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Sep 28, 2017 Katelind Hays

The Future of Instructional Design

past and future of instructional design

Virtually There Session Recap

The future of learning has arrived!  With virtual reality, gamification, and microlearning, we now have access to a wide variety of strategies, techniques, and technologies when creating our blended learning programs. But how do we make sense of all the options and engage our learners, while also addressing their individual needs?

Jennifer Hofmann explored and defined the future of instructional design during her recent Virtually There learning event. In this blog post, we will explore three key elements: learning hubs, learning campaigns, and learning paths.

Watch the entire recording for additional in-depth information and helpful resources.

Element One: Learning Hubs

Think about a corporate university. Maybe you have a leadership university where all the courses and titles associated with that leadership curriculum is found. That academy is evolving into a hub that holds many learning resources, like checklists, videos, podcasts, tools. Every piece of microlearning you’ve created is a resource in the learning hub.

These resources tend to focus on a related subject. A hub is where everything about a topic is put together. When people need to learn more, they can come back and access resources they didn’t use before. Additionally, it’s not just about the resource learning. We can build community learning and personal learning networks into hubs, as well.

Element Two: Learning Campaigns

Having learning resources simply stored within a learning hub isn’t constructive. We need an organizational structure. That’s a learning campaign: a formal organization of resources in a learning hub.

We have different campaigns: A, B, and C. These are what we used to call courses. They’re designed to support the learner experience by time-releasing resources and all of them are relevant during the formal course (campaign), but they’re relevant after the course is over. The designer thinks about different strategies and techniques and puts them in the right place. Everything in a campaign is relevant later.

The only way this will be successful is if every resource in a campaign is useful. We expect to leave courses with paper or virtual paper (slides, participant guides). But in a blended learning campaign, think about a campaign being designed differently. In addition to slides and guides, create that microlearning to support them on the job, and incorporate it into the live class. Teach using the job aids and checklists and videos that you want learners to use on the job, and tell them what moment of learning need they should be using those resources for. A checklist for meeting planning is more useful than bullet points on a slide. Teach to the resources and make sure all the campaign resources are up to date and people get information about them constantly.

Element Three: Learning Paths

We don’t need to narrow ourselves down to just single campaigns. We can create personalized learning paths within campaigns. Personalized learning, the freedom to choose your own path in learning, is all the rage right now. Industry experts are discussing that learners need the power to select what activities they complete, when, how they assess, and how much they’ll interact with their peers.

We do need a formal learning event for certain topics, but not everyone needs to follow the same path. Maybe in one campaign people can use a checklist, but a video isn’t relevant while they’re learning.  The video will be relevant at another time, they can come back to it later. In a campaign, you have resources that not everyone needs at one time. We can include a self-assessment at the beginning of the campaign to help learners figure out where their skills are and what they need.

A manager may not need the level of detail a practitioner needs. It may be a difference of needing strategy rather than the hands-on practice. If we create resources that can be rearranged, we’re creating multiple learning paths, even if they’re prescribed. If you’re a manager, take Version A, if you’re a practitioner, take Version B. Both groups can get more information. Chunkable and reusable learning objects are significant. This model allows us to chunk learning into pieces and resources really become reusable. A learning path transforms microlearning components into a macro, personalized learning experience.

Why Campaigns Over Courses?

A Virtually There learner asked a pressing and relevant question, “Why make the change from designing courses to building campaigns?”

The answer comes down to perpetual learning. Courses tend to be over at certain point. A campaign addresses different moments of learning need during the event and after it’s over.

For example, if we bring people into a training session about evaluating job candidates, they traditionally leave with a bunch of handouts and links. But, we don’t track how those resources are used later on, and we don’t add new tools to the toolkit after the course is over.

A campaign is a bunch of learning assets that can be rearranged to address different learning paths. The resources equal the content that can be rearranged.

A course tends to be over. A campaign supports perpetual learning. Courses and blended learning just aren’t descriptive enough. 


Published by Katelind Hays September 28, 2017
Katelind Hays