Thursday, July 19, 2012

Slides from Recent ASTD Webcast

In case you missed the webcast, Informal Learning: What ARE the Basics? here's a link to the slides:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Reminder: Textbook Suggestions for Instructional Design Courses

For those of you whom are university-level instructors, consider these titles as possible texts for your courses:



Suitable Courses
Training Design Basics (ASTD Press) This book emphasizes the real-world nature of designing training programs, working with the time and resources available. Yes, trainers have to analyze needs and write objectives (after all, each trainer needs to know what they are training and why they are doing so). But often the time is limited to perform, so this book suggests ways to get the information even if they don’t have the time or access to all of the people who might be helpful. Similarly, although e-learning and other forms of instruction receive much attention in the professional literature, the bulk of training continues to be designed for the classroom. This book makes that assumption, and offers specific suggestions for preparing classroom courses and workbooks. Finally, after designing and developing courses, most trainers have responsibility for the successful launch and running of those courses. This book explores those issues, too, specifically identifying issues in administering, marketing, and supporting courses so that they are likely to be effective.
  • Instructional Design
  • Designing Training Programs
Advanced Web-Based Training (by Margaret Driscoll and Saul Carliner, Pfeiffer) This book takes instructional designers to the next level in their design journeys. It provides instructional designers, e-learning developers, technical communicators, students, and others with strategies for addressing common challenges that arise when designing e-learning programs. Balancing educational theory with the practical realities of implementation, Driscoll and Carliner outline the benefits and limitations of each strategy, discuss the issues surrounding the implementation of these strategies, and illustrate each strategy with short scenarios drawn from real-world online learning programs representing a wide variety of fields including technology, financial services, health care, and government. Some of the specific design challenges this book addresses include learning theory for e-learning, m-learning, simulations and games, interactivity, communicating visually, writing for the screen, preparing introductions and closings, mentoring and coaching e-learners, and blended learning.
  • Advanced Instructional Design
  • Studio courses in e-learning
  • Advanced Technical and Professional Communication
e-Learning Handbook (edited by Saul Carliner and Patti Shank, Pfeiffer) This book is an essential resource that is filled with original contributions from the world’s foremost e-learning experts including Jane Bozarth, Patrick Lambe, Tom Reeves, Marc Rosenberg, and Brent Wilson. The book offers a comprehensive and up-to-date review of the economic, technological, design, economic, evaluation, research, and philosophical issues underlying e-learning. Each chapter includes a chart that summarizes the key take-away points, contains questions that are useful for guiding discussions, and offers suggestions of related links, books, papers, reports, and articles.
  • Advanced Instructional Design
  • Seminar in Learning
To order and receive more information, either contact your publisher’s representative or visit

Monday, July 09, 2012

Technical Communication and Training: How Similar Are They?

How similar are technical communication and training?  Although some characterize the two as nearly identical, a closer look at their occupational cultures suggests several subtle, but significant, differences exist.  

My recent article, Different Approaches to Similar Challenges: An Analysis of the Occupational Cultures of the Disciplines of Technical Communication and Training, published in the second quarter 2012 issue of the IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, explores these differences.  

Here’s the abstract of the article:
Problem:  Perhaps it is presumptuous of Technical Communicators to assume that, because some of their skills that might be employed in developing and delivering training materials, that those skills alone are qualifications to work in training, much less the source by which the processes of Training might be examined.  Using data from one survey and one interview-based studies of the work of Technical Communication and Training groups, as well as participation on committees responsible for certification examinations for Technical Communicators and Trainers, this tutorial analyzes differences in the occupational cultures of the two fields.
Key Concepts:  The work differs: Technical Communicators produce content that explains how to perform tasks; trainers produce programs that develop skills that a third party can verify.  To do so, Technical Communicators follow a process that emphasizes writing and production; Trainers follow a process that emphasizes the analysis of intended goals and evaluation of whether those goals have been achieved.  The guiding philosophy of Technical Communication is usability; the guiding philosophy of Training is performance.  Although both disciplines are rooted in cognitive psychology, the primary intellectual roots of Technical Communication are in rhetoric and composition, while the primary intellectual roots are in education.  The preferred research methods of Technical Communication are critical; the preferred research methods of Trainers are empirical qualitative and quantitative methods.
Key Lessons: As a result, Technical Communication professionals and researchers who want to work in Training should approach the field in a culturally appropriate way by (1) recognizing distinctions between a communication product and a training program, (2) recognizing distinctions in work processes, (3) recognizing distinctions in language, (4) recognizing differences in values and (5) acknowledging that an academic discipline of training exists.  
To see the complete article, visit  (Note: Only free to members of the IEEE Professional Communication Society and to those entering through university libraries with a subscription to IEEExplore.)