This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Anonymous 1 year ago.
3 May 2012 at 7:54 am #2875
Hi Cathy–Thanks for providing the information and resources you do. As an elearning newbie, I especially appreciate your Action Mapping model. One thing I’m curious about is, how do you think it would work with already existing courses that are being revised? I can see how it would be extremely helpful when starting to design a new course from scratch, but am less certain as to how it could be applied to a course that has been around for a while but is being revised/redesigned, not necessarily overhauled. That is, the look/feel of the course is being updated, but the basic content is being kept, with relatively minor changes. It’s still largely an information dump–and given the technical nature of the course (how to use one element of our enterprise software), I’m not sure how it can be otherwise. Thanks for your help.3 May 2012 at 10:09 am #2876
It sounds like a difficult situation you’re in! A needs assessment would help get to the meat of the matter – why they think the course needs changing in the first place. If it is indeed just a facelift, if indeed the course achieves its desired outcome but just looks old, that is one thing. Asking questions about why they want to revise the course may raise issues that they feel they don’t have the time or firepower to address, though. For example, if the course has never been very engaging, and an attempt to change the fonts and graphics is all they’re prepared to do, the course will still fail to engage the employees. Technical training in a web based course is notoriously both overwhelming (information dump) and underwhelming (boring!).
It can be done, though. In Cathy’s February certificate seminar “Designing Powerful e-Learning”, one of the participants had just such an issue. He needed to figure out how to create engaging software training (I believe it was a medical health records program?).
The route Cathy guided us through started with an introduction to the software. A tour around the dashboard or home page, perhaps with small memory tests along the way so that people actually knew the structure and functionality the main features of the dashboard / home page. Then the next step would involve walking through a normal real-life activity – admitting a patient and prescribing some medication, for example. The user would first be shown the steps, and also the support tools available to them.
Then in the next portion, the user would be expected to complete a few of the steps in a similar real life scenario. The caveat here is that at this point, the user also has access to the real life support tools they would be using. How do I access the “Help” menu? How do I search for the names of medications? Cheat sheets briefly detailing the steps of common tasks (admitting a patient, prescribing a medication, etc). You are training them on how to figure it out for themselves! The course at this point allows them to make mistakes, but doesn’t allow them to fail. They can practice here for as long as it takes for them to feel confident that they can complete the tasks by using the support tools really available to them.
The last step would be a test. In a similar scenario, are they able to admit a patient and prescribe medications? They still have the support tools available to them, as they will in real life, but at this point they CAN fail if they don’t know what they’re doing.
Terry, what support tools do your users have available to them once they have purchased this enterprise software? Training to the real life tools is a major idea I took away from Cathy’s certificate program. This could raise more headaches if the tools either aren’t present or aren’t effective, but then you’ve got someplace to start from. A needs assessment will tell you if training is needed, but it can also open up a lot of doors. It can create a lot more work in the beginning, that is very true, but it can also guide you to the real heart of making a training successful.6 May 2012 at 12:38 pm #2879
Cathy MooreKey Master
Terry and Anna, thanks for the interesting conversation. Anna has given a lot of ideas of how to handle software training (thanks, Anna!) so I’ll focus on the issue of someone wanting to “touch up” a course without fundamentally changing how it works. As Anna mentions, there is probably a reason someone wants to give the course a facelift, such as a stakeholder thinks it looks old or boring, or (more importantly) learners have complained, they seem to be avoiding the course, or the course doesn’t seem to help.
If the course is an information dump that doesn’t seem to be helping people do their jobs, it probably needs more than a facelift. The trick is to convince the stakeholders of that. You might try a brief action mapping session (probably 60-90 minutes) in which you pretend that the current course doesn’t exist. Get together with the client, subject matter expert, and anyone else whose opinion can make or break your work. You might include a learner or two who recently completed the course and have opinions about how it could be improved. Use a room with a whiteboard or a virtual meeting with an online whiteboard. You can position this as you having to understand better what people use the course for and how it can best help them.
Start with the business goal, which might be something like “calls to the help desk about the software will decrease 20% by 2013.” Then list at least some things that people need to do with the software — the typical tasks they have to accomplish and how they should accomplish them. This might include stuff like, “Accurately update widget inventory using the Inventory function.”
Next, brainstorm (at a high level) the types of online activities that would help people practice doing a specific typical task in the online course. You might sketch a quick prototype of an activity, which could be a scenario like “Bob has to update the widget inventory. Where should he start?” and so forth. As you discuss the online activities, note the information that currently exists (cheat sheets, online help) that will help people complete the activity.
Again, this is just a meeting in a room with a whiteboard and should take 60-90 minutes. What it can do is help the stakeholders see, through their own participation in the design, that the course would be stronger if it helped people use the software to do their jobs, rather than just providing an information dump.
You might also show them some examples of technical training that you think works well. You might look at this demo from Allen Interactions and the much more basic example (and design walk-through) in the technical training section of the Elearning Blueprint, which is open to everyone.
Then, if the stakeholders agree that the course should be redesigned to include more practice activities and less information-dumping, you could rework the parts that are weakest, depending on how much time and budget you’ve got.
Good luck!8 May 2012 at 9:30 am #2883
Thanks to both of you for your help. I realize I’ve already been trying to implement some of these concepts, such as making the course objectives more action-oriented as opposed to merely being knowledge-oriented. I’ll definitely look at the demo and the info on the Elearning Blueprint. Thanks again for your tips.
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