When I started my career as an Instructional Designer just a few months ago, my lead handed over a PowerPoint deck and asked me to change it into an interactive and a more engaging course. I was excited to take on this challenge. But how should I go about it? How should I begin? Where should I start? My mind was churning out many questions for which I definitely had to have an answer in order to start.
How can I deliver custom learning solution in interesting and engaging ways to reinforce the learning experience? If we do not conduct a proper analysis before we start, then there is a major risk of missing out on the desired outcome and possibly not designing the right learning solution at all.
When we start designing a learning approach for any course or topic, we first have to figure out the learning objectives or the objective of the overall course or topic. There are three main reasons for designing a learning experience:
- To share information
- To build skills and knowledge
- To solve problems and changing behaviors
Keep high-level learning patterns in mind when you start making design decisions. Let’s now take a look at each of these categories in detail.
To Share Information:
In order to inform or create awareness among learners about a particular topic, it is important that we think of easy ways for learners to understand the main points at a glance and the let them explore these points in depth based on their requirements. Our focus must be on effective communication, appropriate design, use of knowledge mapping, and finally excellent presentation of the course content.
According to Michael Allen’s Guide to e-learning, “Sometimes merely the presentation of needed information is sufficient. . . . Persons who are capable of the desired performance and need only some guiding information neither neither need nor would benefit from instruction. They need only the information.”
When the aim is to share information, create awareness, and spread knowledge, just ask yourself this question” “Will it be possible for someone to become proficient without any practice?” If the answer is ‘yes,’ then you are probably safe with the information and awareness models. Presentational and information models are the right choice when the risks due to errors are relatively low and the content is simple to understand. Try to write compelling and well-presented content. Learners get to decide what they need to know, when we start using the information models. Select the learning through exploration and discovery models, when the learner can explore the content on his own pace.
Information and awareness models are suitable to use when the:
- content is simple and easy to understand
- risk of making mistakes is low
- information can be easily accessed through performance
- support tools like job aids at the moment of need
To Build Skills and Impart Knowledge:
To improve the knowledge levels and skills of the target audience or the learners, you need to check their knowledge and their understanding of the content by providing regular feedback. The key outcome is that learners are able to effectively apply the skills they learned in their real work environment. People will be successful only if they know how to use the information they have acquired. So the most important concept to remember when creating e-learning courses is that we will have to bring about a connection between the information provided and how learners can put it to effective use.
Knowledge and skill builder models are suitable to use when practice is essential to reinforce the skills and teaching:
- New processes
- Soft skills like communication or leadership
To Solve Problems and Changing Behaviors:
To help learners learn how to deal with complex problems and change attitudes or behaviors is the final reason for creating the learning experience to learners. Teaching or designing complex problem-solving skills may be challenging but this can be done using complex learning models. These models help learners to explore different consequences, experience different outcomes, and learn through trial and error methods.
Behavior is how we conduct ourselves. So changing behavior is the change in how we conduct ourselves. It is do with forming new habits every day for the rest of your life. Real behavior change requires new habit formation, reflective consideration of one’s motives, and reasons for change. It takes real commitment, intrinsic desire, and sustained effort over time with periodic refreshers. When you try to change behaviors, it helps to create awareness and inculcates a desire to change.
Complex problem-solving and behavior change models are suitably used to:
- teach thought processes
- help identify, tackle, and eradicate unhealthy attitudes
- foster harmony in a multicultural society
- improve workplace cultures and behaviors by increasing knowledge, understanding, and training skills
These are few reasons that I have noticed in my experience while formulating a learning experience to learners.
Do you have other interesting ideas? Please share with us in the comments section below.