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Adventures in Instructional Design
There's a reason that media-based training has a reputation for being boring: It's boring. Well-intended people with academic and technical backgrounds have understood that interactive media, and even linear video, can be highly effective training tools. They just neglected to hire a designer with a flair for igniting the audience's imagination.

Energy and humor can't be added on. They must be a fundamental part of the initial instructional design, driven by specific training points. That's where my background in marketing comes in: a proven ability to build energy and urgency right into the design framework.

And oh yeah, there was also that decade that I was writing screenplays. No, you haven't seen my work at your local multiplex, but the experience ensures that I now develop role plays and examples that are far more compelling than the cardboard scenarios that make typical training...well, boring.

Classroom, Self-Paced and Good Old-Fashioned Print
Let's talk about your next training project. My experience with training includes designing for the classroom, interactive, linear video, workbooks and print. And some times, the best training is not training at all, but an effective job aid that puts the right information in the right place at the right time. This broad skill set means that I can counsel you and design for the most appropriate complete package, rather than the technology du jour.

Some people call this blended training. I just call it common sense, engaging the learner in all appropriate ways that reinforce learning and ensure that knowledge gained is applied on the job. And that technology du jour? I love it, and if you think it is appropriate, I can help ensure that it is used to fullest advantage.

Technical Training
For technical projects, especially involving computers, data storage, software and networks, you'll find that I am already a good way up the learning curve and can quickly learn about your specific product, service or situation.

I am expert enough with Microsoft Word to have developed procedures for courseware production based on that software that is still in use at Hitachi Data Systems, which of course involved writing all of the procedures and user documentation, and training their writers in its use.

Another set of templates I have coded in Visual Basic is enjoying success as commercial products, under two different names: Script Werx and Dr. Format. This is software for scriptwriting, now used by thousands of writers, including the staff at Saturday Night Live. And of course, I wrote all documentation for both products, plus several customized variations.

But more important than expertise with software is the ability to structure and translate complex technical instructions into concise, easy-to-use training and documentation. I take special pride in my ability there, as co-author of the book The Emerging Digital Future (on data networks), writer and instructional designer for a series on data communications for GTE, documentation for sales tracking software developed at Multacom and many courseware titles addressing enterprise-wide data storage for Hitachi Data Systems.

