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Vol. 5, No. 6     November 11, 2009    

DSA's Award Winnning Custom Design—Defining Success
DSA has extensive experience in managing and developing complex projects from conceptualization through analysis, design/development, evaluation, production, and implementation. DSA is in its 29th year of creating great learning experiences. So, with that much experience under our belts, what are some of the factors we look at in defining a successful engagement?

  • Did we meet the business/organizational need?
  • Did we meet the individual needs of the learner?
  • Were the learners motivated to use the training? Did they perceive the training as a great learning experience?
  • Did we exceed the expectations of our immediate client? DSA always takes a value-add approach.
  • Did we manage the change process with the client so the transfer occurred?
  • Did we work in a cooperative way so that we were easy to do business with?
  • Project management: Were we on time and within budget?
  • Does the client prefer DSA for repeated engagements? Are we invited back?
  • Did we understand and meet the client's definition of success?

We've provided a white paper HERE with the details on a very (award winning) successful engagement with Learning Tree International. Take a look at the strategic intitatives in your company, then call Darryl at 800-650-7465 (Free!) to see how DSA can match your definition of success.

No Travel Budget for Training Events?
Take a look at gaining more skills at The Course Developer Workshop Online and Darryl Sink's Live and Online Certificate Programs for Training Magazine

In Company Workshops
Have a group? Let us come to you!
We offer a program of co-hosting and co-marketing our workshops if you have a very small group (under 10 people). The advantage: you will get your people trained at your site, and others benefit. Call Jane today
at 800-650-7465 for details.

Upcoming DSA Events

The Instructional Developer Workshop
January 29-31, 2010
San Diego, CA

Live and Online—The Instructional Developer Workshop Certificate Program
"Instructional Design—Performance-Based and Results Focused"
Begins: February 16, 2010
Darryl presents 4 (two hour) sessions starting on 2/16/2010, sponsored by Training Magazine. Registration and more information.

The Instructional Design Workshop
Evening meeting presentation and one-day workshop
June 10-11, 2010
Charlotte, NC



Today's Tip
Learner Validation for
E-learning Courses

Dr. Darryl Sink DSA would like to thank Dr. Paul Swan for this week's tip. Dr. Swan will present The Instructional Developer's Workshop in San Diego in January for Training Magazine.

As course developers, we have a responsibility to "test" our courses to find out if they indeed work. We call this process "Learner Validation" or "Learner Try-Out." It occurs before the course pilot and certainly before it is launched. It is one of the methods that we use to refine and improve our work. During learner validation we are seeking answers to the following questions:

- Does the course cause the students to be able to perform to the level of performance specified by the objectives?

- If not, what needs to be modified so that the student can meet the objectives?

- What problems or errors are in the course that need to be corrected?

- Are the students able to move through the course without any difficulties?

A great technique to use in learner validation of e-learning courses is what I call the "Swami Technique." This technique combines three simple tools into a very powerful tool:

1) Single subject testing

2) Talk aloud

3) Video recording

Here is how you can use it with your e-learning projects. Or, if you are working with a vendor, here is how you can test their work to determine if you are ready to accept it.

First, start by identifying three or four members of your target audience. These will be your single subjects. Do not use Subject Matter Experts! You need your single subjects to represent the typical students who will take your course.

Have your first subject take your course. Diffuse any tension by explaining that the purpose of their interaction with the course is to test the course, not them. The results of the experience will not be recorded or reported to their supervisor, but instead, will be used to improve the course. Explain to the student that you want them to talk aloud while they are taking the course. They are to explain their thought processes as they attempt to navigate the course. For example, if they are searching for the "next" button or trying to escape a page, they should say so out loud as they move the cursor. They should explain their intent for every move they make through the course.

The key to capturing the data that you will need to improve your course is using a video camera to record the session. Focus the camera on the computer monitor only. It should also be placed near enough to the single subject to clearly record their verbal comments. Use a time stamp so that you can reference specific spots on the recording so you do not have to watch the entire recording again. As the session progresses, make notes of particular course problems and the time stamp reading where the problem occurs.

After the single subject has completed the course, administer the criterion test items that accurately measure the objectives associated with the course.

You will be surprised at how quickly this goes. You will also be surprised at how valuable the data you will receive during this process will be in improving your course. Many of the modifications that you will need to make to improve your course will be obvious. Many modifications will be simple to make, as well. Make your modifications and repeat this process as many times as you need with your next single subjects.

Be careful, however. Sometimes, when a student has a problem with your course, it may not necessarily be a problem that you need to address. If you do not agree that it is a problem you need to address, table it for the moment. Make the changes you think you should make. But, if another single subject has the same problem, you can be assured it is a problem with your course that requires you to make a modification.

You might initially say that "I don´t have time to do this." I respond by saying, "You don´t have time not to do this testing." By taking a few moments to do learner validation, you will prevent many other time and resource consuming problems that occur after launch and implementation. Making changes now is much easier than trying to deal with the problems that will occur later. By using the Swami Technique, you can quickly refine your course and deliver a high-quality product every time.

Until next time,

Dr. Paul SwanDr. Paul Swan

P.S. Would you like to see more examples? Email Darryl Sink at with the subject line "More examples."

Article © 2009 Darryl L. Sink & Associates, Inc.

Learning and Performance Tips

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