in December of 2002, the University of Colorado requested the Center
for Innovations in Teaching and Learning Technologies (CITT) to
create a standardized method of training lab workers. This project,
requested by several departments of the University of Colorado,
was supported and funded by the University Leadership Development
The need for the training arose because there is currently no standardized
safety training for laboratory workers at University of Colorado
campuses. As the University is a state institution, it does not
fall under Federal OSHA standards and guidelines. Lab safety training
is presently lab specific, face to face, and dependent on individual
lab proctors, posted guidelines, safety modules or Powerpoint presentations,
however university lab workers rarely review these materials. While
accidents were few, lab supervisors felt many incidents were underreported,
and were concerned that inconsistent safety training could lead
to a future major accident. Supervisors and science faculty felt
that workers needed to be offered standardized training in the safe
handling of dangerous environments, equipment, and hazardous materials.
The focus for the training they suggested would be on prevention,
the proper use of safety equipment, and safe procedures to avoid
Learner Characteristics: Adult Learners
Learners were all individuals who may come into contact with hazardous
materials, environments, or machinery through their work in University
of Colorado laboratories. This varied from lab proctors and directors
with many years of experience and knowledge about laboratory safety,
to campus staff who are responsible for working in or near laboratory
environments on campus. Learners also included students; both graduate
students and undergraduate, taking laboratory safety training for
the first time. Further, this training would poossibly be mandated
in the future for maintenance and janitorial staff who work in lab
areas. This instruction therefore, had to be a “one-size-fits-all”
course, to ensure that experienced learners “unlearn”
misconceptions and refresh knowledge about lab safety practices.
Furthermore, the training had to provide the learners with the skills,
and appropriate reference materials, needed to work safely in potentially
hazardous environments, allowing staff to work in and maintain campus
Learner Task Analysis
There were three main areas of learner tasks:
In this context the psychomotor tasks will be the safe handling
practices with the hazardous materials and equipment. For example
proper use of goggles, and masks, best adjustment for ventilation
hoods, and the good habits of recapping bottles and proper labeling.
Intellectual or cognitive areas:
We will focus awareness and attention on the risk factors of materials
to create discrimination about which materials or equipment requires
an appropriate protocol. Further training will be in understanding
the differences between hazards for example whether one is explosive,
flammable, or toxic by itself or in combination, to know the proper
steps to take to avoid or treat injuries.
This task will be the main focus of the course. Most lab workers
already have some understanding of what materials are hazardous,
however they may have become relaxed in their habits or underestimate
the potential danger. Most accidents are a result of carelessness,
or a “just this once” attitude that allows them to take
risks leading to injury to themselves, or fellow workers. Lab personnel
may be so used to working with certain materials that they have
forgotten their possible toxicity over time, and need to be reminded
of procedures that minimize risk.
The main clients for this training were Rick Hillier, an expert
in Risk Management, Steve Robison, head of the Boulder Campus hazardous
waste management office, and Patti Shank, also from the Boulder
campus. Steve Robison would be the main client and subject matter
Our client’s prioritized tasks for the learners in descending
1. Shift in attitude from relaxed or habitual, to a more alert,
careful and aware affect
2. Sense of shared responsibility and awareness of the interdependence
of everyone in creating a safe working environment
3. Standardized understanding of hazardous materials and their dangers
4. Basic understanding of uniform procedures in handling hazards
and proper use of safety equipment
5. Procedural emergency response
The training had to function as a; stand-alone, just-in-time resource
that could be quickly accessed in any lab setting. Most lab workers
would take the training within their own schedules, and it had to
be available to new workers, as well as for experienced workers
retraining, resource benefit.
Instructional Design Goals
This training had to be:
“One-size-fits-all” for a variety
Provide basic lab safety information
Be interesting and compelling enough to attract learners
Offer accurate information about high-risk materials and equipment.
Rationale for Approach:
As a result of analyzing the needs of the clients, the learners,
and the learning environment, CITT decided that an online, stand
alone, lab safety course would be the best method to offer accessible,
standardized training to University lab workers.
Web based training would be available at lab sites, which currently
all have computers and internet access, provide uniform information
to the pre-determined training needs of the lab workers, and lastly
offer “just in time” reference material so workers could
reference specific hazards and procedures while at work.. CITT had
previously been contracted to create an online Hazardous Materials
course for these clients, so they were already familiar with online
Dr. Marty Tessmer, from CITT assigned the
project to me. I requested my co-workers, Dana Ewald, and Brom Kim
to work with me, so that we could incorporate the project into our
Design Studio class, as the scheduled project, and class assignment
needed to be finished by the end of the semester. Marty agreed,
under the condition that I be both, the Project Manager, and the
The clients requested that the course consist of two instructional
modules, a lab safety reference section and a final quiz. The clients
came to the CITT lab, as an opportunity for everyone to meet, to
brainstorm ideas, and so that Rick Hillier could present his risk
management material. We videotaped Rick’s risk management
presentation as a resource to draw on when designing the module.
