Instructional Design Basics


Learning to Fly

While reading my posts you may have attributed some names to me that fall along the lines of dork, geek, nerd or even dweeb; after all, references about D&D, Star Wars and others clearly point to someone with those tendencies.  To clear things up though I have provided a link to a nice little Venn diagram that should help you determine exactly where I fall within this spectrum.

Regardless of which term you choose, a movie that nerds, dorks and geeks alike obsessed over in the late 90s was The Matrix and there was one scene in this movie that caught my eye as something that was particularly cool. This was the rooftop scene where Trinity learns to fly a helicopter:

Neo: Can you fly that thing?

Trinity: Not yet [pulls out cell phone] Tank I need a pilot program for a B-212 helicopter.

[Tank inputs the pilot program into Trinity]

Trinity: Let’s go!

This technology isn’t available now or in the near future; however, as a previous post identifies, using Smartphones and other mobile devices is fast becoming a viable option as a training solution.

A main reason why mobile learning is so appealing is its ability to push and pull content regardless of where your users are located.  With this delivery platform your users are not tied to a location—they can access your content whenever and wherever they need it.

Cellcasts (also known as a pushcasts) are one option that some are using for their solutions here. These initiatives focus around the idea of pushing content directly to your users mobile devices. This content is usually self-contained, self-paced and limited in scope to one or two objectives. It is usually small bits of just-in-time information and might be in the form of a podcast, vodcast, simple html text or a combination of these options.

A nice feature of this technology is that it can be tied to a learning management system (LMS), which will allow your managers the ability to track who received the cellcasts, their completion status and other useful information concerning their training.

Regarding this technology, there are several companies that offer software and services to support these types of treatments.  For an overview of each, along with a little more information on these approaches see the following links.

As can be seen with the above links, using these solutions, will allow your developers the ability to create mobile friendly content which can be pushed onto your user's mobile devices. In addition, you can control these pushes based on pre-determined rules and tie it back to your LMS.

BJC doesn’t currently have this type of solution available; however, if you are interested please voice that need so that we can investigate a business case for it. Then maybe one day we can save the next user stuck on a rooftop needing training.


I Need Dollar Dollar

For those working with tight budgets or experiencing some of the hardships associated with our current economy, the above song may hold special relevance to you.  Money is tough and we all need those dollars; luckily, today I have some links that may be just as good though.

Screen capture tools and recorders like Captivate and Camtasia can create engaging demonstrations and simulations of web sites and software applications; however, they can be costly.

For those without money to spare you may want to take a look at Jing, which is a free screen capturing tool that you can use to create small movies. This tool doesn’t have a lot of features, for instance, you can’t edit your files and you are limited in your file export options. Despite these limitations with a little planning you can create decent demonstration videos for your online courses.

Podcasts are a relatively new method people are using to deliver training.  Basically podcasts are audio files that people play from their media players.  In order to create effective podcasts you need audio capturing and editing tools. Audacity has these tools and is free so give it a look and start creating your own podcasts

Other Goodies
For other free software that might help you develop training courses or just make your life easier check out for their Best Free Software of 2010 article.