Instructional design – reminder notes

As part of the Modern Learning Leader Programme, Ross Garner of Good Practice focused on “What is instructional design”.

Right at the beginning Ross made sure that the focus of Instructional Design (ID) is on what the real problem is and making sure that the solutions are related to that.

And Ross used Star Wars as a good example, whereby Luke Skywalker needed to learn the force, and he didn’t do it through an e-learning module…

After an example where the solution was jumped to, Ross explained a modified version of Cathy Moore’s brilliant Action Mapping process for getting to the point of the business problem. Ross calls it “a safe collaborative space” to work on business challenges and solutions.

Below is Ross’ example of the Action Map as he might apply this when a client has asked for an e-learning course to cover the absence policy:

There was an interesting interaction during the session, about how L&D can use Action Mapping. There was a comment about using Action Mapping on our own and my focus was that it is collaborative – if we are using it on our own we aren’t using it fully and as designed!

How to design solutions

Ross strongly recommended Julie Dirksen’s book Design for how people learn. A great book to look at all sorts of different angles on this topic.

This is a page from Julie Dirksen’s book – there are also lots of photo’s and diagrams, a really visual book

Ross shared the performance gaps that Julie expands upon in her book, highlighting that training isn’t always the solution when there are other issues at hand.

Julie was on Colin Steed’s Virtual Learning Show some years ago, and this is a blog post with my notes.

And this slide showed some of the problems that Ross thought that instructional designers often make!

You can read my other Modern Learning Leader blog posts

What is a Modern Learning Leader?

The human condition

The human condition – faces and social learning

You can come along to the webinars and also the workshop too.

There is also a Twitter conversation on the #MLLeader hashtag.

Bob Mosher notes from TLDchat – performance support and more

#TLDChat is a webcast hosted every morning US time (4pm UK time) by Brent Schlenker. A number of different L&D topics are covered on different days.

Bob Mosher was the guest today, and I shared several tweets of some of his key messages. I thought I would gather them with some other detail as Bob’s work is so important for us all to be aware of or reminded about.

This is the bio of Bob, from the community website for performance support:

The #TLDchat was about an hour and covered a variety of different topics. You can watch the recording here and below are some of my tweets:

This is a different way of thinking to a lot of training design. This is firstly about what people need in their every day job role in order to perform as they need.

You might need to make one sheet guides, quick reference guides, give people access to short videos to support them. It could also be bigger solutions such as the help tools available with software.

Either way, Bob highlights to make sure people have what they need to be able to do their job. The training is to “back up” the support materials – to add extra richness and depth. It’s not about the training first, and hoping that people will rely on your emailed slides!


Bob says this was what someone said to him once, “oh, you are the guy that hates training” or similar. Just because there are other things to do, like performance support materials, it doesn’t mean that training isn’t good or the right thing. It’s just not the ONLY thing!


It was hard to get this all in one tweet, and I’m not sure I did it gracefully! The point here is that there is often time between a training event and when a person next needs to perform that task. The point Bob made was that you might we have a tick in the training box, a tick to say that they passed the test, but if they can’t do the actual task, then it will be the fault of the L&D department who did the training.

So if we rely solely on training to equip people to do their jobs, then it’s training that will get the blame when people can’t perform. If we provide other elements too, such as a PDF or video or whatever to help them do their job in the moment, then we are the hero’s.


An analogy used early in the discussion was about swimming. Bob had said that the minimum you need in a swimming lesson is how not to drown! Learning the details of difficult swimming strokes is for another day.

Taking this analogy further, the detail of different things about swimming (or not drowning!) are best learnt in the pool, trying them out. However, if you’ve never, ever gotten in the water before, without the help of some training, that very first toe you dip in is going to be scary.

It’s our job in L&D to help people get in the water, to make sure the know how not to drown, and, over time, get them competent in other areas and help them as they need it.


This point about the 70:20:10 model is to design first for the workflow, where people need help in the moment, as mentioned above. Another Bob Mosher (and his partner Conrad Gottfredson) also talk about are the five moments of learning need, and that’s well worth a read.


Here’s a tweet from Marco, the only other content tweet from this chat, capturing a lovely point!


Click here to read my blog post for more on Instructional Design. 

Facilitator Guide for live online classroom

This is a free Lightbulb Moment resources of a blank facilitator guide, session plan, lesson plan (or whatever name you want to use!) that you may wish to use as a starting point for your live online sessions, virtual classrooms and webinars.


