Just a few thoughts on the present and future state of instructional design. I’ve gone on the record, several times on this blog, with my stance regarding rapid elearning creation tools. In a nutshell, they are great in the hands of experienced elearning developers and dangerous in the hands of inexperienced trainers. Unfortunately, the companies who develop these tools tend to target the latter group. And because this inexperienced group is becoming more responsible for the development of elearning, instructional design is falling by the wayside.
The more clients I deal with, the more I have come to realize that instructional design is dying a slow and unceremonious death. In the past (8 to 10 years ago), instructional designers were present in most training departments. Keep in mind that this was before elearning gained moderate popularity in most corporations. The instructional designers were there to mainly create instructor led training classes. They usually worked hand in hand with trainers and SMEs and had a significant say so in the development of classes.
Now, fast forward to the present. Not only are dedicated instructional designers becoming rarer, the process of instructional design is being bypassed altogether. As corporations move away from instructor led classes and more towards elearning, the emphasis is now on rapid development. So now not only do companies want courses developed faster, they also want inexperienced employees (mainly trainers) to develop them.
Let me stop and state that I am not placing fault on these trainers, nor am I questioning their competence. The fact of the matter is that most corporate trainers were employees that performed their previous jobs at very high levels, and because of that they were promoted to trainers. Most of these new trainers knew the system extremely well and were very good at the training aspect of their jobs. The problem arose when they were tasked to create new training programs based on new programs and procedures. Many of these individuals had never been exposed to any kind of instructional design techniques or adult learning theories, yet they were asked to create training for their entire organization.
I wish I could offer some solution for this problem but I can’t. We are in a society where we want everything, all the time, right now. And elearning is no different. There are some companies out there that do employee dedicated instructional designers or, at the least, provide instructional design training to their new developers. But those companies are few and far between. The only thing I can do is voice my opinions to anyone that will listen to them and I encourage you to do the same. I’ve even created a seminar titled “Instructional Design Principles for Rapid Elearning Development” and hope to present it several times in the next few months. The first presentation will be at the BYOL Elearning conference in November. Click this link for more information – http://elearning.byol.com/sessions.asp
If you are interested in scheduling this seminar, please contact me at email@example.com.
For more information about adult learning, instructional design or elearning, visit www.learntoelearn.com.