Is Your Instructional Design From The ’90s?
Other than the technology used to deliver our online courses, some would argue that instructional design hasn’t changed much in the past several decades. We often see the same techniques used over and over in the courses we design and take.
This isn’t a bad thing… as long as the techniques remain sound and relevant to our modern-day learners. The problem, however, is that it’s easy for our audience to get bored – they’ve already seen and done the techniques you’re using, often dozens of times.
Instead of keeping that traditional mindset of instructional design, let’s consider a few ways to refresh our perspectives and design courses that are a bit more innovative, new, and unexpected!
A design thinking mindset
Learner Experience Design (LXD) focuses on design thinking. In other words, it looks at how to improve the entire end-user experience by considering how your instructional material is developed AND actually implemented.
For example, as instructional designers, we know the value of giving/receiving feedback. With a design thinking mindset, we would then focus on how the learner provides feedback to create the best user experience possible.
Similarly, we know the value of social learning. A design thinking mindset would explore how the learner can discuss the course material with peers in a friction-free and seamless format.
While these small shifts in focus may seem inconsequential, they all add up! If the big picture of your design becomes about “how” the end-user experience is going to be, then your course will be on target. It becomes much more about how your leaner is going to interact with your course – which ultimately, is the key to getting all your awesome instructional design elements to actually stick!
Don’t outrun the technology
One of the common failure points in design is building out a course before getting the feedback needed from your developers. If you wait too long to bring the right people to the table, you’ve likely wasted resources, created unusable content, and made it much harder to adapt and implement changes.
Drawing from the software development process, instead try quick prototypes of your course and actual design tech to see what works, what you like, what your learner’s like, before wasting tons of time building out a full course that can’t be implemented with the technology you have available.
Don’t play games…
Unless those games nail a learning objective. Gamification has gotten all kinds of hype recently. It’s undoubtedly a powerful tool to incorporate, but only when implemented correctly.
If your tech can’t deliver on a game concept that actually makes sense, looks good, and remains focused on your learning objective, leave it out. I’ve seen way too many failed attempts at adding games to courses recently. They’ve either missed the mark with adding value to the learning experience, or the technology has simply fallen short in creating an engaging and fun element.
Responsive design is a must
Finally, your eLearning content must have a responsive design to keep it modern. Responsive design is simply content that works equally well across various devices (laptop, iPhone, notebooks, etc.).
Sounds easy, but it’s not! There are so many variables when it comes to screen sizes, displays, and the user’s interaction with the course on the device of their choice. A course that plays well on a laptop may be hateful and hard to see when moved to mobile.
If your content isn’t flexible and accessible to your end-user, you’re missing a key component of designing for that “best end-user experience” we discussed earlier. Learners, especially adult learners, demand content to be available when they’re ready for it, not just when they’re in the office behind a work computer.
I hope you found these tips helpful. Welcome to the modern world of instructional design!
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