Instructional Design 101
The main appeal of instructional design is its ability to prevent organizations from wasting time, money and energy teaching employees materials they don’t need to know, already understand or are too far above their current knowledge base to be of any real use. Whether you’re taking an instructional design workshop or utilizing instructional design software in your business, the main idea is to create materials that will prove genuinely useful to the learning process.
Instructional design takes into account the many factors involved in learning. Rather than simply collating the materials to be taught, assembling students and imparting information, instructional design requires that organizations take into account the needs of students, the learning context, the goals of training, how technology will be used and more. By so doing, they minimize the chances of learners walking away empty-handed and of companies wasting large amounts of resources on training programs that are ineffective, poorly timed or not engaging.
When designing training materials, an instructional design approach is not crucial, per se, but it adds so much to the learning process that organizations often choose one over the less streamlined and more cookie cutter approaches of decades past.
Instructional Design Models
While instructional design makes the training process much easier in many ways, that does not mean it itself is simplistic. To the contrary, the field rests on many different instructional design principles and curriculum development models and approaches teaching in a multitude of ways. This is helpful to organizations, which instead of having to start from scratch when training their employees, can build on preexisting instructional design models to formulate their programs and lessons.
The problem with many kinds of learning is that they are very abstract. They require learners to grasp concepts that are too far afield from their current plane of understanding, resulting in poor pedagogical outcomes. Instructional design theories hold that by using models, real-world templates to guide the development of instructional materials, instructional designers will have an easier time creating content that reaches people where they are, helping them access their preexisting stores of knowledge and retain their new learning.
Instructional design models guide instructional designers and training developers toward their desired outcome with specific systems of approach. Over time, these systems have developed to become more flexible, to be easier to tweak and alter along the way and to prioritize creative thinking and problem solving on the part of the learner.
We’ll discuss three of the most common of these models below.