September 12, 2006

Content Packaging

The process of training development typically revolves around trying to promote then implement the structuring of information. In most cases, trying to make the content easier to read or understand. Sometimes trying to make the content more engaging or interactive. Sometimes, sadly, it is just trying to make the content comprehensible. Many instructional designers actually have a knack for taking content and restructuring it or packaging it in creative and engaging ways.

Is it possible that technology is decreasing the need for content packaging or repackaging?

If, through hypertext, content can be easily scanned, processed, and internalized or discarded by the learner, then is it more important to just increase the ability to access the content in new and interesting ways? Is it better to just ensure that content is granular and linkable, then to ensure that it is interactive and engaging?

Maybe that isn't even the way to look at it. Can it be accessible, granular, and interactive? Small pieces, loosely joined is the obvious mantra of the current web culture. Still we ask, what size pieces and how are they joined and how does it impact learning?

The size of content is really only relevant to the learners need for details, examples, and context to reach their level of expected outcomes. If the size of content is predetermined for the purposes of training, it is automatically going to be based on a pre-disposition of the trainer/author's best guess at the audiences need for content to address the learning outcomes and most often it is an attempt to address as many people's outcomes as possible.

This simply can not give you the one to one approach that dramatically improves learning. The best option may be to then embed as many links to the content and throughout the content as possible. These links will allow the learner to make decisions for themselves on how much time and focus they should invest into the content and when to move on. This learner-centered approach is based on an assumption that the learner can make the determination on what types of content they need and how much of it is needed.

Do learners have an innate ability to make these types of learning decisions, or do they need to be prompted or coached through the process? Do they need the Socratic method of learning, where they are asked questions that support a focused approach to learning? Or are "free range" learners, able, through their own critical thinking patterns and knowledge scaffolds able to "construct" an understanding of a concept?
How do we empower a learner to take ownership of a learning goal? How do we encourage them to create a scaffold of knowledge, based on a network of information, that can lead to greater understanding and improved action? Do we have to turn the entire process over to them and only intercede from a remote position? Can we co-op their learning goals and act as a peer and facilitate throughout the process?

Is a formal assessment process required? If the learner has gathered the knowledge and created a stored network of information that will, from that point forward, be readily accessible as a performance aide, and the learner has actually shown the ability to perform that action through some type of self-directed activity, is assessment necessary?

Can assessment be embedded into the learning process and again be turned over to the learner?

No comments:

Post a Comment