In a world dedicated to optimizing new technologies to the users’ convenience, eLearning’s fate is no different. With so many eLearning platforms up and running, the distinguishing factor between these platforms is how carefully they are designed to fit the learners’ needs. This is where instructional design comes into play.
Simply put, instructional design is the idea of creating learning experiences in such a way that makes consuming knowledge easier and more efficient. This applies to the way course material is structured, designed, and delivered. Keeping some important instructional design principles in mind, it is possible to create an effective and appealing educational experience.
The ADDIE Model
Many instructors curate their course content in their own personalized way. However, there are some universally accepted models that all authors generally follow in order to implement an instructional design in their online courses. The ADDIE model was initially developed in the context of military training but over time, it has been widely adopted in institutions across the world.
Before beginning the task of incorporating instructional design in course content, it is essential to take a step back and evaluate what is needed for the process. For a course on a higher ed LMS, for example, there is a need to consider the student profiles and the medium of instruction. Some courses require more visual aids and complex interfaces than others.
Other aspects to analyze are the content and its distribution across the course outlines or the expected background of the end-users. Older employees in an organization might be less amenable to flashy, complicated displays than young millennials. Additionally, it is crucial to analyze whether the instructional design can be implemented on the present setup entirely.
Next comes the phase where courses are designed keeping in mind the analysis from the previous step. In this step, authors design the way the course is distributed over the timeline, as well as the assessment and grading rubrics. It is here that it is determined when students would feel confident enough to perform in graded assignments and be able to use the learning they have assimilated effectively.
This is the part where the actual work gets done. The course is designed in this phase and special care is taken to ensure that instructional design principles are being incorporated in the design. These principles could include specialized assessments, bite-sized learning content, or gamified controls.
Here the work done previously is finally deployed and the course is made available to the students on the platform. All the work put in before this phase is really best judged at this stage. If the process of analyzing, designing, and developing has been done well, the implementation of the instructional design principles should be smooth sailing.
The final phase in the model is where the effectiveness of the instructional design is finally measured. With data such as student performance, time logs, and course evaluations, it is determined what aspects of the design helped improve the overall learning experience. This evaluation is crucial to maintaining user interest, performance and enrollment.
What Makes Instructional Design Important?
Why is there a need to create tailored eLearning content? For starters, because, unlike traditional learning where a lot can be done by the ear, online courses require proper planning and optimization in order to be effective. If Learning Management Systems are made to be truly effective, they can have enormous benefits for all parties involved.
What better way to motivate a student to complete their tasks than to present their learning as a gamified experience? It is well observed that users react positively to engaging graphics and don’t feel overwhelmed by assessment tools when presented as a points or levels system. This serves online courses well since it is generally a challenge to motivate students regardless of the mode of instruction.
Having visually appealing and stimulating displays can be especially helpful with retaining information being presented. Online courses can leverage this in a way traditional classroom settings cannot. With carefully designed information, presented to users as bite-sized nuggets of information, it is much more likely that it remains in the students’ memory. This can be leveraged in K12 LMS platforms where younger students are generally harder to keep engaged.
It is well understood by now that eLearning helps encourage social learning. With access to a well-designed Learning Management System, students are very likely to participate in discussion boards and work on collaborative assignments. The usefulness of the instructional design is measured here by catering to students as per their preferred means of participation. Having different options to cater to different needs is what the crux of instructional design is.
With greater retention and better motivation, the outcomes of LMS users improve accordingly. It is reasonable to expect the student performance to improve significantly if the learning experience they are exposed to is thoughtfully tailored as per their needs.
Finally, the benefits are not limited to the user-end. LMS platforms with better instructional design tend to be more popular and are widely adopted everywhere. It would be a very prudent investment for LMS platforms to focus on instructional design since that is a huge deciding factor when it comes to choosing a corporate LMS or higher education LMS.
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There is no arguing the enormous benefits brought about by thoughtful instructional design. From easier communication by the instructors to better performance by learners to higher adoption rates, all parties benefit from implementing instructional design in eLearning. It is therefore important to consider which LMS allows for the best instructional design implementation whenever organizations are considering investing in an LMS.
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