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.