Thursday, January 29, 2009

Design rules that you must always follow

Rule 1: Unless you are conducting learner testing, do not experiment with positioning of buttons. There is a logic why the next button is positioned in the right bottom corner and why the exit button is positioned in the top right corner. Understand the logic before you experiment.

Rule 2: Always use radio buttons for single select MCQs and check boxes for MMCQs or multiple select questions.

Rule 3: Buttons should look clickable. Non-buttons such as placeholders, text boxes, and so on should not have the affordance of being clickable.

Rule 4: When selecting a font and font size, remember that readability is more important than visual appeal.

Rule 5: Colors should be selected using the color wheel. Do not assume that certain colors go well with each other. Check it out.

Rule 6: Ensure that there is a clear visual hierarchy. The contents of the screen need to be well-balanced.

Rule 7: Ensure that all elements such as feedback boxes, text boxes, placeholders, and so on belong to the same family.

Rule 8: Use grids to design your screen. Ensure alignment and proper spacing.

Rule 9: Ensure easy accessibility for those features that the learner is likely to use often. For example, the next and back buttons

Rule 10: Ensure that the icons and the graphics used are self-explanatory.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Internal Motivation

I think every time I speak/write about the learner, I mention motivation at least once. As an ID, I take motivation very seriously. It is my responsibility to ensure that the learner's motivation is high as this will ensure that he/she actually learns. We do a detailed contextual inquiry to understand our learners. Then, we brainstorm for hours before we decide on the instructional strategy that we should use.

But regardless of the effort we put in, if the internal motivation is low, it is a tough situation. The learner should want to learn. I see this in my daily life whether it is working on a project, writing a blog, conducting research, working on a presentation... If the motivation is low, it shows. We may try to encourage them, push them, force them but none of this will work if their heart is not in it.

What influences internal motivation? Internal motivation is influenced by one's aspirations, goals, and needs. We have to understand these to ensure that their heart is in it. If we understand this, we may be able to show the learner the relevance and arouse their curiosity. But, if they still don't want to, they will not learn. That's scary... We can only ensure that we play all our cards right and hope that the learner is inspired enough. The onus is finally with the learner. I guess this goes back to the basic principle of adult learning: What is in it for me? We can show this relevance but it is for them to see it.

Please note that I am not trying to pass on the blame for courses that have not met their learning outcomes. I am only reflecting on the power of internal motivation.

Friday, January 23, 2009

ID close to extinction?

I was reading some really interesting posts on Kern Learning Solutions Blog (authored by Vaishnavi). Vaishnavi's main interest is web 2.0. I am sure several people know what it is, yet there are others who think they know what it is, and further there are few who think it is just a fancy term. Anyway, if you wish to know more about it, read the KLS blog.

The posts on KLS blog had me thinking about how the role of an ID is constantly changing. Web 2.0 encourages learners to seek information for themselves. The learning is self-motivated. Does this mean that there will soon be no role for an ID? Who is an ID? An ID is a facilitator of learning. What we do is ensure that we understand our learner's needs and design instruction. So, if we are not designing elearning or ILT, what should we be doing?

I do not think ID is going to be out of the picture anytime soon. An ID should however be aware of what is happening around him/her and adapt to the changes. For example, if the learner's needs reflect a need to use a virtual world such as second life. The ID still needs to identify how information can be presented in the most learnable fashion in this medium. The ID needs to ensure that they understand what information the learner may need and make this available to the learner. Also, ID must keep in mind that the information should not be linear as they path the learner takes can not be predicted.

I think facilitating learning using Web 2.0 is going to be an extremely challenging task for an ID. I am waiting to increase my skill set by working on a web 2.0 project. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Monday, January 19, 2009

7 things you need not know about me

I have been tagged by Manish Mohan and Mousumi. Here's my list of 7 things you need not know about me:
  1. I always wanted to be a vet or a psychiatrist, but life had other plans and I have no patience or aptitude for heavy stuff.
  2. I am a paranoid mom, who is constantly worrying about how I should bring up my child.
  3. I hate monkeys. One monkey was extremely rude to me in the past, hence the dislike.
  4. I have a terrible temper. I would however like to believe that I have mastered the art of controlling this.
  5. I have a terrible, terrible memory. Ask me what I did yesterday and I would be lost.
  6. I should be reading a lot more than I do right now. I used to be a voracious reader. Now, I am a lazy reader. I prefer light stuff and easy reads. Guess these are also signs of aging... :)
  7. I used be a vivid gamer, but really regret the fact that i don't have the time or the bandwidth for games.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Workshop on Web 2.0

Here's a fabulous opportunity to learn about Web 2.0. Kern Communications is conducting a workshop on how Web 2.0 can be used for training. This workshop will allow HR managers and training heads to explore Web 2.0 for training purposes.

The workshop will help you:
  • Understand Web 2.0
  • Discuss training using sharing, collaboration, co-creation, user-generated content, social networking
  • Explore the use of tools such as wikis, blogs, virtual worlds, podcasts, videocasts, social networking to design training
  • Discuss case studies where trainers have effectively used these tools for training purposes
  • Experience learning and training in the virtual world
The workshop will be held on 31st January at Secundrabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. If you are interested or require more details, contact Vaishavi at or call her at 040-40171313. Also visit learnability matters.

Friday, January 2, 2009

To-Do List

At the beginning of a new year, I think to myself, what do I want to do differently this year? Here's my list:

1. Think Out of the Box: This year I will try and consciously ensure that I try and think out of box and not resort to the tried and tested methods.
2. Learn More: I will read up more blogs and articles on whats happening, whats new, what works, what doesn't work and so on.
3. Share More: I will share what I have learnt with people I interact with.
4. Be More Efficient: I will reflect on whether I can further reduce the time involved in completing tasks without compromising quality.
5. Network with Learning Professionals: I will make an attempt to interact with other learning professionals across the world.