5 Instructional Design Principles You Can't Do Without
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5 Indispensable Instructional Design Principles For Your eLearning Course

eLearning seeks to create experiences for modern learners who want training contents that are relevant, mobile, personalized and self-paced.

Primarily, a successful eLearning development is one that is engaging, motivational, memorable and easy to digest. This success, however, is mostly powered by what is known as Instructional Design. The Instructional Designer plays a crucial role in creating experiences that are both engaging and applicable to real life.

Before we explore the Instructional Design principles, let’s take a look at the meaning of Instructional Design.

What Is Instructional Design?

Instructional Design is the process of assessing learning needs and then applying the appropriate learning strategy to meet them.

I’ve always believed that the Instructional Designer must put at the back of his or her mind that learning must actually take place. For example, a positive change in behavior or improved performance. Having such a mindset will help in creating learning solutions that will involve the learner- a very important factor in eLearning. Doing this is particularly why the Instructional Design process is seen to be very challenging. With the following principles, you will be able to create effective Instructional Designs that will achieve the desired eLearning result.

Principles Of Instructional Design

According to Robert M. Gagne, there are 9 important Instructional Design events for developing a powerful learning process, and I completely agree. In my experience as an Instructional Designer, I have come across varied learning needs and voluminous contents that demands a great level of analytical thinking, creativity, flexibility and the ability to manage information, especially in the face of tight deadlines. During this period, I have found out that 5 out of the 9 principles are indispensable.

1. Gain Attention

Grabbing attention involves taking a deliberate effort to ensure reception. It is a first impression strategy that can determine the level of participation by the learner. For instance, gaining attention arouses the learner’s curiosity and sets an expectation in the mind of the learner. Practical ways of doing this include: throwing a challenge, sharing surprising facts, presenting a problem to be solved or telling a story that resonates with the learners.

2. Tell The Learners The Learning Objective

Informing the learners of the course objectives is an instructional strategy that basically gets them involved in the learning process. Telling the learners what they will be able to do after participation, will help them to organize their thoughts and focus their learning efforts. If learners understand what you expect them to learn, they can better judge if they are successfully learning it.

3. Present Information

This is a principle that you practically cannot do without when developing an effective eLearning. Before coming across this principle, I have always asked myself this question when working on Instructional Design— what is the best way to represent this information in a way that is interactive and easy? This is an instructional mindset that opens up spaces for creative thinking. Storytelling, branching scenarios, role-plays, gamification and interactive videos are methods you can apply but in alignment with the learning objectives and desired outcome. Remember to break information into chunks to avoid cognitive overload.

4. Assess Performance

This principle assists learners to think about the information they have covered. Note that the feedback of the right or wrong answer should be centered upon reinforcing learning. To make your assessments interactive and engaging, use learning games, word puzzles, drag and drop interactions, flash cards or scenario activities. You can choose to give your learners a second chance to attempt the assessment depending on the learning objectives.

5. Provide Feedback

Giving specific and informative feedback on learner’s performance is a must. Well-formulated feedback will provide perspectives that will impact learning assumptions. Don't just stick to "Correct and Incorrect" as titles of the feedback. Try using other adjectives that are relatable or customize to the theme of the course/module to enrich their learning experience.

To execute an effective eLearning project, be sure to get your learners involved throughout the course. Be flexible, keep things simple, think design in a way that connects with your learners. Above all, have an instructional mindset that learning must indeed take place.

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