Instructional Design quality is actually easy to evaluate, if you know what to look for. The following pointers will help you in that regard. This is not an exhaustive list, but it does cover the most critical considerations of high-quality Instructional Design.
Starts with Learning Objectives
High-quality Instructional Design starts with solid, well-written learning objectives that describe expected outcomes. They will say things like, “at the end of this course, the learner will be able to _____,” followed by a clear description of the desired outcome, in terms of observable behavior. Look at this comparison:
- “This course will teach photosynthesis.” This is not a solid learning objective, because it can’t be measured.
- “At the end of this course, the learner will be able to describe the relationship between carbon dioxide levels and photosynthesis.” This is well written, because the outcome can be assessed.
It’s Fundamentally Learner-Centered
If the course is designed as one-way instruction, where the learner is expected to sit quietly and absorb the material, chances are that it will fail miserably. Learners today expect interaction, exploration, and much less talking or telling on the part of the trainer. In fact, the trainer should be playing the role of learning facilitator and guide, as opposed to all-knowing expert. Quality design is focused on the learner, always taking their specific needs into consideration.
There is Continuous Improvement
Another hallmark of high-quality Instructional Design is the never-ending process of assessment and improvement. After each delivery, it is important look for areas that may need improvement. Then, take the time to make those improvements before the next course delivery.
It Uses a Robust System
If the Instructional Design is good, it’s going to follow a well-defined system or model. There are several to choose from. Which one you use is not as important as being rigorous in following a logical sequence of design and development. Such a system will also include an assessment step, which is covered above.
The Course Keeps it Real
One final key to quality Instructional Design is that the course helps learners discover ways to address their real world problems. Good design also helps learners gain the confidence to apply their new skills back on the job. If the training is just an academic exercise, then it really does nothing to meet the needs of the learner, or the organization for that matter. Effective design presents realistic and practical solutions to business needs, with measurable outcomes that move the organization in the right direction.