Thursday, October 27, 2011

Instructional Design in Business & Industry

Business and industry has been using Instructional Designers (IDs) for years now to develop and design training for employees and customers, but I think that this has grown even more so, in the area of online training courses. Online training/learning is more cost effective than face-to-face (f2f) training/learning for the most part, particularly if it is designed well.

Last week we learned about Human Performance Improvement (HPI), also known as Human Performance Technology (HPT), which is becoming very prominent in the business and industry arenas. Although HPI involves many different team members from within an organization, instructional designers are obviously key to many of the solutions and interventions implemented to close the gaps in performance. 

According to Reiser and Dempsey in Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology, "instructional design today encompasses much more than simply producing instruction. The field is now associated with analyzing human performance problems, identifying root causes of those problems, considering a variety of solutions to address the root causes, and determining and implementing the appropriate solutions." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012).

For this week's reflection assignment, we were to respond to the following:
  • What are, in your mind, two unique or interesting or different or noteworthy ways instructional design/technology has been used in business and industry that you believe could be usefully applied to your own professional work? Explain.
It doesn't seem unique, different, or particularly noteworthy to me, but maybe it's interesting in that I'm an instructional designer for a food protection training organization. We provide standardized training to food protection professionals. Currently, almost all of our training is done f2f, but are planning on offering one or more courses online very soon. With the technology we have available to us today, almost everything can be taught online. Obviously, there are some things that will always be better taught f2f, but even many of those courses will have an online component. This is probably the most interesting aspect of instructional design to me. I find it fascinating and exciting to seek out ways to transfer f2f learning to online; to take a f2f activity and figure out a way to make the same activity happen online. As a designer, my goal is to develop/design learning activities that will bring about deep learning and collaboration opportunities, will decrease the gap in performance, and develop effective food protection leaders for tomorrow.

Google Maps
The other part of our assignment for this week was to create a map using Google Maps and choose one of the following options:
  1. Come up with an idea for a lesson that would incorporate the use of a map that you would create and have your students use, or
  2. Come up with an idea for a lesson in which your students would create their own maps.
As a deliverable, we are to describe in a few paragraphs the lesson we have in mind and we are to create a map. If we chose Option 1 above, it will be a version of the map you would give your students; If we chose Option 2, it will be an example of the kind of map you'd expect your students to create.

The Lesson (Option 2)
One of the modules of one of our courses for food protection professionals is on foodborne illnesses. According to the CDC website, there have been thirteen outbreaks so far in 2011. (CDC, 2011). There are listings of outbreaks for 2006-2011 on the CDC's website and according to Wikipedia (2011), the CDC has been tracking outbreaks since the 1970s. As part of the assignment, I thought it would be great to have each student choose one of the foodborne illness breakouts listed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): and create a map tracking the source and also the breakout. 

To get started, I decided to create a map of the Turkish Pine Nuts salmonella breakout that just happened this month: As I began to create my Google Map, I found that it was fairly easy to mark the Wegmans Food Market stores where the breakout was traced back to and stores implemented a recall, but it was more difficult to mark the places where the breakouts or illnesses happened, as the CDC only lists the incidences by state, not by city. I tried to figure out how to mark a state on Google Maps, but I couldn't figure it out and I don't even know if it's possible to mark a state vs. marking a city or specific location. Everything I read on the incidents just reported how many by state, not by specific locations. Therefore, I ended up just noting which store locations had a recall on the turkish pine nuts. Wegmans has 4 stores in Maryland, 7 in New Jersey, 24 in New York (I thought their website said 47, but when I printed the list, there were only 24 listed), 14 in Pennsylvania, and 6 in Virginia. Wegmans also has a new store in Massachusetts, but that store did not do a recall on the product, so I don't know if they don't sell it there at that store or if it was proven that none of the salmonella originated from that store. 

Another problem I ran into in creating the map is that even though I looked up the various locations, when I saved the store location to the map I was creating, it didn't save any of the location information. On a few of them the title says the location, but most of them just say Wegmans. Well, when viewing the map, it's not very helpful to just see, "Wegmans," "Wegmans," "Wegmans," etc., so in the future, I would definitely work on editing the marker at the same time I save it to the map, rather than saving them all and then trying to identify and edit them. 

