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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Mixed Bag

JuneBug's Job Hunting and Photography Blog

This is sort of a cross-over blog or a mix between my two main topics - photography and job-hunting. Some of you may have already read that I'm working temporarily outside my field (IT and Instructional Design) as a parts inspector in an auto plant.

Well part of my job is reading and signing off on work instructions. And of course I can't help noticing that many times these work instructions are accompanied by photographs. I also notice that these photographs are often of questionable quality.

So it got me thinking - wouldn't it be fun or kind of cool if I could come up with some kind of training or instructional module for the person who has to take photographs in this kind of situation? Some of the problems have to do with low light conditions, excessive washout because of the flash, poor field-ground separation, main subject out of focus especially when the photo requires macro photography distances and great depth of field.

I'm no expert but what can the ordinary person try in these situations to improve their results? Are there a few simple things? I'm thinking use of a gray card to enhance natural lighting or soften the flash - maybe bouncing the flash - maybe this would help field ground separation and color? Or use of something to reflect more natural light on a subject? The right camera settings - shutter speed and f-stop. How to use the macro photography feature. What else? Wonder if there's anything on the web about this?

And of course how to use various editing tools to enhance the image once you upload it to the desk top.

And what's the best way to present this subject matter to this particular audience? How would they prefer to get this information? How much effort are they willing and able to put in to this? What are their questions and frustrations when they are faced with having to generate a new set of work instructions and to take photographs? The fact is that people in this company do not have much advance notice for making work instructions. The environment is fast-paced and low-budget. Sort jobs come up at the drop of a hat and the customer wants them done yesterday or sooner - especially if they're needing the parts to keep the line running. = :o Furthermore work instructions may have a "shelf life" anywhere from two hours to two years. It's not unheard of for the sort to be over before the work instructions are finished!

What about the rest of the stakeholders in this game? Even though inspectors are required to read and sign off on work instructions, that doesn't necessarily prepare them to do the sort. In fact most would probably tell you they learn more by hands-on training than by reading a set of work instructions with fuzzy pictures of some part that many of us have never seen before . That doesn't mean the work instructions don't come in handy, however - and contribute to a more successful outcome for the customer.

So what's the best instructional strategy and theory to use - philosophically, I am a constructivist and wonder how constructivism would apply? For one thing, the work instructions are how the designer puts the sort together in his or her mind - not how people who actually execute the sort put the task together in their minds. I'm thinking the work instructions and pictures should aid or scaffold the inspectors in putting the sort together in their own mind rather than imposing some lock step regimen. How does adult learning theory tie in?

And practically what does this mean - coming up with a series of photos from work instructions and asking people to identify common problems in them and start to think about how to address them?

Also, while this is somewhat off the topic, I'm somewhat of the opinion that all the inspectors' paperwork and forms could be streamlined and simplified, and that perhaps barcode scanning might be helpful- and that there actually need to be two sets of work instructions - one for the customer to sign off on - and one that is actually a job aid for the inspector to use. Also as already noted, the work instructions albeit short-lived are always a work in progress - and people find their own and more efficient ways the more they get into a task ... but there doesn't seem to be any formal recognition of this fact in the design process.

I guess even if not I'm not currently working in my field, I need to keep my mind active and this gives me something fun to think about at work.

Well this blog post is something I'll probably be revisiting off and on - and I'll certainly share any final instructional product. Would love to hear from anyone who has some ideas or input on this!

Happy Job Hunting!



Pseudo-intellectual lunatic said...


Junebug said...

Thanks so much for visiting - I enjoyed your website too. ANd I tried out your "what kind of soul are you" link ... :)

You Are a Dreaming Soul
Your vivid emotions and imagination takes you away from this world
So much so that you tend to live in your head most of the time
You have great dreams and ambitions that could be the envy of all...
But for you, following through with your dreams is a bit difficult

You are charming, endearing, and people tend to love you.
Forgiving and tolerant, you see the world through rose colored glasses.
Underneath it all, you have a ton of passion that you hide from others.
Always hopeful, you tend to expect positive outcomes in your life.

Souls you are most compatible with: Newborn Soul, Prophet Soul, and Traveler Soul

What Kind of Soul Are You?