Transforming your staff's potential

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Finds: Visual Learning in action

Here are a couple wonderful examples of ways to help learners grasp ideas and information through imagery and visual thinking.

A great TED presentation titled "Picturing Excess" by the artist Chris Jordan. He uses art to help audiences grasp the magnitude of big statistics and numbers. A great example of using images to enhance meaning making and affective learning.

Here is a powerful infographics tool from the New York Times for analyzing and contextualizing pieces of writing.

This example highlights the language of past US presidential inaugural addresses. The most-used words in each address were sized by number of uses. In addition, words highlighted in yellow were used significantly more in this inaugural address than average.

I find these fascinating and very effective. If you know of other great examples, or commentary on when the use of visual thinking would be most appropriate (or inappropriate) please chime in!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thoughts on Creativity, Science, Exploration and Reflective Practice

My last post, discussed instructional design as a form of artistic expression. It inspired some great, thoughtful comments on balancing form and content, and on creativity. Michele Martin of The Bamboo Project wrote,

"Lately I've been thinking a lot about learning experiences as a form of artistic expression and part of what intrigues me is the process part and what it takes to get us as designers to a place where we are able to allow ourselves access to the creativity necessary for designing great learning experiences. It seems like we can get so hung up on design as some kind of rote, scientific activity that we can easily lose sight of the artistic side of things."

Michele made a great point. This got me thinking about varying perceptions (and sides) of science as it relates to creativity. Science is relied upon as the determiner of fact and truth, based on a method that demands reproducible outcomes. Once a fact or reliable process is established through scientific method, we rely on it and use it time and time again. This facet of science, the goal of identical outcomes and derivative uses, doesn't exactly seem to encourage improvisation.

However, another side of science, the "front end" so to speak, is that of exploration. Exploration and the testing of hypothesis is a profoundly creative act. This line of thought reminded me of this great list of ways to, " an Explorer of the World," I found on the Kamaldeep Dhillon blog recently (click on the list for a larger version):

This type of reflective exploration can lead to great growth and creativity by experimenting with / applying the observation to practice... observation, documentation, contemplation, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, experimentation/improvisation.... and, cycling around, the helix rises and widens.

Innovation should not be done at the expense of the learners' experience, however. How do we strike that balance? What checks and balances must be in place to ensure we do not sacrifice the effectiveness of the learning experience in our efforts to improve through creative change?

Read more at The Bamboo Project on Reflective Practice and the concept of the Helix in engagement and learning.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Art [including instructional design] is an Idea that's Found its Perfect Form"

This video of Paul Rand defining art and aesthetics and their value has me thinking about instructional design as an art form striving to the same ends as other artistic expression, namely, truth.

In discussing how art is realized when form and content are indistinguishable, he says,

"When form predominates, meaning is blunted. When content predominates, interest lags."

I find this particularly relevant to instructional design when choosing delivery methods and composing any type of presentation. The constant battle against "death by PowerPoint" is a perfect example of content overload. The debate over the effectiveness of eLearning tools, such as Second Life, speaks to form's ability to drown out the message.

Rand also lists the "vocabulary" of visual art and aesthetics, such as order, symmetry, tension, shape, and color. What is the "vocabulary" of instructional design and its delivery in education and training? Context? Creating relevance? Or, is it elements more concrete such as "activities" and "case studies"?

What is the vocabulary of instructional design and its delivery? How do we find the balance between form and content?

Thursday, January 1, 2009 Tidbits: Change Management

Here is the weekly sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "ChangeManagement." Here's what I found I have:

Giving People Time to Deal with Change: A blog post from "Experiencing eLearning" that discusses the strain on learners that comes with a change in delivery method, such as to online learning, and how to create a training "bridge" to support the transition.

Change Management - Tracking Change: From the Project Management Hut blog, a post describing a simple method of tracking, evaluating and recording changes for easier project management of OD and other systems changes.

The Secret To Coping With Change: MIND + NETWORK: From the ProjectShrink blog, a post discussing how the ability to cope with change is tied to resilience which, in turn, is a product of an individual's capacity to adapt and their support network.

The Satir Change Model: From the blog of Steven M. Smith, a post describing a change model developed by Virginia Satir, a pioneering family therapist, to help families process change. Her model fits high technology organizations equally well. This article also offers insights into how to more effectively manage the change process.

The #1 answer to the rhetorical survey question about implementation barriers: culture : A post from Janet Clarey about how "small" cultural factors in an organization can end up making the difference between success and failure in systems and organizational change.

Weekly Knowledge Management blog by Stan Garfield: From the HP Communities site, a Q&A resource on change management in the knowledge management arena.

Collaboration consulting—fostering a collaboration culture: A great post from Shawn at Anecdote on the leadership behaviours that affect organisational culture.