Monday, December 5, 2011

JHMI Internship: Looking Forward (to Phase 5)

     This being the final journal entry for me for during this internship which will officially end in a couple weeks, I just wanted to give a brief overview of what items I have left to complete during Phase 5.  Probably the most outstanding item which I may have a chance of getting done is the completion of the course evaluation survey by the SME.  If time permits, again, I hope to be able to revise the modules and include any requested changes for the final technology product I will submit (a major deliverable for this internship). 
     Otherwise, as mentioned previously, the other remaining items are probably all out of reach within the timeframe left.  This primarily involves getting all the Language of Caring modules deployed onto the LMS which will not happen until all information (i.e. survey link and contact information) has been defined.  Another feature which I unfortunately didn’t have time to research was the creation of supporting materials through mobile learning.  
     That being said, besides the final technology product I need to submit, I am looking forward to the final reflection paper which is another major deliverables for this internship.  In the paper, I hope to review the Language of Caring project in further detail while reflecting upon what I learned throughout the course of this internship experience in general.   
     As an additional note, although the internship will officially end in a couple weeks, I will continue working in order to see the MRI training to completion.  Although the Language of Caring modules provided me with good beginner experience on an ISD project, I think the experience with designing/developing a completely online course such as the MRI Safety training will be really invaluable.  Not to mention, it will give me another project to add to my growing portfolio.

JHMI Internship: Phase 4 - Week 10 (starting 11/28/11)

     The first highlight of this week was attending the training review meeting with MRI client/SME.  This was special for me because my onsite supervisor let me present my solution to the group.  Using my design document as a guide, I first explained how I reorganized the slides and broke the course up into 5 main areas.  I then went onto to describe the concept of the guided tour and how the objectives and assessments were based on the content areas.  The client/SME took well to my proposal and was confident that the training solution would not only meet, but exceed their expectations.  A tentative date for a functional prototype was set for January 10, 2012.
     Needless to say, this favorable feedback was a real confidence booster for me.  I now plan to go through each of the content areas one by one and develop the necessary slides/interactions.  One thing that may present a challenge though is that I proposed the inclusion of some animations.  I had found several videos online depicting the animations I was interested in having, but it appears that obtaining the permissions to include them may be tricky.  Therefore, I need to find a way to recreate the animations using the images available to me.  I don’t feel that the end product will look as professional, but I will do my best.  This actually raises a point I’ve come to learn during this internship: in addition to having knowledge of ISD processes/models, having some graphical design experience is extremely helpful in the field as well.
     The second highlight for me this week was finally being able to deploy the first module of the Language of Caring course onto the LMS.  Similar to the publishing process, the deployment process was also pretty straightforward and required checking a bunch of different settings, adding necessary descriptions and uploading the packaged course in the end.  As my supervisor walked me through the process, we only touched on a small portion of all the capabilities available in the LMS so I’m hoping future iterations will give me exposure to some more advanced features.  This is because I’ve noticed from past employment searches that LMS experience is a highly sought after skill.  Furthermore, my supervisor explained to me that throughout her career, she’s worked with several LMSs and that they’re all similar so by learning one, you’ll be able to learn others with ease.
     Once I had the module successfully deployed, I proceeded to develop a course evaluation survey.  While searching for examples on the internet, I actually came across a really handy tool called Training which is designed specifically for generating training evaluations.  What’s also nice about this tool is that it provides a huge resource bank of questions to choose from, all based on the Kirkpatrick’s Evaluation Model (KEM) which I got some exposure to a couple weeks back during the ISD Club presentation.  As mentioned before, KEM consists of 4 levels including Reaction, Learning, Behavior (or Transfer), and Results.

     The questions I decided to focus on dealt with the first (Reaction) and third (Behavior/Transfer) levels.  As the second level (Learning) follows assessment results, I decided not to include any related questions as the modules don’t include any assessment.  Additionally, the fourth level deals with how employee performance following the training affects the business as whole (e.g. return on investment or, ROI).  As the training module has yet to be implemented, trying to make such predictions on how it may affect the business seemed to be a bit beyond scope.  I ended up drafting a 15-question survey (10 level 1, and 5 level 3 questions) based on 5-point Likert scale ratings, as well as a couple open-ended questions for additional feedback.  Once I have it reviewed by my supervisor, I will forward it to the SME to complete.

     Just as Joe mentioned in his presentation a couple weeks back, completing this evaluation was really beneficial because it allowed me to think about various issues (especially related to the user experience) that never crossed my mind during the design phase.  Although the modules I developed are only supplements to f2f training (and not full-fledged courses), the issues may not be so relevant now.  However, they are definitely things I will consider in the future.

