Avoiding Redundant Instructional Content – By Design

Have you noticed certain costs creeping up on you from behind…

…about to take over an even greater share of your operating capacity and budget?

How attributable are those “certain costs” to redundancy in your content?

Are you investing more and more in “content development, inventory administration, deployment, and maintenance” for redundant content?

Does your ISD process avoid redundancy “by design” in the first place?

Is your existing content organized to help find it for assessment and sharing AI (as is) or AM (after modification)? Or does it require Boolean-logical searches that will turn up hundreds of responses requiring perhaps more work to the ISDer than the perceived worth to themselves for avoiding redundancy?

A military client recently uncovered 27 modules on Active Listening in their inventory. And there wasn’t much else to do at that point but take a look at them all. There was no additional data-set to be reviewed that would give him a clue as to which one or ones might be appropriate.

At 2-hours each (amazing how all 27 versions were exactly pegged at 2 hours each!?!) my client would have spent 54 hours doing their due diligence to determine the fit or not to our needs for an enabler set of content that we would use to springboard into “how to apply that to a real set of ‘outputs/tasks'” from the performance analysis data of the Performance Model.

Training/Learning/Knowledge Management leaders that I have talked to about “the promise of sharable content with their LMS and e-learning approach” has yet to see it at all. Unless they are sharing the whole “Course/Module/Event” with others, no one seems to have gotten to the point that the “objects” that they have developed to create those “Courses/Modules/Events” are usable to others in other development efforts.

SCORM tagging isn’t getting it done. In my mind it’s because SCORM tagging is done at the point of development…after design…which is where the content allocations begin and tagging for that purpose should be begun. Later you can still tag per SCORM to help that functionality perform…but it won’t help you avoid redundancy in your inventory by design, nor will it help you ensure a performance orientation for ALL of your content.

Are you really sharing meaningful, performance-based content and not just generic, watered-down-to-fit-EVERYONES‘-needs? Is your content logically tied to real-world performance, or does your content require a difficult “sell job” up front in the content presentation to convince the learners that this will be good for them? How often have you read how to do that better?

All of my designed T&D Events AND their component T&D Lessons (think: books and chapters) start with two types of Advanced Organizers:

1- The Performance Context
2- An Overview End-to-End of the Topic/Task to be taught

Because my instructional designs are based on a Performance Analysis (Big or Little) I always understand the Performance Context. I had THAT before Design and before Development.

And I understand that the Task to be taught and/or the Enabler needs to be taught in the context of larger Performance…as well as cover the current gaps between ideal and real performance and how to avoid them or deal with them should they occur…so it is quite easy to establish why the learner is in the T&D Event. No hard selling required.

Example ————

We’re here this morning to cover an Enabling K/S for ISD practitioners – “Active Listening.”

Let’s begin with the Performance Context: We understand that as an ISDer you are involved in many, many conversations, both structured and unstructured, with your customers and their learners within the ADDIE process. And that the purpose of these communications is to get a clear understanding between both parties (or more) on some topic. And that even in group settings, you the ISDer, often have to converse in such a way so as to conduct Active Listening for both yourself AND others in the conversation.

Sometimes it is not for you that you do Active Listening, but for the others in the room/conversation…to ensure that everyone is hearing the words and getting the meaning intended.

Is that right? (Thus ends the first part of the Advanced Organizer.)

And since IT IS RIGHT, as I’ve got approved Performance Modeling data created by Master Performers that I or someone systematically facilitated…I can wait for the head nodding to finish up before launching into the 2nd portion of my Advanced Organizers…the End-to-End overview of the Task/Topic – this time a topic/sub-task within many tasks, by providing examples of several of the many examples of where this is true- where Active Listening is critical within the ADDIE process.

And then I can ask them for additional examples to get them engaged and active ASAP.

So I first position that what we are about to cover IS performance relevant, and get them to join in (by design) to agree and tell us collectively where else it is applicable. They then start soft-selling themselves (by design!).

Not doable without the context of the Performance Model, or equivalent, from the analysis.

Not doable (very well) when you launch into rapid-ISD as a “one-off” effort – by making up some reasonable learning objectives, outlining the content and then rapid-prototyping the product in a-rush-to-final product. Unless that effort is what I call: “More of the Same” where the effort is another batch of instructional content following similar type content. More Product Knowledge content, or Policies content, or Output/Task Performance Guideline Checklists, etc. This is where Rapid-ISD makes business sense, where it’s “More of the Same.”

But elsewhere…when blazing new-types-of-content-trails? Then?

Oh, you can build “any content” that way. But you may wish later that you hadn’t. So, no.

Because after time, and not much depending on how prodigious you and your team are, you’ll end up with a lot of overlapping and gapped content.

We call those “collections of courses” versus an “Instructional Systems Design”…thinking systems-wise about instruction…of any blend or deployment media. I see it in every CAD – Curriculum Architecture Design project when conducting the ETA – Existing T&D Assessments (for re-use purposes).

And if keeping the content EVERGREEN is important (think about Best Practices that no longer are – due to regulatory changes with huge fines for any Performer’s non-compliance!!!) then you’ve just upped your future efforts and costs PLUS legal risks for the entire Enterprise. The direct costs to be incurred in this approach include unnecessary First and Future costs for: content development, inventory, administration, deployment, and maintenance. That’s all. All avoidable. And the ability to search using Boolean logical searches won’t save you then.

Avoid that in the first place. Redundant content is indeed avoidable. With the right ISD process or processes and the right content inventory scheme which is reflected in my ECA – Enterprise Content Architecture.

And without that right ISD process, overlapped content will a given to be addressed in the future by someone in your Enterprise. If YOU helped create that problem – will YOU be the one asked to clean it up?

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