Learning elearning, the hard way :)


Last time, on Breaking open the mind: I participated in my first real working group.

In March of 2011, my team received a gift: our first non-acting manager in years!  We’d gone through four in the past year alone and it was hell.  The manager that we started the year out with had been our acting manager for a while.  He knew the team and what we needed, but then he moved onto another position.  Then, we had a manager for all of three weeks before she also took on another position.

Finally, there were two other acting managers who, while well-meaning and perfectly competent, really didn’t feel comfortable in the role for the training team.  The manager that we’d had for such a short time the summer previous was successful in a competition and returned as our manager, but this time permanently.

So, a new manager, and a new fiscal year threw things into high gear.  Our budget was restricted.  No overtime, and certainly no money for travel.  We had to start looking at alternatives to in-class, instructor-led training if we wanted to be able to continue and continue to be relevant.

Thus working groups evolved for the SMART Board and WebEx, our two main tools that could be used to deliver virtual training, either synchronously (together), or asynchronously (independently).  To follow up those two courses was to be a third, regarding elearning design and the conversion of in-class course materials to online or virtual vehicles.

Though I was considered the go to person with regard to the SMART Board, I couldn’t legitimately volunteer for any of the working groups.  My father had recently passed away, and I had asked for several weeks of leave.  I wouldn’t even be around when the training would be delivered to our colleagues.

However, I did get a “consulting” role on both the SMART Board and the elearning groups.  I ended up designing a good portion of the pre-course modules for the SMART Board course, though I must say that Monica did a smashing job of finishing them off, and of the Notebook presentation and recording.  Sadly, I got little to nothing done with regard to the elearning design course.  Monica and Laura were left with the bulk of the work.

When I returned from my leave, however, there was tweaking to be done.  The SMART Board course was a success as it was, but the elearning, having been piloted, needed some rework.  For one thing, it was too long.  Laura was seconded to another working group, and so Monica and I set to.

Shortly thereafter, Monica was pulled onto the WebEx team, or rather became the WebEx team, leaving me to finish off the elearning.  Really, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

I can write though :)  So I wrote my way through, like I usually do, and ran the rest on instinct.

I turned the lectur-y, research-y bits into a search and learn pre-course module.  I crammed in metaphors a-plenty, drawing heavily on the resources that my manager threw my way.  I created a post-course assessment, and tidied up the elearning toolkit that Laura had created.

One critical piece I learned was the importance of storyboarding the presentation.  I scripted that sucker out to the last detail.  I also became fairly adept at PowerPoint, and incorporated Notebook activities into each module as review and assessment tools.

I learned a lot writing the course, but in the months since, I’ve learned much more, and I’d love the opportunity to go back and refine things a bit.

When time came to pilot the course a second time, there was only one of our colleagues left to attend, or offer input for review (Thanks, Sandy).  It seemed to go well, but there hasn’t been much call for the course since.  No sooner was I finished with elearning, though, and I was on to the next project.

More on that in a couple of weeks.  Next week I’m going to share a recent, bittersweet experience with you.

Interesting update: Our work of the SMART Board project has been recognized with a service award for our wee working group. (w00t!)

How has the era of reduced budgets and travel affected your training efforts?  Are you adapting courses for online delivery?  How is that working out for you?

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