Tuesday, December 23, 2008

River City Project – An Example of MUVE

Let us look at the most popular educational MUVE. River City is the most popular example of an educational MUVE. River City Project was funded by National Science Foundation. River City is designed for children in middle school. The theme is very interesting. River city is a city belonging to the 19th century. This city is suffering from health problems. The tasks for children (belonging to the 20th century) is that they need to travel back in time and use the 21st century knowledge, skills and technology to resolve 19th century problems. How do they do this?

I was not able to access the virtual tour and therefore, I have relied heavily on what others have written on River City. Students can enter the virtual city as a team. They use avatars (graphical representations of themselves) to enter River City. They are welcomed by a man who gives them a tour of the city. Students need to form a hypotheses about the cause of the health problems. At the end of the project, teams get to compare their hypotheses.

This city has a river flowing through it and different types of terrains that influence the houses, water, industries, hospitals, and universities. At River City, avatars can enter buildings, climb mountains, and swim across water. To gain information, they can click on an objective that contains a hyperlink. Webpages, images, simulations or web-based applications pop-up. Students can conduct several experiments in the virtual city. For example, they can check the pollution levels in water, the number of patients admitted in hospitals, and so on. They can change one factor or more to see how the consequences.

The city comprises of avatars, computer-based agents, digital objects, and avatars of instructors. It has around fifty digital objects and data collection stations provide detailed information on water samples across the world. I was able to view a screen grab of a lab at River City. The left side showed a computer agent. The right side of the screen displayed the lab in which the learner could test samples. The learner got to see the consequences of their actions.

I was also able to see a screen grab that displayed a computer-based agent in conversation with the learner. Computer agents share information on the happening around the city. They provide subtle hints to the students. The dialogues are shown in the text box below the screen. The interface is supposedly designed carefully:

As an aid in their interactions, participants also have access to one-click interface features that enable the avatar to express (through stylized postures and gestures) emotions such as happiness, sadness, agreement, and disagreement.

- C. Dede, “Multi-User Virtual Environments,” New Horizons May/June 2003

Students share the data that they have acquired with other teams. They can also send ‘snapshots’ of their current situation (seen through their eyes) to their team members for a joint investigation. On the whole, 60 teachers and 4000 science students from US and Australia participated in this MUVE. Several reports suggest that students were really motivated. Their grades improved drastically.

MUVE is a very interesting topic. Several corporates are designing MUVEs for corporate training. They buy land on virtual world's such as Second Life and design elements that facilitate learning in it. MUVE is a fairly new teaching tool and it is definitely worth considering, researching, and studying.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The 'WOW' Moment

If you are an ID, you must have come across a requirement to design a 'wow' moment in your course. Now, what is this 'wow' moment? Here are my guesses:
  1. Making the learner think "Yes, I have experienced the same thing!"
  2. Shocking the learner with 'big' incidents such as calamities, terror attacks, scandals, and so on
  3. Getting the learner to empathize with a particular character
  4. Making them relate to the scenarios and characters used
  5. Making them think "Ok. What just happened? Did I miss something?"
Please note that it could be hazardous for the course if your team/reviewer is not sure of what they mean by a 'wow' moment. Everyone needs to be on the same page about what this means, when will this be introduced, and what is its goal.

A 'wow' moment is intended to make the learner think. I think this is clear enough. But what should we make the learner think about? This is debatable. If you really want to include this moment, it should be based on point 4. Else, it fails the purpose. If the learner cannot relate to it, it is not going to a wow moment. In all probability, your learner will be thinking about the incident and not the concept. What purpose does this solve? It is will create a ripple, not a wave. For this to have the desired impact, it is crucial to know who your learners are. You cannot create a course for a general audience say "Managers across Asia" and expect the course to make an impact on them.

According to me (I could be wrong), I don't want to give the learner a 'wow' moment. I want to give him/her a wow course. By wow, I don't mean only the look and feel, but the entire package. By wow, I also do not mean a course high on drama and suspense. By wow, I mean good ID strategies, visual elements, engaging exercises, several examples, and content that the learner can relate to. The entire package should be involving, engaging, and interactive. When it fulfills these three qualities, the course will also be fun for the learner.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ICICI's Token Box

I had visited ICICI bank to get a bank statement and a letter confirming that I held an account with ICICI. I walked into ICICI and approached a counter that was free and explained what I needed. The bank executive moved his hand in the general direction of the entrance and explained that I had to collect a token from a machine and wait for my turn. I said thanks and went looking for this machine. Now, I didn't want to seem like a person who wouldn't know what this machine would look like. I looked around discreetly. I saw a screen displaying token numbers and counter numbers. I saw a phone hung on a wall and another screen. I was standing right in front of this maroon color box. It looked like a box you drop cheques and so on into. I looked around once more, hoping to find this machine. I noticed that a few people hurriedly pressed few buttons on the maroon box and hastily grabbed the slip that popped out. I had managed to find the machine!

I needed time to look at the machine to figure out what I needed to do. So while I was standing and trying to figure this out, several hands sneaked in to collect tokens. Let me try and explain this box... ahem, machine. (unfortunately, there was a big notice warning me against clicking a snap) In the middle of the box, there was a tiny digital screen that displayed the status. Below this was a number pad (1-7) and below these were the buttons: cancel, gold customer, customer and non-customer. On the left panel, there was a piece of paper that listed what pressing each number meant. I read this list several times but was unable to find a suitable category for my task. I decided to go with 6 which was for account related activities such as fixed deposits. Now, I just had to feed in my choice. Oops.... Do I type in my identity as a customer first or the task? I was not sure. I asked a man standing waiting to gather a token. He asked me to type in the number first and then customer. I did as told. On the digital screen, the message 'This service is not available' appeared. A slip slid out from the right panel. I picked this up and saw NA written on it. Assuming that the task had failed, I did the same thing again and got the same message. The kind man who had helped me earlier stepped up and said look at the slip, it displays a token number. I opened the slip that I had crushed in my hand. Oh yeah! There it was CS522. I handed the other token to the man and thanked him. I sat down to wait for my turn. I observed that everyone got the same message. Meanwhile, an ICICI executive came and stood next to the box. I asked her why it displays this message. She smiled apologetically and said that's the way it is! Brilliant.

