I have long since been a fan of Cathy Moore and her advice to all would-be instructional designers. In her seminar at the Learning Technologies Conference last week, Cathy Moore set out the highlights from her talk (taken from her blog):
The goal of action mapping is to design experiences, not information. We want to help learners practice making the decisions that they need to make on the job.
Set a measurable business (not learning) goal for your project. Show how you’ll improve business performance to justify the expense of your project.
Identify what people need to do in the real world to reach the goal and determine why they aren’t doing it. Lack of knowledge might not be the real problem.
In activities, have learners practice making the decisions that they need to make on the job; don’t make them recite information.
Show the realistic consequences of learners’ decisions (Bill is accidentally cut by the scalpel) and let learners draw conclusions from them. Don’t say “correct/incorrect.”
Have learners start with an activity, not information. Embed the necessary info in the activity and make it optional, or have learners refer to the real-world job aid.
Success in the decision-making activity shows that learners know the information. Avoid fact checks.
Surprise and failure are memorable. Let learners make mistakes—they’ll remember them.
Everything in your material should directly support the business goal. Have your client and subject matter expert participate in the entire process to get buy-in and avoid having to fight off the “nice to know” stuff.
My observations are that anyone designing any learning solution, whether it be e-learning self-study, classroom based, or indeed a blended solution, should do the same. Content heavy solutions, with no relevancy, which are all about regurgitating facts and figures, testing immediate recall of the information rather than how successfully they can carry out their tasks are all doomed to fail the learner and are just a waste of resources.
Fortunately, with some excellent ‘train the trainer’ programmes out there, how we design and deliver classroom solutions have gradually moved more towards a learner-centred and relevant work-based approach. Unfortunately, in the recent move to turn classroom courses into stand alone eLearning self-study programmes, we’ve taken a backward step. All that’s happened is the ‘nexty, nexty’ self-study course (thanks to a previous delegate of mine who came up with that description). Very text-heavy screens with the only interaction being the user clicking the next button and being tested on the facts.
Let’s revolutionise eLearning.