Project Style Guide
Soft skills training can be difficult training to design because of the contextual nature of teaching the skills. Unlike hard skills, which you can teach through direct instruction and easily measure, soft skills are challenging because they are hard to measure, difficult for some to learn, often taught as a one-and-done course, and require a learner to have some understanding of themselves, seeing a need for change, and a desire to challenge and develop new habits that solidify the change. Soft skills, such as communication skills, are deeply rooted in people’s personalities and are related to their habits and life experiences. Without an understanding of self and how experience influences habits and soft skills, learning could make participants feel inauthentic and fake.
This challenge requires instructional designs that utilize the cognitive principles of reflection, retelling, and relating. My motto is, “The one that does the work does the learning.” Learners must read, record, relate and retrieve content in meaningful ways that apply solely to them. Otherwise, they will not learn the skill and will resist making it a part of their daily habits.
To overcome the challenges of teaching time management, I employed several opportunities for the learner to produce and execute that plan for their mentor or manager. For example, the action plan at the end of the course requires the learner to develop a plan and carry it out for three weeks, demonstrating and sharing this with their mentor or manager during their 1:1 weekly meetings. Ideally, this course would be extended over the course of a year, allowing the learner to make managing their time wisely a habit of the mind. Motivation is also critical to improving a soft skill. Throughout the design of the course, I kept the learner at the center of the design and employed a WIIFM or “What’s in it for me” focus. This was accomplished by having the learner use the tools and processes to achieve their personal aims, goals, and tasks. Lastly, it’s important for learners to decide for themselves to change, learn, and develop new habits. It is true that you can teach someone to fish; you just can’t teach them to like fishing. The solution is to make behavioral changes a team effort and hold the learner accountable for at least striving to make incremental changes.
The Learning Experience Design
One of the challenges with Articulate Rise is that the course design is baked in, meaning there’s not much you can do to change many of the aspects of the course design. However, there are some things that I did to personalize the course and make it look and feel different from a typical Rise course. One, I developed several assets that were added to full-width images to make the course look more inviting. I also took the style guide colors and developed the duotone images used throughout the course. I built several custom blocks using Storyline 360 to make interactions that were in keeping and in alignment with the content I was delivering through the course. Lastly, I used Synthesia.io, an AI video creator, to custom-design several of the videos for this course. This technology allows me to author a video that is professional and appealing quickly.
Overall, I am pleased with the design of this course. If you look at previous examples of my work and then compare them to this course, you’ll see that I have made great strides in my design abilities. I also like using the AI video creator to author several specialized training videos. Artificial intelligence is here to stay. Instructional designers must learn how to use them in their work to design engaging instructional designs.