Not surprisingly, e-Learning has been becoming increasingly more popular during the past few years, and as a result, by 2025 is expected to be a $350 billion industry. The pandemic has increased the need for having effective pieces of content for distance learning. Within this context, Instructional Design has served as a means of creating customized training programs which satisfy a variety of different business needs.
Instructional Design is the creation of learning experiences and materials in a manner that results in the acquisition and application of new knowledge and skills. In this new online era where most of our intellectual activities are done in front of the screens, it goes far beyond creating courses from scratch. So, let’s talk about why Instructional Design is vital to your eLearning strategy.
- Develop more effective and innovative learning experiences.
Instructional Design focuses on creating new educational experiences. It is the instructional designers’ task to help streamline and structure information in a way that makes it easy to acquire knowledge and bring it to our day-to-day lives. Then, the idea of this discipline is, as its name suggests, to design a meaningful experience that results in learning. It focuses on the learners’ experience and assures the creation of stimulating, memorable, and accurately representative experiences for the courses’ audience. These experiences are meant to leave a trace, to push learners to keep on learning and improving their careers. To make that happen, it’s fundamental to know the audience’s preferences and create content that fits their expectations. Instructional Designers need to make use of all the technological tools available to have outstanding results as the medium must help the audience use the learning environment and all the available resources as effectively as possible.
- Identify training needs.
Before creating a course, it’s indispensable that the Instructional Designer in charge of it identifies the type of training need. According to Oscar Blake (2000), a training need can be one of three types: by discrepancy, when performance is unsatisfactory because there is a gap in knowledge, by change, when there is a switch in the way they used to perform, or by incorporation, when new insights are now taken into account. The type of training need should be recognized at the very beginning. After having some meetings with the pertinent members of the company and discussing the topic and the reason why they should conduct a specific training, the Instructional Designer then identifies the need and analyzes it. This is the starting point where objectives, audience, and core problems to be solved, among others, are stated.
- Highlight your audience.
Having a clear target audience is key. When identifying the training need, Instructional Designers can’t forget their potential audience. These are the people who are going to correct, change or incorporate new knowledge into their performance. This is a question anybody within this discipline should ask because their productivity will depend on how learners will acquire knowledge, how they will corroborate it, and even how they will apply it. They are the center of the courses because every single idea is thought based on them and for them.
- Add value to your company’s learning.
Although Instructional Design hasn’t always been virtual, nowadays, it plays a core role. The pandemic has made e-Learning indispensable to continuing training because it provides education remotely with both information and communication technologies and technologies for teaching and learning process development. In this line, from time to time, Instructional Design involves the adaptation of already existing content, but, most importantly, it involves the creation of educational materials from scratch for asynchronous learning. This means that the learners aren’t connected with the Instructional Designers, so these education professionals need to design content that is as clear as possible to close this gap. In online learning, instructors assume the role of facilitators, and learners have to work hard. Designing high-quality content can make valuable and effective training for employees that need to build new knowledge to keep working in their business.
- Implement proven methodologies.
Although there are several methodologies for Instructional Design, they mostly stem from the same one, consisting of Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation, or ADDIE. As stated before, most of the current Instructional Design models are variations of it, and they seek to fill missing steps from the original, such as the iteration of the materials or the testing of the training. Education should be seen as an evolving process that needs to stay up to date and aligned with the customers’ needs.
- Combine it with traditional marketing assets and different profiles.
Instructional Design can be considered a marketing tool. Whenever learners enter an educational page, be it a Learning Management System (LMS), or not, the idea is to motivate them to take the course because it is the best product in the market, moving them down the funnel to choosing the desired product or service.
Engaging learners as if they were possible customers is something marketers do well. Instructional Designers can work on their own, but their deliverables would highly increase in value if they work hand in hand with marketers. They not only create content of all types, from infographics to video scripts, but also publish them, or even send communication newsletters to promote courses. They all work in a synergistic environment to produce the most appropriate piece of learning material.
In this new post-pandemic era, whether a company needs to train its employees on how to use its platforms, programs or files, or keep them abreast of industry trends and knowledge, the best option is Instructional Design. It not only creates courses and training plans for a specific target audience but also analyzes the needs of both the customer and the learner. In short, Instructional Design is the foundation of a successful learning plan.
If your goal is to achieve better learning outcomes, by engaging your learners and ensuring content retention, applying instructional design strategies is vital. And if you combine it with good quality marketing and communication campaigns, your audience will be eager to learn!