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Put the Design Back in Instructional Designer!

Previously, we discussed the basic framework of the Instructional Design Model ADDIE, which is an acronym for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. I’ve discussed the different key components of creating effective instruction, including a specific post on Evaluation: Evaluating Learning, It’s Important! Kirkpatrick’s Model. But now, I’d love to discuss something that gets me excited in my work— the DESIGN phase!

Content or Design

Copyright by Joshua Porter,

After data collection, research, and analysis to determine the educational and training objectives as they align with the audience, the Design phase is when content decisions and creation come to fruition. Keep in mind, the end goal of instructional design is the use and the learning that occurs.

Many instructional designers, myself included, utilize Design Documents to manage and document the design of instruction. Design Documents are essentially a formal outline that details what is to be included in the instruction. They serve as a “road map” during the Development phase.

Design Documents allow for consistency among training and educational courses within a set curriculum. They also ensure accuracy no matter which Instructional Designer is assigned to work on the program.

They also serve as a valuable project documentation tool to keep track of work hand off, version updates, and changes to the curriculum.

I’m a sucker for process and anything that aids in effective work practices. Processes, documentation, and planning can help aid in the success of an instructional project. Planning via Design Documents assures that each component of instruction is thoroughly thought out. Instruction that is rushed into development before considerations of design are more likely to fail or face obstacles. For an example, view the article by the LA Times on how well-intentioned programs shouldn’t be rushed.

Many organizations have their own Design Document templates, but basically contain the same components (including, but not limited to):

  • Purpose and Objective
  • Audience/ Learner Analysis, including skills and knowledge gaps
  • Learning outcomes
  • Assessment Plan, including activities and methods of measuring learning outcomes
  • Instructional Strategies
  • Resources, including learner and instructor resources (textbooks, articles, case studies)
  • Media to be developed, such as slideshows, documents, video, podcasts
  • Scope and Sequence of Lessons / Topics
  • Team members and their responsibilities, including ID, SME, Media Experts, Graphic Artists, etc
  • Approvals
  • Evaluation Plan to measure the success of the overall instruction (not just the learning outcome assessment)
  • Maintenance Plan

I’ve been working on a project designing the curriculum for short orientation videos. I’ve taken this opportunity to create my own Design Documents for program design, scripting, and story-boarding. And I’m loving the design process! You can view the Instructional Design Documents I created in my Portfolio.

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