U2: A3 New Employee Onboarding Design Plan

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Description: The purpose of this digital learning resource (DLR) is to provide an online tool that will support a new employee general onboarding process. As a learning resource, it will familiarize new employees to our department and provide an overview of the people and the functions in each departmental unit. Serving as one aspect of the general departmental onboarding, it will serve as a supplementary resource in addition to an employee networking event that runs twice per year. Employees also go through job-specific training in their respective units, and will be mentored by their peers when applicable.

Learning Goals – As a result of this DLR, new employees will:

  • become familiar with the focus of each departmental unit, what they do and who are the staff;
  • increase their understanding of how the work of each unit supports ties into the mission of the department;
  • be able to identify key contacts for each unit.

Intended Audience: The audience of this DLR will be new employees hired into the department.

Rationale: The DLR will provide new employees with a consolidated resource that replaces the need for extensive face-to-face meetings and serves as a standardized collection of information. The DLR enables employees to learn about the organization at their own pace and convenience and follow up with lead unit contacts if in-person meetings are needed. Since our HR unit would like to standardize how each unit delivers information, a DLR that consolidates individual unit overviews using set templates will also help to create consistent learning experiences.

Tools: I am planning to use an e-learning authoring tool, Articulate Rise 360. This platform enables a anyone to create interactive courses or presentations which can be developed for any device. Because of its easy to use interface, range of templates and content as well as the ability to embed videos and audio, I believe it will be manageable for employees of other units to build their presentation and/or mini-courses into this platform. The following supporting tools will be used within Articulate Rise 360.

Video – a welcome video will be made by the key contact or unit lead welcoming new employees into the department. The video will also help new employees to put a face to the unit.

Audio – audio recordings from each unit team member will be embedded into the course to explain specific responsibilities that pertain to that particular team member.

Assessment/Evaluation Plan: There will be no formal assessment used, however, knowledge checks will be incorporated in the overview for each unit to check for general comprehension of the information covered. To ensure that new employees view the resource, HR will track completion rates for each new employee accessing the courses and follow up with a google survey once all mini-courses for each unit have been completed to elicit overall feedback.

Learning Theories & Instructional Design Principles Used:

Learning Theories: Kenner and Weinerman (2011) posited that the field of organizational development prompted adult learning theory “where the focus on learning theory is seen as a way of providing employees with the tools they needed to perform better in the workplace” (p. 88). The intent of this DLR is to equip new employees with general organizational knowledge. The assumption is that new employees will use this resource as a starting point to further their knowledge and skills as related to their work. In this way, employees will take responsibility for developing their knowledge. Knowles (1974) identified adult learners as being self-directed, who possess a depth of experience, are likely to engage in learning, and are task motivated (as cited in Kenner & Weinerman, 2011). Since this DLR is being used in a professional development context for employee onboarding practices, the principles of adult learning theories will inform the design of this resource.

Instructional Design Principles: Using relevant elements from the SECTIONS framework (Bates, 2015), integration of digital technology as an appropriate DLR for this context will be used. Additionally, the TAPPA Process (Moore, 2016) is a model adequately suited for micro-instruction which would lend itself well to this current context. TAPPA (Target, Accomplishment, Past, Prototype, Artifact) provides significant flexibility while providing a framework to effectively “move through the design, development, and implementation process” (Moore, 2016, p. 429).

Instructions for Use: New employees will be introduced to the DLR during their meeting with our department’s internal HR coordinator. The coordinator will provide a brief overview of the DLR ensuring that all new employees have access through the department intranet. New employees will be asked to view the min-courses in the DLR during their first six-weeks of being hired into the department. The HR coordinator will confirm with the new employee’s supervisor when all courses/presentations have been completed. Unit leads will be responsible for updating content as needed in the DLR.

Plan for Use: Employees will be able to use this onboarding resource any time and it will be available for both new and current employees. It will not be an open resource since the content will be specific to our department and therefore may contain confidential information.


Bates, A. W. (2015). Chapters 6-8. In Teaching in a digital age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning. Vancouver BC: Tony Bates Associates Ltd.

Kenner, C., & Weinerman, J. (2011). Adult learning theory: Applications to nontraditional college students.  Journal of College Reading and Learning, 41(2), 87-96, DOI: 10.1080/10790195.2011.10850344.

Moore, R. L. (2016). Developing distance education content using the TAPPA processTechTrends60(5), 425–432.

U1: A4 Deeper Layers Revealed: Reframing the Problem

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I recently conducted a human-centered needs assessment to explore an educational need for the design of a digital learning resource (DLR) to improve delivery of information presented in general onboarding sessions in my department. My findings based on interviews, observations and secondary data revealed employee needs and insights that are critical to consider if I am to develop a DLR that places the end user at the forefront of the design.

As part of the empathy process, I uncovered a gap between employee needs and interests for general onboarding in relation to their own work experience and business acumen. Employees who are starting their career and who may have limited work experience seem to be more interested in attending face-to-face general onboarding sessions to meet new co-workers and learn about the department. While employees who have worked in higher education previously and have been in the workforce for several years were selective of the onboarding meetings they would need to attend. Some employees prefer to attend onboarding sessions that are relevant to their current work and role with the option to learn about other units in the department through other means. In this way, they are able to set up their own onboarding meetings with internal stakeholders (from other units) to become better acquainted with their work.

Given the insights obtained through empathy mapping, I used the Point of View (POV) Madlib as a define method to help narrow and reframe my design challenge. The POV Madlib allows you to synthesize user needs and insights collected through the empathy stage to create a problem statement (Stanford University Institute of Design, 2016; Woolery, 2017). The original design problem at the start of this needs assessment was to create a meaningful DLR that would support understanding of content presented in the general onboarding sessions. Based on the findings from the field research and by reframing the problem, my new problem statement places more emphasis on the end user needs as opposed to only the creation of a deliverable. I am hopeful that with this reframed problem statement, I can now explore actionable solutions that might better address the user needs in this design process.

New Problem Statement:

New employees need to understand the overall work of department units in a way that relates to their work and meets their learning preferences to help them effectively process information and feel more knowledgeable in their job.

Through completion of the Empathy and Define phases in the human-centered design process, I have a greater appreciation for the time it takes to conduct these phases. I consider myself to be empathetic but faced with time constraints and limited exposure to end users, I wonder if I am truly empathetic as I could be if I had further time. For example, although I conducted two interviews, a larger range of interviews would most likely have provided a more in-depth experience in understanding a range of perspectives. As it was, I could only interview two employees and draw from past experiences in onboarding sessions. Despite these limitations, using new methods such as empathy mapping and the POV Madlib proved to be very insightful as I was able to step back from immersing myself in the end user experience, and then evaluate it as objectively as I could. The POV Madlib, in particular, was helpful in revealing deeper insights into the problem.


Stanford University Institute of Design. (2016). Bootcamp Bootleg. Retrieved from http://dschool-old.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/METHODCARDS-v3-slim.pdf

Woolery, E. (2017). Design thinking handbook. Retrieved from https://www.designbetter.co/design-thinking