ISO Quality Instructional Designers
If you are spearheading your organization’s implementation of a new policy, process, or system, don’t wait until a month before go-live to start thinking about your training needs. Custom processes or systems require custom training. Just like building a custom system takes longer than installing Microsoft Office, so does preparing the training for that system.
Building the training begins with finding the right training team. A quality instructional designer can make the difference between user acceptance and project failure. How do you determine quality? Look for these qualities in your instructional designers:
- Instructional Design background: Look for someone who has formal education in Adult Education, Educational Technology, Instructional Design, Training and Development, Performance Improvement, or similar fields.
- Experience conducting training courses: Not all trainers are instructional designers and not all instructional designers are trainers. Instructional designers who double as trainers have a better understanding of what typically occurs in the classroom and tend to create training material that is easier to execute. Additionally, they can train others on how to conduct the course.
- Experience developing courses for others to teach: Many trainers can build a course that they can teach. Usually, their course notes are just that: notes. They are shorthand for knowledge in their heads. Unfortunately, that is not enough for large-scale implementations. Instructor guides need to precisely convey the content and mechanics of activities to the trainers.
- Flexibility: Because training development projects often run in parallel to system development projects, designers often create courses based on vaporware or skeletons. Details, screens, rules, and timelines change frequently. A quality instructional designer is flexible enough to adjust the training development process to match the constant changes inherent in such a project.
- Excellent communication skills: Without question, instructional designers should have excellent written and oral communication skills. However, communication skill also means using different software to convey ideas. At a minimum, the instructional designer should have advanced skills in Microsoft Office products. Knowledge of project management software makes it easier to communicate with project stakeholders. Knowledge of authoring tools like Articulate expands the choice of training products.
You may have noticed that subject matter expertise is not on the list. While subject familiarity is beneficial, it is not critical. You already have subject matter experts on the project who can explain the system to the instructional designer. The instructional designer’s value-add is translating the expert’s knowledge into something that novices or beginners can understand. A resume with projects from different industries is a good indication that the designer can learn quickly on the job.