There are many doors through which you can enter an instructional design project. Two of the most contrasting doors are “content” and “outcomes.” They are contrasting because they can lead you to such different places.
I’d venture to say that most courses are approached through the “content” door. The design process begins with the question, “What information do we need to teach people?”
Unless the designer is very aware and consciously creative, the course can easily end up being a lot of lecture, reading, discussion, and probably some quizzes. That may be fine, but it’s not particularly innovative or interesting, and it won’t necessarily create an experience that will stick in the minds of the learners.
What if, instead, we entered through the “outcomes” door? What if we asked ourselves a question like, “What impact do we want our learners to have (on the organization, in the workplace, on their families, or on their lives)?” Followed by, “What is it that we want our learners to be able to do after they attend the training to enable them to have that impact?” And what if we follow up those questions with taking some time to visualize the audience “doing” those activities – actually engaging in the behaviors that are needed to achieve the outcomes you are focusing on?
Sure, the “outcomes” question requires more imagination and may even be challenging to visualize, but it naturally opens up a world of possibilities and a world of creativity. It gets us to think about actions, behaviors, activities, and performance. It creates a 3-D world that gets us to visualize real-world success, rather than having us get trapped in the 1-D world of content. Just try visualizing success when all you have is the course content on your mind. Now that’s REALLY hard to do.
Approaching instructional design through the “outcomes” door inspires innovation. Of course, there are many more things we can do to bring innovation to learning, but this is a GREAT place to start.
If you want more ideas about creating high-impact training, join me on June 15th webinar from 11 am – noon Pacific Time for a webinar on “Six Powerful Strategies to Create High-Impact Training.”
Photo courtesy of Microsoft clipart.