I “Almost Always” Dislike INSTRUCTIONAL ONE-OFFs

Personal Opinion Coming…
On behalf of the enterprise stakeholders…you too should 

“almost always” dislike INSTRUCTIONAL ONE-OFFs!!!


But – As Always, It Depends!


…are all too typical in our profession. I’ve seen it everywhere in my 30 years in the Training/Learning Space. I’m sure you have too!


Everywhere there are collections of courses, and now collections of content, that are overlapped and gapped compared to the real performance enabling needs – leaving the learners to figure it out, all too often, entirely on their own: 

What Formal Learning to take and when? What Informal Learning sources might I use to figure it out? To figure what out? What is my job, my role, my responsibilities, my outputs, my knowledge/skill requirements, and what am I to do on my own in my job and what am I to do with others in my job?

What do most Training/Learning/Knowledge Management functions offer? 

Collections of content and courses built and/or bought one at a time, or several at a time. Too often built/bought “sans” analysis of the processes and jobs’/teams’ roles and responsibilities for performance.

They don’t have a holistic view of the Performance Competence requirements. They don’t have a client sanctioned view of needs of each of the performers and their: ability to Perform Tasks to Produce Outputs to Stakeholder Requirements.

They don’t have a holistic design for addressing those needs with Formal Learning for the more critical needs and Informal Learning for the less critical needs. They don’t have an appropriate blend of group-paced and self-paced and coached Training/ Learning/ Knowledge Management content – Instructional and Informational using a wide array (blend) of the ever changing/evolving tools and techniques from Web 2.0 and Instructor/Coach 2.0.

They don’t have a plan or know how the ever-present changes in processes and jobs – and therefore the needs to learn new things/ways – will be addressed in their management of the life cycle for their Training/ Learning/ Knowledge Management products and services. The content – Instructional sometimes and Informational sometimes.


It’s all too incremental – and a waste of shareholder equity.

They rapidly develop or slowly develop content using valid and invalid practices. How many elearning courses have you seen that read the screen text to the learner? How many graphics have little to do with the content and won’t later help with recall? How much high fidelity practice/authentic practice is there? Where was it really needed?


Now I see too much talk and text on relying on Social Media to answer the needs. I see it as an appropriate part of the blend, but not the silver bullet. I hope I am misreading all of that.

But the root of all of this is the incrementalism of the approach that way too many of us use.

Back in the day I and my colleagues published in Training Magazine (September 1984) our new and yet to be more fully evolved, approach to facilitating Master Performers to quickly conduct analysis and design of whole jobs, whole teams, whole processes – or partial/targeted jobs, teams and processes – and then to prioritize the gaps in the offerings – to lead to rapid development of both instruction and information – using whatever technology was feasible in the learners’ context.

My 1999 book “lean-ISD” and my Audio and Video Podcasts (the book and Audio Podcasts are all free at www.eppic.biz) and my Blog Posts continue with sharing the “how to do this non-incrementally.” I use Social Media to also give away the Video Podcasts – as well as share other content and tools.

Those ISD methods first published in Training in 1984 involve developing a performance-based Curriculum Architecture and then building the content piece-by-piece “incrementally” according to that “blueprint.” A holistic blueprint that allows the customer to decide what is needed Formally and what can be left to Informal means. Those ISD methods are branded as The PACT Processes for T&D/ Learning/ Knowledge Management.


Social Media?

I see that Social Media and all of the current Web 2.0 tools/technologies can have great utility for both Formal Learning and Informal Learning. 

But it’s just the current technology of now – just as video was in 1979 when I came into the field – which was then quickly being replaced by CBT in the early 1980s. And then came eLearning.

Social Media too – as we know it today – shall be supplanted by whatever is next. And that is “for sure.”

But regardless of the evolving technology that will be at our disposal in our and our Learners’ futures – without conducting behavioral and cognitive analysis of the real world processes and tasks of individuals and teams that leads to holistic designs of content (Instructional and Informational) – we are doomed to produce overlapping and gapped content. 

Without learning ourselves what are valid and invalid practices we will continue to produce content that neither helps learners really learn (recall) – or produce source content to be used in the workflow in the moment of need.

When is the incremental approach appropriate?

When it is low cost for low risk and low reward situations. When it is being done for political reasons and not performance enabling reasons.

It is our fiduciary responsibility to our clients/employers to get better at this. Much better.

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One comment on “I “Almost Always” Dislike INSTRUCTIONAL ONE-OFFs

  1. Pingback: Learning Isn’t “An Event” – But Instruction Might Be a Chain of Events | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

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