Category Archives: Project Management

Relationship Building Excels Instructional Design

Working-togetherRelationship building is sometimes an overlooked aspect in the instructional design field. However, relationship building is an integral part to successful ID development. Subject matter experts, course reviewers, and design teams all contribute to the Instructional Design process and if one does not cooperate, the integrity of your project can be at stake. But with collaboration and solid relationships, your Instructional Design project can excel. Therefore, it’s important not only to advocate for sound instructional design practices, but also to advocate for the needs of your contributors.

Liz Ryan, CEO Human Workplace, states “project Management is a collaboration among people who all want the same thing and/but have widely varying views on the best way to get there. A project manager’s job is to keep everyone on the team feeling valued and listened to while keeping the many moving parts on track.” (source: http://lnkd.in/bMzz-hf)

How do you keep your team feeling valued and listened to?

Respect Their Ideas and Expertise

At BlackLine Systems, the Product Training team works closely with subject matter experts in deciding which content is relevant and valuable. The SMEs have input in the initial course planning and script-writing steps, as well as with the final course review. Their input is invaluable for creating accurate course content.

Respect Their Time

The Product Training team is cognizant and appreciative of our SME’s time. We work on a schedule that best meets their needs, even if it means arriving at the office before 7 am or staying past our normal work hours.  The key is being flexible so that our SME’s are comfortable with recording with us.

Bond

When you spend a full day in a recording studio with your SME, you become pretty close to them in a short time. I spent a lot of time with a SME who was from out of town and was staying at a hotel. Even though we had met only prior to recording, I invited him for dinner and bowling after work with my friends. We spent all day cooped up together, I couldn’t imagine him staying cooped up in a small hotel room all night either. He accepted the invitation and we had a fun time relaxing outside of work. Now, whenever he’s at headquarters, he stops by my desk to say hello, an indication that we’ve developed a good relationship.

Praise Publicly

I think it’s also important to praise your collaborators. At BlackLine, we have a points system, called You Earned It, in which you give points to your colleagues that can be redeemed for prizes. The points seemed hokey at first, but it’s a positive way to thank your colleagues for their help. You can also set the points award to be public, which is a nice way to let the entire organization know that “hey, this person went out on a limb for me”. This public acknowledgement spreads good will and feelings of being appreciated.

Acknowledge Their Contributions

Our Product Team recently presented at the company’s monthly meeting (each month a different team presents). This was yet another avenue to express our gratitude to those subject matter experts, course reviewers, and designers for their help. Recognition is not necessarily a driving factor for why colleagues help Instructional Designers, but it’s a positive way to show mutual respect. I’m glad our company offers these ways to encourage collaboration.

With respect and acknowledgement, instructional designers can build successful relationships with their colleagues, which in turn will aid in the creation of excellent training and educational materials.

Action! Activity! Stimulating Interaction in eLearning

An instructional designer can stand out from others by developing comprehensive learning experiences that stimulate user interaction.

There are three components to instructional design development that are typically included in eLearning:

  1. Tell– the user about the subject matter
  2. Show– the user the subject matter with images and videos
  3. Do– provide the user with a practice activity that replicates what was told and shown

The tell and show are most commonly used in instructional design because they take less time and resources to develop.

Depending on the scope and time frame to develop the training project, talented instructional designers are able to create a stimulating user interaction experience—the Do.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to begin new projects where I’ve scoped out interaction.

After discussing the timeline and workload with my colleagues, we decided to complete two reiterations of the courses.

The first versions of the courses include the “tell” and “show” components. We decided to launch these first versions of the courses in order to provide our users with timely content. The second version of the courses will include the tell and show content, but will also include user activities.

We record all of the content pieces for both versions of the course at the same time, but post production is first conducted on the Tell and Show version. After a course is complete and launched to to the users, the Do content is then edited, added to the course, and relaunched to the users.

