Mike Dickinson is an instructional designer and adjunct professor at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. He is a former instructor pilot in three Air Force jet aircraft and he has been an instructional designer and training manager for over 20 years. He has developed classroom and online courses in a variety of topics including compliance, safety, employment law, job-specific technical training, corporate culture, decision making, and writing. He has an M.A. degree in Instructional Technology and an MBA in Finance.
Mike has presented at national training conferences and is a regular contributor to Learning Solutions Magazine. He gets his biggest charge from finding ways to clarify knowledge and processes in order to help people increase their job skills and self confidence.
Change Conversations with Training Clients: Do—Know—Access November 11, 2013
Managers, executives, and other clients often come to the training department with the solution to a perceived problem already in mind. They often have a laundry list that they believe the course should or must address. How can you direct the conversation to performance and not knowledge? Here’s a simple tool to turn things around: the Do—Know—Access triangle.
A Quality Scorecard for Multiple-choice Tests May 15, 2013
A quality scorecard for multiple-choice items, both at the individual and the training organization levels, can help a manager improve effectiveness of multiple-choice tests. The manager could use the scorecard to assess specific tests or to assess a cross section of multiple-choice items collected from each instructor or designer’s portfolio. Here is such a scorecard!
The Thing about Multiple-Choice Tests … March 12, 2012
How do you determine whether learners “got it” in an eLearning program? The most common method is to give them a multiple-choice test. However, developing a test that gives a valid measure of the learner’s knowledge requires considerable care. Here is a guide that will save you a lot of effort as you design tests!
Writing Multiple-Choice Questions for Higher-level Thinking December 5, 2011
Multiple-choice questions don’t get a lot of respect from some instructional designers when it comes to evaluating higher-level thinking. However, these questions can be effective if the designer knows how to write them. Here is your guide to creating meaningful multiple-choice items.
What Can We Learn from Higher Education? August 22, 2011
The corporate environment presents many challenges to successful eLearning implementation. However, academic institutions have generally been very successful with eLearning. Are there lessons for corporate eLearning in the experience of higher education? Here are some best practices and practical suggestions to consider.
“There I Was”: Lessons Learned Converting Instructor-based Pilot Training to Blended Learning July 6, 2011
Converting a single course from instructor-led to a blend of classroom and eLearning can be a challenge. Converting an entire program is far more complex. When getting it right can be a matter of life, death, and national security, the task is mind-boggling. Here is a story that contains a lot of wisdom for designers!
Text-to-speech (TTS) software has been available for many years, as a substitute for human narrators. Until recently, however, instructional designers and learners alike tended to reject TTS because of the “mechanical” quality of the resulting narration. Has anything changed? Here’s a look at one small department’s study of today’s TTS.
How Much Narration in eLearning? Our Lessons Learned April 21, 2011
Whether to narrate eLearning content, how much to narrate, and choosing the person or "voice" to narrate are among questions that come up constantly for eLearning designers. Unfortunately, the research and the guidance from experts is not necessarily consistent or easy to apply. Here is what one team learned from their own study of the questions, and the guidelines they adopted.
The Roles and Design of Tests in Online Instruction November 22, 2010
Testing is, or should be, a matter of major concern to the instructional designer. Doing testing well is a challenge, however, and here is a great guide to meeting that challenge.
Designing compliance training can be a great challenge, on many levels. Blended learning, including classroom, games, online elements, and scenarios, is an excellent way to deal with this, but creating it is not necessarily simple or easy. Here is the story of how one (very small) training department backed into a highly effective solution over three years of effort.
Fiction Writer Tricks: A Tale of Two Courses February 17, 2009
Though it doesn’t seem logical, instructional designers can learn a lot from creative writers about getting learners engaged. Other Learning Solutions articles have presented techniques borrowed from dramatists and from radio productions. This week, you’ll learn what a novelist has to offer, with tips that bring scenarios alive!
Looking for an e-Learning authoring tool that is simple to use and that won’t complicate your life as a oneperson department? Need to support independent experts and in-house consults, without overloading the IT Help Desk? Read this article to discover how a designer, working essentially alone, is meeting these challenges and more!
Evolution of an e-Learning Developers Guide: Do You Need One? October 16, 2006
In Part 1 of this series, the author shared the basics of creating an effective e-Learning Developers Guide, a set of standards that guides the designers, developers, and SMEs to create consistent product. This article lays out the high-level issues — guidelines for instructional design and for project management — that shaped the entire Guide.
Evolution of an e-Learning Developers Guide September 25, 2006
One tool that can make an e-Learning director or manager’s life much simpler is a set of standards that guides the designers, developers, and SMEs to create consistent product. While it is easy to find “style guides” for Web page development, it seems that there are few examples of similar documents for e-Learning creation. This article's author shows you how he built a useful guide.