IU IST R511 - Final Paper

Running Head: Instructional Technology (IT) Recommendations

 

 

 

 

 

Instructional Technology (IT) Recommendations

for Big Insurance Group

 

 

 

Jennifer Maddrell
Indiana University

R511: Instructional Technology Foundations

Final Paper

Professor Hubbard-Welsh

3 May 2006



To: Justin Time, Chief Underwriting Officer, Underwriting Office

 

From: Jennifer Maddrell, Chief Learning Officer, Learning Office

Date: May 3, 2006

 

Subject: Instructional Technology Use Recommendation for
Big Insurance Group (BIG)

This memo is a continuation of previous correspondence from the Learning Office addressing the need for employee performance improvement initiatives at Big Insurance Group (BIG). The following highlights the key findings of the Learning Office review committee and presents recommendations based on an Instructional Technology (IT) approach.

Review Committee Findings: BIG is rapidly growing around the world, yet lacks a comprehensive approach to employee training and performance improvement. Currently, BIG focuses training efforts on immediate worker skill gaps with most training prepared and facilitated by underwriting subject matter experts (SMEs) in face to face seminars. If a deficiency in skills is brought to the attention of the Underwriting Office managers, a seminar to address the specific skill gap is held, often with little input from the Learning Office. The Learning Office review committee has identified the following key problems with the current approach:

·

Fixing Problems versus Preventing Problems: While skill gap training is important, it is addressing issues too late and often after they have become business problems. In addition, other non-training interventions are not currently considered when examining employee performance problems.

·

Lack of integration between employee training and other business processes: Examination of employee performance is not currently not part of the business unit’s overall planning process. Training is currently viewed as a separate and distinct function from other business planning operations. As a result, the Underwriting Office and the Learning Office rarely know what the other is doing and they only interact to address specific employee skill gap issues identified by the Underwriting Office.

·

Training is not addressing the needs of a geographically dispersed employee base: With a rapidly expanding workforce, BIG has not been able to effectively and rapidly integrate new employees into the company. Further, while it has been BIG’s stated goal to expand operations, no comprehensive plan exists to address the employee performance of the growing workforce. In addition, alternatives to the current face to face in-person training format have not been examined.

Recommendations: Given the stated problems, it is the recommendation of the Learning Office to abandon the current ad hoc approach to employee training in favor of a comprehensive Instructional Technology (IT) approach to improve employee performance at BIG. As defined by the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), IT encompasses the “design, development, utilization, management and evaluation of the processes and resources for learning” (Seals & Richey, 1994).

Note that within this approach, both the required processes (soft technology) and resources (hard technologies) are considered (Molenda, 2001a). In the coming months, the Learning Office will be working closely with the Underwriting office to examine and implement both instructional and other employee performance process and resource recommendations, including the:

·

adoption of the Strategic Impact Model to guide the development of future instructional and non-instructional interventions,

·

review of desired job competencies for Learning Office training staff,

·

addition of Learning Office staff positions to meet these required competencies, and

·

integration of additional online learning tools and instructional methods to create a comprehensive blended (online and face to face) learning approach.

The following furthers these recommendations with an examination of:

·

Section I - The background of IT to put these recommendations within a historical context,

·

Section II - The requirements and implications of the Learning Office recommendations,

·

Section III - The process to evaluate the results of the recommendations

Section I - The Background of IT

It is important to note the interplay among (1) the ideas (theories), (2) the practice and (3) technical innovation within Instructional Technology. The three have not developed in a vacuum, but rather have affected and influenced each other over time. The major trends within IT and the ideas, practices and technical innovations that have influenced the field are examined below.

Major trends in IT: The recommendations for BIG are consistent with the trends and best practices in IT. As presented by Molenda (2001d), the major trends within the IT filed include:

·

Mass access to learning: As people have become more geographically dispersed with an ever growing diversity in learning needs, the IT field has responded by finding new ways to reach more learners. BIG faces a similar challenge with the growing workforce. Blended learning approaches will provide the required access to the expanding employee base.

·

Individualized content delivery: The IT field has moved away from a “one size fits all” approach to learning in favor of approaches that are tailored to the individual and the situation. This is consistent with the recommendation that BIG consider alternatives to the lecture based face-to-face seminar format currently utilized for all training.

·

Learner-controlled instruction: The IT field has recognized that learning is most effective when the learner is an active (versus passive) participant. As noted above, BIG must consider alternatives to passive lectures and find alternatives that engage learners as active participants.

·

Multi-sensory content presentation: The IT field realizes that by presenting content in multiple formats, the richness of the learner’s experience is increased. Integration of online learning tools will provide learners with multiple content delivery options that are more engaging than the traditional lecture based format.

