Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Watching an episode of Frontline, I was turned onto Kiva and just became a micro-lender. Very cool set of business ethics (501c3, 100% of donations go directly to recipients, etc.) and life-changing business model. Check it out and get involved!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays, and many returns?

I in a lull now, between my partner's kids opening gifts (mostly hits, few misses!) and neighbors ambling by for evening cocktails. Just time to squeeze in a thought based on an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"There's a big gap between how two generations view customer service", the story begins. In short, the two generations, a Boomer population raised on personal service from attentive employees, and the Millennials, who have never known such service, and who are now charged with delivering it and, in the author's opinion, do so poorly. 

One opinion voiced in the article places blame on employers because "many lack the time or money to train workers." The author's response to Boomers? "Adjust your expectations - down" or shop where employers pay time and attention to training. Hmmm... 

If our expectations are lower, and we expect less from employees, then what employer would be motivated to improve customer service? Food for thought: let's raise awareness of higher expectations, and support training in the process. 

I'll think about this later - after I return my size XXL Hawaiian shirt for a more dainty size XL... uh-hmm.  Hopefully I'll meet a cheerful, service-oriented Millenial in the process, and ask him or her (between cell phone calls) what they think about it all.

Cheers - and many Happy "Returns"! 

Friday, December 21, 2007

My first date with Patti...

For the most part, I consider myself to be a "self-taught" instructional designer. Sure, I have a Masters and a certificate in Instructional Design, but for the most part, the tools and techniques I use have been discovered through trial and error. This morning I explored Patti Shank's website ( for the very first time. She is someone I have seen on the training circuit, but until now, I have never attended her presentations or read her work. Lo and behold: I share many of the same thoughts and practices. How can this be?

I'm sure there is a study/PhD program/theory/label for this phenomenon, but I'll call it "collective discovery". The fact that professionals in the same field, tackling very similar challenges, end up with very similar solutions. It's reassuring and yet disappointing. I'm not as genuinely creative as I think I am, but it's also reassuring to know I'm not crazy either. 

For now, I'm happy to be creative in my own way, but in a way that won't lead clients down the road to Learner Hell.  Thanks Patti - and thanks to every other professional wrestling with these common challenges. Cheers! 

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I am in the process of trying to organize some tools for my client engagement team (ranging from sales to designers to LMS implementation staff).

Here are the basic recurring themes that I find myself addressing with multiple clients and multiple projects. Hint to Russ: create some reference material... maybe I’ll get this into a wiki so others on my team can edit/post as well.

What will our solution look like?

In Brief: Multiple opportunities to blend design and delivery.

In Detail:
(sample webinar with follow-up survey)
(sample ILT, with brief in-class modules as knowledge checks)
(sample WBT, with sample activity on and off-line)

What tools will we use?

In Brief: In general we are “tool-neutral” and advocate the use of tools that are widely available / supported, and that meet the needs of the client and their project.

In Detail: (roster of tools, with their application)

How do we analyze (or “scope”) a project?

In Brief: We identify 4 levels of complexity:

In Detail:
Complexity of the current solution and required analysis (analysis)
Complexity of the subject matter and desired approach (design)
Complexity of the delivery - interaction and simulation (development)
Complexity of the project risk and desired impact or ROI (evaluation)

How do we design curricula?

In Brief: Assumed ability (enter state) + Knowledge (core comprehension) + Skilll (core performance) = to equal an ultimate level of measured Proficiency

How do we create a solution?

In Brief: ADDIE (some folks are talking about “successive approximation” which in my opinion is old meat in a new wrapper…)

What will we do for analysis?

In Brief: Review our “Dirty Dozen”, plus any variables to be determined based on Sales Discovery and stated Complexity; compiled into SDD

In Detail: (Sample SDD elements); Group / SME Interview

What are the milestones of any typical project?

In Brief:
Sales Discovery
Kickoff Meeting
Analysis, leading to SDD
Design, with confirmation
Development, with confirmation
Implementation, pilot tests
Evaluation, review of project

In Detail: TMI… read the book!

What is a Solution Design Document?

In Brief: A high-level overview of the project created by the ID or LPC. It confirms or alters assumptions made in the initial Scope of Work

In Detail: (Sample SDD)