Thursday, October 30, 2014

(A Parenthetical Statement on Following Your Passion)

(By the way, although following your passion is vital to happiness, success, and fulfillment in life, there will always be things that you have to do that you are not passionate about. For example, I am passionate about learning and teaching, and I am fortunate to be able to work in higher education as a faculty member. However, even in my current dream job I find that I still have to do many things that I don’t want to do. These usually have two characteristics: (a) I am not passionate about doing them, and (b) they are really just a hoop to jump through and have no actual meaning or substantive contribution in improving the world and the people in it. My approach for these kinds of things as follows: just get it DONE. Do an adequate job, one that meets the needs and requirements, but nothing more. Save your passion, excitement, energy, and willpower for the things that are truly important in life. I have found that when the result of this work is reviewed by the individual requesting it, almost 100% of the time it is adequate. In this manner, I avoid the irritation of having to waste my energy, attention, and focus on something I don't care about, I avoid going beyond what was expected, and I have a lot more time to do the things that I care about and that can have a positive impact on others. Okay, this is a long parenthetical statement. The point is this: when you have to do something stupid that you don’t care about, get it done, and get on with what you are passionate about. Okay, back to work.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Plans at the AECT 2014 International Convention

I will be attending the AECT 2014 International Convention this coming week in Jacksonville, Florida. I have attended AECT's conference many times in the past (I blog about my 2012 experience here) and have always enjoyed seeing friends and associates at the conference.

For this year's convention, I will be participating in a panel discussion on the future of instructional design programs with several excellent researchers. It should be an interesting experience, and I hope to contribute to the discussion.

I was also asked by a group in AECT to serve as a mentor for two doctoral students, Beth Oyarzun and and Sheri Anderson, who are competing in AECT's Pacificorp Design and Development Competition They have worked very hard and have moved through the first two phases of the competition and are now finalists competing against two other teams. It should be an exciting event!

What I Will Focus On
My interests over the last 2 years have broadened (see side-thoughts below), and I hope to attend sessions about leadership, community of practice, performance support, and mobile learning. I definitely look forward to attending the conference and am excited to be in beautiful Jacksonville!

*      *      *      *
A side-thought on scholarly activity: In the research world, it appears that many (most?) scholars seem to dive very deep into one specific area and research that area to provide new knowledge. I have been doing this for the past few years in the realm of instructional theory, particularly the practical application of Merrill's First Principles of Instruction. And while my interest in this area continues, I have found that I am fascinated with understanding the bigger picture, the system in which instruction and learning takes place. I've shifted a focus to human performance technology, leadership, management and organizational and individual psychology. I have read dozens of books in these areas over the last couple of years (see my Books I Read section), and I have found the learning to be very fulfilling.

Another side-thought: I have found that the knowledge I gained in my Masters and PhD, systems thinking, systematic thinking, design thinking, research ability, etc. has given me a foundation or a structure into which I can apply a lot of the new knowledge I am gaining. There is a certain capacity that is built through the difficulty and rewards of rigorous graduate work that enables an individual to acquire and organize knowledge in very meaningful ways. I am exceedingly grateful for my doctoral experience and I am excited to continue to learn, grow, develop, and improve.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The 7 Skills of Knowledge Work

We are now working in the knowledge society, in which information and knowledge are the primary commodity. The majority of employees in this society are knowledge workers, which means their primary function is to gather and create new knowledge. The nature of work in the knowledge society is cross-disciplinary, complex, varied, and ambiguous, and knowledge workers must be able to access and use broad knowledge in flexible yet disciplined manner.

General Skills for Success in the Knowledge Society
Because I work in the field of education, specifically instructional design, I am constantly thinking about what knowledge and skills our students need to grasp to be successful in their knowledge work. What do they really need to know? I recently reviewed several reports and studies on what these skills are, and I describe them below. I then postulate what I believe organizations and leaders should do to enable successful knowledge work in their employees. Finally, I share a self-evaluation tool which can be used to evaluate your own capacities in each of these skill areas.

