Monday, November 10, 2014

IDs Use Standards: Elicits Performance Practice


ID Standards are the measures that IDs use when determining whether they will sign-off on a learning solution they have created, or not – whether their name goes on the final product. They are the hallmark of the master instructional designer craftsman.

The competent instructional designer/developer (ID) elicits performance practice:

There is an old saying, "practice makes perfect." 

At the heart of learning is change, particularly performance change.  If there is no change in performance, learning is questionable.  Therefore, practice within the learning event is an important element that allows the learner, instructor (when used), and ID to recognize whether change is occurring.

Eliciting performance practice is so important that it appears in the nine very different learning theories and theorists reviewed for the ID Practice Analysis.

Table of Instructional Design Theorist & Elicits Performance Practice

Learning theories hone in one or more specific elements of practice or the practice environment.   For some, practice is all about the thinking steps, while others elicit discovery.  For still others it’s about integration and application.  For others it’s about demonstrating mastery.  Each theory and theorist promotes different aspects of eliciting performance practice as an essential function of their theories or philosophic approaches.   However, competent instructional designers pick and choose; they use the focus that is most appropriate for the learner and the situation in which the learner must learn.  Therefore, the ID certifications do not focus on the theory, but on whether the ID demonstrates selecting techniques that promote performance practice. Reviewers do not judge the appropriateness of those techniques, merely determine whether the candidate has shown that they did provide performance practice. 

The Serious Elearning Manifesto lists the following hallmarks of effective elearning:
·         Performance focused
·         Meaningful to learners
·         Engagement driven
·         Authentic context
·         Realistic decisions
·         Individualized challenges
·         Spaced practices
·         Real-world consequences.

Taken together, they describe a practice environment that provides not just random activities but focused practices that reflect the world of learner – that elicits performance practice in the e-world as preparation for real world work.

Performance practice is just as important in instructor-led training (ILT), coaching and mentoring, goal- or problem-based scenarios, serious learning games, or any of the other learning solution types.  

Case Study:  Impacting real world decision

Once upon a time (all to recently), an instructional designer was asked to design an elearning solution that “taught” staff about the organizational structure – the divisions, groups, subgroups and their leaders.  Of course, this course’s learning objectives focused on identifying who to contact in various parts of the organization.  Since so many high-level executives had to buy into this course, it was important that the course be “outstanding” and that it showcase each division and group to their advantage.

Our intrepid ID had concerns about whether this was quality learning, even as the course was being designed and built.  There were no decisions to make, no real-world consequences, and the only challenge available was remembering the name of the group or division that did a given type of work.  However, everyone does need to recognize the key groups and divisions within their organization, so that information was authentic.   In addition, this ID had created something similar many decades ago (when elearning was in its infancy) that taught state employees about the structures of the legislative, judicial, executive branches in which they worked.  These concepts were highly valued by the employees taking that first elearning course, so maybe this new solution would be just as valuable… or maybe not.  

Definition of a Standard – Elicits Performance Practice

Consider the definition and performances listed for The Institute for Performance Improvement (TIfPI’s) standard Elicits Performance Practice.

Definition: ensures that the learning environment and practice opportunities reflect the actual environment in which the performance will occur.

Performances that demonstrate this standard for an ID certification: 

  • Creates practice opportunities that mimic work tasks and work processes.
  • Chooses elements of the “real” work environment, tools, and technology to include in the practice learning environment. 
  • Scripts steps and interactions. 
  • Creates the full spectrum of support materials to ensure that learning occurs. Note that any one solution may not require the use of all 6 performances listed.  
  • Describes for the learner what the practice opportunities will be.
  • Creates practice opportunities that connect learner’s real work to the learning process and outcomes.
Can you see yourself doing these performances?  Can you see yourself doing at least the two required 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.  Get the ID Certification Handbook  at

Individual IDs applying for learning solution certifications with marks and badges will be asked to describe ways in which he or she accomplished at least the following two required performances (and preferably more):
  • Creates practice opportunities that mimic work tasks and work processes.

    • Chooses elements of the “real” work environment, tools, and technology to include in the practice learning environment. 

    Want a list of all 9 ID standards?  

    Would you like to know about the study -- a practice analysis -- that TIfPI Practice Leaders did to generate and validate nine standards, including Elicits Performance Practice?   Would you like a copy of the infographic withstandards and learning solution certification types?

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