Agricultural Communications, Purdue University
An electronic newsletter with communication tips and information


June 1998


Instructional Design: Part I--An Overview

Instructional design (ID) is a systematic process to ensure that successful learning follows from instruction. That goal is central to the work we all do. So revisiting the subject, even if we can only skim the surface, is a good idea.

Most ID processes include the following steps.

This article is what we call a "teaser." In the next three issues of "On Target," I'll have more to say about the importance of 1) Needs Assessment and Learner Characteristics, 2) Content Analysis and Instructional Goals, and 3) Creating Performance Objectives and Developing Learning Materials.


Super Newsletters: Logos as Graphic Elements

(The following was adapted from "Creating Super Newsletters: A Training Curriculum for Cooperative Extension Staff, Module 3 " University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service, June 1997.)

A logo is a specially designed symbol used to identify an organization, company, publication, product, product line, or service. Good logos have many of the same characteristics as good graphics. They attract attention; they convey a mood; and they are simple.

But they go one step further. Logos graphically symbolize an organization, company, publication, product, or service. An effective logo will capture, visually, the mission and image an organization wants to convey.

Logos may be just an image, or they may also include words. The term "logotype," which comes from the early days of typesetting with metal slugs, describes any type that is included in the logo. Generally, the logotype is created using a specific typestyle, size, and spacing.

Most organizations require that the logo (art and accompanying logotype) be used as a whole and in a consistent manner. Behind every logo you can bet there are hours of thought (often by committee), revisions, discussions, and decision-making. For this reason--and for obvious political ones--it's not a good idea to tamper with logos without permission.

Purdue's griffin is a good example. If you'd like a copy of the guidelines for using the griffin, contact me.


Dealing with Difficult People

The following guidelines may help you deal with difficult people.

Consider personality types

There are several personality tests, such as the "True Colors" program offered through 4-H programs and the Myers Briggs test, which help you understand "where people are coming from." Once you understand that, you can take steps toward a smoother conversation.

Avoid the argument trap

This really happened. A caller asked for marketing information. The specialist offered his professional opinion, and the caller disagreed. Because of a long-standing "difficult person" relationship, that phone call became a long, confrontational exchange. Instead, the argument could have been neutralized by simply responding, "That is my professional opinion. You have your opinion. Do you have another question?" Tone of voice is very important on this one.

Recognize the isolated

Some callers, visitors, and meeting participants are just very intent on getting their points across, or at least having their questions or comments considered. Responding with acceptance of such individuals, if not their point, can help defuse the difficulty. This may be as simple as saying "Thank you for your suggestion" and keeping the conversation moving in a positive direction.

Keep your cool

Sometimes you lose control before you know it. That doesn't necessarily mean that you're angry. You become defensive, stop listening, stop being objective, and revert to old and sometimes bad habits of communicating. Stop. Take a moment to think. In extreme cases, ask if you can call back. Or, if you are at a meeting, ask if you can have some time to think on that before you respond.

Beware of stereotypes

Be an active listener, and look for the real problem instead of what your stereotype might make you expect.

Consult a third party

Often another person can help you put things into perspective.

Finally, be prepared

You know the types of people you find difficult. Using these tips, or maybe some from one of the many books available on the subject, will help you make these interactions more productive.


Grammar Trap: Its vs. It's

A version of this "Grammar Trap" originally appeared in the June 1995 issue of "CommuniquŽ," the paper precursor of "On Target." People still confuse the two words I wrote about then, so I thought I'd run the piece again.

Oh, boy, an exception that proves a rule.

"Its" is the possessive form of the pronoun "it"--despite the fact that there is no apostrophe.

Example:

"It's" is a contraction, the shortened version of "it is" or "it has."

Example:

If there's a grammar or usage trap you'd like me to discuss or if you have a tip that will help the rest of us avoid one, please let me know.


We want to hear from you. Do you have a communication question? Do you have a comment on this issue of "On Target"? If so, please e-mail any of our writers or On Target's managing editor, Kevin Smith.

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