Bill Gates is a fan of Sal Khan, former hedge fund manager and founder of the non-profit Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org). What’s so special about the Khan Academy? Damn fine instructional design! The academy offers over a thousand 10- to 15-minute tutorials on everything from organic chemistry to calculus.
The lessons are simple — an audio track accompanied by Khan’s diagrams on an electronic blackboard. What distinguishes them is Khan’s ability to strip away complexity to get to the essential elements. I’ve never taken an organic chemistry class. But, after sitting through one of Khan’s tutorials, I was able to understand advanced chemical concepts, such as nucleophilicity. This is what good instructional design does — makes complicated things learnable.
Good instructional design facilitates comprehension, retention, and, ultimately, on-the-job application, which is how business results are achieved. This is why good instructional design matters.
Of course, clear communication of important content is only one piece of the instructional design puzzle. Others include: relevant objectives, appropriate design of learning activities, and selection of a delivery method. Like links in a chain, they are all required to achieve optimum business results. And, of course, training must be the right solution to the business challenge in the first place.
Want to check how your instructional design efforts measure up? Contact me for a copy of our Check Your Own Work checklist. We use this checklist to ensure every course we deliver meets these standards because, as you can see, good instructional design matters.