 

Ideas: Ideas about instructional design and delivery are founded in both learning and instructional theory and research. As presented in Driscoll (2005), the following have each provided insight into theories of learning:

·

Behaviorists (B.F. Skinner, J.B. Watson): Learning is assessed in terms of what learners “do”. Through behavior modification, learners are conditioned to respond with the desired instructional outcome.

·

Cognitivists (L.S. Vygotsky, J.S. Bruner): The importance of the internal coding and structure of knowledge is stressed by Cognitivists with the primary concern being “what” learners know and “how” they came to know it (Silber, 1998).

·

Constructivists (D.J. Cunningham, D. Jonassen): The conditions and methods of learning are of importance to constructivists who feel learners must be presented with complex and relevant learning environments to allow for critical thinking and reflection.

 

While some consider these theories to be mutually exclusive, Ertmer and Newby (1993) propose that there is room for all three approaches within instruction. They propose that the chosen approach should be dictated by both the level of the learner’s knowledge and the level of cognitive processing required by the task with Behaviorism as the preferred choice at low ends of this scale, Constructivist approaches at the highest end and Cognitive approaches falling in the middle. Therefore, based on this scale, the recommended approach proposed by Ertmer and Newby depends on the following:

·

Behaviorist Approaches: Low processing for mastery of content (or knowing what)

·

Cognitivist Approaches: Increased processing for problem-solving tactics (or knowing how)

·

Constructivist Approaches: Highest processing for dealing with ill-defined situations (reflection in action)

Likely, the best known theory of instruction is presented by Gagne. Driscoll (2005) notes that the theory evolved over the years (from primarily Behaviorist to Cognitivist in nature) and incorporates the following three major components:

1.

A Taxonomy of Learning Outcomes: Gagne’s taxonomy includes: Verbal Information (declarative knowledge or factual knowledge – knowing that); Intellectual Skills (procedural knowledge – knowing how); Cognitive Strategies (how learners guide their own learning); Attitudes (influence choice of personal action); Motor Skills (execution of performance).

2.

Specific learning conditions that are required for the attainment of each learning outcome.

3.

Nine Events of Instruction: Gagne proposed that successful instruction must: Gain attention, inform learners of objectives, stimulate recall of prior learning, present the content, provide learning guidance, elicit performance, assess performance and enhance retention via practice.

Practice: As noted by Morrison, Kemp and Ross (2004), learning theories tend to be descriptive in nature (how people learn), whereas instructional theories are prescriptive (strategies for instruction). They propose that the two come together in practice within instructional systems design (ISD) models which apply instructional theories to ensure effective learning. Ideas about how to design effective instruction are presented in numerous instructional systems design (ISD) models that “convey key concepts and processes to be included in a particular approach (Molenda, Pershing, Reigeluth, 1996, p. 268).” While various ISD approaches exist, most agree that the fundamental systems ISD framework includes analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation of an instructional system, as does the Dick and Carrey model, one of the most well known ISD models (Molenda, 2001e).

In addition to instructional interventions addressed within ISD models, there has been increasing attention on other factors that affect employee performance. Rosenberg (1996) notes that there are three areas that influence performance improvement, including (1) the work, (2) the workplace and (3) the worker. Wile (1996) highlights and synthesizes the ideas of several people in the human performance technology (HPT) field, including Gilbert, Rosset, Harless, Spitzer, Mager, to identify a list of issues that can affect performance, including:

1.

organizational systems (policies, procedures, authority)

2.

incentives (financial, meaningful work)

3.

cognitive support (job aides, documentation)

4.

tools,

5.

physical environment,

6.

skills / knowledge (training), and

7.

management.

Molenda and Pershing (2004) propose a Strategic Impact Model, which is an approach that integrates ISD with non-instructional performance improvement to address all of the issues noted above. A key addition to the ISD model is the “cause analysis” to determine the cause of gaps in performance that can also lead to non-instructional solutions.

Support for the efficacy and use of ISD is strong, but it is not universal within the field. Gordon and Zemke (2000) launched an attack on ISD in Training magazine that triggered debate among top industry researchers, theorists and training practitioners. While critics are generally unanimous in their position that new alternatives are needed, the criticism and proposed solutions are wide ranging and are at times in conflict. For example, some feel the model is too prescriptive, while others decry it is too generic and simplistic to provide value in complex training situations (Zemke & Rossett, 2002). On the other side of the debate, supporters of the systems ISD process note that criticism of ISD is due to inappropriate application and use versus flaws in the underlying model. Zemke and Rossett (2002) refer to this problem as flaws in “The Practice”.

Technological Innovation: As noted, IT is also concerned with the resources (or hard technology) to support learning. While the personal computer is viewed as a revolutionary instructional media innovation, it is certainly not the first technology to be used in instruction. Reiser (2002) outlines instructional media developments beginning with school museums in the early 1900’s through the Internet in the present day, including (a) the visual instructional movement, (b) the audiovisual and radio instruction movements and (c) instructional television funding.

