our learning goals have been established, so you know where you need to go. But, you're still in trouble. Though you have all the components of the ideal training program, you're nevertheless unsure they'll do the trick. Deciding what to include, what to eliminate, and how to best present what does make the cut is the foundation of instructional design.
At El Segundo, CA-based kidney dialysis services provider DaVita, Inc., an instructional redesign saved its ailing e-learning program. The company's computer training on its proprietary clinical software system, SNAPPY, needed an overhaul, says Debbie Suit, director, IT training. About a dozen of the self-paced e-learning modules on use of the system needed to be rewritten. To accomplish that, the company partnered with e-learning solution provider NEXTMOVE, which helped DaVita analyze learner characteristics and design a program that met employee needs. The new modules were created using the ADDIE (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate) instructional design model.
"We did a lot of reusable objects, so we had a standard template [for the modules] with the same look and feel across the board," says Suit. "The learner was given a lot more interactivity." Voice instruction was added, including a summary of course objectives. The redesign created a course with more variety to keep employees stimulated. "We mixed it up a little differently than we had in the past," Suit notes.
In addition to its systems training, DaVita offers learning programs in the areas of clinical education and leadership and management skills. Though distinct, the three learning divisions are consistent in the approach they take to course development, says David Hoerman, director of Wisdom (the DaVita training division overseeing leadership and soft skills development). "We're always going to analyze the problem up front, and come at it from a consistent approach using mission values, our culture, and our language," explains Hoerman. "Whether you're looking at a clinical education program or a university program for leadership, or you're doing an online training program, you're still going to see the same overall culture and language."
The unity of the instruction was made possible by the creation of common course templates on the company's learning management system, says Vice President of Clinical Education Susan Juarez. The company ensures consistent quality of instruction through its train-the-trainer programs, Juarez adds. The clinical education department develops the training materials that will be used in the field and at hospitals, clinics, and home care throughout the U.S. Instructors away from the home office are taught the DaVita instructional approach through live workshops, as well as WebEx virtual training sessions. Along with formal train-the-trainer sessions, at each DaVita work site there is instruction for the instructors who will do the hands-on training on patient care. "In every facility, we have identified someone who is going to do that hands-on care training with [the new instructor] side-by-side with them for their first six to eight weeks," says Juarez.
Vanguard, a financial services provider in Malvern, PA, prepares instructional designers themselves with an internal certificate course. The company does this through a proprietary 50-hour, 15-session class. "That's one of the ways we ensure all of our instructional designers have a clear idea of what it means to do instructional design at Vanguard," says Manager, Best Practices Catherine Lombardozzi. Such a course is important for the company given that about half of its instructional designers are not formally educated trainers. The principles of instructional design are imparted through assigned readings and exercises designers are expected to complete before meeting. During class, designers work through activities such as sequencing course content, along with completion of a hypothetical instructional design case study. Designers are asked to come up with programs such as new hire orientation for a fictional Lucky Pins bowling ally.
Lombardozzi says the creation of a formal instructional design course has served Vanguard well. "We decided that if we were going to have good, strong instructional design consistently," she says, "we needed to have a consistent way of training people, and we needed to invest in that."
Vanguard is wise to carefully prepare its instructional designers, according to Sally Hovis, vice president, learning design for Nashua, NH-based SkillSoft. Her company specializes in e-learning content and technology, but Hovis is the first to point to the make-or-break role played by the designers themselves. "Instructional design is more people focused than tool focused," she says. "You can never ignore the importance of the quality people component. You have to have people who know what they're doing to build good courses."
For more information on instructional design, please visit www.trainingmag.com and read "Crossing the Great Divide– Program Development and Four-Level Evaluation" by Allison A.S. Wimms, senior training and development specialist at Johns Hopkins HealthCare LLC, and Jim Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., VP, Global Training and Consulting, SMR USA.