#etmooc Living (and designing) with Constraints

I read @jkunrein's Building a Seat at the Table for Design ASTD blog. She makes a some thoughtful points on how often SMEs and/or customers push a design approach. I'm not 100% clear on what kind of design she's talking about: instructional, look, feel, or something else.

What I want to comment on about it is this: constraints. We all have them. There's not enough time. We're pressured by lack of resources, usually budgets. Maybe it's the political climate or organization's culture that has us design something less awesome than we'd like. So yes, there are forces at work cramming design decisions down designers' throats. I think she's right-on about how we as designers should do the best job possible by the client. What has me concerned, however, is if we should push back at all.

I'd like to be able to use educational technology like polling apps or QR codes in my organization. I think they'd make for a much more immersive learning experience, particularly when it comes to learning and practicing in the real-world outside the classroom. Only I can't because of budgetary and union constraints.

I think that an important part of my job, particularly at the start or kick-off of a training project, is educating the customer on what is possible and why some things they want to do might not be in the best interests of the learner or the organization. If there is push-back it would happen at that time. I think that once a relationship between designer and customer has been established such push-back would be rare.

Which gets me to the subject of professional development. Unrein suggests learning a tools-set. The problem (constraint) here is that some tools, not all of course, are expensive. If your organization doesn't have them available for your use then once the trial version, if there's one available, times-out you're stuck. I advocate the development of soft-skills, storytelling for example, over hard-skills like being able to design in something like Articulate Storyline. If you can spin a story that catches the hearts and minds of your trainees then the tool really doesn't matter.


3 thoughts on “#etmooc Living (and designing) with Constraints

  1. Constraints. Everyone has them:) Without constraints, we don’t really need design.

    I get where you’re coming from and I see your point. However, (isn’t there always a but or yes, and…?) I think there’s a difference between a constraint and a rut. Both have moveable frames. Both can change, to a degree. It is hard to change and tough to push back. Ruts come from conditioned process and mental models. There’s really not enough time in the day when we’re stuck in a rut.

    There are quite a few folks in the industry that use the rut as an excuse to continue working as an order taker. Not implying that’s you:) Me — I’ve been guilty, some days I still am, of taking a stack of content and dutifully converting it to a digital form. Sure, I add value, but is the value I add worth the effort expended by all parties? Could the value be multiplied with a small change in mindset / expectations? The small things add up. I believe we can win some battles if our aim is true.

    As a profession, I do think we need to push back if we’re not confident with the status quo. Personally, I think we spend too much time taking orders for content packaging and not enough time looking at what folks really need. That’s where I think Judy was coming from.

    Do what you can, what you have the passion for, and don’t sweat the rest. I don’t always follow that advice myself:) But I do try to remember that we miss 100% of the shots we don’t take.

    • Yep. No one wants to be stuck in a rut. At this bank out West I used to work at I learned this mantra:

      “Common where possible. Custom where it counts.”

      Push back where appropriate I guess is what it’s saying.

      BTW.. in the very first elearning course I produced where I work now I used this funny purple car in an interaction. I had to push-back a bit to make it happen.

      Thank you for your perspective.

  2. Pingback: Etmooc Comment Scraper Output (continued) « Connection not Content

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