A few weeks ago, I wrote about instructional design. If you missed it, have a read of the blog post before going any further as it will set you up for this week’s!
Having covered the ‘what’ of instructional design, I now want to look at the ‘why’ and the ‘how’: why is instructional design so effective and how can you make the most if it?
The benefits of instructional design
By identifying what outcomes the learning needs to address from the very start, the instructional design phase of the project will ensure that the end product achieves the right results. This means we can create learning that is aligned with the needs of the business.
With only 36% of organisations aligning learning strategy with business goals, you can see why this is a key advantage of instructional design.
Instructional design is all about conveying the information in an engaging and logical way. It uses storytelling to create memorable, relatable experiences that connect with learners on an emotional level.
This experience-driven approach encourages not only the acquisition of knowledge, but its retention over time. By designing learning that is aligned with learners’ needs and clearly focused around an end goal, good instructional design encourages knowledge transfer well beyond the end of the learning. It can do this by, for example, including scenarios that allow learners to apply the learning in practice as part of the learning programme.
3. Straightforward content
The client will often provide lengthy PowerPoint slides stacked with complex content to include in the learning. But not all of this will always be needed, as often there is duplication and ‘nice to knows’ rather than ‘have to knows’!
As experts in translating technical jargon into straightforward language, good Instructional Designers can pick out the most relevant details.
But relevant information alone is not enough – it needs structuring in a logical way to take the learner on a journey. The descriptive instructional design document provides this ‘scaffolding’, showing how the learner moves through the content.
The result? Clear, concise, well-organised learning content.
Instructional design creates content that can be adapted with just a few tweaks. This is especially valuable if you have a large, global workforce with varying needs. For example, if content needs localising, the instructional design document allows this to be done easily.
Even if you have new ideas or adjustments once the project has started, the iterative SAM model we follow allows us to refine as we go along, based on your feedback.
By creating engaging content that resonates with learners, there are longer-term cost savings. Engaging and relevant content means reduced time to competency, so learners are ready to apply their new knowledge and skills on the job more quickly. Less time training means more time to perform the job – saving needless budget expenditure on lengthy, ineffective courses.
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So, if you need to educate your people in complex products, policies and procedures, perhaps across dispersed global locations, then it is critical that your instructional design process is done well.
How to make it work for you
Speak to your learners
This may sound like an obvious point to make, but you’d be surprised by the number of clients I’ve worked with who don’t do this. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of doing this before starting your instructional design.
Why? Sometimes a perceived learning need is not always a knowledge or skills gap. For example, if order processing times are taking too long, don’t assume it’s because people need more training. Look at the issue and speak to the people doing the job. For example, in this scenario, you might find the issue is actually caused by the software freezing every time they submit an order.
After all, there is no point in developing a great piece of experiential learning if the problem can be solved in another way.
Taking the time to get to know your learners could save you hassle in the long run by making sure you’re developing the right solutions for your business.
Involve the right stakeholders from the start
There is close collaboration between the client, subject matter expert (SME) and instructional designer throughout the process, and everyone involved gets a real sense of satisfaction when a module of learning is signed off. However, when the final product is sent off to other interested parties just before launch, fundamental changes to the content can sometimes be requested. This can happen when major stakeholders are only involved at the end of the project and bring their own ideas to the table – resulting in significant alterations.
To avoid this situation, try to involve the right people in your business from the very beginning, such as senior decision makers, content sponsors, marketing, IT and SMEs. Doing this could save costly last-minute revisions that go far beyond what was originally signed off.
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If you’d like to see how instructional design can create a flexible, user-friendly learning solution for a global workforce, read about the Learning Management Academy we created for Daiichi Sankyo Europe.
Kerry Pascall, Head of Digital Learning, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs you can expect some tips on implementing eLearning, what to consider when commissioning eLearning, design tips, software and authoring pros and cons, and general advice on everything eLearning!