7 Skills for Success in the Knowledge Economy.

7 Skills of Knowledge Work
The following skills and abilities are those which are crucial to success in today's society. I use the work of Cochran and Ferrari (2009) as the framework, though the themes they share are repeated in the several articles and documents I reviewed. I have added in my own thoughts and insights, and also added the "Personal Management" skill as my own.
  1. Thinking Skills - the ability to work with information effectively to solve problems, perform tasks, and design solutions. Thinking skills include:
    1. critical thinking - drawing appropriate conclusions based on data
    2. systems thinking - seeing the big picture, including how parts of a system affect and influence one another
    3. analysis skills - breaking down information and technologies into pieces to understand and categorize individual parts. Identifying the root cause of a problem.
    4. problem solving - identifying solutions to complex issues.
    5. creativity - using imagination to combine existing knowledge into new knowledge to fulfill a need.
    6. design - planning out the implementation of solutions to learning and performance problems.
  2. Communication - the ability to understand and share ideas effectively. This includes the following:
    1. Understand and interpret complex information from multiple sources through divers media.
    2. Communicate effectively and appropriately in a variety of formats, including visual, verbal, written, both face-to-face and in digital formats. 
  3. Teamwork and Leadership - the ability to work with others to achieve a common goal. This includes the following:
    1. collaborating and working effectively with others to achieve goals.
    2. motivating others through appropriate strategies.
    3. working effectively with team and individual strengths to maximize the effectiveness of the whole.
    4. leading people to positive outcomes through persuasion, empathy, and effective management.
  4. Lifelong Learning and Self-Direction - continual self-improvement through the constant gathering of knowledge. Setting ones own direction in learning and growth.  This includes the following:
    1. Development of general skills like those in this list. 
    2. Development of field-specific skills.  
    3. Gaining formal education, which to increase ability to sustain success in the knowledge society. 
  5. Technology Use - use of technology to accomplish goals or tasks. 
    1. Select the right tools and technologies for tasks and problem solving. 
    2. Use tools and technologies to appropriately complete tasks and solve problems.
    3. Learn quickly how to use a new technology and be willing to adapt new technologies continuously.
  6. Ethics and Professionalism - An ethical person makes him or herself personally accountable for their own actions and work. 
    1. Have good work habits and perform assigned work consistently.
    2. Interact with others in a professional manner. 
    3. Work effectively and professionally with people of diverse backgrounds. 
  7. Personal Management - manage habits to maintain health (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual). This management should seek to maintain proper balance in all areas of life (family, work, personal, community).
Organizations and Leaders in the Knowledge Society
Organizations and leaders must facilitate the acquisition and application of each of these skills. This means policies, procedures, and organizational structures that enable their employees to do these things. It also means leaders and managers that encourage and facilitate their use. In the table below I outline some of my ideas on how this can be done.

Skill
Organizations and Leaders Should…
Thinking Skills
Share and give access to relevant, useful knowledge.
Create systems and processes for knowledge sharing.
Teach and communicate regularly with employees.
Encourage and establish systems for knowledge sharing.
Communication
Continually communicate new knowledge to employees.
Provide professional development opportunities to improve communication skills.
Provide continuous opportunities to practice the skills of communication.
Teamwork and Leadership
Provide leadership and guidance in effective teamwork.
Provide opportunities to practice leadership teamwork.
Provide professional development opportunities to improve leadership and teamwork skills.
Lifelong Learning and Self-Direction
Provide many opportunities for learning and professional development.
Provide career coaching and development opportunities.
Provide access to relevant industry knowledge.
Technology Use
Utilize and demonstrate effective use of appropriate technologies.
Provide professional development opportunities to improve employee technology capacities.
Ethics and Professionalism
Establish standards of ethical, professional behaviors through word and example.
Hold employees accountable for their professionalism.
Personal Management
Provide a healthy work environment, including reasonable workload.
Provide opportunities for development of personal management skills.

Instructional Designers in the Knowledge Society
It becomes critical for an instructional design or performance improvement professional to have a sound balance between these general skills and those skills that are specific to the field of instructional design. Some of these skills clearly overlap - thinking skills are the foundation of effective needs analysis, for example - but gaining competency in all of the above skills will likely contribute to an instructional designer's success in improving learning and performance.

