Learning design thinking

I was recently ask by a client to outline requirements and costs for a learning design project. As one does (or at least I do) it got me to express and explain my thinking. The client works in a regulated environment so the narrative is drafted to support such.

The following is an overview upon which courseware development structure can be devised.

Effective courseware development requires a judicious combination of;

  • subject matter expertise and
  • effective learning design

Subject matter expertise

Subject matter expertise will generally fall into two distinct categories of information;

  • subjective
  • objective

Subjective information is based on personal opinions, interpretations, points of view and emotions. It is often considered ill-suited for scenarios like decision making in business. Objective information is fact-based, possibly regulatory, measurable and observable. The key intent of the ??? course is to provide candidates with knowledge of a regulated environment in order to make informed judgements through a balanced use of subjective and objective information. The overriding purpose for candidates is the passing of one or more assessments and fulfilling the permission/licence requirement of the regulatory body.

Effective learning design

Effective learning design is less defined and subject to;

  • suitability
  • personal preference
  • fads
  • truth, facts and myths

Suitability occurs at the instructional design stage. Some activities and events are more suited to particular learning requirements. It must be remembered that just because a topic is onerous and highly technical and perhaps regulatory, that does not mean that it cannot be exciting and entertaining if delivered through creative methods. Conversely the most exciting sounding topic can be killed by an inappropriate delivery methodology.

It is impossible to completely remove personal preference from learning delivery; all trainers and instructors have their favoured methodologies. It is however appropriate for a training provider to insist on a protocol within learning delivery based on predefined instructional design; the instructor must follow the course verbatim.

Like many aspects of organisational endeavour, there will be fads, fashions, crazes and trends. Many of these will appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. Others however will appear and remain and become part of convention; rightly or wrongly (see next paragraph). It is wise not to dismiss something because it is new, but perhaps be cautious because it has not been well tested.

And then there are the truths, myths and facts within the learning and development environment. Many myths are peddled by individuals and institutions with limited or blinkered knowledge of the background to their assertions. Truths appear well founded in research and developed by notable experts only to be superseded by further research and a new way of thinking. What can be considered at this point is that a truth is volatile and fact is not. There have been varying truths about how people learn, be it visually or actively, on the left side of the brain or the right. However, it is a fact that the (normal) brain has two hemispheres. For learning to be enhanced, it is suggested that the truth be qualified, the facts verified and the myths nullified.