In the last post on this topic, I’d tried answering the question of whether classroom instructors can be effective courseware designers. I’d shared a few factors that I feel help make a smooth transition – namely motivation, a background in creating course materials for classroom training, and exposure to basic theory around the psychology of adult learning.
Which brought me to the question of – can an instructor without any experience in developing classroom materials or minus a strong theoretical framework in the science of instruction make the transition to being an effective instructional designer of eLearning?
There is no simple answer to this except to try it out and see it if works. But you can increase the chances of success with these three simple steps. By the end of this experience, your instructors are sure to get exposure to the entire gamut of what it takes to be effective IDs.
Get them involved as SMEs working with an external team on courseware development
One way of easing the transition into the new role is to first get the instructors involved as SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) on eLearning projects. They can work with an external team from Learning Solutions companies specializing in custom eLearning courseware to gain exposure to the demands of an ID role. In fact this also is a good way for you to test the waters if your organization is new to eLearning. As an SME, the instructor will be closely involved in providing content inputs, validating content structuring, and in providing review feedback. This will give the instructor the relevant exposure to working with storyboards, the course design and development process, the design of interactivity, along with a background understanding of tools and templates that support this design. It will also give the instructor an immersive experience with the many other surrounding intangibles that go into instructional design.
Put them through the basics of ID and instructional technology
A foundation course in instructional design will go a long way in helping them get into the new role. If this foundation is in place already, you can focus on the providing an orientation to the technology side of eLearning. To begin with, get the instructors acquainted with good eLearning courses. In my previous post, I’d mentioned a success story of the faculty of the Department of Distance Education. How did they make the transition? They had arranged for a crash course in the basics of instructional design in the eLearning context. As one of the resource people for this course, I had been a bit skeptical initially as most of the faculty didn’t have much prior exposure to the online medium, leave alone designing materials for it. But once they had the basics of ID using technology in place, they got their eLearning project off the ground in record time.
Let them get acquainted with at least 1 rapid content authoring tool
While they are working as SMEs on eLearning projects, encourage your instructors to play around with at least one rapid content authoring tool such as Lectora, Captivate, Adobe Presenter or Engage just to get a feel of development. This exposure to the tool and templates used within will help them come up with more effective storyboard design and development as they will now have hands-on experience with the potential and limitations of each tool. In fact if you have outsourced your eLearning to start with, you can ensure that as SMEs, your instructors can get a lot of information on tools during their interactions with the learning companies you are partnering with to develop your eLearning. This will give them an overall end-to-end picture of what it takes to be instructional designers.