Steve Robison planned to write the content for the other module,
and send information about what topics would go in the reference
Over the next few days we sketched out a brief outline of the course
See Course Blueprint
Anticipated Project Risks:
Risks for this project include missed deadlines, scope creep, and
failed application of technology. The schedule of this project was
a relatively short span to design, build, test, and deploy the course.
The course is designed for delivery to a diverse, international
audience. Although most learners will access the course from campus
computer labs using T1 lines, off-campus learners must be able to
access a reasonably usable learning event with a 28.8 modem. While
dial-up is still in use, bandwidth must be taken into account. Careful
attention must be paid to insure that dial-up users are not subjected
to intolerably long download times. Additionally, as this course
will be accessible on the Internet, the course must be interoperable
on a wide variety of hardware and browsers, to include PC and Mac.
on this link to see the Lab Safety Course
The project is not completed as the client discovered the content
to be more complex than anticipated, and so is still writing. The
deadline was extended to mid-August. The SME is updating the reference
section module content as of July/03.
During the semester Dana and Brom left for
full time employment. I continued to work on the project till the
second week in June, meeting with the client, updating requested
changes, and continued to make course improvements. I transferred
the remaining edits to Jenn Light at the CITT lab after we lost
our funding. When I last checked, (7/8/03) the course looked the
same. Modules 1 and 2 are almost completed, with minor editing and
page shifts needed. The reference section structure is completed,
and most of the categories have some content in them that is waiting
for SME changes.
Evidence of Value
The original intention for this course was to create an interesting,
online, self-paced, well-referenced training on lab safety. As such,
it has met the need to provide lab safety training anytime, anywhere.
It was designed as a stand alone, "just-in-time" opportunity
for employees, faculty and students, so they could learn and update
knowledge about ever changing lab safety procedures and regulations.
Our client has expressed that he is satisfied with the development
of the course and hopes to implement it in the fall of 2003. CITT
has received feedback from evaluators and other stakeholders that
the modules are well organized, interesting, and easy to navigate.
I am no longer a part of this project, or
working at the CITT. Therefore, am unable to collect evidence of
the success of this project from UCHSC, and Boulder campus lab researchers.
If I was continuing with CITT, I would do observational research,
usability studies, and content surveys from a cross section of lab
workers to get feedback of the usefulness of the course. Statistics
showing that lab researchers gained knowledge and skills to work
safely in the laboratory would be valuable, however because the
University has not collected statistics of lab incidents, there
is no possibility of comparing before and after instruction impacts.
Given that, I would instead choose to focus on how useful and interesting
the information is to learners, asking them; “what was most
memorable, helpful,” to their work, recording what features
they would skip or emphasize if they were to re-do the learning
modules. I’m particularly interested in finding out if the
reference section is useful as a stand-alone resource for easy reference.
This type of in-depth sampling of users would confirm my belief
that this course will improve the safety performance of employees,
faculty and laboratory students on the University of Colorado campuses.
Overall I like this course and am pleased with how it has
turned out so far. My biggest dissapointment and stree in working
and managing this project was in not having timely content from
the client. This threw off the entire scope and schedule of the
project and added too much stress. Our original strategy would have
worked better had this occurred, however such is life in instructional
The team divided the project by course module
to allow each member of the group to get experience in developing
the content, and designing the course in Dreamweaver. If I had to
do it over again, I would prefer that each member choose a role/responsibility
to complete. One person to be responsible for content, another for
site development, or technology etc. This would have added to the
cohesiveness of the course, made it easier to monitor individual
performance. It was difficult to check co-workers progress, because
each person was working on a separate module, and I tried to respect
autonomy in other’s work until it became clear that we were
behind on our deadlines. I also spent a lot of time at the end rewriting,
editing, and fine tuning the course “voice” to make
it more consistent.
Most of the difficulties with this project
came from not getting timely content and updates from the client/SME.
