Instructional design can be defined as the creation of instructional materials, modules or lessons. The instructional design process consists of determining the needs of the learners, defining the end goals and objectives of instruction, designing and planning assessment tasks, and designing teaching and learning activities to ensure the quality of instruction. (source: Educational Technology)
Meet Carrie Walker-Boyd our Senior Lead Instructional Designer at Alliance Learning. Carrie has been designing training courses and programs for nearly 20 years and has been with Alliance Learning for the past three years. We interviewed Carrie to not only give you insight to what it means to be an Instructional Designer but to also showcase some of the talent behind all of these amazing courses we have developed and are currently working on!
What made you want to get into this field?
“I thought I had wanted to be a teacher, but something about it just didn’t feel right. I found myself in a sales position and went on a training course. That’s when it hit me that I wanted to teach, just not in a school…I wanted to train people how to do really well at their jobs. Like be really good at their jobs, and help them make a difference in whatever their role is.”
Can you describe the top 3 qualities someone should have to be a successful instructional designer?
1 - “Absolutely the desire to want to help people be really good at their jobs. Not to just ‘create training’ for the sake of training.
2 - The ability to conduct a needs analysis, answering the most important question – What do you want or expect to see changed with this training? Then weeding through the ‘extras’ to remain focused on the end goal.
3 - An innovative edge that allows you to always ask ‘how can we do this better for the learner’. It ensures we don’t get stuck and miss the boat.”
What is the design process?
“For any training course or program, we follow the same basic process, some areas may have more or less focus depending on the type of initiative. But they all have to be there in some format otherwise we’ve missed something along the way.”
1 – Analysis: At the start of every course, we speak to the subject matter experts and review all content. From this we analyze:
- The need for training (do we need a course, or can this just be handled with communications?)
- What outcomes are expected?
- Who are the learners and how do they operate?
It’s critical to do this first, it will save plenty of hassle and mis-fires down the road.
Scenario: A new process for using safety equipment is going to be implemented. The change is significant enough that learners can’t just be ‘told’, they need to see and learn.
2 – Design: During the design phase, we:
- Decide on learning outcomes for the target group (what they will be able to do by the end of the course);
- Group content together in a flow that makes sense;
- Map out the course components and create purposeful interactions with the learner to meet the objectives (demonstrations, practice components, opportunities for discussion, questions, etc.).
Scenario: We decide on a short 3 module course: The reason for the change, The change itself, and Overcoming issues. We decide to show video demonstrating the old and the new, and since we’ve been told to expect objections to the new process, we add a scenario where two people are discussing the challenges this could pose in the workplace, along with reasons and ways to overcome it.
3 – Develop: This is actual creation of learning materials, booklets, e-learning programs, job aids etc. that make up the course itself. The key here is not to get too fancy needlessly. The learning has to be easy, and if you throw a bunch of bells and whistles at it, you may distract or frustrate your audience.
This step consumes the most time, however it is relatively simple when you’ve done the first two steps thoroughly. This is not dumping everything you know on a Powerpoint. Remember…'telling ain’t training'.
Scenario: This will be done online so an e-learning component is programmed, small video clips are shot, edited, and entered into the program, and a quiz is completed and scored according to importance. The entire package is published and placed online.
4 – Implement: This is the putting into action of the course. The actual teaching of a classroom course, posting an e-learning module, hosting a webinar.
5 – Evaluate: There are a few different levels of evaluation:
- Did the learner like the course?
- Did they learn something?
- Did it make a difference on the job?
- Did the organization see any overall improvement?
This part can get quite costly so often evaluations are done only at the first two levels with surveys and quizzes.
Scenario: We decide on a short three-question survey to ask whether learners enjoyed the course and felt it met the need. As it was deemed important that learners pass the test before being allowed to perform the new procedures, the learner must print off their scoresheet of 80% or higher and provide this to their supervisor for their first shift.
“Training is problem solving. Either something has changed, or something isn’t working. We are a service provider to the people actually doing the job. It is a humble profession and our focus must always be on ensuring the people we serve have the knowledge and tools they need to perform to the best of their ability. You have to MOTIVATE your learner group to learn. If you bring them to the table/computer, and show them something RELAVENT and EFFECTIVE in an EFFICIENT manner, that gives them the results they need, they will trust you as a trainer and feel confident you’ve given them what they need."
If you have any questions specific to the development and design process of training, feel free to send Carrie an email.
Should you be interested to see some of Carrie’s work, sign up for our monthly newsletter and you will get an email with the link to our Wealth Management Certificate Program. Not only will you get to explore to amazing work we do, but you will also get a better understanding of your RRSP contribution and it can even help you to save on interest each month... it's a win win!