The content for these courses were produced as follows:

  1. Tell– Use Adobe Audition to record subject matter experts’  narrations of the content
  2. Show– At the same recording sessions as the “tell”, the subject matter experts’ record a screen capture using TechSmith’s Camtasia. After editing these with the voiceovers, the final result are “Demonstrations” that show the user the subject matter
  3. Do – The final piece of production is recording a second version of the subject matter in Adobe Captivate. We’ve been able to record Camtasia and Captivate on the same computer, at the same time. After post production is concluded on the tell and show, attention is focused on producing “Try-It’s” that allow the users to practice what they learned earlier in the course.

Flipped on a Budget

My article on the Flipped classroom in Legal Education was published by EdTech Magazine and received so many comments that I wanted to talk about the major aspects that prevent people from making Flipped Classes.

Cost and time.

If you’re new to making flipped classroom videos or don’t have the support from your administration, you may find that you have to choose between quality, cost, and time. The old Project Management adage is that each project takes Time, Quality, and Cost, but the paradigm states that you can only truly focus on two of these values.

I recommend focusing on the Quality of Content:

Low Production Value-

Use a Webcam and headset with a lecture capture system to record your lessons. Your school  may already have access to Web conferencing or lecture capture systems such as Panopto, Wimba, ATT Connect, Blackboard Collaborate, or any Web conferencing system that records.

Focus on Content-

Spend your time working through your lectures and creating visual graphs and illustration of the ideas you plan to present during your recording. Remember, if the content is worthwhile, your students will be willing to watch it. Remember to leave all dates and times out of the script so that you can reuse the videos for future classes, doing so will save you valuable time in the future.

Audio-

Make sure your voice is being recorded clearly. Mute all telephones in your office. Turn off or mute all other applications that may make noise through your computer speakers, and hang a sign on your door stating that recording is in progress.Testing the audio and minimizing interruptions will reduce recording time.

No Post-Production-

Save time and cut costs by eliminating post-production. As long as the content is clear and can be understood by your audience, don’t worry about editing. Your learners will understand that the message is what’s important, not the quality of the video.

Once you find the value in flipped classes and are comfortable with this teaching pedagogy, you can spend more time and money creating professional videos. But I recommend that you take a low-cost approach to create flipped classrooms in order to mitigate the risk. You can also convince your administration to fund future high value video production projects if they see a pilot flipped class has succeeded.

Start somewhere- start with a low budget and great content!

KISS Keep it Simple (& Meaningful), Stupid! Getting Faculty to Use Tech

As part of my duties as Manager of Instructional Technology at Pepperdine University School of Law, I must encourage the use of Educational Technology by faculty. This is a common task of any Educational Technologist.

One of the challenges is convincing Law Faculty to use technology when their traditional classroom pedagogy is based on the Socratic Method  or “inquiry and discussion between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas.” Logically, you don’t need technology to have a discussion.

Another challenge is that when faced with something new, there is a learning curve to become comfortable in using the tool or technology. As an instructor, I know first-hand that it can be difficult to attempt something new in front of your students, there’s an inherent fear of  seeming incompetent in the face of your students.

However students and learners, are increasingly in want of “innovative and stimulating” classes that utilize digital media and audio-visual learning aids to enhance instruction.

To bridge this gap of overcoming fears of incompetence and providing students with the technological-supported classes they desire, Educational Technologists, must help faculty feel comfortable with using Ed Tech. It’s also important that faculty are semi-autonomous in their use of Ed Tech so that they can proceed with instructing without the need of an IT support person present at the start of class.

Simple and meaningful user interface design is one of the first steps to getting EdTech used effectively in the classroom.

The School of Law recently completed an Educational Technology Update construction project to many of its classrooms. This project included the installation of computers, projection screens, touch screen monitors, and document cameras, among other instructional tools.

