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The Luxury of Instructional Design March 2, 2011

Posted by Eric Matas in Theory.
Tags: ,

It’s better to know some of the questions than all of the answers. – James Thurber

You hear about the next training project you and your team have to manage. What questions come to mind? After questions about the main content, you’ll probably have questions about time, people and money.

  • Question Marks PicHow long do you have to prep the course?
  • How long should the course be?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What’s the budget?

These and other logistical questions help frame your strategy for making the course. They are crucial questions, even part of many trainers’ tool kit for analysis–the ‘A’ in ADDIE. ADDIE is widely used and tauted, but following ADDIE often leads to a fatalistic unanticipated side-effect: focusing on performance outcomes and writing learning objectives to get there means working backwards from the end, and the end causes worry. Side-effect: anxiety.

  • Will we get done in time?
  • Will everything we plan actually work?
  • Should we just use the same materials as last time?

Wondering whether or not you can put it all together can stop you from putting it all together. Or, it makes you focus less on design and more on implementation. With deadlines and resource constraints, you need to get some ducks in a row:

  • Can you really afford the luxury of instructional design?

No way. Not this time. We need to have a course ready for when the class shows up or logs on. We’ll look like idiots if we don’t look prepared or if our elearning doesn’t work.

Does this happen?

How about this: someone thinks about the learners and the learning they need. Someone takes a moment to imagine a learner after training, out on the front lines of life, where they need to know those vital nuggets of their training, and where success and sales either happen or do not. If you are someone who thinks of that, then maybe you have asked this question:

  • Can you afford to forget about instructional design?

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Seuss

Thurber quote: Answers.com
Seuss quote: Thinkexist.com



1. GBoulet - March 3, 2011

What is the point of rushing development if in the end what you deliver does not meet the requirements and needs to be re-done over and over again?

Managers should be asked: Do you want it delivered in time and miss the target or are you willing to delay delivery and achieve the objective?

Cutting corners never saves time.

2. wordwhacky - March 3, 2011

There is a lot of difference in giving the learner what they want versus giving them what they need. The training is successful only when you aid the learner in filling the need gap and provide realistic scenario to judge the outcome.

3. Jason - March 7, 2011

With all due respect, no matter how good the training is, whether it hits this learning objective or that learning objective, has positive outcomes, hits the level 3 Kirkpatrick, it ALWAYS has to be done over and over again – repetition is always the X factor is learning, don’t care how much aptitiude or desire your inetnded audience has. Get it done quickly, find your mistakes, sure them up, and spin it back out againa and again and again.

Eric Matas - March 7, 2011

Hi Jason – that rings true to my ears. Is it OK, then, to get the first iteration out there as quickly as possible, including only a cursory design or outline?

4. tetyler - March 10, 2011

“We’ll look like idiots if we don’t look prepared or if our elearning doesn’t work.”

You look just as idiotic when you waste your students’ time with “training” that doesn’t meet their needs, desires or expectations, or that they don’t understand.

5. Jack Pierce - March 11, 2011

What people first see in our e-learning is the high production value and curb appeal. But our 3D simulations and avatars are NEVER eye-candy. Every aspect of every course, whether a simple simulation, or a more involved game-like program, rests on a strong foundation of instructional strategy that serves a specific business need. How else do you create ROI and maintain your credibility?

Sure, it takes longer to do things right, but we’ve built-in ID, SME and media templates to eliminate the repetitive work and streamline production so that we have more time for good design and high-end creativity. In a world of high pressure, and with a push towards rapid e-learning, we stay productive and profitable PRECISELY because we never leave out the instructional design!

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