Practitioner Profile


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Practitioner Profile

  1. 1. 1 1 Practitioner Profile – Brom Kim Practitioner Profile: Brom Kim  There are few people who motivate us in life. If we’re lucky we can find someone with passion and fervor for shared interests who is willing to teach and guide us. So many of us get caught up in the rapid day-to-day routines that we lose sight of what we do, and more importantly, why we do it. However, some people have a unique perspective of the world and take the time to analyze their surroundings and influences. These people are able to look beyond the surface and see what really matters. They know why they do what they do. They know how to move forward and break the routine – break the mold. Brom Kim is one of these people. I met Brom approximately three years ago when I fell into the profession of instructional design. I’ve had a passion for writing my whole life and was excited to find a profession where I could earn a living doing it. However, writing and applying instructional design theories and methods are two very different skills. Brom taught me that. He was the manager of my new department. But more than that, he was and is a mentor. I have never before or since had the luxury of a manager who strives to improve his employees and plays a personal role in doing so. Brom had a vision, an environment resistant to change, and a rag-tag group of former trainers who thought developing curriculum was easy. Through patience, perseverance, a strong understanding of instructional design, and the unique ability to explain it to a novice, Brom took his meager resources and created one of the most innovative curriculum development teams in the local industry. He taught us the basics of instructional design principles, but most importantly, he taught us how to apply them. He created new foundations and organizational structures for the department and changed the way it ran. How often do you receive an education and a pay check all in one? Brom motivated me to strive for excellence. He made me look at my job as a career, and I thank him for that. He has since moved on from the company where we met and is an independent instructional design consultant and contractor. This assignment allowed me the opportunity to learn more about his new role and to see how he views the current trends of instructional design and technology.  
  2. 2. 2 2 Practitioner Profile – Brom Kim   Q. How would you describe yourself in general? As a professional? And how do those two aspects fit together? A. As an individual, I like to learn. As a professional, I don’t like to stand still. When I run out of space, I move on. I am not unkind, impatient, or arrogant. Caution is fine, but I have limited patience for change resistance for its own sake. Q. I understand that you’ve had a number of different occupations and positions on your road to becoming and instructional designer and consultant. Can you please list your previous jobs and explain how they have impacted you or prepared you for your current role? A. All work experience is relevant, since we are called on to build diverse instruction for diverse audiences and skills. The high point for me was as a pro ski and snowboard instructor. I taught a lot of folks to ski and enjoy the winter mountain environment. I also learned a lot about instructing and learning. Q. What motivated you to move into instructional design? A. I made up my mind right after undergrad that creatively combining multi-media, learning, and computing would be great fun, and it has been. Database and Web development have also been central to recent work. Q. What is your educational background and how has it helped prepare you in the field of instructional design and technology? A. I consider my childhood and work experience as important as formal education. I have a BA in history and anthropology, and an MA in instructional design and technology. The anthropology minor has been useful in instructional design.
  3. 3. 3 3 Practitioner Profile – Brom Kim Q. What kind of knowledge, training, or experience do you believe is necessary to succeed as an instructional designer in today’s workforce? A. “You don’t need to create ROI… just buy my talking PowerPoint… move along…” If you have ever taken more than a few corporate talking PowerPoint trainings, how much do you enjoy them? I am not some Luddite curmudgeon, but the field is called “instructional design,” not “forget design, let’s go build stuff.” Engagement doesn’t come from a computer or a trainer, rather from the same things that have always motivated learners, including such corny, frivolous items as the joy of figuring things out that are relevant to your existence. To give learners this experience, it helps to do some observing and thinking on what folks need, and the best ways to get it to them. Analysis and design are practical common sense activities that anyone can do, that have not gone out of style, but while temporarily obscured, are more important than ever, by golly. Q. Technology is a large part of instructional design. How do you apply technology to improve instructional design and the learning experience? A. I can do the talking PowerPoint, the branching simulation, Flash simulation, the .swf, the .flv, the InDesign, the Snake, the Monkey, the Tiger…. Economists and meteorologists do complex modeling of big, variable, difficult to predict things. I think computing has applications in all phases of instructional design work, not just development. I see a lot of work on large programs coming from more whimsy than data. The essence of good design, to me, is making a lot of small, informed decisions about things that add up to big conclusions. Keeping track of, sorting, filtering, and matching data makes this possible, where an individual’s memory would lose track of the big picture. Also, communication options via new technology are great. I recently did a project with folks on the east coast using Skype and SharePoint for collaboration. I don’t think anything was missed because of geography, but the time and cost savings were great. Half the time I work in an office, I use email and IM with folks I know well to save time and give them the option of reading asynchronously. Spending in-person time with co-workers is important. Commuting is a mess.
  4. 4. 4 4 Practitioner Profile – Brom Kim Q. How do you use instructional design methods and models? A. People get wound up about applying learning theory and models. I just start with a problem or general area I am thinking about, and do some general research on the Web. Wikipedia is a great starting point. Once I find something, I think about how to apply it to a real world situation by making prescriptions out of it. If you take something like VAK learning styles, it’s not a big leap to come up with the prescription that as a designer, we will be more effective if we ensure that there is something for each learning style, visual, auditory, and experiential/kinesthetic. Digging in a bit more, I read somewhere that Tufte says that bullets are fragments, and so not as useful as complete sentences, so I need to have full text support for readers. I also need to use diagrams where relevant, not pointlessly decorate with chartjunk, at least on key slides. Adding dual coding theory to this mix, I know that a lot of talking and reading is not good at the same time. This iterative process, along with other project information, probably provides a better set of specs for development than winging it, or basing the project on the last template you looked at. Q. From my experience with you, you have a history of improving methods that currently exist. What motivates you to make these changes? A. I am motivated to make changes and improve methods out of sheer boredom. Humans build better mousetraps. “Work hard! ... especially in this economy…” is a tool of 5-8 figure management tools who lack the creativity and leadership presence to craft messages that actually leverage the natural joy and curiosity of human nature. Q. What’s hot in instructional design and technology now? A. In the industry I have experienced, not the bleeding edge, e-learning is still hot. Rapid authoring is on fire. Social media is hot in a flaming lemming plummeting toward the sea sort of way. Q. What’s not hot, but should be? A. Design and analysis should be hot. Single sourcing, proprietary authoring tools like Adobe Captivate should be hot.
  5. 5. 5 5 Practitioner Profile – Brom Kim Q. How do you stay current with trends in instructional design and technology? A. I like E-learning Guild and traffic lights. Q. What advice would you provide someone who is entering the field of instructional design and technology? A. I would only give ideas to persons keenly interested in the creative media or computing aspects of the work. This would be to make building a strong foundation of practical analysis, design, evaluation, and neuroscience a priority. If you enjoy the technology or media aspects of the field, you will find time for them. From Brom’s comments, it’s easy to see that he doesn’t overcomplicate things. He sorts through the flood of information in this world and extracts what he can use. This skill saves time and energy and allows him to look past the arbitrary so he can really focus on what’s what. A central theme to my interview with him is real-life experience. From ski instruction to anthropology to instructional design, Brom relates the experiences in his life to one another. Perhaps a variation of this skill is what gives him the insight to extract the necessary information and use only what’s relevant. Perhaps it also contributes to his ability to see the “big picture” and to improve it. As he said, when he runs out of space, he moves on. Who knew boredom could initiate such innovation? Brom makes me happy and I like that.