Sunday, February 22, 2009

Exploring Second Life

This week in an Instructional Design class I am taking in the Ed Tech program at SDSU we will be discussing Second Life. I've been hearing so much about using it as an instructional design tool and now that it has come up on the class schedule my curiosity has reached it's tipping point. I decided to sign on and see what it's all about.

I was hoping to get set up with my avatar and figure out how to "teleport" around in about an hour because that is all the time I had to play around. Well, I ended up spending that whole hour trying to perfect the look of my avatar. I left frustrated trying to use the options available in the default inventory. I decided to give up on my Avatar and try and explore all the great islands I have heard about it and could not get off of "Avatar Island" when my play around time expired.

I'll be spending more time learning the ropes of Second Life because I would like to use it for eLearning projects. Tom from the Rapid eLearning Blog sparked my interest with his post "Create eLearning scenarios by bringing the virtual word into the real world." The post covers how to use virtual worlds like second life to build realistic scenarios. Just create a few avatars and set them up in different environments to create snapshots for your eLearning scenario. So far I am not finding this as easy as it sounds considering it took me an hour to play around with the look of one avatar and I am stuck on avatar island.

I am sure there are some very basic elements that I haven't caught on to yet that will make my second life much more fulfilling. The key seems to be adding landmarks and avatars to my inventory but I haven't figured out how to do that. As time was running out I found the second life showcase tutorials which got me headed in the right direction but I'll need to spend more time with the tutorials to figure how to add to my inventory. I am sure with a little more research I'll be able to whip together those scenarios that Tom makes look so easy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Train the Trainer

I am responsible for an upcoming software rollout for a retail organization and I am looking for ideas for structuring a train the trainer course. The training plan involves the learners completing a series of eLearning courses which will be followed by a one day instructor led course. I have finished developing the eLearning courses and the instructor led course so now I need to prepare SME’s to facilitate the instructor led classes on their own.

The ILT course is largely based on completing a workbook filled with exercises that build on what they learned in the eLearning courses. I have also developed a facilitator guide to go along with this workbook. It should be relatively easy to facilitate the class by just using the facilitators guide but I would like to develop some activities that will help build their confidence in facilitating the course.

I have scheduled a 2 day meeting with the SME’s where I will introduce them to the course and prepare them to facilitate it on their own. At this point I am planning on having them participate in the ILT course as a participant on day 1 then going into the train the trainer content on day 2. I have designed similar train the trainer courses before but I am looking for some new ideas to make it more effective.

One of the challenges I am faced with is that there will be 12 SME’s to train and only me as the facilitator. The ideal situation for me would to be able to break them into groups so that they can practice facilitating the course with each other but I’m not sure how feasible or effective that will be with just me as the facilitator.

All this leads to the question of “How can I maximize the time I have on day 2 to prepare them to teach the course on their own?”

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Software Implementation Training Plan

I've been working on what I consider a large project and I am hoping to use this post as a sounding board for my plan. The project involves training approximately 180 users on a ERP software program in a chain of retail stores. Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions that can contribute to the success of this software implementation.

The overall plan consists of a blend of training solutions including eLearning, Instructor Led Training, and Job Aids. Each phase of this blended solution is designed to further the learners understanding of the software and ensure transference after the training has taken place.

One month before the software is implemented, users will begin completing a series of weekly eLearning assignments covering the basics of the system. eLearning is an ideal solution due to the fact that it is a geographically distributed workforce and we do not have the resources for a multi day instructor led course. The eLearning tutorials developed in Adobe Captivate and delivered through Moodle provide the learner with the skills required to complete common everyday tasks.

Instructor led classes will begin 2 weeks prior to the implementation. The ILT classes pick up from where the eLearning courses left off by covering more advanced topics and providing the opportunity to discuss unique situations. The eLearning classes will help the learners to gain pre requisite knowledge while the ILT course will help them achieve fluency in the program. A major benefit of the ILT class is that it will provide what the eLearning was missing by covering the "what if" situations.

The ILT classes will conclude by introducing the learners to a job aid in the form of a Wiki. Rather than developing a standard technical manual with detailed instructions I have created a Wiki using MediaWiki. The Wiki is packed with step by step instructions covering everything in the system. In previous software implementations this has been a big help in reducing tech support calls post implementation. That first couple of weeks after the implementation is always hectic but the Wiki helps the users with quick and easy access to step by step instructions just in case they don't remember everything from the eLearning and ILT courses.

There's the plan now I just need to execute. After a lot of hard work I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and can't wait to finish off this project.