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- Connie Malamed is an expert in the field of online learning and visual communication. She is a consultant, author, and speaker, and has helped people learn and build instructional design skills through her website and podcast, The eLearning Coach. Connie is the author of two books, Visual Design Solutions and Visual Language for Designers. She was honored with the Guildmaster award in 2018 for her contributions to the Learning Technologies industry.
- In this interview, Connie shared her background and how she got interested in instructional design. She mentioned that her interest in helping people learn started from her experience growing up with a mentally handicapped brother, and her mother's various techniques to help him learn. When she discovered the joy of making learning materials, she started looking for a career in that field, and that's how she discovered instructional design.
- The most gratifying aspect of a career in instructional design, according to Connie, is helping people learn. It's fulfilling to see people improve in their jobs and get a career boost from effective workplace training. Most people in the field feel the same way.
- Connie has written two books on visual design for instructional design, and she explained why visual language is important for learners. Visual language provides another path for learning and building skills, in addition to using words. Anytime there's more than one path for learning, it helps us retrieve information better because we have a second path in which we're looking around and searching our brains for what we want to know. Visual language can also be aesthetically pleasing and relaxing, making the learning experience enjoyable.
- When it comes to eLearning, visual design is essential because eLearning is such a visual medium. More areas of the brain are devoted to processing visual information for sighted people than any other sense, and visuals get processed in different areas of the brain. Therefore, focusing on the sense that's going to be used the most is crucial in eLearning.
- One of the most common design mistakes in instructional design is overloading people with too much information at once. When we overload slides, activities, or anything else, it causes a high cognitive load, which interferes with learning. Working memory has a small capacity, and the information doesn't last for very long. Therefore, giving people too much at one time is the biggest mistake all educators make. Connie suggests giving people a learning journey and spreading it out, which can be difficult in workplace training because people don't want to come back and take more training. However, it's crucial to avoid overloading people with too much information at once.
- In conclusion, Connie is an expert in instructional design, with a focus on visual communication. She has written two books on the subject and hosts a podcast and website dedicated to helping people learn and build instructional design skills. Connie's insights into instructional design and visual communication are invaluable for anyone interested in these fields.
Hello, everyone, today I have a special guest, Connie Malamud on the show. Connie helps people learn and build instructional design skills at mastering instructional design. She's a consultant, author and speaker in the field of online learning and visual communication. Connie is the author of visual design solutions and visual language for designers. She also publishes the elearning coach, website and podcast. She was honored with the Guildmaster award in 2018, for contributions to the Learning Technologies industry. Wow, that's a super impressive background. Connie, I'm so glad to have you.
I'm glad to be here.
Well, first, I'd like to learn a little bit about you and your background. How did you get started and instructional design? What drew you to the field?
You know, I think I got really interested in how people learn from growing up with a mentally handicapped brother. And my mother had tried all these different techniques. He was a musician singing to him playing games. That may have been what got me interested. But when I discovered the joy of making learning materials, which is kind of what instructional design was back then, I kept looking around for a career name. And I happened to get a job in a computer lab and, and the director said to me, I'm getting my PhD in instructional design. And that's the first time I heard those two words together. I almost fell off my chair, you know how much people think you're talking about interior design, or something else. I knew exactly what it was. And I just flipped out and applied to graduate school. And when I was so excited.
Awesome. That's super exciting. Yeah. Especially back then. I mean, even now, it's still not
really well known. But back then, I mean, no one knew about it.
Okay, so what do you think is the most gratifying aspect of a career in instructional
design? You know, I think it's the same for most instructional designers, which is that we love helping people learn. Because when we help them learn, let's take workplace training. They improve in their jobs, which can often get a career boost if it's good, which, you know, if it's effective, which isn't always the case, there. They're thankful, you know, it's just very fulfilling to help other people. And I think most people in the field feel that way.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I know. It's super rewarding just teaching people and helping people learn knowledge. I love it. Okay, well, you obviously have a lot of knowledge of and have written a few books on visual design for instructional design. Why do you say visual language is important for learners?
Well, visual language is another path, in addition to using words, words, or verbal language. And anytime we can have more than one path for learning and building skills, it helps us be able to retrieve the information because we have a second path in which we're looking around, searching our brains for what we want to know. So visual language can help people to facilitate learning with that extra path. And it's also aesthetically pleasing. I think the research is just beginning to come out as it is kind of an important part of learning . It gives your work credibility. And when people find something beautiful. I'm not saying elearning is beautiful as a wonderful painting. But when something is pleasing, it makes people feel relaxed, and you know, it's an enjoyable experience.
