Instructional design is the process by which learning products and experiences are designed, developed, and delivered. These learning products include online courses, instructional manuals, video tutorials, learning simulations, etc.(source)

In the simplest terms, an instructional designer is an architect who builds e-learning courses to match the learning objectives.  But one should understand that instructional designing comes with its own set of challenges that can pull back the instructional designer.

Hence, let’s step into the shoes of an Instructional designer and see what are some of the top instructional design challenges in e-learning.

•Lack of clarity in understanding the learning objectives

Every e-learning module has a clear learning objective to be achieved by the learners. The Instructional designer should very carefully identify and understand the learning requirements and objectives.
It is recommended to ensure that learning objective/s are  documented and approved by the client’s stakeholders. This helps to double check the objectives and bring out disparity if any. Failing to understand the learning objectives can derail the e-learning project itself.

•Who is your target audience?

The challenge ahead for the instructional designers is how well you analyze and understand the learners.
Who are your learners and what are their needs?
How much they already know about the topic? Are the modules for experts or beginners?

A detailed understanding about the audience helps the instructional designers to decide how to develop content that meets their needs.

•Choosing the right instructional design model

Choosing the most appropriate instructional design model for your eLearning course is not an easy task. While there are no fixed rules here, the Instructional designer needs to evaluate the models to understand how well the models can help in presenting the e-learning content

•Choosing the instructional design strategy

While there are various instructional design strategies, the instructional designer needs to exercise caution and chose the best design strategy. For example, there are various instructional design strategies like
2.Guided Learning
3.Case study

The instructional designer can carefully pick the right strategy according to the learning objectives. While there are no fixed rules , the experience, creativity and visualization skills come to play an important role in designing the instructional strategy.
For example, if you are doing the instructional design process for a fire safety compliance e-learning, I recommend adopting the strategy of using a scenario-based e-learning as it helps the learners better learn the content

•Information overload

While designing e-learning , the instructional designer should know to distinguish need-to-know or must know information from nice-to-know information.  Care should be taken to ensure that you don’t omit any important information.
For example, let’s consider the example of a topic- a Cardiovascular system which is a medical/biology topic.
Here the ID person cannot exclude showing important scientific terms like systolic diastolic as missing them will  compromise on the learning objective of the modules.
The instructional designer can bridge this gap by taking proper feedback from the SME and by involving himself in a bit of research of the topics

•Holding their attention for the entire course

This is one of the biggest challenge faced in every training sessions, be it a classroom training or an online one, holding the attention of the learners for long is a big challenge.
Instructional designers can’t afford to make the modules very lengthy and dull for the learners.
Hence you can see the modern instructional design process stressing on the importance of making the module engaging and interactive. Instructional designers need to arrive at the right mix of multimedia content, interactive game elements and mechanics etc to ensure the attention of the learners.

•Falling into the trap of using the same techniques over and over again

This is a serious trap, which even an experienced instructional designer might fall into. An instructional designer should try breaking away from using the same techniques and steps in instructional design process. In my previous blog, I had mentioned about creativity as an essential skill of an instructional designer, Infact it’s the out of the box thinking style along with the creative visualization ability that differentiates the  instructional designers.

For example, a few instructional designers tend to overuse certain animation styles in e-learning, which tend to increase the file size  and also result in loss  of learner’s attention at places where it’s not required. This can destroy the flow and pace of learning which will finally derail the learning experience.

•Project management

The role of the instructional designer is multi-dimensional, the duties and responsibilities are not only restricted to designing a wonderful and excellent eLearning but also includes to  deliver it on time and within the budget of the client.

Here the instructional designer should construct proper eLearning  project management plans and effectively  manage time  and ensure smooth communication flow amongst the team members so as to ensure that there is no delay in the process.

•Evolve with the technology

With the technology evolving at a rapid pace, the instructional design is sure to experience changes too. Hence an instructional designer needs to be well aware and keep up with the updated technology and the new learning strategies.

These were some of the popular instructional design challenges that an instructional designer is likely to face. So what are the challenges that you  have faced as an instructional designer? Feel free to comment in the box below.

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