Boost Your Professional Development: Try Something New on Each Project

About DSA

Darryl L. Sink and Associates, Inc. (DSA) helps organizations design and develop learning and performance solutions that get results. DSA works cooperatively with organizations to:

  • accomplish internal custom projects
  • train and educate their internal staff in Instructional Systems Development.

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DSA Tips Newsletter Archive

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Darryl’s tips are now conveniently organized not only by published date, but by these topics:

  • Project Management
  • Front End Analysis
  • Design Strategies
  • Instructional Strategies/Techniques
  • Measurement/Evaluation
  • Implementation
  • Professional Development
  • Coaching with DSA Tips

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Taking small steps that can occur while doing your everyday work is a great way to build your skills and make your instructional designs more effective at the same time.

When I first started my career, I worked with faculty at a community college as a full time internal instructional design consultant. Through the Dean of Instruction, the faculty was funded to work with me by providing them released time from teaching one of their courses for one or two semesters. Together we would build a new course or redesign an existing course to be more individualized and creative (a large movement at the time).

The main goal was to produce a great course as an end product. Another goal was to help the faculty member learn the process of instructional design so they would be able to use the ID process to design and develop other courses on their own.

As a result, I did a lot of coaching as well as helping the faculty member design or redesign their chosen course. It really worked. Not only did we get a great course developed, but also, in almost all cases, we had advanced the faculty member's skills so they were able to be self-sufficient.

But wait, what about my own professional development? You may often find yourself asking this same question. Here is what I did:

I decided to learn a new technique or approach myself on each project. I looked for an opportunity to create at least one type of activity or approach that I had not tried before for each project. That's right, just one! For example, one structured role-play, one simulation, one case study, or one instructional game. While it was always designed to make the faculty member's course better, it was also a great way to build my own repertoire of skills and experiences.

Here's my recommendation on how to proceed and how I might be able to help you with this endeavor.

First, look for the opportunity. Ask yourself what would really make the learning experience a great one for the learner? Ideally, this should be something you haven't done before. This requires that you break out of doing things the same old way–that is, the familiar and comfortable way.

Second, find a creditable source(s) that explains the technique or approach and most importantly how to do it. This is where I might be able to help. I have collected procedures for developing different learning approaches and techniques for years and I am happy to share them upon request.

Third, develop a prototype with your content expert or team, and test it out on a very small number of learners, or even some of your colleagues, to debug the approach or technique. This is your first time at this technique or approach; so don't be surprised if you need to go through a tryout and revision cycle 3-4 times.

Finally, carefully implement the approach or technique and document it for your own future reference and to share with others. I think this is a fun and great way to build your professional repertoire of creative instructional design approaches and techniques. It works for us all, beginner or experienced developer.

See you next time,