Quality Learning Approaches in 15 Minutes or Less

Close up of Blue Vintage Alram Clock on white wooden table with place for text If someone told you to draft a course design in 15 minutes, what would you do? “Fight” or “flight” options might include crying, running for the hills or immediately coming down with some mysterious illness.

Scary as it might sound, that was our task as set by Bob Elmore at the March 17th ATD SIG meeting. We had 15 minutes to work in teams of four. Our client: A dive shop, which rents gear to tourists, needs to find new ways of getting tourists SCUBA-ready prior to letting them loose in the great, wide ocean. As if that weren’t interesting enough, the client also had the challenge of a limited time available in their pool to assess each tourist.


Fight, Flight or Discuss Options!

As it turns out, besides for “fight” or “flight”, both teams rushed to another option—quick, furious and actionable discussions! Our group focused on breaking up the learning into 3 chronological chunks: Pre-travel (where a computer could be available), Pre-arrival to the Shop (where mobile might be the only option), and Before the Pool.
Design Iteration #1

Joan Loshek with our first design


Pre-travel would consist of online video scenarios (accessed at home or on the plane) which taught scuba basics like handling equipment, putting on equipment, and equipment use. Success meant that all the characters had lovely scuba-diving trips. Failure? Well, there might be a sad, but PG, avatar death. Pre-arrival to the Shop included last-minute job aids and checklists. Before the Pool assessed in-person equipment handling and gearing up. The final pool assessment included in-person safe but challenging situations that replicated what could happen out in the big blue ocean.

Feedback is Always Important!

We presented our learning approach to the other group, gathered their feedback and went back to the drawing board for another 10 minutes. (Bob figured if we could design in 15 minutes, we ought to be able to redesign 10 minutes!)
Design Iteration #2


We surfaced from the re-design (scuba humor!!) with a tweaked learning approach. We simplified our design to be Pre-pool, On Deck and In Pool. We updated our video scenarios to include hidden videos about local fish and coral that could only be found by exploring all the videos. We thought this would motivate both new and experienced people! We kept the assessment at the pool but added that people could show up prior to their assessment times to apply to themselves all that they had learned through the video scenarios.

Quick Tips For Quick Designs

Overall, it was an exciting, fast-paced activity that everyone learned a great deal from. What did we take away from the experience that you might too?

  • Could someone design create a learning approach in mere minutes? Yes! You won’t have all the details fleshed out but it will give you enough to vet out the approach with others.
  • Did it work better to work with others? Yes! Groups helped us move quickly to get over anyone’s individual road blocks.
  • How can you create a brainstorming team? Look to members of your team (same lens), peers on different teams (different version of same lens) and SMEs (new lens).

Much like bubbles rising in the ocean, the ideas from one group created ideas in the other group which then generated bigger and better ideas in both groups! Bring on the next ATD eLearning Design Challenge!

Have you ever been challenged to quickly create a learning approach? Share with us any best practices that made it successful!

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