There are a few other kinks in the whole process that I would need to work through prior to using it for a lesson plan such as this, but I still think the idea, overall, is great. Here's the link to the map I created of all of the Wegmans Food Markets that were part of the Turkish Pine Nut salmonella breakout and recall: Map of Wegmans Food Market Turkish Pine Nut Salmonella Breakout and Recall

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2011). Multistate Foodborne Outbreaks. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from:

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Wegmans Food Market, Inc. (2011). Wegmans store locations. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from: (Note: This link is now temporarily unavailable. Not sure what happened. Maybe they didn't like me mapping all of their locations, although I've made the map private to only those who read this posting and click on the link above.) (2011). List of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from: 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Human Performance Improvement (HPI) and Podcasting

Review of Reading Assignment

This week our assigned reading in the Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology book by Reiser and Dempsey (2002, 2007, 2012), focused on Human Performance Improvement or HPI for short. So, what is HPI and how is it different than HPT (Human Performance Technology), Organizational Management, Human Resource Development? These are the questions I was asking while reading about HPI.

There are several definitions of HPI. Three of the most well-known are the International Society of Performance Improvement (ISPI) (2006). They define it as "A systematic approach to improve productivity and competence uses a set of methods and procedures - and a strategy for solving problems - for realizing opportunities related to the performance of people. More specific, it is the process of selection, analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation of programs to most cost-effectives influence human behavior and accomplishment. It is a systematic combination of three fundamental process, performance analysis, cause analysis, and intervention selection, and can be applied to individuals, small groups, and large organizations. Another well know organization, the American Society of Training & Development (1992), defines it as "A systemic approach to analyzing, improving, and managing performance in the workplace through the use of appropriate and varied interventions." And then one of the well-known proponents W. J. Rothwell (1996), one of the authors of Human Performance Improvement: Building Practitioner Performance (2007), defines it as, "A systematic process of discovering and analyzing important human performance gaps, planning for future improvements in human performance, designing and developing cost-effective and ethically justifiable interventions to close performance gaps, implementing the interventions, and evaluation the financial and nonfinancial results." 

According to Rothwell, Hohne, and King (2007), "All definitions share these characteristics: systematic, systemic, grounded in scientifically derived theories and the best empirical evidence available, open to all means, methods, and media, focused on achievements that human performers and the system value."

HPI is often used synonymously with HPT. According to Reiser and Dempsey, it is an euphemism (a less direct expression used in place of one considered offensive). It emerged in the 1990s, most likely because of its softer sound than human performance technology (HPT)." (2002, 2007, 2012). 

One of the main things that seems to make it different than other such initiatives, is that it doesn't look at and rely on training only. It seeks to look at the performance gap as a whole and identify necessary interventions to decrease the gap, whether it requires a new design, a revised design, training, various other interventions, or a combination of several things. 

An example shared in the Department of Energy's Human Performance Handbook, Chapter 5, tells how "Paul Fitts was an American Air Force Colonel who also examined the man-machine interface in aviation. He studied pilot accident records, digging through 460 cases of what were labeled as 'pilot errors' in 1947. He found that a large part of the cases consisted of pilots confusing the flap and gear handles. Typically, a pilot would land and then raise the gear instead of the flaps, causing the airplane to collapse onto the ground and leaving it with considerable damage. Fitts’ examined the hardware in the average cockpit to find that the controls for gear and flaps were 
often placed next to one another. They looked the same, felt the same, and, which one was on which side was not standardized across cockpits. This was an error trap waiting to happen. In other words, confusing the two handles was not incomprehensible or random, it was systematic; connected clearly to features of the cockpit layout." (DOE, 2009).

This is the type of gaps in performance that HPI is focused on identifying and improving. Obviously, the design of the the flap and gear handles in the various cockpits needed to be changed to lessen the chance of confusion for the pilots.

According to authors Reiser and Dempsey, "HPI is not just another disruptive fad, but a rational and reasonable next step in building valued human performance--one that makes eminent sense in today's demanding world of work." (2002, 2007, 2012).

Department of Energy (DOE). (2009). Human performance improvement handbook, DOE-HDBK-1028-2009. (Vol. 1: Concepts and Principles, Ch. 5: Human Performance Evolution). Washington, DC:  Government Printing Office. Retrieved October 23, 2011, from:

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Adapted from Rothwell, W. J., Hohne, C. K., King, S. B. (2007). Human performance improvement: Building practitioner performance. (2nd Edition). Burlington, MA: Elsevier. Retrieved October 23, 2011, from:

Reflection Deliverables
  1. Related to Chapter 14, what are some ways the ideas/concepts/principles discussed in this chapter could be applied in your professional work? Do you see opportunities where these ideas could help you or your students?

