DIY-ers and the examples we ISD-ers have given

Yesterday I was sitting in a demo of a tool … I was invited by one of my clients to watch this thing in action as they are evaluating whether or not to purchase it.  There are clearly lots of things to consider … from the $$ to the IT support and all that …

The gist of the tool is to assist in knowledge capture and management – and it allows subject matter experts (SMEs) to capture and document workflow and processes.  All of this can then be distributed over the network to new hires, an outsourcing partner … you name it. 

It’s a DIY kind of tool … no problems there (except for the one quip by the guy giving the demo that somehow this tool will take instructional design out of the picture because ID is really not necessary for knowledge capture, transfer and management).

His opinion certainly … and I can see lots of opportunities to have conversations with my client on that little nugget of opinion …

But it was some of the questions that also pricked my ears.

The most troubling was a pattern of questions that the soon-to-be-SMEs-who-will-use-this-tool-if-purchased that went like:


“So, what are the limitations when – say – we have a process that involves 100 steps. Can [name of tool] handle that?”


Here’s my problem with this question … how did the SMEs learn how to chunk (or not chunk) something? 

Answer: they learned from our examples as ISD-ers … for good or for ill.


After all, these folks have probably been subjected to many many hours of training programs … add to that the years of being subjected to education (schooling) … each and every one of them believe that they can create ‘training programs’ or ‘learning interventions’ or whatever.  It can’t be all that hard – right?

It’s just about taking information and giving to someone else … it’s a matter of flinging the stuff at another person.  No real design or methodology or defined process – right?  (Because a methodology or process is just too … bureaucratic or time-consuming or costly.  “I need this training in one week,” is their battle cry … and we push back stating that these things take time – if you want a quality training program. … yeah right!)

For too long we ISD-ers have been wise sages to whom “they” had to come in order to get a training program designed and developed.  We held the mysteries … and were not willing to share them with the laity.  (Certainly our … er … value was all based on our being the ones to do this stuff)

And now “they” are finding the magix elixir that promises to give them the special powers that once only belonged to the priests and priestesses of ADDIE.  They are asking themselves – ‘how hard can this design/development stuff be?’ … We’ve inflicted provided training to them for so long that they are darned sure they now possess the gnosis.

Now they can create that training program as quickly as they can point and click themselves.  Ah-hah! They can get a program out in one week.  After all, quality is just making sure that the information is accurate …


I raise my hand – guilty as charged – because I, too, had played the role of master and gave some really bad examples of … er … quality instructional designs.  Now, all that is coming back to bite me I suppose. (evidence of karma, I suppose).

Now I get to have lots and lots of interesting conversations that knowledge transfer is not about the tech or the tools … it’s not even about the information per se … it’s about people and how they learn – informally for the most part – from each other.

About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
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