Rapid e-Learning Challenge: Day 1

June 25, 2008

One designer. One course. 48 hours.

Status: On target

Total time: 8 hours

I’m off to a pretty good start. My goal for these first few days is to consolidate my research notes and random ideas into a content outline and begin the storyboarding process. Today I reached a semi-final state of the content outline.

In the past I used MS Word to develop content outlines. This time around I decided to try out a mind mapping tool for developing the outline. Tom Kuhlman suggested a similar approach (different tool) in a comment last week, and he wrote about how he uses mind mapping here. And Michael Hanley describes using FreeMind for instructional design. I’m using the free tool at Mind Meister for now, but am open to better tools, especially if they’re free 🙂

What’s this course about, anyway?

The course is about writing my company’s version of A3 problem solving reports. An A3 is a tool that Toyota uses to propose and report on solutions to problems. The idea is to present all the essential information about a focused subject on a single 11″ x 17″ (A3 size) piece of paper. The report is divided into sections that follow specific data-driven problem-solving steps. This reporting approach forces clear, focused communication, and allows the reader to view a lot of information at a glance. It’s a brilliant process and forces clear, focused communication. I’ll write more about the A3 report and process and implications for instructional design in a separate post.

Here is a snapshot of my mind map/content outline.

Mind map and content outline for A3 Report Writing course.

This gives an idea of the high-level topics. I’m not showing the details due to internal privacy issues, but when I drill down into sub-topics, I also have initial screen treatment and activity ideas. I am able to insert notes, icons, links and even attachments. Links and attachments will be especially helpful by (hopefully) making it easier to locate source documents, web sites, etc.  So in a way it is a mini knowledge management system. A

But is it rapid?  Although I am early in the design and development process, I think the mind mapping approach is a great alternative to using Word to outline and document ideas. It looks like it will be a big time saver from my past way of flipping around, forgetting, and searching for those notes about my last great idea. The slow-down, of course, is that it takes at least a little time to install, learn, and integrate a new tool into your work. This slowed down the Rapid e-Learning Meter for now, but in future projects, I suspect a quicker start.