What is Instructional Design?
You've probably experienced Instructional Design before - even if you don't know what it is.
If you've ever taken a class through an LMS, been onboarded to a product by an interactive tutorial, or even if just filled out an online quiz - you've used tools built with Instructional Design best practices in mind.
Instructional Design, both a process and a discipline, is the act of creating compelling and engaging learning experiences for the effective development of specific skills.
Often called "Instructional Design & Technology", remote learning is evolving so quickly that Instructional Designers are also typically experts in the latest trends and tools for "eLearning".
Some businesses pay for in-house Instructional Designers to implement these Instructional Design best practices across their tools and trainings - generally referred to as the "Instructional Design Process".
What is the Instructional Design Process?
The "Instructional Design Process" has 4 key steps.
1 - Analyzing the needs of learners
2 - Defining learning objectives
3 - Designing instructional materials
4 - Evaluating the effectiveness of the learning experience
The Instructional Design Process helps avoid the short-term biases managers have against training - that it's expensive and only impacts goals indirectly.
As a result of these biases, managers may expect to spend most of their time on Step #3 - Designing instructional materials.
This is where the Instructional Design Process comes in.
By starting with steps #1 and #2, anyone making training content can make sure that their training is designed around a specific hypothesis.
Why is Instructional Design So Important?
Instructional Design is so important to organizations because it creates alignment between the learner, the teacher, and the organization, around what learning success looks like.
You might be surprised that the main benefit of Instructional Design is not better information retention.
While high-quality Instructional Design should also improve information retention - if your learner, your teacher, and your organization are not on the same page about what learning success looks like, then your learning is not sustainable.
If a learner doesn't know what learning success looks like, they can become "burned out" - due to either a lack of fulfillment or a lack of sense of progress.
If an organization doesn't know what learning success looks like, even if your learners are successful, then you risk losing training budget.
Lastly, even if a teacher thinks they know what learning success looks like, the Instructional Design Process increases the likelihood that they too can learn and improve on their teaching.
How to Conduct an Instructional Design Needs Analysis
Now that we understand the importance of analyzing the needs of your learners, here are the three primary strategies for how to conduct an Instructional Design Needs Analysis.Surveys:
- Create a Google Form with a mix of open-ended and closed-ended questions for qualitative and quantitative data
- Don't reinvent your question bank - re-use questions and topics from prior training to get the benefits of repetition
- Distribute it to your team across multiple channels (email, intranet) - consider using Slack reminders to collect responses on an ongoing basis.
- Similarly, don't reinvent the wheel - re-using existing training content for your quizzes is okay.
- Use a mix of questions (e.g. multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank) to test different types of knowledge and keep your quiz engaging- Incorporating images, video, and audio are going to increase the likelihood your team retains this information in the long term
- This is a best practice for quizzes and surveys, but feel free to share how long this will take.User research:
- Conduct one-on-one interviews with your sales team to gather qualitative data about their learning needs.
- Speak with top-performing AND underperforming sales team members to get a well-rounded perspective.
- Write an interview guide (again, don't reinvent the wheel) but be sure to ask the same questions consistently for the sake of your data
- Be sure to use a note-taking app like Fathom
so that you can focus on the conversation and come back to notes later.
Once you've defined the needs of your learners and your learning objectives, check out these 4 strategies for how instructional design can increase efficiency in your sales enablement training.
What are Instructional Design Best Practices for Making Training Content?
Be consistent with your logo, brand colors, and font.
Using your company logo, color, and font not only helps promote your company's brand but also creates a sense of professionalism that increases learner engagement and attention.
Being consistent with these over time helps create a greater sense of ownership and pride among your teams - helping them feel more invested in their work and motivated to succeed.
You can also find creative ways to use your company logo, brand, and colors to achieve the same outcome of motivated and engaged learners. One example is to create personalized certificates or badges based on your company brand that your sales team can earn as they complete training.Ensure sources are relevant and up to date
Ensure that your sources are relevant and up-to-date, meaning any outside sources you reference should be current, and aligned with your training objectives.
Be sure to keep an eye out for information that you present to learners that might benefit from being cited, or any gaps in information where finding a new outside source might be helpful.
