Monday, January 21, 2013

Six Strategies for Designing Instruction Fast

I have been designing training and instruction for several years, now. Over the years, I have learned a few strategies that have helped me to design instruction faster while still maintaining quality.

Six Strategies for Designing Outstanding Instruction
  1. Build it Now - Just start storyboarding, prototyping, and building your instruction. Getting the design out there quickly will allow your creative mind to start piecing things together. Building now helps you discover future obstacles, and because the development tools available are easier and easier to use, a "rapid prototyping" approach can yield some great benefits.
  2. Focus on the Goals - Make sure you are focusing your energy on the goals of the organization you work for and the goals of the instruction. It can be easy to get distracted by the "coolness factor" and start creating "ultra-shiny stuff." Some of this is probably okay, but it will probably not have much influence on learning. Keep your eyes on the goal and don't get distracted!
  3. Use Your Intuition - As you continue to design, you start to develop patterns for designing instruction. Just like every quality house has the same foundational components, good instruction also has foundational components. Trust your intuitive mind to help you frame those components and piece things together for you.
  4. Follow the Research - Be sure to balance your intuitive design with what the research confirms really works in instruction. There is a lot of great research out there that can enhance your ability to design effectively, so sharpen your design knowledge with current research, theories and models. Merrill's First Principles of Instruction is one model that is research-based and provides clear direction on how to design instruction.
  1. Get Feedback Early and Often - Make sure you get feedback from many people as you design. Feedback can help you break off the rough parts and begin to smooth out your design quickly and effectively. Talk with other designers, students, peers, family, friends until you feel like your instruction is of a sufficient quality.
  2. Be Happy With Good Enough  - If you are and instructional designer, you probably love what you do and often find yourself working to create a perfect product. Unfortunately, you probably find that you often do not have enough time and resources to really build the perfect piece of instruction. To be successful, you have to learn to be happy with instruction that is good enough. Instruction must be quality enough to reach its goals. The Pareto Principle (80/20) applies - if you focus on the essentials in your design, you will produce an effective product without wasting energy.

I hope this list is helpful. Feel free to share it with your colleagues and friends!

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