Role of Instructional Designers in Developing Technical Courses

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An instructional designer is a key role when you are thinking of developing a course or curriculum. Why? Because they bring the expertise to capture your audience attention as well as know-how on how to organize the content so as to maximize learning.

There is always an argument in the corporate world (mostly in software product companies) when developing courses for technical audience. The thought is, subject matter expert (SME) has the know-how that they can develop the course so there is no need for an instructional designer. That thought is so wrong, not saying that SMEs cannot develop courses, but it is not effective and not scalable (when other instructors try to teach that course).

So you may ask – what does an instructional designer bring to the table? You may have the mindset that IDs do not have the technical know-how and will waste the time of the SMEs. In a way an ID may not know the topic as well as a SME and may have to ask some questions, but they add value by:

  • Creating Learner Centric Courses

The very basics of a good course revolves around audience analysis. IDs are empathetic to learners and their needs. What a learner needs to do, what motivates a learner, how they prefer to learn, their goals are just some of the important factors that the ID analyzes for developing courses.

While on the other hand SME’s have more experience in their specific area of study, IDs are the ones who have spent years analyzing and working with diverse learners and their needs.

  • Organizing and Adding Details

Instructional Designers are great organizers they organize the content so as to facilitate easy learning. Some topics need to be presented in reverse so as to make it easy to understand and IDs know how to do this as well as when to apply this methodology.

IDs also have an eye for details and they make sure that the course is consistent in writing style, graphics and how information is presented.

  • Extracting information from SMEs

IDs collaborate with the SMEs to extract the right information. Technical SMEs have so much knowledge that they can go in different paths. IDs know how to take what they want for the course and tie it together.

Another important task that IDs perform is finding out where information lives. Content lives in different business units of the company and knowing where to look, who to talk to is another great skill that IDs bring to the table.

  • Inculcating Interactive Play

Designing eLearning is not about creating a slide deck using PowerPoint. The goal is to gain the desired learning outcomes. IDs have the knowledge and skills of utilizing best practices to inculcate Interactive Play into eLearning so as to make it more engaging and hence improve retention and achieve desired learning outcomes. They do this by applying different course development methodology.

  • Providing Context and Enhance Longevity

When designing courses IDs are required to consider factors like life expectancy of instruction, how long the course is expected to be offered, scalability, localization, maintenance (updates to the content) and branding changes (when company changes the logo or color or if the company is acquired).

IDs keep the design goals in context when developing courses so that it is easy to update, easy for localization and can be reused in changing scenarios. This skill enables them to build courseware for learners that is relatable, concise and relevant to the learner I .e. the learner does not feel disconnected when indulging in learning using the courseware developed maybe five years ago!

So wait no more and bring an Instructional Designer onboard to develop courses and to create the perfect learning environment while ensuring high returns on investment. Happy Learning!

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