    Response: HPI makes sense in that training oftentimes isn't enough to close the performance gap and deliver desired outcomes. When trying to identify an appropriate intervention, it is important to systematically look at all factors, not just the "training" or "development" factor as shown in the DOE example above. I believe that HPI, or as I've heard it called in some organizations, Continuous Improvement, is something that every organization should be looking at and implementing. I can see where we could use it for continuous improvement in staff performance and in the training that we provide to food protection professionals. Continuous improvement or HPI makes sense.
  2. Profile the podcast(s) you chose to subscribe and listen to or if you chose to make a podcast, provide a link to your podcast on your blog.

    Response: I chose to make a podcast, since I never had before. Here is the link to my podcast on my podcast channel at
  3. What added value might podcasting have in your professional setting (company, school, etc.)?

    Response: Podcasting, particularly for students, trainees, or other interested individuals who like to learn audibly is an excellent idea. Along with the idea of podcasting is vodcasting, i.e., video podcast. Lectures by a professor can be used by students to prepare for an exam or to catch up, in case they had to miss the lecture. Podcasting allows "just-in-time" training for students, teachers, and many others who want to and need to learn at hours different than a specific class time.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Applying theories of learning...

Last night I wrote about adding media to a blog, a fairly simple task. Tonight, I'm going to try to apply learning theory to an "Application Question" from Chapter 4 in Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012), not so simple. I'm definitely still learning when it comes to learning theories.

Application Question 1
"Assume that you are trying to teach learners how to calculate and compare the unit costs (e.g., price per ounce) of various sizes and/or brands of the same product. Select three of the theories of learning discussed in this chapter. For each of the three, describe the nature of the instructional activities that you would design if you were adhering to that theory as you were planning the instruction." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007 2012).

Review of the Learning Theories' Concepts/Ideas
The chapter discussed several different learning theories, such as Behavioral Learning Theory,
Cognitive Information Processing Theory, Schema Theory and Cognitive Load, Situated Learning Theory,  Gagne's Theory of Instruction, and Constructivism. Most all of the theories had some valid points and, as usual, many of the newer concepts build on the foundation of previous theories. I'm not so sure any of them are the "perfect theory" and I expect that a variety of applications of theory would be useful in most learning situations. But, having said that, I realize that some are more effective than others, depending upon the situation.

The theoretical ideas that really stood out to me while reading the discussion were the role of prior knowledge in learning new knowledge and skills as brought out in the reading of Cognitive Information Processing Theory. I know from personal experience what a difference prior knowledge has on the ability to learn new material. I have a strong natural ability with technology and a love of business, therefore, I obtained an undergraduate degree in Management. Three years ago, I ended up in a position which introduced me to the instructional design field. I found that I really enjoyed the combination of technology and education, therefore, I began working on a Masters in Educational Technology. Although I am trying to learn as much as I can about learning theories, pedagogy, etc., I find that I have a slight handicap in learning some of the material in the upper level educational technology classes due to the lack of a foundational knowledge in education. If I had it to do over again, I would have gotten an undergraduate degree in education, which would have provided such knowledge.

Another concept or learning theory that makes sense to me as a learner is Cognitive Load. I have felt cognitive load at times, as most people have. The idea of reducing "extraneous cognitive load in instructional materials" makes sense. We want the learner to be focused on learning the concepts or tasks they are trying to learn and when we design instruction that doesn't focus on the concept or task, but is laid out or set up in such a way that the learner has to "connect all of the dots" not just the "dots" we want them to learn, than they are more likely to experience cognitive load and learn less and not as well, as they would if we had reduced the "split-attention effects."

Gagne's "Nine events of instruction," Gaining attention, informing the learner of the objective, stimulating recall of prior learning, presenting the stimulus providing learning guidance, eliciting performance, providing feedback, assessing performance, and enhancing retention and transfer makes sense in that incorporating these events should produce a more effective learning experience for the learner. Unfortunately, according to the authors, Reiser and Dempsey, "application of Gagne's theory in instructional design is often a highly analytical affair, and it is therefore, possible to lose sight of the overall context for learning while dealing with all the details of instruction." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012).

And finally, constructivism's idea that as learners we "construct" our knowledge from the inside out, which is "in direct contrast" to the ideas portrayed by the information processing theory, which is learning and knowledge is built from the outside in. I think both are the extremes and in reality, most of us learn from a combination of these two approaches. The learning environment suggested by constructivism includes "engaging learners in activities authentic to the discipline in which they are learning, provide for collaboration and the opportunity to engage multiple perspectives on what is being learned, support learners in setting their own goals and regulating their own learning, and encourage learners to reflect on what and how they are learning." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012). There's no doubt that creating this type of learning environment is conducive to learning, therefore, it makes sense to implement this type of learning experience whenever possible.

