Nov 18, 2011

A Little Happy-Dance Moment... & a Sneak Peek

So, today I got some kudos from our VP, and I was asked to present at the review board meeting (in about a month).  I'm excited, and super grateful for the compliment! It's really nice to receive unsolicited positive feedback about work you're doing.  While I wouldn't say this is my favorite elearning course ever, I think taking into consideration some of the things that I've been mulling over in my head has been beneficial.

First of all, it's an info-dump kind of course.  Let's face it, we all encounter those.  We have a "learner" audience (or at least many of them) that are out there doing stuff by the seat of their pants, and not bringing as much value to their position as they could, or as we (the company) had hoped in making this process part of surgeon training.  Instead of just dumping all this "recommended" topics list and process on them with bullets and maybe a few pictures, I tried to incorporate some of the things I've been thinking about - like connecting with our purpose - what's the real purpose for the learner to learn this stuff?

I also incorporated some example scenarios that would give them an idea of how the process would hopefully play out in real life.  We're not talking high-tech here, they're just little speech and thought bubbles while the voiceover will explain the process.  But just getting away from reading the screen & the full-paragraph-of-text-death-by-powerpoint way of doing things, I'm hoping to move at least a few steps in the right direction.

So far, as I mentioned, great feedback! So, that's a good thing! Now on to finishing the development & making it as valuable as possible.

But... there's this other element of the positive feedback... the fact that our VP asked me to present to the review board.  This is where my little "individual contributor" heart starts pounding and the butterflies start doing cartwheels in my tummy.  

I'm going to need to pick a few representative slides & present them - to VPs and people who make those big sweeping decisions about our business! EEK!! :)  I'm sure I'll be fine, but it's nerve-wracking, and out of my comfort zone.  I'll need to think of the module from a larger business perspective and how to talk about it that way, and practice, practice, practice.  Luckily, my boss is awesome & offered to help me practice before the meeting so I can be cool, calm & collected (which is hard for me sometimes) ;)  

So, if anyone is up for providing some helpful ideas on how to approach this whole business perspective thing, PLEASE leave some comments, shoot me a tweet (@megbertapelle) or an email

Thanks in advance!

Nov 11, 2011

Getting Things Done

While doing a Storify for DevLearn 11 to share with my team, I realized I made this one in September & never published it!

This #lrnchat discussion really resonated with me, and I wanted to remember it & share it, so here you go!

Nov 4, 2011

The Difference a Year Makes

In the interest of documenting for myself (and anyone else who may be interested) the differences between DevLearn 2010 and DevLearn 2011, I've embedded my Storify recap of DL10 here.  It look me almost a year to get to it, so there's some things that got lost, and some new things that I stuck in there because I thought they were interesting and related to the same topics.  I shared this with my team at work, although haven't heard any feedback from them yet.

I also ended up pitching a mobile collaboration tool project to my boss based on my experiences with social media & how much I have learned this past year. While my boss & team were excited about the idea, the advisory committee gave it the thumbs down - so it's tabled until we try again next year! I'm not giving up because I truly think it would be valuable to our users, but I'll have to wait until the next budget round. :)

I wasn't able to go to this year's DevLearn, so I've been scooping up lots of good tidbits while attendees tweet, live-blog and share the tools and resources they're gathering. I'm so looking forward to gathering interesting thoughts and recaps from my lovely PLN, keep those posts coming!

Happy Friday all!

Nov 2, 2011

Audience - how much does it matter?

This is just my humble opinion, but the more I think about audience, the less I think the differences really matter - at least in terms of instructional design. Let me explain... 

My audience for training materials at work is primarily sales representatives and surgeons. 

  • They are very busy professionals with lots of demands on their time and attention, yes. But who isn't? Even if you're a kid who doesn't have a job, you still are busy, with lots of demands on your time and attention. Those demands might include video games, sports, playing outside or thinking about what you'll ask for for Christmas, but they are still things a kid wants to think about. This aspect of my audience makes me try to reduce the time they are required to spend on training - especially trying to reduce any extraneous things that they don't really need to know or do in order to do their jobs more efficiently & effectively. What I'm saying is, always keep focused on the "need to know/do," don't limit that focus to the audience you think is "very busy."
  • Related to the "busy" aspect, I also want to provide my audience the ability to get straight to the information/practice that they feel is important to them at that moment.  I want to give them control over their learning experience so that they can skip things they already know and focus on material that is new/essential.  I realize that sometimes our clients or SMEs want the learner to see all the information, but if we're assessing their performance at the end, we shouldn't need to force the issue.  They are adults, and failure isn't always a bad thing!  We can learn more from failure than success, and as long as you give the audience the control to go back and review or practice, it will be a more meaningful experience.  Actually, I even think this one holds true for kids - give them the control & let them direct their own learning, you can't force it anyway.  So again, give all audiences control of the learning experience, not just the "busy" ones or the "adults," etc.  All audiences are going to learn more by self-direction, when you provide the resources and practice opportunities they need.
  • They also have a widely varied and complex job to do, in fact it seems so complex to me, I would never want to attempt either job myself.  But again, who doesn't? Are the jobs of an engineer or administrative assistant or instructional designer any less complex if you really break it down?  Probably not.  None of us live in a vacuum, and the complexity of our environment is universal.  This aspect of my audience leads me to try to break things down to the steps and building blocks of what they need to know/do, and build it back up to at least a somewhat-close approximation of a real scenario where they can practice application of the new skill.  Again, always provide this break it down & build it up process in your instructional design, don't limit it to only the audience you think has a "complex" job.
I will concede that language and culture aspects are always going to make a difference, and content is of course going to affect the ultimate design, but a lot of aspects of your audience really don't change much about a meaningful instructional design in my opinion.

What do you all think?  Have you found the differences in audience really change how you design your instruction?  Or, do you agree that mostly the specific aspects of the audience don't affect your design that much?

Nov 1, 2011

New Projects @ Work

Back at work from a nice vacation, and looks like some exciting developments in store for next quarter!
I get to start working on updating our clinical assessments to more of an assessment of application, which we all have always wanted to do & haven't been able to devote the time/effort. Since our team has grown from 3 to 10 in the last 3 years, and our lovely manager is pushing to complete the "vital few" projects and make them the best we can, we can now spend our time on improving the assessments. YAY!!! Now to do some action-mapping and scenario building! So, as my little one says: "I'm essited!!!!!!"


Over the last several weeks or even months, I have found that the tweets, articles and blog posts that were piquing my interest related mostly to blogging, and making a point of really reflecting on the things you've learned.  This blog will be my place to begin to make that effort.  I'm hoping it will help me to solidify the things I'm learning, think about how to apply them in my work, and even remember things that I've found interesting or meaningful as I go along.  

I welcome your comments and discussion, so please join me in this learn-along!