Instructional design is the systematic development of instructional specifications using learning and instructional theory to ensure the quality of instruction. It is the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. The term, instructional design, is also termed as instructional training, instructional development, training development, and training design to mention a few.
Although there are many instructional design models, the most widely used design is called "Instructional System Development" or ISD. This model is concerned with the identification of training requirements based on the analysis of job performance requirements data obtained from experts in the job to be performed (subject matter experts). Training objectives are developed based on the input.
Most development systems follow an approach similar to this:
- Analyze the system in order to completely understand it, and then describe the goals you wish to achieve in order to correct any shortcomings or faults within the system.
- Design a method or model to achieve your goals.
- Develop the model into a product (in training, this product is called courseware).
- Implement the courseware.
- Evaluate the courseware and audit-trail throughout the four phases and in the field to ensure it is heading in the right direction and achieving the desired results.
The goal of instruction is to overcome a deficiency in a skill, knowledge, or attitude. The designer must understand the instructional goal so that the courseware's content, layout, strategies, and activities may be built to maximize the learning experience.
There are five phases that are ongoing activities that continue throughout the life of a training program. After building a training program, the other phases do not end once the training program is implemented. The five phases are continually repeated on a regular basis to see if further improvements can be made.
Below is a brief description of the ISD process:
- Analyze system (department, job, etc.) to gain a complete understanding of it.
- Compile a task inventory of all tasks associated with each job (if needed).
- Select tasks that need to be trained (needs analysis).
- Build performance measures for the tasks to be trained.
- Choose instructional setting for the tasks to be trained, e.g., classroom, on-the-job, self-study, etc.
- Estimate what it is going to cost to train the tasks.
- Develop the learning objectives for each task, to include both terminal and enabling objectives.
- Identify and list the learning steps required to perform the task.
- Develop the performance tests to show mastery of the tasks to be trained, e.g., written, hands-on, etc.
- List the entry behaviors that the learner must demonstrate prior to training.
- Sequence and structure the learning objectives, e.g., easy tasks first.
- List activities that will help the students learn the task.
- Select the delivery method such as tapes, handouts, etc.
- Review existing material so that you do not reinvent the wheel.
- Develop the instructional courseware.
- Synthesize the courseware into a viable training program.
- Validate the instruction to ensure it accomplishes all goals and objectives.
- Create a management plan for conducting the training.
- Conduct the training.
- Review and evaluate each phase (analyze, design, develop, implement) to ensure it is accomplishing what it is supposed to.
- Perform external evaluations, e.g., observe that the tasks on which learners were trained can actually be performed by the learner on the job.
- Revise training system to make it better.
Adapted from "Introduction to Instructional System Design" by Don Clark.
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