Demystifying Instructional Design

S2E10: Eva Conover - Bridge between technologists and users

May 10, 2022 Rebecca J. Hogue / Eva Conover Season 2 Episode 10
Demystifying Instructional Design
S2E10: Eva Conover - Bridge between technologists and users
Show Notes Transcript

Eva is a lifelong trainer, analyst, intermittent project manager and relatively new ID. She found my passion for instructional design later in life, proving to herself it’s never too late to make a change. She finds that instructional design allows both her tech geek side and creative side room to grow. Her niche has always been in healthcare and systems. She is very fortunate to have had the opportunity grow my career in tandem with the changes in healthcare and technology. She came to ID having been in the shoes of her learners, so she approaches it as a partnership. She is an avid reader, cellphone photographer, and tries to learn something new almost every day.

Support the show
REBECCA:

Welcome to Demystifying Instructional Design, a podcast where I interview various instructional designers to figure out what instructional designers do. I'm Rebecca Hogue, you're podcast host. If you're interested in a different kind of professional development this season, check out myfest.equityunbound.org. That's myfest.equityunbound.org If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider subscribing or leaving a comment on the show notes blog post and consider helping to support the podcast with a donation to my Patreon account. Welcome Eva to Demystifying Instructional Design a podcast where I interview instructional designers about what they do. Can you start by introducing yourself?

EVA:

Sure. My name's Eva Conover. I work as a principal trainer in a health care system in New Jersey.

REBECCA:

Cool. And how long have you been doing that?

EVA:

Relatively new. I came to instructional design later in life, so I've been working as the principal trainer for about two years, almost two and a half years. I've done a training manager role before that, so I had a different aspect on the training in that role.

REBECCA:

And so what's the, one of the questions I like to ask is about the origin story? How did you get into instructional design?

EVA:

Oh my gosh, it's a long story, but I'll give you the short version. I've always worked in health care. It's always been I've just moved through different roles in that. And I got to a point later in life, I just wanted to kind of find something a little different that maybe met my skills a little bit better. I had been through project management and training. I'd done training kind of throughout my career in different avenues, and I went to a career coach because I wanted to see maybe there's something I didn't know that I wanted to know. And sure enough, instructional design came up as a really good place for me to take a look based on what I like to do, what my purpose was. It was really an interesting process, and I dove right in and started to work on my master's. So that's how I got into it. And like I said, I just finished in 2020 was when I finally finished up with my degree.

REBECCA:

Ya, great time to finish.

EVA:

Very interesting time.

REBECCA:

So how do you describe what you do?

EVA:

So in my role now, I work in health care, so I deal with mostly clinical staff, nurses, therapists, all types of inpatient folks who work in hospital. I deal with technical training, so we do software training and skills training for nursing. And as an instructional designer for that, I do training. So I still do some hands on training, which is great. And then we are constantly looking at our curriculum and our delivery methods and you know, especially with these times, we've made some big changes, but you know, constantly revamping, looking at our learners, are they learning, you know, taking back from their classes how they're doing? Are we being effective in just a lot of redesign? Like, it's a constant, it's a process. There's no end point. So it's a good it's a good way to always improve on what you're doing. So that's a lot of what we do.

REBECCA:

So I'm particularly curious on how your world changed in 2020. Yeah.

EVA:

So when I first came on board and all of the training I had done in the past had been, you know, in-person classes. We go in, we have a room full of people and we we help them learn the technology or the system that they're working on. And then all of a sudden, I mean, we literally had one week that first week of March that said, okay, nobody's having in-person training anymore. So we're locked down and we'll figure out how to do this virtually. That was interesting because a lot of things, you know, we walk around the room, we do we do hands on. They're in the system. We can see what they're doing. And all of that had to change to the virtual. So we we hurried up. We tried a couple of different tools for virtual training. We finally settled on the Microsoft teams product, but we basically had to figure out how to take that eight hour class that we used to do in person. And actually some of our classes were two days and just move them over and and keep. The hardest part of that is just I think everybody knows keeping people engaged. You know, it's different when you're talking face to face versus you're listening to a voice or video over the phone, over the computer and try to, you know, see what they're doing. And it's been a learning curve. There's definitely more tools now that we can use than when we started. So that was good.