Kern also offers usability. I was just thinking about how our team of usability experts would have reacted to this machine. It was a nightmare! The token system is very useful, no doubt. But, this machine is dreadful!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Communicating with a Client

Client interaction is a skill that you need to master. Atleast, this is what I did. When I first joined this community, I would just observe the emails, the tones, and the discussions. I would ask my mentor, Geeta, what kind of information can we share. Over a period of time, I think I have a better understanding of what is expected.

  1. Build a rapport with your client.
  2. Always start a conversation by greeting them warming and exchanging pleasantries.
  3. Identify very clearly what information you can divulge with your client and what you must withhold.
  4. Be honest and sincere always. Your client will appreciate this.
  5. Act and believe that you are the expert in your field. You know your stuff.
  6. Be formal, but warm or friendly.
  7. Always remain cool even in volatile situations.
  8. If you are unsure or you need to consult someone before you make a decision, let your client know that you need sometime and that you will get back to them as soon as you can.
  9. Make sure that you keep appointments. If your client requires weekly updates at 10:00 every Monday morning, ensure that you do this even if you have nothing new to share.
  10. Always acknowledge the client's mails. If you receive feedback, always thank them for their inputs.
  11. Greet them on festivals regardless of whether you are working on a project with them currently.
  12. Ensure that you send a deliverable on time. If a delay is inevitable, inform the client and apologize for this.
  1. Don't be over-friendly or overly familiar with your client.
  2. Don't butter or use flowery language to make a positive impression.
  3. Don't be too impersonal and detached.
  4. Do not overreact to a request made by the client.
  5. Do not spit venom at your client in tough situations.
  6. Do not prevaricate or lie to your client.
  7. Do not avoid or ignore phone calls or mails.
  8. Don't agree or disagree with everything. Remember to use logic to back up every decision.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Motivated or not?

What motivates me as an ID?
  1. Challenging projects - A project that is challenging and requires careful thought and a fresh outlook
  2. Application of knowledge and skills - A project that ensures that I apply my knowledge and use my ID skills.
  3. Freedom to be creative - A project that encourages creativity and is not bound in conditions and restrictions
  4. A bright team - A project that involves a bright, intelligent, enthu team
  5. Faith - The faith people have in me to execute the project well
  6. Doing things right - The spirit of doing things right and not doing it for the sake of it
What demotivates me as an ID?
  1. Poor clarity of thought - When the expectations from a project is not clearly defined
  2. Templates - When project requires filling in templates
  3. Mechanical work - When a project requires simple, mechanical work that requires no thought
  4. Revision of idea - When a project undergoes revision suddenly because of indecisiveness, inability to foresee and poor planning
  5. A team that is not united - When each team member is working on their own individualistic goal and not the united goal of generating good work
  6. Delays - When projects goes on a hang or extends over a lifetime due to delays

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


As is a ritual at Kern, we had our learning session and it was my turn to present. I chose to present on MUVE, a concept that most Kernites had not heard off. You must have come across multi-user virtual environments (MUVE). This concept developed from multi-user dungeon/domain/dimension (MUD) to facilitate role-playing games. A few examples of MUVE are Doom, MAdden NFL, EverQuest, Second life and so on. MUVEs can be used for training, shopping from home, multi-player games, and education.

Let us look at the features of a MUVE.

  1. Users have access to virtual contexts.
  2. Users can explore digital artifacts.
  3. Users can represent themselves through avtaars.
  4. Users can communicate with other users.
  5. Users can get or give mentoring and guidance for 'problems' that exist in the real world.
What are the advantages of MUVE? MUVEs provide authentic learning conditions, create experiences that cannot be experienced or 'lived' in the real world, and allows us to monitor or capture learning. Educational MUVEs are inquiry-based learning that encourage conceptual understanding. The basic assumption is that there is no one right answer. There are several answers and some of them are more appropriate than the others. Typically, learners gather information offline and their experience is presented through a report or diary for others to read and discuss. It is believed that educational MUVEs should not solely rely on the virtual world. Students must have access to instructors or teachers also.

Let us look at a few examples of MUVE in education.

Example 1: Revolution is a multiplayer role playing game where students experience history and the American Revolution. They participate in a virtual community residing in Williamsburg, VA on the eve of American Revolution.

Example 2: Whyville is a graphical MUVE designed for children between middle childhood and adolescence. Whyville users or citizens access Whyville through a web-based interface to communicate with old friends, learn math, science and history through interactive activities, and build online identities.

Example 3: River City is designed for children in middle school science classrooms. These children travel back in time and use the 21st century knowledge, skills and technology to resolve 19th century problems.

After my presentation, I threw some questions at my audience. As is always the case with Kernites, we came up with some interesting insights. Given below is the summary of our discussion.

This learning solution will be best suitable for learners who need to experiment with new concepts and try out new skills. It is useful as learners will be able to see the consequence of their actions in a real time situation. It will also be useful for those people who need to interact with each other to arrive at conclusions and solves issues. Educational simulations are closed ended and though the learner thinks that he/she is in control of their learning, they are not.
In the case of MUVE, learner control is higher. There are several alternative paths that the visitor can take. Each time you enter the environment, your experience will be different. It is a huge challenge to ensure that learning happens in an educational MUVE.

An interesting write up on MUVE:
In the computer lab at her elementary school, Consuela was threading her way through a complex maze. The maze was not in the lab but in the "Narnia" MUVE (a text-based MUVE developed around the stories by C.S Lewis). Her classmates and fellow adventurers Joe and Fernando were "with" her in the maze, utilizing their Web-TV connections at their homes, as was her mentor, a small bear named Oliver (in reality, a high school senior, interested in mythology, who assumed a Pooh-like avatar in the virtual world of the MUVE). Mr. Curtis, the school principal, watched bemused from the doorway. How different things were in 2009, he thought, with students scattered across grade levels and dispersed throughout the city - yet all together in a shared, fantasy-based learning environment a full hour before school would even start! (The school building opened at the crack of dawn to enable lab-based web use by learners like Consuela, whose family had no access at home.)