 

Adoption of instructional media innovations has typically been based on the desire to provide an efficient means to deliver increased access to instruction. Examples of this include the 1965 Elementary and Secondary School Act, as well as the formation of the Ford Foundation, that both provided funding for instructional television and video research and programming (Molenda, 2001f).

Section II - Requirements and Implications

The recommended IT approaches will allow BIG to improve employee performance. In order to implement these recommendations, changes to current design methods and employee training approaches will be required. Additional resources will be required to support these methods. Further, new staff job competencies must be considered which will likely require adding new job roles to the Learning Office team. These requirements and their implications for BIG are assessed below.

Design Methods: As noted, a new model must be implemented which will allow for the incorporation of both instructional and non-instructional interventions to improve employee performance. The Learning Office supports changes to current instructional design and performance improvement methods and recommends the Strategic Impact Model (discussed above) as the framework to establish those methods. The Strategic Impact Model is preferred as it:

·

is based on a time tested instructional systems design approach,

·

allows flexibility for new learning and instructional strategies, as well as integration of new technologies, and

·

provides a framework for both instructional and non-instructional employee performance interventions.

Employee Training Approaches: BIG is not alone in the heavy reliance on face to face, lecture based employee training. According to Training Magazine (as cited in Bichelmeyer and Molenda, 2006), face to face training is currently used in 85 percent of all companies. However, the authors note that while this percentage has been consistent in the past several years, the use of “hybrid” or “blended” (offline combined with online) instructional methods are on the rise. They note that there has been an increase in the use of Web-based or DVD-based instruction with two-way videoconferencing used “always” or “often” by 19 percent of companies. In addition, they note that Web-based self study was reportedly used by 44 percent of companies in 2003. The Learning Office recommends the adoption of similar blended learning methods within BIG in order to facilitate training to the geographically dispersed workforce.

Further, recommended instructional methods to replace the “all lecture” training format currently used will include demonstrations, discussion, drill and practice tutorials, cooperative learning opportunities, and simulation, as suggested by Heinich, Molenda, Russell and Smaldino (1999). The following instructional framework suggested by these authors will also be adopted:

·

Active participation: To engage learners

·

Practice: To improve retention

·

Individual difference: To allow progress at different rates

·

Feedback: To inform learners if they are on track

·

Realistic Context: To apply knowledge in real-world context

·

Social interaction: To provide support

Resources: As noted, BIG’s reliance on face to face instruction is not sustainable given the company’s rapid geographic expansion. Therefore, new media resources to support distance education and the recommended instructional approaches are required. It is recommended that various forms of media be considered for use, including computer and internet enabled conferences, Internet based chat rooms, bulletin boards and Learning Management Systems (Heinich, Molenda, Russell and Smaldino, 1999). However, as Bichelmeyer and Molenda (2006) note, while it is tempting for companies to adopt “e-learning” approaches, the high upfront investments in equipment, development time, talent and materials must be contemplated.

New Job Competencies: In order to implement a comprehensive IT approach, members of the Learning Office staff will be required to possess new job competencies. According to a recent study by Lim (as cited in Molenda, 2001b), the following are the top five job competencies required by the IT field:

1.

Instructional Design and Development

2.

Project Management

3.

Communication

4.

Media Application and Production

5.

Teaching and Delivery

New Roles / Team Organization: Unfortunately, current members of the Learning Office do not possess all of these skills. New role definitions and their associated responsibilities will need to be drafted in order to fulfill these requirements. Implementation will likely involve hiring new staff with competencies not currently found in BIG. Responsibility for the training will shift from SMEs to these experts.

An evaluation will be made of the current staff within the Learning Office to determine which new roles will be needed. As a guide during this evaluation, Morrison, Ross and Kemp (2004) highlight the key roles typically found within the instructional design process:

·

Instructional Designer: Coordinates the planning work and is competent in managing all aspects of the instructional design process.

·

Instructor: Implements the instructional plan.

·

Subject Matter Expert (SME): Provides information about content and resources relating to subject of instruction.

·

Evaluator: Determines the effectiveness and efficiency of the program.

Another common role is Multimedia Designer (Molenda, 2001b). This role will facilitate media application and production functions.

