Have you ever hired a professional to do something in your home that you didn’t have the expertise to do yourself? Maybe you’re remodeling your basement and you need an electrician to run the wires. When your electrician comes to your house, do you:
a. Tell him about your problem. Tell him your desired end-state. Rely on his expertise to resolve it in a manner that is within standards, safe for your home and the inhabitants in it, and visually pleasing (i.e. he doesn’t leave gaping holes in your walls).
…or do you
b. Invite him into your home and provide him step by step instructions on how you would solve the problem if you were a certified electrician.
Most people would stick with choice a. After all, that’s why we hire out these kinds of projects – because we don’t have the expertise, right?
Why is it, then, that so many clients outsource their training projects using the tactics described in choice b?
My guess is that they don’t know what they don’t know.
In this case, they don’t know what they should expect of a seasoned instructional designer and they don’t realize the benefits of hiring someone who can look beyond making an information dump (also known as death by Power Point) more palatable to their poor, drowning, bored learners.
If your instructional designer starts your project with:
“Give me all your content and I’ll make an interesting, engaging, interactive e-learning course for you,”
then you’re likely to end up with your good, old death by Power Point jazzed up a bit with a knowledge check here, a branching scenario there, possibly some “gamification” to make it more “fun” and, of course, the all important FINAL QUIZ to prove that “learning has occurred.” (Really? A quiz is proof that someone has learned something? And if it does prove that they’ve learned something, so what? If they don’t apply what they’ve learned on the job, does it matter?)
What SHOULD I expect?
A lot of instructional designers prefer to just “get the content” and “make it fun to navigate.” I’d caution clients that
developing training from content without doing an initial analysis is a breeding ground for ineffective training.
The initial analysis is key and too many instructional designers (and clients) skip it to “get to the good stuff,” because the development part is much more “fun” to do than the analysis part. Unfortunately, this method of creating training is costly and will not result in the performance improvements that the client was anticipating. If no initial analysis is done and the client has their prescription for training already written, the resulting course is likely to be garbage in, garbage out.
So, what SHOULD you expect from your instructional designer? Check out Trust Me. I’m a Professional. Part 2 to look at an ideal request for proposals that would catch highly qualified instructional designers with performance improvement experience in your talent net.