Monday, October 6, 2014

ID Standards: Aligns Solution

Standards are different from theories or models.  Standards speak to the ways that competent professionals judge their own work and that of their peers.  Yes, the interwoven nature of standards, theories, and models gets tangled and convoluted. We are discussing here the internal standards that competent IDs use. That those standards emerged from theory and development models is true, but they are different from both theories and models.  For IDs, these standards are also international in nature, being used by learning experts around the world.  Think of these standards as lens describing the effectiveness and quality of the learning solution.  Each ID applies many lens to their work as he or she moves through the cycle that is learning solution development.

Standards are the measures that IDs use when determining whether they will sign-off on a learning solution, or not – whether their name goes on the final product.

The competent instructional designer/developer (ID) aligns the solution:

Alignment has become a buzzword. Amazingly, it looks different from different angles.  However,
different perspectives really does mean that alignment is a key function of learning solution
development.  It’s is a real function of the work.

In fact, this the standard was rated as very highly important in a survey of learning practitioners,
where it received an average of 3.9 out of 4.0 points. 

Obviously, one of the challenges in creating learning solutions is aligning them to the needs of the organization and the learner.  This external alignment ensures that the learning solution is really needed and will be used.  However, alignment does not end there.

IDs building learning solutions check, double-check, and triple-check that the parts of each learning
solution work together.  They check that learning objectives actually guide the learning – that they
are do-able and actionable. They ensure that those objectives really are the work outcomes needed on the job.  They check that learning in one solution connects appropriately learning in another solution.  If all the elements are not aligned, they modify the solution to create better alignment. 

Case Study:

An executive working with an external ID took exception to the word “align”
in a learning outcome.  She said that the word made her think of a pilot lining
airplane up for landing or bringing a ship into dock – that it was a purely
physical act, like hammering nails, and not at all intellectual. She changed the
outcome to “understands”. 
Some executive decisions are the other kind of alignment – aligning the
learning with the needs of the organization.  In this case, the alignment
adjustment needed to be using a verb from Bloom’s Taxonomy because higher education is stuck with that paradigm and judged on their use of a limited list of verbs.    No matter how much this expert ID distrusts objectives using the verb “understand”, the objective needed to fit the organization’s accreditation
requirements even more than her personal standard for objectives, and this organization was
comfortable with the use of understand as a knowledge-testing function rather than a performance-
assessment function.

From the beginning to the end of a learning solution development project, IDs drive for better
alignment whether that is alignment of activities and assessments to objectives (internal alignment
within the course) or alignment of the learning solution to the organization’s needs (external to the
course) or alignment between courses (curriculum alignment).  One and feel that that the prize has
been won, when the learner experiences internal alignment that blows them away.  

Definition of a Standard

Consider the definition and performances listed for The Institute for Performance Improvement (TIfPI’s) Aligns Solution

Definition:  To create or change relationships among parts of the solution (internal to the solution) or between the solution and its parent organization or sponsors (external to the solution).

Performances that demonstrate this domain for a Solution Development Badge:
·         Maps the instructional elements to defined project and audience requirements.
·         Sequences learning elements and content appropriately for defined learners.
·         Modifies planned instructional elements in order to make those elements more effective.
·         Selects appropriate content for the solution.
·         Maps content to appropriate instructional elements. 
Note that any one solution may not require the use of all 5 performances listed.  Individuals applying for learning solution badges will be asked to describe how they demonstrated at least 3:9 
performances, one of which must be:
·         Maps the instructional elements to defined project and audience requirements.   

Can you see yourself doing these performances?  Can you see yourself doing at least 3 of these
performances with every learning solution?  Can you see other IDs doing these performances,
perhaps differently, but still doing them?  If so, you need to consider applying for a learning solutions development credential.  Go to

Want a list of all 9 ID standards?  Go to

Would you like to know about the study -- a practice analysis -- that TIfPI Practice Leaders did to generate and validate nine standards, including Aligns Solution?  Go to

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