Friday, February 06, 2009

Curriculum Taxonomy, Framework and Design

I have been working quite intently in the area of curriculum taxonomy, tramework and design. Below is a narrative to go with the embedded presentation or you can view the notes at the following link;

Slide 1:
This short presentation is a compilation of a much broader topic. However I thought I would share these simple concepts as I could find very little public information on the internet that spoke to the exact topic of curriculum mapping & learning taxonomy.

This topic resonates most with those who are designing courseware and learning paths in modern LMS systems.

While curriculum is an old term associated with academics, modern corporate LMS system have co-opted the definition. Given the sophisticaiton of LMS systems in 2009 it is possible to develop curriculum that is linked to competency, role, and courseware.

The past 2 years have seen an uptick in 'curriculum design' that mirrors the maturity of LMS systems.

Sound curriculum design is quickly becoming a role of instructional designers, content administrators, trainers and program managers.
Slide 2
This taxonomy is based on the work of Benjamin Blooms Cognitive domain and on the work of David Merrill.

Is this a defacto competency model? No, this is a model that fits the individual organization that I am working with.

This particular model assumes that the participant enters the curriculum with a core competency (base Knowledge & Skills) as defined by the participants role.

If the participants role is sales. Then we assume they have a base level knowledge or sales knowledge (presentation skills, negotiations ....).

If the participants role is programming they have a base level knowledge in that subject.

This type of taxonomy is focused on adult learners and may not work for adolescents.

The diagram is meant to serve as an onion view of the curriculum that allows the designer a map to developing new curricula or a method of developing gaps in content/courseware that already exists.
Slide 3
This is a sample mapping of the curriculum taxonomy to a framework of courseware.

I have removed the names of the offerings to protect my customers.

As a curriculum designer you must be willing to transcend your connection with the courses/offerings.

For an existing set of courseware you will need to ask how it fits with the afore taxonomy. One course may cover all levels or may cover just one or 2.

This map will allow you to see what is available and what is missing.

You may be able to design a curriculum that covers multiple roles in this manner.

This exercise should help you to classify your courses for creating a roster for entering into an LMS.

For example:
Series 100 XXX Fundamentals
Series 200 XXXX Practice
Series 300 XXXX Mastery class

Again, this is just an example you might have more or less levels. I would prompt you however to keep it as simple as possible for both you and the leaner.
Slide 4
Finally I wanted to make a few notes on curriculum frameworks. This work is in line with Josh Bersons.

The point with curriculum frameworks is flexibility.

Program Flow
Some curriculums will be linear like a new hire program start date and end date. Very specific goal at the end of the program. Not saying a new hire can't live on through mentoring but most new hire programs have a target and if the target is not reached the employee is terminated or sent back through the program.

Core & Spoke
Most curriculum(s) are developed in this fashion in that they borrow from other courses and other curriculums outside the core dependant on the needs of the learner or the needs of the program owner. Given the capability of the LMS and the needs of any individual it would be great if most curricula were designed this way!
Slide 5
That is all for now.

I want to make the point that you need to use this information to create your own methods, taxonomies and frameworks.

Feel free to share your thoughts.

Simon Puleo

Monday, December 08, 2008

Storyboard for Elearning ( Self Paced , WBT , CBT )

This post is in direct response to you. I have noticed that many learning designers are looking for a storyboard template for wbt, elearning or other self paced training. To be honest I have used quite a variety in the last 15 years. Everything from word table, xcel sheets, online systems to .ppt.

Regardless of the format the same basic fields find there way into all storyboards I have used:

Visual: What visual, text and/or interaction should appear. Describe how it should look and how the participants interact with it. What should a programmer or graphic designer know about a graphic

Narration: What should the narrator read or if it is a dialogue what should they say. If there is a running animation what should change when?

Comments: A place for reviewers to leave anotation about the proposed text and graphics.

For a branching simulation there may be direction as where to go next in the document.

I prompt you to use the simplest and most comfortable way of generating a storyboard as possible. Below are a few ideas:
  • Use a simple word template such as the following: I put this template together for you to edit and customize as you need to.
  • Use powerpoint or even less expensive Google Documents Put the visual in the slide and the narration in the notes.
  • Some tools like Nexlearn Simwriter or Toolbook help generate a script for you.

