Monday, June 01, 2009

#ASTD09 Powerful eLearning on A Budget

Presentation: Design Delirium - Designing eLearning on a Budget
Presenter: Scott Colehour, Allen Interactions

Been looking forward to this one....

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To what extent are the authoring tools determining the state of our eLearning?

What tool is right for you?
- Job Aid from Allen Interaction

Way they break down development issues and tools required for the project

Product - what is the desired end-product? What can the tool develop?

Process - does the tool or tool set help us implement process we use to develop? Process often missed.

People - HUGE. How smart are you in regards to programming, models, template development? We are trying to push down level of programming skills. May have gone TOO far.

Pressure - pressure to deliver. What is the timeline? If everything due tomorrow, will affect the tool you choose, the product you produce and your product.

Template-based tools focus on People and Pressure (fast), doesn't really address the end product and the process you use on a certain level. Just focus on "fast"

Product

What is effective eLearning? [Their definition]
- Builds skills
- Measurably improves performance.
- Doesn't do both - wasted time and effort.

3 Product Approaches
- Presentation
- Questioning
- Modeling - creating practice environments. Application practice.

Higher level - the model.
- We really need to focus on performance-based learning design.

Historical Precedent
- Notion of modeling around forever - apprenticeship.
- At some point in the past 60-80 years, telling became the standard. Doesn't hold as much design power.
- In business world and education world - we don't allow people to practice. Gotta go back and apply immediately when its super important. We aren't doing drills.

Design Methodology - Context Challenge Activity Feedback (CCAF)
- Activity - the main application practice part

Learning Experience - Meaning Memorable Motivational (MMM)
- Gotta be able (or willing) to remember the training
- Need to design the 3 Ms in.

Improving Skills - Outcome - Applicable Targeted Useful
- We usually give them SO MUCH INFORMATAION that it confuses. How to filter.
- Still got to make it useful to them

Why Modeling isn't used more (a lot of it has to do with the tools)
- Too difficult to design and build
- Don't have the programming skills
- Don't have the investment resources. (Org doesn't see return)
- We don't have the time

Process affects Product
- Presentation - Linear Process
+ Outline or Pert Chart (for branching) organization
+ Very simple and rapid
+ doesn't get at performance initiative

- Questioning - Template Process
+ Pre-structured question formats
+ Times when this is valid
+ Still not quite get at performance goals.

- Modeling - Programming process
+ Really need higher levels. Programming is Language!!!!
+ Advantages: Open-ended, flexible, powerful
+ Challenges: Complicated, Time-consuming, Costly

The cycle of development tools for eLearning
- Code - Plato learning
- Visual - Authorware, Flash
- Templates - Sealund, etc (constrained to templates)
- Code - Flash now considered programming language. Most use the code, not the visual interface.

As a tool-base, you want something visual with templates and can combine and some flexibility to do high-level.

Process and Ideas - Moving from idea to reality
- Ideation - process needs to be incorporated into toolset.
+ Most tools do not have design process built in.
+ Many still use post-its, paper, powerpoint, visio. Separate from toolset.

- Tools - still haven't found a tool that meets all criteria

Becoming Unreasonable
- "All progress depends on the unreasonable person." Won't fit themselves to what they have.
- We've been too reasonable - adapting too much to the tools that are out there!

Starting to do some research to help industry make better modeling tools.

What do we need?
- Design flexibility - not just putting together templates.....
- Modeling capability
- Development ease - shouldn't have to be a PhD in programming!
- Integrated ideation - ability to prototype and model and flow into designs
- Integrated collaboration

Allen Labs activities
- Starting to build development tools (Zebra?) The demo not a product yet.

[I may need to go investigate more closely tomorrow. Much easier to build more randomized choices - truth tables as engine to help with navigation. Very complicated in Captivate. VERY slick!!!!]


How to apply this to actual project
- Go through prototypes.
- Start simple level and go deeper.
+ Want to get a feel for how the person is going to go through the activity.
+ Storyboards won't give you the same level of information.

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And then the "but I need tools NOW! This isn't fitting the description as I understood it!" folks coming out. These are the same folks who looked really shell-shocked during the keynote.

Scott's point is well taken - if you want to do higher-level stuff, it is very time consuming and expensive, even with tools like Captivate. Their purpose, is to help create tools to do higher level interactions easily. So he's demonstrating that.

Here's the issue - many folks are not at the point where they are thinking in terms of higher level interactions. They are still stuck on the traditional course / presentation / multiple choice model.

They may also be having a tough time figuring out how to design such a beast. Their brain may not quite quirk that way. Linear vs. Branched. That's a pretty big design jump...

Maybe we underestimate the size of the gap.

Scott - if you read this for whatever reason, don't let them get ya. Looks like a very cool thing you all are working on! Hopefully - I'll get a chance to come visit and look closer.....

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