Rating Your Own Skill Level in These Areas
I created this simple form for rating your own skill level in each of these areas. This form is designed to help you determine areas in which you can improve so that you can make plans to do so.

Skill
Rating
1= Low
5 = High
Notes and Plans for Improvement
Thinking Skills - the ability to work with information effectively, to think critically, systematically, analyze, and creatively solve problems.


Communication - the ability to understand and share ideas effectively, to interpret complex information, to communicate in a variety of formats.


Teamwork and Leadership - the ability to work with others to achieve a common goal, to collaborate, motivate others, build on strengths, and lead with persuasion and empathy.


Lifelong Learning and Self-Direction - continual self-improvement through the constant gathering of knowledge, setting ones own direction in learning and growth, development of general and specific skills, gaining formal education.


Technology Use – selection and use of technology to accomplish goals or tasks, ability to learn and adapt to technologies quickly.


Ethics and Professionalism - personally accountable for their own actions and work, exercises good work habits, interacts with others professionally, works well with others of diverse backgrounds. 


Personal Management – management of habits to maintain health (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) and maintain proper balance in all areas of life (family, work, social, community).




Reference
Cochran, G. R., & Ferrari, T. M. (2009) “preparing youth for the 21st century knowledge
economy”. Afterschool Matters.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Future of Instructional Design Programs

#AECT14
In two weeks, I will be participating in a panel discussion at the 2014 AECT International Convention. with four incredible scholars: Drs. Vanessa Dennen, David Merrill, Charles Reigeluth, and Wilhelmina Savenye. I thought I would write out some of my thoughts on the future of the ID programs in this blog post and will share these thoughts in the panel discussion.

The Context: Shift to Knowledge Society
We have seen a major shift in the last several decades to the knowledge society, and with this shift comes a change in the skills and competencies required. And because instructional design is very clearly knowledge work (what could possibly more knowledge work that the design of learning and instruction?), our designers must develop and gain these competencies.

Our ID students must be gain the following skills. How well do we teach these abilities in our programs?


I am not stating that instructional design programs do not teach some or most of these competencies, nor should necessarily teach all of these skills and competencies. However, we should think about how our instructional design programs fit within the context that requires these abilities.

Problem: Lack of Perspective and Defending the Turf
As I have spoken with managers of instructional designers over the last several years, a common complaint  is that instructional designers often want to operate in a manner that is disconnected from the organization in which they work. There seems to be a struggle on the part of the designer keep their art and science, as learned in graduate school,  intact and pure, without influence from the organization in which the work is taking place. Defending their turf in this manner can keep instructional design work entirely disconnected and irrelevant to the organization in which the work is taking place.

Solution: Integration of HPT
We must help students see that design must align with the role and purpose of the organization which it serves. Students must gain knowledge on how their performance fits into the performance of the entire organization. They must also understand how to adapt what they are doing to fulfill the needs of the organization. Remember that work in the knowledge society is interdisciplinary and varied, and sticking to regimented (even antiquated) ID strategies without adapting to the organization's needs is not sustainable. Students must, therefore, gain the ability to see the big picture of the organization. The highly related field of Human Performance Technology can provide students with this capacity and can also give them many tools for effectively supporting the organizations in which they work.

Need: Complexity and Human Management
Many instructional design program graduates end up managing trainers and instructional designers. However, in their training they appear to receive little training on how to effectively manage those individuals in their work.

Solution: Integration of Project Management
Our ID programs should give our graduates the ability to manage projects, a vital piece of effective instructional design. Instructional design projects are often complex, requiring the coordination of multiple employees, processes, and technologies. We must provide our students with the capacity to manage, organize, and manage large projects effectively.

Solution: Integration of Management and Leadership
In addition to project management capacities, our students must gain skills in management and leadership. They must develop the capacity to motivate and direct the work of those they lead.

Evolution of The Three Tools 
We may (or may not!) agree that the three major tools of the instructional designer are (1) theories, (2) technologies, and (3) processes. These tools will continue to change as the nature of our work changes, and I note the following questions and comments about these tools.

