What does it mean to design instruction? What skills do you think you need to have in order to do it professionally?
“Instructional design is a systematic process by which instructional materials are designed, developed, and delivered.” (Source: http://www.instructionaldesigncentral.com/htm/IDC_instructionaldesigndefinitions.htm)
Designing instruction means analyzing the instruction needs, designing the instruction pieces, developing the tools for instruction, implementing the instruction, and evaluating the instruction.
Most instructional designers recognize good instructional design. I’m going to take a different approach here and talk about bad instructional design. Bad instructional design results in boring lectures that fail to convey needed information and waste time. In another blog, three areas of the instructional design process were identified as at risk for making bad instructional design: determining the current state and needs of the learner, defining the end goal of the instruction, and failing to create an ‘intervention’ to assist in the transition. (Source: http://www.theelearningexperts.com.au/the-breeding-ground-for-bad-instructional-design/) I enjoyed the blog and recommend it to anyone trying to be good at instructional design.
One example of bad instructional design recently happened to me at work. A new Chart of Accounts is coming in March and everyone that expenses funds is required to attend a two part training on the new system. The first session was scheduled for 3 hours beginning at 8 a.m. The trainers actually said something like “We expect you to be confused after this training session. We are only trying to help you get comfortable with the new terminology.” It was like they were applying that they were the only ones who understood accounting practices and we were just expected to not understand but follow along blindly. Very frustrating. One hour into the training my mind changed from trying to learn, to evaluating what they were doing wrong. I could sum up what should have been said during session one in four sentences. “In order to create more detailed spending reports, end users will begin using a new system. A tool will be provided that converts existing account numbers to the new chart of account numbers. Additional training on how to use the system will be presented soon. In the meantime, today we are here to introduce you to the terms used in the new system.”
The Chart of Accounts training part one should have been in the form of an email! Unfortunately, the trainers were unable to convey this very simple explanation. They took two and a half hours to try and make accounting fun by showing that they created an acronym to help us remember what fields would be used to track charges. And at 8 a.m. in the morning they should have served coffee and pastries! (Alright, the coffee came at 8:45.) The other major source of frustration for me was when they received a question they couldn’t answer. They would respond with “we haven’t figured that out yet but we hope it will be a part of the next training.” I don’t think they should have said they don’t know, it made them look unprepared. I think they should acknowledge the question, give a high level answer, and mention more details would be in the next training. These trainers need to learn instructional design because they didn’t present well.
“An instructional designer is someone who creates and delivers educational training materials for businesses, higher educational institutions, and other organizations. Instructional designers and are in high demand as organizations are turning towards instructional designers to solve business performance problems and to provide media-rich eLearning solutions. (Source: http://www.instructionaldesigncentral.com/htm/IDC_instructionaldesigndefinitions.htm)
Besides the basic skills of being able to use the tools and technology and understanding how people learn, a professional Instructional Designer needs to be a good listener. A good designer wants to continue to learn and is “motivated to read cognitive psychology, instructional design and eLearning textbooks, trade books, journals and blogs. He or she also needs to be able to learn something in a completely different field and transfer this knowledge to instructional design.” (Source: http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/10-qualities-of-the-ideal-instructional-designer/)