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Creative Instructional Design Strategies for Intensive Learning

Very often, training managers and their teams face the challenge of racing against time. Imagine that you and your team of trainers have to take up the challenge of getting 150 new hires acclimatized to their job roles, and ensure they get trained on the skills necessary to perform their job effectively. And, the time you have to complete the training is a mere 2 weeks. Now that’s what we call intensive training.

Now, imagine how terrifying this can be for learners, who are to attend this training boot camp. It is like training for the Ironman triathlon, a race that involves a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bicycle ride, followed by a 26.2 mile marathon. Attending an intensive learning program can challenge learners by forcing them to learn. The goal of training managers and instructional designers is to make this learning interesting.

With more organizations opting for e-learning and blended learning strategies for workforce training, here are some creative instructional design strategies that you could include in your online intensive learning programs.


Storytelling is a great way to connect with the learners. After all, who does not love listening to stories? Be it new hire training, product training or process training, storytelling can be used as a creative instructional design strategy that retains learners’ interest in the course.

Remember that an intensive learning program is where training happens for a longer duration in a day. A learner might have to go through 5 hours of training at a stretch, instead of taking a training that is split over 2 or 3 days. This also means that maintaining learners’ attention is at risk.

A well-crafted story can stimulate an emotional response to the training content. For example, if you have to design an e-learning program to train learners on sales skills, you could start with a story of a salesman who went from being a failure to an achiever, by practicing specific sales skills. This story can capture the learners’ interest and motivate them to complete the e-learning course at a stretch.

Branched Scenarios

How do you motivate learners to not just complete the e-learning course, but also retain knowledge? Knowledge retention is a difficult task to achieve when learners’ spend long durations trying to grasp the information presented in the intensive learning program.

To boost knowledge retention and sustain learners’ interest, let the learner control the learning process.

For example, if you have to train the learner on sales skills, give the learner the choice to choose a learning path. Let’s assume that the choice the learner makes, leads him to a scenario where he has to close a sales call. A set of questions presented to the learner, help in evaluating whether the learner has successfully managed to close the sales call. Though this strategy requires a lot of thought before implementation, this creative instructional strategy can help learners apply the training on-the-job.


Learners would love to apply the knowledge that they have gained before performing the job in real life. This is especially true when training on life-saving procedures in the healthcare industry, or safety training in a manufacturing plant, where a single error can cause a person to lose his life.

Consider an example of training nurses on the right way to give a CPR. An animation or video can be included to demonstrate the process. This can be followed by a simulation where the learner is required to choose the steps involved in the CPR.

For every wrong step, feedback is provided and a guided simulation shows the correct procedure.


Gamification is a creative instructional design strategy that facilitates learner engagement. Especially with intensive learning, gamification is a strategy that helps in retaining learners’ attention.

Games tap into positive emotions such as curiosity, creativity, and optimism. Gamification can be used as a strategy for a new-hire orientation, where the learners progress to different levels when they complete each stage of learning. Leaderboards, badges, and points encourage learners to complete the intensive learning course.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is a fascinating technology that can be used as a creative instructional design strategy. In AR, computer-generated graphics, video, and audio are super-imposed on a real-world environment to create a rich learning environment.

If you are training new hires on operating and repairing a machine, you could include an augmented reality app in your training content that lets you superimpose information on the real machine. When the learner scans the machine through the app, he can view the steps involved in the working of the machine. AR encourages insightful and intensive learning, and promotes knowledge transfer.

The next time you are involved in a discussion on designing training content, you know you can contribute better with your knowledge on these creative instructional design strategies that make learning fun, exciting, and productive.

If you have other creative instructional design strategies to add to this list, do share your thoughts.

Instructional Design Strategies to Design Engaging eLearning Courses