Screen3To encourage the use of these instructional tools, the Information Services team set out to create an easy to use control panel. The control panel is a 4″ touch panel that sits on the top of each lectern near the computer monitor and auxiliary ports. It controls the start up and display of all of the instructional tools available in the classroom.

It was important that the User Interface Design of this control panel was simple, easy to understand, and contained all of, but not more than, the features necessary to run a tech-enabled class session.

The approach used to decide on the final design was as follows:

  1. Research
  2. Design
  3. Gather Feedback
  4. Redesign
  5. Implement

Research- I contacted several different professional schools and law schools in the nation and asked if they could share pictures of their control panel user-interface. Several other Ed Tech professionals also gave valuable insight into what they would do differently if they could re-design their control panels.

Design- After some deliberation with my Information Services colleagues, I developed 3 different iterations of the design with a flow-chart of the actions.

Feedback- Two design options were brought to the faculty (the end-users) for feedback and discussion. I made sure that the faculty represented a variety of skill-levels from the minimal-tech user to the experienced-power user. The designs were simple mock-ups on paper, that indicated the flow of the features. I walked each faculty member through the “pushing” of buttons, showing them what each action led to by flipping the paper mock-ups in order of the design flow.

Receiving input from the end-users is a strategic way of getting user buy-in. Many of the faculty I spoke to were very excited and grateful that their input was effectively utilized in the final design.

Redesign- I took the notes, comments, and feedback from the faculty on the initial design and created a final design. Instances in which  faculty opinions conflicted I made a judgement call based on what I thought the majority of the faculty would want.

Implementing- I met with the technology vendor and worked through the final design. I had to be very specific and firm with our needs so that the design on paper was properly translated to the actual control panel.

The result was fantastic! The control panel does exactly what they need it to do with very few “clicks”, therefore, the goal of creating simple and meaningful design was accomplished. Many faculty that used to rely on Information Services to start their class technology have become autonomous. It’s been several weeks since the system was implemented and we’ve seen an increase of faculty using educational technology in their classes.

For any Educational Technologist implementing a new system, don’t forget to KISS. Keep It Simple, (stupid)!

Ooh, Shiny & New! Using a Project to Meet Colleagues

Pepperdine University School of Law spent several months planning and designing a classroom upgrade, fondly called the educational technology update (or ETU).

As a new member of the Information Services team, I joined the project in its initial planning phase. Funding had been approved but information regarding the ETU requirements needed to be collected. I spent the first couple months of my new job interviewing the School of Law Faculty. This was fruitful in two ways. The obvious, we received valuable input on what technology was needed in each classroom and thus secured faculty buy-in on this great change.

The less obvious reason why the Faculty interviews were fruitful is that it introduced me, the new Manager of Instructional Technology, to the Faculty.

There’s nothing like jumping in the deep-end to get to know your colleagues and gain respect.

I spent hours meeting with Law Faculty members interviewing them one-on-one about the classrooms, their expectations, their hopes, and their needs.

These meetings provided me with an opportunity to show the tenured and adjunct faculty that I was knowledgeable and credible in my field of Educational Technology. It also showed the faculty that I had a genuine interest in their opinions and skills. It also opened up conversation and started relationship-building. It showed my constituents that I was someone they can come to me for technical support, problem solving, and brain-storming.

As a new employee, I highly recommend communicating in person. Get out from behind the computer and off the telephone. Knock on doors, make your face and voice known, but above all, listen to what your colleagues say and follow-through with the best of intentions. Doing so will reiterate the fact that you a valuable part of the team.

Instructional Design Document

Tool: Instructional Design Document

Category: Template / Project Management Documentation

Description: Many instructional designers utilize Design Documents to manage and document the design of instruction. Design Documents are essentially a formal outline that details what is to be included in the instruction. They serve as a “road map” during the Development phase. Design Documents allow for consistency among training and educational courses within a set curriculum. They also ensure accuracy no matter which Instructional Designer is assigned to work on the program. They also serve as a valuable project documentation tool to keep track of work hand off, version updates, and changes to the curriculum.