Section III - Evaluating Results

Molenda, Pershing and Reigeluth (1996) note that effective training must fulfill the following results: (1) integrate into the business operations of the organization, (2) be cost effective, and (3) provide valuable outputs. The authors note that a vital component of the IT process is the “evaluation” phase to assess achievement of these results. Evaluation will be an ongoing process to monitor results over different time periods, including during training, immediately after training and in the days and months after the employees are back on the job and will include:

·

Reaction – how participants react to the program

·

Learning – the extent knowledge, skill or attitude improved

·

Behavior – the extent behavior or skills are transferred to the work setting

·

Results – the business impact that occurred because of the participation

In Summary:

BIG has rapid growth plans and is in need of a comprehensive approach to employee training and performance improvement. The Learning Office’s evaluation of BIG notes the current approach is designed to fix versus prevent problems, lacks integration with other business processes and does not address the needs of the geographically dispersed employee base. It is the recommendation of the Learning Office to take a comprehensive Instructional Technology approach to improve employee performance at BIG. The Learning Office will be working closely with the Underwriting office to implement employee performance process and resource recommendations including the:

·

adoption of the Strategic Impact Model to guide the development of future instructional and non-instructional interventions,

·

review of desired job competencies for Learning Office training staff,

·

addition of Learning Office staff positions to meet these required competencies, and

·

integration of additional online learning tools and instructional methods to create a comprehensive blended (online and face to face) learning approach.



References

 

Bichelmeyer, B. & Molenda M. (in press). Issues and trends in instructional technology: Slow growth as economy recovers. To be published in Educational Media and Technology Yearbook 2005: Volume 30. Englewood, Co: Libraries Unlimited. Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week11.shtml

Dale, E. (1946). The Cone of Experience. Chapter 4 in Audio-Visual Methods in Teaching. New York: Dryden Press (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston). Retrieved April 3, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week13.shtml

Driscoll, M.P. (2005). Psychology of Learning for Instruction, 3rd ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

[Note: Driscoll book was required reading in P540 and is already a well worn book in my budding IST book collection]

Ertmer, P.A. & Newby, T.J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50-72. Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week9.shtml

Gordon, J. and Zemke, R. (2002). "The Attack on ISD," Training 37:4. April 2002. pp. 42-53. Retrieved March 27, 2006 from http://ereserves.iu.edu/coursepages.asp?cid=6

Heinich, R.; Molenda, M.; Russell, J. & Smaldino, S. (1999) Media and Instruction, Ch. 1 in Instructional Media and Technologies for Learning, 6th edition. Columbus: Merrill. Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week9.shtml

[Note: The Heinich, etal. article provides a wonderful overview of prescriptive approaches to instruction]

Molenda, M. (2001a). Introduction to Instructional Technology. [PowerPoint Presentation] Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week2.shtml

Molenda, M. (2001b). Job Types and Competencies for Instructional Technologists. [PowerPoint Presentation] Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week3.shtml

Molenda, M. (2001c). Theories of Learning & Instruction: Comparing Across Perspectives. [PowerPoint Presentation] Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week9.shtml

Molenda, M. (2001d). Contemporary Issues in Instructional Technology. [PowerPoint Presentation] Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week11.shtml

Molenda, M. (2001e). Evolution of ISD Process Models. [PowerPoint Presentation] Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week4.shtml

Molenda, M. (2001f) Modern History of Instructional Systems Technology: Post WWII 1979 - 1946 [PowerPoint Presentation] Retrieved April 3, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week13.shtml

Molenda, M. and Pershing, J.A. (2004). The Strategic Impact Model: An integrative approach to performance improvement and instructional systems design. TechTrends 48:2 (March-April), pp. 26-32. Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week5.shtml

Molenda, Pershing, & Reigeluth (1996). Designing instructional systems. In Craig (ed.) The ASTD Training and Development Handbook. NY: McGraw-Hill - (pages 266-280 only). Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week4.shtml

Morrison, Kemp, & Ross (2004) Designing Effective Instruction, 4th ed., Chapter 1, Introduction to the instructional design process. Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week4.shtml

[Note: This chapter presents an excellent overview that traces the history and elements of IDS models]

Reiser, R.A. (2002). A history of instructional design and technology. Chapter 3 in Reiser, R.A. and Dempsey, J.V. (ed's) Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall, pp. 26-53. Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week13.shtml

Rosenberg, M. (1996) Human performance technology. In Craig, R.L. (Ed.) The ASTD Training and Development Handbook 4th ed. New York: McGraw Hill. Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week5.shtml

Seels, B.B. & Richey, R.C. (1994). The 1994 definition of the field. In Instructional Technology: The Definition and Domains of the Field (pp. 1-22). Washington, D.C.: Association for Educational Communications and Technology. Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week2.shtml

Silber, K. (1998). Cognitive approach to training development: A practitioner's assessment. ETR&D 46:4, pp. 58-72. Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week8.shtml

Wile, D. (1996). Why doers do. Performance & Instruction, 35:1, 30-35. Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week5.shtml

Zemke, R. and Rossett, A. (2002). A hard look at ISD. Training, February, 27-35. Retrieved April 25, 2006, from Indiana University R511 online Syllabus http://www.indiana.edu/~istr511/hubbard-welsh/week12.shtml