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:
h What Abilities
h What Skill Level
h Job Knowledge
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...