Sunday, September 13, 2015

Learning Resources for Today's Instructional Designers:

As an instructional designer who is seeking to gain insight into how other organizations are utilizing neuroscience to improve training and performance I have found the Maritz Insitute to be leading the way. Giller (2010) states that the Maritz Institute "serves as a bridge between the human sciences and Maritz business solutions, designed to help companies achieve strategic goals. They bring insights – anchored in science – that provide a foundation for understanding, enabling and motivating people in ways that are most meaningful to them” (pg.18). 

Far too often in most organizational settings learning and performance improvement training's spend too much time focusing on the content of what people need to know rather than how they will learn. This tends to result in an information transfer that is ineffective and as a result, the learner fails to transfer this knowledge into action (Giller, 2010). In an effort to understand this problem and other areas of  neuroscience the Maritz Institute began their study. In one of their recent articles they take an in-depth look into learning and the brain and how that knowledge can be applied to an organizational setting.  Through this discovery they uncovered a learning cycle of the brain and how each area of the brains responds. The cycle begins with gathering information followed by reflection, then creation and finally active testing and through this they found each step of the cycle is associated with a different region of the brain—those areas associated with sensory, associative and motor functions (Zull, 2002).

Giller (2010) The Neuroscience of Learning: A New Paradigm for Corporate Education 

Through each of these cycles (Gathering, Reflection, Creation, and Active Testing) Giller unpacks the implications for how learning environments need to be shaped. His vantage point is from a organizational mindset, but his principles for the instructional designer have significance.   
Here are Giller's (2010) principles that have shaped the way he has organized learning and development in his company. 

  • Engage the entire learning cycle. Make time for reflection, creation and active testing.
  • Make a connection with the learner’s prior knowledge and experience.
  • Create opportunities for social engagement and interaction as part of the learning process.
  • Engage both feeling and thinking.
  • Actively attend to attention—gaining, holding and focusing the learner’s attention.
  • Engage a maximum number of senses—especially visual—when designing learning
     Information Processing:
     Another learning tool that instructional designers need to be aware of is information processing. Having a basic understanding of this learning theory as an instructional designer is essential for building effective online learning courses. In most cases this learning provides the framework and goals for learning. With information processing it is not just learning the content that is essential, but how the content is received. Ertmer and Newby (1993) note that content should be "organized in such a matter that learners are able to connect new information with existing knowledge" (pg.60). When this type of learning is structured all facets of the memory can operate effectively. A great visual aid that illustrates the science of information processing is Susan Prenderville's work. Through her info-graphic she vividly shows how each part of the memory is actively functioning. Understanding how the memory works and the process information goes through will guide the instructional designer to connect new learning instruction with previous knowledge (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).  
Created and illustrated by Susan Prenderville

      Ertmer, P.A., & Newby, T.J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical   features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50-71.
      Giller, R.H. (2010). The Neuroscience of Learning: A New Paradigm for Corporate Education. Retrieved from Neuroscience-of-Learning-The-Maritz-Institute.ashx
      Prenderville, S. (2014). Brainy Training: An Infographic. Retrieved from

      Zull, J. (2002). The art of changing the brain. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.



Saturday, September 5, 2015

Instructional Design Resources and Blogs

Navigating through the field of Instructional Design (ID) can be a daunting task when initially starting out. Whether you are new to the field of ID or have traveled on this road for years, learning from others who have paved the way in instructional design is a great place to begin your journey. These three websites are a great place to start and have served as portage markers for me, keeping me on course in this vast field of instructional design. As you begin to build your instructional design toolbox, consider these trusted and proven sites.

Association for Talent Development (ATD)
Training and performance improvement through instructional design greatly interests me because it pulls from multiple fields of study. This is why ATD is such a great resource, because it teaches the instructional designer to align learning objectives with business goals. One of the greatest mistakes instructional designs can make is to design a learning course without linking it to the overall strategy within the organization. When learning objectives are weaved into the fabric of the organization's mission and vision then performance improvement can bear fruit in multiple ways. It is also important to note that within the field of talent development, instructional design is only one piece of a large competency model. ATD has revealed foundational competencies that are needed for trainers to be successful in their field. I have found this competency model to be extremely insightful. Whether you are a trainer, manager, instructional design, or a talent development professional, ATD is a great resource center to keep anyone updated on current trends. A great way to begin is start following their communities of practice blog and search which area within instructional design interests you.

The eLearning Coach
Whether you are new to instructional design or are a seasoned veteran, Connie Malamad's eLearning Coach website is a foundational resource center. She unpacks storyboarding, videos, graphics, authoriting tools, needs analysis approaches, and other instructional design related items in her blog. As a new instructional designer, I have found the podcasts to also be insightful. In each podcast, Connie explores a new aspect of instructional design and brings in top E-learning professionals to give their insights. Her topics are always relevant to the field of instructional design and continue to sharpen my knowledge in this field of study.

E-Learning Heroes
The E-Learning community website helps instructional designers create engaging learning courses that build upon foundational learning principles. I have found this website to be extremely user friendly and insightful. One of the greatest aspects of the E-Learning Heroes page is their community of professionals. This is where discussions about learning theory are connected to online courses through collaboration. Within this articulate community is also The Rapid E-Learning Blog by Tom Kuhlmann. Tom gives away free E-books, resources, images, advice, and much more as he helps the instructional designer build a robust and effective learning course. Whether you use the articulate authoring tool or not, the E-Learning heroes community has something for everyone and has served me extremely well.