Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Designing Training Delivered Using Web 2.0 Tools

This is the first in the series on learning, training, and designing instructions in the Web 2.0 environment.

I remember having a discussion with Vaishnavi about how instructional design for Web 2.0-based learning should be different from that of traditional learning (classroom training and eLearning).

The fact remains that learning is about learners and not about tools or technology. Also, web 2.0 is not about a tool or technology, it is about the philosophy where technology empowers learners to do much more than just view and read off the web. While I believe that the basic premise for designing instructions will remain the same, the instructional strategies used will depend a lot on the learning environment, the changing profile of learners, and the new age Internet tools that also act as learning tools.

Understanding learners will always be (and has always been) the most critical aspect of designing training. This involves identifying their learning needs and providing solutions that address their needs. In web 2.0 scenario, the scope for instructional designers has vastly increased because the learner behavior is changing. Today, learners are in the “rip, mix, and publish” era; they are more empowered than before. They are not content with passive viewing of information; they want to contribute actively to their learning process. So, how does this change the way they learn?

The biggest change is the shift from uni-directional, top-down, centralized and structured learning to “informal learning”. Informal learning is learner-driven. It is an on-going process, it may or may not follow a structured path, it may or may not have a beginning and an ending, it may or may not be monitored and guided, and it may be conscious or unconscious. How do these dynamics impact the role of an instructional designer?*

1) Instructional designer has to keep in mind the changing behavior and profile of the learner. The learner wants more control over his learning today. Therefore, learning design has to facilitate learner control, cater for the learner 2.0.

2) ID has a lot of freedom to explore the various delivery methods while designing a learning solution. Therefore, ID needs to be aware of the potential of the tools and technology available in web 2.0.

3) While the basic principles of ID hold good as a guiding principle, IDs need to explore and innovate other development methodologies to design and deliver learning. The design process needs to be more dynamic and innovative to be able to exploit the advantages that each of these tools offer.

* Will update this post with more research and examples soon.

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