Regardless the tool, I put an emphasis on simple for you to write and simple for those who need to review.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Interviewing Subject Matter Experts

Have not posted in a long while, none the less, here is something new. Thought I would share parts of an interview guide for sales. The point is to develop case studies, success stories or simulations so that participants can learn from others in a structured yet contextual format. Below is what you might share with others who will be conducting the interview.

Best to you in all your endeavors!



Find a comfortable place to meet with your SME, where you and your SME are both comfortable. Even if it is on stage having a comfortable chair or even a glass or bottle of water goes a long way. If it is over the phone try to book with your SME between 9 and 11 AM for their timezone. I tend to be most awake and sharpest during these 2 hours, I think others will concur.

1. Get your SME excited about the story!

2. Let your SME tell the story by prompting with open ended questions.

3. Think about points your audience should remember that they can reuse.

4. If this is for educational pursposes have your list of objectives by your side that you can mark off objectives as the SME discusses them. Or prompt the SME to address specific items.

Great success stories tell the story of the sale mapped to the sales process. Start at the beginning of the sale run through the win. The tricky part is leaving enough ancillary and contextual data in the story to make it memorable and reusable by the listener.

Encourage the narrator to use customer quotes or talk specifically about what happened at key moments a few examples:

Tell me about what happened when you were actually proposing the solution.
"I was up at the whiteboard and I knew it finally clicked for the customer when they said:XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX".

What compelling event happened that changed the flow of the deal?

'I picked up the phone and surprising the CIO was there and he wanted to drill down into the actual dashboard. Although he understood the business case it turns out he was a former QA Director and wanted to get a feel for how the applications worked.'

If possible review the questions below with the sales rep before the interview. Ask them to choose a few questions from each section which questions resonate most with them. Then get them to be more specific.

Understand the Customer

Where did this customer originate?

Was this customer already in your pipeline?

Were you referred or brought into a larger deal?

Validate the Opportunity

What aspects of this customer met the target profile?

Was it evident that they met the target profile or did you need to dig deeper?

If so what resources did you use to validate the customer?

What preliminary compelling data led you to believe that this customer was worth pursuing further?

What type of open ended questions did you ask the customer?

What were the SLAs in the various IT groups, where were these not met?

Qualify the Opportunity

Who did you partner with internally at HP and at the customer to qualify the opportunity?

Were there objections at this phase? How did you overcome so you could properly scope the deal?

Tell me about the roles of the ambassadors of change or champion(s) at the customer?

Tell me about any skepticism you may have met by champions how did you over come it?

What pain points were uncovered? Anything that surprised either you or the customer?

Did you uncover any upsell or cross-sell opportunities?

Referencing the maturity model, where was your customer and why do you think they fit that level?

Tell me how long it took to validate the scope?

Develop and Proposal

Who was the completion?
-- What tactics were they using?
-- How did you combat this while building your proposal or presentation?

Internally at the customer who helped to champion your proposal?
What was in it for them?

What is the story of XXXXX solution at this customer?

Of the pain points you identified earlier where did you customer see the value of this solution?

What resources did you use to develop your proposal?

Which resources were most valuable?

Were there any tough negotiation points? How did you navigate negotiation?

What compelling event happened that made the customer agree to the proposal?

When you were up at the whiteboard what happened? How did you show the value of the solution?

Won and Expand

What's next for the customer ?

What's next for you?

Motivational Questions:

Why was this deal compelling?

What happened that surprised you?

Why did the customer trust your firm?

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Curriculum Development and Informal Learning

So here is the West Coast trend; Informal Learning and Web 2.0 will foster the next wave of elearning. Informal and Learning 2.0 are the innovations we have all been waiting for. This is the Montessori school approach that parents are rushing towards, however when it comes to corporate learning the Formal Curriculum Rules the roost. The rough part is, is that the same parents who are sending their children to a Montessori education are the same ones that want a Formal Curriculum for employees. Try to explain Informal Learning or Web 2.0 to someone trying so hard to get to Level 3 or 4 on the Kirkpatrick model. Corporations want solid ROI measurable SMART objectives not social networking.

So here is the challenge while I agree with the likes of Jay Cross and Tony Carr that there is a revolution of sorts taking place in this space, I challenge the thought leaders to provide some of the keys to program development that leverages these technologies in a tangible way.

I recently took up the challenge myself a bit in the creation of a presentation on learning communities and informal learning. See my presentation on slideshare:

Innovative Practices in Learning Design

I believe informal and 2.0 are the next innovations it may take another few years for them to hit main street learning and make an ROI splash.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Analogies make it interesting and engaging for us all.

