Friday, February 25, 2005

Building a Team: Interviewing

-Introduce yourself.

-Ask open ended questions that covering the following aspects:

  • Behavioral - Conflict, challenges, prioritization, pride project
  • Technical - Process work flow, instructional design, instructional theories and their application

-While the interviewee grapples with the questions take additional notes on:

  • Communication skills
  • Individual dynamic and the impact it might have on your team
  • Skillset that the candidate adds to the team

-If you are a panel of interviewers, divide the questions. Allow some overlap.

-Provide an overview of the company's operation and function.

-Address the any questions that the interviewee might have. Which area do the questions fall in?

-Fill out a predefined evaluation format that covers the parameters that are important for your team.

-Debrief

Friday, February 18, 2005

Efficient Use of Downtime for Professional Growth

  1. Look into your company's reference location, you might find a wealth of information there. If there is no such location, create one.
  2. Talk to members of other teams - educate yourself on the work they do and find out how your job fits into the overall picture.
  3. Have technical discussions with your own team members, if they have time or match their lunch/tea times with yours. :)
  4. Visit technical sites and e-zines to keep yourself posted on the latest trends.
  5. Maintain your blog.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Designing a Content Collection Guide

A content collection guide (CCG) is a tool that allows the subject matter experts (SMEs) to provide content for the course. A CCG eases communication and smoothens the content collection process. Here is how to create one-
  1. Write out the lesson objectives.
  2. Against each learning objective, describe the content required.
  3. Exemplify the content.
  4. Insist that the SMEs provide only the core content and not spend time on cleaning the language.
  5. Invite the SMEs to provide urls and other referenece materials.
  6. Add a note on how to use the document in the beginning and finally-
  7. Provide a thank you note at the end of the document.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Designing Scripting Templates

  1. Identify the primary, secondary and tertiary users of the template. For example - external clients might be the primary users, instructional designers (ID) secondary and the production team tertiary users.


  2. Collect the requirement and expectation that each set of users has with the template. Work out how your design would address these needs. For example, it might be important for the external clients to be able to visualize the solution. Hence they might need some props like images of the interactivity. For one of my solutions, I devised, "Interactivity at a glance" which was a series of key interaction frames to address this requirement of the clients.


  3. Evaluate the interactions that have been approved for the project. You might need to get in touch with your production team or the Creative Director to get this information.


  4. Group the interactivities in their families. This will help you decide if you need to create a different template for each interaction variation or if the same template can be reused by providing variation details. Let me illustrate this point by using an example-
    Suppose there are two variations of drag-and-drop interaction- one where the image is dropped to a label and other that uses just labels for drag-and-drop. Group them as one family. If there are six kinds of flipbooks - three with same-sized images placed in left, right and bottom position. two with a larger image placed to the left and right and one with no image. Group all flipbooks as one family.


  5. Within each family, identify the unique variations and provide this information at source. For example- Provide word count related information close to the text area, image related information where image needs to be uploaded. If there a precondition attached to the usage of a particular interaction, provide this information at the start of the template.


  6. Provide headers for each interaction - Which course, module/lesson, page does the interaction belong to? It is very important that interaction headers are provided since they are important linkages that bind the entire script into a logical whole.


  7. Create a template for the course/lesson skeleton which would have course/module/lesson/page headers, introduction and conclusion.


  8. Test this solution with the internal teams, take their feedback and incorporate changes that bring the solution closer to the user requirements.


  9. Develop your template. I prefer creating automated templates using MS Word. You might have another preference. A very helpful document created by my friend and ex-colleague, Swati Sengupta on developing automated templates using MS Word -


  10. Create a user manual/help for the template so that the users can refer to it, if needed. You will be surprised to know how many practicing IDs don't know how to attach a template!


  11. Undertake a training session for the users, explaining the different features.


  12. Go live!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

13 Checks while Reviewing a Script Document

While reviewing scripts, I ask myself-

  1. Is the course/lesson/module titled properly?
  2. Are the lessons structured in accordance to the instructional strategy?
  3. Is the numbering for the lesson/interactivity/page correct (so that when the course goes into production there are minimal clarifications from that team)?
  4. Do the content blocks belong to the lesson that they are placed in or are they more suitable elsewhere in the course? If so, which location?
  5. Does the script follow the style conventions adopted for the project?
  6. Are the sentences grammatically correct?
  7. Is there a sentence that is long and difficult to understand? If so, how can it be modified to make it easier to understand of the learner?
  8. Are the instructional texts for interactivities/lessons/pages provided?
  9. Are the course/lesson objectives mentioned in the beginning of the course/lesson and revised again at the end?
  10. Do the assessment questions appropriately address all the core components of the lesson?
  11. For a series of courses within a curriculum, is the script style and instructional/directional text consistent? If not, point out the deviation.
  12. How does the course initiate the learner feedback?
  13. Does the course have an orientation module? If not, investigate why not. If yes, does the orientation module appropriately address all the functionalities within the course?
Best practices:
  • Always, always, always - be polite.
  • Give reasons why the change is being suggested.
  • Provide solution(s) wherever possible.
  • Compliment the writer for places where the script is clean.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Urgent Writer Needed for Technical Courses? Try this!

  1. If your project courses are primarily technical, google to find the training centers for those software, languages, packages or OS.
  2. Locate the Corporate office for the training institute.
  3. Talk to the hiring in-charge.
  4. Express your requirement for a technical talent who can write.
  5. Suggest that they post the requirement to all their centers, shortlist candidates based on your requirement and send them to you. You may also suggest the number of applications that you are willing to entertain at one time.
  6. Mail the hiring in-charge the company profile, job requirement, number of vacancies open and if you prefer to disclose - salary range candidates can expect.
  7. Hope to get resumes that match your project need!