Theories
Do the theories we espouse and teach in our programs help learners gain the competencies required for success in the knowledge society? Do they enable independent learning and problem solving? Do they enable learners to achieve internal motivation and the attitudes necessary for a successful career?

The concept of "instruction" seems to imply the delivery of detailed information about how to accomplish a task. Perhaps we are still teaching our students to design in ways that are more directive in nature. There is and will always be some need for this, but our designers must also know how to teach their learners "how to fish" instead of simply "giving them a fish?"  

Technologies
 Technology options will like continue to grow, and they will also continue to become easier to use. As they do so, what will separate us from an individual with no formal understanding of instructional design concepts? As a field we need to be able to demonstrate that we are relevant and add value based on our knowledge. Our students must also be willing to continually adapt to the technological needs and preferences of the learner.

 Processes
While I have a great deal of confidence in the general process of instructional design (ADDIE), We must teach our students the importance of continuous improvement. The competitive environment in which we work requires increased efficiency, and designers must be able to analyze, change, and improve the design processes they use. The integration of HPT into ID programs will likely assist in making this shift more effective. In addition, design processes must enable IDs to create appropriate learning solutions while still maintaining efficiency and quality output. The balance will be difficult to find, and designers must know how to work toward that balance.

*        *        *        *        *

Well, I look forward to the panel discussion. It will be great to hear the ideas of the other panelists, and I hope I can contribute to the conversation. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Leadership Development: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I am currently participating in a Leadership Development Program (LDP) as part of my work at Franklin University. As part of this program, I attended a presentation by Dr. Karen Miner-Romanoff, the Dean of the College of Health and Public Administration at Franklin.

Karen Miner-Romanoff teaching 7 Habits of Highly Effective People at Franklin's Leadership Development Program.

Dr. Miner-Romanoff's presentation was focused on Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of highly effective people, a set of principles for achieving balance and success in life. One thing I thought was particularly cool about her approach was that she reviewed the essays written by people in the LDP Leadership attributes from our essays - she used our quotes throughout the presentation.

I have read the book and listened to many presentations of these habits over the years and have been very impressed with their depth and quality. I've found that nearly every quality self-help or success work eventually emphasizes one or more of these habits. I usually think of these as simply tools for personal success, but when they are analyzed they truly are tools for leadership. 

I'll flesh out my notes taken during the presentation and will give some reflective thoughts as I go. My own thoughts and ideas will likely intermingle with those presented in the meeting.

Habit 1: Be Proactive
To be proactive is to take responsibility for your actions, to choose to respond to situations positively. 
You have a great deal of control in your life, and you are proactive when you focus your energy on the things you can control. As you develop awareness of where to focus your energy, you increase your personal power to achieve success and happiness in life. You have the capacity to choose happiness, courage, joy, and success. You have the capacity to choose life, health, and contentment.

Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind
To begin with the end in mind means to look forward to the end of your life and identify exactly what you would like to accomplish in your life. Ask yourself the following questions: What do I want to be? Where do I want to go? What do I want my relationship to look like with my family? With my church and community? With my employer and coworkers? When I die, what do I want people to say about me at my funeral? 

As Karen presented, I wrote that I would like people to believe the following about me when the describe who I am at the end of my life: "He loved everyone. He was kind and gave everything he had to others. He worked to make people's lives better. He was a good daddy, a kind husband, an honest worker. He loved God and served Him with all his heart."

Habit 3: Put First Things First
When you put first things first, you spend your time and energy on the things that will help you reach the outcomes you desire in life. You actively choose to engage in productive tasks, and you choose not to engage in tasks that do not achieve your goals. You must prioritize and focus on one task at a time, the most important task for the day and the moment.

