Reflection on CBT / eLearning

As I reflect on the experiences I had while working on my computer-based training (eLearning) module for this class, many aha moments and changes happened throughout my learning process. I learned instructional design and development is often a very dynamic process. As such, I found myself changing my design document and storyboard documents to match the final version of my eLearning module. Here are some of the experiences that influenced my learning process and decisions along the way.

In the initial stages of developing the design document and instructional strategies for my software training eLearning module, I anticipated developing a couple multiple choice questions and a software simulation as part of the assessments for the module. After creating my storyboard, and as I moved further along in the development process, I quickly learned that a software simulation involved more time than I thought and ran into a steeper learning curve than time allowed to meet the class project deadline. To meet the deadline, I decided to replace the software simulation with a matching drop-down list assessment activity that looks similar to the dialog box in the Machine Maintenance System (MMS) software. I felt this choice of selecting the correct information from a form closely simulated the activity of entering the correct information in the MMS. The other assessments I included helped reinforce field names and values associated with the text entry fields in the Create New Machine dialog box, the core screen of this small reusable learning object (RLO)/eLearning module. I believe the experience I had about design, development and timelines is a common challenge faced by many instructional designers and developers.

I chose an interface design and color scheme of dark blue, gray and black that complimented the light blue colors used in the MMS software. I tried to incorporate a good balance of white space, font size, text and appropriate images. Where necessary, I incorporated screen captures of the software and added a magnifier icon option to the smaller images that allows the user the ability to magnify an image if/when needed. I also incorporated a glossary and various resources related to the module for the learner.

As I learned more about ADA/ 508 compliance standards and considered the following statistics shared in our class, it motivated me to add a lot of accessibility elements to my module.

Interesting statistics to consider…
• Over 285 million people in the world are visually impaired
• Between one and nine percent of the population have movement-related disorders
• Hearing loss affects about 10% of the global population to some degree
• 15% of the U.S. population has learning-related disabilities

As such, I added alt tags, audio with closed captioning, transcript of the audio used, logical tab order, and various resources to help support learners with disabilities. I also noted the additional time it took to add these elements to the module; but realized adding these elements benefit all learners and are well worth the time and effort to improve the learning experience for everyone.

After I received usability test feedback on my prototype from a classmate, I decided to incorporate some of her feedback in the final version of my eLearning module. Some of the feedback I received inspired me remove content on some of the screens, and add access to additional content via the Resources tab on the menu. (Throughout my many years of experience as a technical writer, I learned it is easier to remove content than add it while going through the first draft/prototype and review stage.) I chose not incorporate some of the feedback because it wasn’t applicable to the target audience of the module, and some feedback I was not able to incorporate due to the limited functionality of the authoring tool.

The most valuable concepts and ideas I gained from this course happened when I was learning about flowcharts and storyboarding. The assignments of creating a SCORM-compliant eLearning module using the free authoring tool – Udutu, and the assignment on storyboarding helped me understand that working through and developing a good flowchart of my course FIRST is essential to good storyboarding and development. Getting my ideas on paper and seeing it in a flowchart helped me realize what, if anything was missing. Flowcharts and storyboarding remind me of the outline and first draft writing fundamentals I practice when I am writing user guides, online help and other job aids. I found the storyboarding exercise the most interesting (and sometimes challenging) activity during this course. It is during this step in the process where all the theories, principles and best practices were addressed and applied so that the development represented and displayed the content in the best way as it related to my target audience.

When training on how to use software, I tend to implement the theories of Minimalism and Constructivism. Both of these theories emphasize the idea that the learner is not a blank slate and will participate in a learning experience with some prior knowledge and experience. This allows the learner to build upon what they already know and use a learning module (or job aid tool, etc.) in a way that best suits their need at the time. Sometimes a learner just wants to know the five or six steps involved with a particular function in the software. It is my job as an instructional designer and developer to create the access to the content they need to do their job more efficiently. I believe I addressed and applied these theories appropriately in my eLearning module.

Questions and concerns I still have about developing eLearning have more to do with all the creative ways current authoring tools can help present information in a more engaging way. Seeing what others have created successfully help inspire me. I like and use websites like Articulate eLearning Heroes, eLearning Coach and eLearning Industry that help answer a lot of my questions about eLearning design and often inspire me to think outside the box. I will also continue to learn from and interact with my peers in the associations I am currently a member of which include: Professional Association for Computer Training (PACT), and the Minnesota chapter of International Society for Performance Improvement (MNISPI).

 

Constructivism. Instructional Design Theory. Retrieved from: http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist/

Minimalism. Retrieved from http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/minimalism/