My first real practice developing an online course was a mixture of bitter sweet experience for me. On one hand I really enjoyed getting my hands on the field and applying what I have learned so far in instructional design. But on the other hand, I experienced frustration because the product did not get enough management support hence learners did not get motivated to use it.
This online course basically consisted on a short course of three modules explaining the basics of how to use a system that allows learners monitor and control an electrical infrastructure remotely. The online course was developed using Articulate Storyline and had interactivity, contextualised content, real work case scenarios, and assessments drawn from real work situations.
The initial plan was to get the operators of the electrical infrastructure to do the online course followed by a practice on a simulator and in a real setting. At the end operators did not complete the online course and preferred instead a simplified printed version that they could quickly read and re visit when needed. However, on a good outcome was that the practice on the simulator and with a real setting was successfully conducted with each operator.
What contributed to the project’s success or failure?
Some of the elements that impacted the project positively are the following:
- The authoring tool Articulate Storyline allowed me to create a highly interactive tool without the need of using any other additional software or resources. Additionally, this software let me built a final product that was easy to implement in the organization’s intranet.
- I was the Subject Matter Expert (SME) as well, so I knew the content and exactly what to include in order to make sure each module would stay relevant, concise, and easy to digest by learners. This was positive too in the sense that as an Instructional Designer I did not have to spend time and chasing SME.
- Knowing the principles of multimedia learning, I made sure principles such as spatial and temporary contiguity, coherence, signalling, segmenting, personalize, voice, modality, and redundancy were followed (Laureate Education, 2010) in the multimedia elements in order to promote deep learning.
On the other hand, the elements that impacted the project negatively are:
- There was no communication plan or a meeting to inform management about the online tool. It was developed in solo, because I was the subject matter expert and I identified the need for this training without getting management on board. In this case, being the SME influenced me negatively as I was not focusing on the project as an Instructional Designer. Additionally, during those days my department was going through organisational changes and at that exactly point there was no management to direct the department. All the employees were attending work and doing their roles without a clear direction.
- Learners were not interested in an online course. They preferred face-to-face training followed by a practice on a simulator. As an ID I should have considered this requirement instead of trying to push a tool that I consider innovative and at the time I thought it would capture learners’ attention.
- There were no project management practices in place for this task. I simply followed the ADDIE instructional design model with a very poor learners’ analysis to start the project.
Which parts of the PM process, if included, would have made the project more successful? Why?
Starting a project with a “Statement of Work” document would have set the project to start with the right direction. Identifying stakeholders using a RASCI matrix would have been also another important project management tool to get a clear list of the different roles and stakeholders that needed to be included in the project from inception (Laureate Education, n.d), as well as identifying their responsibility in the project.
Additionally, I would include a “Communication Plan” to make sure all stakeholders will be informed of different milestones and key pieces of information that can vary depending on their roles in the project (Lin, 2006).
Finally, I would have to include a complete project management perspective into the project rather than entirely focus on the instructional design part of it. This new perspective would give me the tools to stay organize and have a systematic approach to manage the project to a successful end. Project management practice would include tools such as a Work Breakdown Process (WBP) to partition the project into smaller and specific tasks, a Project Plan to specify tasks, milestones, and timelines; and a better strategy to fully engage all stakeholders as well as making sure learners’ needs will be addressed in the final product.
Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Triarchic model of cognitive load: Parts 1 and 2 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d). Defining the scope of an ID project [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Lin, H. (2006). Instructional project management: An emerging professional practice for design and training programs. Workforce Education Forum, 33(2).