How did you get into this field? Take two minutes each to share your story with a neighbor.
When I surveyed people on my blog, these were the responses I got…
Those of us who work as a one-person eLearning shop have a bit of a challenge – somehow you need to represent all of these pie slices. If you can do that all really well – you’re some kind of superhero.
If not then you may be falling flat in some way OR you’re getting help from outside of your organization – getting the input of external experts to help you fill out those other pie pieces.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/creative_tools/4324925700/ CreativeTools.se - PackshotCreator - 3D print - ZPrinter - Super hero
If you’re happy with your part of the pie, by all means, find the right place in the universe for you so that you can focus on that craft and hone your skills. Keep your own professional development in mind. Learn what you need to about the other pieces in order to get better at your own passion, but don’t get watered down.
Nobody likes watery pie.
But the challenge to each and every one of us in the room to go out and learn more about the other pieces of pie – the ones that you’re perhaps not as drawn to, the ones that scare you.
Photo credit: Pecan Pie with Coffee by Steve Snodgrass
What’s your gap? And what’s one action you can take to learn more about that missing piece in your pie? Say it out loud. Write it down. It doesn’t matter—just DO something. It’s your life, not mine…
What’s missing in Instructional Design?
The problem with Instructional Design is that most people never really learned the Design part. Maybe you got the instruction part down…
The idea that design is NOT storyboarding. Design is NOT learning objectives. I don't see a lot of ISD who understand that. And a lot of customers, and managers, who call for ISDs, really want people who can storyboard and write lesson plans. That is NOT ISD. So design, is what? Design is matching the best possible solutions to the known problems - and not many people think that way.
Let’s all close our eyes and do a little group meditation here. OK – maybe not. But I do want you to close your eyes. And I want you to picture in your mind something that has been well designed. What’s the first thing that comes into your mind when I say that? Hold on to that now and feel your way around it. What does it look like? Can you touch it or feel it? How does it make you feel? What can you do with it? Can you hear it? Does it help you do anything?
Now turn to the people around you and share your something with them. Take a few minutes to talk about the quality of that thing.
Flickr Photo: “Meditation” by Alice Popkorn http://www.flickr.com/photos/alicepopkorn/1676300378/
How many people described something that you could hold in your hand or touch? (How many described an iphone?) Did you describe a room or a place? A building? An appliance? A raincoat? Your music system? Your headset? A chair? A website? An elearning program?
What were the qualities you attribute to this well-designed something?
I think we can often boil those qualities down into a few key areas:
Something that is well-designed often has a tactile aspect to it. You can touch it and it feels right. The metal is smooth and polished. Or the pillow has a plushness to it. The curves feel right against your body. Small objects I want to run over my face or even lick. So maybe that’s part of my litmus test for good design – would you want to lick it?
What makes a classic? The missing piece…. The visceral feeling of a good design – the weight in your hands, the feeling of entering a room. When we talk about something that is well-designed, we’re often talking about the tactile experience of that thing – the emotional experience.
What about visual aesthetics? How does it look? And some might argue that this is an extension of the tactile element of design – the aesthetic of touch – but here I’m talking about a visual aesthetic. Do you look the way it looks? Is it pleasing to the eye? Do you prefer a Mr. Coffee Maker or a Braun?
Next to the physical aspect of a well-designed thing there is also an emotional component. How does this thing make you feel? A sense of serenity and calm? Overwhelming productivity? Sadness? Happiness? Angry? Excitement and fun? For instance, this conference has been designed – and it’s potentially evoking some kind of an emotional response in you. Exhuberance? Excitement? Exhaustion?
What else about design? Well, do you know what to do with it? Is it usable? Is it intuitive enough that you can figure out what it is and then what you can do with it? Who has seen the videos of a two year old figuring out an iPad for the first time? They just get it. That’s good design.
And finally, does it produce the desired outcome? Is it solving the problem it’s supposed to solve? If it’s a chair that’s supposed to provide good back support, does your back feel supported? If it’s a light switch, does the light actually turn on when you flick it?
So what is Design?
It’s possible that if you talked to designers in different fields, you would likely get some different answers.
So there exists this tension inherent in the word “design” – is it creativity? Is it process? What is design? I actually had to look it up because I realized I didn’t really know. And when you start digging around, it turns out that there really isn’t one definition of design. It’s kind of a shifting, amorphous thing, depending on who you’re talking to.