"The extra effort is worth it," thought Mr. Curtis. Seven years into the technology initiative, student motivation was high (increased attendance, learners involved outside of school hours), and parents were impressed by the complex material and sophisticated skills their children were mastering. Even standardized test scores - which measured only a fraction of what was really happening - were rising. Most important, young girls such as Consuela were more involved with school. Because of their culture, Hispanic girls had been very reluctant to approach adult authority figures, like teachers, but the MUVE altered that by providing a costume-party environment in which the children's and teacher's avtars, wearing the "mask" of technology, could mingle without cultural constraints. "I wonder what the generation will be like in high school - or college?" mused Mr. Curtis.

Source: C. Dede, Emerging Technologies and Distributed Learning in Higher Education

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Has the Avtaar taken over?

Every Tuesdays and Fridays, we have learning sessions presented by each one of us. This week, it was my turn. I will be presenting on Multi-User Virtual Environments (will blog later on this). As for all presentations, I was reading up on this topic. During my coffee break, I picked up MetroPlus (Hindu) and read the first article, Trapped in the Net. This post talks about Internet addiction disorder (IAD), "...pathological use of computers, to engage in social interactivity."

"It is becoming common to know of someone, or have heard of someone, who has become obsessed with online activity to the point that their alternative online lives have masqueraded - and in some cases completely dominated - their identities. " "Broken marriages, lost jobs and plunging college grades are just some of the things that people who spend upto 18 hours per day in virtual reality face."

Interesting, isn't it? These quotes had me thinking of Second life. This is a multi-user virtual environment in which you can create an avtaar for yourself. This environment has its own economy (can you believe it?); the currency is Linden. You can buy and sell stuff in this environment. It must be so easy to dissolve yourself completely into this virtual environment that depicts real life through the eyes of the user. The avtaar is probably everything you want to be and are not. It is the ideal person that you want to be.

Now, coming to the point about IAD. So, would you start believing that the avtaar is actually the real you? It is upto to the user to realize their responsibilities and not let their avtaar become real.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Promoting Excellence in Learning Awards

Who hasn't heard about Brandon Hall Awards? Every year I check out the list of winners which typically includes Allen Interaction Inc., A.S.K Learning, Enspire Learning and so on. I consider these companies to be the best in the industry. Well, that's why they are on the list right? This year, Kern (we have always been dreaming of entering) sent in an entry in the Best Use of Blended Learning category. We knew our work was good because we used our very own learner-centered methodology for this project.

Getting to the point, we have won a bronze award for this entry! This year, our name will appear on the list of who's who and someone else will look at it in awe. Kern Communications getting its due recognition through this award... We are now officially (I believe we always were) in the same league as the best in the industry!

I am extremely proud to have been part of this project, which was Geeta's brainchild btw, and to belong to this organization that continues to strive for the best.

Please read the official press release here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Grab Your Learner's Attention

Why are gain attention strategies important? Within the first few minutes of the training program, the learner decides whether this course is worth his/her time or not. An effective gain attention strategy has the power to increase the motivational level of your learner.

Using this, you can:
  • Arouse their curiosity.
  • Make them think about a particular concept.
  • Make them laugh or break the ice.
  • Help them grasp what is going to be covered in the course.
  • Build expectations.
Basically, it will make your learner want to see what comes ahead. Imagine! The learner is actually interested in learning. He/she is going to give you and your training program a chance. What qualifies as a gain attention strategy?

1. A pre-test that tells them where they stand at the beginning of the course
For example: Before we begin this module, let us attempt a brief questionnaire to identify your personality trait.

2. A challenge thrown their way
For example: You are a customer care executive at a call center. You have several customer calling you for information. You need to provide them with the information they require and close the close quickly to take the next call. How many calls can you close by end of day?

3. A problem-solution approach
For example: You have been appointed as the manager at SimCom. You manage a team of six smart and talented people. Your teams performance has been very poor over the past few months. You need to motivate your team and ensure that each person gives his/her best to this project. Your boss is keeping a close eye on you. Good luck!

4. A statistical report
For example: Attrition rates are within the range of 30-60% in the BPO industry. The typical reasons for attrition are salary, work timings, better jobs, and so on.

5. Did you know?
Did you know that The Big Five is a group of animals of Africa: cape buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino. This term was coined by hunters because of the challenge of hunting these wild ferocious animals when cornered.

6. A comic strip

7. A story/drama
You are a detective. Weird things have been happening at Reth City. Reports show that the number of males have been accelerating rapidly and no one seems to know the reason behind this. You have been offered this case. You need to go to the city to understand what is happening. You can talk to the city dwellers. If they seem secretive, you can look around the city for clues. Your assistant, Shweta, will hand out reports, newspaper clippings to help you crack the case. Hurry!

You can think of several innovative ways to design grab attention screens. If you have come across any, share them.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Creativity as I see it

What is creativity? Thinking up something new/original? Not necessarily... The ideas we come up with are typically related to the knowledge we already have. No idea comes from nothing. Every idea is inspired by an old one or something your have read/seen/experienced. You either innovate an old idea or put few ideas together to come up with a more 'new' idea. Creativity is about thinking different, stretching the boundaries, trying things you haven’t done previously, or improvising on an exiting idea.

Creativity is inspired by passion. When you love what you do, you come up better ideas to do it better. You need your own space and time to be creative. You also need to be free of tension, stress and pressure. Organizations must give its employees the space to think freely and the freedom to execute new ideas. This will encourage employees to be creative at work. Is creativity a skill? I think so. You can consciously work on being creative.
  1. Brainstorming helps hone your creative ability.
  2. Stay in touch with what’s happening around you. This could be news, movies, good books, music, and so on.
  3. Identify your personal space. You need room to think. Make this space for yourself.
  4. Get inspired by creative things around you. This could be people, things, words, ideas.
  5. Read, read and read some more. Read on varied topics. This will help open your mind.
  6. Discuss, debate, argue. Engage discussions with colleagues, friends, and family.
  7. Ask questions like ‘Why not?’ rather than accepting things as they are.
  8. Think you can and not you can’t. Sit with a notepad and list down various possibilities. You will never know if you can or can’t till you try it.
  9. If you think you are stuck and no creative juices are following, take a break. Do something that will help you relax and loosen up.
  10. Have confidence in yourself. Only if you are sure of yourself, will you try to do something different.
  11. Lateral thinking helps. Think beyond the obvious.
  12. Know your facts/stuff.
Not all ideas are doable. But noting them down will help you filter and build on the idea that will work for you. What hinders creativity?
  • Ignorance
  • Lack of confidence
  • Noise and crowd
  • Working mechanically with no thought
  • Rigidity
  • Laziness
  • Narrow mindedness
You can see creativity everywhere. You can see this in the way Tupperware boxes are designed, specific advertisements that capture our interest, the choice of clothes we wear, interiors of your house, and so on.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

When should I use tabbed presentations?

