Monday, May 7, 2012

Role of an Instructional Designer

The primary role of an Instructional Designer is to develop training materials that are instructionally sound to the learners. In other words, when developing a training material, the Instructional Designer not only has to focus on writing the content but also has to think and visualize on how to make the content interesting to the learners. Therefore, apart from good writing skills, it is essential that an Instructional Designer should be creative, innovative, and a good visualizer, have a knack for attention to details and out of the box solutions, and always possess good comprehension skills.

Most of the times, the role of an Instructional Designer seems to be limited to designing and making the training ready for development for a project. However, due to the diverse characteristics and qualities of the Instructional Designers, their roles can span across the different stages of the training development life cycle.
  • Analysis: In this stage, the role of the Instructional Designer is to identify the training requirements, analyze the audience, analyze the content, and deduce whether the available content is suitable enough for developing the training for the target audience.
  • Design: In this stage, the Instructional Designer summarizes his/her finding in the Analysis stage to create the Content Outline of the training as well as the Design Document depicting the high-level and low-level designs of the training as well as the strategies, models, and theories to be followed while developing the training.
  • Development: The role of the Instructional Designer in the development phase is to actually create the storyboards as per the Content Outline and the specifications mentioned in the Design Document.
  • Implementation: In this stage, the role of the Instructional designer is to review the training developed based on his/her storyboards and ensure that whatever s/he documented and visualized are reflected accurately in the final output.
  • Evaluation: In the evaluation stage, the Instructional Designer has to measure whether the training output is able to meet the requirements s/he identified at the very beginning of training development.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Get Rid of Your Unnecessary Bulleted Lists

Bulleted lists are used to present information relating to classification of data, a step-by-step process, or the phases of a life cycle. In other words, they are used specifically to represent a list of phrases or sentences that can represent either an ordered process or some disjoint points belonging to a particular category. However, too much use of bulleted list could make your training look repetitive and dull. So, here’re a few alternatives that you can use in your trainings to replace the bulleted points which could not only reduce repetition but also help enhance the instructive value of the data.
  • One basic way to represent bulleted points is to show them using text boxes or block images with text included. This method is suitable for un-ordered lists. For example, you could simply show the features of an application by writing the features within different text boxes. In addition, you can also use arrows to connect such boxes to represent a process flow or ordered list.
  • Another alternative is to include relevant icons with the text boxes to make the content inside those boxes more instructionally sound for the learners. For examples, if a bullet list talks about different types of web browsers, then you can use the icons for those browsers with their names. 
  • Sometimes an image is sufficient to represent a bullet point if that bullet point is read out in the audio. For example, if the audio reads out the name of the browsers of a bulleted list, then you can simply show the icons on screen without any supporting content. 
  • You can also use human cut-outs to represent bulleted points in such a way that the cut-outs are directly talking with the learners. For example, to show the responsibilities of an instructional designer, you could use a human cut-out and then show bulleted points representing his/her responsibilities using think/talk bubbles around that cut-out. 
  • In some instances, you can use a single image to represent the bulleted list. For example, to represent some particular places mentioned in a bulleted list, you could show the map of the country and mark those places in that map. 
  • Another simple solution to avoid bulleted list is to present the content of the list within a table. For example, if the list defines some key terms, then you could create a table with one column representing the key terms while the second column showing their respective definitions. 
  • One very good way to represent the steps of a process flow instead of using a bulleted list is to show the process through a flow chart. For example, the various phases of the project delivery process become more meaningful if you could represent them using a flowchart or a diagram.