Archive for January, 2012

Learning Objectives – ID Versus SME/Trainer

January 30, 2012

There is a definate difference between Instructional Designers and SME’s, and sometimes Trainers.

This difference is extremely apparent when you start to identify what a learner needs to know. My experience is in the software development industry, so that is from where I will speak. The most common thing I have seen is SME’s looking at content from a functionality standpoint, rather than a task or role-based standpoint.

The tool in our arsenal to assist with this “learning objectives”.

Getting to the Learning Objective

When I sit with a SME to start interviewing them, my first question is to identify a high-level description of what is needing to be taught – this probably covers the basic functionality and frames the content for me, so I can further ask questions and narrow down the content. My next set of questions revolves around “What do the learners need to DO?”. This allows us to focus on what the content needs to be. From there, the content can actually follow a procedural path and any extra content the learners “need to know” can sit on top of the procedural content.

For example, I might be developing a training course for a Teller. Here is a typical SME-driven objective:

 The learner will know how to process a transaction.



When Instructional Design Theory Meets Reality

January 30, 2012

I ran into a very interesting set of personal case studies in Course Development – one I am currently working on and one that I developed several years back. Both courses were of similar content. They covered entry-level content for new users of our software.

The Courses and Their Development Style

I based the one I developed several years ago on sound instructional design – it is an eLearning course containing scenarios, simulations, and a workbook that interacts with the course. There are also assessments throughout the course.

I designed the current course as a game, in which the learner works through different challenges and earns letters throughout the course. The final assessment was that they could unscramble the letters to create a word that represents the module. Once the learner goes through the modules, the final assessment is for them to enter all the words to create a sentence.

The problem…both concepts missed the mark when we tested them in real environments.


Nancy Duarte – Five Rules for Great PowerPoint Presentations

January 23, 2012

I first heard Nancy Duarte speak at Learning Solutions in 2011 and was fascinated by the ideas she presented. She is the author of two prominant books on developing presentations – Slide-ology and Resonate . They are bookends, so you probably want to look at both. The first is about making a visually appealing presentation. The second one is about developing a story for your presentation. Some of them were ideas I was already trying to put into practice, while others were complete eye-openers.

The big one for me was following a “hero” arc. This allows you to make your audience the unsuspecting hero of your presentation. You are taking them on a journey. I am a movie fan, and love a good, epic story – Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter…just to name a few. They all share a similar story arc. The hero is in a normal world, but there is a longing…a need. They are presented with an option to go after this need by a mentor. At first, they resist the offer and believe it is not for them. Then, something changes…Luke’s aunt and uncle are killed, the “one ring” must go to Mordor and Frodo is the only one to do it, or Harry is accepted to Hogwarts. The hero decides this new adventure is for them. AND THAT’S WHERE YOU LEAVE YOUR AUDIENCE! Now it is their decision to pick up the proverbial sword and go slay their own dragons. It is your job, as the presentor to act as Obi-Wan, Gandalf, or Dumbledore. You know there are problems and issues your audience will face – point them out but convince them that their want or desire is valuable enough that they should go down that path anyway.


ASTD Competency Model

January 23, 2012

Foundational Competencies

Foundational competencies define relevant behaviors for learning and performance professionals.

The ASTD Competency Model presented the idea of foundational competencies. These foundational competencies are categorized as:

  • Interpersonal: how well you work with, manage, and influence people, policy, and change.
  • Business and Management: how well you analyze situations, make decisions, and implement solutions.
  • Personal: how well you adapt to change and make personal decisions to enhance your career.

Areas of Expertise (AOEs)

Areas of Expertise (AOE) is the second tier of the model and comprises specific technical and professional areas required for success across various jobs in the field. These AOEs are specialized areas that build and rely upon the focused application of the foundational competencies.

As part of the 2004 initiative to build a competency model for learning and performance professionals, ASTD identified nine areas of expertise, deemed critical for workplace learning and performance (WLP) professionals:


Roles are the top tier or execution level of the model. Roles are not the same as job titles. They are much more fluid depending on the work or project, and are the broad area of responsibility within the profession that requires a select group of foundational competencies (bottom tier) and select group of AOEs (second tier) to successfully execute. There are four defined roles, or lenses through which Workplace Learning and Performance (WLP) practitioners may view the model.

  • Learning strategist
  • Business partner
  • Project manager
  • Professional specialist

Roles are groupings of targeted competencies. An individual’s job may encompass one or more roles, similar to different “hats” that one might have to wear. Roles should not be interpreted as “titles.” A WLP professional may play one or more roles in his or her job.

To view the ASTD Competency Model, click here

Where do you fit into this model? Share your AOE’s and roles with us!