I will begin by distinguishing between what we call 'must know information' and 'good to know information'. Must know information is directly linked to the learning outcomes. This information must be presented upfront and the learner should not have to search for it. Good to information is information that the learner can view if he/she wishes to read a little extra about the topic. This information can be displayed as click to know text, hyperlinks, tabbed presentations and so on. This information must not be presented upfront as it is not crucial to the learning objectives. Another logic behind this is quite simple. Learners tend to miss clicking the other tabs, links, buttons. Therefore, any information that will influence the learning outcome must be presented upfront.

Friday, August 29, 2008

ID's Identity

My colleague, Mini, and I were having a discussion on content treatment strategies. During this discussion, we realized that our course are a level higher than the regular page turners. Why? Because page turners are edited content dumps, while in our courses, we actually take instructional design very seriously. We ensure that content treatment strategies map to the learner's needs and learning styles. Content is not displayed in the most fancy fashion but in the most effective fashion.

We avoid the content right, image left templates. These tend to be very text heavy and the image is generally a very general one, positioned there to make the slide look good. When we storyboard, we ensure that the logic for displaying content, instructional strategies are sound. It is not based on the whims and fancies of anyone. What is an ID required to do?
  • An ID must ensure that they have a learner persona in front of them always. Please map every design idea to this persona.
  • An ID must ensure that the content is held together with a common theme that the learner can relate to.
  • An ID must ensure that the instructional flow is maintained through the training program.
  • An ID must ensure that every page/slide is designed with the learner and the objective in mind.
  • An ID must ensure that quality is never compromised.
An ID is not an editor. Maintain your identity as an ID... :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Designing Effective Assessment Questions

Have you seen the following message before an assessment module?

On completion of this module, you will be awarded a certificate.

To me, this seems like the carrot stick technique to ensure that the learner takes the assessment questions. Another 'force' mechanism is disabling Next. You can only move forward if you attempt this assessment. If the learner is not motivated to take the assessment, he/she is not going to take it. He/she will just select an option randomly and move ahead.

Have you ever been told that we are designing a template for the assessment questions and therefore we can have only traditional MCQs? Or maybe you have been told that you must have 5 MCQs, 2 true or false and 3 fill in the blanks. Sheesh. Each testing point should be tested using the most effective assessment type. We have nothing against MCQs but we do have something against templates and standards that add to the project constraints. It is hard enough to create a assessments that challenge our learner without having this to contend with.

Assessment questions should be designed based on the learners and their motivation. If the motivation is high, please go ahead and use MCQs. (Though, we still believe that each testing point corresponds to an effective assessment type.) In cases where learner motivation is low, avoid traditional MCQs. According to me, fill in the blanks and true or false do not qualify as challenging questions and therefore, I will not classify them under assessment types. Let me show you some interesting examples of non-traditional assessment questions.

(Click on the images to view them clearly.)

I had a lot of fun looking for these examples. Hope you had fun reading this!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tips for K12 Courses

What things must you remember when designing K12 courses?

1. Learning is more effective when the examples are from the children's day to day experiences.
2. Repetition helps internalize the concepts taught. This is why we remember tables, alphabets, nursery rhymes. Say it over and over again. Make them practice over and over again with different examples.
3. Move from simple to complex. Ensure that when you introduce a concept you start from simple examples and then take them a level higher (complex). This move should be gradual to ensure that they are still with you.
4. Use visuals to make learning more effective and interesting. Design innovation exercises to ensure that it is fun and effective.

For example: You want to teach fifth graders proportions.

Step 1: Help them first identify the symbol ':' as proportionate to. Explain that his symbol helps make comparisons between two things. Explain that 1:4 reads as one is to four or one is proportionate to four. Have an exercise to check whether they are able read the equation correctly. For this exercise, use visuals, such as three dogs to five cats. Provide several examples to ensure internalization. Then, ask them to write out equations based on the visuals shown.

Step 2: Move them a level higher. At the nursery, there are girls and boys. For every two girls there is one boy. Write the equation. (Show visuals for this.) Then, give them a situation in which two equations need to be compared. Tina makes upma for breakfast. She typically adds two cups of water for one cup of rava. Today, she increases the quantity of rava to 2 cups. Can you complete the equation?
2 : 1 = ? : 2.

The examples should be from the learner's environment. Use names based on the nationality/location of the learner. Ensure that all items used as examples are things the learners see and recognize. For example, do not use examples such as upma for US learners. :)

Education by Emile Durkheim

Durkheim, considered to be one of the founding fathers of sociology, taught pedagogy all his life to primary school teachers. According to him, education is a social fact. He believed that the focus of education is depend on the society's notion of an ideal man. He says, ' For each society, education is the means by which it secures, in the children, the essential conditions of its own existence'. Interesting way of describing what education is.

Durkheim defines education as -
Education is the influence exercised by adult generations on those that are not yet ready for social life. Its object is to develop in the child a certain number of physical , intellectual and moral states which are demanded of him by both the political society as a whole and the special milieu for which he is specifically destined.

The definition is a clear functionalist outlook. He saw education as a tool for socialization of the youth. There are two beings: individual being and social being. Education plays an important role in molding the social being. This covers religions, beliefs, moral beliefs, and traditions.

All this sounds very traditional and repressive? Well, let me tell you that Durkheim's time was around in the 18th century. Now, all this will make more sense. But it is interesting thought that education is defined by the society we live in.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


What are schedules?

According to me and my work, schedules are systematic delegation of work and expected time within which this work has to be delivered. Schedules let everyone know when they are expected to start and finish a task. This includes ID team, development team, decision-makers, SMEs, clients, and so on. The schedule is signed off by the client to ensure that the dates suit them also.

Why are schedules important?