For me, I use the following method for prioritizing my time at work:
  1. At my work desk, I post my performance goals for as agreed upon by me and my supervisor. I refer to these as I plan my day, my week, and my month.
  2. I open a Word document and create a list of the priority actions to accomplish that day. I do my best to ensure these actions will help me accomplish the goals I committed to. 
  3. I prioritize this list and have the most important priority on the top of the list, and I do everything I can to focus all my attention on the top task until it is finished. This can be very difficult, but I have found that it keeps me focused on accomplishment.
I also put first things first by setting aside time for each of my areas of responsibility on my calendar. In a typical workday, I have about 30 minutes set aside for exercise, 30 for reading, 9 hours for work, 1 hour for commuting, and 4 hours for family. I also set aside Saturdays for family and housework and Sundays for service in my church.

Habits 1-3 can be seen as personal habits, those which deal directly with the individual and how he or she lives life. Habits 4-6 can be seen as interpersonal habits, which focus on how we interact with and relate to the people around us.

Habit 4: Think Win/Win
When you think win/win, you enter your discussions with others assuming that all parties involved can achieve success. This approach can be difficult for some people - some have an "I must win" attitude, and others have a "I always lose" attitude. Which are you? Do you go for the win? Do you assume you will lose? Or do you think that having everyone come out winning is an option?

The win/win approach enables collaboration and creativity between parties. If everyone assumes the same goal and receives benefit from working toward the goal together, it is more likely to be achieved.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
When you seek to first understand another's perspective and needs, you do your best to find out what it is that that person would like to happen in a given situation. This requires active listening, asking good questions and verifying that you fully understand the other individual. It requires that you actually care about the person and want to understand them and their needs. It requires a lot of empathy and takes a great deal of energy to accomplish. However, the long-term success of your work will be much more powerful if you take this approach.

You also need to be able to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively so that the other individual can easily understand your position. This requires clarity of thought and patience in explaining your position.

Habit 6: Synergize 
When you synergize, you are using the strengths of all parties to create the most powerful, effective strategy possible. Synergy implies that working together effectively actually produces more than could be produced separately. Part of this is recognition of  the foundations built by others which provide you with the opportunities and blessings you enjoy.  

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
When you sharpen the saw, you are renewing and improving yourself. This can be done through exercise, sleep, good nutrition, prayer, meditation, scripture study, and professional development. You are, essentially, making yourself the most useful instrument possible so that you can accomplish your purposes more effectively. This requires a commitment to development, personal growth, and self-improvement. The great quote from one of the student essays is "When you are through changing, you're through!" You must become a lifelong learner.

If you want to achieve your personal goals, you've got to do what it takes to prepare yourself to succeed. You are the resource through which you engage in your life.

Self-Evaluation
I've evaluated myself on each of these habits below.

Habit
Self-rating 
 (1 is poor, 5 is excellent)
Notes and Commitments
Habit 1: Be Proactive
4
I have worked hard to develop my ability to take responsibility for my life. I still struggle in some areas, and I will continue to improve by eliminating blaming from my thought pattern.
Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind
5
I am extremely goal-oriented and am constantly thinking about the future and the outcomes I desire. I will review some of my life goals again and will revisit my personal mission statement to see how I am doing on meeting my goals
Habit 3: Put First Things First
3
I do alright with this habit. I do very well in my work to accomplish my goals, but I could spend more time thinking about and doing things for my family. I will make a goal to do something more for my wife every week.
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
4
I feel like this comes naturally to me. I have a continuous desire to help other people succeed in their goals. I am constantly looking for a way to help them succeed. When I facilitate meetings, I do my best to capture the perspectives of others and synthesize them into a way to move forward. I believe I could do better at this habit in my communications with my family members and commit to thinking in this manner more at home.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
3
I try hard to listen to the perspective of others and I think I have gotten pretty good at it. Still, I find myself becoming impatient, at times. I will increase my focus on understanding by using active questions more effectively.
Habit 6: Synergize
3
 I do what I can do synergize, but I worry that I sometimes miss opportunities because I am too focused on my own work and on accomplishing my goals. I will improve by spending time with others more at work and will go out to lunch with a coworker at least 1x a week.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
4
 I spend a lot of my time developing myself through reading, exercise, and prayer. However, I tend to neglect the importance of simply relaxing and having down time. I will improve by relaxing more and by spending more down time with my family. I will also spend time in nature at least 1x a month.

