Jay Cross, jumping off from Michael Allen’s new book, has posted about design processes. It’s timely, as I’ve had my head down on designing a conference, on a design project with a client, and designing my subject to start next weekend.
Jay, not surpisingly, argues against the standard design process, by and large, arguing for learning ecosystems (a term I first heard from Shirley Alexander at UTS, one of those I venerate) instead:
Michael’s prescriptions are for creating programs. That’s his business.
On the other hand, I am focused on learning environments.
I agree with Jay in general (he’s mentor and friend), and I think the real detail is asking the question: “when do we need courses or programs”, “when do we need rich suites of resources”, etc.
I generally like Michael Allen’s approach, including what Jay cites as a new design approach of ‘successive approximation’, and his focus on how to design for elearning, not just repeating traditional instructional design. And when you need courses, their design does need a process, albeit one that is not a ‘waterfall’ model of separate and distinct stages but instead an iterative cycle.
I think learning environments need to be designed too, actually. I can think of a particular case where a large client had portals for their workers, but it turned out there were multiple ones, and different work groups had different cultures (or maybe ‘mythologies’ is a better word) about which to use and how.
The point is that we need to step away from designing ‘instruction’, and start looking at how to support ‘doing’, deciding when we need a full course, but also when we just need a job aid, or even an attitude change (which that previously mentioned design project really is about, for instance). I’ll be talking about that in next month’s eLearning Guild Online Forum on Advanced ID.