Where Does It Come From? Content Input, That Is...

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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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In any ISD Model there is always a “content analysis” stage or phase. In our ISD workshops, we often teach this phase by helping participants learn task analysis techniques such as job analysis, procedural task analysis, concept analysis, and cognitive task analysis. These techniques allow the designer to choose the most appropriate options for their situation and content. They then proceed to conduct the content analysis phase of ISD.

But wait a minute, where does the content come from – content needed for the purpose of designing and developing an instructional or training program?

The quick answer to the question is “from the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)”.

Upon reflection though, most would say “from a variety of entities, including SMEs, depending on the situation”. I would like to suggest that the question of what or where content comes from should be explored much more completely even if you do have SMEs.

Twelve Possible Content Inputs

Let’s start by mentioning a few of the more familiar sources (possible inputs) for necessary content other than – or in addition to SMEs. Here are 12 sources to consider:

  1. New or existing job descriptions
  2. An already completed job task analysis
  3. A documented (new or existing) methodology
  4. The output from needs analysis related to lack of knowledge, skills, and attitudes
  5. An organizational strategic initiative and/or organizational goals
  6. External and/or internal regulatory requirements
  7. Work procedures and process documents
  8. New services or product marketing materials
  9. Technical or end-user documentation
  10. Internal or external research, articles, and presentations
  11. Existing instructional programs (internal or external)
  12. Extant data — normal data collected that helps identify necessary content (e.g. accident reports in an insurance situation that provide insight into the necessary content for accident prevention training)

Please notice that I have not mentioned SMEs in the list of 12 content sources, even though we may have to gain access to the sources through the SMEs.

Let’s Figure it Out Together…

You will have more ideas, I am sure, while thinking about your own organizational environment or that of a customer/client. Please add any possible content sources you may have discovered to the list. Think about sharing the combined lists with your colleagues and using the list to decide where content will come from for your next project. 

See you next time,