Time-Saving Shortcuts for Instructional Designers

As the saying goes, time is money. To design quality training in the shortest amount of time, the methods used need to be both efficient and effective. Also, knowing a few shortcuts couldn’t hurt.

Begin at the End

Most people will recognize the statement, “Begin with the end in mind” as part of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Turns out, it works for instructional design as well. Starting any instructional design process with the end firmly in mind will keep the development focused on what matters most. Write the learning objectives first, and let them guide the rest of the design process. For example, what behaviors should learners be able to demonstrate at the end of training? What key piece of knowledge should they be able to recall from memory?

Break Training into Pieces

Don’t think of the design process from the perspective of the entire training program. Instead, focus on manageable, focused, small units of learning that are directly tied to just one learning objective. It’s far easier to maintain concentration on one element, rather than trying to design and develop the entire course all at once. Also, when designed in this manner, learners can ultimately choose to manage their training time by taking only one or two units at a time.

Let Learner Analysis Drive Delivery Method Selection

Learner analysis is the key to determining what instructional methods will be most effective. Find out the preferences, working styles, and current capabilities of the learners before choosing a delivery method. Training content and delivery need to be guided by learning objectives in conjunction with a deep knowledge of the target audience, and what will work for them.

Don’t Let Perfect be the Enemy of the Good

Striving for perfection is certainly admirable, but it can also waste a lot of valuable time. Instead of trying to design the perfect program, go for a good program that can be ready and available in half the time. Look at training design as an iterative process, where evaluation by the learners becomes part of the instructional design cycle. Expect improvements with each design iteration.

Stay in Constant Contact with Stakeholders

Nothing is worse than having a course completely designed, and then promptly rejected by the stakeholders. Avoid rejection and rework by keeping stakeholders and key decision-makers involved throughout the instructional design process, from learner analysis to delivery. Not only will this reduce the likelihood of revision requests, it will also ensure the ultimate satisfaction of everyone involved.