Best analogies of 2007 so far:

"Let's do a Deep Dive on the content." -- author unknown

"The ARG starts with a Rabbit-Hole, the engagement that starts the learning." -- Rowan J0b- Julien

"Informal learning is like a Japanese Garden, to the casual observer it seems to be a natural phenomenon, to the gardener it is meticulously planned." -- Heidi Fisk

"The difference between a Spelling Bee and Scrabble is that one is about rules and recitation and the other is about learning and engagement with a group" -- Henry Jenkins

"Develop a Learnscape or Learning Ecosystem." -- Jay Cross

"Don't tell the offshore elearning vendor to "Keep their eye on the ball" because they will do exactly that." -- Doug Stephens

Will keep you posted.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Narrative Building Blocks

Below are basic building blocks of the narrative. For most simulations the first 2 or sometimes 3 are applied.

1. Apply Rules

2. Apply Proccess

3. React to Environment

4. React to Society

5. React to Emotional

6. Apply Intuition

Simulations with the greatest impact will apply 3,4,5,6 in some form to the narrative.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Elearning Guild - Narratives for Branching Simulations Files

Below are links to my presentation and the "Shoes That Fit" simulation. Thank you all for attending my session. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


Developing Narratives for Branching Simulations

The Shoes That Fit -- tutorial simulation

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

be the ball

The creation of an engaging learning simulation not only takes the standard instructional design tools (Blooms taxonomy, ADDIE, Scaffolding...) but takes a good dose of creativity and understanding of the situation you are trying to simulate. In this article I will elaborate on methods of gathering content to create learning simulations.

The "be the ball" approach became clear to me last night after a discussion with Dave Guralnick who has created learning by doing methods and hundreds of hours of simulations. Dave and I got into a discussion about how to understand the SME(Subject Matter Expert) and scenario, which led me to the following conclusion. There are 3 common ways an ILSD (Immersive Learning Simulations Designer) can use to understand a situation and build appropriate case studies and stories:
  1. Survey your SMEs asking open-ended questions about the situation (describe the situation, describe common misconceptions...), send out as many surveys as possible, cross your fingers that you get useable results.
  2. Interview SMEs over the phone or in person. This requires expert facilitation. In my experience SMEs are so close to the job that they do not always see the misconceptions. Facilitation of these meetings requires a certain indescribable finesse to coax SMEs into telling the really ugly situations that make for great case studies.
  3. Be the ball. In other words take on the role of the SME, shadow a SME, or simply hide out and watch as the SME actually performs in the role. Dave Guralnick mentioned to me that for more then one of his client he as actually played the role as kind of training double agent. Dave not only went behind the counter at a fast food restaurant, he went through the training program was assigned to a store and did the work, all the while taking notes on his experience and building his case studies and scenarios. For another retail client he donned stock-room garb and hung out near customer service to listen in on actual client complaints. From his experience "being the the ball", he created programs that are ingrained in clients memory as unforgettable experiences. On reflecting on my own experience shadowing branch team members, I believe this to be one of the most valid methods of gathering SME content and understanding the learner situation. It is when the ILSD is immersed in the situation can the subtleties, misconceptions, and motivations of the role emerge.

In the best of practice with no constraints an ILSD would use all three methods of content gathering. Given the reality of modern work life you need to use the methods that work best for you and your client. But, I would encourage fellow simulation designers to push the limits with client's and get in the zen state of "be the ball".

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mind Map For Branching Simulations

This Simulation Mind Map that illustrates the thought behind the design and development of a branching simulation. The map has 3 major off-shoots:

  1. Learning Design - How the simulation fits into a learning plan that meets the needs of a learner.
  2. Simulation Design - The over-arching design of the simulation including interface and methodologies
  3. Scenario Design - The transformation of a scenario or case into a branching scenario. This includes both the story layout and the design tools (not software) one could use to create a branching scenario.

Every part is inter-related. For example "performance indicators" is an element really shared by all three off-shoots. I would like to validate this map with a few peers as I will be presenting it at the elearning Guild Conference in April of 2007.

I used FreeMind to create the map. While it is a good tool and I found the flash output really neat, I may switch to another that has more features like spell-check.

Please submit any comments.


