I’m an instructional designer by trade and according to my education, but I see myself as a performance improver and change leader. I’m very well-versed in instructional design concepts such as ADDIE and SAM, software such as Captivate and Storyline, LMSes such as BlackBoard and Absorb, and am proficient in the Microsoft Office Suite. What sets me apart from other instructional designers is my core belief that training isn’t always the answer – and that’s okay!
“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”
General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, US Army
Training Needs Analysis
Any good instructional designer will mention the need for a training needs analysis, but how many will really do one? What if the client is adamant that it’s a learning deficiency and death by Power Point must ensue to hammer the information into the learners’ brains? A training needs analysis must be done for every project to take a step back and really analyze the problem and the organizational context in which it exists. I do not create training interventions when training is not the answer. Sometimes it’s a simple solution, like a decision tool to help an employee make the right choices based on a few variables. Sometimes it’s a job aid. Sometimes the organizational structure is the problem. When a client comes to me with a problem to solve, I do my best to convince them to let me do a training needs analysis so we create the right intervention and so we don’t just create another training course that employees dread and get nothing from. This also allows me to analyze the existing infrastructure and the “big picture” to better understand how the learner engages with the learning function and how effective the engagement is.
Learner-Centric, “Sticky” Training
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a training course is the answer. When it is, I’m proficient at developing online courses, face to face courses, and blended learning experiences. Regardless of the design of the training intervention, the learner is my focus. What knowledge and/or skills does the learner need? How can I make the training realistic and relevant and take advantage of the learner’s prior experience? What can I do to make the learning “stick” once the training is complete? How can I deliver the training to the learner right when he or she needs it, in a manageable chunk so it’s not overwhelming? Can I create an environment where the training is tailored to each individual’s needs, using just-in-time training instead of giving broad-brush information with a firehose?
Planning for Evaluation
I also have my client’s best interests at heart. Any time I start a new project, whether an entire education and training plan or a single learning intervention, I’m thinking about how to evaluate my work and prove that what I’m doing is aligned with the organization’s strategic goals and will result in improved performance, which will ultimately provide a positive return on investment. I plan for evaluation at all four of Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation as soon as I begin a project. This allows me to see whether learners “like” my course (Level 1), whether their knowledge or skills are improving in regard to the course objectives (Level 2), whether their behavior changes after they return to the job (Level 3) and whether the client is getting a return on investment (Level 4).
I hope this brief overview of my philosophy gives you an idea of the types of performance improvements and learning interventions I am able to create for my clients. I enjoy strategic thinking and am always a learner advocate as I’m analyzing a project to determine the most effective interventions.