  1. Everyone is clued in on when their intervention is required. Clients and SMEs are very clear on intervention points for clarifications and sign offs.
  2. Schedules ensure that you do not spend extra time on a task that requires less time. Extra time on a task would mean you are eating into the company revenues. It also means that you are wasting resources that could be moved to another task.
  3. The actual execution happens in a smooth and systematic function. There is no chaos and no ‘sleep time’. Sleep time, according to me, are those intervals in a projects where we are waiting for the next task to happen to continue with our work. The task could be feedback, response to clarifications or sign off. The projects goes to sleep till the other team wakes up and completes their task. Then, after ages, the project moves and everyone else has moved on.
  4. When a schedule is drawn and shared at the beginning of a project, you get an opportunity to plan your time and resources in advance.
  5. You have a clear plan that you can analyze later to check where and what the delays were. This will help you plan better for future projects.
How to create a schedule?
  • Always ensure that you understand the requirements clearly.
  • If you have an outer deadline, backtrack. Start from the end date and then reach the start date.
  • Based on you team’s strengths and weakness or availability, assign time for very task.
  • Ensure that you keep five days buffer time at the end of the project. This will take care of any surprises you may encounter during execution.
  • Ensure that you keep in mind the number of people and person days (how may days/weeks a person will spend on that particular task).
  • Always have reasonable timelines. Do not over or underestimate yourself and your team.
  • Take into account reviews, fixes, edits, audits and so on while creating the schedule.
A clear plan will help your team understand what is expected of them. They also get to see how they fit in the whole picture and how their contribution adds values (sorry about the functionalist thought :P). Even if you miss the deadline, if you have schedule in place, the delay will be short. But I should also add that if individuals just do not respect deadlines, nothing will work…

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

ADDIE - The most popular ISD

ADDIE is a popular instructional systems design (ISD). I say popular because it is the most discussed about methodology and also several organization still follow this methodology (with small modifications). I thought I must quickly capture what ADDIE is all about. So, here goes...

ADDIE model was designed to solve training problems. It was first established by the department of defense. It became popular after World War II.

Analysis phase is typically the first phase in the e-learning lifecycle. It involves analyzing the business goals, content for the course, and the learner’s prior skills. Analysis phase checks the quality of your course. It guides the designer while creating learning objectives. This phase involves the identification of the people and the deliverables for each of the phases. The areas addressed in this phase are:
  • Goals and objectives of this course
  • Learners and their prior knowledge
  • Training gaps
  • Available resources
Design Phase includes three steps:
  1. Planning a design strategy
  2. Selecting a format for the course
  3. Creating a design document
The planning team, such as the manager and Instruction designer (ID), develops the project plan that guides each of the e-learning teams in the various phases of their activity. The output for this phase is the e-learning project plan and the design document. This plan provides guidance during the various stages of the e-learning process. The areas addressed in this phase are:
  • Organization of content
  • Presentation of ideas to learners
  • Delivery format
  • Types of activities/exercises

Development phase involves the actual creation of course or storyboarding. Information collected in the analysis and design phase is used to create the course. The design document plays a crucial role when the course is being storyboarded. A prototype is created to check for efficiency. Based on efficiency of the prototype, the course material is developed. When the first draft is complete, the course undergoes several review cycles to ensure accuracy of content. Typically, a pilot session is conducted on a few learners to test the efficacy of the course. The activities that are covered in this phase include:

  • Develop instructions
  • Create a prototype
  • Develop the course material
  • Conduct a review
  • Run a pilot session
Implementation phase indicates the completion of course creation. The course is launched into the market based on the mode of delivery (CDs, web, PDA, etc.) decided by the planning team. The learners take the course. Learners and instructors are notified about the launch of the course. The activities that are covered in this phase include:
  • Schedule the courses, enroll learners, and reserve on-site and off-site classrooms
  • Notify learners and their supervisors about the course
Evaluation phase of e-learning tests the efficacy of the course. It judges/evaluates whether the course was successful and whether it helped the learners reach their end goal. The Evaluation specialist carries out the evaluation along with the instruction designer and the interface designer. Based on the feedback from the student assessment and instructors, the e-learning course material can be revised. The questions that are answered during this phase are:
  • Do learners like the course?
  • Did learners achieve the learning objectives at the end of the course?
  • Did the course help the company achieve its business goals?
  • Did your course bring about the desired behavioral change?

Many e-learning organizations have their e-learning life cycle that best suits them. ADDIE is the most popular approach. Many suggest that ADDIE is time consuming and very systematic. The focus invariably moves away from the learner. Some suggest that ADDIE involves many rounds of rework and documentation and creativity suffers.

Successive approximation is another alternative suggested by Michael Allen. This process involves creating a functional prototype that would be tested on typical learners. It is known to be an iterative process that involves less rework.

At Kern, we have our own DLC that is learner-centered. This process has been carefully designed to ensure that the DLC is iterative. At every phase, checks and value additions happen. It works well for us as every Kernite believes in this methodology.

Dick and Carey Model

Walter Dick and Lou Carey created a systematic process for designing instruction. This theory borrowed from behaviorist, cognitivist, and constructivist schools. Dick and Carey were influenced by Robert Gagne’s conditions of learning. The basic assumptions based on which this theory was proposed are:
  • The relationship between instruction material-learning is similar to that of stimulus-response.
  • The sub-skills that have to be mastered should be identified.
  • Acquiring these sub-skills result in the intended behavior.
Let us look at the methodology in detail. The methodology suggests:
  • Design instructions based on the reductionist model (breaking down into smaller components).
  • Use appropriate conditions of learning.
  • Use an Instructional System Design, a systems approach for designing instruction.
  • Apply across a wide range: K12 – business – government and novice - expert
Dick and Carey outline a methodical design and development process. A system, according to Dick and Carey, is technically a set of interrelated parts, all of which work together toward a defined goal. This model is called systems approach because it contains components that are related to each other. Each component has an input and an output. Dick and Carey listed the following reasons for advocating a systems approach:
  • The focus is on what the learner is required to know/do by the end of the course.
  • Each component in the system is linked carefully to the other.
  • This process is empirical and replicable.

The steps proposed in the ISD refer to a set of procedures and techniques that an instructional designer should employ to design, develop, evaluate, and revise instruction. The steps proposed by Dick and Carey in ISD are given below.

Identify the Instructional Goals. Instructional designers should identify what the learner should be able to do at the end of the course. The instructional goal is set based on needs assessment and learner requirements.

Conduct Instructional Analysis
. Instructional designers should identify the instructional steps and sub-steps that will help the learner attain his/her goal. Instructional analysis also involves analyzing the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that the learners are required to possess to begin instruction. These are known as entry behaviors.

