Instructional Design Strategy: What Is Its Role In eLearning Design?

Instructional Design Strategy: What Is Its Role In eLearning Design?
Summary: Everybody expects better ROI from an eLearning course, but how do you achieve that is the big question. Just as a teacher can shape the future of a kid, an Instructional Design strategy helps learners attain their learning goals.

What Is The Role Of An Instructional Design Strategy In eLearning Design

A Strategy is synonymous with a plan of action, a game plan, or a systematic method of performing a task; indeed, it is this and more. In pedagogical terms, it refers to the approach used to teach, to achieve the learning objectives of a course. In more recent times, with the advent of eLearning, instructional strategies have been used in eLearning design and are known to enhance both instruction and learning. While the strategies themselves are not different from the instructional strategies of classroom training, they are adapted to the new environment. In fact, eLearning courses and programs are considered unsuccessful if they are not based on sound Instructional Design strategies. Let’s see what an Instructional Design strategy is and why it is important to develop an eLearning course.

What Is An Instructional Strategy

An instructional strategy is a high-level plan of how a subject must be taught. Like any other strategy, the Instructional Design strategy begins with setting up clear goals, determining the actions that must be taken to meet these goals, and making use of a variety of resources, techniques, and devices to achieve these goals. Instructional Design strategies are of 2 types; instructional strategy and media strategy, both of which contribute to the effectiveness of a course.

The resources that are used to achieve these goals include the learning devices, presentation patterns, course structure and features, and the type of media used.

Importance Of Instructional Design Strategy

1. Fills The Void Of Human Interaction In An eLearning Course.

An eLearning environment is void of an instructor’s physical presence that is replaced by collaborative learning and instant access to a large volume of freely available knowledge. But utilizing this environment and the available resources is challenging, and can impede the learning process if it is not based on a sound instructional strategy. A highly effective Instructional Design strategy can help you easily captivate your online learners. A right Instructional Design strategy facilitates the incorporation of practice exercises, interactive elements, simulations, stories, case studies, etc., to facilitate self-paced as well as result-oriented learning.

2. Facilitates Learning With Innovative Approaches. 

In Instructional Design there is no “cookie cutter” approach to present a subject. Given the same content and resources, each Instructional Designer will come up a different strategy, because they have several Instructional Design approaches at their disposal to present the subject. There are many ways, many approaches to achieving the same objective; what is the most effective and efficient way in a particular situation for a particular audience is what an instructional strategy is all about.

For example,we have storytelling, guided learning, we have a case study, scenario-based learning, we have learning through exploration and discovery (LEAD). These are some of the commonly used Instructional Design strategies in eLearning.

The choice of strategy will depend on various factors such as the subject, audience, and learning environment. For instance, in guided  learning avatars or characters are used to guide learners through each learning point of a course. This strategy is ideal for process or software training to show the learner how to perform a particular task.

Then we have scenario-based learning, where the learner is put in the shoes of the problem solver to respond to real life situations. This kind of strategy is ideal for compliance training and product sales training.

In the same way, we have  the Learning through Exploration And Discovery (LEAD) strategy that lets adults learn by seeking information on their own. This strategy is ideal for induction training.

The table below gives more information on the recommended strategy for each training type.

Type of Strategy Training Type
Storytelling (theme) Behavioral Training, Coaching, and Counseling
Guided Learning Induction Training, Product Training
Case study Safety Training, Quality Training,
Compliance Training
Scenario-based Compliance Training, Safety Training, Induction Training
Learning through Exploration and Discovery (LEAD) For advanced learners

How It Works

As mentioned earlier, an instructional strategy is a high-level approach of how we are going to teach a subject. Before devising an instructional strategy, you need to take into consideration certain parameters such as the audience profile, learning environment, and constraints of time and cost.

To better comprehend the process, let’s see how the Instructional Design strategy is applied to a software systems training.

  • The pre-requisite of any strategy is to have clear goals and objectives. For a software systems training, increasing the ROI of the new ERP with quick end-user adoption is a goal. So when it comes to designing an Instructional Design strategy for this kind of a goal, Learning through Exploration And Discovery (LEAD) will be an ideal solution.Here the training is best done through observation (vicarious learning) followed by enacting. In other words, “Watch, Try, and Do.”
  • Choose media elements that support this strategy, such as videos, screencasts, and simulations which can be used to show the working of the software.
  • Then, down the line, you need to consider the learning devices because they need to support your courses. Hence your Instructional Design strategy should be designed with the devices in  mind. Since it’s software training, mostly PCs will be used to access the training.
  • Then you will have flow diagrams and scenarios to explain the process, and then click on tabs to explain the roles of each user. You have the course structure itself, the course features, assessments specifications, both formative and summative, and the look and feel of the GUI.
  • You also need to consider the technical specifications, how do you deploy the course, what are the standards, standard compliances you want to comply with, what is the client-server environment in which the course will run, the development tools you would like to use or which are at your disposal.

These are all the resources or elements you have at your disposal to design a strategy to achieve your goals. Out of these comes a very high level strategy.

To conclude, choosing the right instructional strategy is as important as using an Instructional Design strategy. A strategy is chosen after taking some considerations into account such as the Audience, Subject, and the Learning environment. To get more insights about the different Instructional Design strategies used in eLearning, download the eBook Instructional Design Strategies To Design Engaging eLearning Courses.