July 2011
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TD Magazine

Creative Instructional Design Equals Successful Learning Transfer

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Rapid instructional design rule: Design activities, not content. Content is abundantly available. Designing content is not our job."

- Thiagi


Instructional design has always had a very important place in the world of workplace learning and performance, but its importance has increased recently due to a change in workforce expectations, the differing learning styles of the four generations currently in the workforce, and the exploding technologies that are engulfing the personal and professional lives of everyone.

Design of an effective learning program is more than creating a job aid or dumping content into PowerPoint slides. It is developing learning experiences in a variety of learning styles to engage, train, and educate a multigenerational workforce because as Michael Allen explained to ASTD upon recently winning the Distinguished Contribution to Workplace Learning and Performance Award, "We don't care about what people know. We care about what they can dowith what they know. Our challenge, as effective instructional designers, is to get people to make the leap from knowing to doing and that's where we often fail."

How are you blending your content delivery channels to your employees' learning styles? How are you ensuring that learning transfer is happening back at your employees' desks? If you don't have answers for these questions, you need to find them because as Karl Kapp wrote in his article on page 50, "To truly create effective instruction, learning professionals need to match the right instructional strategy to the content being delivered, whether online or in a classroom. You cannot teach how to solve a customer billing complaint using the same strategies used to teach an employee how to log on to the corporate intranet."

When you talk to instructional designers, they stress "experiences." Designers are skilled in knowing how people learn and on creating ways to help them learn better because it is important to create experiences where students have the opportunity practice what they learn.

The new business environment is forcing employees to do more with less and to gain knowledge quicker than ever before. That makes the relationship a collaborative partnership between trainers and designers critical to employee development and human performance.


Paula Ketter

Editor, T+D

[email protected]

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

About the Author

Paula Ketter is ATD's content strategist. Previously, she served as editor of ATD's periodicals.

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