What’s the flavor of your training?

This forum is a melting pot for those that are passionate about instructional design. Oftentimes learning can be bland, with the right spices you can cook up a more flavorful learning experience. We hope that by sharing our experiences, we are stirring the pot so that we can swap recipes for developing training solutions. We are providing basic ingredients from which you can select to make your own great learning recipe.

Monday, April 21, 2008

No Bake Analysis

The Dishing Duo is debriefing Dr. Karl Kapp's Managing Mulitmedia Projects class this semester on a full-scale Needs Analysis. In our experience, one may not always complete a formal Needs Analysis because of time constraints and cost, much like not having time to bake cookies from scratch for your child's holiday party at school. The Dishing Duo has come up with a great No Bake recipe to perform an initial project analysis. Instituting this best practice will give you a better edge to start your project.

No Bake Analysis

  1. Ask if the training needs:
    • Repurposed or Converted
    • Updated or Maintained
    • Created from scratch (new: course, lesson, topic, curriculum, etc.)
  2. Who is your audience?
  3. Develop a content outline
    • From your content outline you will derive your Gap Analysis. This is a non-formal approach. For example, in the content outline it could be a question in a comment box to a particular step.
  4. Who are my project contacts? (project team)
    • Project Manager
    • SMEs
    • Stakeholders
    • Developers
  5. Are there any processes or procedures to follow?
    • Guidelines (styles and standards)
    • Development


Mike DePalma said...

Thanks Robyn and Brandy for the awesome tips. It's nice to hear a "real world" perspective outside of Dick, Carey & Carey :) Are time constraints and cost the only reasons that one may not complete a full-scale needs analysis? Can there be client perceptions that also make the needs analysis difficult, if not impossible? Thanks!

The Dishing Duo said...

Hey, Mike!

I would say that time and cost is a big reason why a full-scale needs analysis is not completed, but I also think that it is because management/stakeholders do not understand the impact of a full analysis. Oftentimes, in our experience, we have encountered that clients have available monies left over in their budget for the creation of training, so they hire a company to create the training, with little or no thought as to an actual problem (e.g., regulatory training). A healthcare company needs training on ethics or regulations, but they don't necessarily need to assess whether or not they are solving a problem or filling a gap/need.

Regarding your question, I do think there is a misunderstanding of the full impact of a needs analysis, which was the basis for the RFP that Robyn and I wrote for your class. The organization that we based the RFP around has little knowledge of web-based training and their competitors. They have the mind set that they only need to combat their competitor's techniques, so they are moving their instructor-led courses to web-based delivery. Robyn and I thought it would be a good case scenario as to the gaps and risks that are not being considered. The company has no plan for LMS delivery (including SCORM compliance and 508 compliance), risk mitigation, return on investment (ROI), long-term or short-term goals, QA processes, and no clear understanding of the wants and needs of their customers (e.g., LMS administrative roles, validated objectives, competency-based learning, and assessments). All of these issues would be answered if they performed an up-front needs analysis, including an industry analysis, competitor analysis, and ROI analysis.

In summary, a needs analysis is not typically performed because the company lacks comprehension of the benefits (cost-value ratio) derived from an upfront analysis. To a lesser degree, some stakeholders may be weary of such an analysis because they feel it is an analytical look into their job performance or the department's performance and value as a whole.

Thanks for your question and response, Mike!

Amanda Bradley said...

We learned so much in our Managing Multimedia Projects class! I thought the RFP really had us focus on Needs Analysis, so much so that I think our team actually ended up a little off base. It was a great learning experience though. And it's always good to have your outline handy so NOTHING can be left out!

Ernest Cherry said...

Thank you Robyn and Brandy for debriefing the class last week and also for providing these helpful tips. Now that you have indicated how you would approach the RFP I have a better understanding of what was expected from us. I am also better prepared to tackle such a project in the future.

I have had the opportunity to talk to several professionals in the field of Instructional Design. The feedback I usually receive is that a full scale Needs Analysis is usually not necessary because the client already knows the need. On the other hand an Audience Analysis is usually needed because of the generation gaps and the different learning styles. From your experiences how would you respond to such a statement?

The Dishing Duo said...

Great Question Ernest! (I could go on forever on this topic, but I think I could say that a lot about what Brandy and I do - we have a deep freezer filled comments and ideas, but I'll digress!)

I agree, it is important to determine your audience for generational gaps and learning styles. However, these should only be performed when there is a true need. And I have only ever performed one audience analysis and it was low-key (24 people).

One thing I would like to clarify is that in our experiences our audience has been defined. For example, sales pharmaceutical representatives or call center representatives for a health insurance company. Clearly you know the audience. So what about the generation gap of let's say my call center representatives - because my reps are learning about a software on a computer I am far less concerned about how it is worded to each individual. It's a process-focused training, which if followed correctly, yields the desired outcome. The only "generational issue" that may be at hand is the level of technical skills the person has on working with a computer. However, that is not a true indicator of a generational gap, that is more so an individual-to-individual factor.

Even if it was my sales pharma reps and they were learning the basic science behind asthma I would not word my training or create my training differently based on age. I would adapt the training to a reading level suitable by all learners though. If I knew my sales pharma reps all ready had the basic science of asthma course and was following up with an additional course concentrated on treatments of acute asthma I would probably up the reading level with more medical jargon because I know the audience should have had the pre-requites course on the basic science of asthma.

Again this is not to say there are not situations in which an Audience Analysis is warranted. When I started out with my first job there was no training and no (learning) statistics on the company's employees. I performed my one and only Audience Analysis and it was rather generic. I was not designing one particular training program; I was obtaining a point of reference to develop training period. I wasn't sure how comfortable each person was with using a computer or how much they knew about the basic software(s) they were using to perform their duties. I also wanted a better comprehension of their perceptions and ideas about training and technologies (from their email to the use of a PDA). I used a formal process to obtain this information. I used a paper-based survey and some one-on-one follow up conversations.

Short on time or just want to double-check that you are designing with the right end-user (that's who your Audience is right?) in mind do an informal analysis with the project owner and the SME's. A word of caution - not all SME's know who the audience will be. That is why it is important to speak with the project owner.

And what is informal? Simple questions that you can ask during kick-off or the refining of the content outline - "The learners know how to use the internet?" "The audience is adept at basic phone skills and protocols?" "Have you done similar training with this group?" "Is this training going to be repurposed for another team?"

The questions may not seem like much to the project owner, but they make a world of difference to you and how you will handle the approach and writing of their training.

If I knew that my basic asthma class was going to be repurposed for an educational program for junior high students I would have to definitively change my writing to match the learning style and reading level of my second audience. This may also mean that I work more closely with my SME to fine tune the learning to each audience. (See how all things ID are inter-related to another person or step in the overall scheme of an ID project?).

With that all said perhaps the one ingredient in our No Bake Analysis will need its own recipe. Does anyone out there have a recipe for Audience Analysis they care to share?

edayis said...

edayis has left a new comment on your post "No Bake Analysis":

Thank you both for coming to our class last week, and for this great condensed approach to conducting a needs analysis in a time crunch. I'm sure that things happen a lot differently in the real world, and there is most likely not enough time to complete all of the necessary steps (completely and thoroughly), so this No Bake Analysis tip is very helpful. thanks for the insights.

jennie said...

Jennie has left a new comment on your post "No Bake Analysis":

Robyn and Brandy,
I really wanted to thank both of you for taking the time to come and talk to our class and give us that outside experience. I know that you both are very busy and seeing you take the time to come and talk to us about your experiences along with feedback from the RFP was greatly rewarding. Thank you again for your time!