I completely understand.
As a manager, you have what feels like the impossible task of implementing an effective corporate training program and ensuring that your employees learn, retain, and use the skills required to succeed in their jobs.
And, if that’s not enough, your leadership team expects you to do all that while showing visible ROI (return on investment) from your learning and development efforts!
In your quest to implement the most effective eLearning programs, you may have discovered that instructional design is the recipe for eLearning success. Perhaps you’ve even started researching some potential instructional design models. However, with so many options available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with questions.
Which instructional design framework should I choose?
Do I even need an instructional design model?
Don’t worry, though – we've got you covered when it comes to navigating instructional design frameworks.
In this article, we'll pull out our metaphorical microscope to take an in-depth look at topics like
Now if you’re well into your journey through the world of instructional design, you likely already know that sound instructional design can improve learning outcomes, increase workplace productivity, knowledge retention, and engagement, and ultimately drive business success.
But what exactly is an instructional design model, and why do you need one?
Earlier, we mentioned that instructional design is the recipe for eLearning success. If instructional design is the recipe you follow for creating great custom eLearning content, then an instructional design framework is the secret ingredient!
Simply put, an instructional design model or framework is a set of guidelines and best practices that help you create learning experiences that are engaging, effective, and efficient. Think of it as a blueprint for building an eLearning course or an evaluation of your eLearning program.
Essentially, an instructional design model provides a step-by-step process that takes you from defining your learning objectives to evaluating the effectiveness of your eLearning course.
Now, you might be thinking, "Why do I need a framework? Can’t I just skip straight to the design process? I already have all the learning material I need, right?"
Well, you could. But, the chances of success are much higher when you have a solid plan.
Think about it like this: If you were building your dream house, would you let a contractor start without first giving him your architectural plans? Probably not.
Why? Because you’d likely end up with a poorly-designed home that doesn’t meet your (or your family’s) needs.
The same applies to instructional design. Without a framework, you may end up with an eLearning course that's disorganized, lacks focus, and doesn't meet the needs of your learners.
Using an instructional design framework ensures that your corporate training program is structured, relevant, and effective. It also comes with several other benefits, like
Ultimately, using an instructional design framework can help you implement eLearning courses that are well-structured, organized, and easy for your learners to understand and retain, resulting in better learning outcomes and ROI!
Of course, unlocking these benefits requires some strategic maneuvering on your part. Luckily, we have a few tips to help you leverage instructional design to yield the best learning outcomes.
When it comes to creating more effective corporate training programs, there are many ways you can use instructional design to your advantage. Some of my favorite tips include:
However, the key to successful instructional design lies in choosing the proper framework for your organization.
Of course, before we can discuss how to choose a framework, we first need to take a closer look at the different types of instructional design models.
The acronym ADDIE stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. Perhaps one of the most popular instructional design frameworks, the ADDIE model is a five-step process that helps instructional designers create comprehensive and effective eLearning courses.
Naturally, I want you to yield the best results if you employ the ADDIE model. So here are some of the best practices for using this framework.
The analysis phase aims to evaluate your employees’ learning needs and your training objectives. As you navigate this stage, consider questions like
Gathering this valuable data will ensure that your instructional design is relevant and meets the needs of your team.
Develop a concise design document outlining your instructional strategy, content, and needs assessment methods. The design document should align with your learning objectives and employees’ needs.
In the development phase, you want to create instructional materials that are engaging, interactive, and aligned with the design document. Make use of multimedia and other technology to enhance the learning experience.
Plan for a smooth implementation of the instructional materials, including training the trainers and preparing the physical environment for the training. Ensure that you have adequate resources, including technology, for the implementation to be successful.
After implementation, your final step is to evaluate the effectiveness of your instructional materials and make improvements as needed. The evaluation process can include formative assessments during development and summative reviews after training ends.
To illustrate the use of ADDIE in your eLearning course development, let’s look at this practical example.
Imagine six new staff members enter your workforce, and your C-Suite tasks you with creating an eLearning course on customer service. You’re unfamiliar with their skills, practical experience levels, or learning needs, so you employ the ADDIE model to inform your instructional design process.
So what happens if you don’t need a tool as robust as the ADDIE model? What if you need a more simplified version of this framework?
Well, please allow me to introduce you to the SAM instructional design model.
Developed as an alternative to the ADDIE model, the SAM (Successive Approximation Model) instructional design model is a relatively new and flexible approach to designing and developing instructional materials.
The SAM model is an iterative process that allows for continuous improvement and refinement of the instructional materials. It consists of four phases:
The SAM model is agile and flexible, allowing instructional designers to quickly make changes and improvements to their courses based on feedback from learners or stakeholders.
