Instructional design is an exciting field and it is only growing in popularity given the strong presence of elearning in both the educational and for-profit industries.
Today there are multiple universities that offer degrees in instructional design (both bachelors and masters), and a handful of professional organizations that have certification courses available.
The instructional design world is a thriving one with many tools, tips, tricks, theories, and processes.
For most people the best way to learn is by doing. If you are a “noob” (i.e. starting your career in instructional design) then there is no real substitute to practical application.
I remember years ago when I started creating my first courses. My head was spinning as I was overthinking the entire process.
Which brings me to my point: if you’re starting your career in instructional design, don’t overthink it.
Sure there are theories and processes out there that you should be aware of, but don’t let these things bog you down.
Just keep it simple and focus on the basics.
Basic Instructional Design Principles
Establish Learning Objectives – Your course and lessons should have clear learning objectives. These objectives should be constantly communicated to the learner. At the end of the lesson and course you should mention how exactly the objective was satisfied. Quizzes should lend themselves to solidifying objectives.
Storyboard The Content – Before building a single PowerPoint slide or learning module in rapid elearning development software your course should have a storyboard. In this document you outline the objectives you have created and call out the various lesson content. In some cases you may build the entire course (content) in this storyboard and later use it to transfer to the presentation or elearning course.
Leverage Multiple Forms of Media – Use videos, graphs, charts, and images where possible, but don’t overdo it. Just because the media exists doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be used.
Incorporate Activities – At some point in your course you should engage the learner in an exercise or activity. It’s helpful if this activity isn’t just a quiz as quizzing is one-dimensional. Simulations or small games are additional ways to involve the learner.
Relate to Real World – The best course content relates to real-life scenarios. If the content is too theoretical it is harder to retain. Demonstrate “why” the content matters to the learner. If you can establish a credible reason “why” then they will be more likely to recall it at a later point in time.
Relevant Quizzes & Assessments – Don’t get lazy with your quizzes and assessments. Make sure you use questions that actually challenge the learner. Avoid using only multiple choice and true or false as these question types only enforce one way of content recall.