What Are We Going to Teach?
What about the Instructional Designer working as a one-stop-shop in corporate America, who is wearing several hats to analyze, design, develop, deliver, facilitate, evaluate, and revise? As Instructional Designers gain work experience we internalize the process. It seemingly appears we 'skip' steps to get to a faster result, but we're really conducting the valuable analyses in our heads all the time. When a training request comes in and is prioritized as the next project, we quickly review what's needed and boil it down to an outline for the decision maker. Yes, sometimes these outlines are a full Learning Analysis Report and Instructional Media Design Report (LAR/IMDR), and sometimes it's literally a bulleted list of learning objectives, topics, and activities. It depends on the time and resources as well as what's acceptable to the decision maker. I've had decision makers ask me for a fully developed report, other decision makers ask for no more than three bullet points, and pretty much everything in between.
I was left asking myself, 'Other than the robust systematic design of instruction, is there another approach that helps the designer and the decision maker align their ideas faster?' 'And at the same time target the right performance metric?'
Analysis to Inform Instruction
- SME approach
- Content outline approach
- Administrative mandate approach
- Performance technology approach
Whichever approach is used to identify the learning goals, the instructional analysis gets us designers from the goal to the classification and sequence. At this point in the process, it's been my experience, that facilitation and instructional design diverge. Facilitators begin an agenda or outline having already determined an instructor-led class or webinar. Instructional Designers continue with another level of analysis around the learner context, write fully formed TLOs and ELOs, develop assessment items, design the instructional strategy, gather assets for the course and develop instructional materials.
Ironically, I was doing some research on Customer Experience design, or CX to learn how a team of CX designers might interact with learning and development groups when, after a few minutes of looking at the CX framework, I realized it could be used to inform instruction when there's little time and few resources for full analysis and design. I know, classically trained designers are cringing right now! I get it. One-stop-shop designers and facilitators are going to delight in this!
Because the person requesting training doesn't always have details about the performance issue, I've been asking questions around the goal they're trying to achieve rather than what kind of training they envision. This helps the conversation move into a gap analysis discussion and we can use the results as inputs to the possible solution. When they just don't know, I'm thinking that's where CX might come in as a tool for the discussion. Bringing up all the touch points in the customer experience could lead to identification of a goal, simultaneously demonstrate learning and development's awareness of the big picture, and open the conversation to possible solutions.
I'm thinking that as a designer or facilitator (or both), aligning training with CX reinforces the company's focus on creating a great customer experience. It helps inform relevant and timely training that's specific enough to meet immediate needs but also more broad to cover the big picture goals of delighting the customer in ways they didn't expect. At a minimum it helps draw examples that spark learning about the widespread customer touch points beyond the data input process or new technology being implemented.
Further Reading, Research and Application
Why? Because the speed with which nurses can be dispatched is directly correlated with correct data entry, not just accurate data entry, and the biggest mistake in data entry occurs because the requests are not clearly and correctly identified by the requestor as being new or existing. Only when the nurse receives the request, and is in the approve or deny decision process, does it become clear that the request was entered incorrectly and the process needs to begin again. This would be important to you as an intake clerk if your mother was sent home from intensive care after major surgery, and a nurse was not dispatched the following day as planned. The response family receives (as the mom is bleeding out through a patchwork of gauze), is that it can take up to 48 hours to get the nurse, not from the day mom is released from intensive care, but from the day the intake clerk receives the request. I only wish this was a made up example. It's a common scenario I've experienced as an Instructional Designer and as a daughter.
Another great resource for putting the CX framework into practice is Mapping Experiences (Kalbach, 2016). This isn't to suggest all designers and facilitators become CX design experts. I'm suggesting that we map the customer journey and list interaction points between the customer and company to better inform instruction.This might be in the form of better examples, relevant activities, or even in helping guide the conversation about performance goals and learning needs. It can definitely assist in sequencing and chunking lesson content in the absence of a full blown analysis phase. As of now, I have a lot of additional reading and research to do on my own, and I'm sure to have additional thoughts and examples to share as I go.
Going forward it's clear that curriculum will no longer focus on only the immediate need of IT training for new hires, core computer systems training such as Windows 10 and Office 2016, or process training. To push learning and development further, soft skills that empower the employees to empathize with and exceed customer expectations (i.e., needs) across the entire relationship will factor into the equation.
- Dick, W., Carey, L., and Carey, J. O. (2014). The Systematic Design of Instruction. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
- Kalbach, J. (2016). Mapping Experiences:A Complete Guide to Creating Value through Journeys, Blueprints, and Diagrams. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly.
- Webb, N.J. (2016). What Customers Crave. New York, NY: AMACOM.