I was part of a discussion not too long ago where a group was trying to decide what would be the next course to develop in a curriculum series. It was a great conversation with equal representation from the learning world and the subject matter experts who were going to be directly impacted by this training program. Both sides were very passionate about the issues as they saw them. We were limited on time and certainly weren’t lacking ideas or problems to resolve; what we were lacking was a way to get at all the information we needed in a very short time (2 hours) and a common ground to work from that wasn’t too learning-centric.
Here’s what we did, in order to put some boundaries around the conversation and to make the best use of everyone’s time we flipcharted a t-account and labeled one side Current State and the other side Future State. (We had done a similar thing in an activity in a leadership class we designed) The goal was to take all of the conversation points and move them into one category or the other. We started rewriting the notes and comments into this format and soon realized that the Current State side was overloaded. In hindsight, I think this what typically happens. We begin the Front-end Analysis focusing on why a client needs a learning solution or needs to make an existing one better. What really made the lightbulbs go off for the group after they saw the heavily burdened Current State side was that we were all in that room to find a solution, which meant equal time needed to be spent focusing on Future State needs and desires. Once we had the visual ”t-account” in place I noticed that the rest of the Current State issues that were discussed were followed by a Future State statement. We had a process in place, we all saw structure and value, and we also all saw a clear path for next steps.
So to bring this around to Instructional Design-speak, we identified the current state, started the process of defining the future state and then were able to see the ”gap”. The gap is where the learning needs to be focused. This is the place where we focus on building the skills and abilities that are going to get us from here to there. Can this kind of informal gap analysis be done in every learning solution design process? Is it always necessary? I might argue “yes” to both questions based on the outcomes we experienced in this particular situation.
About 20 years ago I started designing and developing computer-based training (CBT) using Authorware. At that time I knew nothing about a process for this type of effort. My experience was primarily in print...