The implementation phase of ADDIE offers instructional designers with unique opportunties to improve a course. Many instructional designers think that once a course is written, developed, or created and handed to the trainer that their job is done. Unfortunately, this thinking misses out on opportunities that can make the difference between a good training course and a great learning experience for the learner.
In this article we will explore implementation opportunities from an instructor-led course perspective and from an elearning approach. As you review these items you should always remember that training consists of two major components: Development and Delivery. As a professional instructional designer, being a good partner with those who work on the delivery side of training can vastly improve the outcome of your training. In small training organizations, you may find yourself doing both development and delivery of a course. Whether you develop an elearning or an instructor-led course, it is important to approach the implementation phase of ADDIE from both perspectives.
Pilot Observations: One of the biggest opportunities for the instructional designer during the implementation phase is participating in the initial evaluation of a new course. Most organizations within this industry refer to this instructor-led training as a pilot. While there are many differences from one organization to the next about what a pilot entails, suffice it to say that a pilot provides an opportunity to test your materials with a live audience. The following is a list of suggested items that the instructional designer should do during a pilot.
- Prepare a checklist of course objectives. Having a checklist to verify that course objectives were achieved during the course will help you to ensure that materials and instructions met your client’s expectations. Observe both the instructor and the learners to ensure that the materials and instructions were used appropriately to meet the objectives.
- Document timing of topics presented. While instructional designers can guess the time it should take to present a topic or section of the course, the implementation phase offers the opportunity to verify timing of scheduled training. Sometimes, minimal information for a section can in reality take longer than anticipated. Identifying the length of a module, section, or topic can help you make the necessary changes to improve the flow of information.
- Observe the exchange of ideas and the communication between the instructor and learners. Sometimes you may discover that an idea on paper fails to measure up to the intended results in the classroom. By observing the reactions of the learner about a specific topic or idea you can determine if a concept achieved its intended objective. Also, professional instructors often bring increased enlightenment about a subject by implementing personal experiences or metaphors in explaining a concept. By documenting these ideas you can improve the impact of your instructor-led course and create a greater learning experience for the participants. It will also improve your skills as an instructional designer.
- Verify the appropriate order of topics. During the initial design of a course, certain topics may be ordered in a logical sequence. However, there are times that the instructional designer discovers that the original order of topics lack that natural progression of learning. This can be very obvious and can cause some confusion for both the instructor and the learner. Knowing the natural progression of information is often discovered during a pilot. By observing the presentation of course topics, the instructional designer can make the appropriate changes to ensure a solid flow of information learning.
Periodic Instructor Briefings: Periodic Briefings allow the instructional designer and the instructor to discuss critical issues within the course and to make last minute changes. These briefings work best when there are frequent opportunities to talk to the instructor face to face during scheduled breaks and luncheons. Here are some suggested questions that instructional designers can ask instructors during these briefings:
• Do you feel that the course flows well?
• Are learners grasping the concepts presented?
• Are the instructor materials meeting your expectations?
• Would you do anything differently?
• What challenges are you experiencing?
Unlike elearning, instuctor-led courses offer a unique opportunity to partner with the instructor so always take the time to encourage and motivate the instructor as needed.
Periodic Participant Briefings: When the opportunity permits, take some time to ask the learner about their experience. For multiple day courses, a daily review with the learners on how the course is organized can help the instructional designer to identify ideas for improvement. By reaching out to the learner during the training the instructional designer can improve his or her knowledge of the audience’s learning preferences. One important thing to remember is to avoid spending too much time with the participant during the pilot. Remember, they are receiving the information for the first time so their feedback may tend to be short and limited because they have been sitting in the classroom all day. Short, periodic discussions throughout day with individuals or in group settings tend to have better feedback than at the end of the day.
The objective for both instructor and participant periodic briefings is to provide an opportunity to make immediate changes and see the outcomes of those results.
For most instructional design groups, the initial launch of an elearning course can be considered a pilot. The advantage of elearning is that revisions to the course can be implemented immediately. The challenge is to ensure that the revisions will achieve the desired impact. Below are some ideas that can help you in conducting an elearning pilot.
Target Your eLearning Audience: Many organizations utilize a Learning Management System (LMS) to manage courses taken by their employees. For this situation, it is recommended that you target a small number of individuals initially to go through the course using the LMS. This will ensure that only those individuals selected in the LMS will have the ability to take the elearning course. Targeting the audience in this manner will help the instructional designer to make changes to the course and to implement the training to a small group to identify possible technical and content related issues prior to deploying it to a larger audience. For situations where an LMS is not available or limited in scope, it is suggested that a more controlled method be considered. For an example, sending an email to a selected group with a link to the course would ensure that the online course is only viewed by specific individuals. This would provide an opportunity for the instructional designer to gather feedback and make any necessary changes to the course before deploying it to a larger audience.
Test, Quizzes, and Assessments: These tools can be very powerful for instructional designers in analyzing their audience and to identify weaknesses within the course materials. Analyzing the results of an assessment can help validate that certain topics have been covered efficiently within the course. It can also help to verify that the training requires additional development about a specific topic. Using assessments can provide valuable feedback throughout the entire deployment of an online course.
The implementation phase of ADDIE offers unique opportunities for instructional designers. Applying the principles discussed in this article will help you achieve better results of your training objectives. Working together with the delivery team will improve your course design and increase your skills as an instructional designer. Remember, the job of the instructional designer does not end at implementation.