REBECCA:

And so what does your typical day look like now?

EVA:

So there's days we're training. I'm still training, like I said, outside of that, you know, we we're a lot of it is working with our end users, our subject matter experts. New things come out, enhancements come out to the system. We're kind of figuring out where that works. It's a lot of workflow. You know, how how does the system work with the new workflow and what's the best way to to train on that and to get that education out so that people are up to date? A lot of it is communication. You know, it's a big part of the training field is communication.

REBECCA:

What kinds of projects do you find fun?

EVA:

I like I'm a little bit of a technology person, so I like to do things where there's new learning, there's new I do technology coming out. We're just starting. We're just starting to look at 3D technology. So, you know, we have devices that we interface with and we're looking at using 3D images to kind of move that into our e-learning so that it's a more realistic. You know, way to train. Other than that, you know, the old school way of, you know, screen shots and things like that, we want to really give the user a feeling like they're in front of a of an IV pump or some other piece of material and that they can actually use it. So we're just starting that. That to me is awesome. Anything that I like to build things. So anything that's new, if there's new workflow that has to happen. I like to get involved in the the analysis of that and how to fit that into how we can fit that into the training.

REBECCA:

Okay. That's interesting. So do you actually design workflows?

EVA:

We we work with you know, we take our workflow from our end users. So it's for our in our situation. It's a lot of like a needs assessment, like what is new, how are they going to use it and then how but how best to get that out to everybody. So we do work with smaller groups. We do a lot of workflow. You know, a lot of our job is, is working on how they're using the system and, you know, health care. We have a lot of regulations. We have to meet all those regulatory documentation requirements, things like that. But but it is a lot of workflow analysis and, and working that into the curriculum, whether it's virtual or in-person.

REBECCA:

Yeah, that's kind of that's interesting because it's a bit of a different. Different type of of of work. But it is fascinating. It's like you're still problem solving, right? You're looking at where this goes. And I think that that's particularly fascinating. What is what would you define your niche to be? We often ask students or tell students when they're getting involved in instructional design is like figure out what what it is you do because it's such a big field.

EVA:

Right. Right. And I have to say, I didn't you know, when I when I found out, when I got the suggestion put in my head that this was going to work for me, I'm like, well, you know, I don't really have any background in any of this. I'm not I've never been a teacher. You know, like I said, I've done work job training on the job training, that kind of stuff. But. So my niche is, you know, health care. It's where I've always been. I was comfortable with it and I'm very surprised at how well I acclimated in to instructional design because I had a different kind of. It was almost a misconception that, you know, you had to be a certain level of educator to do this. And it's really if you if you know something really well and you're interested in in building and creating, it's a perfect mix and it really does work together well.

REBECCA:

What were your biggest takeaways from from your degree that helps you do what you do now?

EVA:

Well, I certainly learned a lot because like I said, I didn't have the education background like I was a science major all the way through. So this was a whole other side. And, you know, I'll be honest, the whole idea of adult education was fascinating to me. I've always been in and out of school and one of those life term lifetime learners that likes to keep busy. But the science behind the in the the theory behind the adult education and how to really tap into that so that you can design your deliverable in a way that's going to meet the needs of adults. You know, I deal with adults, so I'm going to speak to that. But I just found that whole thing fascinating and it was just really interesting. And I, you know, science based love, the research part of it. There's, you know, so much information about how we can use what we know and just turn that into a deliverable.

REBECCA:

So what are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

EVA:

I'm just I feel that's a tough one. There's a few. Obviously, staffing, you know, training and education is not always a big budget item. And then, you know, I'm in health care, so there's a lot of quick turnarounds. And sometimes we don't you know, it takes time to do some of the more elaborate online learning or e-learning. And I think sometimes that's just not factored in. And there's there's a lot of you know, if you're really going to do this right, you need you need time to work with your end users and your subject matter experts. I mean, that's how you're going to get the crux of your curriculum. You're going to get it from them. You're not you know, you can help make it up in the beginning to get them started. But those are the people that know their jobs. And, you know, a lot of our stuff is definitely it's all workflow related. So we have to really tap into all that. And you know, these times it's tied, it's been super tough trying to have input from folks that are on the floors working and just, you know, everybody's so beyond stressed and overworked out there in health care.