Analyze Learners and Contexts
. Learners and contexts in which they will learn are analyzed in parallel while the instructional analysis is in progress. Learners’ prior skills, preferences, and attitudes are determined. The instructional setting in which the new skills will be used is also analyzed. Information gained at this stage is crucial as it decides the instructional strategy.

Write Performance Objectives
. Based in the instructional analysis, findings of entry behaviors, and prior skills, the learning objectives are listed. Skills to be acquired, learning conditions, and criteria for successful performance will be considered while framing the objectives.

Develop Assessment Instruments
. Based on the performance objectives, the instructional designers should develop the assessments. These assessments will measure the learners’ progress through the course. The assessments are framed to bring out the behavior defined in the objectives.

Develop Instructional Strategy
. Based on the information gained from the previous steps, instructional designers are required to identify the instructional strategy. This strategy will cover the following areas:
  1. pre-instructional activities
  2. presentation of information
  3. practice and feedback
  4. testing and follow-through activities
The strategy will be based on the current learning theories and research, content to be taught, learners’ characteristics, and medium through which instruction will be delivered.

Develop and Select Instructional Materials. Instructional strategy is used to produce instruction. This done using learner manuals, tests, and instructional materials such as instructor’s guides, student modules, videotapes, computer-based multimedia formats, and web pages for distance learning. Original materials will be created based on the content being taught, availability of existing relevant materials, and other resources available. Based on a set of criteria, existing materials are selected.

Design and Conduct Formative Evaluation of Instruction. Several evaluations are conducted to improve instruction. Three types of evaluation are one-to-one evaluation, small-group evaluation, and field evaluation. These provide insights into how the instruction can be improved.

Revise Instruction. The findings from formative evaluation are used to revise the instruction. The obstacles in learning are related to the specific deficiencies/drawbacks in the instruction. Instructional analysis, assumptions about entry behaviors and learner profile is validated again. The learning objective, assessments, and instructional strategy are modified as per these findings.

Design and Conduct Summative Evaluation. After revision of instruction, evaluation of the absolute worth of the instruction takes place.

This model was mainly designed for a classroom setting in educational institutions. Is Dick and Carey model used today? Yes, it is in the form of ADDIE. Many believe that ADDIE evolved from Dick and Carey model. Will blog on ADDIE soon...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How to make tea?

Add 2 spoons of tea leaves to water and wait for it to boil. Add two spoons of sugar and 1/4th cup milk. Bring it to boil. Strain the tea into a cup.


Step 1: Add 2 spoons tea leaves to water and wait for it to boil.
Step 2: Add two spoons of sugar and 1/4
th cup milk.
Step 3: Bring it to boil.
Step 4: Strain the tea into a cup.




Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gagne's Nine Events as I see it

Gagne's nine events:
  • Gain Attention
  • State the objective
  • Ensure recall of prior learning
  • Present stimuli
  • Provide learning guidance
  • Elicit performance
  • Provide feedback
  • Assess performance
  • Enhance retention and transfer
Lets us see whether these nine events still hold good in today's learning environment.

Gain Attention
I am a huge fan of this strategy. Begin with a bang. The first few minutes of a training program is the most crucial as the learner judges what is yet to come based on what is presented. You need to ensure that you grab the learner's interest and make the learner curious to see what may come ahead.

State Objective
I do not believe in stating the objectives as "At the end of the module, you will be able to blah, blah, blah". I think the gain attention also plays the role of helping the learner understand what the goal of the course is. It need not be stated overtly as long as the learner can see the relevance. If you have to state the objectives, do so differently. Read Michael Allen's book Guide to elearning to understand better. He has written this section beautifully.

Another interesting way to look at this would be... list the objectives depending on your learner. If they are the no nonsense types who like to see things upfront or if they are firm believers of traditional elearning, show it to them.

Ensure Recall of Prior Learning
This step also helps check where the learners are. However, learner analysis will tell you best where they are. So I rephrase to say it is a good opportunity to let the learner judge for him/herself where he or she stands.

Present Stimuli
I always thought this was interestingly phrased. This doesn't mean just display content. This means provide the learner with information that will make him/her think. Use the most effective strategy to ensure that the learner thinks, not reads or sees.

Provide Learning Guidance
This suits a classroom training better or may also be applicable for programs in which learner has access to trainers or instructors. You don't need to provide extra guidance if your strategy is good. But this again depends on your learners. If they require extra guidance, you must ensure that your learning solution provides this.

Elicit Performance
Provide challenging exercises to ensure that the learner gets an opportunity to check what he/she has learned.

Provide Feedback
Provide effective feedback to ensure that the learning outcomes are met.

Assess Performance
Gagne probably meant this to be the final examinations or assessments. As I see it, this would be performance in the real environment. This is monitored and checked.

Enhance Retention and Transfer
Performance assessment helps in retention and transfer of learning.

The only issue with Gagne's nine events is that it is unidirectional. The best solution would be to make it more iterative. Tests or practices and feedback sharing need not happen at the end of the program.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Quality Assurance Checks

Today, I was pulling out older bug reports to share formats for QA of a new course. This had me reminiscing. QA is a vital process before final roll out. Why is QA important? It helps identify the bug and errors in the course. It also helps check consistency, content misses, errors introduced during development, animation sequence, audio flow, and so on. QA helps us check the course on the whole whereas ID reviews, edit review, and graphic reviews check each aspect individually. When the course is developed, we get to finally see it function. Now, it is not rare to have one or two bugs in the application. It is important to identify these before the learner takes the course.

