Akron Children’s Hospital is a 7,000+ employee independent, community-governed pediatric healthcare organization located in Northeast Ohio. It is dedicated to improving the health of children through outstanding quality patient care, education, advocacy, community service, and research.
The hospital’s talent development (TD) team’s mission is to facilitate the growth and continuous improvement of employees to support the Akron Children’s strategic plan, mission, and promises. The instructional design team consists of three employees who support an organization with more than 7,000 employees and 2,000 nonemployee staff members. As much as this team desires to, they cannot touch every learning experience. So, they wanted to continue creating a learning culture that includes many key content creators trained in the basics of instructional design. Providing training for the wider TD team was a means of cultivating a team of educators, trainers, program managers, and other key stakeholders who have a foundational knowledge of instructional design principles.
These individuals are tasked with creating learning experiences that not only engage learners but move the needle on education gaps identified through needs assessments. Akron Children’s wanted to create a framework for approaching learning design that would provide a foundation for all content creators, to ensure that their training programs truly meet education needs and that content is designed and developed in an organized fashion that begins with the learner and the outcome in mind.
To ensure all individuals involved in content creation had the necessary foundational skills, Akron Children’s partnered with ATD to provide Instructional Design team training. Michelle Weber, senior instructional design and development specialist, says, “We partnered with ATD since we’ve had a positive working relationship for close to eight years. We’ve had employees take certification courses before and they only have positive remarks about the courses and their ability to improve their own professional growth.” She goes on to explain, “We’ve had employees complete ATD’s certificate courses many times in the past, including the Instructional Design Certificate and Master Instructional Design Certificate, as part of a larger strategy. Team members have also completed several other ATD certificates, including the Microlearning Certificate, Consulting Skills Certificate, and Adobe Captivate Certificate.”
Weber explains, “The benefits of targeting educators and trainers in the organization allow for our team to work collaboratively, serving in a consultant (supportive) role, for those areas that are frequently training and developing our shared learners. Our trainers and educators in the organization can create learning solutions to meet outcomes and optimize learning transfer—which allows for efficiencies in workflows.”
Since 2015, Akron Children’s has had 80 nursing professional development (NPD) practitioners complete, at a minimum, ATD’s Instructional Design Certificate or Master Instructional Design Certificate. Of those, 30 percent remain in their NPD role. Nearly 10 percent have moved up into nursing or organization development leadership roles or become program coordinators for learning programs at the organization. This includes Holly Etling, instructional design and clinical development specialist, who joined the TD team after completing the Instructional Design Certificate in 2018. Most recently, Sarah Goode, instructional design and development specialist of talent development, participated with a group of NPD practitioners in 2022.
The team stays connected through daily huddles and a monthly forum to provide updates and best practices for instructional design. Many expert team members also serve on an Education and Competency Delivery Workgroup and support an annual Quality Summit to review strategic learning initiatives. The team has also streamlined their internal intake process to facilitate learning needs assessments and standardize support from the TD team. This allows them to track and prioritize the growing number of requests their team receives.
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