Classroom Experience
Some of the best insight into how people learn is gained in the front of a classroom. I'm fortunate to have had this experience in a number of situations, presenting course material of my own design:
  • Trade show experience --(a type of classroom where student attention spans are even shorter than usual)-demonstrating storyboarding software (from PowerProduction software ) and my own Script Werx software. 1995-present.
  • FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) --Design and teach a class on Web site design for this private college. 1998.
  • UCLA --Guest speaker for a number of classes, speaking on scriptwriting. 1990-1998.
  • California State University at Northridge (CSUN) --Degree program course on scriptwriting for informational media. 1991-1994.
  • Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training --Seminar on developing training media. 1997.
  • PGA Tour Productions --Scriptwriting seminar for the producer/writers responsible for all television programming produced by the Professional Golfers' Association Tour. 1994.
  • Truby's Writers Studio --Seminar on scriptwriting for corporate video. 1991.
  • Seminars --Scriptwriting seminars conducted in conjunction with professional conferences or sponsored by professional organizations, including Video Expo, Corporate Video, Cinema in Industry (CINDY), Intl. Television Assn. ITVA and Show Biz Expo. 1988-1995.
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Completed Projects
In reverse chronological order.
  • Kaiser Permanente --As a Senior E-Learning Instructional Designer, develop training to support the organization's Epic medical records system, which includes developing Captivate and live action videos, instructor guides, job aids, and other reference material. Also develop and support a range of Microsoft Word templates and project management documents. 4/12-3/14.
  • Southern California Edison --As a Senior Instructional Designer, develop training for Edison SmartConnect on both the wireless network and the meter data management system. This includes high-level introductions, in-depth technical training, and documentation for the meter data management system, presented both in the classroom and as eLearning. 7/09-6/11.
  • Southern California Edison --Write strategic-level approach to realigning this $8.5 billion company with the government market, which included developing training and communications plans. 3/05-2/07.
  • Lexus Division of Toyota Motor Sales --Revise training-facilitator guides for brand training to support the international expansion of the Lexus brand. 10/04-11/04.
  • Performance Strategies, Inc. --Develop the Web site and all communications plus instructional design and proposal writing for this sales training business targeting the automotive market, in which I served as a partner. 8/03-8/04.
  • Hitachi Data Systems --Design processes for development of online, CD-based and classroom training, and train staff of writers in its use. Also develop courseware on enterprise-level data storage systems. 8/01-7/03.
  • Multacom --Designer and writer of sales and marketing training for this tier-one Internet company. 7/00-1/01.
  • Toyota Web Projects --Writer and manager for the launch of the "Dealer Daily" business-to-business private network. This meant developing marketing communications to support presentations to dealership owners and principals (largely self-made millionaires with patience measured in microseconds).
    It had to explain why they were spending $1 million plus on a LAN to attach to the WAN and what all of those acronyms mean. A Web site about the Web site was part of the package and all the tech stuff had to be explained in terms that your grandmother could grasp.
    I also developed the high-level thinking on a complete revision of the University of Toyota Web site. No instructional design, but a lot of thought on better ways for students to navigate through course offerings and track the progress of their education online. 10/99-5/00.
  • Great Western Bank --This was a full-blown interactive project that led me to develop interactive software for developing design documents, based on Microsoft Word. The visions of a commercial product that danced in my head never quite danced to the bank. The training however got the company's service representatives up to speed on a new computer system in record time. 1995.
  • Pioneer Electronics --This was an electronic media orientation for new hires with a printed handbook. The metaphor was peel back the roof to see how everything works. The media was all coordinated with icons and numbering and there was plenty of references to where you could learn more: A quick-start type of thing for newbies to clutch tightly until they learned their way around.
    A few other projects were more marketing than training, but they had to impart enough product knowledge that the customer would know why they just had to buy. 1995-1996.
  • GTE --This one started my model railroading career. The challenge was to teach high-speed data network concepts from the ground up. And since data packets are the "boxcars of data communications," I developed a train metaphor, which meant that I needed a model train to run on my conference table. There were nine videos in the series, each with a printed workbook. 1994.
  • Carlson Marketing Group --Writer and instructional designer on a number of projects including sales and product knowledge training. One project involved pulling together all of the pieces of a ride & drive for a new Mazda RX-7. This meant creating the show book for the tour, which is basically an uber-job aid containing everything from tour schedule to room setup to suggestions on what to say during a demo drive. 1992-1993.
  • Maritz Performance Improvement --As a writer and instructional designer, I worked on a number of projects on a contract basis. As a proposal writer, in addition to thinking through creative themeing and support, I would develop the high-level design of the training components.
    This meant envisioning the entire training approach, right down to every little piece of paper that had to be printed. Then boiling it all down to a few concise and persuasive paragraphs: many ideas wrapped up in a few words.
    One memorable job was an electronic media-based follow-up for a tour introducing one of the new Nissan Z-Cars. It had to reinforce training for attendees, provide substitute training for anyone who didn't make it and goad non-attendees into coming next year.
    Working from a bunch of existing news-coverage type footage, I developed the concept of a sales guy telling his buddies what they had missed.
    The client was skeptical, telling us that salespeople are too cynical to accept a voiceover actor portraying one of them. I was convinced that it just had to be well written, which I did. The sales team bought it. The client loved it. 1989-1994; 1999-2000.
  • Farmers insurance --This was a great series of projects that took their claims adjusting training up a notch. Each course included a video, student workbook and leader's guide--that blended training type of concept.
    The video opened with a dramatization. At a key training point, a cut to a classroom setting showed the instructor drawing out from the students the implications of what had just been seen. Then the actual student was directed to their workbook to complete an exercise that further reinforced the training point.
    There was modeling of correct behavior, creating teachable moments, interactivity, reinforcement, immediate feedback; everything that anyone who really cares about training could love. 1988-1991
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