Friday, March 13, 2009

X minutes

During the AG09 morning session, Craig Wiggins tweeted:
misconception 2: "I need you to create 1 hr of training" what huh? e-learning is supposed to render that irrelevant

I have been thinking about this same issue for almost a week.

Karl Kapp has posted a survey to see how much time it takes for us to develop e-learning.

A link to Karl's survey.

This is where I demonstrate my complete lack of professionalism.
I have my "Instructional Designer" badge ready to turn in, if necessary....

As I attempted to complete Dr. Kapp's survey, it dawned on me that I don't develop materials based on "1 hour of instruction" anymore. There are only 3 time measures I look at.

1) What is the maximum amount of time I have with the student? This is how I interpret the "I need X hours of materials" request. Haven't had anyone complain yet about something taking LESS time. And I've been at this 6+ years.

2) What is the "deadline" for mastery? (Right after they finish engaging with the instruction? A couple of weeks? A "drop-dead" date?)

2a)Is this "deadline" realistic? (This is where client expectation management comes in....Thank heavens for the education bloggosphere!)

3) How much time do I have to come up with something?

In Wendy World - the actual amount of time a student has to engage with what I will call "first-exposure instructional material" (whether it is classroom or online) would be minimal. Minutes. Anything created in support of that would be easily accessible for job aids afterwards. Split up so that they can get to only what they need at that time.

My goal these days, for almost any instruction, is to give folks what they need WHEN THEY NEED IT!!!! And create a reasonably easy place for them to get it (while also addressing the client's need for metrics).

These days, I spend more time focused on support materials and tools than I do on "creating instruction." In my mind, this is a good thing.

The way I think about paper documentation and online tutorials is more in number of pages. "How many pages / slides will it take to explain x"

Evaluation is based on the complexity of the task / objective. Too complex - I split it up. More than 100 slides for an online tutorial, I split it up.

What is the shortest/easiest way to explain something / facilitate learning a particular objective for the student?

How much can I reduce the "seat time"?

How small can I make those chunks?

Does it need to be an interactive tutorial or is 1 sheet of paper more useful?

How many people have to sign off on the materials before they are put in an accessable area?

Planning for all of this happens at a gut level. Much of my work is software simulation. I've been doing this for my entire 6+ year career as an Instructional Designer / Technologist / Trainer person. As a result, I've got a really good idea of how long it will take to explain a particular process within that realm and can estimate from there.

I'm also comfortable with the tools I use (Captivate, Word, HTML, Camtasia, Photoshop) and know I can develop x amount of material in x amount of time with a standard level of interactivity, barring any weird technical glitches.

(BTW - I am defining "standard" as click boxes walking through a linear process. No branching. No variables.)

My current measure - a 75-100 slide interactive Captivate project with narration and one menu = 1 week to completed, fully functional, glitch-free first draft.

I could probably do more - but I have teaching, meetings, LMS administration and other stuff I have to do too. It's a very rare week when I only have to concentrate on one thing.

The above estimate assumes that I am already familiar with the processes or content involved. Lack of familiarity with the application or topic means that I have to set aside personal education time. The more complicated the topic, the more time that takes.

I'm one of these people who have to go through the learning process FIRST before I can guide others through it. Researching. Looking for sticky-points, areas that make no sense, potential end-user hiccups. Asking moronic questions. Breaking things (and figuring out how to fix them).

This process is the same whether I am working on software training or soft-skills.

I quadruple the "instructional designer education" time if I am working with SMEs and don't have ready access to the information I need.

If there is a "multi-party approval process" involved, a short 30 slide tutorial can take upwards of a year from start to finish. Because there is usually a high level someone who would rather see the material in blue Arial 12 pt text with a pale yellow background rather than the template you have used for all of your other projects.

Do I know whether something is going to take 20 slides / pages or 2000 slides / pages going in?

No - but I have a gut feeling. I find out pretty quickly during the design phase whether my gut is off the mark.

So my next task is to figure out how to turn that gut feeling into something more predictable.

1 comment:

The upsycho said...

Craig's tweet makes me think of an all too frequent situation, when they client knows what they want before you've even done a needs analysis. In other words, the scope of the need is undefined, but the solution is defined. It's called the zone of absurdity... and with good reason!