In a recent piece, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman discusses the increasing pace of technological innovation, and what it means for workers and training (2017). As Friedman states, “If you want to be a lifelong employee anywhere today, you have to be a lifelong learner” (2017, p. 27). He goes on to cite a recent partnership between the College Board, the organization responsible for the PSAT, SAT, and AP courses, and Khan Academy, an organization who produces and delivers online multimedia educational content. Specifically, students can use their PSAT results to create free personalized improvement practice through Khan Academy (Friedman, 2017). As Friedman concludes, while the onus for self-improvement will be on the worker, “systems –like Khan-College Board- are emerging everywhere to enable anyone to accelerate learning for the age of acceleration” (2017, p. 27).
This is clearly good news for the field of learning technologies; demand for well-designed training systems will increase to meet demand from a workforce regularly needing to develop new/updated skills and competencies. However, the capability to design and develop those systems requires an ability to synthesize technology skills and instructional methodology into a coherent design that is “exciting, energetic, enthusiastic, excellent, and educational”, in addition to “electronic” (Luskin, 2010). Over the past year and a half as an instructional design student in the Master of Science in Learning Technologies Accelerated Online Program at the University of North Texas, I have endeavored to do just that; develop technical proficiency in new and emerging technologies for learning while concurrently building an understanding and repertoire of technology-driven pedagogical practice grounded in learning theory.
Over the past several weeks, I have had the opportunity to learn and explore several best practices for instructional design that I believe further refine my ability to develop, implement, and evaluate technology-based training and learning. For example, I have explored and integrated recommended considerations for e-Learning components that will increase the effectiveness of my work. They are (1) knowing your audience, which helps to determine course structure and guides page design, content, and format; (2) course structure, which provides guidelines for grouping content, module length, interactivity, and use of pictures/graphics; (3) page design, which addresses course navigation, appearance, and presentation; (4) usability, which refers to whether course materials function technically; and (5) content engagement, which leads the design of instruction to incorporate tools and capabilities specific to a web-based environment, while concurrently compensating for the lack of human connection afforded by face-to-face interaction. Additionally, I have learned and applied best practices for the design of guides to inform both course facilitators and participants, and have a renewed understanding of the importance of both documents. Finally, I have developed a more complete understanding of the role of evaluation in instructional design, seeing it now as not simply a summative assessment of course effectiveness given to the learner post implementation, but rather an invaluable ongoing component that informs and directs every phase of the instructional design process. In short, as I approach the end of my formal education in instructional design, I continue to strengthen the foundation upon which I hope to build well-designed and effective training.
Friedman, T. (2017, May 10). Owning your own future. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/10/opinion/owning-your-own-future.html?_r=0
Luskin, B. (2010). Think “exciting”: E-learning and the big “e”. Retrieved from http://er.educause.edu/articles/2010/3/think-exciting-elearning-and-the-big-e