpetual chaos.