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.

Monday, October 17, 2011

JHMI Internship: Looking Forward (to Phase 2)

     As of now, I am on track with my proposed schedule. For Phase 2 (10/17 - 10/28), now that I have my design document complete, I will work on populating my slides in Articulate with the relevant information.  I will also review them with my onsite adviser and update them accordingly.  Additionally, I need to verify whether the SME will be involved in this review process; however, I don’t think so as my onsite adviser seems be my main point of contact. 

     Depending on how quickly I can complete a functioning prototype for my course, I may be able to get ahead of schedule for publishing the course online via the LMS.  This is especially true if indeed the SME will not be part of the review process.  In addition, I have learned that I will not be responsible for generating the formal evaluation survey as planned earlier; however, I may still try and generate a short in-house survey for my own benefit.  Removing these two components, although not really characteristic of the typical ISD process, will help me save time.  On the other hand, it could come back to haunt me if problems with the course are discovered down the road which could have easily been addressed having them; something else to keep in mind for future ISD projects as well.

JHMI Internship: Phase 1 - Week 3 (starting 10/10/11)

     I continued to work on my design document and completed a first draft of the learning objectives.  Although the training materials provided include learning objectives, I found that most of them are not really measurable (e.g. use words like know, understand, etc.).  Therefore, I had to re-write most of them to use action verbs instead (e.g. describe, demonstrate, etc.). 

     To help me in this effort, I used Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning.  Bloom's Taxonomy is a classification for learning objectives and is divided into three domains: cognitive (dealing with mental processes), affective (dealing with attitudes) and psychomotor (dealing with motor skills).  As my focus deals primarily with the cognitive domain, there are six associated steps: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.  In order to maximize learning, it is suggested that one progress through the steps sequentially, as each increases in mental challenge than the one before.

     As the only proposed form of assessment at this point is basic multiple-choice quizzes provided in the training materials, I decided to not include objectives further than the application step. I also discussed this issue further with my onsite adviser and I was informed that the majority of online courses developed within Interactive Learning generally don't reach far into the later steps.  In the end, I decided to include one objective for each of the first three steps in my course.  It should also be noted that since course participants aren’t receiving credit for completing the course, there is no formal assessment requirement (i.e. it’s optional).
     Upon completion of my course learning objectives, I reviewed them with my onsite adviser.  She approved of them, so I continued to work on completing the remainder of the design document.  Once I completed it, I met with my onsite adviser once again to get her feedback.  I took note of the changes she requested and updated my document accordingly. 

     Another important point that was discussed in the last meeting with my onsite adviser, despite being a bit late, was the need for the LoC training program in the first place.  I learned that each department within Johns Hopkins has a set of surveys completed by various entities (e.g. patients, auditors, etc.) and that the results of these surveys have direct implications on certain types of funding received.  Therefore, to help ensure results are at the highest level, Service Excellence initiatives such as the LoC program are put into place.  Again, it would have been ideal to have this information earlier in the project but, because a formal needs analysis was not required, it slipped my radar.  However, it is an opportunity for me to learn from and pay special attention to for future ISD projects.

JHMI Internship: Phase 1 - Week 2 (starting 10/03/11)

     I began to draft a storyboard for my course interaction, based on the information I acquired during the meeting with the SME.  This being the first time I designed a storyboard, I consulted with my onsite adviser regarding my options.  I was assuming that the storyboard should be more graphical in nature, but she showed me some examples using both Word and PowerPoint.  In the end, I decided to use Microsoft Visio which is a great tool for creating flowcharts.  I thought this would be more intuitive to add later on to my design document.

     As I am not developing a full-fledged course (i.e. my course will supplement the face-to-face training workshops), the interaction in my course is fairly basic.  It will consist of the following components, arranged sequentially: Title, Objectives, Video, Review, Supporting documents and Point of contact (POC) / Survey link.  I reviewed this with my onsite adviser and received her approval.

     Once I had I my storyboard complete, I then proceeded to work on the design document.  I was given a previous in-house document to use as an example.  This document includes the following major components: Training Requirements, Overall Goal & Purpose and Learning Objectives.  Several sub-components are also included such as Audience, Assessment and Seat Time.  Going through the process of drafting a design document has helped me even further to give clarity and definition for my project.

