Sometimes you have to be hit over the head - Instructional Design at home

Sometimes you have to be hit over the head - Instructional Design at home
Wendy Thomas - Tue Apr 20, 2010 @ 05:44AM
Comments: 9

Oh boy, it’s report card time at our house and while this is not usually a cause for any real concern, this time one of my kids managed to perform a spectacular academic implosion this quarter.crying child

She went down in nearly every subject and her behavior marks (you know the ones that all parents say are the most important) are so bad that they literally can’t get any lower.

I’d like to say that I didn’t get angry. I’d like to say that I didn’t yell.

But I did. Hey, I’m only human, I thought.

But then looking at her crumpled at the table, I also thought: :

So is she.

So last night after the mini storm passed, in an effort to avoid blame and instead find out where the problems lay, I started doing investigative work. The kind of investigative work in which I’ve been trained for years.

That’s right; I started doing a needs analysis on my daughter.

As an Instructional Designer (really we are the CSIs of the training world) I already knew many of the questions to ask:

  • What part of your job is difficult?
  • What makes it difficult?
  • What would make your job easier?

I already knew about performing tests and finding deficiencies  

  • Could you perform this task for me?
  • Could you tell me what this operation means?
  • Could you tell me why this is important?

And I knew about gathering the pieces and then going back and gathering more until an initial picture develops.

The tension slowly receded as we moved from a blame situation to one of “let’s co-operatively find out what the problem is.”

We have a working theory with my daughter, we’ve discussed the influence of boys on her concentration and focus (she’s 10, did I mention she was human?). She needs a refresher on writing and paragraph construction as she’s been rushing to get through her work in order to socialize (there’s that human thing again)

In my analysis I also found out that she hadn’t a clue how to find a common denominator. If you can’t do that, pretty much the rest of your math in the fractions chapter is going to be useless. It wasn’t that she couldn’t learn the skill, for whatever reason, she missed it when it was being taught. That's a huge learning gap.

Oh, we have a lot of work to still do with my daughter. She’s slacked off putting more value on her social needs instead of her academic ones. She got off course and needs to get back to where her potential lies.  

But instead of having a yelling, blaming-each-other situation, we now have a plan that like any other good Instructional Design project will be periodically evaluated as new information comes in so that we can adjust our sails to the oncoming winds.

And instead of withdrawing from what was initially perceived as an angry and disappointed mom, she now wants to work on the team to make improvements.

Talk about being hit over the head with the applicability of your work. Just think of how many losses, bad feelings, and lack of forward motion result from continuing a blame-blame situation in our business and yes, our personal relationships instead of moving to one of solve-solve?  

A stepping back, a cooling off, and then some analysis can go a long way to creating good will and progress for all involved.


Wendy E.N. Thomas is a freelance writer and Instructional Design Consultant for High-Tech Businesses. She is located in New Hampshire, U.S and has over 25 years experience in the High-tech field as a Technical Writer/Instructional Designer.

A features writer, interviewer, and columnist, Wendy has been published in national magazines, newspapers, e-zines, and blogs.

Comments: 9


1. Jamie Wallace  |  my website   |   Tue Apr 20, 2010 @ 07:09AM

Wendy - love the real life application of what many would consider a pretty "dry" skill set. Really brings home the message about understanding your audience - not just on paper, but really putting yourself in their shoes ... walking that proverbial mile.

Great marketing lesson, and great parenting lesson as well.

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