These are question and answer prompts from for work towards my PhD at Old Dominion University. The text is Web-Based Learning: Design, Implementation and Evaluation by Gayle V. Davidson-Shivers  (Author), Karen L. Rasmussen (Author),  Patrick R. Lowenthal  (Author)

Question 1: In your opinion, what are the most important things to consider when you conduct your learner analysis and context analysis given the environment that you are in, and why?

For me it’s about having it relate to their actual lives. For instance, in high school I struggled to find any reason to care about calculus, I went through AP Calculus and beyond simply because I knew I “should” know it, but without any context as to why it might be important I had no real reason to leverage that learned knowledge, and thus I stopped taking Calculus and the later as soon as I possibly could have. A few years later I was getting my Airframe and Powerplant mechanic certificate through a program offered at the local community college in San Diego. One of the classes I had to take was on Alternating Current (AC) electrical systems and we frequently had to use an ohmmeter or an oscilloscope. It dawned on me almost immediately that this was what calculus actually wound up helping with, understanding frequencies and amplitudes. The later on in my MBA while taking some market analysis courses, what do you know, calculus was back. I found myself wishing in high school we had taken time to know what calculus could be used for in a practical sense rather than just emphasizing the importance in knowing the foundational knowledge.

By focusing on the learner and the context through the eyes of practicality and transfer into the real world (a la Gagne’s Nine events) I think it really opens the possibilities up for rich, thoughtful, and useful content.

Question 2: Extending your skills (pg. 111) Review a case study of your choice and discuss your thoughts about how goals, learner, and context analysis were (or should be) conducted in that particular case.

In Case Study 2, we find designer Homer Spotswood being tasked with accomplishing the development of some plant safety training. From the description in the case study I think Homer is on the right track and is asking the right questions. Some of the materials he is collecting include past safety records, state and federal regulations, and the current training outlines and materials. I think these are a great start; he’s essentially first identifying if there is a problem (safety records). He’s then determining if there is a minimum standard to achieve from a regulatory perspective, essentially mitigating legal risks down the road should an accident occur. Then he’s looking at the current developed materials, I would assume in an attempt to see the opportunities for both improvement and the reuse of potentially good instructional materials. He’s also looking into the departments themselves and the technological tools available to those departments. Here the inquiry into the departments will most likely wind up looking quite like a learner analysis, because the expertise in different department could indicate drastically different learner types, or regular access to computers. The internal training programs department at my company actually went through some of this a while ago. They were wondering why more people weren’t complying with mandatory teammate training, they’d sent repeated emails and included links to the intranet. This wasn’t an issue for the office workers and training support staff, but the instructors rarely sat at an actual terminal and almost exclusively worked off of their iPads. The LMS link would not function in the iPad environment and thus instructors (our largest employee demographic) could not access the teammate training without doing something that was unusual for their normal job activities. By rectifying the capability of the iPad link they had far superior results.

Back to the case study, once Homer collects all of the data, he asks the CEO some targeted questions. These questions seem to be split in two categories; operational, as in what is my current technological and human resource levels? And strategic, as in business minded prioritization based off of costs and required outcomes.

The preliminary goal that Homer comes up with is a solid performance based goal, which I assume meets the requirements which were identified both in the initial analysis and questioning as outlined above. Nice work Homer.

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