Reflective Response
For the above situation, where I would be trying to teach learners how to calculate and compare the units costs (e.g., price per ounce) of various sizes and/or brands of the same product, I believe I would want to apply the Cognitive Information Processing theory, the Cognitive Load theory, and Constructivism in the following ways:

Cognitive Information Processing Theory: It would be important to have knowledge of where the learners are in their knowledge and skills at calculating and comparing units of cost. Oftentimes, a pretest will be given to assess knowledge of learners and although I would probably not give a formal pretest, I would probably ask some relevant questions, such as, "Have you ever done any size/cost comparisons of various products?" "If you have, what steps did you take to calculate and compare?" And possibly other type questions. If it's an online course, I might would do a survey to gain an awareness of their knowledge and experience base. This would allow me to design the instruction more appropriately for each learner, such as providing more foundational and basic information for those that need it and providing more advanced material for those who want/need more of a challenge.

Cognitive Load Theory: There are a couple of things to consider when designing to reduce cognitive load. One of the things that can help is to "chunk-out" information into smaller pieces. Learners are better able to take in and retain information that is provided in smaller chunks. Along with the idea of "chunking" information into smaller, more easily "digested" amounts, it's important to design in such a way that information related to each other is grouped close together. Other such rules, such as, "People learn better when both words and graphics are included, as long as the graph is not self-explanatory," and "People learn better when you place print words near corresponding graphics," need to be followed. (Cooper, 1998). For the application note above, I would start out with a couple of samples and work through or demonstrate how to calculate and compare. Then I would add some additional variables.

In applying constructivism to the question, there would be several things I could do, such as having the students calculate and compare items at a store, whether "brick-and-mortar" or an online store. Make it relevant to the field they are studying in, provide opportunities for collaboration through study groups, chats, or discussions, and have learners reflect on their learning in a blog, such as I'm doing in the class I'm currently in.
As a teacher or an instructional designer, it is important to understand and know how to apply the various learning theories. I think that oftentimes it requires a combination of learning theories applied to produce an effective learning experience for the learner.


Cooper, G. (1998). Research into Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design at UNSW. Sydney, Australia: University of New South Wales (UNSW). Retrieved October 13, 2011, at:

Cooper, G. (1998). Research into Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design at UNSW. Sydney, Australia: University of New South Wales (UNSW). Retrieved October 13, 2011, via

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Embedding Media...

This week, in the Intro to Educational Technology class, we are learning about embedding media into a blog, in case we would want to use a blog for a student project in a classroom or in an online class. Embedding media is quite simple, whether you are using Blogger, Wordpress, or a Wiki, such as PBWorks or WikiSpaces. The three types of media we are to embed are a photo, a video, and a map from Google Maps. Our instructor has suggested we may want to add other types of media, also, depending upon the time we have and our expertise. I will start with the three required media and then include others, if I have enough time this evening.

Adding Photos
To add a photo into your blog post in blogger, just click on the "insert image"  icon in your editing menu above your post. This will bring up the option to upload an image (see image below). You can upload from the blog, Picasa Web album, from a URL, or just "Choose files" from your computer. You can also upload multiple files in various formats, such as JPG, GIF, or PNG.  

Screen image of uploading window
You will want to click on "Choose files" and then click on "add selected." When you do this you will have several posting options, such as what size or what placement within the blog post you want. To access the different options, just click on the image that was uploaded and you will see the various options.

Flowers at the park on Saturday, October 8, 2011

You will want to click on "Choose files" and then click on "add selected." When you do this you will have several posting options, such as what size or what placement within the blog post you want. To access the different options, just click on the image that was uploaded and you will see the various options. You will also have the option of adding a caption.

Embedding a Video
There are several ways to add a video to your blog. If you want to add a YouTube video, such as the video below, than you can just select the embed code or you can click on the "insert video" icon   above and select one of several options, including selecting a video from YouTube, similar to uploading an image. I inserted the video below using the icon and searching YouTube from the blogger window.

You can also use the embed code and insert it in your blog post. Here's a video inserted with using the embed code.

You can also upload a video from your computer. There could be issues with it's size though, as most videos are fairly large unless they have been streamed or converted to a Flash video, or something similar.

Embedding a Google Map
Embedding a Google map is very similar to embedding a YouTube video. You will want to go to Google Maps and select a map you would like to embed and then click on the little link icon at the top-right of the browser window and select the embed code insert in your blog post. I've selected a map of International Food Protection Training Institute (IFPTI), the organization I just started working for as an Instructional Designer.

