Can a Classroom Instructor be an Effective Instructional Designer Part 2

Can a Classroom Instructor be an Effective Instructional Designer Part 2

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.

Can a Classroom Instructor be an Effective Instructional Designer Part 2

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.

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  • Emerson Johns

    My experience has been that the classroom participants truly appreciate real (specific) examples of how one has added significant financial value during one’s career (cash flow, earnings improvement, etc.) along with examples of how one gives something back to society (the industry) based on work they do that improves the industry and not just for the company they work for.

  • Sebastian Grodzietzki

    I think there are several different cases that need to be taken into account when thinking about the creation of (eLearning) courses. For instance, is the topic rather
    – an IT software training (after a rollout/ release change) or
    – rather a soft skill course (like how to do professional presentation) or is it about
    – mandatory GRC course (like learning an IT Security Policy) etc.
    There are also differences whether you take plain eLearning or Blended Learning or mLearning.
    And if you enlarge the focus to also offer content for “informal” knowledge transfer (which is by far more frequently than formal courses) then you would need other approaches in content creation as well. The selected authoring tool in my eyes is key to
    1) speed of production – forget about Captivate, Camtasia etc./ you always have to maintain the content after recording due to insufficient quality in the output formats (simulations & documentation)
    2) reusability of existing content – e.g. for updating the content after a certain time/ you would need an automatic approach/ a systematic support by that tool to re-use what you already have
    3) involvement of the right people combined with a determined workflow – to get the people doing what they are good at without wasting their time.

    With the RIGHT tool, you can let the SME with the necessary knowledge make a capturing (without any additional authoring tool training) while he is working. No stop of his normal work – and while he is doing what he is paid for, he creates content with no extra effort. You can even let external consultants document what they are doing without any prior tool training/ with no extra work and so reduce the need to hire them again. 😉 This content then can be handed over to an author who is familiar with an authoring tool to make only the necessary didactical changes etc. Let the responsible owner approve the final result and publish it out to the learners. If there is an instructor involved in the whole process, let her do what she knows best and integrate her into the process. This saves the company time and creates overall performance.