Information needs to be organised so that it helps learners understand easily and retain it and apply it correctly for a long time. It should be delivered to the right people, at the right time and through the right channels. You could get information from your subject matter expert and create a handbook, a 3-day face to face course, a set of PDF job aids, quick reference guides or full blown manuals. But are they right for the job and how effective will they be? An instructional designer’s job is to make sure shared information is remembered and applied.
Wikipedia provides the following definition:
Instructional Design is the practice of systematically designing, developing and delivering instructional products and experiences, both digital and physical, in a consistent and reliable fashion towards an efficient, effective, appealing, engaging and inspiring acquisition of knowledge. The process consists broadly of determining the state and needs of the learner, defining the end goal of instruction, and creating some “intervention” to assist in the transition. The outcome of this instruction may be directly observable and scientifically measured or completely hidden and assumed. There are many instructional design models but many are based on the ADDIE model with the five phases: analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation.
Lots of instructional design models have emerged over the years – ADDIE, SAM, Dick and Carey, Instructional Design System (ISD), ASSURE, Kemp design model to name but a few. Amongst all, ADDIE has been the most commonly used model all these years. Evolution Culture provides an ADDIE course. Although these models might suggest different approaches to design and development of material, the purpose is the same. That is to systematically develop training courses that successfully address the learning objectives and meet the requirements of the organisation.
An Instructional Design model is a tool, a framework to develop instructional materials that help the instructional designer to:
- analyse and visualise the training need
- write learning objectives and ensure training addresses them
- break down the training process into steps
- provide a structure to the content
- provide realistic business meaning to the learning material
- meet the desired expectations
There are many ways that information flows from one source to another. It happens daily as we talk, read, listen to podcasts or the radio, watch TV or YouTube. There is a large, free exchange of information through our connection with technology. The downside to that is that the way information is interpreted is solely on the recipient.
If the goal is to teach something – new ways of working, best practices, systems, behaviours in the workplace, intellectual and cultural standards – leaving information open to interpretation is a risky business, especially when stakes are high with the topic you are training.
The role of the instructional designer is to take the most important information about a particular topic and package it in a way that will engage the intended audience and make the information memorable. This is done using the standards and available tools provided by the organisation. There should also be checkpoints – exercises throughout on the key topics and learning objectives, an assessment and possibly a certificate on successful completion. This will determine whether the course has met the identified learning objectives and overall aim, and if not, the instructional designer will adapt the course content to improve results.
There are certain characteristics that make a good instructional designer, things that they do instinctively to give the best possible learning experience in the material they design. Instructional designers:
- talk to subject-matter experts and extract key points to include in a course
- quickly understand complex topics, and can break them down into easy chunks
- understand how to engage different types of learners
- understand delivery options and choose the best ones for an audience or subject
- know the importance of learning objectives and make them the backbone of the courses
- are efficient communicators, both verbally and written
- have the ability to tell a good story to engage learners and provide context
- tend to be creative and resourceful
- create fair and logical assessments to determine whether the course succeeded
- understand the audience and clearly communicate the value of the course at the start
Here are some key tips to get you on the road to becoming a good instructional designer.
Analysis and Design
- Know your learners / target audience – what they know, what they don’t, how they learn
- Determine resources – stakeholders, subject matter experts, etc
- Know your brief and state the scope of your involvement and effort required upfront
- Assess options and costs for different delivery methods
- Consider the resources required to develop and deliver each method
- Determine what the learners need to do on completion of the course (back on the job)
- Verify the content regularly throughout design – you will learn more
- Consider the context and make learning realistic to the job
- Provide opportunities for active engagement of the learners at all times
- Always bear the learning objectives in mind when designing the course – do not digress
- Outline the activities – before, during and after the course
- Provide access to all materials required
- Consider back up plan for potential problems and solutions
- Assess what the criterion for successful performance for evaluation measures
- Evaluate effectiveness and report back, refine course as necessarySet featured image
Please check out the online courses that we offer as each of these contains elements of the ADDIE approach:
Instructional Design – ADDIE
Training Skills for Better Performance
Implementing Learning Programmes
How to Deliver Training Online
How to Design E-Learning
14 October 2019