REBECCA:

So so this is interesting. So you must have more than one kind of subject matter expert because you're talking about training on technology. So somebody is the technology expert. Is that is that you in essence or is that somebody else? And then you also have the clinical on the floor, people that have to get together. Are you the bridge between the two?

EVA:

We are the bridge between the two. And it's an interesting place to be. We do have we have folks on the technology side that that manage the system and build the you know, build the enhancements and things that are coming and kind of do the the guts of the project work. Then they transfer their knowledge over to us and they work with their subject matter experts from, you know, how is this all going to, you know, what piece has to do what for the mechanics of it? And then we jump in and kind of walk through workflows with them and make sure that, you know, we help with testing, everything's working, okay? And then it's on our team to do the, the education deliverable. Like what's, you know, how should we do this? Are we going to roll this out with a workflow guide and online guide? Or do we need does it require training? And we just bridge that. And we also, you know, we work a lot. Like I said, regulatory is a big deal, you know, especially when you're with clinical workers, there's training requirements and things like that. So it's a it's an interesting mix.

REBECCA:

There's a term on I can't get it in my head because in technology training we use the term. Now I'm was in that one, too. Oh, and technology training is technology transfer.

EVA:

Right.

REBECCA:

But they use a different term in health care. And I can't remember what it is, but it's the same concept, right? It's, it's, you know, and implementation research is the type of research behind all of that where you're putting concepts into workflows.

EVA:

Yeah. Well I will say we, we have made some great strides in adding we're definitely focused on scenario based training. You know, it has to it can't just be here's the button to push whatever it has to be. This is how you do your job and this is where this piece of technology fits in. So it has to be really. You know, day in the life kind of training like this is how you will use this and how this will help you. So it's a transfer of their of their knowledge into their workflow.

REBECCA:

Mm hmm. Knowledge transfer? Yeah.

EVA:

Yeah.

REBECCA:

That might be it. I can't remember now. I've been out of it for so long. Okay. What skills do you find most useful in your work?

EVA:

Ever having had a project management background, I have to say that has been super helpful. When we look at training projects, it's really just a project. I also have some coaching in my background, so that has certainly helped me with eliciting information out of end users and subject matter experts. I think communication is a big tool, a big skill that if you miss the communication part of training, you kind of miss the boat completely. That and I think I think I have I've learned a little bit to be more, I want to say, non-linear in my thinking because that helps bring out new ideas. But then I, I argue with myself, I turn around say, well, you're nonlinear to a point because you want to brainstorm and get, you know, get the creative juices going. But then you have to when it comes time to build your training, you really need to flip back into that linear thought process because, you know, a lot of pieces are interactive and dependent on each other. So.

REBECCA:

What do you wish you knew sooner?

EVA:

I was thinking about that question. I don't have an answer for that. I just came in like so cold in my head to this. I don't. I don't know that there's anything I. I think I wish I knew sooner. The only thing I would say is and, you know, I wish I had done this sooner. Personally, I wish I had started sooner. But other than that, I don't know. I don't have a good answer for that one.

REBECCA:

That, you know, a common answer is that instructional design existed.

EVA:

Well, that was it. I didn't I didn't even know it was a thing. Like, I come from a long line of teachers, so, you know, and I'm like, you know, I understand education and I understand academics, but I'm like, wow, there's this whole little thing that's not little anymore. Huge. Now that is really going on. That's actually really cool.

REBECCA:

What advice would you give to new instructional designers?

