Devising Instructional Strategies

Of late I have been receiving lots of queries on creating an Instructional/Learning Strategy.

I am not going to define Instructional Design Strategy here. Instead I am going to share my childhood learning experience with you.

As I go back to my younger days, I remember my mum and dad who used to have a hell of a time teaching me Maths. One particular incident remains fresh in my mind. This was when they had to teach me simple addition.

First, they taught me to use my fingers and calculate. This didn’t work with me.

Next, they used paper and pen and wrote down the simple arithmetic calculation and verbally explained it to me. This didn’t work with me either.

They then used Flash Cards. I understood nothing.

Finally they picked up 5 apples. They placed 5 cups in front of me. Mum dropped one apple in each of the 5 cups. She asked me to pick up the apple in the second cup and drop it in the first cup. She asked me for the number of apples in the first cup. I obviously said 2.

She then asked me to pick two more apples from two other cups and drop them in the first cup. She asked me for the number of apples in the first cup again. I counted the apples and quickly said 4.

She then said she wanted 5 apples in the first cup. I immediately picked up the one apple in the last cup and dropped it into the first cup. By the end of this activity I had learned addition well.

As you must have noticed my mum was trying to use various instructional strategies to teach me addition. The final strategy proved to be the most effective of all.

The first three strategies were creative but were not effective enough to engage me.

The final strategy was not only creative but also interactive. If you had noticed the teaching process was game like. I learnt addition because I learnt by doing.

Devising Instructional strategies has lot much to do with the context of the course to be developed, the course requirements and the target audience and much more to do with your creative thinking.

Before you think of a Strategy, make sure you are convinced with the Needs Analysis for the course. The Needs Analysis would set the strategy for the course.

In this post let’s pay more attention to the creative aspect. Let’s say you know everything about the course requirements. You know your target audience and their requirements quite well. What next? You need to decide upon the macro (overall treatment of the course) and micro strategies (treatment of each module/lesson of the course) for the course. How do you generate ideas/strategies for the course so that it appeals the target audience?

All strategies are unique. The instructional tools you use to make it up remain the same. By instructional tools I mean images, animations, videos,games, stories, cartoons, examples, scenarios, simulations and lot more of these. Your strategy becomes unique when you combine all these tools in such a fashion as never done before and integrate it perfectly with the course.

For example, if you observe films, the theme and sometimes even the story gets repeated across movies. However some movies are ranked much higher than the rest. Have you ever wondered why? The answer is simple.Its the unique visualization and presentation skills of the director who makes the familiar unfamiliar.

The same applies to Instructional Design too.

You design for a specific course requirement. The subject matter of the course always remains the same. You can add variety to a course by deciding on how to present it to the learner. What instructional tools would you use to make the course interesting is your choice based on the course requirements and creative skills. I feel the best way to learn construction is by deconstructing.

Published by theirishduck

I love the ability where I can plan, prioritise, design, develop and deliver blended learning solutions for a variety of markets. I love to consult and advise about the best use of digital learning and improve design standards in line with evolving ways of working. I also enjoy to keep up to date with, understand and regularly recommend emerging technologies and practice to improve individuals, teams and organisational capabilities. With over 12 years digital learning experience and demonstrated experience in both instructional design and eLearning development, I have also a lot of experience conducting training needs analysis including how to leverage principles such as design thinking and root cause analysis to understand and address performance gaps. I also have led many facilitation workshops and even presented at iDesignX and Game Developers Conferences both here in Australia, Wales and in the United States. I bring loads of coding experience in Java, ASM, C++, HTML, JavaScript, SCORM and xAPI, as well as proven capability using Adobe Captivate, Trivantis Lectora and Articulate Storyline 360 Studio authoring programs. Of course, Adobe Creative Cloud is also part of my toolbox which I also use daily. Being taught traditional and advanced 3D animation techniques, I love hand drawing and polymer clay sculpture, but can also use the Blender, 3D Studio Max, Maya and Softimage applications. With strong multimedia, training and programming backgrounds, I understand modern learner behaviour including micro and social learning, I am very familiar with most LMSes and app-based (XCode and Android Studio), adult learning models and e-solutions. I also possess the ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously, whilst being pro-active in delivering work independently with minimal supervision, but enjoy working in teams. I've been told I am a resilient, relationship focused guy which can manage and navigate conflicting views and stakeholders/subject matter experts.

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