Friday, January 05, 2007

Storyboard Templates

I am working on some new storyboard templates for tutorials and simulations. Storyboards are sometimes a point of debate among IDs. Whether it is online storyboarding tools (which I have used), word, excel or ppt. Even the best most thought out systems seem to have a few flaws such as how to track changes, how to make annotations, and how to help SME's write for a self-directed format.

As I progress I feel that the simpler the method the better, even if it requires copying and pasting text at some point in the production. It is a small price to pay for accurately developed content. Below are a few examples. Mine are to follow shortly.

Bill Horton

Clark Quinn

Friday, December 15, 2006

Guide to E-learning

I have been reading Dr. Allens books

Michael Allen's Guide to E-learning


Creating Successful E-learning

and have some commentary for my readers:

-- Successive Approximation/Iterative Design - I completely agree that when it comes to development of elearning this is a great approach and has huge advantages over the waterfall type method the ADDIE is built for. However, I feel that in our culture clients are confused by more then 1 or 2 iterations of the same as well as the scope creep that this method implies.

-- Savvy Start - Again, I completely agree that this method of design is proffered to get it right, right from the start. The caveat here is that it does not really work well in our fast paced culture. Most of my clients would not take 3 days away from their initiatives to work on scoping for training. As well as foot the bill to meet with consultants on expensive analysis and prototyping. Don't get me wrong I think that this is a great idea and Dr. Allen has obviously had success, but he needs to work on a Savvy start that fits with the current culture of distributed teamwork and the online tools that teams use to make progress.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Simplifying the Writing of Narrative Simulations





This is what an interactive conversation is about at it's essence.

How to map instruction design tools like Scalfolding to a narrative is the elusive challenge to the instructional designer. Blinded by years of creating "Objective Based" didactic online tutorials it can be challenging to see beyond drag and drop.

Clark Quinn has definately given a starting point and maps based on solid theory, however let's go the next step. I propose a collection of text objects that a designer can use to quickly and effectively create a branching narrative and a method that allows them to visuallize a Scalfolding approach.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Simulation Authoring and Design

Over the past week it has come to my attention that very little material that suggest how to author or write a simulation for training.

Essentially a social simulation is an interactive story. Facade was authored with the concepts of AI and "beat points". The questions to me are what and how do we learn from Facade?

- Analysis - Through listening to the dialogue analyze the situation.

- Perecption - Use visual perecption to discover meaningful of objects in the room.

- Response to Phenomena - Repond to conversation.

- Internalizing/Understanding Values - Understand the motives of Trip and Grace.

- Adaptation - Adapt the play of the game to negotiate a successful ending.

I have also been thinking about George Polti's 36 dramatic situations and how if at all this may apply to training and learning. How does this correlate with Blooms Taxonomy? What if Bloom and Polti were to have a discussion -- now there is a sim for you.

Where I am driving is that the taxonomy of learning behaviors can create dramatic situations that are appropriate for training learning simulations.

Stay tuned for examples...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Selecting Simulation Authoring Tools and Environments

Thank you to everyone for attending my seminar at DevLearn 2006 "Selecting Simulation Authoring Tools and Environments " . Below are the links to the materials presented at my presentation. I am not able to share the Fire Safety or Operations links please email me if you are interested.

It was a great conference the contrast of Ze's show and musing to Dr. Kirkpatrick's overhead projector and grounding, was what I appreciated most.

I also enjoyed meeting Brent Schlenker and attending his various seminars particulary the one on MMO. The best moment for me was when one of the attendees was absolutely floored by secondlife, she said that she did not know whether she was dreaming or not. I have never seen anyone have a reaction like that by Lectora or any of the other boring elearning that is out there.

Experiential Learning is my theme and the means to develop programs where the learner is involved and engaged.

Presentation Materials

Presentation Description mp3

Powerpoint Presentation

Simulation Authoring Tool Matrix

Outlook Example

Peoplesoft Example

Troy Boas Sample

Branching View Example

Advanced Interaction

Codebaby demo

Apple GCRM

Fountain Tire

Fillep Tech CRM

Designing effective nonverbal communication for pedagogical agents.
See research by Amy Baylor

Simwriter Demo

Principled Assessment Design for Inquiry
See research by Robert J. Mislevy.

Evidence Based Selling

Second Life
Building Characters/Flying/Role Playing

Check-out someone’s land in Second Life

Stagecoach island – Wells Fargo

Law in the Court of Public Opinion – Harvard Law