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    The Key Principles of High-Quality Instructional Design

    The quality of instructional design is often gauged on three things: effectiveness, efficiency, and cost. 

    Effectiveness has to do with how well the instruction enables learners to achieve stated goals or expected outcomes.

    Efficiency deals with the energy and time invested to complete the instruction while cost covers all expenses incurred for its design and delivery. 

    These are good points, to begin with. It's equally important, however, to zero in on the details involving the design and development of quality instruction. As with any other good design principles, there are human characteristics deeply involved here. 

    Richard Buchanan, a professor of Design, Management, and Information Systems, said it best: “a good design can be defined not only to be creative, stylish with an extraordinary visual look, but it must consider human engagement in its activities.”

    Follow these five golden principles to help you achieve high-quality instructional design:

    instructional design principles

    1) It must begin with an end in mind

    This is a phrase popularized by Stephen Covey, as you may have noticed. We borrowed it since it tells us something simple yet powerful. Applied in our domain, the phrase suggests that your design has to achieve something specific—a defined goal.

    It often starts with a question: what do I intend to achieve? What student learning outcomes will the material serve? What should learners know, understand and apply in real-life settings? What will inspire students to learn and strive for excellence?

    Beginning with an end in mind allows you to design an instructional material efficiently—without waste of time and energy. You no longer need to jump from one area to another only to find some pieces missing.

    2) It must be student-centered

    Student-centered instruction is one where learners do more exploring and instructors do less telling. Such an approach makes a lot of sense since the aim, after all, is to turn students into ACTIVE participants. Instructors or trainers are not out of the picture. They are, however, tasked to assume the role of a facilitator or someone to guide students in acquiring knowledge and applying newly acquired skills.

    Consider the instructional material you're working on and ask yourself the following questions:

    • How will the students learn?
    • What will they learn?
    • How can we effectively determine whether students are learning and applying their lessons?
    • Under what conditions are students learning? (i.e. are they doing the course as part of their assigned roles at work?)

    By asking these questions, you are deliberately designing instructional materials that focus on learners. Every aspect of the design and development stages is geared towards their specific needs.

    Also read:

    3) It is refined through continuous assessment and improvement

    You have to take note that instructional design is, and will always remain, A PROCESS—not an end result. And it's a never-ending process. Once a design is approved, an assessment to improve upon it follows. 

    Think of it as a piece of software. You and your team start out with a set of features. Eventually, you'll find bugs or some flaws and fix them. 

    Guess what, your software and, by extension, your instructional material, may reach the state of near-perfection. But it's never going to be perfect so the design process will never be finished. It's alright. Do your best to look for areas for improvement and improve them. Repeat.

    Must read: No Perfect Courses by Christy Tucker 

    4) It follows a well-defined system

    Just because the process never stops doesn't mean it's unsystematic. High-quality instructional design doesn't happen by chance. You can't produce it on a whim. 

    Professionals in the eLearning industry follow different models, some more systematic than others and some open-ended. Many of them may be grounded on certain principles and theories.

    Regardless of their differences, they all follow a robust methodology. Make sure to have a robust system in place, one that covers the following logical sequence of analysis, design, development, application or implementation, and assessment.

    Read: A Quick Overview Of Four Instructional Design Models

    Also read: How to Create an eLearning Course in 12 Steps

    5) It considers the big picture

    A well-crafted instructional design is holistic. It carefully considers the smallest aspect of instruction without compromising the whole.

    This holistic approach to design considers the whole as something more important than the sum of its parts. And it makes sense because all those parts, though seemingly separate, are closely interrelated. A good instructional designer sees the interconnections between them. Doing so solves the problem of compartmentalization, fragmentation, and the transfer paradox—all of which are commonly found in education.

    Read more: Use These 5 Instructional Design Strategies to Create an Effective eLearning Course

           Winning eLearning


    Overview of Instructional Design. Chris Davis (Director of Assessment, Baker College)

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    Let's get real about design—sure, we all want our courses to look good. It feels great to pour our hearts into making something that catches the eye. But here's the thing: if your slick design isn't also crystal clear and easy to use, it's like a sports car with no engine. Looks great, but will it get you where you need to go? Nope. You know the drill. You click into a course full of excitement, only to get lost in flashy features that make it hard to find the actual content. Or maybe the text is so tiny or the colors so jarring that you're squinting two minutes in. Frustrating, right? That's why nailing eLearning design is more science than art. It's about knowing what makes your learners tick, what draws them in, and what drives the message home so that it sticks. Get this right, and you're not just sharing information; you're creating a learning experience that could change the way they see the world. Sounds powerful, doesn't it? That's because it is.

    Unlocking Learner Engagement: Psychological Techniques for eLearning Success

    Have you ever wondered why big brands pour so much money into market research before launching a single product? It's not just a high-stakes game of guesswork. Imagine this: a brand skips the research and dives headfirst into creating something. Sounds bold, right? But it's also a recipe for disaster. Here's the thing—brands exist for their customers. They're not just creating random products; they're crafting experiences tailored to what their customers crave, wrapped up in an irresistible package that delights the senses. Now, think about your role as an eLearning designer. It's not all that different, is it? Your mission is to craft learning experiences that pack a punch, sure, but they've also got to be eye candy for your learners. After all, you want them to enjoy the journey with you, to be engaged and eager for more.

    10 Golden Rules for eLearning Course Design Mastery

    Let's face it – nobody gets excited about a grainy movie or sticks with a book that's a minefield of typos. It's a no-brainer, right? So, let's talk about your eLearning courses. Shouldn't the same rules of engagement apply? Consider this: a course that's a maze of bad design, confusing navigation, or just crammed with too much info is like that movie or book – it’s going to turn your learners off. And we all know what happens next – they check out, and not in the 'mission accomplished' kind of way. Now, think about your team. They’re curious, they’re hungry for knowledge, but let's be real – no one's keen on drudging through dull, time-consuming content that feels like a throwback to school days. The modern workforce wants learning that’s not just informative, but also engaging and fits into their fast-paced lifestyle. That's the puzzle we're solving together.