Many organizations have their own Design Document templates, but basically contain the same components (including, but not limited to):

  • Purpose and Objective
  • Audience/ Learner Analysis, including skills and knowledge gaps
  • Learning outcomes
  • Assessment Plan, including activities and methods of measuring learning outcomes
  • Instructional Strategies
  • Resources, including learner and instructor resources (textbooks, articles, case studies)
  • Media to be developed, such as slideshows, documents, video, podcasts
  • Scope and Sequence of Lessons / Topics
  • Team members and their responsibilities, including ID, SME, Media Experts, Graphic Artists, etc
  • Approvals
  • Evaluation Plan to measure the success of the overall instruction (not just the learning outcome assessment)
  • Maintenance Plan

Application/Example: I created a Design Document to aid in the consistent design of short 2-5 minute primer videos. These videos are directed towards students to help them understand the course lesson outcomes and what is expected of them. This design document is being used for both my online class in Professional Development at Ithaca College and also as a guide for Pepperdine University School of Law’s introductory courses.

Here is a PDF example of my Design Document for lesson 1 (of 8) of Professional Development II.

Design Document

Back to Portfolio

Put the Design Back in Instructional Designer!

Previously, we discussed the basic framework of the Instructional Design Model ADDIE, which is an acronym for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. I’ve discussed the different key components of creating effective instruction, including a specific post on Evaluation: Evaluating Learning, It’s Important! Kirkpatrick’s Model. But now, I’d love to discuss something that gets me excited in my work— the DESIGN phase!

Content or Design

Copyright by Joshua Porter, bokardo.com

After data collection, research, and analysis to determine the educational and training objectives as they align with the audience, the Design phase is when content decisions and creation come to fruition. Keep in mind, the end goal of instructional design is the use and the learning that occurs.

Many instructional designers, myself included, utilize Design Documents to manage and document the design of instruction. Design Documents are essentially a formal outline that details what is to be included in the instruction. They serve as a “road map” during the Development phase.

Design Documents allow for consistency among training and educational courses within a set curriculum. They also ensure accuracy no matter which Instructional Designer is assigned to work on the program.

They also serve as a valuable project documentation tool to keep track of work hand off, version updates, and changes to the curriculum.

I’m a sucker for process and anything that aids in effective work practices. Processes, documentation, and planning can help aid in the success of an instructional project. Planning via Design Documents assures that each component of instruction is thoroughly thought out. Instruction that is rushed into development before considerations of design are more likely to fail or face obstacles. For an example, view the article by the LA Times on how well-intentioned programs shouldn’t be rushed.

Many organizations have their own Design Document templates, but basically contain the same components (including, but not limited to):

  • Purpose and Objective
  • Audience/ Learner Analysis, including skills and knowledge gaps
  • Learning outcomes
  • Assessment Plan, including activities and methods of measuring learning outcomes
  • Instructional Strategies
  • Resources, including learner and instructor resources (textbooks, articles, case studies)
  • Media to be developed, such as slideshows, documents, video, podcasts
  • Scope and Sequence of Lessons / Topics
  • Team members and their responsibilities, including ID, SME, Media Experts, Graphic Artists, etc
  • Approvals
  • Evaluation Plan to measure the success of the overall instruction (not just the learning outcome assessment)
  • Maintenance Plan

I’ve been working on a project designing the curriculum for short orientation videos. I’ve taken this opportunity to create my own Design Documents for program design, scripting, and story-boarding. And I’m loving the design process! You can view the Instructional Design Documents I created in my Portfolio.

The Bookshelf of an Instructional Designer

What’s on the bookshelf of an Instructional Designer?

Mine has a mix of eLearning, Instructional Design, IT, and Management titles, not to exclude my stuffed Steven the Duck mascot from Stevens Institute of Technology or my friendly San Diego Zoo elephant.

