Tuesday, December 29, 2009

4 One-Stop Trainer Challenges

(1) Lack of collaboration

Some people prefer to work alone, some to work in groups, I prefer a little of both. When I work, there are times when I wish there were a few others that do what I do, that I could collaborate with. It’s really easy to get tunnel vision and see things only from one prospective. In this line of work, you have to think outside the box… Outside your own mind and into a multitude of learners minds and you have to do it before they even have the chance to encounter the material… Let’s call it a combination of telepathy and foresight… Telesight. When you lack a capable collaborative group, the next best thing is to query opinions from people who know absolutely nothing about what you are trying to train. Why is this? I’ve found that sometimes a little knowledge can be dangerous. When people know a little bit about the subject, but lack an understanding of the big picture, their opinions are often too narrow in scope, or skewed by what they think they know. As an example, I work in the Inventory Software field and have traveled enough to know that no two stores seem to work the same way. But what I see from new employees (and experienced myself back in the day) is that after returning from their first on-site visit, they are convinced that every store uses the software the same way, and that way is the best possible way it can be used… They are limited by the scope of their knowledge. Maybe not everyone is like this, but most people are, and this concept can be applied to numerous other applications.

Regardless, I always appreciate other people’s insight, even if it’s completely opposite of what I intended… Especially if it’s completely opposite of what I intended. There’s nothing more frustrating than asking for opinions and the answer you get is that everything looked great. Then a week later all kinds of bugs start showing up, or if you are in a brainstorming session, you realize that you’ve just invented twenty new ways not to make a light bulb. That’s why if you have to use non-experts, make sure they have the ability to think critically, and tell you exactly what’s on their minds.

(2) Not enough Time

There’s never enough time. So many projects to create and no time to do it. When you are alone, you have to create concepts, storyboard, design, develop, evaluate, edit, and implement your training, whether it be face-to-face training, a webinar, or an e-Learning course. When you are alone, you have to have solid time management skills and project management skills or else nothing will get done. This is a really broad topic, and in the future, I hope to discuss how I am trying to circumnavigate this issue.

(3) Lack of pull because of a lack of people on board

Ok, it’s easier to get what you want when you have multiple people on board with you, especially if they all know what they are doing. As I’ve said before, there are other trainers in my organization, just none that do what I do. I had this discussion with one of my coworkers and it really made me realize the power of a mob. The more people you can get on board with an idea, the more likely it will happen. That being said, when you are working alone, it’s hard to get people on board because (1) they may not have the ability to make an educated decision given project parameters, and (2) even if they could make an educated decision, their opinion likely doesn’t matter because they work in other areas. When you work alone, there are two people that you have to get on board… your boss, and your boss’s boss. In certain situations there may also be a department manager here and there that could be influential.

(4) Lack of complete set of Skills

Not to sell myself short, but I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t know everything. I’ve been working with Web 2.0 tools for about a year now and I’ve had to learn every piece of software, as well as methods for course design and development, on my own. If you are new to the field, for e-Learning, I recommend Michael Allen’s Guide to eLearning as a place to start. For face-to-face training, one of my favorite books is “Telling Ain’t Training” by Harold Stolovitch and Erica Keeps.

To gain the Knowledge and Skills necessary to perform this job, I’ve had to rely on a library of books, several social networking sites (like Linkedin), and free online forums, tutorials, and YouTube… This is called “Informal Learning”, and it happens to account for over 50% of the learning that occurs in any organization. I fell like I’ve become pretty adept to this, and that’s good because I’m trying to bring this to my own organization.

Next Week: A look at the Graphic Design Tools and Process I use.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Chester

    I just came across your blog and wanted to say Hi! I can definitely see why you have to rely on social learning as a solo instructional designer. Is your company interested in hiring more instructional designers. As a one stop trainer, I am sure you have had to develop great project management skills. I definitely concur asking people that have no knowledge of topic can sometimes give you the best answers.

    I don't know if you have heard of Common Craft but they make videos that explain concepts and their animation is simple cutouts!! They are too the point. Guess what, none of them are instructional designers! Check my blog sometime too and I will definitely be checking yours! Look forward to working with you this semester