Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Personal principles for instructional design

Every Instructional Designer needs to know certain basic things, like
  • the ADDIE model

  • Kirkpatrick's scale of assessment

  • general adult learning principles

  • Bloom's Taxonomy

  • how to develop relationships with SMEs

  • how to complete a task analysis

But I also have a few general principles that I apply to my work. This list is constantly undergoing revision.

  1. I hate most CBTs (Computer-Based Training). They're so easy to tune out.

  2. I write CBTs. I don't want to write something that I'd hate to take. Therefore...

  3. Be interesting, but don't be so interesting that the learner is more enamored with your personality than with the material.
    Course material is for the purpose of transferring knowledge to the learner, not for impressing the learner or the Instructional Designer's manager with your intelligence, capabilities, knowledge, or tech savvy. You want the learner to remember the material, not you.

  4. Don't be boring.

  5. Few words. Type a little. Speak what must be said, no more.

  6. Borrow existing material as much as possible. Shorten development time.

    This is the hardest for me to apply for a few reasons. First, it's immoral to plagiarize. Second, my own sense of personal responsibility says I shouldn't write about something I can't comprehend. Third, I think it's cool to become a SME.

    But the bottom line is...well...the bottom line. Corporate responsibility calls me to efficiency in the construction of materials. If the wheel already exists, do not reinvent it.

  7. DO! That is, create an exercise for the learner. But remember that interactivity is a tool to reinforce knowledge acquisition, not distract from it.

  8. Likewise, avoid technical gadgets unless they enhance the presentation of knowledge. Simple text transitions that synchronize with audio are encouraged. Complex text transitions only make us think, "Gee, isn't PowerPoint neat!" That's pathetic. We're not trying to sell PowerPoint.

  9. Avoid humor. But do not avoid humor entirely. Consider this blog post from maven-guru David Pogue.

  10. Always, always, always have a knowledge check at the end. People need to be held accountable. No matter how simple the training is, trust that the learner CAN be responsible to apply knowledge to real-world situations. Prove it.

This was originally posted on my old blog