Monday, April 30, 2012

"Knowing" vs "Using"

Here’s another example of my favorite topic – “knowing” vs “using” information.

Refer to revised bloom's taxonomy. It talks about six levels of performance.  Level 2 maps to “knowledge”, whereas level 3 maps to the “application” of information. 

Option 1 (Know)

Match the features of following software modules with their names.

   Modules                                                   Features
·         Connect                                                     Is used to manage connectivity within a building
·         Enterprise                                                 Helps manage all POUs from a central location
·         Base                                                            Is used to manage connectivity within a building
·         Power                                                        Is required to run all PIM modules

Option 2 (Use)

Your customer has three buildings in a campus environment. One of the buildings houses a formal data center, and the other buildings simply use telecommunication rooms for patching. They want to document their connectivity throughout the data center and the enterprise from a central location. Which module will you offer them?
  • Connect
  • Enterprise
  • Base
  • Power
While option 1 helps learners know the features, option 2 helps learners understand the customer requirement and provide a solution accordingly. Besides, option 2 requires learners to know the information too. 

Which option will you use?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Use of “All of the Above”

Let’s start with an example. A review round of the assessment questions hosted on the LMS is going on.

Client: Kunal, tell me one thing…what does this option “All of the above” mean?
Kunal: Steve, we can use this option when all the options or answers are correct.
Client: Yes Kunal, I understand that. But what should I do when it is the first option is “All of the above!!!”

This happened to be a real-life scenario in one of the organizations I worked in previously.

So, why should we avoid the use of “All of the above” option in knowledge checks and assessment questions?

Let’s take another example.

Question: What is 5 + 5?
  • 10
  • 11
  • A duck
  • All of the above

Well, to start with, each option has 25% chances of being correct. But, a giveaway option like “a duck” definitely is not the correct answer. So, it automatically makes the option “All of the above” incorrect as well. This leaves two options, with each having 50% chance of being correct.

Isn’t that a bit too much to test the knowledge of the learners?

So, we should always avoid the use of the options such as “All of the above” and “None of the above”.

The big reasons for it:
  • Once hosted on the LMS, the options may be randomized. Makes you look like a fool if these options do not remain the last in the list J
  • If one of the options is a giveaway, it leaves the probability of the remaining options being correct…HIGH! That’s not how we want to test the learners, right?

Five Ways to Develop Ineffective E-Learning

We all make mistakes. I made some too. Reflecting on those mistakes has helped me correct them in the long run. 

Here are some mistakes that resulted in completely ineffective training programs:

1. Ignoring the big picture: It's important to consider the actual learning environment in which the training will be deployed. "The customer did not share the details" is the common excuse we hear. There's always an opportunity to ask, except that it has to be done at the right time, which is usually the beginning of the project.

2. Letting SME(s) guide the development: SMEs are content experts, but "we" are instructional designers. Orienting SMEs in the right way is our responsibility.

3. Implementing everything that the customer says: Sure, the customer is paying for the training. But, it's our responsibility to make it effective. Most customers are not instructional designers. Educating them in the right way helps achieve a win-win situation.

4. Leaving the design to media/construction teams to implement: Support teams are there to support us, but "we" are the owners. No matter how detailed instructions we write, we need to get involved in the entire life cycle to get our vision translated to the final product.

5. Adding complexities to make it "different": In an effort make our courses different or provide something new, we often end up making things complicated. We add elements to UI to make it look "different", and the same elements make it difficult for the learner to navigate. We add unwanted features to make the instructional strategy different, and the same features make comprehension difficult. Keep it Simple. That's the key.