Can a career in instructional design be an adventure? You decide.
Hi, I am Janeann Hudson and I have had lots of titles, but let’s keep it simple. I am an Instructional Designer and have been for many years. It is the best career in the world because we are always learning about learning and learning about ways other people learn to help them reach their goals (and their dreams)!
In 1992 Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) offered me a full scholarship to attempt an MS in Instructional Design and an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Interactive Media. I was going to explore the edges of the electronic training universe along with Xerox, Apple, and AOL. We couldn’t wait for the Netscape launch!
So, yes, I took the challenge and ran with it (even though I was often reminded by fellow students that “I was JUST a Mom.”) Little did I know that RIT expects its students to produce commercially viable products within a collaborative multi-disciplinary environment. So, produce we did—In-Service lessons for teachers to integrate computers as tools, CBTs for Xerox and the University of Rochester’s Medical School, and a multimedia presence on the web for the George Eastman House Museum. And by the way, I was chosen as the Graduate Scholar for my graduate school…not bad for “Just a Mom.”
Then life took a little bit of a turn (moving, hurricane disaster zone) and I decided to be “Just a Caregiver” for the three years after I graduated. Moving on…
Yes, It Was Rocket Science!
In 1998, having moved to Las Vegas, I became an Educational Technologist (aka instructional designer) for USAF Weapons School. I cut my instructional design teeth here, learning the meaning of three vitally important instructional design concepts:
- Deadlines: When responsible for 16 graduate-level course comprised of 4000 academic and 300 flight hours, you learn to turn product.
- Quality Assurance: When writing and working with illustrations/animations of processes and tactics for complex weapon-laden aircraft and space-based platforms in a training environment, you learn to be precise.
- Flexibility: When you are cross-teamed on 16 different courses, each with five or more product types, and responsible for reviewing and updating security documentation for the entire spectrum of products, you learn to take change and disruption in stride.
Eight years and three contractors later, the ISD staff worked ourselves out of jobs.
Any job….is worth doing well!
Finding a position that took advantage of my interactive eLearning roots, I packed up and moved to Virginia Beach where I joined a short-term surge team for Booz Allen Hamilton as a subcontractor. Excited to be using cutting edge tools, it quickly became clear to the content developers (CDs) that the learning outcomes and the client’s desired eLearning model were incompatible. However, to the delight of the students, the CD team unboxed the Navy version of Outstart Evolution and pushed it to its limits by becoming eLearning alchemists in our application of storyboarding, Flash animation and interaction, PhotoShop, video editing, and SCORM, all within a classified/restricted environment.
Working in the Cloud!
In the fall of 2007, I took another experience leap to work in North Chicago from my office in Virginia Beach. Carley Corp had a one-seat contract with Naval Services Training Command and I was heading to Virtual Boot Camp with a few other things mixed in. Here, I learned the meaning of “Tag, your IT !” Apparently, Navy leadership was trying to catch up with and exploit training technologies, and I was expected to help them experiment, evaluate, and develop their way into the 21st century.
Goals and achievements:
- Integrated virtual reality and desktop simulators into NROTC undergraduate college classrooms (ADDIE all the way).
- Learning outcome: Students performed duties on operational ships during their NROTC camps.
- Identified training gaps causing students to fail sections of Battlestations 21 the immersive evaluation simulator.
- Learning outcome: Based on the gap analysis, US Navy created video games to supplement their standard training, reducing failures to expected levels.
- Launched and administered an experimental LMS for testing new learning programs.
- Outcome: Identified meta data requirements, key information passing, and metrics for analysis.
- Educated and influenced key decision-makers in the use (and misuse) of eLearning, distance learning, distributed learning, and more.
- Outcome: Realigned training delivery methods to include a more blended approach in most cases.
Virtual collaboration with an international team of subject matter experts, Navy personnel, and contractors was challenging (3am and 8pm meetings and politics) and exhilarating (so much passion and expertise). Based on this experience, I learned that the role of influencer can be as potent as that of decision-maker.
The Modern Learner and the World of Instructional Design!
The Early Days
In March of 2009, I was offered an opportunity with CTC to design and develop leadership, behavioral, and other soft-skill training for over a million learners. Who could pass that up? Coming off a set of high-energy collaborative projects, I spent my first three weeks in an extremely quiet, non-collaborative cubicle farm and was questioning my decision. I observed that there were no deadlines, little team flexibility, a punitive quality assurance program, and absolutely no trust in each other. Wanting to succeed, I took my concerns to the retired military program manager who instantly empowered me to take on my favorite role of influencer. Teams were formed, a supportive quality assurance program put into places and suddenly, people were helping each other, projects were put on schedules, and the teams were finding job satisfaction.
The Changing Learner
Since those early days, I traded influence for disruption and disruption for leadership. My teams have progressed through courseware renovation to learning strategy innovation to the creation of whole new learning systems for acquiring those critical soft skills.
The single greatest disruption for our multi-generational staff is the coming of age of the Millennial Generation, which comprises more than 80% of the active duty forces. Luckily, our development teams are highly adaptable and embraced the robust focus group and formative evaluation program I instituted to inform our learning design and development for these modern learners.The team is in the midst of a $500,000 pilot to introduce BYOD within a social and situated learning systems to increase effectiveness, decrease time-to-train, and end the era of point and click training.
The Changing Instructor
Being strategically situated to lead the redesign of the Navy Instructor Training Course, we redefined all types of training as learner-centric, whether self-directed or instructor-directed. Based on our focus group analysis, the modern learner wants relevant, technologically sensible, and immediately applicable training. We are actively developing new and legacy learning tools that empower instructors to connect to these adult learners in a variety of ways:
- Classroom / online interaction: Lectures, seminars, coaching, collaborative projects, demonstrations to teach new information and processes.
- Social learning: Collaborative projects, expertise exploration, blogging, exercises and immersive simulations, crowd sourcing, social media interaction and content pushes to guide learners to become more self-directed in their professional growth.
- Situated learning: Micro learning, reach back, communities of practice, just-in-time pushes to ensure learning is available where and when it is needed and in the environment where it will be used.
- Immersive evaluations
So we made the big push and the teams are off and running, and it is time to find a new opportunity. I need a new chapter in my adventure.
Obligatory buzzwords and skill sets: MS Office Suite, Adobe Creative Cloud, Captivate, Articulate Storyline, multiple proprietary course ware authoring tools, SharePoint administration, collaborative web tools (Moodle, Blackboard, MilSuite), learning management systems, QuestionMark Perception, ADDIE, E2E, content curation, curriculum artifact development, micro-learning, SECRET clearance, high-velocity learning, rapid prototyping,
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