Nearly all organizations use some form of instructional design to teach their employees the required skills and behaviors. Instructional Design is not a one size fits all. Organizations vary as much as people do. For instance, an insurance agency and an automobile manufacturer or cosmetic company would not offer their employees the same courses or classes for training. Therefore, instructional designers must also be willing to upskill and retrain in order to do the best job they can for their organization and employees. 

Instructional designer, Robert Gagne, hypothecated that there were patterns to the way people process information and as such there should path to communicate this concisely to the learner(s). To which he formulated the following process: 

                                                   Gain learner attention       >      Engage learners in learning

                                Designate the learning objectives      >      Make them relevant to the course materials

                             Stimulate recall from prior learning      >      Reinforce building blocks to learning

                                                   Introduce new content      >      Select pertinent content for learning goals

                                                                 Offer guidance      >      Create multiple pathways for learning

                        Designate performance goals      >      Hold learner responsible for increased performance

                                                                  Offer feedback      >      Reinforce learning objectives

                                                    Measure performance      >       Tweak as required or desired 

       Facilitate the transfer of knowledge from key learning components      >      Reinforce learning goals

Adult learners come from various backgrounds, educational levels, life experiences, and more. They are not motivated by the same things. They do not have the same preferences or needs. Being able to adapt your instructional design to all of these variations in humans can be a daunting process. 

The very first step in creating instruction is knowing your audience. Who are they? What do they want and need to be successful in this venture? In order to do your best as an instructional designer you must collect as much information about your audience as you can. You can do so by sending out surveys, conducting peer-to-peer interviews, hosting focus groups, or purely by observing their jobs and processes. Furthermore, what is the goal of this instruction? Do the people partaking in this learning share any interests? What are the learning challenges? How will you measure success? 

If you fail to get the attention of the learner you have failed to create an engaging course. Fun ways to help the learner engage in the course are to create a fun activity that helps the learner to focus on the course content. You can do this in any number of ways. You can open with a very scantily known statistic or unexpected fact, you can ask a very thought-provoking question, or design an activity that assists the learner in moving through the learning process. Many times this can be set up as a game of some sort, but you can also use a video or anything else.

All learning ought to have clear objectives and outcomes that allow the learner to select their pace, path, and resources. Be cognizant to add real-world examples that can help facilitate active learning and reflection. Build upon prior knowledge and skills. Encourage feedback. 

Hotspots can help learners who learn more visually by providing them with detailed information about a product, service, etc..  Always ask what they hope to learn from the course. This can provide the instructional designer with a roadmap for future learning courses or revisions of those currently being used.  

Our world is becoming more and more diverse and our learning materials need to keep pace with society. Learning materials should be designed for a variety of cultures (depending on your workforce), perhaps in many languages, consistent with the belief, values, and norms of your organizational culture. Therefore, do not use generalizations or stereotypes. Make your lessons as inclusive and respectful as possible. 

If the course is part of multiple lessons or modules be sure to build upon the prior lesson to help reinforce learning principles, concepts, and skills. Summaries or quizzes at the end of sections can also help to reinforce the learning of that portion of the class. Always provide immediate feedback and constructive advice or resources for what was not thoroughly learned. If using a gaming platform reroute their learning back to what was missed in the test or quiz to help reinforce key learning principles. 

When creating content consider time, location, accessibility, motivation, resources, and retention. Design adaptable and flexible instruction that can be accessed with differing schedules, settings, and devices. For the best results, give clear direction and reduce distractions if possible. 

Accessibility and resources are not the only factors of relevance to the creation of engaging instructional design. Do not overuse words or text. Include graphs, tables, images, and videos to help your learners to understand the concepts being presented. Make sure all you have in the module is relevant. Give them ample time to absorb any new information so they do not feel overwhelmed. 

Always evaluate your learning lessons to ensure they are delivering learning that builds on the learner’s strengths, minimizes their weaknesses, and also gives them the tools they need to do their jobs better. Give the learners new tools or resources to help pave the path for knowledge transfer. These can be instruction manuals, study guides, catalogs, or any other reference materials that might be pertinent to their jobs.  





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