     In addition to the sample design document, I was also provided with an in-house template I will be using for my course.  I began to put together a prototype in Articulate based on the storyboard I drafted.  Once I complete the design the document and have it reviewed, I will begin to populate my course slides with relevant information (e.g. objectives, videos, etc.).       

     Last but not least, I was given the opportunity to attend two m-learning vendor presentations.  During the presentations, each vendor proposed their m-learning solution in an effort to convince JHMI to contract with them.  As mentioned earlier, JHMI is seeking an m-learning solution in an effort to improve their engagement with their international patients.  Some components of the solution sought include appointment reminders, guest services information, policies/procedures and most importantly, performance surveys.  In general, I found the presentations to be very informative as they helped provide me with some useful insight into the JHMI m-learning strategy.

JHMI Internship: Phase 1 - Week 1 (starting 09/26/11)

     Upon completion of all administrative tasks, I was finally presented with the content for my assignment: a training program entitled The Language of Caring (LoC).  The purpose of the training is to enhance communication skills of hospital employees with customers (i.e. patients, families and staff) in order to make their interactions have a sense of compassion, rather than solely based on business.  

     It consists of 9 "skill-builders" that focus on individual communication skills.  Each skill-builder is designed to be a separate face-to-face workshop, to be administered by respective managers.  Each workshop is setup in the following format:
     1) Introduction: Welcome, presentation of objectives
     2) Warm-up: Short introductory activity and discussion
     3) Video: Further explanation and sample skits
     4) Apply It! Activity: Learners try to use new skill
     5) Hard-wiring Activity (optional): Follow-up activities to be completed outside of workshop
     6) Conclusion: Short review and closing remarks

     As the included materials in the program are plentiful, I had to work with a subject matter expert (SME) to find out exactly what should be included.  The SME for my project is a supervisor who works within the Service Excellence group for the Nursing department.  Service Excellence is an initiative within all of Johns Hopkins to improve upon customer relations.

     In our meeting, the SME explained what he envisioned for the online portion of the training.  It should basically act as a supplement for the face-to-face workshops, consisting of all videos for the nine-skill builders, as well as all accompanying documentation for managers and course participants to have access to.  He also said it should incorporate a link to a follow-up evaluation survey, to be completed by course participants.  He also noted that it should be available on the company Learning Management System (LMS) by the end of the year as formal training is scheduled to start soon after. 

     In addition, based on the suggestion of my onsite adviser, the SME also liked the idea of including a mobile learning (m-learning) function such that course participants could receive reminders and/or tips regarding course sessions via SMS text messaging.  This would be something voluntary that participants could opt into by supplying their mobile number (perhaps during the survey).  This is something I hope to look into as Interactive Learning (and JHMI in general) is interested in possibly adding an m-learning solution to their portfolio.  All in all, this meeting was extremely beneficial as it helped me get a better grasp for what the project really entailed.

     Following this meeting, I installed the software I would be using to help me build my course, Articulate Studio.  Articulate is a course authoring tool for designing engaging e-learning courses.  Rather than existing as a separate entity, it is a plug-in for Microsoft PowerPoint which shows up an additional tab.  The Studio consists of the following components: 
     Presenter - core tool used to create flash-based courses
     Quiz Maker - tool to create flash-based quizzes
     Engage - tool to add interactions for courses (e.g. timelines, situations)

     Besides familiarizing myself with the different tools offered in Articulate, I also continued to review the various LoC training materials, and tried to organize all the electronic training materials (e.g. documentation, video, etc.) accordingly on my computer.

JHMI Internship: Introduction

     This blog post commences the independent study / internship I will be embarking upon this semester as part of my Master's degree in Instructional Technology - Instructional Design & Development.  I will be working for Johns Hopkins Medicine International (JHMI), within the Interactive Learning department.  Interactive Learning is responsible for all web-based and instructor-led training courses for JHM.  
     As an intern, I will be responsible for designing, developing and delivering on online supplement for a face-to-face training program entitled The Language of Caring (to be described in the next post).  By completing bi-weekly blog posts such as this, I will be able to reflect on my experiences throughout the course of the project.