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What Goes into Instructional Design in eLearning?

Every organization has its customized approach while developing an eLearning course. Some organizations prefer a linear approach whereas others might follow an iterative one. Some organizations prefer to divide the course into different segments and work on them simultaneously through collaborative efforts, while some work on the entire course all at once.

There are various reasons because of which an organization might follow a specific process to meet a client’s demands such as the training necessities, time, flexibility, tools, and budget. However, there are certain steps in each Instructional Design process which remain mandatory. A clear understanding of every step will enable one to achieve greater results at each stage. Give it a read to know them all!

Requirement Analysis: It is one of the most important parts of Instructional Design. The team does not limit their efforts to knowing just the business and training needs. Their analysis also includes other steps which are content, technology, branding, and results.

  • Needs of the training and business: These two needs are different from one another. For employees to do their job effectively, the training and development needs have to be identified. Business needs includes identifying and understanding the business’s goals and articulating its strategic direction. It also captures the key concerns relating to the business’s growth, challenges and risks.
  • Learner profile: It is extremely important to understand the learners’ profile to deliver the best service. It can be easily done by learning about their roles, responsibilities, and experience in the professional sector, educational qualifications, skill, age, technical proficiency, and also ethnicity.Knowing about the training needs as well as the preferred mode of training is also crucial. In addition to this, information is gathered about their existing knowledge about the topic, the challenges they have faced, and not to forget, the learning gap which is expected to be filled up by the training.
  • Clarity on learning objectives: Knowing the learning objectives helps identify the ‘must-know’ content. It will determine the key focus areas essential for the training. Also, assessments are drafted in line with the learning objectives.
  • Content: Although there are Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for the content that has been provided, Instructional Designers still need to have a thorough understanding of the content. The content is read multiple times in order to understand the key points. Any query related to the content is sent to the SMEs. The case studies and assessments that would be incorporated in the course have to be agreed upon as well.
    • Technology: New technology and tools are evolving rapidly in the eLearning industry. Hence, it is important to know the technology the organization and the employees will be familiar with.
    • Branding: Branding gives a unique identity to the organization. Hence, understanding the client’s branding norms which includes writing and graphical standards is important to maintain consistency.

Design: Developing the design structure is a process in itself. To begin with, the content is organized in a logical sequence. Once the outline is ready, the team decides on an instructional approach for the course.

It can be story-based, game-based, problem-based, video-based, etc., according to the scope decided during the analysis. Various engagement points are inserted by adding activities, motivational videos, questions, scenarios, or a summarizing activity.

Storyboard: A storyboard is designed to organize the content with visuals and notes in a logical flow, usually done in a PPT. Content can include processes, principles, facts, classifications or relationships. Content is presented using relevant images, characters, text, icons, and more.

Prototype: A prototype represents the entire course in just few slides. These 4-5 slides might include a welcome slide, the course’s objectives, any activity, interaction, or assessment slide with fully functional navigation. The prototype is thus, a sample of what the final course would look like.

Decisions are finalized and implemented regarding the activities/assessments to be added, colors, images, animations, and additional resources to be provided. It is also ensured that the prototype is functional on the Learning Management System (LMS).

Audio and Visual Elements: After the storyboard and the prototype are signed off, initiation starts for the development of the course that will be uploaded on the LMS. This includes visuals, interactivities, knowledge tests and assessments, each approved in the storyboard, along with recording and integration of voice-over by a professional artist. It should be ensured that the course is compatible with the LMS which will host the training.

Impact Evaluation: Evaluation can be done in the following levels:

  1. Reaction: Measures how learners reacted to the course, whether they found the experience and the course beneficial.
  2. Learning: Measures what the learners have learned. Has their knowledge increased after receiving the training?
  3. Behavior: Analyses how far learners have changed their behavior, based on the training they received. It focuses on how learners have applied the information.
  4. Results: Includes outcomes that the organization has determined to be good for business and the employees.

The design and development team are in constant touch with the stakeholders at each step. What are the benefits of doing so? Lesser design costs, uniform look, quality control, standardization, transparency – maximizing organizational investment. After completion, the stakeholders get a course which matches their expectations and learners get to learn in the best way possible.

The growth and success of eLearning is very much dependent on the design of quality learning, enabled through the use of technology. Instructional design plays an important role in bringing together these fields – for the benefit of employees, and organizations.

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