Thanks to Dr. Karen Miner-Romanoff for her thought-provoking presentation. I appreciate the refresher on these habits and hope to apply them more fully in my own life.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How I Created Two Short Video Tutorials

I recently built two brief tutorials for a course I have been teaching in the IDPT Master's degree at Franklin University. I am teaching Foundations of Instructional Design, and in this course students are required to write an instructional goal, perform an instructional analysis, and perform a subordinate skills and entry skills analysis. I thought it would be interesting to document the process I went through to develop these tutorials (part 1 and part 2), and I will describe my ideas below.

The Background
When I taught this course in the past, I realized that the students needed additional guidance and examples of how to perform these activities. There were several examples from the course textbook and in the course website; however, all of these examples showed a completed example of the analysis, which (in my opinion) gives a false impression these analyses can be completed it in one draft. I wanted to give a real-world example of what it was like to work through these analyses in real time, showing that it takes some iteration and rework before getting everything in order.

Storyboarding and Visuals in Instructional Design
I realized as I worked on this project that I used visuals and rough storyboards throughout the process. In this blog post, you will see that I went through many different storyboards as I finalized what I wanted the presentation to look like. I think I use storyboards as a way to slowly and surely narrow in on what I want to accomplish. I start with general ideas and iteratively refine them as I get closer and closer to what I believe will work well.  My ideas went from (1) a giant sticky note to (2) a piece of paper to (3) a white board to (4) a PPT file and finally to (5) a finished video presentation. I thought it would be interesting to show how things evolved and show the visuals.

How to Record It?
I wanted to simulate how I have taught this kind of analysis in the classroom setting because I wanted it to feel more conversational in nature. My initial idea was to just get a camera and record me doing the presentation on a white board. I presented this idea to with my colleague/friend/elearning guru Julie Wuebker, who recommended using a SMART Podium so that I could draw it out on the screen capture it with a desktop capturing tool. This would, she reasoned, create a cleaner presentation and would allow me to stick to my goal to keep the presentation conversational. She drew out her ideas of how this would work on a giant sticky note as she explained her ideas in my office:

Julie's artifact - she used this to describe how I could use SMART Podium to record the videos.

Iterative Storyboarding
I thought about this off and on for a couple of weeks, and about a week before recording I brainstormed what I thought should be included in the presentation onto a blank sheet of paper. I tried to visualize the main pieces that I thought would provide an organizing structure and also provide examples of how to perform each of the tasks. I thought it through and mapped out the components I thought would be helpful. This was my initial storyboard:

My initial storyboard brainstorm. I tried to document everything I thought would be important to include in the short tutorial videos.

Whiteboard Storyboarding
The day before I recorded the videos, I wrote out some of the examples I thought I would use in the videos. I kept these pretty rough because I wanted to make sure the students could see the first attempt would not be perfect.

I wrote examples that I might use in the presentation on the whiteboard. This helped me to think roughly about what I would do.

After this brainstorming, I created a PPT presentation. I used this presentation (a) to present some of the concepts that I was teaching to the learners, and (b) to have a nice backdrop for the examples I would be sharing in the presentation.

My PPT file, which I used to present concepts and also used as a backdrop for the examples I was sharing.


Recording the Presentation
I used a SMART Podium. so that I could draw on the screen as I shared examples of how to do the instructional analysis. I wore a headset and recorded the raw video and audio using Microsoft Lync, which has a built in desktop capturing tool that is surprisingly easy to use (once you figure out where to go to start recording). I didn't write out a script for these tutorials because I wanted to maintain a conversational tone and show how the analysis might be done in a natural way.

I used a SMART Podium so that I could draw out my instructional analyses manually. I wore a headset and recorded video and audio using Lync.

Editing the Presentation
The recording produced an MP4 file which I uploaded from the computer with the SMART Podium to OneDrive for Business and returned to my office where I edited the videos using Camtasia Studio 8. I added in the visual call-outs with Camtasia. It took me about an hour to an hour and a half each to edit the videos into their final state.

My office where I edited the videos using Camtasia Studio 8. It took about 3 hours total to edit the two videos.