How do we conduct QA? We use an xls format to document slide numbers, the issue, the type of issue and so on. We put the course itself under the microscope and dissect it to see whether things are in place. We try out all options available to ensure that the course is behaving the way it should. Areas to be addressed during QA are:
  • Functionality
    • Are all buttons on the interface working properly?
    • Are all the screens linked logically?
    • Are all the tabs and click to know text working as they should?
    • Are the exercises functioning normally?
    • Is the navigation free of bugs?
  • Audio
    • Is the VO in sync with the OST?
    • Is the audio audible, crisp, clear?
    • Has any part of the audio got chopped off during integration?
  • Alignment
    • Are all elements aligned to the grid?
    • Are feedback boxes popping up in the right area?
    • Are the text boxes popping up in the right area?
    • Are the graphics positioned appropriately?
    • Has the white space been used appropriately?
  • Graphics
    • Are the graphics clear?
    • Are they in sync with what was visualized in the storyboard? (Though this should be ideally taken care of during graphic reviews)
    • Do the graphics seem to belong to the same family?
    • Are they adequately sized and positioned on the screen?
    • Do they follow the color scheme?
  • Consistency and standardization
    • Is the instruction text standard across the screens?
    • Are the feedback boxes standard across the exercises?
    • Are the tabs and click to know text consistent across the course?
    • Is the font (color and size) consistent across the course?
  • Content accuracy
    • Are there any content misses?
    • Are the screens too text heavy?
    • Are there any new errors introduced in the course?
    • Are there any edit issues in the content?
From prior experience, I know how crucial his stage. I have witnessed how this round can check bugs and ensure an error free course before learner testing. If work is not systematic, errors will come up with every round of QA. This can be very frustrating. Ensure that you always conduct at least two rounds of QA to ensure that your course meets the quality standards.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Why, What, Where, When, How?

Last Thursday, we had an interesting session at Kern. It was called 'Tell me why?' and was conducted by Geeta. The main objective was to make us understand what kind of questions yield the desired results. Geeta, first, asked us to list the types of questions (interrogative, probing, inquiry, permission seeking, and so on). She, then, divided us into groups and gave us three situations: a learning situation, research situation, and a coaching situation. She gave us three goals and asked us to write down 5-10 questions that we would ask to reach these goals.

What was challenging about this activity was that these set of questions that come more easily or shall we say unconsciously when working on a live project, refused to enlighten us when we were consciously putting our mind to it. The session was very interesting as all groups got totally confused and struggled to come up with a set of questions. The discussion after this activity yielded more interesting insights.

This had me thinking... Whenever a project is assigned to me, during the project kickoff, we shoot a list of questions to ensure that we are fully armed with all the information we need to begin a project. These lists of questions are extremely important as they remove any element of doubt from our minds. Asking the right questions results good work. There are no rules, you can ask anything and everything to ensure that you are on the right track. No point thinking later that I was not informed regarding this. Information is not served in a platter. You need to dig it out. This is not because people who have the information do not want to share it. We tend to believe that we have stated things explicitly, but there may be certain things that we have taken for granted or labeled as common sense information.

Why, what, where, when, how are the most useful words that will help you perform better. Don't be shy, ASK!

eLearning or Classroom Training?

This has been an ongoing debate among learning professionals. What is your take on it? Do you think elearning is a more effective solution to teach? Or do you believe that nothing works better than a classroom session? What's my take on the whole thing? Hmmm...

What I am wondering is which rule book states that it has to be this or that? Why can it not be a combination of learning solutions? Wondering what I mean? Read this article, Learning Solutions Demystified on Kern blog.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Word Clouds

I tried Wordle for the first time today. I could not think of any words, therefore, I submitted my blog link and this is what was generated.

This was also inspired by ashim. Go ahead, try it out!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Humor: Handle with Care

Humor is a very effective tool to teach. Who doesn't like to enjoy a humorous situation? Why is humor not used popularly across training programs? Because it is risky, you may end up:
  • Offending the learner
  • Not getting through to the learner as it my go over his/her head (no offense meant to the learner)
  • Not making the learner laugh as he/she doesn't think it is funny
Another reason is that stakeholders typically think humor will make take the seriousness away from learning. They are worried that humor will dilute the issue. My take on this is as long as learning happens any strategy that best suits the learner can be used.

How can humor be used? Humor can be displayed using characters with funny characteristics, funny situations or funny portrayals of situations, comic strips, and so on. You need to keep the following in mind when using humor.
  1. Know thy learners: First, understand your learners. Identify whether they would appreciate humor. Think about whether humor is the best strategy to get through to the learners.
  2. Culture issue: When using humor, ensure you know your learners well enough to avoid offending the learner by mocking a culturally sensitive issue. Do not use blonde jokes, sexist jokes, sarcasm, and so on.
  3. Personal values: Ensure that the humor does not offend the learner's personal values and belief systems.
  4. Generalizations: Avoid making generalizations about a particular group. You are most likely to alienate your learners. It make more sense to introduce a stereotype character than taint an entire group.
  5. Real life: Learner should be able to relate to it. The humor should be in sync with the work environment. It should reflect situations/characters around the learner.
What kind of humor can we use? Subtle humor, in-face-kind of humor (Mr. Bean), comic strips, situational humor, and so on. I have still not managed to design a course that has humor as the core strategy. Guess we have not come across the right audience. We have used humor as an introduction to a particular concept. More like a gain attention screen that displays humorous situations to capture the learner's interest. This works well too. It helps lighten the mood before taking the learner to some actual learning.

If you have come across courses with humor used well, do share!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Feedback - A Powerful Learning Tool

Feedback as a teaching tool is majorly underestimated. Several courses include feedback as "That's correct!" or "That's incorrect!" How useful is this to the learner? Feedback should include a rationale. The learner should be made aware of why he/she got it right or wrong. Feedbacks plays a key role in:

  • Reinforcing learning
  • Motivating the learner
  • Checking an incorrect association of concepts or misinterpretation
  • Informing the learners about their strengths and focus areas
  • Making the learner think about the rationale
The error-correcting action of feedback is effective when it follows a response that the learner selected. Feedback must be immediate. This kind of feedback registers in the minds of the learners. It is an effective teaching tool. Feedback should be positive and encouraging. Challenging exercises are not created to ensure that the learner gets it wrong. Therefore, the feedback should not sound like aha-I-got-you. It should not be harsh and derogatory. We are not trying to make the learner feel small and inefficient. I remember this incident from my childhood. When in 3rd (Greenfield's School, Delhi), I was asked to come forward and identify where the pancreas is located. My answer was incorrect and as feedback my teacher poked into my tummy and said "Is this where your pancreas is located?" Now, this incident had terrible impact on me as a child. I was petrified of answering in class. No feedback is probably better than offensive feedback.

Feedback should be given for both correct and incorrect answers. If the answer is incorrect, provide the learner with another opportunity to rethink his/her answer. If the learner fails to answer correctly after two attempts, provide the correct answer and the logic for the incorrect options.

