Facebook buys Occulus Rift

Well this was unexpected. If anything I would have thought Amazon or MS would have acquired Occulus. Needless to say when I first heard facebook was buying this I felt a bit let down but after reading through the many articles on the deal I atually think this might be a good thing. Maybe facebook was the right company to buy it. Here is a good article which describes some of the good/bad things about the acquisition:


I am currently waiting for the next generation of Occulus to arrive this summer – I have it on pre-order!

Minecraft in Education

Last night in my Gaming and Simulation class my students had the opportunity to play Minecraft (Now they are busy writing lesson plans on the game). Here is a nice video which very quick summarizes some of the uses Minecraft has in education

AGILE in Instructional Design

This post will discuss the use of the popular AGILE process in instructional design. First before I start I will note – AGILE does NOT replace ADDIE. In fact, AGILE is just another way to perform ADDIE – and there are 1000s. There is not one correct way to perform the steps of ADDIE. When ADDIE was first developed by Florida State it was developed in a linear fashion but that was changed in the early 80s (1984 to be exact) after the military tested and updated the model. Each author, expert, company, organization, etc has a different way to do ADDIE. Thus ADDIE changes by entity and should be modified for each project to suite client needs and expectations – think of a blank slate where you follow the steps in the best path possible for the given project. AGILE is just one way of many ways to do ADDIE and a great buzzword! As a result we are always doing ADDIE, you cannot replace it. Now that I have said that…

AGILE was first created for software development to replace what is known as the waterfall method but has since been applied to many other industries.

So what is AGILE?

AGILE is a strategy that promotes iterative and incremental design and development in order to get out parts of a project to the client instead of the whole at one time (to save time). This is actually very similar to the rapid development strategies – they are for the most part exactly the same.

When can I use AGILE

You should use AGILE when you meet some of the same requirements that you have to meet to do rapid instructional design. It is not something that should be used on every project. Certain conditions should be met first.

1. Analysis is completed – without a proper analysis the project will fail. 70% of projects fail and poor analysis and management are usually the cause. This doesn’t mean analysis needed to be completed for this part of the project. You might know these clients and have done other projects with them so you can take some/all of that original analysis and use it.
2. Constant access to SMEs, Developers, and Graphic Artists (and person who signs off – i.e., client)
3. Project can be rolled out in sections – for instance 1 module can be rolled out by itself without the other 10 modules
4. Already have learning objects from other projects (optional and very helpful – cuts time) – this is not required though but will save a significant amount of time

How do I use AGILE

Here is a concept map from learningsolutionsmag.com on how to use this process


Do you notice anything familiar about these? You should. They are just defining how to do steps in the ADDIE process. Here is the breakdown:

Align = Analysis

Get Set = Design and Development

Iterate and leverage = Implement

Evaluate = Evaluate

Updated 8/2018

How to become an Instructional Designer

How to become an Instructional Designer

So you are considering getting into the instructional design or instructional technology field and want to know what it takes to make it. Today I am going to explain how to get into the field – at least the corporate part. Now before I start, there is not one way or a right way per se to get in, but there are things you should know before you make that jump.

1. Knowledge – before you get into the field you need to understand each and every step to the ADDIE process. You can get this from a Master’s program, certificates, your job, or just learning it on your own. It really doesn’t matter where you get it but you need it. And I care about this 10x more than any technology programs you might know. Technology programs only last for a years before something better comes along. Knowledge lasts forever. For instance, ask yourself the following questions, if you can easily answer them then you probably know what you need to. If you cannot answer them, you probably should consider a Master’s degree where someone will give you what you need to know. And remember these are just a few of probably 100s of questions I would choose from if I were interviewing you or trying to determine your competency in a short meeting:

  1. Name three learning theories?
  2. Describe the multimedia theories and how they apply to computer based instruction
  3. Name three instructional strategies?
  4. What instructional strategy is appropriate for indirect instruction? What about one for direct instruction? And experiential?

2. Experience – Yes you need experience in addition to just knowing information. I want to see that you can work on a team and such. For this I suggest internships in the field. You need actual experience in the field and there are tons of internships out there. Having said that, if you have a masters + other experience I would definitely accept that as well.

