Instructional Design Basics


Running on Empty

I’m not a real runner—at least that’s what I tell people when they find out I run.  You see I know real runners. I know people that run with respectable pace times, or ones that do 20 plus miles a week, or even those that approach every race as an opportunity to make a personal record (PR).  No, I’m not one of those guys—I am just out there playing.

And since I am playing, I have a whole different set of tricks that I use to keep me focused on running.

One of my favorites is the themed race—here races are based around a central idea or theme like St Paddy’s Day or Halloween.  In these events the bystanders and event organizers usually have signs, costumes, music and other activities that support the theme of the day.  Runners in these events usually participate as well which is nice as running next to an Elvis or a Waldo can keep you going when times are tough.

Because of this, these races seem less like running and more like a big social event. Using themes in your courses can provide similar effects.   In this regard, courses built around themes can provide extra motivation and interest into your content. And themes can make your courses feel less like a required activity and more like a fun and engaging event.

Today I’ll talk about a theme that I like to use with my course building activities.

Numbers Matter

A lot of the training content we build can be tracked back to significant numbers like costs, profits and reported incidents. And with numbers like this a common training objective may be to reduce or increase these numbers.

Other significant numbers like people affected and times an action is performed can be equally important to our course goals and objectives as these numbers highlight the importance of our training content. In this regard, these numbers can provide a way for us to sell our content which is why they may be associated with attitudinal objectives within our courses.

As mentioned these number are often large and as such may be difficult for our users to realize or fully grasp. So to help them make sense of our content we should break these numbers down into something that our users can see and or relate to.  Using a counter in this regard is an easy way to do that.

Let’s look at how this may look:

Infection Control Example
This course used a counter to sell the importance of Incident Command Management.  By using a theme of a possible H1N1 epidemic we were able to wrap the content around a story. Users saw infections represented in the counter—a counter that moved very fast according to the prediction that 40% of Americans could be infected.

Adjustment Codes Example
This course used a counter to sell the importance of using the right codes within our processing centers. Users were able to see how much money was being lost as a result of incorrect use of these codes and were able to connect these losses to equipment, staff and other resource needs.

BLS Example
This course used a counter to sell the importance of proper BLS techniques. Here users were able to see how often these skills are needed and how truly valuable they can be.

Adding Engagement

Besides presenting a visual that can help your users connect to the content, these counters can be used to create engagement.

In the Infection Control and BLS examples we developed content triggers based on the counters:

The Infection Control course was set up so that popup boxes would open at every 2000 infections.  These popup boxes presented a storyline that followed an H1N1 epidemic.

The BLS course was set up so that every two cycles of the counter (which represented two people suffering a cardiac arrest) an interaction would open up that the user had to complete before continuing.  These interactions were scenario based and forced users to practice basic life saving skills.

The real power behind these counters can occurs when you take them a step further and move into the gaming realm.  In this regard these counters can represent scoring elements.

The Adjustment Codes course used its counter as a simple scoring mechanism.  This course was built as a simulation where the user’s choices influenced how fast or slow the counter moved.  So when a user picked the right choice the counter would slow down and BJC would save money.

To reinforce this game environment cut scenes were added to this simulation—saving money meant scenes played that showed new equipment being purchased and losing money showed scenes where equipment purchasing and plans were put on hold.

Give Us a Call

As can be seen these counters can be used in a variety of ways and can be quite fun to develop. I’m sure though that some of you are thinking that they are beyond your abilities.  This may be true as getting them developed and working within a course can be difficult.

Luckily you don’t have to go it alone, we have templates and resources available that can be used to facilitate your needs here. So there’s no reason to go it alone and in addition there is no reason to produce a slow and tedious experience for your users.  Here themes can make courses and running an exciting activity.

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