It's a safety issue because turkey is fraught with opportunities for foodborne illness from salmonella, campylobacter, and other bacterial contamination. There's danger when you buy your bird, when you store it, prep it, cook it, put the leftovers away, and get them back out for tomorrow's sandwiches and the next day's tetrazzini. It's a wonder we survive this gauntlet of doom!
OK, it's not all that bad. We can be thankful that safe practices can mitigate those risks. And we can be thankful that training can beget safe practices!
E-learning takes a lot of different forms, and this week's topic gives me a chance to expound on a quick chunk of philosophy. "Make it interactive" is Commandment #1 in the e-learning bible. At least, it is a key buzzword for sales departments in e-learning vendor teams. But like many lofty pronouncements, here's one whose vagueness leaves it open to a great deal of interpretation.
The importance of interactivity - and the application of its highest levels - isn't a blanket thing. It's dependent on what the learning objective is. And in the case of turkey safety, give me a clear, accessible job performance aid, and save the expensively-produced, 3D animated simulation for something like learning to land an airplane.
One of the big sources of turkey danger has to do with the size of a turkey - it's one of the biggest pieces of meat you'll ever thaw or cook. What this means is that both thawing and cooking take place from the outside in. By the time the inside of the bird has thawed at room temperature, the outside has already reached unsafe temperatures where bacteria can thrive. And when the outside of the bird has cooked long enough to kill those bacteria, the inside still has a ways to go. So timing - for both thawing and cooking - is key. And timing depends on the weight of the bird.
What's the best instructional design to put this information into my brain and affect my behavior in the kitchen? I need to know this stuff for a few minutes each year, and the rest of the year, it doesn't really matter to me. I don't need to practice and drill until I've memorized the cooking time for a 13-pound vs. a 16-pound bird at 325º vs. 350º.
The design needs to take into account that different people learn best in different ways. I need a chart, dangit. That I can check while I'm cooking on Thanksgiving afternoon. Maybe some explanatory prose. And a meat thermometer. (I really need to set up an Amazon associates account so I can make bank off product placement like this!)
You might learn better from a video. And your neighbor might not speak English. There are free streaming videos on King County, Washington's website in English, Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Someone else might not be as experienced as you and I, and need recipes to go along with the temperature/time charts. All that information has been made available by the USDA on their website at the aptly-named holidayfoodsafety.org.
Another learner might be a rank beginner who needs to know about everything from shopping to serving, from farm to table.
Not interactive enough? At least the USDA fakes some interactivity with a searchable FAQ: "'Ask Karen' is a knowledge base with information for consumers about preventing foodborne illness, safe food handling and storage, and safe preparation of meat, poultry, and egg products."
I didn't find any free training on cleaning up after dinner, so... let's just watch the game. Go Broncos!