Are we doing enough to help new instructional designers produce the types of e-learning experiences that we want to see?

I trained as an instructional designer throughout the 2000s. I say “trained,” but it was more a case of, “Read this and learn.” I became familiar with the notorious idea of learning styles. As one of my mentors told me back then, “If you needed a learning theory, you could find one to support most of your notions about learning!”

Over the last few years, I have focused more on the psychology of learning and getting a better understanding of our cognitive architecture. Concepts such as the forgetting curve, multimedia presentation research, schema formation, spaced practice, habit formation, and behavior change have been more useful to me than all the training of my early days. There are some useful insights emerging from neuroscience, too—although we have to be careful that we have sufficient evidence to back up the “brain-friendly” training claims.
Top 10 Instructional Design Skills

I have been fortunate to mentor quite a few new instructional designers over the past decade, and the same challenges come up. These are my top 10 challenges for new instructional designers:

  • How do you conduct a thorough analysis to ensure that your e-learning project is necessary and will meet the needs of the business and its staff?
  • How do you select the best learning approach for your target audience?
  • How do you work effectively with subject matter experts to ensure the best focus for your e-learning project?
  • How do you master specific instructional or presentation techniques, such as scenario design, game design, simulations, and explainer videos?
  • How do you help people transfer new skills to their everyday jobs?
  • How do you keep people learning beyond the initial course or resource that you present?
  • How do you encourage more “pull learning” than “push learning”?
  • How do you write well enough to engage your audience? (Sometimes we don’t pay enough attention to this skill.)
  • How do you visualize key concepts and communicate them to your audience?
  • How do you evaluate the success of your e-learning project for the client (and set goals for yourself to keep getting better)?

Read the full article at the ATD website.