How do you successfully instruct your employees, develop new skills, and further the goals of your organization? One way is through instructional design.
This method of creating effective learning experiences taps into the whole of human learning regarding the way we learn, think, and communicate.
What is instructional design?
Instructional design, also known as instructional systems design, is a process through which effective instructional materials and learning experiences can be created. These materials combine learning theories, effective workplace communication strategies, and various forms of learning technology.
An important aspect of this discipline is assessing which type of learning material is best suited to meet the needs of those it’s intended to instruct.
But, who is responsible for an organization's instructional design? That would be an instructional designer.
What is an instructional designer?
An instructional designer is an individual who facilitates the creation, improvement, and implementation of corporate training programs, curriculum design, and instructional materials.
Responsibilities of an instructional designer
Instructional designers create the entire process of employee training programs within the organization.
To produce instructional materials and courses that deliver learning outcomes, instructional designers need to have a broad range of knowledge and skills.
These individuals should be experts in both learning design and technology since they:
- Interact with educational technology and eLearning authoring tools
- Review new training materials
- Write learning objectives for employee development
- Provide instructional content such as podcasts and video tutorials
- Create and update both new and current learning models
- Implement improvements based on program evaluations
- Train individuals on how to distribute learning materials
- Investigate new trends in both learning design and instruction
The core components of instructional design
While the definition of the term may inspire more questions than answers, instructional design is fairly easy to understand when you break it down into its basic components of analysis, design, development, and evaluation.
Before you can create a learning system that successfully imparts knowledge to your employees and empowers them to apply it effectively, you’ll need to perform a training needs analysis to set the specific goals your learning system will help you meet.
This is the part of instructional design where you answer questions related to the purpose of training, such as:
- What will the learning environment look like?
- Who is your target audience of learners?
- What are you trying to accomplish with this training?
- What are the goals and expectations?
- Which format will you use to deliver the training?
Now that you’ve compiled the answers to these questions, found underlying skill gaps, and selected your segment of learners, you can begin:
- Creating learning objectives
- Prototype a course outline
- Choose the ideal platform (like an LMS)
- Set time frames and due dates
- Pick an assessment method
This is the “eLearning storyboarding” phase where you plan out how to accomplish creating the course. Take the time to create an easy-to-follow path from start to finish that is effective, precise, and measurable.
Developing is the action aspect of instructional design. Once you’ve analyzed your needs and set SMART goals, you can begin the systematic development of a blueprint for your learning materials and then use that blueprint to create them.
At this point, you can start developing the training materials required for this course, such as:
- Assessments and quizzes
- Videos, animations, and infographics
- Multimedia presentations and slides
- Instructional guides or training manuals
Using mixed media for training is a great way to keep it fun, engaging, and informative for the learners.
It’s unlikely that your initial attempt at creating instructional materials will be perfect. That’s fine, but you need to conduct an instructional design evaluation and use that data and feedback to continue to improve your instructional materials.
To ensure that you’re evaluating your instructional materials effectively, consider using any of the following learning evaluation models:
- Kaufman’s Model of Learning Evaluation
- Kirkpatrick’s Model of Learning Evaluation
- The Brinkerhoff Model
- The Phillips ROI Model
There are several other learning evaluation models that can prove useful in honing learning materials. The important thing is that you look objectively at the information your chosen model provides so you can apply it successfully.