As Project Manager, I’ve learned that it is important to work
more closely with the client to set a realistic schedule, posting
and updating it weekly, so the client sees their role in the projects
progress. Our client seemed to become somewhat disassociated early
on in the process. I’m not sure if he felt overwhelmed, or
burdened by the responsibilities of providing content for this course,
or if he was unprepared when the co-client left the project early
in the project to pursue a new career. The schedule of the project
was hindered by the client’s tardiness in replying to e-mails
and telephone messages. I should have met sooner with our client
to re-evaluate the goals of the project. I did not do this because
I didn’t want to seem pushy and irritate the client, and now
see client management as a learning experience for future projects
During the front end analysis, I visited
several labs, and interviewed some lab workers, supervisors, and
faculty to asses training needs. I wanted to interview further members
to evaluate their level of knowledge regarding lab safety practices.
Our stakeholders insisted that this would not be necessary as they
were aware of the knowledge and needs of laboratory workers. In
future projects, I would request more access to the audience and
do a more thorough learner analysis with the client before agreeing
to develop the course.
One benefit to the technology we used was
the CSS and templates, which I have to credit Brom with designing.
I appreciated the ability to make changes to the course easily and
efficiently. Brom also was crucial in helping with the structure
for the reference section, and I learned a lot from working with
I believe one of the most valuable aspects
of this tool for learners, is that I synthesized and summarized
complex information from a variety of sources, and delivered it
efficiently for student users. I also feel that the interactions
and authentic learning experiences are beneficial for in-depth learning.
Looking back at our group dynamic I found
the creative process to be stressful, frustrating, funny, and rewarding.
Despite the fact that all three of us worked in the CITT lab, we
had never worked on a project together, so this was a new experience.
Fortunately, we learned to work together well. The biggest stress
factor was the lack of timely content and communication from our
client. Our team coped with this common, and difficult, problem,
by researching and writing our own content. We did our best to be
resourceful and continue to move forward with the course. In a short
period, I believe that we were able to create a well-designed, thoughtful
and meaningful online course for future laboratory users.
Demonstration of Competency 2: Design instruction of human
performance strategy to meet the needs of learners.
This online course meets a need for workers in CU laboratories to
have accessible, useful, standardized training in safe procedures
and guidelines. This course was designed to facilitate learners’
training and professional development as a just-in-time learning
opportunity. As an online course, the information is available through
the Internet anytime, anywhere for lab workers who need to learn
more about laboratory risks, safety procedures, hazards, equipment
and safe handling. The interactions are low tech by design to be
independent from required plug-ins or downloads. We used text boxes,
div tags, layers, and animated gifs to present a dynamic experience
Demonstration of Competency 3: Uses
of variety of media to deliver instruction to students and to engage
student in learning.
This course uses a variety of media and interactions to provide
relevant material in an attractive, easy to use web site. We (the
design team and the clients) chose to publish this course online
so users could take the training at their pace and to address their
own needs. We designed the course and content-learner interactions
using Dreamweaver MX. We also used the Course Management System
in Blackboard to track learner access and performance. We planned
for the modules to operate on Blackboard, so we could use quiz builder
and store results and grades in the Blackboard grade book. We also
planned to use Macromedia Composer to allow the client to update
content in the resource section in module three.In this project
we used a variety of graphics, text and animation to illustrate
the concepts being taught, simulate reality and help learners to
develop the necessary skills to solve problems and prevent and respond
to laboratory emergencies. Graphics were created in Photoshop 6.
Demonstration of Competency 5: Manages
complex projects and resources in support of learning.
This was a complex project that demanded a high level of management,
research, writing, design, and communication. As the project and
client manager, I felt a lot of responsibility, especially when
timelines began to slip. While I understood that I was forced to
wait for the SME to deliver the content, I felt a frustrating obligation
to get things done according to our schedule.
While I have managed people before in work
situations, I had been identified in that role before I was hired.
Managing coworkers who were as skilled as I was in area of technology
and instructional design, (if not more so) made it difficult to
direct and delegate responsibilities. When deadlines neared we all
got irritated with each other, especially when I had to push people
to keep agreements, or could not deliver needed content from the
client. I had originally seen myself as a shared facilitator, but
ended up having to tell people what to do, this is not my leadership
strength, and I work best as a team facilitator. In this dynamic,
I also realized that I wasn’t listening as well as I could
have to others ideas. I learned a lot about myself as a manger,
finding strengths and weaknesses in my style along the project process.
The leadership conference I attended in June helped me gain confidence
to be more upfront with coworkers about dealing with problems, finding
shared solutions early, clearly dividing responsibilities, and helping
others to manage themselves.
As a designer I found myself researching
and writing content on hazards and equipment I knew nothing about
just to move the project along. I helped create the project plan,
template, and wrote much pf the content. In doing so, I tried to
ensure that good design principles were used, such as brevity, usability,
and appropriate graphics. Lastly, I used design subject matter experts
(like Marty), other graduate students, and the designers involved
with this project, as formative evaluators of each version during
the design process.