Instructional Design

Free Instructional Design App for Mobile Performance Support

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My interest in exploring the potential of mobile apps for performance support took me to the domain of Instructional Design. The objective of the Instructional Design Wizard app is to help instructional designers with just-in-time, just-enough (JIT-JE) knowledge to learn/perform confidently while on the job.

The Instructional Design App

Instructional designers join the profession with essential academic qualification in the discipline or learn on the job or enrol for short term courses for certification. We often see that even after participating in training and online learning programs many instructional designers need quick access to information and knowledge pertaining to task on hand. They may refer to books or browse the Web to learn or refresh their knowledge. This is definitely time-consuming and it may sometimes be distracting to learn from the Web. The moment of ‘apply’ while performing a task comprises the 5R’s of knowledge application:

  • Recapitulate
  • Recall
  • Remember
  • Refresh
  • Revise

Mobile technology can help us with tools that provide handy knowledge to address the 5R’s in the form of bits and bytes. The Instructional Design Wizard App consists of 60 Mobytes - standalone chunks of learning, just-in-time, just-enough to perform a task.

Designing the ‘Mobytes’

Since Mobytes are conceived as small chunks planned for about one to two minutes of learning, the emphasis was on making them standalone objects that need not have a linear structure or dependency on each other (unlike a formal full-fledged mLearning course). I decided to focus on basic level topics that address the learning and performance needs of professionals who are already employed as instructional designers and those who wish to know about the domain for other reasons.

For selecting the topics, I made a thorough study of the learning and knowledge application needs and different performance scenarios of instructional design, such as working with the subject matter expert (SME), interacting with the client, applying learning theories, creating learning objectives and so on. The topics were furthered researched and detailed out with necessary content (text, images and reference sources). The topics are classified under five different categories to make it modular and easily accessible. These include: 

  • Instructional Design (ID) basics
  • Evolution and application
  • Learning theory and styles
  • Instructional theory
  • Getting started with ID.

The next step involved rigorous amount of constraint in writing the topics. The writing had to be concise, clear and simple so that the mobile interface does not get cluttered and spoil the user experience. Most of the images had to be discarded and only those illustrations that were absolutely necessary to understand the concept were included. In fact, designing and writing mobytes was just the opposite of creating typical e-learning objects where we first provide the learning objectives, then elaborate them with the relevant learning content, visuals, demonstrations, simulations, activities etc.

In the context of mobytes, which is designed to serve at the apply moment of performance; this typical sequence of content presentation would not be helpful. Here, the users would first want the most important content without spending too much time figuring out the details and understanding stuff that may not be relevant for performance. Hence, it is appropriate to lay stress on the critical content as the primary resource and then, provide other details like visual illustrations, animations, activities and so on. More so in the mobile app scenario where we are constrained with screen size, bandwidth, navigation and attention span of the users.

Availability

The first version of the app is available on Google Play. Click the Instructional Design Wizard to download the app and share your feedback.

Don’t forget to share the app with your Instructional Design friends!