From "performance-based" T&D Blueprints to T&D Paths to Learning Paths – Learning Continuums for Planning Purposes

In 1982 the design phase of a Curriculum Architecture Design effort produced a Blueprint of Modules that when combined with a Planning Guide enabled customization. Those Modules were blended in terms of deployment methods, for which we used three broad categories:

  • Group-Paced
  • Self-Paced
  • Coached

And the Coached could be used to deploy the Un-Structured OJT (now called Informal Learning by some – although this is suggested for consideration as some level of guidance) …

…as well as the Structured OJT, and variations in the level of guidance provided to both Learner and Coach (Mentor, whatever) – as well as variations of the level of qualification/certification to be accomplished by the Learner and Coach. Variations “by design.”

Where did the data and the data processing decisions come from – from whom? From Master Performers, SMEs, and perhaps others, as they were facilitated by me, to process the creation and then use (design) of the analysis data. More on that later.

My partners and colleagues wrote about this for a Training Magazine article published in the fall of 1984 – and had been written up in late 1983.

Back then my CAD designs were Blueprints of Modules. A modular curriculum – at the course/session level. And a Planning Guide was created to enable the learner/Performer with perhaps a peer or supervisor to downselect and sequence and time – the training – based on the performance requirement realities for the one learner/Performer – for whom the Plan was intended.

Following the last post on this Blog – with the 1st National Presentation of the CAD methodology – the engineering/architectural level of ISD in PACT – I thought I’d respond here to a colleague’s complaint about “lock-step” Rigid Learning Paths – the only ones she’s seen. I found myself explaining that the Path needed to be “as flexible as feasible and as rigid as required.” And that there were several context variables that would dictate what you would do for any one Target Audience. But the Path is only as good as the analysis that feeds it’s design and then development – and the amount of appropriate REUSE is very much impacted by the quality of that analysis data.

PACT, with the endorsement in 1999 of the late Geary Rummler, one of my many NSPI/ISPI mentors – has 3 levels of design – including it’s own version of the ADDIE level of ISD – MCD.

My first CAD project in 1982 was to be deployed – 100% Coached.

This project was to enable the old Guard in formally passing on “how to do it, kid” to the incoming rookies. The context was that oil exploration units in the big firms had been depleted by the wildcatters in the mid-to-late 1970s – some of you will recall that when gas went from 35 cents a gallon to a buck 75. I was overseas in the USN at that time and missed the long lines etc.

This kind of effort was later, and still today is called Knowledge Management – and was an attempt to capture “how you do it” and pass that on more quickly to the next generation of performers. In this case Exploration Geologists and Geophysicists. Now we also want to capture “how did you go about thinking about it as you did it” – the cognitive portion (covert) beyond the behavioral (overt).

Two Target Audiences – were made even more complicated by the fact that – as one SME said: “Guy it’s very different exploring for oil in the sands of west Texas, the Rockies, the tundra of Alaska, and off-shore 20 miles.”

So there. A call for content Modularity. One class seven to forty-seven weeks for everyone would be overkill-in-the-extreme. But some times that is exactly what is needed, contextually. But not this time.

So I designed a template for all of the S-OJT Modules for the HQ staff of 3 – but then the Target Audience Master Performers in the field got tired of waiting on HQ and developed all of the Modules on their own – and HQ found itself in the position of being the hub for collection and distributions and maintenance of the “masters” – which would be so much easier if there was a wiki or something….

In the late 1980s and early 1990s I began to shift all of my designs to a two level Content structure – Events composed of Modules. This helped with sharing – REUSE – at the CAD level of ISD. More happens in the MCD and IAD levels of PACT. In the fact the Modules of a CAD effort are converted into Lesson when you get into MCD (ADDIE). The goal is a modular curriculum, not a curriculum of modules.

And my Blueprints back in the day – which were typically open menus – with no sequencing guidance provided – later became Paths with a “suggested sequence” – suggested by whom – one always knew was going to be asked – by Training weenies?

No, by Master Performers/SMEs from that Target Audience – that’s who. That suggested sequence was yet another set of guidance that enabled one to use the Training Planning Guides – and the Path as a visual “marketing poster” of what is often (but not always) a complex set of curricula – of a blended sort) – to help an individual by themselves or with their boss or a peer – to map out/plan their development – FORMALLY. And yes, Social Networks might be used (Social Media – as available in their real world) – to create authentic (performance-based) LEARNING and SOURCING skills.