So who can tell me what design is? We’ve talked about examples of things that we think are well designed. But what actually is Design? (group discussion)
“Art can exist for art’s sake. Design cannot.” Design must have a purpose. ~ Matt Ward blog. Purpose, Intention, Content. Every element of the design should contribute to achieving the PURPOSE. Elements placed with thought and reason, consider given to details = INTENTION. Content functions as the framework – the lens through which the design is focused.
Matt Ward: Purpose, Intention, Content. Every element of the design should contribute to achieving the PURPOSE. Elements placed with thought and reason, consider given to details = INTENTION. Content functions as the framework – the lens through which the design is focused.
So what do we need to do to make sure we’re designing better elearning?
Designing inside the box (*Jeannette Campos)
The reality of the eLearning Design field: we have to design within a lot of constraints.
Designing for eLearning
This presentation that I’m giving today – I have been designing this since I first thought of the topic and submitted a proposal. I’ve been reading and researching and talking to people and thinking about design. That went on for about 5 months. About a month ago I started outlining and writing and rehearsing my ideas in my head. As my kids fell asleep at night, I would sit in the dark and give me talk in my head. I was designing.
In that same six month time period, I have worked on somewhere between 12 and 20 different elearning projects. In this business, we often just don’t have the time.
Most of us have to live with some pretty serious CONSTRAINTS in this business. Usually it’s “I want it in three weeks and we’ve got limited budget. But it needs to be really kick-ass.” Gulp. It’s the holy triumvirate of budget, time and quality.
Designing within constraints that is the box of present day elearning. Because sometimes/often the reality is that we do have to design within that box.
The constraints are the sides of your box – and you need to design inside that box. It doesn't preclude creativity or innovation. It just means you design inside the box. When you do that – and when you can do that well – your solution is more durable, more likely to be sustained, and more likely to *stick*
Easy. First, you consume it. You simply MUST be a consumer of your own product line. You have to know what is out there, what you like, don't like, listen to what people are saying, follow the trends. NO ONE in history has ever said they need more next button. NO ONE!
Design must be RESPONSIVE - to business need and business demand. We very often miss both.
Even if you’re stuck with limited time, before you start storyboarding…stop and think….DESIGN something.
Know what problem you’re trying to solve. Make sure it contributes to that desired outcome. Did it help someone do their job better? Did it lead to better performance? Did it open eyes the way it was supposed to? And if it’s all about ticking a box to ensure compliance – well, did it even do that? What problems is it helping to solve?
Think about the bigger picture – the SYSTEM – in which this elearning program exists.. As my friend Jeannette Campos said to me, “Design must be purposeful, and to be purposeful, you MUST understand the business and the system in which it is intended to live.” (it is called instructional SYSTEMS design for a reason). Either you should be designing that bigger system as a true ISD – or you’re building a piece of that bigger picture. And if you’re just building that piece – the single elearning component – that’s fine. Do it and do it well. But know how it fits into whatever other activities are going on to support this performance outcome – be it on the job training, informal knowledge shares, classroom training, and so on.
Ben Hamilton-Baille as quoted in “In Pursuit of Elegance” by Matthew May:
“What’s wrong with how we engineer things is that most of what we accept as the proper order of things is based on assumptions, not observations. If we observed first, designed second, we wouldn’t need most of the things we build.” (p. 163)
Make it emotional. Create a connection with the human being who will be interacting with/consuming this program.
Pictures that look at you -- we make an emotional and human connection.
That boiling petri dish of bacteria -- yeah, that’s emotional for me.
Make sure it’s intuitive and easy to use. User Interface Design. GUI. All that and usability too.
Rip off good stuff: “Using proven choices and methodologies for achieving and effective design” – it doesn’t have to be new and original. A lot of design is simply ripping good stuff off. Make use of design patterns – repeatable and proven solutions that you can apply to save time…
Design is a creative process with some pretty knowable formulas
Knowledge and Skill Builder meets a Guided Story.
Goal Based Scenarios
Design within your box. Often we elearning people are handed a very small box “go build a course.” Your problem might be to design a good course that people want to sit through. That’s ok, to. Know what your problem is. And then solve that problem REALLY well.
Or get radical and change the world. Blow up your box and try to solve bigger problems with different solutions.
Remember the people – have mercy on them. And love them, even.