JHMI Internship: Phase 4 - Week 9 (starting 11/21/11)

     As this was a shortened week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, time was of the essence.  My first goal was to try and get all my Language of Caring modules published and deployed onto the LMS.  However, after discussing with my onsite supervisor, it didn’t make sense to go through the process of publishing and deploying all 9 modules because not all the required information is available at this time.  Namely, the survey link (for employees to fill out upon completion of each module) and the point-of-contact information have yet to be defined.  Instead, my supervisor suggested that I publish/deploy only the first module for the SME to review and give their feedback.  Since all 9 modules follow the same format, and changes requested can easily duplicated to the remaining modules.
     The publishing process was pretty straightforward which Articulate automates based on the settings one chooses.  The setting of utmost importance during the process is the SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) setting.  SCORM is a technical specification for packaging and deploying eLearning course.  It is the SCORM wrapper that makes courses universal and able to run in any LMS that is SCORM compliant.  There are currently three versions of SCORM including 1.1 (the first and most buggy), 1.2 (most widely adopted with numerous 1.1. fixes) and 2004 (aka 1.3, the newest but not yet widely adopted).  The company LMS works best with SCORM 1.2. 
     This experience was beneficial as I got a better understanding of SCORM (a term that I heard many times in the past, but never really understood), and the publishing process in general so I will be able to do it on my own in the future.  Unfortunately, due to time constraints, there wasn’t enough to deploy the course onto the LMS so that will have to wait until next week.

     In addition to going through the publishing process, I also had to complete the first draft of the MRI design document I had been working on in preparation for a meeting next week with the client/SME.  The remaining sections of the documents that needed to be done dealt with the defining the learning objectives (both terminal and enabling) and the matching assessments.   As the course will have 5 main content areas, I decided to have an enabling objective for each particular one, with an assessment to accompany it. 
     I’m a bit excited about this project because not only will developing such a course concept (i.e. a guided tour) be a new learning experience for me, but the matching assessments as well.  A couple of the assessments I have planned include things like sorting images (e.g. whether they pose an MRI danger or not) and branching scenarios (e.g. If patient X has such and such symptoms, what would be the best course of action to take?).  I hope the client/SME will approve everything.

JHMI Internship: Phase 4 - Week 8 (starting 11/14/11)

     This week was dedicated primarily to working further on the new MRI project I described last week.  As mentioned previously, the concept I am considering revolves around a guided tour.  I got the idea from a template I found through the Articulate community forums, although it is a bit limited in scope and will require significant additions. 

     Anyway, I met with my onsite supervisor early in the week to discuss my ideas and got the concept approved.  However, my supervisor also brought to my attention that some of the things I wanted to do may not be possible in Articulate.  For example, as the course is broken down into 5 main content areas, I wanted to give users the freedom to navigate the course in any order they choose.  Allowing users some sense of control in their learning has been proven to help with motivation.  Additionally, this would give the course the appearance of being more dynamic as the experience could vary from user to user based on their selections (although all the same content would be covered).
     The problem with this is that if users are given the freedom to jump from one content area to another in no particular order, there is no simple way to track which ones they’ve completed.  Hence, ensuring they’ve completed all the content areas by the end of the course is difficult.  This fact causes me to grow wearier with Articulate and its limitations and start thinking about alternatives which may allow more flexibility such as Adobe Captivate and Trivantis Lectora.  However, as time is somewhat limited, changing the technology solution is not really feasible at this time but something I will definitely keep in mind for future projects.
     Following our meeting, my supervisor asked me to start working on a design document for the course.  As I began to work on the document and accompanying storyboard, I noticed that the slides we had been given from the MRI group were in need of serious reorganization so I spent a good amount of time doing that first to have all the subject matter in order based on the 5 main content areas.  I then proceeded to develop a storyboard using a flowchart in Microsoft Visio (similar to the Language of Caring project).  I particularly like using flowcharts for storyboarding because they’re fairly easy to create and easy for others (e.g. SMEs, supervisor) to understand.

