FIRST—do your homework!

Instructional design is a systematic, goal-oriented process for generating instructional materials aimed at achieving explicit goals. Yet, new flashy technologies often lure instructors into technology selection before systematic design for learning. The end result is much  like a baseball player at bat, so convinced that a home-run is at hand and just fractions of a section away—the player imagines the home run and loses sight of the ball — it’s easy to miss if you skip steps! If your technology-based instruction  is not working as well as you thought it would — go back to the basics of instructional design!

Learners are best served when instructional materials–including technology of choice–are seamlessly integrated and grounded by learning theories and instructional design models. Do your homework and learn more about the project background and what the client envisions—before you spend time on the design and well before final technology selection. Here are a few questions I keep in mind when starting a project (this is not a comprehensive list, just a start!):

Instructional Design –ANALYSIS PHASE — Questions to consider first (in general–for all clients, academic, business, etc).

  • What will the learner be able to do after instruction?
  • What standards exist and must be considered in the design?
  • What kinds of knowledge do the targeted learners already have and how do you know?
  • Who are the stakeholders in the project a— what do they expect from the instruction?
  • What are the client’s targeted issues/problems — Can instruction help solve the issues/problems?
  • What kinds of hardware and software are available to all targeted learners?
  • Who are the SMEs involved and what expertise will be provided?
  • What is the client’s “bottom line” (how much are they willing to spend on  the project?)
  • What is the anticipated/expected timeline for the project?

Technology is expensive and it is very time-consuming to produce technology-based instruction. Save everyone time, money and frustration–do your homework first!

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