Came across an interesting article on The Importance of Feedback in Human Behavior. Check it out.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Enviornment: Key to Identifying Learning Solutions?

Learning environment plays a vital role in a training program. Before designing the training, you need to understand the learner's environment or more specifically, the environment in which learning will take place.

Why the fuss?

Imagine this scenario. Your learner is a shop floor manager who will take the course on the computer which is positioned at the reception. He is basically in the middle of the shop floor. He is surrounded by his executives. He may be interrupted every now and then to attend to a customer.

If you design a course that is one hour long, he may not be able to take it at one go. This scenario shows how your design solution should consider all these points. When you analyze the learning environment, you find out the following:
  1. What kind of technology is accessible to my learner?
  2. What factors in the learning environment may distract my learner during the training?
  3. How much time in a day can he/she devote to the training?
  4. Can any factors be used to our advantage during training?
  5. What activities fill my learner's day? Which of these are linked to the training?
  6. Will a mentor (if required) be available at the learning environment?
  7. Is there scope for group-based learning?

If the learning environment is really noisy, it may be a better idea to have a course with little or no audio. If the learner is interrupted every ten to twenty minutes, the design solution can involve either learning nuggets for 5-10 minute duration or a workshop can be conducted in a controlled learning environment.

Pros and Cons of conducting training in the leaner's actual work environment:

  • The learner may be able to relate to the training better when it is in his/her work environment.
  • The learner will have full control over learning. He/she has to take the responsibility of completing the training.
  • Learners may be more comfortable in their own turf.
  • If the course is not designed well, the learner may not finish the course because of work pressures and distractions.
  • It is left to the learner to balance work and learning.
Pros and Cons of conducting training in a controlled learning environment:

  • The learner's attention is focused on the training. He/she has no other option but to learn.
  • The baggage of work is left behind. Mind is free of all work-related worries.
  • Out of sight, Out of mind syndrome: There is a big chance that learner will see this as a 'vacation' from work. Attend session and forget about it.
  • It may seem like we are keeping a gun to their heads and saying LEARN!
  • Learners may be uncomfortable with an alien learning environment.
  • When the learner is sent somewhere (even if it is the conference room) to learn, they may question 'Why?, I am fine where I am.' They may get on the defensive.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Evaluating a Course

What factors must you check while evaluating a course?

  • Are the learning objectives obvious?
  • Are the learning tasks clearly defined?
  • Visual:
    • Is the interface intuitive? Does it facilitate learning?
    • Is the visual layout and hierarchy neat and logical?
    • Are the icons and graphics used appropriate? Does it facilitate learning?
  • Audio
    • Is the audio sufficient, too much, or too little?
    • Is it appropriately paced, too fast, or too slow?
    • Does it have life or would it put the learner to sleep?
  • Text
    • Is the text on screen too much, too little or just right?
    • Is the instructional flow maintained?
    • Has the information been chunked and presented effectively?
    • Are the instructional strategies challenging for the learner? Does it help meet the learning outcome?
    • Does the strategy ensure high instructional interactivity?
    • Do the exercises reinforce leaning?
    • Are the exercises introduced at the right junctures?
    • Is there an exercise to check each learning objective?
    • Are the exercises forced or they motivating?
This is, however, only a surface level evaluation. A detailed evaluation will check the 'learnability of a course.' For detailed evaluation read article on Learability Testing.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Blogging to be famous?

A post by Ripul had me thinking on the reasons I blog. I decided to jot them down. I blog because:
  • This is a platform where I reinforce my learning. When I pen it down, I am forced to recollect.
  • I like a space where I can think out loud.
  • I want to share what I have learnt. I used to and still do read several blogs to learn more and more about ID and elearning. I hope my experiences and thoughts are useful to someone else.
  • It provides clarity of thought and a logical flow or chunking of ideas.
  • It makes me feel more confident about myself as it sheds any inhibitions I may have and makes me surer of my work.
  • I enjoy the reading I do to write up an article/post.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Through the Eyes of a Child

How does a child learn? Let us look at the following examples through the eyes of a child.

Example 1


Example 2

The seven colours in a rainbow are Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red.



Example 3

Evaporation is the process through which water is converted from its liquid form to its vapor form. It is transferred from land and water masses to the atmosphere. This forms clouds and through rains, the water is referred back to the water body and land.



Sea Land

Example 4:


Give children examples from real life so they can associate better. This will not only help them understand but also remember what they have learnt.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Nintendo: A Tool to Teach

A high school in Tokyo has introduced a Nintendo DS to teach English to seventh graders. The students are asked to spell out words using a plastic pen. When they get the spelling right, 'good' pops up as feedback. The children are enjoying this new method of studying. But is this because it novel or different from the norm or because it is effective? Only time will tell... But it is interesting to note that people are now trying to find innovative ways to teach. Sometimes, just one method of teaching is not sufficient to reinforce concepts taught. A combination of several learning methods must be used to ensure learning happens.

This article, Gaming and learning, with tool for young, was posted in Hindu this morning.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

An Ideal Workspace

My ideal workspace should have the following qualities:

Light: By this I mean natural light. Have you noticed how some companies are very dull because of lack of natural light. Most software companies give the impression of night all day long. (But I guess that is because they don't want their employees to realize that it is really late and you are still at office.)

Bright: The walls should be pure white or a cream. This gives a feeling of space and gives you room to think. Depressing colors(dirty blue, grays), well, depress me. The walls should generate positive energy.

Spacious: Spaciousness or at least the feeling of it is important too. Tiny cubicles (you are literally elbowing off your neighbor) are extremely putting off.

Quiet: I need to be able to 'hear' myself think. When you are trying to think of an innovative idea or close to a breakthrough it terms of a strategy, the last you want is the jarring sound of traffic.
Comfortable furniture: Cosy, comfortable furniture will keep my mind on my work.

Privacy: It is important to have your privacy. My personal space should not be invaded. At the same time, I need to be accessible to my team and them to me in return.

A Fun Place: This could be the pantry, near a water cooler/coffee vending machine, and so on. A place where you can chill and chat with your colleagues.

As an ID, the work space is really important. A good work environment inspires you to work better and opens up your mind. For the kind of work that we do, it becomes absolutely essential to have a serene environment to think and visualize. The environment can either restrict or let loose your creativity.