What Is The Value of Good Instructional Design?There are many ways to pass information from one source to another. In fact, it happens all day long as we talk, read, listen to podcasts or the radio, watch television or YouTube… There is a large, free exchange of information happening daily as a result of our connectivity through technology. The downside to that free exchange, though, is the way information is interpreted rests solely on the recipient.

If the goal is to teach something, leaving information open to interpretation is risky business, especially when stakes are high. Say you manage a team of pharmaceutical chemists, whose job depends on understanding new medicinal ingredients and how they behave in different compositions. Should they just start Googling and self-educate? Or, should they be provided with information from a true expert and delivered in a way that ensures every person understands the information fully and at the same level as his peers?

That, my friends, is why good instructional design is incredibly important.

Good Instructional Design is Audience-Focused and Objectives-Driven

The role of the instructional designer is to take the most important information about a particular topic and package it in a way that will engage the intended audience and make the information memorable. This is done based on the latest learning theory and keen understanding of how the brain functions in today’s high-tech, distraction-heavy environment.

It’s also his or her job to employ proof-points, like assessments and certifications, to determine whether the course met the identified learning objectives. If not, the instructional designer will adjust the course content to improve results.

Characteristics of A Top-Notch Instructional Designer

He or she…

  • knows how to talk to subject-matter experts and extract key points to include in a course.
  • has a knack for quickly understanding complex topics, and is able to break them down into easy-to-understand pieces.
  • understands how to engage different types of learners.
  • understands multimedia and technology options and skillfully chooses the best ones for an audience or subject.
  • knows the importance of learning objectives and designs courses with them at the core.
  • is an incredibly sharp communicator, both verbally and written.
  • has the ability to spin a good story.
  • provides solid direction to graphic designers and interactive developers to bring ideas to life.
  • is endlessly creative and resourceful.
  • is a genuine hybrid professional, equal parts left- and right-brained.
  • creates fair and logical assessments to determine whether the course succeeded.
  • understands the audience and clearly communicates the value of the course at the start.

Don’t Waste Resources on Ineffective Training

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are many ways to share information, but when its of utmost importance the audience actually retain it, a focused approach is key.

Could you take the information from your subject matter expert and create a handbook? A 3-day seminar? A series of PDF job aids? Sure, but how effective are those methods? An instructional designer’s job is to make sure shared information is remembered.

photo credit: BCOER Librarian