3. Master’s degree/certification – You need something that shows you have the knowledge. I will interview you like crazy but I really prefer someone that I know has the basic competencies. I would hire someone without the degree but they would really have to pass a pretty tough and extensive interview where I would really ask them about every competency in the field. The worst thing I see in our field is instructional designers that do not actually know instructional design. While a degree is no guarantee of that, it does help. That is not to say all instructional degree programs are equal either – so yes it also matters where you went to school.

4. Portfolio – First, if you show me stuff you have done for other clients I am going to be a bit concerned as they more than likely own that work. I wouldn’t want you leaving my company and showing the stuff you developed for me. So you need to develop a few mock examples. Honestly though this is not that important unless you are really going to be an instructional developer. I can tell if you can design by setting up a few scenarios and asking you what you would do, what models would you use, why, etc. This is more important for fields like computer science and graphic art. But it doesn’t hurt to have it.

5. Technology – I do not expect you to be a tech expert or developer. I expect you to be able to discuss technology and work with programmers though. You should know what all of the latest software packages can do, when you would use them, and why. You should understand an LMS and how to be an administrator of one. You should not be ‘that’ instructional designer that knows one technology and recommends that technology before ever doing an analysis to determine if that is really the best or not.

What does an Instructional Designer do?

 What does an Instructional Designer do?

An instructional designer’s job is to develop curriculum. This is the easiest way to describe what we do.  Now the longer version is that we:

–       Determine if there is a problem or respond to an RFP

–       If there is a training problem, then we solve it. If another problem, that group solves it (ie IT, Communication, etc), we just help find the problem and only solve it ourselves when training is the solution.

–       Do an instructional analysis and needs assessment – We determine what the scope of the training is and recommend a solution (i.e., we should develop online instruction and it will cost this much and take this long)

–       Design the instruction – we develop objectives, work with SMEs, and figure out what models and theories we should use to create this instruction in the best possible manner

–       Develop the instruction – instructional designers can do this but more often its done by computer programmers. We however will develop the storyboards and work with the developers  to do this. Sometime we do develop though using simpler and more limited software such as Articulate, Captivate, and PPT.

–       Implement the instruction – We help with the rollout and work with IT to deliever instruction. We might train trainers how to deliver the instruction or we might even deliver the instruction ourselves

–       Evaluation – We conduct an evaluation to determine if the training was successful, met company goals, if ROI was met, etc.

Confusion over ADDIE

Why are we trying to replace ADDIE? What is wrong with ADDIE? Should we be replacing ADDIE? Let’s replace ADDIE with XYZ. 

I keep seeing these discussions over and over again in the field. Why? I am actually not quite sure. One guess is that people can ‘get known’ or ‘make money’ off of a new process. Maybe people just like to see new things – after all we are a tech field where nothing lasts more than 2 years. Honestly though I am not quite sure why we are trying to replace ADDIE.

So what is ADDIE?

ADDIE is a design process used for training design and development. You can read about what it is here.

The big question though, can we replace it?

The simple and short answer is NO. You cannot. Unfortunately for the people trying to replace ADDIE, it cannot and will not be replaced in instructional design. We might call it something else or even have our own unique way of doing it but guess what – its still ADDIE. That’s right. Regardless of what someone tells you – you will always need to do an analysis before you start a project. Always. 70% of projects in corporate america do not meet their desired expectations (as in fail) and one of the main reasons is a poor analysis (1, 2). If you want to fall in that category then do not do your analysis. I prefer to be in the ‘successful’ project category so I do analysis.

Guess what, (and this is the kicker) there is not one way to do an analysis or any step in the ADDIE process. That’s right – each company, project, branch of the military, contractor, etc has their own way of doing ADDIE that works for them. It does not need to be linear and each step, for instance, analysis, might need to be done differently for each project you work on. There is no one way to do analysis. This is really where things like SAM, AGILE, Rapid Prototyping, Dick and Carey, etc come in. They do not replace ADDIE. Instead, they define how to do one or many of the steps in ADDIE. And they are 1 of a 1000 ways to do it. Do not think one of them is the ‘best’ all the time. You need to change these steps for each project or client due to the million different factors that comes with that client/project. So guess what? They are all just ways to do ADDIE. They are NOT replacing it at all.