Of course this is only done for mission critical roles – not every job in the enterprise. It’s done for ROI – where the R is REWARD and.or RISK based. And who gets this level of treatment is a Business decision and not an Instructional decision.

My most recent CAD – from 2004 – for the USN’s Norfolk Naval Shipyard – and two levels of management within the Production unit. Many classes, more WBT, and lots of Qualification/Certification Modules and Events.

Retirements coming up were of concern – the driver – and there was a need to again capture and deploy and maintain the Knowledge of “how to do it” from the old guard, soon retiring – so this too was a Knowledge Management inspired CAD project.

This 1989 poster below was the result of a refresher CAD project first done in 1986 – where the client felt that so much had changed in the prior 3 years for them that we should redo/refresh the analysis data and design.

We again used the Performance Models and K/S Matrices to drive a performance orientation into the CAD design’s path. The 1000 Series was self-paced until the last “Module” which was an 8-day group-paced event – that I personally delivered for this client 31 times including 5 times in The Netherlands.

Many other Paths for this Client – REUSED Content – one project to the next, as I also did some of the technical jobs in this Business Unit of AT&T, and for both the Sales Managers and Sales Representatives roles. Lot’s of Reuse. At the Event level, at the module/lesson level – and at other chunks – levels lower than “my” definition of a module/lesson.

One key for reuse is your inventory scheme. Mine has 5 tiers – and aligns with my analysis data scheme. I have other inventory warehouse “bins” for legacy content and analysis data, etc. This is just for the new PACT-designed content.

There has to be a pretty complex scheme for capturing your design details at more than one level – say – at more than a “module” level. Otherwise your flexibility for sharing is very limited.

And enabling Planning to localize/customize a suggested sequence of content/experiences is critical. An perhaps your planning processes will need to help the planners also prioritize their needs in case they cannot afford everything felt needed/beneficial. Often we know that as the design of the Paths (or Menus) evolve during the design process itself. Here is one example of an inside page of a “Individual T&D Planning Guide” – but call it whatever fits your context.’

There are times when there shouldn’t be flexibility/variability of the training sequence or timing. Those are business decisions. Not ISD decisions. Here is a lock-step path – as rigid as required…

Populating a Path with valid performance “how to’s” and enabling K/S content, regardless of how it is to be deployed, requires the use of the analysis data gathered. I hate gathering analysis data that is then never used formally – so PACT doesn’t. What a waste!

My PACT T&D Paths (or Learning Paths) are the result of a very formal but flexible analysis and design processes, conducted quickly with handpicked Master Performers and other SMEs, who collaborate with my guidance with each other, to produce and then process the analysis data into a design – for development. It’s actually quite mechanical – and involving the right people always produces a great CAD output!

Each Path as a Beginning – a Middle – and an End – to start with. Later that can change. But I use the B-M-E to enable the first sorting of the data.

And each Path’s “Beginning” has it’s own B-M-E.

The secret to much of my success is in collaborating with my clients at various levels, with the client and key stakeholders and their handpicked Master Performers, to produce the analysis data and then to process it in my CAD design steps – and to do that quickly and in enough control.

My Project Steering Teams, a command and control mechanism that I always hand over to my clients and THEIR stakeholders, makes sure that what get addressed – after the gaps in the CAD are known – has ROI from THEIR perspective. This is how you get aligned. And maybe stay alive (job security-wise I mean).

After the CAD effort is done and it’s time to conduct MCD (ADDIE) and IAD levels of ISD effort – I sometimes am able to convince my Client and their stakeholders to formalize themselves as a Governance & Advisory system – because if it is worth doing a CAD in the first place, it’s probably worth it to keep it evergreen. And to “manage” their investment. If the Target Audiences’ performance has enough Risk and /or Reward – they’ll usually do it. Perhaps they meet once a year, or twice, or quarterly. Depends on the speed and amount of change going on in their business processes.

Your customers get a lower unit cost – if you increase REUSE of your Instruction and Information – with many Target Audiences, appropriately. There is also “too much bad reuse” – so much that many are turned off to the entire idea of content reuse. They just never made it really happen – without “generalizing” the content to some form of vanilla: applicable to all – helpful to none. Too generic.

It takes the right processes, infrastructure and trained staff to make it really happen. The PACT Processes are just the ISD Processes. There are other processes that are not ISD that you’ve got to have in place and “in enough control.” But the ISD processes – which are your new product development processes (just as every industry has them). They are critical – for if these are weak – then it doesn’t matter about your other strengths.

From Blueprints to Paths. It’s been an interesting learning experience, 1982 until today. It’s been a path full of menus.

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