     Besides the MRI project, this week was also special because my supervisor was sponsoring a special lecture as part of the ISD Club she coordinates for the company.  The ISD club is basically a group of all the instructional designers working throughout different entities who get together every so often (monthly, bi-monthly) to sit in on a guest lecture and discuss issues of interest.  For this particular meeting, the guest speaker was Joe “Captivate” Ganci who is an Adobe Captivate (a course authoring tool) Certified Expert and is also a member of the Adobe eLearning Advisory Board (learn more about Joe here:
     The title of his presentation was "The Top 10 Blunders in Developing e-Learning".  Joe mentioned several good points, but there were a couple in particular that resonated with me the most.  The first of these points was “Tip #4: Not estimating the work correctly”.  This tip deals with the fact that a common problem faced during an ID project is scheduling.  Joe discussed how work is often underestimated and can lead to issues later on during the ISD process.  In order to do the best job estimating, Joe advised to be weary of several factors including quality assurance, money vs. time, and choosing the proper team members (e.g. instructional and graphics designers, field testers, etc.).  This point caught my interest because, as I mentioned last week, I am beginning to feel a bit of a time crunch as my internship is coming to a close and I still haven’t completed all my tasks.  Granted this is my first such project and I am now simultaneously trying to work on a second project, it has been a bit of a challenge.  However, as with all things, I think it’s something that will become easier and more familiar with time.
     The second point that struck a chord with me was “Tip #10: Not evaluating the results”.  Joe stressed the fact that in a lot of organizations, it’s very typical for training to be released and never evaluated for effectiveness (usually because of time/resource constraints).  However, Joe mentioned that this is a mistake and some effort should be made on evaluation in order to measure results to see if and how training can be improved (or even scrapped altogether).  As a solution for evaluation, Joe talked about Kirkpatrick’s Evaluation Model (KEM).  The model consists of 4 levels: Reaction (of student to training), Learning (of student following assessment), Transfer (of skills by student into work-related tasks), and Results (of company due to worker performance following training). 
     I think KEM is a pretty straightforward model to follow and can help provide insight into various areas that trainers may not think about.  I am also particularly interested in this issue because, as previously mentioned, I would also like to do some level of evaluation for my project.  Using KEM, I think I will try and devise a survey for the SME (and any other interested parties) to fill out.  With the limited time I have left, whether I will actually be able to make any changes to my modules based on the feedback is another story.

Monday, November 14, 2011

JHMI Internship: Looking Forward (to Phase 4)

     Looking towards Phase 4 (11/14 - 11/25), I’m faced with a bit of a dilemma.  On the one hand, to stay on schedule, I need to complete the packaging/publishing process for my original project so the modules can be migrated onto the LMS.  On the other hand, this MRI safety training project has now surfaced on my radar and appears to be a bigger priority than my original project.  While I welcome this new assignment (especially since it appears more interesting), I still have to keep in mind that I have a schedule to meet for this internship which has major deliverables to be completed in the near future which depend upon completion of the project as a whole.  Although the development is more or less complete, I’m not sure how much of a learning curve there will be for getting acquainted with the LMS and migrating the modules onto it.  Furthermore, my onsite adviser confirmed that some field testing will be done with the help of the SME and possibly others.  All that being said, I think I will need to consult with my onsite adviser on the best approach to take with the limited time remaining.
     Considering my current situation, although it presents a challenge, I actually appreciate it because I know it is indicative of the real world (of work).  In general, I think employees in general (and instructional designers in particular) have to be flexible to handle multiple assignments.  How well they are able to adapt when curve balls are thrown at them proves how dynamic they can be.  Looking back, I think was nearsighted when creating my schedule for this internship as I envisioned my main project would be the only thing I would have to work on (unless completed in advance, of course).  However, I now realize the importance of considering worst case scenarios and being prepared to encounter road blocks at any time.  Again, needless to say, I am learning so much from this experience which will undoubtedly make me more ready when entering the work force full-time upon completion of studies.

JHMI Internship: Phase 3 - Week 7 (starting 11/07/11)