The Final Presentation
I published the videos from Camtasia as MP4s on my desktop and then uploaded them to my YouTube channel and also shared them with my class in the course website in our university's Learning Management System BlueQuill. Here are the final videos:



I am pretty happy with the quality of the videos, keeping in mind that one of my goals was to convey the iterative nature of an instructional, analysis. I am hopeful it will give the students a little more context and some more ideas for the work they are doing in the course.

I hope this has been a useful view into my process for creating these videos. It is a rather rough approach, but I hope it gives you some ideas.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Improving Your Instructional Design Process

In this post, I will share my ideas on maximizing the effectiveness and efficiency of an instructional design process. A design process is integral to effective instructional design. It can increase quality and efficiency and decrease waste and errors. However, very often these processes are very general in nature, and the individual is left alone to determine how to implement it effectively. This can result in varying degrees of quality and can cause designers to waste energy recreating work that might be reduced through an effective, supported process.

Methods for Improving Your Instructional Design Process
Based on my experience, processes can be used to empower instructional designers and give them tools and support that will help them be more efficient and produce work that is of high quality. Below are some excellent strategies for improving an instructional design process:
  1. Document the process. Do a job analysis and gain some clarity on what the process and what the work entails. Be clear about what is going on and what is expected. 
  2. Clarify the goals and outputs for each phase. Make sure that there is clarity on exactly what the designer should produce for each phase of the design process.
  3. Provide rubrics and checklists. How can a designer know the work is done it properly? Create easy to use checklists and so the designer can easily pass his or her work on to the next phase.
  4. Constantly refine the process. Gather data, discover gaps, and work toward the ideal. Encourage and facilitate sharing and enable the designers to continuously improve. Designers are good at designing, so enable them to design how they design!
  5. Provide tools for design. Create and provide templates, examples, technologies, and other tools for making the work more efficient, effective, and enabling.
  6. Create a performance support page. (I describe this concept in detail near the end of this post). The support page should include the documentation, goals, outputs, rubrics, and tools for the design of the course.
Keep in mind that this advice is not given so that a manager or director can more easily control the instructional design process. The goal should be to remove barriers and enable the designer to be successful. Instructional design is a creative process, and the manager's goal should be to remove barriers, to eliminate wasted effort, and create a process that enables designer creativity and energy.

Criteria of a Quality Instructional Design Process
The general criteria of a good instructional design process include:
  1. Efficient - Your process should be efficient and waste as little time on unnecessary tasks as possible. You must identify what level of efficiency is possible and work toward that ideal through improved efficiency.
  2. Effective - Your process should create quality instructional products that reach the goals of the instruction. You must define what quality is and create a process that will support designers to achieve that level of quality.
  3. Enabling - Your process should enable designers and other stakeholders to design outstanding materials. There are always inherent restrictions in instructional design, but your process should enable and empower designers as much as possible.
An Instructional Design Performance Support Website
One effective method is to create a Performance Support Website that houses the goals, outputs, templates, rubrics, and other resources used in the ID process. The idea is that designers could easily use this site to support their work. The site should be something that is created collaboratively by the design team and that is constantly updating and improving. The image below is my very rough conceptualization of what that site might look like.
Layout of a generic Instructional Design Performance Support Website.
Evaluating And Improving Your Own Instructional Design Process
The following questions may help you as you scrutinize and work to improve your own instructional design process:
  • What is our instructional design process? Is it documented? If not, why?
  • How do we know our process is working effectively? 
  • How long does it take to build a course?
  • Where are we wasting our time or repeating work in an unnecessary fashion? 
  • How can we eliminate the time wasters and decrease overall time for building a course?
  • How do we measure the quality of our work? What is a better way to do it?
  • How do we evaluate and improve our process?
  • Does the process we use restrict or enable our instructional designers to create quality instruction?
  • How can we empower our instructional designers in their work?
  • What tools will make our work more efficient and effective?
  • What tools will enable our instructional designers to work with greater power?
  • What tasks can we eliminate, automate, or delegate?
There are my current thoughts on improving instructional design processes. I will continue to think about this as I work with and around the excellent designers here at Franklin. Do you have any insights on how to improve the process of designing instruction?