Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Articulate Live Recap - Part 2

Cathy Moore

Key Point:
  • Story (again with the story!) & emotion
  • Avoid information dump
  • Action not info
Similar to what Cliff talked about in the keynote but with more of a learning focus (Cathy is after all an Instructional Designer). Cathy spoke first about the business-as-usual information dump style of elearning and how ineffective it is. More here about emotional impact of a story on the learner as opposed to facts and figures. She had a great diagram of a typical course with a ring of quizzes, each one attached to a piece of information, and all those bits of information converging in on the faulty assumption that got the whole thing going: the learner needs to KNOW something. The learner, of course, needs to DO something.
She then walked us through her process which she calls action mapping. It involves four steps, which basically are:
  1. Identify goal of the course
  2. Identify actions to achieve goal
  3. Design activities that put actions into practice
  4. Identify the least info ("What people really, really need to know).
There was a lot of good stuff here. I'm not an Instructional Designer (and I don't even play one on TV) but I have worked with a lot of IDs and I've been in elearning for a decade now. A lot of this stuff is very familiar: the course goal should be tied to business objectives, objectives should be SMART, avoid thought-based learning objectives etc. But I really like the way she said a lot of it and I really, really like the mapping approach. It's like mind mapping in course dev. I think that it opens some interesting doors. Of course, when it comes down to it, a course with a story, even a branching story, is going to be linear. But in the initial stages, there is no reason why you have start with that kind of framework. The mapping metaphor might let the story grow more organically.
Some tidbits from the session:
  • Create questions that test synthesis, not retention.
  • Rather then teach a bunch of info, put the info in a job and teach how to use the job aid.
  • There are two kinds of job aid: Planners (used before the task) and Sidekicks (used after the task).
  • Avoid verbs that happen in the head (for learning objectives)
  • Create activities that test if the learner can use the information, not if they know the information
  • How will you know if the course has succeeded (i.e. met business objective).
Further reading:
Customer Success Stories
Dan Rollins - Allianz
Brian McFarlin - Univeristy of Houston
Eric Berg - LINGOs

Interesting talks from these gentleman about how they have incorporated Articulate tools into their very different work environments. Interesting but not terribly useful. I found them a bit too specific to their own circumstance and the talks too general and high level to be of much use. One very interesting tidbit from Brian though:
Now my understanding of the conventional wisdom about the GenY population entering the workforce is that they are all digital natives and therefore they are primed and ready to go with elearning. They don't have the mental barriers that Boomers or GenXers might have. But Brain's take on it went like this: the school had been pushing professors to put portions of their course on line, but these folks had no idea how to do that and were very skeptical online learning anyway. So they'd take a transcript of their lecture, turn it into .pdf, put it online and call it elearning. When Brian came along and tried to do an actual blended approach with real elearning tools, these GenY students were very resistant to the idea at first, because they already had exposure to 'elearning' and it had been lame. I know it's always tricky to talk in generalities about any group, and probably every college is having a slightly different experience with elearning, but I still found it fascinating that this one anecdotal experience bucks the established stereotype. The poplulation that we are expecting to be wide open, could very well have a subpopulation that is already biased against.

End of part 2


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