Monday, September 10, 2012

Teaching a Thought Process

On a bit of an LCD Soundsystem kick.  Not sure this has anything to do with this post.  
My blog...I can do what I want.

During one of my earlier zombie project reanimation efforts, the Data Whisperer asked me
"How can we teach people how to understand databases, how they work, how to design them and how to get information out of them?"

A year or so after that conversation, staring at a project intake document for a project called "LMS Data Integration v3," I thought "Guess we are just about to find out."  

Our content library has spiffy courses like "The Logical and Physical Database Design Methodologies" and "Introduction to Relational Databases".  Just reading the descriptions and objectives for these courses hurt my head.  And I have a lot more exposure to this sort of stuff than the audience we had in mind.  I don't see our audience making it through 30 minutes of these courses without throwing bricks at their monitors.

How do we get non-technical folks who have a vague idea of what they are looking for to think in terms of defining the information they need, the format they need it in, and where to get the pieces from?  If only to better help the technical folks help them.

As I've mentioned in a previous post - I've been picking through the Talent Development Reporting Principles (TDRp) information.

Because I figured if I can define the rules, I can win the game :)

That and now I have a document I can point execs and co-workers to that is written by folks that are not me.

Familiarity breeds contempt, ya know.

Sometime this weekend, while watching RGIII pick apart the New Orleans Saints defense, it dawned on me...

Backwards design!

The TDRp white papers have sample reports.  What if I looked at each of those reports and figured out where we would get the information for each section from?

Maybe if we figured out what our end-state reports would look like, we would have a road map towards developing data systems that would give us what we need.

The analysis would (hopefully) give me an idea of what I can do now, what needs to be changed, and where (or if) I can get the other information.

Over the next few posts - let's see whether this idea works.

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