Yeah, definitely. That makes sense. For sure. And it's something I think that a lot of people forget about too when designing content. So why do you think visual design is so important for elearning
Obviously, elearning is such a visual medium as opposed to reading books. So that's one reason the visual aspects, so important. But also, what a lot of people may not know, is that more areas of the brain are devoted to processing visual information for sighted people than any other sense by a lot. And visuals get processed in different areas of the brain, for example, one area processes color. So I've read, and another area might process a spatial orientation, those kinds of things. And so, in elearning, with such a visual medium, we really want to focus on you know, what is the sense that is going to be used the most. And that's one of the reasons it's so important.
Yeah, definitely. Okay, so what are some common design mistakes that you often see in instructional design?
I think one of the big ones is that people don't realize that less is more. So when we first perceive and begin to process information, whether we're building skills or learning something, anything new, it goes into working, what they call working memory, and working memory has a really small capacity. And it can't, the information doesn't last there for a very long time. So when we overload slides, activities, you know, whatever it is, when we overload people, it causes a high cognitive load, and therefore, that interferes with learning. And so I think the biggest mistake all educators make, and you know, I'm guilty of this myself, and I really try to not do it. It's just giving people too much at one time, if we could give people a learning journey and spread it out, which in workplace training is very difficult to do, because people don't don't want to come back and take more training, and then come back and take additional training. But that's probably the biggest error I see.
Right? Yeah, that makes sense. And well, it makes me think of like short, how short videos are becoming super popular? And like micro learning? Yes. Okay. So with you being in the field of instructional design for 20 years now, I'd imagine that you've seen some drastic changes, what is the biggest trend or development that you've witnessed during your many years in the field?
Well, first of all, I'd like to say things are definitely getting better. A lot of people now know about, or are beginning to understand learning science. And when I first got into the field, no one was talking about cognitive psychology. And that's one of the reasons I started the E Learning Coach site was to write about things that I learned in graduate school. The AI programme was so new, it wasn't even in the Graduate School catalog. At that time, I just heard about it through word of mouth. So I think things are getting better. I think that people are also looking at other fields like user experience, design and incorporating some of those practices. And I would say maybe the biggest and best trend I've seen is that we've gone from being content centric, to being learner centric. So we're learning how to use human centered design. And I think that's one of the biggest, most important and positive trends that I see.
Yeah, I think that's wonderful, too. And yeah, the UX design is definitely newer. I just started thinking that when I was in school, some of my assignments included reading your blog posts. Nice. Yeah, I remember being assigned that I mean, that's how amazing and popular your work is. Like, I just remembered your website from when I was in school. It's pretty.
That's really funny. I do notice. Not only do professors tell people to read it, but they make people write short essays as comments, they probably give an assignment, like comment on this. And once in a while, I get an email and say, Can you please approve my comment? My professor needs to see it right away. Because maybe I haven't been to the site for a few days and haven't approved comments. Oh, that's kind of funny. But I think the reason is because I have access to an academic database. And I don't always write academic articles, but to a certain extent, a certain percentage are so I have, you know, these big, big reference lists, you know, to support what I'm writing about in the article and I think that's why the professor's like it.
Probably that makes sense. You buddy. It's pretty cool. Okay, if I'm a beginner and we're like boot trends, Session Two instructional design for elearning. What would you suggest the first thing to do?
Well, have you had this person decide they want to be an instructor design, or do they need to explore the field a little bit?
Yeah, like they've made the decision there. Okay. Yeah.
First of all, I'd like to say it's a very smart decision. I agree. I, there's so many routes to getting into the career there are all of these professional development communities. So that's one approach. Another is to go get a master's degree, and others to get a graduate certificate. Or join you know, one of the many communities and others to go through a TDS certificate programme. And if you're looking for people who are looking for a book to like, really get started and understand things. My favorite is Julie Derek Sins, designed for how people learn. It's a great book, I love the little stick figures, you know, or little jokes. It's just got a great attitude, you know, it's humorous yet very, very much based on evidence, that's a really nice place to start. And then read the blogs, follow people on Twitter, join Facebook groups, join LinkedIn groups, just really get active and start to meet people and get to ask questions and give to once you start learning a little bit, you know, make sure that you're giving and helping others. It's a very giving group of people.
Right. That's awesome. Love it. So please let the audience know about your free gifts.
Oh, sure. I've written several. And I continue to do this right, just freebies over the years, and they're at the learning coach.com forward slash freebies. Right now I have three on that page that you can download. One is writing for instructional design with tips for about four of the different types of writing we need to do. The second is answers to instructional design career questions. And the third is a visual design cheat sheet I just uploaded. one made it an InDesign and reworked that one so that it would be nice and neat and clean to read. So those are my three freebies.
Awesome. They all sound really interesting. And I think I might download them myself. Okay. And I'll also post a link to all of them in the comment section of this too. Okay.
Thank you, Crystal. Thanks for inviting me. It's been fun.
Of course, you are an amazing contributor to the instructional design industry. And it's been an honor speaking with you. I know that you'll have a positive impact for people watching. And thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.
Thanks. You're too kind. Take care.
Thank you, you too.
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