One of the most common complaints I hear from instructional designers is about content requiring constant updates. Examples and “how to” instructions in the course materials may need to be revised at the last minute. This is more often a challenge for instructional designers who design technical content but all instructional designers deal with this challenge at one time or another. Even interpersonal and conceptual content can change at the last minute!
Here are a few ideas for you to add to your designer toolkit to help minimize the impact of last minute design changes:
- Partner with business units to identify the most common tasks that require training. This way you can focus on making sure you are up-to-date.
- Place less emphasis on content that is less frequently performed, less important, or more easily learned, especially if the learners are experienced in those tasks.
- Focus on the most common processes performed in the workplace. For example, if the training is software related, look at the main menu and design your screen shots around items there—they’re less likely to have major changes. Changes to sub-menus are less important since they are used less often.
- Prioritize equipment-related training on what the employee must do with the equipment on the job, rather than what the equipment can do.
- Work closely with your compliance or legal departments to get an idea of changes to anticipate, especially in mandatory training.
- Check with regulatory contacts or seek industry insiders outside of your organization to get a broader sense of potential changes from higher levels of government, industry, etc.
- Provide links or references to regulations or internal processes within your training materials rather than including the entire content. For example, in a training manual targeted for new managers, add a link or reference to the Human Resources Department where they can access processes and procedures.
2500 years ago, the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, said: “Change is the only constant in life.” Only now the rate of change is faster! How do you cope with last minute design changes in your courses? I’d love to read about your experiences in the comments section below.
Langevin’s Certified Instructional Designer/Developer workshop is filled with strategies and shortcuts for course design changes you can do quickly and effectively. Check it out!