EVA:

I guess from personal experience I would say don't think your niche isn't important. I mean, from an instructional design perspective, I mean, they're I don't know how to say it. We, we all have so much to learn. Like there's there's a spot for everybody. Every little thing that we do, we learned somehow from somewhere. So don't ever think if you do X, Y, Z, that there's no spot for that. There's gotta to be a spot for that because that translates into somebody's going to learn how to do that. And I always made the assumption that this was more of an academic thing. And it's not. I mean, every business, every every career, every job has this has some form of education and training. So there's a spot for everybody.

REBECCA:

It's a big field.

EVA:

It is a big field. The other thing and I will say I wish I had thought about and had made it so hard to stay on top of what's new. I mean, things these past two years especially have been changing so fast and tools are coming out and make time for that. Like carve out some time for yourself just to feel like you're staying on top of the new trends and stuff. You don't have to be an expert at it, but keep it in the back of your head so you know where things are going.

REBECCA:

That's. Yeah. Things change so quickly right now. Is there anything else you'd like to talk about before we close off? Any other questions you want me to ask?

EVA:

Well, I guess one thing I do want to say is, you know, depending on where you work, you're either going to go soup to nuts where you start with interviewing your end users and needs assessment and you work yourself all in, you're going to be part of the process all the way through. Which is kind of what I had hoped. But, you know, when you get into bigger organization, you know, I had to give up my. My wish of doing hands on, build in, like, storyline or captivate or doing videos and things like that. Because that moved. We got to the point where we couldn't keep up with anything anymore and that moved to a technical digital team that has, you know, probably a better skill set than I do with recording and editing. But it's interesting because you we still we we supply them with what they need to do their job. So it's like it's like a supply chain assembly line when it comes to building out the deliverables.

REBECCA:

And so what what types of professionals do you integrate with in your job?

EVA:

Well, after we get through our, you know, subject matter experts, the clinical end of it, we build out, you know, what we think that learning is going to look like. And then we have folks that are we have graphic designers now on the team. We have. Like I said, digital technical people who take care of, you know, the we're using captivate and storyline and doing video recordings and they we script for them. So we pass on the script we often pass on because we're doing software training, we pass on like screenshots and what needs to be highlighted when and where. So we do all of that scripting for them and then they just put it all together for us and send it back. And then we we go through the testing and the, you know, approval process of the technology that goes out.

REBECCA:

I always like that model where you do the design and the testing. Like, if you're going to if you're going to have a middle person doing implementation, it's always great to have the designer be the one that's actually doing the testing.

EVA:

Yes. Yes. We also use a much smaller group of our subject matter experts on that. We have them approve it before it goes out to the masses. So. Yeah, it's a good model. It's a good model. So I guess I guess, you know, I got hung up a little bit on school because, you know, I'm gadget girl. I love that part of implementation and using the tools. And then when I got into my job, I was like, you know, you're going to have to let it go because a, there's people that have been doing a lot longer than you are and they're much faster at it. But but that also opens up opportunity to move to a different team. So there's a lot of you know, it depends on where your skills lie and what you want to do. You know, there is a there's a wide spectrum of. Tools and careers. What you want, where you want to fall in that line.

REBECCA:

What's your prediction for the future of instructional design?

EVA:

After these last two years? I mean, instructional design is going to take over. I really think it's a huge market right now. And because of, you know, corporations or everybody's doing it, you know, everybody's kind of and I don't want to say that in-person training is gone because there's definitely no room for that. And especially, you know, when you talk about education for, you know, K through 12. But when you get out into adults, at least I think our in-person is going to gradually go down and it's going to be more technology based. And I just think there's there's a spot for everybody to get their hands in it. And especially as more technology. I mean, who knows? Who knows? I don't I can't even predict the future any more. Like what? I think we're doing things now that I would have never thought of, like ten years ago. So. But I think it's not going anywhere, that's for sure.

REBECCA:

Thank you very much, Eva, for coming on to, to demystify instructional design and your willingness to be interviewed.

EVA:

Well, thank you for having me, Rebecca. It's been fun.

REBECCA:

You've been listening to Demystifying Instructional Design, a podcast where I interview instructional designers about what they do. I'm Rebecca Hogue, your podcast host. Shownotes are posted as a blog post on demystifying instructional design dot com. If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe or leave a comment in the show notes blog post.