- brain surgery
- interior design
I like the analogy Michele Martin uses: instructional design as cooking.
Most of us can cook a little something. Perhaps you're best at opening a box of frozen fish sticks and laying them on the cookie sheet and dumping a bag of frozen peas in a pot. In recent years, I've resorted to this meal quite often. Hey, I've got small kids and I know my audience. Which is critical in both cooking and instructional design.
Not all meals are created equal. Just like training experiences. Some might require that you simply follow the recipe; others may demand a five star experience:
Just Follow the Recipe
A lot of people out there can create a great meal by following a recipe to a T.
Of course, you need the right tools -- accurate measuring spoons and cups, and the right ingredients.
Muffins, spaghetti sauce, cookies, yum. There are still those who follow the recipe and end up with burnt yuck.
The Dump and Pray Method
My Granny followed the dump and pray method of cooking.
Admittedly, I never had the pleasure or displeasure of sampling her menus, so I can't say if this method worked for her, but I've found it works for me in the kitchen.
Granted, I've read a lot of cookbooks. I watch an occasional cooking show, but not as a rule. (I don't have cable, so I don't know from Rachel Ray). And I've cooked a lot. Generally, I know what works. I know how to carmelize a mean onion and have a good sense of my herb cabinet.
I've taken many a cookbook recipe and improvised, creating something new and innovative. I can step out of the box.
Many self taught cooks achieve culinary perfection through this type of of experimention. Can you replicate the meal the next time? Maybe yes. But maybe it's slightly different the next time 'cuz you've used more garlic.
The dump and pray method works best when you understand your audience. Do you know who's going to be eating this particular meal? And it works best when you know your tools and your ingredients.
Creating a Five Star Meal
I don't know much about the starring system for restaurants, but my limited understanding knows that it has to do with the complete experience. The right napkins and place settings must be used or you lose a star.
I was once making an omelete with a professional chef who showed me how to make the red pepper we were cutting up five star: each piece had to be the exact same size, all the white trimmed off, all the edges perfectly square.
I rarely see the worth in that. But then, I tend to prefer thick chunky, even in an omelete.
But there may be times when a five star meal is exactly what's required. In which case you need a five star chef who probably went to a high-end Culinary Institute of Learning and has the knife sharpening skills to prove it.
Instructional Designers as Chefs
Different eating experiences require different expertise. And I would argue that different training experiences also require different expertise. Back to Instructional Design as a Spectrum.
Sometimes we may just dump and pray -- and if you're good, you come up with something great. Sometimes you just follow the recipe -- perhaps using a rapid eLearning Template tool and a solid ISD model. Sometimes you need a five star chef.
If you've seen the recent animated feature, Ratotouille (I watched it twice while home sick a few weeks ago) then you know that "Anyone can cook." Even a rat.
Now I'm not saying that SMEs are rats, or instructional designers are rats....
So what are you cooking up these days?
The Last Happy Chef by Mykl Roventine
Open Onion by Darwin Bell
Mouse Spaghetti Tastes Better When Cooked by Jannes Pockele