Instructional Design

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The ultimate goal of Instructional Design is to quickly and effectively teach people a new skill, or system of thinking. Elliot Masie, editor of TechLearn Trends, suggests ¡§all training is about behavioral stimulation that changes human beings on some level.¡¨ (Masie, 1998, p. 14) This is a tall order ¡§to change human beings¡¨, and therefore, any professional instructor that accepts this challenge must ask plenty of fundamental questions first. These essential questions are part of a process known as Needs Assessment. This critical front-end work is going to 1. Provide information about audience capabilities and preparedness. 2. Establish that, indeed, there is a need for training. 3. Reveal information regarding the company culture. An instructor needs this information to choose tools for the program; the more you know your audience, both customer and learners, the more successful the program will be. There are several need assessment models to follow, but I will use ¡§The Zemke-Kramlinger Model of the Major Human and Organizational Factors that Affect People Performance in an Organization¡¨. Their model asks hard questions in three different categories:

Performer Skills
„h What Abilities
„h What Skill Level
„h Job Knowledge
„h Objective
„h Needs

Company Support
„h Objective
„h Expectations
„h Reward
„h Punishment
„h Feedback
„h Support

Corporate Culture
„h History
„h Mission
„h Goals
„h Strategy
„h Tactics
„h Plans

Without this information, the designer is only guessing.

Once a designer is confident the needs assessment has provided a solid foundation to start building a program, different tools, or media, should be considered. The variety of tools ranges from simple (print) to high tech (satellite dish communication). The American Society for Training and Development has published a book that outlines an eight-step process for assisting in selection of the proper tools. The...
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