     This week I was determined to complete my remaining six prototypes and publish/package them in preparation for LMS migration.  Although I was able to make them all functional, an old bug I encountered during development of the first module resurfaced where some of the text on one of the slides is hidden for some reason.  I brought this to the attention of my onsite adviser before and we were able to remedy the problem by resetting the layout properties in that particular slide and making the necessary changes (e.g. adjusting fonts, positioning, animations, etc.) to it again.  The reason for this being that my adviser explained that Articulate is kind of buggy and doesn't like when users start making changes to pre-existing layouts/templates. 
     However, what worked last time failed to resolve the issue this time, unfortunately .  After several hours of troubleshooting and researching online, I finally discovered that the text was disappearing due to a sound effect I had included on the same slide.  I actually found this out by accident when I clicked the pause button while the slide was playing.  I'm not exactly sure what the relation between the sound effects and text is, but something I will try to research via the Articulate community forums when I have more time.  In the meantime, I decided the benefit of having the sound effect didn’t outweigh the time/effort required to try and get it functioning correctly so I deleted it (with the consent of my onsite adviser) in order to complete development of the remaining modules.
     Besides working on the modules, I also had to switch gears about mid-week when my onsite adviser informed me that the clients for the MRI safety training course (described last week) changed their mind about having us a develop a course for them and said they would just use their PPT presentation instead.  Not exactly clear as to why the clients were have second thoughts, my onsite adviser thought it would be in our best interest to develop a quick mock-up/prototype as soon as possible to see if we could get them to reconsider.  She envisioned some kind of interactive scenario and asked me to see what I could come up with. 
     After reviewing some samples together from the Articulate website, I then got down to work.  This included doing further research online (specifically for MRI safety compliance training) as well as downloading, dissecting and modding templates in order to meet our particular needs.  By the end of the week, I came up with a concept which basically revolves around a guided tour where a new employee shows up to work on the first day and he/she is not aware of the MRI safety regulations.  In turn, a nurse at the hospital walks them through the various aspects they need to know (i.e. the subject matter).  At the same, assessments are incorporated by the nurse asking them (i.e. the new employee/trainee) review questions along the way.  I will review this with my onsite adviser next week.

JHMI Internship: Phase 3 - Week 6 (starting 10/31/11)

     The majority of this week was focused on trying to develop the remaining modules in my course.  Having the first one completed to a point I was satisfied with, I then went on to develop the remaining eight.  However, what I thought would be a fairly straightforward process actually required more time than expected.  This was partially due to what I had initially feared – making any changes in the overall look and feel later in the development process would require me to backtrack and replicate them in the modules completed earlier to ensure congruency.  Needless to say, constantly checking to make sure the modules were aligned with each other was very time consuming and allowed me to only have three completed by the end of the week.
     Looking back now though, I’m wondering about steps which could have been taken to help streamline the process and make it more efficient.  One idea that comes to mind would be to just keep developing each module (one based on the previous) and not worry about replicating changes until I have the last one (in this case, the ninth) completed.  By this point, the ninth module would ideally have all the elements to be changed incorporated within it such that I could just go back and compare it to the previous modules, make note of the differences, and make changes accordingly.  My only issue with this though is that I fear small changes which may not be so obvious could be overlooked.  In that case, I could try to diligently take notes on a piece of paper (or word processor) of any changes made in certain modules to have as a record to ensure sure all changes are accounted for.  This is something I hope to address with my onsite adviser as I’m sure the issue will resurface in future ISD projects in my career.
     The only other major event this week was a kickoff meeting my onsite adviser arranged for a new course that needed to be developed.  I refer to this event as “major” because it was the first time I got to experience the interaction between clients (requesting training), SMEs and instructional designers to decide upon training requirements.  The client is from the radiology department and they are requesting a course be developed to train clinical staff on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) safety due to the growing number of incidents that have occurred across the country.  The clients/SMEs provided a PowerPoint (PPT) presentation with the information to be included in the course, but what was presented lacked organization, intuitiveness and interactivity (i.e. another typical boring course).  As our department (i.e. training) seeks to get away from these types of courses, we provided them some possible ideas for how course could be improved.  The end result was that the clients/SMEs said they would go away and rethink their strategy based upon the discussion during the meeting to draft a new proposal for the course content.  At the same, we (i.e. the instructional designers) said we would also try and develop a simple mock-up/prototype solution.
     The main thing I took away from this meeting was the fact that as an instructional designer, I need to be better prepared when attending such meetings in the future.  What I thought was going to be more of an informational session on the course content actually ended up being focused more on logistics (e.g. course packaging, delivery, etc.).  Not to say these issues aren’t important, but I didn’t expect them to be of greater concern than rudimentary aspects of the course itself (especially from the outset).  That being said, I think part of the problem may also have been due to the fact that the clients/SMEs may have expected us to already have a grasp on the content based on the PPT slides they provided.  At any rate, I think the best approach for such meetings in the future would be to do my own homework on the subject matter and come prepared with possible training solutions to offer.  Then again, this was the first time I attended such a meeting so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.

Monday, October 31, 2011

JHMI Internship: Looking Forward (to Phase 3)

     Although I am still on schedule, I feel that I could actually be ahead.  Some things which have held me back include slow PC performance (as mentioned earlier), and establishing a look and feel for the course that I am comfortable with.  I must admit, I am a bit of a perfectionist so I’ve been changing things quite a bit which has also used up a good amount of my time.  My motivation behind this was that I’d rather implement the majority of changes now in one module, rather than across nine down the road.  However, now that I have a template in place for my remaining modules, the rest of development should ideally run quicker.  Not to mention, this being the first course I’ve ever formally developed, I think requiring more time than usual is expected.  Furthermore, with more practice, the skill should come more naturally and will allow me to output quicker. 