ADDIE – Development


*If you are just coming to this screen, you might want to read about ADDIE, Analysis, or Design first

During this phase of instructional design (ADDIE) we develop our instructional product and get it ready for implementation.

Prototype – From our design, we should build our prototype. This can be a screen shot or mock-up of screens that show what the final product could look like. It is very important to get client approval here before moving onto storyboard development. These should also look good – so get a graphic designer to design them if needed. These will help the developer and graphic designer in the long run when looking at the storyboards if these are done well.

Storyboard – This is the story. Each screen (or scene/action if developing a game) will be depicted. Everything we have done in design will aid in the development of the storyboards. The client should be able to look at these (and see the visual in the prototype) and have an exact idea of what the final product will look and feel like. Again, these need to be signed off on.

Development – Once the storyboards are completed, development can begin. Thus, the instructional developer, programmers, graphic artists, etc. will develop the software or instruction. This might involve one to many different deliverables depending on the type of instruction being developed (i.e., CBT, software, game, simulation, training manual, instructor guide, etc.)

System Testing – During this phase the LMS, network, etc. should be tested (if needed) to ensure that the servers and network are prepared for the implementation. This is the time that the IT team and ISDers work out any system glitches, especially if delivering this to many users. This way when implementation is ready the rollout will run without glitches.


Virtual reality and motion sickness

Since I was just talking about this…

It looks like Occulus Rift has just hired a VR expert to help get rid of motion sickness in their vr kit: Here is a link to the article

For those new to VR and wonder about why the motion sickness happens, here is an explanation from sciencedaily.com:

“Years ago research showed that the brain can re-set an upside-down view of world to be right side up. Constantly changing images pose a bigger challenge for the brain, which has to deal with ‘lag’: the time it takes the computer system to update and display changing visual images corresponding to the users head movements. This may be a variable linked to motion sickness and other symptoms related to helmet-mounted devices.”

Occulus Rift Review

I had the chance last night to try out Occulus Rift in my Gaming and Simulation class and thought I would share my thoughts. Keep in mind I only had the opportunity to try it one time as did each of my students. Here are my thoughts:

Its awesome, there are tons of possibilities for it, I am really excited for it, but there is still a glitch in VR tech.

So….its awesome. It has a tons of cool demos, that come with it, so that you can test the technology and its really fun to go through them. You really feel like you are in a virtual world. You can look around, move around, etc. in these virtual worlds. Some of these demos are fun and some are geared towards education.

When you first look at the goggles, you notice that there are two eyes, rather than just one screen, in the unit. You also need to put ear phones (really ear plugs) on to get a better effect. The unit is very light though, you dont even notice it is on except for the wires and I am sure they eventually come out with a wireless one.

There are tons of possibilities for the technology. I am most excited for this to use Kinect technology so that your whole body can be used with the VR screen.

There is one glitch that is slowly being solved – you can get motion sickness from it. I did after about a minute and when I took the goggles off I felt like I had just been on a roller coaster ride. Other students felt the same way after using it but I was one of the only ones that got motion sickness while using. Apparently the motion sickness goes away as you get used to the technology. This is why VR technology failed in the 90s. Apparently they are still working on this issue though and believe they have a solution. It should also be noted that I used an older version of the occulus rift – they have an even newer version out now, which solves this problem even more. This problem, in my opinion, will make or break this technology as it just wont be used on large scales if people get sick from it. But my fingers are crossed that it gets solved.

If you are interested in purchasing this, its only $300 for the developer kit, which is a beta version of the technology: http://www.oculusvr.com/

Here is a picture of me in the goggles during my class:


Project Spark – Developing your own games is getting easier

How would you like to develop your own game? Its getting easier and easier with new technology. Many schools love minecraft because it gives students the ability to create their own worlds. Many schools lack the ability to create games due to money because games cost a lot to develop. Well project spark takes those ideas and puts them together in one game. Essentially the point of project spark is to create a world, just like minecraft, except you can make it a game that you can share and the graphics are very good. Project spark is currently in beta form and not released just yet to the public. I was lucky enough to be invited to the public beta this weekend so I will post my thoughts after playing. For now, here is the link to their website.

What is project spark:

Some example games: