Monday, June 29, 2009

Murder Was The Case

Lately, I've been seeing a lot of press in our industry about the death of ID and how it signals so many negative trends, such as deficits in end product quality. The scholar that resides inside of me says of course - that's logical. The more time you take to map out and plan things, the more time you take in analyzing your audience and their tasks, the better your end training product will be. It's good to be methodical about laying out a blueprint, of sorts, but how many times do you have to put it on the page (in preparation for the stage) when placing it directly on the stage, after rehearsing it for years, would prove much more economical, efficient, and effective?

I'm here today to fess up to a crime...a grave and serious one in our industry. I show no remorse for what I've done, and I would do it again and again - I have killed Instructional Design (in my little microcosm, anyway).

I can hear all the academics screaming, saying that each product is a unique chance to address a unique group of learners. And that's where academia separates vastly from real world design/development. I've been doing my gig (which I've started lovingly referring to as "Hyper Development (c)") for coming up on 5 years. In the beginning, I went to each of the 'sub-teams' I was doing development work for and I started getting the same basic concept back. I created a module template, my team created a PowerPoint template for the 'SME's we were to work with, and, really, the analysis work was in the client's lap. They came to us and said "We need 'x'", being familiar with what we do and how it was to come out looking. The results have been nothing less than stellar, the ROI's beyond impressive, and the case studies the same (when little old me can rapid prototype better, faster, and cheaper than a major automotive company, there's good things going on here).

So, ID's dead to me...I said it. I don't miss it, and I certainly don't mourn its passing. I will however say this - if you are just starting conversions to CBT, or don't have a system-wide standard template in place, it might be too soon to remove ID from your process. There's a reason analyses are such a backbone to our practice - they're smart, they're good, and they're meaningful. Of course, it would also be nice to gather up all the doctors to sit around the table and talk about the best course of treatment for every patient that comes through our doors. But if someone comes in, bleeding out and crashing fast...well, hopefully you see my point. While these analyses are valid and valuable, they are not always practical or feasible(increasingly moreso as our field develops better, stronger, faster practices).

If you love your analyses, and you cling to the information they provide - great. But if your management catches wind as to how fast, say, a group like mine can turn product around, be ready to justify your 80 hours of analyses for a 2 hour project. Be ready to explain how the pages upon pages of information you've compiled helps to make your training unique. Be ready to explain how understanding the learner helps the learner to feel better, and how those feelings translate to a positive ROI...

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