November 14, 2016

“Many people working in training and instructional design came to it through side doors .  .  .  There are heated debates about whether everyone working in the field should have formal training, as well as discussions of the pros and cons of academic instructional design programs. I’ve seen great designers who had no background at all in the field; I’ve seen terrible designers with every certificate under the sun.  .  .  .”   (“Nuts and Bolts: The 10-Minute Instructional Design Degree” by Jane Bozarth, Learning Solutions Magazine)

Today, most of our e-Learning designers are coming out of colleges and universities with degrees in Instructional Design.  As a former university instructor for eighteen years, I will tell you that is not necessarily a good thing.

Too often, academic departments in the humanities have adopted the preachings of “the Enlightenment.”  And, while that movement successfully propelled science and mathematics into the advancements we enjoy today, it does not equally mesh with the humanities.

Many humanities’ faculties have tried to apply Enlightenment theory to their own offerings resulting in graduates committed to statistical analysis and formulae.  Consequently, when those techniques are applied to Instructional Design we get cookie-cutter courseware with an almost total lack of focus on the Learner.

When we look back on the first couple of decades of media training — before higher education offered those advanced degrees in Instructional Design — we get a different picture.

Instructional Design has a long and successful history with media training.  First with videotape — then with Interactive Laser Videodisc (IVD) — and followed by CD-ROM production — designers effectively utilized all the powerful components afforded by media into the most effective learning lessons the world had ever known.

Payback was amazing.  Trainees learned faster and more successfully than at any time since the days of “ol’ Charlie” with his one-on-one hands-on instruction.  And, the incorporation of full motion video and instructional branching led the way.

To regress into a reading-based, formula-dictated design (i.e., repurposed PowerPoint) has seriously eroded the advances our earlier designers created.

I hope that higher education soon recognizes that courseware creation is an individual process that focuses on: a) the makeup of the group to be trained; b) the specific tasks to be performed: c) the skills needed to complete those tasks, and c) the learning culture of their trainees (full motion video, graphic animations and gaming).

More on Wednesday  –  –  –

         — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning  (Mondays & Wednesdays)

 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)