Effective Instructional Design

Five Essentials of Effective Instructional Design
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Role of an Instructional Designer in e-Learning (An extract from the book - Chapter 5: Pages 114-115)

“Any medium can be rendered ineffective by inappropriate methods.” Ruth Clark. This statement brings out the essence of the role of an instructional designer. According to Clark
(Clark and Mayer, 2007), e-learning is the combination of content, instructional modes (text, audio and video) and instructional methods. The purpose is to build knowledge and skills for individual development, or educational goals or organisational improvement.

Instructional methods refer to instructional techniques that facilitate learning. These include demonstrations, animation, examples, practice and feedback. Media are the means of implementing those methods as well as conveying the materials to be learned. These include slides, computers, mobile devices, videos, workbook or classroom-based instruction. The instructional architecture presented in the earlier section captures a range of ID methodologies using digital media in terms of receptive, directive, guided discovery and exploratory methods.

Going by Clark’s definition of e-learning, the role of an instructional designer is critical in the context of e-learning design and development.

According to Smith and Ragan, an instructional designer is somewhat like an engineer. Both plan their work based upon principles that have been successful in the past – the engineer on the laws of physics and the designer on basic principles of instruction and learning. Both try to design solutions that are not only functional, but are also attractive or appealing to the end user. Both have established problem-solving procedures that they use to guide them in making decisions about their designs. Both write specifications (or plans) for the solutions, but they do not necessarily translate their specifications into an actual product. They often hand their plans to someone who specialises in production.

Poor Instructional Design can result in ineffective encounters, inefficient activities and demotivated learners – a consequence that can have long-term effects. Highly creative designers are voracious consumers of instructional materials from Instructional Design and other traditions. Although they have conducted a thorough analysis of objectives, they still maintain a sense of major goals and have a generalised perception of the content. They use design conventions such as metaphors, analogies and narrative to lend a sense of continuity, interest and wholeness to the instruction.