I love the word "Rapid". I recently wrote an article on "Rapid Instructional Design with Powerpoint". Rapid is good, because Rapid is fast. Something that customers (internal/ external) have trouble understanding, is that an off the shelf program can often be "one-size-fits-all-but-fits-nobody" and hence may not create the desired results and that sometimes a custom training program is needed, to achieve a learning objective. If they do understand the need for custom design, they often have difficulty in comprehending why it will take someone 100 hours to develop instructional content.
"Isn't the material on the wiki already?
Cant you copy paste it into a Powerpoint by the end of this week?""
Its difficult to quantify the importance of the time spent on instructional design to a customer, because time=money and there's really no way of proving that developing that instructional content has any impact on "money". Its a catch 22 situation for learning professionals to either sacrifice quality in their instructional content, or to live with a customer that's unhappy with their turn around time.
This is where the word "Rapid" works really well for me. There are few principles that any kind of Rapid development rests on:
Learning is a process, not an eventTom Kulhmann's recently written quite a brilliant blog post to indicate how learning is more a series of events that a single "big bang" occurrence. With that wisdom in perspective, it makes sense to create multiple, small, low cost learning opportunities than it is, to create a really high cost, seemingly perfect training program. Its important to know that learning is an experience and not a commodity, so believing that you can achieve it through the transactional act of a single training event is really being unrealistic.
While I've grown in my career as a facilitator of face to face events, I've learnt that a face to face training program is a disruptive influence. It means that someone has to organize logistics, it means that people have to leave their daily jobs and spend time in a training room. Then again, if you go by the "conscious competence model", training can only:
- move people from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence;
- OR move people from conscious incompetence to conscious competence
Now don't get me wrong, instructor led training has its time and place and is obviously more appropriate than others in certain context. What I'm trying to say is, that Instructor Led Training (ILT) is not the same as learning. Learning needs other, more regular, less disruptive events to support classroom training.
Design and Content will evolve over timeDesign can't ever be perfect. An ideal course evolves over time. The usual tendency with course design is to throw the kitchen sink at a few hours of learning. If you're designing a course, the key things to ask yourself are:
- What do participants need to be able to do at the end of this course?
- What's the minimum information they need, to be able to do this?
- In what scenarios will they apply this learning?
- How can I model these situations in my classroom/ self paced learning environment?
- including instructions on how to run the course;
- direct speech for what you need to say;
- standard questions/ standard responses;
- AND tips and tricks;
Questions like this help in making the course development process more iterative than monolithic. It helps get learning out quicker, it helps customers realize value soon and it makes you look like a rock-star!
Learning internalizes On the Job and informallyIn most consulting engagements what we really do, is create learning. The engagements that work are the one's where we understand learning to be a continuous process and hence we create mechanisms for people to to learn in informal situations. 1-o-1 coaching, mentoring, lunch and learns, tiny tasks as stepping stones, big visible charts, open spaces, microblogging, wikis, collaborative workspaces, e-learning -- they all take less time and continuing effort than the coordination of a big bang classroom session and they help internalize learning over time.
Giving yourself the opportunity to create these light-weight learning experiences will allow you to relax a little more on your actual course development and will help you generate far more value for your customer, in far lesser time -- I mean rapidly.
So my suggestion for the next time you're trying to solve a learning problem is to think of the learning process first and then think how you can bring in the word Rapid to create value quicker for your customers.
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