Do you like playing with new toys? I sure do. E-learning software is like a new toy for instructional designers. It is slick, high-tech, and includes lots of bells & whistles. However, before we start playing with our new software, we need to remember to apply the three basic phases of traditional instructional design. After all, we want to ensure that our training is effective. Here are my thoughts on the benefits of applying formal design principles to the world of e-learning!
Phase I: Planning & Analysis
E-learning, like any training strategy, takes time and money to build. You either build it yourself or you hire a consulting firm to build it for you. Before you spend money on any e-learning project, it is wise to do some advance research. If you understand, and apply, the planning and analysis steps in instructional design, your e-learning will:
- Meet a legitimate business need.
- Stay on time and on budget.
- Include content targeted appropriately for your audience.
- Contain only relevant content for your learners.
- Produce desired performance outcomes.
Phase II: Design & Development
Depending on your learning goals and circumstances, e-learning can be more cost-effective than traditional classroom methods. How do you guarantee that e-learning will save money and meet your learning objectives? Start with good design. If you understand, and apply, formal design and development steps, your e-learning will:
- Be the appropriate strategy to use to teach your content.
- Contain assessment tests to measure knowledge, skill, and retention.
- Be structured properly to maximize learning success.
- Include feedback mechanisms and any additional job aids.
Phase III: Validation & Evaluation
e-Learning is no different from other methods of training in that it needs to be validated and evaluated. Does the e-learning course need any final revisions before implementation? Are the employees performing their jobs effectively after completing the e-learning course? If you understand, and apply, formal design validation and evaluation steps, your e-learning will:
- Incorporate Adult Learning Principles in its design.
- Be targeted to the appropriate experience level of your learner population.
- Run properly without any typographical or grammatical errors.
- Enable you to evaluate your training effectiveness.
So pull that design manual off the shelf or take a workshop to learn the basics of design and then enjoy playing with your new e-learning toys!