Examples of outside sources you might use include:
- industry trends & expertise from your customer segment,
- best practices from thought leaders in your learner's specialty,
- help center documentation for a tool in your learner's tech stack Create visually attractive training materials
Making training content visually attractive and easy for your team to follow is one of the most effective ways to improve learner engagement and retention.
One of the best tactics for doing this is including visual aids, including images, graphs, and charts. Your visual aids should not only look nice but also simplify the story you are trying to tell by making it easier for your learners to follow along with complex concepts.
Consider tools like Canva
for finding visually pleasing templates, and consider using FigJam
to create diagrams of more complex workflows and concepts.Be concise
Make sure that your content is concise and relevant. This best practice doesn't just apply to written text. Review your visual aids and media for opportunities to make them more concise and relevant.
For example, you might use video editing software to trim down a longer video clip into a shorter, more focused segment that gets right to the point. Or, you might use image editing software to crop out any unnecessary details in a screenshot and highlight only the key elements that support your training objectives.Make training fun, engaging, and interactive
When creating your sales training materials, it's important to make sure that they are not only informative, but also engaging and fun. This means that you should include interactive elements and assessments that can help heighten learning retention and keep your sales team interested and motivated.
Using instructional design can help you achieve this goal by guiding you in the process of creating interactive and engaging sales training materials. For example, you might include quizzes or assessments at the end of each module, to help reinforce key concepts and test your sales team's understanding. Or, you might use interactive elements like simulations or games, to help your sales team practice and apply their new knowledge in a fun and engaging way.
When creating interactive elements for your sales training, make sure to choose activities that are relevant and aligned with your training objectives. You should also aim for activities that are both fun and informative, and that can help reinforce key concepts and improve learning retention.
By using instructional design to guide your interactive element choices, you can create sales training materials that are both informative and engaging. This can help improve learning retention, boost sales performance, and create a more motivated and enthusiastic sales team.
So if you want to make your sales training fun and engaging, consider incorporating interactive elements and assessments into your materials. By using instructional design to guide your choices, you can create a more effective and engaging learning experience for your sales team, and set them up for success.
What are the Best Tools for Instructional Design?
Here's a list of some of the best-in-class tools for Instructional Design:Articulate Storyline
is a popular e-learning authoring tool that allows instructional designers to create interactive courses with custom templates, multimedia, and quizzes.Adobe Captivate
allows designers to create and publish interactive e-learning courses with responsive design, simulations, and gamification.Camtasia
enables instructional designers to create screen recordings, edit videos, and add interactive elements such as quizzes, hotspots, and callouts.Lectora
is a powerful authoring tool that allows designers to create custom e-learning courses with responsive design, animations, and multimedia elements.Vyond
is a cloud-based animation tool that instructional designers can use to create animated videos for educational purposes.Moodle
is an open-source learning management system (LMS) that allows designers to create and manage e-learning courses, as well as track learner progress and performance.Driveway
is a digital adoption platform that allows teams to easily create and overlay interactive training documentation
on top of the tools they are working in.
What are the Most Popular Instructional Design Training Courses, Bootcamps, and Certificates?
There are several popular Instructional Design training courses, boot camps, and certificates - here are just a few:Certified Professional in Talent and Development
(formerly known as Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP)) is a certification offered by the Association for Talent Development (ATD) that covers all aspects of the Instructional Design Process, with a focus on corporate development.Instructional Design Foundations and Applications
is a course offered by Coursera in partnership with the University of Illinois that covers the basics of instructional design.Learning Experience Design Certificate
is a program offered by the Learning Experience Design (LX) Academy that covers the design, development, and delivery of effective learning experiences.Instructional Design and Technology Certificate
is a program offered by the University of California, Irvine that covers the theories and practices of instructional design.eLearning and Instructional Design Bootcamp
is a program offered by Udemy that covers the design and development of e-learning courses.ATD Master Instructional Designer Program
is an advanced program offered by the Association for Talent Development that covers the advanced skills and techniques of instructional design.Instructional Design for Online Learning
is a course offered by the University of California, San Diego that covers the design and development of effective online courses.