Learning is the acquisition of knowledge or skills. It is acquired through study, experience, or by being taught by others. Human beings learn all the time. We absorb knowledge from our surroundings, incidents, and observations. But a formal system of learning in a classroom helps us learn in a structured way. This extends to organizational training as well. But today, due to the constraints of time, money, and space, many organizations have adopted e-learning or online training to train their employees.
When discussing e-learning, a term that often comes up is instructional design. Now what is instructional design? It is the process of assessing learning needs and then applying the suitable learning strategy to meet them. It uses a systematic approach to plan and produce an effective e-learning course. It is like lesson planning, but more comprehensive.
To put it in simple terms, creating instructional materials constitutes instructional design. These teaching materials are created after carefully considering factors such as how learning takes place and what materials and methods will help learners achieve their learning goals.
Instructional Design and E-learning
Instructional design combines education, psychology, and communication to create effective training plans for learners. It ensures learners receive instructions in a form that is effective and meaningful so they can understand the concepts taught in a better way.
When designing a course, it makes no sense to put all the material before the learner and ask him/her to determine what is important. The learner may go in different directions. This way, the course will not meet its learning objectives.
Instructional design prevents this information dump on learners. It manufactures a learning experience to direct attention toward what has to be learned. It helps learners focus on specific pieces of information by providing the right context and perspective.
Instructional design principles consider how educational tools must be designed, created, and delivered to any type of learning group from schools, colleges to employees in organizations.
The instructional design process starts with determining the stage learners are at and their needs, and then defining the learning they need to achieve and ensuring the content and assessment activities are geared towards meeting the learning goals.
Essentially, instructional design focuses on the integration of three key elements:
- Learning outcomes: This describes what learners will know or will be able to do after the course.
- Instructional strategies: These describe the teaching methods and activities that will be provided to help achieve the learning outcomes.
- Assessments: These are the methods that will be used to test whether and to what extent learners have achieved the learning outcomes.
A good design with clear and meaningful content helps engage the learner and consequently enriches the learning experience. Instructional design is basically putting the right information before the learners through relevant content and activities so that they achieve their learning goals.
To conclude, instructional design helps:
- Develop education and training programs in a consistent and reliable fashion
- Increase and improve the possibility of learning
- Make the gaining of knowledge efficient, effective, and appealing
- Engage the learner who consequently learns faster and acquires a better level of understanding