In Learning Seat’s course development process, instructional design hours make up around one third of the total time allocated to each project. So, as a client, I guess you’d be keen to know what value an instructional designer actually brings to your new course. And fair enough too.
So let’s start with a quick definition of instructional design:
Instructional design is the practice of creating ‘instructional experiences which make the acquisition of knowledge and skill more efficient, effective, and appealing.’*
To create these ‘instructional experiences’, we first need to consider a range of important factors; from your business needs all the way through to the behavioural change you’d like to see as a result of the learning. These factors will always be different for each course or program, so you’d hope the solution might be different too, right?
Or, in other words, is lots of text on screen really the answer?
Let me show you an example.
Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission (TAC) engaged us to build a course based on the Safe System philosophy, the long term aim of which is to eliminate serious injuries and death and on Victoria’s roads. An interesting challenge came up when the learner demographic was identified as being made up of… pretty much any member of the Victorian road-using public. That meant we would need to cater for the full range of diversity – age, culture, gender, education level, and so on.
An example of the source content provided by the TAC for the course can be seen below:
With the learner demographic in mind, the aim of the instructional design process was to devise a better way for this information to be delivered to learners. So, what difference did that instructional treatment have on the original source content?
The instructional design objective here is setting the scene to provide context, then communicating the key message as succinctly as possible. It’s all about engaging the learner through clean visual design featuring a minimum of text, delivered to the learner on demand via interactive on-screen elements.
It takes a considerable reworking of the course content to get it to this state, but the benefits of higher engagement and more effective learning experiences – and the behaviour change they can influence – will continue to pay dividends well into the future.
Check out the Safe System course on the TAC’s website.
* References: Merrill, M. D., Drake, L., Lacy, M. J., Pratt, J., & ID2_Research_Group. (1996)