What’s on your bookshelf?

photo 1 photo 4
photo 3 photo 2

Titles include:

The ASTD E-Learning Handbook, by Rossett

The ASTD Handbook of Instructional Technology, by Piskurich

Teaching with Classroom Response Systems, by Bruff

Papers of the 2008 Conference for Undergraduate Research in Communication, by the Rochester Institute of Technology

Innovation and Entrepreneurship, by Drucker

Information Security Risk Analysis, by Peltier

Michael Allen’s Guide to e-Learning, by Allen

Competing in the Information Age, by Luftman

Fundamentals of Project Management, by Lewis

Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology, by Reiser & Dempsey

Strategies and Techniques of Law School Teaching, by Katz & O’Neill

Designing Effective Instruction, by Morrison, Ross, Kalman, & Kemp

Instructional Design, by Smith & Ragan

The Portable MBA in Entrepreneurship, by Bygrave

Strategic Management: Formulation, Implementation, and Control, by Pearce & Robinson

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge

Managing the Information Technology Resource, by Luftman

Evaluating Training Programs, by Kirkpatrick & Kirkpatrick

Design for How People Learn, by Dirksen

Now You See It, by Davidson

Exploring More Signature Pedagogies, by Chick

Foundations of Educational Technology, by Spector

The Great LMS Transition

BB_Moodle_icon_blog_31As an Educational Technologist, you may encounter a time in your career when you must evaluate and select a new vendor. I would like to recount one such experience. My department- an Online Graduate school- decided to evaluate learning management systems to see if a change would be beneficial and effective. Our analysis of several different vendors led us to the decision that, yes, a change would be positive. Now we needed to determine a transitional plan so that the change had a lesser impact:

Design the Layout of the Courses – A lovely and exciting task for an instructional designer! The online education department met several times to discuss and deliberate on the course layout, with our professors and students in mind. The professors would eventually take over the building of their courses, so we needed to make sure they had every feature they typically use. The students would be the end users. We had several faculty members act as Subject Matter Experts to help us with final decisions.

Have a plan­- The online education department had an agreed upon plan for the migration of the course sections (roughly 200 unique sections per term or 600 course sections total). Each member of the department would:

1) “Sign out” a faculty member, and document this information on the department-shared data sheet

2) Inform their faculty member that they would be working on transitioning the faculty member’s courses

3) Back up the course section

4) Copy the content from the old LMS to the new LMS system

4) Move content within the course according to the previously established course design

5) Confirm with the faculty member the successful migration of their course

6) Train the faculty member on the use of the new LMS and in doing so, verify that all course content is accounted for

Communicate with Your Faculty- We informed faculty what needed to be done, why it needed to be done, how it was going to be done, by whom, and in what time frame. Answering these questions thoroughly helped eliminate fears of the transition. It was also important that each faculty member had a single point of contact within our department so that communication was stream lined.

Start Early- The migration started during the Spring term and needed to be completed by August to ensure that every course was migrated and faculty were properly trained before the start of the Fall term. It was also important that the migration process was completed well in advance of the termination of the former LMS contract. This way, we could be sure that we retrieved all course content for each course before we lost access to the former LMS.

Backup and Make Duplicates- to ensure that if a course transition failed from one LMS to the new one, we still had access to the original course.

Communicate with Your Colleagues- We created an Excel Spreadsheet on a shared department drive (GoogleDrive, DropBox services will suffice as well). Each member of the department needed to “sign out”a faculty member to work with BEFORE they began the process. This limited the chance of a multiple people doing the same (and conflicting) work.

Document the Progress- The previously mentioned Excel Spreadsheet, shared by the entire department, also helped us keep track of our progress as a department and give updates to those who inquired.

Follow up with and Train Faculty- Finally, we made sure that each faculty member was trained in the new LMS so that they could effectively create their own future courses. In addition, we followed up with them in the first two weeks of the semester to make sure that they were okay with the new system.

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