Instructional Design Basics


Highway to the Danger Zone

I’m not a big fan of Tom Cruise; in fact a comedian I saw many years ago, summed up my thoughts on him:

“... he basically plays the same character over and over…

Cocktail— he was a cocky bartender that was challenged by his past; he falls in love and overcomes his challenge.

Days of Thunder—he was a cocky race car driver that was challenged by his past; he falls in love and  …

Top Gun—he was a cocky pilot that was…”

His movies and characters have evolved a little since then, but for the most part he still repeats many of the same themes.   And as such, I am always a little hesitant to acknowledge him or his movies.

But today I want to mention Minority Report as it had some pretty cool ideas about our future.  One scene that I found particularly interesting is the one in which his character is walking through a mall as advertising jumps out at him.

I find this scene interesting as the technology demonstrated in it is not that far away. In fact, thanks to the recent growth in Smartphone and Tablet usage as well as advances in augmented reality, you might argue that it is already in place. In this regard, there are currently thousands of unseen objects just waiting to jump out at you.

Was Blind but Now I See

In several past posts I have talked about augment reality (AR) and how it might be useful for training activities.  With augmented reality, the user’s senses—what they see and hear—is augmented by some external device.

Many of us have experienced a form of this while watching a Sunday afternoon football game. Here extra visual information is added to the TV screen in the form of the Yellow 1st down line or with the Pen tool that highlights a person or place on the field to watch.  These tools help focus our attention and can greatly increase our understanding of what is going on within the game.

Recent mobile devices (Smartphones, Tablets, …) have technologies in place that allow for these same abilities. Here audio and visuals can be projected onto whatever environment we are interacting with at the moment.  And a key to this experience is the location information that our mobile devices can gather about us.

This information is important because it helps training administrators decided what their users might need to know. Specifically by determining where a users is, what is around them or what they are doing, administrators can deduce what their users may need help with and push appropriate content to them.

When Push Comes to Shove

There are currently several technologies that support these activities:

Each of these technologies contains triggers that administrators can use to push content onto mobile devices.  And how or what you want to push to your users will depend on your training needs.

Some things that you might want to push though are instructor lead materials that facilitate the user experience.  In this regard you could display a map over the user’s screen that provides directions to the different classrooms.  In addition, each classroom could be linked up to display needed classroom resources.  Here the users could access job aids, manuals, and other content through these augmented screens.  A final
classroom activity that may improve the user experience deals with level one evaluation—here your evaluations could be setup so that the surveys launch directly onto your users’ mobile devices.

Besides facilitating classroom sessions you could also use these technologies to present course content.  In an earlier post I describe how a course could be developed around QR codes but the other technologies offer similar abilities.  The GPS utilities in particular present some unique opportunities here as the triggers can be based on the user’s proximity to a location.

Regardless if you use this technology or not, it’s out there now and there are thousand of objects just waiting to catch up with you. And as Tom Cruise’s character found out, you can’t run away from them.  One day you’ll have to deal with it—let’s just hope you don’t have to take as drastic of an action as his character took.