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Is Your Art That Smart After All? - Part 1

It’s smart to use art. And regardless of genre, it certainly has its place and purpose in the world – both in personal and commercial use. More specifically, used as a graphical representation of information and often referred to as Smart Art, it's actually a good idea. However, it isn’t the only idea you should rely on when considering ways to enhance training and keep learners engaged. What you need is strategic planning and implementation of best practices in training development. This week we are going to address three common mistakes to avoid when incorporating graphics and other media into your next training project, starting with...

Mistake #1 – Skipping the Most Important Phases of the Instructional Design Process

You may have heard of one or more methodologies related to the instructional design process. These are tried-and-true methodologies that, when executed properly, elicit the learning outcomes you require. In short, there’s a common logical approach to ensure you're getting it right.

Analysis - First, before you write a single word or create any sort of graphics you need to make sure the RIGHT performance gaps are identified. Doing a bit of analysis to determine this goes a long way toward making sure you get the outcomes you’re seeking. Whether you look to address poor job performance, or you need to teach new skills, you must start by properly identifying what it is you are trying to change. Otherwise, you stand less of a chance of hitting the right targets.

Design - Once you’ve identified the performance gaps, now it’s time to write the training objectives. Sounds easy right? That’s partly true but doesn’t portray the entire picture. To be most effective, learning objectives are mapped in a way that makes sense according to the job to which they are associated, and also in such a way that learners can demonstrate that they learned what you intended for them to learn. In other words, like SMART goals, learning objectives need to be measurable. This requires putting a lot of detail into the design of your training outline (aka curriculum).

After the curriculum is successfully mapped out and all the objectives are written, you’ll want to implement appropriate tactics (relevant content, activities, interactions, etc.) to ensure the overall training strategy is instructionally sound and engaging for learners. This is a good time to start storyboarding ideas for how to use graphics and other media to support the approach prescribed in the design document.

While what we’ve covered so far is in no way a comprehensive description of all the phases of the instructional design process, it’s a good reminder to refrain from fast-tracking straight into developing training materials without doing some analysis and defining a sufficient amount of details in the design.

Stay tuned for part two of three when we discuss this topic further.

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