View Larger Map

Embedding a SlideShare Presentation
Another form of media that many educators use on a regular basis is SlideShare, a site where you can upload your presentations for viewing by students or others. It's easy to embed by just clicking the "Embed" link above the SlideShare presentation you want to embed. Here's a presentation on Blackboard's 9.1 Mashups that I thought was well done by the author, Joel Kinison.

There are many other types of media you can embed into your blog, such as a podcast, music, surveys, quizzes, forms, etc. I don't have time to include all of them here, but these are just a few of the many different types of media you can embed.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Factors influencing technology integration in learning...

There are two deliverables required for our Introduction to Technology class this week. The first is to set up an account with an online photo service, if we don't already have one, and provide the link to our photos. I have several services, but I pretty much only use Flickr. I upgraded to pro last year sometime and have uploaded both photos and videos. My photostream is available at:

The second deliverable is to write a reflective response to a technology application question asked at the end of Chapter 3, A History of Instructional Design and Technology, in the book Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology by Reiser and Dempsey (2002, 2007, 2012). The application questions and reflective responses are below:

Technology Application
During the previous school year, all the students assigned to four subject area teachers (math, language arts, social studies, and science) in the seventh grade at a local middle school were given laptop computers and provided with wireless Internet access at home and in school for an entire year. The students took the laptops home every evening and brought them into classes every day. Teachers were also provided with laptops and wireless Internet access 24/7 (24 hours a day, every day of the week) for the entire year. Moreover, all of the curriculum materials (textbooks, workbooks, student study guides, teacher curriculum guides, etc.) that the teachers normally used during the school year were installed on the laptops.

Assume that you were assigned as one of the evaluators for the project described above and that throughout the year you examined how this innovation (providing teachers and students with 24/7 access to laptops, curriculum materials, and wireless Internet service) changed the way instruction was presented in the classrooms of the four teachers who were involved in the project. Further assume that your findings clearly indicated that the innovation had very little effect on the manner in which instruction was presented in the teacher's classrooms. Now do the following:

a. Describe at least three possible reasons (factors) why the project described above had very little effect on the instructional practices employed by the teachers. Each of the factors you identify should be related to the factors mentioned in this chapter as to why earlier forms of instructional media (i.e., films, radio, and television) had very limited effects on instructional practices.

b. Describe at least two strategies that could have been employed to help mitigate the factors that you think contributed to the minimal effect this project had on instructional practices. Indicate why you think each of these strategies might have been helpful.

Reflective Response to "a"
There were various factors noted by the authors for why the instructional media consisting of films, radio, and television) had minimal impact on education. Some of the factors effecting adoption of instructional film were "teacher resistance to change, the difficulty teachers had in operating film equipment, the paucity and poor instructional quality of relevant films in many subject areas, and the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining films and equipment." Radio experienced some similar, and yet different issues such as "poor equipment, poor reception of radio signals, scheduling problems and teacher resistance to change." Television, although quite popular at first, also didn't change education in the way it first was expected to. One of the main factors effecting this was teacher resistance, particularly when "mandated by school administrators with little or no input from teachers." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012). Additional factors effecting the adoption of instructional television were "the mediocre instructional quality of many of the television programs (many of them did little more than present a teacher delivering a lecture), the expense of installing and maintaining television systems in schools, and failure to provide teachers with adequate guidance as to how to integrate the use of instructional television into their practices." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012).

From the description provided above of the 24/7 project, there are some similarities between the lack of adoption of today's technology and the technology of yesteryear. As the evaluator of the program, I would suggest that the factors are teachers resistance to change, failure to provide training to the teachers on how to use the equipment and on how to integrate the technology into their daily practices, and difficulty with equipment. If adequate and relevant training is provided to the teachers, oftentimes resistance to the change is lessened if not removed, because most teachers want to be the best teacher they can be and if they can see how the use of the technology could improve learning outcomes and if they can get to the point of being comfortable with using the technology, they will accept the changes, if not promote them. On the other hand, if they are not shown relevant ways in which they can integrate the technology or if the technology integration doesn't show a significant difference in learning outcomes, than understanding why they should integrate it will not be clear and there will be resistance.

Reflective Response to "b"
First of all, when providing all of these laptops, programs, and wireless Internet to the teachers and students, I would have recommended that basic training on the laptop and programs be provided to the teachers and students to get them comfortable with the laptop and the various programs they would be using. I would also recommend setting up a 24/7 technical helpdesk to support the teachers and students. I expect the teachers and students would be more willing to use the laptop/programs more often if they knew they could receive help right away for any technical difficulties. And finally, I would suggest that the instructors also receive some type of ongoing staff development and training on integrating the technology into their daily practices. If these strategies had been implemented, I expect the program would have been much more effective.

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.