Compared to the ADDIE model, the SAM model is better suited for learning programs requiring a faster development timeline or courses needing frequent changes or updates.
Okay – let’s pause for a second and go back to our practical illustration.
In our example, the ADDIE model was the best choice given the circumstances. We had many employees with varying backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge levels. (That’s A LOT of moving parts!)
The ADDIE model was appropriate in this case because of its systematic structure, which is better suited for larger and more complex training programs.
Now imagine you lead a team of frontline workers. They are constantly on the move, so they don’t have time to sit through lengthy training modules whenever you need to add new material to your eLearning program. In this instance, how do you ensure your instructional design addresses their needs?
That’s simple: opt for the SAM model.
It’s typically best to use the SAM model over the ADDIE model in cases that involve:
Now let’s say you prefer a model that’s a bit more meaningful and learner-focused.
Bloom's Taxonomy is a framework for organizing learning objectives and creating training content in a structured and meaningful way. It was first introduced in the 1950s by Benjamin Bloom and later revised in 2001 by a group of cognitive psychologists and educational researchers.
Sometimes referred to as "Bloom's Taxonomy 21st Century Skills", Bloom's Digital Taxonomy, or simply "Bloom's Taxonomy 2.0.", the 2001 revision of Bloom's Taxonomy includes six parts, which form a hierarchy of cognitive skills that learners must develop to understand and retain new information fully.
These six parts are:
Instructional designers use Bloom's Taxonomy as a tool to guide the development of instructional materials and assessments. They use it to help identify the learning objectives of a course or lesson and ensure that the instructional activities, assessments, and evaluations align with these objectives. By starting with the desired learning outcome and working backward, instructional designers can ensure that their materials are effective and that learners can achieve the desired level of understanding and mastery of the subject matter.
For example, an instructional designer might use Bloom's Taxonomy to determine that a spreadsheet course should focus on the "applying" and "analyzing" levels of the taxonomy. To do this, they would develop instructional activities that require learners to use the spreadsheet program to perform real-world tasks. Your employees would then evaluate their work by breaking down their solutions into components and analyzing how well they used the software's features.
By using Bloom's Taxonomy in this way, instructional designers can create eLearning courses that help your staff acquire new information but also help them develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and other higher-level cognitive skills essential for success in the ever-changing corporate workplace.
Up next is a well-known and widely used model for evaluating the effectiveness of training programs: The Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model.
It is a framework that consists of the following four levels:
This particular instructional design model aims to systematically and comprehensively evaluate a training program's effectiveness.
Instructional designers should rely on the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model when they want to understand a training program’s strengths and weaknesses and identify areas for improvement. The model provides a comprehensive approach to assessing the impact of eLearning from the learners' perspective to the organizational level. By using the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model, instructional designers can gather valuable feedback and insights that can inform future training programs and ensure that they are effective, efficient, and relevant.
Last but not least, we have Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction.
First proposed by Robert Gagne in 1965 (and widely used ever since), Gagne suggested nine events of instruction that may enhance the learning experience: gain attention, inform learners of objectives, stimulate recall of prior learning, present content, provide learning guidance, elicit performance, provide feedback, assess performance, and enhance retention and transfer.
Let’s zoom in and look at how each can apply to your corporate training program.
I know, I know – we’ve covered a lot of instructional design models. But how do you choose the “right” framework for your organization?
Like any major life decision, you must first assess your needs. Here are some factors to consider when choosing an instructional design model for eLearning development.
Ultimately, you want to find the best framework for you, your employees, and your business. Considering your needs (on both an employee and organizational level) can help you pinpoint the right model for your corporate training program – which can help ensure that your learners achieve their goals and that your eLearning initiatives succeed.
If you’re already familiar with developing custom eLearning content for your learners, using an instructional design model can help reframe your approach. See how you can blend an instructional design model with the other parts of your process – whether that includes a needs assessment, learning analysis, training audits, knowledge checks, or training development such as gamification, microlearning, adaptive learning, or scenario-based training. You can even apply the principles of an instructional design model to your unique organizational perspective regarding eLearning content creation.
Or perhaps, you’re relatively new to instructional design and eLearning content. Don’t worry – our eLearning advisors are happy to discuss your organizational goals for eLearning and help you develop your own instructional design process so you can create informative, effective eLearning content that helps your team be their best at work.
If you’d prefer to continue exploring the wonderful world of custom eLearning development and instructional design, you can always head back to our Learning Hub. It’s full of articles to help you navigate the many nuances of the learning and development process.