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.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

To Knead or Not to Knead? That is the Assessment.

We've posted a few of our recipes that focus on starting a project, and now we want to pose a question to you. One core component that is often overlooked when starting a project is the Needs Assessment.

As we begin to write our blog on finding the adequate banquet facility (by performing the Needs Assessment), we want to get a take on what people are doing or have done to ensure that the party they have planned will meet party goers expectations, as well as meet your party goals.

We would like to know if you have performed a Needs Assessment. Was it a small scale assessment or an elaborate one? In other words, what techniques did you use to gather information (e.g., surveys, focus groups, online polls, etc.)? What conclusions did you draw from your collection of information? Were all project stakeholders on board? Or did you do your own research to ensure the goals of the project were on task? If you have not performed a Needs Assessment, please elaborate on the circumstances and/or reasons why one was not conducted.

If you have ideas to share, good advice to lend, or want to share a bad experience so that we can all learn from it, please respond to this blog post. In responding please provide the following information:

  • How many were you cooking for (target audience)?
    • How elaborate was your party?
  • Was your party a buffet style or sit down service (delivery method)?
  • What lessons did you learn?
  • How did the Needs Assessment help you to plan a successful party? Or how did the lack of a Needs Assessment affect your party planning and outcome?
    • Was your facility too small for the party?
    • Was the party poorly planned?

We look forward to reviewing your recipes!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Cooking for a Dinner Party

You’ve been hired by a party planner to do some cooking for a dinner event. Being a great chef, you begin to ask those all important questions prior to preparing the menu:

  • Who am I cooking for/what do they want to eat?
  • Will I be meeting with the hostess prior to the party?
  • Will I be able to work with the hostess on the menu?
  • What is the theme?
  • How is the event being decorated?
  • How much time do I have for prep?
  • Will I be preparing all foods at the location?
  • Has the facility been inspected/does it meet food preparation code or do I need to make changes?

These are just some of the things that are running through your mind right now! The same is true with instructional design. In order to design training (cook for a dinner party), you have to:

  • Obtain the project and training plans
  • Work with the Subject Matter Expert
  • Write and design the content
  • Work with the developer
  • Correct any errors or quality issues

When cooking for a dinner party you get much of your administrative direction and guidance from the planner (i.e., the Project Manager), the Host provides the specific details (i.e., the Subject Matter Expert), the decorator (i.e., the Developer) adds the right ambience to go with the meal, and the Health Inspector (i.e., the Quality Assurance Specialist) ensures the standards are met so that the meal can be served.

Your awareness of how these team members aide your ability to prepare the menu and final meal (complete the instruction) is vital to the success of not only your work but the overall dinner party (project). I addition you, as the ID through your provision of role responsibilities and key information with each of the team members impacts the overall project outcome. The shared awareness of the menu (parameters of the project) helps keep the project fluid, organized, within the bounds of the original project description without scope creep.

If this is your first time cooking for a big event or if you want to improve the odds of the project’s success use the following table to help you prepare.
RoleWhat information you need to discuss/obtain
Project Manager (Party Planner)
  • Project plan (project requirements, timeline, method of communication, etc.)
  • Training plan (target audience, delivery method(s), style guide, etc.)
  • What are the budgeted hours (both for your role and for each respective team member that has responsibilities that impact your work)
  • SME contact information
  • Are all stakeholders (external and integral to the success of the project) on board?
Subject Matter Expert (Host)*
Multimedia Designer/Graphic Artist (Party Decorator)
  • Will special media be incorporated in training?
  • Will we be working with a template? (Does training need to take place on the template?)
  • Who and how will graphics be located?
  • Is this project media/graphics heavy, requiring additional time and/or resources?
  • Will testing be conducted?
QA Specialist (Health Inspector)
  • What are the QA requirements?
  • What is the turnaround time?
  • Is the QA team aware of your project/timeline/needs?

*Though a SME is the one who typically reviews content, at times, there will be additional reviewers. Keep in mind these reviewers will also impact the timeline. If you are not working as closely with these reviewers as you are with the SME, you may need to ensure that they have the same level of knowledge about the project and their responsibilities. Also make sure you are familiar with their review cycles and the communication methods that will be used for discussion purposes and for tracking changes.