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Instructional Design: Principles, Practices and Influencers.

February 29, 2016 In: Blog Written by: Terry Fannon

Instructional Design: Principles, Practices and Influencers.

Recently while conducting a storyboarding session with a client, I was asked by the SME as to what are instructional design principles and how were they going to be applied to the course that we were developing. This led to an interesting conversation, rather than a distraction to the storyboarding session, it actually enhanced and positively contributed to the SME’s understanding of adapting their material for online delivery.

For the above reason, I thought it would be beneficial to share my thoughts on instructional design, and share why it’s essential to the development of online courses. My personal approach to instructional design is related to the usability of the learning objects. I believe that through concepts such as effectiveness, efficiency and attractiveness I can improve the learning process through the fusion of technology and education.

My instructional design practice is focused to provoke intellectual and emotional satisfaction in learners. Developing relevant, contextual, and meaningful learning I attempt to improve retention and performance of the intended learner. I fundamentally believe that Gaynes theory of learning coupled with the ADDIE design model will yield the desired result when authoring content.

I then spoke to the instructional design team on who their key influencers are, between the team, the following are authors who have influenced their skills to date; Allen (2003), Clark & Mayer (2008), Metros and Hedberg (2006), Leshin & Pollock (1994), Steen, 2008, and Piskurich (2009).

Developing an online course that is engaging, promotes interaction, motivates learners, and above all facilitates learning is challenging.   It’s even more challenging when trying to adapt a face-to-face course for online delivery. The content development team at Enovation know this all too well, as they collaborate with SME’s on a daily basis to transition their face-to-face courses to an autonomous online course. It is only during the process of adapting courses do we become appreciative of the principles and process of instructional design. Skilled instructional designers are not the subject matter experts, but collaborate with the SME to create environments where learners can participate in rich, meaningful learning experiences.

The instructional design approach considers the learning needs from the perspective of the learner rather than from the perspective of the content. The focus is on factors that influence the learning outcome.

Before starting an instructional design process on how to make the education more effective, a problem needs to be firstly identified, i.e. the question ‘Why is instruction necessary’ should be asked. There are several approaches that the team at Enovation will consider when identifying the problem: needs assessment, goal analysis and performance assessment. If the client has not already completed this, we would usually work with the client during the analysis phase of the ADDIE model to complete this. Further fundamental components in the instructional design process relate to learners’ objectives, methods, and evaluation.

Knowing about learners preferences for learning provides a potential valuable basis for designing the instruction. The target audience can also be affected by age and disabilities. Through interviews and questionnaires, indications of learners’ personal and social characteristic can be obtained.

Upon successful completion of the task analysis and writing the objectives with the SME, the next step in the process is to design the instruction by determining the most appropriate sequencing for presenting the information. This sequence will need to take a visual form and be recreated into a storyboard, a rough guide of how the course will look like upon its completion. Having a solid storyboard makes it easier to avoid mistakes.

The development of the instructional materials is the implementation of the instructional design plan. Now, consideration is given on how to accurately convey this information to the learner in a manner they will comprehend. During the development process, the focus is kept on the problem and objectives to ensure the instruction supports the resolution of the problem.

Following tried and tested instructional design principles for online courses ensures the focus is on the learner and not on the technology or platform. In my next post I’ll review instructional design models, and delve into the merits of each in the context of eLearning course development. This will be based on the individual experience of the instructional design team at Enovation as well as recent academic learnings that I have encountered during my current studies.




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