Click for the Word document: facilitator-guide-blank-lightbulb-moment-jo-cook

Main facilitation section

What you can see in the main part of the document is:

  • Space for the slide thumbnail
    • Easier to update and add slides than change slide numbers
    • Easy visual reference when delivering
    • Doesn’t replace a print or screen of the slides with any detail on it that you might need
  • The facilitator column with script/information for delivery and key question points
    • It’s up to you what is right for your team in terms of the amount of ‘script’ that is on the document. Good facilitators will use this as a guide and life to their delivery
    • The questions in red help experienced facilitators highlight the important question point
  • The producer column is great for if you have someone in a host or more technical support role
    • Even if delivering content solo, I use this column to hold technical information, such as links or questions to paste into the chat window, tabs/pods to select and so on
    • You could re-purpose this column to be for co-delivery too
  • Technical and interaction notes as screen-grabbed icons of the software system
    • This makes it very quick and easy to process the input from the attendees – the chat icon tells me to say “Please type your response in chat” or the tick/check/cross/X tells me to ask for the response this way. It cuts down the need for this to be scripted
    • Ensuring that there is lots if meaningful, varied interaction will hold people’s attention and assist with their learning
  • Time on slide might seem strange to plan down to the 30 seconds – it’s not set in stone, but is an aide to know if something is a quick statement versus an interactive discussion
  • Having the elapsed time in minutes is helpful to keep on track
    • I have this in minutes and hours so that it doesn’t matter what time I start the session, I don’t have to mentally think “Oh, it says 10.27am, but today I started at 2.00pm…”

Opening pages

The first few pages contain some useful elements of design:

  1. A one page overview to help when planning initially and for trainer’s/facilitators to get a feel for the session
  2. An Adobe Connect specific table to help ensure planning and building of rooms and materials is correct
  3. The last section is a legend and icons to copy and paste into the document


Please use this document as you see fit and update as you need to.

It would be great comment your thoughts, adaptations and changes that might help other people.

Instructional Design: resources for creating learning solutions that work

A lot of people who work in training or learning and development either haven’t heard of the term Instructional Design (ID) or really aren’t very sure what it is.

What is Instructional Design?

ID is about “solving performance problems” according to Cathy Moore in her blog post about how to become an Instructional Designer. Christy Tucker says that the role of ID is to “design and develop learning experiences” – from her blog post series.

The Rapid E-learning blog reminds us that “the success of your course hinges on a critical question: does it help your audience learn and apply relevant skills and knowledge?”

A great place to start with ID is with some focuses on what you should actually be doing. Jane Bozarth’s article focuses on creating assessments that are based on what people actually do at work, which then means the rest of the learning solution is focused on that need.

Jane also highlights the difference between ID and visual design. The visual design of any learning materials is essential as part of getting the message across. An ID may be involved with visuals and other media, or that might be a separate role. Depends on your own skills and the size of the team you are in.

On the Rapid E-learning blog is a great picture (part of the visual design Jane Bozarth wrote about) to highlight what the learning solution needs to be – and I’m all for the lightbulb moment:



Activities rather than content

There is a great infographic and list of skills that an ID needs to have on Origin Learning. The first skill is to “break away from formal and heavy content. As an instructional designer, you will have to translate such formal and heavy content into instructional curriculum in an innovative manner.”

The article goes on to say that “it also means involving meaningful activities and exercises that can help facilitate the process of learning to a larger extent”

There are a number of learning models and theories, many with various benefits, some are questionable these days. There is a great list of them, with links for more information on the e-learning industry website, including this image to set the scene:



What do people need to DO AT WORK?

Too many training courses focus on what you will ‘understand’ or ‘know’ by the end. This isn’t about application of learning, it’s about content transfer.

One process that really helps to focus on what people really need to actually do in the work place is Action Mapping, made famous by Cathy Moore. It’s a fabulous consulting tool to find out why people aren’t doing what they need to or should be. It’s looks at all the options for helping to solve the problem, including what is in the environment that is causing the issue, what communication challenges are there and more.

Does it always need to be a course?

Charles Jennings is one of the most well known and oft-quoted speakers on the subject of 70:20:10. In his blog he explains it this way to organisations: “The 70:20:10 model is to help them re-position their focus for building and supporting performance across their organisations. They are finding it helps them extend the focus on learning out into the workflow.

Charles talks about extending learning into the workplace more in this blog piece, which offers some great insight and ideas on doing this in our organisations today. Also there is this blog about the benefits and challenges of doing just that.

In the 70:20:10 Into Action paper from the 70:20:10 Institute the numbers that make up learning solutions are described as such:

  • 10 solutions include training and development courses and programmes, eLearning modules and reading
  • 20 solutions include sharing and collaboration, co-operation, feedback, coaching and mentoring
  • 70 solutions include near real-time support, information sources, challenges and situational learning.

This great LearningNow TV 13 minute interview shows Charles talking about what 70:20:10 is and not getting hung up on the numbers – making sure it’s about performance too.

Is that all there is to it?

Of course this is only scratching the surface of what ID’s do and the things that can help them.

You should know about the moments of learning needGEAR methodology, which includes spaced practice (and you can watch an excellent one hour conversation about spaced practice with Don Clark), learning theoriesID jargon, that learning styles aren’t scientific and more. Also my blog on a Google Hangout with Will Thalheimer, focusing on the brain, limitations in learning and spaced repetition.

But this makes a good start!