Friday, March 05, 2010

Instructional Design as a practice in corporate vs. academia

Episode #8 of Instructional Design Live on EdTechTalk.

A conversation with Professor Karl Kapp on instructional design – with a focus on the differences in ID as a practice in the academic and corporate worlds. 

(Apparently, it’s Karl Kapp month here on Learning Visions!  See my interview with him last week on his new book.)

These are my live blogged notes – apologize if they’re a bit all over the map.  You can listen to the session recording here.


Bloomsburg University has a corporate track and an education track for ID.  Different focus in each track.

Corporate – often has requirement of rigorous tracking and requirements

Academia – professor comes knowing what to do. More project based, more team based.

In academia you often know a lot about your audience – ‘they are sophomores at our University’.  Corporate often needs more of that analysis.

People skills are important in both.  Faculty members (academia) are vested in the teaching.

Faculty members don’t often have education in how to teach.  And they often just know one way of teaching – in front of a classroom.  Big paradigm shift for them.

For example -- MIT has put all of content online – which is great.  But still don’t have the added touch of the faculty member.

On corporate side – the SME doesn’t end up being part of the deliverable.  They have content expertise, but usually don’t help deliver the content.

Instructional Differences in corporate vs. academic?

The purpose is often different.  Corporate situation (learning vs. training) vs. academic:

Good faculty members in academic are trying to make learners think differently about subject.  Get people to engage in critical thinking.

In corporate setting – very specific, finite need.  “Get sales reps to sell more)

In educational side – creating aha moments, metacognition moments.

In corporate – addressing specific problems, specific measureable outcomes.  (Ethics training, leadership are different).  But performance is more of the focus.

Similarities in corporate vs. academic:

  • Both need goals, objectives
  • instructional strategies
  • instructional sequence

Corporate -- ‘5 things you need to know about this policy”

Assessment – how are they different in corporate vs. academic?

Ideally in corporate world – does training influence behavior that impacts outcomes? If you’re going to teach me new product functions, you’d ideally be able to tie that to increased sales of that product.  Tie learning objectives to operational/strategic objectives of org.

In academic side, outcomes aren’t usually that clear.  Knowledge acquisition.  Problem solving.  Different things you’re assessing.

In corporate environment – following the ADDIE model is a good way to ensure quality.  A quality process creates a quality product.  ADDIE is a process.

Instructional strategies make learning happen – mnemonics, examples/non-examples, four step method (model, observe, etc.)

When you design instruction on either side – using a process makes sense – but thinking beyond to strategies.  A really good instructor, naturally applies instructional strategies.  IDs need to add those instructional strategies.

On academic side can usually pull what the good professor is using; on the corporate side, we need to add those strategies (might be able to pull those from a good trainer).  On corporate side the ID needs to come up with those strategies because they’re not given to you.

How does a corporate organization assess whether their products are actually achieving what the intent is…that they met the need? 

Need to find out if the instruction is changing behavior.  How do we assess that?  Go back to academia/social sciences --- and build a quasi-scientific study.  You need to do a before and after measure.  What is behavior before and what is behavior after?  Often times we do change of knowledge (pre- and post- test).  But we all have knowledge we should act on.  Need to really measure change in behavior. (This often gets cut though – too expensive, too much time…)

To assess effectiveness of learning:

Tie outcome of training to performance – e.g., if goal is to reduce time of call – can measure that.

In corporate, need to think of training as part of a process and not a one time event.  In academia, you have a whole semester.  Use distributed practice.

It’s easy to do in corporate for the easy stuff – e.g., sales where they already measure everything.  How do you measure leadership behavior?  or safety/compliance.

Corporate has much more focus on self-paced elearning.

Academia can experiment a lot more with different technologies to see if successful. Corporate can’t do that quite as much…As kelly smith said “Higher ed is the test rat for corporate.”

What do you think?  What do you think are the differences in ID between corporate and academic?


For more on Karl:


The audio recording for this session will be available at Instruction Design Commons.

About Instructional Design Live:

A weekly online talk show, Instructional Design Live is based around Instructional Design related topics and is opportunity for Instructional Designers and professionals engaged in similar work to discuss effective online teaching and learning practices.


Josh said...

Really like your post. Working primarily in the corporate environment I have noticed another big difference. Collaboration! The academics tend to have a far more collaborative approach to elearning, where in the corporate environments it is far more individual driven. I think this is largely due to what you talked about in the article, the amount of time the learning has with the material. In academia, there is an entire semester; in the corporate world you maybe have a coffee break. I have noticed a trend with corporate users trying to build in collaborative best practice applications in their training, this is something we have been trying to build upon.

Marie Orejuela Perales said...

Hi Cammy, I also enjoyed your post and just as Josh I have worked mainly in the corporate environment, specifically with an independent sales organization. Another difference could be motivation; in academia it could be a pass grade and in sales it could be something tangible or intangible. In direct selling reinforcing the right behavior by giving a reward is a motivational tool used constantly. This standard practice in our industry could include verbal and written praises at no cost or at low cost; to crystal vases, all the way to expensive all expenses paid trips to cars and jewelry. And as you mentioned in the article, it needs to be measured and quasi-experiments work very well to measure before and after, or to compare a region where we launched a specific training with one that we did not.
Thank you,

Shaun Express said...

Hi.. I'm a lecturer and I found this article very useful to understand the difference in both academia and in corporate... regarding the use of ID in learning and implementing... I have been shortlisted by US company for a content writer position and your articles has helped to have a glimpse of what ID is in corporate world.
thank you