Instructional Design for eLearning
Imagine sitting through a class or taking a course and later realizing that you didn't learn any of what you needed to know. Perhaps it was the wrong class, or maybe it was the correct class, and it happened to have a poorly composed instructional design. Perhaps the course would have been better if you had taken prerequisites or if the design team had added some essential features into the program's design or taken some unnecessary ones out.
If this ever happened, learners would waste a considerable amount of time and money, and worse, they would still need to relearn what they initially set out to know from the start. This scenario describes why Instructional Design is so important.
Well-developed instructional design takes much of the guesswork out. It is a strategic method used to create valuable learning material that will lead to a knowledgeable experience. Instructional designers use many different models to develop eLearning solutions. While theories, models, and instructional design resources vary, each has its benefits and challenges; the one we will explore is ADDIE. This model is one of the first, developed in 1975, and is still used as the default model today. ADDIE suggests five crucial factors to consider when designing course material.
The very first step is to analyze the program. Knowing why the program is necessary will help design a program that meets the exact needs of the learners. During this process, designers need to ask important questions: Who will be using this platform? What prior knowledge does he or she have on the subject or niche? What are the goals and expectations of the program? Even exploring questions about what will happen after the program will assist in building an efficient program.
Here is where paying close attention to details matters. In short, the design process uses all of the information gathered from the analysis and strategically begins to structure the program in the most logical way. Of course, Instructional Designers deliberate on many decisions during this process. Each part of the process needs to be intentional, keeping in mind the project's overall goal.
Instructional Designers sort through their resources to determine what they already have and what additional resources may be necessary to complete the project during this stage. They also choose the type of interface to use and which media types to include (video, audio, graphics, etc.).
Decisions such as how activities will be structured, time frames, the types of assessments to use, the goals of each task, and how learners will give feedback get selected during this step also. Consider the design process as the big picture that explains exactly how the program goes from an idea to a fully functional educational tool.
The development stage is equally as important as the first two stages. Instructional Designers take all the information from the first two steps during this stage and begin to create and test the outcomes. The data gathered during the development process is vital as it indicates what changes are necessary. Often, testing will reveal missing issues that may not have shown in the previous stages. Additionally, data that may have seemed helpful initially may be unnecessary and omitted during this process.
This is the stage that checks for the ultimate level of efficiency. Instructional Designers will make updates, edits and will even redesign portions of the project. Instructional Designers work closely with learning participants to test the program. This stage plays a vital role in achieving positive results as the feedback from individuals who will use the program will help develop a user-friendly program. Designers address any issues discovered during this process. This collaboration is imperative and should lead to greater success of the overall program and a higher completion rate.
Because the initial evaluation occurs during the development stage, this particular stage can be considered the final evaluation stage. This is when the entire project finishes. The testing in this stage is meticulous, and the goal here is to determine if the project's original goals have been met and what, if anything, will be needed to further improve the program in the future.
Many factors go into the development of an instructional design. While there are many different methods and formulas for one to follow, there is undoubtedly a ton of work involved in the design process. The ADDIE model offers a systematic approach to instructional design, which will help build an efficient and long-lasting successful program if followed closely.