Books I'm reading and blogging about.

The Accidental Instructional Designer

The Accidental Instructional Designer @ Amazon.

I just finished reading Cammy Bean’s The Accidental Instructional Designer Learning Design for the Digital Age.  A new member was added to my team at work to help me with Instructional Design duties.  He has extensive video and photography experience but no ID experience.  He attended Cammy Bean’s webinar hosted by Training Magazine and found it quite helpful so we thought we would read her book together.

I really enjoyed this book.  It’s a quick read.  The book is really a commonsense approach to Instructional Design but if you were thrown into it like a lot of us are, you don’t know what you don’t know.  What I really liked about it was that I picked up a few things that I’m going to start using.

Lately, I’ve been tasked with building out training for new products and services plus rolling out new computer systems to Associates.  I really like the idea of an Infomercial (p. 62).  I’m currently working on a project to introduce a new problem solving tool in the Lean environment.  It’s really user-friendly and intuitive.  It’s so easy to use, I’m sure learners will think to themselves, “Really, a CBT for this?”  An informercial will be fun, create buzz, explain WIIFM, and introduce the new product.

“Clicky-clicky bling-bling” – I love this phrase (p. 101).  I had a discussion with my mentor years ago about not adding unnecessary animation & bells and whistles into eLearning or even in PowerPoint.  If it doesn’t add to the learning you don’t need it.  It’s been advice that I use every day.  Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should.  If you are focusing on what you can do as an ID/eLearning Developer you’ve already lost the battle it’s all about the learner. Learners aren’t going to be impressed with your Captivate prowess especially if they haven’t learned anything.

I also like that Ms. Bean introduces some different ways of thinking in her book.  Even new IDs need to be current of trends in the profession and the chapter about objectives is a good example.  I am not a big fan of “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them and tell them what you told them.”  A bullet point list – how boring.  I went to a seminar by someone from MindGym at ATD ICE in 2012 and they talked about eliminating things like the objectives and introductions from class to save time.  I don’t know if I’m 100% convinced that one should totally eliminate objectives, I’d much rather use a story or some kind of attention grabber to get learners interested in “staying tuned” for what comes next.  I hope this trend continues.  Down with bullet points!

One last thing to mention, my new team member was surprised by all of the domains that we as Instructional Designers touch.  Sure there’s a little graphic design, marketing, psychology and all of that adult learning stuff but it’s always changing and different everywhere.  Chapter 12 might contain the best advice – never stop.  I learn something new every day.  There are so many resources out there for us and a lot of them are free, take advantage of them.

I would recommend this book for anyone new to Instructional Design or even more seasoned Instructional Designers.   I’m sure there’s a tip or two that just about anyone can walk away with.

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