What’s the point of creating a course that no one wants? No point at all, right? YET, we find hundreds of eLearning designers creating courses that nobody wants. Courses which the designers themselves can’t figure: who would want! It should ALWAYS be the other way around. Designers must first understand their target audience and then build content around their needs, circumstances, limitations, preferences, and wants. This means that one must move beyond the common descriptions handed out by SMEs, the manager, or even the client. Hence, this post where I will talk about empathy mapping — an intuitive, yet highly powerful framework that uses a set of questions that puts you in your audience’s shoes. It is a great way for engaging with SMEs as well as performing your own research.
As an instructional designer, your primary goal is to develop effective eLearning courses. You should address the objectives for each lesson, use the correct instructional method to meet the needs of the learners, and ensure the content and all its related activities are meaningful and relevant. After all, adult learners are not interested in completing "busy work" with no real-world application toward achieving their academic goals.
With great example comes great knowledge power. While you don’t need to set yourself on fire to learn that fire is hot, being told that it’s important to put out a lit cigarette isn’t as effective as telling a story of how a single cigarette burned down an entire house to get someone to remember to take the precaution. People learn the best when they know the very real consequences and not just the potential implications. We are motivated by what others have gone through and knowing about the burned house and how it affected the people that lived there is a far more powerful teacher than a grouping of random statistics about house fires that do not have real people as an example. So, trainers, instead of expecting course participants to take you at your word, let examples do the work for you. They are more effective than a giant block of text and can help you and your students do more with less effort. Giving them examples is like giving them a compass so they can actually find their way.
A lot of eLearning professionals, especially those who have just started with their practice, often ask about the need for theory. Why bother with an instructional design theory at all? Isn't practice enough?
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 expense 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:
If you’re new to eLearning, then understanding and following instructional design best practices from the beginning is crucial to your success. The eLearning niche is vast, and you will find numerous theories, models, and resources that have worked for different experts. Leave them for later. Begin with the basic, most widely used models that eLearning designers acknowledge and use to structure and plan their training: ADDIE Model Merrill’s Principles of Instruction Gagne’s Nine Events of Instructions Bloom’s Taxonomy Note: This overview doesn't intend to evaluate the models. Each framework has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of which to use will depend on which model works best for you, your company, and your learners. Also before start learning about these models, here are some very practical and clear points to show your boss and help your team understand the 'why' of good instructional design and give it the respect it deserves. How Do I Get My Company to Take Instructional Design Seriously?
Did you know that Instructional Design (ID) began in the Second World War to improve military training? This goes to show that ID isn't some new, smoke and mirrors concept; it's an evidence-based, rigorous discipline. And if your company isn't using instructional design effectively, they're losing out. This article should help set them straight.
As eLearning professionals we want to take our students on a learning adventure where they come out on the other side brimming with knowledge, inspiration and staggering awe for their superhero-like trainer. Ok, maybe these goals might be a tad unrealistic. Even the best eLearning designers can sometimes drop the ball when it comes to training because we forget that what comes easily to us might not come easily to our students and maybe, just maybe we might even overestimate our students’ abilities and interest level. In order to effectively train, we have to evaluate how we present information and make it easily accessible to both novice and expert learners. The trick is though; we can’t dumb down information to the point that it sounds condescending. Remember, at one point there was a time even you didn’t understand the techniques you are now training, keeping that in mind will help direct your training style.