Three years ago I began looking at options for my own formal certification. The potential options that existed weren’t very attractive since they involved a great deal of time for a single day of testing and therefore certification. The certification offered by at least one industry meant that re-certification was required.
I phoned the local community college to ask about their training certification program. It was interesting until I dug a little deeper. Four courses and one could obtain a certificate – but what value did it have? The robust nature of the courses just wasn’t there.
I was invited to teach at Collin College but the depth that wasn’t there I felt immediately. Students in some cases didn’t mind and in others found the existing courses an insult to their intelligence. I modified and tweaked but was still dissatisfied.
I asked the Program Director, John Byers, if he would consider going back to the drawing board. I drew up an initial PowerPoint of my vision. He was intrigued. I began to expand the program out. Then I showed my proposal to some of my students. Based on their initial suggestions I tweaked.
My research told me several things: adult learning needs would increase substantially in Collin County, Texas, a bit faster than in the rest of the US. The need identified was for online and classroom training. I had sought out technology courses for authoring tools like Adobe Captivate, Articulate Storyline and even Techsmith Camtasia and Captivate.
Vendors offered five day courses, there were two week courses, there were courses at Lynda.com and from other vendors. These were dissatisfying for so many reasons. They were too short. There was no way to practice under any kind of supervision. You couldn’t see what other learners were doing. You had no way to know if your own work was of any decent quality and there was no decent means of problem solving issues you ran into. But most of all the time in which learners were supposed to consume and learn the tools was exceedingly, even dangerously short. We now that a week is simply not enough time to learn something of value. The best one could hope for was a passing knowledge. And the courses were so expensive. The Lynda.com options were great – but there was no human interaction – plus you simply worked with the samples they gave you.
Then there was the design versus development quandary. Since I began in instructional design I found people who could develop content into e-Learning and people who could design but not develop effectively. Teaching development to good designers is though – teaching developers to be good designers requires them to unlearn bad habits. That’s a very tall order.
Then there was adult learning theory. I had huge issues with the fact that the ADDIE model was what passed for adult learning theory – or there was the SAM model. There were many other models but none were as common. ADDIE was like a weed that wouldn’t go away and SAM was a magic bullet that lost its luster fast. The problem was that unless learners had a good background in psychology and cognitive science, a substantive conversation about how learners learn and why certain things don’t work well was all based on this mysterious “research”.
I looked at area programs in instructional design. To be sure schools had courses in ID at the master’s level. Online schools have programs. But those programs and courses again were very expensive. And some might take the learner out of action for weeks, months, perhaps years.
Out of this necessity and with a lot of help I forged the Collin College Continuing Education Adult Learning Program. The program’s website outlines the various options and explains the program in detail.
I am both a team player and a leader. The program is one I have created entirely. No in our business we don’t design for one another but I’ve applied some of the same blended learning principles to my courses that we use in our business. Together with my samples I believe any potential employer would see the value.