The habits of successful instructional designers – Allison Rossett shares at Learning Technologies eXchanges

by | Feb 5, 2013 | Articles

Genny Dixon reports on the energetic discussion with Allison Rossett  from the @towardsmaturity eXchanges at #LT13UK

The classroom is a gift for the presenter – but not one we can afford any more for every student, all the time.

So we look to the Instructional Designer for help.

Ask the important questions

In discussion with a group of 7 instructional designers from the US, the UK and Israel at the recent Towards Maturity Learning Technologies eXchange, Allison Rossett challenged us to ask our workers the important questions:

  • What do they say about our programmes?
  • How would they characterise our programmes?
  • Do they find them useful, engaging, dynamic, interactive, a way to contribute?
  •  Would they stretch them?
  • Would they enable success, build confidence and increase motivation?
  • And above all, do they satisfy mind, heart and belly?!

Be insanely curious about work

The good instructional designer needs to be insanely curious about work, the worker and their workplace. they must be good at reflecting, a good and modern communicator and their solutions must be elegant and all about the learner themselves and their needs. One participant likened the Instructional Designer to Michelangelo. It takes the sculptor to bring out the image and beauty from the block of stone.

Strategies for design means the learning activities must be relevant and actually look like the work people do if they are to succeed. The group loved Allison’s example from the car insurance loss adjusters training in which they were presented not only with examples of cars in all states of damage, but as they progressed up the difficulty gradient, were also faced with actors playing increasingly irate and awkward customers!

Be clear about what ‘good’ looks like

Worked examples, illustrating successful performance, can help to set the goals that we are working or learning towards, so the good instructional designer needs to base the learning on evidence, stories, and best practice. Whilst needs analysis is crucial to understand the gap, we also need the picture of what good actually looks like.

Allison combines an academic but very practical and pragmatic approach to instructional design, continually challenging the group to question the causes of successes and failures, and tailor systems at work, in action and in context to achieve results. The ‘targeted push’ in which we tailor learning for specific people, contexts and situations  – the ‘easy pull’ where workers easily find and engage with what they need.

Help workers recognise ‘good’

The instructional designer doesn’t have to be a subject matter expert, or a great artist or technologist. The ability to create a checklist or questinoning framework to guide the learner towards recognising the good example can be a really effective arrow in the ID’s quiver.  ID solutions have to make sense – and add high value to the worker – so that they say: ‘I could use that!’ And after talking with Allison, that comment was echoed by all those around the table.

About Allison Rossett:

Allison Rossett is Professor Emerita in Educational Technology at San Diego State University. she has published widely on this topic, and recently also on Mobile Learning. www.allisonrossett.com
She has been recognised by the ASTD for her lifelong contribution to workplace learning and performance. Follow Allison on Twitter at @arossett

 

Allison took part in the Learning Technologies eXchange run by Towards Maturity and our partner Training Journal.Catch up with other #LT13UK eXchange sessions here.

 

Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphoto.net

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