     That being said, for Phase 3 (10/31 - 11/11) my goals include developing my remaining eight modules and publishing/packaging them on my local machine.  Depending on how long this takes, I will then try to import them online via the LMS (this is actually scheduled for Phase 4). 

     Additionally, as mentioned last week, another task formerly on the schedule which I have not been required to complete is some type of formative evaluation (e.g. survey).  I’m not exactly sure of the reason why, but I think it may have something to with the fact that the course will not actually be used until after I leave.  Another issue could simply be that the benefits of going through formative evaluation don’t outweigh the time/cost involved (especially when there are many other courses waiting to be developed); another important point to keep in mind for future ISD work.   At any rate, again, I feel it would still be a beneficial learning experience for me to take part in so I hope to discuss with my onsite adviser about finding a way to possibly do some local field testing.  This will ideally generate valuable user feedback which can help identify problems and make the solution more effective.  Perhaps the SME is another resource that can be tapped into to aid in this effort (either by providing testers and/or acting as a tester himself).

JHMI Internship: Phase 2 - Week 5 (starting 10/24/11)

     This week I finalized my prototype and reviewed it once again with my onsite adviser.  No major changes were requested so I can proceed to develop the remaining eight modules.  I plan to use my first module as a template which the remaining modules will be based on, and will just change the information for each accordingly.

     During our meeting, we also reviewed the publishing process in Articulate in preparation for rolling out the course to the LMS.  This process basically entails ensuring several settings are put in place; however, I can see how it may be easy to neglect some if one doesn’t pay close attention.  Therefore, the solution must be reviewed multiple times before being delivered on the LMS.  After reviewing this process, my onsite adviser also asked me to draft a document explaining the process for future employees in the group to use as reference.  When I actually start to complete the process on my own, I will try and draft the document at the same time.

     This week was actually shorter than usual because my onsite adviser arranged a special meeting for us with a senior instructional designer at another location.  This meeting was actually even more special for two reasons: the first was that this particular designer is interested in gaming and I am taking a game design course as part of my Masters program this semester; the second was that I had actually already connected with this designer online through Twitter and was finally going to meet him face to face.  After providing a general overview of what activities go on within his entity, he went on to describe his role and showed samples of his work (both current projects, and ones before he started working for the company).  At the end, he allowed me to ask questions of interest dealing with instructional design best practices at work, and the role of gaming within training.  I also got to share some ideas for projects I am considering (both work and school related) which he provided feedback on.  To say the least, the meeting really beneficial not only because of what I learned, but because I was also able to connect further with an experienced designer who can hopefully mentor me in the future.

JHMI Internship: Phase 2 - Week 4 (starting 10/17/11)

     This week I focused on developing a functional prototype for my course.  I have nine total modules to create which will all have a similar look and feel.  Therefore, if I can get the first one down to a point where I like (and on my onsite adviser approves), developing the remaining eight should be fairly straightforward.

     Once I had a static model ready, I reviewed this with my onsite adviser who offered some suggestions for improvement.  Besides this, we also discussed logistics of where some of the course information was placed which I thought would be hard for users to find.  Rather than being tucked away in the course, it seems that it would be better off in a more a visible place (e.g. the course introduction within the LMS).  In the end, we agreed that the information should exist in multiple places, allowing for maximum access.  

     Following our meeting, I incorporated the changes requested and also proceeded to add a few more elements to my module such as animations and sounds to make it more visually and auditorily pleasing.  This is something I will need to review with my onsite adviser again next week.

     As a side note, one setback worth mentioning that I’ve had to deal with lately during development is the poor performance of my laptop.  Although Articulate doesn’t ask for much in terms of system requirements, it runs relatively slow on my machine which has played a factor in not allowing me to progress faster.  I had someone from IT support make some adjustments to it, but it hasn’t seemed to make any substantial difference.  As there are no additional machines available, I will just have to make the most of the situation.

     Besides working on my prototype this week, I also had two beneficial professional development meetings.  The first was with a current employee who, like me, worked as an intern while in school.  They shared a lot valuable insight and tips for seeking more permanent employment within the group following the completion of my internship.  The second meeting was with my onsite adviser where we spoke about the organizational structure of the hospital in general, and training in particular.  I got a better feel for how training is distributed within the company, and who the major players are across the various training sectors.  Again, I feel such information will aid me for future employment searching.